Goals for the First Week of March

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Usually by now the Texas Mountain Laurels are covered with flowers. This winter has been long and cold, so everything is a bit delayed. I want to get out and work in my yard, but I've been swamped with edits and the MIL's house.

This week:

1) Survive TAKS testing Wednesday—hours of doing nothing but monitoring.

2) Second round of revisions on road trip—came in 5000 words short!

3) New short story—to halfway point.

4) Merritt entry

5) Probably just get Turbo Tax and do my taxes myself. Sigh.

6) Exercise

7) Keep up house


Outstanding Workshop

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I was listening to the best workshop today, and it was one interrupted by the fire drill at National! It was Sherry Thomas's workshop on creating chemistry for your readers.

First, I have to say I love Sherry. She's a member of Austin RWA (and has no idea who I am) but she went to the Merritt conference for years and years before she finally broke though with PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS. I'm just so proud of her.

Her delivery was clever and smart in this workshop, her word choices striking just the right chord with me. I don't like things too complicated, maybe you noticed.

She said you need:

1) attraction
2) common ground
3) mutual respect
4) emotional connection

She used the movie Mr. and Mrs. Smith. The main characters started their marriage based on heat and attraction, but lost common ground as they kept secrets from each other. They found the common ground and mutual when they had their big fight, saw the capabilities of the other, how equal they were. The conversations thereafter brought them to respect, and then emotional connection had them committing to each other at the end, deciding to fight instead of going off on their own to disappear.

She said the emotional connection is about making choices, about picking what's true instead of what's easy. She mentioned in Titanic, the characters had chance after chance to walk away, but they kept choosing to return to one another, and that's commitment.

The other thing that struck me was when she said chemistry feeds conflict. So how do you build conflict? You ask yourself what lies you tell yourself every day, then what person would see through those lies and strip them away? That's your conflict, and that builds chemistry.

I actually listened to it a time and a half on the way home. I'd tell you to buy it, but it was cut short. I was super inspired by it.


Movies I'm Looking Forward To

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I'm thinking of upping my Netflix from 1 DVD to 2 because March is DVD release heaven.

2012 is out next week. We never saw it in the theater, so I'm anxious to see it.

March 9
Up in the Air
Time Traveler's Wife

March 16
Princess and the Frog
Did You Hear About the Morgans? (I know, but Hugh Grant!)

New Moon comes out the 20th, which is Friday and unusual for DVD release. I'm not a Twilight fan but I do want to see what the fuss is about.

Where the Wild Things Are is out in March, too. My ds LOVED it and already said he was buying it. I'm looking forward to it, though he assured me I'll cry.

I MAY go see The Bounty Hunter since it's out over Spring Break.

What movies are you looking forward to?


Snow and Movies

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Yesterday Robyn Dehart blogged about five movies she really thought were terrible. (One was Watchmen, which I quite liked.) My list is very different. And I couldn't confine it to five.

I HATED Land of the Lost. I loved the show as a kid, but the Will Farrell remake was atrocious. Didn't make it through half an hour.

Another one I found pretty ridiculous was Mad Money. I turned it off and sent it back.

The Haunting of Molly Hartley. Trust me. Awful, awful movie.

My Best Friend's Wedding--what an awful awful heroine. (I don't like Pretty Woman, either.)

Serendipity--stupid concept. "If it was meant to be..." Whatever.

Legends of the Fall. Depressing, depressing movie.

Speed Racer. Dude, what were those animators ON?

The Happening. How about NOTHING WAS HAPPENING?? Argh.

We don't acknowledge Indiana Jones 4, the last two Matrix movies or the Hayden Christiansen Star Wars movies.

So what are some movies you hate? Do you find any on my list redeemable?

We saw snow flurries yesterday when we were coming back from lunch. Too much sleet mixed in, but the kids were excited.



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Yesterday one of my 4th grade students was cutting herself with a thumbtack because her mother and mother's boyfriend were fighting and the boyfriend hit the mother in front of the girl. This mother has been in and out of jail, so grandmother has custody, but mom had the girl for the weekend. What I want to know is why she even thought about cutting herself. Where would a nine year old get that idea?

My Problem Child cracked me up yesterday. He'd watched the ice dancing, and the Russians who were danced as an aboriginal pair--he called them the gingerbread people. LOLOLOL.

He's got something going on, maybe a food allergy or something. The mornings are okay, but the afternoons are MISERABLE. He does not stop talking/making noise. At all. No matter what. He's a coke baby, also being raised by grandparents who are too tired to really take care of him so let him run wild. I learned last week that he's actually a pretty good little leader, and asked the counselor to help me find something that will utilize this trait. Also, it will be something to hold over his head, since, as he's realized, my hands are tied. Whatever he does has no consequences.

I dreamed last night that a former parent (I've taught all of her kids and the oldest came to visit me a couple of months ago) came back to thank me, and had a special prayer said for me.

Meeting today, 2 meetings tomorrow, and 5th grade is going to "give us a song" and we have to work out a routine by Friday. Um, when? I'm so not a last minute person.


Ice Skating

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When I was young I was fascinated with ice skating. I don’t even know where I would have seen it, other than the ABC Wide World of Sports. Or maybe it was the Robby Benson movie, Ice Castles. I had a mad crush on Robby Benson when I was nine.

There was another movie around the same time, made for TV, called Champions: A Love Story, starring Jimmy McNichol. I think it had the same basic plot as Cutting Edge (which I didn’t like—she was MEAN) with the hockey player turned figure skater to partner a girl and they fell in love. No happy ending, though. I can’t even find a picture of it. My biggest memory is that I set up a cassette recorder in front of the TV (for some reason it was on in the middle of the night) and pressed record. Yes, kids, before VCRs. I woke myself up to turn the tape over and go back to sleep. I remember listening to it several times, but never did see it again.

About ten years ago, maybe longer, Cindi and I were both great followers of figure skating. I’d watch every weekend, and my husband got us tickets to see the tour of champions.

So of course the event I love most is the figure skating. I love the costumes and the grace and the music (although, the music for the men seemed pedantic this year). I prefer the couples, but love the women’s, too. And currently I’m fascinated with the skaters who change citizenship to skate in the Olympics.

What about you? Do you love the skating, too? Or something else?


Goals for Last Week of February

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Poor February. I really don’t mind it. This year it just happens to be at the end of an abnormally cold winter and I’m ready for spring. My poor poor plants. I need to replenish, because I think only 5 survived. Remember that I had something like 19 different hibiscus? Only one survived, it seems. :::SOB::::

This week:

1) Urge the dh to call for an appt to do our taxes (I gathered the paperwork, this is the least he can do.)

2) I seem to be feeling a bit better, so push for the exercise. I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been and I hate it.

3) Finish galleys and send back.

4) Finish revisions on Road Signs.

5) Start with my new short story.

6) FOUR meetings at school this week, and tutoring.

7) Get grades turned in. I just need to grade Language Arts, but it has 2 ½ times as many assignments as the others!

8) Score one contest entry.

9) Get the house in order. It’s a mess.


Robin Perini's Time Management Workshop

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I'm listening to Robin Perini's workshop on time management and a couple of things jumped out at me.

First, studies show that no matter how we say we put our families first, husbands and wives talk on the average of 28 minutes A WEEK!! I told my dh we have that beat already because we go to breakfast together every Sunday. But I can so see how that would happen. I write in the evenings, the dh plays guitar. There's TV and the Internet, and the dh doesn't get home until 6, and I'm heading for bed at 9.

Even scarier was the statistic that fathers only speak to their children minutes A WEEK. No typo there. The dh said he's about there with our son, but then the boy is 18, going to school working and has a girlfriend. We've gone 48 hours without seeing him--he goes to work before I get home and comes home after I'm asleep. But for little kids, 7 minutes a week is pretty devastating.

The other thing I've taken from the workshop is that I do not plan and plot my books, but I budget my life to death. Wonder why that is.

I'm watching Tivoed men's figure skating. I loved the Swiss skater and the Japanese skaters, all three of them, and Johnny Weir. I don't know who to cheer for in the women's, though!


Thank GOD It's Friday

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One set of edits is done, one entry is done. I've not touched the road trip book in days. I got TWO rejections this week and my tutoring check didn't come in (don't know why.) I only need to worry about my language arts grades, which is good because I have THREE meetings during conferences next week and one after school.

Last night I had a fever and this AM my temp was 94.4! Yep, corpse Mary, that's me.

Only 10 out of 18 kids present turned in their book reports that they had three weeks to do. When we graded their weekly reading test, they did well but we found THREE spelling errors in a book we paid a LOT of money for. Sheesh. I've decided I want to do fun stuff next week with the kids--hands on stuff, maybe Olympic related. I'll have to try to figure out what to do. I don't want to grade anything.

Tonight, movies to watch but tomorrow, going to MIL's house to clean it up, which means my own clean house has to wait. Not to mention my writing, but it needs to be done. Of course I'm at a part that involves a lot of emotion I don't have the energy to



Friday I got the edits on my short story. Yesterday I got the galleys for DLB AND the four Merritt entries I agreed to judge even though I'm no longer in SARA, entries that are due BEFORE Spring Break, dang it.

A teacher came up at school yesterday and said she wanted us to vote on the new reading textbooks by today. I just found out about them on Monday! We have a meeting after school today and another meeting to prepare for during planning time on Friday, and that's not to mention getting ready for the Olympics unit (my class is following the Asian teams, other classes are doing the countries from other continents. I need to draw a map of Asia. I never realized how complex it is! I plan to project it and trace it but still...) This isn't even taking into account next week is the end of the six weeks. And Problem Child decided yesterday to repeat the same thing over and over-- "Miss, tell them to stop copying me." -- for 45 minutes straight. I thought he'd give up but the only thing that stopped him was lunch.

AND I haven't gotten my tax paperwork together AND I told my dh we were going to work in his mom's house this weekend so we can SELL IT. For the first time in my life, my blood pressure was elevated when I went to the doctor on Monday. Wonder why?

ETA: COMPLETELY forgot we have group pictures tomorrow and I need to dye my hair.


Doctor, iPhone, Shake weight, Revisions and SmartPop

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Yesterday I left my inservice to go to the Med Clinic down the road from school. I've had a sore throat for a week, and started coughing Sunday so bad I couldn't sleep. I felt out of sorts but wasn't sure if it was the medicine or if I was getting pneumonia
again. So I went. Turns out it's a virus, and I got some cough medicine. My chest is tight, though the doctor said my lungs sounded good.

While I was waiting, I was so happy to have my iPhone. I read a TON while I was waiting (I was there an hour and a half.) I also emailed Trish and texted the dh repeatedly. But am mostly done with the first Joss Ware book. VERY action-packed and creepy.

When I dropped off my prescription at Walgreens, I gave into my curiosity and bought the Shake weight. I've not tried seriously to use it, but you REALLY have to shake it to get that spring action thing going. After I found out I've gained 9 pounds, I need to do something.

Making headway on short story revisions but not road trip story. Just don't have energy.

I still have $20 on my Amazon gift card. Am seriously thinking of getting a new sewing basket. I saw one I really wanted before Christmas but now cannot find it anywhere. Maybe I should wait until closer to Mother's Day and they'll have the same one again.

I got an invitation to write an essay for SmartPop books again. Must see if I can come up with a good topic.



I finished the short story I was working on. Now I'm working on two sets of edits, and both heroes are based on Jared. One story's only 80 pages, so I should be able to start a new short story by the end of the week. Go, me!

Inservice today. I don't mind, but it's supposed to be gorgeous out. I wonder if we can take it outside to the park!

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Goals for the Week of Valentine's Day

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Happy Valentine's Day!

The dh and I went to dinner last night, then shopping at Best Buy last night...oh, how I would love one of those plasma TVs. We saw one, a HUGE one, for $900, which was pretty good. Still, we resisted. There are things we need more, like a washer and dryer and a new computer. I'm pretty sure I'm going to get a Dell netbook until I can afford a new MacBook. My little pink baby keeps freezing.

This week is a lot of school stuff. Yay.

1) finish edits on short story
2) finish revisions on the road trip story
3) start new short story
4) blog at Samhain and Supernatural Sisters
5) enter Hot Shot in the Daphne
6) faculty meeting
7) order netbook
8) exercise
9) keep up house

I can do it, right?


Yes, Yes, ANOTHER Workshop

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I was listening to the Avatar soundtrack yesterday and this AM but I can't hear it unless it's cranked to like 50 (I love my Scion, she's almost paid off, but she doesn't mask road noise and she eats CDs, so I have to load stuff on my iPod, and well, it's not too loud.) So I said forget it and went back to the workshops. The one today was "You Get Me Where I Live: Why Your Manuscript's Missing Your Reader." I wasn't sure what it was about at first, the moderator just started reading the first couple of lines from different mss. The comments from the Harl/Sil editors on the panel were that the stories all started the same, with names. They said they see that all the time, that it doesn't matter because readers don't know the character yet. I assert that you have to do it, but what do I know?

Then they went on to longer, apparently pre-screened entries and read a little bit more. I was pleased to hear the first page of a manuscript I've recently judged, and rated high, was one that drew their interest. That made me feel like I kinda know what I'm doing.

I only got about halfway through on the way home, but it's an interesting workshop.

I didn't get through The Lightning Thief, but we did warn all the kids if they see it this weekend not to spoil it for us. I think I read about three chapters today aloud. My throat is scratchy now.

I've been home about 45 minutes. The house is SILENT. Lovely. Sun is out. LOVELY. This weekend I want to finish my short story (will be a close thing) and catch up on my editing. Monday's an inservice, then the rest of the week is busy. I entered Surface in More Than Magic, because I could enter electronically (YAY!) Next up...The Daphne and Hot Shot.



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The news from Variety is that Katherine Heigl (Izzy from Grey's Anatomy) is attached to the Stephanie Plum series. I like Katherine, but as Stephanie Plum, the ultimate Jersey girl? No. No no no no no. Now, I'm not sure who I see....a brunette, with big hair and a nasal voice, I guess. I listened to some of the books on tape and the woman who's Castle's agent was the narrator. She was awesome. A bit old for the role now, I guess. I can't actually think of a good brunette for the role, can you?

What about Ranger and Morelli? I like the cop boyfriend on Mercy, or Milo Ventimiglia from Heroes as Joe. Not sure about Ranger.

I listened to Nora's Chat session on the RWA CD. People asked her who she'd like to see as Eve Dallas. Of course she didn't have an answer. (She mentioned Angelina Jolie, but she wasn't serious.) I think Stana Katic, also on Castle, would be awesome, but you're never going to get her to play another cop. Vera Farmiga, maybe.

And what about Roarke? My new boy Matt Cohen would be good--in a couple of years.

I had a parent conference the other day and we talked about movies and she said her son thought Christian Bale shouldn't have been John Connor. I agree. He was not at all what I pictured adult John Connor to look like, and he didn't have very much charm in him. Even his father Kyle was charming. I would hope John would take some of that. I would have rather seen Ryan Reynolds, maybe. Then I wouldn't have been rooting so hard for Marcus to keep his heart.

What else can we cast? This is fun :)


More Workshops

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Okay, this was me last night :) DH brought home BIG burgers, though, and I'm not used to eating big burgers anymore. (I get the junior size.)

I listened to a workshop yesterday on how to create a web presence in an hour, and ended up playing with Wordpress most of the evening because supposedly you can have static pages with the same look as your blog. I never could figure out how to link the two, and I would hate to give up all the fun widgets on Blogger. Anyway, one of the ladies who gave the workshop is Emma Clair and it was really an exciting workshop, though I wish I could have seen the slides they showed.

Did you see LOST last night? What do you think?

And does anyone know anything about bail in Victorian England?


One Lovely Blog

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That was me yesterday. No sleep, sore throat, earache, no fun.

Natalie nominated me for this weeks ago and I’ve been too scattered to address it. Thanks, Natalie!


Okay, ten things about me you may not already know.

1) I waffle. I can never make a straight decision. Everything has to be weighed and measured, and even then I second-guess myself. For heaven's sake, I still have $20 from the Amazon gift card I won last month. Can't decide how to spend it.

2) Surprisingly, however, I do not like to eat waffles. Too crunchy. I’m not much of a fan of pancakes, either. Unless they have chocolate chips.

3) I have the same thing for breakfast every day but Sunday, and every Sunday I go to the same restaurant and have the same thing. The waitresses don’t even bring me menus anymore.

4) I can apparently turn every topic to the subject of food.

5) When the dh had to back up his laptop, I had 1200 items in folders. What are they? Who knows? Clearly I hoard digitally.

6) I have my library card number memorized. This is handy when I’m placing items on hold.

7) I’m pretty sure I’m over Gerard Butler.

8) I always say I want a day where I can just read, but I never do it.

9) I don’t really like to drive—maybe because I make a 45 minute round trip every day? During time off, I never drive more than five miles from home. When Trish is here, she drives, and I forget to give her directions.

10) I love shoes. I own a lot of them. And spend most of my life in Crocs or Eastlands.

My favorite blogs (other than Natalie’s)

Reading, Writing and Stuff that Makes Me Crazy

A Writer’s Life

Jill Shalvis

The Rewrite Cafe

Jaunty Quills

Drunk Writer Talk


The Urge to Write

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I love the show Mercy. I came to it late, but caught up some when Oxygen had a marathon. I love the relationships and the humor and the will-they-won't-they. And it makes me itch to write. I don't write medical dramas, I rarely write straight relationship stuff--there's always a gun or bomb or bad guy--but watching this show makes me want to write.

Grey's used to do that for me, and the movie The Divine Secerts of the YaYa Sisterhood, every time. I don't know what part of my brain it touches, but I can't watch without a pen in my hand or a laptop on my lap.

Is that weird? Does it happen to you?


Goals for the Week Before Valentine's Day

Not too bad this week, I don’t think.

1) 70 pages revised on Road Signs

2) Finish short story

3) Get treats for kids for V-Day. It's a big deal at school, which I just don't understand.

4) Big grocery trip

5) Get stuff together for taxes. Decided to pay someone to do it this year, thanks to MIL’s house and the boy’s college. Also the crying last year.

6) Progress reports

7) Exercise

8) Keep up house

Oh, and I recast the hero in my short story. PERFECT romance hero look, don't you think?



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I was blog hopping and was noticing in the comments of some blogs that people I knew from separate places have connections I was unaware of. And I was trying to remember how I knew different people.

I know Mary Beth Lee and I met on eHarlequin. I think Natalie Damschroder and I did, too, but I don't remember how we ended up knowing each other so well. One of her regular commenters is a fellow Samhain author who I follow on Twitter because she's hilarious, and another of her commenters is someone I finalled with in the 2007 GH. And I don't remember how Natalie and Trish got to know each other.

One of the former SARAs I stay in touch with on Twitter and Facebook is friends with someone else I finalled with in 2007, and she was surprised we "knew" each other.

The Internet world is small and getting smaller all the time!

Oh, I read another good article in the RWR by Stephanie Laurens. Check it out. This issue is a keeper.

Sun's out, sitting in my big chair in the back room soaking it up. Today--writing!

This is my new wallpaper:



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I'm still on the craft disc of the RWA conference discs. I listen almost every day on the way to work. Some of them are things I've already learned, some, I hate to say, I can't listen to because some of the speakers turn me off. I think of my grandmother's saying: "I wish I could buy them for what they're worth and sell them for what they think they're worth." One in particular kept alluding to the other workshops she gives, and wasted so much time that I didn't get much out of the workshop she was giving.

But I've heard some good ones, too, particularly on PR. The Billionaire Tycoon's Secret Promotional Baby was good but cut short by the fire alarm. 20 Questions to a Killer PR Plan is excellent. Also, Online Promotion B(u)y the Book is good. I'm right now listening to one on Body Language that's interesting but not as writing related as I hoped.

Have you heard any good workshops from RWA?

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I've Never...

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I read the Eloisa James article about writing strong heroes in this month’s RWR and I realized…I’ve never read anything by her. I have a book on my shelf that I got at RWA, but I’ve not cracked it.

I’ve never read Christina Dodd, or Julia Quinn or Sandra Brown. I’ve never read Debbie Macomber or Mary Balogh or Georgette Heyer.

I know there are more and when I’m in the bookstore, I think to myself, “I can’t believe I’ve never read….”

Who have you never read that everyone else has?



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I have all these half-written blog posts but can't seem to finish any of them. I have some half-finished shows on the Tivo, too. Hm...

I left work today with a bad taste in my mouth, if you know what I mean, the kind that makes you not want to go back.

Two of my high school friends on Facebook are reading Hot Shot. One has already read Where There's Smoke and is passing it around at work. That trips me out.

I've been revising but not writing. Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow...



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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