Saturday, March 07, 2009

Trivial Pursuit?

Tonight I'm attending my second trivia night this year--you know, where a bunch of friends sits at a table in public, sporting puzzled frowns while banging their foreheads in frustration. Usually I go to one trivia event a year that my friends sponsor as part of their team fund-raising for Relay for Life (breast cancer research). Our table's goal is to finish in the money. Then we make a point of returning the money to the charity, in hopes the other winning tables will too. I'm always amazed at the ferocity with which some people play and how jealously they guard their $80-$100. Come on, it's for charity!

Anyway, tonight the charity is a fund-raiser for a mission group going to build houses in New Orleans this summer. I like to claim my "contribution" is the dessert I bring. That way, there's no expectation--because I can't rely on my memory under time constraints. Simple, obvious questions make me hesitate. Does it just seem obvious or is it a trick? If I know the answer right away and someone has a different answer, I always doubt myself. One would think I'd be the "book person" on the team, right? Our table consists of an engineer, a geologist, a dentist, a math dean, a teacher, and me, the cookie bringer. We have science, math, health, cooking, gardening, sports, and music covered. My contribution? Cookies.

So what's your strong subject? Do you cave when challenged on something you think you remember or do you stand firm? Do you (like me) cringe when people look to you with expectation (I always get this during the Books/Literature category)? Or are you good at trivia? Because we do have a place open tonight...


Friday, March 06, 2009

Interview with Holly Jacobs

Hi, I'm Holly Jacobs. Like so many romance writers, I lead a life full of romance and adventure. From skydiving to jet-setting around Europe, from snorkeling in coral reefs to writing while wearing beautiful silk peignoir sets and popping chocolate bonbons, my life is the epitome of romance.
Okay, that's all a big lie. But I'll try to answer the interview questions more honestly! LOL

1) How long have you been published? Since 1997.

2) What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?

Ah, I've said this so often I should make a t-shirt. My advice...write something, anything, every day. You can't be a writer if you don't write!

3) What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

Believable characters. I want to read about characters you can imagine having coffee with, or hanging out with. If I can believe in them, then I can become invested in their struggles and goals!

4) You can erase any horrible experience from your past. What will it be?

Okay, I'm sort of gagging at how schmarmy this sounds, but I don't think anything. I'm a firm believer in the idea that things happen for a reason. Even the bad things that happened impact the direction we go in and the person we are now. And since I'm very, very happy with where I am now, I don't know that I'd erase anything. Does that make sense?

PS. I don't think I'd want to go back and relive any of the bad stuff, but hey, I wouldn't erase it!

5) What's the strangest thing you've ever eaten?

My family enjoys peanut butter and mustard on hotdogs! Yes, I know, but hey, don't knock it until you've tried it!

6) What comes first: the plot or the characters?

That depends on the story. Each one evolves in its own way. Some are one big rush of inspiration, and some are more work. Some I know the characters inside and out right up front, and some that knowing comes a little bit harder.

7) When you looked in the mirror this morning, what was the first thing you thought?

I don't even have to try an think on this one...I think the exact same thing every morning.


Yes, I have a love affair with that bitter black brew. I love the way it smells, and I love that first jolt as I sip it. My editor has commented at how frequently my characters seem obsessed with coffee...that would be a case of fiction imitating real life!

8) Describe your writing space.

I have a lovely office and desk, but I mainly work on the laptop on the couch. The dogs like it better and sit with me as I work. The puppy will frequently start typing if she feels I've worked too long! LOL

9) Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?

No. I'm a writer. I write. Now, sometimes what I write is total crap...but someone said (I don't remember where I heard it originally) that you can fix crap, but you can't fix a blank page. So I write. Even if it's crap.

10) What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?

I don't that I can name specific authors. Before I wrote, I read a book a day...most days. Now that I write, I read less, but when I read, I read widely, eclectically. I do read fiction, grew up on science fiction/fantasy, philosophy and science. All those things come into play in my own writing. I wrote a hero once who was a scientist. He had a cat named Schrodinger, which gave me such geek glee. You see, if you're a science geek, you'll recognize that Schrodinger's Cat is a postulate about a cat in a box being alive and dead at the same time... Anyway, it was one of those geeky things that you wouldn't think would come into a romance, but it did!

So, the answer is, no specific book or author impacts me...they all sort of do. I feel like we're all the sum of our experiences...both real life and reading.

11) What are you reading now?

The newspaper. I read it every day.

12) Do you re-read your books once they're in print?

Nope. Never. First, there's the whole issue of finding things I'd like to fix and knowing I can't...I'm crazy enough without that added stress. Then there's the whole, I'm so busy writing I don't have time to read as much other authors as I like. I know what I wrote, so I don't need to reread that! LOL

13) What is your work schedule like when you are writing?

My kids are all in school, so I'm a daytime writer. I refer to the years they were small as my Vampire Years...I had to write at night after they were asleep. I like working days soooo much more!

14) How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

42...well, I'm working on number 42. And my answer always remains the same. Whatever book I'm actively working on is my favorite. If it's not, then I'm doing something REALLY wrong.

15) Do you hear from your readers much? What do they say?

I do. I'm on Facebook , MySpace, and hang out at eHarlequin, which gives my readers a lot of ways to access me, in addition to email and snailmail. It's always a joy to hear that a story, or a character has touched someone.

16) Tell us about your family and where you live.

I live in Erie, PA. It's the setting of the majority of my books because...well, because I think Erie rocks! LOL We're right on Lake Erie, and in the summer, heading out to the peninsula to watch a sunset is one of my all time favorite things.

I'm married to a cop...and you'll notice (if you read it) that the hero in my February HAR was a cop. I don't write them too often, but I'll confess, I am biased. I think they're amazing people. And I really loved writing Chuck in Once Upon a Valentine's.

Together we have four kids, two dogs (Ethel Merman and Ella Fiztgerald) and a hamster named Sam.

17) Tell us about your most recent release(s).

I've written for a lot of Harlequin lines and it's been a long journey that's led me here, to Harlequin American Romance, and I have to say how much fun I'm having writing for this line. October '08, December '08 and February '09 were the release dates of my American Dad trilogy for the line. Once Upon a Thanksgiving, Once Upon a Christmas and last month's Once Upon a Valentine's. They're still available online.

What happens when three PTA single moms miss the first meeting of the year? They get 'volunteered' for the PTA Social Planning Committee. And while they plan the Thanksgiving pageant, the Christmas Fair and the Valentine's Dance, they find true friendship...and they all find another chance at love.

Really, as the mother of four and a school volunteer for more years than I want to count, this was a subject I knew inside and out. And they always tell writers to write what they know...well, I had this subject down! LOL

I think that's about can find me at, and there are links to my FaceBook and MySpace pages there if you're interested!

Thanks ladies for the interview, and for welcoming me into the fold of the Harlequin American Romance writers.

ONCE UPON A THANKSGIVING, Harlequin American Romance, 10/08
ONCE UPON A CHRISTMAS, Harlequin American Romance, 12/08
ONCE UPON A VALENTINE'S, Harlequin American Romance, 2/9

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Why is there air?

Anyone remember that (now ancient) Bill Cosby album, Why Is There Air? I vaguely remember listening to it numerous times and always grinning. Hadn’t thought about it in ages, but now that we’re about to go into daylight savings time ("summer time" in British English)… the question, Why Is There Air?, hits me. As in, what’s the point of daylight savings time (DST), anyway?

Of course afternoons get more light, mornings less. (Here in the Pacific Northwest, the days are long no matter what.) Supposedly this saves electricity. It might, too–in some places. The time change also causes confusion , especially for pets and kids. If you happen to work in a profession that relies on morning sun, too bad. And don’t forget the clocks in your home and car, your watch, the furnace. Most of ours automatically reset to DST. However (and this is big), our stuff is programmed for the old DST calendar. Remember that? It started in April and ended in October. Now that the change occurs in March and November, we’re stuck manually resetting everything except our computers.

Adding to the chaos and confusion, some regions and countries ignore DST. In the United States alone, according to, the following territories and states do not observe DST: Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the state of Arizona (not the Navajo Indian Reservation, which does observe).

It’s enough to make a person pull her hair out!

How do you feel about DST, or do you care at all?

Until later and wishing you an easy adjustment to DST,

Ooh, Baby!

March RT Top Pick!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Humans, they say, are creatures of habit. For me, that’s very true.

Every weekday morning, I smack the snooze button the same number of times before climbing out of bed. I move through all the steps of getting ready for work--showering and dressing, eating breakfast and brushing teeth--with one eye on the clock and split-second timing. I drive to work by the same route each day and even park in the same spot in the parking area.

You’ll have to agree, won’t you, that I’m a creature of habit?

But someone asked me something recently that got my habit-loving, routine-riddled mind working.

The conversation goes something like this:

“So, what are your writing rituals?” she asks.

“Huh?” (My brilliant response.)

“What do you do to get yourself going when it’s time to write? How do you invoke the Muse?” She sends me a dirty look. “As I said before, what are your writing rituals?”

(No response from me at all this time.)

Her foot’s tapping the floor. “Do you light a candle? Burn incense? Play certain music? Drink three-quarters of a cup of coffee and eat two-point-five cookies after you turn on the computer?” Her face is turning quite red now. “Do you use blue ink on yellow notepads exclusively? Wear your oldest bathrobe and fuzzy slippers while you’re editing? Do you knock three times on the doorframe before entering your writing space?”

“Uhh... Umm...” (I’m floundering, can you tell?) “Well...does writing e-mail count?”

She looks down her nose at me, and I want to sink into the floor.

I am so ashamed.

I am so not worthy.

Habit-acquiring creature that I am, how can I not have rituals???

All I know now is, I’ve got to get some! And naturally, I’m turning to you all for help, which is becoming another habit of mine, isn’t it? LOL

Reading about the rituals you’ve developed--related to writing or simply to life in general--might be the trigger I need to come up with a few of my own.

And that will give me an entire list of things to say the next time someone asks, “What are your writing rituals?”

So, please...feed my new habit!

All my best to you,



Barbara White Daille

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Time To Exercise

Now that wrestling and basketball season is over and Lent has begun, I’ve decided to concentrate a little bit on me. My husband and I joined another Bible study group, so I think I’ve got the spiritual part of my life taken care of.

For me, that’s the easy part. It’s the physical part that I struggle with. See, exercise is not a part of my routine. Oh, I belong to a health club, and a few years ago I even paid a personal trainer to nag me to lift weights.

But now that the personal trainer thing is done-(she had the nerve to break up with her boyfriend and moved away!)-I’m lucky if I even get to the gym once a week.

No, I'm not that busy. It's just that I always find something better to do, such as cooking, reading, and um...ironing. Obviously I need some motivation.

A few years ago at Nationals, a few of us American authors got together just to chat. One of the things that I discovered was that a lot of the authors do some kind of exercise almost every day~play tennis, run, take yoga classes, garden. I didn’t get the impression that these were things on their ‘to-do’ list either. Oh, no. These were activities that were a part of their routine and they felt better for it!

I want to be like them!

So I’m on the hunt for a new activity. Any one care to share a new fitness routine you’ve adopted fairly recently? Are you loving Pilates now? Taken up golf? Dancing? Also, how do you fit exercise into your life? Is it a first thing in the morning activity… or something you do on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday? I’d really love to hear your ideas and get inspired!


Monday, March 02, 2009


CONGRATULATIONS Penney! You’re the February winner. To receive your free autographed books please contact Ann DeFee and Lisa Childs through their Web sites.

To enter the contest simply leave a blog comment and your name will go into the drawing. Simple and painless. And FREE BOOKS.

So check back often and be sure to leave a comment. Good luck!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The things we do for ... ink

How do I get roped into these things? Or, more accurately, how do I rope myself into these things?

There I was, riding around in the backseat of a car, blabbering away about my books and my former career as an Associated Press TV columnist, hoping my lipstick wasn’t crooked and my voice didn’t squeak like a desk chair.

When I say a car, I mean a car. Not a limousine, not a Ferrari, and not a tricked-out van. No offense to the car’s owner, Los Angeles filmmaker Terry Kate. She’d actually cleaned out a lot of stuff, I’m sure, if her car-keeping habits are anything like mine. The proof: I had room for my feet.

What’s this about? Well, Terry – whom I keep wanting to call Kate, but that’s her last name – came up with the idea of videotaping romance authors while driving around the areas where their books are set. She calls the series Romance in the Backseat, and the first videos should be posted by mid-March at I’ll post a link and a photo of Terry and me on my Web site,

We drove around Brea, California, which is where the Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers of America meets. Terry had contacted OCCRWA to find authors, and of course, I volunteered. I’ll do anything within reason for publicity. That’s what happens when you have a budget near zero.

The reason for picking Brea, besides proximity, is that that’s where I’ve set my current Harmony Circle miniseries, part of the Harlequin American Romance line. Some of you may have read The Family Next Door, Baby in Waiting or Million-Dollar Nanny. The last of the series, Doctor Daddy, will be published in September 2009.

Terry suggested I open with an anecdote from my career at AP, so I talked about interviewing Star Trek: The Next Generation actor Patrick Stewart and the show’s phenomenal makeup artist, Michael Westmore, who designed entire alien species. I also read an excerpt from Million-Dollar Nanny. Then Terry asked me the appropriately million-dollar question : “What’s the wildest thing you ever did in the backseat of a car?”

“You mean, aside from this interview?” I asked.

She said yes. On the spot, I blathered something about my husband and a drive-in movie. Honestly, I made the whole thing up. Well, okay, maybe not. I don’t exactly think fast under pressure.

It’s probably fortunate that I’m in no danger of landing on TV with Oprah or Jay Leno or even a local LA-area newscast. Still, I’d be happy to give it a try if their people come calling.

Like I said, I’ll do almost anything for publicity, maybe even wear one of those fantastic alien get-ups Michael Westmore designs. Which might be what I have to do after my husband hears what I said on that video.