Happy Halloween!

Funny pictures from school - two teachers in my unit, the short one is my buddy Cindi.

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This is the coach and his fiancee. You have to have a great body image for those costumes. Can you believe they didn't win?

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May you have just the right amount of candy.
May your jack o lantern turn out perfect.
May your house remain unpapered and unegged.
May your costume have no wardrobe malfunctions.
May your children go to bed like angels after consuming mass quantities.


Oh, and I’m officially done with Hot Shot, but I’m letting it sit a day or so to see if I have any brainstorms. I came in pretty light on page count.

Halloween pictures

Edited to add more pictures: Took my card to baby brother, who retrieved my pictures for me. Also took him with me to buy a new camera.

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My camera is officially dead, but baby brother sent me these.

Here's me with my guys.

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Me with the brothers. "Anakin" actually had red contacts, but we all look like we did.

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My buddies, Robert, Cindi and Corrinna.

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The host and hostess, my brother and sister in law. He was Anakin, she was Leia. He kept telling her, "Who's your daddy?"

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My mommy.

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Writer's Block

Writer’s Block – I know, no one here believes I get it, but I do. Most recently the two weeks after I spoke to my agent (gosh, I don’t get to say that enough!)

She wanted changes in Hot Shot, which I’ve been working on, on and off, for five years. So thinking of changing it was a – well, it was a re-envisioning. (That was another cool term I heard on the workshop CDs, a definition of revision.) And I just couldn’t see the book in any other form.

Then there was the panic. What if it’s not going to be good enough? She’s trusting me to do this, to KNOW WHAT I’M DOING (which I don’t, just so you know) and what if she’s WRONG?

How do I work past it?

Um, first watched lots of TV and DVDs and ate a lot of Halloween cookies.

Then, I sat down, and I wrote. I wrote crap. But after a few pages (or 50) of crap, I found the story. I kept thinking of Michelangelo saying he uncovered the sculpture, he didn’t create it. My dh would tell me to walk away, but I’d think, no, I’ve written through writer’s block before. If I have to cut those pages to get to the story (which I did) at least I’ll know what the story is.

Clearly I’m not a plotter. Or a replotter, anyway.

Now, there are sometimes when I get hung up over a certain aspect, maybe even a fact. Sometimes I send out a quick cry for help over my email loops. Sometimes, all it takes is putting it in writing. Other times, my buddies (you ever notice how close that word is to “biddies?”) can come through with an idea that sparks other ideas. Or sometimes they come up with just the thing.

Other times I make a list of 10 (it’s supposed to be 20, but I can never think of 20). That’s when you write down all the possible things that can happen next. You’re never supposed to go with the first thing that comes to mind, or else your story will be too predictable.

But most often, I kill my children. Most often I realize I should’ve taken a left turn at Albuquerque and I slice till I get back to that wrong turn.

The party was fun, tamer than usual. The extended family (SIL’s family and friends) congratulated Fred on his Emmy, and they’d told their friends! I think he was really surprised. Unfortunately, it looks like my digital camera has died, so no Halloween party pictures. L Will get the dh to look at it when he comes home from work (yes, he volunteered to direct the Sunday morning show, the day after the ONLY party we ever go to.)

So until then, heeeeeerrrrre's Gerry!

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The Write Snark : CafePress.com

The Write Snark : CafePress.com


Wow, just yesterday I wished for a stress-free, peaceful time and I got it.

Invariably on Fridays, something happens that I obsess over all weekend. Not yesterday. I had fun with my kids, we carved a pumpkin, went to a pep rally, played Around the World with multiplication facts, and after school went to a dance.

Let me say, I am the world’s worst chaperone. Why? I love to dance, and as a former music teacher, I know a lot of the line dances and party dances. (Plus, dh is NOT a dancer. I’m lucky to get one dance a wedding from him, and we’re getting older, so we know fewer and fewer people getting married.) So from the moment my last student got in the door, I was on the dance floor. My sweet boy (they’re all sweet, but this one holds a special spot in my heart) was beside me the whole time. He offered twice to buy me something to drink, and he loved showing off. Another of my students offered to buy me a soda, too. I left school looking forward to Monday, an effervescent joy that I am a teacher (something I never embraced before last year, and this is my 16th year in the job!) buoying me on the way home.

I came home (very late and very sweaty) and started entering changes into my ms, and called my dh to see if he wanted to go to our favorite restaurant for dinner.

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(We had a coupon that would have expired Sunday!) Thing is, the restaurant is about 40 miles northeast of here, and usually busy at night. Plus, it’s mostly outside and the night was a bit chilly for Texas. We went, and sat on the top floor, which was cozy and intimate.

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We sat down just in time to see the sunset. It was a gorgeous view over the Guadalupe River, the food was delicious, and I let the stress melt away (without benefit of alcohol). It was a perfect fall evening, I was with my two favorite people. I was….happy.

But even as I let myself be, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. How sad, huh?

Anyway, am WAY behind where I wanted to be on Hot Shot - cut even MORE pages, so as soon as I get back from the grocery store, I'm slaving away. I wonder if I can convince the dh to go buy me a tiara.

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When is it enough?

The other day my friend, who is living the life she always dreamed as a published author, who sold in a two book contract, then got another, confessed she still wants more. She feels bad that she’s not enjoying what she’s gotten so far. Now, it’s not that she’s greedy, although that was how she was feeling at the time.

My theory is that she’s worked for this goal for so long, she doesn’t know how not to strive for something. She’s accustomed to having to work for a goal, and now that’s she’s achieved the Big Goal, publication, she’s ready for the next step. She doesn't know how to rest on her laurels, even though she has everything she wanted.

So why can’t we enjoy what we have? Is it external pressure, or pressure we put on ourselves? Is it our personalities? (While “my friend” is a real person, she and I have a LOT of the same character traits.)

Will we ever be satisfied with our level of success?

Should we be?
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This is hilarious.

My favorite is The Shining.


Viral Videos: Remixed Trailers

Extreme Pumpkin Carving

ExtremePumpkins.com - Extreme Pumpkin Carving


So, I read the article on websites in the RWR. It’s definitely something I want to have, once I figure out my pseudonym. I will probably hire someone to do it, because I want it to look nice and unless I can have a template to play around with, I won’t have time.

So I’m thinking, what do I want on it?

A bio, yes.

Books and excerpts, yes.

Perhaps articles.

News (but couldn’t this be on the first page?)

Other than that, I don’t see anything that would bring people back, that would make my website stand out. (I’ve been listening to a LOT of conference CDs about getting your name out there, can you tell?) It’s one thing to have a website for people who come looking for you, but don’t you also want people to come to your site, become intrigued, and buy your books (once you’re published, that is.) For example, Mia Zachary has updated lists of unpublished contests. Resources like that would draw people back, right?

Am I wanting too much?

What do you think?

And what do you like on an author’s website?

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More on branding

My friend sent me this today - I don't think she knew I blogged about it, though. (If it's properly accredited, it's okay to post it, right?)

Branding Basics
What exactly is a brand and what does it do for your biz? These simple insights will help you develop your own.
By John Williams

from Entrepeneur.com

Branding is one of the most important aspects of any business, large or small, retail or B2B. An effective brand strategy gives you a major edge in increasingly competitive markets. But what exactly does "branding" mean? How does it affect a small business like yours?

Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from your competitors'. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be.

Are you the innovative maverick in your industry? Or the experienced, reliable one? Is your product the high-cost, high-quality option, or the low-cost, high-value option? You can't be both, and you can't be all things to all people. Who you are should be based to some extent on who your target customers want and need you to be.

The foundation of your brand is your logo. Your website, packaging and promotional materials--all of which should integrate your logo--communicate your brand.

Brand Strategy & Equity
Your brand strategy is how, what, where, when and to whom you plan on communicating and delivering on your brand messages. Where you advertise is part of your brand strategy. Your distribution channels are also part of your brand strategy. And what you communicate visually and verbally are part of your brand strategy, too.

Consistent, strategic branding leads to a strong brand equity, which means the added value brought to your company's products or services that allows you to charge more for your brand than what identical, unbranded products command. The most obvious example of this is Coke vs. a generic soda. Because Coca-Cola has built a powerful brand equity, it can charge more for its product--and customers will pay that higher price.

The added value intrinsic to brand equity frequently comes in the form of perceived quality or emotional attachment. For example, Nike associates its products with star athletes, hoping customers will transfer their emotional attachment from the athlete to the product. For Nike, it's not just the shoe's features that sell the shoe.

Defining Your Brand
Defining your brand is like a journey of business self-discovery. It can be difficult, time-consuming and uncomfortable. It requires, at the very least, that you answer the questions below:
* What is your company's mission?
* What are the benefits and features of your products or services?
* What do your customers and prospects already think of your company?
* What qualities do you want them to associate with your company?

Do your research. Learn the needs, habits and desires of your current and prospective customers. And don't rely on what you think they think. Know what they think.

Because defining your brand and developing a brand strategy can be complex, consider leveraging the expertise of a nonprofit small-business advisory group or a Small Business Development Center.

Once you've defined your brand, how do you get the word out? Here are a few simple, time-tested tips:
* Get a great logo. Place it everywhere.
* Write down your brand messaging. What are the key messages you want to communicate about your brand? Every employee should be aware of your brand attributes.
* Integrate your brand. Branding extends to every aspect of your business--how you answer your phones, what you or your salespeople wear on sales calls, your e-mail signature, everything.
* Create a "voice" for your company that reflects your brand. This voice should be applied to all written communication and incorporated in the visual imagery of all materials, online and off. Is your brand friendly? Be conversational. Is it ritzy? Be more formal. You get the gist.
* Develop a tagline. Write a memorable, meaningful and concise statement that captures the essence of your brand.
* Design templates and create brand standards for your marketing materials. Use the same color scheme, logo placement, look and feel throughout. You don't need to be fancy, just consistent.
* Be true to your brand. Customers won't return to you--or refer you to someone else--if you don't deliver on your brand promise.
* Be consistent. I placed this point last only because it involves all of the above and is the most important tip I can give you. If you can't do this, your attempts at establishing a brand will fail.

John Williams is Entrepreneur.com's "Image & Branding" columnist and the founder and president of LogoYes.com, the world's first do-it-yourself logo design website. During John's 25 years in advertising, he's created brand standards for Fortune 100 companies like Mitsubishi and won numerous awards for his design work.


My Monster Name

Thanks, Bonnie!

Your Monster Profile

Wicked Vampire

You Feast On: Tofu

You Lurk Around In: Candy Factories

You Especially Like to Torment: Pop Stars


A few weeks ago a friend of mine was creating a tagline for her style of writing. She brainstormed a few clue words, like endearing, charming, captivating, delightful, honest, sincere, sparkling, original…you get the idea. She settled on “Engaging stories. Enchanting characters. Endearing romance.“

I’ve heard of other authors branding themselves with tag lines like that, and after listening to a workshop CD talking about creating this buzz, this name for yourself. The presenter, who is a big publicist, said you should have three things, no more, that focus on the product that is you.

Here are some others I found:

Shirley Jump – “Romantic Comedies with Sweet Attitude”

Mia Zachary - “Sensual Romance with a Touch of Sass”

Karen Templeton – “Edgy…charming…fun…real”

Suzanne Brockmann – “New York Times Bestseller” (oops! But I want THAT one!)

Some don’t need a brand, like Catherine Mann, who writes military romantic suspense, or Lisa Gardner, another New York Times Bestseller who writes romantic suspense, or Carly Phillips, who writes light romance.

So the question is, do you need a brand? Do you have one?

I’ve been thinking about it since my friend was brainstorming hers. Since I write romantic adventure, and my strength is my heroes, I thought about something like, “Heart-pounding adventure, hot blooded romance.” Or something.

What do you think?

Here’s the article by the woman who gave the talk in Reno:
Auhor Branding

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Cool phrases

I’ve been listening to some workshops on CD, since I’m not riding with my mom anymore. I’ve been hearing some phrases that are ringing bells with me.

The first is “error in thinking.” This describes your hero/heroine’s internal conflict. Your character expects certain things to happen because of events in his/her past, and their expectations are false. For example, your heroine’s former lover cheated on her, so her current way of thinking is that all men cheat. This is her error in thinking. Isn’t that just the clearest thing ever? Ding, ding, ding!

The other is “diminishing returns.” This was in a workshop with Lauren McKenna where she was talking about revising too much, and eventually you get “diminishing returns,” meaning you’re taking value out of the story instead of adding it. Ding ding ding!

What are some phrases you’ve heard that clarified thinking for you?

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Lay People

Are you ever talking writing to someone and you say something and they look at you like you’re talking a foreign language? Usually it’s acronyms like POV and GMC that get them, sometimes more specialized terms like ConUS and IAD, if you’re writing that kind of thing.

Just this past week I’ve found myself spelling out what a chapter is (RWA, not book). What the Golden Heart is.

Every job has its own specialized vocabulary, I guess, (though some of the teacher vocabulary still escapes me after 17 years). We’re around it so much that it slips into our speaking, then we end up having to explain what a query letter is, or the difference between single title and category.

My friend Robyn DeHart wrote this great article about terms. Maybe I should just print it out and pass it around.

Romance Vocabulary

What things do you find yourself explaining to lay people about writing?

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TV report card

I got this idea from Peggy. I'm more impressed with this season than she was, though ;)

Sundays - Law and Order C.I. It's always been a good show. Chris Noth is reprising his Mike Logan role, going from his expensive Sex and the City wardrobe to copwear. I'm mainly watching for hints that his life has changed over the past dozen years or so since he left L&O. So far, no hint it has. The cases are making me squirm, though. B-

Mondays - Surface. I didn't really like the first couple of shows, but it's gotten better. I don't know how long the premise can go on, though. I mean, a lot of people saw one of the monsters the last time, though they can't prove it. What next? B

Las Vegas. Okay, never a GOOD show, but this year it seems to be floundering over what it wants to do. They blew up the casino the end of last year, but I don't see what difference it made. Will watch as long as Josh Duhamel is on though. C

Tuesday - Bones. I only saw three shows, then baseball. Will give it another chance when it comes back on. David Boreanaz with stubble. Yum. C

My Name Is Earl. I verrrrry rarely watch sitcoms, but this one is HI-larious. Yes, white trash humor, but so unique and funny. LOVED the episode where he'd faked his own death instead of breaking up with a girl. A+

Wednesday - Lost. Love love love it. Am looking forward to the meeting of the groups, the discovery of what happened to the other survivors, the "where's Walt" mystery. A

Invasion. I'm liking this series over time, though again I wonder how long the premise can drag out. The sheriff is just creepy, and the blonde is intriguing. And there's Russ. I'm seeing a pattern here. B+

Thursday - Alias. I have to admit I've only seen the first episode and I was upset. I have the last three on tape, will report when I've seen them. C

Night Stalker. I used to love this show when I was a girl. the cases are intriguing, if gross, and Stuart Townsend misses being handsome, by what, I don't know. C-

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The Year I Was Born

Yes, I'm old.

In 1966 (the year you were born)

Lyndon B. Johnson is president of the US

As part of nationwide protest against the Vietnam War, demonstrations are staged all over the US

In Miranda vs. Arizona, the Supreme Court rules that criminal suspects must be apprised of their rights before interrogation

US planes begin bombing of the Hanoi area of North Vietnam

Controversial American comedian Lenny Bruce is found dead of a drug overdose in his home

John Lennon says, "We are more popular than Jesus" sparking controversy in the US

The first black Senator is elected to the United States Senate

Cindy Crawford, Janet Jackson, Mike Tyson, Halle Berry, Adam Sandler, and Kiefer Sutherland are born

Baltimore Orioles win the World Series

Green Bay Packers win the NFL championship

Montreal Canadiens win the Stanley Cup

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is the top grossing film

Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann is published

Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys and Sounds of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel are released

Star Trek and The Newlywed Game premiere

What Happened the Year You Were Born?

More cool things for your blog at

What Broadway Musical Are You?

Miss Saigon
Miss Saigon

What Broadway Musical Do You Belong in?
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Movies as Inspiration

Michele mentioned the other day that Proof of Life inspired her story.

I have several stories inspired by movies, some from just a line, some from characters. I also have some pretty fun sounding ideas (they’re always fun until you start writing them, right?) that I got from movies.

There’s one from Collateral Damage, the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie that was put on hold after 9/11, about terrorists from South America. He ends up going to South America and rescuing the wife of a terrorist. I would totally change the whole twist, and no Arnold, but I think that would be a fun story to write.

Moulin Rouge is another one, only I’d make it modern day. And in Las Vegas. And give it a happy ending.

I’m breaking my own rule of three here – I can’t think of another one – and I have ideas out the wahzoo.

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The Director of my Life

Sofia Coppola
Your film will be 64% romantic, 25% comedy, 24% complex plot, and a $ 31 million budget.
Relatively inexperienced (The Virgin Suicides, Lost In Translation) as a director, but already highly respected and connected -- her dad, Francis, directed all The Godfather movies, Apocolypse Now. Also, at last word she's dating Quentin Tarantino, so I'm sure he'll have some input into the substance of your film. Sofia's good at making the romantic drama that is your life. Who didn't have at least a lump in the throat at the end of Lost In Translation? She's already won one Academy Award for her writing, now she'll be the first woman to receive one for directing -- YOUR FILM!

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 88% on action-romance
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 19% on humor
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 2% on complexity
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 25% on budget
Link: The Director Who Films Your Life Test written by bingomosquito on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test


I got sucked into watching Invasion. The hurricane drew me. The first two episodes didn’t connect, but now I’m hooked.

Is it the question about the aliens?


Is it because I can’t understand how Larkin has so much in the eyebrow department and the sheriff has so little?


Is it the hunky actor in the role of Russ?

Uhhhh….welllll….not entirely.

It’s the subtext, specifically between Russ, his ex wife and the sheriff. The two families share custody of the kids so they interact a lot. I missed the first show, so I don’t know if it explained what happened to Russ and Mariel’s marriage. But now they’re both married to other people, but are forced to deal with each other every day. There’s a hint of tenderness there, I think, a hint of pain, when Russ and Mariel are together. And when Russ and Tom are together, they speak civilly to each other, work together, but there is an underlying animosity there.

I want that in Hot Shot, where I have a similar dynamic (minus the kids).

In TV shows and movies, subtext is so much easier to get across, I think. You can convey the subtext in the tones of voice, in the body language, while the characters are talking about something else. How do you get it across in the written word?

I think to a certain extent you can do it in body language, the characters who long for each other leaning toward each other, characters who mistrust each other squaring their shoulders, tensing up when the other person approaches. I suppose to a certain extent, you could use it in tone of voice.

If it was in internal dialogue, in character POV, that would be cheating, right? It wouldn’t be subtext anymore? Am I understanding this right?

Do you use subtext in your work? How? And is it on purpose?

This article talks about it much better than I can.


I was going to put up a picture of the Invasion hunk, but I just couldn't do it ;)

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I've got tears in my eyes....

Check out Candy's post - To Write or Not to Write. Do not read while drinking or eating.

Warner Women


I gave Colleen an EASY one, so she sent me back this toughie.


A - Age you got your first real kiss: 14

B - Band listening to right now: uhhhh, I just made an 80s CD, so quite the variety, from Adam Ant to Elvis Costello to the Ramones.

C - Crush: Please. Gerry.

D - Dad's name: John

E - Easiest person to talk to: Cindi. Trish. Robyn. JoAnn.

F - Favorite bands at the moment: uhhhh….

H - Hometown: San Antonio

J- Kindergarten: St. Pius X

K - Kids: 1

L - Longest car ride ever: going down PCH after having something like 4 glasses of tea. Couldn’t get to a bathroom till Big Sur. The hippie lady in front of me very kindly gave me cuts.

M - Mom's name: Mary (yeah, we're Catholic. We're all Marys.)

N - Nicknames: Ohhhh, no. Not even.


P - Phobia[s]: birds, closed spaces

Q - Quote: "Glory lies in the attempt to reach one's goal and not in reaching it." Ghandi

I was looking for a quote from MY NAME IS EARL, but couldn’t find one I wanted. That show is a hoot, though.

R - Reason(s) to smile: The dh won an Emmy, I won a contest, I got an agent, I had a great weekend.

S - Song you sang last: I’m alllllllllways singing – my pets each have their own song, so hard to say.

T - Time you woke up [today]: 5 AM

U - Unknown fact about me: Uhhh, do I have secrets?? Lessee....I can pick things up with my toes.

V - Vegetable you hate: um, all of them? Corn, mostly.

X - X-rays you've had: hip

Z - Zodiac sign: Taurus

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Michele, Bonnie and Kendra, you're next!

Characters I Wish I'd Created

So yesterday, it was stories I wish I’d created. Today, characters I wish I had created.

Sawyer. Wicked bad boy.

Jason Bourne from The Bourne Identity and Jack Bauer from 24. I would love to know what makes those two tick.

Jamie Fraser from Outlander. How wonderful to have so many women fall in love with a hero you created.

William of Dunashie, my all time favorite hero from Winter Roses.

Any of Virginia Kantra’s O’Neill brothers.

Damien. (ahem)

Jack Sparrow.

Mike Logan from Law and Order.

Hmmm, all men. What about women?



Okay, what about the heroine from SEP’s Kiss an Angel?

Or any of Jennifer Crusie’s heroines?

The heroine of Nora’s Black Rose.

Carol Hathaway from ER.

Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City.

What about you?

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The International Symbol of Marriage

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Stories I wish I'd written

Do you ever see a commercial, or hear a blurb, and think, "MAN, I wish I'd thought of that?" I usually do this with stories that are along the line with what I like to write, so while I DO wish I'd written Harry Potter, or Lemony Snicket, there's not just a real good chance I could've.

LOST is right up my alley. I could never do it the justice JJ is doing it, though.

That movie Coronado that was on the other night, on the Hallmark channel - I wish I'd written that. Of course, that's sight unseen. It may not be anything that I'd like, but the commercials looked good.

Some episodes of Angel, especially the early ones, like where he had to protect the pregnant girl from the demons - I wish I'd written that.

You know, there were a lot more when I came up with this idea.

Is there something out there you wish you'd written?

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I won, too!

I just got a call that I won Where the Magic Begins long contemporary category with Beneath the Surface! Don't know if I got a request, didn't want to be presumptuous, but I'm still quite excited!! Adrian has finalled in 2 contests and won them both!

Post 200 - Movies I'm looking forward to

Wow, 200 posts since the end of May - I am blogging goddess!

Here are some movies I'm looking forward to over the next few months.

Batman Begins comes out on Tuesday. That's an auto-buy for us. It was a great movie.

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Bewitched comes out the following week. I'm not a Will Farrell fan, but it looks cute. A rental, though.

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Zorro comes to theaters that Friday - I'm THERE.

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The next week, November 1, comes out that Sith movie. We'll be buying it. I may watch it one more time. I really didn't like it.

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On November 15th, The Skeleton Key, Madagascar and Stealth come out. Rentals.

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On November 18th, HARRY POTTER at the theaters!!!! Can't wait!!!!

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The 22nd is The Polar Express and War of the Worlds. Rentals.

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The 29th is Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Sorry, Jennifer Aniston, I'm buying it. I loved that movie.

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Also that date are Sky High, March of the Penguins and Their Eyes Were Watching God.

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December 6 are Cinderella Man and Fantastic Four.

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December 9, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is at theaters.

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December 14, King Kong!!!! JoAnn, Adrien is in it.

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December 20, The Brothers Grimm on DVD.

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And January 3, The Wedding Crashers on DVD.

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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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