Friday, October 24, 2014

Happy October 24

Today is October 24 and I thought I'd share some things that happened on this date in history:

1901 - the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel is Annie Taylor.

1911 - Orville Wright stays aloft in his gilder for 9 minutes.

1926 - Harry Houdini's last performance- takes place in Detroit.

1929 - "Black Thursday" stock market crash.

1931 - The George Washington Bridge in NYC opens.

1945 - founding of the United Nations and in 1949- the cornerstone of the building was laid.

1992 - the Toronto Blue Jays- the first non-USA team to win- wins the World Series.

2003 - The Concorde makes its last flight.

2005 - Hurricane Wilma makes landfall in Florida killing 61 and doing billions in damage.

1957 - My husband was born and shares his birthday with some holidays such as United Nations Day, Suez Day and World Polio Day.

I love October for a lot of reasons. It's finally cool and most of the time, we have less humidity. The leaves turning colors is amazing and ice cold apple cider is one of my favorite seasonal drinks. Halloween is coming and don't we all adore that time of year? Such fun to dress up and pretend you're someone else. I love this sign in my hometown. It cracks me up. 

In my writer's life, I usually try to relax a bit at the end of this month because the madness of NaNoWriMo will be gearing up soon. I read Suzanne's post on Wednesday and enjoyed that (as well as her artwork) and even though NaNo didn't work out for her, she's a prolific writer who doesn't need that nudge to keep her going like I do. I love the camaraderie of the write ins and on the website. they have a spot you can enter your daily word count and watch that grow into a nice graph. Getting my kicks watching that happen should tell you how easily I'm amused. 

Whether you're celebrating a family member's birthday, trick or treating, gearing up for NaNoWriMo or just lazing around drinking cider and watching leaves fall, I hope you're enjoying your October.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Do You NaNo? A Cautionary Tale

It's almost that time again, the month when writers get to work, some determined to push out that next manuscript and others hoping to push out their first, all in 30 days. It's almost November 1, which means it's almost time for NaNoWriMo--National Novel Writing Month.

Do you NaNo?

I sometimes feel as if my life is one continuous NaNoWriMo but, in truth, I've only done it once. It was November 2010. I was in a 29-month holding pattern between selling my first manuscript to Tor and seeing the book actually released. (Yep, 29 months. I counted.) I had an idea for a new book. It would be great! It would be half urban fantasy and half paranormal romance! It would have a subtext about Stockholm Syndrome woven through it, deep and psychological! It would be Southern and Celtic and Gothic, all rolled into one. I would write it from six point-of-view characters, which would make it rich and multifaceted! It would have an apocalyptic sci-fi element! I'd finish it in thirty days, it would be called STOCKHOLM, and it would be brilliant!

I finished it! It was called STOCKHOLM.

It sucked lemons. Really, really big lemons.

I took it apart to see why it wasn't working. Then I had to fix it. Time to write it? Thirty days. Time to fix it? Twelve months. But I learned some things.

It really couldn't sit on the fence, as it turned out. Lesson 1: Be true to your genre or, if not, know why you aren't being true. As it turned out, I didn't really have a reason except 'just because'.

Lesson 2: It's genre fiction, not literary fiction. It can have a deep, psychological subtext, but not at the price of story. Literary fiction is expected to be pretentious and slow. Genre fiction readers would gouge out their eyeballs by chapter three.

Lesson 3: Yeah, it can be Southern and Celtic and Gothic--it is fantasy, after all. But mood is no substitute for depth of character or solidness of plot.

Lesson 4: It can have apocalyptic sci-fi elements but make sure they work within the world of your primary genre. See Lesson 1.

Lesson 5: If you finish it in 30 days, it's probably not going to be brilliant. But it can be a solid starting point.

A year later, I finished that NaNo book. Somewhere along the way, STOCKHOLM became REDEMPTION and it was published about the same time as its 29-month-old elder sibling, ROYAL STREET.

I can safely say I will not do NaNoWriMo again, but I don't regret doing it that one time. The lessons were valuable.

And I forgot Lesson 6: Write from a loose outline. Deconstructing and reconstructing the NaNo book is how I developed the plotting system that has seen me through another dozen or so novels so far. [Inserts shameless plug for the "Quilting the Perfect Plot" workshop I'll be offering through the Southern Magic RWA chapter from November 17-December 14. You can find more info here.]

So how about you? Are you a NaNo veteran, or does the idea send you screaming away from the keyboard?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Soup's On!!

The weather is getting cooler and I'm thinking it's soup time! Here's one of my favorites :) Try it and let me know your thoughts.

Chicken Chili

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 can black beans
1 can whole kernel corn
1 tsp onion powder
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 packet Ranch dressing mix
1 package cream cheese

  1. Drain and rinse the black beans. Place your chicken at the bottom of the crock pot, then pour out the whole can of corn (undrained), Rotel tomatoes, and black beans on top of chicken.
  2. Top with seasonings and ranch dressing mix. Stir together.
  3. Place cream cheese on top. Cover with lid and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Now there's a little romance for ya! Grab a bowl and a good book and enjoy!!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Winner Is . . .

Thank YOU for commenting and supporting us in this fun month of giveaways.  Be sure to go back and check the posts you commented on and see if you won a prize.

And now to announce our grand winner 

of the Kindle Fire 7" HD Tablet and

several free e-books from Southern Magic's authors!

The winner is . . .

Johanna Denton!

Johana, please contact me at the following address.  CarlaSwafford @

FOR LOVE OF THE STORY BY Peggy Webb AKA Elaine Hussey

If you'd told me nearly thirty years ago that I'd still be writing, I wouldn't have believed you. In the early days of my career, I actually believed I might run out of ideas!  I thought publishers would stop buying my books and readers would move on to the next good thing.

The truth is this: I will never live long enough to write all the stories I want to tell. I will never tire of opening a brand new document then typing the title and my name underneath. My children and grandchildren will have to pry the keyboard from my cold dead hands. And why? Why do I pursue a lonely profession day after day, year after year? I do it all for love of the story.

Stories come to me many different ways. They can come in a dream, a memory, a song. They can come from an incident I've witnessed or fly off the page of a non-fiction book I'm reading. Such a small thing, this tiny idea, and yet I grab hold and start typing as if my hair is on fire. I put characters on the page and fall in love with a story, all over again.

My latest novel, The Language of Silence, sprang to life when I discovered a non-fiction book about Mabel Stark, the first female big cat trainer. Shortly after I read about Mabel, the circus came to my hometown (no coincidence there, just a bit of magic), and I got to interview a charming, ancient woman who actually remembered when Mabel was with Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey. 

Mabel inspired Lola, who brought with her a whole host of characters: a granddaughter caught in domestic violence with nowhere to turn, a sister longing to know if Lola got away Scott free with murder, a beat-up old big cat trainer whose secrets are eating him alive, a circus owner who founded a dynasty of equestrians and is determined to die under the Big Top.

Oh, I LOVE this story!  Publisher's Weekly calls it "magical," and fans across the country are telling me what this story means to them. In The Language of Silence, I tackle a serious issue: spousal abuse. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women, more than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined. Fear keeps many of these women silent. I spoke for them. I gave my abused characters hope, and then I gave them wings to fly away to freedom. If any of my readers identify with Lola and her granddaughter Ellen, I want them to grow wings, too. I want them to fly to the nearest shelter and speak out.     

Thank you so much for stopping by to chat.  One person who comments on this post today will receive a signed copy of The Language of Silence.

The REALLY BIG NEWS, though, is that all this month you've been leaving comments on the posts of my most wonderful Southern Magic sisters!  Boy, what a treat we have in store for you! A Kindle Fire to the grand prize winner, announced TODAY!

Also, you’ve seen our posts about the fabulous Readers Luncheon, hosted by Southern Magic. New York Times bestselling author Sylvia Day will be the guest speaker. Each attendee will receive a bag of books plus author swag, sit at the table with one or two published authors and have a chance to win baskets full of goodies!  It’s like early Christmas! To register for the luncheon, go to

Do visit me at my websites, and You can also follow me on Facebook!/peggy.webb.92 and Twitter