Saturday, April 07, 2007

Happy Easter

Wishing you and yours a happy and joyous Easter weekend.


Thursday, April 05, 2007

Two books out this month

This is a big month for me. It Happened One Wedding, the second in my To Wed Or Not To Wed series will be out this month. Two days ago, my women’s fiction debut, Another Life, hit the shelves. Talk about exciting!

There was more excitement at the end of March. I spent four fabulous days in New York city for a writers’ conference ( PASIC). The Harlequin American offices are in Toronto, but the Silhouette offices are in the old Woolworth building on Broadway, just a few blocks from where the Twin Towers once stood. I’ve been there before, but went back for a tour and lunch with Mary Theresa Hussey, who is a great editor (not mine—I work with the amazing Kathleen Scheibling, who’s in Toronto) and a wonderful person. Best of all, she gave me my pick of books to bring home. Needless to say, my to be read pile is now humongous!

I visited the Kensington offices, too. They are far away from Silhouette, but just as impressive.

Publishing houses always amaze me. They are constantly acquiring manuscripts, editing, designing covers, doing PR and marketing, and a number of other things. Well-oiled machines, for sure.

New York itself amazes me with its fantastic museums and shows. While I was there, I saw three shows. Avenue Q, which is an irreverent, funny musical with a message to enjoy today because tomorrow things may change. The Pirate Queen is brand new and pure romance. I don’t know for how long it’ll be around, but I certainly enjoyed it. The Year of Magical Thinking is a serious play with only one actor—the amazing Vanessa Redgrave. Joan Didion wrote both the book and the screenplay and I truly enjoyed her beautiful writing.

During the day I enjoyed conference stuff—panels, talks and discussions—and loved all of it. I reconnected with friends I only see at conferences and forged a deeper friendship with my roommate, Ann Defee.

All in all, a wonderful experience. I wouldn’t trade a second of it. And yet… it’s great to be home again.

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

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A DOUBLE four-letter word... by Barbara White Daille

Exercise. Yuck.

Physical effort and I don't get along.

As I may have mentioned in a previous blog entry, I've found the stationary bike makes a great place to hang fresh laundry. I've since learned the jump rope substitutes for a clothesline. The barbells fill in for paperweights. The stair climber holds a whole bunch of books.

And I think I'm allergic to sweat.

Still, when you get to the point you need to buy new pants if you want to breathe while sitting, something has to give—and, hopefully, that doesn't mean the seams of those pants!

So this weekend, I started an exercise program. (Let's not think about the fact it began on April Fool's Day, okay?)

On Sunday, I took all the laundry off the bike and put everything away in the closet. What a workout!

On Monday, I dug out the tape that came with the bike. All that crouching in front of the video cabinet gave me cramps in both calves.

On Tuesday, I did several minutes of stretching, because of course you can't just jump into exercise without the proper warm-up. (See Monday.) Got so warmed up and cozy, I fell asleep on my yoga mat.

Today, Wednesday, I actually sat down on the bike and pedaled...for about a minute and a half.

I feel so much better already!

Well, maybe not.

Seriously, though, it's about time I get going on an exercise program. And I swear, it's more for the health benefits than it is about being too cheap to buy new pants.

I'd like your help with this.

How did you get started with a fitness routine? What makes you keep going when you want to quit?

And how do you motivate yourself to do it...again and again and again?

All my best to you,



Barbara White Daille

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


My family went on a cruise last week. With two teenagers, it’s the perfect vacation for us…plenty to do, relatively safe surroundings, sun and plenty of places to sit and tan and relax. For one week, we did all that. I returned last night a whole lot tanner, a whole lot more relaxed, and with a whole lot of laundry to do.

The highlight of the trip was an all day excursion called ‘Conquering Your Fears’. It involved hanging from a zip line in the Costa Rican jungle, followed by lunch and then hanging on for dear life while white water rafting.

No, this wasn’t my choice.

For some reason, I gave birth to two children who have no fears when it comes to either heights or deep water with big rocks in it. Nope, when it comes to excitement and fun, they’re my husband’s kids, through and through. At 7am, when we boarded the bus, they were all smiles. I looked longingly at the group of people off to study sloths.

First up, the zip-line. After outfitting us with helmets, liability forms, and a whole lot of hooks and cords, our group climbed a rather narrow, steep path to a platform. Then, one by one, we were hooked onto the zip line, given instructions how to slow down, and told to jump. Yeah. Being the good mother that I am, I made my kids go first. My husband, knowing me as well as he does, made me go before him.

I jumped and sped along the line, doing my best not to scream so I wouldn’t embarrass my 14 year old. I was never so happy to see the platform and the cute Costa Rican with arms outstretched, ready to grab me and pull me back to solid ground. But, no, it wasn’t over. I had to do it all over again six more times.

Whitewater rafting wasn’t much better. Oh, I’ve rafted before on the Colorado River. Somehow, though, it’s a whole lot different when we were subjected to an hour and fifteen minutes of class II and III rapids and monkeys laughing at us from the trees. Lucky for me, they had a guy taking pictures in a nearby kayak.

Now we have lots of memories of me holding on for dear life while trying not to scream.

Ten hours later, we boarded the ship just before we left beautiful Costa Rica. My husband, being the good guy that he is, let me use the shower first, handed me a drink, and told me he heard Baked Alaska was on the menu for dinner. For the first time all day, I smiled.

Did I conquer my fears? No, not really. I jumped and clung and closed my eyes and prayed. I experienced things I know I’ll never forget. And I told my family that they should never, ever doubt how much I loved them…because I wouldn’t have done that day for anyone else. And my kids and husband, God bless them, said the day wouldn’t have been the same without me. Hearing that, as they say….was priceless.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Frustrated Bargain Hunter

Why is it that every time I see something I really, really want, it's too much money? I'd like to believe it's because I have good taste, but I think it's more along the lines of bad timing--just missing the sale.

I don’t know about anyone else but I'm a bargain hunter. I keep a list of things (my want list, not my need list) in my purse at all times. For the past four or five months I've been searching for something to go on the wall above our bed. I finally found it--a gorgeous mirror at Pier One Imports. I've been watching it for two months--never goes on sale. I joined their e-mail list and received a promise of a fantastic coupon "soon." It's been a month and no coupon. Made two trips back to the store--still not on sale.

The other object of my desire is a framed picture from Hobby Lobby for the master bathroom wall. The one I found in the store was damaged and even at a 60% discount I didn’t think I could repair the frame. So I asked for a rain check and they assured me it would be in last week. Nope. No Picture. They gave me another rain check and told me to return next week if they didn't call me. More waiting.

Yesterday my husband asked me to tally up the savings on both items…$60. Then he asked how much money I spent in gas keeping tabs on the items. Over two months, maybe $10-15. Then he asked me how much writing time I gave up to track the items, maybe 5-6 hours. I always stop and check out a few other stores along the way--but that's beside the point. You see where I'm heading with this….?

So I'm proud to report that I bought the da**ed mirror yesterday! Yeah!! As for the picture, I'm still waiting. (Sigh)

Anyone care to share their latest bargain hunting woes?

Happy Shopping!
Marin Thomas

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Ouch! That Feels Good

Imagine this conversation among a group of women at the local park, while they keep an eye on their romping kids:

1st Woman: Molly, you feed your son too much junk food. And frankly, he needs a good spanking.

2nd Woman: I’m not sure I agree about the spanking, but he’s definitely overactive. You should take him to a psychologist.

3rd Woman: It’s probably the sugar that’s making him act up. If I were you, I’d empty all my cabinets of sweets. Also, he’s outgrowing his clothes, and those pants have big holes in the knees.

Can you imagine Molly’s response? Possibly, “Who the heck do you people think you are?” Or, “You’re not so perfect yourselves!”

Yet we authors voluntarily do this to each other. I’ve belonged to a critique group for more than thirty years, and every other week, we take turns reading our work aloud and receiving criticism. There’s praise as well, but plenty of suggestions for improvement.

In case you’re wondering if it hurts, the answer is yes. We’d all love to be told that no one can find a thing wrong with what we’ve written. But that’s pointless. A dedicated writer wants to improve any way she can. She HAS to improve, for the sake of her readers and her career.

I’m fortunate to belong to a group of terrific writers whom, over the years, I’ve had the great pleasure of hearing read their work aloud. Among past and present members: Neal Shusterman, Donald Stanwood, Elizabeth George, T. Jefferson Parker, and the late Barbara Seranella. I can’t claim that my critiques made a significant difference in their novels, but perhaps I helped with a tweak here or there.

Writing’s hard, no matter how long you’ve been doing it. Every story is a challenge, and when I venture into new territory, such as women’s fiction, I have to learn my craft all over again. True, at a higher level than when I started, but there are still a lot of stumbles. I’d rather hear about them from my friends than from a disappointed reviewer or reader.

I’ve outgrown the stage of life where I take my little kids to the park and share a bench with my fellow moms. But I’ll never outgrow my need for constructive criticism from my fellow authors.