Saturday, June 20, 2009

Facebook part 2

I said I'd given an update on my experience with Facebook, once I was on it for a while. I've discovered that unlike Twitter, which I remember to do about once a day, if that, I really enjoy Facebook. I'm on it two ways. One is my personal page, and the other is a page where anyone can be my fan, which is at this URL:

On my fan page I've got pictures of my book covers from other countries and a bunch of pictures not on my website. I talk about my books. On my personal page, I don't have that many pics and mostly I keep up with people and post stuff that might be relevant or interesting.

I'm having tons of fun with Facebook. Remember my statement that being friends with your exes is a bit strange? Well, I'm friends with my high school boyfriend and my first college boyfriend, and it's been cool to catch up with what's going on in their lives. Mark still does music and Jeff still does boy scouts. Both are married with kids. I've found most of my college pals from the fraternities and sororities at UM--St. Louis.

Mostly, it's been a great way for me to keep track of my former students, a bunch of romance writer friends from all over the country and my journalism buddies. I'm able to keep up to date with all my best friends from high school--people I've known now for 30 years. Many had their kids graduate this year. I have a four to go. We all wonder where time has gone.

I'm up over 110 friends and if I added everyone I knew, I'd probably go insane, even though I have my news feeds set up on lists. But I like to read everything. While I don't play mafia wars, do pillow fights, or take half those quizzes, it is rather fun to read everyone else's results and discover what Simpson character they are most like. I'm enjoying viewing pics of my former student Ryan and his wife's trip to Alaska. I keep track of Peter, who is serving in Iraq. One of my former work buddies is in Vermont for a vacation. I've never been to Vermont, but I'm getting to see pictures.

The only downside is that Facebook is such a time suck. Being home for the summer, I check it several times a day for someone is always posting something and often chats pop up from people I haven't talked to in years, and we gab for a few minutes. I'm discovering I'll have to write on my alphasmart or something.

But what's been really fun is that I just wrote my first Facebook chat into Under Doctor's Orders, my newly contracted Harlequin American Romance that will be out in 2010. Chandy chats via Facebook with her brother Chase (hero in Bachelor CEO, coming in July) and then when he types something she doesn't like, she says she has to go and disconnects. I loved it. Texting and Facebook will play a role in this story, for that's the reality of how people communicate these days.

For example, I haven't talked to my best friend Susan, who only lives here in town, since she got back late last night (Friday) from her week-long adventure being with her son at cub scout camp. But from Facebook I know she survived the bugs, the extreme heat, the torrential downpours, life in a tent and is now at home--which is happily quiet since her husband gave her a break and took her boys to his mother's for the weekend first thing this morning. I'll call her later in the week--maybe Monday or so--and let her enjoy the silence and a nap in her own bed.

Happy rest of June everyone! I'm off to a graduation party for a former student, who sent the invites and the directions via Facebook.

Michele Dunaway
Bachelor CEO--Men Made in America
Harlequin American Romance July 2009

Friday, June 19, 2009


Meg Lacey Talks...

about Settings.  
Hello everyone, I have just sold to the Harlequin American Romance line and this group of terrific authors.  I'm very happy to be here.  My first book for HAR comes out in Nov. 2009, THE FIREMAN'S CHRISTMAS, also a 'Men in America' flag.  I want to speak about setting regarding this novel, but also will refer to a few of my other novels since setting played a big role in my Silhouettes as Lynn Miller and My Harlequin Temptations and Duets as Meg Lacey.

THE FIREMAN'S CHRISTMAS takes place in Warenton, PA, a town I made up.  It is actually based in some part on the beautiful area around the Delaware Watergap.  I wanted a town that was within 2-3 hours driving time to Philadelphia and New York City, so I made up my own.  I also wanted a smaller town/city interaction for my heroine who was from a big city.   The setting is essential to this story as it provides the impetus for my heroine, Tessa and her 2 children's relocation to the area to start a new life with her own landscaping business  after her divorce from a high-powered corporate executive.  The small city atmosphere is friendly, appealing and soothing to Tessa and offers other opportunities, not the least of which is her involvement with Danny, a widowed fireman with 4 children of his own.  Danny is very invested in his community and his family has lived there for a generation; so the more Tessa is involved with Danny the more she is drawn into the life of the community and its people, plus the people at the firehouse.  The majority of the setting proves positive, except for one thing--people in smaller communities are not as quick to  adopt new business operations as rapidly as Tessa expected.  She receives tons of encouragement but when it comes to sales many fall back on the  people they have dealt with most of their lives.  How Tessa deals with this issue and with falling in love with Danny even though she doesn't want to and the chaos of 6 kids helps create a story that hopefully will make you laugh and if I'm very lucky will touch your heart and create a reason for us to revisit Warenton in the future.  

I'd also like to touch on 2 other novels where the setting was essential to the story development, my first book as Lynn Miller, IS THERE A HUSBAND IN THE HOUSE? and my first Temptation as Meg Lacey, SEXY AS SIN.  

HUSBAND was set in Maysville, Ky, a small town where I shot a series of commercials as the art director for a Japanese film company who decided to do a series of commercials based on 'Huck Finn.'  Yeah, you heard me right and trust me you haven't seen anything until you see a Japanese version of Huck Finn.  The experience stuck  in my mind because I spoke no Japanese and they spoke no English and our translator had been delayed.  We did a lot of sign language and pantomime to communicate.  I also discovered that my sense of humor and that of the Japanese director who thought it beneath him to work with a woman in an executive position was not compatible.    But, Maysville, Ky was a delight from the riverfront mural on the floodwall to the charming historic downtown and the friendliness of the people.  I used the town for Husband because despite the friendliness there was also a moral conservative environment that was perfect for my unwed mother who happens to be a bank mid-level executive.  When a wandering handyman  shows up and they pretend to be engaged and end up in a whirlwind marriage--the community is further scandalized to realize that their golden girl is not as conservative as she'd pretended.

SEXY AS SIN is set at a Renaissance Fair in Ohio.  I'd read an article that the Ren. Fair had built a chapel and was now doing wedding ceremonies and my imagination took off.  I attended a few of their weddings which were a blast since lords and ladies were seated next to criminals with chains around their neck and the hangman hovering over their shoulders, who were also seated next to the friars and the jesters who were performing antics to amuse the crowd before and after the ceremony.  I decided right then and there I had to write a book using this environment.  I almost had more than fun than the hero, Sin, and the heroine, Chastity, had in that world, throw in a lot of great sex and it made for a memorable experience.  

Well, enough from me today... I'd like to say I'm talked out, but that probably doesn't happen so I'll just say goodbye until the next time.  Meanwhile, please feel free to get in touch with me if you have any questions or comments.  I'd love to hear from you.  


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Small Towns--a Whole 'Nother World

Having lived in a small town during my teen years and after, I’ll be the first to admit that there are pros and cons to small town life. But I’ll also admit that I love writing books set there. Why? Maybe because it’s fiction, and I can show all the pros and skip the cons. You know, all the coziness of a small town without the gossip and everyone knowing everyone else’s business. Oops! I shouldn’t be telling tales, should I?

I was born in the big city and spent my early childhood there. Not BIG big city. Presently, our population is half a million, but that includes those surrounding bedroom communities. You know, some of those small towns. When I was twelve, we moved from the city to a small town where my mother was born and filled with relatives. Every time I mentioned someone from school, my mom would ask who “they belonged to”. More than likely, she knew something about the family, if not that we were somehow related, even in shirttail fashion. I became comfortable with it after a time and learned to adjust to a new style of life—a life full of cousins and knowing everyone and having lots of fun. Even better, I spent six years in the same school, more than I’d ever spent in one school before. It was heaven. Being a bit ornery, when my daughters attended school there later, I loved playing the “cousins” game with them, just as my mother had with me.

But after returning to that small town following my divorce and twenty-four years on a farm, I started to see a side to the town I’d never realized and wish I’d never known. Even my daughters noticed things had changed. So we’re back in the big city again, we being myself and my daughters, and I love having fast food within a few blocks, instead of a twenty mile drive away. I still miss the wide-open spaces of life on the farm and running in to friends in the small town grocery store. I’m saddened that the small town where I finished my youth became a refuge of city dwellers who eventually brought with them all the problems they should have left behind. I miss the small town it once was, so I fashion my fictional small towns on the good things I remember most. The funny characters who’ve lived there all their lives and make the town come alive, the friends who wave as you drive down the one or two blocks of “downtown” make small town living...comfy and warm and accepting.

Some of my best memories are of living in that small town, and I try to share some of those—although a bit fictionalized—with readers.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Where Are You From?

Since we’re focusing on setting around here, I thought I’d jump in and contribute my two cents to the topic.

“So, where are you from?”

That’s one of the questions asked most frequently and early on in the conversation when you meet someone for the first time.

Setting--where our fictional worlds are placed--tells a lot about our characters. And their backgrounds--where they were born and raised--can reveal even more about them, as well as influence their development as story people.

The same is true for humans!

What about you? Are you a City Mouse or a Country Mouse? Did you grow up in a place that’s large in area, where the properties are spread out and people had lots of elbow room? Or do you come from a city or town that’s large in population but small in size, so people lived nearly rubbing shoulders with each other?

My hometown was highly populated but, being only about three miles square, didn’t take up much space on the map. Today, in the town I call home, I travel nearly that distance to get to the grocery store!

I’d have to say the smallness of my hometown had both pros and cons. On the one hand, as a child, I found having so many people around gave me a sense of security. On the other hand, as an adult, I can see where that upbringing led to the need for some space around me.

So, where are you from? How did your surroundings impact you as you were growing up, and how did they help form the person you are today?

What did you like best about the place where you were raised? What did you like least about it?

Whichever of the above questions appeal to you, I’m eager to hear your answers!

All my best to you,



Barbara White Daille

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Setting is Not Just a Location

Setting is one of the trade-marks of the American Romance line but it's not just a location. Setting impacts a character's life, influences the decisions they make, dictates their actions and even teaches them what really matters in life.

I've written some unusual settings for American Romance. Heather's Hollow--a Scotch-Irish holler deep in the Appalachian mountains of Kentucky. A South Central Los Angeles barrio. A Polish neighborhood in Queens, NYC. A dairy farm in Illinois. And the more traditional settings of small, rural fictitious towns out west in Oklahoma, Idaho, Texas, and Nevada.

When I was asked to write a Christmas story (The Cowboy and the Angel Nov 08) the setting of the book came to me first--even before the characters and the plot. I wanted to pick an "un-Christmasy-like" location. The first place that came to mind was Detroit, Michigan. When one thinks of Detroit they think cars, Motown, sports, poverty, economic depression, crime and one of the worst housing markets in the United States. Detroit seemed like a place where Christmas Miracles were far and few in between.

I did a lot of research for the book and enjoyed every minute of it. I wanted to show the reader that even in the darkest, grittiest, most dangerous corners of our big cities hope and love persevere.

This photo shows the old Screw Works Factory which I used in my book(changed the name)as the place the runaway kids took shlter in. The factory has since been demolished.

Here's a photo of the People Mover--an elevated light rail system in downtown Detroit that I used in the story.

The heroine in the story lived in the historic Corktown area:

Setting can make a story come alive and take the reader to a place they've never been. Add an unforgettable tale of love and more than likely your book will remain with the reader long after they finish the last page.

What's the most unusual, intriguing setting you've come across in a Romance novel?

Marin Thomas
Samantha's Cowboy (Aug 09)
A Cowboy Christmas (Dec 09)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Pamela Stone - Newbie Interview

1) How did you make your first sale? I got the call on Friday the thirteenth. How is that for luck? My editor had judged the book in a contest and placed it first. She didn’t initially offer to buy the book but sent me a wonderful rejection letter. I revised the manuscript accordingly and met with her again at National in Dallas. She remembered the book and agreed to look at it again and voila.

2) If you had to pick one word to describe your writing, what would it be? Beachy

3) Tell us a little about your family and where you're from. Born and raised in Texas. Married my high school sweetheart and have two wonderful sons and three amazing grandkids.

4) Tell us about your book. Last Resort: Marriage takes place in Marathon Key Florida. A hotel heiress agrees to marry a down on his luck Scuba guide to save both their businesses only to discover she’d rather lose the business than the guy. Aaron and Charlotte are opposite in every way. She’s got a wall full of diplomas and he earned his degree on the rough streets of Miami. She’s champagne and caviar and he’s beer and peanuts. But watching the fireworks as they mesh and fall in love is fun.

5) If you could be lazy for an entire day what would you do? Let my feet and mind wander up and down a sandy beach.

6) What is your strangest habit? Writing doesn’t count? Think about it. We sit around and invent people (notice I didn’t use the term characters). These people are real. I see them, talk to them, know how they react and why they are the way they are. I like them better than some people I know.

7) What is one thing scientists should invent? A money machine that pays all my bills so I can concentrate on writing. Not asking for unlimited wealth here, just enough to not have to worry about a day job so I could concentrate on writing.

8) What do you like to do when you're not writing? Spend time with my family or take a trip to the beach or best of all, take a trip to the beach with my family.

9) What is your writing routine? It varies. I try to write for an hour each morning after my husband leaves for work and before I have to sign in to my day job computer. Then I try for at least another hour of writing before bed. See question 7 above. Must have money to eat and that day job severely impacts my writing time. At least I write fast once I sit down to the task.

10) If you could wish for anything, what would you wish for? Health and happiness for my family and friends.

11) What was the hardest part of writing your book? Writing it was easy and fun. Figuring out how to market and sell it was the hard part.

12) What inspired you to write your first book? I’ve been making up stories as long as I can remember. I make up episodes or alternate endings to TV shows or movies. I remember reading books and thinking, “If they’d only done this.” Sometimes it’s a single lyric or line of dialogue. Or sometimes it just comes to me out of the blue, like the line, “She gazed at the exquisite specimen of masculinity in her bed. She hadn’t set out to marry Aaron Brody, it just sort of happened.” After making up stories for years, I finally decided to actually put one down in black and white.

13) How long have you been writing? I’ve been making up stories all my life, but didn’t start actually putting them down on paper until I was staying home with my two sons.

14) What did you want to be when you grew up? An architect

15) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? I see scenes play out in my head and sometimes just close my eyes and type as I watch them unfold.

16) When did you first consider yourself a writer? Whoa. I tried to tell myself I was a writer before I sold, but I didn’t really believe it until I got that call.

17) What got you interested in writing? Great story telling. Always rewriting what I read or watched.

18) What is the one question you wish an interviewer would ask you? I have absolutely no idea. They all make me nervous.

19) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book? I am hero based. The entire story revolves around my hero. I am more inside the hero’s head than the heroine’s.

20) What's a saying you use a lot? Life’s a beach.

21) What's your favorite dessert? I pretty much drink my desert in the form of Dr. Pepper.

22) If you were stranded on Island for a month and could bring three things along what would they be? Since you didn’t specify a ‘deserted island’ I’m going to assume it has the basic necessities covered and say, sunscreen, flip flops, and a laptop.

23) Why did you target the American Romance Line? I enjoy character based stories. Not that I’m against sexy stories, but I’m just more interested in the characters as people.

24) Do you have any talents readers might find interesting? I sometimes write with my eyes closed. That seems weird to me.

25) What were you doing at midnight last night? Unpacking boxes. We are in the process of moving.

26) Are you a cat or dog person? Both, but currently have a dog. Although he’s a black Pomeranian and about as much like a cat as a dog.

27) Describe your ideal dream date – fresh seafood dinner, long moonlit walk on the beach barefoot just listening to the waves and talking. Or not.

28) If someone gave you a million dollars what would you do with the money? Invest it in an annuity to pay me a salary so I could quit work and write full time and still be able to afford to help my kids a little and take an occasional trip.

I’d also like to comment on all the blogs this month about settings. I’m a native Texan and love the many faces of Texas. South Padre Island and the endless sand dunes. The Texas Hill Country is fantastic and I'm working on a book set in Marble Falls. I have a book set in Galveston and tried to capture the unique flavor and history of the island. Last Resort: Marriage is set in the Florida Keys however, and I could go on and on about my love affair with the Keys. Setting to me is an additional character with its own personality.

Pamela Stone

Last Resort: Marriage

Harlequin American, July 2009