Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Toy Story 3 was hard on me. If you haven't seen it and don't want a spoiler, don't worry. I'm not going to give you one. The only thing I'm going to give away is something you find out the first minute of the movie: Andy is 17! And he's about to go to college!

My friends, I was not mentally prepared for this. The Guy and I love the Toy Story movies. We paid full price in the theater every time. Though we first bought the original on video, we now have the first two on DVD. It's just a matter of time before the Blu-Rays move in. They are always there for me—Slink, The Army men, Bo Peep, Etch, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, not to mention Woody and Buzz. Both the previous movies seemed to have an elusive time quality about them—that is to say I could never pinpoint an exact decade. I thought Andy's Room was a place where nothing changes—a Brigadoon meets Toys R Us, if you will. I have a fond memory of painting my living room with Godson's Mom, Plotter, and Oldest Friend, while "To infinity and beyond!" resonated in the background. We kept saying to two-year-old Precious Angel, "Go watch Toy Story!"

Well. Precious Angel can drive now, which is not a bad thing because he will run errands. I didn't expect him to stay two. But would it have been too much to ask for Andy not to grow up? I was counting on that when I walked into that theater. I cried a little. Okay, not a little. You'd have thought it was Brian's Song and Brain Piccolo had died all over again.

So, I like Twilight as well some, better than most. But I have grown a little weary of the Team Edward or Team Jacob question.

So my question for you today is Team Woody or Team Buzz? Also, have you seen the movie? What did you think?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

In Love with Historicals

Today I am in love with history. As many of you know, I read lots and lots of different things. I had a conversation with Pantster this morning that got me to thinking about how much I love reading a historical romance so I went out and got myself a few. I got a western romance set during Reconstruction, a romance set in the 1940’s but flashing back to the Revolutionary War period and one set in the 1950’s. You may not think of the1950’s as a historical but it was the last millennium. I was thinking about how much I enjoy reading about other times as I made my selections. I would usually rather read about other times rather than exotic locations. I guess to me the “otherness” of a time is more interesting than of another place.

Clearly, I love a historical story of most any time period, but I was thinking that most of them are set in tumultuous times. Have you ever wondered about that? I suppose that most stories are more exciting written against the backdrop of war or some other crisis, like in the case of pirate stories robbery on the high seas, or wagon training to the Great Western Plains.

Do you read historical romances?

If so do you have a favorite time period?

If not, what turns you off about them?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Velveeta on my Conscious, I mean Couscous

I'd like to say a few words about grammar. I am sure you are relieved that it will only be a few. I understand that the only subject that would be more boring would involve mathematics.

People in the know say that, when submitting a manuscript, not to worry too much about the odd typographical error. It's going to happen. Certainly, submit the cleanest, most professional work you can, but what an agent or an editor is looking for is good writing and a compelling story.

Well. I believe that. I have to. Articles get left out. To gets typed for too, even though you know the difference. Yet, I have to think there are some things that are bound to make the professional in question hoot, slap a knee, and yell at everyone in the office to come and witness what the imbecile of the moment has written.

While reading (again) the manuscript that Plotter and I are polishing, I found where I had used the word couscous for conscious—twice—as in: She didn't wave as she drove away. Though he hadn't been couscous of it before now, she'd always waved when they parted, even if she was just leaving the room. He missed that wave.

Folks, we are talking Moroccan pasta here right in the middle of the black moment. That would have to be a scene killer. I know what happened. I'm not a great typist and I typed something that had a nodding acquaintance with conscious, clicked on the drop down list, and served myself up some couscous.

I want to throw up when I think that might have made it to someone's desk in New York City. I will go ahead and say I have been known to eat couscous. I like it with Velveeta. I wouldn't volunteer that information to anyone in New York City either—or maybe I just did. This is the World Wide Web.

Though this has nothing to do with couscous or conscious, I will now share with you one of my biggest grammatical error pet peeves. I suspect my motive for this is, after relating that embarrassing tidbit, to demonstrate that I am not illiterate.

Who and That

Who is a person. That is a thing.

As in:

Jack is the one who built the house. It was the house that Jack built.

What's the most embarrassing thing you've ever found in your manuscript? If you won't tell us that, tell us your grammatical pet peeve.

Friday, June 25, 2010


We are each reading the work of writer friends who are preparing to submit. What are you reading?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer of Fun

I am smack dab in the middle of my summer vacation from school. I know that may sound as if I am just lolling around at the pool, working on my tan while scantily clad cabana boys bring me boat drinks. Boat Drinks, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, is any drink that is frozen, slushy and usually sorta fruity. It is an “Uh-weee, I can’t taste the alcohol” sort of drink.

This is exactly how I envisioned my first summer in 27 years without a job. Oh sure, I had some projects saved up. I was going to refinish a rocking chair, reorganize my home office, clean out my closets, and FINALLY pack up my Christmas tree ornaments.

As you can guess, since I am blogging about it, this is NOT how my summer vacation is proceeding. Somehow I always seem to end up with more to do than I anticipate; then, my momma unexpectedly had knee surgery last week so life suddenly got even more fun.

I think part of my problem is that I hate to miss out on anything. It doesn’t even have to be something that I think would be fun; I just hate to think about missing anything. Of course, this means that I try to do and go to everything that I possibly can squeeze into my schedule.

I am reading a great book by Smarty Pants of Writing Playground fame before she submits it to the editor, who is going to love it so much she buys it and asks for another book proposal. I am looking forward to attending a workshop on pacing by the fabulous Harlequin Presents author Lynn Raye Harris to be held Friday at the Bailey Cove branch of the Huntsville Public Library. Pantster and I have decided to enter our WIP (work in progress) in an online contest, so we are working on getting that ready. And, of course, like many RWA members I am already preparing for the National Conference with all its excitement. Other than the conference, all of these fun things came my way since summer began but I am very glad that I was able to include them in my plans.

How is your summer going? Is it staying on the track you planned or, like mine, is it wandering off track for unplanned adventures?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Is it your experience that people want you to give them answers that you don't have but won't listen when you do know what you're talking about?

Just yesterday I ran into someone I've known all my life. We even have first cousins in common. He knows the only thing I can draw is a cat and a pig and not very good ones. Yet he said to me, "Pantster, I've got a couple of pieces of artwork I'd like you to look at. I need some advice." Well, sure! Why not? If it's a stick pig, I'm your girl.

Though I had the same job for twenty years, I am routinely asked for help with resumes and cover letters. People call me for directions when I can barely get across my own town with a GPS. People in the grocery store who do not know me, ask which is the best brand of cat food. How am I supposed to know? The cat I can draw doesn't eat. The real ones in my house haven't told me.

Ludicrous as these requests are, there is one that stands alone, never to be touched. I was once asked to judge a wine making contest. I said, "You do know that though I am a snob about hard liquor, mayonnaise, and fish, my idea of good wine is screw top raspberry Reunite with a splash of diet Sprite?" Yet, they still wanted me.

And then there are those times when people will not listen. I'm not even talking about people ignoring an opinion. I'm talking about black and white stuff, like what time Target opens. You can ignore me and hope it opens at 6 AM but that won't make it so.

I have a clear memory of the first time people wouldn't listen to me. I was five. Don't doubt that I remember the details of this. Not everyone remembers things from an early age but I do. This is one of those things I know what I'm talking about.

It was Labor Day weekend and it was hot. My sister, who is ten years my senior, and I were in the yard when a carload of boys drove up. They threw open the doors of the car and hung their legs out, feasting on the sight of my sister in shorts. She'd probably been practicing her cheerleader routines. That I don't remember for sure but it makes sense. That was her life's work in those days. There were about five adolescent boys in the car and I can only guess they'd been shopping for school clothes and supplies, because sacks were tossed around them like packing peanuts, which had not been invented at the time.

A bag fell out of the car. I pulled on my sister's shirt but she waved me off and got on with the business of being Queen Of The Driveway. I tried to get the boy's attention but so hungry was he for the favor spilling forth from Her Majesty Asphalt's mouth, that he never heard me.

I decided if they wouldn't listen to me, they deserved what they got. After everyone disbursed—probably because Her Majesty's real boyfriend materialized from some sort of ball practice—I found the sack still in the driveway. It was a madras shirt, though I'm sure I didn't know what madras was at the time. Sometime later, my mother found it in the bottom of my closet and asked me about it. I explained what had happened in five-year-old speak. When I heard my mother ask my sister about it, Her Majesty brushed it off and denied it. I never discussed it with either of them but I have to wonder. Did they think I rode my tricycle to Humphrey's Menswear and bought it with a can Play-Doh? Or maybe that a fashion conscious space alien flew in my window and traded it to me for some of my spinal fluid?

What frustrates you more? People who won't listen or people who want answers you don't have?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Technology: Curse or Blessing

I have found that people either love technology or hate it. I am a hater. Today I have been trapped in Technology Hell. I am taking an online class this summer and have an assignment due almost every week. This week, I have to turn in a Professional Development Plan for how I am going to add some ummph to my professional development by adding some technology education to my life. The irony of this is that I have had so much difficulty with the technology in my life, I had trouble completing the assignment.

My internet connection had been spotty for a couple of weeks. The last time I had this kind of problem, the very nice cable repair man told me that it wasn’t trouble with my internet connection or my modem, but that my “ports were degrading.” Now this sounds like something that happens to white trash people who don’t take care of their things, not an anal retentive type like myself. I was a little insulted until Pantster’s Guy explained that it just meant that my plug-in thingy-ma-bobs were wearing out. Lucky for me, The Guy is fluent in Geek-speak. So when my internet went out this time I didn’t panic; I just went to lunch.

When this happened last week, The Guy told me to unplug everything, wait a little while then plug it all back in and see if it works. When I did what he said, a miracle had happened and my internet worked again. So I was hoping for the best, but since I bought a new lap top this past weekend, I did feel as if I had more options--especially since Pal had gotten it all set up for me to use Word and get on the internet. That is IF I was able to connect the lap top to the internet at home, since Pal wasn’t at my house to meet my I.T. needs.

While I was at lunch, I consulted with Dr. Good Sense and we decided that if I have to, I am probably smart enough to disconnect one cable from the desk top computer and connect it to the lap top. She was nice enough to tell me to call her if I needed to be talked through it over the phone.

Unfortunately, last week seemed to have been my last miracle for June because today I had no such luck. There was still no internet connection when I got home and connected everything up. AGGGHHHHH!!! The stress…I needed to read some blogs, read Wanda Ottewell’s Q & A over at the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood, read Trish Milburn’s new online chapter of Her Unexpected Cowboy, plus Pantster had sent me the newly revised completed version of our WIP. And, oh yeah, I needed to complete my technology assignment. I didn’t have time or energy to work out computer problems, or go somewhere else to work.

So I took a deep breath and unplugged the ether net cable from the desk top computer and plugged it into the laptop; that is when I got another miracle. It WORKED! I was even able to get the mouse plugged in so I didn’t have to use that little box to move my cursor.

I feel all Sex In the City now, just stretched out with my feet on an ottoman writing as if I am Carrie Bradshaw. I still will probably never love technology like some of my friends, but maybe I won’t be such a hater in the future. Oh, I did get that assignment done and turned in before I wrote this and now I am going to go reward myself with a cowboy chapter!

Do you find that technology helps or hinders your life? Do you have any technology horror stories?

Monday, June 21, 2010


How hot should it be?

Whenever I start to write a sex scene, it's a question that plagues me. Also, how many sex scenes are too many? Too few? I was pondering this while making cheese straws to take to Little Babygirl's second birthday party. Our current manuscript, which Plotter and I are in the final stages of polishing, only has one real sex scene, with a couple of short interludes and some sexy thoughts from the hero and heroine. That pretty well matches up with the books I've read in the line that we hope will be interested. With only 60,000 words to work with, you just can't spend a lot of time in the bedroom--not if you intend to tell a story. You have to get across the sensuality in other ways. I hope we've done that.

It's kind of like a cheese straw. I've make thousands of cheese straws over the years. The recipe I use is in the Junior League of Morgan County's original cookbook, Cotton County Cooking. I've tweaked it a little, as one is wont to do, making some mistakes from time to time when I've gotten too adventurous. Don’t try to add sesame seeds, garlic, or blue cheese. It just messes it up a good thing. I've learned what works and I do the same thing every time, with only one variable—the cayenne pepper. The recipe calls for a half teaspoon. That is not enough, ever. How much is enough depends on the occasion where the cheese straw eating is going to go on. If it's a ladies' daytime party, I use one teaspoon. If I have volunteered to make them for some charity event where there's a cash bar and silent auction, I use at least two teaspoons. The spicier the food, the more people drink. The more they drink, the more they bid on items they don't need and probably don’t want, hence the cause of the moment is a success.

For Little Babygirl's party, I settled on somewhere in between nice lady tea
party and get 'em drunk and take their money. It was going to be a late afternoon to evening affair with mostly adults in attendance. Babygirl was making appetizers and Little Babygirl's daddy was going to boil fifty pounds of crawfish in the backyard. There would be liquor but no cash bar and no silent auction. (Babygirl wouldn't do that, no matter how expensive it is to finance Little Babygirl's wardrobe and shoe collection.) It seemed a safe bet that this crowd would be a little spicier than a bridal tea. I was right. There wasn't a cheese straw left.

When I have written as many sex scenes as I've made cheese straws, maybe the answers will come easier—but there is never going to be just one variable. What fun would that be?

Tell us what you think of sex scenes—writing and reading them.

Friday, June 18, 2010


Plotter is reading:
Walker: Rodeo Legend by Rebeca Winters

Pantster is reading:
You Can't Drink All Day if you Don't Start in the Morning by Celia Riverbark

What are you reading?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Books Vs. Movies

Twice this week, I have had conversations comparing books to their movie or television show versions. Sometimes what we see on the screen has very little to do with a book of the same title.

Dr. Good Sense and I had a discussion about “He’s Just Not Into You.” I loved the movie and she loved the book but they don't have much in common except a title and a concept. The book gives examples of dating behavior, but in a “let us explain this to you” sort of way, while the movie has some great characters who are all experiencing the types of dating behavior found in the book.

Mr. Dreamy says "Band of Brothers" is a good book but the show was even better. Now this is a rare occurrence. After having seen most of the show, I think it was so good because is was ten hours long, which meant there was time to include tons of details and relationships that would have been lost in a two hour movie. I guess this is like a single title book becoming a single title movie rather than taking a single title book and creating a category movie.

Finally, many of us have experienced the Stookie Stackhouse phenomenon in the last few seasons. There are characters on "True Blood" that aren’t in the books and many of the characters in the show are very, very different from the ones in the books. There are so many differences that I know a couple of people who say they enjoy the show but just pretend it doesn’t have anything to do with the books; otherwise, the changes would annoy them too much to enjoy the show.

Have you ever watched a movie or show based on a book and thought “What the heck?”
What is the best or worst example you can think of this conversion trouble?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

It's All in the Details

I have been accused not being able to see the forest for the trees-- getting so wrapped around the details that I miss the big picture. But really, is not being able to see the forest, worse than failing to see the trees? Even bad trees?

I was watching the latest episode of my current favorite television show, "Friday Night Lights", when one of those pesky details moved in and almost stopped me from enjoying seeing Tim Riggins in football pants. And missing that would be a crime, especially since Tim graduated from Dillon High last season and I didn't expect to ever see him in football pants again

Anyway, Principal Tammy Taylor's secretary was verbally relating a whole string of phone messages to Tammy, working up to the one that really mattered, which I won't go into here because it's the forest, and the tree stopped me from thinking about the forest.

The secretary opened her mouth and fired off this tree: "The PTO meeting has been changed to Friday, the twenty-eighth."

What is wrong with this picture? In case you know nothing about the show, it's about high school football in a small Texas town—hence the title "Friday Night Lights". I have never known a PTO that met during the day—committee meetings certainly, but not the whole PTO. You just can't have a PTO meeting on a Friday night in the fall because that is game night.

But let's just say for the sake of argument, that Dillon High's PTO does meet in the daytime—though I don't know when that would be since the "T" stands for teacher and the teachers are teaching class. Even during the day, there are pep rallies to attend, hair to get done, clothes in team colors to press, and somebody's got to take the team's lunch to the locker room. Usually, those who are willing to do that are also faithful members of the PTO. I know all about this. My godson, Precious Angel, plays football and we don't even live in Texas.

This editorial faux pas did not ruin the episode, but it certainly did distract me.

Keeping up with the details in a story can be scary. I recently fed a bagel with peanut butter to our hero, who is allergic to peanuts. I caught it on the read through before I sent it to Plotter, but I did own up to it.

"I fed Luke peanut butter," I told her.

"We did not plot a medical emergency for Luke," she said, thinking I had, once again run off into the Twilight Zone without consulting her.

"No. I changed it to cream cheese, which hurt me because I don't like cream cheese."

"Luke can like things you don't," she pointed out.

That's true. But Dillon High School cannot have a PTO meeting on a fall Friday.

Can a detail ruin a story for you?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tortoise and Hare

One of the best pieces of advice that Pantster ever gave me was, “They have to know you got the job done. They don’t have to know you did it last night.” That has served me well over the years, but I find myself striving for a different way now-- not necessarily a better way just a different one.

I was thinking last week about how I seem to always be frantically darting from here to there, trying to accomplish everything at the last minute. Which, inevitably, means that I have a good bit of stress from the scurrying around that I shouldn’t have to experience.

I feel like the hare in the fable about the Tortoise and the Hare. You remember that the Hare was running and running, hurrying to finish the race as quickly as possible. In fact, he zipped around the racecourse chasing many other things, using his energy for things that weren’t related to the race but just looked fun. Remember, as well, that the Tortoise was focused on the race and stayed steady on the course.

The Tortoise was just nice and steady, very consistent in his efforts. I would like to be more like the Tortoise, especially in my work habits. Too often, I find myself like the Hare, darting from website to Facebook, to Twitter but not really seeming to accomplish anything. I find that as I get older and am juggling more things, that the constant state of panicked scurrying around becomes more taxing on me, both physically and mentally. I guess the real question is can I change a lifetime of last minute habit?

Are you a tortoise or hare?
Have you always been the style that you are today?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Stanger Than Fiction

Ever since my local paper stopped printing obituaries for free and started letting the bereaved write whatever they please about the dearly departed, that section is the first thing I turn to every morning. As you might guess, this move has not done much to improve the quality of print journalism in my fair city.

Most of the time, there's nothing to remark on but once in a while, there's a slice of southern American pie that cannot be bought at any price. This past week, I enjoyed such a pastry with my morning coffee.

I could not keep this to myself. I picked up the phone and called The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi. I chose her for two reasons. She's the only friend I have who gets up as early as I do and (like me) generally doesn't have to be anywhere at a particular time so I knew chances were excellent she was not ironing a blouse while she searched for car keys. More importantly, she would understand that I was not making fun of the departed's family. They were, after all, devastated. The bereaved will do some weird things. At my mother's funeral I, who usually know how to behave, tore up a spray of roses so I could put the flowers, sans greenery, on my grandmother's grave. This involved crawling around on the ground. Everyone just acted like that was normal behavior. So, having deserved it myself, I would never make fun of the bereaved.

I might, however, have a thing or two to say about the judgment of the newspaper I pay good money for.

I read Sweetheart a sentence. "She was the park where her family played, loved and resided in comfort."

"Pantster," she said. "You are making this up."

"I swear to you on the heads of all the University of Alabama fraternity boys that you ever rejected, that I am not. I could not make this up."

"I think you could," Sweetheart said. "But I accept that you didn't." You notice she did not respond to my comment about her popularity. A lady wouldn't and she's that. She didn't deny it either. That would have been a lie. A lady might, but she doesn't. "Read me some more."

Except for the names, which I have changed, this is verbatim, punctuation and all. "Now with soft skin and pretty brown eyes, the love of Jim's life, Mavis Jean Compton has now went to sleep in Jehovah's Memory alongside the love of her life "Jimo".

"Oh, no." The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi said. Sweetheart knows her grammar. She also knows it wouldn't have hurt the newspaper to help these people out a little.

"Oh, yes," I said. "I'm afraid so." I read the last line to her: "We love you Momma. See you soon in the park."

"Are you going to send me that?" Sweetheart asked.

"Oh, yes. You should have it." She has a collection of such things, including an article from her local paper about a deer that ran through a house and then the window of a pickup truck. Though terribly excited, everyone lived to tell the tale and the deer got away.

And we worry about making our fiction believable. What is the most bizarre thing you've ever read in the newspaper, heard on the news, or seen at a funeral?

Friday, June 11, 2010


Plotter is reading our work in progress.
Pantster is reading Married by Morning by Lisa Kleypas

What are you reading?

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Hi. Pantster here, though Thursday is normally Plotter's blog day. She's hard a work at a task I cannot be trusted to do—identify superfluous details in the manuscript we are going to pitch at the RWA National Conference in July. (See yesterday's blog.)

Okay, it's official: I no longer have sense enough to use the telephone. Due to all the cell phone numbers floating around, we are, it seems, out of numbers. (And what's the deal with that? That is NOT what I was promised in math class.) Anyway, where I live, a seven digit number won't get you anything anymore. You've got to dial the area code first or, maybe, one plus the area code, depending. I am certainly capable of dialing more numbers; though I wasn't what one would call a shining star in math class, I did master the digits.

It's that depending that's got me worked up. Depending on what? I've had circle dialing, one price long distance, and every other bell and whistle known to South Central Bell for so long, that I don't know who is long distance and who is not. Programmable phones and caller ID are doing nothing to improve my situation. In fact, they've made me lazy and complacent. I can no longer bring up on caller ID the person I want to impart wisdom to and hit "talk". I can no longer use the numbers I programmed into the telephones back when I knew where the manuals were. Doing this takes me straight to a recorded voice that tells me I've got to do something else.

And my friends, it's about to get worse. There will soon be a new area code and where is that going to leave me? Not talking to you, that's for sure. Maybe you're relieved. I would be.

I might buy walkie-talkies and pass them out to the people I want to talk to.

Am I the only one who is having difficulty coping?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Details--The Long and Short of It

I do love a detail. I feel cheated when a character in a book I'm reading has a birthday and I don't get to know what all the presents are. Consequently, since I don't want to cheat the readers I hope to have one day, I give them detail. If there's a party scene, I want to tell about the presents, the decorations, the food, the booze, and everybody's reaction to all of it. Since I love dialogue, I also want to include several sections of conversation about the party between secondary characters—some that I have just made up on the spot. Plotter loves a detail too. She calls it needing the information to make the movie in her head. She, however, has a more realistic view of how much of this nonsense a reader can tolerate.

I blame my mother. She loved details and loved to relate them. For instance, when she went out to lunch and shopping with friends, she would not only tell me what everyone ate and bought, but what they almost ate and bought. Then, she would go into everyone's opinion of all these consumptions and purchases. Finally, she would tell me what they were going eat and buy next time. Sound excruciating? It wasn't. It made me what I am today: A loquacious slave to detail. You notice, I didn't say the world was a better place for it.

This is particularly on my mind right now because Plotter and I are editing our work in progress. This means that the Word Count Monster is haunting me day and night. I've heard people say excitedly, "I just lack ten pages!" With us, it's more like, "We only have ten pages left! Please, God, let us get through the story!"

This is our first foray in the world of category fiction and all the brevity it brings. We can only have 60,000 words. Last month, Smarty Pants, over at the Writing Playground said to me, "You? 60,000 words? Not going to happen." (Notice I did not say where we were and what we were wearing when she said that to me. I'm making progress.)

The manuscript is done now—from the first sign of conflict, through everybody's black moment, to happily ever after, and epilogue. Word count: 62,133. Plotter's got her summer aqua gel pen out and is hard at work. In truth, the word count in probably fine. It's only a little over and those who know, say not to get too wrapped around the axle about it. But I know what Plotter is thinking: "If I give her an inch, she'll take a mile." She's probably right.

Do you like a lot of detail? Do you tend to write long or short?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Now What?

Pantster and I are working on the last few pages of our current manuscript. We were talking Saturday about wrapping this story up and going back to start the editing process. Like most everyone, we want our manuscript to be as error free as we can make it, but, also like most everyone else, we don’t really think reading and re-reading for typos and other problems is any great source of fun. It is simply a task that must be done.

I have heard many people talk about this stage of the process--when the actual story is finished but all the work isn’t completed. It seems there are always errors to be found or changes that need to be made. Unfortunately, this is often the point in the process where many of us lose interest and our thoughts turn to the next project. In our case, moving on is especially tempting because we want to revise an already completed story. We're excited because we already know the characters plus it is set in the same town as our current manuscript. See what I mean? It is very tempting to let our thoughts drift over to this story when we need to stay focused on the current work in progress.

I don’t think this phenomenon is specific to writers. It seems that when many people get near the end of a major project, they lose interest, especially if the fun part is finished. This is probably why so many people have unfinished projects like half painted tables and partially landscaped lawns. In my hometown there was a house that had a renovation in progress with erected scaffolds and everything, when the lady of the house ran off with a U.P.S. man; her husband abandoned the renovation. I guess his heart wasn’t in finishing it, so the scaffolds stayed up for years and years. Literally, the house became a landmark for giving directions, “You know the house with the scaffolds, past the elementary school? Well, you need to turn at the next road to the left. That will be Smoky Road.”

Have you ever lost interest in a project before finishing? If so, what did you do? If not, please share the secret of your completion success with us.

Monday, June 7, 2010


Advice is one of those things we all like to give and aren't always happy to get. The Guy is wise. He says advice is something you should seek from different people with diverse philosophies and consider when you make up your own mind.

When Babygirl was born to Oldest Friend twenty-six years ago, we did not know how to run a baby. That's why we thought we could have lunch at our favorite tea room and go shopping without incident. After all, that's what we'd always done and she was only a month old. That didn't turn out too well. There was a certain amount of screaming in the tearoom; they don't really like that in tearooms. When we moved on to the shopping, that was also difficult. We thought since she was so tiny, we could just carry her with no problem. She weighed no more than those huge oxblood Etienne Aigner pocketbooks we carried back then. That didn't go too well either. We ended up stopping to buy a stroller that would, no doubt, today be labeled a baby killing stroller. Yet, she survived the stroller (and us) to go on to be a productive member of society.

It was probably on that first outing that I decided it was my right—if not my duty—to advise Babygirl on all facets of her life. She was not always as enamored of what I had to say as I would have liked but she must have taken some of it to heart. When she was getting ready to leave for college, she said, "I want you to write down some of that stuff you've been saying to me all these years so I can take it out and read it."

Well, you can believe I jumped right on that. I was more than a little afraid of what might happen without me always on hand to order her around. I even purchased a nice handmade book with rice paper for this purpose and I left some pages blank for her to fill in with her own thoughts.

Fast forward. We graduated, got married, and are teaching school. (Not me precisely, but I feel I earned the right, along with Oldest Friend and The Guy, to use the word we.) When Babygirlfound out that Little Babygirl was on the way, she gave me the book back and said she needed some new wisdom.

It was interesting to look back on what I thought was important that she remember.

• Always applaud like a lady with one palm facing up and still. Never clap like a walrus, hands wide apart.
• Don’t wear white to a wedding, unless you are the bride, or black, unless you are a man.
• Marriage is an absolute. The question, "Are you married?" can only have one answer—yes or no. "Divorced" means no; "Not divorced yet" means yes. "Not divorced but she is (pick one) crazy, in a coma, cheating on me, tried to shoot me," still means yes and is probably a lie.
• Don't suffer the stupid. You will only end up being mean to them.
• When inside, take off your sunglasses when talking to someone.
• Do not mistake stubborn for strong in yourself or others.
• You cannot make yourself love someone just because he deserves to be loved but you can be kind about it.
• Moisturize your face after washing it, while it's still damp.
• Never mistake curiosity for interest. The curious will gossip about you. The interested will not.
• Don't throw away precious things; endeavor to know what is precious.
• Don't wear pearls and diamonds close together around your face unless they are incorporated in the same piece.
• "No thank you," is always an appropriate reply to any request that makes you uncomfortable whether it's an invitation for a drink, a beach trip, a party, or to someone's bed. "But thank you for asking," may not help them but it won't hurt you.
• Don't throw a fit in a restaurant where you might want to eat again or a store where you might want to shop again. It would be best not to throw a fit at all, but that may be too much to hope for, considering your strong female role models.
• When traveling and things are not going your way, remember you are getting to travel.
• Write formal correspondence with real ink.
• If you get good service, tip well. The person at the end of that tip has almost always had fewer advantages than you.
• You choose. At the end of the day, that's all you have left.
• You will hear people wax poetic about the magic of the ocean or the mountains and how they draw strength there. It's true for some, but many are only parroting someone else. You come from the river, red clay, and cotton fields. There's nothing magic about it but it's your heritage and not a second class one.
• Walk away from the disloyal. Do it quickly. If they have been disloyal to others but not you, it doesn't mean you have inspired a higher degree of loyalty. It means they haven't done it to you yet.
• Forgiveness is not saying something didn't happen or it didn't matter. It's just letting it go.
• Remember who you are out there. If you forget and make a wrong turn, remember where you can go.

Though Little Babygirl is almost two, I haven't written anything for her. Until recently, she hadn't displayed any behavior that I felt called for my input. But the terrible twos are looming, so it might be time to point out a few things to her.

• Don't climb on your pink wooden stove and throw your hair bows across the room. That's your stuff and you aren't doing it any good.
• Don't throw your new Kelly's Kids outfit in the trash. Again, your stuff.
• Don't bite me.

What's the best piece of advice you've gotten/given?

Friday, June 4, 2010


I am currently reading:

You Can't Drink All Day if You Don't Start in the Morning by Ceclia Rivenbark
Law of the Mountain Man by William W. Johnstone
and Dark Legend by Christine Feehan

By this time tomorrow I also hope to be reading Trish Milburn's newest cowboy book, Her Unexpected Cowboy. I am going to try to get it at the bookstore.
Although technically I guess I am reading it since I read the first chapter on-line. :-)


Wow. Looking at her list wears me out. I am reading:

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell


What are you reading? Do you choose different kinds of books in the summer? How about at holiday time? Talk to us!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Free at Last, Free at Last

Since most of you know I am from Alabama, you may be having mental images of Martin Luther King, Jr. or even George C. Wallace in a school house door, but what is really on my mind today is summer vacation.

I know that many parents dread seeing summer break coming. My momma always responded by having a big list of “Summer Chores” for my sister and me to complete while we were home. Some of my friends who are dads respond by signing their offspring up for every program they can find to fill the summer up with busyness. For families, summer often means lots of extra expense: classes, programs, camps, vacations, oh my!

Since I am single with no children or pets, I have a totally different perspective on summer vacation. I was talking with my momma this weekend, and she pointed out that this is the first summer I have had off since I was sixteen years old. I always had a summer job; then I went right to work as soon as I graduated. Since becoming a teacher, I have always taught some sort of summer program. I see this as the time when I have the freedom to do all the things that I wish I could do during the school year, or that I do but don’t have the time to savor. Don’t get me wrong. My summer calendar is almost filled already, but the beautiful joy of summer vacation is that I have time during the week to do the other things that I usually have to squeeze in after a full day at work with 19 fourth graders all calling my name.

My local chapter of Romance Writers, Heart of Dixie has a lot going on this summer.
We are having wonderful programs at both our June and July meetings so I am extra excited about them. Plus, I am providing the door prize for the July meeting so I have to get some shopping done. We are doing some workshops in conjunction with the Huntsville Public Library that sound great! I am really looking forward to getting to go to at least one of them. Lynn Raye Harris’ workshop on pacing and plotting sounds fantastic. You can check them out with this link: http://hmcpl.org/booklovers

Of course, I am also preparing for the Annual Romance Writers of America Conference in Orlando, Florida. Pantster and I will be working hard all summer to polish our pitches and manuscripts so that we are ready, ready, ready.

If you think that sounds like there's great deal going on, you are right. But during the week I will have time to go to Pantster’s house on her birthday to celebrate with her. I have the chance to go antiquing with my momma and visit my sister’s house to see her garden. I will get to go to Pantster’s book club and visit with all those fun gals who went with her to the beach. I have time to spend in the kitchen baking for my friends and maybe even visiting distant friends. And last but certainly not least, I have time to hang out with Mr. Dreamy. All in all, it is shaping up to be both a fun and productive summer.

How do you feel about summer vacation? Do you have any special plans or things that you are really looking forward to this summer?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Romance writers have to think a lot about apology and forgiveness. Somebody has always got to be forgiving somebody for something—being obtuse, being unsure, being stupid, not trusting enough, not being honest, not opening up. (Never cheating, though; not in our books. We hate cheating so we don't write about it. It's hard to bring a character back from cheating.)

Plotter and I are at the very end of our work in progress. The heroine has had her black moment; the hero has had his. He is so, so sorry. Here's the next question: Is he one of those who can't say he's sorry? You know the kind: "I'm sorry you took it like that." Or "I didn't mean it like that." Or "I didn't realize." Or "That never happened. You are mistaken." Or my personal favorite, "That's just how I am and you have to accept it." That can be a whole new busload of conflict within itself.

And what about her? Can she easily forgive him? Or does he have to make some grand gesture? Or does she psychoanalyze him and decide that he pities her and is only saying he's wrong out of guilt? Must she watch him walk away, dejected and broken, before she realizes she can get over it, after all? Conflict Bus number two.

And then, after rejecting him, when she goes to gift him with her forgiveness, is he going to forgive her for not forgiving him in the first place? Or has he married and impregnated a woman he will never love, but felt he had to settle for? (In this case, you know there is about to be one dead bride.) Conflict Bus number three.

The more words you're allowed, the more complicated you can make it. I love complicated. Plotter, quite correctly, keeps having to blow her Word Count Police Whistle. Poor Plotter. She should kill me.

Sometimes all that agony is called for. The more anguish, the happier the ever after.

This time, we've decided to keep it simple. He's genuinely sorry and says so. He's willing to do whatever it takes. To his surprise, she's going to accept it because he's never lied to her and why should he now? Besides, she loves him. I guess he had her at hello. Sound anticlimactic? Believe me, it's not. They've been though plenty.

Here's a thought: Do you remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books? I wonder if anyone has ever thought of a Choose Your Own Angst-filled Road to Happily Every After? There could be a market.

How do you handle apology and forgiveness in your stories?

Summer of Fun

I am smack dab in the middle of my summer vacation from school. I know that may sound as if I am just lolling around at the pool working on my tan while scantily clad cabana boys bring me boat drinks. Boat Drinks, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term is any drink that is frozen, slushy and usually sorta fruity. It is an “Uh-weee, I can’t taste the alcohol” sort of drink.

This is exactly how I envisioned my first summer in 27 years without a job. Oh sure, I had some projects saved up. I was going to refinish a rocking chair, reorganize my home office, clean out my closets and FINALLY pack up my Christmas tree ornaments.

As you can guess, since I am blogging about it, this is NOT how my summer vacation is proceeding. Some how I always seem to end up with more to do than I anticipate, then my momma unexpectedly had knee surgery last week so life suddenly got even more fun.

I think part of my problem is that I hate to miss out on anything. It doesn’t even have to be any thing that I think would be fun; I just hate to think about missing anything. Of course, this means that I try to do and go to everything that I possibly can squeeze into my schedule.

I am reading a great book by Smarty Pants of Writing Playground fame before she submits it to the editor who is going to love it so much she buys it and ask for another book proposal. I am looking forward to attending the workshop on pacing by the fabulous Harlequin Presents author Lynn Raye Harris Friday at the Bailey Cove branch of the Huntsville Public Library. Pantster and I have decided to enter our WIP (work in progress) in an online contest so we are working on getting that ready. And, of course, like many RWA members I am already preparing for the National Conference with all its excitement. Other than the conference all of these fun things came my way since summer began but I am very glad that I was able to include them in my plans.

How is your summer going? Is it staying on the track you planned or is it wandering off track for unplanned adventures like mine has?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

HOD Luncheon Article

The Heart of Dixie Reader's Luncheon was just a few weeks ago and many of us are still recovering from it in various ways. It was a terrific time and a big success.

Marilyn Puett, one of the wonderful gals from over at The Writing Playground has written a great article about our HOD luncheon and Barbara Vey posted it on her blog yesterday.

Please check it out at:


We hope you enjoy reading about this fun event as much as we did. Many thanks to Marilyn for writing this article and Barbara for sharing it with us all.