My Kitties

Pictures from Fiesta:

Me and Cindi

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Cindi and her family

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The boy

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My GH dress – won it on eBay last night

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Two of my friends had to put their cats down this week, Paula and Esri. As a cat person, this made me sad. So I thought I’d introduce you to my kitties.

Dukey is my eldest, about 6, I think. I hate her name. My husband and son named her after that Budweiser commercial, you know, the “WHASSUP?” commercial? “Yo, Dukey!” I wanted to name her Precious.

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Dukey has always been a little different. She was born on my son’s bed, and her mother had a little trouble getting the sack off, so Dukey’s different. She has these eyes that are straight at the top, and she knows things. She hardly ever talks, will sometimes mew when she’s running up and down the hall, spazzing out. She also likes standing upright on her back legs at the back door and pawing at the glass. She doesn’t want out. She doesn’t like to be outside, unless we’re out there. We don’t know why she does it.

She sits at the dinner table with us, in the chair next to my husband, and looks at him adoringly.

If the alarm goes off in the morning and we don’t get up, she comes in and jumps on the bed.

She was not happy when we brought the other two home, but she adjusts. She would love to be the only cat.

YaYa is a cat. She was a rescue kitty, wandering around my Land Cruiser one night after the Christmas PTA meeting. A big cold front was coming in, already there was wind and lightning and I couldn’t leave her there. She was so sweet, she came right up to me. So I scooped her up and put her in the car. I told one of the kids my husband would kill me for bringing home another cat. The next morning that child was at my classroom door, waiting for me to make sure I was okay ;)

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YaYa is a great lap kitty. She’s little and light, and she really likes to curl up on you when you’re wearing black. She’s very talkative. And has horrible breath. She loves to sleep belly to belly with my husband. She likes to go outside, but not for long. She comes in filthy. But usually, she’s a lady.

Then there’s The Boy. Napoleon. Named after Napoleon Dynamite. I got him last year, the week before my birthday. He was about 4 weeks old and I had to bottle feed him. He was so covered with fleas and flea bites that he was bumpy to pet. (Gross, I know)

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He is a Jerk. He is 100% boy. He picks on the girls. He lays in wait for the door to open so he can run out. He attacks the dog. He attacks us if we aren’t looking. He sleeps on the back of the computer chair. Even getting fixed didn’t calm him down much. But he sure is pretty. Isn’t that typical of the bad boys?

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Not a kitty, but I can’t leave out Stormy.

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She’s the best dog, good natured and eager to please.

Who do you share your house with?

Under Pressure

Yesterday, on the last holiday of the year ;), I woke up late (for me), told myself I’d run to Target (bought a microdermabrasion kit with one of my gift cards, still have one left) and the grocery store with a stop at JoAnn Fabric and I’d be home writing at 10. I didn’t make it back till 11 and I felt guilty.

Um, why? Why did I put myself under that kind of pressure?

Because it’s what I do. I stress out over getting my book to my agent so I can take advantage of this whole GH thing. I stress thinking I want to sell before July so I can have a pink ribbon. All things beyond my control.

Why do I have to put myself on a schedule? Why can’t I just let things come as they will? Is it just that I’m afraid life will get away from me?

How can I stop?

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Today – the King William Fair – arts and crafts and food on a stick. Always see my very first principal there – his son has a house in the neighborhood, so it’s a big party. I’m looking forward to antichuchos and fried Oreos.

EDITED TO ADD - NO FRIED OREOS!!!! WAHHH!!! AND NO ANTICHUCHOS (REALLY SPICY SHISHKABOBS!) I consoled myself with a bloomin' onion and part of a funnel cake. Grease is coming from my pores.


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Who Reads Your Stuff??

It's FIESTA! No school today. Everyone was going around yesterday saying, "Enjoy your last holiday" and I'm thinking, we only have 24 days left! May can be long, though. Anyway, dh is already gone - he directs the parades for TV - I slept till 7:30 and now I'm thinking of going to Target to spend the rest of my gift cards (I did get the sandals the other day - VERY cute.) Then I'll hit the grocery store, then settle in for some writing. The new scenes are done, they just need to be fleshed out.

I mentioned in my list that my grandmother used to read for me. Now don't think she was every critical - every word I wrote was gold. I learned that that was not always good, but I knew who to turn to for strokes when I needed them!

I think I was reading Rachel's blog where she was talking about her husband reading her work and being her #1 fan. (I'm sure he gives her more feedback than Gigi gave me, though.) But my dh doesn't read my stuff. He'll listen when I talk about it, will help me brainstorm on occasion, but he won't read it. It used to hurt my feelings. Now, I don't know. I don't know if he'll ever read it, even if it gets published.

What about your significant other? Does he read your stuff? Do you like him to?

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Oh, Dear

The Magic Formula | How To Plan, Write, Sell, and Promote Your Romance Fiction Novel

NO, this is NOT an endorsement. What do you think about this???

The Givenchy Code

Today’s book recommendation is The Givenchy Code, by Julie Kenner. Yes, I admit I bought this book because of the title. It is the Best Title Ever. I didn’t know how I’d like it, because it is another “chick lit.” What I am learning is that chick lit is quite broad.

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While this book started out as you would expect a chick lit to, with the heroine in NYC, shopping at high end stores with her best friend, lusting for brand names, it quickly turned to something more my style.

Murder. Intrigue. Woman in jeopardy. Hero as a bodyguard. Yum.

All the intrigue stems from a video game that has gone “live.” Both the hero and heroine used to play the complicated game (I’m not EVEN gonna try to explain – I don’t think I could) whose rules have transcended the medium and infiltrated Manhattan. The hero and heroine have to solve clues to save their lives.

I loved Mel. She was a SMART heroine who didn’t panic, didn’t pout, but worked her way through this book. She was sympathetic and sexy and sharp.

Stryker was hot and dependable and did I mention hot? My only complaint was that the love scenes, well, weren’t.

But I definitely have The Manolo Matrix on my wish list!

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A Writer's Concept of Time

Paperback Writer: Timely Ten

20 Things I Know About My Writing

1) I can’t write romance without an external plot.

2) I come up with my heroes first 90% of the time.

3) I always have a new idea before I finish my WIP.

4) Criticism can kill my love for a story.

5) I only write well when I have a chunk of time. I can’t write well in 15 minutes.

6) I write best after 10 PM, when I’m on vacation.

7) I write best at the computer – which surprises me because I used to write everything longhand. I rarely use my Alphasmart, though I have lately to get through a tough scene. I still like cook pens and notebooks, though.

8) I don’t delete anything permanently. I have files of cut scenes for each of my books. Some of them are over 300 pages long.

9) I’m really particular about character names.

10) I can’t give up reading when I’m writing.

11) I used to write large casts, but now I can’t keep track of them now.

12) I’m a terrible housekeeper when I’m in a story…which is bad, since I’m either writing, stuck, or researching.

13) I have notebooks for each of my stories, with covers and everything, including my research.

14) I go to the library for research and sometimes have to get people to help me carry the books to my car!

15) I love writing new. I’m less enamored of revisions.

16) Endings give me fits. So do love scenes.

17) I have a charm bracelet for writing. I have charms for Surface, DLB, Hot Shot, Midnight Sun, Where There’s Smoke and two of my Golden Hearts.

18) I’ve targeted almost every line at HQ/Silhouette: Desire, Temptation, Super, SIM, Intrigue, Bombshell, HQN, American, Special Edition, and Mira.

19) I feel guilty when I’m not writing. ALL the time.

20) My grandmother was my biggest fan. I miss giving her a cleaned up copy of my latest book and hearing her tell me I was the next Nora Roberts.

Now you. Here or on your own blog.

I watched this yesterday for inspiration. He’s still very very inspirational.

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Do Me, Do My Roots

My friend Tracy gave up buying books for Lent, so she’s looking for some good suggestions. I’m going to help her out.

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I really loved Do Me, Do My Roots by Eileen Rendahl. I bought the book because I met Eileen at RWA in NYC, when we were waiting to get into The Today Show. She’d just sold the book then, and by Dallas, it was out in print. I bought it at the literacy signing. It sat on my TBR shelf for 2 years. I’m not a big fan of chick lit, but I did want to read what Pocket was buying.

My other friend Kris read it and recommended it (okay, GUSHED about it), so I pulled it out.

Wow.

Wow.

It’s the story of three sisters who meet regularly to do each other’s roots, make a girls’ night of it. The heroine (OMG, I forgot her name, and I loaned the book to Cindi, since she’s the youngest of three girls like the heroine) is recovering from the loss of her husband, who died of a brain tumor. The description of what she went through is just so heartwrenching. I particularly loved the scenes at the survivors support group. She has a daughter, and her husband’s best friend is on hand, needing the connection in his own way. Everything is through her eyes, and we feel everything she feels. Everything.

She has a controlling older sister who falls for a younger man, a musician, a vivacious middle sister, a nurse who found herself married to a drug addict.

Her parents are loving but quirky (and I mean that in a good way.)

There is romance, there is humor, there is sadness (at one point, I was SOBBING. Sobbing. Can you remember the last book that made you sob?)

It certainly deserved its Rita nod last year.

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Favorite Last Lines

We’ve talked about best first lines, but they say while the first line will sell your book, your last line will sell the next book.

Do you agonize over your last line as much as your first? I do. Endings are TOUGH for me. But I kind of like the last lines I came up with for DLB and Hot Shot.

In DLB, very action packed, the last bit of dialogue goes like this:

“I had to know you wouldn’t wait for a proposal.”
“You know me,” she said, twining her arms around his shoulders. “A woman of action.”
He pulled her against him. “Just the one for me, then.”


In Hot Shot, where Peyton has worried about stability through the whole book, the exchange is this:

“Peyton.” His serious tone carried over the walkie. “Come home safe.”
Home. A tent in a fire camp that she shared with Gabe. And she wouldn’t be anywhere else.
“I will,” she said. “Cooper out.”

It also shows they’re married, and that he’s made the turnaround to worry about her for a change.

In Vanished, the exchange is not between the hero and heroine, but between the heroine and her best friend, who they spend the entire book looking for. The best friend has been in an abusive marriage and runs away when she finds out she’s pregnant. She’s had the baby when they find her.

Danny fought back another surge of longing to see Gabrielle holding his child, and went to help his sister.
“What’s her name?” Gabrielle asked, stroking a finger lightly over the baby’s cheek.
“Hope,” Tess said.

Okay, that one’s not as strong as the others, but it does reflect what the story has been about.

I went to my keeper shelf for other examples. Amazing how many end on a kiss, or on a declaration of “I forever do.” It got to be a bit generic.

Here are some of my favorites.

From Karen Templeton’s Saving Dr. Ryan, the preacher has just completed a double wedding and looks from one groom to the other:

“And the good Lord knows it’s about damn time the two of you came to your senses!”
And the congregation shouted as one, “AMEN!”

If you’ve ever read Karen’s books, you know there is always a community, so this fit really well.

In my very very favorite Navy Seals book by Suzanne Brockmann, Out of Control, the last POV is Savannah’s grandmother’s:

Her granddaughter was infinitely lucky. Rose knew this firsthand. She’d had a husband who loved her an eleven, too.

Nora, who is queen of first lines, was less noticeable in last lines. But I liked the ending of The Welcoming:

“You were awfully sure of yourself.”
“No.” He kissed her again, felt the curve of her lips, and the welcoming. “I was sure of you.”

In Diana Duncan’s action packed Midnight Hero, her first 24-Hour book, Bailey and Conall have been trapped in the mall all night, hiding from bank robbers. They’d had a history, but she’d decided they were like fire and water, that they could never mix.

Misty white vapor curled around them, enveloping them in a cozy, rose-scented cocoon. He stroked a wet finger down her cheek. “And together they make….”
Grinning at each other, they spoke as one.
“STEAM!”

In Evelyn Vaughn’s second Grailkeepers book, Her Kind of Trouble, our heroine Maggi has the Isis Grail. Before she puts it into hiding, though:

For a moment, I felt I was there again – underwater in Cleopatra’s palace, amid submerged artifacts and relics.
“And thank you for allowing me the honor of championing you.”
Then I drank.
And it tasted sweet.

In my favorite Lisa Kleypas book, Someone to Watch Over Me, I loved the exchange between Grant and Victoria:

“Never,” Victoria repeated, holding his gaze. “I wouldn’t change a single thing about you.”
“Well, milady,” he replied softly, “that’s why I married you.”

Emily McKay’s third book, Perfectly Saucy, had one of the sexiest heroes out, Alex Moreno. He’s the bad boy to Jessica’s good girl. She’d crushed on him since high school. The last sentence convinces me they’ll be together forever.

She was the one person in the world he could say anything to. She always had been.

Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale is a classic for a reason. Another bad boy/good girl story, but much more angsty:

A buffle-headed bad wicked man he might be – but he could recognize a miracle when he saw one.

The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley isn’t a romance, per se, but an awesome book. Graham, the hero, is trying to get the heroine to spend the holidays with him, to toss a coin to see if she should go home (heads) or stay with him (tails):

He might be right, I thought – a toss of the coin did seem the only fair way to decide where I ought to spend Christmas.
And it only took four tries to make the penny come up tails.

So what are some of your favorite last lines? Yours or from a favorite book?

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Gift Cards

I got 3 gift cards to Target and one to Bath and Bodyworks for my birthday. I love gift cards, I love planning how to spend them, I almost always buy more than I intend.

What about you? Save them or spend them right away? And if you got them to Target or wherever, do you buy practical stuff, something you've wanted and haven't dared try, or what? Big price tag, or a bunch of little things. I'm looking at the sandals in the Target ad thinking, oh, yeah. But I'd wanted to buy a Buffy season on DVD. Or these really cool plates I saw earlier in the season....

Decisions, decisions.

The Party

I was having so much fun, I forgot to take pictures!

We got there a bit early, my mom and stepdad, aunt, uncle and cousin were there, and my SIL's best friend, Rachel, who loves to help Sonia (SIL) give parties. My buddy Patti arrived about 20 minutes later, as did my SIL's sister and brother in law. Then my SIL's parents. Then we waited for Cindi and her family, who had the brisket, and her buddy and another teacher pal, who had the beans. They showed up almost an HOUR after we did, but then everybody ate and was happy. There was so much food - I think there were 8 chicken breasts left tonight! I had three glasses of wine and then they wanted me to cut the cake (I think I do have a picture of that...huge and chocolate mousse).

When I was about to open presents, my Not-Baby Brother and SIL called me and everyone else into the TV room. They'd put together a picture DVD, complete with music ("A Beautiful Day" by U2, "Paperback Writer" and "These Are the Days" by 10,000 Maniacs). It was awesome. Remember how I like being a princess on my birthday? This was a lot of attention - I think I'm set. I went back in to open presents, and I didn't want these people who had already done so much to give me anything, but everyone knows me. Cindi gave me a gorgeous ring from James Avery, but it's way small, so I need to exchange it. I got three Target gift cards, as well, chocolate, earrings, a purse and a jar candle. Lovely cards, too.

Then it was time for karaoke! My buddies left (boy, did they miss a show!). My cousin sang "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain," then he and his dad sang "Spanish Angels." My brother and Sonia sang "Cruisin'" and Baby Brother and I sang "I Think I Love You" and some others. We ALL sang "A Man of Constant Sorrow" from O Brother Where Art Thou - that was the best. We all just love that movie!

We got home after midnight and I am still so wired and overwhelmed. They did so much for me, gave up their Saturday for me, decorated, cleaned their house, cooked, did so much to make it special. I don't know how to react.

If I can find the cord to the camera, I'll upload pictures later.

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Antisocial Behavior

I skipped my critique meeting last week because I was just overwhelmed. And feeling anti-social.

This week was not a good one for anti-social Mary.

Sunday, Easter. Church and then family dinner.

Monday, breakfast with Mom and Baby Brother. I know they’re family. But they wanted me to Talk To Them.

Tuesday, antisocial bliss.

Wednesday, chapter meeting.

Thursday, dinner with parents, Baby Brother’s play.

Friday, on the couch, with a movie and a box of Kleenex. Yes, sick on my bday, but not TOO sick. Just enough to not want to do anything.

Tonight, my birthday party. With more people. Who I like. Who want to make me the center of attention. And I may have mentioned that I’m a princess when it comes to my birthday.

But I am SOOOO looking forward to next week, when I can come home and burrow.

Is this a writer thing, or am I just lazy???

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April 21

Always my favorite day of the year ;)

Go to Wikipedia and look up your birthday (excluding the year). List three neat facts, two births and one death in your journal.

3 Neat Facts about April 21

The Battle of San Jacinto, where Sam Houston’s army defeated Santa Anna’s army in 1836 – why we celebrate Fiesta during my birthday week!

735 BC - Romulus founded Rome (who knew?)

1986 - Geraldo Rivera opened Al Capone’s vault and found nothing.

2 births

1816 - Charlotte Bronte!

1926 - Queen Elizabeth II

1 Death

1910 - Mark Twain

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No writing last night – went to Baby Brother’s play, was pretty good! But I’m itching to write. The dh wants to go to dinner tonight, but I think I’ll get him to bring home dinner and we’ll watch a movie – haven’t been home all week! At least it was a fast one.

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My birthday presents to myself ;)

30 More Days of School!

Yes, I know the counter says more, but it's counting weekends and our last holiday, Fiesta Friday. I can't wait to be on my own schedule. I can't wait to wear shorts every day. I can't wait to spend my mornings/evenings sitting in my Adirondack chair and writing/reading. Mom and I went to breakfast Monday, since we were off and we called it our summer preview. I told her once a week we'll go to breakfast and go hootin' and scootin' - a little harder now that the boys are teenagers. We'll just drag them along if they want to eat!

We had a nice SARA meeting last night, only less than 20 people! Still, we got in a good visit. And while the speaker was talking, I figured out who the heroine in my new WIP is going to be. I'm VERY excited. So I have the characters, just no names and no plot ;) Just as well, since I have only about three more scenes to go in DLB. No writing tonight, though, because baby brother is in a play, and we're going, and we're having my folks to dinner. Soooo, when I get home, I have to pick up dinner, clean the bathrooms and do the floors real quick. See why I can't wait for summer vacation?

As you can see, I finished Don't Look Down last night. I'm still a little confused, but it was 11:30, and I was waiting for the big storm they promised that never came. (Not in the book - in South Texas!)

A little story about Facing the Fire, the next book in my TBR.. After Hot Shot finalled in the GH in 2003, Susan Litman requested it at the conference. I sent it in October, I think, at the latest. I coordinated the Merritt that year, and Facing the Fire (then Slow Burn) was one of the entries. I read it, and it was good. It finalled. I mostly remember that the h/h were separated, I think, or divorced. Her hero was a smokejumper and mine is a hotshot. Shannon Godwin was my category judge, and by this time I learned she had Hot Shot. I mentioned this book to her, and asked if it would be a conflict, and she said no, there was plenty of room in SIM for two wildfire stories. Okay. When I contacted Gail to tell her Slow Burn was a finalist, she said it wasn't done yet. Meanwhile, Hot Shot finalled again. Gail won the GH that year for Where He Belongs, which came out in the fall in SSE. Shortly after the conference, she sold Slow Burn, too, which she said was unusual because she was writing for two lines, and usually Silhouette, doesn't like that. A few months later, Hot Shot was rejected.

So I'm looking forward to reading this book, but at the same time it kinda hurts, you know?

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Thank you, Candice!!!

Dark-Hunter - Rejection

And I don't even think she knew what a gift she was giving me!

Pink 3!!!!

RUN FOR THE MONEY - By Stephanie Feagan

What’s it about?

Pink is honored by an offer to act as accounting watchdog for the Chinese Earthquake Relief Fund, but when she discovers someone is using her identity to embezzle the money, she loses that loving feeling. In her quest to find the crook who set her up, she comes face to face with the Russian mob, a Chinese man with an axe to grind and an annoying habit of getting in over her head. Literally.

But Pink’s not giving up, because out of all the options she has, including several with the two amazing men in her life, spending her old age in prison isn’t one of them. Pink’s going global, and the world won’t ever be quite the same.

Run For The Money

Is it good?

RUN FOR THE MONEY does a wonderful job of once again illustrating that being a CPA can be dangerous -- at least for Pink Pearl. From the moment Pink finds herself being framed for the embezzled funds, the story is non-stop action and suspense.

The mystery aspect has plenty of twists and turns and will keep readers guessing to the very end. The two previous books (SHOW HER THE MONEY and SHE’S ON THE MONEY) introduce the characters and the complex relationships among them, and both are very good, but otherwise RUN FOR THE MONEY stands on its own. And while the mystery is resolved by the end of the book, other things aren’t, leaving the door open for more tales from The Pink Files. I highly recommend RUN FOR THE MONEY.


Jennifer Bishop
Romance Reviews Today www.romrevtoday.com


You can visit Stephanie's website here.

Hope

I have some exciting news – my best friend Cindi just found out she’s pregnant with her third baby. She’ll be 42 when this one is born, her youngest will be 2. Still, I’m envious, and excited. I haven’t been able to get pregnant in 14 years, and she just thinks about it….

Really, I’m happy for her, but it just kind of is reflecting my own weaknesses right now. Making me wonder about my own decisions, and if they’re the right ones.

I’m having a “procedure” in May because I don’t want to go back on the Pill or have a hysterectomy because I don’t want to give up the idea that I could someday have another baby.

Yes, I’ll be 40 on Friday.

When do you give up hope?

I know this sounds weird coming from me, considering the successes I’ve had lately, but for every success, there’s been a blockade. Yes, Hot Shot has finalled in the Golden Heart twice, has won other contests, and yet seems stuck in an endless cycle of revisions. It’s the manuscript that got me my agent, but it’s not even in front of any editors.

Don’t Look Back has finalled in all but one of the contests I entered it in, but is also in revisions, still 20 pages short of ST length even after working on it all weekend (and adding 30 pages). How can I take advantage of my GH finalling status if I can’t get the book out?

Twelve years, y’all. I’m the only SARA member who’s finalled in the Golden Heart and hasn’t sold. Around me people are selling and seeing their books on the shelves and I feel like I’m moving backwards. I can’t get excited about contests or requests because I’ve been down the road, had my hopes raised, then dashed.

What kills your hope?

What rebuilds it?


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My Latest Obsession

Ten new pages, but I deleted three from yesterday, so a net total of seven. May be the last of the new pages today, then I'll layer in, I think.

It’s a terrible, terrible thing to be obsessive.

Every night I watch an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Every night I go to bed thinking about…Alex. Yes, Alex. The pig. Even when he’s trimming his nose hair, Justin Chambers has me riveted to the screen.

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Since there are only a finite number of GA episodes, I have rented The Musketeer (bleh!) and Rose Hill. (Remember Rose Hill? Based on the Julie Garwood series For the Roses? Wasn’t Cole the hero in the big book? Well, in the movie, he’s not. He’s Justin Chambers.)

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I’ve looked for pictures. Again, a finite number, considering he was a model. And not all of them are good pictures. There’s one of him with a kind of a ‘fro and these huge sunglasses – ick.

I’ve looked for info online. He’s the same age as my brother and a twin, did you know? And the father of FIVE kids! Four girls, including twins (almost makes me want to write a straight romance about a single dad…) and a boy. Hey, if you were married to this guy, would you want to do anything else but make babies?

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I don’t even really understand it. He’s not that handsome – I mean, what is with the eyebrows? And the haircut? And he’s such an ASS on GA.

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But still, I can’t WAIT to write his story.

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Happy Easter!

Just finished making an Easter basket for the boy. Yes, he's 14. Why do you ask?

I made the mistake of saying to the clerk at the grocery store that no matter how old they are, you want to make them a nice basket. She kind of chided me, saying that she didn't make her kids baskets because it diluted what Christ did for us.

Now, this woman and I have a relationship - I practically live at the grocery store, and she's worked there forever. She is extremely religious. Instead of saying "Have a nice day," she says "Have a blessed day." Doesn't bother me because sometimes you do need to be reminded of your blessings. But still, I was taken aback.

Holy Week used to mean something different when I was a girl. Holy Thursday meant either a night at a Seder at the base to show how Jesus spent his last night with his disciples, or a night in church watching the important men of the parish getting their feet washed by the priest.

When the other kids were looking forward to a day off on Good Friday, I was looking forward to a day in church. And by looking forward, I mean dreading. Three hours, y'all. Stations of the Cross. All kinds of prayers. Incense. My brother and I were the only kids there, and we went to Catholic school! I remember being married and feeling guilty when my mother and grandmother asked me to go with them and I said no. It stunned me to think I had a choice.

Holy Saturday was the only day in the Whole Year we didn't go to church. Yes, that's right. We went to daily Mass wherever we could find it.

Here in town the tradition for many families is to stake out a table in the park and have a barbecue. I remember thinking, "So they don't go to CHURCH on Easter??" I couldn't fathom that other families weren't like us.

This Easter the boy has a basket but neither he nor my husband have new clothes. I do, but then, I always do ;) We'll probably go to the outdoor Mass at the Grotto and then to breakfast. Dinner at my mom's later today. We haven't had Easter egg hunts for years. So, kind of a laid back Easter.

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I met my goal yesterday, and will try for ten more pages today. May be an impossible dream, but I'll get started now.

Soundtracks

My goal yesterday was to get to page 320, and I made it. Barely. I’d been on 308, then I cut so I had 304, so 16 pages yesterday.

The plan today is 10 pages.

My friend Kris swears by soundtracks for her books. She says listening to the songs she selects, over and over, helps her get into the story.

I have to agree. I remember writing a book at my old house. I’d write in the back yard, on the patio table, with my CD player in front of me. I would listen to two CDs over and over, and it did take me into the world of my story.

Plus…my computer is in the living room. Sometimes I need to drown out the TV! Of course, my son and I keep swapping out headphones – I like headphones, he likes earbuds.

I’ve made soundtracks for the last two books, Surface and DLB. Finding the songs is like making a collage for me. I hear a song and think that needs to go on my soundtrack. I put it on a playlist on iTunes, so I don’t actually burn it. Because some of my playlists are pretty long.

My soundtrack for DLB:

Hurt by Johnny Cash
Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day

Both those songs really describe my hero’s philosophy. I would love the song “Hero” from the first Spiderman movie, but it’s not on iTunes, and I’m not buying the Spiderman soundtrack for one song. Of course, that wouldn’t be his philosophy as much as mine.

Sweet Fire of Love by Robbie Robertson
Chances Are by Robert Downey JR and Vonda Shepard
Need You Tonight and Never Tear Us Apart by INXS
Several songs from Hope Floats
We Belong by Pat Benatar
No One Is to Blame by Howard Jones

The realization that love can heal.

Because the Night by 10,000 Maniacs
Point of No Return from POTO
Why Can’t I by Liz Phair

Sexy as hell.

A couple of songs from World Party and several songs from Paul Simon’s Graceland, and the soundtrack of Out of Africa because of the African flavor. I was going to buy a world music CD, but decided on these songs instead, since Graceland and Out of Africa are two of my all time favorite CDs.

My soundtrack for Beneath the Surface has History Repeating by the Propellerheads and History Never Repeats by Split Enz, because they’re archaeologists, see, and they’re estranged yet falling in love again.

Somebody to Love by Queen, because I love that song.

American Girl by Tom Petty. Because she is.

This and That and No Myth by Michael Penn, and Handle with Care, Not Alone Anymore and End of the Line by Traveling Wilburys. I have no idea why.

Something So Strong and Don’t Dream It’s Over by Crowded House. Running Down a Dream by Tom Petty. Kinda self-explanatory.

Dancing Barefoot by Patti Smith and Black by Pearl Jam. Because it’s sexy as hell.

I know a lot of people say they can’t listen to music with words when they’re writing, but I stop hearing the words after awhile.

Another benefit of this is that you keep writing so you can hear one of the songs you like ;)

Do you make soundtracks? What’s on them?

I know I’ve probably used this picture before, but I’m getting tired of the Butterfly on a Wheel pictures.

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Character Study - and 20,000 hits!!!

Okay, so maybe 20,000 isn't so big in the scheme of things, but that averages out to over 400 a week! Which averages to about 60 a day!

Beautiful sunrise this morning, all pink and purple when I look out the window to the right of my computer. Very Eastery.

Plumber is coming at 8:30. My brother and dh are both convinced it will be fixed today. Please, God! I've almost - almost - gotten to the point where I don't care what it costs, ya know? Except I do.

Remember the other day when I was talking about writing series and I don't, that when I'm done with a book, I'm done with it?

I lied.

I have this secondary character in DLB who is starting to flex his muscles and look around - ya know, come to life on his own. And I'm thinking, this guy would be perfect for this other story idea I have that I may someday get to write if I ever finish revisions. So I'm thinking I need to beef him up a bit in DLB (not too much, I don't want an arrow pointing at his head saying "Future Hero") and I need to change his name. I want this guy to be a rule follower, and he uses the hero in DLB as a reason WHY he should follow rules. When he gets his own book, he'll have to break rules, see, and then maybe in the end following rules saves him or something. I've only been playing with this a couple of days on the drive to school.

But here's the thing...I started going farther back into his history and I'm wondering why he's a rule follower.

See, one of the teachers in my unit's husband is in vice (nice segue, huh?) and the other day he was staking out this woman getting meth through the mail. While he was staking her out, she left the house, and he made the decision to let her leave, since they knew where she lived and they didn't want to spook her.

Well, she was in a car accident and died. (I know what you're thinking, but that's not the story I'm looking at.)

In her car was her ten year old son. He's fine. Only he's never been to school because his mother used him to sell drugs for her. He was a prisoner to her, essentially.

THAT'S the story I'm looking at.

What do you think that child will become? My first thought when I heard the story was that he'd be a cop (in romance world, anyway). BUT, could he possibly grow up to be a rule following soldier? What do you think?

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Still Not Fixed

Calling a plumber today - looks like it's a root in the drain in the yard. The dh can't get past it with the snake he has and I NEED TO BE ABLE TO HAVE WATER.

Is anyone else having trouble keeping track of the days this week? I could have sworn today was Friday. Maybe because we're off tomorrow (which was supposed to be relaxing...)

So we haven't talked about TV in awhile. What's going on in my favorite shows?

Grey's Anatomy - well, since I just finished watching the first season last night and Sunday was a rerun, I don't remember where GA left off. I do know that a friend asked to borrow the first season DVD when I was done and I'm reluctant to let it go. Even the dh is hooked. Can no one tell me what is so addictive about this show???

24 - What do you think of the President Logan twist? Do you think they had that planned from the beginning? It just seems like they grabbed it out of thin air to me. Matt Roush from TV Guide has it worked out that Logan is having trouble following in the footsteps of Palmer, that he set it up to appear as heroic as Palmer, but it got out of hand. I just don't know. I'm still mad about Tony.

American Idol - Why did Elliott have to massacre my favorite Queen song? Even Anne Hathaway was more true to it in Ella Enchanted! Taylor cracks me up. I thought Paris was awesome, though, yes, scary. Who do you think will go tonight?

Bones - It just keeps getting better! Loved the desert episode. Love Angela. And David Boreanaz with stubble - yum.

Lost - Last night's episode was a bit, um, dull. I enjoyed it, seeing Rose and Bernard, and I understand why they showed it, but....dull. Till the end. Two weeks till the next one!

My Name is Earl - absolutely love this show. No matter what. The Juliette Lewis episode was funny and a little scary. I don't know if she's still married to a skateboarder, but she was, and Jason Lee was a skateboarder. Nice little tie in.

The Office - why do I enjoy a show that just makes me cringe to watch it?? I turn away from this almost more than I turn away from the surgery scenes on Grey's! But it is funny (and I never noticed it didn't have a laugh track till I watched Teachers and the laugh track threw me off) and I love hearing my son laugh at it.

What are your favorites, and are they keeping your attention?

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Another Great Noodler Read

The Viscount’s Wicked Ways by
Anne Mallory

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What Others Are Saying:

"I found the THE VISCOUNT’S WICKED WAYS to be as charming and irresistible as the viscount himself! Anne Mallory gives classic romance a fresh and delightful spin with her clever plots and winning imagination."

-Teresa Medeiros, author of After Midnight

Excerpt:

The footsteps neared, then stopped. Patience closed her eyes, praying for deliverance. The pendulum of the longcase clock swung in measure with her racing heart. Time seemed suspended. Eventually, the person moved on, and she exhaled the breath she had been holding.

A hand shot out and grasped her arm, pulling her against a hard body.

“And what do we have here?”

Nerves gripped her as she recognized the viscount’s voice. “I was just picking up a book. I couldn’t sleep.”

“It’s late to be out. People could get the wrong impression.” His breath tickled her neck and she involuntarily moved back against him. “Or have the wrong intentions.”

Her muscles tightened. She stepped away and twisted to face him. “That they could. You should heed your own advice, my lord.”

She was pleased to note that her voice was cool and calm, in direct contrast to the rest of her body.

The viscount let go of her and leaned negligently against the doorframe. “And why would I do that? Of what do I need to heed?” He leaned forward, his lips inches from hers. “This is my domain, and I can take what I want.”

She forced herself to remain still, not wanting to give an inch.

His expression was both smirking and triumphant, and it was mixed with something she couldn’t identify. “I have never claimed Patience, perhaps I should work on that besetting sin.” And the last inch of space between them was lost.

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Plumbing not fixed - will try again tonight before calling in the professionals. Ugh. Mom did offer to let us use her RV.

The Joys of Living in an Old House

There's nothing like expecting houseguests to open your eyes to the flaws in your own house. I'd told my mother I'd have Easter here, and the following week, my dad and stepmom are coming for my birthday.

My house is 53 years old, in a beautiful neighborhood with huge trees, big yards, wide streets. The house itself has pine floors, brick walls, roomy rooms, this GIANT sliding glass door separating the main house with the sun room.

But as time for company approaches, I look at it through other people's eyes.

The chipped mosaic floor tile in the main bathroom.

The bedroom door that won't quite close (and that the cats will butt their heads against to get into the room)

The worn varnish under the computer chair

The molding in the hall that never got painted.

Last night was the coup de grace, though. Okay, actually, it started Saturday night, and if the dh would have BELIEVED me, it would have been taken care of Sunday. I was getting out of the tub, the water draining, when the toilet bubbled.

Uh-oh.

This has happened before, and has required my husband and stepdad (and I think, brother) to get up on the roof and snake the drain that goes out into the yard. No water for hours. Panic.

Dh comes into the bathroom. A fluke, he says. Water draining, nothing to worry about. Riiiight.

Last night, ds comes out of the shower. Tub not draining. Dh, still in denial, goes to look for Drano. I flush toilet. It overflows. Damn it. I shower, shower backs up. DAMN it. Dh promises to get snake from stepdad today.

But here's the scary, that had me lying awake till almost 11:30. When I went out to get my cat, there was water on the front porch, from the flowerbed sitting right outside the bathrooms. Which to me says the water came out at ground level. Which means there may be a broken pipe under my bathrooms. Which means snaking might not fix the problem.

Did I mention I'm having company???

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Monday Chuckle

Slept GOOD last night, could have slept longer, though. Four day weekend coming up - whoo-hoo!

Do Me, Do My Roots by Eileen Rendahl is an awesome book. Not exactly chick lit, but really warm and sad and funny about three sisters. Highly recommend. I met Eileen in NYC while we were waiting to get into The Today Show (we were all late!) and she was so nice. She has three more books out now - Balancing in High Heels, Un-Bridaled and Petals on the Pillow.

I've decided I have to rewrite about 40 pages from the book from scratch, BUT I know what I'm going to do and it should help me expand the 50 more pages I need as well. Now, if it was only Thursday....

My friend Kris sent these to me - enjoy!


Foreign Expressions Twist
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The following are winners in a New York Magazine contest in which contestants were asked to take a well-known expression in a foreign language, change a single letter, and provide a definition for the new expression.

HARLEZ-VOUS FRANCAIS? - Can you drive a French motorcycle?

EX POST FUCTO - Lost in the mail

IDIOS AMIGOS - We're wild and crazy guys!

VENI, VIPI, VICI - I came; I'm a very important person; I conquered

J'Y SUIS, J'Y PESTES - I can stay for the weekend

COGITO EGGO SUM - I think; therefore I waffle

RIGOR MORRIS - The cat is dead

RESPONDEZ S'IL VOUS PLAID - Honk if you're Scots

QUE SERA SERF - Life is feudal

LE ROI EST MORT. JIVE LE ROI - The King is dead. No kidding.

POSH MORTEM - Death styles of the rich and famous

PRO BOZO PUBLICO - Support your local clown

MONAGE A TROIS - I am three years old

FELIX NAVIDAD - Our cat has a boat

HASTE CUISINE - Fast French food

VENI, VIDI, VICE - I came, I saw, I partied.

QUIP PRO QUO - A fast retort

ALOHA OY - Love; greetings; farewell; from such a pain you should never know

MAZEL TON - Lots of luck

APRES MOE LE DELUGE - Larry and Curly get wet

PORTE-KOCHERE - Sacramental wine

ICH LIEBE RICH - I'm really crazy about having dough

FUI GENERIS - What's mine is mine

VISA LA FRANCE - Don't leave chateau without it

VENI VIDI VISA - I came, I saw, I bought

CA VA SANS DIRT - And that's not gossip

MERCI RIEN - Thanks for nothin'

AMICUS PURIAE - Platonic friend

L'ETAT, C'EST MOO - I'm bossy around here

L'ETAT, C'EST MOE - All the world's a stooge
 
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The Best Laid Plans.....

All I wanted to do yesterday was write a love scene and work in my yard. I should have known it wouldn't be that easy. First of all, I can never just sit down and write a love scene. I have to wrestle and wrangle the thing, and then delete it, start over, and eventually it will start flowing.

So I got up at 7:45 yesterday (after going to bed at 10:30! And I'd taken a nap when I got home!). The house was quiet. I didn't blog-hop, though I did check my emails. I deleted the old love scene - I didn't want to pick bits and pieces of it because that never works for me. I started writing in my hero's POV - he's trying to be restrained because my heroine was a rape victim and he doesn't want her to be afraid of him (shows what he knows!) Well, it was agony. And angsty. Agony and angst are not sexy. I deleted.

Bled more words. Deleted.

9:00. Mom calls. She needs plants. Do I want to go to the nursery with her, because she has coupons?

Now, the plan for the day included working in the yard, right? And technically, getting plants is working in the yard.

11:15. I return home $25 poorer, but with four miniature roses, a gerber daisy, 2 fancy begonias, a snapdragon, 2 moss roses and 2 Easter bonnets - Alyssum, I think. Now I must plant them. Then I must rearrange the patio so when I look out I can see them.

12:15. DH brings home lunch. I consume mass quantities of carbs. I go back to the computer. Nothing's happening, and I'm very self conscious of the boy walking around the house, afraid he'll read over my shoulder.

1:00. Go nap.

4:15. Get up. (I'm telling you, I've been TIRED!) The house is quiet. The boy is at the elementary school carnival down the street with his ex-girlfriend. The husband is here and keeps talking to me. I remember that my clothes are at the cleaners and I need to get them before they close at 5. I go. And stop at JoAnn fabric on the way for a hanging basket.

5:00. Still nothing happening. DH is now watching The Fugitive. I can't concentrate. I take the Alpha Smart onto my newly decorated patio. I get words down.

6:00 The boy comes home, time to make dinner. I upload what I wrote into my document, hate it.

7:00 Dinner done, kick the boy off the computer, delete what took me ALL DAY to write and put the old love scene back in. I cut out the last few paragraphs and work on the reaction scene.

10:15 Done. Mostly happy with it. Tired. Go take a bath. Don't even reward myself with an episode of Grey's Anatomy.

Today....the Big Sacrifice scene.

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Observations While Walking

So, I stopped making excuses and started walking this week. I’d like to lose 20 pounds by July so I don’t have to buy a new dress for the GH (I have one that I bought 3 years ago and never wore.) plus, I have all these capris I can’t wear unless I lose some pounds in the behind and belly.

Some things I noticed while walking…

We’ve been having beautiful evenings in South Texas but hardly anyone is outside! They could be in their backyards, sure, but I only saw one family outside and only 5 other people walking. Usually I’m guilty of the same thing, so I shouldn’t say anything, but come on, folks! Go outside!

When walking in your frumpy capris and old SARA shirt with a dog who doesn’t really understand the leash concept, don’t walk behind a very fit blonde. It’s just not good for morale.

People in my neighborhood did not get their dogs at the pound, like I did.

The drought is doing a number on the lawns. Usually park-like yards are having trouble coming back.

It’s quiet outside. Yeah, there’s the occasional airplane, and you can hear the buzz of traffic from the nearby highway, but no TV and no plinky-plinky guitar.

I don’t know what to do with no noise.

Walking makes me want to make home improvements. I like symmetrical garden designs and khaki and green house paint.

Every time I called my mom while walking, she was out to eat.

I told you, I don’t know what to do with no noise!

So, here’s to me keeping up the pace.

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Make Your Life a Little Easier

Cell phones (wish the boy had had one yesterday…)
Internet/email (eBay, Amazon.com, BLOGGING)
Microwaves
Magic Rub sponges
DVDs released mere months after the movie’s at the theater
TV shows on DVD, in case you missed them the first time
Frozen food that actually tastes good
Pay-at-the-pump
Swiffer
DVRs (wish I had one for the 19th, which is my chapter meeting, my folks are coming in, and Alias returns)
Debit cards
Books on CD
Sprinkler systems
The kitty litter box that cleans itself (not that I HAVE one)

All these are inventions that have been designed to make life easier, in my memory. (We won’t go into the discussion I had with my kids about life before videos.) Now they’ve come out with that shower cleaner, but I’m waiting to hear testimony before I plop down the bucks.

Anyway, these things are all great, but I can’t help thinking of other conveniences that would make my life easier.

Like a drive-through grocery store. You know, like the drive through pharmacy? You could have it be 10 items or less, for the days you’re out of milk, bread or kitty litter.

A programmable vehicle that can do the driving for you to your regular routes, like your job. I know, they have these things called buses, but it would add another hour each way to my already lengthy commute.

A self-cleaning kitchen. Did you ever see that episode of The Simpsons where Homer gets a job with a guy planning to take over the world, and he gets this awesome house and Marge is bored because it cleans itself? I wouldn’t get bored. Add self-cleaning bathrooms to that, too.

A kitty vacuum. You know, to vacuum the kitties so they don’t shed so much.

Couch dye. For when you like the design of your couch but hate the color. (yellow – WHAT was I thinking?)

Some kind of sleep device, so you can always get enough.

You can see that much has to do with cleaning, because I find myself in a panicking state. Mom didn’t want to do Easter at her house this year and I find myself opening my mouth to say, “We can do it here.” What the heck was I thinking? I mean, I have to clean ANYWAY, for the company coming in the 19th, but I was actually thinking of hiring someone for that. I don’t think I can get someone before Easter.

What ideal invention would make your life easier?

And since you probably ODed on Gerry yesterday, here's Sawyer. What did you think of Lost last night? It couldn't be. Could it? JJ wouldn't tip his hand this early.

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For Karen and Leslie

Shirtless from Attila.

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Shirtless from 300

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Shirtless in Timeline

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Shirtless in Tomb Raider 2

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Just plain shirtless

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Goodreads

M.J. Fredrick's books on Goodreads
Breaking DaylightBreaking Daylight
ratings: 11 (avg rating 3.33)

Beneath the SurfaceBeneath the Surface
ratings: 11 (avg rating 4.00)

Hot ShotHot Shot (Samhain)
reviews: 2
ratings: 10 (avg rating 4.00)

Where There's SmokeWhere There's Smoke
ratings: 6 (avg rating 4.00)

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MJFredrick
I'm a mom, a wife, a teacher and a writer. I have five cats and a dog to keep me company. I love bookstores and libraries and Netflix - movies are my greatest weakness.
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