Saturday, June 14, 2008

I'm late, I'm late, I'm late!!

Do you ever feel like you can't keep up? Like you're stuck on that proverbial hamster wheel with no hope of getting off?? Well, two weeks into summer, when I'm supposed to finally be catching my breath, I'm more behind in my goals than ever! Ugh!! (This pic is of a bulletin board I made for another teacher last fall. The leaves took FOREVER!! )

My new classroom is amazing, but crammed with at least thirty years worth of dust and stuff and junk. In between daily professional development classes and cleaning, I haven't even made a dent in getting the room ready for our August 11th start date. And that's just room prep. I still have to come up with 180+ days of insightful art lesson plans that follow the state standards. Was it really only as month ago that I thought my new job was a dream come true? LOL!!

My laptop broke, and I thought I'd save a few bucks by taking it to a *small guy* for repair. BIG mistake!! Every time I type about fifteen letters, then hit the space bar, the cursor jumps up a few lines. Anyone have a clue what the problem might be? I've tried reinstalling Microsoft Works, but it still doesn't work. I've checked under the keys for Cheetos, but that didn't work, either. Guess now, on top of what I already shelled out, I'll call the expensive repair shop I usually go to!! Grrr!!!

With the twins on the verge of driving, Hubby and I are spending the day car shopping. The plan is that the kids get our old cars, and we get new. Well . . . new to us, anyway! LOL!! I heard a car dealer ad while cleaning my classroom that bragged about low mileage Civics for $5995. Sounds a tad too good to be true, but we'll take a looksee.

In the mean time, I have a book deadline barreling down on me, and nothing to write it on. Yes, I could use the main computer back like I did in the olden days, but like every other creature in this house, I'm spoiled rotten, and have gotten to the point that I can only write new material on my laptop. I know, whine, whine.

On the brighter side, yesterday, I snuck a couple of hours off to play with the kids and we went to see Ironman. I expected to nap through it, but REALLY enjoyed it--although there certainly could've been more romance!! LOL!!!

Have a happy Saturday!!!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Dressing my Characters

Okay, first things first. Who is a “one sock, then the shoe” person versus “both socks first, then both shoes” type of a person when getting dressed? I’ve found that for me it depends. I’m not consistent at all, but usually it’s both socks first. However, it’s little details like this (which I’ve never yet used in a book) that make dressing my characters so interesting.

I’ve discovered something as I’ve been writing this current book for Harlequin American. For some reason, the fact that I am my hero and heroine’s personal stylist has never been more important to me. On paper, I am a wardrobe wizard (even though I probably fail in real life). My current hero Chase McDaniel is a business CEO. Thus, I get to put him in suits. The first time the heroine meets him, he changes her flat tire. He shrugs out of his coat, rolls up his sleeves and gets to work.

I love to put my heroes in suits. Suits simply say class in a way that a flannel shirts and holey jeans can’t. Sure, I’ll dress Chase down too, when the circumstances warrant, and make him Ralph Lauren casual (he’s a Minnesota lakeshore kind of guy). But I like the glamour of a business suit and the aura it creates.

For me, part of the escapist experience of enjoying romance is being whisked into a world outside my own (I only need a suit for job interviews, and I haven’t had one of those in years).

I just watched Humphrey Bogart in The Big Sleep. The thing that really struck me was how important his hat was to his character. Whatever happened to hats? Now it’s all ball caps. Remember when women wore dresses all the time in classic movies? And how Audrey Hepburn and Lauren Bacall could carry them off so well? Since I’ve been inspired, my heroine Miranda won’t be in business suits with slacks, but rather skirts and dresses. All very chic, even though she shops on a budget. She has an image to project, even though she’s not rich.

Now that it’s summer (my last official day was yesterday) I live in shorts and t-shirts. Grubville here I come. I don’t dress up at all, minus church.

Hence my need for my hero to take my everyday heroine somewhere special so I can dress her up beyond basic and live vicariously. The next scene I write is Chase taking Miranda out for lunch. It’s raining, and her umbrella died on the way to work. I can picture Chase getting soaked trying to keep her dry.

Next up will be a business event. To dress Miranda, I’ll get out the clothing catalogs, turn to all those dog-eared marked pages and pick the dress I really want and wish I had somewhere to wear. Then I dress her and create her outfit visually for the reader. I’ll find her the right shoes, earrings, and such. It’s my little escape.

Don’t get me wrong. My pocketbook is happy about my lack of haute couture and its accompanying dry cleaning bill. But in my books, when the scene fits, I love to jazz it up and splurge.

Michele Dunaway
Out of Line, Harlequin NASCAR 6/08
Tailspin, Harlequin NASCAR 9/08
Twins for the Teacher, Harlequin American 3/09

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I Saw My Book on the Shelves!

Okay, so I shouldn't get that excited. This is the 57th time. But it never gets old, seeing a book with my name on it at a bookstore or grocery store.

I still remember the first time it happened. Of course I knew down to the second the exact moment my first book (ROSES HAVE THORNS) would be released, and it was several days into the future. So I was not looking for ROSES when I entered Rainy Day Books. I was just looking for something to read, perusing the romances, and suddenly there it was on the shelf!

I think I must have screamed, because the bookstore lady ran over and asked me what was wrong, whereupon I probably threw some kind of hysterical fit about seeing the book I wrote on the shelves for the first time.

I remember the clerk smiling indulgently. She’d probably witnessed similar displays in the past, as Rainy Day Books was a favorite hang-out for everyone in our RWA chapter, and many of us were selling our first books way back then.

There are lots of firsts associated with selling your first book. Getting THE CALL, of course, ranks right up there. Seeing your first cover, meeting your editor in person for the first time, receiving your first check, reading your first review. But nothing makes it more real than seeing the book in a bookstore, and knowing that thousands of people around the country also see it and are maybe buying it and reading it. 'Cause ultimately, for me anyway, writing is a way to connect. I enjoy the act of writing (most days, anyway!) but connecting with readers is what it's all about.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Must Love Dogs

This is a picture of me with one of my dogs, Snoopy. (He's a beagle mix and he already had that name when we adopted him.) As you might guess from the photos, I love dogs -- not just my dog, but all dogs.

If I see a book with a picture of a dog on the cover, I have to pick it up. More often than not, I'll buy the book. (If I think the dog dies in the book, I won't buy it. Fortunately, that's not usually a problem with romance.)

Oddly enough, I haven't written many books of my own with dogs in them. And I think only one ever had a dog on the cover. Hmmmm -- wonder why that is?

My current release, A Soldier Comes Home, from Harlequin Superromance, features a soldier holding a young child. Soldier + Cute Kid -- too iconic images I hope will draw readers to the book.

Of course, we authors have very little control over what goes on the covers of our books. The publisher asks for input, but they don't always use it. When I get a great cover, I feel very fortunate.

This has me wondering -- what images make you stop and pick up a book? I've heard that babies and pregnant women really draw readers. I know some women can't pass up a cover with a hunky cowboy or cop.

So -- what does it for you? Babies? Brides? Cowboys? Hunks? Soldiers? Dogs? Horses? I really want to know.

Sunday, June 08, 2008


Yesterday I had a book signing for my 20th book release, Always A Mother, Harlequin Super Everlasting. The signing went very well and my friends and I decided to really celebrate afterward. We went to see Sex And The City, without husbands. We asked but they refused to go. Go figure.

Since I write a lot, I don’t get to the movies as often as I would like. I’m still in shock. I never watched the show when it was on TV, but I did catch it on reruns late at night when I’d unwind from a day of writing. Oh my God kept running through my head, followed by can they do that on TV? Can they say that on TV? Yes they can and yes they did. And they did much more in the movie.

Color me naive, prudish or just out of touch. I felt the nudity and some sex scenes were over the top. But the young college girls loved it, giggled and shouted to prove it. Times have certainly changed. I think it’s the same in the books we read, too. I love home and hearth and that’s why I write it. But the young girls in that movie theatre would probably find my books very boring. Today everything is about more. Nothing is left to the imagination.

So what do you like in the books you read? More or less?

Let me tell you we had a great time at the movies, laughed with the young girls, and went out to eat afterward and toasted book number #20, which is all about home and family—very minimal nudity and profanity.

Here’s to another twenty. OhmyGod! I don’t think I’ll make it.

Linda (who’s very tired today)
Always A Mother – Harlequin Super Everlasting June 2008
Texas Heir – Harlequin American Sep 2008