Friday, May 30, 2008

I Love It When a Plan Comes Together

I probably shouldn’t say anything for fear of jinxing myself, but things are going well for me, at least in terms of my writing. My last book has been finished, edited and by a twist of good fortune, has hit the mail and vanished into editorial oblivion. What happens to it now is out of my control, so I've followed by own advice and moved onto a new project to keep my mind occupied.

My current book, although I haven’t written a single word, is chugging along nicely in terms of plotting and research. The synopsis is almost written and once that’s done, I’ll develop a chapter by chapter outline to help me stay on track. That proved invaluable during the last book, so I’m going with that again. Things seem to be grooving. The characters are talking to me and they're just oozing characterization. They have goals and motivation and conflict (oh my!). They have crazy, kinky sex. All is well and I hope once I do start writing, the process will be even smoother than last time.

I have to say that I struggled with a single title for over a year. At once point, I was pretty sure that the timing was wrong, but I was determined to keep on, no matter what. I had so much faith in the book (I still do, but I know now isn't the right time either.) When it was finished and agents weren't beating down my door, I decided I was sick of looking at it and needed to do something else. I did some short stories, then a short novella. Then I finished my last book. Now, writing a category length book seems far less complicated than it was when I first tried. I won’t say it's easy, it's not, but I’m more confident in what I’m writing, I think. I'm not swimming upstream, at least today. Don't ask me Monday.

Have you ever noticed that sometimes, when you stop fighting the current and go with the flow that things somehow seem easier? How a undesirable situation can sometimes manage to put you in a better position than you were before? (And I don't mean giving up your dream because its too much work. Anything worth having is worth working for.)

For example, my mom and I used to share a car in Las Vegas and carpooled to work. I'll admit it - it was a Chevy Metro. One day, we got rear-ended and the almost new car was destroyed. I was distraught. We could barely afford the one we had much less get a new one and pay off the difference between the value and what we owed after insurance totalled out the car. It was a mess, but in the end, we ended up with a way better car for not that much more money and I'm still driving it to this day. No way the Metro would still be kicking, even if I hadn't been in an accident. It was a rough few weeks, but everything turned out better in the end. When things like that happen it makes me wonder if I've finally found the path I was meant to take. I don't know if I believe 100% in fate, but I'm certain that some things are meant to happen for a reason.

Has something like this ever happened to you? Is life flowing for you right now, too?


PS. Don't forget to join us next week. We have a blog-tastic guest schedule lined up. Monday is guest blogger Karen Rose Smith and Tuesday is Nicola Marsh. Be sure to drop by and say hi to them both!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Farm Fodder

I'm finding that life on a farm provides quite a bit of fodder for this blog. And apparently, according to our hits, reading about goats, donkeys and ducks interests everyone else too so here's another story I just had to share.

Late last week I woke up to the ungodly sound of one of our baby goats screaming. It's about 6:30 and I'm barely conscious but the sound is just grating on my ears. I tell the girls to stay put, throw on the closest pair of shoes and head out into the back pasture to find the little guy with his head stuck through the fence. This isn't an unusual occurrence. For some reason they seem to think the vegetation on the opposite side of the fence is tastier than the exact same damn grass on this side of the fence. The little guy's horns are starting to grow in and he can no longer get his head back through the hole once he's gotten it over there.

Only this time Eeyore has decided he isn't a huge fan of the screaming either. I walked out to find him gnawing on Austin's back. I immediately start yelling at the donkey thinking he's hurting the poor thing. Everyone's gathered around the scene - the other seven goats, our pack of ducks, the 2 geese, even the cat I haven't seen for months is sitting in the pasture watching the melee. From my point of view, the sheer volume of animal poundage is a little intimidating, not to mention the sight of the donkey's teeth in the goat's back.

I ran back into the house and grabbed the phone to call DH - cause I wasn't going inside the fence without another sane person telling me I should. I really don't WANT to go inside - hoofs and snapping teeth just aren't that appealing at 6:30 in the morning. But I KNOW I'll probably have to anyway. The problem with living on a farm.

However, while I'm on the phone with DH (who incidentally told me not to go into the fence under any circumstances and that I was more likely to get myself hurt than help the poor goat - which was probably true) I realized that Eeyore isn't actually TRYING to hurt Austin. He's trying to HELP him. I watched in complete stupefaction as the donkey, as gently and he could, pulled the goat out of the fence with his teeth. As soon as Austin was free Eeyore chased him away from the fence and scolded him for being stupid enough to get stuck in the first place.

That darn donkey's growing on me.

P.S. Yesterday's winner of a copy of Christie Ridgway's new book is Mary F! Please email Playground Monitor with your snail mail info to claim your prize. Prizes not claimed in seven days will be forfeited and re-awarded.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Guest Blogger: Christie Ridgway

Last year I found a great blog called Riding with the Top Down and I've been hanging out there ever since. It's a red convertible full of really cool writers including today's guest blogger. I just read my first book by her and I'm always excited to discover a new author, especially a woman who's in my same position -- the minority in a houseful of men. She's a California gal and married to a man she calls "Surfer Guy." So please give a big playground cowabunga to Christie Ridgway.

Guy Talk.

I’m surrounded by the reality of it, given that I live with my husband and two sons, no other female on the premises. I’m surrounded by the fiction of it too, as I write contemporary romances peopled with heroes that I consider all-guy as all-get-out. So how real are the words in our favorite romance novels? Has any man ever come close to saying to you, in those immortal tones of a Harlequin Presents hero, “You know you’ve been begging for my kiss, you darling little fool.”

Considering this topic, I wrote down what my men said to me this morning, beyond grunts and drowsy mumblings, that is:

“Don’t we have any breakfast meat?”
“Are there bugs in the cereal?”
“I didn’t knock it off the wall with a ball, I was tossing around a shoe.”

Obviously not the stuff of romance novels. But the hero of my next book, HOW TO KNIT A WILD BIKINI (out Tuesday, June 3!), is a writer/editor for a men’s magazine, so you’d think he might be more articulate, and perhaps slightly more, um, subtle, than those Presents men. I searched through the book for the most romantic thing he had to say, thinking he’d be a treasure chest full of knee-weakening bon mots. He turns out to be more “real guy” than I remembered, however. It’s what he does that appeals more to the heroine than what he says.

And that’s all man, isn’t it? They show us how they care, they don’t talk so much about it.

I did discover a lovely line or two, though. Heroine and private chef Nikki Carmichael has one eye that’s green and one eye that’s blue and they’re a source of fascination for the hero, Jay Buchanan. Early in the book he says to her: “Those amazing eyes of yours. When I look into them I don’t know whether I’m going to sink or fly.” Nikki’s response? She decides that murmured thought makes her want to swoon.

I hope you’ll be equally affected when you read the book. It’s the first in a new trilogy—all centered around a hip, surfside yarn shop in Southern California. Publisher’s Weekly says it “combines Malibu beachnik appeal with trendy knitting Zen” and that it’s a story in which “opposites attract, and steam rises in the kitchen and in the bedroom.”

But back to guy talk. What’s your favorite romantic line from a hero—either from fiction or reality? I’m giving away a copy of my new book and I’ll have the Playground Monitor select a winner from among those commenting. It’s great to be visiting here!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Adventures in PC Land

Last Wednesday I went to check the mail. The only thing in there was a large, brown, 8 ½ x 11 envelope, about the thickness of a partial. I pulled it out, saw the Harlequin return address, and my first thought was, “Well, damn.”

(For you non-writers, I’ll just remind you that rejections come by mail.)

But wait. It’s from Canada. I don’t have anything in Canada, do I? (Brain starts mentally searching the submission lists frantically while I open the envelope and try to make sense of the papers in my hand.) It’s about BEST LAID PLANS? Huh?

It was my contract.

Sigh. Old habits are hard to break.

Okay, so this is real. I have a contract with advances and royalty percentages and clauses and the like. They really are going to publish my book! Squee!

Um, make that yikes! Let me just say that a twenty-page contract is quite daunting in and of itself. I don’t speak legalese, and my eyeballs were crossing after the first paragraph.

But I’ve read it carefully, looked some things up in the dictionary, made a few phone calls, and brushed up on my jargon. Nowhere does it mention the words “Immortal Soul” or “First Born Child,” so I think I’m safe there.

We’ll go back to Squee! I have a book contract!

(But there’s still a Yikes! And that’s the book my contract refers to as “Work #2,” which I am now contractually obligated to produce by October 1. Yikes, indeed.)

So things are starting to become real—a contract, a website (with a link from the RWA site), a title, a release date… My PAN membership even came through last week. I’m still stumbling over telling people “I’m a writer,” but maybe that just takes more practice.


In other news, I survived a weekend at camp. I slept in a cabin, with no air conditioning and five adults and four other children I’d never met before. It was hot, there were bugs, I was expected to go hiking, and they served that strange-tasting red Kool-Aid I remember from my days at camp twenty years ago. We won’t even talk about the canoeing incident… But I had a good time, and while I had hoped to bond with my child over the weekend, she far preferred to spend time with our cabin counselor and her new friends. So much for Spending Quality Time With My Child.


Anything new and exciting happening in your world?


Don’t forget—Christie Ridgway will be here tomorrow!

Monday, May 26, 2008

MOANday: Gerard Butler

We're having MOANday a week in advance, because next Monday we'll be welcoming Karen Rose Smith on a visit to the Playground. So I thoughts I'd brighten everyone's day a little early. ;)

In appreciation of all her hard work last weekend, I thought I'd make Kathy's day by finally having Gerard Butler on the blog for MOANday. She's a big Gerard fan! Enjoy!

Wow! Check out those abs!


And those arms!

And that grin!

Have a happy, relaxing Memorial Day!


PS. This Wednesday, the Playfriends will be hanging out with Christie Ridgway here at the Playground blog. Yay!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Reunited And It Feels...Just As Crappy As It Did When I Was 17

I got myself spun up last year about my high school reunion. Then, my classmates turned out to be so flaky, we didn’t have one. They all just sort of threw their hands up and said, "well, maybe we can join in with the class of 98’s reunion." They’re much more organized than we ever were.

So, I’d let it go. Stopped worrying about it. Then yesterday, I got a friend request on myspace from the Class of 97 and 98 Reunion Committee. They did get it together. It will be in August, about 2 weeks after Nationals.

All I can say is...well, crap.

Reunions are funny things. You’re torn. You want to go back and see a couple people you missed. You want to see who’s fat, who’s bald, who’s rich. You want to know that the person who made your life hell for four years is still living with his mama and works at a car wash. You want everyone to know how fabulous you are now.

Sounds good, right? But then you think harder about it. Some people live and breathe their high school experience. Those people go back to reunions and have a great time reminiscing with all their football buddies. Everyone remembers them. This was the high point of their life (for that, I feel sorry for them).

I am one of those people whose life started after high school.

Yeah, I was there and I had friends and every day was not miserable (much better than junior high, really) but I don’t know how this will turn out. I was the tall, fat, grumpy, redheaded girl who stomped around in flannel shirts and Converse (it was the 90s...) and aced all her classes. I was awkward, I’d yet to learn how to control my sarcasm, and I had a horrible habit of falling head over heels for gay boys. Yeah, I had a great time in high school.

I ran screaming from the building in 1997 and put it all behind me. I severed almost all the ties I had to the school. I went to college, then moved to Alabama in 2001 and I haven't been back since. I've been okay with that. It works for me. But then I get curious as to how it would turn out if I did go.

I would like to think that they would see me now and be like “Wow, you look fabulous!” I have to say I do. I’m much thinner, I’ve learned to smile, I’ve mastered my hair issues and I clean up very nicely when I want to. Maybe too well. I have these visions of... “You’re who? Hmm...did we have classes together? Ten? Wow, I’m sorry, I don’t remember you.”

Follow that up with the following exchange:

"So, are you married?"


"Have kids?"


"What do you do?"

"I'm a writer."

"Are you published?"


"Oh. Hey look, there's Chico!" :: Rapid departure to stage left ::

Repeat that about 25 times with every new person I run into.

On top of that, there’s the anxiety of taking DB with me. I’m pretty sure he’ll be miserable. Honestly, if I didn’t want to take him to see Vegas and the place I grew up, I’d let him sit it out. He hates this kind of thing when it happens at home - in Vegas, he's completely out of his element. If anyone makes a wisecrack about Alabama or his accent, I’ll be running interference the rest of the night.

Ugh. So I don’t know what to do. Did you go to your high school reunion(s)? Were they worth it? I have to fly cross country and drop about 1k to do this, so I need to know!


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Maybe They Do Listen

Sweet Pea's teacher pulled me aside yesterday morning while I was dropping her off at school to tell me a story she just had to share. To start you really need to know that her teacher has been very supportive of my writing career and even made a point of mentioning me as an author to the class during a lesson the first few weeks of school. Sweet Pea was so proud.

It seems that they've been covering creative writing recently (my impression was maybe for the last grading period). Anyway, during this time they discussed organizing the story, had an organization journal, talked about the actual creative process and then each wrote stories. This week her teacher asked the class what they all thought the next step would be. My brilliant child immediately piped up with, "Submit it to your editor."

It's nice to know she's been paying attention. I wonder if my editor would be interested in reading their stories. :-)

On a completely unrelated subject, what kind of plans do you have for memorial day weekend? We're going to our local hot air balloon festival. Sweet Pea is really hoping she gets her first ride this year. We'll see if the weather and the ballooning gods cooperate. She's in for some fun if she does...there's a secret ritual for first time fliers. Mwahahahahah


P.S. Congratulations to Maggie our 6 degrees winner from yesterday. Please email PM here to claim your prize. As always, any prizes not claimed within 7 days will be re-awarded.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

10 Things I've Done

I could give you a blow-by-blow of the weekend but it would consist mainly of squeeing, laughing, eating, squeeing some more, laughing some more and eating some more. Rocki was brilliant on Saturday and had us all in the palm of her hand. And she was worried she'd be hearing crickets. Ha! Big congrats to Heart of Dixie, the luncheon coordinator Kathy Bone and all the worker bees for a job well done. I think we get a week off before we start working on the 2009 luncheon.

Funniest part of the weekend? Going to a nice Italian restaurant for dinner Saturday night and seeing "Rabbit Three Ways" on the chef's special menu. ACK!

Since I'm struggling for a blog topic, I went hunting for stuff to blog about and came up with this:

10 Things I've Done You Probably Haven't

1. In 1979, the DH, #1 son and I went through Checkpoint Charlie and visited East Berlin. It was scary but I wouldn't trade the experience for anything.

2. In 1980 I rode a camel at the Pyramids in Egypt. That too was scary cause camels are nasty creatures, but again, I wouldn't trade the experience for anything.

3. I had a letter to the editor published in Cosmopolitan magazine.

4. I met Jean Stapleton (Edith Bunker on All in the Family) while I was on vacation in Alaska. We were on the same glacier boat excursion. Also on board was Betty Buckley (the original "glamour puss" in Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats and the stepmom on Eight is Enough). You can play Six Degrees of Separation with Jean Stapleton and Betty Buckley. Anybody want to take a guess? *

5. I gave birth the first time in a hospital that at one time was an R&R facility for Nazi soldiers and the second time in a hospital that was once a house of ill repute.

6. I've eaten roasted elk once. I've eaten escargot and alligator too.

7. I had a former Playboy Bunny as a college PE teacher. That's how I learned to do the cha-cha-cha. She taught the ballroom dancing class, only then it was called "social dancing."

8. I've been to the Olympic games -- Atlanta 1996.

9. I married a man who is related to both Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone.

10. I was in Andy Warhol's disco, The Electric Circus, in New York City in March 1970, when it was bombed by a group of radical dissidents.

So tell me what you've done that I haven't.

* Those folks who play Six Degrees with Jean Stapleton and Betty Buckley and correctly connect them within six steps will be entered in a drawing for an autographed copy of "The Ex-Girlfriends' Club" by fabu Playground friend Rhonda Nelson.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Reading is fundamental...

I hope y’all aren’t expecting a play-by-play rundown of the weekend…I’m too pooped to think. (And, thanks to my chaptermate Mary—a closet sadist—I’m unable to walk after a simple 25-minute workout. Mercy, am I out of shape!)

But the weekend was a complete blast—fun dinners, much laughter, a great luncheon, and a special party celebrating my first sale. Plus, it was my first appearance as a published author—definitely something to remember.

And I will—as soon as I get some sleep.

In the midst of all that’s been happening, I’ve been doing some reading. One of the things I love about being a writer is that I can read rafts of books and call it work. I have a reason to get snippy when folks interrupt my reading—after all, I need to do this. It’s tax-deductible and part of the job.

Right now, I’m devouring the line I sold to—pretty much to the exclusion of all else. (Yeah, Jennifer LaBrecque’s book is still listed in the sidebar, even though I finished it. Two thumbs up!! Loved it!! Highly recommended—and the gondola scene is hot.) Of course, I’m reading with the intention of learning more about what I can and can’t do (or say) in the line, how the other authors handle certain things, and, of course, hoping something will spark for me and my next book.

Now, without gushing, I can honestly say I’m flummoxed as to how or why I ended up selling to this line. These ladies can write circles around me and not even break a sweat!

Even though I’m reading with a greater purpose in mind, I haven’t’ lost the enjoyment of reading. I’m still swept up by the story and haven’t begun to mark up the books as craft research or analyze every last word and sentence choice. Reading is still fun. It’s still an escape. I look up and a couple of hours have passed. All I can do is hope I can provide the same enjoyment to someone else.

What are you reading? Are you reading for fun or knowledge? Or can it be both?

~~BTW, while I don’t have a title yet, I do have a January 2009 UK release date!~~

UPDATE: I just got my new title moments ago--- The Secret Mistress Arrangement. Squee!!

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Children and Playkids

I would love to tell y'all what a wonderful time we had at our Luncheon this weekend, meeting and hanging out with Roxanne St. Claire, celebrating PC's first sale with close friends and the Mavens, but I had a realization last night: having the Monday blogging spot, I tend to tell y'all all about our weekend fun and no one else gets to blog about it. Easy and fun for me, not as fun for the other Playfriends. I'll leave them to tell you all about it later this week. Although, BTW, Roxanne is the sweetest person! She's helpful, funny, and just wonderful to hang around. It was great to meet her after hearing so much about her from PM. Squeee!

Instead I'll tell you a little story about AFTER I got home. I didn't get back to the house this weekend until after my children were in bed Saturday night. Driving home was an adventure in and of itself. (Deb, my hubby says thanks for the heads-up on the wine! He's grateful!) But after talking over our weekends with the hubby, I crashed around 11:30pm. Nothing invaded my sleep from that point—not a noise or movement. I don't think I shifted my position by even a centimeter, I was so dead asleep. But at 4:30am, I blinked awake without a clue as to why my heart was suddenly racing and my ears were searching for sound.

Suddenly, I heard a faint and familiar cry. My son. Suffice it to say, both of my children have gone through periods where, instead of waking up naturally and going potty in the middle of the night, their bodies don't wake up enough for them to navigate the dark, and they wander around in their rooms trying to figure out how to get to the bathroom. They cry because they are actually still asleep.

Realizing what was happening, I stumbled from the bed, crossed the hall, and called out to him. Finding him more by instinct than sight, I picked him up and we headed for the bathroom. Now, I can describe this, because he's 3, though he'll probably kill me later in life. I settled him on the toilet, then sat on the rim of the tub until he finished, because he was swaying, still drowsy enough to act drunk, which is SO CUTE on a kid that age. :)

Then the sweetest thing happened. All of a sudden, he seemed to realize it was Mommy there beside him. The Mommy he hadn't seen all weekend and didn't know was home. He turned to look at me, eyes glassy and dazed, and this HUGE grin broke out on his face. My heart contracted, and I couldn't help smiling back. He was so happy to see me.

Then his gaze wandered around aimlessly for a few minutes, finally settling back on me, and he tossed out that same grin. I had to stifle a laugh this time, because it reminded me of the type of drunk that gets all touchy feely when he's liquored up. (I know, don't hate me because I've compared my child with a lush. It was just funny!)

He repeated this action several times before his eyes started drifting closed. As I snuggled his body close to mine, carried him back to bed, and tucked him under the covers, I sported a little smile of my own. I'd had a great time out with my friends, but he made me so happy to be home....

What makes you grateful to be home?


Friday, May 16, 2008

Three Weeks Late and 5k Short

In early April, I challenged Instigator to a writing competition to light a fire under our tails. I’m uber-competitive and there’s nothing like it to get me to push through a tough writing spot. We opted for a race to 125 pages. If one of us finished our book before we reached 125, whomever had the most pages at the time of completion would win, even if their book wasn’t done. At the time, I was at 100 even, so once I hit my goal, my book would be almost finished. I was on fire at the start. 10-18 pages a day, no problem. Then I went to Disneyworld for four days. Then Tampa. Then Nashville. Three consecutive long-weekend trips and I was toast. She smoked me, finishing her book after 112 pages while I still sat somewhere in the 80s.

I will be graciously buying us both a mani-pedi before Nationals this year. In the last challenge, PC and I decided that win or lose, we should both get a mani-pedi as a reward for our hard work. I quite agree. 100+ pages in a couple weeks is nothing to sneeze at.

So, better late than never, I hit 125 pages yesterday with a grand total of 4 full love scenes (this is a major breakthrough for me, I assure you). I still have about 5,000 words to go on Red-Handed, but I’m close. I have to work out all the post-black moment internal angst and burn down a building. I seem to do that a lot. You'd never know I was pyrophobic. Anyway, I wanted the book finished and edited by June and I think that might just happen. I just need to find a few people frustrated enough with their own books to stop and critique mine. :)

Now that I'm so close, I'm of course being tempted by the lure of the next book. I don't have much, but what I've got is GREAT if I say so myself. I've done a little research and found some perfect stuff. This should be interesting to write, if nothing else. Unfortunately I can't start on it until I FINISH THE OTHER ONE. Argh.

This of course is on top of a million things happening this weekend. Teas, luncheons, dinners, parties...all with outfits I still haven't chosen. Sigh. All I had to say to DB was that it was luncheon weekend and he was like...oh, see you Sunday, then. Pretty much sums it up.

So, what has your brain pulling in 5 different directions today?

Circle of Five:
1 novella pending with Nocturne Bites
2 short stories and 4 short features with the Trues
(yeah, I know it hasn't changed...)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

As My World Turns

I'm going to apologize ahead of time because this post is going to be short. I'm writing this from the bed, flat on my back, after a day of vertigo. It isn't getting any better. I'm tired of the world spinning. I'd really like it if someone could stop the ride now so I can get off.

This happens every so often for me - it's been a long time since I've had an episode this bad though...almost 3 years I think. But when it hits my response is to immediately drop to the floor and stay there until everything stops spinning. At least I was at home this time when it hit. Last time I was at the office. When my parents came to take my home I know the woman in the front office thought I'd been hitting the sauce. They had to practically carry me out of the building. Not a pretty sight.

I went to the doctor earlier in the week because my ear is stopped up - ringing constantly(which is what's affecting my equilibrium). So I'm on medication already but I added a couple more this morning that should hopefully kick in and make this all better. Please, God. We have a pretty big weekend planned and I don't think experiencing it from the floor of the ballroom is how I want to spend it. Not to mention that I don't think its the atmosphere we're going for. I will though because damn it I'm not missing this weekend!

I'd open the comments up for everyone to share their medical woes but...I'm afraid it might turn into Christmas with my grandma-in-law(not that it hasn't already). Anyone have fun plans for the weekend?


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Real(ity) World

Two of my must-see television shows are winding to an end.

Dancing with the Stars is down to the final three couples. Any one of the three could win, though I really want Kristi Yamaguchi to get that coveted mirror ball trophy because aside from the fact she's really good, a woman hasn't won since season one. But who amongst us hasn't enjoyed the eye candy called Christian de la Fuente? I've discovered a new hunk.

American Idol is ending too. The finale is next week and it's a toss-up who will win. David A might have lost some popularity after the media revealed his father was a backstage bully, not only to his own son but the other contestants as well. After he told his son to change a lyric and cost AI money, their lawyers banned him from backstage.

I was not a David Cook fan at the beginning. His crazy hair and rocker style wasn't my thing. But I've seen him take huge chances and improve each week. I wonder if Simon's early comment about him never amounting to anything besides a guy with a guitar was a motivation to DC to prove him wrong?
Syesha is a powerful singer, but she hasn't been able to battle these two guys. Maybe the voters will surprise us and the finale won't be the battle of the Davids.

The non-reality world is winding down for me too -- Desperate Housewives and CSI are ending. The writers' strike did a number on TV this year. I have discovered Moonlight so at least I can catch up on it during the re-runs.

Last Sunday night was the Survivor finale. Parvati won Survivor Micronesia: Fans versus Favorites and pocketed a cool million for holding off the other contestants over 39 days of rain, bugs and sleeping in a cave. I was bummed when Ozzy was voted off. He's by far the best ever player in Survivor history. I was more bummed when James had to leave for medical reasons. I agree that Erik is THE dumbest player in Survivor history and I really wanted Amanda to win.

But I read about a new Survivor series.

Six married men will be dropped on an island with one car and 3 kids each for six weeks. Each kid will play two sports and take either music or dance classes. There is no fast food. Each man must take care of his 3 kids; keep his assigned house clean, correct all homework, and complete science projects, cook, do laundry, and pay a list of 'pretend' bills with not enough money.

In addition, each man will have to budget money for groceries each week. Each man must remember the birthdays of all the family's friends and relatives, and send cards out on time -- no emailing. Each man must also take each child to a doctor's appointment, a dentist appointment and a haircut appointment. He must make one unscheduled and inconvenient visit per child to the Emergency Room.

He must also make cookies or cupcakes for a social function. Each man will be responsible for decorating his own assigned house, planting flowers outside and keeping it presentable at all times. The men will have access to television only when the kids are asleep and all chores are done.

The men must shave their legs, wear makeup daily, adorn themselves with jewelry, wear uncomfortable yet stylish shoes, keep fingernails polished and eyebrows groomed. During one of the six weeks, the men will have to endure severe abdominal cramps, back aches, and have extreme, unexplained mood swings but never once complain or slow down from other duties.

They must attend weekly school meetings, church, and find time at least once to spend the afternoon at the park or a similar setting. They will need to read a book to the kids each night and in the morning, feed them, dress them, brush their teeth and comb their hair by 7:00 am.

A test will be given at the end of the six weeks, and each father will be required to know all of the following information: each child's birthday, height, weight, shoe size, clothes size and doctor's name; also the child's weight and length at birth, time of birth, and length of labor, each child's favorite color, middle name, favorite snack, favorite song, favorite drink, favorite toy, biggest fear and what he/she wants to be when grown up.

The kids vote the men off the island based on performance. The last man wins only if... he still has enough energy to be intimate with his spouse at a moment's notice.

If the last man does win, he can play the game over and over and over again for the next 18-25 years, eventually earning the right to be called Mother!

Other than watching the Moonlight reruns and the six weeks of Monk we'll get in July and August, I guess I'll have to find something else to do in the evenings. Gee, maybe I could oh... write?

How's your TV viewing coming along?
P.S. Please pop over to the Pink Heart Society where our own Problem Child (AKA Kimberly Lang) is doing her first guest blog. Squeeeee!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

One week later...

Has the glow faded? Nope.

Does it still seem unreal? Yep.

Has it been an awesome week? Oh, yeah, bay-bee.

Has it been a crazy week? Omigodyes.

Not that my life is ever what you’d call boring—at least in the “sit around and do nothing way” (doesn’t that sound like bliss?)-- but I’ve been running non-stop lately. Take the general stuff—dance recitals, luncheon, a Tea, Parent-Teacher conference, PTA meetings, field day, field trips, SP’s birthday celebrations, doctor appointments, laundry and the fact my family likes to eat—and add in all the I JUST SOLD!!!! excitement, and I’m a flurry of activity this week. (Yes, we’re just talking about *this* week. I can’t even think about next week yet without crying…)

But who am I to complain? Like I’m going to whine about having to get headshots done or getting my website up and live. Oh, poor me--another congratulatory email just came in. Pfft! I’ll take this over the PTA meeting any day.

I am in a bit of a panic about that whole “next book” thing, though. I’m auditioning heroes and herioines and some plots in my head right now and none of them are exciting me yet. I’m just holding on to the faith that one of them will spark and I’ll have a new book idea ready to go…once I make it through the next two weeks (what *is* it with May anyway?).

(But, yeah, little “squees” do escape from time-to-time without warning, and that really does make everything else tolerable. )

So, I’m afraid this blog will be short, sweet, and not too pithy, because I have to plan the end-of-the-year party for the first grade.

Since Rhonda Nelson has given up her personal blog and "Whine About It Wednesday" is no more, I'll dub this "Tantrum Tuesday." Let it all out. We'll sympathize.


****I'm guest blogging tomorrow at the Pink Heart Society ( . Please come by and say Hi!***

Monday, May 12, 2008

A Hunting We Will Go...

The Playfriend's spent Saturday shopping in nearby Scottsboro, AL, at the world famous Unclaimed Baggage Center. Three of us had never been before-including me-so it was quite an experience.

After many dressing room visits and much wandering, purchases were made. We came home with everything from a formal dress and designer shoes to capri and workout pants loaded into the back of the Playmobile. Not to mention the bags full of travel pillows (long story).

One thing I came home without—a nice shirt to wear with my skirt to our chapter's Readers' Luncheon next weekend. I even hit the mall after we got home and still couldn't find one.

You see, my problem area when it comes to clothes is my chest. I'm well-endowed, to say the least. Though I'm not skinny by any stretch of the imagination, my top is a whole size bigger than any other part of my body. It is a source of constant shopping anxiety.

This time around, I'm just irritated. I need a cute, form-fitting shirt to pair with an A-line skirt. The few I could find were too small. Everything else was loose (what's with all those bubble shirts?) or fit only for an 80-year-old. Not a happy-making experience.

So, I'm off this morning to once again search for a pretty shirt, although my list of stores is dwindling rapidly. I'll let you know if I find anything. If not, I may be forced to wear my dress pants. Again.

So, what's your biggest clothing beef?


Sunday, May 11, 2008

PM 2

We caught another one, and I've learned a few things.

1. My traps are too small. They'll only catch the baby ones. The man at the feed store should have known that and I plan to tell them nicely they sold me the wrong traps.

2. I discovered where the nest is and very nicely told my new neighbor he has a rabbit family under his outdoor furnace unit. I expressed concern they might get into the working parts and mess it up (don't know if they can or can't but it seemed a better ploy than ranting about how the things were eatting my flowers).

3. Mother's Day is a great day to catch a rabbit. The DH took it out and released it instead of me having to. :-)

Hope everyone is having a great day!

Friday, May 09, 2008

29 and Counting

Happy Birthday to Me! I didn’t realize my birthday fell on my blog day until I sat down to write my post. I’m a little slow on the uptake sometimes. Anyway, so hooray to me for managing to continue aging. Better than the alternative, I suppose.

This year is sort of a non-event for me. DB has to work. My mom is taking me to dinner although LS can’t understand why we’re not having a party at Chuck E. Cheese. I’ll pass, thanks. A Saturday shopping extravaganza with the Playfriends will be the highlight of this year. I didn’t ask for anything and if someone bugged me for ideas, I couldn’t help them. I’m sort of in “just another day” mode.

I guess I’m not too excited because I’m creeping towards a new decade. Not yet, but next year I’ll be 30. (I hear you all laughing, but I'm serious!) I really don’t mind being in my thirties so much as no longer being in my twenties. It isn’t as though I haven’t walked and talked like a 35 year old since I was in kindergarten. I guess it’s just the label. For a while you’re in your early twenties. Then mid twenties. Then late twenties. I guess I should be excited – most women are 29 for decades. It must be the greatest year of your life, right? I keep examining wrinkles in the mirror and watching for gray hairs. My mom's hair started turning gray right around 30. And she started needing reading glasses. And her memory started to slip. Her friends threw her a wake for her 30th birthday. Sweet, huh?

How could I possibly be as old as I remember my mom being??

I hear the sex gets better. Life is supposed to be better – less soul searching and whatnot. I’ve never been much for that anyway. You’re supposed to settle down into life. I don’t know. Aside from marriage, I’m pretty settled. I’m on my second house, almost 10 years with my company, heavily degreed...put a ring on my hand and a baby in my lap and you can’t get much more settled.

Maybe I just feel like I’ve squandered my twenties. I've never done any of the crazy, irresponsible things young people are supposed to do. I haven't gone through jobs and boyfriends like tissue. I never had a junky studio apartment with milk crate furniture. I hardly go out to clubs or bars and if I do, I'm the last one on the dance floor and the first to volunteer as designated driver. I have mortgages and bills and responsibilities. I’ve lived the life of a thirty something the whole time and now, if I try to move backwards, I’ll be one of those pathetic people who dress way too young for their age and use teen slang inappropriately. I’m moving up to the women’s section of the department store, looking back at the Misses and Teens area with longing. Purple hair and plaid Converse sneakers are no longer acceptable for me. Bean bag chairs are not comfortable or appropriate furniture.

I'm an adult. I can't deny it any longer.

What have you been in denial about lately?

Circle of Five:
1 novella pending with Nocturne Bites
2 short stories and 4 short features with the Trues

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Add Another Ass

I came home last night to 2 asses in the back pasture - DH and a brand new donkey. DH because he's supposed to be on animal restriction. The donkey because, well, he's a donkey.

Sigh. One more mouth to feed. DH claims he'll just eat the grass. We'll see. He also claims the thing is worth $2000 but he only paid $50. I find that hard to believe (even though the people were selling because they just didn't have the space to keep him healthy). At the moment we're having problems with coyotes which is why DH says he got him in the first place. I think he just wanted a donkey. :-)

The girls have named him Eeyore. We have a cartoon theme going with our animals so I suppose it's appropriate. He doesn't look like an Eeyore to me though. He's too brown. I will tell you that one of the funniest things I've ever seen was Eeyore chasing Jack across the back pasture. Serves the dog right for annoying the snot out of the poor thing while he's getting used to his new home. Boy can both of them run though.

The goats currently won't come out of the barn. I don't think they know what to make of Eeyore. Both Pokey Joe and Billy could take him - they probably weigh the same - but they haven't gone there yet. We'll see how long it takes.

The first thing Sweet Pea said to me was that Eeyore is used to being ridden. I think we'll keep the saddle off him and just let him scare away they coyotes for now.

Instigator - who is scared to find out what will be waiting today when I get home.

P.S. Congratulations to Nicki, the winner from Kelley St. John's blog last Thursday.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

What the World Needs Now

Some time ago I read about Cheryl Richardson's Self-Care Cards on someone's blog. They looked neat, and I had an Amazon gift certificate. I bought them and promptly put them up on the shelf in my office and forgot about them.

Yesterday I was pondering my blog for today (how on earth do you follow someone's sale news???) and remembered the cards. Maybe they'd hold the key to a blog topic. I read through the instructions and discovered there are numerous ways to use the cards so I just picked one method. I shuffled the deck and carefully cut it. The card on top of the cut was "Self-Love."

Oh great, I thought. How, well... selfish and self-centered. That's going to come across like smelly socks on the blog.

Then I flipped the card over and read Care for your body. Self-love and self-acceptance are the ultimate acts of self-care.

Uh, how did she know I joined Curves last week? I was flabby before but after three months of post-surgical inactivity, the flab was turning to pure blubber. How did she know I've struggled with self-acceptance all my life? How did karma know I needed this particular card at this particular time in my life?

Turns out it wasn't selfish at all. The card was about taking care of me so I can take care of the people I care for and love.

I did a little Googling about self-love and discovered a few things. You can't give something you don't have. So if you don't have love for yourself, how are you going to love others?

"Because you're worth it" isn't just a slick hair color slogan. You really ARE worth it. If you don't care about yourself, nobody else will either.

Self-love is a real eye opener. When you learn to love yourself and see yourself as the worthy person you are, then you're able to see the goodness and worth in other people.

So here's today's test. Answer these questions:

1. Who are you going to love? You!

2. Why? Because you're worth it!

3. What will the result be? You'll feel better about yourself and everyone around you. And because what you give is returned tenfold, you'll be surrounded with love from others.

Had any self-revelations lately?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Today is a good day...

Hmm, whatever shall I blog about today? Gas prices? The book I’m reading? Oh, wait, I know—I’ll blog about MY CALL!!!

I SOLD!!!!!
Happy Snoopy Dance, Everyone!!


(I’m using far too many exclamation points, but I just can’t help it.)

You may remember my earlier posts about revisions, but I can now say that the Beautiful Editor is Bryony Green of Harlequin Mills and Boon (who is now my Most Favorite Person because she saw the promise in this book and challenged me to meet it.). Friday morning, at 10.15 a.m., she called to buy BEST LAID PLANS for the Modern Heat line (thereby solidifying her place as Most. Favorite. Person. Ever.).

(Of course, this is me we are talking about, so there’s a story behind the story: At 8.45 that morning, I was on the phone with Rhonda Nelson, obsessing over my revisions and parsing out the meaning of the work “tweak”—just in case it meant something else in Editor-Land. I’m on my cell phone with her when the house phone rings. I glanced at the number, but didn’t recognize it, so I figured it was a telemarketer. But then the “Telemarketer” left a message. Thinking that odd, I googled the number—still on the phone to Rhonda, mind you. I have no idea what she was saying because the next words out of my mouth aren’t appropriate for the blog. I go storming down the stairs to listen to the message—yep, still on the phone with Rhonda—only to hear that I’d missed a call from Harlequin Mills and Boon. The message said she’d call back in an hour or so, which meant I spent the next 84 minutes staring at the phone, WILLING it to ring with my amazing mental powers. Le sigh.)

The rest of the day is a blur of happy dances, phone calls with much Squeeing going on, and champagne. Congratulatory emails came pouring in (and I’ve saved them all). Flowers arrived. AC made me a pink ribbon to wear to dinner that night (because July is just too far away to wait for the pink “First Sale” ribbon). It was a good day.

And now we get to Par-Tay!! But first, I need to make a small speech (feel free to visit the bar while I do), and send out big thank you’s to the following people:

My Wonderful Playfriends: You ladies are my support, my inspiration, and my compass. I wouldn’t be here without y’all. Your faith and determination bolstered mine when I needed it.

The Marvelous Mavens: For believing in me. (And a special thanks to Beverly for nagging me to finish this book in the first place!)

My fabu CP: For telling me what I needed to hear—even when I didn’t want to hear it. I’m a much stronger writer thanks to you.

Rhonda and Jen: For cheering me up (and on) when things got tough.

Counselor Shelley: For talking me off the ledge more than once.

My Mom: For being my head cheerleader.

My Amazing Child: For understanding “Mommy’s writing” and asking me every night at dinner how many pages I wrote that day (and applauding regardless of the amount).

And, finally, my Darling Geek: Thank you for believing I could do this and all of your support while I did. I’m so lucky to have you in my corner. I love you. (Now get to work on my website!)

~fans eyes~

Crank up the music, cue the nearly-naked dancing men, call Captain Jack, and let’s get this party started. Teeter-totters all around! (And, the lovely Soapbox Queens are also hosting a party at their castle today to celebrate! More men and booze over there!)
Thank you everyone for being here today to celebrate with me!

Monday, May 05, 2008


The Playfriends have had a weekend full of activities, between getting ready for our chapter's upcoming Luncheon (in which we all play a big part), shopping for Nationals, and well.... um, other stuff. ;)

In between all of the road running, I've been juggling a few writing projects. One novella that needs to be out the door and on its way to anywhere but here. And a proposal that I'd like to get together by this summer. Then I can spend the summer finishing the book.

Oddly enough, this is touched on in my horoscope for this month. I was encouraged to "work joyfully and quietly, mainly alone or with only one or two others in the days that follow the new moon May 5. If you do, the universe will richly reward you with many original ideas and help you refine all you have on your mind. The twelfth house is where all this planetary activity will take place during the first half of May, and it governs thoughts and actions you do in solitude, behind closed doors."

Sounds like a plan. If I could only get two minutes alone between work obligations, children's activities, and those pesky get-togethers with the Playfriends. :)

While writing is a solitary endeavor, I've found myself with a much larger social schedule since joining RWA. And apparently I'm suffering from acute performance anxiety, because I have the itch to send every other page to Instigator, so she can assure me it isn't a pile of, well, pooh.

And working this summer will be far from solitary. I'll be at home with my children. A juggle if ever there was one. But a privilege, all the same. Because I've discovered that I have a harder time juggling work and sitters than I do being home and attempting to carve out writing time. Remind me of these words when I'm whining about this situation come, oh, July or so.

All right. It's time to stop rambling and talk about that "other stuff" I mentioned earlier. That's right! The Playfriends have some special news. Its not my place to make it, but will be announced in all its shining glory (and details) tomorrow. So come back and check it out. Major party time!!!!

In the meantime, we'll just discuss something else and keep ourselves busy. What solitary activity is drawing you at the moment? Are you a person who enjoys being alone, or do you work better surrounded by people and activities?


Friday, May 02, 2008

PRO-ud to be Rejected

I'll start by apologizing for this blog post being boring. There will be no half naked firemen today. :)

I've been thinking a lot about my RWA PRO status the last few weeks. When I first joined RWA and Heart of Dixie, I didn't know much about it. When someone told me I was eligible, I filled out the paperwork and sent it in so I could get a pin. I still didn't know much about it. As time has gone on, I figured it out. I've never really participated much in the loops or the workshops. I've attended the PRO retreats twice, but have yet to sit through the whole thing. The best thing for me, I guess, is that I can get priority registration for pitch appointments. Editors and agents never really seem to care about PRO, which is a shame, but true.

But it wasn't until now that I really understood how much the pin means. In essense, it means you've been rejected. (Unless you managed to get the pin with a mail confirmation for a project you sold on the first time out, in which case, I don't want to know.) It means you did what so many others haven't done - not only started a book, but finished it and sent it out into the world. You took the shot and yeah, you didn't sell, but you tried. I took it for granted I suppose because I never thought it was that big of a deal.

The Circle of 5 has changed my mind on this topic. Over the last three months or so, I've sent out a slew of queries, partials, contest entries, short stories, etc. It was quite the boost to my ego at first. Then the rejections started raining down on my head like fire and brimstone. I didn't really think about that part when I started. I just thought it would improve my odds of getting interest about my writing. I guess it has done that to a point. But I wasn't mentally ready for the barrage of rejections. You have to be tough in this business and I'm not sure my skin is quite thick enough yet.

But, I'll keep going. Despite the rejections. Despite how much it can hurt. I wallow, dust myself off and get back on the horse. That says a lot, I suppose. There are plenty of people out there who are so afraid of being rejected, they never send anything out at all.

So I'm going to polish up my PRO pin and wear it with pride. I'd gladly trade it for PAN status at a moment's notice, but for now, I'm proud of what I've accomplished. At least until the next rejection comes.

What are you proud of today?


Aw...what the hell...

Circle of Five Status:
1 agent partial pending
1 Nocturne e-bites novella pending
2 short stories and 5 short features pending

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Guest Blogger - Kelley St. John

All of the playfriends are very lucky to have known Kelley St. John for several years. She's one of the nicest women you'll ever meet! And the fact that she writes killer books with to die for heros and amazing heroines...well that's just the icing on the cake. Please give Kelley a warm playground welcome as she visits with us today.

Come on, baby, light my fire!

Okay, admit it. You look forward to those emails that feature a sexy hunk and always come at just the right time to make your week…a whole lot better. And inevitably, a large portion of those are men in uniform, or more accurately, men somewhat out of uniform.

Undeniably, there’s one particular uniform that always gets my attention…the fireman. Helllllooooo….

We’ll call this FIREMAN 1 --

Uh, yeah. Need I say more? Oh, you want more? Okay…


And then there’s…FIREMAN 3 --

Or how about…FIREMAN 4 --

And one more…FIREMAN 5 --

Whew, is it getting hot in here, or what? One moment. Need water…

Okay. I’m back. And guess the occupation of my latest book’s hero. Here’s a hint – the title…


Uh, huh. I’d wanted a firefighter hero for quite a while (and my readers have too, from the emails I’ve received), and now I’ve got one! If you’ve read any of the books in my Sexth Sense series for Harlequin Blaze, you’ve already learned a bit about sexy firefighter Tristan Vicknair. In FIRE IN THE BLOOD, you learn even more, and you see how thoroughly he lights Chantelle Bedeau’s fire.

Here’s the cover…

Want a FREE COPY of my firefighter hero book? Simply comment with your vote for your favorite firefighter from the photos above, and you’re entered. I’ll let the playground select a winner at the end of the day :-) And thanks for letting me hang out at the playground today!

Kelley St. John
Thanks for visiting with us, Kelley! And take it from me, Fire in the Blood is one HOT book!
P.S. Congratulations to Marilyn Shoemaker the winner of our Spoil me Silly contest. Our runner-up is Michelle Rioli. Please contact playground monitor here to claim your prize. Prizes not claimed within 7 days will be reawarded.