Saturday, February 06, 2010

"Stranded" Plotlines

I drove to the lake house on Thursday (in the rain) and saw quite a lot of water on US Hwy 80 on the way there. The lake was also the highest I've seen it. I think it has covered part of our neighbor's dock.

This high water made me think of all those books I've read where the hero and heroine are stranded together in a house, a "cabin in the woods" or some other isolated place due to flooding, a hurricane, snowstorm, etc. Also, I suppose the super snowstorm along the eastern coast made me think of natural disasters.

I've read some great stories with "stranded" plotlines or situation, and I've read some real clunkers. I'm not sure exactly what makes the situation work in some cases and bomb in others. I know that the conflict between the hero and heroine must be strong enough to carry the plot in these types of stories, but what else? Is it sexual tension or a ticking clock? What do you think?

I hope the water in Lake Holbrook doesn't get too high.
The only ones enjoying it seems to be the ducks!
I'll look forward to your comments about the plots.
Stay warm, safe and dry, wherever you are.
Oh, and GO SAINTS. (Sorry, Indy. I love you too!)

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Recipe of the Month

This month's recipe is from a former Butler High School (Go Bears!) classmate, Deborah McNulty Hughes. We were talking about cold weather food on Facebook and she highly recommended this recipe for winter soup. Please note that there are a few variations in case you want meat in this hearty soup. Enjoy!

Deborah McNulty Hughes' Quick & Easy Winter Vegetable Soup

2 pkgs. Knorr Vegetable soup mix or 8 C. vegetable broth
1 or 2 cans, mild or spicy to taste, Rotel tomatoes with green chilis
4 or 5 small parsnips
1 C. shredded carrots
1 med. zuchinni
1 med. yellow squash
1 C. chopped onion (use frozen to reduce prep time)
2 Uncle Ben's wild & long grain rice 90 sec. microwave packs

Optional: Laura's lean top sirloin, broiled and chopped into small pieces. You can also add fresh or dried mushrooms.

Make the Knorr soup according to package directions. Use food processor to thin slice parsnips, zuchinni, & squash. Cook rice according to package directions.
Once soup mix is boiling add all ingredients. Simmer for about 30 minutes to let flavors marry.
Add other winter vegetables such as rutabaga, turnip, spiniach etc. as desired.
If adding the meat, add at the same time as the other ingredients.

Very low fat, low cal if made as directed. Chicken can be substituted for sirloin. Recipe freezes very well.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


Baby Makes Six, my January release (that’s still on shelves!) is a story of an estranged couple with three young girls, a baby on the way. It’s a sweet story that focuses on long lasting love, the kind that grows and matures over time. There’s a conversation in the novel between Shawn and Eddie that focuses on the first time they met. There’s also some thinking about the first years of their marriage. And, of course, getting engaged.

Here, so close to Valentine’s Day, I’ve been thinking about romance and engagements, too.

I got engaged on my 22nd birthday. I remember the moment well-not only for the obvious reason-but because of everything that didn’t happen. See, even back when I turned 22, back before I was ever brave enough to try writing, I was still a dreamer and a planner.
I knew that a proposal was on the horizon. And I was determined for it to be perfect.
Here’s what I knew: 1) Tom, my boyfriend, had flown to Houston to have lunch with my Dad. Tom never told me, my Dad did. We weren’t jet setters, so there was only one reason Tom was hopping on planes for lunch.
2) I had plane tickets to visit Tom in Dallas, in just two weeks. (I was living in Arizona at the time.)

So I knew, of course, that was going to be the big proposal! I pictured dinner, roses, wine…candlelight. Tom on his knees, telling me I was impossible to live without.

Um, it didn’t quite happen like that.

By 9 am on my birthday, I was in a mighty bad mood. And sad. I had a very good reason. No one had called me. All my life, birthdays were a big deal. We called each other. We celebrated! There was always a race to see who was going to be the first person to send birthday wishes. All during college, I was woken up at 6 and 7 am by a phone call, with someone in my family telling me happy birthday.

Anyway, that morning at 9am, no one had called. I. Was. Not. Happy. I had only arrived in Mesa, Arizona two weeks earlier for a teaching job. I knew nobody. And it was hot. We’re talking August in Arizona hot. The only thing I had planned for the day was Tom’s phone call at 11.

By 10am, I was in a bathing suit and off to the pool. Still no one had called and I was sick and tired of staring at that quiet phone. I sat out in the sun until 11:30. Then, deciding I was too sweaty to even hop in the pool, I wrapped myself in a towel and walked back to my apartment. I was going to shower, finally wash my hair, and do something during the day, even if it was just going to the bookstore and out to ice cream.

And that’s when I saw Tom. He was standing on the sidewalk in the sun, in khakis and a blazer. Sweating. And pretty darn ticked off. I stared at him in shock.

He scowled. “You were supposed to be home at 11,” he said.
I answered with my only explanation. “No one called me this morning.” Like that was going to explain everything.
Tom sighed. “Do you know how hot it is?”
I glared right back. Pointed to my sweaty, stringy hair. “Obviously.”
Then he walked right up to me, thrust a diamond ring my way, and glared. “Do you want to get married or what?”

Yes. That was my proposal.

I nodded and burst into tears. I’m still not sure if I was crying because a)my boyfriend of 4 years had proposed, b)I looked absolutely horrible for the Biggest Event of My Life or c) someone really had remembered my birthday.

I didn’t think it was the stuff of romance novels, but now, 21 years later, I think maybe I was wrong. The whole thing was symbolic of the two of us. Tom’s a good guy. He tries hard and does things like fly to my hometown to receive my father’s blessing-and calls my family to tell them what he’s going to do…so no one would call and ruin the moment. I’m the dreamy one, full of romance and big plans. Things don’t always turn out the way either of us imagine, but, as my son would say, ‘it’s all good.’

I still can't help but smile as I think about standing on that sidewalk, smiling and crying. Now I’m glad I wasn’t proposed to in any other way.

Anyone else have an engagement story to share?

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


Congratulations REBECCA LYNN! You’re the January winner. To receive your free autographed books please contact Laura Bradford and Roxann Delaney through their Web sites.

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

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

Monday, February 01, 2010

An Author's Life

People sometimes ask, How does it feel to have written more than 80 novels?

The truth is, I don’t sit around thinking about those 80-plus books (thanks to a new three-book contract my editor just offered, the total is now 87). If I had all those heroes and heroines running around in my head, I’d never get dressed in the morning.

Come to think of it, I’m wearing a purple top with turquoise socks and blue jeans. Never mind.

But the point is, I forget what’s in most of those books, a fact that was brought home to me last week when, unexpectedly, I received proofs in the mail. Seems that By Leaps and Bounds, a Harlequin American Romance published in 1990, is being reissued for direct sale. That means via the Web site, I think.

The editors were kind enough to give me a chance to update the 20-year-old text. Good idea. A lot has changed since 1990, even in a story about a former ballerina locking horns with the police detective dad of her prize student. Seems he doesn’t want his teenage daughter heading to ballet school in New York. He doesn’t like her boyfriend, either.

Okay, not much has fundamentally changed in the world of ballet, but still, I wanted to take the time to do this right. Here’s another thing about authors: contrary to rumor, we don’t lead a life of leisure.

So last Tuesday afternoon, in a rainstorm of near-biblical proportions, I found myself sitting on a bench inside Costco, waiting for new tires to be installed on my aging Honda Accord (it’s a ’93, three years younger than By Leaps and Bounds).

Above, rain whomped the super-high ceiling. Below, with pages spread across the bench, I frantically gave people cell phones and changed references to a videotape to read DVD. See, the girl’s boyfriend shot this controversial tape that might implicate him in a crime…

Well, I got the job done. Now I’m preparing to go over the copy-edited version of my August release, His Hired Baby, while publicizing my February Harlequin American, The Would-Be Mommy. It’s the first book in my Safe Harbor Medical miniseries.

Next week, I plan to start writing my next book, the fourth set at Safe Harbor Medical Center. That’s the fun part. More heroes, more heroines. More cell phones too, probably.

So how does it feel to have sold more than 80 novels? I’ll let you know when I come up for air.