My friend and fellow WNPer Priscilla Kissinger is in town for a family reunion and we hooked up for dinner and karaoke.

Here's Pris.

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Here's me, open mouth and everything. Thanks, honey!

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Me and Pris - I don't know what's up with the hand.

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Here's Pris's sister Jackie. Can you tell?

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My son and Pris's daughters.

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Entertainment Weekly questionnaire

Tracy started this one, from Entertainment Weekly.

1. My American Idol audition song would be: 10,000 Maniacs “These Are the Days.”

2. If my life were a drinking game, everyone would do a shot when ... someone talked about guitar equipment

3. The Rat Packer I most identify with is: a) Frank Sinatra b) Sammy Davis Jr. c) Dean Martin d) Peter Lawford
Dean Martin. Apparently I was fixated on him as a child.

4. The first famous person I befriended: Pam Morsi. Did I mention she bought me lunch the other day? How cool is that?

5a. Choose one: A) Demi Moore in Ghost B) Demi Moore in Striptease

What about Demi in St. Elmo’s Fire? I loved her in that.

5b) Choose one: A) Transformers B) G.I. Joe

Transformers – the dh and I used to watch it before I’d go to work, back before we were married.

6) What was your first concert?

Journey, with Bryan Adams

7) Pick a Jessica: A) Alba B) Simpson C) Biel D) Tandy

LOL – Alba. She’s hot ;)

8) If I had to gain 30 pounds for a role, I would eat:

Chocolate cheesecake

9) The first R-rated movie I saw: Werewolf of London

10) You're stranded with your four favorite authors and you've run out of food. Who do you eat first?

Not Nora – too smoky….
Virginia Kantra did give Sean McNeill to the world
Karen Templeton is too funny
As is Jenny Crusie

It would have to be Virginia. Sorry, Virginia!

11) My porn name (childhood pet name + street you grew up on) is: Itsy Sunnyvale (now THERE’S a misnomer!)

Go. Do.

For Trish.

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Just got back from The Lake House which was all right. I cried. I loved Keanu's character - could really relate with the whole dad-issue thing. The overalll movie was pretty bleak, though, visually, and the characters were so alone. Sad. And WAY too many close-ups. Hello, these folks are over 40. Either back the camera up or use a filter, please, to preserve the fantasy!

Tuesday night the boy slept over at a friend's house, so we finally saw The Wedding Crashers. I don't like movies where people pretend to be someone they aren't, so this wasn't my cuppa, but the juxtaposition of the two lead characters was interesting and well done. Not a keeper for me, though.

Last night we watched The Pink Panther which was silly, of course, though I admit to laughing out loud a couple of times. Can't believe Clive Owen was in it, and Handsome Rob from The Italian Job. The French dude from DaVinci Code was a hilarious straightman, especially in camoflage. But Steve Martin....eh.

We also watched Failure to Launch, and for the first time since A Time to Kill, I get the Matthew McConaughey thing. Was he HOT or what? I loved the movie, from the structure to the secondary characters and plots, to the motifs. Really, really well done. (Even though she was pretending to be someone she wasn't.)

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Pitching Day 3

Two brave souls have stepped forward and volunteered to have their pitches critiqued! Let's give them 1) a round of applause and 2) some feedback!

First up is Sarah.

"Wild child architect Jacy McCormick needs to go straight to earn her promotion, but she gets teamed with straight-laced engineer Rick Champion who's looking to go a little wild."

Great use of conflict - maybe another sentence to tell us how it's resolved? What do you think?

Next is Kristi.

Her first got a request from Blaze (YAY!!!!):

" In a race across the California/Arizona desert, Kirby Jensen and Maxwell Shephard must learn to trust their hearts or risk losing everything."

The questions I'm wanting to know is why are they racing, and what can they lose? (Hey, it really IS easier looking at someone else's!)

Her second one is VERY intriguing!

"What happens when a keep-it-together girl gets wild and accidentally marries a party-all-the-time boy who has turned choir-boy good?"

Man, I want to know about this book - not necessarily in the blurb, though!!!

I had a question end one of my blurbs, as well. What do you guys think about the effectiveness of that format in an oral pitch?

Here's another go at DLB, which Sarah thought had too many pronouns (no kidding - EIGHT!):

Seven years ago, Gerard Delaney rescued Liv Olney from an African warlord and then he disappeared, living in exile after a court-martial strips him of his career. Now Liv's best friend is in the hands of that same warlord. Only one man can help her, the man who saved her. But she has to find him so they can return to the country that stripped so much away from them.

Okay, that's even MORE pronouns, but maybe clearer?

Oh, and I had to share with you what Sarah did for Hot Shot:

"Widowed reporter Peyton Michaels is looking for a hero, but not for the usual reasons. She needs to know what drives a man to become a hero, since her husband was killed in the line of duty. Despite his job as a wildfire fighter, Hot Shot Gabe Cooper doesn't think he's hero material, but he turns out to be the hero Peyton needs."

Great, huh?

Bring 'em, y'all!

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Pitching, Day 2

Hm, no one is ready to send in their pitches, I guess. (I had 100 hits – I KNOW you’re out there! ;) )To be fair, I’ve known I was doing this for a week. (I still wrote the pitches last minute, though.)

But since no one sent in pitches (or comments on mine), I thought I would bring this bit back. I really wish I knew where I got it.

What makes your work stand out or be unique?

My work stands out because it’s more action adventure, in exotic locations. My characters travel from Africa to Central America to Antarctica.

What are your strengths?

My strengths are sexy heroes, exciting action, and characters that work together toward a larger goal. (Y’all, this is HARD. Maybe if I pulled out contest comments, that would be helpful.)

What risks are you taking?

Um, the exotic locations, maybe? I’m not sure. I would say different kinds of heroes, but that’s not altogether true.

Why do you believe in your story? How would you sell it? (Try
writing the back cover copy to answer these questions.)

Let me try it for DLB:

Ex-Ranger Gerard Delaney’s life was stripped away in the jungles of Africa. Now a woman who looks at him with “hero” in her eyes needs him to go back, to help her rescue her friend from his deadliest enemy. In return, she promises him a life he thought he’d lost.

Dr. Liv Olney feels responsible for her best friend’s danger, and knows Delaney is the only one who can help her – he’s the man who saved her life seven years ago. But traveling through the African jungles

Are there ways to “play with” story structure? Her examples largely related to POV, but her comment was broader.

I’m clueless on this – anyone know what this means?

What are the archetypes readers respond to? Why? Can you engraft those characteristics onto your hero and heroine? (She observed that “bride-baby-cowboy” is a perennially popular formula, but urged that writers use the emotional essence of these characters rather than repeating them.)

DLB: Del is a wounded warrior, Liv is a damaged crusader. Her crusades led her to the worst thing that ever happened to her, but she still tries.

Hot Shot: Gabe is a warrior, a man of action. Peyton is a – wow, I have no idea. Nothing clearly jumps out at me. I think she could be a spunky kid now, but in her past…. I don’t know.

Surface: Adrian is a chief, no question, with a touch of professor – which he is. Mallory is a librarian, with a streak of spunky kid.

Vanished: Danny is a chief and Gabrielle is a spunky kid. I actually worked that one out beforehand. Easy.

Alex (STILL need a title, though I got some pages in last night): Alex is a chief and Isabella is the unlikely combination of survivor and waif. Her actions are those of a survivor, while her motivations are that of a waif.

What is popular now in television and in the movies? She urged writers to see what’s selling and consider new lines being developed.

24 (I remember when Diana Duncan pitched a series about 4 brothers, and each book took place over 24 hours, each chapter was an hour. I loved the first one, enjoyed the second, and the third should be out soon) Lost, Pirates, superheroes, dramedies (Grey’s and Desperate Housewives) – what can you add?

What is the next popular trend?

Who knows? I honestly can’t think that way, though the recent rash of high concept articles I’ve run across are making me nervous. Maybe I need to look at my books differently.

Anyone ready to share a pitch? Comment on mine? I actually like the Surface one, but the Hot Shot and DLB ones are pretty lame.

Okay, if I give you another Gerry picture, will you come play with me?

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I found one picture and my brother scanned it. These are the Guess jeans that cost me $60.

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He just sent me this one. I think I was already in college, here. My dh (he wasn't THEN) took the picture at the McNay Art Institute, where he later gave me my engagement ring.

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One Month Till National!

Okay, ladies, one month from today signals the first day of NATIONAL! In honor of this, I’ve planned a week-long “workshop” to help us perfect our “elevator pitches.” You know, when someone asks you what you write and you stumble all over yourself, like I did at the Emily conference? Well, we don’t want to do that!

So…I’ve asked some friends to submit pitches for critique, or as an example of a good pitch, and I want your feedback! And if you want to practice your pitch, send it to me, and I’ll put it up this week. If you want to send it anonymously, email it to me at mfechter @ gmail . com (without the spaces.)

Here are some articles to warm you up:

Ready, Aim…Pitch!

How to Pitch to an Agent/Editor

Alleviating the Symptoms of an Editor/Agent Pitch

Ready, Set, Pitch! (I really liked this one – give me fill in the blanks anyday!

Pitch Perfect

All agree you need to know what you write, how long it is, who you’re targeting.

They also agree the pitch needs to be no more than three sentences, and that clichés give a better picture in the short format. The articles suggest comparing your book to a movie or TV show, or better, comparing two pop culture events in a high concept.

I have no idea where these notes came from, but I came across them looking for the synopsis I wrote for Alex. Just know they’re not mine, and if I knew where to give credit, I would.

What makes your work stand out or be unique?

What are your strengths?

What risks are you taking?

Why do you believe in your story? How would you sell it? (Try
writing the back cover copy to answer these questions.)

Are there ways to “play with” story structure? Her examples largely related to POV, but her comment was broader.

What are the archetypes readers respond to? Why? Can you engraft those characteristics onto your hero and heroine? (She observed that “bride-baby-cowboy” is a perennially popular formula, but urged that writers use the emotional essence of these characters rather than repeating them.)

What is popular now in television and in the movies? She urged writers to see what’s selling and consider new lines being developed.

What is the next popular trend? (She observed that the H/S marketing dept has recently received feedback from 11,000 reader, but there was no consensus.)

Colleen Gleason mentions that you should have a short, one line pitch, and a longer but still concise version. She said it’s not only helpful for editors and agents, but once you’re published, readers.

Her one-liner high-concept pitch for The Rest Falls Away, coming in February 2007: Buffy the Vampire Slayer in Regency England.

The one-paragraph follow-up when they want to know more: Victoria Gardella learns that her family legacy is that of vampire hunters, and she's the one chosen from her generation to bear this responsibility. Up until now, she's been interested in beaux and balls, dance cards and gowns...but now her biggest problem is how is she going to get out on the streets at night--and where is she going to hide her stake?

Janet Mullany shared her pitch for her erotic novella based on Jane Eyre: "What if it was Mr. Rochester who was imprisoned in the attic?"

Cool, huh?

And she shared this, the infamous Wizard of Oz pitch, allegedly from TV Times:

"A woman visiting a strange land kills the first person she meets and joins three strangers to kill again."

Hmm, doesn’t have the same tone as the movie, huh?

Wow, this is long! Hope y'all are still with me!

So, I’m going to develop pitches for 5 of my stories: Hot Shot, Surface, DLB, Vanished and Alex (which I REALLY need a title for. I know it’s not done, but I have had editors ask me, “What are you working on now?”)

Any and all feedback is appreciated.

Hot Shot:

Peyton Michaels is a reporter who needs what makes a man want to be a hero after the death of her husband in the line of duty. She’s found the perfect subject in Hot Shot Gabe Cooper, who’s just a man doing a job. She has to show him how special he is, and he has to make her believe in herself so she can live again.

(Sappy, sappy, sappy!) The theme is expectations, I just realized yesterday when writing the synopsis. Hello, I’ve been working on this book 6 years and I just saw that??)

Don’t Look Back:

Seven years ago, Gerard Delaney rescued Liv Olney from an African warlord and then he disappeared, living in exile after a court-martial strips him of his career. Now she has to find him so the two of them can return to the country that stripped so much away from them to rescue her best friend, in the hands of the same warlord.

Beneath the Surface:

(Can you believe I forgot their last name? I had to go look it up. Dang!) Archaeologist Adrian Reeves has found something important in the Caribbean off the coast of Central America. The only person he trusts to help him is the woman who walked away from him two years ago, his wife, archaeologist and ancient language specialist Mallory Reeves. But Mallory is ready to move on with her life after their divorce, unwilling to play second fiddle to his work any longer. Can he convince her she still loves him, and the work they do together?


Tess McCartney and her young son have been missing for two months. Everyone gives up hope, except her twin brother Danny and her best friend Gabrielle. The two decide to work together despite their lifelong rivalry for Tess’s attention, and their need to be in control.

Alex (seriously, need a title!):

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

Okay, fire away!

I think I'm gonna need this.

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What I've Learned About Word

What I’m learning about Microsoft Word as I’m revising (which yes, thank you, I finished this morning – on to the sucknopsis):

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You can track changes. I’ve done this in critiquing, but never in my own work. You make the changes and it doesn’t save them as permanent till you accept the changes. I tried this because I wanted to tell my agent what pages I changed significantly so she wouldn’t have to read the Whole Thing again. It was pretty handy.

You can save different versions, and write a note to yourself in each. This would have been MUCH better than having HotShot0306, HotShot 0506, Hot Shot 0606, Hot Shot 062506….You get the picture.

How to make a page break, so when I change it from TNR to Courier, I don’t have to go back through to all the chapter endings and fix the pages.

You can compare documents. This would have been so handy Friday night when I was entering changes into 0606 instead of 062506.

There are so many other things I would like to know how to do. For example, how do you change the end quotes to go the right way after a dash?

What is the scrapbook and do I need it?

And I know Kris went to a workshop where the presenter showed them how to use footnotes or something, so you don’t have to search the document for references.

What do you know about Microsoft Word?

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My Life Is Good.

I was planning this post on the drive home from the grocery store, where I got some pretty good deals - $130 for 7 packages of meat, nail polish, sodas, milk, bread, lunches for me and the boy....

Then I had to unpack it and by the time I was done, the dh had taken over the computer, and then when I went to take pictures of my flowers, they kept coming out blurry and I'm HUNGRY and the dh keeps playing his stupid video game instead of going for lunch and....

Deep breath.

Seriously, my life is good. Yeah, I feel a little guilty about getting OPI nail polish instead of Revlon, but hey, it's not like we won't pay the bills for that extra $3. Heck, I can still even get my Big Mac for lunch IF MY HUSBAND EVER LEAVES TO GET IT. (Carb crashing here!)

My electric bill is $40 less than my mom's, and we keep it a lot cooler in our house. They have 2 refrigerators and a freezer, but we have 2 refrigerators. They do a lot more laundry - almost double what we do, but I have two guys that play guitar. And my house is bigger. But they have a pool. Anyway, $40 less this month. That's good.

I had a dream that my agent CAME TO MY HOUSE to give me more revisions, said the pacing was off. That's bad. But I have an agent. That's good.

I bought new plants yesterday. 5 plants for $23, including this, my new baby. Notice how it's pink inside?

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And this, a mandevilla. I've never tried one of these before - we'll see how it does. We're hoping it will grow up the tree. It was $5 more at the grocery store than I paid for it, and the ones at the grocery store weren't that big. That's good.

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My son sleeps in every day till at least 11. Which means I USUALLY have the computer guilt-free in the AM. That's good. (Except I usually sit out back in the AM....but my yard is pretty. That's good.)

Once I got my house clean this summer, it's been pretty easy to keep it clean. I'm already done with both bathrooms, my rooms for the day, except for the floors. That's good.

I have the world's best dog and some pretty interesting cats. That's good.

I have two dresses for the GH awards, shoes and nail polish. That's good.

I have a USUALLY supportive husband and son when they're not trying to get the computer. That's good.

I have incredibly supportive friends, both IRL and online. That's great.

I have less than a hundred pages to go on Hot Shot revisions. And it really is much better because of them. That's great.

And I have a BUNCH of eye candy in my photobucket account. That's great!

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Have Y'all Seen This?

Texas Teacher Fighting for Job Over Topless Photos
Friday, June 16, 2006

AUSTIN, Texas — Until they found the topless photos, Austin High School officials considered Tamara Hoover an excellent art teacher with a knack for helping students find their creativity.

Now, she's fighting for her job.

The photos, which were posted on Flickr.com by her partner, depict Hoover in the shower, lifting weights, getting dressed, in bed and doing other routine activities.

Hoover said Friday the photos are art and makes no apologies.

"I'm an artist and I'm going to participate in the arts," Hoover said. "If that's not something they want me to do then I want to be told that. I don't feel as if I was doing anything that was beyond expectations."

Click here for the FOXNews.com Education Content Center

The school district said the photos were inappropriate and violate the "higher moral standard" expected of public school teachers. As she was escorted out of class last month she was told she's become an ineffective teacher.

The district wants to revoke her teaching certification, which would keep her out of Texas classrooms permanently. Hoover will appeal the ruling and is prepared to take the case to court, she said.

Hoover's abrupt dismissal highlights a new concern for employees: Your boss has Internet access, too.

"People don't realize when they put their entire diary out there, they're giving very private information to the public," said Kate Brooks, director of career services for liberal arts students at the University of Texas at Austin.

The photos came to light last month as a result of a feud over ceramics equipment with another art teacher, according to sworn affidavits. Students who had seen the pictures showed the teacher, who then notified school officials.

Austen Clements, one of Hoover's students, noted that many artists have nude pictures, including Georgia O'Keeffe.

"If Georgia O'Keeffe wanted to teach at Austin High, I don't think they'd say, 'No, you have nude pictures online,"' Clements said.

The school was attended by President Bush's daughters, Barbara and Jenna.


We were flipping channels the other evening and MSNBC had this woman on. The prosecuting attorney was TEARING into her, I mean, really vitriolic, saying that Hoover was the one who showed the kids the pictures, even though Hoover hadn't done - some other teacher found out about it, pulled them up, then reported her.

I get the higher moral standard bit, but where does the line get drawn? Are my romance novels going to get me fired because there are love scenes in them? I mean, heck, Delilah Devlin is a teacher, and her books are erotic. Kendra Clark is a teacher and her books are erotic. Where is the line?

They want to pull this woman's teaching certificate! Her means of living.

What do you think?

I watched 8 Below last night - nice movie, SMART dogs, but if you know an iota about Antarctica, you'll be ripping the movie apart. Like how they FLEW to the continent in AUGUST in BROAD DAYLIGHT. Sheesh.

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Still working on Hot Shot....

High School Fashion

My mom was upset yesterday because my baby brother went to Starbucks in his Renaissance costume. Okay, weird, but he has friends who like to dress like that, so he wasn't the only one. Plus, all year long he has to wear a school uniform, so this is his individuality coming out.

When I was in school, it was New Wave.

When I was in high school (the 80s) one of the girls’ high schools would have dances every month. A group of us from the public high school would go because, well, we loved music and we loved dancing and my ex-boyfriend was DJ.
We’d get out of the car and people would know where we were from by the way we were dressed.
We were cool. Cora was tall and thin – 5 foot 10, and a size 5, at the most. She favored skinny jeans and ripped t-shirts, Dead Kennedys, Clash, PiL. I remember her spray-painting an anarchy t-shirt.
Kirsten was Belinda Carlisle-esque, and she favored short skirts, tights and v-necked shirts.
We all had those little suede elf boots – remember those? We all wore the same size, so each of us bought a different color and we swapped.
I sewed, and worked at a fabric store, so I had the biggest wardrobe. I would be inspired by videos, and when I’d see fabric, I’d buy it. I had a pink checkered mini, a -black plastic is the only way to describe it- mini, a yellow and black chckered shirt, one of those WHAM shirts in orange dayglo, a t-shirt dress that was yellow but I dyed hot pink, and a cotton trench coat to match, leopard print skirt and blouse, a couple of those knit Belinda Carlisle skirts. I had two polka dot dresses, paisley jeans and Guess jeans (which I used my very first income tax check to pay for - $60 even then!) I didn’t wear jeans much.
We had tights in every color, including yellow and olive drab. I loved my fishnet stockings.
But the most important to me was having sparklies. We would haunt the flea markets for antique rhinestone jewelry, and sometimes settle for imports.
I remember once I had this antique crystal necklace on, but no earrings to wear with it. My stepfather’s mother took two crystals off her chandelier and we fashioned earrings out of them. They were really heavy.
So were you a clotheshorse back in the day? What’s the most ridiculous thing you ever wore?
Yes, I really wish I had a scanner. I was THIN in those days!

I got shoes last night. My friend Denise had given me $20 to Foley’s, and since we were out exchanging some of Fred’s shirts, I decided to go look at the shoes. My MIL found them on the clearance rack for $19, so I paid 51 cents. Price was right. And I would probably be really happy with them if I hadn’t found some SHOES. Oh, they were gorgeous, and on sale for $80 (I am WAY too frugal for that, and my MIL would have had a heart attack on the spot) but my lovely husband offered to buy them for me. I turned him down, but they were GORGEOUS!

These are NOT my shoes.

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Neither are these (though the ones I saw were silver and not Jimmy Choos.

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So, yeah, I settled, but I'm okay with that.

Guess what I'm working on....again? But I think this could be it, and it's already so much better.

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Soap Operas

I’ve been watching soap operas the last couple of weeks. I know, terrible time wasters (not as bad as the new online Scrabble game, though), but I do some chores while I watch. See, I’ve been watching All My Children and Days of our Lives for decades. I don’t watch during the school year, so I don’t remember a lot of the connections.

On All My Children, Jeff Martin is back. He used to be married to Erica, right? What are they saying about Erica having another biological child, other than Kendall and Bianca? And Kendall had Ryan’s baby? Where’s Greenlee?

And on Days of our Lives – Jack and Patch were brothers??? I don’t remember that at all. Does everyone think Patch is dead or something? What’s wrong with Jack? Why did they bring Jack and Jen back only to split them up? Could someone please feed Hope a milkshake or something? Who is the little bimbo that’s Bo’s daughter? Bo and who? Didn’t Belle (one of Marlena’s kids, right?) used to be with Shaun Douglas? And now he’s with…? Where is Marlena and who is she married to now? And I thought Carolyn Brady had left her husband for Viktor Kiriakis. Is Austin the DUMBEST man in the soap opera universe? What happened to him and Carrie? And the short mean one, Kate’s son? He’s with Carrie now?

I’ve been watching this season of Grey’s Anatomy, and I get alternately irritated with the different characters. Usually Meredith. Though after watching these earlier episodes, I get the Meredith/McDreamy dynamic more. It’s so complex, the trust, the respect.

But I do have to wonder why she’s so compelling to all the men on the show. It’s another instance of worthy heroines – she’s too whiny to be worthy. Of course, some of the heroes are pretty winy, too.

The Burke and Christina thing – he works so hard for her. Is it the challenge? Why is she so guarded? I absolutely love her character.

Even Izzy got on my nerves in some of the episodes. And she’s my favorite favorite. I love her backstory, from the trailer park. I loved her dynamic with Denny. I think she forgave Alex WAY too easy.

George is my other favorite. He got too needy with Meredith at the end of the season, and for heaven’s sake, of all people, he should know what she does when she gets down, so he can’t blame it on her so much. But he was absolutely hysterical in the Thanksgiving episode and the nurse strike episode. I don’t like him with Cassie, though.

Bailey is a hoot – the first bomb episode where George and the chief are so excited that she’s back – that was so great! And I loved the Thanksgiving episode where they had a visiting attending who was looking for “The Nazi” because he thought it was a guy. And that Bailey knows everything going on in the hospital so even the chief comes to her for answers.

I also actually really like Addison. The episode where Mark comes back and McDreamy said he hadn’t forgiven her just broke my heart. I think it would be less cruel of him to just leave her.

I love to hate Alex. Mostly I hate that they don’t motivate him – or let us in on his motivation.

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Meredith’s mom is just wicked mean. I don’t know how Meredith survived being raised by that woman.

Okay, I’m done.

I’m also blogging at Wet Noodle Posse today. Do I know what I’m blogging about??? Nooooo. I get blogger block when I go over there.

And it’s also my sweetie’s birthday today!

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I am insane.

I bought another formal.

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I'd seen a Grecian gown at Neiman Marcus for $900, and loved it. (It was regularly $3000!!!) I thought about making one, but I didn't want to take the time from my writing (SNORT) to sew. When the Chadwicks catalogue came, I saw this one for $100, and I had a 40% off coupon (we won't talk about shipping, okay?) so I bought it. And it looks great. And I thought I might possibly have a publisher party to go to.

So, more revisions on Hot Shot. Maybe not on the publisher party.

And what did I spend the day doing? Playing Scrabble Blast online. You want the link? You know you do ;)

A Plan

I spent the weekend at loose ends after sending Hot Shot and DLB to my agent. The plan was for me to start working on a book I wrote in 2004 and never submitted (long story). I'm going to revise the partial and have it ready to go after my agent reads (and likes) those 2 books and Surface.

So....I have this lack of urgency, at the same time I have this urgency. It's summer after all. I should be writing.

The plan my cps helped me come up with was to revise 3 partials, at the same time I work on Alex. I made a calendar, giving myself deadlines for each partial (remember, these books are complete, just need revision.) Still. Easier said than done. Saturday I sat down with neon colored notecards and started writing scenes, etc, hoping to get enough feel for the book again that I could write a good synopsis, because frankly my old one stank. I also went through the scenes that have already been through critique group (the good thing about writing 17 manuscripts is that you always have something to send to critique group.)

All this did was overwhelm me.

Sunday I was getting over karaoke and getting ready for company, so I didn't write, but Sunday night I had a brainstorm. I would literally cut the partial into scenes and work on one scene at a time. So yesterday morning I did just that, and found I had 8 scenes to revise. Okay. Manageable. I put each scene on my calendar, and then the synopsis the last three days. So I revised the heck out of that scene last night.

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How do YOU get ready to revise?

Bad news - I didn't get any written on Alex. I reset my Excel spreadsheet and I want to write 6 pages a day. Hopefully today will be better, though it doesn't take much to get me off track. I wish I had Trish's discipline.

I watched Kiss Kiss Bang Bang yesterday, which I thought would be a buddy movie with Robert Downey Jr and Val Kilmer, but it was more of a noir mystery. Then last night The Last Samurai was on, so we watched it. Good movie. But no wonder I didn't get anything written on Alex.

Today, I'm getting Eight Below! I've been dying to see this movie.

For Trish, because she isn't feeling good:

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Top Ten Reasons I Love San Antonio

Top ten reasons I love San Antonio

10) We have short winters.

9) We’re a hub – all major highways in Texas run through us.

8) Cost of living – I was looking at real estate porn, and you can get a really nice house for a couple of hundred thousand.

7) History – not just Texas history (though I get choked up every time I go in the Alamo) but my family’s history is here.

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6) Entertainment – we have a museum that’s free every day, two that are free on Tuesday afternoons, we have a wonderful zoo, Sea World and Fiesta Texas.

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5) The Spurs. I’m not a huge fan, like I used to be, but I love seeing people get all worked up for the home team.

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4) Fiesta! A week-long party, with food on a stick, parades and everything, just for my birthday! (Okay, to celebrate the defeat of Santa Ana, which was on my birthday WAY before I was born.)

3) Food – no matter what you like, we have places that are good at making it – Mexican, barbecue, steak. Not seafood, though.

2) Diversity – We’re a regular melting pot!

1) Friendliness – no matter where you go, SOMEONE will talk to you.

What do you love about your hometown?

I hope everyone had a lovely Father's Day! We had a nice dinner last night - everyone was shocked to look up and see it was almost nine!

I have something different planned for next week…stay tuned!


My sister in law called yesterday and asked if I wanted to go to a karaoke bar last night. I've only ever sang karaoke at her house - she has a professional set-up - but her sisters and everyone wanted to go out. And they invited me.

It was SO FUN. It took me 2 Cape Cods to get up and sing "Walking After Midnight" by Patsy Cline, and another 2 to sing "These Are the Days" by 10,000 Maniacs. The 2 drinks made a difference ;) My SIL is REALLY talented and she sang 3 songs, my brother even sang one. I wanted to sing "Jackson" with him, but he didn't know it. How could he not know it - my mom used to play Johnny Cash ALL THE TIME. I told him his homework is to learn that song before we go back ;) My SIL's older sister (who I adore) sang 3, her younger sang 2 with her fiance, their friend sang 3.

What was fun, and had me there till 1, was watching what other people sold. The last guy that sang, if you saw him walking on the street, you would never peg him as a karaoke guy. He sang "Sailing," a song I can't stand, but he did such a good job.

There was a young guy who sang a bunch of country songs, then "Summer Nights" with another girl at his table (there were 2 birthday parties in addition to the ten of us, and a bunch of smaller groups.)

There was a guy in a rocker shirt who sang "Rose Colored Glasses."

There was a large woman who, damn, had a set of pipes and sang "Natural Woman" like she belonged on American Idol. In the top 5.

There was an older lady who sang a Carpenters song without looking at the words, and she was awesome.

There was this girl Kim who sang really well, and she brought her boyfriend up on stage with her and he was awful, but he had so much fun, we loved him!

So I think I could be addicted.

Do you like karaoke? If you go, do you sing songs you know, that you think you'll be good at, or fun songs, or what?

It's been awhile since we've seen Gerry.

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The Anatomy of a Story

Stacy...Sensibly Insane: The Anatomy of a Story

VERY cool analogy.

Ten Things I Didn't Have Ten Years Ago

From Marianne’s blog

1) my house

2) a job I love

3) 17 completed manuscripts

4) a dog

5) a car less than 2 years old, three couches, a debit card or a DVD player

6) a blog

7) a writing chapter

8) a computer with color monitor and a printer that ISN’T dot matrix

9) a contest final, a request from an editor

10) a child in school

What about you?

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Writing Dark and Mary Beth

I mentioned this when I was writing about Blue Smoke, about how some writers are just too dark for me these days. It is probably just my perception – I hardly watch sad movies or police procedurals anymore, and the other night when I was watching Serenity, well, I had my face turned from the screen most of the time. I swear, if I didn’t know I wasn’t pregnant, I would think I’m pregnant (Pregnancy cured me of my love for scary movies.)

I have written romantic suspense. I have written from the POV of the villain (once, I think, and he was a wicked evil stalker rapist). Like Toni was talking about the other day on her blog, I want to know why people do the things they do.

I just don’t know if I want to crawl into their heads to find out.

I read my first Lisa Gardner book last summer and it really had me squirming. I read another, and then just decided she was way too dark for me – lots of suspense and very little romance.

Tami Hoag used to write amazing romantic suspense books (though maybe if I went back to read them now, they might make me cringe.) But after Night Sins, I think, or Guilty as Sin, there was no longer romance, and the evil side of humanity was just overwhelming to me.

Anne Stuart’s Black Ice was way more suspensey than romancey, and that “hero” was something else. I was not compelled to read more of her books.

I used to read Catherine Coulter back in the day when she wrote all those interconnected Sherborne or Sherbrooke people, remember those? And when she started writing contemporary, I followed her along. But it seemed to me her villains’ POV became just a place where her own dark side could run amok.

I wonder if that’s part of why writers write dark, to look into their own darkness. Maybe that’s why I can’t write a villain’s POV – maybe I don’t want to see that side of myself. Maybe that’s why I can’t even read it.

So clearly, I like romantic suspense light ;)

I am very anxious to hear your thoughts on this.

Mary Beth , I dreamed you sold two books to Intrigue.

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Betting Hearts

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I just finished reading the sweetest love story. Betting Hearts, by Dee Tenorio, is a best friends story, which I love, and this one is so emotional, you just squirm right along with the hero, Burke.

Cassie is one of the boys. She works in a nursery, plays poker and hangs with her brother Hayne and his best friend Burke, who is als her best friend. She’s content with her life until her former fiancé, a snake from the lowest level of hell, returns to town. He’s left her weeks before her wedding, leaving a note that he was gay. Only now he’s back with a woman, planning another wedding, claiming Cass isn’t woman enough. So she decides to transform herself into a girl, and she gets Burke’s help to do it because he’s the only one she feels safe with.

Burke has been warned away from Cassie by her brother, and he’s never had to take the warning seriously till Cassie shows up on his doorstep, drunk and needy. Now he’s trying to protect her from her rat-fink fiancé, his own unworthiness, all the while fighting his attraction.

Watching Burke suffer as he becomes aware of Cass’s attributes is priceless. He’s just stunned she’s a girl. The reader feels his struggle, his longing. And when he has to come face to face with the rat fink and defends her, the reader falls in love with him.

The sexual tension is thick as, well, as the heat here in SA. The love scene is fulfilling and heartbreaking.
Secondary characters are great and real, twists of phrase make you smile (and wish you’d written them) and the last scene is fabulous.
Betting Hearts is Dee’s first book from Samhain Publishing.

The other day Mary Beth was commenting on her blog about how she knows her heroine better than her hero, but that the hero is more important to romance readers. That may be true, but it’s also so important to have a heroine the reader can root for, like Cassie. I think the hero can be forgiven a lot (at least I hope – the hero in my WIP is being a jackass) but the heroine has to be worthy, so that the reader can say, “You jerk, why can’t you see how great she is?” Agree or disagree?
Anyway, read the book and tell me what you think!

Not only is she a great writer....it's her birthday today!

For Revenge...Or Pleasure?
by Trish Morey

Trish's June 2006

What It's All About...

Jade Ferraro is a cosmetic surgeon at an elite Beverly Hills clinic. But to Loukas Demakis she's a fraud.

Loukas plans to seduce top secret information from Jade, and then discard her when he's done.

Loukas buys Jade dinner — for a donation of one million dollars! But will the cost of the truth be worth the price of his heart?

What Others Are Saying...

"Trish Morey's newest release from Harlequin Presents, FOR REVENGE... OR PLEASURE? carries a lot of heart. This is a story with a strong 'wow!' factor and a compelling plot that is hard to forget even after the book is finished. Ms. Morey has crafted an intensely sexy novel with unforgettable characters who tug at every emotion in the reader's heart. Laced with gripping narration and plenty of passion, this book is a winner from start to finish. Don't miss it." ~ Leena Hyat, Senior Editor, The Best Reviews

Confidence Vs. Arrogance

WARNING: Rant ahead, not directed at any of you folks!

What is the line between confidence and arrogance? How much pride can we show in our accomplishments before we cross the line? Is it because we’re women that we’re accustomed to downplaying our accomplishments? And is it because we’re women that we’re taken aback when someone raves about their own successes?
Let me clarify, because recognition is hard to come by in this business ,and if we don’t promote ourselves, who will? But there’s a difference between celebrating our accomplishments and having a sense of entitlement to those accomplishments. There is something in the tone of the emails of the people who have this sense of entitlement that just turns me off. I’ve left lists because of it, and I feel like a small person because of it.
Am I the only one who gets these bad vibes? I know it’s hard to convey our true tone in emails and blogs, but I don’t think I’m imagining it.
And if you ever think I’m being too arrogant, please slap me!

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Starting a Story

A few weeks ago, Esri wrote that being a writer was like being a relationship. I think starting a story is like a relationship.
First, you’re thinking about the story. All the time. You learn everything you can about it. You can’t wait to get it alone, go on a “date.”
Then you meet up, You’re so afraid of what you’re going to say, that you’ll say the wrong thing, make a fool of yourself. So conversation is a bit stilted.
So maybe you’re a little cautious about being alone with your new obsession. You want to be with him, but you don’t quite trust yourself. You go to the movies, on double dates, anything as a buffer. As much as you like him, or the story, being alone is too dangerous, too overwhelming.
But then you gain confidence and you don’t want to be apart from him. Every waking moment is consumed with thoughts of him. You skip work to be with him. You can’t wait to make love to him (writing the first love scene), or if you haven’t waited, you can’t get enough of him. Everything is going smoothly and then…your first fight (writer’s block).
He stops talking to you. You’re not sure where you went wrong, or if you can undo it, start fresh, get back to how it was before.
You may work through it, but it’s not the same. The intimacy is deeper, though, the commitment, because you’ve worked through your problems. You’re invested.
Things get more serious. This relationship is work now. This is still the one you love, but it’s no longer carefree. You start thinking long-term. This is The One.
You start thinking about where to live, how many kids you want. (word count, where to submit)
You are married.
Now you have to make adjustments – you want to put your best face forward. You may have input from the in-laws (editors and agents) but you have to determine how hard you want to work at this relationship.
And if you work hard, you will have something that will last forever.
Something that came to life because you believed.

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Separated at Birth?

Separated at birth?

Pat Benatar and Nora Roberts

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Martin Henderson and Gerard Butler

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Mark McGrath and Ethan Hawke

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Lee Lee Sobieski and Helen Hunt

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KD Lang and Kyle McLachlan

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Bono and Robin Williams

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Justin Bruening - Jamie from All My Children - and Justin Chambers from Grey's Anatomy.

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Anyone else you can think of?


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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Beneath the Surface

Breaking Daylight

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Where There's Smoke

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Hot Shot


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