Uncategorized

That giant whooshing sound you hear…

on September 5, 2007

…is me exhaling. Math final done. English final essay done (in a record four hours and turned in with 55 minutes to spare). I now have three blissful weeks before the next quarter begins. I cannot tell you how wonderful that sounds. I have two goals for the next three weeks.

Goal One – do everything possible in the publicity and promotion of the Chesapeake Romance Writers Conference in November. I won’t know exactly what that entails until this Saturday but other than stuffing promo bags, I’m hoping everything can be done or at least well underway before the end of this month.

Goal Two – make major progress on the WIP. The muse returned somewhat this weekend and I’m hoping to keep the momentum alive. A coworker asked me about the book this morning and as I told her about the changes I’m making and where I plan to take the story, I found myself getting excited about it. I really like the direction it’s going. Today I ordered the book Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass as recommended by Elizabeth Boyle – thank you very much. Ms. Boyle says this book is great for explaining character motivation and that’s what I need. And I found it at half.com at a really great price so double kudos to me.

Since we are talking about goals, I’ll reiterate another one of mine. I want to write THE END on my story on or before December 31, 2007. That means, on or before the day I turn 36 years old, I will have a finished MS. Grant it, there will be months of revisions after that but I figure, if I stick to this schedule, I’ll be able to enter a somewhat polished MS in some Spring contests and have a very polished MS to pitch at Nationals.

How about you? What are your short term goals? Long term goals? Even if it’s just get those dang clothes off the bedroom floor and into the closet – one of my very short term goals – please feel free to share.

Oh, and here’s a picture of the accomplishment of one of my long time goals. I’ve purchased my first couch ever! It’s being delivered tonight. I realize it’s nothing spectacular but when every piece of furniture you’ve ever owned has been a hand-me-down, one brand new sofa is a very big deal. *g*

Where does writing fit?

on August 30, 2007

I have been under a great delusion. For some reason I believed that once summer ended, my daughter came back and we settled back into a routine, life would settle down. I suffer from this delusion all the time. I think “once the holidays are over” or “once the summer is over” or “once softball season is over” everything will get back to normal. But it never does. Apparently, this is normal.

A few days ago I was writing an email to a friend and started listing all the things that are going on in my life in the next few months. Not until typing it all out did I realize I’m going to be insane by Christmas. The insanity starts tonight (well, intensifies anyway).

Tonight is our first softball practice. When I say *our* I mean my daughter’s but I’m saying *we* since we’re in this together. I do not know yet how often we will practice nor how often we will play games but I’m thinking it’s going to take up at least 2 to 3 evenings/mornings of my life. My daughter starts school the day after Labor Day, I have a final paper due that day and a final exam to take that evening. I have a meeting the following Saturday at which I will find out exactly what I have to do to promote my local RWA chapter conference coming up in November. I somehow got *volunteered* to be in charge of publicity though no one has told me exactly what that entails.

October 1 my fall quarter begins and it’s back to school for me. The first weekend of October I’m attending the NJRWA conference only to return on Sunday afternoon in time to attend the Brad Paisley concert that night. As mentioned, our local chapter conference is in November and I have a feeling I’m going to have heaps of promo materials threatening to take over my house for several weeks prior to the big she-bang.

Throw into all this I’m in charge of planning our company Christmas party for the first weekend of December. Though the major decisions are done, come October I will again be inundated with flower arrangement decisions, menu decisions, compiling the guest list, picking and printing the invitations, handling the RSVP’s, booking hotel rooms (including my own for free – Whoohoo!) and in general making sure the night goes off without a hitch and looks like it all took care of itself.

So, my question is, where will I find time to write? My friend says I need to cut back. Where would I cut back? I’m not going to screw my daughter out of playing softball. Quitting school is out of the question. I have no intention of quitting RWA nor missing the conferences. I’ve invested way too much at this point to back out now. I could tell the chapter I can’t handle the publicity job but I would never do that. Once I make a commitment, I keep it. (Yes, yes, I’m divorced and that was sort of a commitment but give me a break!)

I know I just need to make the time. And I really want to get this book done. But right now I spend my days so exhausted I get a headache just thinking about writing. The laundry won’t do itself, the kitchen won’t clean itself, the garbage will not walk itself to the dumpster and the job is sort of mandatory for survival. So what’s a girl to do?

Anyone out there a master at time management? Anyone know a good, cheap (read: free) cleaning service in my area? Anyone want my life? LOL! Anyone else have this problem. And can you tell me where does the writing fit?!

I’m So Excited!!!

on August 23, 2007

I know. I’ve been saying that a lot lately. (Quick aside: is it “a lot” or “alot”? Since Word just changed “alot” back to “a lot” I guess I have my answer) This weekend my daughter comes home!!! Ten weeks. Ten VERY LONG weeks. And this time there were no “how much longer do I have?” calls starting around the six week mark. I’m not handling that well. My little girl is growing up. She’s getting used to being away from me. I’m trying not to be crushed about this.

Earlier this summer I was talking to my dad and looking at a picture of my daughter when she was about 4. I said, “My baby girl isn’t a baby girl anymore.” Without missing a beat my dad said, “Well, neither is mine.” I had never thought of this. I was once my daddy’s baby girl. I guess I always will be in his eyes but I don’t think of myself that way at all. But after this conversation I try to picture Isabelle all grown up with a little girl of her own. I can’t do it. My child is never growing up. I’ve decided and that’s that.

So, I’ve been working on her room. When she left it was a mess mostly because I have been remiss in purging her old toys and clothes. Not anymore. I hauled off almost 10 boxes and bags to the local children’s hospital fund raising store. (Yay! Tax deduction for me!) New desk, New poster, new curtains, new bird cage stand (messy dang bird) and a practically empty but organized closet means we are in business. *pats self on back*

To top it all off the plan is to spend Saturday afternoon at the Biltmore Estate in Ashville, NC. It’s on our way back from Knoxville and I’ve been trying to find the time to check it out for three years now. If all goes well (and they allow it) I’ll have plenty of pictures to share when we get back.

Now a couple of quick reminders. Romance Vagabonds are holding an Avon Fanlit Anniversary/Reunion Celebration all this week. Yes, I’m a little late but you can check out the stuff already posted and there’s plenty more fun to come. I happen to know the big sex scene is still to come but don’t tell anyone I told you. *ssssshhhhhhhhhhhh* So hop over there (after commenting of course *g*) and join the fun. And no, I cannot be bribed to tell you who wrote what chapter. I mean….errr…..I have no idea who those people are.

One more quick thing. I have found the funniest and coolest damn thing on the net. It’s Brotherhood 2.0 and it’s hysterical. Don’t sit here expecting me to tell you what it is, just go. See for yourself. Just be prepared to be addicted!

Now, anyone else excited about the end of summer and the promise of cooler weather, a change of season or the impending holidays (which will be here in about 10 minutes!!!)? Or anything else you might be excited about. Share with us, won’t you?

Ch..ch..ch..ch..changes…

on August 20, 2007

Summer is coming to an end, the vacation is over and now it’s back to the writing. My goal at the beginning of the summer was to have a completed MS to pitch at the New Jersey RWA conference the first weekend of October. I did get almost 4 more chapters written during June and July but I’m afraid things have come to a halt. In the beginning of August I received the score sheets and feedback from a contest I entered in April – long before I had any clue what I was doing.

Not that I know what I’m doing now but I certainly know more than I did back then. The feedback was pretty much what I was looking for. They liked (and got!) my voice and my humor, believed my story had potential (with changes) and encouraged me to keep writing. That’s exactly what I wanted – an unbiased, educated opinion as to whether I was wasting my time.

But with the feedback came an epiphany. I now understand the changes I have to make to these characters and this story if I want my work to be interesting, entertaining and most important publishable. As it stands right now, these characters are bland, boring and lack conflict. There is no reason for these two NOT to get together. That is a problem.

So it’s back to the drawing board. I believe I can still use most of what I have with slight tweaking in some areas and major tweaking in others. I also believe it is now going to be more fun to write and a great deal more interesting to read. I’m sure I’ll keep learning and having these kinds of epiphanies. At least I hope so.

So, what about you? Any epiphanies lately? It doesn’t have to be about writing. It could be the one I reached lately that for a woman my age there are no good men left to find. I could go into that further but I’ll save that for another blog. *g*

And before I forget, I do have a new target date for finishing my WIP – December 31, 2007.

Still recovering…

on August 16, 2007

The vacation so hyped in the media – ok, so hyped here but that counts somehow – is over. The week was incredible. We didn’t get to everything on the itinerary but let’s face it, there are only so many hours in the day and when Tiff needs at least three of those hours to doll up, adjustments have to be made. We did get to Colonial Williamsburg and that was awesome. Especially the Raleigh Tavern tour. But somehow I did not end up with a picture of our Will Turner/Jack Sparrow love child on my camera and since Fran and Tiff have more than pontificated on his charms, I’m going to simply say I recommend you go see for yourself. *g*

All flights were on time and luggage arrived with passengers. I was astounded when Tiff unpacked her suitcase. Almost every single piece of clothing was black. Every. Single. Piece. It was well over 100 degrees while she was here. Apparently she did not get my message about the heat wave.

Fran’s suitcase could have carried a small circus group of acrobats. I never even attempted to lift it but then I have this bad back and I’m old and well…you get the picture. We started the week with a bang. Or should I say booze. Nothing like shopping, a good fish and chips hunt and alcohol to get the party started. Fran found her own teddy bear/masseuse and Tiff just enjoyed toying with this friend of mine. He fancies himself a lady’s man but Tiff had him feeling more like a frustrated toad. I would say “the poor guy” but he really did bring it on himself.

The Historical Sightseeing – We managed to take in the Battlefield at Yorktown the first day. It was just the open battlefield but it comes to mean a great deal more when you really think about what took place there. It was a major turning point in the war for our independence and the idea that those hills and fields are filled with the blood of young men who gave their lives for a country that didn’t even really exist yet makes it incredibly profound.

Then we did two days of Colonial Williamsburg. This was so much fun. I loved the military revue the first day (though that cannon fire made me deaf for a while) but then the second day we got to even more shops and tours and it was great. I actually bought a year pass since it was the same price for me as a two day one and I fully intend to take advantage of it.

Night Life – I did not have as much luck finding places for us to go in the evenings. The problem is that in real life I’m just an old single mom who almost never goes out and when I do it’s usually to someplace understated. I don’t ever go out looking for the crazy, single scene anymore and my lack of knowledge showed. But I got lucky Saturday night. We finally found our way to a place called Bar Norfolk and it was exactly what we were looking for. The cuties were everywhere, the music was incredibly loud (What’d you say?) and the drinks were flowing. Tiff and Fran had a great time and I had a great time watching them. And the other stuff going on around me. Though I could have done without seeing the guy throw up in the garbage can I guess the girl on girl action on the mechanical bull was sort of entertaining. For someone. And I would be remiss not to post the pic of the girls dancing on the bar. Aren’t they entertaining?! LOL!

The Reprieve – Saturday night turned into Sunday morning so I was very glad when Fran announced we did not have to get to Jamestown that day. I know I never would have made it. We had spent three days walking in the heat and had not gone to bed before 3 or 4 am since they arrived. I was spent to say the least. So Sunday and Monday were very low key with me working Monday morning while they slept in.

The Pirate Ship – Tuesday was back into the heat. For Fran and I anyway. Tiff left Tuesday morning since she wasn’t feeling good but Fran was not about to miss her pirate cruise. The ship is called Pieces of Eight and it’s a tourist attraction in Virginia Beach. It was great. The crew stayed in character the whole way, the skits and bits were entertaining and we even got to see dolphins playing around the ship. Doesn’t Fran look like a natural steering the ship? They don’t call her Hellion for nothing. LOL!

Fran and I then did some frolicking in the surf until dark when we just sat on the beach. Then we found this great restaurant on the main strip where we had the best fish and chips. And the waitress was great too. Of course we told her all about the Will/Jack love child and she was excited since she says she doesn’t meet many tourists from Missouri. Fran entertained her with all kinds of stories. It was the perfect ending to what was an incredible week.

Wednesday was a bit subdued since we both knew our time was over. Heck, we’d already lost one Bon Bon the day before but this meant we too had to go back to real life and that was more than we wanted to think about. Fran got to witness a major example of my CRS. We went to the library to print her itinerary and I could not find my library card in my purse. After a wait at the counter to get my info so as to get online, we had everything we needed. Then, on the way to the airport, Fran realized that right there, hanging on my keychain, was my library card. She was nice enough not to laugh too loudly. Or mock me too much. *g*

So there you have it, the first (hopefully annual) Bon Bon Virginia Beach vacation. I had the best time, got to know two incredible women even better and lost oodles of sleep. I’d say it was THE BEST VACATION EVER!!!!

Vacation Update

on August 5, 2007

Be prepared to hear…er….read me saying these words alot in the next few weeks – I am so freakin’ tired. I am way too old for this stuff but I am having the time of my life. I’ve laughed so hard I’ve had trouble breathing and I’ve almost pee’d myself. Is that TMI? LOL!

It’s way too early (is that the sunrise?) and I’m way too tired (there it is again) to write out too many details so I’m just going to give a few highlights. This shall be explained in the near future.

1. Fluffy! Safe word. Nuff said.

2. The Best Bar Ever!!! That would be Bar Norfolk. Feel free to google it if you’re too impatient to wait for further details. I will say there’s ALOT of dancing on the bar. And there might have been a little Bon Bons on the Bar action. Maybe……

3. Jack. Technically I’d have to figure out how to type out this strange cross between a moan and a purr that Hellion lets out everytime she says this boy’s name. And we’re not talking Jack Sparrow. More the love child of Jack Sparrow and Will Turner. Yes, he was that damn hot. That grin said it all. *sigh*

4. Can I keep him? Once again, words uttered by Hellion. And as these words are usually associated with a cute little puppy, they fit the situation perfectly. He was such a cute little puppy….

5. I’m tired so I’ll make this one a combo. The heat/the prancing/the hopping and the cheerleading. We’re nothing if not a whining/light footed/highly entertaining and supportive little team. I’m pretty sure the alcohol and boys are the only reason we haven’t all snapped from the lack of sleep and intense heat. LOL!

I’M SO EXCITED!!!

on July 30, 2007

I am so excited I can barely sit still long enough to write this blog. Why, you might ask, am I so excited? Because company’s coming! Have I mentioned I’m excited? As all get out? Well I am.

Tomorrow I will be driving to the airport during the noon hour to pick up the first of my two visitors. And then Tiff and I can be excited together! Whoohoo! But wait…there’s more. Just after five o’clock Wednesday, Tiff and I will make another trip to the airport to pick up Hellion. Then we can all be excited together! Whoohoo!

Ok, perhaps this is too much excitement too soon. I should probably pace myself. And I still have so much to do. Cleaning that bathroom is a must. And maybe run the sweeper one more time. Take that garbage down to the dumpster and OMG do I need to dust. But the excitement of the impending good times should be enough to keep me dancing through my chores.

The only time my excitement wanes a bit is when I think about the day I have to take them both back to the airport. When they will leave me and my life will be incredibly empty. At least for the hour or so it takes me to get to my….uh….friend’s place. Then I’ll be smiling again. But oh how that hour is going to suck big time. So I won’t think about that. I won’t think about how fast this week is going to fly by or how much I am going to miss them once they are gone and how we must begin to plan the next trip within days. I’ll just float on my excitement for now.

What about you? Have you ever been so excited about something only to dread knowing it had to end? What was the best trip you ever took and why? And did I mention I’m excited? I did? Oh, sorry. I’m too excited to remember. LOL!

The WIP

on July 23, 2007

In case you don’t know WIP stands for Work In Progress. Though the 8 Facts thing was the impetus that got this blog going, the writing was the real reason behind it. So, without further ado, I give you Letting Go.

The Blurb:
Letting Go is a contemporary single title romance that tells the story of Cecelia “Celi” Cooper and Bryan Riggs. Celi cooper is a glass-half-empty kind of girl. She firmly believes if it weren’t for bad luck she’d have no luck at all. She also believes all men walk away. Every man in her life, including her own father, has left her high and dry and she’s not willing to give anyone the chance to do it again. But when Celi meets her new neighbor, her resolve is tested. The attraction is instant but beyond the physical, she sees vulnerability and a man hurting.

Bryan Riggs is a former Navy cook turned chef with a need for order. From the outside looking in it appears he has everything under control. But the tragic death of his fiancé has done more damage than anyone can see. That is, until he meets his new neighbor. Something about Celi has Bryan wanting to tell her everything but he’s not sure how to keep the old love in his heart and still make room for a new one. Between their warring best friends and what appears on the surface to be the worst of betrayals, can Bryan and Celi find the strength, trust and ultimately the love required to let go of the past and embrace a new future?

First I should say that the blurb alone has taken me hours upon hours to write. But the satisfaction of getting to something I can be happy with (for now *g*) feels wonderful. I have seven chapters done and hope to have at least a complete first draft no later than October. It all depends on how many more times I get stuck.

For a taste of the actual story, I decided on a snippet of their first meeting. This occurs at the start of chapter three.

###

Shoes on and keys in hand, Celi sailed out the door but didn’t get very far. “Ack!” Falling back against the door she barely avoided running face first into a recliner. Her first thought was how odd it was to see a recliner floating in mid-air in her breezeway. She then realized there was someone carrying the recliner but from her vantage point could only see two muscular legs in stained, cut-off jean shorts, pushed down tube socks and a pair of well-worn work boots.

“I’ll be out of your way in just a second,” a masculine voice from behind the chair said. The sexy, southern drawl sent heat down to her toes.

Though he was carrying what looked to be a heavy piece of furniture and had obviously just lugged it up three flights of stairs, he didn’t sound the least bit winded. The chair started backing through the door of the apartment directly across from Celi’s.

When she’d paid her rent on Monday, Michelle, the apartment complex secretary mentioned she was getting a new neighbor. Celi figured she’d end up with either a radio-blaring, young couple or a crazy old man. Apparently she figured wrong.

Leaning forward, she watched him turn and bend at the knees to put the chair down. His shirt was pulled taut across the muscles of his back and she was sure she saw a tiny hole under one pocket of his jean shorts. Not that she was looking at his ass. Ok, she was looking but it was a nice ass. The word “firm” came to mind. When she realized he was turning around Celi jumped back so as not to be caught staring. As he crossed the threshold wiping his hands on his already filthy shorts Celi stopped breathing.

“Sorry about scaring you like that, ma’am.” He extended one hand as he introduced himself. “My name is Bryan Riggs, and if you just came out of there, then I guess we’re gonna be neighbors.”

Celi shook his hand in silence, her insides damn near melting at the combination of hazel eyes, broad shoulders and lazy grin standing before her.

“So what’s your name?” he asked as he slid his hands into his pockets.

Realizing she must seem like an idiot and very much feeling like one she simply said, “Cecelia.” Her brain tried to push out more but her mouth would not cooperate.

“Cecelia,” He drawled and the heat in her toes headed north. “That’s awful pretty.”

“Celi,” she blurted out.

“Excuse me? What’s a seely?” His wrinkled brow showed his confusion.

“I mean my name is Cecelia Cooper, but most people call me Celi.” She had to get a grip. It’s not like she’d never seen a really hot guy before. If her brain was working at half capacity after looking into his eyes, it shut down completely when she took in the rest of him.

His University of Alabama t-shirt had obviously given up its sleeves long ago, and his wide shoulders, broad chest and defined arms made her fingers itch to touch them. There was a tattoo on his left bicep that looked tribal and he was no stranger to the sun if his tan skin and sun streaked hair were any indication.

He looked to be about her age and wasn’t wearing a wedding ring. Miranda’s lectures and speeches must have finally taken hold since Celi didn’t usually check for wedding rings.

“Well, Celi, it’s nice to meet you.” His head tilted to one side and a stray lock fell over his left eye. “Is there a fire in there or are you always moving that fast?”

“Oh, I’m just running a little late to meet a friend. I promise I don’t usually run around like a crazy person.” She was sounding more like a moron every second. “So is it safe to say you’re from Alabama?” she asked.

“Is it that obvious?” His hands left his front pockets and moved to the back ones pulling his shirt even tighter across his chest.

“The shirt,” she heard herself say.

Wow, she was working up to almost full sentences now.

He looked down to his chest then back up with a smile that did nothing to bank the heat now moving through her mid-section. “I’m an idiot.” Running a hand through his hair he chuckled, “You’ll have to forgive me I’ve had a real busy couple of days.”

She wished he’d put his hands back in his pockets. Or maybe in her pockets.

“Don’t worry about it. Goodness knows I have my air-head moments too.” After realizing what she said, Celi threw in, “Not that you’re an air-head.” She nearly smacked herself in the forehead but instead crossed her arms over her chest.

His laugh was a shot of whiskey that went straight to her head. “No problem, I’ve been called much worse.” His smile grew wider revealing one dimple in his right cheek.

Giving herself a mental shake she decided to change the subject. “So how does a guy from Alabama end up on the Eastern Shore?”

“I have a friend that grew up here so I’ve been here for a visit several times. This time I decided to make it a bit more permanent.” He crossed his arms and leaned against the wall. “Now I’m glad I did.”

His eyes moved to her mouth and she nearly took a step forward. Whoa, girl. She was officially beyond melting to pure puddle status. What was she doing? She did not want a man and the last thing she needed was to have a fling with her neighbor.

“I’m glad you like it,” she said being purposely obtuse. “I’m not sure what you’re used to, but the pace here is pretty relaxed and the people are really friendly.” Now that her mouth was working she couldn’t stop babbling. “But then again if your friend is from here, and you’ve been here before, you already know that.” At that moment a car horn sounded from the parking lot.

Miranda! Shit, how had she forgotten Miranda?

“I really have to go.” She started down the hall but remembered her manners. Walking backward Celi said, “It was really nice to meet you, Bryan.”

She found herself enjoying the feel of his name on her tongue almost as much as the warmth in his eyes as they watched her walk away. At the last minute Celi turned and nearly tumbled down the steps catching the railing just in time.

So much for a graceful exit.

So there you are. The official introduction of Letting Go. I guess this is where I should ask the question “What do you think?” Just remember this is still an early draft. Even though I think I’ve edited this bit at least half a dozen times…LOL!

I Don’t Wanna!

on July 11, 2007

As some of you might know, I have time on my hands at work these days. Out of an 8 hour day I do about 30 minutes worth of work. And this does not mean I put off doing my work to play. It means I don’t have any work to do.

For a person trying to write a book by the end of the summer, you would think this would be a good thing. Nope. I can’t even make myself open the file at this point. The more e-courses and workshops I take, the more I realize that I suck at this. Deep POV, active vs. passive, creating conflict, creating real characters and dialogue. Who the hell was I trying to fool thinking I could do any of that?

I tried to apply the active vs. passive voice to the chapter I’m working on right now. It took the entire day and I managed to do nothing but delete the dreck that I couldn’t figure out how to fix. I actually made the damn thing shorter and I think worse. You cannot (read: I cannot) write a book without using the word “was”. Just can’t do it. At a workshop I attended over the weekend someone asked the question, “but you can write a book using passive voice can’t you?” to which the response was, “sure but no one will want to read it.” It was like someone took a giant pin to my balloon.

But then I said to hell with all of them I’m just going to write as I was. I have no problem trying to make the writing better but I can’t write with nothing in mind than seeking out and destroying all the passive voice. So today, when I had the entire afternoon and I’m almost falling asleep, I managed to get the flash drive out of the purse. But I can’t make myself put it in the computer. I feel like a little kid that crosses her arms, pushes out her bottom lip and says, “You can’t make me.”

How about you? Ever feel like giving up? Just chucking it all into the garbage (or recycle bin) and saying to hell with it all? And how the hell am I ever going to get this done? At this rate, I won’t have it done by the end of next summer nevermind the end of this one!

Happy Dad’s Day!

on June 18, 2007

It’s late and I’ve almost missed it but I wanted to say Happy Father’s Day to all the great ones out there. My own included. And I just realized I don’t have a picture of my dad in my comp so I’m going to have to fix that.

It’s funny that no matter how old we get we still call our daddies for help. I was just talking to mine yesterday and asked if he could help me change my spark plugs when I come home to visit in a couple of weeks. (He is well aware that if I call him instead of mom it’s an automotive question *g*) He said, “Daddy can do that for you” in this funny voice.

My childhood was not perfect but I think I turned out pretty good. I’m pretty sure that probably had quite a bit to do with him. I hope you took the time today to call your dad or even just a person who is like a dad to you. Sometimes the ones we adopt in our adult years are the best dads ones.

Now I just have to ask this question. Who’s your daddy? LOL! Couldn’t resist. Who is the man or men you would give the Father’s Day blue ribbon to? And if you’d like to tell us why, that would be great too.