Monday, May 30, 2005

Bring on the Brackish Beverages!

At 2:30 p.m. yesterday, my prison sentence was over and I could return to my coffee, cola, etc. etc. So I brewed a pot of coffee and had a cup without a straw. Later, I attacked the diet coke. Last night, we had spaghetti and I capped the evening off with more coffee and an Australian shiraz blend. Boy, I love red wine.

Hubby wants to take the kids to see "Revenge of the Sith" today. We went and saw it last week to make sure it was okay for the kids. It's dark but I don't think it is anymore frightening to young ones then the Harry Potter movies or "Series of Unfortunate Events." The most difficult part to watch was Natalie Portman. Damn, all she does is bawl throughout the movie. I have my own issues with continuity with the film. And I can't stand Yoda. He is so sanctimonious and a know-it-all. Perhaps I have gone over to the Dark Side. I think being home with 3 kids will do that to you.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Pearly Whites and the Power of the Rally Monkey

After years of being hassled by dh, I went ahead and had my teeth whitened yesterday. I was one of those kids who lived on tetracycline as a baby and it left me with stained adult teeth. Other than that, my teeth are perfect: no cavities, no need for braces. They managed to lighten my teeth 7 shades. It took two hours and was uncomfortable as hell, but I did okay, until she handed me the list of things I can't eat or drink for 48 hours. Oh, and I might feel some discomfort for first 24 hours (I knew I should have been suspect when she handed me advil as soon as I sat down in the chair).

Jump down to the next event. We had tickets to see the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim play (is that not the most asinine name in the world? a whole other rant on its own). So after taking a second out on the house to pay for food at the game, we packed up two of the brats and headed to the old ball game.

First thing, the kids are hungry. So dh heads to the stand to get hot dogs, except I can't have ketchup or mustard for 48 hours. But there is the guy selling $6 pizzas. Oops, can't have red sauce. Hmm...but Panda Express has booth, so I could get some broccoli beef. Oh dear, it has soy sauce, another no-no.

I was also thirsty. It's Pepsi. I don't drink Pepsi and even if I did, cola is another banned substance. I asked hubby to get water. He looked at me with horror and said he'd rather spend the money getting ripped off on beer than water. So he got me a Mike's Hard Lemonade.

Now this is bad enough, but then the "discomfort" kicks in. Oh, my teeth hurt so bad. But the Angels are losing, so I figure we would be home soon and I could get more advil. Sigh...they get some guys on base and the Rally Monkey appears. Thousands of people are screaming waving their stuffed monkeys. Sure enough, the Angels score 5 runs and tie the game. Bottom of the ninth, they've got people on base and the Rally Monkey is doing his thing. No such luck and the game goes to extra innings. Thank goodness the Monkey was still around and the Angels got a run in the bottom of the 10th. But we still had to sit for fireworks. I was so glad to get home.

It's Saturday morning and I can sit down with a cup of coffee, except it is on "the list." But where there is a will, there is a way. I'm drinking it through a straw.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Attacked by a WIP!

So, I was minding my own business, working on my historical, knowing I was nearly done and planning my next project when BAM! I got hijacked by another story altogether. I have no idea where it came from, but in the last three days I've written 13 pages. I need to stop so I can finish my historical, but I guess I need to get this one out of my system. It's a vampire story and I'd sworn off bloodsuckers for awhile, but there it is.

I get kind of dopey when I start a new story. My head is in the clouds for the most part with brief moments of lucidity.

I started reading THE COMPANION by Susan Squires and so far I really like it. Its very different and she puts in a great deal of detail to color her world. Her research on ship terms is terrific.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Generosity of Writers

First, thank you for all of your good wishes. I had a lovely birthday without any major catastrophes. Hubby got me an iPod. Pink of course.

I met my friend Linda at a bookstore where Susan Squires was signing THE COMPANION. Her husband Harry was also signing his new book, WHAT ROUGH BEAST which he writes under the name H.R. Knight. What I didn't realize was how many other authors would be signing as well. Mary Castillo and Jennifer Apodaca were also there signing plus several more I can't remember. Just as I was checking out, one more author arrived, Rebecca Forster. So I had to stop and get her books. While she was signing, I mentioned how I saw her at my chapter meeting and liked her presentation. She started asking me about my writing, what I wrote, where I was at. As I told her about my rejections, she totally jumped on it and said I needed to be more aggressive. She outlined some ideas on what I should be doing and how to go about it. She turned to my friend Linda and told her she needs to keep tabs on me and to email her if I am not doing as I should. And I need to spend some money on some lucky shoes.

I was impressed she would take the time out to really be interested in my career as an unpubbed and to share her experience and knowledge. Her enthusiasm and exuberance was definitely contagious.

I am always humbled at the generosity of writers in the romance genre. We as a group tend to be the biggest supporters of one another, the loudest cheerleaders. And those who have succeeded are eager to help struggling writers achieve their dreams.

Hopefully Linda absorbed more than I did. I was a bit overwhelmed (I'm easily starstruck). Linda is the only non-writer friend of mine who reads my stuff and is probably a better judge of my writing than anyone else. I have no doubt she will keep me on the crooked yet narrow path to publication.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

38 Special

I am thirty-eight year old today. And I have a two year old. And I am still lactating. Oh, I'm depressed now. I really didn't think I would be changing diapers at this stage in my life.

I complain a lot about my life. I'm not a published writer, I'm overweight, my house isn't as clean as I would like, I don't know how to knit, I haven't finished the granny square afghan for my son, etc., etc.

The list is endless and just about as shallow.

So, on this day, I will focus on what I have accomplished. I have actually published, I have an article on historical research published in The Romance Wrtier's Handbook. I have three bright and healthy children and a wonderful husband who is devoted to me. Although I'm still overweight, I've been working out and am in the best shape I've been since my early 20's. I have friends and family, a great house, nice cars, all the material things I want. My health is good and I don't have any gray hair (okay, that's courtesy of my very expensive dye jobs, the one excess my husband never complains about).

Today I am off to a book signing and lunch with a friend. Its a sunny day and perfect for the convertible. It should be a nice day.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Martini Friday

Our temperatures here are climbing up into the 90's this weekend. At the end of a hot day, I love an ice cold martini. Last year it was apple martinis and cosmos, but now I am branching out. Last Friday I had refreshing martini from a restaurant I had dinner at. I couldn't find the recipe but the restaurant did divulge the ingredients. So last night I experimented and came up with this:

Picnic Punch Martini

2 oz. citrus-flavored vodka
2 oz. watermelon pucker
splash or so of sweet and sour

I use a lot of ice to get it as cold as possible. I recommend that you pour the ingredients sit in the shaker for a moment after I've shaken it to let it get really cold. This recipe makes two good sized martinis, if you want to share. Or not.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Santa Barbara

I need a vacation. The last time I had time away from my kids was in September '02 when hubby had to go to Bermuda for business and I got to go. This wasn't exactly a relaxing journey, I was 7 1/2 months pregnant and I had a sinus infection. I spent a lot of time in the hotel room watching t.v.

I haven't spent 24 hours away from my baby yet. This isn't by choice. My other kids were used to abandonment. I went to Hawaii for ten days and left my 5 year old son and his 18 month old sister behind. But this third baby is different. She nursed until she was 22 months. Never took a bottle. Would only breastfeed for the first 6 mos. of life. She also wouldn't let anyone hold her but me. It's like having a freakin' virus that won't go away.

So I grabbed my husband by the throat and told him if he valued his life, he would find time to take a three day weekend and get me out of the insane asylum my home has become. So he left it to me to pick a place. I selected Santa Barbara. This is one of the two places I would actually move to, the other being San Diego (well, La Jolla) from where I live now.

Grabbing the laptop, I start hunting for hotels and I've got quite the list going. Hubby does the same. I'm looking at the Four Seaons, he's looking at Motel 6. I'm looking at seafood restaurants, he's looking at steak. I'm looking for the shopping areas and the winerys, he's looking for dayhikes and botanical gardens.

Maybe I should just leave him home.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Quantum Mechanics

When I was in college, I took a physics class for non-science majors. If filled a couple of requirements and the TA was soooo hot. It wasn't a particularly challenging class, concepts such as inertia, energy, mass and how they work together aren't hard to grasp. Figuring out the trajectory of a Ferrarri hurling down an alpine road really isn't tough. But my professor took it a step further. He decided to teach liberal arts students about quantum mechanics.

Quantum mechanics encompasses theories and ideas involving the speed of light, the theory of relativity and time. Quantum theory works to explain the behavior of molecules and atoms with relation to energy and mass. Anyway, it is very complicated and simply beyond my scope. I remember problems presented where we had to figure out how old an astronaut would be when he returned to earth if he traveled at the speed of light for a certain number of days. I didn't get it most of the time.

But every once in awhile, a light bulb would go off and I would get it, but I couldn't maintain my understanding. Sometimes I feel the same way about writing. I understand the basics, know the "rules," feel comfortable with the concepts of writing and the craft. But I have a hard time grasping the mystery of a good piece of writing; that indefinable element to a story which makes it unique. And I recognize it when I see it. I cringe at the majesty of it, how that writer captured the spark and I wonder how they did it. I'm sure they scratch their heads and wonder themselves.

To add to the confusion, other people don't see the spark in the same way. Where I see brilliance, others see nothing and vice-versa. I've had cp's comment on a particular passage in my writing they find exceptional and I have to shake my head.

I guess writing, like an unstable atom is hard to understand. The rules are open to interpretation and the formula if followed because simple, traditional physics. But to make it special, to lift it to the level of wonder takes something else, an understanding that goes beyond the norm. And so I search for it, hoping my mind will open and like the theory of relativity, I will get it.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Katie and the Candy Store

Sycamore Elementary, 3 p.m.

Katie:Mom, can we go to the candy store?
Me: No.
Katie: Why can't we go to the candy store?
Me: Because I said so.

The Big Red Bomber, 3:10 p.m.
Katie (muttering from the backseat): wish we could go to the candy store.

Home, 3:15 p.m.
Katie: Can I have some ice cream?
Me: No
Katie: I don't want an ice cream sandwich. I want regular ice cream.
Me: No

The Laundry Room at Home, 3:30
Katie: Do you have five dollars?
Me: Why?
Katie: So we can go to the candy store and I get some ice cream.
Me: (insert your favorite expletives screamed at a high decibel).

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Things to do on a Sunday....

Do laundry or read the new "Sookie Stackhouse" book
Do the dishes or read the new "Sookie Stackhouse" book
Feed my children or read the new "Sookie Stackhouse" book
Call the fire department as my house burns down around my ears or read the new "Sookie Stackhouse" book.

Finishing Dead as a Doornail was a bittersweet experience. While I wish Charlaine Harris' book would go on and on, I can finally get some stuff done around the house.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Book of My Heart

I should probably start out by saying I love everything I write. I love to write and have since I was 12 and scribbling down Victoria Holt knock-offs. I'd be happy writing copy for corn flake boxes. I pour my heart into everything I write.

That being said, there are some stories that mean more than others to me. It would seem logical, writing is a highly personal vocation which requires a person to reach into the recesses of their being to create a world populated with rich characters and fascinating plots.

Jill said
If the writing is great, you can sell anything, especially a book of your heart.

And I wholeheartedly agree. However....

A book is kind of like a house. You may have beautiful house, constructed with only the finest materials. The kitchen sports high-end appliances and granite counter tops. You've filled the bathrooms with polished marble. Everyone agrees, your house is beautiful. But maybe the floorplan's a little off. It might be a little different, unique and not to everyone's taste, but you love it. Now you have to sell it. It will sell, eventually. But the market is tight and there are more houses for sale than there are buyers. While everyone loves your house, it doesn't fit within the lifestyles of many people. It will sell someday, all houses sell, but it may take awhile.

Maybe you live in a traditional ranch style home. The landscaping is perfect, you've put in top-notch materials, made it the best it can be. And you love, but it doesn't have a piece of your soul in it. You put it on the market on Friday and by Monday you are packing to move. As much as you enjoyed living in the house, you won't shed any tears as you drive away. Your memories will be pleasant, but you won't get choked up over leaving.

Sorry for the ponderous analogy, but it was the best way to describe how I feel. The book so recently rejected was one I felt came purely from my heart. I didn't pay attention to market trends or anything when I started it. Up to then, it was my best piece of writing. When I started submitting it over a year ago, I got many requests for partials, most of which ended in rejections. The most common reason was marketability. I didn't receive one bad rejection, they all liked something about the book, but didn't think they could sell it.

My feelings now are ambivalent. While I'm not bitter over the submission process, I am weary and wary. The next book I wrote is good, better than the last, but its a paranormal in a similar vein and I'm not sure I want to waste another year in the same situation only to be rejected because no one thinks they can sell it.

The historical I am finishing is good and I love much about it, but I made some concessions. I put it in a time period which I like but don't hold in the highest of affection.

I still hold hope that my two paranormals will find the right buyer and someone will appreciate their uniqueness.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


So, the end of my current WIP is in sight and now I need to think of the next project.

It isn't a question of inspiration; I have a dozen ideas floating in my head at anyone moment. But which road to take?

I'm assuming the third agent is going to reject my ms, so I'm working from that supposition. The ms I entered in the GH is ready for submission. However, it's a vampire story and I think the market is saturated with vampire stories. My current WIP is a historical. It would be easy to slide into another historical considering I've done so much research and I'm comfortable with my historical "voice." But...historicals are a tough sell.

Yeah, I know, it is wrong to write for the market, it's a no-win proposition, but I don't want to devote several months to a work and see it go nowhere. I feel like I'm in a spot in my writing where it's not simply writing the book of my heart (oh, I hate that platitude)but thinking of something truly viable for the market. I don't do this for fun anymore. Not that I have lost the joy in writing, I still find satisfaction in putting fingers to keyboard, but I have to consider what I'm writing and if I'm willing to let it molder in my hard drive.

For example, one of my favorite WIP's took place in 1763 in the Piedmont area of Virginia. The daughter of a plantation owner has been possessed by a demon. My heroine was an exorcist. I did so much research, got about 10K words and realized no one would buy it so I dropped it.

I don't mourn it and probably will never resurrect it, but I certainly feel if I want to get published, I have to remain within set parameters.

And so I have to come to a decision. I probably have a couple of weeks, but it is difficult to choose a path when there are so many forbidden and seem so much more interesting.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Dark Side of the Dark Side

Today the L.A. Times ran a story about the new "Revenge of the Sith" movie. George Lucas cautions parents not to take a child younger than six to the movie. While I applaud his honesty, I'm frustrated by the marketing of this film. I have in my pantry a box of LavaBerry Poptarts and Star Wars cereal. My 2 year old can verbally identify Darth Vader. My kindergartener and her brother play Star Wars chess. Legos, video games, clothing, light sabers, you name, it's been marketed.

Now, if this stuff was aimed at the older crowd, no big deal, but has anyone seen "Darth Tater?" He's a Mr. Potatohead dressed as Darth Vader. Fisher-Price has Star Wars toys targeted to the pre-school set. From what I've read of the film, it's dark and scary, far too intense for my five year old, yet she has been bouncing off the walls to see it. I doubt I will take her.

While I'm not chiding Lucas for making a dark, creepy Star Wars movie, it does seem ridiculous that the marketing companies didn't take it's intended audience into consideration.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Siren Song of Contests

I have been known to emphatically say I will never enter another chapter contest again. Ever. Nothing can change my mind.

So what am I doing? Yeah, getting a synopsis ready for a contest.

Why am I doing this?

I could say I want to get this ms in front of an editor or agent judge. But that really isn't the answer.

The truth is, I have a competitive streak I do not like to acknowledge. My dh is blatantly competitive and is unbearable when he loses. I am much too refined for such shenanigans.


I want to win. I don't care if the prize is a stale donut, I want to win. I cannot resist the call for competition. Is it worth the price that it takes on my ego? No, probably not, but I'm not wisest of creatures at times. Hence my third child. But I can't resist the lure, the call to competition.

Thursday, May 05, 2005


I got another rejection today on my full. This just ain't right. Two in one week. I'm still reeling from the last rejection. Ah well, I suppose the first one is the hardest. He at least thought I was good writer, he just didn't have the enthusiasm to be the right agent.

Well, two down, one more to go.

Husband...Free to Good Home

Oh heck, it doesn't have to be a good home.

Hubby cannot leave a car alone. He can't not modify something on a vehicle. All of my cars have new exhaust systems. One has a supercharger. I think three of them have new computer chips to up the horsepower. He decides my big red tank needs a new air intake and air filter (more horsepower) and a brushguard. I need a brushguard to navigate through the wilderness that is my southern California suburb. Never know when a Caltrans cone is going to leap into the middle of a street. It's good to have the front of my moosemobile protected. Grrr...

So he spends 3 hours working on getting the brushguard on the front of the car only to realize it's the wrong part. So the car is disassembled and I can't drive it. I have two other cars to choose from (5 cars, 2 licensed drivers), but it is raining and I want my SUV.

But at least after the struggle he came in and spent some quality time with me. Oh wait, maybe he came in, ate dinner, flopped on the couch, read the newspapers and fell asleep in front of the ball game.

I had a rough day with my kids yesterday. The only adult I had talked to all day was my friend Melissa and that is only be cause we both use MSN Messenger, so technically, I didn't actually "talk" with her.

And he couldn't understand why I was so crabby. I explained it to him, but I could see his jaw slacken and his eyes glaze over.

Can someone please remind me why I am writing romance?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

I'm a Sucker for this Stuff...

Your Birthdate: May 21

Being born on the 21st day of the month (3 energy) is likely to add a good bit of vitality to your life.

The energy of 3 allows you bounce back rapidly from setbacks, physical or mental.

There is a restlessness in your nature, but you seem to be able to portray an easygoing, "couldn't care less" attitude.

You have a natural ability to express yourself in public, and you always make a very good impression.

Good with words, you excel in writing, speaking, and possibly singing.

You are energetic and always a good conversationalist.

You have a keen imagination, but you tend to scatter your energies and become involved with too may superficial matters.

Your mind is practical and rational despite this tendency to jump about.

You are affectionate and loving, but very sensitive.

You are subject to rapid ups and downs.

I got this from Teresa's Blog.

Another Historical Rant

I graduated with a degree in history. I chose the major because:

1. I liked history, when it came time to declare, most of my classes were in history.
2. Its a good major if you want to go to law school, which I thought I did at the time.
3. What better degree for a romance writer, the other career I aspired to?

My focus was the colonial south and I spent a few months in Williamsburg, VA studying the era. Oh, I loved it. I couldn't wait to write my great, dramatic romance novel encompassing a period and location I adored.

A few years later, I did write my novel. I took my knowledge and experience studying colonial America and set my book in Virginia in 1752. Okay, I won't candy-coat the truth. The book reeked. Oh man, it was not good. But at the time I thought it was pretty good. So with perky optimism I submitted it to agents. Before they could actually find out how bad my book was, they flat out said novels set in colonial America did not sell.

Now, a bit more jaded, I've found there are only two periods in history and two countries as far as publishers are concerned. It seems every historical is set either in medieval England or Scotland or set in Regency London. France exists to provide that pesky Napoleonic war so we could have Regency spy heroes.

I know I'm being extreme. There are other books out there written in different time periods and places, but they aren't the norm.

Yeah, this is an old argument that gets rehashed time and time again. But I do wish it would change. I'd hoped when "The Patriot" came out there would be a revived interest in colonial-Revolutionary America (although by the end of the film I was rooting for the redcoats. Wasn't Jason Isaacs a hottie?). But it didn't happen.

I have buckled under the pressure and my current WIP takes place in the Regency era although out stubbornness I set it in 1808 which technically is not the Regency. And as I look towards the end of my WIP and my next project, I can't help but long to return to Virginia and write about pocket hoops and would-be patriots.

Sorry, after writing this blog, I thought of a whole other part.

As a reader, I have found myself drifting away from historical romance. Funny, because when I first started reading romance I only read historicals. I started reading in the early '80's during the days when Woodiwiss, Busbee, Wilde & Lindsey were royalty. Lindsey was all over the historical atlas and part of the fun was never knowing where she was going to take you. Busbee settled in the south in the early days of the Republic and mixed in the troubled political climate of the era with her sweeping romances. Does anyone remember Eleanora Brownleigh and the way in which she brought the elegance of the the early 20th century alive to her readers?

It seems the choices for readers have been funneled down. Not that there aren't great authors, but I feel like the choices are limited with regards to variety.

Monday, May 02, 2005

The Power of Rejection

I had another post I was working on, but the mail brought in a rejection. I ceased to be real interested in anything to do with writing, big surprise :(

It is hardly my first rejection, but it is my first rejection based on a full. However, as painful as it is, it isn't my most painful. I'm not sure if that is good or bad. Have I become jaded enough that I don't feel the same passion? Shouldn't I be throwing myself around blubbering and looking for chocolate?

It wasn't a bad rejection, the agent said she liked it, liked the characters and thought there was lots of chemistry. She just didn't think it was strong enough for the market. My first reaction was to toss out my pc, my laptop, all of my writing books, etc. etc. and give up writing. But it only lasted a second. The feeling used to last a whole day when I first started. As the rejections mount up, the less connected I feel. My writing has become something seperate from myself. Maybe it is a defense mechanism.

I'm sure we all feel some level of utter despair when that SASE comes back with a simple letter. Have your feelings changed over the years with the various rejections?

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Happily Ever After? Really?

On the Romance Central Forums Workshops, Becky Vinyard is presenting on plotting. She brings up the issue of resolution in a story. It is definitely something to think about. Too often the black moment arrives, is resolved and the hero and heroine ride off into the sunset. But is it satisfying?

How many times have you read a story where the hero and heroine have some serious conflicts and yet when the villain has them at knife point, the problems disappear? The hero (or heroine) dispatches the bad guy and realizes they can't live without the other person. THE END! I always wonder what is going to happen 6 months down the road when real life situations hit these people. I recently read a book where the conflicts between the hero and the heroine ran deep. I can see I'm getting to the end of the book, yet I don't see the issues resolving. Out of the blue, a villain comes in and tries to kill the pair. Boom, their issues are resolved and they live happily ever after. I was oddly dissatisfied. I felt disconnected from the pair whom I'd come to know so well.

I really dislike when a couple are working their way through their conflicts and bam, she gets pregnant. I figure it saves the author about 3 chapters of working through conflict so they can get their hero and heroine together. Now, as anyone with children can say, pregnancy often causes more problems in a relationship. It is a cheat. So what happens when the conflict starts building up? She miscarries the baby. Because what is going to draw two people together more than the shared loss of their unborn child? Again, anyone who has gone through the experience knows that it doesn't really work that way. Along with the grief, the initial problems can be amplified by the pain of the pair involved. I'm not commenting on the sensitivity of the issues, merely as a reader and writer who feels cheated when an author resorts to these particular plot devices to speed up the romance between their hero and heroine.

Are authors being lazy or are they being forced to an early resolution by the constraints placed upon them by an editor? I'm not sure. Obviously not all books are like that, but I do tend to find myself drifting towards series of books because the HEA is unresolved and the characters are forced to work through their problems.

Maybe its just me. But I want characters to earn their HEA in a logical manner, to truly understand why they love the other person and to feel the joy of true love.