Wednesday, January 31, 2007

And the winner is...

Alissa! Her entry, "Her artistic sense was exquisitely refined like someone who can tell butter from I can't believe it's not butter" absolutely cracked me up. And the fact that your favorite cover model and mine, Fabio, was the spokesperson for ICBINT just made it perfect. Okay... I'm joking about that "your favorite and mine" part.

Congrats, Alissa. Please email Playground Monitor with your snail mail address and I'll get your book thong out to you.

I never metaphor I didn't like

Is there such a thing as a Pre-Script?

I forgot to mention that Debut Blaze author Lori Borrill will be guest blogging here tomorrow. Please help us give her a great big Playground welcome!

I'm not sure of the validity of this but it's funny all the same.

Every year, English teachers from across the country can submit their collections of actual analogies and metaphors found in high school essays.

These excerpts are published each year to the amusement of teachers across the country.

Here are last year's winners.....

1. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.

2. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

3. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

4. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. Coli, and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.

5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

6. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

7. He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.

8. The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife's infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine.

9. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.

10. McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.

11. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. Instead of 7:30.

12. Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.

13. The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.

14. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. Traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. At a speed of 35 mph.

15. They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan's teeth.

16. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

17. He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was the East River.

18. Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.

19. Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.

20. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.

21. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.

22. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

23. The ballerina rose gracefully en Pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

24. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.

25. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.

I struggle sometimes with similes and metaphors. And I always appreciate a good one. But these... Ya gotta laugh.

Now's the fun part. I want everyone to make up a simile today. In case you've forgotten, a simile is a figure of speech in which the subject is compared to another subject. Frequently, similes are marked by use of the words like or as. For example, "It's as cold as a brass toilet seat today."

Today's best simile (selected by moi with no particular criteria in mind) will win a book thong. Make me laugh. Make me cry. Just make me feel better than I've felt for the past week with this horrid cold.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Answers...

Who else has been singing 80's hits all day long? (Hair bands RULE!!)

Y'all are clever--I'll give you that--but there can be only one, you know (another 80's reference--who knows it?). It was close, I tell you...

But the answers first.

Name the Song and Artist:

1. “I don’t feel tardy.” Van Halen, "Hot For Teacher"
(I had a lot of tardiness issues in high school. Trust me--this is NOT the phrase to use when you're called on the carpet for it.)

2. “I smell like I sound.” Duran Duran, "Hungry Like the Wolf"
(I didn't actually care what Simon LeBon sounded or smelled like...he was HOT.)

3. “Do you take sugar? One lump or two?” Def Leppard, "Pour Some Sugar on Me"
(Oh, the memories...)

4. “I wanna tell her that I love her but the point is prob’ly moot.” Rick Springfield, "Jessie's Girl"
(You gotta love someone who can work the word "moot" into a rock song.)

5. “Suckin’ on chili dogs outside the Tastee Freeze.” John Cougar, "Jack and Diane" (This is a tricky question--he hadn't added Mellencamp yet.)
(I can still see the video--those creepy clapping hands.)

6. “There’s a world outside your window, and it’s a world of dread and fear.” Band Aid, "Do They Know It's Christmas?"
(Yep, my man Sting's line, in harmony with Simon LeBon. Can we say "orgasm?")

Slightly tougher questions

7. Name at least one movie starring both of the Coreys. The Lost Boys is the most famous (and best). The Coreys also starred in License to Drive and Dream A Little Dream. (They regrouped in the 90s to make Dream a Little Dream 2 and Blown Away. They shouldn't have.)

8. “I want CHARLES in charge of me.” (Bonus points for naming the actor.) Scott Baio
(I actually hated this show, but the tune was catchy and I had a small Chachi crush.)

9. Name the couple who’s Livin’ on a Prayer. Tommy and Gina
(Oooooh, we're half-way there... Sing to me Jon. I got suspended from school for you, you know.)

10. Who is “Learning about Cuba. Eating some food?” Jeff Spicoli (Fast Times at Ridgemont High)
(and everyone had to have a pair of Vanns after that.)

11. “The grass is green and the girls are pretty...” Where? Paradise City (Guns and Roses)
(I saw GNR when they opened for Motley Crue's "Girls, Girls, Girls" tour. That was before they were big, and all we wanted to know was why he had that silly rag on his head.)

12. “They call us Problem Child, We spend our lives on trial, We walk an endless mile.” Who are we? We are the Youth Gone Wild.
(My theme song...even back then.)

13. In 1982, who was Billy Idol dancing with? Himself. (The song is "Dancing With Myself")
(A little early in Billy's career for me, but an awesome song anyway. And he could do that cool thing with his lip.)

14. “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” What's the word and where is the quote from? Inconcieveable is the word; the movie is The Princess Bride.
(Possibly one of the Best. Movies. Ever.
Don't argue with me about this...just have fun storming the castle!!)

15. Gene Kelly, Olivia Newton-John and ELO. What do these three things have in common? The beyond cheesy roller-skating muscial mistake with Muses (that I LOVED when I was 7), XANADU.
(How did they ever talk Gene Kelly into that?)

16. Name at least three members of the Brat Pack. Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, Molly Ringwald.
(I loved Judd best, followed by Emilio, then Rob. (Do you believe in premarital sax?) AMH was too geeky back then (but isn't he a hunk now?) and Andrew was too pretty.)

17. Name two Brat Pack movies. The Breakfast Club (5 Packers) and St. Elmo's Fire (6 Packers) . (Yes, there are plenty with 2 Packers in them, but 2 people don't make a pack.)

18. According to Howard Jones, who is to blame? No One.
(I just like the song. Especially since I spent a lot of time telling the Powers That Be that I wasn't the one to blame. Really.)

Extra super bonus point question (and possible tie-breaking question):

Explain this lyric to me…please:

“The Reflex is a lonely child, who’s waiting by the park.
The Reflex is in charge of finding treasure in the dark.
Watching over lucky clover, isn't that bizzare?”--Duran Duran, "The Reflex"

Many interesting answers, but none that were totally satisfactory. There was this one:

I honestly have no idea, but it is quite poetic. "...isn't that bizarre?" just about sums it all up. Perhaps the Reflex is supposed to stand for is the lonely or isolated person, it is the person waiting for something, it is the person looking for something that it can't quite see, it is the person guarding something, etc. Figuratively, the lucky clover could be themselves...keeping guard of themselves, etc. Perhaps the word "reflex" is used because it is how we respond/react to certain situations...we isolate ourselves, we wait to see what will happen, we search for answers and things we cannot grasp or see (like what this song means...LOL), we protect ourselves, etc. We are the Reflex.

Methinks someone spent some time in either psych or lit class trying to make sense of the senseless...

Then there was Smarty Pants's smart-a**ed (but totally correct in its own way) answer:

There is no answer--every little thing the Reflex does leaves an answer with a question mark.

So that brings us to our winners:

Jennifer Y, with a stunning almost-perfect score.
Second runner up was a tie, so I flipped a coin and Meljprincess won the toss.

Congrats to everyone, and thanks for playing.


Omigod! It’s PC’s Totally Awesome Quiz

I’ve made no secret of my age (my weight, yes—my age, no), and oh, the 80’s were great fun for me. (Reminisces…). Here’s your chance to show your love of the decade of big hair and big shoulder pads.*

Yes, there are wonderful prizes to be had for the winners…(and there will be at least two).

Now, Googling any answer would be cheating, and we all know that’s not allowed on the Playground. By entering, you are pinky-swearing, cross-your-heart-and-hope-to-die promising that you did this all honestly.

Comments can go in the comments column, but quiz answers need to be sent to me:

Here we go...

Name the Song and Artist:

1. “I don’t feel tardy.”

2. “I smell like I sound.”

3. “Do you take sugar? One lump or two?”

4. “I wanna tell her that I love her but the point is prob’ly moot.”

5. “Suckin’ on chili dogs outside the Tastee Freeze.”

6. “There’s a world outside your window, and it’s a world of dread and fear.”

Slightly tougher questions

7. Name at least one movie starring both of the Coreys.

8. “I want (WHO) in charge of me.” (Bonus points for naming the actor.)

9. Name the couple who’s Livin’ on a Prayer.

10. Who is “Learning about Cuba. Eating some food?”

11. “The grass is green and the girls are pretty...” Where?

12. “They call us Problem Child, We spend our lives on trial, We walk an endless mile.” Who are we?

13. In 1982, who was Billy Idol dancing with?

14. “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” What's the word and where is the quote from?

15. Gene Kelly, Olivia Newton-John and ELO. What do these three things have in common?

16. Name at least three members of the Brat Pack.

17. Name two Brat Pack movies.

18. According to Howard Jones, who is to blame?

Extra super bonus point question (and possible tie-breaking question):

Explain this lyric to me…please:

“The Reflex is a lonely child, who’s waiting by the park.
The Reflex is in charge of finding treasure in the dark.
Watching over lucky clover, isn't that bizzare?”

It’s my quiz, so my decisions could be completely arbitrary and still totally binding. Entries must be in my mailbox by 7pm CST. Answers and winners (and commentary) will be up later in the evening.

Like, totally have fun.

(The Playfriends and Rhonda are not eligible to win, but I think they should have to enter just for bragging rights…)


*And if y’all are really good, I’ll post the picture of PC and Counselor Shelley that has both.

Monday, January 29, 2007

In The Zone

Recently, a member of our goals group posted that she had written 22 pages in one day. Though this excited her, she was mostly enthralled with the euphoria of getting lost in the story, the connection to her characters, the feeling of time slipping away as she immersed herself in the writing process.

You could call this "The Zone."

It is the yearned for state of slipping into our created world, where the words rush so fast you can barely keep up with them. Though many outsiders think this is the way writers always operate, we authors know that this phenomenon can often be hard to find. It only occurs when everything falls into place to create the right atmosphere for it. I can certainly say it doesn't happen as often as I'd like, though I'm hoping to be blessed with it through practice and perseverence.

This reminder made me think about why and how authors enter this enviable state. I'm learning there are a few things conducive to allowing a writer to enter "The Zone":

1. You must be loving your characters and thoroughly connected to them.
Just as your love for your spouse deepens as you get to know him intimately, so it is with characters. And I find that the closer I come to knowing them, to being able to get inside their heads, the easier it is to get lost in the story. Now, non-writers are probably saying, "Huh? Why would you write about characters you don't love?" Well, believe it or not, sometimes characters can be aggravating. Like real people, they don't always want to cooperate. They don't feel like talking. Or they clam up because I'm just not paying them enough attention. Or I may just be momentarily out of love with them because I'm having a bad day. Trust me, it happens. Which leads me to my next point....

2. Everyday life affects our ability to get lost in The Zone.
Have you ever tried to read a book in peace with a child coming up to you every five minutes to ask a question that you MUST answer? Multiply the feeling of frustration this situation provokes by about 100 and you'll be able to imagine writing while the same thing occurs. The phone ringing, a major crisis, pressing errands--life in general is a distraction. I, for one, can't seem to ignore it enough to fully immerse myself in the story with predictable regularity. I might slip away for a while, but the immersion isn't complete. You can't imagine how many times I've wished for a cabin far in the mountains where I could transport each day to write in peace and quiet. (Actually, if you have kids, you probably can.) Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't trade my children for anything, but I do occassionally give them away for the blessing of utter silence. :)

3. Writer's block.
Now, some authors claim there is no such thing. But if you've ever tried to write during pregnancy, you'll know in your heart they're wrong. There can be many contributing causes to writers block, and the cures can be just as complicated. But the most frustrating part of it is knowing you are as far from the Zone as you can be. Like having experienced a high point, but knowing you can never have another. You must forever after live in a valley. I shudder to recall my one true bout of it. I would do just about anything not to ever experience it again.

4. Somewhere along the way, something went wrong with the story.
One mistake can throw everything else off track sometimes. This requires backtracking to find the problem, then implementing a solution. The good thing is that you normally can tell when things are back on track because the story once again starts to flow.

I'm sure there are many other aspects to this exhilirating phenomenon that I haven't touched upon, but these are the most important ones for me. And though being in The Zone doesn't happen as often as I'd like, it makes all the hard work worth the effort.

If you are an author, what things or situations do you think help contribute to "The Zone"? If you are a reader, have you found other areas of your life where you encounter this same phenomenon?


Saturday, January 27, 2007

Pardon Our Mess

Blogger is making us migrate to the new, Google-based system and it may take a bit for all of us to get switched over.

In the meantime, please enjoy the video trailer from Kristi Gold's website. If you remember, we were unable to view it when she guest blogged for us a few weeks ago. Now it's been uploaded to YouTube and you can all see it. Enjoy!

Just for fun

This is what happens when you're sick, take a long afternoon nap and can't sleep.

Friday, January 26, 2007

When I Grow Up

Blogger hates me. I've written this post twice and it has eaten it both times. I cannot guarantee that this post will be as good as the original, but I'll do my best to reconstruct it...

This January, between recurring colds, business travel to icy destinations and rejection letters, I decided to let myself off the hook. I'm not writing or going to the gym all month. I will start back with both in February, although I'll probably wait until the first full week in February. You know, the whole, all diets start on Monday sort of thing.
I've set aside this month to just take care of myself. Nurse my bronchitis. Nurse my bruised ego. As I lie like a slug on the couch, not exercising, I've been thinking about my writing, my future and what my options are. There are a lot of questions for me now about what project I pursue next, what to do with my R'd title, category or single title, agent or not? Another question seems to be lurking over all the others though, muddling my focus.

What if I never sell?

I'm not trying to be Debbie Downer here, just realistic. Many things could happen, including a shift in the market I'm targeting or an overall decline in paperback romance sales. Things that can keep me from succeeding even if my work is good enough. So what is my backup plan? Sure, I could keep pounding my head against a brick wall until I'm 80, but I could also have a Plan B that I can say at some point - this isn't working out. I'm tired. I think I'm going to go do - insert good idea here.

So, amongst other things, I've been trying to figure out what my Plan B is. Something that I can do for a living and make enough money to support myself while also feeding my creative urges. I could do the job I'm doing now until its time to retire and keep pecking away at my MS on nights and weekends, true, but what if I want my job to be my creative outlet - to enjoy what I do for a living as opposed to working 'a' job to fund my lifestyle and my hobbies?

What do I want to be when I grow up if I can’t be what I want to be when I grow up? (Follow that? :) Good. ) I enjoy web design. I was thinking I could take a couple classes to spiff up my web design skills and maybe try doing that for a living. Or start a business designing and maintaining sites for others. I could even specialize in author sites so I can be near that which I cannot be. I also like the catering business my mother and I do from time to time. I’d love to turn that into a full time business and start doing wedding cakes as well. I actually have all the stuff to do them, just not the time or 15o people to feed cake to so I can practice. Maybe start a business as a professional home organizer and straighten out people’s lives for a living. Might as well get paid to do it for someone else if I can’t do it for myself. I could also continue what I’m doing and focus more on fun hobbies like scrapbooking or painting.

I don’t know. It makes me sad to think that I might need to have a plan B, but not as sad as I will be to need a plan B and realize I don’t have one. There’s no way to know. For all the horoscopes I read and psychics who tell me this or that… there’s really no way to know what is going to happen. All I can do it keep trying.

What do you want to be when you grow up? (Age has nothing to do with the distinction of growing up, of course, just ask any middle aged male.) Do you have a plan B? Are you already onto your plan B and looking for a plan C?


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Chomping at the Bit

Well, we're back from vacation and back to real life. We've had several school projects to complete this week, I've had projects at work, year-end tax stuff... Life goes on. Right before we left I sent out two writing projects leaving me a bit at loose ends. I'm always writing or revising or plotting. I do have projects I could be working on (a new idea to flesh out, a new book to start, a book in rough draft to pull together) but I told myself that I'd take 3 or 4 weeks off, time to catch up on things I've been neglecting and time to spend with my kids and enjoy our vacation.

We enjoyed our vacation and now I'm ready to get started again. But I can't. I have so many things going on right now that I know if I start another writing project I'll neglect responsibilities that I shouldn't. It would be smarter to take the next week or so and whittle down my to do list so that when I do start I can concentrate fully. But the characters won't let me do that. I wake up thinking about the story. I daydream about the story when I should be working. These characters have been very patient, allowing me to push them aside while I was working on other books. I've been saying, "wait until after this book." Well, it's after this book and they're reminding me of that every day.

You know, the irony is that as soon as I give in and start working on this story they'll probably shut up and disappear. :-)

How do you deal with wanting to do one thing but needing to do another?


Don't forget, Lori Borill, debut Blaze author, will be guest blogging with us next Thursday the 1st. We're very excited to have her on the playground!!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I Got Those Low-Down, Sad and Lonely, No-Sleep, Cold-Coffee, Can't Seem to Sell Anything Rejection Blues

Three guesses what I got in the mail last week. And the first two don't count.

Two of the last three stories I've sent to a particular magazine have been rejected.

I sulked for a day. I wallowed for a few more. I tried to write something else and couldn't get the synapses to fire so I gave up -- just temporarily -- and read a couple books instead.

Have I lost my touch? Am I out of sync with the editor's needs? Is it just bad timing? Has my luck run out? Should I go buy a lucky rabbit's foot just in case?

Now's a good time to write about dealing with rejection I suppose. I doubt there's a writer among us who hasn't received a rejection letter. Mine read "Dear Contributor, Thank you for sending your story to us. Although your manuscript was given careful attention by our editorial staff, we regret that it does not meet our needs at this time. We appreciate your interest in our magazine and encourage you to not lose heart in your writing. We wish you the best of luck. Please feel free to submit further material to us. Sincerely, The Editors."

Lose heart? To quote from Mel Brooks's "The Producers" -- If your intention was to shoot an arrow through my heart... bulls-eye!

Dealing with rejection is rather like dealing with grief because in its own way, a rejection is a loss. It's a loss of hope, a loss of expectation, a loss of belief in yourself.

And how do you work through this loss? You progress through nine phases and end up back in the saddle with your expectations restored, your self-belief firing on all cylinders and your hopes high.

Maestro, cue the music!

Just what makes that little old ant
Think he'll move that rubber tree plant?
Anyone knows an ant, can't move a rubber tree plant.
But he's got high hopes, he's got high hopes.
He's got high apple pie in the sky hopes.
So any time you're gettin' low 'stead of lettin' go just remember that ant.
Oops there goes another rubber tree plant.

Phase 1: Denial

You're shocked, stunned and in need of oxygen. How could anyone have rejected your story? This can't be right. Denial is nature's way of trying to protect your psyche. To get through this, just work on accepting that your work has been rejected, not you as a person.

Phase 2: Bargaining

What if I'd... In dealing with grief, this is usually a dead-end alley. No amount of bargaining will change things. But with a rejected manuscript, you might have a little bargaining power if the editor asked for revisions or if there's another place to submit it. If not, stop with the "what if's" and move on. Try to learn from the experience and apply those lessons forward to your next project.

Phase 3: Loneliness

Here comes the "Woe is me" part. You feel isolated and your self-worth takes a beating. You're sure you are the only person whose manuscript was ever rejected. At this point, you should surround yourself with people who care about you. If you are part of a writers' group, let them know about your rejection and I'm willing to bet my retirement account they'll rally around and tell you (a) you're not the only one ever rejected and (b) you're special to them regardless.

Phase 4: Heartbreak

Well, since my baby left me,
I found a new place to dwell.
It's down at the end of lonely street at Heartbreak Hotel.

Despite working on phases 1 through 3, you still find yourself crying and feeling awful. You might try listening to upbeat music or doing an activity that you really, really enjoy. If you seem to have taken out a long-term lease on a room at that hotel, you may need to literally try snapping yourself out of your funk by putting a rubber band around your wrist and snapping it when you start sinking under the covers at the end of lonely street. Here's where your support group comes back into the picture. Reach out to them again and tell them how you're feeling.

Phase 5: Depression

If you don't check out of Heartbreak Hotel, it's easy to sink into the Depression Dungeon. This is where you not only feel sad and worthless, but you wallow. You schlep around the house in the same pajamas for three days and eat Beenie Weenies straight from the can for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Call the support group back in! Keep busy. Exercise. Go out to lunch with a friend. Get a manicure and/or pedicure. Try a little retail therapy (but not too much because you don't want to get depressed about next month's credit card bill). If this doesn't work, seek help from a counselor or your doctor.

Phase 6: Blame

When the really intense feelings of denial and loneliness and heartbreak go away, then you start playing The Blame Game.

I'll take "I Stink" for $100, Alex. Give me "My Worthless CP" for $500. How about "Editors Who Don't Know a Good Manuscript When They See One" for $1000?

Your emotions are running high right now so turn off the game and stop the destruction. Remember there are two sides to every situation. Think about what you've learned from the rejection and how you can improve the current manuscript and write an even better one next time. But put all the game pieces back in the box and throw it away.

Phase 7: Anger

How dare they reject me? Has that agent/editor lost his/her mind? You can hang out here, but only for a little while. Go outside and throw rocks at a tree. Stomp around the house. Cuss if you will. This can be cathartic and letting all the anger out is liberating. Otherwise you end up with an ulcer the size of an inner-city ghetto and just as nasty. But put a time limit on the anger. Tell your friends to get on your case if you let it go on too long because if you don't move on, you risk becoming bitter. And nobody likes to be around a bitter person.

Phase 8: Acceptance

Okay, the manuscript wasn't perfect. It wasn't a good match for that particular line. The middle sagged. The GMC was all wrong. It wasn't right. IT wasn't right, but you're okay. And you'll be even better because you learned from the experience.

Phase 9: Healing

You're done with denial, bargaining, loneliness, heartbreak, depression, blame and anger. You've accepted the situation. Now you heal and move forward with an open mind (and heart) and focus on the next project. You know it was only your manuscript that was rejected, not you as a person. Your group of friends who have rallied around you are still your friends -- perhaps even closer friends for having weathered this storm together. Good for you! Now get your fanny back in that chair and start writing!

You know, I think I've made myself feel a little better by writing this. Maybe I'll pull out my idea file and see what clicks (if I can find it -- my new filing cabinet was delivered yesterday and my office is currently in a state of disarray while I move files, clean out stuff and move books from one bookcase to another). And while I'm at it, perhaps I should use PC's example from yesterday and start a "Yay Me!" and "Rah-Rah" file cause I was sure having a slug day.

How do you deal with rejection? Got any tips to add to my "9 Step Program?"

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

My parking's not the only thing that needs validation

The Playfriends believe in goal setting—as you probably know by now. But I’m also a big believer in rewards—if I do X; I get Y. (Often those rewards are food related, which probably explains why I’ve gained fifteen pounds.)

Validation is also important. Like rewards, validation makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something.

But validation is often hard to find in this biz (unless you have the Playfriends on speed dial), so I keep two validation files on my computer. The first is called “Yay, Me!” and it contains all my contest finals, published articles, and things of that nature all nicely set out in an Excel spreadsheet so I can see my accomplishments at a glance. I also have my “Rah-Rah” file, which contains positive strokes for my ego when I’m feeling down. In it, there’s the copy of the email from an editor telling me she loves my voice and several emails from a published friend who read one of my books and said lots of nice things about it. I even have an audio file in my Rah-Rah folder. An editor left a message on my machine for me once to reject one of my books—but she had several nice things to say about it anyway. I, validation whore that I am, recorded the message onto my digital recorder so I could save it forever on my hard drive. When I’m having an “I Suck” day, I can open my Rah-Rah file and find little ego strokes.

Odd? Probably. But it sure beats ice cream—at least as far as my thighs go…

“I Suck” days exist outside the writer’s life as well. I usually call them “Slug” days—the ones where you feel fat and your skin’s breaking out and your hair won’t do right and everything everyone says either hurts your feelings or pisses you off and all you want to do is stay in the bed and be a big old slug. Because that’s what you feel like. Ice cream, movies, and a day in bed wallowing are the usual fixes.

I have validation files on my computer and ice cream in the freezer. How do you pump yourself back up when you’re having an “I Suck” or a “Slug” day?


Today, thankfully, is not an “I Suck” or a “Slug” day at PC’s house. I’m feeling pretty good about myself. That could, of course, change at any minute…

Monday, January 22, 2007

One Track Mind

I'm finding more and more that's what I have. I'll be trotting along, working on something, then DING! a reminder goes off that this other thing is waiting to be done and off I go. The problem is I'm usually totally oblivious to what I've left behind.

Take today's blog for instance. Several times on Saturday I thought, "I need to work on that. What do I want to write about?" Luckily I did actually think about a topic, planned a little what I was going to say. Sunday came, and with it the rush of cleaning the house to a sparkling shine.

Now, housecleaning is usually not that high on my priority list, but the Real Estate agent is coming for the first time today. So I enlisted the whole family and we worked hard. I even cleaned the oven, so that you can finally see through the front window (please, don't judge). So you can see why this was important enough for me to focus on.

I remember once thinking I needed to get my blog written, but the thought was quickly lost amidst dinner with the in-laws, getting ready for school the next day, and remembering that I needed to prepare the tax stuff for the accountant. So I trudged from chore to chore, completely oblivious that this important task has been relegated to the backburner.

My original intended topic for today was juggling and the things I'm learning from it in my life. I guess the universe decided to give me a hands-on lesson instead. :) My pearl of wisdom from all this? I'm learning to take my days one task at a time, because that's all I can remember.


PS Last week's winner from my Monday blog is crystalg for having to spend the holiday at work. Sorry for the delay, but I was without computer service for several days. Contact me with your snail mail address at .

Saturday, January 20, 2007

More winners...

Okay, sounds like several of you have had some pretty crappy airport experiences. I ended up choosing catslady because she said the magic word - sunburn. It's bad enough to sit there for hours in perfect health, but to be sunburned and nauseus at the same time...ugh. BTW - I'll never eat a mushroom omelet again either. Thanks for the visual.

Catslady, email me at to claim your prize!

Guest Blog Winners

Wednesday's winner of a copy of Fall From Grace is krissyinva. And Thursday's winner for commenting on the prequel posted on eHarlequin is Pat. Email
me with your snail mail addy and I'll send each of you an autographed copy of the book.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Swimming Against the Current

I find that in my life, the things that I am meant to do are relatively easy. Yes, there may be some hard work involved, but it isn't like beating my head against a brick wall. Things I am not meant to do are usually very evident. For example, I really don't think I was meant to go to Colorado this week. If the plane had crashed and I'd been killed, I would not have been surprised. Everything was going wrong. Everything. Short of landing into a cotton field or bursting into flames, it happened. I was just not meant to go. I should've stayed home, warm in my bed nursing my cold.

But alas, my two bosses asked me to make the trip. And its the time of year where they determine what our raises will be, so I got on a plane. I did the smart thing and went through Dallas instead of Chicago because O'Hare is always a mess in the winter. The nasty snow storm had already gone through Colorado, so we should've been good to go, right?

Eh, no. What no one realized, myself and my bosses included, was that the storm that dumped two feet of snow on Colorado was now hovering over DFW airport. My 8:05 flight got cancelled. My 3:30 flight got pushed out to 4:00. No big deal. I had a 2 hour layover, so that just made it an hour and a half. Then we arrived and there was a plane in our gate. Just a few more minutes they kept telling us. How about 45? We get off and the lady at the gate says my 7:25 flight is on time and should be boarding. Of course, its in another concourse, so I hop the train and haul tail only to find the flight has been pushed back to 8:10. I opt for the nearest food place and inhale some dinner (I didn't have lunch because our airport food court was closed for renovations). Then they announce the flight has been pushed back to 8:30. Then it moves gates (to another concourse) so back onto the train and find that it is now leaving at 9:30. Then we change gates again (yes, to another concourse) and wait another half hour for our pilots to arrive. (Did I mention there were no pilots this whole time?) Okay, we load up, get on the plane and finally begin to taxi. At this point, I'm totally relieved because I've been expecting the flight to get cancelled and have to sleep at a nearby hotel.

Then there's a strange noise. Was that? It couldn't be. We had a flat tire. A FLAT TIRE! We sit for two hours while they jack up the plane and change the tire just so we can return to the terminal and get on another plane. Wait, that one has an open maintenance ticket, so we have to switch to another plane. I touched down in Colorado Springs at 2:30AM, approximately 11 hours and forty-five minutes after my originally scheduled arrival time.

So, the rental car place is closed so I have to stand in 2 degree weather and wait for the airport to radio for some taxis to show up. I get into my hotel room, leave a voice message for my boss and set my alarm for 8:30AM, despite the fact that its after 3AM now and feels like 4AM to me.

I finish what I went out there to do, get mucho kudos from my boss and spend most of the following night in bed coughing. I get up early Wednesday and head to the airport, certain the bad weather had passed over Dallas by now. Oh, no. Now they had snow and freezing rain. My 11:15 flight turned into a 12:40 flight. My two hour layover gets shorter and shorter. I arrive and my flight is supposedly on time. I huff it to the other terminal and hope my bag makes it before we take off. That should never have been a concern. At 4PM, I realize my 4:10 flight should be boarding by now. I also notice there's no plane at our gate. Guess the ice in Lubbock has delayed the incoming plane. 4:15 becomes 4:30 becomes 5:20 becomes 5:45. I get home that night at 8PM. Considering my flight out, being an hour and a half later than I planned was no big deal.

I go to work Thursday for two hours, my boss apologizes, then I leave to go to the doctor. The night before I had not only been up coughing, but I'd taken some serious cough syrup that gave me a stomach ache to severe, I thought my gallbladder had grown back and was having a spasm. The doctor's verdict - my cold is now bronchitis. Great. On to Walmart for antibiotics and an inhaler (oh yay) and then home to sleep. Sleep is good. The plus side to all of this (if there is one) is that I got paid for that entire debacle and it allowed me to take Thursday and Friday off sick without burning sick time. Some of those poor people were just trying to get home from vacation or something. I also got to read two great books - Drop Dead Gorgeous by Maven Linda and Prince of Magic by Maven LJ - both awesome and highly recommended.

The lesson of all this...hell, I don't know that there is one, other than always carry granola bars and extra books in your purse. I guess another lesson could be not to fight your destiny too hard. Sometimes that relationship that falls apart or that painful R might be guiding you to where you're really destined to be. "God Bless the Broken Road" and all that. If you fight for something that isn't yours to have, you might end up stranded on a cot in the corner of the Dallas airport.
Share your worst airport drama with the group (we're talking minor drama, no plane crashes or burn victims, please). The story I deem the most pathetic will win your choice of a book to carry with you the next time you get stuck at the airport.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

An End

I'm writing this blog ahead of time because my hotel only has dial-up in the rooms and the common areas with high speed are far, far away (as in acres away in different buildings) and I have no idea how often I'll get there.

By now I'm probably exhausted. We've done Magic Kingdom, Sea World, visited my Grandma, Animal Kingdom, MGM and Epcot. Jeez that looks like a lot. I hope we've scheduled ourselves enough down time to avert tantrums, in-park meltdowns and frazzled parent syndrome. We'll see. I did however do 2 rather intelligent things, if I do say so myself.

First, I scheduled today as free. We have absolutely no concrete plans. We have tickets to Wide World of Sports, Disney Quest and the water parks (although I figure it's probably too cold to use them). We also have a second day ticket back to Sea World. But if we decide all we want to do today is sit in our room and watch TV - well then that's what we'll do. This is supposed to be a vacation after all.

Second, we scheduled ourselves Saturday and Sunday at home to recover from our vacation before we all have to return back to real life.

My vacation is coming to an end but so many things are starting up. I put off all my New Year's resolutions until after this trip so I have a list of things facing me when I return. But unlike my normal to do list these are all things I'm looking forward to. I'm starting on my diet and exercise program (yes I'm looking forward to this. I always feel so much better when I can fit it into my schedule). I'm chomping at the bit to start a new writing project. I've got people screaming in my head for attention - now I just have to decide which order to listen to them.

I know I'm probably a little sad, knowing that this great experience is almost over for me and my girls. But I have so much to look forward to when I get home.

Instigator - who is no doubt going through email and blog withdrawal!!

P.S. Yesterday's winner is krissyinva. Email Playground Monitor with your name and snail mail addy.

Also, check the post directly below for a chance to win another copy of Kristi's book, Fall From Grace.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Prequel to "Fall from Grace"

Promises Kept is the prequel Kristi mentioned in one of her comments earlier today. It fits right in with the whole concept of the Everlasting Love line and involves secondary characters from Fall from Grace.

Read the six chapters posted so far and come back here and comment on the story.

One participant will win a copy of Fall from Grace.

Wednesday's winner of a copy of FFG is krissyinva. Email me with your snail mail addy and I'll send you your advance copy of the book.

Guest Blogger: Kristi Gold

In 2002 I stumbled across a Desire authors' chat and one of the participating authors was Kristi Gold. I was new to reading romance and had never read any of her books. But the one she was promoting sounded interesting and I bought it. Then I went searching for her backlist. I loved her voice, her style and the way her books are liberally sprinkled with humor and passion. Her Alpha heroes, especially the sheikhs, are to die for. A few dozen fan letters later, we decided we'd one day collaborate on a romance based on our common Alabama background. I still have a photo she sent me with the following printed on it: Dearest Marilyn, I would be honored to star in the film version of your blockbuster novel Twisted Redneck Love. Please keep me in mind. Love, Mel

That's Gibson. However I'm thinking Matthew McConaughey might be more to my liking these days. But thus was born a friendship and every year at RWA we gather in the "Executive Conference Room" as she likes to call it and catch up, have fun and oh yeah... talk a little about writing. Please welcome Kristi Gold to the Writing Playground blog.

I’m so happy to be back on the Playground and a belated Happy New Year to all! I must confess that I wasn’t exactly sad to see the end of 2006, although I learned quite a bit the past year. I learned I can eat fast food three nights in a row and not feel too guilty. I learned that laundry can pile up and the world doesn’t come to a stop until I’m almost out of underwear. I learned I have fingers that will ache if I over do it at the keyboard. Most important, I learned that life happens and that chaos is inevitable at times.

That chaos began mid-summer when my husband and I decided to put our house on the market in order to downsize right before we moved our last kid to college out-of-state. I resigned myself to the fact that once prime real estate selling season was up, i.e. August, we wouldn’t have an offer until next spring. Wrong. We sold the house in October, made a mad dash to find a replacement, then moved the first of November—right in the midst of finishing one deadline with another looming. Of course, it was my bright idea to renovate our new abode while trying to write during the process. I’m proud to report I did get the book finished and turned it in two weeks before Christmas. I also somehow managed to locate the tree two days before the holiday among the boxes that I’ve only recently unpacked and apparently multiplied when left alone to their own devices. I’ve now decided that the old adage “that which does not kill us makes us stronger” is patently true, otherwise I might be on life support.:)

As far as my career is concerned, I’ve recently made a move from Silhouette Desire into Special Edition. Admittedly that was scary, leaving a line that has been my mainstay for some seven years. But as life is a series of changes and challenges, so are decisions writers sometimes have to make for the sake of their craft and the need to grow and explore other venues. Through Jenna’s Eyes (written to the sounds of hammers and drills) will be out in June and features another sibling from the O’Brien family I introduced in my November and December Desires.

Speaking of growth, I also have a February release that will launch the new Everlasting Love program, Fall From Grace. This was actually a story I began ten years ago but set aside when I turned from writing more mainstream romance to series books. Fortunately it survived several computer crashes and a lack of direction to find a home with Everlasting, which just goes to show timing can really be everything—and it’s not such a bad thing to be a hard drive packrat.

Now I have a favor to ask all of you. My extremely talented web designer, Roxann Delaney, has developed a Fall From Grace book trailer that opens immediately when you go to my website. If you have a moment, take a look and be sure you have the volume turned on. Not only am I proud of the finished product, I’m very curious to know if this trailer serves as an enticement to learn more about the book. Your comments are more than welcome and greatly encouraged.:)

Again, I’m so glad I’ve been given the opportunity to come out and play!


A postscript from Kristi:

Acck!! I've blown out my bandwith? I knew I should've laid off the holiday chocolate! And did I mention I've crashed several computers?:)

Okay, another burning question. How much does a cover influence your purchase of a book? I ask because I had an, uh, unusual cover back in May. Just wondering if that comes into play for some of you, even if the author is normally an auto buy.

Hopefully our problems with the website will be resolved by day's end. If not, my sincerest apologies.:)


P.S. One person who visits Kristi's website and comments on the trailer will win a copy of Fall From Grace, which is not yet available in stores. Lucky you! I've read the book twice already and loved it! Or comment on her question about covers and qualify too.

Here they are: The Covers

The Hooters Girl?

Harrison Ford & Chevy Chase's love child
(but oh lordy was this hero sexy in the book!)

The White Shoes Diary

Original Fall from Grace cover

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Pop Goes the Weasel (sigh)

This is Squeaky Martin Rascal.

The stuffed weasel.

Squeaky was a Christmas present from my Beloved Cousins to AC. AC is in love with Squeaky. It rode home from Tennessee and doubled as AC’s pillow that first night, and she’s slept with it every night since.

You can tell it’s a favorite toy because it has an actual name. Most of AC’s stuffed toys have names like “Small White Bear,” or “Big Brown Bear.” There’s a bear named "Ted, " but DG helped with that one. We also have a doll named "Sister," one called “Wee AC” and several named “Bob” (because I am no good at naming dolls, so I just called them all Bob and it stuck.) Squeaky Martin Rascal has been given 3 original names without any parental input. He is indeed special.

Squeaky sleeps with AC. Now there is a menagerie in the bed with AC most nights, but Squeaky is the one that gets to cuddle up with AC and sleep under the covers.

The weasel is beloved.

But not by me.

For the first week or so Squeaky slept with AC, I’d have a heart attack when I’d go in to tuck her in before I went to bed. Just picture what Squeaky looks like in the glow of a night light around 11pm. If you thought, “Like a giant rat about to eat your child’s ears off,” you are exactly right.

DG, of course, finds the attempted murder of a stuffed animal extremely amusing. I don’t. It is very hard to sleep after the adrenaline rush caused by the need to save my child from a giant rat.

AC has a bed full and toy box full or cute stuffed toys—cuddly bunnies, fuzzy teddy bears, cute kitties and doggies and even a couple of sweet looking dinosaurs—yet she is drawn to the weasel. (shudder)

A weasel.

I’ve resigned myself to the weasel. There’s no sense trying to fight it or turn her attention somewhere else.

But let me just say that when AC comes crawling into our bed in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning, that weasel is NOT welcome. It stays in her room. I’m not going to open my eyes and be nose to snout with a weasel. That would truly give me a heart attack.

So do y’all think I’m insane?


P.S. Don’t forget, Kristi Gold will be guest blogging with us tomorrow. Be sure to drop by—and bring a friend with you. Copies of her new book launching the Everlasting line are up for grabs!!

P.P.S. Angel's carpet adventure has gone into overtime. (Yes, she is beyond thrilled.) She'll announce her winner later this week. Keep checking in to see if it's you!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Manic Monday


Just another Manic Monday....

That's for sure. I'm having carpet installed in my house today. Before this could happen, I had to clear everything out of the house that didn't take two grown men to move. When it's done, I have to move everything back in. Fun, fun.

I wish it was Sunday, 'cause that's my Fun Day.....

Actually Saturday and Sunday were great days. On Saturday I got to have lunch with the Playfriends and Mavens at Rumors, then attend an awesome HOD meeting with a presentation given by the local Tactical Unit (SWAT team). Then it was off to the Broadway musical The Producers with a walk on appearance by PM's hubby (see below posts) with my own husband. On Sunday I got girl time with Drama Queen when we went to see the Lipizzaner Stallion show. Gorgeous. Can we go back to the weekend, please?!?!

So I'm not very inspiring today. Sorry. Hopefully next week will be better. But until then, why don't you tell me what's making your Monday Manic? I'll choose one of today's lucky commenters to win a book to make up for all the craziness. Sound good?


Break a leg - Part Deux

The curtain has dropped. The spotlights have dimmed. Costumes and make-up are off. The show is over. But the excitement lives on.

The DH (and I had to explain to him what that means -- Dear Husband in cyber-lingo) made his big debut last night in "The Producers" and he was a smash! So now he has become DHtS -- Dear Husband the Star. Escorted by his lovely leading lady Alison, he made his way across the stage with charm and panache, paused at the appropriate moment and then entered the front doors of the on-stage Schubert Theater. Dressed stylishly in a tux with a cape and derby, he could have graced the pages of any fashion magazine.

My heart was a-flutter when his big scene began and I punched the friends on either side of me to let them know his big moment was coming up. He made us all proud and I hope the sponsor of the contest was pleased with his performance as well. We found out last night this is the first time they've ever done this. So not only did he make his debut, he was a trailblazer as well.

I really should let him blog about his experience seeing the show from the other side of the curtain. He was amazed at the amount of work behind the scenes and how they achieved the effects we'd seen on Friday night. He was especially impressed with Trinity, the stage manager, and the amount of work he did to keep the three-hour production running smoothly. But most of all, he keeps talking about how friendly and nice the entire cast was.

He was "just" the walk-on, but they all made him feel welcome and even gave him a couple small souvenirs from the show -- the boutinniere he wore in his scene (a fake carnation I would have sworn was real), the hankie from his tuxedo pocket, a couple luggage tags with the show's logo and a signed poster. I'm taking all his memorabilia to the craft store and having it framed for his office. It's definitely an evening we won't forget.

DHtS & Alison, his lovely leading lady, who is part of the Ensemble

DHtS & John (Carmen Ghia)

DStS & Joshua (uh... you know who)

DHtS & Jesse (Franz Liebkind)

DHtS & Austin (Leo Bloom)

Trinity, the stage manager

P.S. Someone asked how he won. WRSA radio had a contest where they took 3 qualifiers each day for 5 days (you had to call in when you heard a particular song from the show). He was the correct caller one morning on his way to work. Then at the end of that week, they put all 15 qualifiers' names in a bowl and drew one out. And the rest is history.

Our thanks go out to WRSA and The Broadway Theatre League for this magnificent opportunity.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Break a leg

I'm blogging from the Embassy Suites hotel in beautiful downtown Huntsville because last week the DH won a big prize package that included a night in the hotel, a couples massage, dinner at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse and tickets to the opening night of a Broadway touring company of "The Producers."

We checked in yesterday after lunch, had our massage, got cleaned up and went for dinner. Oh. My. God! The food is heavenly and the service is grand. I had lamb chops, he had a ribeye and we shared bread pudding with whiskey sauce.

Then we went to the show. The basic premise is that a down-and-out Broadway producer and a shy accountant realize they can make more money with a flop than a hit. So the show details their search for the worst play ever written, the worst director and the worst actors.

It was such fun! And did I mention we were invited to the cast party afterward? That was fun too, especially since the DH met the actress he'll be onstage with.

Oh... did I forget to tell you that part of the prize package was a walk-on role in tonight's show and 6 more tickets so his friends could see him? When the curtain goes up tonight, he'll be backstage in the tux they rented for him and I'll be in the audience with 3 of the Playfriends and 1 of the mavens plus a couple we've been friends with for a number of years. We'll be cheering wildly when he makes his "Broadway" debut.

We'll report later about his part, how he did and our after-the-show get-together at the hotel.

Until then, have a great day. And I need to remember to tell him to "Break a leg!"

Friday, January 12, 2007

She Who Hesitates Loses the Best Home Lot & Move in Specials

Well, all I can think to write is this - I bought a house tonight and I've got a cold. The cold has made it difficult for me to think of anything but those two things. My head is fuzzy. I'm going to write this and go back to bed and dream of new countertops and walk-in closets.

I know. You're thinking that I just posted a few weeks ago that I was ready to get a new house. I guess most people can spend weeks or months in this phase. Thinking, looking, comparing. Those people aren't as anal or as web savvy as myself. Over the last month, I've poured over floorplans, toured houses, looked online at the Better Business Bureau, got preapproved from my mortgage company... I went back to the first neighborhood I looked at, narrowed it down to two floorplans, then let DB look at them. After a couple rounds of discussions, I opted to buy the smaller of the two houses (so I could afford to buy furniture and, you They were having a great promotion, so I made an appointment with the lady there and boom...bought a house. I've got an appointment in two weeks to pick faucets and lights and carpet or whatever, then they start building. By Nationals, or even by the Playground trip to Scotland, I should be in my brand new 2300 square foot house!

All these decisions were made as I ignored my writing career this last week or so. Can't sell a book? Get rejected? Distract yourself with blueprints and fabric swatches. Works wonders, although a tad expensive. I also spent last Saturday with the Playfriends and Counselor Shelley, drowning my sorrows in chick flicks, buttered popcorn and strawberry cheesecake ice cream. After disclosing that tidbit, we won't discuss how I haven't been to the gym in over a month. Losing 30 lbs was not on my New Year's Resolutions list, although it should've been. I'm sure the stress of selling my house and moving into the new one will either cause me to gain or lose 15 pounds. I could go either way. Let's hope its down.

I know a lot of us douse our sorrows with shopping and Ben & Jerry's. I've got several faboo pairs of shoes from slight bouts of depression and a pint of B&J Cherry Garcia or Oatmeal Cookiehas certainly been known to perk me up. (Until I read the nutritional info on the side of the carton, of course.)

What was your last great 'shop until I feel better' purchase? Not everyone buys houses, of course, but shoes? A new purse? Redecorate your guest room? If not shopping, what's your favorite indulgent food?


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Magical Moments

I can pretty much tell you that today is going to be the day I run around like a chicken with my head cut off. We're leaving for Disney in the morning (as in 4 AM) and will be in the car with a 5 and a 2 year old for 12 hours. Oh joy! But once we get there.... It'll be heaven.

At the moment I think I'm more excited than my children about this trip. I've spent months planning it - researching the best place to buy tickets, the best (and cheapest) places to eat in the parks, buying them pins on ebay so they can participate in the pin trading (something new at the parks since the last time I've been)... I've been to Disney more times than I can count (my grandmother lives about an hour away) but knowing that this time I get to experience it through my girls' eyes is somehow more exciting.

I don't think it's an accident that this year is The Year of a Million Dreams at Disney. They're giving away prizes, nights in the castle suite, all sorts of things to make dreams come true. Disney has always been known as a magical place, a place where anything and everything can happen. This is not only a vacation. It's also a chance to remember that magical things happen everyday and that you don't need a national conglomerate to make your dreams come true.

Instigator - wishing everyone a magical week!

P.S. Congratulations to Nienke! She's our winner from yesterday. Please email to claim your prize.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Bye-Bye Bombshell

There are bombshells.

And there are yellow bombshells.

And there are blonde bombshells.

And then there was Bombshell.

In my lifetime I've seen lots of things appear on the scene and fall by the wayside -- black-and-white television, twenty-five cent movies, go-go boots, cheap polyester pants, love beads, pet rocks and lava lamps (though they are making somewhat of a comeback, which I hope is not true for cheap polyester pants).

Things come and go, sometimes faster than we'd like, and this month marks the end of the Silhouette Bombshell line of books. Bombshell was introduced in the summer of 2004 as a new and different kind of series. The stories were to revolve around the heroine and she was supposed to be kick-ass and in control. Despite its short life, Bombshell garnered quite a few accolades including the 2005 RITA for Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements and the 2006 RITA for Best First Book, numerous other contest wins, Waldenbook bestseller status and five books have been optioned for television.

Some blame Bombshell's demise on its lack of romance. The few I've read had heroines ranging from a Native American psychic to a woman who cleaned crime scenes to erase all evidence of a homicide or suicide to Whitney "Pink" Pearl, a CPA who blows the whistle on her company's creative accounting and has adventures that would make Stephanie Plum proud. Neither book had a happy-ever-after ending, but I enjoyed them all the same. Only the powers that be know all that went into the decision to cancel the line. But regardless, it's time to say bye-bye and wish all the authors well in their future endeavors.

What have you seen fall by the wayside in your lifetime? What were you glad to see go? What do you wish would come back?

One lucky commenter today will win an autographed copy of the very last Bombshell, ironically titled Staying
Alive, by Debra Webb.

P.S. We're happy to see many of our regular commenters back with us after the holidays. We hope you'll continue to visit and comment cause we love having you!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Desktop Excavations

According to PM’s desk calendar, today is “National Clean Off Your Desk Day.”

Does anyone else think the calendar is a bit late with this? The second Tuesday of January seems an odd choice. Clean off your desk sounds more like and end-of-the-year thing. But maybe TPTB have placed it in January because by today, pretty much everyone’s life is returning to normal, and they’ve returned to the office where tons of stuff has waited patiently over the holidays for them.

But Clean Off Your Desk day being today actually works for me. Between the holidays and then having AC home with me, I simply gave up on trying to get any writing done. I refused to feel guilty about it either. (The little writing I did get done is just a bonus.) Instead, I’ve spent the last weeks doing all the things that could keep me from my WIP—reading contest entries, event planning for the spring, planning the Playground Scotland Trip, painting the woodwork in the living room, cleaning out the Tupperware cabinet. Anything that AC and I could do together or I could do with AC underfoot. That way, none of those projects could become an avoidance tactic later on.

So I’ve been cleaning off my desk for weeks now—metaphorically speaking--waiting for the holiday madness to end and AC to return to school.

School starts tomorrow.

Unlike folks who started their New Year’s resolutions last week (and may have already broken them), my resolutions start tomorrow. Now that everything will be back to normal, I can actually start on those writing and exercise resolutions. And I’ll have a nice, clean desk to work on. (At least for a little while.)

So what shape is your desk in? Covered in stacks of paper? Or are you one of those super-organized people who always have a clean desk? What’s the strangest thing on your desk right this minute?

Monday, January 08, 2007

A Treasure Map

This past year I discovered the fun in creating a collage for my story. I use a posterboard where I glue various pictures of my characters or locations, important words and objects. I don't do them all at once, but instead they come together as the story does, filling in layer upon layer until they're both done.

Mine aren't as elaborate as some authors'. I've heard of more dedicated artists who even do 3D collages, intricate pieces made from craft store and attic finds. I'm afraid I just don't have the patience for that. :)

Today I received a project idea that combines my enjoyment of collage with all the goal making we've been discussing recently. Cheryl Richardson, a life coach, has an email newsletter that I receive each week. You can view it (and more detailed instructions for this project) at .

This week she talked about creating a visual map—a "treasure map"—of dreams and goals for the year. Just focus on the particular areas you sense will play an important role in your year, then collect images or objects that represent them. Either collage them or combine them on your chosen background.

This project will take some time and thought, but in the end you could have a beautiful visual representation of your hopes for the year. Richardson recommends placing the "treasure map" where you can see it everyday, focus on it.

Since I enjoy collaging anyway, I think this might be a good way of reminding myself to stay focused, to check in. (If the idea doesn't appeal to you, don't force yourself. You won't get anything out of it in the long run.)

How about y'all? Have you checked in this week? We all want to make it past January 2, right? When do your goals start? Have you set up a system for evaluating them?

I'm happy to say that I'm ahead of the curve on my revision goals for this month. I've hit the 100 pages mark and mapped out writing days for this week. Yay, me!!!


Saturday, January 06, 2007

A quote for today

When are you going to understand that being normal is not necessarily a virtue? It rather denotes a lack of courage. (Practical Magic)

Be courageous, y'all!!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Back To The Drawing Board

I was worried the other day that I wouldn't have anything to blog about. Oh, how cruel the Fates are. To quote Blair from Maven Linda's latest book DROP DEAD GORGEOUS "...the Fates are not cooperating. I hate the Fates, don't you? Whoever the dumb b!tches are." They solved that problem and crushed my ambitions in one quick blow.

Big surprise, I got a R on the full of FE I had in NYC. It was quick and painful - no compliments, no offers to read other material. Just a "won't work, thanks" letter dated December 21st, so they no doubt cranked it out quickly to clean off their desk before they went on vacation. That's half the reason I submitted in January last year. How was I to know it would be Christmastime again when I got my R. I've been a desk cleaning victim before. Not that I didn't deserve the R, they just always seemed rushed - no word for months, then BOOM, right at Christmas as they're heading out the door. It makes me wonder if more people get rejected in December and January than other months. So, a year since I submitted the partial originally, so not awful, timewise. They didn't let me dangle for 9 months, but that's the best thing I can say. Otherwise, its a year of my life spent waiting for nothing. The sequel I wrote is pointless. The next one I was plotting even more pointless.

The submission process is like crawling up this huge ladder. If you move up one rung and submit a query and get knocked down, it smarts, but you've only fallen a foot or so. Up a few more rungs when your partial is requested and you submit it. By the time you've climbed high enough that your full MS is up there, it starts to get dangerous. If you don't make that last step that allows you to climb off the ladder onto the platform of publication, you've got a long way to fall. And you were so close. So close. And now you have to start all over. With a bruised hind-end.

Now what? Its one thing to write while you've got your work circulating, another to write knowing this is all you've got. Everything is riding on what you're writing right now and by the time you finish and start that submission process...if I'm lucky, I could have an '09 on my cover. If not...maybe that one gets rejected, I write two or three more before I finally succeed...maybe 2011? 2012? It makes me tired just thinking about working all those years with nothing but 'education' in return.

I'm writing this less than an hour after reading the letter, so its still very fresh, very raw. I'm sure I'll feel fine in a few days. Some alcohol and some chocolate might do the trick. Just not right now.

So...setbacks...we've all had them. How do you deal? Tell me an uplifting story about a time you thought you'd never accomplish your goal, but triumphed nonetheless. Please.


Thursday, January 04, 2007


I got nothing. My brain is completely blank. I've been staring at this big white box of space for fifteen minutes now (thanks for the email distractions! I needed something to break the monotony).

Now, I'm not so stupid as to think that this experience is anything close to writer's block. I've had writer's block. For eight months while I was pregnant with Baby Girl. No matter how many times I'd sit my butt in front of my computer screen nothing would happen.

This is different, and yet close enough. There's this pressure to perform, to come up with something intelligent, witty, entertaining... Nope. Still nothing. Maybe later in the day inspiration will strike. For now, I'm going to throw out a couple things - discuss.

Nick Saban leaving Miami to come to Alabama has been a huge topic of conversation in our media today. Someone at my office made a comment today that stuck with me. She asked how Saban could trust Alabama or how Alabama could trust Saban. They've both broken contracts in the last few months, contracts that they both staunchly defended when they were originally signed (up until a couple weeks ago as well). My answer - they can't. But at least they both know what the other is in it for. As long as Alabama's winning Saban'll be okay. And as long as Saban's getting paid (and his wife is happy) Alabama'll be okay. Thoughts?

I've been pulling together information on Disney World over the last few weeks. We're taking the girls week after next. I've been several times in my life but not very recently. Anyone got some tips to share? Dos and Don'ts?