Monthly Archives: December 2006

Retreat

The retreat was awesome and I learned something v.v. important. My hero and heroine sound too similar.
I’m going through my suspense books now trying to figure out what I need to do to fix them and which contests to enter once I do.
I plotted a new book that scared the crap out of me, so I couldn’t sleep last night. I should’ve gotten out of bed and started working on it, but I didn’t want to give the images in my head life on the page. πŸ™‚

There’s a post from 29 Dec. on RTB about the demise of Bombshell. Once I started reading them, I loved them. But I didn’t really start reading them until late.
I want to read romance. I love action adventure. But I want the HEA.
The end. And when Bombshell first hit, the marketing said HEA was no big deal to Bombshell. I wasn’t interested.
And then I started reading them. MOST were romances, and the romance was hot.
I’m sorry I missed the earlier books.

We talked about this at the retreat and that led to a discussion about the definition of romance. I never really thought about the definition. I figured HEA pretty much did it.
But it doesn’t. I don’t know what does.
HEA has to be, but it’s more than that for me.
I don’t think an inspirational relationship novel that never shows true desire between a hero and heroine but ends in HEA is a romance. It’s a relationship novel. But a romance includes that sexual tension between the main characters. I don’t think they need to be making out on the page. But I do think they should WANT to make out. πŸ™‚ They can wait until marriage to have sex and should in inspirational. But sex and tension or desire are not the same thing.
At the same time, I don’t think a book about sex and nothing but is romance. Even if it ends in HEA. The character development, the STORY, has to be there.
I don’t think a suspense with a hot love story strung throughout that ends with the heroine as the bad guy is a romance. It’s great suspense, but it ain’t HEA, and without that, for me, it ain’t romance. πŸ™‚
But honestly, all those arguments are the problem.
What I think is romance and what my neighbor thinks is romance are totally different things.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.
So for now, I’m just going to go with letting the booksellers define romance and pick book placement. I’ll buy the books that attract me. πŸ™‚ And I’ll write the stories I love. One of the coolest things about today’s book market is that there’s something for everyone.

iPod

Can I say how MUCH I LOVE my new iPod?!
Can I add how super cool it is that most of my favorite NPR shows are podcast!
I’ve spent the last two days doing laundry, cleaning house, cooking and listening to the shows I love but usually miss.
Woo Hoo!
I downloaded coffee break Spanish too. My goal this year is to learn Spanish before I go back to Mexico. Yes, almost everyone in Cancun knows English, BUT I’m visiting their country, I should know their language. Most people there from countries other than the US did know some Spanish.
I knew very little. But after the first couple days, my hearing changed. At first, I couldn’t understand what people were saying, it was so FAST. But then, I don’t know, I picked up the cadence I guess. By the time we left, I had a hard time switching back to English.
It makes me wonder about language and how it works. Why, for instance, do little kids come up with new words for grandparents and you find those names that sound so strange are actually very close to words that mean grandparent in other languages, sometimes even ancient languages no longer or rarely spoken.
Strange.

Retreat, Retreat!

My retreat starts tomorrow afternoon! Woo Hoo!!!!
I’m bringing the drinks and Better Than Sex Cake and the fixings for guacamole and pico de gallo.
I’ll be set.
Last night at about 11:30 some of my characters started talking to me. One is a major character, the others are secondary. But it was so cool. I could hear them, see them, smell them. They were that real.
It helped a lot in deciding which direction to take.
πŸ™‚
I should’ve gotten up and started writing, but I’m hosting Christmas Chili dinner at my house tonight and I HAD to sleep. If I’d have started writing last night, it would’ve been one of those all-nighters. I love them, but not when I have a full plate the next day.

RRRW online class 12 Easy Steps to Breaking In
register online @ http://www.redriverromancewriters.com
Cost: $10 members $20 non-members
Workshop: 12 Easy Steps to Breaking In
Making goals to sell in the New Year? Join Silhouette author Suzanne McMinn as she shares tips and tactics for breaking in to a major publishing house–from thinking big and mapping your marketing plan to working with an editor pre-sale and keeping the sales coming post-break in. Everything the on-the-brink author needs to know about targeting and marketing your work in the competitive romance biz!
Bio:
Suzanne McMinn is the award-winning author of two dozen novels including contemporary paranormal romance, romantic suspense, and contemporary romantic comedy as well as a medieval trilogy. She lives in a 100-year-old farmhouse in the mountains of West Virginia where she is plotting her next book and enjoying the simple life with her family, friends, and many, many cats. Check out her upcoming new series from Silhouette Intimate Moments at http://www.havenseries.com, and her other sites: http://www.suzannemcminn.com and http://www.paxleague.com. Visit her daily blog at: http://www.suzannemcminn.com/blog.

Goal Setting

It’s that time of year again. This weekend I’ll be at a writer’s retreat. While there, I’m going to plan my writing year. I’m excited about what the year will hold. I know I’m going to try the contest circuit with my Romantic Suspense. (This time for real!)
And I’m pretty certain I’m not going to go for my principal’s certificate. Yes, it would be more money, but I love my job, I love the kids, and I don’t want to give up the dream. And seriously, if I go into administration, I know the dream would have to take a back seat for at least ten years. It’s not worth it.
This break has been good for me. Even being sick worked for the best because it made me really think about what I want without being bothered by anyone else. It was just me and the bed and a box of Kleenex. πŸ™‚

I’ll be spending the month of January taking my local RWA chapter’s online class with Suzanne McMinn. Hope to see some of y’all there. Feel free to pass this word on:

Workshop: 12 Easy Steps to Breaking In

Making goals to sell in the New Year? Join Silhouette author Suzanne McMinn as she shares tips and tactics for breaking in to a major publishing house–from thinking big and mapping your marketing plan to working with an editor pre-sale and keeping the sales coming post-break in. Everything the on-the-brink author needs to know about targeting and marketing your work in the competitive romance biz!

Bio:

Suzanne McMinn is the award-winning author of two dozen novels including contemporary paranormal romance, romantic suspense, and contemporary romantic comedy as well as a medieval trilogy. She lives in a 100-year-old farmhouse in the mountains of West Virginia where she is plotting her next book and enjoying the simple life with her family, friends, and many, many cats. Check out her upcoming new series from Silhouette Intimate Moments at http://www.havenseries.com, and her other sites: http://www.suzannemcminn.com and http://www.paxleague.com. Visit her daily blog at: http://www.suzannemcminn.com

Christmas

Two of DD’s presents were really for me too. The Devil Wears Prada and the High School Musical soundtrack. πŸ™‚
I quit reading Eragon. Its creativity wasn’t enough to keep my attention.
I’m reading Match Me If You Can again now and loving every minute of it.
Hopefully I’ll love every minute of it at the Y. I’ll start back there today. Lord knows I need to.
This year I’m reminding myself that no matter how super stressed I am, no matter how late it is at school, I will feel a thousand times better if I work out for at least thirty minutes and even better if I make it an hour. I’d already fallen off the WW’s wagon, but this semester totally trashed my health.
That’s one reason I agreed to make our traditional Christmas manicotti last night, I’m not a great cook, but there are a couple dishes I knock the heck out of. This is one.
I use store bought spaghetti sauce: Bertolli’s tomato, basil. You can use your own. BUT DON’T SKIMP on brands if you buy store bought. This is one dish where generic is not equivalent to the good stuff—especially with the cheeses!
Ingredients:
1 package manicotti noodles
1 15.5 oz ricotta cheese
1 five c. bag five cheese Italian blend OR 1 bag mozzarella and 1 bag shredded parmesian.
1 pound Italian Sausage
Olive oil
2 bottles spaghetti sauce
1 stick butter
Spices to taste

Set oven to 350
Cook noodles four-five minutes in boiling water. Set out on oiled cookie sheet to cool. They will still be sort of hard.
Cook the sausage. Let it cool.
Mix most of the cheese with the cooled It. Sausage and spices you want to add.(I use garlic, basil, oregano and rosemary. I think it owuld be great with a kick of something hot). Leave a cup of the mozzarella for the top.
Oil a baking dish (I use a Pampered Chef 9*12 baking dish)
Pour half a bottle of sauce on the bottom
Stuff the shells. (Go ahead and use your hands. It’s messy but easier)
Put stuffed shells in the baking dish. If they break, it’s no big deal. Put broken side down.
Pour remaining sauce on top. It should cover the shells.
Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Cut butter in pieces and place on top of dish. Cover in foil.
Put in oven for at least 1 hour.
Take foil off and let it bake 10 more minutes.

Let it cool 10 minutes then serve.

It’s not a short process, but it’s easy and it’s worth it! If I get great results anyone can!

Updated to add:
I avoided Batman Begins because of the whole Katie/Tom hype. I watched it this morning. It was great. LOTS of characterization and motivation.

Holiday Cheer

Merry Christmas!!!!
I hope Santa brought you everything you wanted and that the rest of the year treats you well!

Yesterday I got sick. 😦
Hopefully it’s a 24-hour bug.
I finished Gena Showalter’s Oh My Goth. Cute book. It’s definitely going on my bookshelf at school. It would make a great movie.
Remember those ABC after school specials? The  only one I really remember starred Helen Hunt. She used PCP and jumped out of a second story window at her school. I don’t remember if I lived in Minnesota or Texas at the time, but I do remember no one watching had ever seen PCP, but the show thoroughly scared us from ever wanting to see it.
I wonder now if that was the purpose of all the after school specials. Kind of like the cartoon movies they’d show us in grade school about stranger danger with the scary mustached man in the big car holding out candy and saying “come here little girl” OR the drug pushers who held out a handful of multi-colored pills, offering them for free just to get kids hooked on drugs.
I don’t know how effective those movies were. But they’ve stuck in my memory for a lot of years. πŸ™‚

My goal is to finish Eragon before the end of the week. The movie rocks. The book is slow in parts and not a whole lot like the movie, but I’m still enjoying it. I can definitely see why the screen writers changed things.

Merry Christmas again!

Back

There’s nothing like a vacation to leave a person relaxed and rejuvenated.
I needed the beach and the Cancun beach was extraordinary.
We stayed at the Omni in a villa right off the beach. I’d post photos, but so far,the only ones I have are with me in a bathing suit and I am never posting those photos to the web! πŸ™‚
The ones I took of the view from my room are too foggy from the humidity.
We’re planning on a return trip next year.
We ate and drank pina colodas and danced and had an all around great time. (Okay, so honestly, I was the only one who danced, but it was fun!)
My favorite part of the trip was visiting Chichen Itza. Next year we’re going to rent a car and stay a night in Chichen so we can see the light show. The Mayan culture completely blows me away.
Here we are in front of the observatory at Chichen Itza:

My friend Becky, my MIL, dh, dd and I all went. DH and I loved Chichen. It is a hot trip, but the history is worth it.
The Mayans came over in the first migration to North America across the Bering Straight. It explains why their language is so different from the other languages in the area. I’ve never really paid attention to it before. I’d love to know how those first people here were connected to the Celts or Welsh, if they are at all. When I took History of the English language, my professor said CH words were either Welsh or Celt. I can’t remember which. The hard “ch” sound was theirs, so our words like church can be found in that ancient language and traced back to a nomadic tribe that left the area near the Huns and settled in the Welsh or Celt part of Europe. The Mayan language certainly uses the hard “ch” sound. And they probably came from a nomadic tribe near the Huns. Maybe.
One day maybe I’ll research it. πŸ™‚

The only bad part of the trip was the return home. The Denver airport closing left long, long lines at the airport. Still, the workers were nice. They took my lipgloss. Said I couldn’t have liquid in my purse. 😦 But they didn’t take the huge hurricane glass and for that I’m thankful. I figure I’ll be using it again. πŸ™‚

When I returned home, Maxine Sullivan had left a message on Subcare that I plan on printing and posting either on my fridge or bathroom mirror. It was exactly what I needed to hear!

This is probably not the best time of year to post a message with everyone busy at Christmas but I wanted to share with you my joy. Yesterday I held my first book in my hands – a Silhouette Desire. It’s beautiful and makes me weepy and I can’t stop looking at it. And I wanted to come to this thread and encourage you all never to give up, no matter what. It took me over 20 years to sell my first book, and now I’ve sold 4 Desires and 1 single title romantic comedy to a smaller publisher. It’s been a fantastic 2006 for me.

So to all of you who have been struggling for years, and all who have just started, please don’t give up. If you want to write, then write. If you get a rejection, pick yourself up and keep on writing. You can do it. You *will* do it, if the writing is what you love. Don’t despair if you think you will never make it. I got to the point where I used to think it was going to happen for everyone but me but now I know differently. My faith in myself and my writing took a lot of hits at times, but eventually I came full circle and got back to basics to concentrate on the writing itself. That was what seemed to be the key for me. It was a long journey but I made it.

Happy holidays to all. May every one of you have your dreams come true.

Maxine Sullivan
“Australian Millionaires”,
“The Millionaire’s Seductive Revenge” Silhouette Desire Feb 07

Her words rang so true to me, I felt I had to share them.
Here’s hoping 2007 is a fabulous year for everyone!
Happy Holidays!!!!

Survivor

This season was slower than some but the end was as good as it’s always been.
I really wanted Ozzy to win. 😦

I need this vacation in a big way. Hopefully I’ll return refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to get back on my diet.:-) I’m taking my computer with me. If I have e-mail, I’ll be updating on the blog. If not, no updates until I get back.

My local writing chapter is hosting an online workshop with author Suzanne McMinn. She’s presenting her 12 Steps to Breaking In writing workshop. We’re charging $20 for non-members and $10 for members. You can check it out at redriverromancewriters.com
We’re running it through a yahoo loop. Hope to see some of you there. Suzanne’s inspiring and knowledgable and I can’t wait!

Eragon…

Is AMAZING. I haven’t read the book, and I understand those who have are distressed, but as a non-Eragon reader who went to the movie based on the previews I was super impressed.
So impressed I went today and bought the book.
DD has first read rights on it, but it’s mine next. I bought Memory in Death too. Beach reads. For our beach vacation. Which I am not at all ready for.
ACK!

When did the holiday hit?

I wrapped up the semester yesterday and the entire time I was wondering how the heck did Dec. 15 get here and why the heck does it still feel like October?
Maybe it’s the 80 degree temps outside, but I don’t really think so.
Maybe it’s the whole the older you get the faster time passes thing, but man, if that’s the case , the next 50 years are going to be a blur!
I can’t believe the break is already here. The only Christmas I have right now is the decorated tree. DD and I did it Thanksgiving weekend because we knew it was then or never.
It’s been an incredibly busy fall.
I worked with Justin and Amy at Stone Creek Media to redesign our chapter’s website.
You can check it out at http://www.redriverromancewriters.com
I finished a book, submitted it, got rejected.
Revised another, submitted it, got rejected…BUT with an invite to submit more work any time because the editor liked my voice and characters. I need to get another book ready to submit!
I worked untold hours with DD and my editors on the yearbook! It’s been a ton of work BUT it’s going to be sooooo worth it.
I worked with the newspaper editors to help get everyone in the room PRODUCTIVE. Not as successful there, but almost. The newspaper editors completely run the show, which was super good for me this month!
I actually cleaned house once, not that you can tell now. πŸ™‚
It’s been a great semester. Crazy but great.
I’ve earned this break. But first, I’ve got to go face shopper mania.
ACK!