Wednesday

I wrote out my days longhand, so I'll post one a day so you'll know about conference.

I met Bosey, Elizabeth, Gina, Cindy T and Pandora from eHQ, stalked Eileen Rendahl in the elevator. I know there were more - please forgive my sleep deprived mind!

Wednesday was wild and crazy. Woke up at 3 AM, too excited to sleep. Headed out from Birmingham at 7:30 AM, because dh and ds COULD sleep. Got to Atlanta, checked in VERY quickly, and got a peach! I saw Tiffany Green from SARA right away, and never saw her again. Changed and went down to meet ESK, who met quickly with a prospective client before she came back to meet with us and take us to lunch. We walked to the Sundial or Suntower, which rotated with a great view of Atlanta. I didn't say much as the lowly unpub. Returned to the room around 2, met with Trish to help her with the basket the Noodlers put together to donate to the literacy signing. We had shrink wrap we had no idea what to do with, had nothing to tie it with. Thank goodness Janice Lynn had come in. She rummaged in her purse and pulled out a ribbon she'd cut out of her dress the night before - you know, the ones you use to hang up the dress? It was perfect!

We carried the Noodler basket to the booksigning, bought our own tickets (but didn't win) and shopped. I got as far as Cindy Gerard (To the Brink!) before I had to meet with ESK again for a one on one.

More revisions. I didn't cry.

Then we walked around the booksigning, but the line was tremendous, and I didn't get to see as many people as I wanted.

After ESK and I parted ways for the evening, I found a good friend outside in the lobby and decompressed for awhile before going up to the bar for a meeting with the 2006 finalists. Then Anne Mallory and I met up and joined the Noodlers for karaoke at GIlbert's.

Y'all, that was SO MUCH FUN! Some people there were SO GOOD that it was like being at a concert. There was a guy who sang an Elton John song who should totally go on American Idol. I sang the Shoop Shoop song with Esri and Priscilla, and Colleen and I sang Love Shack with some of the guys who were there who DIDN'T know the song! And all the Noodlers sang Addicted to Love! I didn't get back to the room till 1:30 and couldn't sleep till 5:30.

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This is John. He was a cutie.

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Esri dancing on a chair.

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Priscilla looking gorgeous.

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Esri and Colleen.

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Birmingham

820 miles.

15 hours.

5 hours of rain.

$90 in gas so far.

$50 in food, counting coffee.

3 more hours tomorrow, free breakfast, one lost hour as we cross the date line.

Don't know if I'll be able to check in from Atlanta.

I finished reading Dressed to Keel - it was AWESOME! Will write a review when I get home. I planned to write one tonight, but am quite tired.

EDITED TO ADD:

There were NO STARBUCKS on the highway from Houston to Hattiesburg. We ended up at a CC's coffeehouse in Covington, and it was okay. But we developed some indicators to see if it was likely a Starbucks would be at a certain exit.

If a Starbucks was likely, you might see:

a book store
an office supply store
Chili's
Lowe's
Target
Outback

If you shouldn't even bother looking, you'd see:

a flea market
buildings made of sheet metal
farm equipment sales
Stuckey's
Waffle House

I hope we can find a Starbucks in Birmingham!

Tag!

Elizabeth tagged me, and believe me, I’m grateful for the topic ;)

1. When did you first start blogging and why?

Last year because Trish said it was fun and not too time consuming. And really, it isn’t except that then I want to go read everyone else’s blog! I love personalizing my blog and posting pictures!

2. What don't you talk about?

I try to be positive, so I don’t write bad book reviews (movies are different) and I try not to go into politics or religion. I don’t know how I’d handle a flamewar!

3. Are you and your blogging persona the same person?

Frighteningly so. Although I’m funnier here than in real life.

4. How do you use blogging to build friendships?

I’ve gotten to know people from eHQ so much better

5. How would you describe your writing style?

On the blog, I guess this means. I try to be honest about what I’m dealing with, and I try to slant it with humor.

I tag Toni, Colleen, Michele, Stacy and Tori.

I don't know if you've seen this, but some people will be blogging about National during National. At $13 a day for Internet connection, this is dedication.

Blogging National

i have to color my hair and do my nails today. The dh and ds aren't even packed. Sigh.

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My Dream

I guess y'all know Trish and I are giving a workshop Friday morning on how to be a successful unpublished writer. Well, I guess I'm more anxious about it than I thought. Last night I dreamed we gave the workshop on The Tonight Show, and I was only able to give one segment of mine, and I was pacing back and forth the entire time, and all my notes were RAMBLING. When I saw a tape of the show I couldn't get over how squeaky my voice was!

Then Oprah had an event in the lobby with a booksigning and what all and she and Jay were asking us when our books were coming out and we had to explain the unpublished bit. (Oprah did say if we weren't published by such-and-such a date, she'd take care of it.) Then Oprah invited us to do her show in conjunction with the booksigning, only she also had a faith healer scheduled and the line of people waiting to see him was long, so it was like, 10:30 and Trish and I hadn't started, and I kept thinking, I'll never get through my bit.

There was one lady in the Oprah audience that was snotty, but most were romance writers, including Dr. Deb and Pam Morsi!

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Packing

ARGH!

I'm mostly packed. Bathing suit, underwear, yoga pants, t-shirts to sleep in, shoes. I'm borrowing a garment bag from my mom and wondering how many garments I can actually fit IN it. See, I'm travelling in a Scion XB, which, while great on gas, is not so roomy. So I have teensy luggage. Which means I need more pieces. As of now, I have my conference clothes in tiny suitcase, shoes and underwear (including tummy holder-inners) in my Bombshell duffel bag (which is usually much roomier.) All paperwork is in my Harlequin tote. Need to go get the garment bag, and the dh and ds need to pack their clothes in dh's Marlboro duffel bag (we have a thing for free luggage apparently.)

My slacks, Wednesday dress, Friday skirt and Saturday night dress are not packed.

I will pack my make up after I wear some tomorrow. I think I can fit it in my Harlequin tote.

And I need to leave room for the books and t-shirts I'll be getting.

And I've decided I hate my purse. Too late to get a new one.

I have shoes and jewelry to match each outfit.

I just remembered to get my nail polish and pack it.

Need dh to try on his suit and fix my charm bracelet.

And I'm obsessing about what book to take to read on the trip. I mean, I'll have a plethora of books to choose from after Wednesday, but Tuesday....Candy's book is nice and slim. If I don't finish it before Tuesday, that will be good. Otherwise, maybe a Desire or something.

What are you obsessing about?

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How Mean Can Mean Be?

So I’m listening to Ain’t She Sweet on MP3. I’m about half way through and I’m not seeing much in the romance. See, Sugar Beth was a Mean Girl in high school. Life knocked her down to size and now she’s had to return to the town and the people she treated so poorly, including her former English teacher, Colin, who has made it big as a writer and now lives in her family home.

SEP has made Sugar Beth sympathetic, but not Colin. See, Sugar Beth did something terrible to Colin, and he’s out for revenge. He gets it, but when she doesn’t crack under his retribution, he finds admiration for her.

What is fascinating about this book is that these characters are Not Nice. But hey, I can’t WAIT to go for my walk or get in my car so I can hear more!

In the book I’m sorta writing, Alex’s story, Breaking Daylight (thanks, Stacy!), I want these characters to be bad. Right now I think I’m too worried about making them sympathetic. But I need Alex to be cold blooded, all about being a Ranger, especially when it comes to this woman, in whom he sees his past. And I need Isabella to be manipulative. The only way she knows how to relate to a man is sexually. Of course, thus far in the story, she hasn’t had much interaction with Alex, other than him rescuing her from the jungle, pulling her from a burning car and carrying her down the side of a mountain. (In 40 pages…)

How do I make them bad without alienating the reader from them?

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I Knew I Was Forgetting Something....

I can't believe I forgot to blog today! I went to breakfast with Mom, we went shopping at Garden Ridge, then Super WalMart, where I spent $130 on last minute stuff like dog food and nail polish remover and those clear bra straps and bathing suits for the boys. I would still like to get some lip gloss. I so don't know what to get.

I came home and crashed, then went to get my eyebrows done. When I was done with that (I'm not crazy about them, I wanted more Jennifer Aniston brows, but I don't have a lot to play with) I thought my hair was too lank, so I got some more layers. Then I came home, fretted for TWENTY MINUTES over what to wear to my chapter meeting, then left around 5:30. It was a new restaurant, and they didn't have a system for credit cards, so I didn't get out of there till NINE THIRTY.

We're also thinking about getting a new laptop. My dh has an original iBook. It is dying. The Apple Store has an offer for teachers where you could get a Nano and a printer with the purchase of a Mac Book. It's really tempting, but just before vacation....Hard decision.

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To the Brink

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To the Brink was a novel written just for me. Former Special Ops soldier has to rescue his ex-wife when she’s taken hostage by terrorists in the Philippines. The story starts five years after their divorce when she makes a frantic phone call then disappears. Then it flashes back 8 years earlier when they first met and just became enraptured of each other. The sexual tension in the flashbacks was through the roof, and the use of flashbacks heightened the tension and prolonged the suspense of what was happening to Darcy (the heroine) while Ethan (the hero) is planning to get to her.

What I loved about this book, other than the plot, was Ethan’s torment. He’s a Special Ops guy, it’s what he’s trained to do, but he feels it making him less than human, and that all comes to a head during one of the flashbacks. VERY powerfully done.

I also loved the secondary romance. The vulnerability of the woman, the tenderness of the man.

And the action scenes rocked!

I read To the Limit and enjoyed it, but I loved this one. I’ve got to go back and read To the Edge, and I think a new one came out last month. Maybe I’ll wait to get them in Atlanta.
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I pulled out Pride's Fall yesterday, my single mom story. I think it could be fixed. Of course, the discs it's on were for my XT, a million years ago, so I'll have to completely retype it, but I really liked it!

Need Title Help

Here's my blurb for Alex. Can anyone think of a title??

When woman-wary Ranger Chief Alex Shepard leads a team against a suspected terrorist’s compound in Central America, he comes up empty-handed, except for the sexy as hell woman who begs for his help, and wields a secret to make sure she gets it. Isabella Canales must get to her son in the United States, but she has to convince the handsome Ranger he can trust her – when he trusts no one else.

Here's my spreadsheet for National - colorful, isn't it??

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What I've Learned from my Manuscripts

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Donna asked this question last week on her blog – what have you learned from your manuscripts?


I have 17. This goes back pretty far, so I’m not going into great detail. Plus, I haven’t gone for my walk yet – my dh is going to work later and later these days and really messing up my schedule.

My first book was Gold Badges, Gold Bands (SUCKY title). It was about 2 estranged police detectives with about a billion children.

I learned that you had to have an overarching goal for the whole story because it read like a season of Law and Order, very episodic. Ironically, the hero was based on Logan. Go figure. I would read the police blotter and think, wow, that would be interesting, and into the story it went. Yes, it was a pain to synopsize.

I learned you can have too many kids in a book.

I learned that even when you get the story idea from a dream, it won’t come out that way.

I learned that you can take the same characters and put them in a better story down the road (Second Chances, also a sucky title in that it’s WAY overused.)

My second book had about a hundred million titles, the latest being The Simple Life. If I ever resurrect that one, new title for sure. This baby took me about a billion years to write. Okay, a year and a half. I had three heroines and three heroes. The book was 600 pages.

I learned how to cut off the first 14 pages of a book to get to where the story started.

I learned you had to have a conflict between the main characters, deeper than “I can’t marry you. I have to run the family farm.” Luke was a George Bailey character who looked like a younger Vince Vaughn.

I learned how to write a darn good epilogue. I love that story for that alone.

I learned Mira DID request books from new authors – they had it 14 months before rejecting it.

And I learned I was a pretty good writer – Lauren McKenna said so in a critique.

I don’t even think I titled my next book. It was about two adults whose parents were getting married and the two of them hooked up. They were worried about the effect that would have on their parents’ relationship, but it wasn’t much of a conflict since the hero was in the Navy anyway. All I really remember about that was that it was really short – I don’t think I even typed it – and that they married in Venice. I think I learned I needed some instant gratification after writing that big ol’ 600 pager.

The next one was about a basketball player and a woman color commentator. She was slightly older, more professional, and he rocked her world. I don’t remember the conflict in that one at all, but it was fun. Complete fantasy.

Then I had one that finalled in a contest – Earth and Heaven was about a Jewish man and a Gentile girl, but that wasn’t the main conflict. She was diabetic and hid the fact from everyone and his wife had died after a long disease and he didn’t want to deal with someone who was sick. I always liked that conflict. He was a single dad, too. I learned a lot about Judaism. I don’t know why he had to be Jewish! It finalled in the He Said, She Said contest.

I’ve been calling the next one The Zoo Story so long, I don’t remember what it really was titled. I learned the most, probably, from this.

I learned writing short did not a Temptation make.

I learned more than you EVER wanted to know about rhinos mating.

I learned how not to write a love triangle (the hero was engaged and just a complete wimp about it).

I learned you can have several different incarnations of the same story. I had one version where the h/h had a past. I had another version where they were just meeting. I don’t remember the others, but there were a lot.

This one took me a long time, too, so my next book, Pride’s Fall, was short. It was about a teenaged single mom trying to keep her family together. She and her mother worked low wage jobs, she tried to go to school and take care of her baby, and her younger sister wanted a coming out party. I drew a lot on my experience working in a low income part of town for this book which I thought was pretty good, but not much of a romance. Plus it was my first sweet book. My heroine was so wary of the hero, her baby’s uncle, that I couldn’t see them indulging.

I also learned the power of music in getting you into a story. My son was little so I would write out back on the patio with the boom box sitting there and I would listen to the same two CDs over and over.

Devil in Disguise was my first attempt at romantic suspense. It stunk. I did get a request from Susan Litman on it, though, and she sent me a detailed R, and requested to see more of my stuff.

Hot Shot I wrote for me. Cindi Myers was in my chapter in those days, and had just moved to CO. She was talking about the fires and how heroic the wildland firefighters were. I dove right in. I did tons of research. (It was the summer of 2000, I think. I had so much company that year because we’d just moved into this house.) Everywhere I’d go, I’d take my research with me.

This was another one that had several incarnations. Originally, the heroine was supposed to work for a politician out inspecting the fires, only from my research, I couldn’t tell how to get her up on the mountain, and that was where the excitement was. So I changed her to a reporter, which I didn’t want to do. Then I had to change it so she had her fire card. Then I had to change it for something else. I’m still changing it!

Gabe was my first alpha hero. That was hard to do, too.

And this was the first book I had contest success with. I would enter it in a contest, get the feedback, change it, enter, feedback, change. It only took me a dozen or so ;) before I finalled. But once it won Where the Magic Begins, I figured it was ready for the GH. It was.

True to form, I wrote another shorty, Where There’s Smoke, after Hot Shot. I call it my little fireman story. He’s a firefighter, but you don’t see him doing much in the way of firefighting. He’s too busy falling in love with his best friend. What did I learn from this one?

Well, I got my first revision letter on this one.

I learned that when an editor leaves a house, you need to inquire to see what happens to your stuff, because after two rounds of revisions, I got a form rejection from the editor who took the requesting editor’s place. Thank goodness for my relationship with Susan, because I wrote her and explained. She looked at it, asked for more revisions, but ultimately rejected it.

Next I rewrote Gold Badges as Second Chances. It turned out pretty dark. I’m going to rewrite it again someday, I think. It tore me up to write about a couple who lost their only child. I did like that first chapter quite a bit. And I learned a lot about police procedure during a kidnapping.

I was riveted with the rest of the country with Elizabeth Smart disappeared and was found alive. I couldn’t stop wondering what kind of young woman she’d become. So I wrote an RS about a woman who endured that and grows up, trying to be her own person, only to be drawn back in when one of her students is kidnapped. I learned I’m not very good at laying clues ;)

Then I wrote Vanished, my first RS without a cop character. This is the book I took to critique group this week. I learned it’s boring ;) Again, my story doesn’t start till chapter three. Only this time, it’s going to be a lot harder to filter in all the stuff in the first two chapters. I learned I can set a book aside when another one calls.

My next book was from a dream, too. Beneath the Surface is about two estranged archaeologists – Twister meets…some archaeology movie. Not Indiana Jones, because he doesn’t dive. I learned like to write about estranged couples. I learned I don’t like to write secondary characters. I learned a lot about diving. I learned I want to write more archaeology stories.

The last book I completed was Don’t Look Back. I learned loving what you’re writing shows. I learned a lot about Africa. I learned I can go pretty dark. I learned I can do a wounded hero pretty well. I still don’t like writing secondary characters.

Now, Alex’s story. (I REALLY need a title before next week!) I started writing a scene last night that I was going to just insert into the stuff I’d already written, but it ended up changing the course of the story in a good way. Much more romancey. I’m very excited.

Now, to walk, and then to go into my office and get to work!

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Countdown to National

Okay, I leave for Atlanta in a week and a day. I’ve been trying not to think about it, because as much as I’m looking forward to it, it means my summer is almost over. But now is time to buckle down.

In my spare bedroom, I have outfits strewn all over the bed. I figure I need:

1) An outfit to meet my agent in on Wednesday. I’m thinking I can wear the same outfit on Thursday, to save room in my teeny suitcase, which fits in my teeny car. I have this gorgeous Liz Claiborne dress I bought two years ago, that I’ve only worn once. I can’t wear it to school, so I’m thinking it would be good.

2) My WNP shirt and a pair of capris or jeans to wear to the booksigning. I can wear the same to the WNP get-together on Thursday afternoon. Anyone else bringing jeans?

3) An outfit for The Golden Network reception – the outfit I bought two years ago no longer fits. I have some nice dress palazzo pants and a grey velvet shell. Do you think that will work?

4) An outfit for Friday, during which I do my workshop and the Golden Heart reception. I was planning on my turquoise peasant skirt and matching beaded blouse, but it may be too casual. I have a pretty black skirt with pink ribbon around the hem, but the shoes I have for that are excruciating, or will be if I wear them for 6 hours. I may save that outfit for Saturday. What do you think of the turquoise? Maybe if I find dressier shoes….

5) An outfit for Saturday, which includes my editor appt. and rehearsal for the GH. Okay, black and pink skirt here, maybe. I would only have to wear the shoes for a couple of hours, and none of those standing on my feet trying to be brilliant. I have to see if I can find a pink shell…

6) My GH outfit, for which I just bought the necklace and earrings.

Mind you, I have, other than the above-mentioned, three outfits lain out on the bed.

Okay, on top of packing, this week I have to

1) color my hair
2) get my eyebrows done
3) get the boy some shoes and his dad some pants
4) take change jar to the bank (hey, it’s full, and it could buy me some t-shirts at Midnight Madness)
5) work on a fake tan
6) whiten teeth
7) pick up clothes from cleaners
8) do nails
9) get a bra!!
10) get dog and cat food for the animals left behind (my mom will check on them and water my plants)
11) microdermabrasion – one of those home kits
12) laundry
13) grocery shopping
14) oh yeah – GET READY for workshop!! I’ve broken it down into two subgroups a day. That’s manageable, right?


I’m sure there’s more I’m missing.

What do you have to do to get ready?

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Forbidden Territory

I’m bleary eyed this week and it’s all Paula’s fault. I read Forbidden Territory in 2 days. I would have read it in one, but I had a birthday party to plan and clean for.

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Forbidden Territory is a story of a reluctant psychic and a cynical cop looking for a missing child. Remember how earlier this week I was talking about storylines that are familiar? Well, Paula took this baby and made it her own.

The heroine, Lily Browning, is a third grade teacher. (No wonder I liked it, huh?) She and her sisters have gifts (one of the other sisters has the gift that I was going to write a story about) but Lily closes the door on hers, which causes terrible migraines. She’s just shut the door on a psychic vision and is suffering when she learns one of the students from her school, the daughter of a candidate for senator, is missing. The detective investigating it, McBride – his first name is revealed in a fun little Rumplestiltskin conversation – is such a wounded hero and he’s really skeptical of what Lily tells him she knows about the little girl.

I don’t want to give too much away, but you get glimpses of the reason behind the pain that makes McBride so jaded, and it’s heart wrenching. And Lily is so drawn to help, to rescue this child no matter the danger to her. The scene in the school creeped me out, of course. The tension in the story is high, the pacing tight and the twists unexpected. I can’t wait to read the other sisters’ stories!

What I Did Yesterday

I was sitting out back in my Adirondack chair reading one of my cps' pages for Saturday and looking at my philodendron and my begonia, sitting next to each other in a permanently shady part of my porch. And I started thinking about moving things around. The next thing I knew, I was on the phone with my mom, queen of HGTV. I told her I needed a redesign. I don't think the words were out of my mouth before she said, "OKAY!" She and Baby Brother were here in half an hour. And stayed for two and a half. (Thank God my step dad called and asked what we were doing for lunch - we sent him to McD's!) We worked hard. I wish I had before pictures.

My new office:

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Another sitting area:

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My new dining room (if only I could get the guys to eat out here without complaining about skeeters):

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And remember a few months ago, I blogged about my aunt Beverly? This is her with her daughter Jennifer. I got to see her this weekend at Jen's shower.

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What Would You Do?

The story I'm writing has been told before. I knew that when I started it. Special Forces soldier meets the mistress of a drug cartel, falls for her despite what he knows about her, helps her escape through the jungle. It's been told a lot, actually, and that gave me pause. But I'm writing it anyway because my hero is pretty darn compelling.

After I wrote Hot Shot, every time I'd see a book about smokejumpers or Hot Shots, I'd have a mini-freakout. That was MY story, MY idea. Duh, Mary! I knew there is nothing new under the sun but still. My Africa story is different, even though Suzanne Brockmann also did an African story (Max and Gina's book), my archaeology story is different. But this one isn't too different but I'm writing it anyway.

I had an idea for a paranormal last week. I emailed Trish about it. I was reading Forbidden Territory yesterday (thanks, Paula, I'm all bleary eyed this morning and STILL can't sleep) and boom. There was my idea. Not in this book, but I suspect in a future book. Well, darn. I thought I was being all different again.

Will I write it anyway? Who knows? Not like I don't have a ton of ideas (including one about crashing on a deserted island --- where have I seen that one?) Maybe I will, depending on how compelled I am to write it.

What would you do?

The party was a smash. Everyone stayed till nearly 10! I have nothing on my plate today but a critique and some writing, a walk and cleaning the bathrooms. I don't even have to cook dinner because we have leftovers! I can live with that.

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Derailed

I got 15 pages on Monday.

Yesterday, I tried to write a working synopsis, realized I had no idea. I revised 20 pages, which I guess is something, but nothing compared to what I wanted to do.

I was derailed by negativity.

There are different types of negativity. Some is bad news you hear from friends that has you worrying about them. I've had that for my mom for a bit, and two of my friends. It weighed me down yesterday.

Some is worrying about things you can't change. One of my email loops exploded yesterday (my fault) and I was just sick by the time I read all the emails. I wanted to read them, wanted to know what was going on, but at the same time, it's out of my control. I mean, I avoid negative blogs. I should know better.

I also have a Gerry movie on DVD sitting there by the couch. I can't watch it because it's about a woman with terminal cancer.

I admit I waited to read Paula's book because it's about a missing child.

So I'm pretty blue, and only a little bit has to do with the fact that my baby is 15 today.

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Movies

Well, I would LOVE to know how many pages I did yesterday but I can't find the USB cord for the Alphasmart. I can find the one for the camera, the MP3 player and something else, but not for the AlphaSmart. Damn it.

I will try to get to Lane Bryant's this weekend - shipping for the bra is $7!!!

Stolen from Emma’s blog.
I’ve seen 88 of them! Wow, I watch a LOT of movies! They say if you've seen 80 or more you don't have a life...

Section 0: 4

(X) Rocky Horror Picture Show

(X) Grease

(X) Pirates of the Caribbean (OWN)

( ) Boondock Saints

() The Mexican

( ) Fight Club

(X ) Starsky and Hutch (OWN)

() Neverending Story

() Blazing Saddles

() Airplane

Section 1: 4

(X) The Princess Bride (OWN)
(X) Young Frankenstein

( ) AnchorMan: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

() Napoleon Dynamite (not all of it, anyway) (OWN)

( ) Saw

(X ) White Noise

( ) White Oleander

( ) Anger Management

( X) 50 First Dates

( ) Jason X

Section 2: 2

(X) Scream

() Scream 2

() Scream 3

( ) Scary Movie

( ) Scary Movie 2

( ) Scary Movie 3

() American Pie

() American Pie 2

( ) American Wedding

(X) Harry Potter (OWN)

Section 3: 8

(X) Harry Potter 2 (OWN)

(X) Harry Potter 3 (OWN)

(X) Harry Potter 4 (OWN)

(X) Resident Evil

( ) Resident Evil 2

(X) The Wedding Singer

( X) Little Black Book

(X ) The Village

( ) Donnie Darko

(X) Lilo & Stitch

Section 4: 6

(X) Finding Nemo

( ) Finding Neverland (though I have it, just sitting here) (OWN)

(X ) 13 Ghosts

( X) Signs (OWN)

( X) The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (OWN)

( ) Texas Chainsaw Massacre

( ) White Chicks

( ) Butterfly Effect

(X ) Thirteen Going on 30 (OWN)

( X) I, Robot (OWN)

Section 5: 6

(X) Dodgeball

( X) Universal Soldier

(X) A Series Of Unfortunate Events

(X ) Along Came Polly

(X) Deep Impact

( ) KingPin

(X) Never Been Kissed

() Meet The Parents

( ) Meet the Fockers

( ) Eight Crazy Nights

Section 6: 3

() A Cinderella Story

( X) The Terminal

() the Lizzie McGuire Movie

( ) Passport to Paris

()Dumb & Dumber

( ) Dumb & Dumberer

() Final Destination

() Final Destination 2

( X)Halloween

(X) The Ring

Section 7: 7

( ) The Ring 2

() Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle

(X) Practical magic

(X) Chicago (OWN)

( X) Ghost Ship

( X) From Hell

( X) Hellboy

( X) Secret Window

( ) I Am Sam

(X ) The Whole Nine Yards (to my chagrin)

Section 8: 6

(X) The Day After Tomorrow

( ) Child’s Play

( ) Bride of Chucky

(X) Ten Things I Hate About You

( ) Just Married

( ) Gothika

(X ) Nightmare on Elm Street

(X) Sixteen Candles

(X ) Coach Carter

(X ) Bad Boys

section 9: 8

( X) Bad Boys 2

( ) Joy Ride

(X) se7en (UGH)

(X) Ocean’s eleven

(X) Ocean’s Twelve

( X) Identity (OWN)

( X) Lone Star

() Bedazzled

(X)Predator I

(X ) Predator II

Section 10: 5

(X) Independence Day (OWN)

( ) Cujo

( ) A Bronx Tale

( ) Darkness Falls

(X ) Christine

(X) ET

(X ) Children of the Corn

( ) My Boss’ daughter

(X) Maid in Manhattan

( ) Frailty

Section 11: 7

( ) Best Bet

(X) How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

() She’s All That

( X) Calendar Girls (OWN)

( ) Sideways

(X) Mars Attacks

( X) Event Horizon

(X) Ever After

(X) Forrest Gump (OWN)

(X) Big Trouble in Little China (OWN)

Section 12: 7

(X) X-Men (OWN)

(X) X-2 (OWN)

( X) Jeepers Creepers

( ) Jeepers Creepers 2

(X ) Catch Me If You Can

( X) The Others (OWN)

( X) Freaky Friday

(X) Reign of Fire (OWN)

( ) Cruel Intentions

( ) The Hot Chick

Section 13: 3

( ) Swimfan

( ) Miracle

( ) Old School

( ) The Notebook

( ) K-Pax

(X) Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (OWN)

(X) Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (OWN)

(X ) Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (OWN)

() Walk to Remember

( ) Boogeyman

Section 14: 8

(X ) Hitch (OWN)

(X) The Fifth Element (OWN)

(X) Star Wars Episode I The Phantom Menace (OWN)

(X) Star Wars Episode II Attack of The Clones (OWN)

(X ) Star Wars Episode III Revenge of The Sith (OWN)

(X)Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope (OWN)

(X) Star Wars Episode V The Empire Strikes Back (OWN)

(X) Star Wars Episode VI Return of The Jedi (OWN)

() Troop Beverly Hills

( ) Swimming with Sharks

Section 15: 4

() Empire Records

( ) SLC Punk

(X ) Meet Joe Black

( X) Nightmare Before Christmas

(X) The Silence of the Lambs

( X) Sleepy Hollow

( ) I Heart Huckabees

( ) 24 Hour Party People

( ) Blood In Blood Out

( ) The Virgin Suicides

( ) Battle Royale

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Buckling Down

My summer is half over. 5 more weeks to go, and one of those weeks is National. I can't believe it. Last week was just a waste - two days of dr visits, one UTI infection, two days of shopping and one holiday. This week, I just have The Boy's birthday (HOW can he be 15 already??? HOW???)

So I'm buckling down. I'm going to restart Alex's story. Some stuff I'll keep, but some stuff needs more focus. I'm going to have my butt in the chair in the back yard at 9, after I clean up the house and take a walk, which I haven't done in 10 days. I'm NOT going to play Scrabble unless I get 10 pages done. I'm NOT going to blog hop. I want 200 pages of this book done by National. That's 10 pages a day.

Let's see how I do.

Stolen from PlotMonkeys:

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What do you want to get done before National?

Back to the bra issue --- you know, the one with the clear straps. My SIL told me Lane Bryant has them, so I looked. $34. I've never paid that much for a bra. Do you think it's worth it?

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What I'm Looking Forward to at National

I had the most vivid dream about National this morning and so I got up and started planning. Okay, I already kind of know what I'm wearing, and I have a kind of sketchy outline of what I'm doing when....workshop, editor appt, agent meeting, GH stuff....

I am so going to need to buy the workshop CDs because I'll hardly make any of them!

So before I stress further, this is what I'm looking forward to at National:

1) seeing my buddies that I only ever see once a year, IF that often! (I almost wish I had a clone, though, because, well, I know a LOT of people)

2) the literacy signing - I know I have more books than I know what to do with, but I love meeting authors and browsing books and running into old friends. I already have a list of books I want to buy.

3) the Moonlight Madness - I'm a freak for writer t-shirts. Trish J made fun of me in NYC for walking around with my wallet out, ready to BUY BUY BUY!!!

4) meeting my agent face to face, although this is also nerve-wracking

5) getting dressed up for the GH awards! Something else I only do once a year, if that often

6) The drive - I love road trips. Love them. Weird, I know.

Dang, you know, there were more things, but now I can't think of any. What are you looking forward to at National?

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10 Elements in My Writing

Swiped from Marianne, who swiped from Tori

Ten Elements or Words I Always Use in My Stories (well, mostly - I've written 17!)

1. My characters always realize they’re tired when they can’t control their lusting. I.E. “He must be more tired than he thought to let his desires run loose,” or some such. Trish pointed this out to me in one book and I found it in two others!

2. My characters are always outside. I do not like to be outside. Because of this, they are always wiping the sweat out of their eyes, usually with their shoulders.

3. At least one of my characters is an only child. And the parents are usually not a part of the book.

4. There’s almost always a Land Cruiser in my books. I love Land Cruisers. If not a Land Cruiser, a Toyota of some kind.

5. My hero and heroine tend to work toward the same end rather than against each other. So I have to make the internal conflict strong enough. Ask me how that’s working out ;)

6. I have a lot of black moments in hospital scenes.

7. My heroines always have long hair and my heroes always have short hair.

8. I almost always come up with the hero first…except twice.

9. I have…four books where the characters have a past. No, five. Two divorced couples, one best friends, two where he rescued her in the past.

10. My characters blink in surprise. A lot.

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I thought I'd found the Perfect Bra for GH night - it had clear straps! It was made by Lily of France and it was called a Strappie. Dang if they don't have them in my size!

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Another for the Keeper Shelf

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I read The Pregnancy Test yesterday. In one day. Okay, it's 250 pages, but I was even reading it during commercials of Grey's Anatomy. Y'all know how I love Grey's Anatomy, even when I own the episode on DVD.

ANYWAY, this book, like Dee's book, makes me remember why I love to read romance. You have the heroine whose life is turned upside down by a stick that turns pink. You have a hero who has shut himself off from emotions and has earned himself the name of Demon Sharpton. He hires her as his secretary (and I don't usually like boss/secretary romances). They intrigue each other with email and instant message, because she's hiding her pregnancy from him, fearing he wouldn't hire her because of it. And you have a working vacation to the Caribbean, where both of them agree their affair must stay.

Their longing for each other was so poignant, especially Damien, who was so afraid to FEEL anything, and here he's falling for a pregnant woman. That first love scene was just amazing as he tries to hang onto control for those reasons.

This was a Brava book, so a little hotter than I was used to, but so well done. I was curious about how Brava would do a pregnant heroine, but through the course of the book, she isn't more than 5 months along. I don't remember feeling that sexy, though ;) It WAS a long time ago!

Now, to decide what to read next.

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The 2006 Emmy Nominees

The 2006 Emmy Nominees - Zap2it

Yay, Grey's! But where's Lost?

Insecurities (Not Mine, For a Change)

I was watching Letterman last night. It was a rerun with Halle Berry. She was talking about her bad luck with men and she turned to Dave and said, "What do men want?"

I sat up and stared. She is HALLE BERRY, gorgeous, successful, and she doesn't think being herself is enough? She's willing to change who she is because she can't get a man?

Is it my age that causes this reaction? Will she understand what it is she said when she's forty?

You've got to love women who say, screw that, THIS is who I am.

Don't you wish you could pass that on to the young girls coming up, who will do anything to get a guy? Don't you wish you could go back in time with that attitude? I would probably be a different person. I definitely wouldn't be with my husband, because I molded myself to him. (I was 17, for heaven's sake!) But I wonder what kind of life I would have had if having someone to love hadn't been such a huge focus of my life.

It just seems wrong to put a hunky picture up today ;)

BTW, the book I'm reading? The Pregnancy Test? Pretty awesome!

You Know You're From San Antonio If....

My dad just sent me this!

You know exactly how to get to the Ghost Tracks from anywhere in town. (Er, no. Trish, I think we were near them on the Mission Trail, though.)

You think pro-choice means flour or corn tortillas. (LOL, yes!)

You've never been to the Alamo. (I LOVE going to the Alamo!)

You think a health drink is a margarita without salt. (LOL, yes!)

You think being able to read the Taco Cabana menu makes you bilingual. (LOL, yes!)

You used to live in a neighborhood you wouldn't even drive through now. (LOL, yes!)

There has been a road crew on your street since before the Alamodome was built. (The highways, anyway)

You remember when Crossroads Mall used to be called Wonderland. (Yes)

You've been to Midget Mansion and the Fat Farm. (No)

You know all about the Dancing Diablo and the Donkey Lady bridge. (yes)

You know that Wheatley and Brackenridge is the same school. (no)

You remember the Captain Gus show. (yes)

You have three rodeo outfits but never have been on a horse. (used to)

You are an expert with the brake pedal, but you have no idea what a blinker is. (HA!)

Your idea of culture is wearing a Hard Rock T-shirt. (uhhh, yes.)

You think the last supper was at Mi Tierra. (LOL!)

You think local politicians are crooks, but you still do not vote. (NO!!)

You have a 'Selena Lives' bumper sticker on your car. (No, but I remember clearly the day she died.)

You care if San Antonio is in the national spotlight. (You bet! Number 7, baby!)

A formal occasion is getting a glass with your longneck. (LOL, yes!)

You believe tacos, barbecue, tequila, and beer are the four basic food groups. (They aren't?)

Your white mother learned how to make tamales & menudo from your neighbors. (How about flour tortillas and chicken mole?)

You know the real definition of Fiesta is 'stay home if at all possible.' (NO KIDDING!)

You have ordered Mexican food at a Chinese restaurant. (Yeah, The Maverick Cafe!)

You had breakfast tacos at Taco Cabana on Christmas morning. (It's the only place open, and I don't cook breakfast!)

You remember the Joske's Christmas display. (Yep)

You remember when JC Penney's had a restaurant. (Nope)

You remember hamburgers from Whopper Burger. (Vaguely)

Your elementary school field trip was to the ButterKrust Bakery. (SEVERAL times - and they'd give you a fresh piece of bread at the end. And a pencil.)

You complain about how cold it is when the temperature dips below 70. (Almost - hey, I had goosebumps last week sitting on the patio, and it was in the 60s!)

Your cholesterol is over 300. (LOL, probably!)

You had a birthday party at Kiddie Park. (No, but I went there a lot.)

You have had nightmares about the giant cowboy boots in front of North Star Mall. (LOL)

You own an album by, have seen or are even aware of any of the following bands: 'Moxy', 'Legs Diamond', 'Trapeze', 'Garfield' and especially 'Ozz Knozz' or 'Heyoka.' (Legs Diamond - didn't see them but heard about them all the time on the local radio!)

You know what people are talking about when they refer to the 'hey-she-b.' (H.E.B) (Or the HEEB.)

Your idea of a tropical vacation getaway is Port Aransas. (Or Padre)

You get defensive when your friends from Austin talk about the great show they saw last night. (Uh, yeah. No one comes here.)

You party with your cousin more than twice a week. (LOL, no, my cousins are way younger.)

You call any convenience store 'icehouse.' (Doesn't everyone?)

You have only seen snow once in your life and it was twenty years ago. (Yep. Have pictures.)

You think a flash-flood warning means 'go drive through a low water crossing.' (No kidding!)

You think the exit ramp is your own personal lauch pad. (LOL - yeah!)

You get annoyed when tourists ask for 'fa-jite-as.' (LOL - yeah!)

You could care less about the Rodeo but never miss the Cowboy Breakfast. (I've never been...maybe next year!)

You don't have to look at the menu when you order at Bill Miller. (LOL - yeah!)

You have never, ever called this city 'San Antone.' (True, true!)

Natural Disasters

Last night we drove home from our Fourth of July celebration in torrential rain. I mean, when we drove out there at 6, no rain. When we drove back in at 8, the access roads in New Braunfels were closed. 8 inches, the news said. In 2 hours. The Guadalupe River, which has been sluggish because of the drought, is expected to reach flood stage this morning. Welcome to Texas.

I finished the book Saving Cascadia yesterday. I got it because it was about a pending earthquake in the Northwest region of the US. While I was reading it, I was thinking about how to write a natural disaster book. They're hard, and yet they fascinate me.

In Saving Cascadia, the hero was a seismologist, and he was recording these microquakes in a fault line. When he found the cause of the microquakes, he tried to shut down what was causing them to prevent The Big One.

Now, really, how many natural disasters is someone able to stop?

And as a reader, do you really expect the protagonist to be able to stop the disaster?

Does that make natural disaster books harder to write? You know they can't defeat the antagonist? Is saving everyone's life enough?

I have ideas for natural disaster books, but coming up with a good solid story around a tornado chaser or a hurricane hunter is not easy. I mean, tornados are over so quickly, and unless you do something like Twister, where it's a series of storms, that will be one short book.

Maybe I'll just stick to watching disaster movies....

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How I Became a Writer

Mary Beth wrote this on her blog, and I thought it was a fun thing to think about. (I'm a shameful thief this week - blame it on a bad bad bad weekend.)

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What made me a writer?

Reading my collection of Trixie Belden books until they literally fell to pieces? The ones I hauled with me to California on a road trip, and my dad had a hissy because they were all over the car (I didn’t have nearly as many totes in those days.)

Writing poems when I was eight, copying them over and over and illustrating them to give as gifts to my family? As I recall, I wrote a poem for every holiday. I wish I could remember the Fourth of July one ;) When we were going through my grandmother’s stuff after she died, we found a copy of the book. It was on newsprint, for heaven’s sake!

Memorizing the poem about the fog rolling in on cat’s feet?

My grandmother buying me every Harlequin romance with a horse on the cover (usually Janet Dailey – sorry, Nora) and subscribing me to every horse book club there was.

Seeing Grease and One on One in the same summer and writing a story with elements of both, and handing it to my stepmother to read on that same road trip?

Was it sitting in a motor home out near Eagle Pass and pouring desires I barely understood into a story about a rodeo cowboy?

Was it Mrs. Pollack and Mrs. Stephens who helped me with writing, encouraged me, even sponsored a creative writer’s club for me and other writers in high school?

Or Joey … I want to say Temporelli … sitting with me in Mrs. Pollack’s class, reading my descriptive paragraph (of Charlie Waters, remember that poster?) and saying I was a really good writer.

Writing serials with my buddy Kirsten about our group’s adventures with rock stars.


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Then I started reading romance, after I got out of college. Karen Robards was my first, and I devoured her books, then moved to Catherine Coulter. I remember one of her old old books where the hero had tawny eyes. It was such a cool description at the time. Back then, the heroes and heroines were separated for long periods of time, remember? I moved on, and on, and on, and was just ravenous for these books, for the happy endings, for falling in love.

I wrote in spirals when I was working at the drug store, on the back of sales fliers, on anything I could lay my hands on, but I never finished a book.

And then I did. And another one. And like Mary Beth, I found my chapter, with people like me. It’s hard to remember what it was like before I knew people with stories in their heads. I hardly remember what it was like to not have email loops and message boards of people who wanted the same thing I did.

What made you a writer?

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Happy Fourth!!!

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Most Pages?

The Deadline Hellions were talking about this last week. What is the most pages you've written in one day?

I know JoAnn and Michele have both written over 100 pages in a week - JoAnn because the book was requested and Michele to finish her book before the Christmas party, where she won over $100 in our Invest in Yourself drawing.

What I want to know is, what's the most you've written in a day?

Why did you put yourself under that pressure?

Was it any good?

How did the rest of your writing week go? Did you use up all your mojo?

I think my best has been 27, during a book in a week challenge, and frankly, I don't remember if I even kept it.

Okay, off to the dr....no, not THIS doctor.

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Chiefs (I so had another politically incorrect title!)

I’m writing two chiefs right now – well, writing one, revising one. One of them is a born chief, has taken command from the cradle. The other has chosen chiefhood, has taken command of his life after an out-of-control childhood.

Both of them

Seize control
Eye on the prize
Expect to be followed without question
Active
Dynamic
Strong-willed
Need to fix problems
Relish overcoming obstacles
Have the motto: do something or get out of the way
Fiercely protective
Rarely take time from goals to bond with others
Independence vital
Goal oriented
Decisive
Responsible – always finish what he starts
Stubborn – refuse to admit cause is lost
Unsympathetic – unsentimental and impatient
Dominating – need to be right, irritated when decisions are not made right away, believes he’s going in the right direction
Always need to control environment, set goals and moved forward, achievement his top priority, no one stood in his way.
Would rather lead than communicate, didn’t like being taken away from goals, took opportunities presented to him.
Loss of control scares him
No trouble telling people what to do, thrives in his job

My born chief

Was never a rule breaker.
Naturally assumes mantle of control, getting the job done is his right and a privilege
well liked but few friends
Conservative, part of establishment, proud.

My made chief

bullies people into following him
responsibility was his at an early age
Not cowed by heavy load placed upon him, it’s all he ever wanted, his priority
realist
figured out the system
When challenged, he exhibits disbelief and then a ruthless anger, never admits he might lose the battle.

As you can see, a big issue for these guys is control. (I could so never be married to one. I’m the chief over here. So why do I write them? They just come out that way.) As I was merrily writing the synopsis for my born-chief story, I realized the big issue between him and the heroine is control. He has it, and when he exhibits it, he reminds her of her father, who controls his wife down to what she eats and wears. My heroine has vowed never to be controlled like that. Worse, they’ve spent the entire book looking for a woman who ran away from her marriage because she was abused.

So my big problem is … how can he show my heroine that he’s not going to control their relationship?

EDITED TO ADD: Over breakfast, I realized that whatever Danny gives up control of has to be something that he needed to have control of throughout the story. Once I figure out what that is, I think I'll have a good emotional ending.

Other than that, and the romance, the synopsis is good. 10 handwritten pages, but good.

What hero types do you write? Heroines?

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Secondary characters (Grey's Anatomy spoilers if you haven't seen it)

Toward the end of the season of Grey's Anatomy, I would say, before each episode, "I hope this isn't the one where Denny dies." And when he did, I cried for an hour. Solid. My dh said, "You KNEW he was going to die. It makes sense that he died. He was a secondary character. You never knew anything about him." I said, "All I needed to know was that he LOVED IZZY - that was enough."

So was I crying for Denny or for Izzy? Who did I know better? All I knew about Denny was that he was well-off, he'd been healthy, he was 36 and he had been waiting for a heart for a long time. He hated being sick. And he loved Izzy. So, point for the dh. I didn't know much about Denny, but I cried like a baby when he died.

How do you make a secondary character that powerful? Strong enough of a character that the reader cries when he dies? Is it bringing him to life through your hero or heroine's eyes? Showing their sympathies for this secondary character that makes the reader have sympathy for him?

I don't write a lot of secondary characters. I like having my hero and heroine running through the jungle or up a mountain or stranded in Antarctica. Having too many people on a page gets distracting for me. I was reading a book not long ago where there were SO MANY PEOPLE. I could not keep them straight. Clearly it was part of a series, but man! And I was talking to a USA Today bestselling author last week (ahem!), she was talking about writing an ensemble book and that she had to cram so much into it. Heck, I have trouble with just the h/h!

Have you written a secondary character that tried to steal the show, that you fell in love with, that you maybe killed and then regretted it? How did you make them someone to care about?

Oh, Trish, I know you say he does nothing for you but check this out!

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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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