Stephanie Tyler SOLD!!!

Go congratulate her!!!

Stephanie Tyler - Military Romance Author

TBR Challenge - New To Me Author

Title: Bitten and Smitten

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Author: Michelle Rowen

Year published: 2005? The end?

Why did you get this book? I’ve heard a lot of good things about it, and even though I’m not much into vampire books, I thought I’d give it a shot.

Do you like the cover? Yes.

Did you enjoy the book? LOVED it! It was so much fun, a great voice, several laugh out loud moments. I highly recommend this book, and I’ve already got her next book on order!

Was the author new to you and would you read something by this author again? See above ;)

Are you keeping it or passing it on? I passed it on to a good home.

Anything else? Even if you don’t like vampires, you will love this book.

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Not enough chocolate

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Came home from an afternoon at the doctor's after finding out I need a mammogram AND an out-patient surgery to see I have THREE rejections on Hot Shot. Got the dh to bring home dinner, emphasizing the need for COOKIES. CHOCOLATE COOKIES. Of all the sandwiches, mine was burned, and he brought home three cookies. One for each of us. NOT ENOUGH CHOCOLATE. So I bought Grey's Anatomy on DVD. That'll teach him.

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So now that we’ve fantasized the call, let’s fantasize about our covers.

Name: Big and Bold. On top, on bottom, it doesn’t matter because it’s your name. And it’s on the cover of a book.

Title: Big and Bold. Your title. The one you worked through this book with. The one you finalled in contests with. The one people will look at and say, “Oh, yeah, I heard about this book.”

Colors: For Hot Shot, I want reds and oranges and blacks. It’s about wildfire, after all. A George Clooney-esque hero, sweaty in a yellow fireshirt, or in a black t-shirt. Maybe carrying two little girls as he does in one scene. A blonde heroine with a straight ponytail coming out of her hard hat. Maybe in the background looking at the hero, maybe by his side. I’d prefer a photograph-style cover, but I just hope it’s good.

For Surface, blues and greens. Ocean, a dive boat, beach in the background, a Gerard Butler-esque hero on the deck in a wetsuit or an undershirt stretched tight across his chest. Maybe standing behind the blonde heroine, his hands on her shoulders, looking down at her.

For Don’t Look Back, greens and browns. Jungle-looking. An army truck, maybe, a washed out dirt road. A drenched Gerard Butler-esque hero looking longingly at a soaked Evangeline Lily-esque heroine. Steam, heat apparent in all of it.

Quotes: This was actually what my post was going to be about before I got carried away by my imagination. My friend Robyn has a quote by Pam Morsi. Julie Ortolon has a quote from Virginia Henley. Virginia Kantra has a quote from *gasp* Suzanne Brockmann.

Who would you want your quote from, if you could pick an author? I would love Suzanne Brockmann (hardly likely, especially after my comments about Max). Cherry Adair, maybe. Someone who has a similar style to me.

So tell me about your fantasy cover!

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I Miss Contests

I miss contests. I miss the deadlines, the “notify by” dates, getting the packets back. Okay, yes, I still have three more: Duel, The Emily and the big ‘un, but I’m having serious withdrawal when it comes to printing, mailing, waiting. Sad, huh? But the good thing about contests is you always know when the wait is over. Not the same with submissions. But alas, I have no good motivation to enter contests anymore.

You can see the progress bar is inching (millimetering?) along. I am writing and it feels better. Reading Virginia Kantra’s RS really helped to see the romance/suspense thing. It had a hair too much lusting for me, but it certainly will be on my keeper shelf.

I did a Google search on Gerard Butler Bandwagon and would you believe Michele and Trish’s blogs came up before mine? Michele’s was on page 8 and Trish’s was on page 9 and mine was on page 10!

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Olympic (and Writing) Dreams

2 B Read: Olympic (and Writing) Dreams

The Call - A Fantasy

You fantasize about it. The fantasy may change from day to day, but it’s always there in the back of your mind, every time you send something out there.

What day will it come?

What time?

Where will you be?

Who will you call first?

How will you word the email/blog announcing your news to the world?

I’ve spent the past three weeks with my cell phone always within reach. That’s how long it’s been since I heard Hot Shot was out with editors. I have my agents’ phone number programmed into the phone so I’ll know when it’s her. I may have a heart attack when I see the caller ID, and never get that call, but I’m ready. And when 4 PM rolls around, (5 PM EST), I feel letdown. No call today.

Doesn’t stop me from dreaming, though.

My current fantasy:

I’ll be in class. The phone will ring. My students will look at me. I will check the ID. I’ll see Emily’s number and my heart will pound. My eyes will blur. I’ll manage to tell the kids this is very important and I’ll sit down and take the call. Emily will say the book is going to auction. I’ll scream. My best friend across the hall will run in to see what’s going on. I’ll manage to tell her it’s my agent, and she’ll understand and start grinning, and I’ll be crying and not hear a word Emily says. I’ll hang up and hug Cindi and hug my kids and grab the other teachers in the hallway and maybe the principal and then I’ll remember to call Fred. After I call him and he promises to take me to dinner, all choked up like, I’ll call my writer friends who are programmed into the phone. I’ll hope it’s toward the end of the day because I won’t be able to get anything else done.

And I already know what my emails/blog entry will say. I stole it from Sex and the City two years ago. Be on the lookout for it!

I believe in the power of positive thinking. One ordinary day I will head to work and my life will be different when I come home.

Or, it could happen over Spring Break ;)

So what’s your fantasy? Or if you've already gotten The Call,how did it happen? You can post it here or on your blog and let me know – I’ll come lookin’!

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Larissa SOLD!

Go congratulate her!!!

Larissa Ione | My Soapbox

Character Voice

When I started Don’t Look Back, one of my critique partners got really excited. She said we just had to make sure that my hero and heroine had different voices and the book would be golden. She went on to explain that men think differently than women, that even his internal thoughts and observations needed to sound different from the heroine’s. I knew this, but this was the first time I consciously went into a story thinking about this.

I don’t see it in the book I’m listening to, but maybe it’s listening to a book instead of reading it that makes things pop. The characters all sound the same, and it’s not because there are only two readers. They all use the same kind of language, like, “Yeah, okay, so…” and “Something something much?” Buffy speak, in other words. I have to consciously think about whose POV we’re in. One character’s speech and thoughts are a little more Buffy-esque, but the hero has a lot of those thoughts, too, which is kind of surprising. I mean, he’s this really intelligent older guy, right?

I was reading another book recently where the hero was “delighted” and “thrilled” by the heroine. He was a big, bad spy. I can’t imagine my husband, who’s pretty Beta, using those words, much less an alpha male.

Do you notice these things as you read, or is it just my recent awareness that makes them stand out for me?

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Yeah, I am!

You are: Rogue, from the X-Men movies.

What Movie Heroine Are You?
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Cameron Crowe movies

I was going to blog about Cameron Crowe movies until I realized I’ve only seen four. But all but one have made an impression, so maybe I’ll go ahead.

His first movie was Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Most people remember Spiccoli, much to Sean Penn’s regret. I remember Judge Reinhold’s character, Brad. Kind of a sad sack, responsible (remember the pirate hat?), the kind of guy you’d turn to if you needed help, like his sister did. I remember being stunned by the abortion subject matter, and crying for his sister and her broken heart. On the edges of my memory are the checkered Vans and the pizza being delivered to the classroom, but what stayed with me was the captured teen-aged angst. It was also a soundtrack movie, which is another defining feature of a Cameron Crowe movie.

I didn’t see The Wild Life, Cameron’s second movie. I may have, but forgot it. And, believe it or not, I STILL haven’t seen Say Anything, the John Cusack movie with the Peter Gabriel song, “In Your Eyes.”

But Singles...oh, I love that movie. I love Campbell Scott, the regular guy who falls in love with Kyra Sedgwick. Yeah, there was Bridget Fonda and Matt Dillon (with long hair, OMG) but I loved the story of Steve and Linda. They were so happy, then tragedy, but then...Cameron Crowe writes happy endings. And that soundtrack – I think we’re on our third copy.

I saw Jerry Maguire, but mostly didn’t like it. I’ve never been a Tom Cruise fan, way before Katie. I will admit...happy ending.

I kinda saw Almost Famous when it was on TV once. Another soundtrack movie. I will be adding it to the queue, though.

Didn’t see Vanilla Sky, but may I say – I never expected to see CC’s name attached to THAT one.

But last night I saw Elizabethtown. Now, it is a story about a guy, and there’s a romance, so it’s talky. There’s a scene where there’s nothing BUT talk. I don’t like Kirsten Dunst, but I loved this movie. I loved this movie. Let me say it one more time – I loved this movie. How cute was Orlando Bloom? The boy has one devastation on top of another, but learns so much about himself. And the last thirty minutes – I was smiling AND crying. It was wonderful. Happy ending AND a great soundtrack. Watch it, and tell me what you think.

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Man, yesterday was a hard day. I was so tense during the testing that today I feel like I've been hit by a truck.

So, here's a cheat.


Khakis: What you need to start the car in Boston.

Crick: The sound that a Japanese camera makes

Energizer Bunny arrested - charged with battery.

A pessimist's blood type is always b-negative

Practice safe eating - always use condiments.

A Freudian slip is when you say one thing but mean your mother.

Shotgun wedding: A case of wife or death.

I used to work in a blanket factory, but it folded.

If electricity comes from electrons... does that mean that morality comes from morons?

A hangover is the wrath of grapes.

Corduroy pillows are making headlines.

Is a book on voyeurism a peeping tome?

Banning the bra was a big flop.

Sea captains don't like crew cuts.

Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?

A successful diet is the triumph of mind over platter.

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

A gossip is someone with a great sense of rumor.

Without geometry, life is pointless.

When you dream in color, it's a pigment of your imagination.

Reading whilst sunbathing makes you well-red.

When two egotists meet, it's an I for an I.

Alarms: What an octopus is.

Dockyard: A physician's garden.

Incongruous: Where bills are passed.

Pasteurize: Too far to see.

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Cozy Mysteries

I grew up reading Trixie Belden mysteries. I’d read a Nancy Drew if I was desperate, but my first love was always Trixie and the gang.

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So before I found romance, my first love was the mystery.

I’ve read every Mary Higgins Clark, and all but the last two of Lillian Jackson Braun’s The Cat Who books. I love the community LJB has created in her books. And of course, I love cats. Especially ones with extra whiskers.

My favorite mysteries, though, are the cozies written by Anne George , the Southern Sisters mysteries. The Southern Sisters are “Mouse,” Patricia Ann and “Sister,” Mary Alice two elderly ladies who find themselves in strange situations, usually because of eccentric Mary Alice, who’s married and buried a number of husbands but kept their bank accounts. We live the mysteries through Patricia Ann’s eyes, the steady sister. There are a number of other characters, Fred, Patricia Anne’s husband, her daughter Haley, and cousin Pukey Lukey.

These stories are an absolute hoot. Set in Birmingham in the shadow of the Vulcan statue, these books have a strong Southern flavor. So many things remind me of things my grandmother has said, and she read all the books before she died. The books are fun, and sweet, and I’ve given them away to recruit new readers, only to buy them again.

Another series I’m interested in is the Knights Templar series by Michael Jecks. Has anyone read that? What do you think? (Like I need more books to read. Please.)

EDITED TO ADD: I completely forgot another series - Carrie Bebris writes a series with Darcy and Elizabeth as sleuths! It is so adorable!

I also blogged at Wet Noodle Posse today about testing.

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Six Weeks

It's been six weeks since I've written. Six weeks. Three weeks since I've spoken to my agent about the changes she wants to DLB, two weeks since my critique group meeting and I still haven't gotten to work on it.

I'll open the file (a new one, so I still have the old one as back up), stare at it awhile, and then find something more pressing to do, like check my Blockbuster queue.

I'll take my notebook to the big chair in the back room so I'm not distracted by the internet, and then decide to judge a contest entry instead.

I'll go to bed at nine, thinking I'll wake up early, but I won't.

I have no sense of urgency to write. I know Emily won't send this one out till Hot Shot has run its course or sells, so I don't feel pressed. I have ideas, and books to revise, and ideas how to revise them, but I don't feel like writing them. I'd rather read or watch movies or TV. I don't even think a challenge would give me the kick I need. I know the great comments I got from Launching a Star didn't help. I even made a collage, which was more my way of pretending I was working on the story than anything else.

If I didn't have an agent, I feel that for the first time, I could walk away from writing. Scary, huh?

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Heroes you just want to....

Kick in the butt.

I have a confession – I don’t like Max Bhagat from Breaking Point. I think Gina can do way better than him. He’s whiny and closed off, and really, who wants a guy who only comes to his senses when he thinks you’re dead? I’m on Disc 5, and I’m liking Leslie much more. Come to think of it, I didn’t like Sam, either. Or Alyssa.

I’ve run into a rash of unsympathetic heroes lately. One in a recent contest I judged. He was so angry, when everything was his fault anyway. There was not one redeeming thing about him. I just wanted to scream to the wonderful, spunky heroine to Run Away.

Then I was reading Entertainment Weekly, the Harrison Ford interview. Oh, my goodness, the man is a – a – well, he’s no Han Solo. He was just downright cranky. Ugh.

And Sawyer. JJ, JJ, what are you doing with Sawyer? The frog – not the frog! How can he have felt so tender toward Kate – remember how he was trying to get to her when The Others had her – and then smush the frog? (I know, he’s done worse, but that was just damning from my point of view.)

EDITED TO ADD: I don't even want to see Two for the Money because I just can't see the characters as having redeeming qualities.

So, any thoughts on these fellows? Add some of your own?

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I got a Valentine yesterday from my aunt Babby. Her real name is Beverly, but I couldn't say it when I was little, so she was Babby. And as I said uncle as "Bubba," they were Bubba and Babby.

Bubba and Babby were high school sweethearts. He was drum major, she was majorette. Her older sister married the boy next door to my grandparents. They were voted as couple most likely to something.

I loved Bubba and Babby. They were about a year and a half younger than my mom, who was pretty young herself, but Bubba and Babby were YOUNG. My earliest memories were of the late 60s, early 70s. Babby drove a VW Bug and had hair down to the floor. Bubba had sideburns. And though they didn't live far away, getting to see them was FUN.

Babby bought me tickets to my first concert, Captain and Tennille. Bubba was the first person to ever read anything I wrote. They bought me gorgeous gold earrings for my birthday that made me feel so grown up. When we were in a car accident, they were the first ones at the hospital to look after me. She loved me, and I admired the hell out of her. She was a college student, she was smart and funny, she spoke her mind, she was the Modern Woman.

She and my uncle divorced in the late 70s, and Babby moved away. I've only seen her a few times since, three, maybe, but I send her a Christmas card every year. She writes back sometimes. It's so sad how divorce removes someone once so important from your life. And it's sad how foolishly happy her letter made me feel. What a bond we must have formed those early years of my life.

I wish I had a picture of her to post, especially her long hair. So, you'll have to deal with GB.

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Go tell Dana Happy Birthday!

Diary of an aspiring romance writer


I've been watching a few movies the past few weeks. Most are just meh. One I really did like.

I watched Just Like Heaven last night since My Name is Earl wasn't on. I really, really liked this movie. I don't want to reveal too much because I think part of what I liked were the twists, but usually the endings of romance movies leave me thinking it could have been better. This one was spot on perfect. Now, there was one thing that bothered me a little, but I was able to overlook it because I just liked the movie so much. Mark Ruffalo was a perfect beta hero. I'd like him better if he didn't sound so much like Ray Romano, though.

On Valentine's Day, we watched The Corpse Bride and The Constant Gardner. I know, I know, but we'd had them for over a week, and, well, I want Elizabethtown.

The Corpse Bride was....disturbing. I didn't really like The Nightmare Before Christmas, and this one is even darker. (My students love it, I had to see it. I can't believe it.) The songs were good, and as my husband kept pointing out, it was a romance (with a worthy love triangle, actually - you didn't know which bride to pull for) but I guess I just couldn't get past the darkness of it.

The Constant Gardner was very bleak. I love Rachel Weisz (and she got nominated because she was playing a 24 year old and she's 32 - better than the other way around, yes?) and I love movies about Africa. The way the suspense was layered in this one was good. But the color was very washed out, the subject matter very dark, and if you're watching for Ralph Fiennes, he didn't have much of a role until about an hour in. I spent a lot of time thinking, "I know where they got the title. No, I don't." If you know how they got the title, let me know!

In keeping with the Africa theme, I also saw Lord of War recently. You know how there was a bit of humor in the previews? Not any in the movie. Nicholas Cage is a terrific bad guy, though, and I'm going to take bits of him for my villain in the dream book. But it's violent and disturbing, especially the twist at the end.

I found out Walk the Line will be on DVD at the end of the month, as well as Pride and Prejudice. I'm also looking forward to seeing Elizabethtown (how was it, JoAnn?) and Prime (the one with Meryl Streep as the therapist and Uma Thurman as her patient, only Uma's having an affair with Streep's son).

What have you seen lately, and what are you looking forward to?

And since I saw Lost last night, here's a yummy pic.

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How Do Bookstores Make You Feel?

We didn't have big bookstores here until about 10 years ago, just the ones in the mall. Now we have two Borders and a Barnes and Nobles within 15 minutes of our house. I don't go there often, because I buy most of my books online. But when I do go, I have mixed feelings, being a writer.

Some days I go in and get energized, thinking, "When my book comes out, it will be on this table, and right here on the shelf, and I'll come sign it and sticker it, and my friends from other places in the country will see it, and squeal, and telll the people around them that they know the author." I come home raring to write, to get my book out the door and one step closer to that place on the shelf.

Other days, I get completely overwhelmed by all the books out there. How can I possibly compete with all these authors and sell my book to a publishing house, much less to a customer? (Yeah, thanks, Trish, I hadn't thought how my book would stand out till YOU mentioned it ;) ) Instead of going home fired up to write, I try to figure out how many authors work for each house and where my odds of selling are the greatest. Sad really.

So how do bookstores make you feel?

We lost electricity for about an hour last night, so I'm running late, and I have two meetings today and one tomorrow. Bleh.

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I'm listening to Breaking Point on audio CD now that I've listened to all the relevant workshops from 2004 and 2005. Now, I mostly love Suzanne Brockmann, so I'm thinking the reason this book is not pulling me in is the reader. He has a Casey Kasem voice. Now, some of you may not know Casey Kasem, but his voice is kinda....well.....whiny. I think Suzanne Brockmann books should be read by some guy with a deep, smooth voice, so you can kind of hear the hero talking. Of course, this is Max, who is not my favorite character, but he'd have more of a chance with me if he had a nice voice. The same narrator read Hot Target and the one before this....can't remember the title. But I'm ready to chuck the CD and just add the book to my TBR.

I've listened to a lot of audio CDs and some are dead on perfect. Caroline McCormack (the original psychologist from Law and Order) read some of Nora's earlier single titles and did a great job. The first three Stephanie Plums had two different actresses with Jersey accents that were great. The Bet Me audio book was great. The Da Vinci Code was good.

Now, don't think this bad experience will put me off audio books. Jennifer Crusie's new one will be out soon, and I think I have a Susan E. Phillips on my MP3 player. I have an hour commute, round trip, and "reading" in the car makes it bearable.

What's your take on audiobooks? Any recommendations?

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Main Page - RomanceWiki

Have y'all heard about this?

Main Page - RomanceWiki

Favorite Love Songs

Happy Valentine's Day!!

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May your day be romantically wonderful.

In honor of the holiday, which I don't really celebrate as any different than any other day, I've compiled a list of favorite love songs.

1) "Everything I Do, I Do For You" from Robin Hood, by Bryan Adams
Because of these words: "I would fight for you - I'd lie for you, walk the wire for you - Yeah, I'd die for you!"

2) "Have You Really Ever Loved a Woman" from Don Juan De Marco, by Bryan Adams
Because of these words: "You've gotta breathe her - really taste her til you can feel her in your blood, abd when you can see your unborn children in her eyes, you know you really love a woman."

3) One by U2
Okay, the lyrics, not so romantic, but the feel of the song is so sexy.

4) All I Want Is You by U2
Another sexy song. I just want to believe Bono wrote this for Allison - they've been married for a million years.

5) Black by Pearl Jam
The whole song! What longing, what pain! Why can't I write like that?

6) Save a Prayer by Duran Duran
I love the feel of this song, and these words: "Pretty looking road, try to hold the rising floods that fill my skin. Don't ask me why I'll keep my promise, melt the ice. And you wanted to dance so I asked you to dance, but fear is in your soul. Some people call it a one night stand but we can call it paradise."

7) In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel
Oh. My. God. "In your eyes, the light the heat, in your eyes I am complete; in your eyes, I see the doorway to a thousand churches, in your eyes, the resolution of all the fruitless searches. In your eyes I see the light and the heat. In your eyes, oh, I want to be that complete. I want to touch the light the heat I see in your eyes." Sing it, Peter!

8) Lovesong by The Cure. The whole thing. Sigh.

9) Chances Are - the duet with Bob Seger and Martina McBride, also recorded by Robert Downey Jr and Vonda Shepard.
All of it. Plus, I love Duetsd

10) The Time of My Life by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes from Dirty Dancing

11) To Make You Feel My Love lyrics by Garth Brooks from the Hope Floats soundtrack

12) Your Song and Come What May from Moulin Rouge

13) When I Fall in Love from Sleepless in Seattle

14) I Will Always Love You - the Dolly Parton version

15) This I Promise You by N Sync

16) Always on My Mind and Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain by Willie Nelson

17) Crazy for You by Madonna

18) Take My Breath Away by Berlin, from Top Gun

19) Somebody to Love by Queen - love Freddy Mercury's voice

20) We Belong by Pat Benatar.

What do you have to add?

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Pregnant Heroines

I've never written a pregnant heroine. Okay, wait, there was one, in my first book, but she was like one of three heroines. I've never really seen the appeal.

Only in my dream book (the one I dreamed about), the heroine is pregnant. Newly pregnant, and the daddy is not the hero. I don't think.

So I'm thinking about how I need to craft her differently. I'm thinking the pregnancy makes her more vulnerable, yes? More feminine, maybe? (She's a spy.) It makes the men around her want to protect her, even the bad guy.

Have you written a pregnant heroine? What else do I need to consider?

And yes, I'm supposed to be working on a different story, why do you ask?

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Post Number 365

I've made a year's worth of posts in 9 months. Am I an overachiever or WHAT?

Trish is on her way home after her "culinary tour" of San Antonio. We had so much fun and found out we're eerily alike - same pajamas AND the same sweater! Now, back to work :(

Did anyone see the bit about RWA on the CBS Morning Show this morning? It was pretty good, pretty positive. Always gotta love Nora. I was looking for familiar faces and only saw Gail Barrett.

April tagged me, so at least I don't have to think very hard about what I'm going to write.

Four jobs I've had
clerk at Winn's, the local 5 and Dime that went out of business many moons ago. I worked in the fabric department and spent most of my paycheck on fabric.
drug clerk at Eckerd's - glad I got out before the explosion of HMOs. Back then, there were just two.
Haagen Dazs at the airport. Lasted two days and never went back. That was hard! Then you'd have hours of nothing to do, then a plane would deboard and you'd have a line out the door!

Four movies I watch over and over
The Mummy
Pirates of the Carribean
Two Weeks Notice
Pride and Prejudice (BBC)

Four places I've lived
Sunnyvale, CA
Clinton, OK
San Antonio, TX - that's it

Four TV shows I love (or have loved)
Alias (before she dumped Michael V. like an idiot and ruined the show)
My Name is Earl

Four places I've vacationed
Grand Canyon
New York
New Orleans

Four favorite foods
potatoes in most varieties

Four sites I visit daily
eharl boards
wetnoodleposse blog
Trish's blog

Four places I'd rather be right now
In bed... (many late nights of watching movies)
Somewhere where it's actually snowing... (ironically, Trish came down to get someplace warm)
okay, that's all I can think of!

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How Cheap Are You?

When I was cleaning house last week, I learned that I'm pretty cheap. I'm not a pack rat, really, but I have trouble throwing some things away, since you never know when you might need them.

-safety pins from the dry cleaners. They're nice and big and every year we have Red Ribbon week at school, and they're perfect for pinning the ribbons on the kids. Never mind that it takes me a year to collect enough, when it would cost, what, a dollar and a half to buy some?

- any plastic container that seals. Forget Glad (though I have some of those, too.) The Country Crock container is perfect for taking leftovers to school

- cups from restaurants, the big plastic ones with the name of the restaurant. I don't even like drinking from plastic cups, but hey, they're proof you've BEEN to the restaurant

- bread ties. I have never ever found a use for these outside what they're designed for. Still, I keep them.

- jars. No idea why.

- plastic cutlery

- bags from the grocery store. I have a tube to keep these in, and use them to take my lunch (even though I have a very cool lunchbox from Cafe Press) and occasionally use them to clean the litter.

What do you save, and why?

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The Worst Things About Being a Writer

Rejections....revisions....writer's block.....

All terrible.

Professional jealousy, frustration when you know you've done the best you can do....


Being sure you got a soda but having no idea where you put it, getting home and not remembering how because your head is in the story, now that is scary.

Trish and I went to breakfast at Guenther House where we stuffed ourselves with huge biscuits, did the mission trail, were STARVING, so went to HEB for snacks. We came home, pigged out, vegged, then went out for barbecue with my brother and his wife. Talked a LOT. Came home and watched The Alamo, and now I've got to go to work :(

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The Best Thing About Being a Writer

You know, since I came up with this topic, the best thing has changed for me about a half dozen times. When I first thought about it, I was thinking I loved the ideas part, the brainstorming, the thrill of the new story, of new love. I love that part.

There's also the excitement of sending something out, with the hope of hearing good news. There's the thrill of validation when you final in a contest. There's the HOPE that one day, it's all going to change.

Then, last weekend, I got to spend hours TALKING about writing. Have you ever just needed that? Talking to people who are like you? I mean, we do it a lot here, and I do it a lot in email groups and such, but it's different in real time. You can share enthusiasm and frustrations so much more clearly. I look forward to more of that today as Trish and I hit the mission trail!

This week, though, the best thing about being a writer is other writers. You guys and the Wet Noodle Posse have been AWESOME this week helping me with Don't Look Back. Trish Morey had a great suggestion, and I'm going to work it through over the next few days and see what comes. I've learned so much from Dee, from Robyn, from Mary Beth, from everybody who's chimed in. Guys, I've been teaching for 17 years and I've never had such support as I do in the writing community. You rock!

Trish and I stayed up till 1 AM watching Kate and Leopold, and today we're going to breakfast and sightseeing (this is a treat for me because I haven't been to the missions in years.) The funny thing we discovered today - we both have the same pajamas!

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Decorating Styles

I thought it would be fun, since Trish is coming today, to talk about decorating styles.

When I first married, as a child of 20, I liked the country style. My mother and I pored over country magazines, everyone we could find. I collected teddy bears and tried every handcraft there was, which I shamelessly displayed in our first loft apartment. My poor honey, 21 and with teddy bears all over the house. At least they weren't pink. But everything that I could find in country blue, I bought. Remember the wooden ducks with the bent heads looking down? Had those. Scherenschnitte was displayed in cheap frames from Michael's. Every weekend Mom and I would go shopping, and something else was added. In the fall, there were arts and crafts shows, and my favorite purchase was a pair of Amish dolls. So I had a collection of things Amish, too.

You can imagine how cluttered, and what fun to clean.

We moved into a second apartment, smaller than the first, and I had to cut out the teddy bears.

Then we moved into a house that we rented. Around this time I decided I liked the southwest style. I had a cactus cookie jar, southwestern print curtains, everything in peach and dusty green. Wooden coyotes, strings of jalapenos, you name it, I had it.

When we moved into this house, I was tired of dusting. Plus, we have a sun room off the back. Perfect for garden decorating. So, currently, I have glass terrariums, gazing balls, watering cans, garden statues, bird houses, etc. I probably have more of these than the other stuff, but at least now it's all spread out.

Before I go, I have to tell you the dream I had. I dreamed Monique Patterson (St. Martin's Press, right? That's the spotlight I listened to yesterday) called me at work and was talking to me about DLB, and how excited she was to read it. Now, meanwhile, my kids are on their own, and a group of people from main office come in and are making notes on my class, and I'm not in there because I'm on the phone with an editor who might buy my book, and I just knew I was going to get in trouble, but what could I say? Then Monique kind of disappeared (I think she was reading the book when she was talking to me) so I hung up and prayed she'd call back, and went into my class. I didn't get in trouble, but I knew I was going to. What a way to wake up!

Okay, I've got to go. It's almost 6:30, I'm not dressed, haven't made lunch or done one last straighten, and I have duty today!

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The Day Job

I love my day job. I do. It's only taken me 17 years to get to this point. BUT for the past couple of weeks, the day job has been in the way.

I want to write. I NEED to write. But I have this new thing - I need quiet to get my head around things. Once I get going, you can drop a bomb and I wouldn't hear it, but to get started...and with two men who play guitar living in my house, peace is a rare commodity.

I did take a day off week before last and worked a bit on the dream book, but now with the changes my agent wants on this book, I need another. I envy those who don't have to worry about the commute, the schedule, the brain drain (How can teaching third grade be more exhausting than teaching fifth?)

I know, I'm lucky I love my job. I was talking to another writer who drives double and a half times what I drive every day. She's taken to recording her story on a tape recorder each way, then she goes home and types it in. At least that works against boredom AND brain drain.

I could sure use Spring Break right now. I know, I know, it's only a month away....

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Where's the Beef?

Twice this week I've been told my romance novels aren't romance novels. Once was by the critique group I met with yesterday, and the other was my agent, who told me Don't Look Back read more like a politcal thriller than a romance. When I went through and outlined it, I saw that there was a lot going on, but mostly there was a reason. But she wants me to build romance into it, and I'm wondering how.

I talked to my critique group and they pointed out the stages from lust to love:


I have those.

There are the 12 stages of intimacy:
Eye to body. The old once-over, except it happens in a fraction of an instant. Only a few significant details are absorbed. Attraction occurs or it doesn’t.
Eye to eye. Eye contact is sustained only between intimates. If a stranger stares, it's considered rude or an act of aggression.
Voice to voice. Ranges from small talk to intimate.
Hand to hand. This requires some trust. Hand to arm counts here, too (man's excuse to get his hands on her, by guiding her).
Arm to shoulder. May be a hug.
Arm to waist. Can be sexual, especially if "waist" is considered the small of the back. Men won't do this to other men.
Mouth to mouth. Full frontal contact during a kiss.
Hand to head. Requires trust.
Hand to body. Any body part –- breast, shoulder, chest…
Mouth to breast.
Hand to genitals.
Genitals to genitals.

I have those.

Robyn told me to make sure every scene needs to have something to do with the romance. Gulp. Not easy when you have hostages and timelines and warlords....

So what makes a romance romancey? I'm in serious trouble here, y'all.

EDITED TO ADD: I think I may have found part of a solution. I don't think I played up what's keeping them apart enough throughout the book. Maybe if I did that, it would be more romancey?

Here's Del.
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I spent yesterday outlining Don't Look Back. When I talked to my agent on Thursday, she said the book was too complex, and the only solution I could see to that was to strip it down to bare bones. It took all day and 6 pages. I sent it to her to see what she thinks and hopefully most of it can be salvaged.

Then I read the RWR article about outlining before you write a book. Even though I thought the tone was a little harsh, I'm going to try this. I have enough of both Midnight Sun and my dream book to get started. She said you don't have to know the whole book, so I'm taking her at her word. While I wait for Emily, I'm going to play with it, and we'll see what comes.

I may have used this picture before, but it's good enough to repeat.

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Oh, and I remembered another favorite couple! Mal and Inara from Firefly!

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It Never Fails

For some reason, this blog from yesterday disappeared! So if it turns up twice, you know why.

The one day you need your husband to pick up something from the grocery store on the way home, he works three hours late.

The first time you use your new insurance card, there's something wrong. Like no co-payment.

The book you've been waiting for for months comes available on as soon as you don't have any credits left.

The first time you've had company in months and your little boy kitty learns how to spray.

You make muffins to take to the potluck breakfast at work because after an hour at the doctor and another hour at the pharmacy, you have no desire to fight the crowds at the grocery store for hash brown ingredients, and your husband who worked late and couldn't get you the hash brown ingredients comes home AND EATS THE MUFFINS!

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Getting ready for a houseguest

So, the dh is fixing the floor in the kitchen, the one ruined by the leaking skylight (which was repaired 6 months ago), the floor which has been exposed for OVER A YEAR. We have not had people over because of the white trash plywood floor in OVER A YEAR. Thank God Trish is coming or it would never be fixed.

He’s pulling up broken tiles, and the sound is like nails on a chalkboard, swear to heaven. Driving me out of my mind. They wonder why I turned off the TV – not like I can HEAR it, right?

This weekend will be spent cleaning and doing laundry. I’ll be dusting places I haven’t dusted in years. I’ll be boxing up papers that I don’t know what to do with otherwise. I bought new towels but couldn't find a new welcome mat or sheets I liked.

I really want to buy a new faucet for the bathroom, but that might be pushing the dh a little too much.

So what do you do to get ready for a houseguest? You know, in case I forgot something?

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Rachel has some wonderful news!!!

Disappointing Movie Endings

I don't know why this came to mind when I was listening to a workshop on backstory (which is really good - Lynn Kerstan is a hoot, and she used to be a nun!) But I was thinking about Bridget Jones (the first) and how the ending really bugged me. So...Mark reads what she's written about him in her diary, storms buy her a new one? Is this not against everything we've known about him to this point? Was this jarring to anyone else? Now, I can't check the BOOK'S ending because I loaned it out to Cindi's sister and NEVER GOT IT BACK (never mind that the woman now has a vacation home in CO....whatever....). What was the ending in the book?

Another one I was disappointed in (don't hate me, Janice) was How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. Of course you knew their secrets had to come out, but the singing bit? Screaming at each other in front of everyone in the world? I thought that was over the top and it ruined what was otherwise a cute movie.

Other than the last two Matrix movies, Secret Window and Van Helsing, I couldn't think of anymore movies that would have been keepers except for the ending. What about you?

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Okay. Enough.

I've been puttering about for three weeks. It's a new month. Time to get serious again. You should see the little meter bar moving starting tonight.

I'll play with the other story as I get a chance, but I want Vanished out.

You watch, the minute I post this, I'll hear from Emily with the revisions on DLB. Oh, well, at least that will be progress.

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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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