Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 24, 2009
I thought I'd pop in to wish everyone a very merry Christmas! I hope your season is blessed with happiness and lots of family cheer.

And now...I'm going to take a holiday break from the blogosphere until the new year.
See you all again in 2010!!

Mad Lib Christmas

Monday, December 21, 2009

It's another Christmas Game Day!

To participate in the Christmas Mad Lib fun, come up with a word for the fifteen items listed below (All NOUNS), and then slot them into the poem below that.

1. A Day of the Year
2. A building
3. Name of an animal
4. Name of a male fictional character
5. Piece of furniture
6. Some kind of food
7. Mode of transportation, something you ride in
8. Something that flies
9. What ever is at the top of your Christmas Wish List this year
10. Type of clothing material
11. Name of a fruit
12. Name something white
13. Name something round
14. A food that jiggles
15. Body part

'Twas the Night Before [#1]

by Clement Clarke Moore (1823) and [YOUR NAME]

'Twas the night before [#1], when all through the [#2]

not a creature was stirring, not even a [#3].

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

in hopes that [#4] soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their [#5 in plural form],

while visions of [#6] danced in their heads.

And Mama in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,

had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap.

When out on the roof there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my [#5] to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

tore open the shutter, and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

gave the lustre of midday to objects below,

when, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

but a miniature [#7] and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment it must be [#4].

More rapid than [#8 plural], his courses they came,

and he whistled and shouted and called them by name:

"Now Dasher! Now Dancer!

Now, Prancer and Vixen!

On, Comet! On, Cupid!

On, Donner and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch!

To the top of the wall!

Now dash away!

Dash away!Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky

so up to the [#2]-top the courses they flew,

with the [#7] full of [#9], and [#4] too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

the prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head and was turning around,

down the chimney [#4] came with a bound.

He was dressed all in [#10], from his head to his foot,

and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.

A bundle of [#9] he had flung on his back,

and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes--how they twinkled! His dimples, how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a [#11]!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

and the beard on his chin was as white as [#12].

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

and the smoke it encircled his head like a [#13].

He had a broad face and a little round belly,

that shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of [#14].

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

and I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head

soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

and filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.

And laying his finger aside of his [#15],

and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

He sprang to his [#7], to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, 'ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy [#1] to all, and to all a good night!"

(Here's what I had... 1.Fourth of July, 2.Sky Scraper, 3.Bulldog, 4.Superman, 5.Couch, 6.Fruit cake, 7.Corvette, 8.Kite, 9.Money, 10.Leather, 11.Grape, 12.O.J.'s Ford Bronco, 13.Halo, 14.Spaghetti, and 15.Leg... So, don't expect to hear from me on July 3rd; I'll be down at my sky scraper, waiting for a fat Superman in Leather to deliver my bag full of money in his reindeer-drawn corvette!!!)

Now I'm curious: How'd your poem go?

Tag... I'm it.

Friday, December 18, 2009
I don't know who started it, but Molly Daniels tagged me, so I guess I'm it!! The rules of the game go a little something like this: Answer these questions, then tag three more people to answer them on their blogs.

Looks like a lot of my blogger buddies have already been tagged, so I'll try to go with... hmm...

--Nancy J. Parra at A Room with a View
--Heather Snow at Heather's Historical Hodgepodge and
--Claire Ashgrove at From the Muse

Pass on the love, ladies!

And now, here are my answers.

1. What’s the last thing you wrote? What’s the first thing you wrote that you still have?
The last thing I wrote was a letter to my unborn baby.

The first thing I wrote and still have is a book of poems from first grade. Want me to quote one of them them for you...too bad. I'm going to anyway! "From up in the air, to down on the ground, a beautiful rainbow appears. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple. A pretty, pretty rainbow."

2. Write poetry?
Since I just quoted my poem from first grade, I guess I'll answer this one yes.

3. Angsty poetry?
Umm...No, not that I recall. As you can see above, I'm more into the happy rainbow stuff.

4. Favorite genre of writing?
Romance--All varieties (YA, Adult, Suspense, dramatic...I could go on)

5. Most annoying character you’ve ever created?
I wrote a quartet once about four sisters--not published. The youngest had her story last; she'd been in love with the neighbor guy forever. I didn't have a problem with her personally, but she was so stubborn, I couldn't get a concrete plot outlined for her story...I think I tried at least a dozen different beginnings, and I still haven't found one yet that satisfies me. Sigh.

6. Best plot you’ve ever created?
I'll call it the weirdest plot I ever created: The heroine has a split personality due to a traumatic car accident she was in a few years earlier (a car accident that was her fault and killed lots of people, making her brain create a new personality to escape the reality of that horrible day). But after plenty of counseling, she thinks she's better, so she goes on with life.

The story starts on her wedding day...where the evil mother of the groom tells her about the car accident and how it was her fault, which makes personality number two come out. Personality number two doesn't know this groom dude, so she splits out, takes off with the limo driver, spending the rest of the evening with him.

The next morning, she's back to her original self, and can't remember what she did the night before. She ends up pregnant from the chauffeur and has to track him down and tell him her crazy story. Since she's pregnant, he sticks around, but eventually falls for both her personalities. It's their love for each other that heals her problem in the end. Ahhhh.

7. Coolest plot twist you’ve ever created?
I don't want to give it away. What if I actually sell that book; everyone will know the big surprise. But it's a good one, trust me! I still gasp when I re-read it.

8. How often do you get writer’s block?
Quite a lot. More than once a year.

9. Write fan fiction?
Nope. Never tried it.

10. Do you type or write by hand?
I use whatever is handy. I still have some old, unused invoices from when I worked as an invoicer with story ideas scrawled across the back. But if a computer is handy, I'll type.

11. Do you save everything you write?
Mostly, yes. I'm pretty sure I do.

12. Do you ever go back to an idea after you’ve abandoned it?
Yes, all the time.

13. What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever written?
I'm going to have to go with an unpublished story I titled Hot Commodity. It was just so fun to create that hero. Love him.

14. What’s everyone else’s favorite story that you’ve written?
My family likes The Stillburrow Crush best, I think. None of my work will be published until February, so I don't really have reader fans yet; can't ask them.

15. Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?
The Stillburrow Crush IS a romantic teen drama story, so okay, yes, I have!

16. What’s your favorite setting for your characters?
Places I make up in my head. But they're so fun; I can make them look like whatever my little heart pleases.

17. How many writing projects are you working on right now?
I don't have enough fingers and toes to count that high. But I've always got plenty of WIPs in progress to say the least!

18. Have you ever won an award for your writing?
In high school, I won third at a fiction writing contest. In college, I won an honorable mention and third in another fiction contest. And in August of 2008, the Central Ohio Fiction Writers awarded me second place in their Ignite the Flame Contest after they read the first chapter of "Disaster at 410 S. Elm".

19. What are your five favorite words?
From my writing, you'd think they were that, and, was, suddenly, and then... you know all those words you're not supposed to overuse! But other than that, I can't come up with any favorites. My hubby's found a recent fascination with the word Pumpernickel though.

20. What character have you created that is most like yourself?
I guess there is a tiny bit of me in all of them, but usually I try to have my characters do and say things I wouldn't dare. I like them being more brave than I am.

21. Where do you get ideas for your characters?
From everywhere. Other books, movies, dreams, events in my own life, events in other people's lives, stories I've heard from other people, the news, cereal boxes... you name it.

22. Do you ever write based on your dreams?
Yes, but I've slept since then, so I can't remember a specific instance.

23. Do you favor happy endings?
Well, I favor romance stories, so yes! Duh.

24. Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
Depends on what mood I'm in. If the story is rolling, I just type as fast as I can and go back later. If I'm struggling with a scene, I'll obsess a little more over spelling and grammar to help pass the time.

25. Does music help you write?
Occasionally. Again, it depends. If I'm captured by a muse, nothing short of the hand of God--or my husband asking where the mayonnaise is--will disturb me. Other times, I'm a bit too easily distracted.

26. Quote something you’ve written. Whatever pops into your head.
From the first few lines of my WIP, Disaster at 410 S. Elm.

"He’d never tried to stop anyone from committing murder before.

It was definitely a nerve-wracking business, Drew Harper realized as he sat tense in the passenger seat of his sister’s six-year old Honda Civic while she blew a four-way stop and careened around a corner, making the tires screech in protest."

Bad Boys Don't Play Hero -- CH 5

Thursday, December 17, 2009
Chapter Five for Bad Boys Don't Play Hero is uploaded and ready for you to read. If you're not aware, I'm posting a short, free-read young adult story on my website for people to enjoy.

So, please... Enjoy!

And just an update: My book, The Stillburrow Crush, was mentioned in the Book Mac Blog. Cool!

Christmas Trivia

Monday, December 14, 2009
How well do you know Christmas?

Tis the season to see how festive you are. I found a trivia quiz on the website and just had to test myself. I got a C+ on my Christmas intelligence with 11 out of 14 correct. What about you guys? Did you know all these answers? (Psst: Answers are at the bottom!)

1: What country did the tradition of having a Christmas tree come from?
  • England
  • Denmark
  • Germany
  • France

2: Every year most homes in the United States bring something from the outdoors into their homes and decorate it. This object is:

  • A Fir or Evergreen Tree
  • A Palm Tree
  • A log
  • A bush

3: What is the name of the head elf in the movie, "The Santa Clause"?

  • Scott
  • Judy
  • Bernard
  • Larry

4: In the poem "The Night Before Christmas" by Clement C. Moore what creature is mentioned?

  • Fly
  • Mouse
  • Cat
  • Dog

5: What is dressed in "holiday style" in the song, "Silver Bells"?

  • Streets
  • Store Windows
  • Sidewalks
  • Train Station

6: In what city did the story, "Miracle on 34th Street", take place?

  • New York
  • Chicago
  • Cleveland
  • Buffalo

7: In "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" the elf named Hermey wanted to be a

  • Dentist
  • Toy Painter
  • Doctor
  • Prospector

8: In the song, "12 Days of Christmas", how many Lords a-leaping are there?

  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11

9: The biggest selling Christmas song of all time is:

  • Bing Crosby's White Christmas
  • Brenda Lee's Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree
  • Connie Francis's Winter Wonderland
  • Pat Boone's I'll Be Home For Christmas

10: In the Christmas classic, "Home Alone," where did the family go?

  • England
  • Scotland
  • France
  • Germany

11: In the movie "It's a Wonderful Life" what is the angel's first name?

  • Sidney
  • Oliver
  • Clarence
  • George

12: Other names for Santa Claus do not include:

  • St. Nick
  • Sint Klaas
  • Father Christmas
  • Feliz Navidad

13: The name of the girl that asked if there is a Santa in the famous editorial that answered that question.

  • Sally
  • Samantha
  • Betty
  • Virginia

14: In the movie "The Christmas Story", what did Ralphie want for Christmas?

  • Go Cart
  • Bike
  • BB Gun
  • Lamp

1)Germany, 2)A Fir or Evergreen, 3)Bernard, 4)Mouse, 5) Sidewalks, 6)New York, 7)Dentist, 8)10, 9)Bing Crosby's White Christmas, 10)France, 11)Clarence, 12)Feliz Navidad, 13)Virginia, 14)BB Gun

Lessons Learned...The Rejection Way - #1

Thursday, December 10, 2009
When I would start a new job back in the beginning of my adulthood and then make a mistake bad enough the boss had to correct me, I feel I learned more vividly how to do that part of the job correct...and it was rare when I made that same mistake again, because I was extra careful not to repeat it.

I think that same thing must be true with manuscript rejections. When I receive a rejection that has personal comments attached, I'm extra aware of trying to avoid doing that same wrong thing in subsequent stories or revisions.

I call it lessons learned--not just the hard way--but the "rejection" way.

And I figured if I can learn to improve from my rejections, I don't see why others can't too. Thus, I decided to write a blog about all the different reasons I've received rejections to help other writers avoid receiving the same rejection letter I did...except that would make one super long post--because there's just so many rejections to chose from. So, I concluded that a series of "Lessons Learned" posts would work better!

Since this is my first lesson learned post, I'll start with the first thing a person can do wrong at the very beginning of their manuscript. I've had my hand slapped twice for this one, so I'm thinking I still need to work on it too.

Info Dumping

Back in the days of Charles Dickens and all those great classics, it was perfectly fine to wax eloquent at the beginning of your novel, describing the world at that time, the weather three months before, and all the harvest seasons before you ever started on the true story.

But times have a'changed.

In this age of immediate gratification--ATMS, eBay, don't want to wait around to begin their story. They want to start the beginning of their story at the beginning of the story (does that sound as funny to everyone else as it does to me? Well, it's true regardless.).

Try to avoid writing background information at the very beginning of your story. You're an artist, creating a work of fantasy; I'm confidant you can find a way to ingeniously filter in all the pertinent background information throughout the story and not just dump it all at the very beginning.

IF there is something your reader simply MUST know before they can begin the story, then make that the beginning, but don't tell it in past tense, rather show it in a scene as if it's happening now.

That's something I've done wrong, and received a rejection to prove it. I wanted to explain my character, by giving the reader all the juicy details of their life, before I actually showed them in action. But with the new millennium starting and everything, no editor/agent was interested in wading through the boring stuff to get to the true meat of my tale.

So...beware of dumping too much information at the beginning. And if that idea doesn't appeal, you can think of it this way. Just because you can't say everything you want to on page one, doesn't mean you can't say it later on in the book AFTER you've already got the reader hooked on the story, because that's when they'll really want all the juicy background on their favorite characters.

Awards and Announcements

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

There are a ton of things happening lately, plus I've received a bundle of awards. So, please bear with me while I share all this amazing information with you. I'll start with announcements.

As you can see a little to the north, I already have a book cover for my adult contemporary romance story, The Trouble With Tomboys, which will be published by the glorious Wild Rose Press! WOW. It's surreal to actually see the faces of my characters. My editing process seems to be going at warp speed, so I have a feeling I'll be able to share a release date for this book with you in only a few months...if not sooner!

For my YA Romance, The Stillburrow Crush, I have a WIDGET up (as you can see to the LEFT there), showing the countdown to the release of my first book...right down to the very second. There's another big WOW in my writing journey. Oh, and feel free to share the widget with whomever you like!

The cover of The Stillburrow Crush was shown on The Story Siren's blog. I'll be giving away free goodies there after the new year. Plus, I'll be donating a copy of my book to The Princess Bookie Blog, for their "Around the World 2010 Debut Author Challenge." You might want to check that out.

Then...I've got a blog interview in the works for the end of February, plus I'll be interviewing the amazing romantic suspense author, Nancy J. Parra, at the beginning of February.

In other people's news, My wonderful critique partner, Claire Ashgrove, had her second book (ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS...IS BIG BLUE EYES) released last week from The Wild Rose Press. Big round of applause for her.

Then, Heather Snow--from my writing group--recently started her own blog called Heather's Historical Hodgepodge. I'm already an avid fan there. She posts every Tuesday, if you're curious.

And the biggie: Tess Hilmo, a blogger buddy of mine, just announced she sold her first book, With A Name Like Love, to Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Did you hear that??? Farrar, Straus & Giroux!!! I'm so in awe.

Now for the awards.

Loyal Friend Award

I received the "Loyal Friend" Award from Robyn, over at Putting Pen to Paper. Thank you so much, Robyn! You're the sweetest!

Who Loves you Award

Then, or maybe it was before that, I received the "Who Loves You" Award from Laura Gerold, over at Laura's Reviews.

Super Comments Award

And both Laura and Robyn bestowed "The Super Comments" Award on me sometime during all that. Thank you, thank you, guys. You're truly TOO good to me.

And finally, Tricia J. O'Brien at her blog, Tailspinning passed the "Honest Scrap" Award to me at the end of November. For this award, you're supposed to tell five to ten "honest" things about yourself and then pass the award along to five to ten other bloggers for them to do the same.

I think I'm already taking up too much time and space here, so I'll do all the award passing along later (probably after the new year) and share some "honest" things about myself then!

So...Until Thursday. See you guys later!

Christmas Jokes

Monday, December 7, 2009
Time to celebrate Christmas (I can't believe it's only 18 days away). I'm starting off my season with a couple of corny jokes.

Why does Santa have 3 gardens?
So he can hoe, hoe, hoe…

What Christmas Carol is a favorite of parents?
Silent Night…

What do snowmen eat for breakfast?
Frosted Flakes...

Knock Knock
Who's there ?
Donut who ?
Donut open till Christmas…

What do you get if Santa goes down the chimney when a fire is lit?
Crisp Cringle...

How do sheep in Mexico say Merry Christmas?
Fleece Navidad...

What do you call people who are afraid of Santa Claus?

What does a cat on the beach have in common with Christmas?
Sandy Claws...

Why was Santa's little helper depressed?
He had low elf-esteem...

What did the bald man say when he got a comb for Christmas ?
Thanks, I'll never part with it…

How long does it take to burn a Christmas candle down ?
About a wick…

Why are Christmas trees like bad knitters ?
They both drop their needles…

Knock Knock

Who's there?
Rudolph who?
Money is the Rudolph of all evil…

11 Weeks to GO

Thursday, December 3, 2009
It seemed like only yesterday I was thinking, "I'm almost eleven weeks along. Can't wait until I'm eleven weeks pregnant," and now there's only eleven weeks left. Wow. It's so close, yet so far away, I think the anticipation might kill me. Even the hubby is getting curious about our little one. The other day he mused, "Think she'll be blond [like him] or brunette [like me]?" The question made me all warm and bubbly inside, glad he's as excited as I am.

I've entered my third and final trimester and I've finally started a journal-type thing for the baby, even titled it "Letters to Lydia." One of my great blogger buddies...I think it was Tamika maybe...made the suggestion to write letters to her, so I've been doing that for a month now. I had no idea writing a few letters could be such an emotional experience. But sometimes I get weepy-eyed just telling her how much I already love her and sharing current experiences in my life (yes, the hormones are definitely working!).

On the statistics side of things, I had another sonogram last week. She is a whopping two pounds and six ounces with a 145 heartbeat (which is perfect). Her current home measured 26 centimeters, which is pretty much on target, and I only gained one pound in three weeks!!! Of course, I had this doctor's visit the DAY before Thanksgiving, so who knows how much I put on since then. Sigh. If you can't tell, I was worried I was going to gain as much this month as I did last month. It's nice to learn I was wrong.

I've provided pictures of both me and Lydia for you to see. Too bad mine's a bit blurry (hee hee). The little princess was too busy wiggling around to stay still a second and pose for her shot, so they didn't come out too well either. This one is a side profile of her face with her head at the left side and her staring up. Her hand is up by her mouth (ironically enough, her feet were up in that area too). In the second shot, I circled her head in yellow and her arm in red--maybe that'll help you see her better. The doctor showed us her mouth, nose, and eyelashes (there was no cleft above her lip either, yay!) and he kept saying, "She has a pretty little face," which I totally appreciated.

She's currently breech, but she has eleven weeks to flip in the right position before she's born. But other than that, all is well, and I'm happy and satisfied!