Thursday, May 31, 2007

Writing is a Sedentary Experience

I have never in my life been so sedentary. I've also never in my life weighed this much. (Except when I was pregnant, but that doesn't count because there was a whole human being inside me.) I may not be a rocket scientist, but I'm pretty sure there could be a connection between those two things. Sedentary = weight gain.

Even when I had a desk job - which was a large part of my life - I was up and down all the time. Going here and there, out in the warehouse, upstairs to the purchasing department, rarely sitting still for any great length of time. With writing, this little desk and keyboard are my entire world. I sit here in the morning and don't move from it except to eat until I'm done for the day. This can't be good for me. (Again, no rocket scientist, but I'm pretty sure.)

Last week when I went to Disney World, I got tired. By the mid-afternoon, my back ached and I just wanted to go sit down. This is not acceptable. I'm a Park Open to Park Close girl. I want to see Mickey come in on the train and stay until the last firework has faded. I don't want to waste any time sitting down resting. That's for old people, which I keep telling myself over and over, I am NOT.

So I went to the video store and discovered - gasp! - they have an entire section of Fitness videos! Who knew? The variety available is a bit overwhelming, but I went with Denise Austin because I'd heard of her and she was never a supermodel or married to a cable television mogul. That I know of.

I got one DVD of Pilates stuff and another of indoor walking. I'd heard of Pilates but didn't really know what it was. Did you know it's a system of exercise named after Joseph Pilates? Again, who knew?

My regimen is that I do the Pilates one day and the walking thing the next, alternating for variety and because Denise says I should. Today is my fourth day. Every muscle in my body hurts. But it's a good kind of hurt. I'm blogging about this because the more people I tell, the more likely I am to keep it up. I'm an overachiever and I'd be embarrassed if someone asked me how the exercise was going and I had to say I'd quit doing it.

So please. Feel free to ask. Often.

Now I'm going to the hairdresser. I have this unusual condition in which my natural blonde hair has a tendency to be very dark at the root, so I have chemicals applied to it about every six weeks.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Have a great day.


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

My Lunch with Julie

Back in my Suzanne Ashley days, I was heavily involved with the local RWA chapter known as TARA - Tampa Area Romance Authors. I had already sold my first novel to Silhouette when I joined RWA. Wow, if only I'd known the resources available then. I'm not normally a joiner, but once joined, I have a tendency to want to do things my way.

Well, my way is the right way, you see. Ask anyone in my family and they'll tell you. So, pretty soon after joining, I muscled my way into....I mean, I was drafted to be the next president. The vice-president was a little five-foot-nothin' spitfire named Julie. I truly grew to love this young woman as I watched her grow as a person and a writer. She was fresh out of college, eager to take on the world and become a NYTimes bestseller. She had both the talent and the chutzpah necessary.

In those days, she was writing as part of a team with her friend Charlene. They had a magnificent novel-in-progress that was set in Tampa (if I'm remembering correctly) around the time that Flagler and his cohorts were developing the area. It was huge and rich and extremely well done for two girls barely out of school. I don't know whatever happened to that book or why Charlene kind of lost interest in it, but the result was the fabulously talented and successful contemporary author, Julie Leto.

Her first sale was to Harlequin, for whom she still produces those steamy things with the bright red covers. And she's really good at the steam, I promise you! I bet nothing in her laundry room EVER has to be ironed. She's also produced a huge stack of single title, paranormal and anthology books. And guess what - she's no stranger to either the NY Times or USAToday best seller lists.

Stuff happened in my life that took me away from writing for a while, so I hadn't seen Julie in more than ten years. It has been a while since we used to run around picking out clip art for the TARA newsletter and setting up Sunshine Saturday at the Marriott, me usually with my son in tow, Julie with her water bottle. She always had a water bottle.

Lunch yesterday became a three-hour gabfest while we caught each other up on what's been going on. With the exception that she was the one with the child in tow, it was as if no time had passed at all. We had a great time with lots of laughs. I'm sorry I let this bright light slip out of my life for so long, but I'm really glad we made the connection again. Julie is a sweetheart and a terrific writer. Look for her stuff. Buy it. She's really good. You can also catch her at You won't be sorry.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Very Good Place to Start

When you read you begin with A, B, C...when you write you begin with....well, ask twenty-five different writers and I'm betting you'll get twenty-five different answers. Where do I begin?

For some people the characters come first. A boy who doesn't know he's a wizard learns that he's been admitted to a world famous wizarding school. A southern belle, the most sought after girl in seven counties, finds the one man she really wants is going to marry someone else. These are character-driven stories. Sure they have intriguing plot twists and turns, but what keeps us on the path are the characters. We don't just want to know what happens; we want to know what happens to Scarlett or Harry.

Interestingly, both Margaret Mitchell and J. K. Rowling said they wrote the last chapter first. I don't know any other writer who does that, and I certainly couldn't do it myself. Part of the fun of writing, for me, is not knowing exactly what's going to happen. Oh, I know I'm going to end up with "and they lived happily ever after." That's a given because I write romance. But I rarely know at the outset how I'm going to get there.

And isn't it kind of limiting to write the end first? What if something much better comes to mind along the way that makes the ending no longer appropriate? Do you go off and explore that new idea, tossing your finely crafted ending in the trash? Or do you subdue your rampant imagination to stick with the original ending? I guess it could go either way.

And writers never throw away anything. Just because that scene didn't make it in this book doesn't mean you won't find a use for it somewhere else. For every book I've written, there's a separate file of things that didn't make the final cut. Sometimes I dig around in those just to see if anything catches my fancy. Sometimes I'll be writing and remember a specific thing from a previous book and go looking for it. Some of my finest work is still in my computer!

Today I'm writing a scene that didn't make the final cut of my Heiress book, but I feel it's necessary and helps explain a lot of things, so I'm adding it. If I'd thought of it sooner, that entire book would have probably been easier to write in the first place. But better late than never, right?

And so I'm off to lunch with a writer pal. Don't want to be late for that.

Have a great day!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Odds and Ends, Where Have I Been, Back to Work!

For a few years now, my best friends and I have been making an annual trek to the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival. It always inspires us to come home and work in our flower beds, but this year I had other things to do right away.

Saturday was my Prince's birthday. His 50th. I wanted to take him out to a really nice restaurant. He wanted to have a party. So I agreed to the party. I wanted to have a 1950s theme party. He wanted to have a Hawaii Five-Oh party. Well, it was his birthday, so he won again. He went to grad school at the University of Hawaii. That's why he chose the theme.

So I hurried myself over to iParty and bought every Hawaiian themed decoration in the place, including a grass skirt for me and a lei that lights up. I guess that's so you can find me in the dark if the electricity should suddenly go off. I'm not sure.

Then there was the food - pina colada cake, pineapple cheese casserole, meatballs with pineapple barbecue sauce, pot stickers, and the obligatory chips and dips. All garnished with fresh pineapple, of course. Oh, and a gallon of pina colada mix. And the biggest bottle of rum I've ever seen. Where is Jack Sparrow when you need him?

Well, the party was a rousing success. Yesterday we ate leftovers and went to see Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. Oh, that's where Jack Sparrow is. And there. And there. And over there! (inside joke; works only if you've seen the movie).

So, now it's back to work. The first thing I did this morning (after looking at my most recent royalty statement and trying to decide whether to laugh or cry) was to call up blog tracker and see whether anyone is still reading me after a week's absence. And some of you are still there!
Thanks for waiting patiently for the next entry. I'll try not to leave you alone so long.

It's always fun to read the search engine phrases that people put in to get here. Sure, most of them say Delia Carnell, Brianna's Magic, Diamond, or some such that makes perfect sense. The ones that amuse me are the ones that are clearly looking for something else. Like "love life of Orlando Bloom." Sadly, you won't find that here. Or "high school blonde leg." Not really sure what someone would want with that.

My favorite is "How to catch a bird high ceiling." Can't you just see this couple flailing around at the poor bird with a broom that's not quite long enough to reach the rafter at the peak of the cathedral ceiling? "Quick, Myrtle! Go google it!"

Yeah. That's what I would do.

Back to writing for me. Have a great day!

Monday, May 21, 2007

American Idol, Harry Potter and Jack Sparrow

What do these three things have in common? They're pop culture icons, of course.

No matter how bad the singing can get or how much you hate Simon, you have to admire the contestants on American Idol. They just get up there and sing week after week, some of them the subject of Internet trash talk (see Sanjaya), some of them brilliant singers, some of them terrified. How can you not applaud the sheer gutsiness? Well, it takes a certain amount of gutsiness to make it in the music business anyway, doesn't it? Is that not in fact the reason we won't see Melinda in the finals?

Jack Sparrow, on the other hand, has gutsiness galore. Oh, wait. That's CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow. Say what you will about the overdone dramatics and outrageous chase scenes, the Pirates of the Caribbean movies are nearly perfect in presenting us with an afternoon's entertainment. We've got comedy, adventure, romance, hi jinks, big special effects, Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom. Heck, they even threw in a good looking woman who can wield a sword in a dangerous way. And to top it all off, it's a Disney attraction. You can be a part of this movie over and over again - if you can get to Orlando. Or Anaheim. Or Paris. Etc.

That said, Harry Potter is in a different league altogether. Aside from being a pop culture icon, these books are brilliant literary gems. Ms. Rowling has done a terrific job of following all the rules of good storytelling. As Charles Dickens said, "Make them laugh. Make them cry. Make them wait." Oh, she's got the waiting part down pat. So what happens this July when there is no more waiting, when all the questions are answered and the tale comes to an end?

Of course that assumes she will answer all the questions and end the tale. She's said publicly more than once that this is definitely the last book in the series. She couldn't possibly need any more money. But a writer writes whether he or she expects to get money.

In anticipation of the release of book seven, I reread book six. Then I reread the first book. Much good information in that one. If you haven't picked it up since you plunged on through the series, you really want to take a look at it again before seven gets here. There are many, many things in book one that make sense to us now that we didn't realize earlier.

And remember this - Ms. Rowling is very good at her craft. She seems to faithfully follow the writer's rule that if there is a cannon on the stage in act one, you damn well better fire it before the final curtain. So go back through book one and see how many unfired cannons you can find. I guarantee there is something in there that points to her resolution.

Now I'm off to pack my bags. I'm spending a few days with that other great pop culture icon, Mickey Mouse. You can bet I'll take at least one trip with Captain Jack Sparrow while I'm there. But I'm taping Idol, so don't you dare tell me who wins before I get the chance to watch it!

Have a great day!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Let the dream begin, let your darker side give in...

At last night's performance of The Florida Orchestra, the man representing the weekend media sponsor compared music to words. He said that in much the same way a musician uses notes to create a symphony, journalists and writers use letters and sentences to create a symphony of words. There wasn't a writer in the crowd who was surprised or who would argue. We have always known we have a deep connection to music.

This weekend's show is part of the Pops series and was conducted by Marvin Hamlisch. If you've ever seen "The Way We Were" or "A Chorus Line," you know his music. One of his guests was J. Mark McVey, a Broadway star best known for his TWO THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED TWELVE performances as Jean Valjean in "Les Miserables." He thrilled us with an achingly beautiful rendition of "Bring Him Home." That song has a personal meaning for me, and I cannot hear it without hot fat tears sliding down my cheeks. But Mr. McVey clearly owns the song.

But it was "Music of the Night" that got me. I've seen PHANTOM a few times, both the Broadway version and the movie with Patrick Wilson. The music always touches me, but never more than it did last night. Mr. McVey put so much emotion into the song that I could swear he must have donned a half-mask at some point. I could absolutely see the Phantom singing the song instead of the clean-cut good looking man in the well-tailored suit. He wrenched so much emotion from me, in fact, that I had a strong urge to smoke a cigarette afterward.

We only hope we can stir this much emotion in our readers. What is that elusive quality that hovers just out of our reach? We long for it, dream of it. Sometimes, we know, we grasp it. But it's so difficult to be sure.

I have an autographed copy of Mr. McVey's CD which includes both "Bring Him Home" and "The Music of the Night." Lucky me! Now I can relive these exciting moments over and over, embellished with the memory of seeing them performed live. I know I will find inspiration from his talent. When you read about my hero with a deep dark side, you'll know where I found him.

Have a great day!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Roving Body Parts

One of my pet peeves - whether I'm writing, editing or reading - is a phenomenon known as Roving Body Parts. Here's an example - "He dropped his eyes to the deep vee of her blouse."
Taken out of the context of the surrounding prose, it sounds even more absurd, doesn't it? How exactly does one drop one's eyes. I've dropped my keys. I've dropped my shoes. Heck, I've even dropped my coffee all over my computer desk and into the tiny crevices of my keyboard. But my eyes do not at any time leave my body. It's his gaze that he's dropping. And if you want to get technical, he's lowering it.

And don't get me started on the hands. Okay, go ahead. Get me started. "His hands wandered aimlessly..." Is it just me, or do you get an image of a couple of those big white Hamburger Helper hands strolling down a country lane?

"Her knees turned to jelly." Okay, maybe the metaphor is valid, but it makes me laugh every time I see it. Grape or strawberry? Could I have some peanut butter to go with that? And while you're at it, I wouldn't mind a glass of milk.

While you may see any or all of these phrases in a published work of fiction, for me it marks an immature writer. The seasoned writer should find a better way to get his or her point across. At the very least, didn't the editor know better?

It's completely possible that you'll find one of these in a published work of mine. I don't pretend to be perfect. Things pop out of your head when you're not looking and glue themselves to the computer screen. I admit it could happen. In fact, if it means that much to you, go ahead and buy all my books and look for them. I dare you!

Just don't drop your eyes while you're looking!

Have a great day.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Back from the Beach!

And what a great time we had! From the Lake Wales Family Restaurant to watching Brian's Escort Service in the Wendy's parking lot, we had a thousand laughs.

Once again, I fell in love with the Atlantic Ocean. People in somewhere like Kansas probably wouldn't get the distinction between the two coasts of Florida, but they are vastly different. For one thing the Gulf is much more placid. The ocean is angrier, more powerful. I will never tire of standing on the beach and watching the surf as the waves come in to cover my feet.

I doubt that this phenomenon is unique to writers. As I stand there, I can imagine pirate ships sailing across the rough and tumble waters to reach their treasure. I think of explorers and what that coast must have looked like when they sailed into it five hundred years ago. I imagine cruise ships, sailboats, deep sea fishermen. The stories seem as endless as the waves that pound against the sand relentlessly.

The weather kicked up a bit while we were there. We stood on our balcony watching the palm trees bend against the uncommonly strong winds. The surf rolled and crested, luring the locals out with surfboards. You definitely won't see that on the left coast!

But the best part of the entire trip was being with my mom and my sister for three days. No husbands, no children, no pets. Just the three of us, laughing and talking. We don't get enough time for that in our hectic lives these days. I'm really glad we did it.

Okay, so Brian's Escort Service - it's a business that follows large vehicles on the highway with the WIDE LOAD signs and flashing lights. But can you just imagine the person who engages their services thinking it's the other kind of escort? That would be a fun conversation to follow.

Back to work now. Have a great day!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

I've already written about my mother on her 85th birthday last Thursday. Today I'll write about my grandmothers.

Lola Frances Barker was a petite woman. She didn't quite reach five feet tall. Her husband was over six feet and her son, my father, was six-five. She never cut her hair. It was so long that she could sit on it, but she kept it swept up in a bun most of the time. When we were little girls, she would sit for hours and let us brush it, braid it, play with it. Surely we must have hurt her when we pulled the brushes and combs through all that hair, but she never complained.

She was so sweet. I always compared her to Melanie Wilkes. It was so ingrained in her not to ever tell a lie that when she eloped with my grandfather, she told her parents she was going to a wedding. She could crochet beautifully. Even when her eyesight was gone and her fingers were curved with arthritis, she still worked that crochet needle all day long. She made bedspreads for each of us and gave them as wedding presents.

Annie Mae Hoyal was tall and slender with auburn hair. Her husband left her when her children were tiny, but she managed with the help of her brothers to raise them well. She lived with us my entire life and is the reason we never knew what Day Care meant. While my mom ran the household, Mae was the laundry lady. She could catch a piece of clothing before you let it hit the floor and have it washed, dried and pressed and hanging in your closet by the time you got ready to go to school the next day. All through college and a few years after when I lived in my swinging singles apartment complex, she did my laundry for me. Just before I got married, my dad took me aside and told me I couldn't bring my clothes home for my grandmother to wash any longer.

She loved to read. Her favorites were Emilie Loring and Grace Livingston Hill. Together we learned to love Kathleen Woodiwiss. It disturbed me a little that she would read the explicit love scenes in those books, but she told me, "I close my eyes when I read those parts." She would be so proud of my published works today. But she'd have to close her eyes much of the time!

I won't be back to the Blog for a few days. I'm taking my mother to the beach. See you later in the week.

Don't forget to call your mother today.


Friday, May 11, 2007

I've Been Tagged

My friend, author Amanda Young, tagged me. Here are eight things you don't know about me:

1 - I'm a classically trained pianist.

2 - I'm a member of Quill and Scroll, an honor society for high school journalists.

3 - I'm a rabid football fan. (Okay, if you read my blog regularly, you might know that).

4 - My first major in college was Math.

5 - I was in my high school's production of GUYS AND DOLLS. I can't sing. I was a streetwalker.

6 - I've broken bones three times - leg, elbow, wrist. All on the left side.

7 - I have eleven Barbie dolls.

8 - In college I memorized the entire balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet just for fun.

Tag! You're it! I'm tagging these writers:

Mark Wolfgang, Terry Odell, Anny Cook, Ashlyn Chase, Cindy Spencer Pape, Janice Bennett, Elissa Abbott, Charlene Leatherman.

Here are the rules:
1 - Each player tagged must create a list of eight random facts about themselves.

2 - Post your list on your own blog or website.

3 - At the end of your list, choose eight people to get tagged.

4 - Notify your eight people to read your list and let them know you've tagged them.

And now it's time for me to say goodbye. Parting is such sweet sorrow!


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Happy Birthday, Mom

Today is my mom's birthday. She's 85. That alone is a pretty amazing feat, but this woman has had quite a life. (She's the one in the middle.)

She was born in 1922 in a small cotton mill town in Georgia. Her father left them when she was quite small. Her mother was not well. Most of the time her uncles made sure they had enough to eat and clothes to wear. She started working at the age of eight when she and her brother (who was four) got a paper route.

All through high school she worked an eight-hour shift at the cotton mill every day and still maintained grades high enough that she was admitted to the Honor Society. After graduating from RE Lee Institute in 1939, she wanted to go to college. The only way she could afford that was with scholarships and jobs. She earned a position taking care of an elderly lady in Americus so that she could attend Georgia Southwestern. Jimmy Carter was a classmate there. When she left home for college, the entire block threw a party for her. They had never known anyone who went to college.

At the height of World War II she married my dad. If the Depression had been difficult, the war years were desperate. Not only did they struggle for money, they lost many of their friends. Even many of the ones who survived to come home had horrible stories to tell. They were a tight-knit group of young people who loved each other and stayed in touch for decades after.

As the war ended and life began to return to normal in small-town America, Mom and Dad began to do pretty well. She was a teacher, and he worked on the huge IBM computer at the cotton mill. But they knew that if they were to truly succeed, they had to get out of that little town. So they moved us to Florida.

They were hardworking, ambitious and driven. The University of South Florida was founded the year after we moved to Tampa. When they announced a Master's program in education, my mom signed up. She was in the first Master's class to graduate from USF. Again her hard work and ambition paid off as she was appointed dean of girls at a junior high school. Then she was promoted to principal of an elementary school. Finally she worked in the education department at USF supervising interns.

But no matter how many advancements she earned, her true joy was in teaching small children. She always said, "Give me a child with at least average intelligence, and I can teach him to read."
She loved reading and loved teaching it, giving a child the gift of adventure between the pages of a book.

When I think back to my childhood, to lazy summer afternoons, I always see all of us with a book in our hands. She gave me The Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, The Wind in the Willows, Mary Poppins. I remember her driving us to the closest library, a huge brick building on the other side of town with polished wooden floors and shelves all the way to the high ceiling. Once a week, we'd visit and come home with an armload of books.

It was from Mom that I learned the joy and passion that I have for reading now. And from that grew the desire to write.

Mom still loves reading. She goes through about a book a day. Her favorite genre is mainstream mystery and suspense, but she enjoys a good romance. She gets a little antsy if her stack of books gets too low, so we try to keep a good supply on hand. Like me, she doesn't care for the used stores. She wants her books pristine, fresh with clean pages and that new-book smell. You know what I mean.

Tonight we're taking her to a cushy steak house for dinner because she does love a fine steak and a slug of Maker's Mark on the rocks. If she can, she'll sneak outside for a cigarette. I wouldn't even consider stopping her. She's eight-five years old, dammit! She can have anything she wants.

Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Please Pass the MUST....

In Writing 101 you learn that every book can be reduced to one sentence.
"______________ must ________________."

Scarlett must save Tara.
Gatsby must have Daisy.
Rebecca must get the diamond.

So, my problem with my current work in progress is that I can't find the MUST.

She's an actress, coming home to her small town in Georgia because she's wounded emotionally. She wants some peace and quiet while she thinks about what to do with her career, her lovelife, and possibly her sanity.

Just as soon as she begins this journey, however, she discovers that nothing in her life was the way she thought it was. Even her parents aren't home when she finally turns up on their doorstep. So what's a girl to do? Her best friend is still there, and she's happy to share a burger with her at the local drive-in. But there's her old boyfriend too. He just had to pop up and stir the pot, didn't he?

Then there's that other Writing 101 gem that I got from my good friend, book reviewer Digby Diehl: The plot of every book can be reduced to one sentence, and here it is - A stranger comes to town.

Think about it. I challenge you to find a single work of fiction that can't be described that way. Even if the "stranger" is a great white shark or a little girl from Kansas who arrives in a house.

So in my case, the stranger is Olivia. Even though she's returning to her hometown, she's a stranger there. She left it seven years ago to seek her fame and fortune in L. A. In her mind the town is still the way it was the day she left. The reality is quite something else. She's the stranger in her own home.

But I still haven't found her MUST. Maybe it's just that Olivia's MUST is bigger than can be described. It's too sweeping to fit in one sentence. She must figure out what to do with her life now that she's achieved her dream only to lose it and discover that maybe it wasn't what she really wanted after all.....???

I MUST think about this for a while.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Yoho, Yoho! A Writer's Life for Me!

Only seventeen more days till the premiere of POTC - At World's End. Yesterday I found a truly wonderful picture of Captain Jack Sparrow to use for my computer wallpaper. Wait a second - sigh - I just had to minimize this window so I could look at it.

I am struck by the similarities between the life of a writer and the life of a pirate. For one thing, there's a lot of alcohol involved (See Hemingway, Ernest). But that's just a small part of it. A pirate sets out for adventure on the high seas. A writer sets out for adventure in the sea of his or her own imagination. A pirate will burst into your life and steal everything valuable from your gold doubloons to your daughters. Writers also burst into your life, and the things we steal are valuable - your emotions, your thoughts, your attention.

I was thinking about the reasons for my fascination with Pirates of the Caribbean. And no, it's not Johnny Depp. Well, not entirely Johnny Depp. It's also Orlando Bloom. But wait - it's so much more than that. I first went to Disneyland in 1970. POTC was my hands-down favorite attraction. For one thing, it's the last ride in which Walt was personally involved. At it's time, there was no other attraction so technologically sophisticated. When you step into that boat and begin your journey through the ship battle, past the marauding pirates, through the ransacked village, you can absolutely believe you are really there.

Much like what a writer can do for you.

There isn't a fiction writer living who hasn't watched the movie and thought - I wish I had written that! Adventure, romance, danger, comedy ("Captain! It's Captain Jack Sparrow!"), mystery. It's exactly the kind of thing we're all hoping to acheive when we invite you into the world we've created to share some of your day with us.

One more thing I love about Captain Jack Sparrow - the sounds. The creak of leather, the clang of chains, the rattle of keys and bones, the thunk of thick boots on hard planks.

Arg! Now I'm off to plunder and loot something!

Have a great day,
aka Captain Bess Bonney

Monday, May 7, 2007

CP Gets the Heiress - Or Someone Like Her

I have received a contract offer from Cerridwen Press for my latest romance novel RUNAWAY HEIRESS. This was a really fun book to write, and I'm glad they like it. Here's the problem: They want me to change the title.

It' s not that I mind changing the title. I'm happy to do it. It's just that coming up with a title is the hardest thing for me to do! I'd rather write a whole 'nother book than come up with a new title.

Okay, maybe not a whole book, but you understand what I mean. This is not my forte. My son was two weeks old before I named him. I had to go back to the hospital to fill in the paperwork. And I had nine months to think about that one! The last eighteen days, I was in the hospital on bedrest. It's not like I didn't have time!

If only there were a magic title generator that I could use. Or even a store. Titles R Us. How about going with something tried and true? Let's call it GONE WITH THE WIND. Or WAR AND PEACE.

Oh, snap! I know I shouldn't be whining about this, but it truly is a problem. The paperwork can't move forward until we can fill in the blank with the title. So I supppose I know what I'll be doing today. And if anyone has a suggestion for a good way to do this, please feel free to pop in with it. I'm not opposed to bribery if that's what it takes!

Have a great day!

Friday, May 4, 2007

I Stand in Awe for a Moment

Writing is a very solitary experience. You sit all alone at a keyboard making word after word transfer from your mind to the screen. If you're really, really good at it, the final result evokes in a reader the same thing you were thinking when you tried to capture the essence. Even when an editor offers you a contract, you don't really know who's going to read it and whether they will like it.

Oh, of course your mother will read it. Your best friend. Your sister and your boyfriend. They're obligated to not only buy it and read it but love it. The thing you don't know is whether strangers will like it. And really, short of writing the best possible story you can write, there's nothing you can do about the strangers.

So yesterday, I stumble on this entry on a Romance Readers forum:

"Please help me identify this old series romance. I read this book in the mid to late 1980s, and all I remember is that the author's last name was Ashley. Maybe Rebecca Ashley? I liked it enough that I kept asking the store owner to look up her name to find out if she'd written anything else, but as far as I know, she wrote only that one book and was never heard from again. The story was about a heroine who spied on the hero's company because she needed money for a desperate cause (such as a grandmother who needed an operation). I think I liked it because the betrayal plot was handled better than most. By the way, I'm pretty sure it was one of the longer Silhouette lines -- Intimate Moments or Special Edition."

The thread continues to report that Amazon helped her find the book she was looking for. It's BITTERSWEET BETRAYAL, Silhouette Special Edition #556 by Suzanne Ashley.

That's me. If you look down a few posts, you can see the cover and my joking about poor Suzanne being in a coma now.

Fortunately, Anne found this blog and now knows that she can read my newer works at Loose Id and Cerridwen.

I cannot begin to describe my amazement that someone who read that book eighteen years ago still thinks about the story.

I have to say a huge thank you to my new friend Anne at All About Romance for brightening the day of a writer who was beginning to wonder whether any of this was worth it. It truly is.

Now I'm off to write a great book. Have a wonderful day.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Age Is a State of Mind

When I first started writing romance in the mid-eighties, I was pretty close to the age of my characters. About two decades have passed since then, and in my mind, I'm still close to the age of my characters.

I won't reveal my age here, but suffice it to say I'm what one considers a Baby Boomer. Well, if we want to get technical, Delia is only about a year old, having been born over a pitcher of sangria at the Mellow Mushroom, but that's another story.

Anyway, to write about people in their twenties and thirties, you need to know people in their twenties and thirties. I have two of them living in my house (for another week? maybe less? One can hope). That recent four-month prison sentence - I mean JOB - at an upscale department store comes in handy as well. I loved the young people I met working there. They helped me to remember that attitudes are different. That clothes are different was obvious.

So this morning, I was brushing my teeth, wearing my Buccaneers Super Bowl tee shirt. Looking in the mirror, I was thinking it was number twenty-seven. It startled me to realize the number was THIRTY-seven. Did I just lose ten years? Or is it that it seems impossible for an event to be that high in number when I remember the first one?

How is it that things I remember happening and reporting on in eighth grade civics class are now in high school history books? Have you ever been to the wedding of someone whose diaper you have changed? Do you remember when you dialed a telephone?

I'm old, I'm afraid. Seriously old.

And that may be the reason I asked for contact lenses when I went to the eye doctor yesterday. I never wore glasses in my life until two years ago. I hate them. No, I more than hate them. I loathe them. I despise them. I spit on their mother's.....wait, I'm getting carried away.

Yes, it was vanity, pure and simple. I asked for contact lenses because I don't want to look old. And I write about younger people because it helps me feel younger. In my head, I am my heroine, at least for the duration of writing her book.

Okay, excuse me now. I'm going back to the world where my bazooms are perky and my arms do not jiggle.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Heiress Goes to Australia

Yes, it's true. The Runaway Heiress packed her bags and took off through cyberspace toward Australia. No, it wasn't an unmanageable obsession with Crocodile Dundee. It's where my editor for Cerridwen Press lives. If you want to see the Heiress, then Mistress Helen has to wave her magic wand over her first.

So, what happens when a writer submits something for publication? Well, on the writer's end, nothing. The ball is now in the editor's court. The writer has to FORGET ALL ABOUT IT AND GET ON WITH HER LIFE.


No, of course you don't forget about it. That's really great advice, but I don't know a writer who's capable of it. Oh, maybe Nora Roberts. Stephen King. Somebody like that.

What does work, though, is to right away begin a new project. Immerse yourself in some other story, and you really will find that the other one moves to a less prominent position in your mind. Notice I didn't say it goes away. It just moves to the back burner, so to speak.

What's next for me? Well, I'm still letting this new story develop. I have a woman named Olivia. I have her old boyfriend Sam. I have a really cool Grandma. And then there are the Bombshell Bounty Hunters. Yeah, this one could be a lot of fun.

See? I wrote that entire paragraph without mentioning the Heiress, almost as if I took my own advice! So while I'm on a roll, I'm off to discover some more things about Olivia. Have a wonderful day!


PS - I also didn't mention the Lotus-Covered Door, which is at a different publisher awaiting its chance to shine. Two stories! Two editors making a decision! Two things to "forget about." It's a miracle I can even write this blog!!