Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Recess Bell

I enjoyed school when I was a kid and I was even a pretty good student, but I have to confess I lived for recess. For me and my friends, there was no more welcome sound than the recess bell. We’d slap our books shut, grab our jackets and troop out to the playground for fifteen minutes of fun. Winter or summer, rain or shine, recess was spent on the playground.

I remember two things about recess. Fifteen minutes seemed like a loooong time, and the games we played changed with the season.

We played marbles in the winter and jump rope in the spring. We had several rhyming songs for Double Dutch, but I’ve long forgotten the words to them. Red Rover and Duck, Duck, Goose were popular. Remember a game called Telephone or Grapevine? A group of children would stand in a row and the first would whisper something into the ear of the next child. The message was passed that way until the last person said what they’d heard out loud—and of course it would have been hilariously altered from the original.

My July release, Firefighter Daddy, was inspired by the William R. DeAvilla school, a block and a half from the Haight-Ashbury intersection in San Francisco.

The school’s paved playground still has numerous painted playground courts, and they’re even visible from Google’s satellite maps! (Click on the marker and zoom in.)

View Larger Map

One of them is a hopscotch court, and it became an important theme in the story. One of my favorite scenes in the book takes place on that playground, where the hero’s seven-year-old daughter teaches him how to play hopscotch. As I wrote that scene, I children today still play games on the playground? I hope so.

What were your favorite childhood games? Did you or will you teach them to your kids? Grandkids?

Happy reading!

Until next time,
The Writer Side of Life
Firefighter Daddy available now!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Well, I'm dieting. I'd say again, but it's been many years since I've seriously dieted and not just "watched what I was eating" - something that definitely hasn't been working.

I finally bit the bullet after visiting my doctor a couple months ago. Instead of just being weighed — which I could have handled — this new scale gave a printout that included all this information I really didn't want to have, like my percentage of body fat and how close to obesity I am. Apparently, I'm right on the border. Talk about a shock!

I've never been skinny but spent most of my adult life since high school wearing a size nine. Then, about twelve or so years ago, I started putting on weight. A few pounds every years. And losing it was hard. Really hard. I sort of quit trying (okay, bad me). This last trip to the doctor showed I'd gained a total of forty pounds. Forty pounds!!! How in the heck did that happen? I mean, really. I don't remember packing it on. Since when does one cookie cause that kind of weight gain?


Long story short, a few weeks ago I met with the nutritionist at my doctor's office and began dieting under her care. I have to go in once a week and get weighed, which is good and helping me to stay on track. The dieting is hard. I can only eat like seven things. Fine, that's an exaggeration, but it feels like seven things. And I'm tired of salads twice a day.

On the plus side, I've lost eleven pounds so far. Not enough to show yet but my pants are fitting a bit loser, which his encouraging. I'm not trying to lose the full forty pounds. Trust me, that's way beyond my abilities. Twenty is my goal, and I'm starting to think I can manage that. I'll keep you posted.

Cathy McDavid

PS - any "poor baby" words of sympathy will be greatly appreciated :)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Missing the RWA Conference Already

Next week is the Romance Writers of America's annual conference. It was supposed to be held in Nashville, TN, but the terrible flood there forced a move to Orlando, FL. I sure hope the "tropical wave" off the east coast of Florida, which is supposed to turn into a tropical storm or hurricane, doesn't cancel or delay the travel plans of attendees. That would be a terrible double-whammy!

I had planned a road trip with some writer friends to Nashville, but opted not to go to Orlando for the RWA conference there since I'm going in September with my husband for a vacation. Now as I think about all my friends and associates heading to Orlando, I have mixed feelings. Yes, the conference costs a lot of money. On the other hand, it's fun and sometimes advantageous to network with others. You get very tired, but also very exhilarated. You wish you had a book in the RITA awards, but you also cheer for your friends who do.

In the end, you have to balance family, career, money and opportunity. But really, isn't that what we always do?

If you are an aspiring writer, often it's good to start by going to a local or regional conference first. The RWA national conference can be overwhelming, especially if you are still unsure about what you want to write, which publisher you want to target, or whether or not you need an agent. At a local or regional conference, you can meet published authors in a more relaxed setting and listen to them talk about their experiences. You can ask questions, and if the conference is at a hotel, the bar/lounge is the place to meet up. You have a better chance of getting an appointment with an editor or agent who is actively seeking new clients. The volume and variety of workshops isn't always so overwhelming. (Sometimes when I get my RWA national conference schedule, I can't decide which workshop is best for me, which ones I want to buy as recordings, and which ones I can skip to go shopping with friends!)

One of the best things about the RWA national conference is the booksigning, which benefits adult literacy groups. Publishers donate books as requested by authors who are attending. The room is huge, filled with all kinds of authors and books, from Nora Roberts to the newest member who just saw her first e-book published. Of course, the Harlequin American authors always have a good presence there and it's a wonderful opportunity to catch up with titles you might have missed. At the end of the evening, the author can either purchase her left-over books (with that money going to literacy also) or sign and donate them to local entities, such as women's shelters. If you get the chance to attend one of these booksignings, please come and buy books.

Next year I may see you in New York City. The conference starts June 28th at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. I'll be there! Until then, happy reading and writing.

P.S. Don't forget to check out my favorite recipes here on the Harlequin American Authors blog on the 4th of every month. On August 4th, I'll be on a road trip with my friend Rebecca Russell, who wrote for Silhouette Romance, but I'll still have the recipes up for you to enjoy.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Announcing contest winner today!

Please visit my blog post from a couple of days ago here at the Harlequin American Romance Authors site to learn the winner of a free book from my backlist.

The post is entitled "Good things!"

Thank you.

All my best to you,


Barbara White Daille