Saturday, January 06, 2007

Don't you love the 21st century?

Our holidays started on a dark note - literally. On Dec. 14 we had a terrible windstorm in the Pacific Northwest that plunged almost two million people into darkness. Think about it - no twinkly lights, no carols, no Starbucks! (No Starbucks!!!), and no juice to run a laptop. Our regression to the 19th century lasted five very long days. And I think it would have been much longer if the guys in the neighborhood hadn't fired up their chain saws and cut down the offending tree.

Wow - it sounds like I live in wild west, doesn't it?

Fortunately, there were a few commercial places that had power. Unfortunately, they were innundated with folks who wanted to get warm or to plug in their laptops. I personally went to the laundromat - how about that? It's amazing how much we rely on our computers, our e-mail, our high speed cable, our automatic coffee pots - yada, yada, yada.

But the lesson of small and large blessings came home to roost in a big way. A good friend's house was cut in half by a gigantic tree. The amazing thing was that two minutes later she would have been feeding her baby right where that tree fell.

Life is a series of miracles!

So, it's the new year and we're back to the 21st century. Did I mention I LOVE ELECTRICITY! Let's just see how it lasts since we've been pummeled with strong Pacific storms. I can't wait for spring.

Hope you have a great new year.

Ann DeFee

Friday, January 05, 2007

There are signs everywhere

I believe in signs. On the way home from the post office yesterday, I saw a rainbow. Now I realize that rainbows are simply prisms formed when light is refracted by water. But I choose to see the rainbow as a sign that all is well, and that good things are coming my way.

Why this particular rainbow brought tears to my eyes is anyone’s guess. At the moment my life is good. My family is healthy and I anticipate a productive and fabulous year. But tear up I did. I thought about the things I am grateful for besides my family. Good friends. A growing a loyal readership. A muse that chugs along like a fine workhorse and hasn’t failed me yet. The support and encouragement of my editors and agent.

And okay, chocolate and that I love to bake. (Getting those fat calories from homemade goodies is so much tastier than from the bought kind :-)). Great wine. Good movies, Grey’s Anatomy, Project Runway, Democracy Now!, books and magazines.. I could go on and on, but I’m starting to bore myself.

The thing is, that sign, that rainbow, boosted my spirits (after I wiped away the tears) and reminded me that life is beautiful—a wonderful thing.

There are signs all around us if we bother to see them. I don’t know about you, but I plan to keep my eyes open.

What signs have you seen lately? I’d love to know.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


I don't know about you, but I've had it with making New Year's resolutions on December 31 only to find myself breaking them by January 2--and then having to deal with the guilt for twelve months afterward.

This year, it's going to be different. This year, I'm making the kind of promises to myself that we all should be happy to break.


For 2007, I hereby resolve to:

6. Learn to appreciate dust bunnies and lint. Their texture adds character to a room.

5. Keep building those piles of papers and books all over the place. This makes it so easy to find things at a glance.

4. Forget about reading for pleasure and focus only on business material. (Uhh... naturally, that includes e-mail.)

3. Utilize that treadmill--it's the perfect portable clothes rack. (Note: see #2)

2. Gain weight. This could lead to buying a whole new wardrobe! (Note: see #1)

1. Eat as much chocolate as desired, every single day.


This is even more fun than I anticipated, and I'm happy to report I've already broken a couple of these promises without feeling the slightest twinge of guilt!

So...jump right in and join me.

What resolutions will you be happy to break?

All my best to you,



Barbara White Daille

Off To A Good Start

Well, last month brought innumerable hours of wrestling meets, a fast and furious race to meet my deadline for August Nights, my October release, and five days behind a cash register at a Hallmark store.
We also managed to celebrate Christmas with friends and family. But anyone who knows me would tell you that I was mainly focused on one thing...the health of my miniature dachshund, Suzy. She needed surgery two weeks ago, and I'm happy to report that she's now back to her regular self. Just yesterday she was vigilantly patrolling the back yard, yapping at anything that moved. My kids and I watched her and smiled--for the first time not wishing she would stop barking.
Isn't it funny how a pet can become the focal point of a family? Suzy sleeps on my son's bed, keeps me company during the day, and is both a constant source of amusement and aggravation for my husband and daughter. Things just weren't the same when she was as sick as, well, a dog.
So, here at my house, we'll begin 07 with a very large vet bill, Christmas decorations to put away, a proposal to write, and yet another round of wrestling meets. Thank goodness I'll have a little brown dog to help me get through it. And because of that, 07 looks to be a very good year. Hope everyone else's year is off to a good start, too.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Busy Moms Create Romance

Happy 2007!!

Nothing like ringing in the New Year with a release! Nelson In Command, the second installemnt in my McKade Brothers series hits the shelves this month. And to celebrate I'm running a new contest on my website--Name that Rooster! Check out and click on "Marin's Attic" for more information on this quirky new contest :-)

Ah, another New Year. I'm not one for making resolutions, but I do take time each year to reflect on what I'm most thankful for. And near the top of my list--having a fulfilling career while being a stay-at-home mom...

"Hey, Mom, did you wash my P.E. shorts?"
And they lived happily ever after….
"Check your dresser!"
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine myself a stay-at-home mom who writes romance novels for a living. Am I complaining--heck, no! Shh…don't tell my husband, but I admit I've got a good thing going here.

I'm home to nurture, support, care…or as my teenage son and daughter prefer….nag, monitor and interfere in their daily lives. After those tasks are accomplished and the kids hop on the school bus each morning I spend the next several hours creating stories about what I love most: home, hearth and happiness! Sounds like a dream job, right? Not always.

I suppose I can't convince you that sitting in a chair writing while munching Fritos and drinking Pepsi is a demanding job, but cut me some slack here. I've got only a few hours before the darn bus returns to make my stubborn hero (I'm married to one, so I have plenty of experience with this kind of man) come to his senses and admit he loves my spirited, independent and determined heroine (that's who I want to be when I grow up).

Okay, so that's the fun part of my job--if my subconscious cooperates… "There's mold growing in the toilets!," it nags. "The dirty clothes in the laundry room won’t jump into the wash machine on their own!" And the worst offender…the treadmill--"Hey, baby, remember what you looked like at twenty-two? Give me a half-hour a day and I'll turn you into a sex goddess!"

I attempt to convince the nagging voice in my head that I'm saving those activities for when I suffer writer's block--which happens often enough to add a little extra stress to my life. On those days, hubby comes home, takes one look at the clean house and says, "Tough day at the office, honey?" Grrr!

If a nagging subconscious isn't enough to distract a serious writer, then the occasional unexpected phone call…Teen number one: "Mom, I forgot my English paper would you please bring it to school so I don't get an F?"

Shoot, now I have to actually wash my face, put on makeup and change out of my tattered sweats because I have to go into the school to drop off the paper at the principal's office. Of course, I get a dirty look from the secretary that says, "Haven’t you taught your child better?" I schlep back home wondering what good it does to be a stay-at-home mom if I can't even teach my own kids responsibility? Well, you can darn betcha the kid in my next book will tow the line!

Writing and being a stay-at-home mom is challenging, but I can’t imagine my life any other way. I count my blessings that I'm able to work in my home at a career that inspires me and allows a certain amount of freedom. In a few years my teens will leave the nest and then I'll grumble that the house is too quiet, that I miss the chaos and heaven forbid, that I'm lonely.

And one day if my daughter or daughter-in-law asks me to care for their children so they can pursue a career, well, I'll just say…"Have you considered writing romances?"

Tell me, what are you most thankful for?

Happy Writing and Reading!
Marin Thomas

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Of beginnings and authors

“How do you start a book?”

That’s a question I’m frequently asked, or such variations as: “Do you just sit down at the computer and start writing?” Another related inquiry that authors hear a lot is “Where do you get your ideas?”

Once, after I’d given a talk, a woman approached and explained, “I dreamed an idea for a book, but when I wrote it down, it only took a page and a half. Then what do you do – just stretch it?”

While every author works differently, I can state the following about myself:
1) I never just sit at the computer and start a novel, cold.
2) Neither could I plan out a whole book from start to finish. For me, stories grow organically on a framework.
3) I get ideas from all sorts of things or from nothing at all, but that’s the easy part.
4) Developing and shaping those ideas into a novel is incredibly hard work.

Generally, I start with a germ of an idea, maybe a plot twist or a character. For the trilogy that Harlequin American is publishing this year (The Doctor’s Little Secret, February; Daddy Protector, May; Twin Surprise, September), I began with two notions. The first concerned police officers who survive life-threatening events, gain new perspectives and decide to become fathers (whether by birth or adoption).

Second, I envisioned a young woman whose plans to become a teacher had been derailed by a serious auto accident that left her with long-term injuries. With the help of her two closest friends, she’s finally getting back on track at the age of thirty.

As I jotted notes and interwove the ideas, one of the friends became a cousin who’s the ex-wife of a lieutenant. The other best friend turned out to be policewoman. Gradually storylines emerged and converged.

I considered various ways to involve children. An unexpected pregnancy. A hoped-for adoption. And a relinquished infant who, at the age of five, suddenly becomes available again.

Next came the long but engrossing process of exploring the characters and working out the major plot points. At last, I was ready to envision the opening scene of the first book, which still left a lot of events and twists for me to experience as I wrote.

Other authors work differently. Some are “pantsers” – seat-of-the-pants writers. Others diagram intensively.

As for the lady who asked about stretching her dream, I advised her to find a published novel with a similar storyline and study it to see how the story took shape. I never found out whether she followed my advice. I’ve always wondered how she started her book – or if she did. If you’re writing one, I hope you’ll find the method that works best for you.

Happy New Year, and may 2007 get off to a productive start for us all!