Sunday, July 31, 2005

Golden Heart and Rita Winners

Golden Heart and Rita winners are up on the RWA website. Special congrats go to my GH 2004 pal, Nadele Jacobs, for yet another Golden Heart Win (I think she has, like, seven). And to my e-Harlequin buddy GG, way to go on the Golden Heart win for VIVA LAS VEGAS!

I may have missed some other pals who won; at the moment the RWA site seems to be down. I'll check later and give extra kudos as they're warranted.

And to all the folks who didn't win, trust me on this. Just finaling is a very big deal. I still get comments about my Golden Heart pin.

Friday, July 29, 2005

No, THIS is the Best Rejection Letter Ever

Just got another agent rejection, this time for CRYBABY FALLS. But she was very complimentary of my writing, and while she didn't think CBF quite worked (not romantic enough for Romantic Suspense; not big enough for straigth suspense), she wants to see other things from me, especially category-length manuscripts. Honey, I've got plenty of those!


I've only just figured out how to put links to the blogs I read on this page, and I have only put a few links at the moment because I haven't had time to sit down and write the code for all the links I want to put on here. There are several more I read pretty regularly that I want to include.

Daphne du Maurier Awards

WILD CARD placed second in the Series category, which is much better than I expected, since the same agent who gave me super low marks on the same manuscript in an earlier contest was one of the judges.

Better yet, my friend Gayle Wilson placed first in her category in the Pubbed Daphnes with IN PLAIN SIGHT--and won the overall published Daphne! I can't think of anyone who deserved it more; she's a fabulous writer and IN PLAIN SIGHT is a great book.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Garden Update and a Little Cat Blogging

It's been a while since I posted on the status of my back deck garden, especially the seeds I found in the freezer a while back.

Sadly, the Tommytoes didn't make it. They just never really got a good start. However, the Atkinson tomatoes, the crookneck squash, the eggplant and the bell pepper are all thriving. The squash plant already has itty bitt squash, and the pepper plant looks like it's about to bloom. The eggplant hasn't bloomed yet, but it's big and healthy. The tomatoes are getting bigger every day, and I figure by mid-August, they'll probably be blooming as well, giving us a nice late summer/early fall harvest.

My old cat, Chunk, who's sixteen, likes to hang out on the deck these days and enjoy the sunshine. A couple of times, she's fallen off the deck, but she didn't get hurt, thank goodness, and managed to pick herself up and toddle back up the stairs. I make her sound more decrepit than she really is; the vet actually says she's in pretty good shape for a cat her age. She had to have thyroid surgery earlier this year, and since then her remaining gland continued to deteriorate, so now she's back on the pills. But her heart is strong, and the arthritis hasn't set in too badly.

She seems to like to lounge in the shade of the potted plants, pretending that she's out in the wild and not just on a wood deck behind a house in the suburbs. I suppose compared to her first thirteen years or so, spent indoors in a series of urban apartments, living in the 'burbs is probably like going on safari every day. She doesn't roam, being old, spayed and used to indoor life, so it's probably pretty safe to let her play her pretend games out on the deck, I figure.

Soon, I'll try to post some photos of Chunk so you can see what a sweetie she is.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

What Else I'm Listening To

In the same vein as yesterday's post, here are a few songs I like a lot, but so far I haven't decided to buy the album they're on (or in a couple of cases, the albums aren't available yet):

"Georgia Rain" - sung by Trisha Yearwood - This is a haunting song about a long ago love that just won't die. Many a reunion romance has been written about just the sort of relationship this song describes. And, as always, Yearwood's gorgeous vocals sell every heartbreaking note of the song.

"Pickin' Wildflowers - sung by Keith Anderson - A bluesy, sassy, euphemistic romp of a song about sex, performed tongue in cheek with a twangy beat that makes you want to get up and dance.

"Hillbillies" - sung by Hot Apple Pie - I'll admit, the hip-billy video for this one is what really sold me on the song, but like "Pickin' Wildflowers," "Hillbillies" takes a good old fashioned roll in the hay and makes it into a rollicking fun song.

"Probably Wouldn't Be This Way" - sung by LeAnn Rimes - This one hurts. Deep. Especially if you watch the video. It's a song about a woman dealing with the unexpected death of her lover, and it covers most of the bases. What I really like about it is the truth it tells about the grieving process from the inside—how people want to help you but end up saying all the wrong things, how you want to help yourself but just can't figure out what will fix things and finally realizing nothing will but time and patience.

"Goodbye Time" - sung by Blake Shelton - Shelton plays against type with this one, a heartfelt ballad about being on the losing end of a relationship gone sour and realizing you have no choice but to let go. For those times when you just need a good sniffle.

"Help Somebody" - sung by VanZant - This song, and the one below, are two signals of something interesting happening in country music—the influx of some good old fashioned rockabilly/southern rock influences. Since I like my country a little edgy, I count this as good news.

"4th of July" - sung by Shooter Jennings - Waylon and Jessi's boy combines the hard edges of rock and roll with the country boy grit of a young Hank Jr. This song is a good example of the mixed influences on Jennings, who insists he's a country artist even though he likes to push the genre to its limits.

"The Mists of Down Below" - sung by The Duhks - This group from Manitoba blends many different acoustic music styles, from bluegrass to celtic to french folk to rock, to create a memorable, edgy Americana sound. I definitely have their album on my Amazon Wish List.

Also, don't miss my update to yesterday's post. (scroll down)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

What I'm Listening To

My taste in music is pretty eclectic, but my primary choices fall in the country, bluegrass and Americana range. Here's who I'm listening to these days:

Mindy Smith - ONE MOMENT MORE Contemporary acoustic Americana with a distinct indie edge. Love her haunting version of the Dolly Parton classic "Jolene." And speaking of Dolly...

Dolly Parton - LITTLE SPARROW The Queen of Country Bluegrass casts her spell on a mix of old fashioned folk songs and classic rock. Her bluegrass rendition of the Eagles' "Seven Bridges Road" is worth the cost of the CD, but there's a whole lot more worth listening to here.

Patty Loveless - MOUNTAIN SOUL Patty Loveless has one of the great voices in country music, and with this album, she visits her Kentucky bluegrass roots.

Big & Rich - HORSE OF A DIFFERENT COLOR This duo defies labels, although in their songs you can hear hints of country influences including the Bellamy Brothers and Montgomery Gentry. Their break-out song, "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy" is a silly, irresistible romp. More than just a duo, they—and their Musik Mafia cohort—are the new outlaws on the country music scene.

Gabriel Yared, et al. - Soundtrack to COLD MOUNTAIN While the actual soundtrack cuts are lovely, I bought this CD for the two Alison Krauss cuts, "You will be my ain true love" and "The Scarlet Tide." Lucky for me, "Lady Margret," two Sacred Harp songs and Jack White's version of "Wayfaring Stranger" are delightful bonuses.

Old Crow Medicine Show - O.C.M.S. Hmm, how to describe this band? Depression era folk grass, I guess, with a decidedly modern edge. "Wagon Wheel" is my favorite cut.

And I don't have it yet, but when I get some cash to spare, these two are going on my "to buy" list:

Alison Krauss & Union Station - NEW FAVORITE and LONELY RUNS BOTH WAYS. Because you just can't go wrong with AK&US.


Can't believe I forgot this one:

Nickel Creek - THIS SIDE I love this bands eclectic fusion of bluegrass, alt rock and acoustic folk. They have a distinctive sound that draws from many influences without mimicking any of them.

Monday, July 25, 2005

No Reno for Me

Money being tight and all. I didn't make it to Dallas last year, either, and I was a Golden Heart finalist that time. (Not so lucky this time around).

However, I'm up for a Daphne, so I'm hoping someone will be liveblogging (posting, whatever) from the Awards on Thursday so I'll know how badly I fared. And I do expect to fare badly, given that one of the judges in my category was the agent who gave me a one on manuscript preparation--on the same manuscript. Nope. Not expecting much from the Daphne. Still, I'll be interested to know if I placed.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Synopses: My Achilles Heel

I can't write a synopsis for the life of me. And believe me, I've read ALL the articles available. I've tried every trick. And still, after all these years, when I enter a contests where the synopsis is judged, I get slammed for my synopses.

Which is really embarrassing, considering that in my day job, I work in advertising as a copywriter and a graphic designer. You'd think a copywriter, of all people, would know how to write a synopses that "sold" her manuscript, wouldn't you?

Tomorrow, at my local chapter meeting, Donna Wright is speaking on synopses. I hope she gives a mini-workshop, because I need all the help I can get.

Do any of you have the secret to writing a great synopsis? In five steps or less? (Because apparently I have a hint of Adult ADD).

Thursday, July 21, 2005

I Love Sharing This Kind of News

Two friends of mine, Jennifer Stimson and Terry McLaughlin, got The Calls this week! Jennifer just sold two YA romances to Simon Pulse, the YA line of Simon & Schuster, and Terry sold her GH '05 finalist to Harlequin Superromance.

Congratulations, ladies!

Contests Ups and Downs

I admit it—I've been really lucky with the contests I've entered. Even when I haven't finaled, I've usually gotten really good feedback all around. So I was a little flummoxed yesterday when I got the scores back from a contest I'd placed third in. Most of the judges' sheets were great, but I got one, from an agent, that blew my mind. Forget the abysmally low scoring all around—I can take that if the agent thought I merited such scores, even if no one else (including the editor judge) was nearly as harsh.

But a one (i.e. "poor") on manuscript presentation? I got fives from everyone else, which makes me wonder if the contest coordinator accidentally sent this agent judge a rag-eared copy stained with cat pee or something. Because how else could you possibly merit a one in manuscript presentation????

I've been submitting to contests for three years now, and submitting to editors for the same amount of time, and I consistently get top marks for manuscript prep, so this is just confounding.

(Just kidding about the contest coordinator sending a pee-stained entry, of course. I was actually very pleased overall by the contest. Just a bit confused by the one, that's all).

On the upside, got my scores from another contest in the mail today, and all the remarks were consistently fair and constructive—at least, the ones my mom read me over the phone. I look forward to getting home and reading the full critique from Shirley Hailstock, whose work I admire a lot. I'll be interested to see what she has to say.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Ooo, Pretty

I do like the look of the new Harlequin Next books. Here's the page for my friend Kris Robinette's upcoming Next book, HELL'S BELLES.

Looks great!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Agent Impersonator Warning

Go read this post on the Knight Agency blog.

If you have received anything like this, please let the Knight Agency know so they can pursue this imposter.

World's Best Rejection Letter

If you're going to get a rejection, they should all be as good as the one I just got from agent. She complemented my voice and urged me to submit the manuscript directly to the house (which I've already done); she just wasn't looking to take on an unpublished category author at the moment.

I'll take that kind of letter over a form R any day!

Saturday, July 16, 2005


I'm a bit of a Jane Austen freak, so when I ran across a couple of websites for the upcoming theatrical film version of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and viewed the trailers, I was stoked! The new film casts Matthew MacFadyen as Darcy, which is a great choice. MacFadyen proved he could brood with the best of them in his role as Tom Quinn in the British series MI-5.

I was a little less sold on Keira Knightly as Elizabeth; though I'd liked her in BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM and PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, I hadn't seen her as Lizzy material. However, I recently caught her in the role of Guinevere in 2004's KING ARTHUR, opposite the yummy Clive Owen, and she convinced me she has the chops to play the role of possibly the most delightful romantic heroine ever.

These two sites are the ones I came across yesterday. The second one has the best trailer, IMO.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Summer Colds

Isn't that an oxymoron or something?

Nevertheless, I'm in the throes of one, and it's making me more than a little cranky.

I'll be back when I can stop coughing long enough.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

We Are All Britons Now

My prayers and condolences go out to the citizens of London in this time of loss and suffering.

"Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival." - Winston Churchill

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

A Little Post Vacation Catch Up

I hope everyone who celebrates it had a happy Fourth of July.

I'm back at work now. ::sigh:: Fortunately, my boss is on vacation, making easing back into the daily grind a little less stressful. Unfortunately, she'll be back next week, stressed out because she and I won't have been in contact for two weeks. Should be a barrel of laughs.

I didn't do anywhere near the writing I planned to do during my vacation, thanks in part to my back problem, the fun of hanging out with my mom and the nieces, and the lure of the three hour afternoon nap normally unavailable to me during the standard work week. However, I did manage to squeeze out twenty-six new pages and moved past a slight bump in the road. I have a clearer idea about my story and characters, although I'm still missing one vital element--the plot.

I know what the overarching story problem is, the inciting incident that sends my characters running for their lives. But I want to insert a secondary suspense plot to enhance their daily lives while they're hiding from the bad guys, a plot which will lead to a choice between doing the right thing and protecting their anonymity (not to mention enhance and imperil the romantic development as it unfolds). Still got some thinking to do on that, although I do know I want it to involve children, since my heroine is a daycare teacher when she's not on the run from bad guys, and I want it to involve the Smoky Mountains tourist industry in some way, since my hero grew up in the Smokys and his family has a carny-style connection to such tourist showplaces.

I also got a little reading done over my vacation--Kathleen Long's Intrigue debut, SILENT WARNING. Very slick, sophisticated writing style, intriguing mystery and likable characters. I guessed the bad guy a little earlier than I'd have liked, but I don't think it hurt the story since the characters themselves didn't have a clue (and it wasn't a stretch for them NOT to have a clue), and part of suspense is knowing something the characters don't. I thought that as a romance, it was good but not stunning. The characters seemed well-matched and I could buy their relationship, but the conflict keeping them apart was a little too one-note for my tastes. That said, the mystery elements more than made up for the thinness of the emotional conflict, and the writing was excellent. I'm definitely planning to read more of Kathleen's books.

Up next, when I get some time free, is Gayle Wilson's newest Intrigue, TAKE NO PRISONERS. It's another installment of her fantastic Phoenix Brotherhood series, and the set up looks terrific. Plus, Gayle dedicated it to me. Well, me and the other forty-odd members of the Southern Magic chapter of the RWA. ;)

I'm still waiting to hear on three manuscripts with editors, two manuscripts with agents, two queries to agents and the outcome of the Daphne du Maurier contest, which should be announced later this month at the RWA National Conference in Reno, Nevada.

There. All caught up.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Third Place for Wild Card

In the Rebecca contest. Congratulations to my Heart of Dixie and Southern Magic chapter mate Kira Bazzel for taking second in the same contest. Way to go, girl!