Friday, February 23, 2007

Guest Post: Lindsey Brookes, Winner of Harlequin's Great American Romance Contest

First, let me say that I’m thrilled to have been asked to guest blog on the American authors’ blog site. I’ve been reading Americans for a very long time – love them! Besides being an avid reader, I’m a writer as well. Not published yet, but hoping to be someday soon.

It’s been a very big contest year for me. One of my manuscripts, OPERATION: DATE ESCAPE was an American Title III finalist. And then last week I learned that my entry – LOVING ELLIE – won Harlequin’s Great American Romance Novel contest.

Note to all: if you have an answering machine, be sure to check it every day. There just might be a call from an editor on it. J Let me explain - we are in the midst of huge house renovations and our answering machine was in the kitchen where our construction workers were dry walling last week. So needless to say I never checked it. I think every unpubbed author dreams of getting a call from an editor. Wouldn’t you know I finally get one and it had to come in the one day my answering machine was covered in drywall dust and not accessible. Fortunately for me, the stars were aligned just right the next day because I was actually home (and not out shopping J ) when Kathleen Scheibling tried to reach me again with the good news. She even asked to see the full! Yay! So as soon as I receive the crit of LOVING ELLIE that I get along with a free one year subscription to Harlequin American, I will make any necessary changes and get it right out to her and pray that this is the one.

LOVING ELLIE is a story about pregnant heroine who is determined to make it on her own after the untimely death of her baby’s father, and an emotionally scarred hero that returns home after several years away to settle his brother’s estate. Only to his surprise, he discovers his brother had not only a fiancĂ©e, but a baby on the way as well. Now he has to convince the heroine to let him help her with the ranch until the baby comes, knowing that in doing so he’ll have to face the ghosts of his past.

I hope you’ll all get the chance to read Ellie and Lucas’s story someday. Don’t you just love those cowboys!


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Second Chances

On Saturday, I’ll join several other authors and speak at a program called The Romance of Writing. My topic is writing as a second career.

About ten years ago, after completing two years of night school to earn my master’s degree, I was sure I was on my way to a long career in educational administration. However, just six months after, my husband was asked to move to Cincinnati. Has that ever happened to any of y’all? You’re on one track, just to find out that life has a whole other one in store for you?

Two weeks after we moved, my husband found a meeting announcement in our local paper. Ohio Valley Romance Writers of America was having a meeting at a bookstore near where we lived. That Saturday! He thought I should go.

I’ve always loved romance novels. I always wanted to write a romance, but never thought I could do it. But, well, I wasn’t a teacher anymore and was feeling kind of at loose ends….so I gathered my courage and went.

I can honestly say it was one of the scariest moments of my life. It was also one of the most eye-opening. Truly, I thought I was the only woman who had a dream of writing for Harlequin. Almost fifty women were at the meeting. And though they were from all walks of life, they had one thing in common. Together, they celebrated and supported each other’s dreams--celebrating cheers and tears and giving out information. To me, it was simply amazing.

There was also a booksigning. Lori Foster was there, signing one of her Temptations. I gathered all my courage and stood in line to get one of her books. The smile she gave me was all warmth and full of welcome.

Well, of course I joined RWA, OVRWA, and finally decided to start writing a real book. A romance. During one of those first meetings, I sat next to a gal named Heather and we hit it off and became critique partners. Over the years, two other women joined us, Hilda and Cathy.

Years passed. Now there’s a whole lot of new faces at OVRWA. Lori and I usually sit next to each other at local booksignings, since she’s an F and I’m a G.

And on Saturday, at the library gathering organized by Hilda, two women I now know very well will also be speaking-- Cathy Liggett and Heather Webber. To our surprise, Cathy, Heather, and I are published now, and Hilda’s very close.

So that’s how I began my second career—a surprise transfer, a serendipitous ad in the paper, and the support of some amazing women. Anyone else have a start they’d like to share?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The best laid plans

Today I thought I'd blog about how I finished my most recent Harlequin American and shipped it off before deadline. I've alreay started my next book, and need to have 3 chapters done for my editor's approval (since the book was bought on synopsis) by April first. I'm already half way there. I thought I'd talk a bit about the writing process.

But what you got above is all that's going to happen. One of the reasons I love the American line so much is that realist characters find love in all sort of places. I love that fantasy. I fall in love with every one of my heroes, and wonder where they are on days like today when my daughter wakes up with a cough and a 101.5 degree fever, meaning I call in using my last sick day of the year. From here on out, any day I miss is going to be very, very costly.

I'll take my youngest to the doctor, pray we don't have another strain of flu (she lost a week earlier this year and lived in my classroom's back office for 3 days since I had to work and she couldn't go to school) and while not at the doctor, I'll lose myself in my work in progress. I've got my older child home, too. I take her into the district where I work, and as I had to pick her up early for a doctor appointment for me at 3:30, it's just not worth making the 60 mile, 1.5 hour round trip for her to go a partial day. My youngest is also not up to two car rides.

So, I'm not feeling like a very good parent at this moment for one, while the other I'm waiting on her hand and foot and worried. I'm a single parent--the ex lives several states away so I do 365, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day at all times. Have for years. It's days like these that get ya.

So like the Robert Burns poem says, the best laid plans often go astray. Today a sub is in my room, my student presentations have to be postponed, and like my current American heroine, I'm simply going to roll with it. She's feisty, like me. For today, I'm going to lose myself in creating Rachel. She's a pastry chef, recently transplanted to her home town after finding her fiance doing a few unsavory things with the sous-chef.

Since it's too early to drink wine, I'm following her example and have a pan of milk chocolate brownies cooking in the oven (yes, at 7:34 AM CST). There have to be some perks to parenting!


Monday, February 19, 2007

The Year of the Boar

My husband and I went to a bang-up Chinese New Year’s party Saturday night. Interesting people of all ages, from all over the country, copious amounts of fine wine, and fabulous food—enough home-made Chinese dishes to feed a ... well, a few dozen piggies. Can you say, oink? (Oh, my poor, stretched tummy.)

Speaking of pigs, this is the year of the boar. Or pig, but frankly, I prefer “boar. “ Pigs bring to mind laziness and filth, though in truth, they are clean, intelligent animals. Who overindulge, but who am I to judge? ☺ But boars... when I think “boar” I think feral, trong, protective. Alpha male, if you will.

But in the context of the Chinese New Year, I am wrong, wrong, wrong! If you were born in the year of the boar (2007, 1995, 1983, 1971, 1959, 1947—you get the idea. It’s a twelve-year cycle) you have the following characteristics (courtesy of

Honest, peace-loving and make good friends. Will try not to argue and rarely lose their temper. Love the good things in life and are very willing to share with others. Enjoy gossip and fall in love easily. Can be untidy people at home.

In other words, people born in the Year of the Boar are danged cool people.

If you’re like me and weren’t born in the Year of the Boar, don’t fret. Sometime in the next 12 years, your year will come.

Gung hai, fat choy to everyone.

Ann Roth
It Happened One Wedding, April, 2007
Another Life, April, 2007