Thursday, August 31, 2006

a few (more) of my favorite things

Does anyone share my passion for teacups?

Many of my favorites are rose patterns.

Last day of August Drawing!

The big day is here!

And the fishbowl is no figure of my imagination--just to show you there truly is a fishbowl with all your names in it, here's a pic I took for you.

Today I'm drawing for the August prize, the UK copy of MISTAKEN WIDOW, the sterling and mother-of-pearl necklace and the Dutch Tulips nail color.

And the winner is.........

BrendaM!! Whoo hoo! Brenda, send your address to and your I'll get your prize out to you ASAP.

But the week isn't over. Tomorrow I will draw again for one more reader's book of choice from my backlist.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Wednesday Winner!

Today I'm giving one of you a whole packet of covers and bookmarks, as well as the LAST TWO original, first-edition, collectable (boy these sound good, don't they?) bookmarks from my first two books, RAIN SHADOW & HEAVEN CAN WAIT. autographed fan, bearing the signatures of several authors, including myself, Victoria Alexander, Jo Beverly, Kathleen Eagle & Elizabeth Grayson. How cool is that?

And the winner is.....

LuckyLou! Whoo hoo!

Lou, send me your address at and I'll mail out your goodies ASAP. Of course you'll get a sparkly pen, too!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Tuesday Winner!

This morning I'm drawing a name for two NExt novels, one of which was up for a RITA award this year: Cheryl's Reavis's BLACKBERRY WINTER and the other, TREADING LIGHTLY by Elise Lanier.

And so I shall proceed to the fishbowl...woops, where is the fishbowl? There it is.
And the winner is........


Whoo hoo!

Carol send me your address at and I'll mail your books off to you ASAP! I'll include one of those sparkly Harlequin pens, too.

Fall UK release

I have a UK release coming this fall. This is MILLION-DOLLAR MAKEOVER. I've inquired about UK releases and I can't order them for myself through Harlequin. :-(

Bummer, because I really wanted more of THE MISTAKEN WIDOW which was out this month.

Monday, August 28, 2006


Obviously the more comments you've made this month, the more likely you are to have your name drawn from the fishbowl.

Remember the special surpises I mentioned? This morning I'm drawing a name for one choice of a book from my backlist! There are a couple of exceptions -- I don't have copies of CHRISTMAS GOLD or JOE'S WIFE. But I'll do my best to round up anything else you'd like.

And the winner is...........


Katrina, send me your address in a private email and pick the book you want from the list of my books.


Sunday, August 27, 2006


I don't know where my weekends go, but even when they're "uneventful" I'm always busy and Sunday evening is here before I know it. I rented a few movies to indulge myself; watched POSEIDEN and FIREWALL. I don't know which aging actor saddens me more: Kurt Russell or Harrison Ford. I never did think Harrison was that good looking, just rugged-looking and rakish. Kurt on the other hand...hmmm, well need I say more than SOLDIER is one of my favorite movies? I could watch OVERBOARD any day of the week and laugh myself silly.

Kids came and went, plucked a few weeds, church was awesome, and even read part of the Sunday paper. I rarely get around to that. Now I'm tidying up for a new week to start. Think I'll call my out of town girlfriend and touch base before the day is over.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


If you're not already subscribed to my email newsletter, you can go to the bottom of this page and simply add your email address. I'll send you updates about new releases and news about contests.

And speaking of contests, there are only a few days remaining until I draw a name for the winner of the UK copy of THE MISTAKEN WIDOW, the sterling and mother-of-pearl necklace and the Dutch Tulips nail color!

As most of you know I LOVE MY READERS so I'm going to draw names for a couple other special surprises, too!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Another first!

This is Adam and Eric on their first day of school.

Adam, the taller one, is a first class sweetie. He's an outdoor guy and loves fishing, basketball and bikes. He collects postcards, and many in his collection were sent by some of you.
Eric, is serious-minded. He likes video games and trading cards and tends to be a loner, avoiding the rest of the pack most of the time.
Both of them like garages sales, and we spent last Saturday morning hunting for treasures together.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


I stopped in the breadstore this morning for Elijah's snowballs and my loaves of Healthy Choice 7 Grain and there were four city firefighters going store to store double checking contact numbers, etc. with the employees. The left adead of me as I checked out and the lady who rang up my stuff watched them go with a wistful expression. "They could stay all day," she said with a little grin.

I suggested she may have to crank up the air conditioning in the building.

What is it with firefighters? What ARE the true requirements? Are there checkboxes on the application form that read "HOTTIE" and "SUPER FINE?" If a guy can't check those, sorry, he's doomed to work elsewhere.

Having worked customer service in the past I know from first hand experience that all the girls in the backrooms phone each other and run to gawk when the firemen are doing their grocery shopping.

Tip: Firefighters are the best source for directions when you're lost. They do push-ups until they know the hundred block of every city street. Talk is they cook pretty well, too.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I read a great story

I've been aching to read something wonderful, something that would sweep me away and thrill me. Not a re-read, a new discovery. I've tossed aside book after half-finished book looking for that elusive story. And there, in the midst of my towering to-be-read pile I unearthed it. And couldn't put it down. Halfway to Heaven by Susan Wiggs was a delight to lose myself in. It reminded me of a Judith Ivory story, with intense emotions and heart-touching characters.

I'm looking for others of hers now. If you have a favorite, please post it.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

By overwhelming vote bachelor #3 is my hero

He truly is the perfect man for the job, isn't he?

Their two faces are now hanging side by side over my desk.

Ben has a past he's trying to rise above. He carries a lot of scars, physical and emotional. He's a man who needs to be in control.

He's trying to be good...and she wants to be naughty!
What fun!

Harlequin Press Release



Toronto, Ontario, August 22, 2006 – Harlequin Enterprises Limited (, the global leader in series romance and one of the world's leading publishers of women's fiction, today announced the launch of four digital entertainment ventures, specifically: Harlequin Mini ™ eBooks, Harlequin Mini™ Round Robin eBooks, the launch of the eBook Boutique on and, a platform for gathering reader-generated content.

“Harlequin is the brand in publishing that is trusted by women around the world to provide them with great entertainment,” says Donna Hayes, Publisher and CEO of Harlequin Enterprises Limited. “We are uniquely positioned to serve their needs and offer entertainment in new digital formats. Put simply, a lot of women are already there, and those who aren’t trust us to help them navigate the evolving digital space.”

“The modern romance reader has gone digital,” says Pam Laycock, Executive Vice President of Harlequin’s New Business Development department. “She demands the portability, depth, breadth, immediacy and convenience of romance novels in downloadable formats.” Ms. Laycock illustrates this fact by pointing to the success of the company’s eBooks on the bestseller lists of many eBook Web sites, including, where Harlequin titles out-performed The Da Vinci Code just prior to the release of the film.

Responding to reader demand for even more romance fiction in a digital format, Harlequin is launching the Harlequin Mini eBook. These are short-series eBooks written by Harlequin authors, including New York Times and USA Today bestselling writers—ideal for readers who want a “quick fix” but don’t have the time for a longer novel. “No other publisher is doing anything like this,” says Malle Vallik, Editorial Director of Harlequin’s New Business Development department. “These delicious ‘bite-size’ stories are exclusive to’s eBook Boutique.” Ten Harlequin Mini eBooks will be available during the August launch of the imprint. Four new Harlequin Mini eBooks will appear every month thereafter. Each story costs only 99¢ to download.

The Harlequin Mini Round Robin eBook is an outcome of Harlequin’s collaboration with its readers. These stories are launched by a published author, and subsequent chapters are created—and hotly competed for—by fans and aspiring writers. Many of Harlequin’s talented new voices have been discovered through this interactive round robin challenge, including launch author Mia Zachary. The popular Writing Round Robin has been a feature of since 2000. This is the first time it will be available as an eBook. As a special introduction, the Harlequin Mini Round Robin eBook will initially be available for free download.

Harlequin Enterprises Limited is at the leading edge of digital publishing, offering about 40 new titles every month in eBook format. As of today, all of these titles will be available in the new eBook Boutique at It will be the exclusive eRetailer for the Harlequin Mini and Harlequin Mini Round Robin eBooks. eBooks from the eHarlequin Boutique will be available in three formats—Adobe PDF, Microsoft Reader and Mobipocket.

“Harlequin has an unmatched involvement, engagement and participation with its readers,” says Pam Laycock. “Because of this intimate relationship, Harlequin is going beyond reader participation in the Round Robin to tap the creativity and wisdom of our global community via We ask such burning questions as “What Is Love?” or “What Was Your Worst Date Ever?” and anyone and everyone can send in responses. A collection of the most appealing answers will be published in a digital format early in 2007 and then later as a print version.”

Harlequin’s drive to develop and offer more content in more ways furthers the company’s digital strategy, which also includes downloadable audio from (, the leading provider of digitally delivered spoken-word audio, and the Harlequin On the Go™ mobile phone content subscription service ( Readers can keep up with further digital developments at or

The community provides Harlequin with an outstanding opportunity to speak directly to its readers around the world on message boards, in chat rooms and through author blogs. Whether looking to buy the latest books, reading original stories from bestselling authors, or sharing the love of reading with other readers and authors, visitors will discover the ultimate online women’s fiction experience.

About Harlequin Enterprises Limited
Harlequin Enterprises Limited is the global leader in series romance and one of the world’s leading publishers of women’s fiction, with titles issued worldwide in 25 languages and sold in 94 international markets. The company produces over 115 titles monthly and publishes more than 1,300 authors from around the world. Harlequin Enterprises Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of Torstar Corporation, a broadly based media company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TS.B). Harlequin’s Web site is located at Harlequin has offices in 18 countries, including Toronto, New York and London.

For more information please visit or

Monday, August 21, 2006

Help me decide on a hero!

Okay, these are my three choices. Each one perfect in his own way. There are many things to consider, among them personality, profession, his name ... and how he looks with the heroine!

Number One: Is this Benjamin?

Number Two: Is this Benjamin?

Number Three: Is this Benjamin?

I will compare them as couples for you, too. You'll be amazed at what a difference it makes, even if you prefer the looks of one over another alone.

Bachelor number one?
Bachelor number two?
Or bachelor number three?
Number One

Number Two

Number Three

Sunday, August 20, 2006

This one is going to make a good jack-o-lantern, don't you think? Hope it's not ready too early. A couple other big ones are already orange.

I'm exhausted from the weekend and don't feel as though I accomplished anything. Trimmed rosebushes and pulled a few weeds this afternoon. And it's time for a new week! Yikes!

I'm finally making progress on my current story, THE PERFECT WIFE. (working title) I had written an entire scene from the wrong character's point of view, knew something was wrong, but couldn't see it. Once I figured it out and changed it, the whole story opened up and moved forward. I think it's the hero who's being difficult, and I realized something else--belatedly. I almost always have a photo of my hero over my desk, but I don't have a pic of Benjamin.

First task tomorrow a.m.: find Benjamin's picture.
Got any ideas? He's Ellie's younger brother from THE DOCTOR'S WIFE all grown up. He's a veterinarian and he's all about CONTROL. I had described him in that book as having fair hair, but it may have darkened as hair tends to do when males move past adolescence. It wouldn't be dark brown or black by any means.

Friday, August 18, 2006

List of Cheryl St.John's Books

Books by Cheryl St.John

The Perfect Wife
Harlequin Historical ~ 2007 ~ TBA

The Lawman’s Bride
Harlequin Historical ~ 2/07 ISBN #0-373-29435-0

Wed Under Western Skies
Anthology Novella: “Almost A Bride”
Harlequin Historical ~ 7/06 ISBN #0-373-29399-2

The Bounty Hunter
Montana Mavericks Historical ~ 9/05 ISBN #0-373-81121-7

His Secondhand Wife
Harlequin Historical ~ 7/05 ~ISBN #0-373-29360-7

Million-Dollar Makeover
Silhouette Montana Mavericks ~ 6/05 ~ ISBN #0-373-24688-9

Prairie Wife
Harlequin Historical ~ 2/05 ~ ISBN #0-373-29339-9

Child of Her Heart
Silhouette Logan’s Legacy ~ 12/04 ~ ISBN #0-373-61390-3

Charlie’s Angels
Silhouette Special Edition ~ 8/04 ~ ISBN #0-373-61390-3

The Tenderfoot Bride
Harlequin Historical ~ 11/03 ~ ISBN #0-373-29279-1

Marry Me…Again
Silhouette Special Edition ~ 8/03 ~ ISBN #0-373-24558-0

Christmas Gold
Anthology Novella: “Colorado Wife”
Harlequin Historical ~ 10/02 ~ ISBN #0-373-29227-9

Nick All Night
Silhouette Special Edition ~ 6/02 ~ ISBN #0-373-24475

The Gunslinger’s Bride
Harlequin Historical Montana Mavericks
Single Title 9/01 ~ ISBN #0-373-29177-9

The Magnificent Seven
Silhouette Montana Mavericks, Wed In Whitehorn
3/01 ~ ISBN #0-373-65055-8

Sweet Annie
Harlequin Historical ~ 2/01 ~ ISBN #0-373-29148-5

Big Sky Brides
Anthology Novella: “Isabelle”
Silhouette’s Montana Mavericks ~ 3/00 ~ ISBN #0-373-48381-3

The Doctor’s Wife
Harlequin Historical ~ 10/99 ~ ISBN #0-373-29081-0

Joe’s Wife
Harlequin Historical ~ 4/99 ~ ISBN #0-373-29051-9

For This Week I Thee Wed
Harlequin Duets ~ 7/99 ~ ISBN #-373-44072-3

The Mistaken Widow
Harlequin Historical ~ 9/98 ~ ISBN #0-373-29029-2

The Truth About Toby
Silhouette Intimate Moments #810 ~ 9/97 ~ ISBN#0-373-07810-2

A Husband By Any Other Name
Silhouette Intimate Moments #756 ~ 12/96 ~ ISBN#0-373-07756-4

Badlands Bride
Harlequin Historical Single Title ~ 7/96 ~ ISBN#0-373-28927-8

Saint or Sinner
Harlequin Historical ~ 10/95 ~ ISBN#0-373-28888-3

Land of Dreams
Harlequin Historical ~ 4/95 ~ ISBN#0-373-28865-4

Heaven Can Wait
Harlequin Historical ~ 10/94 ~ ISBN#0-373-28840-9

Rain Shadow
Harlequin Historical ~ 3/94 ~ ISBN#0-373-28812-3

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Ryan's First Day in 7th Grade

Not only is Ryan a seventh grade hunk, he's an awesome student. He loves to motorbike, 4-wheel, swim and fish. He just got braces off, too, and you can't see his smile here, but it's a killer.

First day junior year

Erin didn't want her picture taken on her way out the door, thus the impatient expression. It's her first day as a junior! I'm going to send her a link to my blog, and if she doesn't appreciate the picture, perhaps she'll pose with a smile for a new one. LOL

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


The small variety pumkins that Alexis planted (she brought a plant home in a cup from school last Spring) are ripe. The others, Elijah's jack-o-lantern variety, are still ripening on the vine and are SO pretty! Here's Kristin cutting pumpkins today.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Fabulous Firsts: first day - first grade

Today is day #1 for the first my the little darlin's to head back to school. More first days to come in the next couple of weeks. This is Elijah.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

my brown-eyed girl

My daughter and her family are here this weekend. It's her class reunion, I'd rather not mention which one, thank you, and they've been in and out, off to events. They're at the dance tonight, so the kids and I went to see Ant Bully. Darling! I loved Ants, and it has the same animation. Awesome animation and funny characters with great voices. We all picked up some funny lines we'll be using on each other for some time to come I'm sure.

Good night. Sleep tight. Don't let the bedbugs bite.
And don't let 'em creep into your ear and lay eggs on your brain.

Friday, August 11, 2006

found another

the beauty of nature

How cool is this? Look what I spotted on my butterfly bushes when I went out for the mail just now.

Updated Montana Mavericks List

Theresa mentioned she was collecting all the Montana Mavericks. I own every single one of these. Many are out of print and can only be found used. I filled in my set by buying "lots" on ebay and then giving away the doubles.

I never found a complete list, and even Harlequin couldn't help me, so after much digging, I finally put together my own. I think it's the only complete list on the Web.


Montana Mavericks:

Rogue Stallion by Diana Palmer
The Widow and the Rodeo Man by Jackie Merritt
Sleeping with the Enemy by Myrna Temte
The Once and Future Wife by Laurie Paige
The Rancher Takes a Wife by Jackie Merritt
Outlaw Lovers by Pat Warren
Way of the Wolf by Rebecca Daniels
The Law is no Lady by Helen R Myers
Father Found by Laurie Paige
Baby Wanted by Cathie Linz
Man with a Past by Celeste Hamilton
Cowboy Cop by Rachel Lee

Return to Whitehorn:

Letter to a Lonesome Cowboy by Jackie Merritt
Wife Most Wanted by Joan Elliott Pickart
A Father’s Vow by Myrna Temte
A Hero’s Homecoming by Laurie Paige
Montana Mavericks Weddings – Anthology:
The Bride Who was Stolen in the Night by Diana Palmer
Bride, Baby and All by Ann Major
Cowgirl Bride by Susan Mallory

Cinderella’s Big Sky Groom by Christine Rimmer
A Montana Mavericks Christmas
Married in Whitehorn by Susan Mallory
Born in Whitehorn by Karen Hughes
A Family Homecoming by Laurie Paige
Montana Mavericks Big Sky Brides – Anthology:
Suzanna by Christine Rimmer
Diana by Jennifer Green
Isabelle by Cheryl St.John

Wed in Whitehorn:

The Kincaid Bride by Jackie Merritt
Lone Stallion’s Lady by Lisa Jackson
Cheyenne Bride by Laurie Paige
You Belong to Me by Jennifer Greene
The Marriage Bargain by Victoria Pade
Big Sky Lawman by Marilyn Pappano
The Baby Quest by Pat Warren
It Happened One Wedding Night by Karen Hughes
The Birth Mother by Pamela Toth
Rich, Rugged… Ruthless by Jennifer Mikels
The Magnificent Seven by Cheryl St.John
Outlaw Marriage by Laurie Paige
Nighthawk’s Child by Linda Turner

The book club list, later released as 2-in-1s:
The Marriage Maker by Christie Ridgway
And the Winner – Weds by Robin Wells
Just Pretending by Myrna Mackenzie
Storming Whitehorn by Christine Scott

Christmas in Whitehorn:

Christmas in Whitehorn by Susan Mallory
In Love with her Boss by Christie Ridgway
Marked for Marriage by Jackie Merritt


Her Montana Man by Laurie Paige
Big Sky Cowboy by Jennifer Mikels
Montana Lawman by Allison Leigh
Under Western Skies – Anthology:
One Baby to Go, Please by Laurie Paige
Marriage on the Menu by Linda Turner
Daddy Takes the Cake by Allison Leigh

The Kingsleys:

Double Destiny:
First Love by Crystal Green
Second Chance by Judy Duarte

Moon Over Montana by Jackie Merritt
Marry Me… Again by Cheryl St.John
Big Sky Baby by Judy Duarte
The Rancher’s Daughter by Jodi O’Donnell
Her Montana Millionaire by Crystal Green
Sweet Talk by Jackie Merritt

Gold Rush Grooms:

Stranded with the Groom by Christine Rimmer
All He Ever Wanted by Allison Leigh
Prescription: Love by Pamela Toth
Their Unexpected Family by Judy Duarte
Cabin Fever by Karen Rose Smith
Million-Dollar Makeover by Cheryl St.John

Montana Mavericks Historicals:

Wild West Wife by Susan Mallory
Montana Mavericks Big Sky Grooms – Anthology:
Spirit of the Wolf by Susan Mallory
As Good as Gold by Bronwyn Williams
The Gamble by Carolyn Davidson

The Gunslinger’s Bride by Cheryl St.John
Whitefeather’s Woman by Deborah Hale
A Convenient Wife by Carolyn Davidson
Big Sky Rancher by Carolyn Davidson
The Guardian by Elizabeth Lane
The Bounty Hunter by Cheryl St.John
The Tracker by Mary Burton

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Color Me Creative

Am I the only one who is drawn to new boxes of Crayolas? I bought TWO boxes from the back-to-school displays, just because I love new crayons! That smell takes me right back to my childhood and those hours of enjoyment.

Since attending a Sharon Sala (Dinah McCall) workshop some years back, I always have a few crayons lying on my desktop. She passed out three crayons and a page from a coloring book as people entered the room. We were told to color as people got settled and she began. Into the program, she asked people to hold up their pages. She asked how difficult it had been to color without all the correct colors. Some people hadn't colored their picture at all.

The whole point was to do something different; to make Daffy Duck green and purple for example, and to be okay wuth that. Put a twist to your story, don't do the predictable. Take chances and color outside the lines. Numerous beloved kids have tried to take those three special crayons (orange, denim and fuscia) from my desk, but they never get far. Those crayons are my reminder to think outside the box.

Crayola brand crayons were the first kids crayons ever made, invented by cousins, Edwin Binney and C. Harold Smith. The brand's first box of eight Crayola crayons made its debut in 1903. The crayons were sold for a nickel and the colors were black, brown, blue, red, purple, orange, yellow, and green. The word Crayola was created by Alice Stead Binney (wife of Edwin Binney) who took the French words for chalk (craie) and oily (oleaginous) and combined them.

My favorite Sharon Sala books is Out of The Dark. What's yours?

Monday, August 07, 2006

especially for Minna: MY GRANDMA'S BANANA BREAD

One loaf:

1 3/4 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. olive oil
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. sugar
2 eggs, beaten
at least 2 bananas, mashed leaving chunks
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Three loaves:

5 1/4 c. flour
6 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 ½ tsp salt
1 c. olive oil
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
6 eggs, beaten
at least 6 bananas, mashed, leaving chunks
1-2 tsp. cinnamon
1-2 tsp. nutmeg
walnuts or pecans

I often add craisins and chocolate chips, imagine that!
Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.
Great recipe for mini loaves, too. Reduce baking time.

Wrap while warm to keep moist.

Chocolate Carrot Cake

We had a special event at church last night, and this cake was a hit! I only got a taste, so I'm making it again this week. *lizzie Starr gave me the cookbook for my birthday and so far every cake I've tried has been awesome. But then they're all chocolate, so where could I go wrong?

Chocolate Carrot Cake
with pineapple cream cheese frosting
from Chocolate from the Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn

Serves 20

2/3 cup pineapple juice
5 - 6 shredded carrots (3 cups)
1 package German chocolate cake mix with pudding
½ cup oil
3 large eggs
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ cup raisins
½ cup chopped walnuts

Please rack in center of oven and preheat to 350. Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan.
Blend cake mix, oil, eggs, cinnamon and pineapple juice in large mixing bowl with electric mixer on low for one minute. Scrape sides, beat at medium speed for two minutes. Fold in carrots, raisins and walnuts. Pour batter into pan, smooth.

Bake 40-45 minutes until top springs back. Cool 20 minutes on rack.

1/3 to 1 cup drained crushed pineapple
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick butter, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Blend butter and cream cheese. Sift in one cup of powdered sugar at a time, blending on low until well mixed. Add pineapple, increase mixer speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy. (another minute)

Frost top of sheet cake.
I sprinkled chopped walnuts and grated orange peel on top to make the cake pretty.

Store tightly covered in refrigerator for up to one week. (It will never last that long!)

Next time I’m going to try adding pineapple to the cake mix as well. There is a lot of pineapple left over from this recipe, but just enough juice from a 15 oz can.

Friday, August 04, 2006

August Drawing!

I got my (stingy) three copies of the UK release of THE MISTAKEN WIDOW and it is gorgeous! One special copy is set aside for one of my blogger buddies. Each comment to my blog between now and Wed Aug 30th is an entry. On Friday Sept 1st I will mail your gift out to you if you're the lucky winner.

And here's the prize. I went shopping yesterday to sweeten the pot. Such a sacrifice, I know. To go with the book I picked up a sterling silver necklace with a mother of pearl pendant and a fresh bottle of my favorite summer OPI color, Dutch Tulips. I discovered this color at the nail salon and have worn it nearly all summer.

So start leaving comments, asking questions and referring friends over!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

do you aspire to be a writer?

On Easter Sunday many years ago, my brother, a writer, brought me an article from the newspaper. He laid it on my dining room table and said, “You’ve got to call these people -- you’re working in a vacuum.”

I knew he was right. I’d been writing stories and submitting for a few years without any feedback or success. The year before my mother had given me a clipping about a local author, but I’d never called. Somehow reading about those published authors and their support group just didn’t sound like anything I was qualified for.

Several times in the weeks that followed, I read through that article about a romance author who was a semi-finalist in a national contest sponsored by Romance Writers of America: The Golden Heart. I’d never even heard of RWA before. The aspiring writer featured was president of an auspicious local chapter. She had a master’s degree in criminal justice and taught at a college! Each time I went to the phone to call the number printed in the article, I got cold feet and thought, “Who do I think I am?”

What do I think I’m doing? I don’t know anything about writing! I’d never taken a single writing class, never even met a real author besides my brother, and since he was my brother, he didn’t count. Who was I to even IMAGINE myself among a group of “real writers”?

Well, I finally swallowed the queasies, dialed the number, and -- wouldn’t you know -- I got an answering machine! Now you’ll have to realize that not a lot of people had answering machines in their homes at that time. Not like today when everyone has one.

I knew THEN -- when I got that recording -- that this woman was a professional. LOL
I did what any insecure beginner would do. I hung up.

A week later, I garnered my courage and called again, hoping for a real voice. No such luck. I learned afterward that this was her business line and she NEVER answered that line. I could have tried till I was blue and never heard a live voice.

But this time I left a message. Low and behold she called me back. And she sounded just like a real person! She explained the chapter and the meeting date and place and actually sounded quite glad to hear from me. Before we hung up I asked hesitantly, “Is everyone there a professional? I mean, I’m not a teacher or a college graduate or anything.” She assured me they were all people just like me.

And you know what? They were.

Since then I’ve served many positions in the chapter. And one of my favorites was president, because I’d get so many calls from hopeful writers who were asking themselves, “Who do I think I am?”

I love to meet and talk with beginners. I get letters from readers who’ve read my books and are themselves writing. I enjoy new blood in the chapter and in our critique groups. The uncertainties the new writers express are so familiar to me.

I understand those feelings because I’ve felt them all so deeply myself. With my first efforts I wanted so badly for someone to just TELL me if I could DO this thing or not. Just tell me that I don’t have a snowball’s chance in Hades of being a writer. Just tell me and then I’ll quit banging my head against a wall. The frustrating part is that nobody can tell you whether or not you can do this.
“Can I do this?” is not really the question to be asking anyway. “AM I WILLING?” Is the real question.

If you’re actually writing, putting words on paper, you’re already a storyteller. The techniques can be learned. But -- are you willing to make the sacrifices?

want to be a writer? part 2

There’s a legion of uninformed people in the world, and as a writer, you will probably meet them all sooner or later. These people think that being a writer is sitting spending an hour or two writing down the first thing that comes to mind and then getting paid huge amounts of money.

Writing takes study, hard work, discipline, sacrifice, a thick skin, and a sense of humor. Not necessarily in that order.

“Who do I think I am?”

“What do I think I’m doing?”

“How will I ever remember all this?”

If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll admit to having those same feelings in inadequacy. Who are you? Well, you’re probably the next treasurer or secretary or president of your chapter. You’re the next delegate to the national conference. You’re the next published author in your critique group. You’re the next Golden Heart recipient. Or the next RITA winner. You could be the next Avon star or Berkley star or whichever house snaps you up.

If you didn’t believe that, why would you be here?

How do you make those things happen? Sixteen years ago I was taking care of my first grandchild while my daughter worked. I was still raising two children at home, and working 40 plus hours a week at my “job” job. I purposed in my heart that I would not be a sign maker for the rest of my life. I became determined to get myself out of that position and make enough money writing to support my family.

Now, I’m not telling you this, to tell you how good I am. I’m telling you this to show you what determination can do. When I look back, I can’t imagine how I managed it, but I did.

I wrote every available minute. When I was writing Rain Shadow, I was working some pretty crazy hours, but whenever I wasn’t at work, I was in front of my computer. My children took turns fixing supper, and they learned to leave me alone while I was working. MY son learned to do his own laundry on Sunday nights.

My husband, who’d never turned on the washer in his life, learned to do laundry. I wasn’t always happy with the results, but hey, he did it. He did the grocery shopping for the first time in our married life. For nearly a year, I barely attended any family gatherings. My husband took the kids and left me home, undisturbed, to work.

Think being a SINGLE parent is tough? You’re right. But that writer I mentioned last blog whom the newspaper article was about? She was the single parent of three children. She held two jobs, and she believed a spouse is more inhibiting than being single. So it can be done.

You have good examples and bad examples all around you. Learn from them. I had a friend who sold two books after eight years of writing. She went through a divorce, and hasn’t written a thing since. Am I saying a divorce isn’t a trauma? Certainly not. But everything depends on your reaction and how you handle it.

Another friend caught her husband cheating on her while she was “bed-ridden sick” pregnant. She went through a divorce and wrote while in bed—she doggedly kept at it and continued to sell books. She’s happily remarried, writing in a new genre and a lead author now, by the way.

This publication thing doesn’t just happen. It didn’t fall into my lap like a winning lottery ticket. I earned it. I did my time like everyone else.

But how much time do I have to do? you ask. Granted, some do more than others.

You do as much time as it takes.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

and the winner is.......

RITA Awards went to:

Best Traditional Romance
Princess of Convenience by Marion Lennox
Harlequin Books; Sheila Hodgson, editor

Best Short Contemporary Romance
The Marriage Miracle by Liz Fielding
Harlequin Mills & Boon; Emma Dunford, editor

Best Long Contemporary Romance
Worth Every Risk by Dianna Love Snell
Silhouette Books; Allison Lyons, editor

Best Paranormal Romance
Gabriel’s Ghost by Linnea Sinclair
Bantam Books; Anna Groell, editor

Best Inspirational Romance
Heavens to Betsy by Beth Pattillo
WaterBrook Press; Dudley Delffs, editor

Best Romantic Novella
“The Naked Truth about Guys” in The Naked Truth by Alesia Holliday
Berkley Books; Cindy Hwang, editor

Best First Book
Show Her the Money by Stephanie Feagan
Silhouette Books; Natashya Wilson, editor

Best Regency Romance
A Reputable Rake by Diane Gaston
Harlequin Mills & Boon; Linda Fildew, editor

Best Short Historical Romance
The Texan’s Reward by Jody Thomas
Berkley Books; Christine Zika, editor

Best Long Historical Romance
The Devil to Pay by Liz Carlyle
Pocket Books; Lauren McKenna, editor

Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements
Lady Luck’s Map of Vegas by Barbara Samuel
Ballantine Books; Linda Morrow, editor

Best Romantic Suspense
Survivor in Death by J.D. Robb
Penguin Putnam; Leslie Gelbman, editor

Best Contemporary Single Title
Lakeside Cottage by Susan Wiggs
MIRA Books; Margaret Marbury and Dianne Moggy, editors