Saturday, February 17, 2007

Little ripples...

My local school district is supporting a nation-wide drive to raise money for research into an illness that strikes young and old alike.

The drive involves having every homeroom in the school individually gather up and donate whatever loose change they can spare, find, beg, or borrow. (I'm sure the district draws the line at stealing. (smile)) The homeroom making the highest contribution gets a free lunch from a local restaurant.

Not a bad deal, huh, for a few pennies here and there?

News of the drive made me think about the old bottle I've been using as a piggybank for coins left at the end of the week, every week, for almost a year now. And I promptly decided to see just how much I'd actually saved. Grand total: forty-two dollars and eighty-seven cents.

Not a bad haul, considering that money might have trickled through my fingers. Which got me thinking...

Maybe little trickles, tiny little ripples, could make an awfully big difference out there somewhere.

It could be the cash we collect for a good cause, like the local school drive.

Or the pennies we find in the street and drop into a collection jar at a cash register.

The bagsful of clothing we donate instead of letting collect dust in our closets.

The time we spend at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen or literacy program.

The parking space we give up to the next harried shopper we see at the mall.

The empathetic smile we share with the woman in the department store with the wailing toddler wrapped around her leg.

Or the funny face we make that leaves the toddler laughing.

We might never learn what comes of those little ripples we set off. But if they hit the right place at the right time, anything could happen!

Got any ideas for making a big splash?

All my best to you,

Barbara White Daille

Friday, February 16, 2007

Winter Blues

Happy Friday everyone!

Did you know there's a website called --a place for those who get annoyed by everyday life?

Maybe it's Chicago's frigid winter temps and more snow expected tonight--just in time for the weekend (sigh) that is the cause of my grumpiness lately, but this website really spoke to me. So here are a few of my-- I really hate it whens….

I really hate it when I have to grocery shop and the outside temperature is 9 degrees/13 below with wind chill.

I really hate when I arrive at the checkout register and my bag of Fritos has a tear and the clerk doesn’t offer to send someone to replace the bag and then I say "That's okay, I don't need all the transfat," then I really hate it when I get home and suffer a transfat withdrawl and curse myself for not having demanded that new bag of Fritos.

I really hate it when my favorite pair of panties gets a tear because then I have shop for new ones and that means I probably have to buy a bigger size.

Writing related….

I really hate it when the characters in my current wip begin getting along too early in the story.

I really hate it when the ink cartridge in the printer runs out in the middle of printing off a book.

I really hate it when I have to delete an entire scene because I came up with a better idea.

I really hate it when I keep mixing up the name of my heroes or heroines because I'm working on revisions for one book while at the same time pushing forward in another book.

Ah, that felt good! Thanks for letting me vent. Want to share your..."I really hate it whens?"

Marin Thomas
Nelson in Command (Jan 07)
Enter Marin's Rooster Contest at

Thursday, February 15, 2007

What's in a title?

It’s ironic: as authors, we labor to put just the right touch in our titles, to make them grab the reader’s interest and capture the spirit of the books.

Then, more often than not, the editors change them.

Sometimes, it’s frustrating. Other times, we’re wowed by the editor’s wisdom. Mostly, we accept that she knows her business and that she’s got a tough job, balancing the marketing department’s instructions, the reader’s expectations and the need to avoid duplicating titles on other books.

It’s an interesting process, regardless of the final result. My current release, The Doctor’s Little Secret, actually bears my original title. Although it launches three books that feature police officers – in this book, the heroine – I’m known for a recent series (Downhome Doctors) about physicians. Since my latest hero is a pediatrician, I chose to put that element up front.

Plus, readers seem to love stories about “secret” babies. In this case, the hero gets a chance to reclaim the five-year-old daughter he’s always regretted giving up for adoption, so I wanted to include that angle. She’s the “little secret.”

On the other hand, my May release, Daddy Protector, was renamed. It turned out that another author recently used my first title (The Daddy Next Door), so that was the luck of the draw.

Over the course of selling more than 75 novels, I’ve wrestled with this business a lot. One editor had been looking for a book to dub A Warm December, and handed it to me (which was fine). I still would have preferred my first choice, Prince of Rogues, over its replacement, Million-Dollar Mommy, but I yielded to wiser heads. That story of a prince and the woman he hired to bear his child is still one of my favorites.

Rather to my surprise, Harlequin retained my title Daddy Warlock on a story about a man struggling with his inner wizard. Other favorite titles that I originated are The Bride Wore Gym Shoes and Excuse Me? Whose Baby? Among my top picks that editors created are Assignment: Groom! and Diagnosis: Expecting Boss’s Baby.

Funniest story: One book in a special series started out with the Harlequin-created title The Royally Knocked-Up Princess, which I found hilarious. However, the slang expression "knocked up" didn’t mean the same thing in other English-speaking countries, so it got switched to The Improperly Pregnant Princess.

Not nearly as much fun, at least to Americans. But once again, the editors knew best!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I'm Too Pooped to Smooch!!

Ahh . . . Valentine’s Day.

Having almost literally just stepped off a plane after spending a week with ten thousand cheerleaders in Orlando for the UCA National Cheerleading Championship, romance is the last thing on my mind!! Smooches? Um, truthfully, I’d rather sleep!! LOL!!

Some of my fave Valentine’s Day memories are actually with my dad. He’d always come home extra late with gifts for me and Mom that were wrapped in tin foil. When I was little, he’d get me candy bars and piles of fab magazines like Tiger Beat! When I was older, he switched to jewelry. He has a friend who designs jewelry, so Mom and I would always get something awesome. One year, I got a gold mouse ring-- "he’s" adorable, and has rubies for eyes. Another year, Dad gave Mom and I matching Razorback necklace charms. As wonderful as those gifts were, the most memorable, was my freshman year in college.

Dad made a surprise visit to my dorm at the University of Arkansas, with candy and a cute tea mug with a lid to keep my tea warm. That year, I was lonely, and really missing my dad. Then poof!! There he was!! I still use the mug!!

Hubby and I have always celebrated quietly. Like steaks or pizza at a home, followed by a cuddling and a video rental.

Both sons, on the other hand, are all about the sweeping romantic gestures. Right now, I’m supposed to be grabbing a dozen roses for Son #1’s girlfriend. Son #2 was thoughtful enough to have done of all his shopping early!! Hubby greeted me and Daughter at the airport with super pretty hot pink dozens.

Anyone out there have a crazy romantic Valentine’s story to share? If so, I’d love to hear it!!

Happy Smooching!! ;-)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Romancing the Stone

Do you guys remember Kathleen Turner in Romancing the Stone when she was on a tight deadline? Well, that's me. The cat's walking across my keyboard, the coffee's spilled, my hair would scare Cruella DeVille, and I have on the same ratty jogging suit I wore to the park this morning. In other words - help! - I've fallen into deadline hell and I can't get out.
That's it for today. Wish me luck, I really, really need it.
Ann DeFee

Somewhere Down in Texas - Harlequin American, March 2007

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Deadline Dementia

Some writers thrive on deadlines. They deliberately take on more than they can handle, or spend two months redecorating or buying shoes, then freak out about having to finish their book in two weeks.

Some writers love to take it down to the wire. They're still writing those last five pages as they're printing out the manuscript, then rushing down to the 24-hour Fed Ex office to overnight the thing. They get an adrenaline high from all the rush, rush, rush.

Not me. I do not perform well under pressure. I freak out, I freeze up, I panic. Which is why I always give myself plenty of time. I write a certain number of pages every day in a very orderly fashion so that I can easily finish on time, even early, completely relaxed.

Unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way. My current book is a good example. When I agreed to my deadline, I didn't remember that I'd volunteered to judge the Rita competition. I have six very long books to read in the next month. I've also signed on to do a lot of workshops and book-signings, most of which involve travel. And then there's this cold. I can't write when I feel sick.

Today was the crowning glory. I found a package on my doorstep ... a line-edited manuscript for my September book, ONE STUBBORN TEXAN, which has to be proofread and revised in about a week. Just as I'm recovering from that, I find out my sister and her family are coming to town this weekend.

I’m freaking here. Freezing up. The first tendrils of panic. I am approximately 50 pages behind where I should be ... eeek! Eeek!

But then, I pause and slap myself. Jeez, this is the life I wanted, and I'm complaining? Would I prefer not to have any deadlines? Would I prefer not to have books on the shelves that I need to promote? Sheesh, what a big whiney baby I am.

The book will get done. The book always gets done. Meanwhile, I intend to be grateful for my life (and my family!) whenever I can.

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In other news, I have a new newsletter out and a new contest on my website, If you like to win fun stuff, including books and chocolate, come visit me online!