Saturday, June 30, 2007

Fact & Fiction 3

Okay, here is the final installment in Fact and Fiction. It’s been fun sharing what’s been based in reality. The fun thing about writing is that yes, I really do write all of those 65,000 plus words you are reading, so a lot of thought and care goes into every one.

My next two books are both out simultaneously in December 2007. Hart’s Victory is a Harlequin Special Release—Stories set in the world of NASCAR. My daughter and I decided to go to Nashville for the first ever Sound and Speed in 2006. It wasn’t organized very well, and we, being silly novices, didn’t realize that Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans are rabid and they started lining up at 6 AM for the 9 AM autograph bracelets you needed to get in. While I adore Dale Jr., I won’t stand three hours in subzero temperatures to get his autograph. (We met Jeff Green.) Still, we made the best of the event, toured the Country Music Hall of Fame where an employee took a shine on my daughter and gave her a personal tour, and trotted back over for the last Q & A of the day, which featured Jo Dee Messina, Dale Jr., Montgomery Gentry, Keith Anderson and some others. My daughter got to ask a question of Dale Jr. While the question she asked is not exactly the same one that Charlie, my heroine’s son, asks in the book, she did, however, manage to stump Dale, and all of the sudden the wheels started clicking and on the drive home from Nashville, the entire story came together in my head. I wrote a proposal in two weeks, and sent it to my agent and it became my 15th sale.

The Christmas Date is a Harlequin American and it was actually inspired by a high school student I met at a scholastic journalism convention once. Nick Koenig graduated from Parkway Central High School in St. Louis and went to the University of Texas—Austin. He was determined to be a professional photojournalist at all cost. I wrote the book long ago, but when it finally sold just last year I rewrote the whole thing. While I’ve never seen Nick again, or even remember what he looks like, I’ve heard through a mutual friend he did all he set out to do, including climbing Mount Everest. Ten years later he’s no longer working as a globetrotting photographer (I guess after Everest, what’s left?), but ever since hearing his determination his senior year, he’d always had me wondering, what type of woman would that type of guy settle with? So you’ll find out when you meet Tyler Nichols in The Christmas Date, out next December. PS—I needed a southern city with a law school with night classes. Orlando fit the bill and I’d been to its airport. I have to admit, this is one of those books of the heart, and has a few funny moments in it, too.

Last, I’m scheduled to have a Harlequin American out in April 2008. Titled The Marriage Recipe, Rachel is a professional chef who graduated from the CIA. I have made the coconut cake she makes in the book, including scraping the coconut out of the shell myself. As for the plane Colin co-owns, that’s the very one I went flying in last February. For this book, I went back to Morrisville, Indiana, which I’ve since learned from a reader is a real town. However, the Morrisville I made up is just east of Batesville, the place where all the hospital beds and caskets are made, and where my cousin lives. So everything in Morrisville is very made up, but I was excited to go back there fictionally since I love the town so much.

Okay, that’s the end. I hope you’ve enjoyed some of these little tidbits.
And PS—don’t forget that today is your last day to comment to be entered in the contest. You don’t necessarily have to answer me this post. You can feel free to answer such things as, how have you liked the blog this month? What else would you like to see? Etc.

Also, because my next post isn’t until the 12th, Happy 4th of July.


Friday, June 29, 2007

I love it, I love it not

Every book I write goes through several predictable stages. When I first come up with the idea, I love it. It's the best idea I've ever had, and it will be the best book I've ever written. I love it until I finish a proposal and send it off to my editor, at which point everything changes. The moment the package is transferred from my hands to the postal worker's (or I hit the "send" button) I am sure I've made a terrible mistake. The book is the worst idea I've ever had, and it's going to end my career.

Then, a few weeks or months later, I get a call. The editor loves it and she's buying it. Yay! The book is wonderful again. I am so clever. But then I have to write the thing. Suddenly I'm seething with doubts. Why did I think this was a good idea? I can't write this book. I'll have to send the advance money back.

Yet somehow I do finish it. I've never not finished a book that was under contract. I lovingly polish the manuscript, falling in love with the idea all over again, and send it off. And immediately I am sure the book will not be accepted and I'll have to start from scratch. My career is once again over.

Happily, the editor usually likes it, and I feel like a genius again--until I receive the edited manuscript and I see in black and white all the mistakes I made, all the changes the editor wants me to make, and I feel dumb again. But somehow it gets done, though I'm positive readers will hate it and never pick up one of my books again. As if I'll ever sell another one.

I don't love the book agaiin until I receive the final page proofs. It's only when I read it again from start to finish, as if I were a reader, that I can see the story as a whole with fresh eyes, and fall in love all over again.

Of course, I continue to feel insecure about it. That's just how most writers are. Once the book is released I have to deal with reviews, comments from readers, and worries about whether it's selling well. It's a continual up and down. One day I'm brilliant, the next day I'm the village idiot.

Fortunately today I'm a genius. I just read through the page proofs for GOOD HUSBAND MATERIAL, my January 2008 book, and I love it again. For this week, anyway!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Gone Fishin'

Why is it that vacations sound so relaxing...until you actually have to go on one?

Even if my husband and I were going to spend the next week and a half lazing near the water (him fishing, me reading), there's still all the last minute stuff involving the house sitter, cat care, making sure we don't let any bills fall through the cracks and come home to no electricity or water, and I of course had to finish a book (Fed-Exed it today...yay!!!!)

So we have all that done. Is it time to relax? No. No, it's time to get in the van with our four year old and five year old for a drive through four states and down--way, way down--the Texas coast. At which point, tired and cranky, we will pile into a beach house with lots of in-laws and a single restroom.

So, someone remind me, as I stand in the middle of my room trying to get packed, why did I think this sounded restful when I agreed to it? Clearly, I had us confused with some other family's vacation plans!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Hi guys,
I've been toying with the idea of naming my latest WIP Tough Guys Wear Spandex. The hero of the book is a pro football player with great buns, so that seems appropriate. In general I think spandex is a yucky fashion statement, but think of some of the folks (primarily of the male persuasion) who look darned good-football players, Lance Armstrong and crew, baseball players, Olympic swimmers, etc. And that brings me to the subject of people who should, and people who shouldn't (even under the threat of torture) wear that particular fabric.
I love to play tennis, and I avidly watch all the Grand Slam tournaments. There's a famous American player who really belongs in the "shouldn't" category. Unfortunately, she either doesn't know it, or is in denial. Yikes!

So, the moral of this story is if you don't look like Cameron Diaz, stick with natural fabrics-preferably cotton!

Ann DeFee

Georgia On His Mind - Harlequin American Romance - August 2007
Summer After Summer - Harlequin Everlasting Love - September 2007
The Perfect Tree - Harlequin American Romance Christmas Anthology - Nov. 2007

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

In the grand scheme of things

We’ve been remodeling around here and the dust and chaos are wreaking havoc with my preferred writing schedule. I have managed to write though. As an early riser, mornings are my most productive time. Now I write whenever I can, often in the afternoon and evening. It’s good to know I can work then, but I’m looking forward to returning my usual routine.

The company we hired said the job would take ten days. But remodels and repairs never go as planned, and we’re now into day sixteen.

As a glass-half-full woman, I’m working hard to make the best of the situation. Noise and dust? What are those in the grand scheme of things? When the work is over the improvements to our home will be worth the upheaval.

This is my last post before the end of the contest. Lots of luck to everyone!

Good news: At last I have a title for my second Halo Island book, out in March, 2008—The Pilot’s Woman. Whoever suggested that one, thanks!

Ann Roth
Summer Lovin’ Anthology: A Reunion Story, June 2007
Mitch Takes A Wife, August, 2007

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Comfort Food

Whether comfort food is a guilty pleasure or a delectable treat that soothes the soul, I’m guessing we all have at least one. I have several!

American Romance editor Johanna Raisanen (remember her guest blog on April 13?) and I recently had a conversation about comfort food. She told me about her mother’s Christmas gingerbread cookies (my mouth is watering already) and her pulla—a Finnish sweet bread flavored with cardamom—and how delicious it was, especially “slathered with butter, right out of the oven.”

My grandmother used to make that bread as well! I don’t remember her using the Finnish name for it, but I do remember it warm from the oven. Oh, my.

That conversation with Johanna got me thinking about comfort food, and I realized that mine are all associated with my Finnish grandmother, who passed away in 1982 but lives forever in my heart. She was an amazing cook, and everyone in my family still raves about her breads and pastries.

She also made rice pies called piirakka, and although I haven’t had them in years, they are still one of my comfort foods. Piirakka are oval-shaped pies made from unleavened rye dough and filled with rice that has been cooked in milk, so its nice and creamy. I wish I knew how to make them, but my grandmother never used a cookbook and none of her recipes were ever written down.

My two other comfort foods are peanut butter cookies and butter tarts. Not specifically Finnish, but my grandmother made them all the time. She rolled peanut butter cookie dough into little balls and flattened them with the tines of a fork, so the tops had a crisscross pattern. To this day, a peanut butter cookie just doesn’t seem right if it hasn’t been flattened with a fork.

As for those butter tarts, what can I say? Still slightly warm from the oven, sweet and gooey with melt-in-your-mouth pastry . . . I can taste one now!

Wikipedia describes comfort food as “any food or drink to which one habitually turns for temporary respite, security, or special reward.” Accurate, but kind of cold sounding, don’t you think?

My comfort foods literally transport me back in time. My grandmother baked every day, and her kitchen was always filled with sweet, wonderful scents, not to mention a ton of love and laughter. A butter tart will take me there, every time.

What are your comfort foods? Do you associate them with someone or someplace special? I'd love to hear about them!


PS: For more about my grandmother, please check out my SuperHeroine article at