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I’m a Guest!

on July 16, 2012

My third guest blog of the summer and I couldn’t be more thrilled than to be spending the day with the lovely PJ, Gannon, Andrea, and Buffy over at the Romance Dish. I’m talking about this Golden Heart experience really being the ultimate reader fantasy. What could be better for a long-time Romance devotee than to suddenly be flung into the middle of the best in the business??

Come share your favorite author encounters or who you wish you have for tea.

The Wild Ride Continues

on May 7, 2012

A month since the last post! Goodness gracious, where did the time go? My only excuse is what I now refer to as GH brain. A condition not unlike pregnancy brain or new baby brain and the shorter but still traumatizing moving brain.

Between queries, requests, conference planning, new book writing, and, starting today, online workshop teaching – life is moving at warp speed. I blink and I’ve lost two hours. Turn around and another hour is gone. Keeping my balance is tough but maintaining any kind of focus is damn near impossible.

However, I signed up for this ride and I’m still enjoying every moment of it. I attended a local conference this past weekend as a sort of warm up to RWA Nationals in Anaheim at the end of July. It’s a good thing I still have nearly three months to prepare because this weekend showed me I am not as good under pressure as I thought I was. A rude awakening, I can assure you.

Huge kudos goes out to my fellow Virginia Romance Writers for putting together an amazing conference. Sadly I had to miss the first day, but the second day was filled with great workshops, editor/agent panels, a killer and incredibly motivating speech from Cathy Maxwell, and opportunities to pitch to top-shelf industry professionals. Though I got off to a very rough start, I was fortunate to have dealt with a saint of an agent who still requested pages. She likely thinks I’m insane and I don’t blame her one bit.

Pulled it together for the afternoon, landed another request, and made a connection with an editor that both boosted my ego and changed my opinion about a publisher for the better. Can’t ask for more than that.

The Wild GH Ride Has Begun

on April 11, 2012

Just over two weeks since getting that exciting Golden Heart® call and life is already hectic and somewhat surreal. I’d heard finalist say this ride is exciting, but had no idea that excitement would start immediately. There is no ramp up to being a GH finalist. No adjustment period to let the mind-boggling reality set in and get a grip on what’s about to happen. It’s grab the bar and hold tight because this ride is leaving the station.
No 3, 2, 1. No Ready, Set… It’s all GO GO GO from the moment the phone rings.
Most of that GO GO GO is happening online for now. All finalists (who are willing) join a Yahoo! group and from what I hear, we have one of the chattiest groups around. Not that I’m complaining. I’m loving it. (Though I’m fortunate to be online while I’m at work. If not I’d never keep up.)
My fellow finalists are amazing, strong, smart, talented (obviously) and funny as all get out. I adore these women and cannot wait to meet them in person.
And then there are the agents. Another thing I’d heard was that putting “Golden Heart® Finalist” in your query would get you noticed. This, my friends, is an understatement. I had my first request three hours after sending off my queries. Dudes, that’s QUICK. (Received a very nice rejection a few days later, but I’m still happy to have the attention.)
I’ve received two other requests as well, but I’m not obsessing over them. Nope. Not me. I’m not refreshing my email every fifteen seconds or freaking every time my cell phone rings and it’s a number I don’t recognize.
Nope. Cool as a cucumber. Sitting at the top of an active volcano.

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!

on March 26, 2012

I did it! I finaled in the Golden Heart®. For those who don’t know, the Golden Heart is the highest award for unpublished manuscripts through the Romance Writers of America®. Hundreds of entries compete in each category and by some miracle, my MS MEANT TO BE finaled in the Contemporary Single Title category.
The whirlwind begins now and I have no idea how I’m going to handle it. The winners will be announced July 28th at the RWA National Conference in Anaheim, CA. I’ve been shaking and laughing and dancing and trying to hold off a heart attack since getting the call just after 9am. Also a miracle, I haven’t cried. Yet. This is not the day to give myself that kind of headache.
I could try to thank everyone who helped me get to this point, but I’m not sure Blogger has enough memory space for that. I MUST thank my fellow pirates – Hellie, 2nd Chance (Maureen), Sin, Hal, Marn, Donna, Leslie, and Scape (Sabrina). And to those who have been with me from day one when I thought I’d “dabble” in writing for fun. LOL! Janga, Manda, Santa, Julianne, Tiff, Maggie, Sara, Lindsey, PJ, Kim, Ely, Kris and most of all, Eloisa.
To other amazingly generous writers who have given their time to help me improve my writing: Loucinda McGary, Vicky Dreiling, Dee S. Knight and Bria Quinlan. You are shining examples of why the Romance community is the absolute best.
Just in case I don’t get to thank you all in July, know that I love you and could never have done this without you. MWAH!!!
LYG!!!
Congratulations to all my fellow finalists and to the RITA finalists who have paved the way for all of us!

Stuck In The Middle With Me

on March 5, 2012

Back on New Year’s Eve, I turned forty years old. I figure, if I’m lucky, I’ve hit the mid-point of my life. Getting older has never bothered me before. Like most kids, I couldn’t wait to grow up. Then I hit my twenties and realized everyone still referred to me as a kid. Made. Me. Nuts.
Hitting thirty was like I’d finally made it. I was a grown up. Then by thirty-one I was a divorced single mother embarking on a whole new life. Hard to believe that was a decade ago. I was scared but excited and ready to do whatever necessary to give my daughter a good life.
With forty came an entirely different mindset. Instead of looking ahead with excitement and endless drive, I’m looking back and thinking, “I thought I’d be farther along than this.” A thought that has singlehandedly erected a speed bump in my brain. 
Because life is funny like that, I’m stuck in the exact same spot in my MS. The middle.
I started revisions in December, almost immediately after finishing the rough draft. I know it’s best to wait a while before starting edits, but I’m sitting on a full request from a dream agent and while I cannot send her something that isn’t as good as I can make it, I don’t want to make her wait until 2014 to set eyes on the darn thing. 
Leave it to me to hit the middle of a manuscript and a mid-life crisis at the same time. Now if I can figure out which event is the cause and which is the effect, I might get myself moving again.

Some Perspective or Living and Working With Idiots

on February 8, 2012

I have this motto in life. “You don’t have to like me, but you will respect me.” I think I made it up, but I could have stolen it from someone else. I don’t particularly care right now. Mostly because I care about too many other things.

Which is my problem.

I think I’m a nice person, but I also know I’m a hard ass who likes (and expects) things to be done right. And “right” would be based on my opinion of “right”, of course. (See “hard ass” bit above.) The older I get, the more I find that most people could give a fig about doing anything right. From bagging my groceries to merging off an exit ramp. Courtesy and common sense have been replaced by apathy and arrogance.

And this makes me batshit crazy.

Mind you, I’m aware that this is *my* problem. Society at large does not owe me anything, nor do they answer to me. I, sadly, am not the Queen of the World. (Though wouldn’t that be awesome? I’d have a scepter and everything.) So if I want to find any peace of mind and prevent myself from needing meds for high BP and violent twitching, I need to find a way to stop caring about these issues.

To stop caring about what others do and how they do it. But it’s SO HARD!!

My puppy woke for her 5am pee (you could set a clock by this animal) this morning and I’ve been up ever since. You know those times when your brain kicks into overdrive and you can’t shut if off no matter what you try? I had one of those times. By 6:30 I gave up and turned on the light. By 6:40 I was crying. Why? No idea. Anger. Disappointment. Defeat.

Can you cry over clutter? That’s a possible cause as well.

Back to my motto. The tenants by which we live don’t mean much if we don’t enforce them. No one can make me feel angry, disappointed, or defeated without my permission. (Now this I know was said by others. Mrs. Roosevelt and Dr. Phil come to mind.) So this blog is my reminder to step back, gain perspective, and push through.
The only person I can control is me.
I have no intention of losing sleep over the idiots I encounter throughout the day. I should correct that. I’m sure many of these people are just like me and by the time their day is done, they’ve endured enough idiocy to be pissed off enough to cut me off in traffic. So I shouldn’t call them idiots.

But I still want to.

on October 10, 2011

Not sure what happened to the last week. Seriously. Where did it go? Feels like I just got back from the Georgia Romance Writers Moonlight & Magnolias conference yesterday. Guess I should do a quick summary, huh?

Lunch with dishes I had a blast. After three Nationals in a row (which I love) it was nice to attend a smaller, shorter conference. Access to such great authors, editors, and agents was an added bonus. I was fortunate to get a pitch appointment with one of the agents at the top of my “Really Want To Work With” list. Short of finaling in the Golden Heart, I’d likely never land an appointment with this agent at Nationals.

Score one for the smaller conference. (And that’s myself with Andrea & Buffy from The Romance Dish. Awesome ladies!)

An even bigger score – said agent requested a full. And she didn’t even mind that the MS is still under construction. Whew!

I made a point to keep this conference low key. No late nights. No crazy running around. Almost like a vacation instead of work. The camera and boom microphone lingering close by was sort of odd, but I’m holding out that any film including images of my person will be left on the cutting room floor.

Maggies I should explain that a documentary crew was following around Eloisa James and took an interest in her followers. I prefer the word “followers” over “stalkers” though the two are interchangeable in this situation. The Maggies were great and everyone looked gorgeous. The shoes! I wore my socks and slippers, which you can’t see under my very long dress. My feet and knees were shot by that point.

The conference was exciting and productive and I’m working to get back in the writing groove. I need 25K words in October to finish this rough draft and give me time to write the synopsis and polish the first 50 in time for the Golden Heart entry deadline. I think know I can do it.

Sure I can.

On the 13th I’ll find out if I’ve made the second round in the Mills & Boon New Voices 2011 Contest. If you’re interested, you can read my entry here. You have to register to rate it, but I’d be happy if you liked it enough to share it with others (using the “share” buttons at the top of the entry.)

Rugby 2 Today I’m honored to be the hostess with the mostest for Man Candy Monday. This lovely treat was spearheaded by Vicky Dreiling and I’ve chosen Professional Men for my theme. If you can put “Professional” before his title, then bring him along. I already have race car drivers and bull riders, football players and even the really tough guys – Rugby players.

Check out the blog for a teaser and then come hang with us on Twitter tonight from 9-10 eastern time. MCM is the perfect way to end a Monday and ensure sweet dreams ahead. Just tune in and follow the #mancandymonday hashtag for all the fun.

I’m also up today on The Romance Writers Revenge in my usual Bo’sun role talking about being the heroine of your own life. Come over and tell us what kind of heroine you’d be, and what kind of hero you’d like to have.

on September 27, 2011

This weekend I’m attending the Georgia Romance Writers Moonlight & Magnolias Conference in Decatur, GA. My registration went in six months ago so I’ve had plenty of time to plan. Have I? Don’t be silly.

I’m now in the throes of conference panic, trying to remember what to pack while not freaking about pitching. And then there’s the cleaning my house from top to bottom in preparation for visitors. That’s right, I’m having visitors WHILE I’m at the conference.

My family is coming to stay with  Kiddo and have a little fall vacation at the beach. I’ll leave before they arrive and return after they’ve left. (Sounds odd but it works out, trust me.) This seemed like a good idea when I came up with it. Now, not so much.

Packing and cleaning do not work well in tandem. (She says, pointing out the obvious.) So I’ve been bouncing between the two and thought I had it under control. Fatal mistake I make often. The only thing stronger than my control freak nature is my ability to delude myself.

The floors will be vacuumed. The sheets will be changed. Beyond that, they’re roughing it. And I hope there are stores close to the conference hotel because no matter how hard I try, I know I’m going to forget something.

If you’re going to M&M or any other conference, Nicki Salcedo offered up a great conference checklist on Twitter. I’m hoping this will cut down on my forgetfulness!

Quick plug: My entry is still up in the Mills & Boon New Voices 2011 contest.

Sam Tillman broke Harley Dandridge’s heart. Or maybe she broke his. Now the one-time lovers have a second chance, until a fifteen year old secret changes everything. The story of a Country music star on his way down and the woman he never got over.

Click over and read the first chapter of Secrets & Second Chances.

Two Life Lessons With One Wayward Click

on July 28, 2011

I must start this blog by saying I try to live by one important principle. Do no harm. I’ve had my feelings hurt and my heart broken. Neither experience was particularly pleasant, to say the least. (And I’m sure both experiences will happen again.) I do not want to be the person who inflicts these experiences on others.

However, I am a passionate person with a temper. Twenty years spent working to control the temper has definitely led to improvements in that area, but as a friend used to say, pobody’s nerfect.

And boy did I prove this.

My temper got riled last week over something so small and not worth getting riled about that I have to wonder how empty my life is that this incident set me off. And set me off it did. Being a venter, I vented my hateful spleen in a long, unpretty (to say the least) email to a friend.

And then sent said unpretty email to the very people I’d spewed my spleen on. Unprovoked. Unnecessary. Uncalled for.

*sigh*

An instant lesson in humility. What I wouldn’t give to turn back time and undo the whole thing. And not because of the damage I did to myself by revealing my hateful inner bitch, but because I insulted people who didn’t deserve to be insulted. I did harm, intentional or no.

But then, over the last week, I was taught another lesson. Many of the people I hurt, or felt I had, went out of their way to make me feel better. To assure me I was fine and human and their forgiveness was overwhelming. I should have had more faith in my fellow woman, if not in myself.

I’m still a bit emotional about the experience. My friends have been amazing and supportive, providing both sympathy and buckets or anti-drama to get me back to reality. But I still wish my “your only human” reminder had been more of a nudge on the shoulder and not a boulder upside the head. And didn’t involve so much collateral damage.

I apologize to all those involved. There are no excuses, no matter how you slice it. But I am also grateful to all those who endured my mortifying, unpretty actions and chose not to hold them against me.

16 Things About Me

on December 15, 2008

Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 16 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 16 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.