Saturday, February 21, 2009

My Bucket List of Books

Today is my birthday, and for some reason, this year I'm feeling much closer to one of those "big" milestones and much more philosophical about what I want out of life. This happens to me every six or seven years, it seems, but this is the first time I've been tempted to make a list of the books that I really want to write.

You see, I developed a very warped sense of the publishing world early in my career, when I sold my first two books on proposal. I didn't have any finished manuscripts under the bed or on the top shelf of the closet. As a matter of fact, my ability to write fiction came as a complete surprise. I'd never written anything except business materials, school papers and not-so-memorable letters. I developed the idea that I shouldn't write a book until I got a contract from a publisher, especially when I discovered I absolutely hated to do major revisions. (Once I got the story firmly in my head, it was very difficult to change it.)

So, now I'm thinking about what books I want to write whether I have a contract or not. I have a number of stories that keep popping up in my conscious mind, interferring with what I should be focused on. Work. Other books that are contracted. Family. Hobbies. The stories that I need to tell range in scope from a very human alien, a cranky New Orleans ghost, an eighteenth century English maid, an exiled Los Angeles doctor, and a nineteenth century convent resident who was turned into a statue. (You may notice that most of these are paranormals. Hmm.)

And I would love to revisit some of my Harlequin American characters from Ranger Springs. Maybe combine stories from my two different towns into a bigger story, although I'm not sure what yet. (I just think that would be neat!) I'm currently finishing the proposal on my last Brody's Crossing book. It has taken me, to quote my first paranormal romance, Forever and a Day to finish. I don't know why, except I have been exceptionally distracted by the election, the economy, and my granddaughters. (So, if my editor reads this, I'm really, really sorry and I promise it's coming soon!)

I hope today finds you well. I'm going to do some fun things with family and I'm not going to write today, but I'm making that bucket list of books to finish. I've found that if you put things down on paper, they seem much more concrete and manageable, and quite frankly, at my age, I need that! Again, best wishes.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Broken Bones

I have decided that all I can do is laugh. If not, I'd cry. This has been a week for freak accidents.

Monday night, I was hit by a falling object (too confusing to describe, so just roll with it here) and my right forearm swelled up the diameter of a baseball and the height of a golf ball. The bump felt awful, until the numbness set in. My hand was swollen and my wrist hurt every time I moved.

I thought it might be broken, but as it was 11 at night and ERs are hours of waiting, I crawled into bed and slept in a sitting position after 600 mg of ibuprofen and 20 minutes of ice.

The next morning (Tuesday) I drove 40 miles to the urgent care clinic where my best friend's husband is the doctor. Dr. Jon was a top ER doctor before moving to urgent care, and said I did the right thing. Since nothing was sticking out, his advice is just go to the urgent care. I did, and I was in and out in 25 minutes compared to what could have been 4 hours in the ER. As it was, I was lucky. My bone wasn't broken and I just had deep internal bruising--basically a soft tissue injury. So I'm staying on the ibuprofen and staying away from bumping or using my arm to lift things. Even better, my friend Cynthia (Jon's wife) met me there and afterwards took me to breakfast. I continue my streak (knock wood) of never breaking a bone and never needing a cast.

However, my mom wasn't so lucky. A week ago someone started banging on her door at 1 AM. She didn't answer, and later learned that someone must have driven off the road as her flower bed was torn up. Around 1 AM on Sunday the 15th, a 17 year old went off the road and into the horse pasture, tearing up the fence. This is the 4th accident in this area in 7 years--people simply crest the hill to fast. So she's submitting the bill to the insurance company. I was typing up that fax for her when she came down and honked her horn.

Turns out that her sprained ankle was really a break. Wednesday afternoon my 71 year old mother was tap dancing, and she had an accident. She put herself in the car, drove home, and basically endured 24 hours worth of pain before Thursday afternoon, when I told her to go to urgent care. When she drove down to my house afterwards, she told me the x-ray revealed she'd broken the leg bone above her ankle. She's in a cast and off to the orthopedist for further assessment and treatment.

My poor mom. All week she'd been telling me how lucky I was--since my life would have been unbearable to have my dominant right arm in a cast. However, it was as if fate was determined that one of us needed a limb in plaster. However the doctor promised her she'd be back to tap dancing soon. The neighbor will keep watch over her while I'm at work (my mom and I live 1000 feet apart, each of us on acreage) and the insurance company will send her a nice check. But I think I'm ready for Monday.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

After hearing “I didn’t like Slumdog Millionaire at all”, “too violent”, “not a great movie” from various people, my husband and I finally decided to see for ourselves. I admit, I was prejudiced against liking the movie.

We both came away enriched by the experience. The photography, the music, the memorable story, cleverly told. Usually I steer clear of violence. But the violence that accompanies dire poverty in a city of 19 million belonged in this story. Upsetting, yes, because violence is real for the struggling poor all over the world.

The movie is full of plot holes and unanswered questions. What are the odds of finding an orphan girl you lost in a see of 19 million? (Who probably should be dead or maimed in order to garner pity and make more begging.) Who knows why the Indian emcee of Who Wants to Be A Millionaire wanted Jamal to fail? And don’t forget a boy from the slums ever getting on Who Wants to Be A Millionaire, let alone winning.

Those are just a few of the holes and coincidences. Normally I hate movies or TV shows (or books, for that matter) with gaping holes and coincidences. Yet with Slumdog Millionaire, this movie experience was so rich that these things didn’t bother me too much.

The writers, directors and actors deserve huge kudos. (And in my opinion should walk away with a bunch of Oscars.) They produced a compelling story, guaranteed to make you think. Isn’t that what we all strive for?

What do you think? Did you like the movie, or not, and why?

Until later and wishing you movies that deepen your life experience,
Ooh, Baby!
March RT Top Pick!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Just where do we get our ideas for books? That question is one of the most asked questions of authors by readers.

While trying to start a new book the other night, I was amazed at some of the thoughts going through my head. "He could do this" and "She might do that", along with "But what will happen after that?" were moving through my mind at lightning speed, which surprised me. Usually those thoughts are barely crawling, if moving at all.

But first, I realized, came the idea. That spark that set off those thoughts.

From talking with other writers and from my own experience, ideas come from anywhere and everywhere. Sometimes an idea comes from an event so obscure that we don't even recognize it. An author friend recently told me she once had a story idea that came from hearing a Paul Harvey commentary. It wasn't what he was talking about, but one small, unrelated thing he said that sparked an idea that later became a book.

Ideas come from the life experiences of ourselves and others. They come from a conversation we overhear while waiting in line at the grocery store. They come from movies and TV shows we watch and books we read. Yes, tiny ideas from those can become stories that, in the end product, are totally unrelated to what we saw or read. We might pick up on the way a character reacts to certain situations or interacts with others or a mannerism. It might be a conflict between two people, either the hero and heroine or others.

Music, too, can inspire not only a scene, but an entire theme for a book. A song might also provide the one thing we're missing about a character, such as the character's motivation/backstory, that will make him or her real.

A story in the news, whether print media or television can often spark an idea which, when finished as a book, doesn't resemble the original piece at all.

It takes only one small spark to set a writer on the course of a new story. What happens after that spark is up to each author and the process he/she goes through until the final book is finished. That process is different for each writer, and it's often amazing.

So where do we get our ideas for books? Everywhere! That really is the answer.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Interview with Barbara White Daille

I’m very pleased to be interviewed for the Harlequin American Romance blog, but I have to be honest and admit you’re not always getting my absolute first-choice answers here. (smile)

You see, some of the questions are geared to my “best,” my “favorite,” etc. I’ve had to make an effort to deliberately leave my husband out of my responses...because he is, of course, my favorite in anything.

And would you romance readers and writers have it any other way?

Okay, here we go....

Q: What’s your favorite dessert?

A: Anything with chocolate and without coconut.

Q: What item not yet in existence would be the world’s greatest invention ever?

A: Bags for cookies and chips that automatically refill when empty.

Q: If you were stranded on an island for a month and could bring three things along, what would they be?

A: Ah. See, that’s why I had to give you the warning, because #1 would have to be my husband! However, I’ll try to work around him....

#1. See previous response about the world’s greatest invention. (grin)
#2. a case of books and blank journals
#3. a box of pens

(Am I cheating here?)

Q: If you could be lazy for an entire day what would you do?

A: Curl up on the couch with a good book or three, a cup of tea at my elbow, and a plate of cookies in my lap. (Hmm... I think you should see that answer about the world’s greatest invention for this response, too!)

Q: If you could wish for anything, what would you wish for?

A: More money than Bill G. so I could give food, clothing, and shelter to anyone in the world who needs them; pay off the National debt; pay off our mortgage; and buy a lifetime supply of gift cards for my favorite local bookstore.

Q: What do you like to do when you're not writing?

A: Read!

Q: What inspired you to write your first book?

A: Many things and many people, including the wonderful writers I first discovered as a child; my mom, for her love of reading; and my fourth-grade teacher, for encouraging me to put words on paper. Though I’d been writing smaller pieces, poetry, and of course diary entries long before this, I wrote my first “official” short story when I was in fourth grade. I wrote my first book when I was in eighth grade.

Q: How long have you been writing?

A: See above. ;-) Although I have to add, I’ve probably been creating since before I knew how to write and started writing fiction as soon as I learned the alphabet.

Q: What did you want to be when you grew up?

A: Three guesses, and I’ll bet you only need one. (A writer, naturally.)

Q: What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

A: I don’t feel completely comfortable with my characters until I know their names.

Q: What is your writing routine?

A: Routine?! I’m supposed to have a routine?

Q: What is the hardest part of writing your books?

A: Accepting that it’s time to let them go. (See next question....)

Q: Do you re-read your books once they’re in print?

A: Of course. To me, re-reading any book is like a visit to old friends. And when those friends are characters I’ve created, the trip is extra-special.

Q: Why did you target the Harlequin American Romance line?

A: I love home and hearth stories and reading and writing about small towns--or those places with a small-town feel. For me, it doesn’t literally have to be a small town, as long as it’s a place where people are in close quarters--whether they like it or not--and are then almost forced to make their relationships and interconnections work. A hospital, a school, an Army base, snowbound in a mountain cabin, marooned on an island--anything with an “enclosed” setting like that really catches my interest.

Q: Tell us about your next book.

A: (Taking a deep breath....) A responsibility-ridden art teacher from an eccentric Irish family butts head with an uptight lawyer who's determined to protect his mom from the teacher's con artist uncle. (Whew!) That’s it in a nutshell.

The book just went in to my editor this weekend and is currently awaiting both a title and a publication date, so watch this space. You can be sure I’ll share the news as soon as I learn it myself!

Q: Now that we’re wrapping this up, what is the one question we should have asked you, but didn’t?

A: “We love your books so much, Barbara--couldn’t we please pay off your mortgage and give you a monthly salary just so you could stay home and write more of these wonderful stories?”

All right, that last answer was a bit tongue-in-cheek--but, still, wouldn’t it be fabulous to hear someone say it? LOL

Thanks for taking the time to read this interview! I hope you found the responses interesting and feel you’ve gotten to know a little about me.

All my best to you,



Barbara White Daille

What's in Your Junk Drawer?

Okay, fess up. You collect junk, too, right? But you don’t want anyone to know that you've become a psychotic hoarder of useless items. Spring cleaning is just around the corner and that's when I go through drawers and cupboards, hoping to gather a collection of junk I can finally bring myself to toss out.

The other day I took inventory. Here's a few of the items I found in the laundry room drawer: old cell phones--(three of them. That means I've kept the phones for six years). House keys from our two previous homes. Two combination locks that I don’t know the combinations of. Keys to a paddle lock I can't find. Spools of weird-colored thread. A collection of buttons I've retrieved from the bottom of the wash machine throughout the year. Several single strands of various colored shoelaces.

Sitting on my kitchen counter is decorative catch-all metal purse I bought at a flea market years ago. This holds papers I'm too lazy to file. Every Tom, Dick and Harry's business card. Take-out restaurant menus from places I'd never eat at. Last year's association pool passes that went unused. A Dick's sporting Goods discount card, same for Dominick's, and PetSmart. Also a card for Albertsons grocery store from when we lived in Texas. Expired coupons, the kids' school photos from three years ago, old ChapStick and Realtor magnets--to name a few things.

Beneath my bathroom sink are several plastic baskets containing: trial-sized perfumes, expired wrinkle creams. Eye shadow colors I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing. Nail polish that's at least five years old. Sponge rollers, sparkly hair clips in all sizes, a diffuser for my hairdryer and a waffle iron I could never figure out how to use.

Here's what I think: I keep some of this stuff for so long because once I throw it away, I have to admit that I wasted my money and never should have bought the items in the first place. As long as I keep the stuff and there's a chance I might use it one day…then I didn’t waste my money. How's that for self psychotherapy?

Anyone else want to share what's in their junk drawer?

A Cowboy's Promise
*Men Made in America* April 2009
Samantha's Cowboy August 2009

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Living it up -- or down

I recently heard from an old friend, a novelist, with whom I’d lost touch for years. She had quite a story to tell, including (I hope she doesn’t mind my repeating this, since I’m not naming her) the breakup of her marriage and an exciting romantic relationship with a new guy with whom she’s living in a campground.

That’s right. A campground. Of course, I dearly hope she’s not in a tent in the dead of winter. Most likely it’s a comfortable RV. All the same, it sounds … brave.

She’s bubbling with happiness. At an age at which most people are watching their salt intake, she’s spicing up her life.

It makes me feel really boring.

When I was 22, I went to Europe for a year with so little baggage, I hand-carried it onto the plane with me. When the weather got cold, I knit a sweater and bought a cape. When spring arrived, I gave them away.

Okay, let’s be honest: I had a writing fellowship, and I’d sent the money ahead to the American Express Bank in Florence. So I wasn’t exactly starving. But I had the spirit of adventure!

A few years later, my husband-to-be and I drove to Yosemite in a tiny camper that sat atop his pickup truck. It had – get this – no bathroom. Even in autumn, Yosemite gets cold, and we camped in an area (you probably can’t find these any more) where there was no one else around. So in the morning, wearing only a bathrobe, I would hop, skip and thump across the cold pavement to a cold outhouse.

I don’t do that sort of thing any more.

While my friend is celebrating Valentine’s weekend by staging a romantic tryst, I’m cozying up with my husband in our two-story house. With the economy the way it is, we’re grateful to have a roof over our heads and hot food to eat.

And above all, each other. Hope you had a terrific Valentine’s Day!