Saturday, January 23, 2010

Who Knew It Would Turn Out This Way?

I had one of those unexpected experiences the other day that turns out so different and so much nicer than you ever expected, it stays with you for several days afterwards. And it all happened because I gave away a book to someone I didn't know.

Let me start by saying a couple of months ago I contacted a nearby book club who regularly hosts local authors and expressed an interest in speaking to their group. Well, the leader's reaction was one for the books (no pun intended). Once I told her I wrote romance, she proceeded to inform me her group didn't read "those books". That they read only "important works" and those with "relevant value". Her reaction was so over the top, I actually laughed when I hung up the phone from her (okay, I admit I laughed after suffering about three seconds of mild hurt).

So, when my daughter recently asked me if I would be willing to give a free book to a woman in her college class who headed a book club, I was naturally hesitant. I finally relented and chose one of my earlier Harlequin American's, THE FAMILY PLAN, to give this woman.

Surprise, surprise, this woman emailed me the other day telling me that while she didn't normally read romances, she was "pleasantly surprised" by how much she enjoyed my book and the characters. In fact, she liked the THE FAMILY PLAN so much, she went out and bought two more of my recent releases. Then, she not only invited me to speak to her group, she asked me how much I charge!

I immediately replied that I would love to come speak to her group and that I wouldn't charge. Heck, I'm just so thrilled at the prospect of converting more non-romance readers, I'd probably be willing to pay them! All right, maybe not :)

Isn't it amazing how one experience can be so different from another? And all because I gave away a free book.

Cathy Mc

Friday, January 22, 2010

Writing Advice Day

Okay, I noticed that today was open for writing advice, so I have just one short piece of advice, mostly to myself. Stop getting online to Facebook, email, and the blog and get to writing. Write your required number of pages per day (mine is 7 to 10) and then goof off.

I swear, I have the self-discipline of a four year old! I thought when I got older I'd (1) Wake up early, and (2) Do things on schedule. After all, that's what all the "old" people (back then, almost any adult) I knew did. Apparently they learned something in life that I missed. I'm still planning projects I'll never finish and I sleep as late as I can. I wait to the last minute to do everything. Yes, I know I have some psychological issues, but nothing real serious. :-) If anyone has any advice on changing my slovenly work ethic, I'd be glad to hear it!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Almost Paradise

Well, it had to happen sooner or later. Ever since we changed the locks on the lake house, I realized that the back doorknob and the front keypad had a tendency to lock themselves. For that reason I turn the deadbolt to an extended position before shutting the back door, just like my daughter taught me to do while going to get ice in a hotel. So far, so good, until today. During a brief visit to the lake with our project manager, Michael, and our two installers who were working in the area, Terry and Derrick, (who all loved the house and can't wait to go fishing) I followed them out the front door to see the trees and a nearby house. Click. We were all locked out.

And the dark clouds were rolling in from the south.
And my dog was locked inside the house.
With my purse and keys.
Lucky for me, Terry and Derrick had tools and Michael had an idea; remove the air conditioner/heater unit from the window of my porch and enter that way. Okay, better than breaking windows. They went to work while my dog, Chloe, looked at us through the door as if we were crazy. "Why not just open the door?" she seemed to be asking. My daughter offered to drive the hour and a half to Mineola to bring me a key. Not necessary, I bravely announced. It took the guys about fifteen minutes to shatter a board, unscrew everything, and open the window. And maybe the same amount of time to get everything back in place. I have one thing to say; thank goodness for men with tools!

Terry and Derrick left for Dallas, while I got Michael a beer and I finished off the last little sip of a bottle of wine, strictly for medicinal purposes. The afternoon got darker and the lake turned to cobalt blue. Birds frantically twittered from tree to tree. That should have been a warning. Michael and I locked up the house properly this time, and began the drive back to Dallas, knowing we'd get there right after rush hour traffic. Believe me, you do not want to get there during rush hour traffic. The rain started almost immediately after we got on Hwy. 69, and increased as we drove west. About halfway to Dallas, hail pelted us. And then bigger hail. I thought about trying to get under an overhang, but I could barely see. I kept driving. Fortunately, Chloe slept through the whole thing. We drove out of the hail after maybe ten minutes, then the rain stopped just east of Dallas. We got back just after rush hour to no rain and warm temperatures. When I turned on the television, I discovered there were tornado warnings for the county we'd just driven through.
That was my day. As for my work in progress, I wrote nine pages yesterday and none today. I was too busy locking myself out of the house and getting pelted by hail. As soon as I finish writing my blog, though, I'm going to get to work. Hopefully, my characters will have a good evening, although I may throw in a thunderstorm just for spite! As my hint for the month, always hide a key. And remember where you hid it. Have a great day!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Goals vs. Resolutions

My memories of the holidays are a bit hazy, thanks to working on a deadline for the next book set in Desperation, Oklahoma (#4!), but one thing I remember was that no New Year’s resolutions were made while sipping champagne. I learned a long time ago that they were too easy to break. Instead, I make goals.

Aren’t goals the same as resolutions? Not to me. The words aren’t the same, although they’re sometimes used synonymously. A resolution is something one tries to keep or not to break, while a goal is something one works toward to achieve. See the difference? It’s all in the way the two words are used. One is negative. The other is positive. It’s a mind game I play.

The especially nice thing about goals is that they can be achieved by doing them in steps of smaller goals and spread out over weeks, months, or the entire year. Even longer for a lifetime goal! Success is much easier to measure than failure, and easier when done in bite-sized pieces. Just remember that goals should only be something we can control.

So what are my goals for this year? To tell the truth, I’ve been too busy with my first goal—to reach that deadline—that I haven’t had a chance to think about what I need and want to do in specifics. My first goal is to do that, starting next week. But I do know my goals will include:

1. Taking more time to relax and enjoy myself
2. Getting more exercise
3. Cleaning my house (ugh!), especially my office

I’ve already been thinking about the steps I’ll need to reach those goals. Less time at the computer will give me more time to watch TV with my family, read, and take that treadmill I bought a year ago out of the box (see #3--cleaning house and office), and I can watch movies--my favorite form of relaxation--while I’m exercising on it.

It’s taken some time, but I finally discovered I’m a goals person, not a resolutions person. Which are you? And how will you make 2010 a personal success?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Health food or not?

Hi, and Happy New Year!

On New Year’s Day, I gave up chocolate. And except for a couple of health bars--which you know don’t contain the real thing, anyway, and sure don’t give you that sweet, smooth, chocolate-y taste you crave--I’ve stuck to my resolution. Oh, I’ve wavered some but have managed to hold back. And I’ve been faced with a lot of temptation.

One of our favorite restaurants (you’ll recognize which as soon as I say this) gives foil-wrapped mint chocolates to their customers at the end of their meal. The last time we went there, I bravely told the waitress not to bring the mints along with the bill. Another restaurant prominently--and permanently--displays their dessert menu in a handy-dandy little booklet that remains on your table all through dinner. Are you noticing a dangerous trend here?

Maybe I should eat at home more often?

While she was carrying me, my mother’s cravings consisted of tangerines and chocolate candy bars, eaten together. A heck of a lot better than pickles and ice cream, don’t you think? Anyhow, though I say this jokingly, it’s true: I’ve been a chocoholic since before I was born!

And lately I’ve been reading that chocolate, especially the dark variety, actually is a health food. It has all those great antioxidants that your brain and body need. Unfortunately, it also has all those calories and fat...which wouldn’t be so bad if I could just quit eating after one serving. But who can stop when it comes to chocolate?

So what do you think? Good or bad? Health food or not?

Do I put chocolate back on my menu???

All my best to you,



Barbara White Daille