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Showing posts from May, 2008

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Week In Review

1. Bought my plane ticket for San Francisco yesterday.

2. Now I just have to cajole Paul into picking me up from the airport at 1 in the morning.

3. He'll be up with nothing better to do. ;)

4. The #4 key on this keyboard started sticking this morning.

5. Even though I rarely find a use for the #4 key, this is still annoying.

6. My Chow dog stuck his head under the grill to lick some grease that dripped onto the deck.

7. Naturally that means the rest of the grease dripped onto him.

8. Long-haired dog + grease = a trip to the groomers. *holds nose* The sooner the better.

9. The Scientist had his tonsils out Wednesday and is doing very well.

10. Even ate scrambled eggs and salad last night (his choice of combination, not mine).

11. Daredevil wants to know when he can own his own weed-whacker.

12. I told him to watch the skies carefully and let me know the minute he sees a goat fly by and we'll rush right down to Lowe's and make it happen.

13. I have fallen in love with fillo dough.

14.…

Facts - Both Strange and Mundane

Some Facts (Wierd and Otherwise) I've Researched For My Books:

* Sites of interest in Dublin, Ireland.

* Chinese Surnames

* Mapquest from a hotel in Detroit to a neighborhood on the outskirts of town.

* Manolo Blahniks

* Recipe for herbed pork chops

* Rental cars

* Carpet cleaning companies

* Underwater predators

* Obscure Greek mythology

* Amnesia

* The Irish Armed Garda

* Restaurants in New York City

* The Detroit PD

* German food

* Small town names in Louisiana, New Jersey, California, and Tennessee

* Synonyms for the words "blur" and "tentacle"

Why you would want to know any of this, I have no idea. But it's just past midnight, I'm tired, and this is the best I've got. =D

Balancing POV

Guest Blogger: Rachel Grant

Thanks so much for sharing your readers with me, C.J.! I love to talk about craft, and my husband gets tired of hearing me ramble on, so it’s probably better if I redirect my random musings to people who actually care about the subject.

Although I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer, I spent a decade of my life pursuing something else entirely, which has given me great fodder for my writing. I think I first decided to major in archaeology because it sounded cool. Of course, this Calvin and Hobbs cartoon sums up the profession nicely and is required to be posted in every archaeologist’s office. Actually, the work really was cool, but strangely enough, unlike the way archaeology is portrayed in books and movies, there was a decided lack of mysteries to solve, and treasure hunting is pretty much taboo. Fortunately for me, I have an active imagination and to make the job even more fun, I spent some of the more mundane hours thinking up story ideas.

La…

Monday's List (on a Tuesday)

1. Yesterday we spent about 40 minutes at the Renaissance Festival before the heavens opened up and sent us enough rain to flood the area within 30 short minutes.

2. We literally waded out to our car.

3. *sigh* The good news is, leaving early prevented me from giving in to the temptation to buy this incredibly cool dragon wall sconce candle holder I fell in love with.

4. Naturally, I am surrounded with laundry (thankfully most of it clean!!) to deal with today.

5. I am currently revising the villain's scenes in SHADOWING FATE to make his motivation clearer and to introduce an additional level of "oh crap!".

6. The Scientist gets his tonsils taken out tomorrow and he's nervous.

7. I waited on a particularly unpleasant man this past weekend who (after demanding a magnifying glass and then asking what kind of restaurant doesn't keep magnifying glasses available - umm, ALL of them? - and then haranguing me constantly about the itmes on the menu) wanted to know if our speci…

Puss In ... Armor?

While Juan Pedro is quite enamored of the newest member of his household, he worries that pictures like this might compromise his image as the Merchant of Death.




Week In Review

1. I picked up Jeaniene Frost's ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE yesterday and am now going to have to draft an email of complaint to her. (Yes, yes, I know her.)

2. Why?

3. Because the book was so good, I stayed up late to finish it when I really should have been finishing writing my own.

4. Now I have to write after work tonight and I won't be getting home until 11.

5. I blame her.

6. We are taking the kids to see Indiana Jones today.

7. Paul is hooking us up with tickets which is not the reason I'm one of his best friends but it certainly doesn't stink either.

8. I need to find a gorgeous dress to wear for the Golden Heart award ceremony.

9. Waited on a man in his seventies (or more) the other night who came in by himself and was reading a book.

10. Naturally, I always ask what people are reading and begin a conversation about the author.

11. This time, to my complete surprise, I knew the author personally.

12. The man was reading Celeste Bradley, my first critique partner.

13. He had a …

California Ears

Tuesday, I was out at the kids' school for the Scientist's award ceremony. While we waited for the kids to arrive, I began chatting with the mom sitting next to me. She was discussing the fact that she is working this summer for the first time in two years.

When I asked if her kids were going to camps or daycare, she said, "No, they'll be with my husband but they'll have to get up early. He forums."

Forums? I didn't know "forum" was a verb. My mind raced as I tried to picture a job description to go with "forums".

"He does what?" I asked.

"He forums." She said.

Did he go from business to business running forums? Was he a political advisor? Was this an educational thing?

Slightly embarrassed that I did not know the answer, I asked, "How do you "forum"?"

The mom looked confused and said "Well...there's cows and chickens and hay..."

OHHHHHH. Farms.

Said with a rich southern accent, it ga…

Brokenhearted

If any of my blog readers pray, I would ask that you lift up the family of singer Steven Curtis Chapman. He is a Christian singer who lives here locally and is a huge advocate for adoption from China (they've adopted three girls from China). Today this loving family experienced a huge tragedy - one of their older boys accidentally ran over their five year old daughter (Maria, their youngest) and she died as a result.

Words can't express how deep this grief goes. Please pray for their family and especially for the poor boy who was driving the car. As a mother, I can't even stand to contemplate losing one of my kids and to have to worry that another child might take his life over it would be unbearable.

I thank you for lifting them up with me.

Ni!

"I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay!" - Everybody! Sing with me!

What - not a Monty Python fan? *sniffs* Well then go away and I shall taunt you a second time. This post will be rife with MP references...hie thyself to the nearest Blockbuster and enhance thy comedic education.


My hubby, though not a lumberjack per say, decided to channel one this weekend while doing yardwork. We had a tree in our backyard that died sometime over the winter months.

I say "had" because my hubby decided to remove it this weekend.

This was fine with me, but I was curious to see what method of removal he would choose. Last time he became irritated with innocent foliage, I heard the lawnmower engine revving and came outside to see him cackling (no, no...it wasn't laughter. I distinctly heard "cackling") as he mowed down four small shrubs that, up until that moment, he'd always had to weave around while mowing.

He got tired of weaving and just took them out. Sopran…

Discovering Your Voice

Guest blogger: Lynn Raye Harris

You’ve decided to write a romance novel. Or maybe you’ve been writing romance and you’re contemplating a switch in subgenre. You’ve been writing about vampires and want to write a hot historical. Or the hot historical is turning into gritty romantic suspense. Maybe you’re confused and unsure what to write.

How do you know where you belong, where your voice is a natural fit? I don’t have the one-size fits all answer to that, but I’ve learned some things about genre and voice recently that I’d like to share.

But first we have to go back to the beginning. My first romance manuscript was a whopping medieval tome. How did I arrive in the Middle Ages? I think it was the armor. ;)

Seriously, I love history and I was reading widely about British history when this particular time period caught my eye. I became very interested in Edward I and his battle to conquer Wales. A book (a terrible, huge, meandering book) was born.

Next came a Regency historical. …

Greetings...

When Daredevil came home from school, he walked up to me, raised one eyebrow (a look he started giving me the day he was born) and said, in a very formal voice, "Salutations."

When I laughed, he looked worried and asked, "Do you even know what that word means?"

When I said it meant "greetings" he just shook his head sadly.

"No, mom, it just means hello. I can say hello from now on if that's easier for you."

Lol. I love my kids.

Fixing A Languishing Scene

Because I'm in the middle of revisions for SHADOWING FATE and need to spend the bulk of my writing time there, todays Writing Process post will be short, sweet, and hopefully helpful. =)

Sometimes, I sit down to write a scene and everything just falls into place. The dialogue sparks naturally, the conflict leaps off the page, and I know exactly what happens next.

Sometimes, I sit down to write a scene and the words move sluggishly or refuse to come at all. Those are the scenes that I return to later and, upon re-reading, realize I've just written the equivalent of vanilla frozen yogurt - bland and pointless.

Here's a trick to fix that scenario:

1. Every scene must advance the conflict(s) in your novel. No fillers, please.

2. Within the scene, each character needs to have an individual goal. Doesn't have to be lofty. Maybe your hero wants to win an argument. Maybe your secondary character needs to get to work on time. Doesn't matter. What matters is that every ch…

For Grayback, With Love

Monday's List

1. Speaking of getting up early...I'm going to have to either get up at 5 a.m. all summer to write or stay up late.

2. Tis nearly impossible to write coherent sentences with three boys awake in the house.

3. I have some HUGE writing goals this week and, of course, it's one of my busiest weeks:

*Working two to three shifts
*Three separate award ceremonies at the kids' school - on different days, none of them back to back
*Two end of the year picnics - different days, different times
*Running the Scientist up to Nashville Wed. morning for pre-tonsils-are-coming-out labwork
*A dr.'s appointment
*My children's insistence that I drive them on the last day of school so all they have to do is run into their classrooms, pick up their report card and leave
*A Girl's Night Out
*And a trip to the Renaissance Festival.

4. Piece of cake.

5. Not that I eat cake anymore.

6. I am surprised and a bit annoyed at how many aspiring authors whine about getting a form rejection.

7. Does it…

Bathrobes, People. Bathrobes.

To Do List - Weekend Edition

1. See Prince Caspian....Yay!! Loved it!! Theater packed full of high school kids nonwithstanding!

2. Pick jaw up off of floor over recent request for SHADOWING FATE from the Query Shark. (Submitted for feedback, not expecting an actual page request and must confess that I recieved the request when I checked my email at 2 am last night and am still giddy...)

3. Figure out how to make my stiletto purchases tax-deductible.

4. *sigh* Laundry. Always laundry.

5. Finish my revision of SHADOWING FATE (thank you Katy for the early morning soundboard that fixed my secondary character issue!!!!).

6. Actually, working on the revision is going to take most of the weekend and a chunk of the upcoming week as well because I want to get this manuscript in Janet Reid's capable hands as soon as possible.

7. I have several new-to-me authors waiting to be read but they have to take a backseat for a while.

8. Tomorrow we have our Community Group over (15-20 friends) and I confess I may be holed upstairs i…

Week In Review

1. Lol. My Star Wars is showing...

2. Though actually, being able to kill someone with a thought is pretty cool.

3. Er, umm, for literature, I mean. And movies. Fiction. Strictly fiction.

4. Moving on.

5. Somehow it's Friday (well, if you want to get technical with me it's still Thursday but studies show that the opinions I hold on Thursday are 99.999996% certain to still be with me on Friday so I'm safe) and I feel like this week was a blur.

6. Let's see what took up chunks of my time:

Sunday: Mother's Day, taught Sunday school, went to church, was pampered by my hubby and kids, read a good book. Nice day.

Monday: I can't even remember Monday. It's been repressed.

Tuesday: Visit to my oncologist - why can't I repress that??! One year to the "cure" mark. Visit to B & N and a bag full of new books. Lunch with hubby. Work.

Wednesday: Mother's Tea with Daredevil at school, grocery store, work, exercise.

Thursday: housework, writing, sick k…

Consequences & Repercussions

On Thin Ice

Many of my friends went ice skating this past Monday.

I did not.

For those of you struggling to understand why, may I just take a moment to call attention to the time I got a black eye from my cat, or the time I walked into a tree, or my graceless stop, drop, and roll routine on my way to my car.

If that still doesn't convince you that I should never be allowed to try maintaining my balance on a sheet of ice with a potential weapon strapped to my feet, I thought I'd tell you about my last foray into the sport of ice skating.

In my childhood, with much practice, I became a decent roller skater. I didn't do tight little spins or jumps but I could hold my own comfortably at high speeds without worrying that I would take out a toddler or flip over the half-wall and land in somebody's pizza.

When my friends broached the concept of ice skating with me, I initially balked because a) I lack basic balance and coordination and b) I lack basic balance and coordination. They tossed a…

One Author's Journey to SOLD!

Kris Kennedy, a Golden Heart finalist, writes historical romances and recently signed a two book deal. You can learn more about Kris's writing (and her mostly dyed blonde moments) at her web site.


Name:

LOL, CJ. Right off the bat, my blonde (mostly dyed, anymore) is showing. I don't know if you meant my name, of the book's name, so I'll give you both! :-)

I'm Kris Kennedy, and my book, for now, is titled The Kinds Of Wanting. I thought that was a hot, interesting title, but apparently I'm wrong. LOL And, seeing as I know nothing about the publishing business, I think I'll trust my editor.

And so, I had a title vote at my website and got LOTS of great suggestions. I sent the top rated ones to my editor (and tacked on a few new ones, when he didn't gasp in amazement after first glance), so now we'll wait and see what they do with it.

I'll be posting the new title as soon as I know it, and giving away prizes, so come and visit! I will be upd…

Finding Your Voice

"Voice" may be the single most important element in writing a novel. Voice conveys attitude, culture, motivation, identifies characters, and sets your work apart from the hundreds of other novels waiting for an editor's attention.


1. How I Found My Voice:

Finding my literary voice took some experimenting with genres and POVs. I had to stop reading books in my genre areas of interest for a few months and start playing around with characters in my head. I wanted to "cleanse the palette" for a little while so I could construct a novel without anyone else's voices edging in.

My first novel (DTR) is third-person romantic suspense. It's solid writing and I like it but I felt that I didn't quite capture enough originality in my voice using that vehicle. I sat down and made a list of what I really loved in my favorite books and it looked something like this:

1. Strong heroine with interesting inner dialogue that makes me laugh.

2. Suspense woven throughout.

3.…

Monday's List

1. Lest my dog, Bear, become too jealous of Taz's recent fifteen seconds of blogger fame, I posted a pic of him today.

2. Mother's Day was nice: hubby cooked a steak dinner and did all the cleaning, kids all made cards, and I received a gift card to Barnes & Nobles (always the perfect gift for me!) and the new Gwen Stefani perfume I like.

3. Went to see What Happens In Vegas with Kailani and laughed often.

4. Went to Wal-Mart before that and realized that it would be in the public's best interest for designers to stop manufacturing tube tops for anyone over a size 4.

5. Those suckers are not equipped to lock and load the girls.

6. Strangely, the women who most need to be locked and loaded seem fine with relying on a strip of terry cloth to do so.

7. Scary.

8. But not as scary as men who wear overalls.

9. I started reading a book (and because I'm not going to be complimentary, I won't name the author) which is extremely well known and was even made into a wildly succe…

Week In Review

1. Actually, sadly, I do know how the concepts of cooking and cleaning apply to me.

2. They try to take over my world...

3. Thankfully, I possess the fortitude to resist.

4. Every time I pet my cat, my dog gets jealous.

5. Starshine now asks daily if he can own a fish.

6. He promises to clean the bowl every day.

7. This would be a small miracle considering the usual state of his bedroom.

8. However, he is very persistent with this request.

9. All other family members have remained neutral on the issue, except the cat.

10. She's very supportive.

11. I will take a picture of Anne Boleyn in all her bony glory and post it next week.

12. The Renaissance Festival has come to town and my hubby, Paul, and I never miss it.

13. This week, while handing a man his plate of food, the momentum of the plate's forward motion carried one precariously placed piece of bacon off the plate, onto the man's lap, and (due to his regrettably slow reflexes) onto the floor.

14. One piece.

15. I instantly apolo…

A Chance To Help

You won't find this on the news...I don't know why. Maybe the Sudanese government is suppressing the information. Maybe with all of the devestation in Myanmar, the total destruction of one village doesn't rate a story. I don't know. What I do know is this:

My church partners with ALARM ministry (an African-based operation, run by Celestin Musekura, that seeks to bring stability, education, and support to Africa by raising up leaders and giving supplies and education to local Africans so they can be a positive influence for change in their own communities) and we have a specific partnership with a church in Lietnohm, a town in southern Sudan.

Within the last forty-eight hours, Dinka tribe members (one of the warring tribes within Sudan) showed up in Lietnohm with automatic weapons, something they've never done, and leveled the entire village to the ground.

The latest information, (which came from Celestin yesterday following a conference call with ALARM staff in Ke…

Electric Cake!

My hubby's radio station opened a new studio last week and commissioned my hubby to make a cake for the celebration. He chose to make a replica of a mixing console, complete with all the knobs, buttons, slides, and other electronic gizmos.




Looks like a real mixing console! People walking into the studio didn't realize it was cake.


Using the Web to Your Advantage

Today's Writing Process post is going in a different direction. In this post, I'm going to assume you're a serious writer, you've finished (or nearly finished) a novel you plan to submit to agents, and you are focused on the goal of being published.

Agents interested in talking with you about representation will google your name. Then, they actually read what they've googled. With that in mind, how you present yourself on the web can help or hurt your publishing career.

The following advice is gleaned from entries I read on the blogs of Rachel Vater, Jennifer Jackson, Kristin Nelson, and Jessica Faust, all top notch literary agents.

1. Don't write anything in your blog, myspace, livejournal that you don't want a stranger, your grandmother, or a potential business partner to read.

2. Keep the profanity to a minimum.

3. Have your freak out moments in private, not on the web.

4. Be careful how much you share about your writing: if you went through a period of play…

Rock, Paper, Scissors...

It's been a few months since my last pet peeves post. It's time.

1. People who walk up to you and ask how you are and then launch into all the drama in their own life before you have a chance to reply. I should just start charging people like that by the hour.

2. People who take their children to restaurants and then don't clean up after them.

3. Dancing With The Stars

4. Actually, most reality tv shows make this list.

5. Packages of candy that claim to be a fat free food, thus implying that consuming said bag of candy will have no detrimental effect on the size of my thighs.

6. Ugly shoes.

7. Self-doubt that sneaks up on me when I'm least prepared to deal with it.

8. Flowering plants that obstinately refuse to just GROW for the love of Pete. You're in dirt. There's sunlight. What more do you want from me??

9. Anyone who assumes that wearing a bra automatically confers upon me the ability to hem pants.

10. Stupid warning labels. Like the one that warns me not to u…

Feline Game Night

Hump Day Lunacy

Your Fashion Style is Trendy




You love fashion and live to shop

And keeping up with the latest trends is what you love best

You know what's in, out, about to be in, and about to be out

You love to dress your friends and would make a killer celebrity stylist

What Kind of Fashionable Woman Are You?

Help! My Writing Stinks!

Fellow Golden Heart finalist Courtney Milan shares how she turns frustration into inspiration.

What do you write?

The easy answer is that I write historical romances.

The harder answer is I write historical romances set in the interstitial period between the Regency and the Victorian era. Over those few generations, the whole idea of "society" changed from one where people had lived for generation after generation, doing the same inherited jobs for generation after generation, moving in the same social circles for generation after generation . . . . Suddenly, society broke down (especially among the lower classes--but this trickled upwards). People started moving; the industrial age broke out with a vengeance, and the result was a large class of much more mobile workers, instead of a long-rooted rural class.

In the upper classes, this meant that land lost its value as currency. And noble obligation shifted from a system that was almost feudal in terms of its dependency to t…

Go Ahead...Close Your Eyes

Updated Again!

I just received another request for DTR from one of the agents I queried two weeks ago - Jim McCarthy. Sent off the manuscript minutes after receiving his email. That's 3 down, 7 to go. =)

Work In Progress Update

Current Projects:

SHADOWING FATE - closing in. Just need to convince my plot arc to do as it's told.

DYING TO REMEMBER - revisions finished. Submitted. Done.

The Writing Process blogs - posting every Tuesday/Thursday and now introducing guest blogs and author interviews on Wednesdays! (I have "recently sold" authors, finalists from the Golden Heart, and a few authors you can buy at your local grocery store all lined up for you!!)

Other Projects:

DYING TO PUNISH - sequel to DTR, currently shelved until I need to write it.
TWISTING FATE - characters being developed, plot being twisted...


News:

*Sizing up contests to enter SF in this summer (my goal is three).

*Sending off requested material to Jessica Faust and Kimberly Whalen today.

*Need to order new business cards before Conference.

*Need to join local RWA chapter this month. (somebody remind me the meeting is the third Saturday...)

*Need to line up other authors for guest blogging.

Monday's List

1. Lest my cat Taz become jealous of all the other felines making appearances on my blog, I decided to post a (rather disturbing) pic of her this morning.

2. My proposal packets go out today to both agents who requested my work.

3. Yay!

4. We had our annual church picnic (which is totally cool because we combine it with a festival of the arts so the whole campus is a showcase of indie music, art, jewelry, food, film...you name it) and I came home with a sunburn.

5. This irritates me because I'm usually so careful.

6. The fact is, my Swedish half comes to life every winter and so for the first few outings of spring/summer I am so white, people walk by me and scream "My eyes! My eyes!"

7. My Dad's olive skin kicks in after a couple weeks, though, and then I tan like I don't even know Sweden exists.

8. I like to cook.

9. I'm going to look for a fun recipe to make for dinner tonight.

10. Unsurprisingly, the laundry will be demanding my attention today.

11. For those o…

Contest Announcement!

Due to popular demand, the American Title competition is returning for one last round. The winner’s book will be published by Dorchester!

To enter, send the first three chapters (no more than 50 pages), a two- to seven-page synopsis and a cover letter (aka query letter) to: American Title Contest, Dorchester Publishing, 200 Madison Ave., Suite 2000, New York, NY 10016. ALL ENTRIES MUST BE RECEIVED BY JUNE 15, 2008.

For American Title V, we’re opening up the categories to include: historical, paranormal, romantic suspense, urban fantasy, etc. Sorry, no young adult, women’s fiction or straight contemporary manuscripts this time around.

Manuscripts must be completed prior to entering, and they should run 80,000 to 90,000words. Finalists must agree to participate in each of the five competition rounds -- first line; hero and heroine; story summary; dialogue scene; romantic scene --and must submit copy for all five categories by Aug. 15, 2008.

Get your novel ready and you could be the next A…

What's Worse Than Pickles?

Tonight, Daredevil had a special evening with his Dad. They went to see a movie and then browsed Borders where they purchased a journal and a box of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans (inspired by the Harry Potter books). The flavors are: Earthworm, Dirt, Sausage, Pickles, Earwax, Soap, Black Pepper, Boogers, Grass, and Vomit. I know. Yum, right?

Because Daredevil is a generous soul, he divided the jelly beans evenly between himself and his brothers and they began sampling. The resulting conversation went something like this:

Starshine: Hey! I only have 1 Vomit. No fair!

Scientist: I have lots of Vomit. You can have mine. I don't like Vomit anymore.

Daredevil: I just ate a Vomit. It was really gross. I almost tried to throw up.

Starshine: (considers the Scientist's pile of Vomit jelly beans) That's okay. I don't need Vomit.

Daredevil: (pops a bean) Yum! Boogers!

Me: How do you know it tastes like boogers?

Daredevil: Because it tastes like boogers.

Scientist: Yeah…

Week In Review

1. Went to see Forbidden Kingdom this week expecting to absolutely love it.

2. The kung fu scenes were incredible, the settings were a visual banquet, the acting was well done, but...

3. They lost me at the Monkey King - a whimsical beast with golden sideburns, mad kung fu skills, and an unfortunate tendency to giggle like a school girl while dueling with the Jade War Lord, a dude so menacing his mother probably died of fright the moment he was born.

4. Who played the role of the Monkey King?

5. Jet Li, that's who. Which explains the mad kung fu skills but very little else.

6. Look at that face up there. That's a face that says "I can kill you with a thought but a sword is more fun". Jet Li runs up the sides of buildings, disarms and immbolizes fifteen steroid-fed goons at a time with movements that look like lethal poetry, blows up buildings and motorcycles, and uses a sword like it's an extension of himself.

7. Jet Li does not giggle.

8. Anyway, who takes someone wi…