Monday, March 31, 2008

Today's Blog

I'm blogging at Petticoats and Pistols today!

The winner of the Spring Round Up contest will be drawn today, too!

This picture is just my little bonus eye candy gift to you because I'm thoughtful like that.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Then and Now: Sally Kellerman

I haven't done one of these for a while. I know none of us are old enough to remember the original brilliant dark comedy M*A*S*H starring Donald Sutherland and Elliott Gould beside Sally Kellerman. Hotlips Hoolihan was later played by Loretta Switt in the TV series. I have a few favorite lines in the movie, which of course I only saw recently on cable.

In Margaret's tent and played over the camp loudspeaker:
"Oh, Frank, your lips are so hot ."

And when the starting gun is fired at the football game:
"Oh, my God, they've shot him!"
I loved her character!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Here's a link to the complete list of RITA finalists!

Finalists in the Novella Category

2008 RITA for Romance Novella Finalists

“Angel and the Hellraiser” in Demon’s Delight by Vickie Taylor
Penguin Group USA, Berkley Sensation - (978-0-425-21381-0)
Cindy Hwang, editor

“Born in My Heart” in Like Mother, Like Daughter by Jennifer Greene
Harlequin Enterprises, Harlequin NEXT - (0-373-88134)
Melissa Jeglinski, editor

“Christmas Cravings” in Holiday with a Vampire by Maureen Child
Harlequin Enterprises, Silhouette Nocturne - (0-373-61776-3)
Melissa Jeglinski, editor

“Christmas Day Family” in A Western Winter Wonderland by Cheryl St. John
Harlequin Enterprises, Harlequin Historical - (0373294670)
Ann Leslie Tuttle, editor

“Eternity in Death” in Dead of Night by Nora Roberts
Penguin Group USA, Putnam - (978-0515-14367-6)
Leslie Gelbman, editor

“Fallen Angel” in A Western Winter Wonderland by Jenna Kernan
Harlequin Enterprises, Harlequin Historical - (0-373-29467-1)
Ann Leslie Tuttle, editor

“Mischief and the Marquess” in Perfect Kisses by Sylvia Day
Kensington Publishing Corp., Brava - (075820941X)
Kate Duffy, editor

“On the Fringe” in Dead of Night by Mary Kay McComas
Penguin Group USA, Berkley Jove - (978-0-515-14367-6)
Cindy Hwang, editor

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


My BFF Linda Howard called me this morning *G* (okay, she's on the RWA Board of Directors, and that's why she called) to notify me that A CHRISTMAS DAY FAMILY from A Western Winter Wonderland anthology is a RITA finalist! This is big news in the writer's world, and the emails are already coming in.

This is my third time as a finalist, and it would sure be nice to bring home the gold. I have a spot and a visual affirmation prepared above my desk. See it here?


A search for her roots brought midwife Fiona Flanagan to Pennsylvania Dutch country—and made her wonder whether she should turn back. The area's mixture of Amish and English culture confused her, and her first encounter with local police chief Ted Rittenhouse didn't help. He'd thought she was breaking into her own office!

Despite the misunderstanding, Fiona could see that Ted's tough-as-nails exterior hid a kind soul—one caught between two worlds, seeking a place to belong. She felt the same, but trusting him with her heart would require the biggest step of faith she had ever taken.


Restless Hearts (The Flanagans, Book 6) (Love Inspired #388)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mr. Spock

Lenoard Nimoy was born March 26, 1931. We all know him as the logical Vulcan on Star Trek, but I'll bet you didn't know he starred in a music video? Truthfully, it probably wasn't publicized much. Hmm.

And now he has his photography displayed in galleries and has had a book published -- yes, pictures of naked fat ladies. I kid you not. I would have posted one here for you, but this IS a G-rated site.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

First Day of Spring

Switched on the weather channel to see the flooding in Missouri. They predicted snow for Chicago, and it's gorgeous here. The mornings are barely above freezing. This morning was 33, but by noon it's great. This is a shot of the frost on top of my car. I've been parking in the driveway because the garage is filled with saws and wood and you-name-it.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Guest Blogger Mary Connealy

I have some really cool friends, don't I? Well, here's another one. I've known her for several years, but have only gotten to know her better more recently. Those of you who are Petticoats and Pistols fans have met her there. And if you haven't read Mary's blogs yet, or even her comments, then you're missing out because she keeps me in stitches. So now let's hear from Mary:

Cheryl was there at the beginning...

In college…a long, long time ago, I was a broadcast journalism major, so I studied writing and did a fair amount of it back then. I’ve always loved to write and remember writing a romance novel when I was about twelve. I started writing again, after Katy went to school.

At first it was just me, home, alone. It took me two years to find RWA (yes, I live in a cave) Then I found a ‘local’ chapter. I stress local because it was in Omaha. So ‘local’ meant an hour drive. I found this local chapter because of Cheryl St.John. There was some article in the World Herald about her and it mentioned the local RWA chapter, then called RAH.

I attended their meetings when I could. I hadn’t told anyone about this yet, except my husband Ivan and my daughters knew. Somewhere in about the third year, I send a manuscript into Harlequin Romance and they requested a full manuscript. This is a big deal because mostly when you submit your book…three chapters and a synopsis is all they want…and based on that, you get a form rejection. “Your book does not meet our needs at this time.” Which is nicer that what they really mean, which is “Your book stinks.”

From the time I sent the three chapters in, then their request for a whole manuscript, then finally their rejection, it took a full year. One of the reasons it’s really hard to talk about writing a book is that the publishing industry is painfully slow. How can you tell someone a bit of news, then six months later say, “Oh, remember when I said I sent that book in?”
Blank look. “No.”
“Well, they requested the rest of it.”
Then six months later you say, “Remember when that publisher requested my full manuscript?”
“Well, I got rejected today.”
No one can even remember what you sent in.

I couldn’t even remember I’d sent it. While I waited for that book to work its way through to Rejection City, I kept writing. By now I had maybe five books done.

I started entering contests. I kept doing better as the years went by. There came a time when I expected to final in any contest I entered. If you Google Mary Connealy Contest Diva there’s a website with a list of people who’ve won a lot of contests and I’m on it. I kept track for the last two or three years before I got a contract and I’d finalled in eleven contests with five different books. And all the while I’m entering these contests, I kept writing. I had maybe seven books done by now.

Through RWA I discovered ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). Through ACFW I joined an online critique group, and entered my manuscript Petticoat Ranch in ACFW’s Noble Theme contest. I was a double finalist in 2004, another book of mine, Montana Rose, was in the running, too. When I heard I was a finalist, along with the support and encouragement of the ACFW writer’s loop, I decided to attend the 2004 conference. I had never been on a plane before and I had never gone on vacation without my husband, Ivan, before. I don’t know if you can imagine the guts it took for me to go. Ivan was great about it. When I told him I wanted to go, spend all that money on my writing, he said, “You know, there’s a cattle show I want to go to. You go to your thing and I’ll go to mine.”

When you think about it. Me, saying to Ivan, “Honey, I want to fly to Denver and spend three days in a hotel with someone I met on the internet…well, he was a pretty good sport about letting me go. I also kept on writing and I was up around ten books.
Well, I won The Noble Theme contest and also placed third. I got a lot of requests at the conference to send in my book. I also got a really simple request from Cathy Marie Hake an author I didn’t know. She asked me to send her my first three chapters. She just wanted to see how I wrote.

I also had an agent looking at my work before this conference. He hadn’t offered to represent me, but he had expressed interest. When I emailed him to tell him I’d won the contest and tell him I received about fifteen requests from agents and editors for maybe five different books, he offered me a contract, so I got an agent, which is almost as hard as getting a book sold.

Cathy Marie Hake also kept in touch. She said she thought I was ‘ready’. No editor had yet seen that light, but Cathy’s encouragement kept me hoping. Plus, by this time, I had about twelve books and I’d had so many rejections I had a hide like a rhino, so submitting work didn’t even phase me.

Okay, well maybe I crawled under my computer desk and sucked my thumb for a day or two every time I got one but other than that I was fine.

Just before the next year’s conference, Cathy Marie Hake told me she wanted to pitch my name to write a book as part of a three book series set in historical Alaska. I worked on a proposal and talked on the phone with Cathy a lot before the 2005 conference.

Every year at the conference the acquiring editor for Heartsong Presents gives a contract to an unpublished author. I was so hopeful! I knew there was a chance it could be me. The Heartsong editor said someone else’s name and there’s only one, so okay, I’ve been rejected before. I kind of expect it. And then she said, “And this year we’re giving two contracts to first time authors. We’re offering a contract to Mary Connealy.” I get chills saying that! It was a wonderful, thrilling shocking moment. I had to go up and get the contract, in front of 350 other writers, all clapping. A great, great moment in my life.

I have since gotten eighteen more contracts from Barbour, nine of which are already written or I’d have never been able to make a commitment like that. And you might say I owe it all to that one little article featuring Cheryl St.John—well, that and writing non-stop for ten years. That helped, too.


Note from Cheryl:
I'd love to take credit, but I think the ten years of hard work is what took you to where you dreamed of being. I was just one of the catalysts to show you it could be done. But you, like, REALLY got it done. Your story is amazing. Thanks for sharing with the readers.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Perfect Wife, Victoria Alexander

My friend and fellow chaptermate, Victoria Alexander had her book reach NUMBER ONE on the New York Times Bestseller List today!

The perfect wife should be beautiful, trusting, and absolutely agreeable—or so the Earl of Wyldewood thought. But in New York Times bestselling author Victoria Alexander's intriguing tale, he finds that marriage is about more than mere appearances . . .

When the Earl of Wyldewood meets Sabrina Winfield, he thinks he's found the ideal match. Graceful and genteel, the elegant blonde will look simply exquisite displayed on his arm. And a lady like Sabrina will undoubtedly occupy her time with proper matters, leaving him free to pursue his own pleasures . . .

But beneath Sabrina's delicate beauty lies the most infuriatingly stubborn, wildly adventurous woman the earl has ever met. She's nothing like the perfect wife he had imagined. And before long, all he can think of is quieting her biting wit (with his kisses), putting an end to her outlandish schemes (with his own carefully planned seduction), and doing everything in his power to become the perfect husband.
Congratulations, Victoria!


Idol Knockoff

Okay, I was mildly surprised that David Hernandez got the boot. I chalk it up to bad press, because he sure sings a LOT better than some of those girls.

PU-LEEZE vote off Kristy Lee. She's embarrassing!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Invisible Mom

You may have read this before. It's one of those anonymous emails that makes the rounds. But I'm posting it in honor of Mother's Day which is on the horizon.
It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and asks to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, "Can't you see I'm on the phone?" Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, "What time is it?" I'm a satellite guide to answer, "What number is the Disney Channel?" I'm a car to order, "Right around 5:30, please."

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a hair c lip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it.

I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, "I brought you this." It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: "To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees."

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it." And the workman replied, "Because God sees."

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, "I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become."

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, "My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses al l the linens for the table." That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, "You're gonna love it there."

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Crockpot Recipes

This is a two-cupcake cake that Kristin bought for Elijah. Isn't it adorable?

I've posted new crockpot recipes at the Recipe Archives
If you have a favorite crockpot recipe, send it to me!
I use them for Sunday dinners.

I'm busy writing and have been for several weeks. The book is nearly finished and I really like it. It's called A Hero's Embrace.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Thursday, March 06, 2008

American Idol Prediction

If I had my choice, the four contestants voted off would be:
Luke Menard
Michael Johns (Yes, he's good, but we're down to the wire here--they're all good)
Kady Malloy
Kristy Lee Cook (of course I never liked Carrie Underwood, either--still don't, but even at that, this chick is nowhere close)

My prediction, however is:
Luke Menard
David Hernadez (bad press with the gay stripper thing)
Kady Malloy
Saesha Mercado

My early prediction for someone to watch was Carly Smithson. I stand by that. That girl can sing!

Amanda redeemed herself this week, yet I still have that reservation about always sounding the same.

I like Brooke a lot, though I find her quite old-fashioned and can't believe how much Simon likes her.

I still adore Jason Castro, and I called his performance BRILLIANT before Simon said it. I will buy that itune.

I'm loving rocker David Cook, too.

Dirty Dancing

Patrick Swayze has been in the news a lot. He has a new television series called The Beast about to release, and reports say that he's doing well with cancer treatments. (The media always makes a big deal once they catch wind of something.) I'm praying he's doing well and healed. Dirty Dancing is my favorite Patrick Swayze movie. That was back when Jennifer Gray still looked cute and unique and hadn't fixed her nose to become unmemorable. Hmm, do I have an opinion about everything?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

For Writers: Work In Progress Notebook

Keep your manuscript details organized!

Do you have sticky notes everywhere with details about your characters or plot points? Do you have computer files, notebooks, loose leaf papers, even napkins with the valuable information you need to keep control of your manuscript?

Have all the Information you need at the tip of your fingers with this wirebound notebook. From start to published, keep track of the details of every step of your novel with this notebook of outlines. With a combination of detailed outlines, questions and character profiles as well as plenty of blank, lined pages for your notes and thoughts, this notebook makes the perfect companion to finishing your novel.

It's $14.50. CLICK HERE TO ORDER at Jeannie Ruesch's website

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Achey Breaky Me

This is me this morning. I usually manage to do this at least once a winter, under the car, off the stairs, in the it was down my front porch stairs into a heap at the bottom.

I'm banged up, but I'm praising God that nothing is broken! (Except a couple of teal green fingernails that needed to be shorter and a different color anyway)

Ice and ibuprofen for me today.
and hopefully some new pages written!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Ho hum: Voted off American Idol

It was so uneventful, I didn't bother to post until now.
Voted off: Jason Yeager -- Yes, he's a good singer, but considering the calibur of guys thus season EVERY guy voted out from here on is going to be good.

Alexandrea. Okay by me. David Archuleta cried, and she hugged him.
Alaina. She sang well for being such a basket case. Not a terrible singer.

And Robbie, who Simon said never felt real to him.

AOL Television
One of the latest 'American Idol' castoffs, Robbie Carrico, has spent the days following his elimination having to defend his hairline rather than his lackluster performance.

Carrico, whose authenticity had been repeatedly called into question throughout the competition, failed to wow the judges last Tuesday with his take on Foreigner's 'Hot Blooded.' The following day, TMZ reported that the 26-year-old singer's hair wasn't all his. Sources told the Web site that he actually wore a wig, but that he never spoke about it, creating an awkward situation backstage on the show. 'Idol' producers did not comment.

PEOPLE also spoke to a source that said Carrico's hair "could be some sort of weave. His long hair is impossible. There’s no way he could grow that hair.”

After being voted off the show. Carrico went on the defense about his long locks. He told AOL Television "I've been growing this hair for a very long time. I think it's ridiculous that they have to come up with something like that."
Carrico also stood by his musical authenticity. "That's kind of a strong point for me," he says. "I've spent the past six years working my tail off in grungy bars. Pulling our own trailer with our equipment and living out of a van sometimes and doing all of the grunt work that they said they didn't see me doing, because of what I did before with pop music. That was a job to me. Like I said before, this is me and you get what you see."

Phyllis A. Whitney, Author, Dies at 104

Check it out: Romance keeps you young!
Published: February 9, 2008

Phyllis A. Whitney, a prolific best-selling author of romantic mysteries, young-adult novels and children’s mysteries for more than a half-century, died on Friday in Faber, Va. She was 104 and lived in Faber. Her death was confirmed by her daughter, Georgia Pearson, who said the cause was pneumonia.

Ms. Whitney, who once said she stayed young by writing, continued to publish books until she was 94. Her last was “Amethyst Dreams” (1997), about a young woman who stands to inherit a fortune but who has disappeared from a family seaside villa. Only her best friend can help find her.

Her first book, in 1941, was “A Place for Ann,” a young-adult novel about girls who create a personal service organization doing jobs like dog walking.

In all, Ms. Whitney produced 39 adult suspense novels, some with a Gothic twist (with titles like “Woman Without a Past” and “The Glass Flame”); 14 novels for young adults (“A Window for Julie,” “Nobody Likes Trina”); 20 children’s mysteries (“Mystery of the Scowling Boy,” “Secret of the Missing Footprint”); several books about writing; and many short stories for magazines.

Her novels, considered fast-paced with lots of cliffhangers, have been translated into 30 languages and sold in the millions. Though many have gone out of print, some have continued to be re-released in paperback.

In 1988 Ms. Whitney received the prestigious Grand Master Award for lifetime achievement from the Mystery Writers of America. “I always told myself that when I get old I’ll reread all my books, but I never seem to get old,” Ms. Whitney said in an interview with The Times when she was 79.

She said that one of her writing tricks was to set her books in places she had visited. She called her vacations book-hunting expeditions. Her earliest novels took place in Chicago, but as her appeal grew the settings became more glamorous and romantic: Palm Springs, Calif.; Sedona, Ariz.; and Maui, Hawaii, as well as Turkey, Norway, Greece and Japan. “Amethyst Dreams” was set on Topsail Island in North Carolina.

“I choose a place to visit, and I take photos and start collecting information about it,” she said of her technique. “I stay there until I get the emotional tug of the place.”

Ms. Whitney’s travels began early. She was born Phyllis Ayame Whitney on Sept. 9, 1903, to Charles J. Whitney and the former Mary Lillian Mandeville in Yokohama, Japan. (Ayame means “iris” in Japanese.) Her father was in the shipping and hotel business.

Her parents had met in the United States and become sweethearts but initially broke up. Afterward, Ms. Whitney’s mother married another man, Gus Heege, an actor, and they had a son, Philip. After Mr. Heege died, Ms. Whitney’s parents reunited in Japan and married there. Phyllis was their only child. Her parents’ story was the inspiration for one of Ms. Whitney’s plots, about a love affair gone awry.

The family moved to the Philippines when Ms. Whitney was 6 and later lived for a time in China. When Ms. Whitney was 15, after her father died, she and her mother left for Berkeley, Calif. They later moved to San Antonio, where her mother died of cancer.

At 17, Ms. Whitney moved to Chicago to live with an aunt. She graduated from McKinley High School there in 1924, at 20. (She had gone to missionary schools overseas, causing her to lag behind academically.) The next year she married George A. Garner. They had one child, Georgia, in 1934.

Besides their daughter, also of Faber, Ms. Whitney (who always kept her maiden name) is survived by two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

In the first years of her marriage, Ms. Whitney worked in bookstores and at the Chicago Public Library while writing on the side. It took her four years to publish her first short story, which appeared in The Chicago Daily News. Besides publishing “A Place for Ann” in the 1940s, she became a book reviewer for The Chicago Sun and then The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Her first book in the adult suspense genre was “Red Is for Murder,” published in 1943 by Ziff-Davis with a picture of a blood splatter on the cover. It tells the story of Linell Wynn, who writes sign copy for a department store and whose life has been uneventful “until the day that murder walks the floors at dusk,” according to the book jacket.

Ms. Whitney and her husband divorced in 1945, partly because he was not supportive of her writing. Five years later she married Lovell F. Jahnke. The couple moved to Staten Island, where they lived for decades and traveled widely together as she gathered fodder for her tales, in one instance taking a hot-air balloon trip. Mr. Jahnke died in 1973, when they lived in Hope, N.J.

Ms. Whitney ascribed her success as a writer to persistence and an abiding faith in her abilities. “Never mind the rejections, the discouragement, the voices of ridicule (there can be those too),” she wrote in “Guide to Fiction Writing.” “Work and wait and learn, and that train will come by. If you give up, you’ll never have a chance to climb aboard.”

"It's hard to come up with a 'quote' about myself. Perhaps I could say that most of my writing has been concerned with understanding between people. Whether of different races, or religions, or even in the same family I tried in my books... to deal with the subject of understanding the other fellow."
-- Phyllis A. Whitney