Saturday, November 17, 2012

Holiday Cheer...or Not

This begins the season of holiday parties, and you know all the good things they include.  I'll steer away from the dangerous topics of casseroles and desserts and chocolate—although really, those are some of my favorite subjects for discussion at any time of the year!

Instead, let's talk about gifts. 

Not the kind you love to give.  The kind you love to give away.  You know, in those grab bags and games you play where everyone receives a gift from an anonymous giver.

One year I participated in a "Silly Santa" grab bag and received a pair of fuzzy animal slippers.  Envision this:  they were purple, with red eyes and long black claws, and—I'm not kidding—from front to back, they were two feet long.

Let's just say I found them...



The slippers received a lot of attention at that particular Christmas party.  And you'd better believe they went right into the very next grab bag I could find.  (grin)  The winner absolutely loved them and wore them the rest of the night. 

Obviously, one person's "umm...spectacular" is another person's favorite gift.

To be fair, these games—and gifts—aren't all bad.  I'll admit I've been lucky, too.  At another party, I received a pair of holiday earrings that I still wear during the Christmas season every year.

Got any grab-bag stories, either for the best or worst gift ever?

Happy Thanksgiving to those of you who will celebrate it later this week!

All my best to you,



Barbara White Daille
August 2012

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Changing Times

To say life has changed for me this year is a bit of an understatement. The biggest change and the one that kicked off most of the others is that I took an early retirement offering from my employer. Now, just to set the record straight I always laughed at those people who retired and then said that they were so busy they didn't know how they ever had time to work. Well, I get it now. Sorry my friends for ever doubting you.

I'm a doer. I don't know how to stop when I have a goal. My first task was to clean house. I don't mean dust and mop. That stuff got done before. We're talking about cleaning closets, spider webs, baseboards. Toss out all that stuff that collects over time that seem to fill every available shelf or cabinet. Every time I leave the house, my car is full of old books to sell.  Or clothes to donate. Or DVDs to take to the movie exchange. The trash truck guys probably cuss me.  Goal: To get back to being a minimalist if it kills me.

Now lets talk about Yahoo Loops. All the folks who accepted the early retirement offer started a loop. I'm on other loops, but this one keeps my email box full of all the things that MUST be done.  Financial decisions. Medical decisions. Update or write a Will or Trust. A career placement service. Resumes, classes, and trying to decide what I want to do when I grow up. Did I mention that I'm really not old enough to fully retire?

Okay, now that I've made your eyes glaze over, the one thing all this has done is to make me thankfull. I'm thankfull that I have these options. Some people don't. I now have time to slow down enough to smell fall. Like fireplaces and bonfires. Time to consider all the wonderful things in my life. Like that I now have time to spend with my aging mom. Time to play with the grandkids before they get big and don't want to hang out with Grammy. Time to take a short getaway with a friend. Time to help out family members who still have jobs. I can pick up kids at school or run errands. The calendar is full.

The first cold front blew through this week and added to the Thanksgiving mode. The leaves are changing and we have a fire in the fireplace this morning. Time to slow down and enjoy the holidays. Lots of family headed this way next week for Thanksgiving, including my mother-in-law this year. So exciting.  The grocery store yesterday was already in chaos and I was able to actually enjoy it.

So what are you thankfull for this year?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Time Sucking Broken Eyeballs!!!

Since The SEAL's Surprise Baby is due the 15th, I thought it might be fun to look at all the ways fate has messed with me during the crucial last days before I finally type, The End.  In speaking with my author friend, Winnie Griggs, she also claims calamity strikes most when deadlines loom.  While I don't have time for an in-depth study of every author in the world, I thought it might be interesting to at least look back over the ridiculous amounts of things that've happened to me lately to keep me from writing:

Tuesday 11/6--Election day!!  Hubby and I decide to vote first thing in the morning to avoid long lines.  Wait 30 minutes at our usual polling place, whip out IDs, told our polling place is now no longer located at the nice, peaceful church it has been for 10 years, but Food Pyramid.  We head that way only to discover a 40 minute line snaking through the freezer section!!  Prime early morning writing time shot--albeit for a good cause.

Hubby in voting line!!  Yes--that IS a grocery freezer section behind him!!
After a brief Y & R break, I get back to work.  Son pops in for a visit.  I ask if he's voted.  He has not.  Off we go to his polling place.  2 hour line!!   Daughter brags she had no wait at all!!

Day's Page Count--4 out of my goal of 10
Wednesday 11/7--Fairly productive day save for Lowe's and the plumber and the counter guy calling at least three times each.  Get mail.  Daisy, our demon Yorkie, decides to run away.  I'm forced to walk the street barefoot, wagging a tempting slice of "cheezy cheese" to lure her home.  She warily takes cheese, but before I can grab her, bolts.  Can you say bad dog?!?! 

Day's Page Count--7 out of my goal of 10

Thursday 11/8--Plumber here forever.  They leave, I nuke soup.  UPS man arrives.  Dog eats soup.  Attempt to start writing, but counter guys show up.  I bought the wrong faucet for new sink.  Emergency run to Lowe's.  Back at home, lungs BURNING from counter glue fumes.  Added bonus?  Son and super-sweet girlfriend I REALLY like are breaking up--AT OUR HOUSE!!!  By the time Hubby gets home, we escape for dinner.  Fumes no better when we're done.

Day's Page Count--0 out of my goal of 10

Friday 11/9--Get comfy on the couch to begin what will surely be a great writing day, stretch backwards and knock my freshly opened Sprite over my head.  My hair, face, and sofa are now dripping with sticky Sprite.  By the time me and the sofa are clean, plumbers arrive to connect new sink.  They notice book covers on the wall and request signed copies.  By the time I'm writing anything other than my name and a check for extra parts, a huge chunk of my writing day is gone.

Day's Page Count--11 out of my goal of 20 

Saturday 11/10--I don't work weekends.  Hubby's off at his day job during the week, so I look forward to spending Saturday and Sunday with him and/or our kids.  That said, with my deadline perilously close, I HAVE to work this weekend.  Too bad the "simple" errands we need to run last a huge chunk of the day.

Day's Page Count--14 out of my goal of 20 

Sunday 11/11--Surprisingly calm day, but we have an Oilers game at 4:00.  We like to get to games an hour early to eat Billy's onion rings and watch the players warm-up.  That means getting to the BOK Center by 3:05.  That means my in-desperate-need-of-cutting hair needs to be tamed starting by 1:30.  Lots of writing time shot like a puck!!

Day's Page Count--16 out of my goal of 20

Monday 11/12--If you've been keeping track, you'll notice I just now made up my page count for the whole day I missed last Thursday.  Had those been the only days I missed, I wouldn't now be feverishly making up for those other bizarre days my page count was 0.

With my deadline being Thursday, I'm now in fevered-writing mode.  Got six great pages done when daughter calls.  After the free skate at Sunday's game, boyfriend accidentally elbowed her right eye.  She reports it's swollen, hurting and her vision's blurry.  Whaaaaat?!?!  All writing stopped to run her to the eye doctor.  

Day's Page Count--19 out of my goal of 20

Tuesday 11/13--Sit down to write and Hubby's lost his shoes and belt.  Since I'm in deadline mode, house is a MESS.  I help look.  Hubby leaves, I'm back to writing.  Thirty minutes in, Hubby calls.  Have I seen his work phone?  Stop writing to look.  Text Hubby--Found it!  Start writing, Hubby texts if he missed calls?  I don't know!!  And I'm not getting up to look!!  Day progresses in much the same fashion from here.  Lowe's lady calls.  Am I happy with our counters?  Slimy telemarketer tries selling me vitamins.  Daughter calls--her poor eyeball still hurts.  Her boyfriend's elbow owes me a $40 specialist copay and lost writing time!!! LOL!!!

Daughter and super cute Boyfriend's elbow before elbowing incident!!

Day's Page Count--23 out of my goal of 20

Wednesday 11/14--Overall, despite a gazillion interruptions, I've managed to get work done, but not nearly enough.  Today, I'm still writing feverishly, trying to make up for all the other little things that somehow crop up when a book's due.

Cross your fingers!!  This one's going to be a squeaker!!

How about you?  Do you find that the more you have to do, the more gremlins appear to divert your attention?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Good Things Come...

I know, we’ve all heard the phrase good things come to those who wait … The origin of the idiom is more diverse than all Heinz 57 varieties represented in that ketchup slogan from the 1980’s.  Younger peeps will know it as the Guinness beer slogan.  Regardless, they never tell you waiting is the hardest part, another phrase in itself, one of which many songs and poems have been written about. 

So, I waited for that next contract to come along.


Alright, who are we kidding?  I don’t know the meaning of the word patience.  I’m a take no prisoners, ass kickin’, top of the world, there’s work to be done so let’s make up the rules as we go along type of person.

But, still I waited, my toes tapping while I checked emails repeatedly over the course of the day and even gave my editor a special ring tone (When You Wish Upon a Star) that I swear I heard on numerous occasions, only to find a blank caller id instead – listen, there is no cure for me so don’t even try.

I played by all the rules of publishing.

And you know something?  It paid off.  I received the email and the phone call I was hoping for and I signed a new two-book contract.  Yippee!  The Bridle Dance Ranch saga continues with HOME SWEET COWBOY and LEGACY OF A LONE STAR.  Those Langtry men just can’t keep themselves out of trouble!

I think one of the biggest fears for a new writer is the thought of being a one trick pony.  For me especially, considering I was discovered through Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write competition.  I’d never been through the normal submission process before all of this.

I made my share of mistakes – trust me on this one.  Let’s just say, I’ve learned how NOT to write and submit a proposal.  I’m getting the hang of it, but learning everything was the equivalent of heading down a bumpy trail while facing the wrong way in the saddle.  Nerve wracking was an understatement.

Now I have deadlines…many of them.  Books, blogs, interviews, online chats, promos, and I’m sure there are few I don’t even know about yet.  The truth of the matter is, I thrive on every morsel of it.  Deadlines drive me to push myself even harder than I did before. 

Was it worth the wait?

You betcha! 

To learn more about my first year with Harlequin and how I'm Moving the Story Forward, hop on over to Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write Blog on November 19th and be sure to join my editor, Kathleen Scheibling and myself for a global Twitter chat at 10AM, EST.

Looking forward to seeing you there!  And remember, sometimes patience really does pay off :) 

Amanda Renee
Betting on Texas (March 2013)
Home Sweet Cowboy (August 2013)
Legacy of a Lone Star (Early 2014)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sarah And Ty Drop In For A Visit

      Down here in sunny Florida, fall is (barely) in the air. No, we haven’t turned off the air conditioner. At our house, it runs practically twenty-four/seven twelve months a year. But the temperatures outside have dropped into the very pleasant mid-seventies, and the humidity isn’t quite as oppressive as it was in the middle of the summer.  With palm trees and evergreens dominating the landscape, the occasional flame tree provides a burst of bright red against all that green. 
Citrus ripens on the neighbor’s orange and grapefruit trees. The fruit promises a taste of sunshine when the temperatures drop lower.  

      Which they’ll do for, maybe, a day or two.  

      In January or February.   

      In the midst of all this fall-ish Florida weather the Chinese Ting that grows outside my office window has produced a bumper crop of berries.  Flocks of robins and butterbutts that have escaped colder, northern temperatures are drawn to the tree.  The birds cover the ground and roost in the wooded lot behind my house. 

      All these visitors remind me of the way I get the heroes and heroines for my books.  They drop in sometimes when I’m going about my business.  That’s how it was with heroine in Rancher’s Son, available later this month.  You’ve all met social worker Sarah Magarity before.  She played minor roles in The Daddy Catch and Rodeo Daughter.  But, when I sat down to draft the proposal for Rancher’s Son, Sarah practically took up residence in my visitor’s chair.    
      Over tea she told me about the cattle drive she’d sent two older foster kids on, and how a certain hunky cowboy had let her down when he abruptly returned the boys to DCF’s custody.  She showed me how passionate she was about improving the foster care system.  Unfortunately, her tendency to go out on a limb for the children in her care had not only broken her heart, but jeopardized her job.  So, she’d sworn to remain aloof, to keep her distance the way her boss insisted.  All her pent-up love went into raising orchids and plumeria instead. 

      The more she “talked” the more I thought Sarah deserved her own Happily Ever After.  But to give it to her, I needed a hero.  And I didn’t have one.

      I was at a loss until the Christmas Eve a five-year-old orphan landed on DCF’s doorstep with nothing but a birth certificate naming Ty Parker as his father.  Right away, I knew my hero had arrived on the scene. 

      Of course, a piece of paper didn’t prove anything in Ty’s book.  Any more than the protests of a self-righteous social worker.  A fourth-generation Florida rancher, this cowboy demanded paternity tests.  And as much as he insisted the child couldn’t be his, on the off-chance he was wrong, Ty refused to let the little boy go into foster care while they waited for the results. 

      Taking a young boy on Ty’s cattle drive made perfectly good sense to someone who’d grown up on a ranch.  But not to a city girl like Sarah.  She insisted on accompanying the boy.  To watch out for his safety, and see for herself if Ty Parker was daddy material.

      Clearly, Ty and Sarah both needed each other as much as they needed the little boy who’d been dumped in their laps.  That’s where my job—and a cattle drive through Florida’s version of the Old West—came in.  The result was Rancher’s Son, a book I hope you’ll enjoy when it’s released, just in time for the holidays, on November 27th.

      Don’t forget—we give away copies of recent Harlequin American releases by drawing the names of people who comment out of a proverbial hat each month.  So leave a comment to be included in the drawing. 
     Oh, and another surprise—the printer sent a double order of bookmarks for Rancher’s Son!  Would you like one?  Or a dozen?  (LOL)  If so, send me an email ( Include your snail mail addy in the email—not here on this loop—and I’ll drop a signed bookmark in the mail to you.