Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Eggs!

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays!!! I love the candy and costumes and most especially making fun, Fall-themed stuff. I'm so excited I snagged October to debut as the Harlequin American Blog's new Mistress of Crafts!! (Photo courtesy of

While I found this month's craft on, I can't imagine doing it as complicated as she does. She and her staff are crazy-talented!! If you are the kind of person who's patient enough to do this the "proper" way, here's the link:

For the rest of us not-so-patient folks--like me--I'm thinking we could come up with the same fun results in MUCH less time. What I would do in order to turn these into keepsakes is "blow" the eggs. (Remember that old trick to get the egg stuff out?)

From there, to get a really pretty pumpkin orange, Martha reccomends powdered dye. Again, I'm not that patient or talented, so I'm thinking buy a pint of glossy interior latex and just paint it on. Once that dries, use black paint to make a spooky or funny pumpkin face. To do a black skeleton egg, use black paint, and once it dries, paint with white. Martha uses wax to etch her designs. I tried wax with Easter eggs one year, and the results were not pretty!! LOL!!

I love the look of setting all of the eggs in a nest, so either buy one, or look around the yard. This time of year in Oklahoma, it's pretty common to find some bird's poor house on the lawn. I kind of like the idea of recycling it.

For added kooky fun, how about Pumpkin People Eggs? Paint them as above, but then make clothes for them from fabric scraps. Some corkscrew doll hair might be fun, too!! Oh--you could make little witches with pointy hats. Monsters. Possibilities are endless. Above all--have FUN!!!!!


1 Dozen Boiled/Blown Eggs
Assorted Dye or Paint
Assorted Markers
Assorted Paint Brushes
Assorted Halloween-themed fabric scraps
1 Purchased or Found Bird's Nest

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Do you get nervous? I do. Public speaking, flying, and being in a gale on my sailboat: all moments when my pulse speeds up. Lucky for me, I don’t have too many outward signs of my inward trepidation. To an innocent bystander, I can seem perfectly calm, cool and collected. Inside, an 8.2 earthquake shakes me. And my hands get cold. Really cold. It takes about an hour for them to warm up after the episode of nerves has passed.

I spent the weekend at the New Jersey Romance Writers Convention, “Put Your Heart in a Book,” and my nerves were right there with me. You see, talking about my writing makes me nervous, too. It is immensely important to me. It’s part of who I am. I am afraid that when I talk to others about my writing, especially agents and publishers, I am not doing justice to my written words. My audience will dismiss what I say, because I’m not saying what I ought. Have you ever had someone excitedly describe the plot of a book or a movie you haven’t read or seen? How long did it take before your eyes glazed over? I’m afraid that’s exactly what happens to anyone who hears me talk about my most cherished characters and stories.

At any convention, I try to meet as many people as I can. I ask a lot of questions. I am amazed by what others are doing, how prolific and creative they all are. Invariably, the people I meet ask me questions, too. My nervousness kicks in, but I answer as clearly as I can. I want them to understand what I’m writing, what I’m thinking and the delight I find in the writing process.

So, in a lot of these conversations, my hands go vampire cold while the rest of my body stays warmly mortal. I know when I say goodbye and shake that person’s hand, she’s going to shiver and wonder if she’s been unwittingly discussing romance with the undead. But that’s okay. I’m glad I’m having an attack of nerves. Because if my stories matter so much to me, then maybe—just maybe, at least when I write—I can make them that important to my reader.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cold, cold, stay away

We've had to turn on the heat in the house. That's a sure sign that my least favorite months of the year are upon us. Now, I think a blanket of snow is just as lovely as any fan of winter, but I loathe being cold. I start getting chilled in October, and I often don't truly thaw until April. I have to haul out the fleece jackets, the space heater for my office, the fingerless typing gloves my husband got me for Christmas a few years ago. And if it's a dark winter with little sunlight? That just adds insult to injury. Sometimes I think I'm part bear because when it gets cold and the days grow short, I want to curl under the covers and sleep until spring.

But to combat the winter months, I try to stay so busy that the days fly by. A few days ago, I made out a detailed calendar of all the projects I want to get done by the end of the year. I'll also have some holiday travel to occupy some days, Christmas shopping/wrapping/card addressing to do, and I have a three-day meeting in mid November. January is the worst month. It seems twice as long as any other month in the year. But if I can make it through January, I start to feel better, even if the thermometer is still below freezing. It's a psychological turning point when I can flip the calendar over to February. I know that despite the temps, the next month is when spring starts. By February, my daffodils are usually poking out of the soil as if they think if they do so spring will come faster. We might even have an occasional warm day in February, warm enough to get outside and shed some of the cabin fever.

Anyone else not a fan of winter? If so, what tactics do you use to get through it? I'm looking forward to the day when I can answer that question with "Go to Florida for four months." :)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Meet Leigh Duncan, HAR New Author

Please Welcome Leigh Duncan to the Harlequin American Line. Leigh’s debut book, The Officer’s Girl, will be available in April, 2010.

Thanks for the warm welcome. It’s an honor to be here.

Leigh, tell us a little about your family and where you're from.
I consider myself a Florida girl, even though I haven’t always lived in the Sunshine State. I grew up on the east coast of Central Florida and met the love of my life at the University of Florida—go Gators!—and we’ve been together, well…let’s just say a long, long time. We moved around quite a bit—14 different places in the first 10 years of married life—and spent some time in Guam and Los Angeles, and a number of years in the DC area before we came back “home.”

I have two kids, a son and a daughter, who remind me quite often that they’re all grown up now.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I’ve been making up stories and putting them on paper ever since I learned my letters in kindergarten. In fact, I still have one of those early stories—about a blind princess who wound up rescuing the handsome prince who rode to her rescue. So, I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer, even when I was working as a teacher, a secretary or a government contractor, I found time to write. I used to set my alarm for 4 AM so I could get in a couple hours of writing time before I had to get the kids—and myself—out the door. Now that the kids are grown and I’m not paying college tuition, I’ve quit my “day job,” and those 4 AM alarm clocks are over. Thank goodness.

So, you’re an early riser then? What’s your writing routine?
Yes, I still get up with the chickens. I’m normally out of bed and drinking the first of many cups of coffee by 5:30. I usually sit down at the computer around 8, finish with email and “surfing” and am ready for my writing day by 9. I meet with my critique partners once a week, but most days I write till my hubby calls to say he’s on his way home, usually about 6:30 or so. The next 30 minutes or so, I kick into high gear, fix dinner and straighten up the house if it needs it (there’s just the two of us at home now, so housework is minimal). Evenings we hang out, watch TV or visit with friends.

Sounds like you spend a most of your daytime writing. What were you doing at midnight last night?
Sleeping. Always. I leave the staying up late and worrying to my hubby. Those are his strengths.

Do you have any talents readers might find interesting?
Riflery and fly fishing. My parents thought an “involved” kid stayed out of trouble so my sister and I were “involved”. In the chess club (I haven’t played in years), and the drill team and the rifle club. I lettered in riflery at UF, and I shot in the National Matches in Camp Perry, Ohio. I didn’t win, but I shot respectable scores. But I’ve never been hunting. Not ever. For me, it was all about the competitiveness, the precision required to put ten rounds in the bull’s-eye.

I don’t shoot much anymore. My eyes aren’t sharp enough. I like fishing though. Especially the precision and symmetry of fly fishing. And if the fish I catch and release is bigger than my husband’s, so much the better. Hmmm. I’m sensing a pattern with competitiveness.

When did you consider yourself a writer?
Always. When the kids were little, I concentrated on children’s literature. Later, when my son was in school, I wrote the newsletter for his college baseball team. For a while, I wrote a workout journal for our local newspaper. I completed quite a few manuscripts that the publishing world is better off without. (They live in a time capsule to be dug up when I’m gone.) Along the way, I sold a few essays and a magazine article, but I have to admit, I didn’t consider myself “an author” till the day my editor called to say Harlequin American was buying my book.

Can you tell us one thing about yourself that would surprise your friends and family?
No more roosters! No more fairies! I’m done with those. Gifts are always appreciated, but think e-readers, luxury cars and expensive jewelry. LOL!

Why did you target the American Romance Line, Leigh?
I’ve been a fan of Harlequin romances ever since I stumbled across a stash of them at the house where I babysat in high school. Believe me, once I made that discovery, I was always available to babysit for that family. Once the kids were settled in for the night, I’d settle down too—with a glass of soda and a Harlequin romance.

Growing up in a small town in Florida, I loved reading about all the wealthy men and beautiful women, their fascinating loves and lives. The stories resonated with me because, even though the heroes and heroines were rich and powerful, the problems they faced were the same ones as the ones my friends and family dealt with.

Community, family and friendships always play an important role in the stories I love to read, as well as the ones I write. That’s why I was so drawn to Harlequin American Romance. I think it’s why my work found a home here.

If you could wish for anything, what would you wish for?
A book launch party like Richard Castle…champagne and fan-fare. But I’ll settle for everyone liking my book.

One last question before we let you go, Leigh. Tell us a little bit about “The Officer’s Girl” and how you came to write it.
I grew up calling the beaches just that—Cocoa Beach, Melbourne Beach, Indian Harbor Beach. But times, and terminology, change. After twenty years of living anywhere but Florida, we bought a home in Satellite Beach where, all too soon, up went the familiar hurricane warnings along with not-so-familiar evacuation orders for the “barrier islands.” Of course, I knew about the Keys, but they were hundreds of miles south of us. It didn’t make sense that my radio and TV were blaring orders to “get out, get out” every five minutes. Puzzled, I called my dear hubby at his office and asked him where these islands were off the coast of Florida.

“Our house sits on a barrier island,” he said dryly. “Start packing.”

After the hurricane safely passed, I started thinking, “What if?” What if Florida’s newest resident didn’t heed the orders to evacuate? What if she was a career girl with all her hopes and dreams dependent on her staying put? What if a hunky, but disillusioned, cop showed up on her doorstep? Would he take her into custody if it meant ensuring her safety? Could this unlikely pair fall in love?

That set the stage for “The Officer’s Girl.” When it’s released in April, I hope you’ll have as much fun reading Stephanie and Brett’s story as I did writing it.