Sunday, April 30, 2006

A Cluttered Mind

Over the past six months, I've discovered that uncertainty in the writing arena of my life can be crippling. In this instance, I've been uncertain over where to submit my manuscripts and to whom. At times, it has interfered with my ability to write. Every time I sit down to work, the worries float to the surface and interrupt the flow of words. At the very least, it sucks the joy out of the writing process.

Why is this such a big deal? you ask. Well, quite frankly, I'm a bit of a control freak. I like to be organized and have a clearly defined path to follow. Sad, but true. I'm also a worrier. If I don't have something real to worry about, I'll find or create something. Also sad, and embarrassing. But there it is, my flaws in the open for all to see. Those close to me know I don't hide them very well. :)

Anyway, I've been noticing how this lack of a clear path has inhibited my writing and I've pondered why this is and what I can do about it. Of course, I know I need to stop worrying and not let it interfere. But that's easier said than done.

Today I received an inspiring email in my inbox. It was from Cheryl Richardson, a life coach who is the author of several books, has her own website and newsletter, has appeared on Oprah, and does an internet call-in show. She sends out a newsletter every week, which I enjoy reading for its encouragement and spiritual approach to life issues. Part of the newsletter included these words:

"When we attempt to control an uncontrollable situation we not only waste precious energy, we clog up our mental bandwidth with junk--worry, assumptions, fearful thoughts, etc."

I tend to waste a lot of energy worrying over things I can't change. That energy would be better channeled into the things I can change. But reading this week's newsletter helped me see so clearly how all this worry was clogging up my creative channel. No wonder the writing is slow! Each time it tries to flow, I tighten the valve by thinking, "What's the point of getting this done? I don't even know what I'll do with it at that point."

And when I cut off my ability to write, I lose a lot of the happiness in my life. As many of you know, when the writing is flowing, life is good. When it's not, everyone better watch out! How sad that sometimes it is self-inflicted. What a waste!

What can I do about this? Well, I don't think I'll change from a worrier to an eternal optimist overnight. Much as my husband would like that. He's one of those irritating "glass-half-full" people. Stealing a phrase from a friend of mine, if my glass was half full, I'd pick it up and drink it until it was half empty.

But I can recognize when I'm letting those thoughts get out of hand and try to replace them with something more constructive. Or remind myself that I can worry about that later. (Is delayed worrying healthier?) I can try to remember that where I send my manuscript isn't really important until I have something to send.

Well, it is certainly worth a try. What do you do when you find yourself worrying about something that's out of your control?


PS-Check out some of Cheryl Richardson's words of wisdom at!

PPS-This is the first blog I've posted in the last month that didn't get cut off before I could actually publish it. Special thanks to the cable tech who stuck around long enough to find the problem last week! After four days without internet service, I thought I'd lose my mind.
Our Playground Monitor is spending the weekend cheering for her son at his last college track meet so it is my pleasure to announce the winners of her
Win a Day at the Beach (Almost) contest

Please join me in saying


Kathy Nitsch of Sarasota, FL.
She is the grand prize winner
Pam Hodges of Anna, IL.
our 2nd place winner
Thanks to everyone who entered.
And don't forget, starting tomorrow Angel will be taking entries for our next contest
A Night of Suspense
Stay tuned for more details later this week.

Friday, April 28, 2006

The Long & Winding Road

They say life is a journey not a destination. So to is the mangled writing process. If you get to your destination (sell a book), it's because of the road that led you there. No one just walks out the door and sells a book to the editor perched on their patio. (Don't point it out if anyone does because it will just upset me.) They head out, get their map and get into the car. They take a few detours, get lost, circle around, stop for food or silly pictures with a roadside attraction... Somedays they fly down the interstate at 80 mph, some days they get stuck behind a big piece of farm equipment on a two lane country road where they can't pass. (Can you tell I live in a rural area?)

For me, it has been a long and occasionally frustrating drive filled with ups and downs, curves and the occasional dead end. I don't know that I will ever reach the big red X that symbolizes the big sale, but I know that I am much better prepared than I was when I left the house.

Today when I leave work, I'm mailing my revised partial out. I've spent the better part of two months sweating over every detail. Cutting, pasting, revising, elaborating...I'm surprised the story still makes sense after all the alterations I've made. I sent the revision out to the Playfriends for a reality check before it hits the mail. The verdict: MUCH better than the first one. WHEW - I hope the editor agrees! I know we all like to think that our first draft may be perfect, but there's always room for improvement. (If you don't think so, pull out an MS you wrote a couple years ago and see if you don't cringe.)

As I complete my revisions for the full request I hope will come, I know that I could not have written the book I have without the winding path I've taken. Hopefully my next journey will be that much shorter for the knowledge I gained on this trip. How about your journey? How has it made you a better writer?


PS - Don't forget to enter our March/April Contest to Win a Day at the Beach (almost!) There's Tim McGraw sand up for grabs here! If you entered our January/February contest, be sure to enter again!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Emotion - How many ways can one person smile?

I'm going to keep this short and sweet today :-) But there is homework (And YES I expect you to do it PC. Instigator sticks her tongue out in anticipation of the response she will get).

As everyone who'll listen knows, I'm in the middle of reworking my current WIP. I'm paying specific attention to writing my character's emotions in a new and interesting way. I'm trying very hard to leave out any and all cliches (assuming I can spot them :-) and trying to use my own unique voice, perspective and the characters to write things in a different way.

I hope I'm succeeding because I think if I do it will be a major hurdle for me as a writer - ranking right up there with learning conflict and motivation.

So here's my question and your homework :-) If you're a writer - how do you infuse emotion into your books in a unique way? Do you have a specific passage that you're particularly proud of? That you worked exceptionally hard to achieve that perfect description/inflection/reaction?

And if you're a reader - do you notice when something is written or described in a unique way? Do those sorts of things jump out of the book at you? If so can you share something that might have caught your attention and why you felt it was unique?

Instigator - shamelessly picking everyone's brain for personal research :-) Thanks for helping!!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Writing as a Blood Sport

Some people think this writing stuff is easy. You just turn on the computer, open a new document and whammo! The words leap magically from your fingers to the page and before you know it you have cranked out another story.

Yeah, right.

Maybe it works that way for some people, but for me it’s always been more like that quote from the late New York sports writer Red Smith. He said writing is easy. You just open a vein and let that vein bleed one word at a time onto the page.

Now THAT is what writing is generally like for me. And my most recent project appeared as if it was going to require a transfusion after I completed it. That'll be a pint of O positive, please.

When I write, I do a lot of research. Lots and lots of research because I'm a stickler for facts. I remember reading a book where the hero was injured in a fight on board a plane during an overnight flight from Miami, Florida to Havana, Cuba. Uh... overnight? It's only 225 miles. And she set the story at an inn on a cliff overlooking waves crashing against the rocks -- on the coast of Georgia. Now I happen to know a thing or two about the Georgia coast because my sister has lived there for the past twenty-seven years and my mom has been there for fourteen years. There are no cliffs or big rocks.

I also tend to write best at night so I burn an awful lot of midnight oil. It's not uncommon for me to crawl into bed at two or three o'clock in the morning. Of course, I have an empty nest and don't have to get up with small children so I have that luxury.

Sometimes I wish I could just take that midnight oil lamp, rub it vigorously and have a genie pop out with all the answers.

Back to the transfusion.

A week ago a magazine editor posted on one of my email loops and called for stories with a military theme. A year or so ago, I’d done a writing exercise where I wrote 1000 words about a fire fighter who had been blinded in a back draft. Blah, blah, blah and with the love of a good woman, he put his life back together and learned to love again.

So I put on the thinking cap and decided to make the fire fighter a soldier and instead of back draft he’s blinded in a bombing. Bingo!

Then the editor posts that if you don’t have a military background, this is going to require a great deal of research because she wants articles that ring true since many of their readers are involved with the military in one way or another.

Okay. I’m married to a man who was classified 4F during the Vietnam era and I know zilch about the military, so I open Google and search for “soldier+Iraq+blinded+bombing” and I get a hit about a soldier blinded in a car bombing. Actually the article was about him learning to ski again and his ski trip to Vail. So I’m thinking the soldier in my story needs to be bitter about losing not only his sight, but feel as if his whole life has gone down the tubes. However, with the love of a good woman, he'll learn that he can continue with his life and career plans despite the blindness. And they live happily ever after.

Then I started writing, blew him up and realized I know zip about what happens when a soldier is wounded in the field. Google proved to be no help, no doubt because I was not entering the right search words.

That’s when I began banging my head against the wall and wondering how I was going to solve this part of the problem.

Some of my help came through pure dumb luck. I picked up a back issue of Reader’s Digest in a moment of boredom and good grief if one of the cover articles wasn’t about a member of the bomb squad in Iraq. I got loads of great info about improvised explosive devices (AKA bombs), how they work, how they’re diffused and the havoc they create.

Then I remembered one of my email loops has three women whose husbands are active duty military. One is a chaplain, one is a doctor and the third is in the National Guard.

The chaplain and his wife are in the process of moving from one post to another so she’s otherwise detained. But the other two have been posting regularly on the loop so I sent out smoke signals that spelled out a frantic SOS.

In the couple years that I’ve been writing, I’ve learned that writers are a very sharing group. No matter your dilemma, you can probably find someone on an email loop or message board who can help or point you in the right direction. This particular email loop was formed about two years ago when we all “met” on eHarlequin while participating in the Writing Round Robin led by Roxanne St. Claire. After the RR was over, we wanted to continue socializing and helping each other like we’d done on the message boards. We had dubbed ourselves the “Writing Round Robin Hood” and thus “Romancing the Hood” was born.

We’ve shared our expertise in various areas. I’ve advised others about the South, NASA and architects. I've told them what to expect when you attend a national RWA conference. And now it was my turn to ask for help. I posted and asked about wounded soldiers and how/where they are treated and if being blinded would automatically cause a soldier to be discharged. I got tons of terrific information that would give the story the authenticity I needed.

When I had the story complete, I asked both women if they would mind reading and offer their feedback from a military spouse’s viewpoint.

Then they went the extra mile. They both gave the story to their husbands and had them read it.

The National Guard guy said it rang true in terms of the situation and the lingo. When I read that I was pumping my fist in the air.

Next I heard back from Doctor guy and bless him, he made notations on the document and clarified a few things, and he even pointed out one place where I’d switched from first person to third and messed up the POV. With the few changes he recommended, he said it was right on the money. Another fist pump and a big whoop!

I had lots of questions and all four of these people had lots of answers that they gave freely.

So I’d like to send a great big thank you to Linda, Steve, Donna and Michael for all their help and infinite patience. And thanks to the rest of the Hood for putting up with all our chatter.

The story is winging its way to NYC right now. With luck it will catch the editor’s eye and make it into a future issue.

I’ll keep you posted. Actually I probably won’t have to – if they buy it, you’ll be able to hear me yelling and screaming. ;-)

Have you ever received help from an unusual or unlikely source?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Playground Rules

We have rules here on the Playground.

1. No running. (Mainly because we don’t like to break a sweat.)

2. No throwing. (Because based on our athletic ability, “you throw like a girl” would be a compliment.)

3. No hitting. (Because I might break a nail.)

4. No spitting. (Because it’s just plain gross.)

5. No tattling. (Vegas Rules, baby. What happens on the Playground, stays on the Playground.)

6. No hoarding the chocolate. (Because we all need the endorphins.)

7. Watch your mouth. (This rule is rather important. (Says the girl with small feet so she can put them both in her mouth at the same time.) I’ve seen too many people say things on their blogs that make me cringe in embarrassment for them. Don’t they know that someone will find that blog entry berating that editor and will send the link to said editor? I’ve seen people fan the fires of flame wars instead of taking the high road or dig themselves in so deep it's scary. You want to throw them a rope, but you're afraid they'll hang themselves with it.

It’s dangerous to carry on like that in public. People are watching and those people have longer memories than we like to think. It’s easy to get lulled into a sense of complacency. After all, the same regular commentators show up on the blog, so they are the only ones reading it, right? Well, the seven thousand hits to this blog beg to differ. One of those hits could be my dream editor…I’d hate to destroy my chances just because I had a bad day and felt the need to vent.

There are authors I won’t read because I’ve been to their blogs and been horrified at what I’ve found there. There are unpubbed authors I won’t buy when and if they do become published because of things they’ve said on bulletin boards and email loops. The writing community is small, and the internet has made it even smaller. If your careless words don’t harm your chances with editors and agents, you may be running off potential readers.

We made a solemn vow when we built the Playground that we wouldn’t post anything on the site or on the blog that was negative about the industry, editors, agents, or other writers. I take this vow very seriously…not only because what I say may come back to bite me in the a$$, but also because the other Playfriends would be damaged by association. It’s one thing to torpedo your own career, but there has to be a special place in hell for those who torpedo others’ careers as well. So we all count to ten before we post anything, anywhere. And if we still aren't sure, we run it by the Playfriends for a second opinion.)

8. Play nicely with others. Of course, if you’re obeying the first seven rules, this one comes easily. It's, of course, the most important rule of all.

So, been in any trouble lately? Broken any Playground rules? Have a cautionary tale to tell? The Problem Child wants to know. Best (worst?) story gets a prize.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Vegging Out

As anyone living in my house can tell you, I'm a little stressed at the moment. My Mom has a wedding coming up in two weeks and I have a lot of responsibilities for it. That's not something I mind. I volunteered. But it has just made me a little stressed. Correction: I have made me a little stressed.

Drama Queen asked me today, "Mom, you are worried about Nana's wedding all the time, aren't you?" After marvelling at her insight, I replied, "Yes. Mommy is worried about the wedding. I have a lot of things I am doing for Nana's wedding and I want to do them really well. So that Nana can have a really nice wedding. I get a little nervous about it."

She nodded and went on about her business. I shouldn't be surprised that she noticed. I've been obsessing over what I would wear, invitations, flowers, and other various things for weeks now. I just want to do everything in my power to make my Mom's wedding as perfect as it can be. My therapist says striving for perfection is a real issue for me. :)

I've spent the last two days putting together the bridal bouquet. I think I've finally gotten it the way I pictured, with some help from my extremely talented Mother-in-law. No sooner had I finished glueing the ribbon over the stalks for the handle, my brain had begun the shut-down process. There was no going back.

There would be no more flower obsessing tonight, despite the fact that I have four more bouquets to go, not to mention window arrangements to plan. Instead, I took the night off. I rarely do this, because there are always a million things that need to be done after my children are in bed and snoring for the night. Okay, they don't snore, but they do breathe heavy.

Tonight I watched a movie while reading a book. My husband lacks any understanding of my ability to do this. After all, he's not a woman. He can barely carry on a conversation while watching television, much less comprehend words on a page. :) But I do this a lot. I have a movie in the background--usually one I've seen before--that I listen to and occassionally glance at when something interesting is happening. Meanwhile, I'm reading a book--new or old, doesn't matter. I find this very relaxing. It is my favorite way to veg out. Throw in a little chocolate (of course I did!) and I'm in heaven.

Hopefully my mind will function a little better tomorrow for having the break. I can go back to stressing about flowers and what shoes I'm going to wear and how I'm going to pack everything into my little car... Okay, I'll admit to being a little obsessive. Here's hoping I don't freak out before this is over. I may need a girls' night out... my second favorite way to veg out.

What's yours?


Saturday, April 22, 2006

A game for the weekend

I'm shamelessly borrowing this game from Miss Snark's blog, who shamelessly borrowed it from someone else...

I think it's called "1-2-3"

Here's how it works:

Grab the nearest book (really, the one closest to you at the moment. Don't go looking for a 'cool' one)

Turn to page 123.

Find the 5th sentence.

Post it here in the comments tail.

Amazing what some sentences look like out of context...

Here's mine:

Down then fell the hall and Gawain fell as well,
Falling in the ground where both his arms were broken,
So with my left hand I clutched my beloved sword
And struck off Modred's head and it went rolling over the ground,
And I sliced the queen into pieces with my beloved sword,
And after that I dropped her into a dingy pit.

Of course, the closest book to me was The Norton Anthology of English Literature because I was making out my class's final exam. This is from Layamon's Brut (ca. 1190). No wonder I don't teach this story in my class...ick.

Surely you can come up with something better...

Friday, April 21, 2006

PRO-fessional What, Exactly?

There’s been quite a buzz the last few weeks kicked up by a blog post by an outspoken editor. Basically, she chastized the PRO community for waving their pins around like it was supposed to mean something to her. Of course, this sent the PRO loops into a flurry of activity and discussion and even ended up on Ms. Snark’s blog, where she agreed that the designation meant very little to her or anyone else. This opened the floodgates for everyone and anyone to comment on the program.

As a PRO member, I guess I’ve gotten my feelings hurt a little bit by all this. I understand both sides of the story, but it seems like people have gotten unnecessarily ugly about the whole thing. Comments have ranged from the polite – “I think it’s okay to include that someone is a PRO member as long as they aren’t expecting something because of it” to wicked generalizations about how the PRO community, to paraphrase, is a bunch of whiny babies that insisted RWA acknowledge them for their struggles (sob!). Big whoop, they argue – anyone can write a bunch of crap and get rejected just so they can get a pin. Doesn’t strike me as having the same collectible qualities as the kind they trade at DisneyWorld.

There are probably people out there who did throw something together just to get the pin. There are also probably people who think that their PRO designation somehow gets them past the velvet rope into the hip Publishing Club. But I do think these people are in the minority. I believe the majority of PRO members are hardworking writers aspiring to one day publish a book. Acknowledging the accomplishment of completing that first book and the subsequent rejection is a right of passage in this business. Not something to be sneered at or fawned over. Just a milestone to acknowledge.

To me, it means that I’ve had the follow through to complete a book and submit it to an RWA recognized publisher for consideration. That doesn’t mean that my story was in the least bit worthy of publishing. It doesn’t mean that I know everything about the business and people should stand up and take notice. But it does mean that I’m on the right track. I’m finishing books and submitting them – it is harder than it seems. Just look at how many members of RWA are not PRO members – it isn’t as easy as some portray it to be. Am I after a pat on the back? Not really, although it wouldn’t hurt. This business seems more willing to hand out a kick in the teeth.

I guess it all comes down to the attitude. I’m glad I got my PRO pin and I’m grateful for the RWA sponsored resources available to me as a PRO member. If I include it on a query letter, it’s more for lack of other things to list on there – like published books or my twenty years of experience in forensics. It isn’t because I expect preferential treatment. Honestly, I’d be shocked if it earned me anything other than – “Ok, she’s finished at least one book.” I’d really rather they flip the page and get to my writing. That, more than any label will get me where I need to be. I just would hate to think that there are editors out there that balk at the mere mention of it.

What does PRO status mean to you? What’s your take on the controversy? Do you think RWA could or should make changes to the program to improve its reputation in the publishing community?


Thursday, April 20, 2006


The Writing Playground website reached 5000 hits today!

In the Zone

And no, I don't mean Auto Zone. I'm in the writing zone. Dialed into this story and the characters. To be honest, at the moment, this story is practically writing itself. I know, probably not an intelligent thing to say. We writers like to give the impression that blood, sweat and tears cover each and every page we produce. And while that is true 99.9% of the time, I live for these moments when it's easy. I know it won't last, cause it never does. I'm simply going to enjoy it for the moment. I'm putting words to the page (in rewrite mode since I've made changes during editing that are requiring me to practically rework the entire last half of this book) and solving plot issues I didn't even realize I had. The solutions are popping onto the page in the form of bantering dialogue and insightful introspection (makes me realize I should listen to the characters more often).

I love these moments. When the story takes on a life of its own. The characters are so real that even before something happens in my imagination I know how they'll react, what they'll say and feel. Ah, the joys of creation. Remind me of this moment when I'm pulling my hair out by the roots over some turning point that refuses to turn will ya?

You know what's exceedingly funny about this moment though? Just yesterday I was lamenting ever finding the solution to an issue that had cropped up. I was moaning and groaning - in my head of course. And today I wrote 14 pages of new stuff that not only fixed the problem but set up the black moment even better than I'd originally planned. Everything simply fell into place. God, I love these moments. They're so energizing. In fact, I was so energized I wrote this blog post three days early. Don't anyone faint. I figured I should take advantage.

So, what gives you that euphoric feeling?


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Oh Oh Oh Oh What a Feeling!

Published authors love to tell their story about "The Call" and then the excitement of seeing their first book on the shelf.

I've been able to experience my own version of this.

I learned on March 3 of this year that a story I'd written called "Death and Taxes" had been bought by True Confessions magazine. I got to yell and scream when the letter came in the mail (okay, so it wasn't really a call, but a postal notification), email my husband, family and friends, read the fine print on the contract, make a copy for my files, yell and scream some more and mail back the signed contract to my editor.

Does't that sound sweet? My editor.

Then I got to wait.

And wait.

And wait.

Even though the story was tentatively scheduled for the May issue, it's a loooooooooooong time from March 3rd to whenever the May issue is released.

Cue the drumroll cause the wait is over.

"But I don't see "Death and Taxes" anywhere," you say. That's because they gave it a new name. Look up there in the upper right corner just under the title. Yep, "My Personal Horror" is my first paid publishing gig for a major market.

Here's the inside copy. And no... the fellow in the bed isn't the tax man. ;-) My husband wanted to know if he was.

It feels good to finally see it on a store shelf and hold a copy in my hands. Actually, I bought three copies though I'm not sure why. That's two less on the shelf for a reader to buy.

My husband sat on the sofa last night and read every word. He told me if my name was on the story (TC doesn't give you a by-line on fiction) I'd probably get sympathy cards from readers (unlike romance, this story doesn't have a happy ending). I took that as a compliment.

My mom told me she read TC when she was younger and was going to search for a copy to show her friends. "My daughter, the published author," she wrote. And a published friend in California added it to her grocery list so she would remember to look for a copy. I'm truly touched.

In the meantime, I keep writing and submitting. The process gets a little easier and the words flow better but the waiting is still there. As long as they don't send it back in that SASE, it's still in the running. Right?

This definitely qualifies as my most exciting moment of 2006 (just nudging out turning 55 years old by a nose *g*).

What's YOUR most exciting moment for this year?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Cue the Angel Choirs

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

After weeks of hair-pulling, teeth-gnashing, endless pacing, and ceaseless whining, the major rewrite is done!

(Cue those angels again!)

I owe everyone a big thanks for your support (and for not slapping me for annoying the crap out of you with the teeth-gnashing, whining, etc.). To all the folks who held my hand, talked me down off the ledge, told me I could do it (and even told me to just shut up and do it), and listened to my rants—gracias. Muchas gracias.

My poor CP is covered up with chapters—once I got the big stuff done, the rest fell into place and the chapters just poured into her mailbox. She’s a champ, though, and she’s working her way through them in record time (Big Smooches!!). Barring any major issues she finds, I should have it ready to go to the next (final) reader in the next week or so, and off to New York shortly thereafter.

So I’m celebrating. Feel free to pop the top on some cyber-champagne and join me. Later, after the ms is on its way back to the editor, I’ll start questioning myself again—“Did I do what she wanted? Is it any good? She’s going to hate the changes. I didn’t change it enough. I added a cat—how stupid was that?” But today, my friends, we are simply celebrating the fact
And I’m very proud of myself for that fact. I was afraid I wouldn’t figure out how to do it. I was afraid I wouldn’t like the book after I changed the plot around. Regardless of what happens, I’ve learned a lot about my writing and my abilities, and a little of what it takes to be a writer.

Sure, it will hurt if it’s rejected after all the angst I’ve put into it, but this is a major milestone in my career. I don’t suck. I have the ability to put together a decent story (and then take it apart and rearrange it). I may have some more work to do on my craft, but I’m at least on the right track. An editor told me she loves my voice, and she liked my book enough to ask me to rewrite it.

Life is good.

While I’ve got the choir handy and the bubbly is flowing, share your own milestone or personal success you've hit recently. Each milestone you reach in pursuit of your big goal—whatever your goal is right now (writing, career, weight loss, whatever)—should be celebrated. It makes you realize the next milestone is achievable as well.

And it gets you that much closer to the dream.

Monday, April 17, 2006

No Show

Sorry about being a No Show this morning. I usually try to get my post up around midnight, but was working on my book and completely forgot. Honest, I was!

Out of everyone, the Children and my critique partners will be the most surprised. I've found, unfortunately, that when I walk away from my writing for any period of time, it is very difficult for me to get back into the story. Then why walk away? Life happens.

But life (i.e. other obligations, children, a husband who needs some occassional attention, and my resume business, among other things) isn't the only complication. More ephemeral things tend to get in the way: worry over whether I'll ever get it right, whether someone besides me will like it, where I'm going to send it, who I'm going to send it to. Can you tell I worry a lot? :)

Kira and I have talked quite a bit about how to handle this little problem. We tend to have similar issues, since we both have small children. Juggling is always a problem, because there is always something waiting to be done. I've been told repeatedly to PRIORITIZE. Getting even a little bit of work done on my writing first thing will move me along, then later in the day when I have more time I can come back to it.

Usually I do this well for a while. Then issues of urgency capture my attention and I have to remind myself of it again. Some days I despair of ever keeping to my ideal schedule. :) But then if I had time to write all day every day, that would mean my other life would be boring and lonely. Not that I don't dream about it sometimes, but still... :)

What does this have to do with anything? I'm not sure. Except that this morning I'm going to turn on my AlphaSmart and pick up my chapter where I left off last night. Then I'll play with the kids, do laundry, fix lunch, exercise....


Sunday, April 16, 2006

New stuff on the Playground

Smarty Pants just updated the Playground!

Angel has a review of two Marliss Melton books: Forget Me Not and In the Dark.

Counselor Shelley has a new article on how to pick a fight--I mean, how to confront folks in a positive manner.

We're coming up to the last two weeks of our "Win a Day at the Beach (Almost)" contest. Be sure to enter--and tell a friend. Did you hear that PM has sand that has touched Tim McGraw?

And be sure to check out the Yearbook--the Hall of Feet has new Valentine and Easter photos, and there's great shots of us in our new Playground t-shirts!


Happy Easter Everyone!

Friday, April 14, 2006

In the Mood

Everyone has their favorite romance genre or category. Some are dedicated Desire or Intrigue readers. Some like the fully developed subplots of a single title. Myself, I am a hardcore fan of romantic suspense and am growing a greater appreciation of paranormal and fantasy by the day. Recently on the Midnight Hour Blog, one of the authors asked the question of why everyone read paranormals. I think I responded with some vaguely coherent rambling about the unlimited realm of possibilities – the attraction of the unknown and unexpected. Hot vampires work too.

But the more I think about it, the more I think it has a lot to do with the mood or the feel of the book. The darkness, the magic, the mystery all woven into it. The world building is so important to these stories. I’ve come to this conclusion as I struggle to incorporate these elements into my own paranormal MS. My first book was a YA fantasy set in another world. It was so much easier to bring the fantastical mood when the world was whatever I made it to be. The magic could be woven into every aspect of their lives - six inch vegetarian faeries just live differently than we do. A grasshopper - almost insignificant to us - can be a mode of transportation or a wild beast to them. Its obvious. Not so much with my paranormal.

How do I take an average woman living in contemporary Seattle and wrap her up in the dark and mysterious world of the vampire without –

A. losing her qualities of being just an average person in a bad situation
B. making the vampire world so fantastical that it becomes incompatible with the daily life of mortals
C. getting too bogged down in the cheesy, hocus-pocus side of old vampire B movies.

That’s where I am. I was watching Underworld the other day – a movie that features both vampires and werewolves running around London. It had such a dark quality – something intangible, but ever present and important. I know the feel that I’m looking for, I am just having a hard time capturing it on my pages. I’ve even been listening to the soundtrack of the movie as I write, trying to get myself geared up for it. I'm up for suggestions.

What kind of mood do you like in the stories you read? Light-hearted and romantic, emotionally uplifting, funny, suspenseful…? Is that different from what you write (if you do)? What do you do to capture the right "mood" for your stories?


Thursday, April 13, 2006

It's Time for Some Fun

I have no blog idea for today. That seems to be a playground theme this week. I don't know what it is - maybe the spring weather or everything on my to do list. Whatever it is my brain is zapped.

So I want to do something fun and creative :-) We're going to play a little game. I want everyone to participate (yes, that includes you lurkers out there. I swear I won't bite. Well, not unless you want me to...).

I'm going to post a paragraph. I want the next person to write the next paragraph and post it to the comments section. Then the next person who reads it, write the next paragraph and post to the comments section. Let's see what kind of story we can get going - how long we can make it - and whether we have a coherent product at the end. Feel free to let your imagination run wild. There is no right or wrong. There is no scoring, critiquing or editing. Simply go with your first instinct. Post anonymously if you don't want anyone to know it was you. You don't have to be a writer - in fact, if you're not a writer maybe this is your chance to try your hand at it. Just have fun.

Marcy walked up the concrete steps to the kitchen door. Her toes scrunched in her beat-up Nikes against the need to turn around and run away. Again. Reaching for the tarnished knob, she wondered what she would find inside the old farmhouse. Certainly the same familiar scent, dark and musty but with the faint hint of...blueberries. She never had figured out where that came from. Shaking the memory away, she flexed her fingers over the knob and screwed up the courage to twist. No matter what she found one thing was certain. Jim would not be behind that door. Not anymore.



Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Usually something will pique my interest and result in a somewhat intelligible blog entry. That isn’t the case today. It all began yesterday morning. I consulted my “To Do” list and saw I had to call a restaurant in western North Carolina to make reservations for a graduation dinner. #2 Son is graduating from college next month and we’re going to have 10 folks there (him included) to celebrate. So the B&B where DH and I are staying recommended a restaurant that looked just perfect. Did I mention that DH and I are celebrating our 33rd anniversary the day before graduation? Hence the B&B. But I digress. I call the restaurant and learn they’re closed that day because of a wedding. I’m at square one with the graduation dinner as well as my blog. So I’ll just ramble and maybe something will make sense.

The Playground Tea Party

Put any group of writers together and talk will turn to favorite books and authors. One will like pure romance, one will like suspense and another will like historicals. And when explaining why they don’t like something, the phrase “It’s just not my cup of tea” is frequently heard. Hopefully they have tried the tea before they deliver a verdict.

I’ve always been a tea drinker and enjoy trying different kinds. My latest favorite tea is chai. It’s spicy, milky and sweet. It’s not for everyone. But neither are romance or suspense or historicals.

I’ve been hearing for a while now how great the movie “Pride and Prejudice” is and I finally got to see it last night courtesy of a friend of the Playground who loaned me her copy. I never read Jane Austen when I was a girl; instead I read Nancy Drew, then moved to more complex mysteries and a few older gothic romances. The DH is on a trip so I had the big screen TV and surround sound to myself. I fixed myself a plate of cookies and a cup of tea and prepared to be transported back to Georgian England.

The sets, costumes and music were very well done. But let’s just say that P&P wasn’t my cup of tea. I much preferred “Crash,” which I’d watched a few nights earlier. Sorry all you P&P fans. I tried. I really, really did.


I made a list of errands I had to run today and it included a trip to Walmart. I’ve been patronizing this particular store for about a year now and can navigate it pretty well. I don’t have to ask for things too often now. But today I go in and they’re apparently remodeling the store. They’re tearing up flooring. They’ve moved half the fabrics and crafts department around. The shoes are across the aisle from where they used to be. I had to walk all the way around the camping and outdoors section to get to electronics – and then back again.

What’s the use of my organization if their organization is shot to pieces?

Stories, Babies and Birth

Babies take time to gestate. And when they’re all done, they’re born. Stories are like that too. You start from a little speck of an idea, you feed it, worry about it, watch it grow and then one day it decides it’s time to be born. While human babies take 40 weeks (give or take a couple), stories have no set gestational period. I have one that I’ve been tinkering with for two years. On the other hand I typed up a short feature piece for a magazine in about an hour today and mailed it in. Of course it was only 300 words, but it was ready to be born.

And speaking of being born, #2 Son was a real pain in the arse 23 years ago today. I remember it like it was yesterday. I’d gone to the doctor for my weekly check-up and when he checked, I was 5 centimeters dilated. After assuring him that I was not in labor, he told me to go home, do what I needed to do and then come back to the hospital later. I told him that I could make a phone call and arrange for someone to pick up #1 son from playschool. My suitcase was already packed and in the trunk of my car. And I could call the DH and he’d come straight to the hospital. I was ready to birth that baby because not only had he sat on my bladder since conception, he’d been pressing on a nerve for about a week and it was darned uncomfy.

So I drove myself to the hospital, checked myself in at 11:00 AM, all the while repeating that no, I was not in labor, but I would be soon, and got ready to have a baby. The doctor came in during his lunch break and broke my water at 12 Noon. My contractions started at 1 PM and he was born at 4:58 PM.

Happy birthday, baby boy!

Ideas and Copyright

I posted a week or so ago about the Dan Brown lawsuit and the threat to ideas if he lost.

I’m delighted to report that the court ruled in favor of Mr. Brown. Ideas are safe!

# # # # #

I know that the best way to end a blog is to ask a question. This provokes thought and generally generates comments. So my question to you today is:

What was Captian Hook's name before he had a hook for a hand?

And if that one puzzles you, how about:

What if the hokey-pokey really is what it's all about?

And just in case you need another:

Why don't you ever hear about gruntled employees?

P.S. We got our 6100th blog hit yesterday!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The blog entry without a clever title.

Many years ago when Counselor Shelley was in grad school, she had an interesting assignment. She had to draw her family as animals. (Gee, grad school sounds a lot like kindergarten sometimes.)

Remember, Shelley’s undergraduate degree is in Art. While the rest of her classmates pulled out notebook paper with stick-figure animals scrawled on it, Shelley’s was drawn by colored pencils on high-quality paper. Even more importantly, her animal family actually looked like animals.

Her hubby (a lawyer) became a shark. Her mom, a peacock. Her pregnant little sister was a kangaroo with a joey in her pouch. Shelley herself was a flamingo, and her stepfather was an owl. (Yes, these are all good choices—I’ll let you speculate as to why.)

Me? Shelley drew me as a sheep dog. Why? Well, because I’m always trying to organize everyone and everything. Instead of barking, I’m the one clapping my hands shouting, “Work WITH me, people!”

Kimberly, the sheep dog. (Keep the dog jokes to yourself, okay?)

Shelley’s not the only one who sees my sheep dog tendencies. The Playfriends seem to think I’m uber-organized for some reason as well.

Well, sorta. I’m schizophrenically organized. My office supplies are in sorted into clear plastic shoeboxes, contents listed clearly on white labels. My desk looks like a disorganized teenager dumped the contents of a backpack on to it—candy wrappers and all. All the events I’m planning have their own multi-sectioned, top-punched folders. Other small projects are in manila folders. All folders live in a Lucite hanging file organizer. But I’ve lost my checkbook four times in the past two weeks.

Ask me where my keys are this moment. Not a stinkin’ clue. Downstairs, somewhere. Probably close to my purse—wherever I left that. Ask me where the warranty information for the iron is. Third drawer of the filing cabinet, in the folder labeled “small appliances.” (No, I didn’t even have to go check.)

My watch hasn’t shown the correct date in five years. My shoes live in a giant pile on the floor of my closet (Amazing Child and I play a fun game—I find one of the shoes I want to wear, then she goes and digs for the other. I’m sure that’s teaching her some kind of important science skill.) But my CDs are in alphabetical order, and all the love letters Darling Geek wrote me while we were dating are in the top drawer of the file cabinet in their own folder.

I can organize luncheons, workshops, conferences—you name it. One time, I organized a conference at a rural state park 45 minutes outside the city and managed to get 200 people with limited English skills out there and back. Yet I forgot to invite one of the Playground’s favorite people to PM’s birthday party on Saturday (sorry Sabe!).

The Playfriends tease me about my lists. But I’d be lost without them (hence the invitation omission last week). They are the only hope I have of organizing myself. And I live with the hope of one day being truly organized—my inner sheep dog nipping at my heels instead of someone else’s.

Don’t ask me why some things are organized in my life and others aren’t. It’s not a matter of relative importance or anything. It’s just a quirk of mine. Am I the only one who has this schizophrenic nature when it comes things? Please tell me I’m not alone.

And before you make too much fun of me, let me ask you: Where is the warranty information on YOUR iron?

Hmmm, that’s what I thought.


Sunday, April 09, 2006

Class is again in session...

Although I have no idea how I got elected Teacher! :) Okay, the class was a little quiet this weekend, but I still enjoyed reading the emails I got. I think as writers, it is wonderful to talk and discuss the ups and downs of this creative endeavor with others who really understand what it's like. Thanks to everyone who participated!

Here are a few of the helpful tidbits sent in:

Don't try to write something because it's the hot new thing. By the time you finish it, the genre might be dead. Write what you like, what you love, and it will sell.

Write to your strength-be it full-length, short stories, non-fiction. Writing will be a much more joyful process if you're writing what you enjoy writing.

Don't let anyone convince you to make changes to a story that you don't feel comfortable with-unless that someone suggesting the changes can buy your book.

And the winner of my impromptu contest is Carol:

Quit worrying about the "rules". Write the best book you can the way it needs to be written. If it's good enough, it will sell.

Congratulations, Carol!!

I loved this bit of advice because it echoed a story told by Maven Linda Winstead Jones on Saturday. She talked about RWA President Gayle Wilson (who also happens to be a fellow chapter member). Several years ago, Gayle entered one of her category-length romantic suspense into the Romantic Suspense category of the RITAs. Now, there were several other options for placement, where it would have been competing against books closer in length and possibly subject matter. In the Romantic Suspense category, it would compete against complex single title books. There are arguments for both choices, but this is the one Gayle made. She ended up winning this particular category against books that were longer (and presumably had the extra length to create a more intricate storyline).

Why? Because a well written book is a well written book-no matter its length or tone or complexity. I firmly believe that if you write your book to the best of your ability, IT WILL SELL. Maybe not in the time you want or the way you want, but someone out there (besides your family and friends) will see the jewel you have created and want to pass it on to the rest of the world. So put your butt in the chair and write your heart out. Continue to learn and perfect your craft, whether you've published no books or fifty. Above all, don't give up.

Feel free to print this pep talk out and reference it whenever you feel discouraged! I know it by heart because I tell it to myself all the time. Then the Playfriends tell it to me again until I finally start believing it. :)

Okay, I've rambled enough for today. But before we leave, I'd like to say one more thing.

Happy Birthday to our very own Playground Monitor!!! We love you, even when you have to get onto us for being to rowdy or refuse to bail us out of jail. May you have many more years of keeping us in line. (Oops! I was supposed to say a blessing, not a curse. ) How about-May you have many years of writing and reading ahead of you!


Saturday, April 08, 2006

Let me give you a little advice... Contest

Despite horrific weather last night, the Children are away at their chapter meeting today. We'll meet at our favorite hang-out to brainstorm Problem Child's book and enjoy each other's company. After a relaxed lunch, we'll head over to the meeting. We're hoping to learn a lot, since Maven Linda Winstead Jones and our chapter President Bonnie Gardner are in charge of programming today.

While we're away, I thought I'd run a little impromptu contest for all you writers out there. We all have questions, right? Even after we become published, I hope!

I have a copy of Over 100 FAQs Women Asked About Writing, Edited by Angel Brown and Sheri McConnell. There are chapters covering all aspects of craft, marketing and the business side of writing both fiction and non-fiction. This is a great resource!

I'd love to pass this book along to a fellow writer or wanna-be writer! So to win:

~Send me an email at and tell me the best piece of writing advice you've ever received. Please do this by 5:30pm Sunday evening.

~I'll choose one email at random to receive the book.

~I'll post some of the best advice so we'll all learn something together!

So participate in class today instead of skulking in the back of the room! I know there are a few troublemakers lurking back there. :)


Friday, April 07, 2006

RevisionLand : The Unhappiest Place on Earth

I’ve finally made peace with my muse. At least, she’s decided to return from her year-long sabbatical. Tan with a passport in one hand and Gucci sunglasses in the other, she strolled into my office last week and flopped down into my guest chair. She was ready to get back to work.

Lucinda and I have that sort of relationship. (Yes, I named my muse. Actually, I didn’t, she told me that was her name. Wait…she did, really. Who are those men in the white coats?) She’s subject to flights of fancy, disappearing for days or weeks at a time. But when she gets back, she’s ready to go. Bottom in seat, fingers on keyboard. Over time I have learned to adjust to her temperamental schedule and can really be quite effective that way, given there’s no deadline to cramp her style.

When I asked why she left for so long this time, she muttered something about my old day job. Tell me about it, Sister. I told her the next time she bailed to Fiji, she’d darn well better take me with. She promised I had an even more exciting trip ahead of me. St. Lucia? Nope. Italy? No. She wanted to keep it a secret.

Together, we coasted to the end of the manuscript. After a day of reveling, she handed me two Park Hopper tickets to “RevisionLand.” Not exactly the trip I had in mind, but I’m flexible. So here I am, writing from the Unhappiest Place on Earth. I usually like rides, although I must say, some of the attractions at RevisionLand have made me nauseus as I run from one to the next.

Slash Mountain cut twenty-five pages from my opening chapters. I retreated to Space-Out mountain to watch mindless TV for a while as I mourned their loss. I passed a weary looking PC on my way to Mr. Toad’s Wild Slide to rearrange some scenes. She’s ridden that one a couple times by the look of it. The Pro-logue Ride dampened my spirits as the wave of pressure crashed down onto me. I hopped onto the Teacups to see if I could get a new spin on the story, or at least dry my clothes.

I’m tired and there are still several days, even weeks left in my trip. Hopefully I will have a great scrapbook to show for it when I get home, but that’s only if I survive the trip. Lucinda had to pull my head out of the mouth of the robotic hippo at the Jungle Cruise. It will be worth it, she insists. I hope so. I hope one day I might grow to enjoy my trips to RevisionLand. I will no doubt return, maybe even get a season-pass. Might as well get something out of it.

In the meantime, Lucinda is insisting I spring for her to get a $15 hamburger at a concession stand.

(Oh, and don't bother looking for Johnny Depp at the Pirates of the Characterization ride. He's not there. Or so they told me. Five or six times. Okay, nine.)

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Dream a Little Dream

I've been dreaming a lot lately. Not quite sure why. But they've been real doozies. One night last week I dreamt that I let Baby Girl walk by herself in a parking lot (for the first time), ended up fighting with her at the door to the store because she didn't want to come inside, and watched her get run over by a car backing up. Needless to say I was unsettled when I woke up.

Another night this week I dreamt that a man broke into our house. He didn't want money, our electronics, even DH's guns. Nope. He wanted the stickers off our TV remote. Not all of the remotes mind you. Just one.
Don't ask me. I have no idea.

I can understand the one about my baby girl. She's growing up and starting to become more and more independent. It's understandable for mothers to have difficulty with those first steps. I've nursed her, fed her, clothed her and bathed her for almost two years. And now my angel wants to brush her own teeth, put on her own shoes, and go to the potty by herself. Apparently my subconscious is having a few more issues with this than I realized.

The remote guy defies logic.

Most of the time I don't pay much attention to my dreams. They're there. Unlike some people, I usually remember mine when I wake up but the memories are promptly whisked away by hungry girls, children to dress and a schedule to keep.

Every once and a while one sticks with me though. And those I pay attention to. Either because they hold some important meaning for my life or because they involve my story (or a potential story). I don't know how many times I've unraveled the solution to a plot problem I'd been working on in a dream.

I'll never forget the night I woke up from a dream where my hand was cut across the palm. All I remember was the blood seeping everywhere and the need to find someone to help get me to the doctor, a huge sense of urgency. I remembered this dream because it was so personal (it was like I was watching it happen to myself). It took me almost four hours where the vision would pop back into my mind for no apparent reason before I realized it was a clue. That night I wrote a scene where my bakery store owner heroine cut her hand afterhours chopping chocolate (while thinking about the hero) and the hero, whose computer store was next door, took her to the emergency room. It was the perfect setting to put them into - my independent heroine having to rely on this man for help. And this man who wanted no responsibilities was suddenly thrust into caring for this woman he'd been trying to ignore.

I've been more aware of my dreams the last several days - perhaps its because I'm waiting for a stroke of genius to show up and provide me that perfect scene that will become the cherry on the top of the book I'm working on. It's great the way it is but we all know how writers can be....I can't help thinking I can always make it better.

So what do you dream about? And do you believe dreams hold any significance for us?


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

It's in the Cards

I had my fortune read yesterday. Twice as a matter of fact. She used two different methods. And the same words kept appearing repeatedly.

To preface all this, when she asked if I had a specific question to ask, I said no. I just asked her to read it in general.

I’ve been really off-focus the last week. I went gung-ho on a couple projects and got them out the door, and I just can’t get back into another one.

I took an online “Feng Shui for Your Office” class last week and week before and learned bunches, the most important thing being “If it doesn’t feel like it belongs in your office, then it probably doesn’t.” So… I have been on a cleaning-out rampage. I’ve cleaned out in my office. I cleaned out my dresser drawers. I’m getting ready to tackle my closets. The thrift store loves me.

Then this morning I read the blog by Susan Crosby on the Desire Authors' Blog and she talked about staying fresh and putting life in perspective. She listed six ways she fills her creative well. With credit to Susan, I’ll list those here:

~ housework
~ girlfriends
~ movies
~ grandchildren
~ vacations
~ writers conferences

Trust me. I have housework covered!

As for girlfriends, I have three coming for lunch tomorrow (which showed up in my card reading by the way) and on Saturday the Playfriends will meet before our RWA meeting (this is a two-fer).

The new Antonio Banderas movie “Taking the Lead” opens on Friday and I’m hoping I can get to see it over the weekend. My birthday is Monday so maybe I can get dinner and a movie out of it.

Vacations? None planned now.

Grandchildren. Hmmm, just yesterday I received an invitation to my DIL’s baby shower. I can’t attend but I went to her registry and saw they’d picked out a stroller, which was what we’d decided to get them. So that’s ordered and on it’s way to them now. Grandbaby2B will be strollin’ in style.

So maybe I’m not off-focus at all. Maybe I’m just refilling the creative well in the best way my mind knows how. My cards had a repeated theme: success, following the right path, new beginnings, security, happiness, successful projects, new undertakings that work, new line of endeavor. Maybe I’m just getting ready for all this success that’s headed my way.

And if you want to get all “woo-woo”, I got an urgent email from a magazine editor this afternoon. She’d requested an article for the May issue and then I never heard any more about it. I didn’t receive a contract so I was just presuming the article didn’t work out after all and I’d get a nice form rejection letter in the mail some day. Au contraire. Her urgent email was asking me to email her the document file because the copy I sent on CD wouldn’t open. They needed it ASAP because – get this – it’s on the cover!! I think I’ll buy five copies for my mother!

I don’t know about your part of the world, but in mine it’s springtime. The grass is getting green. Flowers are blooming everywhere. And I’ve spotted several bluebirds in my backyard and even put up two houses with hopes that they’d nest. Spring is a time of re-birth and renewal and I’m ready for everything that showed up in my cards. I’m refilling the well and getting ready for a great new beginning.

How are you celebrating the beginning of a new season?



But not just any old sand.

Pull up a chair and I'll tell you why.

When Instigator went to the beach for spring break week before last, she discovered that their beach house was close to one owned by Mr. Tim "Real Bad Boy" McGraw and his lovely wife Faith Hill. So when Instigator asked if she could bring me something from the beach for my contest on the website, I immediately replied "Bring me some Tim McGraw sand."

It has to be special because Tim has walked on it. So has Faith. And so have Maggie and Audrey and Gracie, their three girls. It's magic sand.

And some of it is going to be added to the prize package for the current contest. The winner and runner-up will both get a smidgeon of Tim McGraw's oceanfront property. **GG**

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

We interrupt this whine

On Wednesday, at two minutes and three seconds after 1:00 in the morning, the time and date will be 01:02:03 04/05/06.

That won't ever happen again.

You may resume your normal life now.

You want some cheese with that whine?

Poor, poor Problem Child. Little did she know, Gentle Reader, how much her life was going to suck this week.
(Okay, so it doesn’t exactly suck. Everyone is happy and healthy and I’m almost done with that massive stack of papers on my desk. )

But here’s my whine.

I’m revising my book. I have a plan, fresh ideas, lots of enthusiasm. Chapters 1-3 go great. Alpha-up the hero, work on the heroine’s characterization and motivation, smooth out a couple of issues. No problem. Chapters 4-5 take a bit more effort and nail-biting, but they, too, fall into place.

Chapters 6-12, though, are giving me fits. I’m having to re-plot the whole middle of the book; scenes are being moved around and characters are doing different things. In desperation (or possibly frustration), I wrote each and every scene on an index card—complete with color coding—and I’m shuffling them into different orders to see how it works. (It works in my head; it just isn’t working in the ms.)

Me. The Pantser. Index cards and color coding. The world is askew.

Each time I move something, two other things have to be re-written or re-worked. I feel like I’m trying to juggle spaghetti noodles. Suddenly my book—the one I knew inside and out—has turned into one of those double-sided 3-D puzzles. And, in case you don’t know this about me, I hate puzzles.

Fear has set in (Panic is bringing up the rear guard). What if I can’t do it? What if I’m completely destroying my book—not making it better? What if I think I’ve done it and the editor tells me that, in actuality, I suck? After all, I thought my heroine’s characterization was pretty good to start with—obviously I was mistaken. This editor is going to think I’m a complete loser. I have to get this done fairly quickly to show I’m not a slacker—but what if I can’t write both fast AND good? And so on…

“Poor, poor Problem Child,” you say. “Get a grip. What’s the saying about 'I pitied myself because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet?' It’s all about perspective, PC. Waah, waah, sucks to be you.”

(Which is pretty much exactly what DG is telling me these days…)

It is all about perspective. The Mavens told me once that no matter where you were in this business, you just traded one set of problems for another. I agreed (because that’s what you do when the Mavens tell you something), but deep-down I didn’t believe it. Six months ago, I just wanted to get my foot in the door. Maybe have someone (other than you, Mom) tell me I didn’t suck. Okay, now I’ve wedged a toe in that door, and the problems/fears/hopes/needs/ wishes of six months ago have given way to a whole new set.

Seems the Mavens were right. As always.

So, I’m going to take my cheese (Brie sounds nice), and go back to my ms. I have a middle to rearrange. I’m going to remind myself how lucky I am to have this “problem.”

I’m going to open up the comments tail for you to whine. Go ahead, get it off your chest. We’ll have an assortment of cheese available for you as well. But then you have to get on with it—somewhere there’s somebody who would love to have your “problem.”

The “Problem” Child

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Carpe Diem

I have to do something today that I really hate-I'm going to visitation for a friend who died this weekend. We weren't the closest of friends, but I have known her and her family for many years. She was friendly and talkative, always asking about me, my kids, and my family. Her death was sudden. I can't imagine what her husband and children, family and closest friends, must be experiencing at this moment. I can only pray that time will eventually heal their broken hearts.

Thoughts about this sad situation have plagued me all day. I've alternated between the desire to cry and smothering my husband and children with hugs. Just feeling them close to my heart reminds me that I'm still with them.

But in the midst of this sadness came an inspiring thought: I'm not wasting what time I have here on earth. I'm trying to be the best mother and wife and friend that I can be. I'm striving to be the best version of me that I can. And I'm reaching for my dream.

Every day, I take one more step away from my comfortable life into the unknown. I reach for my dream, my dream of publishing a book. To others, this may seem insignificant. But that's okay. It isn't their dream. Other writers and my family understand. I understand. That's all that matters. A hundred years from now, no one may know my name. I'm not going to write the GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL, just a romance that will bring encouragement and hope to the women and men who read it. But my pursuit of this dream, and hopefully the fulfillment of it, is teaching me something that will change my spirit throughout all eternity. Those lessons will go with me beyond this life, knowledge of persistence, precision, expressing myself, not giving in to defeat, and celebrating victories big and small.

What does this have to do with...anything? Life ends in the blink of an eye. Don't waste the time you have living in the comfortable world of the familiar. Stretch yourself, pursue your dream. Find the gift God gave you-the one that makes Him smile-and use it. Even if you are never published, the work wasn't in vain. For it is a part of you, a part that will endure.

Carpe Diem. How will you seize the day?


Monthly Forecast

It's that time again.

Check out your April forecast here.


Saturday, April 01, 2006

New stuff on the Playground

It may be April Fool's but we really did update the Playground...

Believe it or not, Miss Snark gave us an interview for this month's Sandbox. Check it out.

We also have a new article up in School: How to Break Up With Your Critique Partners" by Smarty Pants.

Pass the word!!