Talk Amongst Yourselves

I loooove road trips. I love planning them, I love sittinginthepassengerseatwhilemyhusbanddrivesthroughstrangecitiesandstates. Hey, I offer to drive, he just feels it best that I don't. So I take my entertainment - books, my ms, CDs. The Harlequin bag I got from NY is STUFFED. (Yes, I'm one of those who packs everything JUST IN CASE. We're going to be gone 7 days and we have 5 bags. 5 small bags, but....)

I love vacations. I love getting away from it all. I love seeing new things. But at the same time I get really homesick. I miss my pets. I miss my bed. I MISS MY INTERNET! And I worry. I worry if I turned the thermostat so the AC won't run all day, if my house is secure, if my mother, who's checking on the pets, will notice that I didn't clean the bathroom this week. Honestly, last night I couldn't go to sleep because I was worried I'd forget to take a couple of extra CDs. Like listening to the radio would kill me.

So, I'm off, in about thirty minutes. I'll try to check in, since we're taking the laptop, but I have a feeling time with that will be a rare commodity. So, have a good week and see you in a few days!

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Guys Don't Get Phantom

My dh came home with dinner right before the unmasking scene in Phantom, so we finished watching while we ate dinner. Besides making fun of Gerry (and Patrick - "Why doesn't he fight back??"), he was cracking me up. "So, how come they go FORWARD in time and turn into black and white? Are they back in Kansas?" And then I was explaining Julie Ortolon's theory that the Phantom isn't a person per se, that he symbolizes fame, and Christine has to choose between fame and love, and he said, "Yeah, nice, but here's the reason - Chicks dig scars."



1000 hits in like 2 weeks! yay!

Sexy Songs

The other day, JoAnn and I went to the movies and she played a Tim McGraw song for me. I’d told her the other day I had never heard his stuff, and she said this song was going to be a great introduction for me. It was about a bad boy who could be a real good man, and she said she listens to it to fire her up before writing a love scene.

Now, I was a music teacher. I’m married to a guitar player and I’m raising another one. One of the best presents I ever got was a karaoke player. Music is a big part of our lives. When I was writing one of my stories, I listened to the soundtrack of Hope Floats, over and over to the point where it would get me right into the story. I stopped hearing the words. I tried the same thing with my last ms, listening to Phantom of the Opera. Sometimes, when I just need to drown out the TV that my dh and ds are listening to, I put on the soundtrack for Lord of the Rings or Hidalgo. As for listening to songs to fire me up, in my last ms, before the big black moment, I listened to an old Howard Jones song, “No One Is to Blame,” over and over again to get up the emotion. Another good one is Crowded House’s “You Better Be Home Soon.” As for sexy songs, there are no sexier songs than “Black” by Pearl Jam and “One” by U2. Just – oh.

And just FYI, Bo Bice’s single, “Inside Your Heaven” is on iTunes.

Here’s some inspiration for JoAnn.

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In this extremely competitive business, how weird is it that we feel joy for the success of other people? I know I’ve already talked about the support romance writers receive, but now I’m talking about specifics. Yes, there’s jealousy at times – we wouldn’t be human without it. But there’s also excitement that carries over the internet, carries over the phone lines when your friends find success.

My friend Robyn DeHart’s first book comes out in August. I was privileged to read the partial before she submitted it. I’ve been to her house and seen her notes on this book, the pictures she had over her computer when she was writing it. So when it sold, I was over the moon for her. Why? I felt invested in this. Plus, heck, we’d talked about sweating blood to get words on paper, we’d talked about the pain of being on the brink. When she sold, it brought the idea of selling into the realm of possibility. And when I got to read an advanced copy, I fell for Derrick. Hard.

One of the Wet Noodle Posse, Stef Feagan had finalled a couple of times in the Golden Heart, with long contemporaries (maybe not both times, but the first time we finalled together, it was long contemporary). The summer after we finalled the first time, she was frustrated. She was rejected all over the place, and what good was that Golden Heart final doing her? But she had this idea she’d been toying with in the back of her mind. Maybe if she wrote it down…. So, we told her to go for it. And man, she did. I think she wrote that book in two weeks (right before National). We in the WNP called it Pink, because that was the heroine’s name. We designed our shirts to have the color pink, because this character sort of became our mascot, the symbol of what we could do if we set our mind to it. Stef had two agents begging for this book by fall, it finalled in the Golden Heart, and two months later sold. It came out in April (Show Her the Money, a Bombshell) and it ROCKS. And again, this is another book I felt invested in.

Now we’re waiting for good news for Trish. Her agent loved the revisions she did and sent the manuscript over to Bombshell. I’ve read this book and it’s amazing. It is sooo a Bombshell. And when she gets that call, you can bet I’ll be dancing on the ceiling.

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Why is Jeff Goldblum sexy?

He's on Letterman right now and I just - I adore him! Is it the voice? The confidence? How cut he was in Independence Day?

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Check out Words of a Writer

Today she's talking about romance heroes. The link is in the sidebar.

Under pressure

I want to have my WIP done – revisions and all – by August 14. To that end, I’m pushing to get through the rough draft, sitting at the computer for hours, doing research, doing scene cards (I know, I said they freaked me out and they do, they really do) and writing.

All this for a self-imposed deadline. I’m so terrified of not having something in NY on an editor’s desk, and once I hear back from Susan on Surface….that’s it. It’s like….I’ll lose the momentum that’s built since I finalled in the GH in 2003. I’ve had something in NY constantly since that time.

I know I want to take advantage of my summer vacation, and get as much written as I can, but sometimes the idea just overwhelms me. Then I think, well, if I can’t get more than 2 pages written a day during summer, why would I ever want to quit my day job to be a fulltime writer?

So many questions. I’ve always been driven, never very good at relaxing, but maybe I need to give myself a day or two off a week.

And I’m thinking about what to do with Hot Shot. I’m still waiting to hear on three agents who have partials, so I guess I should hear what they have to say before I think about expanding it into a ST. I don’t want it to be rejected by all the ST houses and then the agent says, “Well, what do you want ME to do with it?” You know? There’s Cerridwen, like JoAnn said, but I wonder about trying for ST first.

You see how I push myself? Type A, that’s me. Ugh.

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Confessions of a Critique Grouper

I went to an intense critique session yesterday. It was my first time, with a rough draft, so they had lots to say. On the other hand, the two other ladies there had revised and revised and revised and still brought their stuff back for critique. It’s not that they weren’t moving forward, but they just wanted to make sure it was as good as it gets. One lady said she’d had it critiqued by this group and two others. I asked her if she didn’t worry she was going to edit the voice right out of it, but she didn’t seem concerned.

I don’t always use the comments I get from critique. Isn’t that terrible? I mean, people go through, give me their time, their feelings, and I can choose to use or ignore them.

I like big picture comments. I usually know what’s happening in a story (note the “usually”) but I don’t always get in on paper. I like when people point that out to me.

I like characterization comments, especially if a character is contradicting himself.

I even like when they correct spelling. Sometimes I just don’t see it.

However, I ignore suggestions on my dialogue, most of the time. I mean, people don’t always speak grammatically, right? And most of the time I can hear my characters in my head. One exception is when someone points out that a male character uses too many words. Grunts, they leave alone ;)

I don’t change sentence structure a lot of the time, unless there are a bunch of sentences that start with “She.” And I honestly don’t think one “It was…” sentence in a chapter is a killer.

I guess it comes down to trusting yourself, something I have a really hard time doing. But I can’t imagine revising a book with a critique group over…and over…and over.


So I love my WIP, I’ve written 150 some-odd pages in less than a month. And then my husband (who I love dearly, most of the time) gives me an idea, and BOOM. There is my hero, standing there in all his Sawyer-ish glory. Oh, he’ll be damaged and untrustworthy, and something in his past has pushed him into the backwoods here, and he’s doing this extremely risky and kind of trashy job, and…..

You see? You see how easy it is? For me, the beginnings of stories are so much fun, so adventurous, so full of possibilities. The book I’m working on now, I started about a year ago. I had the idea, it wouldn’t let me go, so I stopped, wrote the first 13 pages, got it out of my system and went back to my WIP. Good for me, right? Because if I have 100 first chapters, I’m never gonna sell. I have to finish the book, revise the book, revise the book, revise the book, revise…well, that’s how it feels, anyway. And then, once it’s gone, I can start the next book, fall in love with THAT story. I have to commit to the story I’m working on, or it will never see the light of day.

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Emotions in Motion

You know, I’m a pretty emotional person. I cried last night when the Spurs won, especially when David Robinson, now retired, came down to hug Tim Duncan. I choked up during The Perfect Man. People tend not to tell me things because they’re afraid I’ll overreact.

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So why can’t I translate this power into my stories? This is not the first R that I’ve gotten that cites emotional depth as my weakness. When Shannon Godwin called me, she said, “So this is the romance story without the romance?” Trish J will tell you that she writes the word, “Emotion!” or “Feelings!” on each page of my ms. It’s just not something I delve into on the page. Even when I’m reading, I tend to skim over the internal monologues. (I know, shame on me! Shame!)

But it’s clear that if I want to break through, I’m going to have to address this. Only, here’s the thing. I don’t know how.

Earlier this week, Gina wrote:

I have lists of "emotion words" now, which helps me to focus on what I want to convey.

I've learned to believe that if I don't grind it in it isn't there. I've been much too subtle in the past.

I go back and read each section asking myself what the character is feeling and if it shows.

I pay close attention to Dwight Swain's motivation-reaction units...which is one (and a very good) technique.

I used to want to be subtle out of respect to the reader, but I'm coming to understand that people read romance for the emotion, so being subtle misses the mark. The more I get that, the easier it is.

These are great suggestions, and I’m definitely going to put them into practice.

Does anyone else have a way? And do you tend to put the emotion in on the rough draft, or do you layer it in later?

Oh, and check out Larissa's blog today. It's hilarious. The link is in my sidebar.


Talk about wanting it bad enough!!

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Interestingly, they interviewed Eva Longoria, who's dating Tony Parker, our point guard. She said the NBA Finals were more exciting than Desperate Housewives winning the Golden Globe. So I was pondering this....the Golden Globes are someone's opinion. You can work hard, but it boils down to how someone accepts what you do. The NBA Finals are blood, sweat and tears - pure effort gets you to the top.

Wanting It Bad Enough

So after yesterday’s rejection of Hot Shot, repeating the theme of not enough emotion, I started wondering if I want this bad enough. I mean, if I wanted it bad enough, wouldn’t I read the craft books and do the scene cards and use highlighters and fill out the worksheets? If I wanted it bad enough, would I tear apart SIMs and study the way the authors put those books together? Just the idea of it locks me up. I can’t do it.

I want to tell stories. I think I’m a good writer; I can put words together, I can create interesting characters, heck, I even figured out conflict. So something’s missing, and maybe it’s that willingness to go the one extra step. Why am I so blocked against it? Am I afraid it will slow me down? Am I (gasp) afraid of success? Am I doing everything I can to assure my success? I have to think the answer is no, yet I’m reluctant to take that extra step. Why, I don’t know. Maybe I want to get published doing it my way. My way is in no way easier, but it is easier in my mind than doing cards and spreadsheets. I feel like if I start doing those exercises it will kill the magic, kill the story, kill my enthusiasm, and then why be a writer, you know?

After that R, I ran the gambit of emotions. I entered the ms in two contests, then sat in the tub and cried because I was never going to submit ever again. Yet I wrote yesterday, after the email, because I’m leading a BIAW challenge and darn it, I set a goal for myself. Are my goals clashing with my craft? Maybe.

I don’t even know how to end this blog. But just writing it down taught me more about myself than I knew.

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Soooo, Hot Shot has been in NY 54 weeks. I emailed Susan Litman 2 weeks ago, on the anniversary. Didn't hear. I emailed her last week, she said she'd go looking. Never got back to me. So do I email her a third time?

At the same time, 2 agents have had my partials since the end of February. Another has had it since the end of March. I emailed the two agents I could find email addresses for. Nothing.

Not that I'm in an all-fired hurry to get rejected, but come on.

Yeah, other than that, I got nothing. Trish did help me with a dilemma with my WIP (yay Trish!) and today is the first day of my chapter's BIAW, so I'm rarin' to go. Those Krispy Kreme donuts didn't hurt, either.

It's Wednesday, so here are the Lost boys.

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So I got a rejection yesterday on a partial I’d submitted to Harlequin American. This book has made the rounds, considering it’s a series romance. It finalled in Valentines over Vegas in 2002 and was requested by Zareen Jaffries of Silhouette Special Edition. The summer of 2003, she asked for revisions. The fall of 2003, she left Silhouette and I got a form rejection from her replacement. So I queried Susan Litman in the spring of 2004. She also sent me revisions. I did the revisions (and they were not easy) and she rejected it. So I queried Harlequin American. They requested a partial and now have rejected it. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and here’s why.

In the meantime, I have become much more narrow in my focus. I want to be an Intimate Moments author. I have so many action/adventure and romantic suspense stories in my head that if I do nothing but write new material, I will be working on these ideas till the end of 2006. (Yes, I have a plan, a chart and everything. Disgusting, isn’t it?) My hope, my dream, is to write for Intimate Moments. Most of the books I buy on impulse are IMs, most of my keepers are IMs. That is where I want to be. I want to be their action girl. Part of the reason the revisions on Where There’s Smoke were so tough was because it was a straight romance. No mystery, no trek through the forest or the jungle, no deep sea diving. No bad guy. Just romance. I don’t know if I could do another straight romance at this point in my career.

But I know there are writers out there who are trying out several different markets. I know some who write women’s fiction and romance, some who write romance and young adult, some who write Bombshells and women’s fiction. I can understand having so many different stories inside but do you ever fear you’ll be locked into writing that kind of story once you’re published?

Oh, and I cut 30 pages of my ms yesterday. Ouch.

So since I had to do that and got an R, I want this picture. Doesn’t he just look like he’s saying, “Come over here, Mary, I’ll make it all better?”

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Apparently, I see an abnormal amount of movies. Yesterday we saw Batman Begins. Wednesday, I’m going with JoAnn to see The Perfect Man. Friday, I’m probably going to see Bewitched. Last week I saw Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and on DVD, I saw Hitch. And this was in a summer that I didn’t think any good movies were coming out.

I didn’t realize my volume was unusual till we were at my folks’ for Father’s Day and I was talking about movies we’ve seen and movies we’re looking forward to and everyone just looked at us blankly. The only one who had any idea what we were talking about was my 16 year old brother. My 35 year old brother and sister-in-law saw Revenge of the Sith, and that was it.

So, let me give you a quick rundown of movies I’ve seen this year (at the theaters – DVDs would take WAY too long) and my opinion. Because I know you all put so much stock in that ;)

Dear Frankie: an independent Scottish film starring Gerard Butler, for about 45 minutes, anyway. It’s about a deaf boy and his mother who are on the run from his abusive father, only the boy doesn’t know. He believes his father is a sailor, and so he writes him letters. When his father’s ship is scheduled to dock, his mother has to find someone to act as his father. The black moment ripped my heart out the first time I saw it. And Gerry was lovely. I’ve already ordered the DVD.

Sahara: the Matthew McConnaughey comeback vehicle, from a Clive Cussler novel. I know I will get flak for this, but Matt came across as slimy in this. He was not my vision of Dirk Pitt. It was okay, lots of action, great in the way of escape but not much in the way of twists.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: I listened to the BBC radio show, which was hilarious. The movie skimmed over so much, and didn’t translate well to the screen. Plus the two headed guy was creepy.

Revenge of the Sith: Plot holes big enough to drive my Land Cruiser through. I fidgeted through most of the beginning, most of the light saber scenes (and there were a LOT) and finally enjoyed the last 45 minutes or so. I did laugh aloud at an inappropriate scene, earning me dirty looks from the Star Wars fans. Hey, I WAS a Star Wars fan till these last three films. Why did you ruin the magic, George? Why?

Mr. and Mrs. Smith: Now THAT’S what I’m talking about. Great dialogue, fun characters, lots of action that isn’t same-old, same-old. And Angelina is just – cool. I will buy this when it comes out on DVD.

Batman Begins: I didn’t want to see this movie. I love Michael Keaton as Batman, and in my opinion, Tim Burton told the story just fine. Imagine my surprise, after grumbling about going to see it, that it might actually be my favorite movie of the year. It was compelling and absorbing and interesting. I did not think Christian Bale was as good as M.K., but he did do the soft creepy voice very well. I will buy this when it comes out on DVD, too.

Movies I’m looking forward to:
The Perfect Man
The Fantastic Four
War of the Worlds
Must Love Dogs (new John Cusack movie)
Into the Blue (I know, but the previews had some similarities to the ms I just sent in)
The Game of their Lives (another Gerard Butler movie)
Harry Potter
King Kong
The Legend of Zorro
The New World (this is Diana Duncan’s fault)
The Chronicles of Narnia

DVDs I’m looking forward to:
Miss Congeniality 2
Coach Carter
The Pacifier
XXX: State of the Union (I’m into action movies lately)
Guess Who
Bride and Prejudice
Beauty Shop
The Wedding Date
Because of the Winn Dixie
Sin City
A Lot Like Love

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My chapter has a Book in a Week challenge once a month. For some reason, I’m never able to meet my goals. It’s like I lock up, will do anything except write.

On the other hand, one of my email groups is having the 100 words a day challenge, and I’m kicking butt on that one. Only two of us, I think, have written every day. And last year, even though my grandmother was in the hospital, the Wet Noodle Posse had a daily writing challenge, and I was only one of two writers who completed the challenge.

Do challenges fire you up, or lock you down?

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Protecting the Work

So you start a new book and you’re so excited about it. It’s the best thing you’ve ever done, and you can’t wait for your cp or best writing buddy to read it. Heck, you’re even ready to contest this baby.

So do you send it? Or do you hold onto the enthusiasm and let it carry you forward? Do you risk someone killing your excitement, or do you protect the work?

I admit, I’m a sharer. Heck, I can’t keep secrets in real life, so when I get so excited about a new story, I send it to JoAnn, or Trish J, or the chapter critique group. I usually don’t contest it till someone else has read it. I can count on JoAnn carrying on the enthusiasm, while at the same time pointing out plot flaws. The others are a bit more detail oriented, but are still encouraging enough not to stop my momentum. Contests, though, have been known to kill my love for an unfinished story, thus leaving it unfinished. Interesting how these anonymous people can plant doubts in my mind that have me walking away.

What about the planning stage? Do you plot with friends, either on an email loop or in person? Do you have someone you bounce ideas off of? Or do you cocoon yourself, keep even your concept a secret?

I’ve been to a plotting retreat, which was stepping WAY outside my comfort zone, and it was incredibly helpful, not only with my story but with getting a better grasp of story structure. I didn’t think I’d have a lot to offer, despite all the years I’ve been writing, but I became more confident as the weekend progressed. I finished that story last month and changed the ending from what we plotted together, but everything else came through.

I’ve also plotted in email groups, brought them the concept and had them help me with plot points. Again, very useful and really got my brain firing.

Believe it or not, my husband has been a great help in the plotting of my WIP. We go out to breakfast every Sunday and he and my son are great to bounce ideas off of, while they’re my captive audience. So if this story goes terribly wrong, you know where the blame lies. ;)

On the other hand, I need to learn to trust my instincts, too. I’ve become a little too dependent on other people’s opinions. I usually need to know if I’m heading in the right direction, then I can go on my own, but even not being able to judge that on my own bothers me. I find myself needing to bounce plot points off people, needing them to read a bit before I have confidence to go on. I have some trepidation about the book I sent in at the end of May. My cp didn’t have a chance to read through the whole thing, I’d promised it a month earlier and I tried something different with the ending. Will it work? I don’t know. Why do I need that validation to move on? I’ve been writing long enough, reading long enough to know if something is good, right? And will I ever trust my instincts again?

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Stop and Smell the Hibiscus

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I love hibiscus. They are bright and they do well in the South Texas heat. I love seeing the buds, knowing that today I may not have a flower, but tomorrow or the next day I will. I have 13 of these plants, orange, pink, red, yellow, peach. Some are huge, some are little. Some haven’t bloomed in awhile, others bloom every day.

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The one thing I don’t love about hibiscus is that their flowers last only one day. I feel inexplicably sad when I go outside and see one closing, that I’d missed seeing it that day, because I was too busy for whatever reason. It’s like a wasted day.

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I just finished my third week of summer vacation and I still feel at loose ends. I have goals for the summer, and I’m doing all right with most of them (except walking – it is HOT! And I never seem to be home in the morning.) I would like to be further along in my WIP, but mostly just to see if I can do it. I haven’t read all the research books I checked out of the library, which I know will help me with my plotting. I have only sat outside in the mornings twice (and become a mosquito feast for my trouble.) I feel like I’m wasting my summer, blowing off all the things I was so looking forward to doing.

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The other night my son said I was obsessed with the computer. I know I waste way too much time with blogs, checking my email and eHarlequin. I honestly have no discipline when it comes to this. The timer thing helps for awhile, but I get antsy. Plus, I have 3 emails out, one to an editor and 2 to agents. I have to check to see if they answer me, don’t I? But I really, really need to cut back. I need to take each day like a new hibiscus bloom and make the most of its beauty.

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Me and Mike back in the Day

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Through Someone Else's Eyes

Last night I took my 16 year old brother to my chapter meeting. Yes, I know it sounds weird, but he wants to write historical fiction set in Roman times, and Julie Kenner was giving a talk on using Robert McKee’s STORY and screenwriting techniques in novels, so I thought it would be interesting to him, since it wasn’t romance focused.

Evelyn Rogers, the person whose picture you see when you look up “lady” in the dictionary, is a founding member of SARA and she is retiring from romance writing, so last night the chapter toasted her. So a lot of people who don’t usually come to meetings were there last night: Martha Hix, JoAnn Power, Pam Morsi, Miriam Minger. These ladies were some of the people I met at my first SARA meeting. The energy last night was on level with the energy I felt at my first SARA meeting. And I wondered if it really was as I perceived it, or if I was just seeing it differently through Mike’s eyes.

I remember at my first meeting, hearing about Debbie Gafford and Delores Fossen talk about the gains they were making as they sought publication. I remember that Martha’s Terrific Tom had just sold to SSE, I think, and how excited she was because the heroine was a big girl. At last night’s meeting, Michael heard about an author who sent out 5 queries and got 3 requests, as well as revision requests on another book, and another author whose book may be going to auction. It’s very heady when you’re new and you hear these success stories, and see that they happen to real people.

Mike took copious notes during Julie’s talk, and got a kick out of the chart she had of the three act structure. I fear he’s a plotter, not a pantser. Sigh. He left the meeting fired up, and just so excited, because there was a room full of people who GOT him (and someone did say he was so cute, he liked that). I felt the same way after my first SARA meeting. It was almost overwhelming.

My dh gets after me, because I’ve been reluctant to go to meetings sometimes. I’m too tired, I don’t want to drive in all that traffic, I don’t want to miss LOST. But nearly every time, I come home excited and energized, renewed and motivated. If only I could bottle this feeling today and save it till the hour or so before the NEXT meeting. Or if I could just remember how I saw it the first time, and think about creating that same atmosphere for another beginning writer.

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I got my contest results back from Spring into Romance and while my scores weren’t great, I got some good comments. Some of the comments echoed my own concerns with this manuscript. See, I want my characters to end up working together on a ship after sharing a one night stand, something neither of them thought would lead to anything. My problem is, apparently, that my heroine is not motivated enough to do something like this. Heroes are easy to motivate for this, but heroines?

So, keeping in mind that my 16 year old brother visits this site, I want to ask, what do you think motivates a woman to have a one night stand with a man she’s just met and never expects to see again? I mean, I gave her a motivation, but don’t want to influence you ;)

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Pet Peeves

Last week, I was in a generous mood. Today, snarky. So I made a list of my top ten pet peeves (I had to limit myself, ya know.)

10) People using apostrophe s, making a word possessive instead of plural; same with your and you’re;
9) Air dryers in public restrooms instead of towels;
8) People who see something on the floor and don’t pick it up;
7) Getting home from the grocery store and realizing you forgot something really important, like milk or cat litter;
6) Getting ready for bed and realizing you have no clean pajamas (my fault, I know, but geez!) Along the same lines, getting into bed and realizing the closet light is still on;
5) Inappropriate movie previews;
4) Weather crawls during my favorite shows (and as you know, I have a lot!);
3) T-shirts that are so thin and clingy you can’t wear them in public;
2) People in traffic who clearly see the row of cars slowing down, zip around, and then pull in the front of the line; and
1) Waiting for repairmen all day – and they DON’T SHOW UP!

And as promised:
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Pop Culture

I am a slave to pop culture. If you listen to my cats’ names, past and present, you can tell. Currently, it’s Napoleon Dynamite, Yaya (you know, the sisterhood) and Dukey (the old Budweiser commercial – “Yo, Dukey! Whassuuuuuup?”). Past cats are Gir (the robot from Invader Zim), Jamie (from Outlander), Eliza (from The Wild Thornberries), Simba, Bimini (remember presidential candidate Gary Hart’s infamous trip to that island?) and Aislinn (the Edge from U2’s first wife.)

I’m addicted to Lost, Alias, 24. I even have a Jack Bauer shirt. (I wanted a Bo Bice bracelet, but found out about them too late.) I have all the latest DVD releases on my Blockbuster queue. I see the popular movies the first weekend they come out. (Mr. and Mrs. Smith is AWESOME – a definite purchase when it comes out.) I don’t generally buy People or those type of magazines, but if one of my favorite stars is in it, you bet I get it. I have the ones with Viggo on the cover, Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Sawyer. I could easily watch E! every day. I bought a DVD/CD shelf for Christmas and it’s filled up rapidly since then. My husband and son do their part with the music. My husband would make a killing if they brought back Rock and Roll Jeopardy.

This is not a new affliction. When I was a girl, my entire allowance went to teen magazines and cassette tapes. My walls were covered with pictures of Shaun Cassidy, who morphed into John Schneider (yes, the Duke boy.) I wrote stories starring Robbie Benson, Jonathan Cain of Journey, Bono of U2. Now my stories star Chris Noth (Mr. Big), Goran Visnijc, George Clooney, Josh Duhamel (Las Vegas). I know, with all these pictures of Gerard Butler, you just can’t believe it, right?

My latest pop culture downfall is the Spurs. I used to watch basketball rabidly, from the time David Robinson joined the Spurs, and I was a freak for the Bulls when they had their three-peat in the early 90s. During the first Spurs championship season I didn’t miss a game. I had the window flag and the shoe polished windows. I went to the parade that year, I had enough Spurs shirts that I didn’t wear anything else that summer. Interest waned as I got more and more involved in writing. I didn’t watch much the last championship season, and nothing at all last year, or until Sunday, this year. But the city has transformed the past few weeks. During The Game, the city is a ghost town. You could go to the grocery store and not wait in line. You’d be the only person at the intersection. You could sit alone in the movie theater. On almost every corner is a tent selling Spurs shirts, flags, bumper stickers. My favorite shirt is the Obi Wan Ginobli shirt – combines two pop culture bits.Image hosted by Every other car sports a window flag or shoe polish proclaiming the Spurs #1. So, while I’m not going to go that far, I think I will get the shirt, and watch the games and cheer and hope they bring home another trophy.

A Little Help from my Friends

I have been blessed in the people who surround me. First, of course, my family, who love me, even my brothers though I was mean to them. When I finalled in the Golden Heart, the older of the two had a party for me. The younger loves to go to the library with me. My husband and son take me to the library, even carry the loads of books for me. My husband doesn’t cringe too much when I have to watch Tomb Raider II for inspiration, AGAIN. And when I get good writing news, he always takes me out to dinner.

Then I’m blessed in my friends at school. There is a knot of us who started at one school, but even though we’ve all split up, we meet every few months and catch up. And at my new school, my fifth grade unit was just incredible. Three of the four of us were new to the campus, two were brand new teachers. We formed the most wonderful bond, looking out for each other, helping each other out. And when my kids tanked the state tests, the other teachers held me up.

But I’ve been most blessed in the writing community. First I met the SARAs, and while in the years I’ve been a member, the chapter meetings have changed from the high-energy they once were, we’re still fortunate to have members who work for the forward movement of all the members. Whether or not members take advantage is up to them.

Then I met the ladies of AOL. When we changed from AOL to Roadrunner, I missed the writing boards on AOL most. I still keep in contact with some of the ladies, and we call ourselves the Hive Mind. I can whine and moan to the SARAs and they’ll pat me on the back. The Hive will smack me and tell me to “Snap out of it!” And Trish is the most amazing critiquer (though it hurts sometimes – it really hurts!). We set goals and hold each other accountable for them. We exchange chapters and recipes. Amazingly, I’ve only met five of the women face to face, and yet I wouldn’t hesitate to invite any of them down here for vacation.

The eHarlequin community, especially the sub care board was not something I thought I’d become involved in, thus my name, Elf Mary. I joined around Christmas time and figured I’d hang for awhile and leave. Well, uh-uh. I’m as invested in other people’s success now as in mine, after watching the submission/rejection, submission/revision, submission/sale process several times now. I’ve never met any of these women face to face, but you can bet when they sell, I’ll be screaming and toasting.

Lastly is the Wet Noodle Posse. No Golden Heart finalling class can be as fortunate as the class of 2003. After we got those magical calls, an email loop was formed. We had the bouncing-off-the-wall newbies and the thrilled veterans. We shared first chapters, pictures, dresses, as we prepared for New York. We shared travel plans and sight-seeing schedules. But along the way we started sharing other things, too. When Priscilla’s grandmother died, and when Anna’s grandmother got sick, and when Trish’s mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer, we closed around them. When Stef and Diane and Merrillee and Anna and Karen and Trish Mo and Janice and Janet and Dianna and Jill and Norah and Stephanie sold, we partied. When the 2004 and 2005 finalists were announced, we cheered for those who finalled and offered condolences to those who didn’t. We vibe for sales and agents and houses. We’re about writing but so much more. This is the main reason I’m sad about not going to Reno this year.

So I’m blessed in so many ways. I wish this kind of support for every writer.

And because I can: Image hosted by

The Runaway Train

My story has taken on the characteristics of a runaway train. I know I’m writing it fast, and kind of skimming over some stuff, but I’m hitting the plot elements a lot sooner than I planned. Like 80 pages sooner. Sigh.

My problem is that my story has a ticking bomb and the characters need to be moving. I may have rushed the first chapter, but once they’re on the road, they have to keep going. I threw an obstacle in their path so they didn’t get where they’re going TOO soon, and when they get where they’re going, they’re not going to find what they’re looking for, but I kinda thought that would be about two thirds of the way through the book, NOT on p. 90. I think I have enough story to carry it through for the 320 pages for Intimate Moments, but I have to slow it down. I feel like I’m being dragged through it.

Add to this that I don’t have much romance in this romance novel. My hero is very dark and scarred and my heroine has trust issues of her own, plus she knows all about dark and scarred heroes. And while trekking through the jungle (even in a truck) gives them plenty of time to get to know each other, neither is really anxious to let the other close.

So I’m thinking I might have to change my goal to slow down the pace, BUT it still has to be something fairly urgent to get my hero out of hiding (which he is in the beginning of the story.)

As you can see, I’m a pantser, but this story has been in the back of my mind for a long time. I had just finally figured out the plot. Apparently, I didn’t know my characters as well, though.

And because I can: Image hosted by

Trying out pictures

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Here's my baby kitty. His name is Napoleon Dynamite, but we just call him Spazbutt.

Simple Pleasures

I’ve been on summer vacation for two weeks now. Aside from the obvious, not having to get up at a certain time, get dressed, face traffic to and from, face 23 kiddos who’d rather be anywhere else, I decided to make a list of my simple pleasures. Most are summer related, some are all year round.

1) Knowing that no matter what time I get up, I can go back to sleep at any point. (Most days)
2) Having a new flower on one of my hibiscus plants. (I just bought three more yesterday.)
3) Getting my page count done before midnight.
4) Getting to stay up late to reach my page count if I couldn’t get to it earlier.
5) A clean house.
6) Good mail (even if I had to send it to myself) – includes books from and movies from Does not include contest results with frustrating comments.
7) Getting to wear my writer wear (I have my Jane Millionaire shirt on right now. Yesterday it was my “Romance Writers: Changing Frogs to Princes on a Daily Basis.” That’s one thing I’ll miss about Reno – not updating my writer wear.)
8) Spurs in The Finals!
9) Getting to see actual sunshine coming through my stained glass window.
10) Getting to go to Sonic whatever time I want. (I just like their drinks.)
11) Going out to lunch. (Okay, so I did this at school, too, but I like to eat lunch with my son, even if he is more like a Hoover.)
12) A fridge full of cold drinks, including Diet Coke with Lime and Crystal Light Raspberry Ice.
13) No schedule more pressing than movie times.
14) Reading in my Adirondack chair (It’s plastic, it’s from Home Depot, it’s still comfortable.)
15) Watching a DVD in the middle of the day.
16) Rainy days. (I’ll like these better once the roof is fixed.)
17) Watching my kitten play with my dog.
18) Watching my kitten sleep.
19) Guerrilla trips to the grocery store (vs. marathon trips)
20) Road trips.

What are your simple pleasures?


More first call sales from Harlequin come on Thursdays than any other day. Did you know that? Something to do with a meeting they have or something. So for the past 52 Thursdays, I’ve rushed home to check my answering machine, not sure if the number they have on record is my home phone or my cell phone. A couple of months ago, I programmed in the phone numbers of a few writer friends who I’d call with the news as soon as I finished screaming and called my husband and mother. And emailed Rae at E Harlequin so I could get my own thread. Is it sad that I have her email address memorized?

So am I being hopeful, or foolish? Is it wrong to expect a call? Or am I just dreaming?

I thought I’d take this time for a check-in, also. I have written every day. I’m up to page 80, which is not as far as I’d like to be.

I have read four books: Mission Irresistible, Anything, Anytime, Anywhere, The Eleventh Hour and Daddy in Waiting, Karen Potter’s debut book. Of course, as I made that dent in my TBR pile, I bought the new Nora, Anna DeStefano’s latest, Diana Duncan’s first two 24 hour books, The Midas Trap and Kathleen Long’s first Intrigue.

I haven’t made any headway in reading that old ms I was considering revising.

I have walked 4 days.

The house is shaping up.

I haven’t done great on the timer thing because the dh has been home and has thrown the whole schedule off.

I’ve seen Ray, Blackhawk Down and The Recruit.

So, moving forward, but not as forward as I’d like.

The Anniversary

Today is The First Anniversary of the day my grandmother fell and hit her head. It was an injury that would ultimately kill her, nearly two months later.

I was on the phone with a Silhouette editor that morning when my phone started beeping like crazy, and finally my cell phone started ringing, my brother calling to tell me my grandmother was in the hospital, that she’d fallen. He was 15 at the time, and was alone in the house with her while my mom was at a teacher inservice across town. After firing off emails asking for prayers, my son and I got dressed and got to the hospital in 15 minutes. I was not prepared for what I saw.

My grandmother was always the strongest person I knew, even though she never topped 5’2 and 100 pounds. In her 92 years, she was rarely sick enough to go into the hospital. She’d broken her hip in 1981, but overcame that. She had difficulty swallowing and had high blood pressure, but never anything serious. To see her in a hospital gown, barely conscious, was stunning. My brother and stepdad were there and said she’d been lucid enough to give the hospital all her insurance information before slipping into a semi-conscious state. I asked the nurse how much of her state was due to the medication, and the nurse said, “Very little.”

We kept vigil throughout the day, a stormy day, flooding roadways. My other brother came, my mother left her inservice, my aunt, uncle and cousin were all there. We left to eat Bill Miller’s, is all I remember. I don’t remember going home, but I must have.

The next morning I went to Mass. The church didn’t collapse or anything, but I couldn’t stop crying. My mother and I told the priest about my grandmother, and some of the church ladies, who promised to pray.

I was on my way to the hospital when my younger brother called. He’d left his glasses or something at his house, and could I please go get them on the way. My good friend called me, was talking to me about developments in the school district where we worked before I could get in my news. More prayers for Gigi.

I got to the ICU and was surprised to see Gigi sitting up in bed, talking about going to Spaghetti Warehouse for my cousin’s graduation celebration. The priest came later, and we waited in the waiting room. My younger brother Mike, who loves languages, found a Greek Bible in the waiting room, and started flipping through it. Turned out it belonged to a man who was visiting his wife with Parkinson’s disease. They’d been married for 40 years, I think he said, and he wanted 40 more. He and Michael became fast friends.

Gigi got out of ICU on Friday, and out of the hospital altogether on Saturday (I think it may be because we took our camp chairs and hung out in her room. I may be wrong.) But her appetite, never huge (though she did love food) deteriorated, and within a week she was back in the hospital.

Because she was having trouble swallowing, they sent her to a rehab hospital the following week. She was also having more trouble hearing and speaking, which was driving her nuts. And being in the hospital in the summer time, when we were off, was making her batty, too. She loved our vacations (Mom and I are both teachers) because she liked to go out to breakfast, go to see different things (Mom and I are both big shoppers, too.) I took Mom and Mike to breakfast and shopping one morning before we went to the hospital and took all my purchases in to model for Gigi. She always showed such enthusiasm, except that day. Maybe she knew then I’d be wearing one of the dresses to her funeral.

The hospital wanted to train us to take care of her before they sent her home. Now remember, Gigi is the strongest person I’ve ever known. So seeing her helpless, in a diaper, unable even to help herself get out of bed, was devastating. That day my mother decided she couldn’t take her home, that she couldn’t take that responsibility, that she didn’t know enough. The decision devastated my mother, but my grandmother said she was grateful, said she’d be more at ease in a home where someone could take care of her.

So the day after my son’s birthday, they moved her to a nursing home right across the road from my neighborhood. We talked about how my son could walk over to visit her after school while he waited for me, how Mom could go at one time and I could go at the other.

A few days later, I woke up from my nap with an urgent need to get to the home. As soon as I got there, my uncle was coming out of the room crying. (My uncle was a Marine and a cop. It was bad.) Gigi had had a seizure. We never did know if it was from the fall or dehydration – she’d stopped being able to drink water and so they gave her this thick beverage, but she barely took any. She had two more while we were there, all camped out on her floor. One was so long and violent that we just prayed for her suffering to end. We were all linked, either touching Gigi or touching each other. God, that was the hardest thing to see. My brothers crying was the worst.

Finally the anti-seizure medicine kicked in, and she slept for three days.

I had finalled in the Golden Heart that year and had planned to go to Dallas. My mother told me to go, there was nothing to do. So after spending nearly 48 hours at the home with Gigi, and taking her outside for the last time, I told her I was leaving, and for her to wait for me. She pointed to the ceiling – she’d stopped talking after the seizure. I know she was telling me she was going to be gone by then, but I couldn’t let myself believe it.

When we got to Dallas, we only had one cell phone because Fred had dropped his. Forever and always I will associate the horrible tone he programmed with that terrible time. I called Mom that night and she said that day had been the worst, that my uncle told my grandmother she could go, that she could die. I didn’t tell my mother that I had asked her to stay, and Gigi always did everything I asked of her.

My blessing was being in Dallas with my friends. The SARAs and the Wet Noodle Posse wrapped themselves around me and held me up. We actually even had fun, though I would call Fred (who had my phone) every couple of hours for word.

That night, my stepdad called to say Gigi was awake and using my AlphaSmart to communicate with them. That was another blessing.

Gigi held on two more days. We were in Waco, on our way back home, when my stepdad called to say she’d died. After months of being surrounded by everyone, she died on Sunday morning, just as my mom and stepdad came in from church. I was stunned and sad, but couldn’t cry. We got home in record time, only to have Mom tell us to stay home and rest, then come over for supper. It was a surreal end to an emotional time. We didn’t cry, we didn’t even talk about it that much. The next few days before the funeral I stayed home – for the first time all summer – and then three days after the funeral I went back to work.

But every day I miss her. She was my hero and a light in my life. And I wish I could talk to her just one more time.

A bit of a warned

I don’t know if this is something that’s going on all over the country, but this year we’ve had several children killed by the boyfriend (usually) or the girlfriend (most recently) of the child’s parent. Here you have a single parent, usually a mom (and in most of these cases, very young) who trusts her lover to take care of her child. Now, you know what it’s like to see a man with a child, how something just turns over in you when you see how tender he can be.

I’ll give these young women the benefit of the doubt. Maybe in her presence, he was gentle with the child, was affectionate, if not loving. Maybe she asked him to watch the child, usually a toddler. Maybe he volunteered. Maybe she hesitated, realizing how difficult it would be for someone inexperienced with children to care for one.

Like I said, I’m trying to give these women, and the one man, the benefit of the doubt. After all, they lost a child. I’m hoping that it was just misplaced trust, that they had no idea what these murderers were capable of.

One man slammed the child against the bed, hitting the headboard, repeatedly, and then called 911.

The woman, the most recent one, held the child under scalding water, then threw his little body in the apartment pool and said he drowned. The police saw the steam burns on his face and realized what happened. My mother-in-law said that woman should suffer the same punishment.

At the beginning of the school year, I met the mother of one of my students. She told me her child was going through hell because the stepfather was so mean to the child, so the mother was going to divorce him. I told her it took a rare woman these days to choose their child over their man, and I was proud of her for doing it.

My mother chose my brother and me over a man, marrying a family-oriented man when I was 14. My mother-in-law chose my husband over a man, remaining single instead. Women do have good judgment, most of the time. Is it the need for security that has them putting up with abuse? Is it a fear of being alone? Of being responsible? I can’t understand it, but then, I’m not in their shoes. But I think – I hope – my maternal instincts are strong enough to fight for my child.

But I can't leave this on that note. There are people who put themselves on the line for kids. I happen to work with a real life hero and a real life heroine who both stepped out of their ordinary lives for children. Both are in their 50s, and each of them is an adoptive parent.

The hero and his wife started out as foster parents before they adopted a family group, the youngest of whom is now going into middle school, the oldest just turned 16, and the boy has some emotional problems. This man (who became a teacher at the age of 55, pursuing his degree after one of the local AFBs closed) has opened his heart to these troubled children, and went above and beyond to keep their family together.

The heroine and her husband married later in life. She already had a grown son, but her husband wanted a child, and so they adopted a little boy from Eastern Europe. When the little boy, now 8, asks why they picked him, she tells him because God told them to. To this child, who lived in an orphanage with dozens of other children until he was two, these people saved him, offered him everything he never could have had.

My friends would be embarrassed to be called "hero" and "heroine." To them, they just followed their hearts.

The Great Outdoors

Yesterday we took a drive to the lovely Pedernales (pronounced Ped-er-NAL-es, officially, but most natives call it PERD-nal-es) River in the Texas Hill Country. We went in my parents' RV with all the comforts of home (including Krispy Kremes, breakfast tacos and a fridge full of sodas.) We hiked down to the river (okay, they hiked, I wheezed) and planted ourselves on some rocks in the water. There's one thing about the Pedernales - there are plenty of rocks in the water. After maybe an hour of watching people float by on rafts and tubes, my stepdad and I decided to try to go upriver a bit and float down on our backs. My husband and son had done it, so we could, too, right? Huh. You know the rapid-y part of rivers? It's made that way by rocks. Big rocks. Not necessarily smooth rocks. I think I hit every one on the way down. My tailbone is sore, and I will likely not have to shave my legs for some time. Not one of my smarter moves, although the rest of the day, we joked about it.
"Want some water?"
"Sure, as long as it doesn't have ROCKS in it."
I'm pretty sure Pedernales is Spanish for "bumpy river."

Two years ago, my husband planned a trip to the Grand Canyon. At that point, we’d been married 15 years. I just looked at him. “You’re taking me on vacation to a place where you have to go outside? Me?” Okay, so it turned out to be quite civilized, and is my favorite vacation of all time, but I just couldn’t get over that he would take me out in the middle of nowhere and :::shudder::: rough it.

I’m working on the third book in a row where the characters have no toilet, no showers, no McDonalds. Gee, if you’re supposed to write what you know, I’m way out of my league. My hero and heroine are trekking through the Rocky Mountains, the Belizean rainforest, the African wilderness. Can my characters stop for a donut, eat ice cream, even drive on paved roads? Nooo. They have to sleep in tents on hard ground, in musty smelling sleeping bags, in backs of SUVs. I can’t sleep in a hotel without Tylenol PM and two pillows, and the last time I went camping was when I was 13. I did not have fun.

So why do I write about characters who live this life?

For me, writing is about being all I can be, especially if I don’t have to be there. In my books, I can do things I’d never have the nerve to do in real life: scuba dive, fight forest fires, heck, travel overseas! I can be a doctor without borders, an archaeologist, a marine biologist. And as I learn about these things that I never thought I’d do, I learn that they might be so scary, after all.

The Monsters, er, Manuscripts in the Closet

I was looking for scrap paper to print my WIP out on (I always print it on the back of printed paper first, and I need a hard copy to edit on.) I was out of scrap paper, so I eyed the stack of contest entries I printed out but never entered as I decided to turn away from romantic suspense and turn to romantic adventure.

So I un-binder-clipped the entries and stuck them in the printer. But as they spewed out, new on one side, old on the other, I started reading the old. Hey, you know, not too bad. We got the plot, and the sexual tension going on. We got some snappy dialogue and some nice turns of phrase. And you know, I never submitted it, contested it only once, and it’s complete. It’s not as good as it COULD be, of course, and needs a bit more tweaking on the suspense bit, but you know, it’s done.

I have written (this part is always hard – hang on while I count) 16 manuscripts (I think). Only 3 are making the rounds. I have another half dozen partials (probably more), and another half dozen ideas (today). At what point do you say, you know, those books can just stay in the closet while I write new stuff? Or do you pull them out and try to fix them, make them marketable? Is it worth my time to fix the old stuff, or should I just move on with the new?

Oh, and after my rant last weekend, I finalled in the Sheila series category with Hot Shot! Not only was it unexpected (I thought they were calling on the 17th), it just felt GREAT. I think part of it is that they drop the lowest score, which has been something keeping me from finalling for awhile. But, anyway, yay!

Why you should never drink red wine before bed

Last night I was in a chat with some writing buddies because we've been doing the 100 words a day challenge and EVERYONE has to participate, though I've been working on doing way more than 100 words a day, and then they get mad at me for being so competitive, but HEY, I'm on summer vacation and have no small children, just an addiction to blogs and movies. So anyway, the non-pregnant members started drinking. And we're not as young as we used to be, so after one glass, we start dropping like flies.

"Night, John Boy."

"Night, Mary Ellen."

Well, I had a nice glass of Paso Robles Merlot and by 11 PM, I was ready for bed. And this is why you shouldn't have red wine before bed:
First, you dream you're Jennifer Aniston, trying to get Brad Pitt back and making a fool of yourself (in quite the slapstick manner - it included alligators and xylophones - don't ask). Then you dream you're Jennifer Garner, or rather Sydney Bristow, and you've broken up with Vaughn so you're depressed and buying Chips Ahoy to eat for breakfast because nothing else sounds good, and you're hitting on Weiss, inviting him over for steak before a stakeout, wherein you find out Hugh Jackman has been betraying your operation, and both Weiss and Hugh are shirtless (now THERE'S a picture) and that Weiss visits The Fuselage website about Lost. Well, Weiss's reminder brings you back to real life, where you're supposed to be taping Lost, but you missed the first hour because the electricity had gone out and your OVEN VCR isn't working.

No more wine before bed. That was just weird.

It's in the cards...

…Or, why I’m not JJ Abrams.

I’m on page 30-something of my new story, and the dark, dangerous, mysterious hero I so carefully crafted just had a dream that told EVERYTHING about why he’s the way he is. Worse, the heroine was there when he woke up and he had a weak moment where he told her the troop under his command couldn’t trust him because he can’t trust himself.

Well, hell. I may as well write “The End” right there. I was so excited because I actually KNOW this character so well that I spilled all the beans in chapter two.

I am so not JJ Abrams, who never spills beans without raising a dozen more questions.

So I have these index cards. Bright, pretty index cards. 4 colors (I may need more.) I’m going to take everything I want to reveal about my hero and break it up on those index cards. If I’m good, I may even add a couple questions to raise in my heroine’s mind. I’m going to do the same thing with my heroine (who, to be honest, I don’t know as well. I never do,) my bad guy, my suspense plot. Okay, that’s 4. Why did I think I needed 6? Oh, well, I’m going out to breakfast anyway. It won’t kill me to stop at Office Depot and get some of those cool marbleized index cards. Just in case, ya know.

Once I lay out the cards, I could, reasonably, write a synopsis. So when I try that timer trick, I’ll actually know what I’m going to write.


Can’t write in the morning, too antsy. Sun is shining, want to go out in the back yard, want to clean house (okay, maybe want is too strong a word), want to do anything but be in the chair at the computer. Even though I limit myself in other activities, when I get to the computer, I still have trouble focusing.

Can’t write in the afternoon. Have to take a nap, my reward for waking early/staying late at school for the last ten months. I read, sleep, wake up a little groggy. Can’t write then, either.

Can’t write in the evening. My husband is home, watching TV and you know I might miss something if I don’t join him. Plus we have that huge DVD collection going to waste if I don’t watch a movie a night.

My best time to write is at night. Son goes to bed, husband is asleep on the couch, and I can get in the zone.

Still, I feel like I’m wasting time during the day, not writing. So today, after my errands, I’m pulling out the timer. 45 minutes in the chair, 15 minutes out (or to check email or whatever). I’m determined to ride the wave of excitement I have for this book.

The waiting is the hardest part

I used to be an instant gratification person. During high school, I worked at Winn’s (a Texas five and dime that went out of business a lonnnng time ago) in the fabric department. I’d buy fabric for 99 cents a yard, come home after work and make a new outfit to wear the next day. Now, that’s instant gratification.

With writing, nothing comes fast. It takes me months to write a book, more months to revise (depending on how motivated I am, ya know), and even more months to hear back. Even when I enter contests, where for the most part you have a date to mark on the calendar, I have to wait, and wait some more.

Last April I got a very exciting revision phone call from an editor after my manuscript had been in NY for 8 months. (The wait on that phone call is a story in itself – we played phone tag for a week.) I did the revisions and mailed them back on June 8. Next week the revisions will have been there a year.

In February, I queried three agents. At the end of March, one of the agents requested a partial. That was the only word I’ve heard at all.

I feel like I’ve stagnated, even though I’m working on another book. I am so not used to standing still.

During the school year I can have patience because so much other stuff is going on. But now that school is out and my brain is free, well, I feel like I should be doing something besides working on the new book. So do I call and check up? Do I wait for the mythical “desk-clearing” before National? Do I continue to haunt the mailbox? Sometimes doing nothing is the easiest and hardest thing of all.


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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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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