Saturday, December 02, 2006

All's right with the world

Or it will be ... if I can get this cover art to post!

Ah ... success. You're looking at the cover for MEG'S CONFESSION, my February 2007 release for Avalon Books.

This is one of those moments a writer really looks forward to. So much of our time is spent working alone ... or not working, and feeling guilty about it ... or waiting for that response from an editor ... then waiting for that book to come out ...

This is one of those moments that makes it real! So, whaddaya think?

Friday, November 10, 2006

"THE NOTEBOOK" ... and The Rules

Well, THE NOTEBOOK won in my recent quandary over what to read next.

When a book or a movie is very successful, sometimes you've heard so much about it that it's hard for it to live up to all the hubbub. I'm happy to say that THE NOTEBOOK lived up to the hubbub. So for the past couple of days, I've been trying to put my finger on just how Nicholas Sparks did it.

One thing he didn't do was follow conventional structure. The book opens with a framing story, which certainly isn't unheard of, but then the framing story takes center stage for the last third or so of the book. And the "flashback" story doesn't start at the beginning of the relationship, but begins just before the couple is about to reunite for the first time since their summer romance ended 14 years before. And the flashback begins with about thirty pages of backstory to summarize the summer romance and how they ended up where they are today....

It sounds like it wouldn't work. Nicholas Sparks breaks The Rules we writers are told to follow, six ways from Sunday. So what makes it work? Well, the story has some deep emotional themes that pack a heck of a punch by the end, but it takes a while to build up to that point. What keeps us reading?

Maybe it's the writer's conviction. The book sounds convincing, sincere, real. Maybe it's the writer's style -- one of the review quotes on my copy calls it "lyrical," and I think that's a really good word for it. Sometimes you're wowed by the beauty of the language ... but more often, you're not thinking about the writing, you're just drawn in by its deceptive simplicity.

Oh, heck. A literary critic I'm not. The point is, it works. End of story.

Friday, November 03, 2006

My TBR pile

What I'm reading:
- ?
What's on the CD player:
- GILDED PALACE OF SIN by the Flying Burrito Brothers
What I'm watching tonight with the kids:

You know what that is, don't you? The To-Be-Read pile ... that towering stack of books that just about every reader seizes faster than she/he can read them. (If you can buy one book at a time, and not buy another until you finish it ... you scare me.)

A friend of mine shared her TBR pile on a recent blog, so I thought I'd follow suit. These are the books currently tottering on my little office floor, vying for my attention:

THE NOTEBOOK by Nicholas Sparks
THE WEDDING RING by Emily Richards
AN OFFER HE CAN'T REFUSE by Christie Ridgeway
HIT REPLY by Rocki St. Clair
TELL ME LIES by Jennifer Crusie
CHARLIE ALL NIGHT by Jennifer Crusie
CRAZY IN LOVE by Luanne Rice
RECIPES FOR EASY LIVING by Curtiss Ann Matlock
FULL HOUSE by Janet Evanovich
by Janet Evanovich
FAR HARBOR by JoAnn Ross
HE LOVES LUCY by Susan Donovan

Oh dear. It's worse than I thought. I shouldn't be allowed to leave the house 'til I catch up, let alone set foot anywhere near Barnes & Noble.

I find a lot of times I like a shift in tone from the last book I read. The last book was a comedic women's fiction, so I'm thinking one of the more serious ones might be good. Right now, THE NOTEBOOK is arm-wrestling with THE WEDDING ALBUM....

Thursday, October 26, 2006


What I'm reading:
- O'REILLY'S BRIDE by Trish Wylie
What's on the CD player:
- UNWRITTEN by Natasha Bedingfield
What I watched last night with the family:
- MAD LOVE with Peter Lorre and Colin Clive

The "What I'm reading," above, will tell you how I resolved the quandary in my last post ... I decided to stick with one book at a time. Yep, I'm a monogamous reader at heart. I'm so involved in Trish's story I've had no desire to wander elsewhere. Good to know about myself.

But it got me thinking about my other unwritten rules for reading, and I wonder how many people out there share them. Or not.

Do you:

- Read the last page to see how it ends?
Heresy!! The only way I'd peek at the ending of a book would be if I absolutely hated it and just wanted to see how the writer got him/herself out of the mess. Or if it was a book I didn't intend to read for at least 10 years. I hate spoilers!

- Skip slow-moving scenes or descriptions?
(clutching my throat and falling to the floor) Ack! Never! I might miss something! Plus, how can you say you've read the book if you haven't read the whole book?
I've heard of people skipping lovemaking scenes, but I can't imagine why, unless you didn't know you were reading That Kind of a Book. (I write "sweet," but I read "steamy" as well.)

- Dog-ear pages?
This I have been known to do, if it's a paperback and I want to refer back to the scene for Writerly Purposes. At that point, my reading book also doubles as a "text" book, and different rules apply.
Otherwise, I love all those nice promotional bookmarks.
Dog-ear a hardcover? Never.

Do you have any of your own reading "rules," or secret naughty reading habits? And do I sound totally obsessive-compulsive by now?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


I'm contemplating infidelity.

See, the other day I took a look at my to-be-read pile. So many choices, such variety. And I thought … maybe I could read two of 'em at once?

My mother frowned on this when I was growing up, and that ethic has stuck with me: Read one book at a time. Now that I have two children, I understand what she was trying to prevent. My kids might easily start half a dozen books without finishing them if I let them.

But still. Isn't it better to stick with one novel at a time, to get the full flavor and flow? And isn't it bad manners to cheat?!

Or might it be okay to start, say, Nicholas Sparks' THE NOTEBOOK, which I keep meaning to read but somehow have never gotten to, at the same time I'm reading O'REILLY'S BRIDE by Trish Wylie, which I've already started? Different tones for different moods?

(You'll note that I'm not one of those "read-a-book-in-one-sitting" kinds of readers. For one thing, some of my "sittings" are as short as 15 minutes … I'm a mom, remember?)

So … good idea, or bad idea? Tell the truth. Do YOU read more than one book at a time?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

American Title III voting begins!

A quick update on the American Title competition: Voting is under way now through Oct. 29th for the Best First Line. If you're interested in following the contest, here's a link for you:

American Title III

This is the first "round" of judging, so to speak. Subsequent judging will be on categories such as Best Hero and Heroine, Best Story Summary, Best Dialogue Scene and Best Romantic Scene.

Now, I won't try to influence your voting (subliminal message cathypegauROCKS) ... drop by and check it out for yourself!

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Now you can see what I'm bragging about.

My critique partner, Cathy Pegau -- after a bit of nagging on my part! -- has posted an excerpt of HAUNTED, her American Title 3 finalist book:

Excerpt from HAUNTED, by Cathy Pegau

Check it out. It's worth it!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


I can't help it. I gotta brag. My CP, Cathy Pegau, is a finalist in the American Title 3 contest, and her interview is up on the Title Wave blog today:

I've read her book, HAUNTED, and it's wonderful. Our heroine sees one dead person in particular -- her best friend Min, who died 6 months earlier in a car crash that may NOT have been an accident. Min can't rest until she knows what happened to her, and her girlfriend Georgie has to help.

It's paranormal chick lit, very funny and heartfelt. I hope to grab it off a retail shelf in the future!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Today is my day for Career Week at my son's 6th grade. My husband's talk was yesterday. You'd think a disc jockey would draw a lot of interest, right? Well, most of the kids looked glassy-eyed, a far cry from the DELIGHTFUL class I spoke to 2 years ago when DS was in 4th grade. Still, I wasn't worried yet. My first experience was so positive....

Then DS and I were talking yesterday afternoon about the kids signing up for today's Career Day topics. They talks are going on in 4 different classrooms at once, so for each time slot, the kids have a choice of 4 career talks.

DS said, "I picked you. It was hard. There's a dog trainer the same time as yours."


And later: "I think four kids signed up for yours. Me and Michael and two girls."


This doesn't mean I'll be talking to only 4 kids, which would be bad enough. It means I'll be talking to the 4 kids who wanted, at least marginally, to listen to me ... and probably about 26 listless hooligans who really wanted to see a dog trainer, only the dog trainer talk was full.

I'll let you know how it goes … if I ever return….

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


I said I wasn't going to let this happen again ... but it did.

With one book, my heroine spent two months eating the same chicken sandwich.

Another time, the heroine spent several weeks giggling in the photocopy machine room across from the hero's office....

It's called bogging down in the early chapters, and it's a disease I'd really like to beat. Every time it happens I say I'm going to bang out the first 2-3 chapters of the next book FAST, without worrying so much about getting it right. It always takes me a while to capture the flavor, but it happens as the book progresses -- not by spending forever on that initial setup.

But doggone it, Yvonne and her hero have been having lunch in that break room since August. Every time I think I'm ready to move on, Yvonne sets down her chili burger, shakes back her hair and says, "Okay. Let me try that again."

The thing is, it's really hard for me to know what they'll say in the next chapter before I know what they've already said in this one....

But Chapter One is finally done. Although I still haven't gotten them out of the darn break room!

Monday, September 25, 2006


Hoo boy ... it's been a tough day.

I've been going through my bookshelves, trying to make room for recently-read books, and maybe sandwich some of my to-be-read pile up there, too, as it's been towering and tottering for quite a while now. You know what that means?

Yep. Clear out some of the books I've already read.

I'm a pack rat, and things like this just stick in my throat. Especially with books, because as a writer, I'm always thinking, I might want to refer back to that sometime, to see how the author did such-and-such....

Gulp. Time to get real. I'm really only likely to do this with my favorite books, right? That leaves a lot of books that pleased me as I read them, but I'm not likely to hand them off to friends or go back to review the writer's technique. So a lot of the old ones have got to go. And what does that leave?

Here's the pleasant part. It leaves me with a "keeper" shelf of books I can view with real enjoyment, because each glance at a spine leaves me with a moment's memory of the time I spent with those characters. I've made a lot of nice additions in the past year or two -- books that I'm happy to keep around. Some, but not all, are listed as favorites in my Blogger profile.

What does your keeper shelf look like?

Friday, September 22, 2006


Okay ... deep breath ... time to start the clock ticking on my latest wip.

I'm participating in Trish Wylie's "Book With Trish" workshop, and I've decided to poke my head up and post my progress. I'm on Chapter One with approximately 17 out of 200 pages written ... the trouble is, those last three pages keep asking to be re-written. I'm still in the early stages of defining the hero, heroine and their conflicts -- but doggone it, they WILL figure out what to say to each other!

I've set up a challenge for myself because my heroine is very different from the ones I've written before. I guess that's because I've usually started creating my heroines from the inside out. I've thought of a situation, then conceived the character to put into it -- and okay, I'll admit it, her reactions are similar to the way I would respond if I had her situation and background.

Christie, from LOVE ON THE AIR, is similar to me, but younger, spunkier, more ambitious. Meg, in MEG'S CONFESSION, is similar to me, but a LOT more self reliant, because she's had to be. Lindsay, from my yet-to-be-sold Christmas book, contains a lot of my uncertainties....

But not Yvonne.

Yvonne is the heroine's friend in LOVE ON THE AIR. I needed a co-worker, started typing, and she just turned around and walked right off the page. I saw her so perfectly from the outside -- now is my chance to get IN there and see what makes her that way!

She's beautiful and she knows it, but she doesn't make a big deal out of it -- she's got too much to do. Unlike my other heroines, she's the kind that wears high heels and paints her nails on a regular basis. Even though she's got to redo the polish every couple of days because her hands are busy, and that polish gets nicked up, which drives her nuts. However, she could NOT be bothered to go to a salon and pay money for acrylic nails.

And of course, a different heroine demands a different type of hero. HE's been proving himself much harder to write!

How much do your heroines resemble you? Do they share any of your weaknesses? Do they have strengths you wish you had? 'Fess up, now....

Friday, September 15, 2006


Yes, I've blogged before. Somewhat unsuccessfully. On my first blog, I felt like every post should contain some significant Words of Wisdom, so a lot of entries got first-drafted, but never perfected enough to post. Then spammers ate the blog site. I took this as a sign from On High that blogging wasn't for me.

Plus, I really should spend that time working on my actual WRITING.

But oh, the temptation....

Some of my friends have a lot of fun on their blogs (I'll try to figure out how to post their links soon!). Now, Trish Wylie of The Pink Heart Society has started a write-a-book workshop, while actually daring to post a meter that shows how far she's gone on her own work in progress. And hey, whaddaya know, I'm on Chapter One of my current wip.

So here I go. I'll try to find a way to post that progress meter here, and I'll even try to tell the truth on it. This blog, rather than being an attempt at semi-weekly Words of Wisdom, will be an informal journal, mostly about my writing life, but don't be surprised if my family shows up too. After all, they're the ones who put up with me.

I'll do my best to keep it interesting. But fair warning: any Words of Wisdom will be purely accidental.