Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Yes...I've done it...

Ah...Marti Gras!!! The time for purple, gold and green EVERYWHERE! And the beads! We can't forget the beads!!

I had the pleasure of living in Savannah for 4 years. During that time I braved River Street 3 times during St. Patrick's Day weekend (Savannah's version of Marti Gras) where the beer, bread and Savannah River are all green. And I admit, I've earned my share of beads. I will not go into any details on how I earned said beads since this is a PG blog BUT I can say "Been there, done that. Got the gigantic beads to prove it."

What have you done in your past that you can say "Been there, done that" but yet people may not believe you without proof?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Jane Austen Never Goes Out of Style

Within the next two weeks, two movies dealing with Jane Austen are being released on DVD. I have them at the top of my Netflix queue along with Elizabeth: The Golden Age. They are Becoming Jane and The Jane Austen Book Club.

About Becoming Jane Yahoo! Movies says: "The year is 1795 and young Jane Austen is a feisty 20-year-old and emerging writer who already sees a world beyond class and commerce, beyond pride and prejudice, and dreams of doing what was then nearly unthinkable - marrying for love. Naturally, her parents are searching for a wealthy, well-appointed husband to assure their daughter's future social standing. They are eyeing Mr. Wisley, nephew to the very formidable, not to mention very rich, local aristocrat Lady Gresham, as a prospective match. But when Jane meets the roguish and decidedly non-aristocratic Tom Lefroy, sparks soon fly along with the sharp repartee. His intellect and arrogance raise her ire - then knock her head over heels. Now, the couple, whose flirtation flies in the face of the sense and sensibility of the age, is faced with a terrible dilemma. If they attempt to marry, they will risk everything that matters - family, friends and fortune."

If they stick to historical fact, we know how it will end. No HEA for Jane. But that doesn't stop me from wanting to see it.

About The Jane Austen Book Club Yahoo! Movies says: "In modern-day California, six women in a book club find their lives and romances reflected in the six novels of English author Jane Austen."

Interesting concept. I'll just have to wait and see if it's good or a wallbanger.

I only have one more disc to go to have finished watching The Tudors, the ShowTime series about Henry VIII. It's been quite good!

Any new movies you're chomping at the bit to see?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Empty pages....

I am staring at a blank page.

It inspires me, this empty space, but daunts me. I find that my earlier ideas have fled, but this page remains.

I write anyway. Would I show it to anyone...yeah. You're reading it.

What do you do when you see a blank page? Get excited? Uneasy? Depressed? How do you gather your ideas back to you? --let me know...(I'll take any ideas)

Not only does the empty page mock me, I still have yet to find that time-space continuum that I've been searching for. Maybe cloning is easier.....AND I keep forgetting when it's my time to post. Drat.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

How Far Would You Go?

Last night, a new television show came on. I don't watch a lot of prime time television, and even less now with the writer's strike. However, this particular show came on right after American Idol. I'd seen the advertisements and though a part of me felt it was distasteful in the extreme, another part of me couldn't resist seeing what it was all about.

Previously interviewed guests have answered numerous questions while hooked up to a lie detector. Out of those questions, twenty-one questions are selected and asked in front of not only a live audience and millions of people watching at home, but also family members and friends have been brought in to sit on a couch and watch their loved ones squirm.

I'll admit, I laughed a couple of times because it was amazing what people will share. And it's not as if the questions come as a shock to them since they've answered them before. But as the money got higher, so did the insensitivity of the questions. By the time the show was over, I was squirming in my chair and wincing along with the person being questioned.

I've always thought of myself as an honest person, and if questioned about something, I'll tell the truth. But how far would I go? Would I tell the truth, knowing it could hurt a loved one, ruin a relationship, lose a friend, just for cash? I don't think I would. Perhaps people believe relationships should be strong enough to handle this kind of truth, and while that may be correct, the truth can often hurt. Is the cash worth the pain?

What about you? Would you tell the truth, even if it hurt someone you cared about, just for money?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Linda Howard Award of Excellence

Southern Magic is happy to congratulate the 2008 finalists for the Linda Howard Award of Excellence for unpublished authors. The winners will be announced at our sister chapter’s Silken Sands conference April 11-13, 2008 in Pensacola, FL.

Series/Short & Long Contemporary
A Question of Magic by Madelaine Culp
Sand Stalker by Cynthia D'Alba
Sweet Cheeks by Sheryll Gallagher
Heart Strings by Joan Turner
The Nature of Love by Jo Ann Weatherly

Single Title
Cedar Hill by Annette L. Couch-Jareb
Cowboy Games by Wendi Christner
Last Straw by Ann Fischer & Linda Baxter
Personal Assets by Gwendolyn Lucas
Dog Nanny by Ann Whitaker

Romantic Suspense
Deadly Recall by Donnell Ann Bell
Harvesting the Moon by Patricia Canavan
Stronger Than Bone by Kendra Elliot
In Sight by Polly Iyer
Pressing Matters by Adrienne Maynard
Safe in Enemy Arms By Joan Swan
(Six finalists due to tie with same scores for the 5th slot)

Fatal Fortune by Joanne Barnaba
Once Upon a Masquerade by Tamara Hughes
Courageous Hearts by Sherry Humphreys
Entrapping the Earl by Donna Rosenbloom
Through the Fire by Beth Trissel

Unique Genres
The Time Traveling Matchmaker by Janie Emaus
Incredible Dreams by Sandra De Taranto
The Big Easy by Donna Herren & Gabrielle Goldforb
Blood Runs Thicker by Leah Hodge
Kismet’s Kiss by Cate Rowan

Good Luck!
Carla Swafford
Contest Coordinator
Southern Magic, Birmingham, AL

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Gulp! You Said What?

“Oooh, nooo! “ Thump! Humpf!

What does that read like? Like someone tripped? Lately I’ve been collecting sounds for writing. Yep, you read it right. There has been a time or two where my hero or heroine had heard or made a sound and I needed a word for the sound instead of saying, “They heard someone fall,” or “He fell to his knees in pain.” Or I want my characters say a word that’s really not a word, if you know what I mean.

Plus look at how many O’s it takes to make it sound like a longer fall. The same can be said for someone being frightened. If you type “eek!” first of all you have to place an exclamation after the word, otherwise it doesn’t work. Then if you use more than two E’s, you make it sound like the person is more frightened . Like, “Eeeek! A mouse!”

Another sound that’s up for debate is the sound of pleasure. No! Get your mind out of the gutter. I’m talking about the sound you made the last time someone gave you a present you hadn’t expected but really liked. You tear the wrapping off and what do you say? Ooooo!
Now, why does such a good sound look so boring? That could sound like a bunch of O’s that they are or sound more like the word who but rounder.

Of course the opposite sound is eww! What about yuck? Or phew! Another one I’ve seen a lot lately is yelck! Or how about phooey. Or you smell something bad. Pheeew! The more E’s, the worst the smell.

I know there are more out there I’m not thinking of or have forgotten. What do you have?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

How do you do it?

I'm a mess right now. I know...whine, whine, whine. Work is hectic, my extra activities are piling up (orchestra practice, choir practice plus I have two baby blankets to make within 2 months) and I'd really like to start writing again but my muse refuses to help out. It's snowing outside, there's dishes in the sink and clothes to wash and all I want to do is watch the George Clooney movie that's on right now.

How do you manage your time? How do you get everything done in the day and write at the same time?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Let it Snow!

About 1:30 this afternoon it started snowing lightly here. Now, an hour and half later, it's snowing fairly heavily, even sticking here and there. What is it about snow that feels us with childlike glee?

Is it because we don't see it very often? Because it was always a treat when it did snow because we didn't have to go to school? Little Kitty and Miss Kitty were intrigued by the snow, but are smart enough to have retreated inside.

My favorite childhood snow memory is Mama used to make snow ice cream. It was such a treat. Not that you could do it today. What's your favorite snow memory?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Cleaning out the Cobwebs

Today I cleaned my desk.

Yes, it made me avoid writing, but it did something else. It organized my thoughts and better yet...I have this clean surface that is begging for me to sit down at it and do SOMETHING. (I have a lot of "something" I need to be doing too)

In the process I found some notes I've forgotten about (I think I can still put that scene in....). There is rough draft of the first part of my story (that really helped) and unfortunately a forgotten bill (Damn) and it's due tomorrow. Gee.

I've even organized a bit (OK, it was half hearted). But, I have a note book now that has most of my notes and I put the ones that are written on napkins and sticky notes in a pocket protector (I wonder if I will look at it again?).

Now off I go to write...

What do you do to get you focused into writing? What distracts you? And have you cleaned off your desk or workspace lately?

Next time...I think I'll talk about finding more time by syphoning off bits from the space-time continuum...or as it's titled "Why Coffee is My Friend".

Saturday, January 12, 2008

How Fast is Fast?

In a career conversation with a friend the other day, she commented that I'm a fast writer. Somehow, my agent and editor have the idea I'm fast too. I'm not sure how this rumor got started, but I'm not sure it's true. After all, what exactly does it mean to be a fast writer?

There are some very prolific writers who can produce a great book seemingly every other month. And then there are others who only have one release a year. Does one write faster than the other? Maybe, but I'm not sure.

I'm fortunate to be able to write full time. But that means I sit at my desk for hours. Other authors have full time jobs outside of writing, and only write when they have a spare minute. Math was never my strong suit, but even I can figure out that a person who writes full time should be able to write a whole lot more than a person who has several other responsibilities. Some days, I only produce five pages in those 12 plus hours I sat at my desk. I don't think that's very fast.

Fast is a relative term. When I'm sitting, staring at a blank screen for hours, nothing seems fast!

So what do you think? What's a fast writer to you? Are you one? If so, feel free to brag.

Silken Sands Conference -- THINK BEACH!



Be one of the first 50 to register for Silken Sands and be able to participate in our special Friday HANDS-ON workshop with national speakers Mary Buckham and Dianna Love Snell. They'll use their Break Into FictionTM Template Teaching system show you how to ramp up your new story or find weak spots in your old one by using Power Openings and Power Pacing.

BONUS: Participants in this workshop will have a chance to win a free critique of a 5-page synopsis and the first 35 pages of amanuscript.

Pack your sunglasses and sandals and enjoy the sugar white beaches and crystal blue water that will backdrop the 2008 Silken Sands Conference to be held in Pensacola Beach, FL, at the Hampton Inn, on April 11-12,2008.

Meet Sherrilyn Kenyon, Catherine Mann, literary agents, and editors from Kensington, Harlequin, and Sourcebooks.

Participate in three tracks of workshops and meet former CIA assassin Roland Haas.

All this for $145 until March 10,For more information check out our website(, e-mail or call 228-860-9512.

Promo items can be sent to Silken Sands Conference, 4260 Michael Blvd, Mobile, AL 36609.

Please send no more than 25-30 paper items since we don't want anything to go to waste

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Hi, My Name’s Carla Swafford and I’m a Bookaholic...ah...Writer

Thankfully, I know I’m not the only one out there that has the problem. I buy books I’m not sure I’ll ever have time to read. Why?

3. I have several friends that write and I really want to read them all.
2. I have a hard time turning down vampires or certain cowboy stories.
1. But the main reason I have so many sitting, waiting for me to read? I rather write my own stories. Then my friends can buy my book one day and place it on their dusty "to be read" bookshelves.

See the picture above? Yep, that’s my most recent ones to read. I have a large bag in my closet with many more. No cameras allowed in there. If you ever saw inside my closet, you would be thankful.

As mentioned in number one above, I love to write. I whine to my critique partner about how slow I write and it’s so true. One day I sat at my computer and wrote three sentences in three hours. One sentence per hour. Geez! Hard to believe I’ve improved.

When I first decided I wanted to write a story and get it published – No, I can’t pretend I was writing for my own entertainment. I’m too much of an extrovert for that. Though I never told a soul what I was doing with paper and pen. Yep, paper and pen! I had an old typewriter but the ink ribbon was dried up. Even years later after I found RWA, I never told anyone besides my husband what I wanted to do. Excuse my rambling...

Finally in the mid-90's I told my sister and my mom what I was trying to do and asked my mom if she would be interested in reading my book. She said, "No! I don’t want to read about what a terrible mother I am!" ::Sigh:: I didn’t have the heart to tell her, she wasn’t in my book.

But my sister was interested, and bless her heart, she read my first vampire novel. She loved it. Of course. She’s my sister. She has to love it. But I have to say, with her sweet encouragement, she gave me the courage to become involved with my local chapter.

Another event helped me make that big step and become active in Southern Magic. The newsletter editor at the time sent out a call for articles and one mentioned was history tidbits. I love history and had tons of research books. In fact, at the time, Barnes and Noble offered me a price cut as a history professor. LOL!

I started writing history articles for the newsletter in November 1999 and stopped October 2005; though I continued preparing Auntie WIP articles through February 2007.

One thing about writing articles and having your name published in the newsletter is that not only does other chapter members recognize your name, but those outside the chapter do too. Did you know for each article you write for the newsletter, the editor will send out through a YAHOO editors’ loop and they in turn might publish your article? When I attended my first regional conference in 2003, I was introduced to a nice lady that told me she recognized my name. It turned out she remembered my name from the History Tidbit articles.

What I’m getting to, yes, I do have a point, is that I’m proud to be a writer and especially a romance writer. So I attend the meetings in the hopes I will learn something new, make new friends, see old ones, and maybe encourage someone else to keep writing.

So if you're proud to be a writer, attend the chapter meetings, write articles for the newsletter, blog with your chapter mates, and keeping writing that story of your heart. I’ve been hard at it for years and I feel better about 2008 than I ever have of any year prior. I want that for you too.

What are your goals this year to show the world that you’re a writer?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

A Thirst for Knowledge

Needless to say, most writers -- me included -- depend heavily on the Internet for their research. But when I’m in a bookstore, and especially when I’m browsing the bargain racks, I just can’t resist buying those great, picture-heavy titles on a wide variety of subjects: lighthouses on the Pacific Coast, the history of the Corvette, or massage techniques. Of course, I may or may not ever use these in my writing.

But someday, if I need to have my heroine speed along the highway in her vintage Corvette to give her lover a sensuous massage in a secluded lighthouse, I’ve got the info.

What’s on your bookshelf? Do you have any unusual reference books?

Monday, January 07, 2008

Highborn Women in the Middle Ages

You are rich. Your father is the Earl of Flanders, and you have highborn French, English and German ancestors. If that isn’t enough, you’re beautiful and well educated for a sixteen-year-old woman. Your world is perfect, right? Wrong!

You have an ambitious cousin trying to court you without your father’s permission. Why should he care about consanguineous laws? When you finally tell him to get lost, that you’re in love with a nice young Englishman, what does he do? He attacks you as you come out of church one morning, rips your best gown, throws you on the ground and leans over to slap you several times for emphasis. Instead of kidnaping you, so you two could marry, what does he do? He just rides off, the bastard, figuratively and literally!

Who are the young lovers?

Matilda and her soon-to-be-husband, William the Conqueror.

Few noble marriages lasted longer than fifteen years. When a wife dies in childbirth, the husband would take a second wife or third, and so on, each much younger. When the elder husband dies, the last wife would often take a younger husband to take care of the estate.

Queen Eleanor, wife of Henry II, introduced silk worms into her province of Aquitaine.

Berengaria of Navarre, wife of Richard I never set a foot in England.

Once when King John suspected his second wife, Isabella of Angorileme, of having a lover, he had the man hanged and the body suspended over her bed. Why is it possible for us to believe he died of poisoning?

In a list of household goods owned by Eleanora of Castile, queen to Edward I, was two forks, one of silver and one of crystal.

During Richard II’s reign, his wife, Anne of Bohemia, introduced the side-saddle. The belief was riding astride caused miscarriages.

Before the 16th century, forks were mainly used for sweet meats and carving meat.

When sharing a meal, a person must not touch the food with his right hand, only his left.

It was permissible to drink direct from the jug or pitcher as long as you wiped the vessel afterwards.

Crusaders brought back several new fabrics, such as, cotton, diaphanous muslin, patterned damask and gauze.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence for published authors

Deadline for RECEIPT of entries is January 15. All categories have MADE and will not be canceled.

2008 Gayle Wilson Award of ExcellenceThe Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, sponsored by RWA chapter Southern Magic, was conceived in honor of multi-RITA Winner Gayle Wilson to award excellence in published romance fiction. The contest is judged by avid readers of romance, booksellers, and librarians. The winners of each category are awarded a bookmark engraved with the author’s name and the book’s title. Winners will also be included in a full-page RWR advertisement.

Eligibility: Participation is open to all published authors of novel length romance fiction published by an RWA-eligible publisher. Books must have a copyright of 2007; entries must be received by January 15, 2008. Electronic books may be entered provided they are presented in print book format, published through an RWA-eligible publisher and complete with copyright page produced by the publisher with print on both sides of the page.

Entry fee: RWA Members — $20 for first book; $15 for subsequent books.
Entry fee: Non-RWA Members — $30 for first book; $15 for subsequent books.

Author must provide three copies of the entered book, which will not be returned. Finalists will be notified approximately March 3, 2008. Winners will be announced on April 12, 2008, at the Silken Sands Writers Conference in Pensacola Beach, FL. All finalists receive a certificate. Winners receive an engraved bookmark and inclusion in full page RWR ad. Authors may enter more than one novel; however, the same novel may not be entered in multiple categories. If a category does not receive at least 5 entries, the category will be canceled, and the entrants’ books and entry fees will be returned.Categories for entry:

Short Contemporary (Under 70,000 Words)
Long Contemporary (Over 70,000 Words)
Historical Single Title
Romantic Suspense Series
Romantic Suspense
Paranormal/Fantasy/ Futuristic/Time Travel
Contemporary Single Title
Young Adult
Novella (20,000 – 40,000 Words)

Judging: All entries are judged by avid readers of romance, booksellers, and librarians. The top two scores are added to form the final score. The lowest score is dropped. Ties are broken using the dropped low score.

Books are given to the judges as a “thank you” for judging. They are not returned. Scores and finalist placement are not revealed. Score sheets are not returned. The decision of the judges is final.

Send entries (three copies of book, entry form + entry fee) to:

Jennifer Echols
Contest Coordinator
Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence
P.O. Box 190032
Birmingham, AL 35219

Make checks payable to Southern Magic.

Questions? E-mail:

Find details, past winners, and a downloadable entry form at

Jennifer Echols
THE BOYS NEXT DOOR - Available now!
MAJOR CRUSH - National Readers Choice Award, Aspen Gold Award

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Finding Time to Read

The books for RWA's Rita contest will be shipped the middle of this month. Received an email today verifying my address. It's the one time of the year these days that I read for hours on end. It's almost like a Christmas present. We select categories, but it's always exciting to see what books/authors I get. Immerse myself in other worlds is wonderful!

I can't remember the last book I read. Julie Garwood's new historical, Shadow Music, is sitting here on my desk along with Kelly St. John's To Catch A Cheat. The first disk of Season 1 of The Tudors is in the living room. (I know Carla is jealous of that. -g-)

Before I started writing myself, I spent hours upon hours reading. Nowadays, I'm on the computer reading email or writing for a blog. A million other things than my participating in my love of reading.

So, how do you work in reading between the job, husband, kids, and writing? What was the last great book you read?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The New Year brings New Goals

I've toasted in the New Year. I've cleaned my house. Now its time for the BIG things this year.
The first one...FINISH the story.

First, what is the story? How do you get the idea? For me, it started with a dream. (I think I've mentioned before I have some pretty nifty dreams.) Still, an idea, or even a dream is just a start. Its the rest of the story that must be told that's the hard part.

I've found that I have to have a rough plot, a map ,so to speak, of where I am going. I've tried winging it and it doesn't get anywhere, just very clean floors. (Yes, I suffer from procrastination at times....) I really envy those that can write a story on just a glimmer of an idea. Do you do that?

So far so good, I've gotten farther in the last week than I have in the last two months. So my questions for you this time are:
  • Where did you get the idea for a your current story?
  • How do you write? Plot or wing it?
  • How are you going to achieve this goal?

I am going to keep on at it everyday, even if it is a just a sentence or two. That's better than what it was before...nothing.

The New Year is here, so are my new goals! :)