Friday, December 31, 2010

Last Day of 2010--Lets Celebrate!

Hard to believe the year has gone by again, just when I was getting used to it.

Today is the day I look back at the past year and see what I have done. Oh, it's easy to see what you haven't accomplished this year. (I am not going to talk about the revision or the dust bunnies that I call George and Fred).

Instead, I am going to look at what I did accomplish. Writing wise, this year I managed to meet several of my goals.
  1. I went to a writing conference, Moonlight and Magnolias. (For those of you who can't afford National's this is SO worth going to).
  2. Pitched to an Agent.
  3. Entered 4 contests (some were painful, others showed I was going in the right direction)
  4. Receieved a request for a FULL. (again, lets not look at the fact I am still finishing that revision,---oh have I told you? Guilt is on my list to work on this year).
  5. Blog regularly and to interact more with fellow writers (I have hermit qualities as a few of my friends can attest to)

So, tell me what DID you accomplish this year? Writing wise? Personal? Work? It can be anything.

I'm going to sweeten this last day with Giveaways for those who comment. This is to ease the bitter pill called "New Year's Resolutions". (Personally, I don't set resolutions--I set goals its far more palatable.)

I am going to give away Amy Atwell's E-Book "Lying Eyes" (and this is open to everyone. Yay!)

The rest of the items I have to limit to those within the continental U.S.--sorry! But I am going to look into alternatives the next time I do a giveaway.

I also have the hilarious and witty book by Peggy Webb, "Elvis and the Memphis Mambo Murders"

And for those who just can't let Christmas slip away so easily, "Regency Christmas Proposals" an Anthology by Gayle Wilson, Amanda McCabe, and Carole Mortimer.

I also have a $10 Barnes & Noble gift card for one lucky person. (Who can't use a card from there?)

I will award these prizes in the comment section of this post tomorrow, New Year's day. You have one week to claim your prize, after that I will have to award them to someone else.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Love-Hate Relationships With WIPS

Sounds kinda like something to do with S/M, doesn't it? Actually, I have a love-hate relationship with editing. Yes. When I finish a book, I let it sit for about a week and then I print it out and read it. Well, that is, I read it eventually. I’ll start reading out loud and then decide I really need to skip the first three chapters. Those have been edited to death as most of the books I start have been entered into at least one contest and been seen by one critique partner and/or beta reader. So I move to chapter four. By chapter six I realize I’ve mentioned something that was never answered or explained in the rest of the book. When I reach chapter twelve (I like short chapters), I’ve decided the whole book is trash. Why would anyone want to read it? And, Lord of Mercy, why did I let anyone look at it?

So more often than not, I let one of my beta readers go through it before I do a lot of editing. I promise, it gives them a feeling of accomplishment to muck through such drivel. I know they feel sorry for me. Such a delusional writer. Or is that disillusive? Doesn’t matter. You get the drift.

Like a lot of writers out there, I edit along the way. I’m not a fast writer, so wherever I leave off, I go back to the beginning of a chapter and read, correcting and checking, until I’m back in the mood of the scene and start writing again. So technically it’s edited numerous times.

I write by the seat of my pants, in the mist, or like some people call it, make sh*t up. That’s something I would like to change. Next year I plan to do some light plotting. Nothing in-depth. Just something that will keep me moving it along and help my daily word count. I normally do a little plotting about midway into the story. Enough to ensure I hit all the high points and know where the heck I’m going. So it shouldn’t be a problem. Riiiight.

So in the spirit of the holidays, I’m giving away a former critique partner’s book away. Christy Reece survived critiquing a few of my books and even became published despite what little help I was to her. I have two copies of NO CHANCE to give away. All of Christy’s books are my kind of books. Love each couple’s dynamics and the danger of undercover work.

I also have one of Linda Howard’s to give away. If I remember correctly Linda doesn’t go over her book again after she completes it. She said she edits along the way and that’s enough. I say, “You go, girl!” I have one copy of DEATH ANGEL. I love her alpha males and this one is for sure alpha. He’s a little cold, but there’s something still redeemable about him. It’s a little different from her other books, but I still enjoyed it, especially the balcony scene. HOT!

All you need to do is comment and I’ll place your name in a hat to draw at random. So you can tell me any or all the following. 1) How do you feel about editing? 2) What is your editing process? 3) What are you planning to change about your writing process to be more successful next year? E.g., to finish that first of tenth book or make that book zing and editor worthy.
And for the sexy picture of Bruce Willis? I just wanted to share.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What Comes Next? UPDATED with winners!

I composed this blog post originally by hand. That's right, old-fashioned, pen in hand, blue ink on lined paper low-tech writing.

You see, my work computer went wonky a couple of days before I wrote this post, and while I was waiting for it to return from the computer doctor, I was left with little I could do at work. Since working a full-time day job, in addition to my writing career, means I have to write during my lunch hour as well as weekends and evenings just to keep up, I couldn't afford that much down time.

So I kicked it old school. Me, my blue-ink Bic pen and my yellow lined legal pad, writing a blog post 70's style.

Of course, there weren't blogs in the '70s. Computers were still in the early stages and out of reach for the average consumer. When I stared working years ago as an advertising copywriter, my writing tool was an electric typewriter. Do people even use those anymore?

My first computer at work was a DOS dinosaur. Windows? What was that? It would be a couple more years before our boss stepped into the future and upraded us to the Windows 3.0 system. Whoo, we were high tech then!

Now I use a laptop, running Vista and dreaming of Windows 7. Others of you run Macs and make fun of the rest of us. The world changes faster than we can keep up, sometimes. Most of us readers and writers are now wondering what e-books will do to the bookstores we love and the good old ink and paper books we put out these days.

But if I've learned anything over the years, it's that the more things change, the more they stay the same. People have been telling stories for centuries. They'll still be telling them centuries from now if the asteroids haven't wiped us all out by then. All that will change is the medium.

Although, I must admit to wondering just where we'll go next. What comes after e-books? Chips implanted in our brains that allow us to experience a story playing out in our brains? Or will we decide technology is too much with us and we make a collective decision that the old way of reading—ink on paper—was the best way after all?

What do you think comes next for books? Give me your answer in the comments, and I'll draw for four winners who'll either win a signed copy of any Cooper Justice book of their choices or a $10 eGiftcard from the online bookseller of their choices.
UPDATE:
The winners are Anne Gallagher, Liz, MV Freeman and JoAnn! Please email me at paulagraves (at) charter (dot) net with your preference--book or eGiftcard. If you want a book, tell me which one and I'll need your snail mail address. If it's the giftcard, I just need your email address and which ebookstore you prefer.
Thanks for commenting!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Looking forward

If you celebrate Christmas, I hope you had a fabulous one. If not, I hope you’re enjoying the winter. We had snow in Virginia, and I know many of my Southern Magic friends in Alabama did as well. I’m not a cold weather lover per se, but I love how beautiful everything looks covered in snow.

So now that Christmas is over, I’m looking forward to the new year and the promise that it holds. This week is when I take stock of the previous year’s goals and accomplishments and start thinking about what I want to accomplish in the next 12 months, both personally and professionally.

Since I can’t directly control the outcomes I really want—land an agent, get published, lose five pounds—I focus on the things I can control. Things like how much I write/edit each day, how many agents I query, how many class proposals I submit, how many minutes a day I work out.

But having goals doesn’t mean anything if I write them down and stick them in a drawer never to be seen again. I need to break them down into smaller chunks of months, weeks, and days. Then I have to make room for them in my schedule. Otherwise, with blogs and TBR piles to get through, friends and family to spend time with, volunteer work, errands to run, and a house to keep, it’s easy to get sidetracked.

I’m a master procrastinator, but I’m also competitive, so setting goals gives me the accountability and push I need. That’s one reason I did NaNoWriMo this year. It was a stretch goal, but once I told everyone I was doing it, I couldn’t stand the idea of failing.

And when it was over, I finally cleaned the bathrooms and ate dinner with my family again.

So, are you setting specific goals for 2011 or taking a more casual approach? What strategies do you use to make sure you meet them, or at least make a good effort?

One lucky commenter will receive EAT THAT FROG by one of my favorite time management gurus: Brian Tracy. Happy holidays!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Peace on Earth

Tomorrow it is Christmas Day. For many people it is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus. For others it is a time to gather and be with friends regardless of their religion, culture, or faith. Some people have different traditions and religious celebrations to express their faith and their conviction in a higher power.

Regardless of one's faith or background, this day brings to my mind the reason people celebrate the day. It is about wanting Peace. The Christmas saying "Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men" makes me pause and reflect upon the concept of peace itself.

For where do we find peace in this world of strife, war, disease, pestilence, dictators, terrorism, brutality and more atrocities than I could ever describe? Where is the good will? Does it exist at all? Why do we sing about peace on earth when it doesn't exist?

I don't know about other people, but I sing about peace on earth and good will toward men because I choose to believe it CAN exist if I put forth the effort to create peace on a daily basis. For me creating peace is not about influencing the world in a big way, it is about trying to live by the tenets set for me by my faith and my own beliefs regardless of who else does or doesn't try. And it is about forgiving myself for not always making the grade in that effort. 

For I am human. I came into this world born with no innate desire to be good. Nope. I personally believe we come into the world with the natural instinct to survive. To win at the survival game means putting ourselves first, not last. I recently learned that man's first weapons were not weapons at all. They were tools to obtain food. To obtain food is to survive. Then some ancient human realized that if he took a stone and threw it at another man who had food and knocked out the man he could have that man's food. Voila! Survival of the fittest and the smartest! And in that moment weapons came into existence. 

I have news for you. Weapons aren't going to evaporate. Not anytime soon. At this stage of my life, I no longer wear Pollyanna Glasses and believe wars will fade away and that terrible things will cease to happen. As long as there is one person who chooses to put him/herself first over the rest of humanity, the world will never achieve Peace. 

Yet the world seeks peace. People of all faiths seek peace. How do they seek peace? Through these words:

Baha'i: It is our wish and desire that every one of you may become a source of goodness unto men, and an example of uprightness to mankind. Beware lest you prefer yourself above your neighbors. Baha'u'llah, Gleanings 315

Buddhism: Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. Undana-varqa: 518

Christianity: As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. Luke 6:31

Confucianism: Surely it is the maxim of loving-kindness: Do not unto others that would not have them do unto you. Analects, XV, 23

Hinduism: This is the sum of all true righteousness: deal with others as thou wouldst thyself be dealt by. Do nothing to thy neighbor which thou wouldst not have him do to thee after. The Mahabharata

Islam: No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself. Sunnah

Judaism: What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow men. That is the entire law, all the rest is commentary.  The Talmud, Shabbat 31a

Taoism: The good man ought to pity the malignant tendencies of others; to rejoice over their excellence; to help them in their straits; to regard them in their gains as if they were his own, and their losses the same way. The Thai-shang, 3

How do I live a life by the tenets set forth to me given that I was born into this world with the same innate natural instinct to survive? How do I bring peace into my world when there are days that my nature overrides my desire to choose to be good and put myself last, not first?

For me it is a matter of trying again despite the failure to succeed. My hope is to one day have more A's than F's. I don't have lofty ambitions about changing the world. I don't have power over these other countries and their people. I am not in a position to make a huge difference that way. But I can make a difference in my own corner of the world.

For if we can't have peace at home, in the workplace, with our fellow writers, with our neighbors, with our communities then who are we to harp about lack of peace in the world? So here is my challenge to all of you--every day start the day with the desire to put yourself LAST. Try to practice patience in those long lines, bite your tongue the next time you want to nag your spouse, wait for everyone else to fill their plates before you fill your own, and treat the people you meet with dignity and respect.

I'm not asking you to be a doormat and let people walk all over you. I am asking you to stop, pause, think about what you are going to do when you are annoyed with the grocery store clerk, the slow driver in front of you, the co-worker who drives you batty, the neighbor who hasn't weeded in a week. Ask yourself HOW you will present yourself in that situation. Choose the kinder way.

Choose the way that might lead to more peace. Not just peace in your corner of the world, but peace in your mind and peace in your heart.

As we head into 2011 let's move into the year with the spirit of trying to bring Peace into Our Corner of the World.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. John 14: 27

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

So...do you have one of these?



The Complete Writer's Kit. I found it in a catalog, with this description:


New York Times bestseller list, here you come. Get that great American novel out of the back of your head and down on paper with a motivating kit that kicks your ideas into action. Step-by-step direction and inspiration includes 30 Steps to Becoming a Writer; Get Published in 6 Months or Less has practical, actionable advice. Paperback, 208 pages plus a 52-card deck for fighting writer's block. $22.95


First: I have to take issue with the use of the word "complete." Nowhere in this description does it mention chocolate. You can't take the writing journey without pounds and pounds of the stuff. And what about the sandpaper you need to toughen up your skin? Where's that? How about the babysitter to take care of the kids while you hammer out that NYT bestseller? And the takeout restaurant gift certificates so your family can eat while you do research?


The creators of this kit are reputable and well-known in the publishing industry. And yet, there's just something about it that raises my hackles. Just a teensy-weensy bit. Maybe it's not the kit itself, but the description in the catalog. Somebody, some innocent soul without a clue, will look at this and say "Oh, wow! For $22.95 plus shipping, I can become a real, live writer! Let me get out my debit card!" And that makes me sad.


If you were creating The Ultimate, Best-Ever, How-To-Be-A-Writer Kit, what would you include?


(P.S. I have a copy of James Scott Bell's incredibly awesome Plot & Structure -- the only and best how-to-write "kit" you'll ever need -- and a brand-new set of highlighters to give away! I'll pull a name from all the commenters and post the winner's name Christmas Eve.)

Monday, December 20, 2010

CHRISTMAS VACATION

After dropping my kids off this morning, I was running through my mental to-do list and realized I hadn't written today's blog. It's not that I had forgotten; I really didn't. I had a blog all planned with bells and whistles. But, alas, my mind and efforts are on Christmas vacation.

So, I started to wonder, how many of you guys incorporate a Christmas vacation into your writing schedule?

Also, in the spirit of the season, I am giving away an autographed copy of RED, WHITE and BLUE by Laura Hayden. (The winner must be someone within the continental US.) Check back Tuesday morning to see if you won.

Happy Holidays!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

All I Want for Christmas

Oh, me.

My mother said that all the time. And I bring back that phrase for the holidays because [suspenseful music here] I'm turning into my mother!

That's right. I'm impossible to shop for. If I want it, I bought it already.

I know that's no fun. Because we all get a big kick out of giving. Getting is a fine thing, and not to be casually dismissed (like getting the call would be excellent!) but giving is the part of Christmas that encourages creativity.

So tell me. What's the best gift you've given in a Christmas past, and why?

One lucky commenter will win one of Paula Graves' Cooper Justice novels--Case File: Canyon Creek, Wyoming--perfect to get or to give!

The fine print: This is a name-out-of-the-hat drawing. Winner will be notified via e-mail after the next post goes up. This is a print book, so I'll need your continental U.S. snail mail address in order to deliver your prize. Be prompt! If I don't get a response from the first winner within a week, the prize will be regifted to another lucky commenter.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A WRITER'S TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

This season tends to get a bit crazy when you run a bakery. And are working on a rewrite of your latest manuscript. And trying to keep a maniacal cat from destroying your Christmas tree. And trying to get a homicidal chihuahua to sit still in his Christmas outfit long enough to get a picture to give to his Nana. And trying to get Christmas cards out to friends and family all over the world. And ... well, you get the picture.

At times like this I really wish I had a Magic Fairy in my corner. A Housecleaning Fairy would be nice. A Christmas Gift Buying and Wrapping Fairy would be helpful. A Personal Chef and Physical Trainer Fairy would be great, especially if he looked like Gerard Butler. (If he looks like Gerard Butler who the heck cares if he can cook?)

So, at this magical time of the year, what sort of Magic Fairy would you wish for? And here is my take on what a Writing Fairy might bring me, if such a thing exists. Quick! Clap your hands if you believe in a Writing Fairy! Maybe she'll show up!




The Twelve Days of a Writer’s Christmas

The first day of Christmas I wish the Writing Fairy would give to me – AN EDITOR who LOVES my stories!

The second day of Christmas I wish the Writing Fairy would give to me – TWO Characters who hate each other and take exactly 95,000 words to fall in love and AN EDITOR who LOVES my stories.

The third day of Christmas I wish the Writing Fairy would give to me – THREE Rita nominations, TWO Characters who hate each other and take exactly 95,000 words to fall in love and AN EDITOR who LOVES my stories.

The fourth day of Christmas I wish the Writing Fairy would give to me – FOUR New York Times bestsellers, THREE Rita nominations, TWO Characters who hate each other and take exactly 95,000 words to fall in love and AN EDITOR who LOVES my stories!

The fifth day of Christmas I wish the Writing Fairy would give to me – FIVE Books already written and ready to sell. FOUR New York Times bestsellers, THREE Rita nominations, TWO Characters who hate each other and take exactly 95,000 words to fall in love and AN EDITOR who Loves my stories!

The sixth day of Christmas I wish the Writing Fairy would give to me – SIX Offers on my next manuscript, FIVE Books already written and ready to sell, FOUR New York Times bestsellers, THREE Rita nominations, TWO Characters who hate each other and take exactly 95,000 words to fall in love and AN EDITOR who Loves my stories!

The seventh day of Christmas I wish the Writing Fairy would give to me – SEVEN Days of uninterrupted writing, SIX Offers on my next manuscript, FIVE Books already written and ready to sell, FOUR New York Times bestsellers, THREE Rita nominations, TWO Characters who hate each other and take exactly 95,000 words to fall in love and AN EDITOR who LOVES my stories!

The eighth day of Christmas I wish the Writing Fairy would give to me – An Extra EIGHT Hours each day just for writing, SEVEN Days of uninterrupted writing, SIX Offers on my next manuscript, FIVE Books already written and ready to sell, FOUR New York Times bestsellers, THREE Rita nominations, TWO Characters who hate each other and take exactly 95,000 words to fall in love and AN EDITOR who LOVES my stories.

The ninth day of Christmas I wish the Writing Fairy would give to me – NINE new research books on Regency England, An Extra EIGHT hours each day just for writing, SEVEN days of uninterrupted writing, SIX Offers on my next manuscript, FIVE Books already written and ready to sell, FOUR New York Times bestsellers, THREE Rita nominations, TWO Characters who hate each other and take exactly 95,000 words to fall in love and AN EDITOR who LOVES my stories.

The tenth day of Christmas I wish the Writing Fairy would give to me – TEN Trips to writing conferences all expenses paid, NINE New research books on Regency England, An extra EIGHT Hours each day just for writing, SEVEN Days of uninterrupted writing, SIX Offers on my next manuscript, FIVE Books already written and ready to sell, FOUR New York Times bestsellers, THREE Rita nominations, TWO Characters who hate each other and take exactly 95,000 words to fall in love and AN EDITOR who LOVES my stories.

The eleventh day of Christmas I wish the Writing Fairy would give to me – ELEVEN Heroes who are too mad, bad and dangerous to know, TEN Trips to writing conferences all expenses paid, NINE New research books on Regency England, An extra EIGHT Hours each day just for writing, SEVEN Days of uninterrupted writing, SIX Offers on my next manuscript, FIVE Books already written and ready to sell, FOUR New York Times bestsellers, THREE Rita nominations, TWO Characters who hate each other and take exactly 95,000 words to fall in love and AN EDITOR who LOVES my stories.

The twelfth day of Christmas I wish the Writing Fairy would give to me – TWELVE Days and Nights with Richard Armitage (for research purposes, of course!) ELEVEN Heroes who are too mad, bad and dangerous to know, TEN Trips to writing conferences all expenses paid, NINE New research books on Regency England, An extra EIGHT Hours each day just for writing, SEVEN Days of uninterrupted writing, SIX Offers on my next manuscript, FIVE Books already written and ready to sell, FOUR New York Times bestsellers, THREE Rita nominations, TWO Characters who hate each other and take exactly 95,000 words to fall in love and AN EDITOR who LOVES my stories.


Merry Christmas and the Happiest of New Years to some of the best writers and greatest ladies ever to come out of the South!

Dear Santa...

Dear Santa Claus,

Hey! It's Naima! How's Mrs. Claus doing? Wonderful woman you have there! And the elves? They treating you right? The singing isn't getting on your nerves, is it? Cause all that whistling while you work could really work a sista's nerves...oops. Wait. Wrong little people.

Anyhoo...Santa, I've been awesome this year! *Ahem* Great. *Cough* Well, pretty good. And so I'm sending you my wish list of what I'd like this Christmas. I only want one thing, Santa. Peace on earth and joy for all men...HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAH!!! Whew! *knuckling tear from eye* Okay, seriously, Santa, here's the real list:

1. Patience. I've requested this every year but I think there must be a hole in your sack. I'm not complaining or anything. But, Santa, my supply ran dry a long time ago and since my husband and kids stop whispering every time I walk in the room and slide me these long glances, I'm guessing they're planning a coup. I really need it this year.

2. A clue. Not for me but for the hubby. I compose a list every year of acceptable presents, including size, color and location. I even sort them 1 through 10, in order of preference. Now, I appreciate creativity and forward thinking as much as the next person but, Santa, can you put a big, neon clue in his Christmas stocking that he is not to be thoughtful and deviate from the list? When he does I end up with stuff that I need a receipt and 30 day return policy for.

3. Vin Diesel. Still not complaining here, but I've asked for him year after year, too, but yet every Christmas morning he isn't standing in my shower, water pouring down over his rock hard pecs and abs, just glistening from clean-shaven head to big, BIG feet...Last year you left a note with something about my husband, but really, Santa, what does that have to do with the price of tea in China?

4. Domestic ability. Frankly, Santa, I put this on the list because my husband is leaning over my shoulder, breathing in my ear--and not in a sexy way. If there isn't room in my Christmas stocking for this, I understand. You're a busy man and Vin takes up a lot of room...

Well, that's all I have this year. Not too greedy, right? I can't wait until Christmas Eve and hey, tell Mrs. Claus I have plenty more of those books to keep her warm while you're out and about on the 24th! *wink*
Sincerely,
Naima

P.S.--Last year you left quality time for the DH and I. Here's what we did with it:



Hiya!! I'm giving away a free download of my new short story, Claiming Christmas, along with a small gift! Just leave a comment about what you'd like to see under your tree this Christmas morning and I'll randomly choose a winner!

Check out Claiming Christmas :




Merry Christmas, everyone!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Taking a Chance or No Chance?

Are you adventurous? Normally a risk taker? Or, are you paralyzed by indecision, studying the situation backwards and forwards, afraid to act for fear of getting it wrong?

It has been said if you risk much you may gain much. I had never been a particular advocate of this type of thinking until twelve years ago. That was when I quit my well-paying job, moved across country to a town I knew nothing about, and opened a small business. Turns out this was the best move I almost never made. The business has endured and at the same time, has allowed me time to write that as yet, undiscovered, great American novel.

In keeping with the spirit of the holidays, Christy Reece has generously donated a copy of her novel, No Chance, to the person who shares the biggest chance they have ever taken. It didn't have to turn out well. The fact that you took a chance is enough. Christy will be reading the comments as they come in to the blog. She will pick the winner and announce her/his name on December 23 on this site.

Take a chance, post your response. You just might win an autographed book from one of our best authors.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Romance Magician Carla Swafford

Carla Swafford’s a lithe twenty-nine year old with long auburn hair and sparkling dark eyes who loves dancing with her gypsy friends. Geez! Can you tell I love writing fiction? Now for the real stuff. I live in Birmingham and love being a member of all three Alabama RWA chapters. I’m a two-time GRW Maggie finalist and feel I’m so close to being published, I’m tempted to buy the little gold stickers that read “Autographed Copy.”


For information about me and my books go to http://www.carlaswafford.com/.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I Want A White Christmas

I want snow for Christmas.

I grew up in the Midwest, where the first snow was always celebrated by us kids, even if it was in the middle of October or November. I loved to see the snow accumulate, although my parents did not (Shoveling was and is never the favored activity).

The one thing I disliked was the sub-zero temperatures. There was a winter once when we were getting minus 75 below Fahrenheit. That is so cold it hurts, engines freeze, and you do not want to be outside.

Now I live in the South and I adore it. The winters are mild. Sometimes too mild. I like the cold (or getting chilly) because it kills the bugs and it reminds me of Christmas.

Yes. I still want snow for Christmas.

I want three feet of snow, enough to build snowmen, cover the trees, make the air sound so quiet as the snow falls you can hear yourself breathe. It makes you appreciate the hot chocolate and snuggling indoors.

Unfortunately, what I'll probably get is rain, or worse an Ice Storm. All the cold without the benefit.

What would like for this Holiday Season? Do you want snow just for Christmas? Or something different?

Since it is getting so chilly out there I'd like to help get everyone in the festive mood! I am giving away books. I will award them both randomly tomorrow (December 13, Monday). Please check the comment section for the winner.

I have an e-book, "Lying Eyes" by Amy Atwell (This is open to anyone, inside and outside the U.S) This should be a nice and toasty read.

Now for those of you, who miss summer, I have a YA book, "Endless Summer" by Jennifer Echols (This is can only be given to someone within the continental U.S.).

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Saturday Gift!

It is Saturday.

If you're not working--you may be cleaning, shopping, or some doing some other type of chore. Maybe you're lucky and going to a party.

Perhaps you're not feeling well?

I have just the remedy--I am giving away a Barnes & Noble $10 gift card to someone who comments on this blog. (One draw back, you have to be in the Continental U.S. to get the Card--But be here tomorrow I have an E-book to give away and it doesn't matter where you are!)

My question of the day is: What gets you into a festive mood? A movie? A book? Hot drink?

Winner to be announced tomorrow in the comment section of this post.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Bring On Christmas!


Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Christmas Romances

I've been wondering about something lately and thought maybe someone out there could clue me in. I find it interesting how strongly people feel about Christmas romance books. It seems they love or hate them. What's that about? Anyone?

I can’t say I feel strongly about Christmas romance books. I don’t think I’ve ever read one. So I'm making a point of it to read one or two this season. I'm looking for something to knock my socks off. Something so sweet I'll need a box of tissues to get through it.

If you're into Christmas romance books or know someone who is, I'd love it if you'd leave a comment with a recommendation.

Monday, December 06, 2010

IN THE MOOD

Before I became a writer, I thought writers sat down at their desks, took out their pens or booted up their laptops, cracked their knuckles and began to write. Just like that, the words flowing in a never ending stream from the writer’s brain onto the paper or screen, novels springing forth fully formed like Athena from Zeus’s head. Effortless. Seamless. Easy.

As if.

Writing is hard work, as I have since learned. It is also deeply rewarding at a visceral level to create something, to pull it kicking and screaming out of your creative self like a newborn child.

One reason, perhaps, that we writers continue to put ourselves through this torture.

I try to write every day. I don’t always achieve this goal, especially during the holiday season, but if I’m not writing everyday I’m thinking about it. At work, at home, in the car. Mulling characters and scenes over in my head, worrying about NOT writing as I bake and clean and do sundry other tasks that don’t—gasp! heresy!—involve writing.

Most days, it’s like pulling teeth. Some days—and they are few and far between—the words come easily. I don’t have rituals like some writers I know. I don’t listen to music or light a scented candle. I don’t brew myself a cup of tea before I sit down to write, or don a particular hat or sit in a particular spot. I work full time and I have a brilliant, talented, demanding fourteen-year-old daughter who requires my attention and a husband who is stretched to the max, too. I lead a very busy life. I have to write when and where I can.

Or . . . er . . . TRY to write.

I guess the closest thing I have to a ritual is that I always go back and reread the previous chapter to put me in the mood. This also allows me to take a fresh look at what I’ve written, to see the words with new eyes and to tweak them. I am an inveterate tweaker.

I write at home propped up on my bed with my miniature Dachshund warming my feet. Or I write at work on my lunch hour or after hours at Books-A-Million or in the car while I wait for my DD, or late at night after everyone else in the house is asleep. I write at my church on the weekends to escape the telephone, and the sound of the television in the living room, and the hubby playing war games on the computer. If our little town had a Starbucks, I’d live there. But, alas, we do not. Too podunk.

So I sit and I write wherever, whenever, with a glass of iced tea or diet coke (or a glass of red wine and a bowl of ice cream if it’s a love scene!) at my side.

What about you? What rituals or triggers do you employ to rouse your recalcitrant and uncooperative muse from slumber and put her to work? How do you make the words flow or, if you’re anything like me, trickle onto the page?

What gets you in the mood?

Oh, and in the spirit of Christmas and our December give-aways, one lucky person who comments on this post will win a Starbuck's gift card. Drawing and winner announced tomorrow!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Romance Magician Lisa Dunick

Lisa Dunick is a recovering academic who recently moved to Birmingham, Alabama. After spending almost a decade reading, studying, writing about, and teaching in universities across the mid-west, her new motto is, those who can't teach, do. She now works as a freelance writer and editor when she's not pounding away at her newest manuscript, a supernatural romantic suspense.

You can follow her adventures in living, dining, and writing in the South at http://www.northernaggressions.com/.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

On My List of Things to Do, Shopping is at the Bottom

Every year, I find myself smack dab in the middle of the holidays with a million things to do.  Shopping always gets shoved to the bottom of the list.  Work pushes its crabby way to the top, insisting on priority status (the nerve!).  I've made a concerted effort to put writing immediately below work, and that is much harder than it sounds.  Cleaning, a task I loathe, detest and abhor, keeps screaming out for attention.  I can't ignore it.  What if someone actually shows up at my house?  How do you explain to someone they can't come in because you live in a pig sty?  We aren't even going to talk about cooking.  If one of you so much as mentions a Martha Stewart cookie recipe that is a perfect homemade gift, you will be on my Naughty list.  

That leaves shopping as the neglected item on the to-do list.  For the last three years, I have tested Amazon's delivery promise.  Last year, we got down to the wire.  My mother's gift arrived on Christmas Eve (but it arrived).  I swore this year would be different. I'd get my shopping done before Thanksgiving.  I think we all know how that plan worked out.  I haven't resorted to doing my shopping at a convenience store on Christmas morning, yet.  So I am hitting Amazon for one last year.

I would love to hear how everyone manages to balance writing, life and the holidays.  I am open to any and all time management suggestions!  At 8:00 tonight (Alabama/Central time) I am going to number all of the comments, and pick a winner at random for a $15 Amazon gift card (so you can join me in last minute online shopping)

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

DECEMBER KICK-OFF

Are you ready for Christmas?

In the spirit of the season many of us here at Romance Magicians Blog have decided to celebrate this month with giving away books and prizes.

Our hope is to bring a bright spot into your life. We may not be able to take what weighs upon you this month, but we can make you smile.


There is only one caveat: Prizes can only be sent within the continental United States, and Canada (I apologize, shipping becomes prohibitive after that). The only exception is Electronic prizes (We have a few of those! So make sure you check!)

So come check out the blogs this month, you never know what you will find or win!

To kick it off, I am giving a book away to someone who posts a reply to this. It is a Christmas Anthology--
REGENCY CHRISTMAS PROPOSALS, with stories by by Gayle Wilson, Amanda McCabe, and Carol Mortimer. --a Perfect way to start the season.

The prize winner to announced tomorrow, December 2.
(I will put all the names in a hat and pull out a name randomly).

May this season bring good things for you!
**Winners announced in the comments section--Congrats to the winners! ***
***IF YOU DON'T CLAIM YOUR PRIZE IN A WEEK (send email, etc) IT WILL BE GIVEN TO SOMEONE ELSE***