Focus

So the story I plotted this weekend has been calling me, and then I read Spy Girl on Monday and that's calling me. But I figured the only way to actually FINISH something is to, you know, work on it. So yesterday I did the same activities we did at the retreat for Ghost Hunters.

First I did the Novem plot structure (we learned the hero's journey as well, but that one seemed off-putting to me.)

Novem follows this:

The Story Begins:
The Idyll is Shattered:
The Hero and Heroine Meet:
Three Bumps and a Push: (The middle of the story, three major events. The push is the external black moment.)
Commitment:
Plan A:
Turnaround:
Plan B:
The Wrap Up:

Then I did the plotlines spreadsheet. Since I have my ghost hunters at 4 houses, I only made 6 columns. I can break it down into chapters later. But I have the external plot, the romantic plot, the hero's arc, the heroine's arc, two subplots and the days all laid out. And I did five handwritten pages last night. So I'm on the right path, and I signed up for BIAW with my chapter.

But I've already found the charm I want for the story I plotted this weekend.....

Look, Supernatural uses Apples!!!

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Good Girl

I was such a good girl yesterday on my day off! I went to the grocery store and to Lowe's (I totally intended to buy new lightswitch plates, but got there and couldn't make up my mind.) I stopped by the donut shop and got The Boy donuts (I have no idea why he was off, yet he was. Had a pretty steady stream of friends by, too.) Came home and potted my new geraniums and hydrangea, cleaned up the back patio, cleaned both bathrooms, all before 10:00! I did a few loads of laundry, sat down and finished the first love scene in Ghost Hunters, then started reading Spy Girl. I still love that book! I made supper, watched Grey's again, watched Bloodlust again, watched Gilmore Girls, Prison Break, Heroes and 24. (Wow, that was a lot of TV!) But I'm relaxed and ready for the next 9 days till Spring Break!

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Flashbacks and the End of the Busy Month

I finished judging the contest entries I'm judging (different from the contest I'm coordinating). I had five ST entries and THREE of them were written in flashbacks! What's up with that? And in one, the present day story was awesome, but the flashback story (she flipflopped) was less so. My comment was that, according to the synopsis, she had enough going on without the flashback story, and to weave it in some other way.

My busy month is over. All I have this week is Pam Morsi's booksigning, and I'm thinking of signing up for BIAW. This morning, though, I've got to hit the grocery store and clean the bathrooms.

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No Place Like Home

So, I'm home from the retreat. Actually, I did all my stuff that we're doing today last night during the movie, and decided not to go back today. I slept till 8:15! The sun is out, it is beautiful, and I have so much house stuff and taxes to do, and I have an incredible headache. I think it's because I haven't had caffeine since yesterday morning! They bought a 12 pack of Diet Coke, and at least 6 of us were drinking it. Last time I drank nearly a whole 12 pack by myself!

My story, which I didn't have a very good handle on, changed significantly. We worked on it almost 2 hours. We started by changing my heroine into a hunter a la Buffy, but with different abilities, but I didn't really want a paranormal heroine. So we changed it to a witch story instead of a vampire story, but I'm not sure how I feel about that, either. Good thing I'm setting it aside to finish Ghost Hunters and Breaking Daylight.

What did you do this weekend?

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My Friend Wrote This Book



With grifters hanging from every branch of her family tree, Danni Ford was trying to do the impossible—play it straight. Until an undercover G-man played her with a few tricks of his own…
The tip-off should have been the way Eric's gaze met hers only when they talked dirty.

So Eric was using her to trap her shady relatives. He was still off-the-charts sexy - —why shouldn't she get something pleasurable from this con?

Danni's revenge is going to be very, very sweet and it will start with tying up her FBI agent boyfriend con man to get to the truth. Before he discovers her secrets first!

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Not really here - came home to sleep, heading back to retreat in a few!

I HEART DENNY!

Man, I forgot how much I loved Denny!

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I'm not sure how I feel about the overall episode, but I cried when Denny and Izzy crossed paths.

What was with The Office? I don't get Jan, and I don't get Roy going all ballistic. Karen was cracking me up, though.

What about LOST this week? Did you like it? Interesting about the tattoos - "That's what they say. That's not what they mean." Does he believe that?

I only saw the boys on AI - love Chris and Blake, and the daddy who went last. I missed the girls because I wanted to Tivo Jericho, but it didn't happen. It replays Saturday night, though, late. But let me tell you, Tivo is the way to go - I watched all the boys sing, and the comments, in 45 minutes.

I'm 2 weeks behind on 24, will hopefully catch up on Monday.

Prison Break - so didn't see that happening with T-Bag! I'm glad, though. And I'm way over the C-Note story, anyway. I hope Sucre and Maricruz get a HEA!

What did you watch this week?

Tonight starts my plotting retreat! I'm excited and anxious all at once.

School Drama

Yesterday before lunch, three of my kids came over to tell me that two of my girls had poured hand sanitizer into baggies so they could sniff it. Y'all, I teach 4th grade. Both parents were called, one came in, the other didn't. The one who came in is coming back today because she was going to get the story from her daughter. Meanwhile, the counselor and principal got the story from me, and are going to call in my witnesses before the mom comes back. The instigator is the one who wrote one of the filthy notes last week.

How great is my principal, though? He comes in when I'm talking to the counselor and says, "Mary! What are you teaching these kids?" He was joking - at my old school, it would SO not be a joke.

I had a good time at SARA last night. They did actually ask me to be PRO liaison (why is that word so hard to spell?) but I said it would be too depressing. They understood, at least. The ladies cracked up because I got three phone calls (I NEVER get 3 calls in one day.) The first was my son, asking if I meant to Tivo Jericho or AI. All I said was, "Jericho," and "Bye" and Stacy cracked up because she thought I was speaking in code. Then one of my students called, TWICE. The first time I told him I was in a meeting and hung up, the second time he called to ask if I was watching AI because the girl from San Antonio was on. The ladies couldn't believe my kids would call about that. They've clearly not met my kids ;)

Grey's tonight!!! DENNY!!!!!

Supernatural is a rerun I've seen 50 times ;)



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More Fun with You Tube and GULP!

This is HILARIOUS!



So, I'm going to that plotting bootcamp this weekend. I've finally come up with a heroine. Well, her name and her problem, anyway. No visual yet. I know I want her tall and athletically built, but that's it. I don't even know if she's blonde or brunette.

And I think I'm setting the story in Savannah or Atlanta.

Hey, it's more than I had yesterday!

I'm blogging at Wet Noodle Posse today - come say howdy!

They won't let me post pictures of Dean, though ;)

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Sexual Tension After the Fact

I recently started watching Gilmore Girls - you know why. I started with the season of Rory's senior year, and I'm up till half way through her freshman year at Yale. I live for Lorelei/Luke scenes.

But.

On Valentine's Day, they showed an episode out of sequence, where Luke and Lorelei are talking about their wedding.

The magic was GONE! Everything that I thought made the couple magical was now a neon arrow pointing to thm and blinking "WRONG FOR EACH OTHER!"

What happened in the intervening seasons? Why is it so hard to keep up the sexual tension once the couple gets together?

Trish and I love Bones, but we know the writers will have to do some fancy footwork to keep our interest if Tempe and Booth get together. I don't think it would be the same with The Office if Jim and Pam get together, because I think they would be more in awe of the love they find in each other, do you know what I mean?

For example, in the In Death books by JD Robb, you have Eve Dallas and Roarke. They're married but they still sizzle (or did during the last book I read, about ten books ago!) We see Roarke look at Eve with admiration and love and we feel he understands how lucky he is to have her. And we still feel her awe at his love for her.

I haven't really explored long term relationships, after the HEA, but I'm about to, in my next ms. Showing them happily married and expecting a baby won't cut it for these characters, so I'm thinking I'll show them in different situations than they had in their own book, and show their admiration for how the other handles each situation. I think that, combined with a few instances of familiarity that will just make my heroine think, wow, he feels this way about me, will help keep up the tension.

How do you work it out, especially in a series? Where do you find the sizzle?



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Jewelry on Guys - Sexy or Not?

Okay, yes, it depends on the guy, but seeing a thin leather strip at the end of a muscular arm,

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maybe a thin chain or strip of leather around a guy's neck, one he might not take off for anything ;)

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a ring that apparently means so much to him that he bothers to put it on every day.

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I'm not a fan of the chunky bracelet, but I know there's a story behind it.

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What about you? Jewelry on your guy or no?

Have you been watching the Nora movies? Ironically, I hated Blue Smoke the book, but thought it was the best of the movies so far. I'm looking forward to Carolina Moon. Oliver Hudson is quite the dish!

Terms of Endearment

My dh calls me "dear." I hate it. Makes me feel older than my 40 years and all my gray hair (which must be colored today.)

But.

I don't say anything because he chose it, and he was never really an affectionate guy and he came up with this all on his own. How can I tell him I hate to be called "dear?"

In the book I'm reading, the hero calls the heroine "baby." Now, she's a big tough chick, certainly no one's baby, and the term grates with me.

I started thinking about terms my characters use for each other, and I don't think I use them very much. Seth might have called Lauren "babe," and Mal calls Maddy "sweetheart."

Do your characters use terms of endearment? What are they?



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My Friend Wrote This Book


RNW-cover-blogtour

About the book:

How can two people so wrong for each other seem so right?

After his divorce, Wayne Hammond hesitated to make anyone the second Mrs. Hammond. Topping the list of the women he shouldn't pick is Maggie Harrison Sinclair.

Maggie has already left Tucker, Montana, once. She's back only to lick her wounds and figure out her next step. Not exactly the ranch-loving, stay-at-home wife and mother that Wayne has always wanted.

But once Wayne and Maggie cross paths, the impossible-to-resist rancher and the bright-lights-loving woman succumb to their hotter-than-heck attraction, resulting in an even bigger complication.

Bright Lights, Big Sky
When Malibu meets Montana, it's magic.


What people are saying about The Rancher Needs a Wife:

"...full of smart dialogue and great characters."
4 stars, Romantic Times BOOKreviews

"...an enchanting novel that provides everything we look for in a great romance...plenty of humor, burning passion, a plot that entertains with every page..."
Nadine St. Dennis, Romance Junkies

"Heartwarming and poignant...have the tissues handy just to be safe."
Lettetia, Contemporary Romance Writers

"Look for more from this author as each book of hers gets better than the last."
Connie Payne, Once Upon a Romance

TV, Emily and The Contest

WOW, TV was good last night! Did you know Joss Whedon directed that episode of The Office? I LOVED the last scene!

Then Grey's!!!!! Wow, I didn't expect to see HIM!!! I admit to a girly squeal. The dh just rolled his eyes.

And then Supernatural!!!! I admit to being wary because I was looking forward to it so much, but I relaxed when I saw who wrote it. He only ever let me down with the clown episode.

Did you know you can get the Nora Roberts movies on iTunes?

I actually did go to school yesterday, since it's 3 days till testing. It was a better day. The principals came and delivered hot chocolate and a snack to the teachers as our Valentine. Then I came home and my Emily pin was here! It's so pretty!

Here's an interview with Mary Jo Putney. I used to read her books, now I have so many!



Okay, now, the contest. I've made personal ads for my heroes and heroines. You have to match which hero belongs with which heroine. (If nothing else, it could make for some interesting pairings!) You have until Sunday night. If more than one person gets them all right, I'll draw from those entries. The winner gets $10 to BN.com.

(Trish M, Trish J, Linda, Deloris, Jo-Ann and Joanna are ineligible, sorry!)

HERO 1:
DWM, 40, enjoys the outdoors and open spaces. Loves his job. Seeking a woman who could love the mountains and doesn’t mind hard work. Loyalty a must.

HERO 2:
DWM, 36, former military, one son. Enjoys traveling to any foreign country but Africa. Seeking a woman who doesn’t mind scars, internal or external.

HERO 3:
SWM, 30, executive. Enjoys fine things. Neat freak. Family extremely important. Seeking a woman with similar sentiments.

HERO 4:
DWM, 35, loves diving and traveling. Great interest in antiquities. Any responders must love to swim, read, and theorize.

HERO 5:
SWM, 32, career military. Enjoys all things home related. Hates the heat. Seeking a woman who likes to be taken care of and has high standards.

HERO 6:
SHM, 26, firefighter. Not interested in long-term attachments. Any responders must accept female best friend and love large families.

HERO 7:
SWM, 27, dairy farmer. Loves home and family. Enjoys carpentry and working with hands. Seeking a woman who loves small town life.

HERO 8:
SWM, 28, on the road a lot. Enjoys reading, especially history and mythology. Good storyteller. Seeking a woman with an open mind who enjoys traveling.




HEROINE A:
SWF, 30, city girl. Enjoys gardening and family, most of the time. Seeking a man who will make her feel like a woman.

HEROINE B:
SWF, 30, insurance adjuster. Enjoys fashion and friendship. Believes life’s too short to sweat the small stuff. Seeking a guy who feels the same.

HEROINE C:
WWF, 32, reporter, getting interested in life again. Enjoys her job, hates closed in spaces. Seeks a man who will come home to her every night.

HEROINE D:
SHF, 24, single mother, notorious bad taste in men. Been out of the country for awhile. Enjoys dancing and fashion. Dislikes the outdoors. Seeking a dependable man who won’t look down on her past.

HEROINE E:
SWF, 31, reporter, ambitious. Enjoys keeping up with current events, reading and art films. Doesn’t believe in fairy tales. Seeking a serious man to discuss thoughtful subjects.

HEROINE F:
DWF, 34, enjoys swimming and adventure as long as there’s a place to call home. Seeking a man who’s ready to settle down. Workaholics need not apply.

HEROINE G:
SWF, 34, doctor without borders. Enjoys helping people. Hates any kind of bondage. Seeking a man who’ll have her back in a tight spot.

HEROINE H:
SWF, 26, in advertising. Loves to laugh, sing. Not fond of sports. Wary of long term relationships. Any responders need to accept male best friend.

Man, I had them all in nice little boxes - it didn't translate from Word! Have fun!

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Terrible Day

I am soooo tempted to take off today and recover from yesterday. I've had some bad days in teaching, and some rotten ones working for PrinciBitch, but never so much happening at once.

First, my principal came to my door looking for one of my students. Turned out the kid went home after school yesterday, got a knife, and came back and threatened some boys in the after-school program with it. So the principal took the boy and his backpack (knife-free, thank God) and talked to him, but less than an hour later he was back in my class (!!!). Later, the boy was telling me about how his father was dead (which I knew) because his step-father shot him because his real dad tried to kill his mother. AND his real dad tried to give his older brother (who I also taught) away when he was a baby. Can you imagine growing up knowing that? This kid is so angry.

THEN, I gave my kids a writing prompt to write about their favorite memory. While we're writing, one of my girls starts crying. Seems her dad left the family the night before and won't come back unless her mom quits acting the way she's acting. The night before Valentine's Day. A peach, huh? So I sent her to the counselor.

While she's at the counselor, another little boy, my angel, comes and tells me that his father beats him for every little thing. I was shocked. Stunned. Last year (remember, I have the same kids from last year) the father was at school every day to pick up his boys. I always admired him for being a single dad with two kids, and I couldn't believe the mother would go off and leave her boys but take her daughter. But apparently this kid stays with his grandma after school and tries to fall asleep at Grandma's so Dad won't take him home. So I sent him to the counselor and filled out the Child Protective Services report.

(At this point, I'm at overload. All the kids are already wired for V-Day, but now there's this need to share all their secrets.)

THEN I find a note with words you might find in an Ellora's Cave book. Now, I'm pretty sure I know who's doing it, another little angry girl. But I can't prove it because the note is wadded up and the writing is light. So Coach comes in (after I vent to my poor principal in the lounge while he's eating lunch) and helps me do handwriting analysis. Yes, it's that little girl, and another troubled little boy (oldest, only child from his father, living with a stepdad and 3 half-siblings, kind of Cinderella-ish). Sent them to the office. Already had referred angry young girl to counselor and talked to troubled boy's mom (apparently he uses the "p" word - I'm afraid to ask which one) about his language.

Then we had our party and I could barely eat my little pizza because the kids were pestering me.

I so want to take today off - I wonder how many days I have left.

Oh, and I want to have a contest on my blog this weekend - matching my heroes' personal ads with my heroines'. Prize will be a gift cer to BN.Com! So come by before Sunday night!

If you watch American Idol - and even if you don't - I thought this was GREAT!



Saw this on Kelly's blog.



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Happy Valentine's Day, and Limits

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Happy Valentine's Day! My MIL was horrified last night to find out my dh and I don't exchange cards for Valentine's Day. We don't. In fact, he bought me a card for our anniversary and I didn't get him one (okay, I feel bad about that in retrospect.) He doesn't bring me flowers or chocolate, but he lets me get what I want when I want it and doesn't fuss. So I feel pretty good about it.

I ordered pizza for my kids, and as soon as I placed the order, I found out the VP had told the unit leaders she wanted to keep the day low-key. Ahem. That only works if the unit leader TELLS her people. I've been merrily sending notes, had it in my newsletter, and, oh yeah, spent $30 on pizza! It wouldn't be a big deal except Wednesday is the day the people from district office do walk-throughs. I hope they walk through early.

I've been thinking a lot about limits lately. (No, not limits on my TV watching, why do you ask? Though I have definitely decided to Tivo American Idol and watch it after. Good LORD, that show is padded.)

I went to lunch with some writer pals on Saturday before JoAnn's signing (SHE SOLD OUT! YAY!) and we were talking about books we like. One pointed out that she used to think Johanna Lindsay was pretty darn sexy till the new wave of erotica started coming out. I remember Betina Krahn books were about as hot as I could handle. Actually, they sort of still are. And there was that Michelle Jarett book, All Night Long. That was a book I finished and turned back to the first page to read again. It SIZZLED!

But I can't feel comfortable reading romantica. I've quit reading two books recently because they were just outside my comfort level. One was a case of mistaken identity where the hero thought the heroine was a hooker (EW!!!) Same reason I don't get the appeal of Pretty Woman. Another had very public, very graphic sex in the first chapter. I just didn't want my son to pick up that book and think that was something his mom enjoyed reading, you know?

I'm reading Surviving Demon Island by Jaci Burton, who writes romantica, but other than things twitching, it hasn't strayed into discomfort territory. (Actually, it rocks - it's like someone asked, "What would Mary like to read?" then wrote it. DANG! Except for those twitching bits.)

I'm the same way with suspense books. Lisa Gardner is a good writer, but I can't read her. And Allison Brennan is on the NYT list, but her books scare the hooey out of me. So my limit right now it Cindy Gerard books. If they're scarier than hers, I don't wanna read it.

Also at the lunch, one of the writers was talking about these huge edits she got on her contracted book with an e-pub. The first few pages were all highlighted! She started thinking about the effort she would take to make those changes, versus the money she would make and she's starting to wonder if she should do them, or just write something new. I know another person didn't sign a contract because she couldn't agree to the terms, and another recently sold friend is squirming over the fast turnaround for revisions in her contract. All of these have made these writers think twice about getting published.

What are your limits, in reading or writing? And what are you doing for Valentine's Day?

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My Kitties

I heart my kitties. It’s still amazing to me, who has had cats all my life, that each cat has a different personality.

Let’s take Dukey, my oldest.

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Her mom was a rescue, and came to me pregnant. Dukey and her sisters and brother were born on my son’s bed. We’d come back from dinner and the boy went into his room, then called, “Moooommmm! Something’s HAP-pening!”

The first kitten was dead, and Dukey was stuck in her placenta. The dh tore it open and we rubbed on her till she was breathing. We gave her sisters and brother away, but we kept Dukey. We felt she was special. (You may be wondering about the name. Remember the commercial, “Yo, Dukey?” “WHASSUP?” That’s where she got it. I wanted to name her Precious, but NOOOO.)

Dukey doesn’t have many tricks. She lays on the arm of the couch and sleeps. Around 8:30 every morning, she has a freak-out, and that’s the only time you hear her “talk.” Then she races up and down the hall, caterwauling.

She does not like to go outside. She might slink out onto the patio, but if you close the door, she is not happy.

She eats with us. She sits in the chair next to the dh during dinner. She doesn’t try to get on the table, she just sits there, to be with us.

She is not a cuddler, but if she feels like it, she will stand on you and allow you to pet her. She has the softest coat – and the pokiest feet. A mammogram is more comfortable than having this cat stand on you. And she is not light.

But she looks at you, and you can see something special, something understanding, in her eyes.

Then there’s YaYa.

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No, she is NOT supposed to be in my afghan, but it was very cold that day.

YaYa is another rescue. She was by my truck one night when I left school after the Christmas PTA program. A front was coming in that night and I couldn’t leave her there. At that time, we already had 3 cats, Dukey, her mom and another rescue, a boy, Gir. I told one of my students my husband would kill me for bringing home another cat. The next day, she sent her teacher over to make sure I was okay. Never underestimate how literal first graders can be!

YaYa is my sweetheart. She’s my cuddler. She’s also my shedder. White. Hair. Everywhere. If I’m reading, she tries to get between me and my book. If I’m writing, she lays on my notebook. She’s very teeny. When we took her to get fixed, the vet couldn’t get over how teeny her reproductive organs are.

She’s also the weak one, the one the other cats pick on. Poor bullied YaYa.

She’s my talker, too. She talks a lot. She’s the one to let me know they need water or food, and she’ll complain about the litter. She likes to go outside on nice days. And she loves to sleep with me.

Then there’s Napoleon Dynamite.

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He is so handsome. He’s another rescue – the girls next door found him at WalMart. He was so little, I had to bottle feed him. He was so covered with fleas we had to bathe him every night and the water would run brown with dried blood.

I think it’s the baths that makes him want to kill us now.

He’s my biggest cat, but he thinks he’s a Big Cat. You know, lion or panther or something. I think it pisses him off that he’s not, because he wants to kill us. He hates that we can pick him up. He will allow us to pet him SOMEtimes.

He’s VERY smart. He knows his name, will come when he’s called outside. When I got my kitten, I said, “Napoleon, take care of the baby” and he DID. He played with him, followed him around, even up the tree!

He’s completely different outside, though. He rolls in the dirt, lets you pet his tummy and is so cheerful. I’m afraid to let him stay out, though, because one of my kitties got run over and it’s too hard.

And my baby, Skippyjon Jones.

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Skippy was stuck in a tree at the park across from school. I heard him when I got out of my car one morning, and Cindi still teases me about my super cat-hearing.

He’s not very big either, but he’s so fun. He runs to greet me every morning when I open the bedroom door. He follows me to the bathroom because he is fascinated with water. He “prairie dogs” so you’ll pet him, and he’ll lay his ears back so you’ll keep going.

He will follow you all over the house, and if you have a routine, he knows it.

I don’t like him to go outside, though, because he didn’t learn his lesson in that big old tree – he still climbs!

He’s not too much of a cuddler, but he is soft and loves to be pet!

An Author Visit

Yes, up early again. It's HOT. And the heater blows all the hot air into the bedrooms, which have no thermostat, so it's like 75 in there. Bleh.

I found out what some of the weirdness was Friday night. The man across the street died. At least there's an explanation for someone being out on the street at 2 AM - there was a lot of family there, and if they were upset....I don't know if it was his dog crying though.

We went to Ruth's Chris last night, finally. I was less than impressed, though the guys liked it. I still have some chocolate mousse left. Guess how much it cost 3 people, for 3 courses? No alcohol.

I saw the more recent Carrie on TV yesterday. Ava from Supernatural was in it, as was Claire from Lost. It was extremely disturbing. I don't remember seeing the original or reading the book. How did it end?

And I've lost my longsleeved Supernatural shirt. I wore it Tuesday, washed it and hung it in the laundry room next to the skirt I also wore. It is not there. I have no idea where it could be. I'm not happy.

We had an author visit last week at school. I admit to going in kind of prejudiced because the librarian told me the books were horrible, but this woman is a friend with the head librarian, so she does school visits and sells her books for $20 each. (Did I mention we're in a poor district? Heck, even in my son's district, I wouldn't pay $20 for a 40 page book.) So the woman told us a little about why she wrote these books and that four years ago she decided to write down the stories she used to tell her daughters and give them as books to her children.

See where I'm going?

Then she said it took her three months to write a 40 page book (though I can't really say anything about that - I'm on the same track.)

After that she told her story, kind of acting it out. Now, I admit storytelling is a pretty cool skill, but the story was kind of...endless.

Anyway.

So none of my students bought her book, but some of the teacher across the hall's kids did. You want to bet I snatched that book out of one boy's hand to see the publisher.

You guessed it. Vanity press. And I looked up the press online. Wow. Now THERE'S a business. The LEAST she paid was $1000, and for each illustrated page, she had to pay extra. Copy editing is about $800 more, marketing is more, image enhancement is more, copyrighting is more, getting it a Library of Congress number is more.

Just astounding how quickly it can all add up. But here's the kicker - she still just gets royalties! After paying all that! She'll never make any money from these books (and she has 3!)

To be fair, EVERYTHING is spelled out on the website. You have to know what you're getting into, but why would you want to?

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Busy couple of weeks

I’m SO not looking forward to the rest of this month (except Thursdays!) BIZZY BIZZY BIZZY!

Sunday – FINALLY going to use the Ruth’s Chris gift card. I’m not wild about getting dressed up on a Sunday night, but free food…

Monday – faculty meeting about test security. At least an hour and a half after school. As if the test itself wasn’t stressful enough, they’re going to tell us we can’t breathe between 10:00 and 10:03 and have to stand on one foot from 12:30-2:00 or the test will be invalid. There actually was a powerpoint at one school in our district that showed a graveyard and said “Violations can be fatal!”

Tuesday – tutoring

Wednesday – Valentine’s Day, hectic in and of itself at school. I’m ordering pizzas and hoping that’s less of a hassle than anything else. Also the Merritt deadline. I’ve never coordinated an electronic contest, so I have no idea how involved sending out those entries will be. We’re up to 7, I think.

Thursday – a break! And exciting shows!

Sunday - the boy's playing a gig

Tuesday - the writing TAKS, an exhausting day.

Wednesday is SARA.

Thursday is another gig.

The weekend is the plotting retreat, and BOOM, the month is over.

I’m still on the third house in my ghost hunters book, and I’m having to backtrack, which means tearing out pages of my notebook (gasp!) So will get to that today. I’d like to be almost done when I go to the plotting retreat, since I’ll be plotting the brother’s book.

Also need to work taxes and in there at some point. All the paperwork is jammed in a manila envelope – NOT looking forward to that task! And I have some Sheila entries to judge.

Anyway, last call for The Merritt. Remember, it’s electronic this year!

The 2007 Merritt
Sponsor: San Antonio Romance Authors (SARA)
Fee: $30
Receipt Deadline: February 14, 2007
Eligibility: unpublished nor under contract by contest deadline.
Enter: synopsis (5 pages max) and first two chapters. Synopsis and chapters not to exceed 45 pages. Electronic submissions only.
Judges: published, experienced critiquers.
Categories:
• Series - Stacy Boyd, editor, Harlequin
• Single Title - Kate Duffy, editorial director, Kensington Books
• Paranormal – Anna Genoese, editor, Tor
• Historical – Leah Hultenschmidt, editor, Dorchester Publishing
• Suspense - Audrey LaFehr, editorial director, Kensington Books
Top prize: All finalists receive a certificate. Winners receive a plaque and a year’s subscription to the Love Letter.
FMI, entry form, and rules go to the SARA website < www.sararwa.com> or contact Beverly Zech


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The Emily

Ahem.

I won the ST category!

Triangles

Yes, I'm up at a god-awful hour. There's a dog barking out front, really weird sounding barks, and then I saw a man walking up and down the street (our bedroom's in the front of the house) and then the phone rang. I didn't get to it in time, but surely if it was an emergency they would have left a message, right?

Anyway, I'll go back to bed in a bit, when my heart stops pounding.

I love love triangles – GOOD love triangles, where you’re rooting for one guy or the other, where each guy (or girl) is just as deserving of the love of the main girl (or guy.) Okay, to be honest, I’m not so much in love with 2 girls and a guy triangles. But having two guys vying for your love…that I can get behind!

One of my favorite love triangles was the Pacey/Joey/Dawson one on Dawson’s Creek. I really wanted Pacey to win. (And seriously, the two of them, on the boat all summer, and NOTHING happened??? Tell me another one.)

I want Kate to end up with Sawyer, Jim to end up with Pam on The Office, even though I like Karen, and Roy seems to know what he’s lost, Peter to end up with Simone on Heroes.

I think Grey’s did a great triangle with Derek/Meredith/Addison, especially when they gave Addison such a great personality. I thought the Alex/Izzy/Denny triangle was good. But the Derek/Meredith/McVet triangle fell flat for me. McVet was very deserving, but Meredith wasn’t, if that made sense. You knew she’d never treat him right because she would always wonder about Derek.

In books, triangles seem more prevalent in series than standalones, probably because there’s more time to lay out the characters and conflicts. Look at Stephanie Plum (Morelli, please. But I stopped reading about 6 books ago – I can’t keep up.)

In recent reading, Colleen Gleason’s The Rest Falls Away, I rooted for Rockley, the regular guy in Victoria’s life, to give her balance. Trish was rooting for Max. Maybe she’ll come by and tell us why ;)

Stef Feagan had readers vote to choose a hero for her heroine, Pink, in her Bombshell books. She said she never intended to have a triangle, but the one guy kept taking over bigger chunks of the book, and she fell in love with both of them.

Why do readers pick sides? Because the writer makes the characters so real, gives them vulnerabilities and strengths that make us pull for them. I tend to root for the character that seems to reach a deeper need of the main character.

In my zoo story, that I wrote a million years ago, I wrote a triangle. The other woman was such a bitch, she made the hero look weak for loving her.

Now that I’m looking at Spy Girl again, I’m thinking about how to strengthen the characters so that not only will my heroine have a hard time choosing, so will the readers.

I know first I need to beef up my heroine. She needs to be worthy of two men battling over her. (Another problem with the McDreamy/Meredith/McVet triangle – I never got that Meredith was worthy of all that competition.)

And then I need to give my potential heroes appealing traits. One friend suggested each man needs to address a different need in the heroine, so I would need to make each need equally strong, right? Hey, there might be something to this plotting thing after all!

That same friend suggested that I make the bad guy appeal to her dangerous side and the good guy make her feel safe. Another friend suggested I make the good guy act like a bad boy, and I thought about the bad guy making her feel, well, not safe, because she knows who he is and what he’s done, but…you know?

Have you ever written a triangle? How did you make all the characters appealing without making it obvious who the heroine would end up with on the first page?

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TOO Funny!!!

The dh shared this website with me after I darn near wrecked the car after not pulling the brake at the post office. (I was standing in line and some lady came in and asked who had a black SUV because it just rolled back in the parking lot. My car is neither black nor an SUV, but....yes, it was my car, her powers of observation notwithstanding. Thank God I didn't hit anyone.)

Anyway, onto the hilarity. These are my favorites.

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Anna Nicole Smith and Is It Thursday Yet?

I was going to blog about triangles and my rotten day yesterday, but I heard about Anna Nicole Smith and for some reason the news really bothered me. Yes, she was messed up and the butt of a lot of jokes, but this is so sad!

Okay, a confession - I used to watch her show. I don't remember when it was on. It seems like a long time ago, but it would be on at almost midnight on Saturdays, and that was my guilty pleasure. I remember cringing at what she did, but I still watched every week. I remember thinking what kind of attitude her son would have toward women after watching his mom behave that way. I was really upset when her son died, right there in the hospital where she'd just given birth. I was grossed out when Howard her lawyer claimed to be her baby's daddy. (I don't know why - she never was very discriminating.)

But even though she was one messed up girl, I was always hoping she'd pull herself together and get her happily-ever-after. Maybe I'll write her one.

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On a lighter note - how awesome were Grey's and Supernatural last night???? Although, please, Kripke, can we put paid to the whole you-gotta-promise-to-kill-me conversation? Every dang episode!!! At least now Dean made his intentions known, we may get a reprieve! And next week's episodes look great, too! (Please remember, I came up with the ghost stories coming true first!)

I have to go back to the bank because I got a new debit card which got DECLINED at Office Max yesterday, so clearly it's not working (I have $$ for a switch!) And then the post office. Maybe I won't cook tonight ;)

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Vibes, Please

I got some kind of positive news yesterday, so please send vibes to NY!

Yesterday I gave my class a prompt about cowboy boots - they had to tell about something that happened to them when they met the person wearing those boots. When we were brainstorming, one of the kids said they could meet Billy the Kid. I always model the writing for them, and I ended up writing 2000 words on a historical western in first person! It was fun!

I'm starting to get my conspiracy shows mixed up. Which is the one about a president who sends a guy to death row for killing her brother, a yellow eyed demon recruiting a psychic army of transgenic supersoldiers on a deserted island with a smoke monster, a hatch and a colony of cylons who could be walking among us to end humanity, unless Jack Bauer saves us?

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I found out yesterday one of the make-up days for the ice day will be on my BIRTHDAY! On a SATURDAY! GAH! But at least the kids won't be there. They're making up their missed day on Feb. 19, which was supposed to be an inservice the day before TAKS. Then the teachers will make up their inservice on Easter Monday, which is fine with me. But we'll make up our semester workday on a Saturday in April. Tell me how that makes sense. Out of ANY Saturday, why that one?

Anyway. I wrote 17 handwritten pages on Sunday and 3 more yesterday. I also read this book this weekend and I LOVED it!

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The premise: three couples of different ages meet on a boat tour in Asia. That’s not the cool part, though. Each couple takes turns telling about the night they met.

Pam Morsi’s story is first, and set at college in the 1950s, where our heroine is struggling to be taken seriously as a scientist in a man’s world. It’s so sweet and her struggle is so true-to-life, you don’t know how she will overcome it. The hero is a little too good to be true, but so sweet and memorable.

Karen Kendall’s story is set in 2005, in Bangkok one year after the tsunami. The hero is a world-weary photographer, the heroine a young, idealistic stylist sent to help him. I was laughing one minute and crying the next.

Colleen Collins’s story was my least favorite, but it was the setting (early 1970s) more than anything in this tale of opposites attracting.

All in all, my favorite romance this year. And straight romance. Go figure.

I have more books than I have time to read. But there are some books coming out that I’m realllllly looking forward to reading.

Fanged and Fabulous by Michelle Rowen

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Riding the Storm by Sydney Croft (AKA Larissa Ione and Stephanie Tyler

The Dark Gate by Pamela Palmer She finally sold this after a LONGGGGG time.


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Harry Potter!

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High Noon by Nora Roberts Her hostage negotiator book!

There are several others I’ve preordered, like Stacey Kayne’s and Tawny Weber’s and Cindy Gerard’s. SEP and Jenny Crusie and Suz Brockmann all have new ones coming up, too.

What are you looking forward to?

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Favorite Things about Being a Writer

Favorites:

10) Daydreaming is working.
9) Research – library or on TV
8) Starting a new story
7) Indulging in office supply fixation
6) Hunk gazing
5) Writing community
4) When other people say they didn’t do anything over the weekend, I can usually say, “I wrote.”
3) It’s portable.
2) Good writing days
1) Reading my own books for fun

Least Favorite
5) No time for reading
4) Writer’s block
3) Stress
2) Waiting
1) Rejections

What can you add to the list?

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$500, Nora and The Merritt

I spent $500 yesterday. Started at the grocery store ($250 without sodas or much meat or pet food which we have to go get today because it didn't fit in the cart) then Office Max for a phone and pens ($37) then a haircut and my eyebrows waxed ($33 and an hour and 20 minutes!) then lunch ($14) then a new printer, Turbo Tax and blank CDs ($172!)

I'm still shaking!

I saw the Nora Roberts movie finally. Heather didn't do TOO bad of a job, and it was pretty faithful to the book, except the last scene in the book was at one of the hunting cabins, wasn't it? I'm looking forward to Montana Sky. It was my first Nora, and I love John Corbett.

The Merritt only has 4 entries in RS thusfar, and only ten more days!

The 2007 Merritt
Sponsor: San Antonio Romance Authors (SARA)
Fee: $30
Receipt Deadline: February 14, 2007
Eligibility: unpublished nor under contract by contest deadline.
Enter: synopsis (5 pages max) and first two chapters. Synopsis and chapters not to exceed 45 pages. Electronic submissions only.
Judges: published, experienced critiquers.
Categories:
• Series - Stacy Boyd, editor, Harlequin
• Single Title - Kate Duffy, editorial director, Kensington Books
• Paranormal – Anna Genoese, editor, Tor
• Historical – Leah Hultenschmidt, editor, Dorchester Publishing
• Suspense - Audrey LaFehr, editorial director, Kensington Books
Top prize: All finalists receive a certificate. Winners receive a plaque and a year’s subscription to the Love Letter.
FMI, entry form, and rules go to the SARA website < www.sararwa.com> or contact Beverly Zech

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A Place

So, clearly, I'm not going great guns on my challenge to myself. I wrote some pages last night, but fell asleep around 9.

When I started this project, the book would only come pen to paper, so the couch was a perfect place for it. But it's not really comfortable. I have a really comfortable chair and a half in the sun room, but it's cold back there. I have a teeny desk back there, too, with my old iMac on it, but the chair is wooden. Anything bigger won't fit.

I have a table in what is essentially our mud room, looking out on the back patio, but it's cold out there, too, and adjacent to where the guys play their guitars. And again, a wooden chair.

The other option is the guest room. I have another teeny desk in there with a wooden chair, and a twin bed. It does have a wall of windows, though.

The thing is, I tried the isolation bit before, and it just made me nervous. I like to be where everyone else is, but I'm not getting anything done.

Where do you write? Where do you read? I've gotten to where I only read in the tub or in bed!

And I'm currently obsessing about going back to Office Max to get some colored gel pens. Anyone else have a thing for a certain pen?

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A Hooker from God, Callie O'Malley, and Redeeming a Big Bad

I did write yesterday, but I haven't counted the words. Not a thousand, I'm sure, but Mal and Maddy are alone and about to follow the ghost into a secret passageway - whoo-hoo!

Both Grey's and Supernatural were great! I'd like to slap Izzy, though. She's getting on my nerves and she used to be my favorite. She doesn't deserve Denny anymore ;) Good for Meredith for telling her mother what's what. How much time had passed, though? I didn't hear. They got that clinic up and running fast. Loved the looks Addison was giving Alex, loved that she ran into the OR.

Best quotes:

"She's Callie O'Malley."

"I embrace the trashy."

Supernatural was good, too. I started watching it as soon as Grey's was over. The dh and ds were playing guitar in the garage. They came in around 9:15 and I told them they missed a great line. The dh said I could rewind it so they could hear it. When I started rewinding, he said I could rewind it to the beginning if I wanted. Mm-hm. HE wanted to see it. He loved last week's episode, especially the last scene.

Anyway, this week. Poor Dean, stuck in the hotel room, and dang it, all I can think about since seeing that picture I posted Wednesday was, Please, Sammy, take your shirt off.

Oops, digressing again. Dirty old lady. Good brotherly moments, though reminiscent of "Faith." LOVED the ending. LOVED it. I told Trish I could start diagramming these shows for my kids to show them plot structure. They're all pretty faithful to the same structure.

I'm afraid to see next week's episode, though. I worry about Sam. (I know they're supposed to be fictional, but they feel real.)

BEST quote, possibly of the season:

"Always put your Christmas decorations away after New Year or you'll be fileted by a hooker from God."

I'm still laughing.

Okay, onto the seriousness.

I was reading through Spy Girl last night and I think it works. But. I need the bad guy turned hero to be pretty bad. Like, almost Jack Bauer enemy bad. I think I have to do that to justify sending in all these agents against him (though, technically, my heroine is there to find out what happened to one of them, her ex-husband, who needs to play a bigger role, too.) I'm going to be definitely pushing my comfort levels here with this, but how far can I push reader comfort levels?

How bad can I make him?

The darker Supernatural gets, the lighter I'm making my book, so actually I'm starting to see Mal more as Alec from Dark Angel than as Dean, though he definitely has Dean qualities.

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Longest. Week. Ever.

How can it ONLY be THURSDAY???

I didn't write yesterday - we went out to dinner, went to B&N and Office Max. Nothing exciting at either, but I had enough dinner to be able to bring it for lunch today.

I think my laser printer died. At least it waited till I printed out my Four Seasons entry ;)

I was reading my RWR about doors closing and windows opening and taking a chance on stretching your muscles and trying something else. So I was thinking about the turning points I've made in my "career."

I started out writing straight romance. Even my first book, though it had cop heroes, was more a "behind the scenes" of Law and Order. They'd have cases, but nothing carried through except the romance. I wrote...let me see...that one, Simple Life, my zoo story, two single dad stories, an NBA story, Pride's Fall (which was my ONLY sweet romance) and Where There's Smoke as straight romances. (I've got to be missing one in here....)

Then I tried my hand at RS. I wrote Devil in Disguise (my very first request, and I always forget about this story - a bad boy returning home), Second Chances (with the same characters as my first book, only with a plot this time), Vanished (never submitted or contested, still needs some work) and Heart of a Knight.

Then I got into the action/adventure bit. Hot Shot, Eden's Promise (a kind of post-apocolyptic thing I wrote for Bombshell), Surface, Don't Look Back, Spy Girl and Breaking Daylight.

Now I'm writing my first paranormal, and planning a second. I was tempted to write them before, when I watched Angel every day, but never followed through on it. The world building is a little daunting, even with the little bit I'm doing, because I have to create reasons for things happening, and keep them consistent. A bit like RS in that respect, I guess.

Of all that I've written, though, I think straight romance is the hardest for me. Without the other plot, it's hard for me to keep interest. I could go back to RS, I think, though my love is action/adventure.

What about you? What turns has your path taken?

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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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