Saturday, August 02, 2008


This month's winner is MaryF!!!!!! Congratulations!!! To get your free, autographed books, please contact Megan Kelly, and Lee McKenzie and Ann Defee through their websites.

Tell all your friends to visit us. To win, simply comment and your name is entered in our drawing.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Not-so-secret Sources

In my books, I write a lot about doctors and babies and pregnancies. Take, for example, my current Harlequin American, Baby in Waiting. The title just about says it, doesn’t it?

You may wonder where I do my research. Well, it’s not a secret … but it’s complicated.

First, as you may have read on my Web site (, my father was a doctor who delivered me at home. His status as a small-town doctor – before he decided to return for a residency in psychiatry – inspired my Downhome Doctors series for Harlequin (recently issued in Australia) and informs my current Harmony Circle series.

Second, I draw on personal experience. While I can’t claim to have undergone every pregnancy and infertility complication known to womankind, I sometimes feel as if I did. I certainly spent a huge amount of time in doctors’ offices, clinics and hospitals. Rather than go into all the extensive details, I’ll just say I was very fortunate to emerge with two healthy sons.

Out of interest, I read a great deal on medical subjects. And for every book, I go to the Internet to seek out the latest information on relevant topics. Among other sites, my friend Doug Lyle, M.D., author of Forensics: A Guide for Writers, answers medical questions of interest to writers at

Then there’s my volunteer consultant, Marcia Holman, an experienced nurse. A friend and former neighbor, she’s overcome plenty of health issues of her own and given birth to five wonderful kids, the youngest of whom is in high school. When in doubt, I call on her, and she’s always generous with her time.

The tricky part about researching novels, you see, is that not everything fits neatly on an informational Web site. For example, how is a doctor’s office organized? How often do obstetricians serve on-call duty? What’s the role of a nurse in relation to the doctor she works with? Personal observation has given me a sense of these things, but I rely on Marcia to help me with the details.

Where would we writers be without our friends? And, of course, our readers!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

So who's done eBay?

I have discovered eBay. I know; I’m a little late to the party. Most people have been buying and selling things on eBay and being PayPal gurus for years. Not me. Bombarded long ago by all those fake emails, I’ve stayed away.

I’ve started to slowly come back as eBay has some stuff I just can’t find in stores. I bought a set of Fruits Basket videos for my daughter. I just bought a Harvest Moon game for her Nintendo DS. For both I sat there in the last hour and refreshed my screen a dozen times in dread that I might get outbid and not get the emails in time. (I’m thinking that in the beginning the sellers are the ones bidding against me to get the price up, but that’s another blog.) I did get both items for a fair price. So that’s my entire eBay experience. I still don’t have a PayPal account. I pay as I go.

I’m guess I’m also leery of eBay because I am not a used-item shopper. Perhaps it comes from all those used cars I had in my teens. The timing belt of my Mercury Lynx broke, twice. After the second time, the car was dead. My mom paid $50 to have it hauled away. My next car was a Ford Maverick that would die at every intersection during the winter. I could get out, pop the hood, stick a screwdriver in the carburetor, shoot starter fluid and crank the engine all in less than two minutes (or while the light was still red). When I finally got my first brand-new car, the dealer gave me $50 to take my Maverick away.

Used things freak me out. I have this prejudiced paranoia. I like selling at garage sales, but I rarely buy anything unless it’s something I can wash with extremely hot water, bleach or Windex.

Being curious about books on eBay, I plugged in my name into the search field. On July 5, four items were up for auction, starting at 99 cents. In the “buy it now” store, I found 43 items. One was a brand new Michele Dunaway Legally Tender book for $6.01, plus $3.99 for priority shipping. That doesn’t include the $1.30 for insurance.

That got me thinking. Sure, that book is off the shelves. However, Legally Tender never cost $6.01. It was, at most, $4.99. Perhaps the upcharge is for some kind of shrink-wrap, for the seller says the book comes sealed. I don’t get my author copies sealed, as Harlequin doesn’t ship my books that way and the ones I’ve gotten off eharlequin haven’t been sealed. I’m not curious enough click the “ask the seller” icon and find out what she means.

I also found, for $1 buy-it-now, A Little Office Romance, my very first book. I only have two copies in my possession. This seller says the cost to ship will be $3.23 media. However, one book first class in a plain 6×9 envelope costs under $2. Perhaps the extra money is being spent on delivery confirmation. But I don’t think you can get DC for media mail, but I might be wrong.
That brings me to another reason I am eBaying slowly. I’ve discovered that it’s very easy to overpay, and in this economy every nickel and dime counts. My daughter wanted a Wii. She earned most of the money selling all our used junk at a garage sale. However, we couldn’t find a Wii console in the store anywhere. Toys-R-Us said we could come get in line early Sunday morning for a chance, but church services took precedent. So we tried eBay. The price mark up was close to $100, before shipping. I told my daughter no way to eBay and that, if we were supposed to have a Wii, we would walk into Target (where we had a $10 off coupon and $65 in gift cards) and the game console would be there waiting for us.

Amazingly, that’s exactly what happened. Less than three weeks later, my daughter and I went to Target for something else, checked the electronics section, and there were two Wiis on the shelf. We now have our Wii, for the regular retail price of $249, and we used our gift cards and coupon.

So those are my eBay experiences. As a newbie, help me out. Enlighten me! I want to hear your eBay stories: the good, the bad, the ugly, the happy and the horrible. I’ll be responding to your comments this afternoon and tomorrow, so share with me, the eBay novice. I really want to know.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Off to San Francisco

As you read this, I'm on a plane winging my way to San Francisco for my 20th Romance Writers of America national conference. This annual event is the highlight of my year. It's the one chance I have all year to visit with my long-distance writer friends, get face time with my editor, workshop myself ragged and attend wild parties.

Well, not so wild anymore. Nothing will ever top the Harlequin Party in Seattle in ... 1988, perhaps? All I can tell you is, it involved about a dozen scantily dressed male models (including a cowboy wearing chaps and no pants). Ah, those were the days.

Nowadays, Harlequin opts for a nice ballroom, a D.J., and an open bar with STRONG drinks. The dance floor turns into a mosh pit. It is, without a doubt, the most fun party I'll attend all year. This year is especially special for me because I'll be receiving my 50-book pin. My 50th Harlequin/Silhouette book will be published in December by Harlequin American. What a long, strange trip it's been.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sentimental Clutter

So with the annual Romance Writers of America coming up this week, I've had to dig through closets to find things for the conference, stuff that in some cases I haven't used since LAST summer's conference (like my special name badge holder with the three RITA finalist pins that mean so much to me or the bright garment bag that's so easy to spot on airline carousels among navy and black luggage). Anyway, whenever I'm forced to brave the walk-in closet of my office or start pulling things out from under the bed, I always bang up against these two truths:

1. I can never find anything

in large part because


I hold onto the strangest things. There's a piece of driftwood my husband and I found walking on the beach when we were engaged. There's a tag cut off the first dress he brought me (a cute red and white polka dot number that went in the Goodwill pile YEARS ago and would not fit on this post-baby body, but I still have the price tag from a chain store that I don't even think exists these days). There's an old copy of Gone with the Wind that's literally rubber-banded together because the binding broke, it's missing pages and what's left has yellowed (then again, it was my first copy of GWTW, given to me by a favorite English teacher who encouraged me to write.) I have approximately nine zillion business cards that I've accumulated at all manner of events but don't actually use for any practical purpose. I have drawings from kids who were once in my Pre-K class, back when I dreamed of one day having children of my own but were told my doctors that it was unlikely. (So dh and I filed for adoption, immediately got pregnant and now have TWO children, one of whom just finished Pre-K this year).

When I open that closet door and see the piles and shelves and overstuffed bags, I always think that it's time to get stern with myself and throw at least half of it away. Do I really NEED the champagne cork from the day J proposed? (Sunday, Dec 1, 12 and a half years ago). I have this conversation with myself about three times a year, and wade into the mess, resolute.

And the same thing always happens. Two hours later, I find myself sitting on old newspapers, my eyes misting up at my mother's wedding picture and the plaster cast I made of my daughter's foot when she was a few months old. I didn't get much packing done, but I thumbed through cover flats of my first three books and relived the thrill of my first sale. I stopped to appreciate all that I've accomplished in the last decade and thought about the people who mean the most to me. (Note to self: It's been way too long since you talked to your aunt in Tennessee or your best friend from high school.) I called my children into the closet to laugh at early pieces of artwork and to show my ballerina daughter pictures of me in a recital twentysomething years ago. (We were doing Cinderella. I was a lady in waiting, and my younger sister was a mouse in the same production.) And, oh yeah, I found my conference badge with its three lovely silver RITA pins.

Even if it wasn't a productive afternoon in the strictest sense, it was time well spent. Eventually, I shut the door on my memories and told myself that maybe NEXT time I'll clean some of it out...but I doubt it.

So what about you guys? Pack-rats, neatnicks, or a healthy, happy medium somewhere in between?

A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss

A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss

They say a rolling stone gathers no moss – no kidding! The way I’m tooling along there isn’t a rock, a stone or a pebble that could catch me. Busy is my middle name. I think I mentioned in a previous blog that we have our house on the market. I must be the master of bad timing. No nibbles, very few lookers and yet I feel like I have to keep it company clean every day. That must be hope springing eternal.

So along with everything else that’s going on we decided to upgrade our countertops. The company promised it would take a day for the tear out and installation. But you know what they say about promises and assumptions. Guess what – the old countertops were ripped out and the new ones didn’t fit. And when the installers blithely said we’ll see you Tuesday (that was Thursday) I replied with “Bad Answer. Try again.” Add a glacial glare and a killer frown to the equation and they returned on Friday. However, we’ve been without a kitchen sink for four days.

Plus (and this one’s really big) I had to do some major revisions on my February book (HAR The Man She Married) and I only had two weeks to get it back to my editor. Add in I’m trying to get ready for the RWA conference and an open house the week after I get home, and you have a major case of stress. So thanks for letting me vent. Everything’s going to be A-okay. There’s that hope thing again.

Now here’s a favor I’d like to ask. The reason we’re moving is to be closer to our kids and grandkids. We’re focused on Virginia and if anyone has any first hand knowledge (good, bad or indifferent) of Winchester, Fredericksburg or Williamsburg please let me know.

Thanks and have a great week.
Ann DeFee

HAR The Man She Married, February 2009
HAR Top Gun Dad, TBA