Friday, January 16, 2009

Telemarketing Scams and Winter Blues

Okay, I'm going to confess something--I'm a Sucker. Yep, just paint a big S on my forehead.

Two weeks ago I was writing at my desk staring out the window at the snow falling--AGAIN. The temperature that day hovered in the teens and no sun--can you say Winter Blues? The phone rings and the area code is 407--Florida. I know someone in Florida, so I answer--not the person I know, but maybe better.

A cheery woman informs me that my husband and I have won a free vacation. Yeah! She proceeds to list off several "warm-weather" locations like Hawaii, Cancun, Orlando Florida etc. (Remember what I'm staring at out my widow while this woman is rambling in my ear). Like a circuit breaker gone wild my brain crackled and suddenly I was worrying about my wardrobe, thinking I have nothing to wear to a beach and must go shopping. Anyway the woman said she'd go over the details with my husband when he returned from his business trip to Detroit later in the week--this all had to do with his Marriot Hotel points.

Of course I called hubby and left an "excited" message on his cell phone. The poor man didn’t want to burst my bubble so he'd called the woman back before phoning me with the bad news--it was a vacation timeshare. Kind of like paying rent each month in exchange for one week at a resort destination. Well, that s*cked. And of course it didn't include air-fair or taxes on the hotel rooms and the woman had never mentioned sitting through a 90-minute company presentation when you arrive at the resort.

So the next day I sat at my desk again and stared at the snow and gray skies outside my office window and thanked my stars I was a writer and could at least escape the winter blues for a few hours a day by living vicariously through the characters in the book I'm revising right now--which happens to take place in Oklahoma during July and August.

A Cowboy's Promise *Men Made in America* (April 09)
Samantha's Cowboy (Aug 2009)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Telling It Like It Might Be

In romance, the gold standard for criticism is Romantic Times. So I was thrilled to read that RT awarded 4 ½ stars out of 5 to my January release, Million-Dollar Nanny. Reviewer. Whitney Kate Sullivan called it an “extremely touching, beautifully written story.” Thank you, Whitney!
Since few print publications review romance, thank goodness for romance Web sites. These are often established and maintained by dedicated fans and booksellers.
When Harlequin sends copies of my books a few months before publication, I mail out half a dozen to reviewers who, over the years, have shown an interest in continuing to read and write about my books. Some of them are kind enough to e-mail me when the review is posted, and I’ve even had the privilege of meeting several of these generous ladies at Romance Writers of America national conferences.
This is a far cry from the antagonism that sometimes springs up between literary authors and critics. In reading the Wikipedia article labeled “Critics,” I think a long-suffering author might have written this line: “Often destructive criticism comes from persons who are envious, cruel and those who judge in fields which are not their own.” It goes on to say that that hurtful criticism “may be done intentionally or out of sheer ignorance and foolishness.”
I’ll admit that, delicious as I find the sentiment, the article is festooned with warnings that it doesn’t cite sources and may not be factually accurate. Who’d have figured an article on critics would be subject to so much criticism itself?
I Googled my way over to Wikipedia’s much more scholarly article on “Literary Criticism,” which has been tidied up and properly Wikified. It cites an honorable history dating back to Aristotle and Plato. The article discusses literary theory and schools of criticism, using elevated language such as: “However important all of these aesthetic movements were as antecedents, current ideas about literary criticism derive almost entirely from the new direction taken in the early twentieth century.”
Let’s face it. I enjoyed that ragtag, opinionated, non-scholarly commentary in “Critics” a lot more. Which just goes to show that even literary criticism can take its share of brickbats.
By the way, I found an interesting definition of “brickbat” on But I’ve indulged my curiosity – and your patience – long enough.
Happy reading!

Monday, January 12, 2009

There goes the adrenaline

Most people who know me know I write in big huge spurts. I'm on the end of one. I wrote the last nine pages of my book today, and then went through it with a fine tooth comb. Twice. I'm sure I still missed something.

The moment it left my inbox for my editor's desk, I was tired. All the adrenaline of writing (and forgetting to eat) left in a flash. It's time for bed, and time for goodbye until I get the book back on revision. However, I had to post my blog as I have newspaper deadline tomorrow and am working a 13 hour day at school.

It sounds funny to say, but I see characters in my head. For me, the characters come before the plot and anything else. They're like ghosts who talk in my head and create their own little movie. I don't interact with them; it's more like being a fly on the wall. However, I can make them do what I want, although often the surprise me.

My current WIP is about a corporate VP who becomes accidentally pregant by her much younger PA. Mitch loves Kristi, but she has no clue. Creating Kristi has been hard for me, because Kristi is unlucky at love and doesn't believe she's worthy. That forced me to dig deep to find those sitations that could make her realistic. As for Mitch, I wish he were real and I'd snag him right up. He's so convinced he's the man for her, even when she's oblivious.

I promise a better post on the 20th, but wanted to drop in and say hi and happy Monday. Enjoy your week!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Magic of January

I'm not the first, nor probably the last, to blog about New Year's resolutions for 2009. But I just can't resist. I love the start of a new year, a blank slate.

Usually I start the year by reviewing last year's goals and checking off any that I've accomplished. This is almost always a disappointing exercise, because I inevitably bite off way more than I can chew. I set huge, lofty goals, imagining my perfect self with a perfect life, then setting goals intended to get me there, imagining that by the end of the year I'll be perfectly fit and toned, eating the healthiest of diets, living in a completely organized and beautifully decorated home, writing a book a month and somehow finding time to read to underprivileged children.

It all sounds perfectly sane in January. But somehow it always goes awry. I get distracted by some new kink in my life or I take up a new hobby I'd never heard of in January and the goals fall by the wayside. About June, I'm shoving them under the desk blotter and trying not to think about how little progress I've made, and by December I'm wondering if I'll ever change and knowing, deep down, that I won't. I'll always have a less-than-healthy diet, I'll always have a messy office, and I'll never stop procrastinating.

Yet, now it's January and I'm doing it again. I'm planning to declutter my entire house (this might actually happen, since I'm moving); write three books, lose five pounds (those last five stinkin' pounds!) cook healthy three nights per week and resume cycling and yoga. I'm going to get in touch with old friends. I'm going to meditate every day and volunteer my time once a week. I'm going to plant a garden and actually take care of it. That's only the tip of the iceberg.

Right this moment, I actually believe I'll do all those things. I am brimming with optimism. I haven't made it to yoga class or pumped up the bike tires, but I got a new skillet as a Christmas gift, so that’s almost cooking. And I meditated once already, and I've written at least five pages on my new book. Hope springs eternal.

But that's the magic of January.