Thursday, December 27, 2007

RT Gives FORBIDDEN TOUCH 4 Stars!

Here's the write-up from Romantic Times:

Empath Iris Browning was supposed to join her friend on the island of Mariposa for a psychic seminar. But when the woman goes missing, and not even the police take it seriously, Iris starts investigating the island's psychic institute. Expatriate former marine Maddox Heller doesn't want to get involved, especially after he realizes Iris can feel the soul-deep pain he's been running from, but he's forced to step in when both the CIA and terrorists start circling the gentle woman who fascinates him. Paula Graves captures readers with Forbidden Touch (4) thanks to an unusual psychic twist and a tarnished hero.

—Pat Cooper


Remember, it's available for pre-order in several places--amazon.com, barnesandnoble, booksamillion.com and, on January 1st, you can order it from eHarlequin and receive it before it's available in book stores or online.

Also, don't forget my contest, still going on until New Year's Eve, on this thread. Check it out and leave a comment--it's your chance to win!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Contest!

I'm giving away a copy of my first two books plus a $20 Amazon.com gift certificate to some lovely random person who comments on this thread. Here's all you have to do:

I'm working on an idea for my next book. I need a name for my heroine. Here's a loose description of her:

Age - 28-30
Sandy brown hair, gray eyes
Cynical, distant, emotionally closed-off, she is a brilliant theoretician in the use of occupational therapy for mentally ill patients. Her master's thesis on game therapy for schizophrenics caught the attention of a mental health think tank that put her in charge of a halfway house for transitioning mentally ill patients into society. The halfway house is connected to a mental hospital.

The hero's name, if it helps to know that, is Riley Patterson. He's a Wyoming policeman, a cowboy at heart, and a widower whose wife worked at the mental hospital in question until she was murdered. The murder has never been solved. Until this book, that is.

So--between now and New Year's Eve, I'm taking name suggestions in the comments. First and/or last. The drawing for the winner will be random, but if any of you come up with the name I eventually decide to use for the heroine, I'll also put your name in the same book as a secondary character. Sound like fun?

So--let's get to the suggestions!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

My niece got an animatronic FurReal™ Butterscotch pony. It's twitching its tail and winking at me. And it nickers.

I. Am. In. Hell.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Message

My friend Emily is the rector at St. Christopher's Episcopal Church in Oklahoma City. I asked her if she would share a message about Christmas with me to share with you here on my blog.

She posted this on her blog, Hazelnut Reflections. I think it's a timely, inspiring message for this time of year, and I hope it speaks to you as it spoke to me.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Weirdness

Dogs singing Christmas carols!



Scary Santa!



Weird Al!



I have no words!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

O Christmas Tree

My late father used to pinch a penny until it screamed, and then pinch it some more. So when it came to Christmas trees, there was no fun little trip to the Christmas tree lot or farm to be had. And back when I was younger, artificial trees weren't so much in vogue as they are now.

So one Christmas, when I was about 15, my father and my younger brother went out looking for a Christmas tree. What they came back with is the stuff of family legend.

I really have no idea what kind of tree it was. It wasn't a Douglas fir or anything like that. It also wasn't a typical southern long leaf pine sapling, if the needles were anything to go by. And speaking of its foliage, it was, to be generous, sparse.

The tree was about six feet tall, and very, very skinny. There was no gently sloping line from a narrow tip to a full bottom. It was the Olive Oyl of Christmas trees, one thin silhouette from bottom to top, with a handful of sharp, jutting branches like a dozen skinny arms.

It managed to stay upright until we hung the first ball. Clearly, the tree was incapable of standing by itself. So my mother, ever practical and ingenious--and well aware that my father would under no circumstances admit that the tree he brought home was anything less that what it should be--decided that we could temporarily sew the top of the tree to the top of the draperies standing right behind it. The thread would keep the tree upright as we applied the decorations.

With the tree fortified, we finished decorating it. Of course, we used about half the decorations we would usually use, and no combination of decorations--more garland than balls, more balls than garland--made it look any less anorexic. But it was a Christmas tree, and there were presents under it on Christmas. And we had something to talk about for years.

Which we did on a regular basis, for the pitiful little Christmas tree had one particular feature that added to the longevity of its memory, long after the pitiful sapling was hauled away in the January garbage. It was quite a shedder, dropping needles at an alarming rate. And the needles were as sharp as sewing needles, stabbing into bare toes and feet like heat-seeking missiles. We vacuumed, hand picked needles out, vaccuumed some more, and yet for YEARS afterwards, some unsuspecting bare foot would happen upon a needle in the carpet and the owner would cry out, "Damned Christmas Tree!"

Friday, December 21, 2007

Harry Potter Christmas

So, okay, I haven't blogged yet today, despite my resolution to post daily, and preferably before nightfall. I blame it on Harry Potter. Specifically, the 5-movie set that came in the mail a couple of days ago. Off from work, with my nieces to entertain, I opened up the box set and we've worked our way through three of the five movies so far.

So, there went the blogging.

However, here's a little something to keep you entertained. Post your favorite results in the comments!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Easy Holiday Party Foods and Drink

If you read my blog post over at the Intrigue Writers Blog, you know I'm no Emeril Lagasse. But I do have a few easy recipes for holiday parties that almost anyone should be able to make.

First up, my super easy Peanut Butter cookies.

1 cup sugar (or Splenda)
1 egg
1 cup peanut butter

Blend all three ingredients and spoon onto a greased cookie sheet. Cook at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until the cookies start to brown on the bottom.

These are fast, yummy and very, very easy.

Next up - Parmesan Ranch Pita Chips

Slice pita bread into several small wedges. Coat with olive oil or olive oil cooking spray. Put them in a gallon-size zip-lock bag. Add a half packet of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix, salt and garlic powder to taste, and about a quarter cup of grated parmesan cheese. (Use the stuff that comes in the green can--nobody will quibble). Close the zip-lock bag and shake until the pita wedges are coated. Spray a flat cooking sheet with cooking spray and lay the pita wedges in one layer. Cook at 350 degrees until the chips start to brown. Don't be afraid to let them get nice and brown if you like them crispy, but they can burn quickly if you're not watchful.

Serve alone, with your favorite dip or with store-bought hummus. (I do have a hummus recipe, but it involves fresh garlic cloves, tahini paste and a food processor, and that's just too much work).

Finally, here's an easy non-alcoholic cocktail:

Sunrise Virgin Sangria

1 part orange juice
1 part Cherry Kool-Aid or Cherry Crystal Light
1 ripe strawberry, sliced
2-3 seedless grapes
1/4 banana, sliced
two table spoons of crushed ice

Take a large goblet (the bigger the better) and put crushed ice, strawberry, grapes and banana in the bottom. Pour the glass half full of the Cherry drink, then add the orange juice on the top. Don't stir before serving, because the orange juice will (if you're lucky) hang at the top of the glass while the Cherry drink remains at the bottom, giving you a sunrise effect in the glass. Very pretty. But don't sweat it if it gets all mixed up. It still tastes yummy.

My guess is that you could probably add liquor to that, but since I don't drink alcohol, I have no way of knowing if it'd taste good or be worth the trouble.

What are some of your easy recipes?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas

Dream on, punkin'.

However, we've been known to have a very white March. Go figure.

So, how about y'all? What are your chances for the cold, white stuff on Christmas?

Ooops, almost forgot...The eHarlequin Community Open House is tomorrow, December 19th. I'll be in the chatroom on eHarlequin at 8 pm Central time (9 Eastern, 7 Mountain, 6 Pacific) along with several other suspense writers from Harlequin Intrigue and Silhouette Romantic Suspense. If you can drop by, please do!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

'Tis Better to Give

Charity is an important part of the Christmas season, so I thought I'd share a list of charitable organizations that do good work all year long and would be worthy choices if you're in a giving mood this holiday season.

Salvation Army

American Red Cross

Habitat for Humanity

Jimmie Hale Mission/Jessie's Place

Big Oak Ranch

Catholic Relief Services

Episcopal Charities

Network for Good - a clearing house of charitable organizations

North American Mission Board (Southern Baptist)

International Mission Board (Southern Baptist)

United Methodist Committee on Relief

Of course, do your own research on these organizations, and others, before you give. I can personally vouch for some of them--Jimmie Hale Mission/Jessie's Place, North American and International Mission Boards, and Big Oak Ranch. I think most people also trust the Salvation Army, Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity. But do your own research and find a worthy organization to share with this Christmas season if you can. Many times, there are local charities in your city, state or country that can use the extra money at Christmas and, really, all year 'round.

Also, be sure to check the previous post--I've added some new videos at the end that should not be missed. (Hat tip, lksa)

The Music of the Season

I've shared a couple of my favorite redneck-tinged holiday song. Now it's time for sharing some of my more serious favorites of the season.

First up: From Handel's Messiah, two of my favorites. And no, although I love it, neither is The Hallelujah Chorus:

"Every Valley Shall Be Exalted"



"Glory to God"



A more modern Christmas standard: "Mary, Did You Know?"



From Trisha Yearwood: "It Wasn't His Child"



Only a link on this one, but I really love this duet with Ricky Skaggs and James Taylor: "A New Star Shining"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekdb2iqPRW8

And here's the same song with Skaggs and Steve Wariner:



And I like this a capella version of "Sweet Little Jesus Boy":



(I have to admit part of the appeal of that last one is watching white bread frat boy types pulling off that spiritual with a combination of awkward white boy non-rhythm but gorgeous harmony)

For a more traditional treatment of the same song, here's another version by Joseph Shore:



What about y'all? What are your favorite Christmas songs, traditional and non-traditional?

Edited to add: A commenter reminded me of this song that I really love: Clay Aiken singing "All is Well."



Edited to add again---lksa in the comments links to this version of The Hallelujah Chorus that's just amazing:



And this one...well, there are really no words. But I'm about to head to the website to see if they still have their Christmas performance DVD available after this one. As lksa suggests, stay past the third day of Christmas. You won't regret it.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Blogging on the Intrigue Authors' Blog

Today's my day to blog on the Intrigue writers' blog, and I could use some comments. (Plus, that blog is really pretty cool if you read Intrigues or want to write them---we have a lot of smart, cool authors who have a lot of interesting things to say, so check out more posts than just mine).

Anyway, if you're in the mood, check it out here.

And in keeping with the Redneck Christmas theme I seem to be working on the blog these days, here's Mr. Redneck himself, Jeff Foxworthy, sharing a little holiday cheer:

Friday, December 14, 2007

...You Might Be a Redneck.

Since I blogged so late, I'll give y'all an extra little treat. I may have mentioned once or twice that I'm from the South. And, well, not the County Club South, either.

Anyway, all the talk about Christmas and family reminded me of one of my favorite Christmas videos - "Merry Christmas from the Family" by Robert Earl Keene. (And you know it's authentic when the guy's name is Robert Earl).

So...here you go. Enjoy!

Late for Christmas

Here we are, the second day of 12 Blogs of Christmas, and I'm already running waaaaay late. I didn't have a chance to breathe at work today (deadline day for a big direct mail catalog one of my clients will be mailing out in February. Merry Christmas to me. ::sigh:: ), so I didn't get to blog earlier.

Anyway, I spent the evening wrapping gifts while my sister took my nieces out to see Christmas lights. I have to admit, wrapping presents is probably my favorite thing about the lead-up to Christmas. I'm the official family wrapper (although I'm really bad at it), and I do enjoy all the pretty paper and bows. It's been fun over the past few years having children in the house on Christmas morning; I'd forgotten how magical the holiday could be when you're little.

One of my earliest memories is waking one Christmas morning before everyone else was up (including the sun) and being completely unable to go back to sleep. I knew I wasn't supposed to get up unless my parents were up, but patience was never one of my virtues. I crept down the hallway to the living room in the dim pre-dawn light to see what Santa had put under the tree.

I don't really remember what my sister and brother and I got that Christmas, or what caught my eye, but I do remember the sensation of all that new stuff lying scattered about around the tree and thinking, "It's magic!" And it was. It was the magic of people who loved us enough to sacrifice to give us something nice for Christmas. When we were old enough to understand what Christmas was really about, they taught us that the real magic is in giving, not receiving.

As I sit here and look at the table piled high with gifts for my family and friends, that same feeling of magic comes over me. I can't wait to watch my loved ones open their gifts. I hope they love them as much as I enjoyed picking them out.

Maybe that's why wrapping gifts is one of my favorite things about Christmas.

What are some of your favorite things about Christmas?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

"You'll Shoot Your Eye Out!"

If forced to choose my favorite Christmas movie of all time, I think I'd really have to go with A CHRISTMAS STORY. .

One of the cable stations--TNT? TBS?--marathons it every Christmas, and I usually watch it at least twice over the course of the day. There's just so much to love about its insanity-Ralphie's bunny suit:

Flick's tongue on the flagpole:

Ralphie's visit with Santa:

The Leg Lamp:

And do not miss the Chinese restaurant carolers singing Deck the Halls.



Edited to add--I meant to ask, what about y'all? What are your favorite holiday movies? I know my nieces (ages 8 and 11) seem mighty excited about "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" coming on twice already this Christmas season...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

12 Blogs of Christmas

Starting tomorrow, I'm going to be blogging twelve days straight, leading up to Christmas day. I'd love for the next twelve days to be fully participatory---we're going to talk Christmas memories, favorite gifts, worthy charities for holiday giving, favorite recipes, favorite Christmas movies and songs--if it's Christmasy, we'll probably talk about it.

Plus, there'll be PRIZES! At the end of the month, I'll draw from the list of commenters on the blog and the winner will get autographed copies of my first two books plus a gift certificate. I haven't yet settled on what kind of gift certificate--we can even discuss that in the comments if you want. :)

So please, join me over the next twelve days here on this blog and let's share a little holiday spirit among ourselves.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Are You Missing the Big Holiday Blitz?

At the Intrigue Author's blog, that is.

http://www.intrigueauthors.com/blog.asp

Some of your favorite Intrigue authors are blogging up a storm and giving away prizes as well!

I'll be blogging Saturday, if I can figure out a good topic. Maybe I'll go with something like "Christmas Out of a Can"--The Non-cook's Guide to Holiday Meals." That could be fun!

Friday, December 07, 2007

January Online class information

Feel free to pass this along to anyone who might be interested.

The Fiction Writer's Self-Editing Workshop
Instructor: Rhonda Stapleton
Dates: January 14 – 28, 2008
Cost: $20

WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION:
Do you find yourself overwhelmed by confusing grammar, punctuation, and editing rules? Don't despair! The Fiction Writer's Self-Editing Workshop is the place for you. Whether you're a beginning writer or seasoned author, you can learn simple, straightforward tips for self-editing.

Topics discussed include punctuation use, point of view, trimming the fat, using concrete/vivid language, frequent errors, style tips, breaking the rules, and more! The course is highly interactive - students will get hands-on editing experience, as well as practice through assigned homework. Students will also receive a list of helpful editing/style books and websites for a reference guide.

INSTRUCTOR'S BIO:
Rhonda Stapleton obtained her Master's degree in English from Cleveland State University. She has a Bachelor's degree in English from CSU, as well. Rhonda is a Principal Editor at Thomson West, a legal publishing company, where she has worked for the last five years. In addition, she has freelance edited novels, theses, student papers, and a college writing textbook.

While attending Cleveland State, Rhonda worked in The Writing Center for two years as a writing tutor for undergraduate and graduate students. She also taught ENG 105 and ENG 106, college credit courses that give students hands-on tips for writing papers, from brainstorming topics to self-editing. The courses correlate with introductory composition courses ENG 101 and ENG 102.

Full details and registration at the Heart of Dixie website, www.heartofdixie.org.

Questions? Contact the Coordinator at online@heartofdixie.org

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Trouble with Harry

Potter, that is.

Believe it or not, until just about four weeks ago, I hadn't read any of the Harry Potter books. I'd bought all of them for my niece, who loves them, but I'd always avoided reading them, despite rave reviews from friends whose tastes in reading usually match mine. Maybe I just thought a "kid's book" wouldn't really be of much interest. Also, I'm not normally a fan of fantasy books.

But a few weeks ago, I was in need of reading material and my niece's Harry Potter book (conveniently book #1) was sitting there. For about two weeks, I read a few pages at a time, just when I was in the room where the book was. Then, when I started nearing the finish line of COWBOY ALIBI, I started using the book as incentive to get my scheduled pages in. If I made my pages for the day, I could read a while.

I finished HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE that way. When I finished my first draft of COWBOY ALIBI early, I gave myself permission to binge read my way through the rest of the books. I started book 2 on Thursday and finished book Seven on my lunch hour at work the next Monday.

What can I say about the Harry Potter series that hasn't been said already? It was fun, exciting, thought-provoking, heartbreaking and thoroughly enjoyable. There were a lot of themes in the book that I think speak directly to who we are as humans and how hard it is to do what is right instead of what is easy. I like that the values of the books cross all political spectrums and speak more about decency than policy. The books were really well-crafted, too, with set-ups that paid off enjoyably, in a very satisfying way.

So, here are a few "favorites" from my Harry Potter experience (warning: spoilers for those who haven't read the books):

1. Favorite character: Snape. Although Ginny Weasley and Hermione Granger are also in the running. I loved that Snape was unlovely and unlovable, and yet he was probably the most courageous of all the characters in the entire series. Because what he was asked to do by Dumbledore, what he dedicated his life to, was not something that came natural or easy to him. If ever there was a character who symbolized the idea of doing what is right rather than what is easy, it was Snape.

I loved Hermione because she reminds me of myself at her age--serious yet sometimes silly, with grand ideas (free the house elves!) that are never as simple and universal as they seem when you're that age. And I loved Ginny because I got to see her grow and blossom over the course of the books into a woman worthy of Harry, his equal in so many ways and his perfect complement in others.

2. Favorite book: Either THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE or THE GOBLET OF FIRE. Although THE DEATHLY HALLOWS was an excellent end to the series, and it was the only one of the books that made me cry.

3. Favorite non-human: Oh, so hard to choose! I was heartbroken when Hedwig died, so that owl is certainly a contender. Loved Dobby, and by the end, I loved Kreacher as well, so both of the house elves deserve mention. And Pigwidgeon, Ron's little owl, was so cute!

4. Favorite surprise moment: Learning that the doe Patronus belonged to Snape. It helped explain the rest of his behavior long before the exposition was over. Because once you knew it was his, and a doe, you instinctively understood the rest.

5. Favorite Quidditch match: The one Harry couldn't go to because he had detention. He was so certain Gryffindor was going to lose, but when he entered the common room and the cheers went up--yay! And it doesn't hurt that he ended up snogging Ginny. And speaking of snogging...

6. Favorite mental image: Kreacher snogging a pair of old Mr. Black's trousers. Honorable mention: the image of Dobby wearing all those hats that Hermione knitted in hopes of freeing the house elves.

7. Favorite "I'm surprised I feel sorry for him, but I do" moment: Pretty much any scene involving Draco Malfoy in the last book.

Now that I've read the books, time to watch the movies. I pre-ordered the 5-movie DVD set that's coming out December 11th as a Christmas present to myself. I think my niece and I will be having a Harry Potter movie marathon before the holidays are over.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Finis!

Finished the first draft of COWBOY ALIBI today, between the turkey and dressing and fried apple pie. It's an unholy mess, but it's a finished unholy mess, which is easier to edit than a blank page, as I'm often told.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Friday, November 16, 2007

They Did It Again!

Mary sold Hot Shot!

And as I hinted in my last post about her first sale, Trish sold to Harlequin American!

I tell you what, the Golden Heart class of 2004 is rockin' the sales.

Things I'd Rather Be Doing Than Hacking Up a Lung

I'm home sick from my day job (but waiting for my boss to call me and tell me why she couldn't get on the phone with me earlier because she was "busy trying to fix my computer." Um...what???)

So, anyway, here are the things I'd rather be doing than hacking up a lung:

1. Keeping my boss, who knows even less about computers than I do, from messing with my computer.

2. Laundry. Not that I plan to do it.

3. Cleaning the litterbox. Not that I plan to do it.

4. Having a conversation with my ex-BIL about his financial woes. No, come to think of it, I'd rather be hacking up a lung. Scratch that.

Seriously, here's something I'd really rather be doing than hacking up a lung. Going to my Amazon.com page and finding out that FORBIDDEN TOUCH isn't languishing in the high millions in ranking. Come on, people! February's a comin', and category books are sometimes hard to find in book stores. Wouldn't you rather have it delivered to your doorstep the second week of February? You know you would.

And look! Sexy! Pretty!



Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence

***PLEASE FORWARD***

2008 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence

The Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, sponsored by RWA chapter Southern Magic, was conceived in honor of multi-RITA Winner Gayle Wilson to award excellence in published romance fiction. The contest is judged by avid readers of romance, booksellers, and librarians. The winners of each category are awarded a bookmark engraved with the author’s name and the book’s title. Winners will also be included in a full-page RWR advertisement.

Eligibility: Participation is open to all published authors of novel length romance fiction published by an RWA-recognized publisher. Books must have a copyright of 2007; entries must be received by January 15, 2008. Electronic books may be entered provided they are presented in print book format, published through an RWA-recognized publisher and complete with copyright page produced by the publisher with print on both sides of the page.

Entry fee: RWA Members — $20 for first book; $15 for subsequent books. Entry fee: Non-RWA Members — $30 for first book; $15 for subsequent books.

Author must provide three copies of the entered book, which will not be returned. Finalists will be notified approximately March 3, 2008. Winners will be announced on April 12, 2008, at the Silken Sands Writers Conference in Pensacola Beach, FL. All finalists receive a certificate. Winners receive an engraved bookmark and inclusion in full page RWR ad. Authors may enter more than one novel; however, the same novel may not be entered in multiple categories. If a category does not receive at least 5 entries, the category will be canceled, and the entrants’ books and entry fees will be returned.

Categories for entry:

Short Contemporary (Under 70,000 Words)
Long Contemporary (Over 70,000 Words)
Historical
Single Title
Romantic Suspense Series
Romantic Suspense
Paranormal/Fantasy/ Futuristic/Time Travel
Contemporary Single Title
Young Adult
Inspirational
Novella (20,000 – 40,000 Words)

Judging: All entries are judged by avid readers of romance, booksellers, and librarians. The top two scores are added to form the final score. The lowest score is dropped. Ties are broken using the dropped low score.

Books are given to the judges as a “thank you” for judging. They are not returned. Scores and finalist placement are not revealed. Score sheets are not returned. The decision of the judges is final.

Send entries (three copies of book, entry form + entry fee) to:

Jennifer Echols
Contest Coordinator
Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence
P.O. Box 190032
Birmingham, AL 35219

Make checks payable to Southern Magic.

Questions? E-mail: GWContest@southernmagic.org

Find details, past winners, and a downloadable entry form at http://www.southernmagic.org.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Blog Biz

Two bits of blog business...

Have you checked out the Intrigue Writers' blog? At the moment, two of Intrigue's best writers, Patricia Rosemooor and Rebecca York, are talking about wolves and werewolves. There's also a contest going on—check it out!

http://www.intrigueauthors.com/blog.asp

And starting next month, I'll be running a contest on my blog every month until my book launch. You could win books and gift certificates for romantic things like Godiva Chocolate, Bath and Body Works and more! So check back here starting in December.

Meanwhile, y'all have a nice Sunday!

Edited to add--don't forget you can click on the book covers over on the sidebar of the blog and go right to their ordering pages on Amazon.com. There are still copies of FORBIDDEN TEMPTATION available for order, and you can pre-order FORBIDDEN TOUCH. With the holidays coming, FORBIDDEN TEMPTATION would make a great stocking stuffer for the romance reader on your shopping list, wouldn't it? :)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Catching Up

I've been very lax about blogging (I blame it on a combination of madness breaking out in my day job and my race to propose and sell my fourth book), so I haven't yet blogged about two of my fellow 2004 Golden Heart finalists selling books!

Mary Fechter sold WHERE THERE'S SMOKE to Wild Rose Press! And Trish Milburn sold a YA book to Penguin Putnam. (I think I also read that she sold a couple of other books, but I haven't seen an official announcement of that, so I'm just counting it as rumor for the moment.)

So, if you haven't already, go congratulate these fabulous writers on their successes!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Dreaded Meme

Like Tripp, whose blog I got this from, I don't usually do memes on my blogs. But like her, I found this one pretty fun, so here goes.

List six shows BEFORE you read the questions!

1. Chuck
2. Heroes
3. House
4. Ghost Hunters
5. Days of Our Lives
6. Most Evil

1. Who is your favorite character from #2 (Heroes)?

Noah Bennett

2. Who is your least favorite character from #4 (Ghosthunters)?

Brian Harnois--he whines too much.

3. What would a crossover between #1 (Chuck) and #5 (Days of Our Lives) include?

Clearly, Chuck and Nick would hit it off, making poor Morgan (on Chuck) nuts because Chuck is his only friend. Chelsea would immediately be jealous of Nick spending so much time around Sara, even though it's Chuck pretending to be Sara's boyfriend and sharing all the UST. John Casey would probably hit it off with Bo and Steve but be utterly contemptuous of Roman. Kayla and Chuck's sister Ellie, both being doctors and nice people, would clearly become friends. Kayla might even try to get Stephanie interested in hanging with Chuck and the Nerd Herd and getting more serious about her education and less stuck on guys. Morgan would have an immediate crush on Billie Reed. And knowing Billie, she just might give him a go.

4. Who is your favorite ship from #6 (Most Evil)?

Um, it's a documentary series about serial killers. If there's a 'ship on it, I don't wanna know about it.

5. If you were to set one person from #3 (House) and one person from #6 (Most Evil) on a blind date, who would they be?

Um...Cuddy and Ed Gein? I think Cuddy would prevail.

6. If you could meet one person from #4 (Ghost Hunters) and spend the day with them, who would it be, and what would you do?

Jason from TAPs. We would totally go ghost hunting and he'd tell me his personal paranormal experience that he never tells on the show, because I'm insanely curious about that.

7. If you could change one thing about #2 (Heroes)’s plot line, what would you change?

Sylar wouldn't be so clearly back to his evil self. I'd lose West, who bores me. I'd cut out the Black Oilien twins altogether. And I'd have Noah Bennett kicking more ass on a weekly basis.

8. Explain a relationship between two people (not necessarily romantic) from show #5 (Days of Our Lives), and why you like the relationship between them?

I really like the relationship between Steve and Kayla, and not just the romantic element of it. They trust each other enough to tell each other the truth. They're forgiving and accepting of each other's faults, and they are fiercely loyal. They make their relationship a priority, and they're faithful to each other, not just sexually but also emotionally. And their fidelity extends to every day things, not just romantic situations. They always have each other's back. And that trust allows them to live life less fearfully than a lot of couples would.

9. If the lead title characters (first name in the credit sequence) from #1(Chuck) and #3 (House) were both drowning, and you could only save one, who would it be?

Ouch, this is a tough one. Chuck would seem to be the easy sacrifice--House's insanely effective diagnostic skills make him really valuable to sick people in need. On the other hand, the world's deadliest security secrets reside in Chuck's brain, and he can theoretically save the entire planet. Gotta save Chuck. Beside, House is curmudgeonly and self-devoted enough to save himself.

10. If you could change the title characters’ order in the credits for #4 (Ghost Hunters), what order would you choose?

I wouldn't. Jason's name comes first, and he's definitely the alpha dog on that show, so I'd leave it just as it is.

11. If you were able to add a new character, any kind of character you wanted, to the storyline for #6 (Most Evil), what would the character be like, and what would their role be?

He would be a Joe Arapayo type dude who sits in on the psychiatrist's talks with the serial killers, muttering in the background, "Who gives a damn why they skinned their mother? Fry the SOB." Just for variety.

12. What happens in your favorite episode of show #2 (Heroes)?

Hmm. I watched the first season online over a weekend, so it's a blur. I did like the one where we learned that Noah Bennett wasn't really a bad guy. Which one was that? It was near the end of the season...

13. If you could kill off one of the characters in #1 (Chuck), who would it be and how would you do it?

It would be the horrible assitant manager at the store where Chuck works, the one who gives Chuck hell for no reason. I'd have Casey nail him with a microwave.

14. If you got the chance to visit the set for either show #3 (House) or show #5 (Days of Our Lives), which would you choose?

I'd definitely go with Days of Our Lives. I'd meet my faves (Stephen, Mary Beth, Blake, Rachel, Darin and Peter) and then I'd hunt down Hogan Sheffer and his staff and explain what the words "slow, escalating build up of conflict, leading to an explosive payoff" mean.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Ahem...

I sold my fourth book. The working title was Target: Jane Doe, but since it's for a special Intrigue hero-centric promotion in September 2008, my editor wants to give it a title more focused on the hero, who's a cowboy cop. Right now, we're considering Cowboy Alibi, although I'm not quite sure where the alibi fits in. Hee!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

2008 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence Details

The Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, sponsored by RWA chapter Southern Magic, was conceived in honor of multi-RITA Winner Gayle Wilson to award excellence in published romance fiction. The contest is judged by avid readers of romance, booksellers, and librarians. The winners of each category are awarded a bookmark engraved with the author's name and the book's title. Winners will also be included in a full-page RWR advertisement.

Eligibility: Participation is open to all published authors of novel length romance fiction published by an RWA-recognized publisher. Books must have a copyright of 2007; entries must be received by January 15, 2008. Electronic books may be entered provided they are presented in print book format, published through an RWA-recognized publisher and complete with copyright page produced by the publisher with print on both sides of the page.

Entry fee: RWA Members - $20 for first book; $15 for subsequent books. Entry fee: Non-RWA Members - $30 for first book; $15 for subsequent books.

Author must provide three copies of the entered book, which will not be returned. Finalists will be notified approximately March 3, 2008. Winners will be announced on April 12, 2008, at the Silken Sands Writers Conference in Pensacola Beach, FL. All finalists receive a certificate. Winners receive an engraved bookmark and inclusion in full page RWR ad.

Authors may enter more than one novel; however, the same novel may not be entered in multiple categories. If a category does not receive at least 5 entries, the category will be canceled, and the entrants' books and entry fees will be returned.

Categories for entry: Short Contemporary (Under 70,000 Words)

Long Contemporary (Over 70,000 Words)
Historical
Single Title Romantic Suspense
Series Romantic Suspense
Paranormal/Fantasy/ Futuristic/Time Travel
Contemporary Single Title
Young Adult
Inspirational
Novella (20,000 - 40,000 Words)

Judging: All entries are judged by avid readers of romance, booksellers, and librarians. The top two scores are added to form the final score. The lowest score is dropped. Ties are broken using the dropped low score. Books are given to the judges as a "thank you" for judging. They are not returned. Scores and finalist placement are not revealed. Score sheets are not returned. The decision of the judges is final.

Send entries (three copies of book, entry form + entry fee) to:
Jennifer Echols
Contest Coordinator
Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence
P.O. Box 190032
Birmingham, AL 35219

Make checks payable to Southern Magic.

Questions? E-mail: GWContest@southernmagic.org

Find details, past winners, and a downloadable entry form at http://www.southernmagic.org/gaylewilsoncontest.html

Saturday, September 15, 2007

I'm Too Old For...

Close games.

BTW, the article has Bama at 2-1. That's wrong. We're 3-0, 2-0 in the SEC.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Six Years Ago

It was a clear, sunny Tuesday. I was getting ready for work, watching a morning show on cable, when the first report came in. A plane had hit the north tower of the World Trade Center. They were thinking it might have been a small plane. There was talk of terrorism, but I remember thinking, no, just a bad pilot.

I left the house a little before 8 a.m. Central Time. Turned on the radio and learned that a second plane had hit the south tower of the WTC. I no longer assumed it was an accident

At work, we watched in horror as the events unfolded. Saw the first reports from the Pentagon, then later from a field in Pennsylvania. The world had changed.

Two years ago, I posted this computer art I made soon after the events of 9/11/01. I thought I'd share it again.


Ghosts of Manhattan

Monday, September 10, 2007

Funny Motherhood Blog

Came across this blog via a link on ebay. A busy mom with a much needed sense of humor.

http://mom2my6pack.blogspot.com/

Since I hope to be busy writing this week (just finished chapter 2 of the new book over the weekend), I thought I'd post some other reading material for you.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Busy Beaver of a Day

Did some cleaning and organizing that was long overdue today. I also paid bills, which was painful, especially since one of the bills was the power bill, and Alabama had three weeks of 100+ temperatures in August. Our power bill was almost half as much as the mortgage payment. Ouch. Just...ouch.

Are y'all getting as bored with my desperate attempts to blog daily as I am? You can admit it. It won't hurt my feelings.

But just so you didn't come here in vain, how about a little eye candy?




















Friday, August 31, 2007

Maybe I'm an Every Other Day Blogger

I forgot to blog yesterday. Although in my defense, I did think about it but mistakenly thought I'd blogged first thing yesterday morning and therefore told myself I didn't have to worry about it last night.

Plus, I was writing! Finished the first chapter of my proposal and got over a writing hump in the story. I'm going to try to finish chapter two over the weekend. And maybe even chapter three! Then I'll be ready to work on the synopsis and get the proposal out to my editor soon.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Well, Phooey...

Forgot to blog yesterday. It was a busy day.

Over on Romance Magicians, Carla's blogging about Big Bad Boys. I'm of two minds about alpha male heroes. I like a man's man, but I don't like a man who's controlling and hard like some alpha male heroes in some romances.

So, what's your favorite flavor of hero?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Doggone It!

I skipped yesterday blogging. Two days. ::sigh:: I'm such a slacker.

Okay, how about a pretty picture for today's blog? I mentioned I'm working on a cowboy book. I went looking for inspirations for my hero, mostly in western clothing catalogs online. Came across this fellow:



Ain't he purty?




Saturday, August 25, 2007

What Color Crayon Are You?

You Are a Blue Crayon
Your world is colored in calm, understated, deep colors. You are a loyal person, and the truest friend anyone could hope to find. On the inside, you tend to be emotional and even a bit moody. However, you know that people depend on you. So you put on a strong front.

Your color wheel opposite is orange. Orange people may be opinionated, but you feel they lack the depth to truly understand what they're saying.

What color crayon are you?

Friday, August 24, 2007

It's Too Hot to Blog

Is that a good excuse? It's hot and it's been storming, too, which means its muggy on top of hot. I hate August.

On top of that, my power window on the driver's side door of my car decided to die on the first rainy day in about a month. In the down position. What is up with that?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Egads!

I skipped blogging yesterday. I'm a failure!

Okay, not really. And I made it twenty days into August without screwing it up, so I guess that's not too bad. I'll try to post twice today to make up for it.

Jayne Ann Krentz is just a lovely, lovely person. Because I helped out with the movie trailer for her August book, she picked up a copy of Forbidden Temptation and read it. She liked it a lot and wrote to let me know. And she sweet enough to give me a nice quote to put on my website.

So go buy her book! It's under her Jayne Castle pen name---Silver Master. Looks to be great!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tagged!

Mary at The Bandwagon tagged me, which is great, because now I don't have to think up a blog on my own for today.

Here's the rules:

1. You have to post these rules before you give the facts.

2. Players, you must list one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of their middle name. If you don’t have a middle name, use the middle name you would have liked to have had.

3. When you are tagged you need to write your own blog post containing your own middle name game facts.

4. At the end of your blog post, you need to choose one person for each letter of your middle name to tag. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

First, I have to say this is SO unfair, because I have a longish middle name and I'm not sure I know enough bloggers to tag for all the letters of my name. Anyway, here goes:

Animals
Naps
Nieces
Entertainment
Love
Laughter
Evenhanded

I tag: Tripp, Tracy, Emily, Jennifer, Stacy, Tawny and Jill.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Snake Bit

I'm feeling kind of snake bit with my edits. First, my editor leaves out 50 pages from her line edits, which forces me to wait for the copy edits to finish up. Then my copier at home is acting all wiggy, so I thought, I'll take paper to work and copy there. Minimal ink usage. My boss won't care. But the copier here is going bad and won't feed sheets without jamming, and I don't have the time to stand at the copier for however long it takes to feed the sheets one at a time.

So I thought, well, I can scan and print to my printer. Slower, but I can work it in between work I'm doing. But the scanner will scan maybe a page or two at a time before it stops and I have to shut it down and let it rest until it's stopped freaking out. Still doable, though, right?

Wrong. My printer, which we just had fixed because of paper feeding issues, stopped feeding paper. So I think, okay, well it'll be slower, but I can scan two or three at a time and print to the color printer. Except that the scanner apparently sees the color printer interface and swoons, because it lies down and dies every time I try.

So I think I'll give my home copier a try again. Cross your fingers for me.

UPDATE:

Got the home copier to work, and the edits are packaged up for UPS to go out tomorrow, two-day. It should get to my editor on schedule. Yay!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Whew! And Hee!

The "whew!" is because I think my edits are done! Just have to print out the pages that required extensive revising and make copies of all of it, and then it's off to my editor by Fed Ex.

The "hee!" is for the fun little flash movie I made this weekend, in between edits, for Jayne Castle's next book in the Ghost Hunters series, SILVER MASTER. Take a peek.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Tick Tock

Copyedits just got here. I have to have them back to my editor by next Thursday. See ya!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Redemption Story

I'm a sucker for a redemption story. I like to read them and I like to write them. I like to hear about them in real life.

And it doesn't always have to be about life or death. Sometimes, as in this Charles Krauthammer column, it's just about finding a way to get back to something you love, even if it's not exactly what you hoped for or expected.

What Do You Blog About When You Don't Know What to Blog?

You blog about not knowing what to blog, I guess.

I know it's counterintuitive, but I'm not a journal-keeper. I know a lot of writers are. And I tried. I really did, especially as a young teenager in love for the first time. Only problem is, I'd forget to, y'know, actually write in my diary. So I'd remember the diary every two weeks or so, and I'd industriously try to piece together all the enormously important things Phillip and I had done together (which, believe me, wasn't anything to write about even at 15) and put them down on paper. But because I was a tad anal retentive, even then, I couldn't bear the concept of a day without an entry. So in between the one or two significant events that might happen in a week, there were five or six days when all I wrote was the date and "Nothing Happened." In fact, I got to where I just abbreviated it. There'd be page after page of "NH" in my poor diary. Then, Phillip graduated, we never really got together, and the diary got dumped in a box somewhere and finally disappeared altogether.

I tried journaling later, in my late twenties. That didn't even get as far as the poor diary.

So, I guess this blog is sort of all the journal I have in me. Of course, I'm not going to write the kind of stuff on a public venue that I might have written in a private journal. But who am I kidding? I never wrote it in a private journal, either.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

What I Look for in a Hero

A touch of tenderness.


A touch of heroism.




A touch of danger.


What do you look for in a hero?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Crazy Day at Work

And I'm pooped, so I'm out of snappy, interesting ideas for the blog tonight. But since I promised myself I'd blog something every day, how about a link or two?

As always, check out my peeps at Romance Magicians.

The Writing Playground has a cool interview with Carly Phillips.

Mary at The Bandwagon is lamenting the fast-approaching end of her summer vacation, and she also finished a manuscript, so congratulate her.

And now, I'm going to bed!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Dreamscapes

The last two nights, I had two different odd, vivid dreams.

In the first dream, I was at a high school. I have no idea why I was there--in the dream, I wasn't a student or teacher. And I don't really know anyone in high school I could be visiting. Anyway, while I was there, two teenage boys pulled out guns and started threatening people. They never shot anyone, but they were forcefully confiscating cell phones. I realized that someone had to find a way to call for help, so I managed to slip out of the big communal room where everyone was--I think it was some sort of school wide assembly, and everyone was there in one room.

Anyway, I managed to slip out, but I was unfamiliar with the school, and it was like a maze. And I realized one of the boys had spotted me and was following. I started zigzagging, trying to lose him, trying to find my way out, but no matter where I went, he always stayed a few steps behind.

I made it out to the parking lot but couldn't find my car, where my cell phone was. He finally caught up with me. Then I woke.

I don't even want to know what psychological issue brought out that dream.

My second dream came last night. I found a black and white female cat with three kittens---a black and white kitten, a silver tabby and a calico. She was very skinny, which was making the kittens skinny, and we couldn't figure out why she wouldn't eat what we were trying to feed her. My mother and I decided to try to feed her wet food through a syringe. But when we opened her mouth, we found another syringe already inside, wedged in her teeth. It was why she wasn't eating. We just reached in and pulled it out. Then I woke up.

Sometimes I wish I did dream analysis. And sometimes, I think it's probably better that I don't explore my psyche too closely.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Don't Forget the Intrigue Blog

Intrigue Authors have set up our blog on the Intrigue Authors page, so be sure to check it out for all thats going on with Intrigue and your favorite authors.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

What Did We Do Without the Internet?

Watching TV earlier tonight, I saw a trailer for the new Mr. Bean movie, which reminded me of my favorite Mr. Bean skit. I was trying to tell my mother about it, and I could see she wasn't quite getting what I was talking about.

And then I realized it was probably on YouTube. So I did a search, and voila!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnXsJAsCpkg

I love the Internet.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Editorial Funk

Got my edits on Forbidden Touch. Much cutting commenced on the part of my editor, and now I have to figure out how to patch the leftover pieces together without losing important stuff.

Plus, my editor inadvertantly left 50 pages out of the edits, which I won't get until the copy edits come in. And will have to be turned around in less than a week, no doubt.

Oh, joy.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Old Fogy

I joined the Internet revolution in 1995. That's quite a few years of being online, being involved in online communities, learning the ropes. I have a website I designed myself. All by myself. Well, okay, I used FrontPage, but I actually taught myself how to use simple HTML before I discovered Front Page. I have my own blog, obviously. I know how to upload and download from FTP sites. I'm probably a little more computer savvy than the average person my age.

So why can't I figure out how to use My Space?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Today's Heat Report

Brought to you by Ban Solid.

Currently 98 degrees F outside, with a projected high of 104 and a heat index of 110. Still slaving away on the third floor of the old house converted to a business. I do have the A/C, ceiling fan and box fan going full blast, and today I thought to bring a washcloth for the occasional impromptu spongebath of all exposed body parts (and perhaps a few hidden beneath clothing as well).

It's starting to feel stuffy warm in here. Time to re-wet the washcloth.

Kuzdu in Your Tank

This is an interesting theory: Kudzu as biofuel.

Kudzu, for those of you who aren't familiar with the pesky plant, is an invasive Japanese vine that has taken over large swaths of the south. It literally swallows things whole, including trees, telephone poles, etc. in areas where it's allowed to grow unthwarted.

If it really was viable as a biofuel, and we could control it and expand our options for fuel consumption at the same time, it could be an interesting project.

And who knows--get rid of some of the kudzu smothering the landscape these days and you just might find Jimmy Hoffa under there somewhere.

And here's a interesting example of why it's such a pesky plant: http://www.nap.edu/staff/mjensen/aaup2006/kudzu-car.jpg

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Reporting in from Sauna Central

Yes, the temperatures for Thursday and Friday are 104 degrees.

Arggggh!

Update: 12:52 pm

It's still hot outside. Only now, it's also hot inside. The A/C is running full tilt, the ceiling fan overhead is on high, and I'm daintily dabbing myself with a damp paper towel. But I'm wilting fast. Come on 5 o'clock!
Update 2: 3:15 pm
It's now 101 degrees outside. My boss, God bless her (and I mean that literally), went downstairs and found some box fans in the basement of the office. It's the only reason I'm still conscious.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Hot Enough Fer Ya?

100 degrees outside. I'm toiling away in the top floor of a 1940s era three-story house. Central air, ceiling fan on high, and it's still flippin' hot in my office. In conditions like these, I'm supposed to give a dang about signs, banners and program ads?

I don't think so.

Tuesday This and That

Wrote three pages on my cowboy book yesterday. Whoo! Hey, it's a start.

Mary tackles the age-old plotters vs. pantsers question over on Romance Magicians.

Great advice from Stef Feagan.

More later, I hope!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Consider This a Public Service

If you own a Sony RDR-GX330 DVD recorder, and plan to attach it to your cable box and your TV for recording and viewing pleasure, please do not follow the directions in the manual. Also, do not follow the directions shown on the Sony support site, either. Because neither actually, y'know, works.

Here's what you need:

2 coaxial cables
1 audio/visual cable (the one with the yellow, red and white prongs)

Hook the coaxial cable from the wall into the cable box. Then, take one of your two loose coaxial cables and run it from the "out" area of the cable box to the "in" area of the DVD recorder. Take the second coaxial cable and run it from the "out" part of the DVD recorder to the only coaxial cable port on the TV.

Second, take your audio visual cable and hook it from the "out" area of the DVD recorder (do not hook it to the "in" area, even though the way that it's set up would make that seem the more likely place to put the cords). Hook the other ends in the "in" part of the Television's audio/visual ports. Match the colors, of course.

Your DVD recorder should now work.

You'll thank me for this if you ever buy one.

Oughta Be in Pictures

I'm not sure why more romance novels don't get made into films, especially for women-focused networks like Lifetime and WE. There have been a few movies I've seen and enjoyed that were based on romance novels, such as Another Woman (based on a Margot Dalton Superromance) and Straight From the Heart (based on a Harper Monogram romance by Pamela Wallace). And others I've seen that played out exactly like a category romance might--The Hired Heart, for instance, could easily have been a Harlequin American or maybe even a Superromance.

What I'm wondering is why television and movies haven't realized that Intrigues are tailor-made for the movies? A nice mix of action/mystery and romance, bigger than life heroes, heroines and situations, lots of suspense, romantic tension and great pacing--sounds like just what the viewing audience is asking for more of to me.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

In Honor of Langley, Byers and Frohike...

This little gem from DefCon 2007.

Frohike totally would have hit on her as he was chasing her out.

What You May Not Know About Me...

Or "I was desperate for a blog topic."

With the help of YouTube, here's a little about me you may not know.

I like fishing. My favorite fish to catch are bream (bluegill and other sunfish) and crappie.

My favorite sport is baseball. My favorite team is the Atlanta Braves.

I love Alabama football, and this was one of the most exciting moments in memory for me. As was this.

I attended Samford University. I wasn't, alas, in the way cool A Capella Choir. Nor did I run for student office.

I was in the marching band in high school. I played flute and baritone. I was not, however, in the band in the video. Our band had about 39 members, including the dance team and the color guard.

I know, I know, more than you wanted to know.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

How Bad Can You Go?

Mary at The Bandwagon has a post about bad boys. This is actually a topic I've been thinking about a bit, thanks to my current interest in Days of Our Lives, which features two current bad guys with layers. And when I say bad, I'm not just talking about some guy on a motorcycle who gets the occasional slap on the wrist from The Man. One of the bad boys in question has raped a woman, shot a man, tormented another man and generally screwed with the minds of the entire town. The other bad boy is running a smuggling ring that may or may not include white slavery and is currently verbally and physically abusive to his young, naive girlfriend, whom he's working diligently to alienate from her family. Both of them are intriguing creatures, one more than the other, and there's much message board debate about whether one or the both of them are redeemable.

Soaps notoriously reform their bad guys (rapists Todd from One Life to Live and Jack from Days of Our Lives, former drug runner and paid thug Steve from Days of Our Lives) and they often manage to make it work because they have months and years to build and establish the path to redemption.

But what about novels? Mary asks the question, on her blog, about what books people have read in which a real bad guy was believably redeemed. My question is even harder, I think. Within the confines of a category-length book, have you ever read a true bad guy who gets redeemed by the end of the book?

I have my doubts. First, category books are short, and it's hard to build a believable redemption story within 260 manuscript pages. Also, category readers are pretty picky. They like their heroes heroic from the get go, from what I hear.

There's a story idea I'm playing featuring a hero who was once a con man. He's semi-reformed already before the story starts, but he's not a true hero at the beginning because he still tends to avoid putting himself in a position to have to help other people until someone calls in an old debt he has yet to pay. I'm a little worried about how to try to sell my editor on it. I mean, I know that my hero will find within himself what it takes to finish his road to redemption, but I'm not sure it's going to be immediately evident to my editor or the reader. There'll be signs, but they'll be weak signs, at first, until he finds his inner hero when he's put in the position to protect the heroine and himself from unexpected danger.

What do you think? Will the picky readers who read category books have the patience to let me tell my bad boy's story and help him find his inner hero?

Friday, August 03, 2007

Linda Howard Award of Excellence Contest

The 2008 Linda Howard Award of Excellence

PERMISSION TO FORWARD GRANTED AND APPRECIATED

Seven reasons to enter the Linda Howard Award of Excellence Contest for unpublished writers.

7. One of the few contests that only charge $25 for a 25 page printed entry. That’s 50 cents a page for at least two critiques.

6. A discretionary judge is used if the two experienced PRO or published judges’ scores are so far apart you can run a 1956 Chevy between them.

5. You don’t have to send in a synopsis, unless you’re a finalist. Well worth writing that *&#% synopsis then.

4. NEW for 2008 - You can send your entry via snail mail or electronically to the contest coordinators.

3. NEW for 2008 - The finalists will receive their critiques/scores back to revise and return to coordinators before sending to final round editors.

2. Your precious partials will be sent to GREAT editors for final rankings. Hopefully they will request your fulls. Last year, we had SIX fulls requested.

1. My goodness! It’s Linda Howard, folks! She’s awesome and the contest named in her honor is awesome! How wonderful would it be to have an engraved bookmark that reads"2008 Winner of the Linda Howard of Excellence" to show all your friends?

Southern Magic, the Birmingham Chapter of Romance Writers of America®, is pleased to announce its 3rd Annual Linda Howard Award of Excellence contest for unpublished writers.

Enter: Up to first twenty-five pages
Fee: $20-$25 (a $2 fee will apply to electronic entries paid by PayPal)
Deadline: Postmarked on or before October 27, 2007

Eligibility: RWA Published (see rules) & Unpublished Authors

Judges: Published, PRO, all trained or experienced in judging

Top Prize: Engraved Bookmark and winners will be announced in the RWR.

Categories/final judges:
Series Short/Long Contemporary: Susan Litman, Editor, Silhouette
Single Title: Selina McLemore, Editor, Grand Central Publishers (formerly Warner)
Suspense: Lauren McKenna, Senior Editor, Pocket
Historical: Alicia Condon, VP, Editorial Director, Dorchester
Unique Genres: Selena James, Executive Editor, Kensington

For entry form, score sheet, and rules, visit our website at http://www.southernmagic.org/, or send email to carlaswafford@charter.net

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Harlequin Profits Up

Always glad to read stuff like this.

A lot of friends—and my mother and brother—ask me why I'm not pushing harder to write for single title. My answer is, when I get a single title idea, I'll write it. But meanwhile, I can make more money writing for category. Especially for Intrigue, which is a strong-selling line for Harlequin.

Eventually, I might make more per book for a single title, but at this point in my career? Category is more bang for the buck.

Does that sound cynical and mercenery? Oh well...

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Blog Days of Summer Begin!

Well, it's August first, and I promised myself I'd try to blog every day this month, just to see if I could do it. I can't promise scintillating ponderings on the meaning of life or anything, but maybe I can rustle up some cool links or something.

So we'll start with this. That's my book as it's being marketed in Australia by Mills & Boon. It's a two-in-one thing, coupled with my friend Deb Webb's book Colby vs. Colby, which I'm glad about, because Deb's a good seller.

And finally, congratulations to my friend and Southern Magic chaptermate Christy Reece for selling her first three books in a three-book deal to Ballantine!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Taramul Interzis

My first book, FORBIDDEN TERRITORY, is now out in Romania. In Romanian.

And I love the cover!


Monday, July 23, 2007

Like Wading Through Cold Molasses

That's what writing feels like right now. It's so much better when I'm in the zone. I've got to proposals to work up, and I really want them both ready before the end of August. Earlier if possible.

But I do not want to send out three chapters and a synopsis while I'm feeling doubts about whether I can finish them on deadline. Argggh. I'm having such a crisis of faith.

But I'll slog through. I always do.

Meanwhile, to make myself feel better, how about a pretty picture? I'm a sucker for guys who are unconventionally attractive. One of my current favorites is Blake Berris, who's young enough to be my son, but we just won't think about that.





Sunday, July 22, 2007

Casting Call

It's that time again. Time to cast the hero of my new project. The working title is TARGET: JANE DOE and the hero is a Wyoming sheriff looking for a woman he believes was involved in his brother's murder. But when he finds her, she claims to have no memory of her life before she showed up in the little town of Trinity, Idaho, half-frozen and disoriented. When someone tries to kill them both, the hero, Mitch, is forced to face the fact that his prime suspect may actually be the innocent target of a ruthless killer.

I'm not yet set on Mitch's looks, although I do tend to prefer dark-haired men to blonds. He's in his mid-thirties, lean and a bit taciturn. Very smart, very capable, a real stand-up cowboy of a guy--but bitter when it come to women, thanks to a broken marriage.

So, any suggestions?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Blog Days of Summer

Yes, I know this is my fourth post in two days. Am I running a fever? Some of you are probably thinking about calling Mulder and Scully to check and see if I've been abducted by aliens and replaced by a pod!Paula.

But I really am trying to be a more conscientious blogger, just to get myself into better work habits. And yes, I do consider the blog to be work-related, since it's about my writing and my books. And okay, also about my weird dreams, my pets and my TV viewing habits, but mostly about my books.

So as a test, I'm going to try to post at least once a day every day in August. I'm calling it the Blog Days of Summer, and I hope you'll try to stop by once in a while to see what I'm talking about and maybe join in the conversation. I can't promise it'll always be about books and writing (in fact, I can promise you it won't), but I'm going to try to keep it entertaining.

Jane and the Slushpile

An experiment in England yields predictable results.

This Guardian story makes a big deal out of editors sending out form rejection letters to a writer who queried with lightly revised versions of some of Jane Austen's novels. But this article fails to understand how rejection letters work. They assume, without much evidence to back up the assumption, that the failure of editors to address the fairly obvious plagiarism proves that the editors not only didn't recognize Jane Austen's writing but found it unpublishable.

I'm sure there may have been one or two who didn't recognize the stories, but I wouldn't be surprised if most did and dealt with the plagiarism the way most busy editors deal with any project they know they can't pursue, for whatever reason--they sent out a form rejection letter. And I'm not sure that Jane's stories could get sold as written now because the language conventions of the early 1800s are not the language conventions of the present. At the very least, she would be heavily edited.

So, in the end, the results of the experiment prove very little of what it sought to prove about modern publishing.

Self-Promotion and the Introvert

I don't think I'm very good at self-promotion, which is bad. Because writing for Harlequin as I do, I'm pretty much stuck with promoting myself, because there's not a whole lot that Harlequin does to promote its lesser authors. We're thrown out among the sharks to sink or swim. (In Harlequin's defense, I think that's true of most new authors at most publishing houses).

I read a quote from someone who went to the RWA conference and sat in on an Agent panel. The gist of the quote was that authors should spend 3 to 10 hours a week self-promoting online. My question is--if I spend that much time self-promoting, when am I going to write? I work full time, for pete's sake, outside of my writing career. Yikes.

My self-promotion consists of this blog and my website, putting my books in the sig line of my email, occasional (far too occasional) posts on eHarlequin (also with my books in my sig line) and just basic word of mouth. The last two books, I bought bookmarks, but the problem with that is, by the time I get the cover art, I have only a month or so to get the bookmarks done and start distributing them before the book is out. And with category books, it's only in the store about a month, if that, before it's removed from the shelves to make room for more books.

I'm not at all comfortable with public speaking. I never have been, and I don't anticipate becoming so after all these years, so I don't think I can go the "give a presentation at a writer's conference" or "try to get on a local TV morning show" route. Just can't go there.

So what do I do? Keeping in mind that I'm a total INTJ (Myers-Briggs) introvert who has a terrible time asking for anything for myself or bragging on myself, what positive steps can I take to get my name and my book titles out there where people know about me? Steps that won't cost me an arm and a leg, mind you, because I'm nowhere near wealthy from my book profits at this point. ;) Anybody have any cool ideas?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Amazon.com and Reviews

First, even though the book is no longer at most book stores, you can still purchase Forbidden Temptation through online sellers like Amazon.com.

And speaking of Amazon.com, if you've read Forbidden Temptation or Forbidden Territory and liked them, please take time to write up something in the reviews section! I'd love to hear what you thought of the books.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Rain, Rain, Don't Go Away

We've been in a nasty drought for a couple of months, but last week we finally got some decent rain, and this week looks like it's going to be rainy as well, and I couldn't be happier.

I'm a big fan of rain anyway, even without a drought. Give me gray skies and drizzle and I'm a pretty happy camper. I'm not sure why I'm that way; I just know that I have been since childhood. Maybe it's the inherent unpredictability of stormy weather that meets an inner yearning for excitement. Or maybe my love of mystery and intrigue just demands a hint of gloom and mist. I don't know.

I just know my mood brightens when I look out the window and see that it's raining.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Independence Day

No barbecuing for me today. Tonight is spaghetti night of all things. I guess we're celebrating the immigrant influence on the American melting pot or something. But I'm happy to be living in the United States, taking part in this radical experiment in Democracy 231 years after its inception.

So have a Happy Fourth of July!

UPDATE:

Well, the spaghetti-maker came down with a migraine, and nobody else wanted to cook. So dinner was potato salad, chicken salad, pimiento cheese and a croissant. I guess that means we celebrated the Mrs. Stratton's Salads influence on the American melting pot, huh?

Be safe and enjoy the fireworks tonight!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Because Basically, I Got Nothin'...

I know I said I'd blog more, and I'm going to try, but it would help if I had a cool and interesting life to tell you about. And I don't. Plus, my book revisions have wrestled me to the floor and currently have me in a headlock.

So, just 'cause I promised to blog more, here's a short film that I saw on Youtube earlier today and thought was really well done. If absurd and demented.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFRhs3-pP8w

Friday, June 29, 2007

Friday Chit Chat

Happy Friday. I haven't posted in about a week, so it's time to catch up. Plus, I'm on vacation until after the 4th, so I have a little time to blather on. I don't have a particular topic, just a few things I've been meaning to mention, and now is as good a time as any.

First, the gratuitous, self-serving plug. FORBIDDEN TEMPTATION is still on the book shelves, but I don't know for how much longer. You may or may not know that category (i.e. Harlequin/Silhouette) books don't usually stay in book stores, grocery stores or your local Wal-Mart or Target for more than two or three weeks before they're cycled out and the new books are cycled in. So if you're thinking about buying someone's category romance (like FORBIDDEN TEMPTATION--buy early, buy often), you really do need to get to the bookstore quickly, because they don't stock a whole lot per store, and they don't stay in the stores that long. Fortunately, places like Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com and the on-line versions of Wal-Mart and Target do have the books in stock online much longer. So it's not too late, even if your local store has sold out of FORBIDDEN TEMPTATION.

/Gratuitous, self-serving plug

Yesterday was my birthday. We're not big birthday people in my family. You're lucky if someone remembers it and says Happy Birthday. (I'm looking at YOU, brother dearest). But we do generally do the birthday cake thing around here, and I got to choose what I wanted. Now, if it were my sister's choice, or her kids, I'd have gotten a big rectangular flat cake with lots of frosting balloons, flowers and writing. But I'm just not into all that stuff, so I requested a simple Red Velvet cake. Yum. They bought it at the local Food World and it was delicious.

Hopping topics like a mad woman, last week, my editor asked me to do a cowboy hero for an "all heroes" promotion Intrigue plans to do next year. My first instinct was sheer panic. I'm that person you run into on writers' message boards who bemoans the glut of "Cowboy, Baby and Bride" books out there in category as it is. Plus, I was born in the city, I grew up in the city, and though I live outside the city at the moment, I'm in a suburban town, not the country, and my exposure to cows and horses is pretty much limited to occasional visits to my extended family in rural Alabama. I've never met a real cowboy, though I once attended a local rodeo. Yeah, I'm really the person to write a cowboy book.

But I actually do like cowboys. I used to watch Bonanza. I liked Tom Selleck in Louis L'Amour movies he did a while back. I read Zane Grey books as a child. I'm prepared, right?

Of course, I hedged my bets a bit when I started plotting . The bulk of the story is set in cities and towns along the road from Philadelphia to the Wyoming Rockies, not on a working cattle ranch. And my hero, while raised on a Wyoming ranch, left it to seek his way in the world. But I do think I understand the appeal of wide opens spaces and the sort of gritty, pioneer spirit that makes a cowboy who and what he is. The ideas of honor and responsibility and the siren call of the land appeal to me as well. So in spirit, I think I can write a cowboy and make him the kind of guy readers will love. With lots and lots of research.

I hope you'll also love the heroine who transforms his life and gives him a greater sense of what the word "home" really means.

I guess I'll let that be it from me for now. Since I'm on vacation, I'll try to blog a little more regularly this week.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Sweet TonyOnAHorse, That was a Show!

Yesterday's Days of Our Lives episode was the best the show has been in about two decades. The dueling Brady and Dimera families each had family dinners to discuss the feud situation between the families. Old friends showed up (Anna! Back in Salem!) and internecine rivalries erupted into near violence and one of the most hysterically funny faux displays of brotherly reconciliation I've ever seen.

Good soap, people. Good Soap.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Chat Reminder

I'll be chatting tomorrow night, Sunday the 17th, on Writerspace. 8 pm central time (9 eastern, 6 Pacific). I hope you'll join me so I'm not sitting there twiddling my thumbs all alone with the moderator!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Launch Party!

FORBIDDEN TEMPTATION should be out in book stores tomorrow, so its Launch Party time again! Tomorrow night from 7 pm to 9 pm Central Time (That's 8 - 10 Eastern, 6 - 8 Mountain and 5 to 7 Pacific), I'll be giving away books and Amazon.com gift certificates and answering your questions about my upcoming book. Anything you want to know, from how I got the idea to what the story went through before it sold, what's coming on the horizon, etc., ask it in the comments section of this blog post and I'll be here Tuesday night to answer them all. And try to make it on Tuesday night to be part of the prize giveaways!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Kira gets The Call!

My Southern Magic and Heart of Dixie chaptermate Kira Bazzel got THE CALL. Her book Curing Dr. Desire has sold to Brenda Chin at Harlequin Blaze!

Go visit The Writing Playground; I'm sure they'll be updating with all the scoop soon!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Remembering a Friend

Her name was Marcey Jo Swearingen, and she was thirty-seven years old. She was friendly, supportive, wickedly funny and genuinely welcoming. She was from Enterprise, Alabama, and was attending college. She loved Steve and Kayla on Days of Our Lives, and wanted to meet Stephen Nichols one day.

She died on Saturday, May 12th, of complications from the 'flu.

I never met her in person. I have no idea what she looked like. I only know what I know of her from her posts on a message board I frequent and from the occasional chats we participated in together. But when I heard she was gone, the shock, dismay and--yes--heartache I experienced were real.

It's amazing how you can find community and family anywhere you go. As a Christian, I've often felt that sense of community and family among strangers in strange places when I learned we shared that common religious experience. I've found it when I've been out west or up north and ran into a fellow southerner. Part of what made me notice Marcey from among the hundreds of fellow posters, besides her wit and her sweetness, was that she was an Alabama girl like me.

I'll miss Marcey's funny posts and her wry asides. I'll miss her passion and her sweetness. But I'm also grateful that in the sorrow of her passing, I've found a moment to reflect on the very human need for connections and community. It's a good reminder for people, like us writers, who often toil in solitude, that we are not really all alone in the world.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Laura Shin blogging at Pink Ladies

Harlequin Superromance editor Laura Shin is blogging at the Pink Ladies blog. It's always a treat when someone who has the power to buy your book takes the time to give you some advice, and this is particularly good advice if you're in the middle of revising a book. Go read.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Look What's Up at eHarlequin

http://www.eharlequin.com/storeitem.html?iid=14811

I just turned in a proposal for a fourth book yesterday--Code Name: WILLOW. It's not connected to the Forbidden series. And it's not really connected to the series idea I'm working on now. But it's an already completed manuscript, which is a plus.

It's won a couple of contests and placed second in the 2005 Daphne du Maurier contest, so I'm hoping my editor likes it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Top Pick!

FORBIDDEN TEMPTATION got 4.5 stars and a Top Pick from Romantic Times Book Reviews!

Aaaaaahhhhh!

BTW, the website shows only 4 stars, but as you can see in the review itself, the actual score is 4.5:

Psychic Rose Browning finds herself swept up in an investigation into a serial killer with a predilection for young blondes. Scorned by the police when she tries to explain the "death veils" she sees covering the faces of future victims, Rose hooks up with former FBI profiler Daniel Hartman to catch the maniac before he kills again. Daniel, however, has a personal interest in the case: He believes the killer may be the same man who murdered his fiancee nine years earlier. Paula Graves offers up a top-notch psychological roller coaster in Forbidden Temptation (4.5).

I'm so excited!

UPDATED:

The RT website has now corrected the error and given me my cute little 1/2.

BTW, I'm not ignoring your comments; for some reason, my computer doesn't want to let me post to the comments section. I'm working on that.