Things I DIDN'T Do for Halloween This Year

Oh, look, my weather pixie has a jack o'lantern.

I don't. I didn't even buy a pumpkin this year. I have a ceramic one I'll light tonight, but I'm not carving.

I didn't plan a special menu. I didn't bake Halloween cookies (except for those Nestle ones). I didn't take half a day to make special Jello treats for a party.

I didn't buy scented candles or mums.

My class didn't finish ONE Halloween art project.

I didn't wear my Winnie the Pooh Halloween shirt.

I don't know if it's because the boy is getting older, or if I'm just losing interest. I don't want to lose interest, ya know?

It's 64 and humid, and my costume is velvet. Gah.

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At the risk of wishing my life away, I want this week to be over. In fact, I want it to be next Wednesday, when my observation and the PTA program are both behind me, and I only have a week and a half to Thanksgiving break.

Maybe it’s because of that stress that I’ve kind of relaxed in my whole desperation to get published. I mean, just two months ago, I was all twisted up, wishing I had something out there so I could sell. Two months before that, I was twisted up because I wasn’t getting a pink ribbon this year. Before that, I was twisted because I wasn’t getting my revisions done quickly enough, my GH entry was sitting waiting for revisions, etc etc.

Before that, I was twisted up because one editor or another had a book and wasn’t responding. I was twisted that I wasn’t writing fast enough, producing enough, having new stuff out.

Right now I’m not feeling the same pressure. Maybe it’s because I actually do have three books out there, but even that doesn’t fill me with that odd mixture of hope and dread. I’m feeling very relaxed about it all.

It’s showing in my writing, too, I think. I’m not as concerned about marketing as I’m writing the book (good thing, since after listening to RWA Idol, my foreign settings don’t play well.) The book I’m writing for Nano…I have no idea who would buy it. It would have been a Bombshell once upon a time. Now I’m going to write it because I need to write it.

Now, don’t ask me HOW I did this. Maybe it’s because I’m good with my job (although I want to stay hoooommmme!) Maybe it’s because I FINALLY (12 years later) realized it’s out of my control after it leaves my hands.

Maybe I’m just tired.

I haven’t given up. I’ve just stopped needing it.

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Back from the Halloween Party

Where I had to be dragged out kicking and screaming. They were doing karaoke and I wanted to sing "Jackson" with my brother, but he was all being hosty. I only had two margaritas and no pics because my camera was broken and baby brother brought his video camera instead of his digital camera because HIS digital camera broke last night at homecoming!

Anyway, fun party, less people than in the past, which was okay with me, but dang, there was a lot of food and margaritas! I'd say they only went through two bottles of tequila when they usually go through 6.

But the excitement was before we left for the party. I was working on Alex and the whole theme is trust, right? My heroine has asked my hero to help her find her child but he is just barely trusting her. The powers that be have sent him to follow her so she'll lead him to the bad guy (she was the bad guy's mistress.) When he calls his superiors to get a lead on the kid, they tell him there is no child. So his trust in her is broken, just when it was beginning to grow.

I love pantsing!

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Bad TV

You know, we've talked a lot about what's good on TV. What are some bad shows? Not the ones that don't hold my attention, but ones that are not well done. I personally can't think of any. Can you?

Off to get Halloween costumes for the party tonight. Nothing like waiting till the last minute!

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Yep, I'm playing hooky. I've got all the windows open - a front blew in last night - I've made banana bread, I've put the clothes out for the charity coming by to pick them up, I've put the clothes in the car to take to the cleaners when I go get lunch. I'm fixing to sit down to watch The Prairie Home Companion so it can go out in today's mail, and I'm going to play with Alex as long as I can before Nano.

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And I'm feeling guilty. This is the first day I've taken off for myself, but I keep thinking of all the things I should be doing at school, like running off copies of the Halloween newspaper the kids wrote, working on the PTSO program, getting ready for my evaluation next week.



Could someone please explain the end of LOST to me? Or all of LOST? Because last night's episode was WEIRD. If it's Jack they want, why do they have Kate and Sawyer? That's only one of MANY questions I have.

Grey's is a rerun tonight, but I'll probably still watch.

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I caved and joined Nano. Good heavens. Alex isn't coming as slowly as it looks - I'm writing on the Alphasmart and not uploading.

More Emmy pics below!

Stuff and Nonsense

The guy who took all the pictures in Houston hasn't been back to work yet. Sigh.

My son, who had a wisdom tooth pulled last week, has dry socket, which means he sucked the blood clot out and has to go back to the dentist again today. Which means another rush-rush from my school to his, another packed waiting room.

We had Open House last night - what they're calling Reading Night, and guess how many parents came, from the whole grade level? Come on, guess? Two. We stayed till 6:45, for two parents. The bigwig whose idea it all was came by and we told him. On the plus side, I learned my school laptop has freecell. On the downside, I ditched my hose at around 1 because they kept falling to my knees. Not the best impression. But I hate wearing closed toed shoes with no hose!

I get observed next week and I keep having nightmares about it. Our PTA program is two weeks from last night and I just worked out the dance steps yesterday. I have to make a revision on the play already. I thought one of the groups was turkeys, but it was Native Americans.

I finally got my Supernatural DVD, but it will have to wait. Tonight is big TV night, last night we watched Monster House. I also have Prairie Home Companion and Cheaper by the Dozen sitting here, and my son wants Nacho Libre, and I want either Over the Hedge or An American Haunting with our free Blockbuster coupons.

I'm still waffling on Nano. It would mean putting Alex aside for a month, and my dad and his wife are thinking of coming Thanksgiving week, so.....

Not sure how I feel about this picture, but I'm posting it anyway. I miss writing.

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Another picture - all the folks from the station

Hopefully more tomorrow. Robert took a bunch of pictures but didn't come to work today.

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I read Trish M's new ms on the way to and from Houston, and it is AWESOME! Romance and witchcraft, good versus evil, black and white with a big GRAY question.

And it got me thinking about writing paranormal. I wrote a futuristic one, post-apocalyptic, that was very different for me, but doesn't really fit with anything else I've ever written. I don't read much paranormal, unless it's by friends.

As we were driving back, I was thinking of Heroes and that if I had any superpower, I would want it to be time travel. I got hung up on the hows for a bit, but kind of came up with an archaeologist heroine who travels back in time based on the artifacts she finds. I was thinking it wouldn't be romance so much as a series, because she would meet different guys at each place she went back. Then I was thinking she couldn't go back to a place once she'd been, and that she'd have to have a mission at each place.

That's as far as I've gotten, and I'm not even sure I want to go there. I definitely need to finish Alex first. I didn't write at all this weekend!

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And the Emmy Goes to....TWICE!!!!

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That's right, he brought home TWO of these babies! He was fully prepared not to win, he said, but was happy to! He did feel a bit guilty winning in one category, because four of his....what do you call it, he's their mentor....were up for the same award, and he won.

It was a total blast all around, and now we're back to real life.

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What Have You Learned from Romance Novels?

We're having a discussion on one of my lists about reading romance novels. Several romance writers admit to not reading many romance novels anymore. I'm floored. I LOVE romance novels (as you see if you come here often). One of the reasons is that I've learned so much from reading them.

Not just historicals, though I've learned about Queen Matilda of England from Anita Mills, The Black Prince from Marsha Canham, Culloden from Diana Gabaldon. I've been in the Napoleonic War, the French Revolution, Colonial India.

I've learned from contemporaries, too. I'd never heard of pesto till I read a Jayne Ann Krentz. I never knew about the statue of Vulcan in Birmingham till I read Anne George (technically not romance, I know.) I feel like I've been to Key West, Seattle, Chicago. I have a passing knowledge with Wiccan beliefs and practices.

Romance novels fill my thirst for wanting more. My biggest fear is that someday I may not be able to see well enough to read anymore, but even then I'll find a way. Maybe I've just been really lucky in my choices, maybe I look more to the good.

What have romance novels given you?

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I'm going to be gone only a little more than 24 hours, and I'm freaking out about packing. Not what to wear - that's easy. Jeans going up and coming back, t-shirts, socks. My dress, foundation garments (though darn it, I should have bought a black bra), heels, make up, hair stuff, jewelry.

No, I'm worried about what to take on the trip. It's a 6 hour round trip, depending where in Houston it is, and I'm wondering if I should take a book to read, Trish M's latest ms or my book to write, or my crochet (in case, you know, the dh wants to talk.) Or will I just be sleeping?

So for a weekend trip, we'll probably have a suitcase, a garment bag, and my "hobby" bag stuffed with all of the above.

Just in case.

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Conference CDs

I'm listening to the Michael Hauge workshop "From Identity to Essence" right now and it is AMAZING (a perk of spending half your weekend burning CDs is that you get to listen to them first.) It talks about the Identity being how the character sees himself and the essence is him stripped down to who he really is (I need to listen to the essence part again, because I'm not very clear on that.) And you know the question I've been asking myself about WHY the hero and heroine fall in love, what they see in each other? It's the essence that they see in each other. Everyone else in the story (save maybe the best friend) sees the identity, but only the hero or heroine sees the essence of the other person.

Anyway, it's really great.

Another good one is Suzanne Brockmann's "Cast of 1000s." Even if you don't write connected books, which I don't, it's a great look at types of characters and purposes of characters in novels. And she's such a knowledgeable speaker!

Christie Ridgeways "Bait and Hook" workshop is really good, too, a very layered look at opening chapters. There are two other first chapter workshops, but I liked this one best. Very thorough.

Robin Perini's "Layering Complexity" workshop set off a lightbulb for me when I was listening to it, but for the life of me, now I can't remember what it was. Some of the detail she goes into gives me hives (I don't even have a how-to book) but it's a pretty good workshop.

Which ones have you listened to that you've liked?

I'm playing hooky from SARA tonight - too stressed. My darling darling husband is dropping off the CDs for me, since I busted tail to burn them, and he works on that side of town.

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I just washed my hair and you should see all the hair that fell out in my hands. This has happened before, when I was really stressed at work, at the Job from Hell.

Why am I stressed now?

The ds had to have a wisdom tooth pulled today. He is not handling it well. Plus, you know, expensive. Of course, I compensated by going to Walmart to get his meds and spending $60 on soft foods (and Reds. It's on DVD now.)

I woke up at 2 AM remembering that my grade level is doing the PTA program in 3 weeks. We haven't even written the play yet. (We have the idea, know how that goes.)

Tutoring starts this week (would have started today but I was taking the ds to the dentist.) FORTUNATELY, my next door neighbor is going to tutor for me on Thursdays, so I'll only tutor once a week afterschool - but I'm doing two mornings a week for some of my kids whose parents can't come after school.

That little Emmy celebration at the end of the week. I've called my mom twice to see if she'd watch the boy, but haven't gotten a word in edgewise. I know she WILL, but....(and while the TV station reimburses the dh for the hotel room, they don't for the food and tux and gas.)

It took over 14 hours to burn all those CDs. It is not exaggerating to say that I'm GLAD I'm not librarian anymore. And I didn't make the sign out sheets for each CD and I'm feeling guilty.

I haven't written since Friday.

So, my prescription is the couch, Trish's new ms, The Unit and Halloween cookies.

And this.

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A Will Farrell Movie I WANT to See!

Apple - Trailers - STRANGER THAN FICTION- Large

Stuff and Nonsense

I'm up early because I finally got the CDs delivered from CompUSA and I'm trying to get all the discs burned before my chapter meeting Wednesday, so I can hand over the librarianship free and clear.

Only my computer isn't exactly cooperating. Last night it said it couldn't perform the laser speed necessary to burn the discs. I restarted, was able to burn a disc, but that was it. So I shut down the computer last night, and have been able to burn about 10 discs in an hour and a half.

I have about 120 more to go. Do the math.

I had dinner with Mary Beth last night, on the Riverwalk! She's in town for a journalism conference, called, and we met up. I've never been downtown alone, y'all. I'm so proud of myself! We had a great time, and even though it rained and we sat outside, we were under the bridge, so we could just enjoy the coolness.

I'm actually enjoying Dance of the Gods. I didn't think I'd like a shapeshifter/demon hunter romance, but Larkin is just as charming as can be, and Blair is kind of Buffy grown up. I started the book Friday and I'm on page 90.

My dh rented his tux yesterday. Cheaper than last year, and he got red accessories. He wanted orange, but hello, Halloween? Seriously.

I know what I want to write next in my WIP, my heroine is going to lay eyes on the bad guy and my hero is finally going to be NICE, but this CD burning is time consuming. Just FYI.

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My Super Power

I have a super power. I suspected I had it for awhile, but I proved it to myself and my dh on Wednesday.

See, I knew the actress playing Juliet on Lost was familiar, but I couldn’t place her. So I asked my dh to imdb her name. He did, and said, Elizabeth Mitchell.

Before he could tell me what she’d been in, I told him. Frequency, as the mom, and ER, as Carrie Weaver’s lover.

He stared at me.

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I have a friend on one of my loops that is astounded when I make these connections, like when I told her Walt from 24, now on Vanished, was Paul the Wine Guy from the first season (episode?) of Friends. And before that, he was Jamie on Another World.

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The new lawyer on Boston Legal (which I just happened to catch this week)? Keen Eddie.

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Eugene Foote on The Nine was on one of those Star Trek shows. Listen to his voice. The bank manager was the principal on Boston Public.

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The girl from Grey’s Anatomy who fell out of the tree last season is in two commercials running right now.

The one that’s stumping me is the commercial for the tiny phone, where the mom and daughter are yelling at each other, but saying positive things. I know that mom from somewhere. I can’t place her.

Sometimes I know the actors right away by looks, other times by name, but usually by voice. Oddly, I have trouble with animated movies, identifying voices, but if I see a familiar face and hear a familiar voice, I can tell you where I’ve seen that actor before. So I guess I need two out of three identifiers.

So is it really a talent, or just overexposure to media?

And if I can remember stuff like that, why can’t I remember to take my lunch to school?

And because it’s Friday, and Grey’s was gooooood last night.

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To Be, or Not To Be

My son was peer editing last night for homework (to save his life, because grades are due today and he kind of took this grading period off!) He kept asking us different ways to say sentences, because they cannot use any "be" verbs. Any. At all.

I understand her reasoning, to get the kids to think harder about what they're writing, but won't that just sound stilted without ANY "be" verbs?

Of course, it's probably easier in 5 pages than in 300, but I'm really wondering about her philosophy here.

BIAW kind of stumbled the last two days with this stupid transition scene. And I realized I need more of a connection between them. Don't know what.

Look what I found!

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Online Shopping

I do a TON of online shopping - gifts, books, DVDs, shirts for the boy. Usually I don't have a problem, and with books, I don't mind waiting for the "ship together" option because I already have a ton of books.

On September 19, I ordered Supernatural on DVD from Ask me if I've gotten it. Uh, no. Worse, they won't even let me contact the seller about it till today, because, you know, media mail takes 14 days. Um, yeah, but the place said they shipped it on that Friday. So where is it? And the reason I chose that company rather than one that was a couple of dollars less was because they said they shipped quickly.

On September 27, I ordered blank CDs and a CD wallet for the conference CDs for our chapter, thinking, oh, I'd have plenty of time to get the discs copied before the October meeting when I hand over librarianship. The wallet's here. The CDs are not. They haven't even shipped. There isn't even a number for CompUSA where I can call and find out. My chapter meeting is next Wednesday.

At least I had a good dream last night, starring Jim and Pam from The Office!

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Who ARE These People?

35 pages over the 3-day weekend. Not as much as I'd hoped, but clearly sitting down for more than half an hour at a time is beyond my capabilities. And when I get up I have to putter for 15 minutes or so. So I did 6 hours on Saturday, 4 1/2 on Sunday and 3 1/2 on Monday. If I didn't have inservice today, I'd be tempted to take off.

Yesterday I wrote the love scene, the one that's been in my head since summer, and it is all wrong. First, if you've read my stuff before and then you read this, you wouldn't believe it was by the same person. This scene is very raw. I figured out later it's because my characters have SUCH trust issues. I mean, in DLB, Del and Liv had issues, but they trusted each other. Alex and Bella don't trust each other at all. She keeps everything from him even though he's saved her life, he doesn't trust her because she was a drug lord's mistress. They are so guarded with each other, it's no wonder the love scene was just sex. In fact, they're so guarded, I don't know how I'm going to give them a happily ever after.

Definitely when BIAW is over, I need to go back to the beginning and give them SOME tenderness toward each other, something that will make the love scene hot instead of, well, raw.

I also made a digital collage of my next book (sad, I know, but I'm thinking about doing NaNo this year.)

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Finishing What You Start

Yesterday I was considering putting Alex aside. I mean, since I came up with the idea before summer, I've only written about 50 pages. Surely that is not a good sign, right? I'm clearly not as wild about this book as I'd hoped, which is part of the reason I joined BIAW, to get me fired up for it again.

I've put books aside before. I started a book set on a cruise ship, set it aside for plot/hero problems. I set aside a hostage negotiator story (why I'm so interested in Standoff and The Nine) because of plot problems. Those are just books in recent memory. There are a lot more I started, lost the love for, and put aside.

What about you? Do you have partials by the wayside, or do you always finish what you start?

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Grey's was outstanding last night. THAT was the Alex I wanted to see in the last two epis. Poor Izzy! And Denny's dad will be in next week's show - I don't wanna wait!!!

I'm starting BIAW today - two hours a day on week days and 6 a day on weekends. The progress bar should start moving (though I have to cut a scene first!)

Do you ever have something you just can’t wrap your mind around? That you could learn, but you just can’t make yourself?

Like “lie,” “lay” and “lain.” I will do ANYTHING to avoid using those words because I just can’t make myself learn it.

“Further” and “farther,” too.

I’m a pretty good speller, but words like Caribbean and occasion and success trip me up every time. Prairie, too, though I’m not wont to use that one often.

Educational jargon. I’ve taught for 18 years, but once someone starts throwing around the jargon, my brain shuts off.

We won’t even talk about economic terms.

I’m an intelligent woman. I went to college, I can figure out computer stuff, I can work out plot problems (most of the time.) I can tell you every movie Gerard Butler’s been in, I knew the name of every student on my last campus (I was music teacher and taught them all). Maybe my brain is maxed out.

What can’t you make yourself learn?

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Today would have been my grandfather's 100th birthday. He died 19 years ago, but I still miss him. He spoiled me rotten.

So last night I took my bath at 6:30, baked Halloween cookies (the Nestle ones with the candy pumpkins and bones in them) and popped cheddar popcorn, then parked my butt on the couch for Bones (not really good to eat the cookies by, BTW). I loved that Hodgins knocked off Cam and Booth. I kind of think they diluted the chemistry between Bones and Booth, though. My dh nailed how the girl was killed. I was so proud!

LOST started GREAT! I'm so intrigued, but they're going to have to answer some more questions soon.

I LOVED The Nine. I loved the different characters' interactions with each other. I am dying to know what the doctor did. I love Tim Daly. I cried over the death of a character I knew 10 minutes. Very intense show.

Wednesdays are lost for me now. (Though Bones is on break till after Halloween - I will still watch Jericho.)

So what did you all think?

Oh, and I have dreamed, for the last two nights, about sharing close quarters with the other teachers at school. Night before, I dreamed I had to share a classroom with 4 teachers, and last night I dreamed we went to some camp and we were all sleeping in a big barracks. Does this mean I'm ready for the long weekend???

Grey's tonight, and Supernatural! Absolutely time to set my VCR.

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Book in a Week

My chapter is doing a book in a week starting this Friday, running through next weekend. Trish M's recent success in planting her butt in the chair and writing 200 pages in 10 days has inspired me.

But I'm thinking about my goals being time writing versus page writing. I usually set a page count - a good one - and then fail to meet it. But I'm thinking if I set an hourly thing, like, I'll write 6 hours on weekends and 2 hours on weekdays except Wednesday because Lost is on" I might do better.

And yes, I mean 6 hours of no blog checking/email checking/Supernatural watching. If the DVDs EVER get here.

Have you ever done BIAW? Has it been successful for you? What helped make it so?


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Rooting for the Bad Guys

I told my dh I wasn't going to watch Smith because I didn't want to watch another show where I'm rooting for the bad guys. I already have Prison Break. My dh pointed out on Prison Break, Michael and the warden really hadn't done anything wrong, but even the guards and FBI agent are bad. (I add Tweener to the good guys side, because all he did was steal a baseball card.) Part of the warden's anger is that he was betrayed by Michael, who he thought was FINALLY a good guy. (And am I the only one who wishes the FBI agent wasn't crazy, just smart and driven???)

My dh also said (and honestly, I'm not one of those women who say, "My dh says" all the time, but it was an interesting point) that the guys on The Unit do anything they have to do to get through a mission, even for a noble cause. Many times they go in knowing they'll have to kill to get the job done. My dh points out it's not that different from Smith or Prison Break in that way. Except for the cause.

Back to the bad guys - I don't watch The Sopranos, so I don't know if you ROOT for them, necessarily, or you just start to understand them.

Now there's a new show called Dexter, on Showtime, where the protagonist is a serial killer. He only kills bad guys, but still! (One of my cps read the book and LOVED it.)

The book I just finished reading, Something Borrowed, is about a woman who sleeps with her best friend's fiance. I don't know that I was rooting for her, per se, but it was interesting to be in her head throughout the affair.

So why this trend? Do you follow it? Does it blur the morality lines, help you see the other side? How comfortable are you rooting for the bad guy?

Hey, it turns out my best friend likes Alex, too!

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The answers to yesterday's quiz:


1) C Brenda Chin edits for Blaze.
2) A Karen Solem is at Spencerhill.
3) B Jessica Faust is at BookEnds.
4) B Hillary Sares is at Kensington.
5) D Isabel Swift is CEO of Harlequin.
6) Alison Lyons is an editor for Harlequin.
7) Pamela Ahearn is an agent at the Ahearn Agency.
8) A Miranda Steyck is an editor at MIRA.
9) C Kimberly Whalen is an agent at Trident.
10) Pamela Harty is an agent.
11) A Caren Johnson is an agent at Firebrand.
12) D Karen Kosztolnyik is at Warner.
13) Gail Chasan is an editor at Harlequin.
14) D Dierdre Knight
15) E Maria Carvainas
16) B Ashley Grayson
17) A Kristin Nelson
18) C Natasha Kern

I'm so tired - my dh's family came over yesterday, and so we cleaned all weekend, then entertained till 8 last night. I was in bed by nine and slept almost till the alarm! And there's testing today!

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Market Savvy II Quiz

Time for another market quiz!

I’ll start easy.

1) Brenda Chin edits for which Harlequin line?

A) Steeple Hill
B) Intrigue
C) Blaze
D) Mills and Boon

2) Karen Solem is an agent for which agency?

A) Spencerhill
B) Irene Goodman
C) Three Seas
D) Prospect

3) Jessica Faust is an agent for which agency?

A) Spencerhill
B) BookEnds
C) Axelrod
D) Cornerstone

4) Hilary Sares is an editor for

A) Dorchester
B) Kensington
C) Avon
D) Ivy

5) Isabel Swift is CEO of

A) St. Martin’s Press
B) Avon
C) Warner
D) Harlequin

6) Allison Lyons – editor or agent?

7) Pamela Ahearn – editor or agent?

8) Miranda Stecyk is an editor for

B) St. Martin’s
D) Warner

9) Kimberly Whalen is an agent for

A) Prospect
B) Three Seas
C) Trident
D) Spencerhill

10) Pamela Harty – editor or agent?

11) Caren Johnson is an agent for

A) Firebrand
B) Prospect
C) Trident
D) Three Seas

12) Karen Kosztolnyik is an editor for

B) St. Martin’s
D) Warner

13) Gail Chasan – editor or agent?

For 14 through 18, match the editor with the agency.

14) Dierdre a) Nelson Agency

15) Maria b) Grayson Agency

16) Ashley c) Kern Agency

17) Kristin d) Knight Agency

18) Natasha e) Carvainas Agency

Okay, I’m cooked – see how you do! Answers tomorrow!

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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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