Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year All!

I considered blogging about resolutions and asking how many of you actually make and/or keep them. I won't though because I'm the world's worst at making resolutions I only keep a couple of days. But it's a new year and I always feel like I need to make a change for the better, whether I call it a resolution or not.

A news segment this morning caught my attention, so I thought I'd share it with you. A doctor discussed a list of five things you could do to be healthier in '08. And since they sounded so easy, I thought, what the heck, I'm going to give them a try.

Here they are in case you'd like to give them a go too.

1. Laugh often
2. Walk 30 minutes a day
3. Use brain teasers to keep your brain active
4. Get enough sleep
5. Improve your diet by either eliminating one bad thing or adding one good thing.

I may not be able to do all five things each day, but they seemed simple enough.

How about you? Anything you're going to do different in 2008?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Music To My Ears


We’ve already talked about music and writing on this blog, especially music we listen to while writing. I’ve heard many say they only listen to instrumentals, that the words interfere with what they’re writing or they lose track of their thoughts.

Me, being me, I listen to all kinds. This is based on my mood and the scene I’m writing. I know that others must feel like I do as a few authors have CDs available to go with their books, kinda like soundtracks for movies. Of course, the main reason I listen to music, correct that, loud music is my desk sits between the dining room and living room. No doors. No way to silence the never ending thumping of the TV. So music is important to help me concentrate. Thankfully I grew up during the age of ear numbing rock and roll. In high school I possessed some decent headphones, thus made my mom happy, and I certainly had the music loud enough to cross my eyes. What did you say? Surprised I can still leer? Heh? Oh! HEAR! Yeah, me too.

Okay now I’ll get to the real point of my blog. I’ve found that music actually inspires me to be romantic and creative.

When it comes to the creative part, take my latest book, THE PREACHER’S SON. I got the idea from listening to LeAnn Rimes’s "I Probably Wouldn’t Be This Way." I especially loved the first and last lines of the song. Click here to listen to the song. The video could be better, but, hey, I’m not the director. The song made me think about some of my favorite movies like Long, Hot Summer with (1958) Paul Newman and Joanne Woodard. Heck, I liked the story so much, I even liked the one with (1985) Don Johnson and Cybill Shepherd. Love the misunderstood bad boy stories.

During one of my forays into listening to the oldies, I played Eric Clapton’s "I Shot The Sheriff." Click here to listen to it. Then decided that would be great for the next book.Yep. My heroine will shoot the sheriff (hero) but will be a suspect in killing the deputy. This one and the next one will be set in the same town as THE PREACHER’S SON. I hope to bring in the flavor of the old movie Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (also 1958 - yes, I do enjoy modern movies too) with Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman. Man! Mr. Newman had some great roles. Anyway, I love the family dynamics in both of the movies. Being a fourth (possibly more) generation Southerner, I love to write about the different skeletons in the closet stories.

Now you’re wondering why I need inspiration to be romantic, considering I love to read romances and write them, plus I AM A WOMAN. LOL! Because, I’m really not a romantic type person. My husband is more romantic. He’s the one that bought me a congratulation card when I received my first honorable mention. He’s the one that suggested we stay at a bed and breakfast in St. Augustine (Loved it! Been there two more times since!).

Well, when I’m writing those special love scenes, I have to have the right music. You know to make sure the hero doesn’t rush and heroine doesn’t rush him. Anything by Chris Isaak usually does it. Recently, I purchased "Nights in White Satin" by the Moody Blues for my Ipod. Goodness! I had forgotten how romantic that song was. It was mine and Steve's song as teenagers. Just think, any rock song that uses an orchestra and has lyrics like below is awesome. Click here to hear the song.

And I love you,
Yes, I love you,
Oh, how, I love you.
Oh, how, I love you.

I know you were beginning to wonder what in the world is her question. What’s the most romantic song (note I said song, so that means it has words) you've ever heard? Be sure to give title and artist so we can listen to it on YouTube.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Name Game

Okay, I was going to write a long, academic blog on the importance of names. But after three tries, I realized that what I really want to know is this: Where did your name come from?

My mom was named for her paternal grandmother: Minnie Briggs. Yikes is right. When she was 18 months old, her parents went through a bitter divorce, and her mother erased all evidence of her father from her life. You know those photos of couples torn in half? My grandmother had boxes of them. And she changed my mother's name to -- wait for it -- Hilda. (My mother never forgave her for that!)

So tell us, who were you named for and why?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas everyone!!

Since it's Christmas day and my muse and I are still on vacation until Thursday, I can't think of on single thing about writing to talk about. Sad, I know...

Well, Santa left the 2nd and 3rd Pirates movies under the tree for me...I can see a Pirate movie marathon in my future!! Surprisingly, my 3 cats are getting along great with my mom's 2 cats and 3 dogs...they ignore each other completely. Instead of turkey and dressing, we had my late grandmother's homemade chicken and dumplings. mmmmm....good!! Yesterday, my mom and I saw the new Nicholas Cage movie...sigh...that man can do no wrong... Oh!! We ate at Bonedaddy's, off of 280, last night. VERY GOOD food but make sure you come with plenty of Washingtons...


So...that's been my life for past 48 hours. What have you been doing? What are the favorites gifts you recieved? What are the favorite gifts you've given?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Romance at Christmas

This time of year you can always count on tv playing and replaying certain Christmas movies. Many I love to see over and over. As far as romances, there are five that I enjoy each time. If you're a romance reader, you know how these movies end, so I'm not spoiling the ending for you. Check them out.

THE CHRISTMAS LIST - Mimi Rogers works at a department store's perfume counter and has a crummy boyfriend. She makes a Christmas list and deposits it in Santa's mailbox. She starts getting the items on her list. She winds up with a better job and a better boyfriend/husband.

COMFORT & JOY - "It's a Wonderful Life" but with a twist. She gets to see her life on a different path. Nancy McKeon plays a workaholic who can't even remember what she buys her secretary for a Christmas present. One snowy Christmas Eve she hits a telephone pole and finds herself with a husband and two children. By the end, she loves her husband and her children, but returns to reality. Will she stay on the path she was on? If you're a romance reader, you know the answer to that one.

BORROWED HEARTS - Eric McCormick is a businessman selling his company to a man who will take the jobs to Mexico. When the buyer visits at Christmas, EM hires Roma Downey and her daughter to pretend to be his family. But is the buyer really a businessman or an angel in disguise? Of course, Eric falls in love with mother and daughter and she opens his eyes to what he's doing to his employees.

CHRISTMAS IN MY HOMETOWN - Okay, I admit I've had a crush on Tim Matheson for ages, but the movie is good, too. TM works for a tractor company and is sent to one of their plants (right before Christmas) to make recommendations on closing it. He pretends to be a customer to buy tractors. He falls in love with Melissa Gilbert and her daughter. The entire town is angry when they find out his real identity and of course, MG spurns him. What will he recommend to his boss? Will he get the girl back? Well, it's a Christmas romance, but it's fun watching Tim get there. There's also a subplot that he lived in this town when he was small (hence the title) and his father deserted him.

CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT - There's a newer version with Dyan Cannon and Kris Kristofferson, but I like the black and white with Barbara Stanwyck. BS plays a magazine writer who writes about food, her marriage, her child, and life on her farm in Connecticut. However, none of those things are reality. She's a New Yorker who can't even boil an egg. When her boss invites himself and a wounded soldier to Connecticut for Christmas, she goes into pretend mode to save her career. Of course, sparks fly between her and the soldier.

There are other Christmas classics I enjoy--Miracle on 34th Street (Natalie Wood version), It's a Wonderful Life. But nothing beats a heartwarming romance.

Any Christmas romance movies you enjoy?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Cornerstone.

My grandmother is 102.

Really.

She is also completely alert and aware. She says she stays that way because she doesn't like to "Hang out with the old people".

Her name is Kathryn, but she goes by Pansy, her middle name. She married in her late twenties and had five children (all are living) numerous grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Her husband, my grandfather died a 97, (she'd been married to him for over 60 years!).

She’s been active her whole life and even did aerobics classes called "body recall" until she was 99, and it was the first thing she quit when the doctor told her at her age, she could do what she wanted. Why not? She was 99!

For my grandmother, the glass is always half empty; even when she was robbed for the first time in her life. It was a crime of opportunity; because no-one locks the doors in her secured assisted living community. Someone came in while she was out and took the cash she had on hand for incidentals. She kept it in plain view, since her eyesight is failing.

Was she angry? Scared? Upset? No. She laughed. It was her observation that if it took 102 years for her to be taken advantage of than life was pretty good.

My grandmother has been a cornerstone in my life of what is good and right. In her world there is always something to smile about and the darkness can be chased by light. Her body is slowing down and soon she will follow her husband in death. In that moment something precious will leave, and only those she touched and the memories given will remain.

Do you have a cornerstone? Share with me who touched your life for the best.

Friday, December 21, 2007

A Blast From The Past

Being Married in London during the Year 1700
or the
Single Life is for Me.

If you are a high-born lady wishing to marry your stable boy, an uncle wishing to marry his niece, or a young couple wanting to marry without consent, you would go to the alleyways known as the Rules of the Fleet near Fleet Bridge, not far from the river Thames. All types of "plyers" would encourage you to come into their "marriage house" for the ceremony. Most of the clienteles were craftsmen, innkeepers and the lower classes.

One-ninth of England’s population lived in London during 1700.

Weddings were legal only between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and noon.

A contract for marriage was official when the man provided the woman with a ring or presented her with half of a coin.

Males over the age of 14 and females over the age of 12 could marry with the consent of their guardian. Both sexes could marry without consent at the age of 21.

A single woman had many of the same rights of a man. She could own property, leave a will, sue or be sued, but once married, her husband own her lock, stock and barrel. Should she commit adultery, her husband could sue the man for trespassing on his "property."

Popular sex manuals of the time were Aristotle’s Masterpiece and Aretine’s Postures. The man’s sexual organ was at times referred to as his "yard." (Funny! In his dreams!) A midwifery book by a Mrs. Jane Sharp claimed the wife would not conceive if there was "no desire nor delight . . ."

A 5 shilling tax was paid on licenses and certificates of marriage. Thus, the reason cheaper marriage houses married 1/3 of the London population.

A Fleet marriage to a stranger help legitimized a child and prevented the woman from being publicly whipped.

Neither a license nor posting of Banns was required in a Fleet marriage.

If a woman got heavily into debt, she could marry a prisoner and the debt would be considered cleared. (You can’t arrest the husband for the debt when he’s already in prison, duh!)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The One You Remember

It's my turn to blog and I'm in the middle of revisions, which so far has been akin to chiseling granite with a plastic spoon. Since I'm short on time, as are most folks this time of year, I thought it'd be fun to share a Christmas gift memory.

What is that one gift you received that you'll never forget. The one that made you laugh, cry or in my case, shake your head and say, "What were you thinking?"

My memorable gift was my first married Christmas. My husband proudly presented me with....drum roll please...an ironing board! Yes, I know he meant well...at least that's what he said and twenty years later, I can look back on that night and laugh. My sense of humor wasn't as well defined then.

What about you? And to keep this writerly, have you ever used this Christmas memory or any others in your writing?

Monday, December 17, 2007

You Did What?


You've heard stories about authors' computers being confiscated by the authorities. A scary thought for two reasons: 1) who wants to be in trouble with the government? 2) who wants their computer out of reach for weeks and possibly months? Yuck!

I know if they came into my house and looked at my books I have on interrogation, poisons, following people, and survivalist manuals surrounding my computer, they would begin to wonder about me. Thank goodness I also have how tos in writing romances and grammar books galore that would surely give someone a clue of what's going on.

What got me to thinking about all of this? Actually it was an email conversation I had with my CP the other day. It went something like this...

***
CP: How goes it with you?
Me: Going good. I just blew up Mary's Lexus. LOL!
CP: Cool. A bomb?
Me: Yep! Her dead husband's boss is sending her a
message that he doesn't mess around. He wants
that evidence. Or at least she thinks it's him.
HeeHee
CP: You go girl!
***
See. So much glee in causing destruction. I do believe to be a writer you have to be a little warped. LOL!

What books do you have that would make people wonder about you?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Just Exactly How Hard Is It to Write?

You've probably heard of Jean-Dominque Bauby, the former editor of Elle magazine.

I hadn't until I glanced at a CNN.com article about a man who is completely paralyzed except for his eyes. He communicates by answering yes and no questions; he looks up for yes, down for no. I found the article mildly interesting, and then I saw these sentences: "Former Elle magazine editor Jean-Dominque Bauby suffered from the same syndrome and was also able to communicate using only one eye. He wrote about the horror of having locked-in syndrome in his book "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," which was made into a film released November 30.
Bauby's writing was an exceedingly slow process. He dictated the book by blinking his left eye when the correct letter was presented to him."

That last sentence stunned me: "He dictated the book by blinking his left eye when the correct letter was presented to him."

Holy you-know-what.

If that's not inspiration, I don't know what is. I have a new word taped above my workspace: BLINK.

http://www.cnn.com/2007/HEALTH/conditions/12/14/locked.in/index.html

Thursday, December 13, 2007

3 large dogs, 2 Christmas parties and 1 very stressed out writer

So today is my day to blog but I can’t think of anything creative to talk because I’m STRESSING!

I should be a happy little bug right now. I’m sitting at my desk at work (shhhhh) looking at all the Christmas lights and red tinsel covering the bookcases, twinkling snowflakes and children’s department staff stockings hanging over my workspace and a 6 foot tree in front of the floor to ceiling window. I mean it looks like Christmas just exploded in here. But I can’t help but think about all the things I need to do between now and 12/25. I have a sing-along this afternoon in which I and two other people will be tooting our horns. My biggest fear this afternoon - finding every wrong note on the pages, grabbing them and blowing them out of my horn. Can you tell practice didn’t go well last night????

Santa is coming to the library on Saturday. The rain better hold off until after 4:00 p.m., that’s all I’ve gotta say.

Two more parties next week plus a hayride THEN loading up my 3 cats and heading to mama’s house. My babies love going to Granny’s house – there are three 75 lb+ inside dogs to sleep on. (I swear they do it!!)

OK…I’m finished venting. Anyone else care to share what is stressing them out at the moment? How are you getting through it?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Perfect Gift

Only fourteen more shopping days remain. Have you been good? Have you made your list?

The most perfect gift I've ever received is God's love and salvation. Sometimes we forget what this season is all about.

My most wanted gift is a Fly Fusion pen. You write and then upload it to your computer. Voila! Your writing is text. (flyworld.com) They advertise it a million times a week. Then, there's always a laptop or software for us writers.

Or maybe you're the diamond or lingerie type. I got over that eons ago.

The idea of the perfect gift varies from person to person. So, what is the perfect gift you hope to receive?

Monday, December 10, 2007

THE SCENE

You've read it.

You know, that scene that just grabs you making your heart jump, or your eyes water, elicits a laugh, and even gets you a bit twitter-pated (well you know).

For me, its that moment that the hero says a quiet word that makes others jump, or when the heroine has just had a enough and makes a stand.

What are you reading that has grabbed your attention? So much so, that scenes from the story just tumble through your mind?

I am currently reading some delightful stories by fellow writers (and since I am bloody late posting this and haven't had the chance to ask them if I can use quotes, I won't put them here.--Sorry!!--Christy, I need time management AND a de-cluttering class).

So you get to reveal what you're reading...and why it jumps out at you. (Hey, and it will give me a list of books to go read...) :)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Not My Turn But I Had To Tell Someone!

I know it's not my turn to blog, but I had to tell someone...I finally watched Pride and Prejudice!! And I LOVED IT!

Boy, oh, boy, I'm such a snob. I thought I would be bored out of my skull. Though I normally love period pieces, I was afraid the girl would die in the end or wouldn't get the guy or some other horrible ending I've seen in other "classic" period films.

Wow, was I wrong. That was so...dare I say it...romantic!!! Now I won't promise to read the book and if the book is ten times better, I still not sure I want to give it a go. My stack of TBR is way too big to add another.
Ooookaaaay, if you insist, but maybe next year.

Now the verison I have is from 2005 with Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. I heard the 1995 verison with Colin Firth is better and what did I do today when I took the day off and went Christmas shopping? Yep! I bought the older verison! LOL! Early Christmas present to myself.
Hopefully I can watch it soon and compare the two. I'll let you know my opinion.

What about you? Seen it? Love it? Which verison?

Friday, December 07, 2007

Visions of Neatly Stacked Sugar Plums

I have a confession to make. I'm a disorganized person. Now for those of you who know me well, you're snickering, rolling your eyes and thinking, "Yeah, like I didn't already know that." There may be some I've fooled. It's getting close to the end of the year and I feel the need to confess. I'm a mess. My office is a mess. My house is a mess, but that's a different blog for another day.

Right now, when I go to my word documents, I have 12 different files for my first book. Some are different versions, some are notes I've made on possible changes, there's a synopsis, possibly several. You get the idea. And that's just for one book on my computer.

I also have a file cabinet filled with old contest scores, rejections, story ideas, marketing, etc. It's also a chaotic mess.

So why am I telling you this? Because I need to hear from those who are organized, who have it together. Who only have one version of each item and don't feel the need to create a new file every time there's a new idea for your story.

I also need to hear from those who are in the same position I am...but that's just because I don't want to be the only one who's this disorganized.

What are your tips and ideas for keeping your writing life organized? What secrets can you share about organizing your computer files or paper files? It's coming up on the new year and I really want to de-clutter my writing life! Can you help?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Auntie WIP Talks About Subplots

Auntie said I could bring out one of her articles as long as I provide some eye candy too. Dirty old woman! Here you go...

There are three types of subplots: 1) connected, 2) comparable, and 3) conscience.

Connected
This one is the most obvious and, of course, the most used. It’s where a writer’s main plot has a smaller plot(s) that hints at or provides momentum or information for the main plot. This will give the main plot a three-dimensional feel and provide your characters with depth. Often used in larger book formats where you have more room for your characters to grow and show backstory.

A good example is in Debra Webb’s STRIKING DISTANCE. You have Tasha North tracking down an assassin to save the head of the Colby Agency. At first, you have no idea of the connection between the assassin and a main character, but as the plot moves along several subplots reveals their connection. The author subtly provides hints until the connection is revealed. So as not to reveal the twist, read the book and see how well crafted the subplots are entwined into the story. In this case, the subplot becomes fundamentally connected to the main plot.

Comparable
This can be used for effect, but an author needs to be very careful. It can also become more of a fill, making a manuscript longer, and bore the reader to death. You take two plots, either of the same importance or one of more importance and written parallel of each other.

Sorry, it has been years since Auntie has read a book like this, though there are probably many excellent ones. The best example would be the movie LOVE ACTUALLY. A wonderful romantic comedy. The only connection the four stories had was that they were about love. The stories were presented in parallel of each other, but of different types of love.

Conscience
All authors would like to use this more, but we have to be careful in popular fiction to not preach or push our particular causes on those that just want a good read -- a delightful escapism. We’ve all read books that tell us a moral behind the story or makes us think about how we treat the environment or our fellow humans. If you’re subtle with it, it can give a story flavor.

The one that comes to mind first is Linda Howard’s CRY NO MORE. Some of you are saying, "What? That didn’t have anything related to public awareness." Linda doesn’t preach or thrust her views at you. It’s all woven into the storyline. You have mention of the Amber Alert and adoption practices that help but at times can hurt needy want-to-be-parents. None of the information provided in her book dragged down the main plot or made you feel like it’s all your fault. They actually solidified the story further.

For more information on subplots, check out the following:
http://groups.msn.com/RomanceWritingTips/subplots.msnw
http://www.storymind.com/dramatica/plot/subplots.htm
http://www.thewritersezine.com/t-zero/archives/2005-texts/2005-01-craft2.shtml
Writing the Breakout Novel, by Donald Maass

Now for the eye candy.



Monday, December 03, 2007

Making a Long Trip Even Longer

Warning: This is nothing more than a rant -- I freely admit it.

I have been awake for almost 24 solid hours, and I am just a tad grumpy. Here’s my question: Why can’t people just be honest? My daughter and I sat in JFK airport for five hours today waiting for our flight to Atlanta. Now I understand that most of the time, flight delays are unavoidable and have nothing at all to do with the people that keep airplanes flying. But this one did. And we kept getting the same story over and over: “We’ve been waiting on your crew. They’re all here now, and just as soon as they get the plane ready, we’ll begin boarding, so don’t leave the gate area.” And then they’d back the flight up another 20 minutes. Again. And again. And again. Twenty minutes turned into five hours slowly and painfully.

And back to the question at hand: Why couldn’t they just say “We don’t know when your flight will board. Go to the bar, kick back with a cold one, and we’ll let you know when it’s time to go.”

Is that too much to ask?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

And They Lived Happily Ever After

If you didn't make it to the Christmas party, you missed a treat. Laughter, music and stealing were on the menu. One gift in particular was a plaque from Hobby Lobby that read "And They Lived Happily Ever After". This was a big item up for grabs. Christy got it first then Jenn E. stole it. I know several of us were eyeing that plaque but I think we didn't have the nerve to go up against Jenn. ;-) Afterwards, several people proclaimed "I'm going to Hobby Lobby!" - I being one of them. So Jenn M., Jason and I hop in the car and off we go!

After an exciting scavenger hunt through two different Hobby Lobbies, - and a run in with Christy at the first one, we finally found the plaque. Jenn quickly called Christy to tell her about the find - Christy, did you get one??? - and off we went to the checkout line. Ten minutes later, and with the help of Jenn's employee discount :-), I walk out of the story with my treasure. It's now hanging in the living room.

I just love that saying. It gives me inspiration to create Happily Ever Afters of my own. What are some of the sayings that inspire you?