Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

The Harlequin American author bloggers would like to thank you for spending 2007 with us and we look forward to blogging and chatting with you in 2008.

Have a wonderful New Years Eve and New Year's Day and we resolve that in 2008 we'll keep bringing you top-notch American Romance (and for all the years after that as well).

The best to you and your family,

The Harlequin American authors

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Guilty Little Pleasures

My children are on vacation this week in Alabama, so ever since Dec. 26, my house has been quiet (minus the six cats sprawled out all over). I've been using the time to get my 20th book written and to simply do nothing. Some days I get up, work out, write, and go to bed when I finally feel tired. That's it.

Last night I went out with friends, something I never get time to do since life is always so booked solid, and I came home at 2:30 AM and then got up this morning at 11 AM. It's been an awesome week where I haven't set my alarm clock once. I'll go back to that "up at 5:15 AM" on Jan. 2. I'm in no hurry.

So my lounging around, which is something I can't do when my children are home, got me thinking of all those days pre-kids when it was just me and I had the freedom to come and go as I please, with no one needing to be at guitar lessons or the doctor or something. That time of my life seems so far ago, not that I necessarily would trade my kids and get it back. Okay, maybe when my two girls are fighting. :)

But parenting means you give up things like sleeping until noon. All those indulgences that I used to take for granted so long ago, like taking a candlelit bubble bath with a glass of a wine and a good book are things I no longer have time for. A vacation with kids simply means I'm somewhere else being on the go--so much to see, so little time to do it. Getting away for an hour for some alone time is only a brief escape--life's tension comes back the minute I leave the spa or get off the trail. There's simply so much going on.

So I'm enjoying the guilty little pleasure of not having my kids this week. They're having the time of their lives, and for a few days I've stepped off the treadmill, turned off the world, and freed myself up to be lazy and simply relax. Except for writing, which I love, I don't have to do a thing. This is when I recharge my batteries. And I am proud of the fact that my TV hasn't been on the Disney Channel once. That'll happen Jan 1, when they come home.

Happy New Year everyone and as you go into it, don't forget to carve out that time for yourself. And if you have any tips as to how to stay sane in a crazy world, don't hesitate to let me know.

Michele

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Bird by Bird

There's a wonderful writing book by Anne Lamott called Bird by Bird. The author explains that when she was young, her brother was assigned to write a report about birds, but he put it off until the last minute, then panicked about how he was ever going to write such a long report in one day. His father told him to just write it "bird by bird." Ms. Lamott took that advice to heart, and that is how she keeps the enormity of writing a novel from overwhelming her--she doesn't think about the whole novel, just one scene, or one chapter, or even one good description, at a time. (I hope I am doing the book justice; it's been a while since I read it but I remember that it is wonderful.)

I am both a writer and a birdwatcher, and this month I've had the pleasure of spending a month in "the birdiest spot in the country," the Texas Gulf Coast near Corpus Christie. I'm really only a novice birdwatcher, so when I came here almost every bird I saw was foreign to me. I would walk along the beach and feel overwhelmed by the number and variety of shorebirds; I would stare at a bird, then check the field guide and find half a dozen different birds that looked just like it.

But gradually, with much studying, I started to sort them out. I learned what markings to look for, the length and color of the beak and legs, the way it flew or fed. Now I can spot and identify dozens of water birds with a mere glance.

To bring this back to writing, I think we learn to write a novel the same way. At first, all the terminology is baffling and overwhelming; internal conflict vs. external, motivation, pacing, point of view, internal dialogue, transition, scene and sequel, high concept, theme, three-act structure, hero's journey. If you try to take it all in while you're writing your first book, you'll drive yourself crazy.

But if you study just one aspect--point of view, maybe--and you read different books and passages looking for examples, suddenly it clicks. You'll understand point of view the rest of your life, just like I'll recognize a marbled godwit on any beach next time I see one. Pretty soon, you're incorporating all those esoteric writing terms into your stories without even thinking about it, because it's become automatic.

I could probably take the analogy further; learning to cook is the same way. Probably learning to sew or garden--bird by bird.

(By the way, this blog is very late because I was out birdwatching all day! My bad.)

Happy New Year to you all,

Kara

Friday, December 28, 2007

Congrats to the 2007 RT Award Nominees

THE MAN FOR MAGGIE Lee McKenzie Harlequin (June 2007)

FROM TEXAS, WITH LOVE Cathy Gillen Thacker Harlequin (April 2007)

THE TEXAS RANGER Jan Hudson Harlequin (May 2007)

HOME TO THE DOCTOR Mary Anne Wilson Harlequin (July 2007)

THE RANCHER'S CHRISTMAS BABY Cathy Gillen Thacker Harlequin (December 2007)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Ah, what a lovely list

I like this week between Christmas and New Year’s Day because it’s when I make my goals for the next year. It’s when I take stock of what I’ve done the past year and decide what I want to accomplish in the next 12 months in several areas – writing, personal improvement, home improvement, and entertainment/fun. This week of planning is just an extension of who I am the rest of the year. Hi, my name is Trish, and I’m a list maker.

My list making began when I started school (as in first grade). I made daily lists of what homework I needed to complete, what I needed to take to school the next day, and what I wanted to wear each day. These lists grew in complexity as I progressed through school. I eventually added calendars and daily planners. Okay, this is really nerdy, but I still like the look and feel of a fresh new daily planner. They have to show a week at a time, and the paper can’t be slick. I hate it when ink smears on glossy paper. I also enjoy printing off blank monthly calendars from the Internet too and plotting my daily writing progress, deadlines, blog dates, etc. There’s a nice sense of accomplishment when I’m able to check off one of those items as completed.

And you know what’s the coolest thing currently residing within the crisp pages of my new 2008 planner? My very first book release date! Come next September, my first Harlequin American will hit shelves. I might pass out from excitement. But in the meantime, I have to write in deadlines for my second American and my second young adult book. Let’s just say, my winter is going to be busy. But it’s definitely a good kind of busy.

So, are you a list maker? Do you enjoy setting goals for a new year? What are some of your goals for 2008?

Monday, December 24, 2007

White Christmas

Where I live on the west coast we won’t be having a white Christmas, but last night I watched the film version. Yes, White Christmas, the 1954 classic, starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen. It’s my favorite holiday movie of all time and I watch it every year, even though my family thinks it’s cheesy and can’t figure out why I love it so much!

Maybe it’s the costumes. I adore the dresses with the full skirts and narrow waists worn by Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen. Not that my waist was ever as small as Vera-Ellen’s. At least not since I was ten. My favorite dress is the black evening gown Rosemary Clooney wears to do her solo performance at the nightclub in New York. In my imagination, I look just as stunning as she does in that dress. Isn’t an imagination a wonderful thing?

I love that the sets and backdrops that so unabashedly fake. In an industry now governed by computerized special effects, it’s refreshing that the simplicity of a cardboard set still works. At least it works for me.

And then there are Irving Berlin’s masterpieces. After all, who doesn’t love the title song? And Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen’s "Sisters" routine? Although I must say, I love Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye’s version even more!

The humor and the love stories are wonderfully heartwarming and innocent. And then there’s the way everyone helps General Waverly. Would somebody please pass the Kleenex?

At the end of two hours everyone's hoping it'll snow on Christmas Eve—and it does!

White Christmas is one of my annual traditions. When my shopping is done, the gifts are wrapped, and the house is completely decorated, I settle in for an evening with Bing and Danny and Rosemary and Vera-Ellen, and then it truly feels like Christmas.

Today and tomorrow are my two favorite days of the year. As I post this blog, my husband is driving to the butcher shop to pick up our free-range, organic turkey. This afternoon, as is our family tradition, we’ll put up the tree and decorate it, and then family will arrive for a Christmas Eve buffet supper. Tomorrow morning we have our gift opening and brunch, and in the evening, a traditional Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. And although there won't be snow, everything will be perfect.

My very best wishes to all Harlequin American Romance readers and authors for a wonderful holiday!

Lee
http://www.leemckenzie.com
http://thewritersideoflife.blogspot.com

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Holiday Cheer with Friends



I'm almost done with my holiday preparations. For the first time in two weeks, my husband and kids are out of the house. Finally, I can retrieve their presents from the back of my car and wrap them away from prying eyes. I do have a little shopping left to take care of this afternoon. Mostly food, we're having dinner at our house on Christmas day (a tradition I love). And, I have to find "one more thing" for my mother and my mother-in-law. If your Moms are anything like mine, they're hard to shop for, and I'm wracking my brain for ideas.

This last week has been very harried, as I'm sure it was for everyone here. But harried in a good way. Among my customary holiday celebrations is a dinner out with my critique group. We've been together four-and-a-half years, and I credit them with much of my success as a writer. More than that, they have become some of my closest and dearest friends.

Normally, we meet at more casual places, Starbucks, Ihop or the like. During the holidays, however, we go to a nice restaurant for dinner and exchange token gifts. It's fine that the gifts are just mementoes because what these wonderful ladies give me during the rest of the year is too valuable to put any kind of a price on.

Here we are at the Olive Garden. I'm the one on the far right. We took over a small corner of the dining room and for nearly three hours, celebrated with good food, stories, and enlightening conversation. If I could grant one wish for each of you, it would be for a close and supportive friendship like the one I have with these ladies.

To all our Harlequin American readers, authors, friends and family out there, have a lovely holiday season and a joyous New Year. Thank you for letting me be a small part of your life and for making mine all the better because of knowing you.

Warmest wishes,

Cathy McDavid

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Moments To Remember

My daughter cut off most of her hair last Wednesday. She did it for a variety of reasons, but the main one was she cut that hair was she wanted to donate it to Locks of Love. For those of you who haven’t heard of this organization, this nonprofit accepts donated hair and makes wigs for cancer patients, the majority of them children. Yep, it’s a worthy organization, and I was proud of her willingness to make such a sacrifice.
But what was funny was that we didn’t know what a sacrifice it was until the hairdresser SNIPPED off her pony tail and presented Lesley with ten inches of beautiful brown hair that would never again be on her head. Well, Lesley took one look at that pony tail and let out a wail worthy of the most dramatic fourteen year old. “My hair!” Then, of course, she promptly started crying. Next thing I knew, I was crying, too.
Yep, it was a pretty big day.
It’s amazing how some things affect you way more than you ever thought they would. My husband and kids have the unique ability to either make my days or ruin them with one remark, smile, or smirk. A perfect fall day always lifts my mood. So does the first snow.
Other events are just as momentous as you’ve always dreamed them to be, such as a selling a book. When I sold my first Harlequin, I barely made it through the phone call with my agent, then as soon as I hung up, I sat on the stairs and cried. My husband was sure someone had died and ran up the stairs to comfort me. Nope, it wasn’t a crisis…just a dream turning into a reality.
Now, as we rush toward Christmas, where there’s always too much to do and not enough hours in the day, I’m going to do my best to take some time to appreciate all the moments that mean so much- like spending time with family and friends. Eating a really good piece of pie. Candlelit church services. Early morning squeals of joy. Quiet cups of coffee with only a brand new book for company. What are some of your favorite moments?
Shelley
PS…I won’t be around much to answer today. Wrestling Meet…and concession duty!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Happy Holidays

Hello, and happy holidays to everyone. I just returned from our company's annual Christmas lunch. (My husband owns a company that sells school furniture, and I work there part time as the accounting manager.) We had a wonderful, warm time. As I looked around the table, I really felt as if we were one "family" despite our differences in so many ways. Two employees brought children, which we've never had as guests for lunch before, and that made the get-together even nicer.

Our family will be celebrating Christmas with our 20 month old granddaughter, who is just the age to unwrap presents and squeal about everything. Next Christmas, we'll have two granddaughters. I am so glad that I have children back in my life as they are constant sources of joy . . . and of course, writing inspiration. For example, I wrote the proposal for my June 2008 HAR when my granddaughter was the same age as the baby in the book, and I finished it just about the time my daughter announced that they would be having another baby. If you read the epilogue, you'll know what I mean!

In the meantime, again, let me wish you and your family the happiest of holidays. Even if you don't officially "celebrate," a long winters nap or a steaming cup of hot chocolate could be just the thing to lift your spirits. And, of course, curling up with a good book!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Happy Holidays!

For today, I'm not going to write anything too profound. It's the last day of school for the year--the kids return Jan. 3, teachers are back Jan. 2. I have one final to give, and then I'm done.

I just wanted to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I'll use my break writing--I have a book due 1/4.

I was also featured at the Motivated Writer. If you're curious about my office and my writing process, please stop by and check it out.


http://www.themotivatedwriter.com/12december.html

Michele

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Not the usual holiday celebration

In two days it’ll be winter solstice, the darkest day of the year. If you happen to live in the pacific northwest (I’m in the Seattle area), that means it’s dark by 4:20 pm., and the sun doesn’t rise until nearly 8:00 am—a whole lot of nighttime!

My husband and I decided to do something to usher out the shortest day. Last year we hosted our first annual winter solstice party. We invited lots of friends, many whom we hadn’t seen in ages, and served great food. I even made a hot spiced rum punch. We lit candles in every room. It was great to see everyone and watch people who’d never met make friends .

Our winter solstice party was so successful, we’re doing it again this year. The party, held on December 21, starts as darkness falls, around 4:30, and goes until whenever. I plan to raise a glass of hot rum punch to everyone who makes writing this blog so enjoyable—readers, writers and all my Harlequin American authors/sisters.

Wishing everyone a Happy Winter Solstice and Happy Holidays!

Until later,
Ann
www.annroth.net
All I Want for Christmas, November 2007

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Holiday Wishes

Wow! Christmas is almost here and before we know it, 2008 will be, too.


Before I became a big time romance reader, I'd buy all the women's magazines at Christmastime for the short stories. Redbook, McCalls, Good Housekeeping. It didn't matter. I just loved those happily-ever-after stories centered around the holidays. They always put me in a holiday mood and left me with a smile.


The year my youngest daughter was born, I discovered contemporary series romance and bought every Silhouette Romance that had a Christmas theme. (Yes, 18 years later, I still have them!) I never dreamed that one day I would be blessed with the opportunity to write my own books.


I've been incredibly lucky to have joined the wonderful Harlequin American writers this year, and especially to have my first HAR coming out next month. That it has a Christmas theme only makes it that much better.


If you're like me and would like to extend the joys of the holiday, I hope you'll find that Family by Design does the trick and keeps those after-holiday doldrums at bay, for just a little longer. Single mom Becca Tyler is at the end of her rope when her old flame walks back into her life. Nick Morelli still bears the wounds she inflicted when they broke up, ten years before, but he can't turn his back on her or her three small children. Can he keep the secret that would drive her away and still protect his heart and Becca?


This is such a special time of year, no matter what holiday is celebrated, and families play such an important part of the season. I wish you and yours the most joyful holiday this year, with peace and love flowing into the new year!

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Okay, time to fess up. I bet there are some of you, like me, who use the holidays as an excuse to eat what you want and not worry about putting on those few extra pounds because, guess what? New Year's is right around the corner and so are those resolutions. The first on the list--lose five pounds. So breakout the eggnog, bake those cookies and make that fudge and don't you dare feel guilty--I'm not going to!


Dieter's Night Before Christmas
Author Unknown


‘Twas the night before Christmas and all round my hips
Were Fannie May candies that sneaked past my lips.
Fudge brownies were stored in the freezer with care
In hopes that my thighs would forget they were there.

While Mama in her girdle and I in chin straps
Had just settled down to sugar-borne naps.
When out in the pantry there arose such a clatter
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the kitchen I flew like a flash,
Tore open the icebox then threw up the sash.
The marshmallow look of the new-fallen snow
Sent thoughts of a binge to my body below.

When what to my wandering eyes should appear
A marzipan Santa with eight chocolate reindeer!
That huge chunk of candy so luscious and slick
I knew in a second that I’d wind up sick.

The sweet-coated santa, those sugared reindeer
I closed my eyes tightly but still I could hear;
On Pritzker, on Stillman, on weak one, on TOPS
A Weight Watcher dropout from sugar detox.
From the top of the scales to the top of the hall
Now dash away pounds now dash away all.
Dressed up in Lane Bryant from my head to nightdress
My clothes were all bulging from too much excess.

My droll little mouth and my round little belly,
They shook when I laughed like a bowl full of jelly.
I spoke not a word but went straight to my work
Ate all of the candy then turned with a jerk.

And laying a finger beside my heartburn
Gave a quick nod toward the bedroom I turned.
I eased into bed, to the heavens I cry–
If temptation’s removed I’ll get thin by and by.

And I mumbled again as I turned for the night
In the morning I’ll starve… ’til I take that first bite!

Merry Christmas and best wishes for a safe, happy, and healthy New Year!

Marin
*Hearts of Appalachia*
For the Children Oct 07
In A Soldier's Arms Feb 08
A Coal Miner's Wife Aug 08
www.marinthomas.com

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Letting Go

My younger son has been at college since August. We carted his stuff into the dorm in Tucson, said goodbye and left on our seven-hour drive back to Southern California. His Thanksgiving break was short, so he stayed there (fortunately, his new girlfriend's family invited him home for dinner).

As a result of our driving him to Arizona, he hadn’t been on a plane since last summer, when he went to visit his grandmother in Nashville. On that occasion, I helped him pack on this end and my mother saw him to the airport on the other end.

So, naturally, this week I sent him an e-mail two days before his flight home for Christmas. Don’t forget to check in 24 hours in advance, I cautioned. Make sure you’ve arranged transportation to the airport. And remember not to try to go through security with a Swiss Army knife attached to your key chain the way your older brother did once, because you’ll lose it.

Just a few little reminders.

He wrote back a frosty e-mail. Okay, not that frosty, since it ended with one of those computerized, sideways smiley faces. But he addressed me as mother instead of mom, and even on-line, I could hear the sarcasm in his voice.

He’d already programmed his cell phone to beep him 24 hours before flight time. He knew perfectly well how to pack for a flight. And his girlfriend was driving him to the airport.

Sigh.

I’ve always appreciated the way my parents let go of the reins once I entered college. I flew alone from Nashville to Boston, took a cab to my dorm, and didn’t go home until Christmas. Aside from one visit during my junior year in high school, my parents never came on campus until I graduated.

I was much more self-reliant and highly motivated than my younger son, I tell myself. Nevertheless, it’s clearly time to drop those reins.

That’s what we parents have to do. Watch them like crazy when they’re little, hover on the sidelines while they stagger through adolescence, and then … let them go.

And hope they’ll find their way back again. At least for a visit.

I’m happy to report that he arrived without losing a single piece of luggage. He wasn’t mugged in the airport, he didn’t misplace his laptop, and he easily survived a one-hour delay in his departure, making his connection in Las Vegas with aplomb.

Welcome home, kid. And happy holidays!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Bah Humbug!!!!


Hmm . . . Where to start? This has been the worst week I've had in a looooong time.

(As we can't find the camera, I snatched this pic off the web. It was taken by Dayzella, and is representative of how things look around town as far as downed limbs. Only many are bigger, and on top of houses! I've never seen anything like this. It's like a tornado hit the whole town.)
That said, there are thousands in Tulsa faring way worse than me. Sunday night, we had a massive ice storm blow through that wiped out power and phones to over five hundred thousand folks. It's being called the worst power outage in OK history. Our house is cold enough to see your breath. Lucky for us, Wednesday, we hit the lottery by finding an open hotel room. By day, we keep our gas fireplace going for the pets to stay sort-of warm. Most every tree in town has been shredded by the ice. In some neighborhoods, there are so many downed limbs, you can't even drive through. Schools have been out for the entire week.

Seeing how I have a book due tomorrow, all of this free time should've been a major blessing, but with no power, it's been rough. I've written with my laptop plugged in at coffee houses, in the car, and even at the Olive Garden!

Last night, I called in our outage to PSO, and was told that our power should be on within minutes. We rushed over, planning to party, only to find more cold, darkness. Ugh. As of this morning, it's still not on.

Meanwhile, we just heard via text message that Daughter has cheer practice. Cheer practice??!! Um, I was talking with some other cheer moms, and we all decided our minds are a bit preoccupied about now.

The sad thing is that while our situation has been stressful as far as spending $$ for a hotel and eating out every meal, I can't fathom how folks who can't afford what we see as necessities are coping. Please, keep them in your prayers for power to come on soon, although PSO is now saying it may be next Wednesday before full power is restored.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Foreign Editions

One of the fun things about writing for Harlequin American is googling my name and finding wild things, like French editions, on the internet.

The above book came out in November 2007 and guess what, I have no idea what book it is. I'm guessing that this is one of the books set in Chicago, so I'm thinking it may be The Wedding Secret.

Sometimes I received author copies and other times I don't. Usually I recognize the picture, but oftentimes the photo is changed. It's strange--in Australia I'm a Presents author and in Japan I'm a Silhouette Special Edition author. In France I'm a Desire author.

What I really find fun this time is that I've been packaged with a good friend of mine, Patricia Kay. Neither she nor I knew Harlequin would do this. In fact, the authors don't know what books will be picked up for foreign editions. Harlequin does the translating.

Have a great day! I'm off to work--

Michele

Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas Traditions


My husband and I were married on December 22nd many years ago, in a church decorated with greenery and poinsettias. We spent our first Christmas together on our honeymoon. To me, Christmas has always been the most romantic time of year, one filled with tradition and memories.

That first Christmas, we exchanged gifts with my husband’s parents a few days before the wedding. They gave us camping equipment, which we’d wanted. (We got engaged on a camping trip.) Then his mother presented me with a small wrapped box. In it was one of those Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments — Our First Christmas Together. That started the tradition of buying a new ornament each year. If the ornament isn’t already marked with the year, I mark it. We have a ceramic ornament I purchased at the Smithsonian Museum of American History. I was thrilled to find one marked 1997 — that particular year. Only when we unwrapped it later to hang on the tree did we realized the stylized script actually read 1907. We always make jokes about remembering that as a very good year. A wooden plane commemorates the year my husband took flying lessons. Others mark new houses. All the milestone years are also celebrated with special ornaments — 10, 15, 20 and 25th anniversaries.

There are other special ornaments on our tree. Ornaments purchased in different places we’ve visited. Ornaments given to us by friends. And pictures of our beloved dogs, both past and present. Decorating the tree is a trip down memory lane for us, and a special way to start the holiday season.

I try to make time during the holidays for listening to special music (the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas by Vince Garibaldi), watching holiday movies (While You Were Sleeping, A Christmas Story and Love, Actually are three must-sees) and reading Christmas books. I love Christmas-themed short story collections and just finished The Perfect Tree by Roz Denny Fox, Ann DeFee and Tanya Michaels. I highly recommend it!

Not all my traditions are old. When we moved to Colorado, we added the tradition of going out into the National Forest near our home to cut our tree. We take the dogs and tramp around in the snow for an hour or so until we find just the right tree. Then we cut it, haul it to the truck, and toast our choice with hot cocoa.

A girlfriend and I have made it a tradition these past three years to get together one afternoon after the decorations are up and treat ourselves to tea at Denver’s elegant Brown Palace Hotel.

Traditions help set this time of year apart from ‘ordinary time,’ help us to get into the right frame of mind and enrich the holidays. They can be as elaborate as a holiday feast and as simple as a cup of eggnog. And they can be adapted, discarded, or re-created as it suits our needs. So what are your holiday traditions? What traditions have you added recently? Which ones have you discarded in favor of something else?

Whatever your traditions or celebrations, I wish you much peace and happiness in the coming year — and many wonderful books to read!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Hi all,
I can't believe we're at the end of another year. Where did the time go? We're all facing the busiest time of the year.

As I think about the holidays, I think about family and traditions. In my family we always gather on Christmas Eve with my brothers and their families. This is probably the only time of the year we’re all together. The family is getting larger and we still continue the tradition. I look forward to it every year and just watching the excitement of the little ones. As I’ve gotten older I tend to lose that excitement in all the hustle and bustle of getting everything done.

This year my goal is enjoy the moment and feel the excitement, like a little kid. (May be totally impossible.)

Do you have traditions in your family? Or goals for the season.

This is my last post for 2007, so I wish you all a happy and joyous holiday season. And I wish you love.
Happy New Year.
Linda

Press!!!!

I received press this weekend. I'm one of the authors featured in a Columbia Missourian article.

Here's the link:

http://www.columbiamissourian.com/stories/2007/12/07/passion-writing/

Thursday, December 06, 2007

You never know

Hi,
I'm sure many of you have heard about our current weather catastrophe. In the Pacific Northwest we're used to rain, wind, and yucky winter weather, but this time we were really slammed. I-5, the backbone of commerce for the west coast, has been closed for almost a week and they're saying it might not open for quite a while. The big trucks are having to take a huge detour through the mountains. And guess what? They're having avalanches in the pass. Pretty nasty, huh?

I suppose the moral to this story is that you never know what's going to happen. Lots of folks went to bed fat and happy and the next thing they knew they were being picked up by a helicopter. Believe me, that's not my idea of reliable transportation. In the past week we've had flooding, downed trees, mudslides, avalanches, sinkholes, a snowstorm and collapsed roads. About the only thing we were spared was a plague of locust.

By luck of topography (something about being near Mt. Rainier) we missed the brunt of the storm. We had lots of rain and wind, but no real damage. So I have my fingers crossed for the remainder of the winter. Last Christmas we were without power for a full week. That's when my hubby went out and bought a generator. We are now prepared for almost any occasion - maybe not Big Foot and/or the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, but just about everything else.

So, enjoy every day. You just never know.

Ann

www.ann-defee.com

Goin' Down to Georgia - Harlequin American Romance, March 2008

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Airports, airports

I just got back from visiting my parents in Indianapolis. Wouldn't you know, part of the time we had Seattle weather--rain. Must've brought it with me. :-) I had a wonderful time, and always hate to leave. There are no direct flights from Seattle to Indianapolis (except in the summer, when Northwest offers one each day. But only in the summer--go figure!). That's why I spent a few hours in airports coming and going, waiting for my connecting flight.

Much as I dislike the waiting, airports are terrific places to hatch story ideas. Observing how people behave can help us writers enrich the behavior of our fictional characters. Here are some of the people I observed (I sound like a bird-watcher, lol) this trip. A harassed young mother coping with a baby and a very active toddler. A couple arguing about how she always picks on him and he's sick and tired of it. (Little did they know that I was eavesdropping!) College-age boys watching college-age girls, and vice versa. Service men and women, so young and brave, coming home from Iraq for a two-week leave. When I see soldiers, I always tear up. Without getting into politics, just let me say that I hate that they're exposed to such dangers, and hate that some won't come back. I always send them good wishes and hope they stay safe.

Each of the above people/scenarios stirred my creative juices, but what snagged my attention and my imagination most was the thirty-something father and his teenage son (who looked about 14). The man was occupied with his email. His son looked bored and slightly hostile, but also somewhat lost. My mind positively spun with questions. What's going on between them? Does the father always work, even with his son in the same room? Does he intentionally use work to distance himself from his son, and why? Is the son resentful? Does he feel loved? And where is his mom?

You guessed it, my head is full of possibilities for a story with this scenario in some form or other. At the moment, I have lots on my writing plate, but I have no doubt that at some point in time, I will develop a story about a father and son... and the missing mother.

What are some of the most interesting events and/or people you've seen at airports? I'd love to know.

Until later,

Ann
www.annroth.net
All I Want for Christmas, November 2007

Monday, December 03, 2007

I Want A Weiner Dog For Christmas

Oh, Christmas! I love this time of year. I like being busy, so the extra baking, card delivering, gift wrapping and shopping don’t really get me down. Maybe because I really like to bake and shop~now I can do both without feeling guilty.

This time of year is crazy for our family because it’s a busy time for our kids. Our son is a wrestler so each day begins with a weight report. Each days brings three hour practices and a late-night load of laundry. Weekends involve watching meets and hoping he doesn’t bleed, get hurt or get ringworm. Our daughter is a very peppy basketball cheerleader, so of course, we’re at all those games, too. It’s hectic and fun. Since they’re both in high school my husband and I can see that these years are numbered.

Which brings me to Christmas lists. Years ago my kids used to put things on their lists that they know they wouldn’t get. Like a princess bed for my daughter. Or a hamster. My son’s wish for a pet snake. There was something about dreaming for the impossible that made Christmas seem even more magical.

I’m continuing the tradition this year. See, I want another weiner dog for Christmas. (doesn’t that have a nice ring to it?) I love puppies. And, well, I really love Suzy our red miniature dachshund. We have Phoebe, too…the beagle who ate our ham, our neighbor’s Christmas cookies, and my mother’s stash of Reeces peanut butter cups. But Phoebe isn’t eating us out of house and home, she sleeps. She’s a great dog.

Suzy, on the other hand, is my buddy. She stays by my side when I write. She does all kinds of cute things. And, well, wouldn’t just one more dog be fun? And, well, another dog would sure keep me company when my busy days with the kids are just a memory….right?

My husband says no. I don’t blame him. Dogs are expensive. They’re a mess. Weiner dogs bark a lot. But…don’t you think a new little black and tan one would be so cute?

I’ve been combing the Dachshund rescue sights. My friend Heather forwarded me a blog Jenny Crusie just wrote showing photos of her three new weiner dogs. I guess I'm not the only one who dreams big.

So, even though I know I won’t get a new dog, and I know I don’t need a new dog…I’m putting one on my Christmas list. Just because the idea of a new pup makes me smile. A lot.
Anyone want to share a secret Santa wish that they have? In the meantime, hope everyone enjoys this busy month as much as they can.

Shelley

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Christmas Fun Facts



Before we get into a few fun facts about Christmas I located on the internet, I want to announce November's Harlequin American Blog winner. Congratulations to Nathalie! To claim your prizes, please contact the following authors through their websites with your name and snail-mail address. (Roz Denny Fox, Ann Defee, Barbara White Daille, Ann Roth and Lee McKenzie) Keep those comments coming...we'll draw another winner for December and post the winner's name Jan 2nd.


Christmas Fun Facts


In 1836, Alabama is the first state in the USA to declare Christmas a legal holiday.

In 1907, Oklahoma became the last USA state to declare Christmas a legal holiday

The first American Christmas carol was written in 1649 by a minister named John de Brebeur and is called "Jesus is Born".

Mexicans call the poinsettia "Flower of the Holy Night" - the Holy Night is the Mexican way of saying "Christmas Eve".

Births on 25 December:
W C Field (1946)Alice Cooper (1945)Princess Alexandra (1936) Paul Borget (1935)Charles Spencer Chaplin (1889)

Deaths on 25 December:
Conrad Hilton (1979)Humphrey Bogart (1957)Dorothy Wordsworth (1855)Sir Isaac Newton (1727)

The biggest selling Christmas single of all time is Bing Crosby's White Christmas.

Santa's Reindeers are Rudolph, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Donder, Blitzen, Cupid and Comet.

A Christmas Story (My all-time favorite holiday movie!)
1983, 98 minutes, Peter Billingsley, Darren McGavin, Melinda Dillon, Ian Petrella, Scott Schwartz, Tedde Moore.Movie about growing up the 1940s. Billingsley plays the young boy and we discover the simple yearnings, like wanting to own a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas.

Strange but TRUE:
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was created for Montgomery Ward department stores. (Rudolph began in 1939 when the Chicago-based Montgomery Ward company (a chain of department stores) asked one of their writers, 34-year-old Robert L. May, to come up with a Christmas story which could be given away to shoppers as a promotional gimmick. The chain had been buying and giving away coloring books for Christmas every year. To save money, they wanted to create their own booklet. It was loosely based on the Ugly Duckling.)

Anyone else want to share a Christmas Fun Fact?

Happy Holiday Shopping--and don't forget to add a Harlequin American Romance to a friend's stocking!

Marin
*Hearts of Appalachia*
For the Children (Oct 07)
In a Soldier's Arms (Feb 08)
A Coal Miner's Wife (Aug 08)


Saturday, December 01, 2007

Confessions of a shop-a-who-me?

Malls glittering with Christmas trees. Shoppers shuttling back and forth to their cars, filling their trunks with presents. At work, avid cybershoppers clicking madly during their lunch breaks.

Yes, it’s that season. Then there are the shop-averse like me.

Is this possible in our material age? Sad (from a retailer’s point of view) but true.

I hate trying to figure out which gift to give which person. I persuaded my children, at a ridiculously tender age, that the best gift was money, which they could then spend judiciously on favorite items. They got very good at that.

As for the rest of the family, what a relief to discover I could create calendars online using digital photos. Also, that some of my relatives enjoy receiving my books. But a lot of the time, as my nieces and nephews will attest, I throw in the towel and simply give money. One size fits all.

In my defense, I will admit that I like receiving money too. That’s because I have weird taste and unless someone asks me what I want, they almost never guess right. (I like Celine Dion CDs -- in French. I ferret out other CDs in French, Italian, Spanish and Greek. Juanes and Mario Frangoulis, anyone?)

In a totally self-serving manner, I am now going to offer a suggestion to others who struggle to pick the right present. Please, please, please – give books! If you don’t know which one to select, consider gift cards to bookstores.

With money tight for many folks, book sales are suffering. Some bookstores have closed, while others increasingly focus on merchandise such as DVDs and stationery. Category romances like Harlequin American, while still popular with a core readership, have to compete against our own used-book sales.

So if you love our books, why not use some of that gift budget to share the love with your family and friends? You’ll do us authors a huge favor. And, I hope, do a favor for those who may discover something they, too, will enjoy.

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Christmas Date (AKA Inspiration Comes from Sex on the Beach)


Ha--I bet that got your attention. A journalism colleague of mine, Bobby Hawthorne, writes in his book The Radical Write that if you want to get someone's attention just start with one word: Sex.

So I did. I'll explain how it all fits in later (ha--I'm punny).

I got a card in the mail yesterday from Nick Kenig thanking me for sending him an autographed copy of The Christmas Date and for the dedication, which is, in part, to him. Nick was a photographer at Westlake High School (Austin, TX) long ago. My friends Bradley Wilson and Mark Murray raved about his photography and to this day I still use Nick's swimming photograph as an example of excellence when I teach my students.

Nick is one of the inspirations for The Christmas Date. I'd always heard tons and tons about him from Bradley and Mark. While at a journalism convention in Atlanta, the four of us went to the Hard Rock Cafe in Atlanta. The card Nick sent me reminded me the four of us had a round of Sex on the Beach shots. I was the one who suggested the type of shot since Bradley had some tradition that you had to do shots if you were a first-timer to the Hard Rock. (Atlanta remains the only time I've ever been in one.)

This was about nine years ago, and my memory has since gotten cluttered with more of life's happenings. Nick's card reminded me of that night and our talk (which I'd forgotten). That night I'd listened to his future plans and then gone home to St. Louis at the end of the JEA/NSPA convention and formed the idea for this book. I remembered that, but the night itself slipped from my mind and not from too many shots either. Since we were had convention duties later, we were quite restrained.

I'd took Nick's musings and projected them forward--the big what if as he ceased to be Nick Kenig in my mind and instead became Tyler Nichols (get the last name?). Tyler (who was originally named Nick Wilsen) then became another character in my head who demanded to have his own book.

It took a few tries, a move of location from Atlanta to Orlando, and a bunch of books (14 Americans and 1 NASCAR) in between before Tyler became the hero of my 16th novel for Harlequin American. I gave Tyler a family (I have no idea any of Nick's family, his marital status, etc.) and paired him up with the most opposite character I could find--and called her Kate Merrill, giving her my birth name for grins (I'm adopted). I also picked Kate in honor of Kate Walker and my daughter Kate, and if you read the book you'll discover a Sandra (for Sandra Marton) and a Nora (who is no way Nora Roberts). You'll also find a Wendy, one of my friends who owns a bookstore. Each name in this book is deliberately chosen, even though the characters are really nothing like (or represent) anyone whose name I used.

In fact, if I passed Nick on the street I wouldn't recognize or know him. And the guy on the cover looks more like a principal at my high school than either Mark, Nick or Bradley.

However, Nick's card was a great jog to my memory, letting me remember something I'd long buried deep and wouldn't have remembered without his jolt. The card go me thinking about the fun we all had that weekend, including visits to CNN, Centennial Olympic Park and Max Lagers. The funny thing--there were race cars in town that weekend. How's that for fate? All my books mean something to me, but this one really stands out as being special because it took so long to bring it to life and it's been so fun since it has. It's got one of my all time favorite scenes (something with candles) and I'll give you a hint that it ends with a little sex on the beach (sort of). You'll have to read it to find out what I mean.

I still keep in touch with Mark and Bradley (saw them just a few weeks ago in Philadelphia), and Bradley keeps in touch with Nick who is in graduate school in New York City. As for me, I'm plugging away writing my 20th book, now having finished #19, which I send to my editor on Monday.

Michele

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Grinchy Christmas

Every year it's the same. The holiday season arrives way too soon and I'm never ready. I spend all of December running like crazy, trying to get the decorations up, the cards sent, the gifts purchased, the house winterized (we don't need that much here in Dallas, but a little). Then it's planning the Christmas dinner, visits from family, MORE shopping.

I always eat too much, don't exercise enough, gain that proverbial five pounds.

Aren't the holidays supposed to be a happy time? They were when I was a kid. I couldn't wait to break out those boxes of shiny Christmas ornaments. I loved the smell of the tree, the eggnog and hot chocolate, the breathless possibility of snow (usually not!), trying to stay awake through the hushed, incense-laden midnight Mass.

Alas, for me the holidays are more about stress than pleasure, and it shouldn't be that way. So this year I have an evil plan. I am leaving town for the entire month of December to live at the beach. I am going to ignore the holidays completely and spend my days lazing on my deck looking out over the ocean with a margarita in one hand and escapist literature (a.k.a. a romance novel) in the other. (I just read TEXAN FOR THE HOLIDAYS by Victoria Chancellor--fun book!)

Well, okay, already the plan has problems. I've started to receive holiday cards, and I realized I have to SEND cards. Then there are those cans of popcorn that just arrived, which I'd planned to give as gifts. Am I going to just let them sit? And what about outdoor lights? My block has won the neighborhood decorating competition two years in a row. I can't let my neighbors down. One final glitch--my family knows where to find me.

Obviously I can't escape after all. But maybe, just maybe, I can reach back to my childhood for those feelings of excitement and anticipation and joy, and ditch the stress. This year it's not all going to get done ... and I'm okay with that. So if you don't get a card from me, rest assured I'm still thinking of you ... while I'm lying on the beach.

P.S. As I write this, I have no running water and plumbers are digging up my back yard. I am leaving for a MONTH in two days and I can't do laundry or wash dishes. Is it Happy Hour yet?

Kara Lennox

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Raising a Romantic Hero

As a writer, I get really attached to the men and women I create. Of course, they're nothing compared to the (eventual) man and woman I'm raising. My son is 6 and my daughter's 4, and I love them both dearly. It means a lot to me that my son has seen his dad be courteous to others and even help with the laundry, because hopefully he won't ever feel that it's un-masculine to do those things himself. (And to his future wife, you're welcome.)

What really cracks me up about my son is how he's a budding romantic but would rather suffer blood and gore than admit it. (Whenever there's a playground cry of, "I'm bleeding!" my son's response is, "I wanna see." And when he himself is wounded, he wants to show all his guy friends. He explained it to me once as, "We're boys, Mommy. We like gross stuff.") According to my son's reaction to one of my covers, my BOOKS are gross stuff. He calls them Mommy's kissing stories and makes gagging sounds.

And yet he was seriously off his game during the last soccer match of the fall because he kept sighing over the little blond girl on the opposing team. And when we recently rented the animated feature Happily n'Ever After (in which Cinderella's love for the prince blinds her to the attributes of a kitchen boy), my six year old wisely declares, "She should just decide to be with Rick. He REALLY loves her." My son even managed not to gag at the end when Rick and Cindy finally got their kiss.

It makes a mom so proud.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A trip to Toronto

Hi,
Two weeks ago Geri Krotow (a fellow Everlasting Love author) and I made a pilgrimage to the Harlequin headquarters in Toronto. It was a fabulous experience. We were treated to a tour of the entire facility, met with all the department heads, had lunch with the editorial staff and encountered so many nice people. I was blown away by the amount of work it takes for our books to progress from an idea to a finished product. So when you read a Harlequin book, know that it has been checked and re-checked by a cast of thousands. And a big thank-you to all those folks.

Ann

Ann DeFee
Goin' Down to Georgia - Harlequin American Romance, March 2008

Monday, November 26, 2007

Confession Time

Writers are always reading and evaluating—at least I am. Whether I like it or not, the quality of what I read often affects my own writing, regardless of the genre. As I read an especially good book I become so engrossed in the story that I forget about everything except the characters and what happens. I think about them when I must close the book and long after I finish it. A good novel inspires me to stretch my own writing skills and improve, and with every book I get better at it. Always a good thing!

On the other hand, on those occasions when the book is really bad, I find myself thinking, She could’ve said that better. Or... There isn’t much plot here. Or... There’s a hole there. Or... No heroine in her right mind would ever do that! You get the gist. I am so busy editing in my head that I never do get into the story. Sometimes I worry that in reading a bad book, my own writing will suffer. Of course, I soon toss the offending novel aside. Life is too short to waste reading a book you don’t even like. ☺

What can I say except, I am easily influenced by what I read. That’s it, my confession. (If you were expecting something lurid or gossipy, well, this is all you’re getting! ☺)

What about you? If you write, are you similarly affected? Or, would you rather confess to something else? Lurid or gossipy is fine. ☺ I’ll never tell.

Wishing everyone great reads, and until later,

Ann
www.annroth.net
All I Want for Christmas, November 2007

Saturday, November 24, 2007

It’s a Dog’s Life

From some of my previous posts on this blog, you’ve probably figured out that I’m an animal lover, and a big supporter of animal rescue endeavors. So when I started to write With This Ring, my December Harlequin American Romance, it came as no surprise to me that the hero has a dog that he adopted from the SPCA. Max is an Old English Sheepdog, and he quickly became one of my favorite secondary characters in the book.

To be honest, I’d never actually met an Old English Sheepdog, but a little Internet research revealed an OES rescue facility in a town that’s about an hour’s drive from where I live. So I contacted them, and they invited me to come for a visit.

Ann Rambaud and Ray Salmon, the proprietors of Sheepie Hollow, are two of the most wonderful and amazing people you could hope to meet. They currently have one Old English Sheepdog and three Bearded Collies. Before I met the dogs I didn’t know the difference between an OES and a beardie—and there are differences—but they have a lot in common, too. Both breeds are very intelligent, extremely sociable, and require a lot of grooming!

Currently, three of Ann and Ray’s four dogs have been rescued. They have the perfect home and a lifestyle that’s laid back enough to allow four dogs to have the run of the house.

Summer is their only non-rescue dog. She’s a gorgeous championship-quality Bearded Collie, and Ann and Ray have had her since she was a puppy.

Penny, a twelve-year-old OES, has been with them for about nine years. Before that she’d been through four homes, and one previous owner even used a shock collar on her. After just a few minutes in Penny’s company, I was completely enchanted. She’s funny and affectionate, and it’s impossible to understand how anyone found it necessary to use extreme behavioral controls on such a beautiful girl.

Blue is a Bearded Collie who’d been found running the streets. He had only been at Sheepie Hollow for a few weeks when I met him, and he was already part of the family. Ann and Ray’s big fenced yard allows Blue plenty of room to run, but we’re happy to report his wild, wandering ways are a thing of the past.

Of all the dogs, Molly’s story touched me the most. Molly is an amputee—her left hind leg is missing. It’s well disguised by her long fur and tail, though, and because she has no problem keeping up with the other dogs, I didn’t even notice it right away. When I finally asked if she had a bit of a limp, Ann and Ray told me her story.

In 2003 she escaped from her previous owner on Halloween night and was found eleven days later on the side of a road. She had multiple injuries, the worst of which was a shattered hind leg. Her owner was contacted but refused to pay for her veterinary care, which included the amputation of that left hind leg. The vet performed all the necessary treatment anyway and within a couple of weeks, Molly was adopted by Ann and Ray.

To me, Molly seemed to have the sweetest disposition of the four dogs, and she’s the most patient, waiting her turn for pat on the head instead of insisting on it! And to say that Molly now has a full life would be a complete understatement. She has a wonderful, loving home, two devoted humans, and three lively companions.

You can follow the early weeks of Molly’s rehabilitation here, but I also want to share a couple of photos in this post.

Ann and Ray’s wonderful home is well equipped for large, energetic dogs. Within four months of being injured, Molly was leading an active life.

Ann and Ray provide lots of extracurricular adventures to keep their dogs mentally and physically stimulated.

I especially love the next two pictures and when I first saw them, I laughed until I had tears in my eyes! Molly’s herding instinct is not hampered by that missing leg . . .

. . . and I can actually imagine sound effects to go with this one. Engines revving, tires squealing, and they’re off. Go Molly!

And kudos to Ann and Ray for being such wonderful people.

And now I hope you’re as anxious to meet Max, the Old English Sheepdog in With This Ring, as I am to introduce him to you. Starting November 29 for six consecutive Thursdays, he’ll be guest blogging on my blog, The Writer Side of Life. Max and I will also have some fun prizes to give away, so we hope you’ll visit often!

Lee
http://www.leemckenzie.com
http://thewritersideoflife.blogspot.com/

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

All of the authors who write for Harlequin American Romance would like to wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving.

We are thankful you are here reading and blogging with us and enjoying our books. May your home and hearth be warm and filled with fun and family today, or if you are enjoying the day alone, know we are thinking of you and hope you enjoy peace and solace and have the time to curl up with a good book.

And may you shop well if you will be out on Black Friday enjoying the sales tomorrow.

Monday, November 19, 2007

My November Release

All I Want for Christmas, my November Harlequin American, has the cutest cover ever! (See the sidebar, or visit www.annroth.net.) This is the first story that takes place on Halo Island, a fictitious island in the San Juans of the Pacific Northwest. The island takes its name from the halo-shaped fog that sometimes hovers over the sound.

Ryan Chase, the hero, is raising his young daughter, Maggie, alone. Thanks to a great deal of emotional turmoil, little Maggie suffers from nightly bad dreams. In an effort to help her, Ryan has given up his successful business in Los Angeles and moved to the island where life isn’t so hectic and he can focus on her.

Tina Morrell was raised on the island but has moved to Seattle. Her job means everything to her, and she is climbing the corporate ladder. She comes home to take care of the woman who raised her while she recuperates from hip surgery. This woman just happens to live across the street from Ryan.

I don’t want to give away the story, so that’s all I’m saying. ☺ Except to wish one and all a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Tomorrow I’ll be guest blogging at http://www.loveisanexplodingcigar.com/ with a Thanksgiving message for everyone. Please stop by!

Until later,

Ann
www.annroth.net
Mitch Takes A Wife, August 2007
All I Want for Christmas, November 2007

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Beginning of Thanks

It's been a rather wild month for our family. My second oldest daughter called on the Sunday morning before Halloween to tell us their house had burned. Since then, it's been nothing but adjustments for all and especially for the five of them. But in all of the craziness, we found "thankful" things. No one was hurt. Only one room was destroyed, although the smoke and water damage to the house was extensive. Their insurance company has been wonderful throughout, and they have a lovely home to live in until theirs is restored. The school system has offered help, which included new clothing for the Pre-Ker from a thoughtful organization. This Thanksgiving has us giving thanks for many things.

Then I started thinking. We give thanks for so many major things at this time of year. Shouldn't we be thankful for all things, big or small, throughout the year? Shouldn't we get up in the morning, thankful that we can, then go on to think of all the small things we are blessed with each moment? A place to live, food to eat, people to love can begin our list, but for each of us, there are so many more.

A couple of months ago, I discovered an e-course designed to find the positives in life, instead of dwelling on the negatives. One of the basic tasks to be done is to keep a Gratitude Journal. Each morning before getting up and each night before going to sleep, the particpant is to write three things he/she is grateful for. I admit that sometimes this means digging deep inside, because it means six NEW things each day, but it can be done. It's wonderful to be aware of the small glories in life, the ones we so often ignore, while dealing with the big bad ickies.

So in honor of our American Thanksgiving this coming Thursday, I'm suggesting that each of us, beginning tomorrow, start the day thinking of just one small thing we're thankful for and ending the day with another. If nothing else, it will bring a smile to our faces and a small bit of joy into our hearts each day, not only on one day a year, but throughout.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Friday, November 16, 2007

TV and Reality



I confess that lately I'm having trouble enjoying TV shows. I find myself constantly picking them apart. Anyone watch Friday Night Lights?

I lived in Texas for several years and in one town where football was everything--except it wasn't as rural as Dillon, Texas. I don’t want to nit-pick the show; especially if some of you have TIVO'd the program to watch later. But every episode I end up muttering to my husband "Like a kid would get away with that in real life." Or "Yeah, right, school counselors always walk around flashing their cleavage." And yes I do understand that the cleavage shots are strictly to entertain male viewers…if anyone has any doubts just turn on the Ghost Whisper when your husband or teenage son is in the room and watch him suddenly find the storyline fascinating. My husband responds to my mutterings with …"Hey, its television" Or "It's entertainment, it doesn’t have to be real or make sense."

Maybe writing romance books is responsible for ruining my enjoyment of TV. Today's romance readers demand stories rooted in reality--they want to believe that what happens to the hero or heroine could happen to someone in real life and I strive for that in my books. So…does anyone else feel this way about TV shows or am I just plain weird?

Happy Reading and TV viewing!


Marin
*Hearts of Appalachia*
For The Children (Oct 07)
In A Soldier's Arms (Feb 08)
A Coal Miner's Wife (Aug 08)
http://www.marinthomas.com/

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Fifteen minutes of fame

In 1968, artist Andy Warhold said, "In the future, everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes." In those pre-Internet days, that sounded like an outlandish claim.

Now, we see it happening all the time. In fact, it just happened to the son of a good friend of my family’s, in a sequence of events worthy of a Harlequin American romance

New York resident Patrick Moberg – whose parents live across the street from my parents in Nashville, Tennessee – saw a cute girl on the subway. Just as he worked up the nerve to introduce himself, she exited, and a knot of people prevented him from following.

So he did what any savvy 21-year-old Web site designer would do. He posted a site, nygirlofmydreams.com, featuring sketches of himself and the cutie, along with a description of her and some sweet, humorous remarks begging readers to help him find her.

Instead, the media found him.

Next thing he knew, he was being featured on ABC-TV (read all about it at http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=3828525&page=1) and his parents were fielding calls from reporters around the globe. It wasn’t just New Yorkers who got a chuckle, it was also people as far away as Australia which, as it turned out, is where the young lady hails from.

Did they meet? Yes. And clicked, according to Patrick. The girl of his dreams is a 22-year-old magazine intern named Camille Hayton, and they’ve appeared together on “Good Morning America.” They also went out to dinner, on ABC’s dime.

All very well. Here’s the part of the story that should interest us authors, though.

The same week that Patrick was rocketing to fame, his sister, Julia Moberg, saw her first novel published. Entitled Skies Over Sweetwater, it’s the story of an 18-year-old girl who trains as an Air Force pilot during World War II. Suitable for all ages, it’s aimed at celebrating the Women Air Force Service Pilots and encouraging young women to take an interest in aviation.

Needless to say, Julia did not get featured on “Good Morning America.” ABC did not pay for her to eat a fancy dinner (let alone travel there by limousine), nor were her parents swamped with calls from abroad about her new book.

She’s just an author, like the rest of us. Hard-working and still dreaming of our fifteen minutes of fame.
Well, here’s a tip of the hat – and a bit of blog attention -- to Julia Moberg. Good luck with your book, and keep on flyin’!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Deja Vu--Or did I really do that already?

First, happy Veteran's Day. Yes, technically it was yesterday, but today was the day off/holiday. Most schools in my area were in session today and hosting ceremonies and remembrances.

I'm posting this a bit late because I swore I'd written a blog and emailed it to myself to post from work. I got to work and looked in my inbox. No blog. I went home, checked my outbox. No blog. Maybe I didn't write it.

I'm currently mailing out books. I swore I sent one out to Nick Kenig, but the more I think about it, maybe not. I'm sending another just in case. I think I'd written the card so many times in my mind that I thought I'd done it--but in reality, I hadn't. I did delete the email with his address, but perhaps that was a mistake too.

Do you get like that sometimes? That you swore you've done something, only to realize you really haven't?

For example, I swore I put the name Kathleen Kennedy in my book Nine Months' Notice (on final edits). I've looked all through, but can't find it. I'm going to have a friend look. It would simply be a one line reference. If you find it, let me know what page.

Perhaps my mind is slipping. Maybe it's simply overload, but I'm learning that, too, is normal. I guess I've been so wrapped up in reading reviews, sending out books, working on manuscripts that I can't remember what I've done and what I haven't. The brain really does toss out a lot of information if you don't store it properly. Right now I'm dumping everything that's not essential to breathing.

I just returned from a jounalism teacher convention in Philadelphia, so that's taken a bit out of my routine. While I was gone, some switch on my refrigerator fried, so I lost everything in the appliance. I used yesterday to clean the entire inside so it's like new. The repair is done--$121 dollars later.

Cheaper than a new fridge. I'm also sensing the "what if" premise for another book. I'm being a glass full person here. Maybe stress causes the mind to forget.

So speaking of, my website finally got updated and so did my blog. I don't think I've said that lately, so feel free to check them out at www.micheledunaway.com and www.micheledunaway.blogspot.com

Nothing fancy, but there are some new pics and such.

Michele

Friday, November 09, 2007

An Author's Reputation

I live in a small town, and most of the people here know I'm an author. The majority of them have probably never read my books, but they know I'm an author because of things I do. In other words, I have a reputation for acting like an author.

Example 1: I have a chiropractor's appointment once a month. It's the only way to keep control of the knots that form in my shoulders from sitting hunched in front of the computer. The chiropractor's office is a mere five minutes from my house. Good thing, because I am almost always late for my appointments. Sometimes as much as 45 minutes late. Same scenario every month -- I rush into the office, apologizing profusely. The doc and his receptionist laugh. "We know you," Doc says. "You were busy writing and totally lost track of time." Well yes, that's exactly what happened.

This has happened enough that my hairdresser now calls me when it's time to leave to show up at her shop to have my hair done.

I give all these people free books, as an apology for my lateness, and so they'll see what I've been creating during this time.

Example 2: I visit my local post office two and three times a week with packages to be weighed -- manuscripts I'm mailing, copies of books and galleys to reviewers, or donations or giveaway books. "You come in here more than almost anybody," the woman behind the counter tells me. "It's all those books and manuscripts," the postmistress says knowingly.

Example 3: Both UPS and DHL make regular stops at my house with boxes of books, galleys and other communications from my publisher. The boxes of books are conveniently stamped on the outside with the title and author. "So you write these, huh?" the UPS man asked one day. "You write for Harlequin?" DHL asked after delivering the umpteenth package from Toronto. "Wow, I never knew a real writer before." You may touch the hem of my sweatshirt, sir.

Example 4: At a local function I am talking with a new neighbor. Another person joins us. "Cindi's a writer, you know," she says. Understanding dawns on the neighbor's face. "I was wondering what you did that allowed you to hang around the house all day."

Ah yes, the glamorous life of a writer. Hanging around the house all day (in between trips to the post office) waiting for DHL and UPS to show up, always late for appointments. Oh, and I somehow find time to write books.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

That time of the year...

The dreaded time change happened this weekend in Texas and other states. On Sunday I was rested, but for the rest of this week my internal clock hasn’t been on board. I’m awake before its time to get up and about ten o’clock at night, when I should be writing, my internal clock starts saying “bed time”. It’ll take about a week for my internal clock to reset. I really wish they would leave the time alone. Believe me, I don’t need anything else to confuse or irritate me.

How does everyone else feel about this? Do you look forward to DST? Or are you grumpy like me at having my internal clock reset by people I don’t even know? I’m beginning to really like Arizona.

Since I won’t be posting again until December, I want to wish everyone a HAPPY THANKSGIVING. Now that’s my favorite time of the year – a special day to enjoy family and friends and to give thanks for all the blessings in my life. By then I might even be more congenial about DST.

Wishing you all the best,
Linda Warren
Adopted Son – Sep 2007 Super Romance
Texas Bluff – Feb 2008 Super Romance (Book#5 Texas Hold ‘Em Series)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Living with a 2 year old

Hi guys,
I'm in the middle of a marathon trip to the east coast, and the first leg of this adventure is a stop at my daughter's house in Pittsburgh. That's where the two-year old comes in. My Pburg babies are 6 and 2. So, believe me, I'm getting the full treatment of My Pretty Pony, Carz, dinosaurs, Webkinz and Only Hearts Club dolls. There's nothing like playing a couple of dozen rounds of Candy Land to get your blood flowing.

From here I go to my son's house in the D.C. area (two more grandbabies). Then on to Annapolis where I'm doing a book signing with a couple of my Harlequin Everlasting Love friends - Geri Krotow and Linda Cardillo. If you're in the Annapolis area on Sunday, November 11, please stop by and visit with us at Hard Beans and Books (it's right downtown). We'd love the company.

From there Geri and I go to her hometown of Buffalo for another signing. I'm thinking I didn't bring enough warm clothes. And then on to Toronto to do a tour of the Harlequin offices.
After that I hopscotch back home through Baltimore. My tongue's hanging just thinking about it.

So wish me luck. I'll check in later - after I get home, wash my clothes and hibernate for a couple of days.

Ann

A Perfect Tree - One Magic Christmas - Harlequin American Christmas Anthology - available mid-November
Goin' Down to Georgia - Harlequin American Romance - March 2008

Monday, November 05, 2007

Creative outlets

We all need creative outlets. Mine are fiction writing and cooking. Just as I enjoy creating characters and telling their stories, I also love turning raw ingredients into savory dishes. Because cooking is fun for me, my food usually tastes good. (Yes, I love my own cooking.) If I didn’t enjoy the task, I’m certain I’d produce blah results. The same holds true of writing. If a writer doesn’t like what she’s writing, it shows!

Back to cooking. I especially like to bake. Once a week (and only once a week, except for holidays and special occasions—don’t want to get fat …☺) I bake from-scratch cookies or bread or cake or pie. Or several of each. That’s why God invented freezers. ☺

Now you know my creative outlets. What are yours, and do you have more than one? Please share.

Before I sign off, here are several announcements:
November 7 I’ll be guest blogging at Fresh Fiction (http://freshfiction.com/blog). Please stop by and post a comment.

November 9 I’ll be doing an internet radio interview from 11:30-12:00 est. Find the show at http://blogtalkradio.com/MelissaAlvarez. If you would like to call in, the listener call in number is 347-215-8473.

November 15 I’ll be the guest at Noveltalk. From 9-10 pm est. To join the chat (and maybe win a door prize) , go to http://www.noveltalk.com/chat/default.asp.


Until next time,
Ann
www.annroth.net
Mitch Takes A Wife, August 2007
All I Want for Christmas, November 2007

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Who's got the time?

Everyone has the same twenty-four hours in a day, right?

Then why do I always feel as though I've gotten shortchanged?

Okay, there is that single day of the year when many areas of the country "Spring Ahead," move their clocks forward, and lose an hour. But after a lifetime living in an area that changes its clocks, I've relocated to a state that doesn't, so I don't even have that excuse!

(Worse luck, I don't "Fall Back," either, which means that last night I didn't gain an hour I definitely could have used.)

Still, my days seem as though they're getting shorter and shorter, my To Do lists absolutely are getting longer and longer, and I'm trying to find ways to lower my stress level by getting more done in less time.

One friend suggested I try using a timer, setting it for a specific number of minutes, jumping into whatever project or job is next on the list, and working flat-out and focused on only that one task until the buzzer goes off.

Have you had any luck with that technique?

Have you got any other timesaving, work-producing, To-Do-list-managing tips in your toolbox?

If you have, then you've probably got lots of time to share them. (grin) So, please do!


All my best to you,

Barbara

~~~~~~

Barbara White Daille
http://www.barbarawhitedaille.com

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Twilight Zone Time

So, I should probably start by admitting that I collect Christmas houses. I’ve bought one every year I’ve been married. (18) And, okay, I’ll admit it…sometimes I’ve bought more than one. Choosing the right house is a mini-big-deal for me. I really look forward to it. I wander around the store, look at past catalogs, pick up one, change my mind. You get the idea.

Yesterday was my day to get a house. Because it takes so long, I put my houses out right after Halloween. Anyway, there I was, happily celebrating an hour of house-hunting, relaxed. Sipping a latte. And…my cell phone rang. It was my daughter. She was at cheer practice. And she had questions.

I’m not one of those people who likes to talk on the phone in public places. So, my answers were clipped. Yes, Yes. Okay. Bye. Five minutes later, the phone rings again. Another question. Ten minutes after that…guess what, the coach let them leave early, if they wanted to. So, could I come pick her up? Now?

These are relatively normal things. After all, she’s 14. She’s a nice girl. She’s used to me being at her beck and call. But I wasn’t happy about it. And, well, I happened to be holding my new house…the North Pole Reindeer Spa. So, what did I do? I knew my husband was working from the house yesterday afternoon…so I told her she could either wait until I got back her way, or call her dad.

This little scenario makes me remember life without cell phones. I was on a drill team all through high school. What did I do when practice got out early? I waited. Now that I’m older and my high school years have that pretty sheen of nostalgia all over them, I recall hanging out with my girlfriends, thankful for thirty minutes or an hour of nothing to do. There was a drug store near our school. We’d pool money and buy ice cream, and sit on the sidewalks near the parking lot and talk. Flirt with all the boys who were waiting to be picked up, too. It was eerily fun. Secret, almost. Twilight Zone Time, where we could do things no one knew about because everyone thought we were occupied.

Sometimes, when it was time to be picked up, we’d all pretend that we just got out of practice…never admitting to eating rocky road. Now, I think I’d have a fit if I found out my daughter was running around town buying ice cream. And well, do teenagers even sneak ice cream any more?

So, maybe it’s good that my daughter doesn’t know about that twilight zone time of secret waiting. Maybe it’s good that she’s impatient, and has a phone to constantly communicate with me. But a part of me feels that she’s missing out.

End of the story? Tom picked her and her girlfriends up for me. I finished my latte, bought my house, and an hour later came home. I showed the Reindeer Spa off to my family-who pretended to think it was oh, so cute. Then I cooked dinner, supervised homework, and cleaned everything up.

And then it occurred to me…maybe I'm still attempting to have some secret time. Only now I’m buying houses instead of ice cream. But that ‘found’ time is as sweet as ever. So, anyone else remember waiting to be picked up when they were in high school? What did you do?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Holidays



Holidays…when we gather with family for fun times and a nice meal. Where we strengthen family ties and catch up on everyone's life--Yeah, right. More on that in a minute.

First, congratulations to Lily--our October HAR blog winner! Lily, please contact the following authors through their websites to claim your prize: Shelley Galloway, Cindi Myers and Marin Thomas.

Keep the comments coming. Authors will be giving away more books to a winner for the month of November.

Okay, back to Holidays--the good, the bad and the ugly….

More likely than not, many of us will attend gatherings with people we have little or nothing in common--Family. You got that right. How is it that siblings can be born to the same parents yet be so different? Sister Susie-homemaker bakes up storm and everyone praises her cooking skills. Sister Margaret is Ms. Career Woman who travels the world and makes more money than your own husband. Then Brother Bob slides through life effortlessly, always finding people to fish him out of trouble or loan him money when he makes bad choices. And then there's you--Ms. Responsibility--the one who goes through life playing by the rules but no one cares or finds you interesting. Sound familiar to anyone???

I thought it might be fun to make up a list of tips on surviving the holidays with family. I'll go first:

1) Lower your expectations (I'm talking way lower). The day is not going to be perfect. It never has been and it won’t be this time. Uncle Joe will still tell off-color jokes and your father-in-law will undoubtedly bring up politics at the dinner table. And don’t forget Aunt Judy, she'll have one too many drinks and spill her red wine all over your white tablecloth. Just think…if no one sets the Christmas tree on fire the gathering will have been a success!

Okay, who's got the next Holiday survival tip?

Marin Thomas
For The Children (Oct 07)
In A Soldier's Arms (Feb 08)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Beginners' pluck

A writer never stops learning, even when she’s been published for twenty-five years. Take me. I’m always experimenting with voices, fictional techniques and genres.

At first, every bit of knowledge seems confusing and hard to apply. Gradually, however, I integrate these skills into my subconscious, just as I once learned to drive or diaper a baby.

It can be hard to remember how awkward I was at the start. That unfocused style and those messy plotlines, not to mention the shallow characters and clumsy romantic arcs. Maybe some more talented authors didn’t suffer those problems, but I did.

Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of material from beginning writers. A few have won critiques through my local chapter of Romance Writers of America. Others have entered contests I’m judging, and some are students at a distance-learning institute for writers where I’ve begun teaching (you can check me out at www.longridgewritersgroup.com. I’m listed under my full name, Jackie Diamond Hyman).

Seeing their struggles reminds me of how easy veteran writers make the process appear. And a good thing, too. Who wants to read a book that seems labored?

I admire these valiant newbies. It takes courage to start up this steep hill, knowing how many obstacles lie ahead. My hat is off to you guys. I’m just glad that, through critiques and teaching, I sometimes get a chance to help.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween


Happy Halloween to those who celebrate...


Ancient Origins
Halloween's origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in).
The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.
To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.
During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.


Famous Haunts


Birthplace of Liberty
Philadelphia was the first settlement in the colony of Pennsylvania, which William Penn founded in 1682. The city was the birthplace of the American Revolution, where great statesmen such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin once walked the streets. By the mid-1700s, Philadelphia was the largest city in the American colonies. On July 4, 1776, members from each of the thirteen colonies gathered in the Pennsylvania Statehouse – now known as Independence Hall – to sign a document called the Declaration of Independence. Many say that the ghosts of our nation's Founding fathers are still hanging around Independence Hall . . .

Dancing Ben
Benjamin Franklin was an extraordinary writer, publisher, and inventor, and he helped draft the Declaration of Independence. In later years, his influence and intelligence helped our country establish the Senate and Congress and adopt the Constitution. This remarkable man spent much of his life in Philadelphia,
And he may be there still, long after his death. Eyewitnesses have seen Franklin's restless spirit at various locations throughout the city. His favorite spot, some say, is the Library Hall of the American Philosophical Society, which he helped found in 1743.
Many claim that Franklin's energetic spirit even lives on in the streets of Philadelphia, coming to life out of an old statue. Legend has it that the wise old statesman is sometimes seen dancing through the City of Brotherly Love!

Anyone have a ghost story or something "Creepy" they'd like to share?


Marin Thomas
For The Children (Oct 07)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Random Musings & A Review

I'm not ready for October to end. Yes, my kids have Halloween costumes which is better than last year when I was trying to find one on this day. But I have a book due Nov. 15. I still have a lot of work to do on it so that my editor doesn't want to beat me with a stick. I have revisions due Thursday, but those will be done today. I'm a crazy person, but we talked about that a while ago.

I'm also still patiently waiting for my box of books. I received the author copies of The Christmas Date weeks ago. I haven't yet seen Hart's Victory.

My daughter needs it for a book report. She's scanning the porch more than me. Well, that and planning the fifty million places I need to drive her this week. (Uh, honey? Book due. Can't get it done with butt in the car. Need butt in chair at computer.)

The other daughter's book report form got eaten--my house makes homework assignments vanish. It's amazing. We don't have a dog, the carpet eats them. I'm serious. I need to contact her teacher. God help me if I forget.

So November's on its way in and I'm realizing that I've cut things close. I can do it. Four deadlines, one already down, and as of today, two to go. Oh, I'll be in Philly for 3 nights, Nov. 7-9, taking those out of the equation. I'm there for a jouralism convention where I'm writing and judging.

BTW, although I haven't yet seen my book, Harriet Klausner has. She wrote a review on her blog. http://genregoroundreviews.blogspot.com/

For fun, I'm posting the review here. It's my first book outside the American line (The Christmas Date is my 15th for American since my debut in Oct. 200o). So here's #16.

Hart's Victory
Michele Dunaway
Harlequin NASCAR,
Dec 2007, $5.99
ISBN: 9780373217823
Single mom Kellie Thompson’s beloved son Charlie is battling for his life against cancer. Charlie is a rabid NASCAR fan; so when a NASCAR camp for terminally ill children is arranged, Kellie insures her child attends.Charlie's hero NASCAR driver Hart Hampton has been in a slump so is relegated to the charity event for the terminally ill.

After meeting mother and son, Hart agrees with Charlie that he and Kellie are perfect for one another. However, she rejects his attention although she is attracted to him; her focus is Charlie. Hart wants both in his life, but though he won the kid over and the mom recognizes he is a caring soul, she still refuses his overtures; Charlie comes in first, second and third.

The romance places second and NASCAR shows up third as the star of this heart-wrenching tale is Charlie as he fights for his life yet wants the best for his mom whom he believes is his hero Hart. The three prime players are fully developed leading to readers feeling deep emotions almost as if they know the ailing child and care for him as much as Hart does. Michele Dunaway provides an angst-laden five tissue box character driven tale.