Wednesday, December 30, 2009

 Oh Sh*t ~ What Time Is IT??



How many times have you mumbled or thought one of these:

There are never enough hours in a day!

There are never enough days in a week!


8 Days a week! (Thank you, The Beatles, for coining that phrase.)

If only I had more time!

Time flies when you’re having fun!


Spring ahead ~ nooo! We lose a precious hour during this cycle and quite frankly, it screws up mine for a week.

Fall back ~ SWEET! We get to lounge around in bed an extra 60 minutes if we’re lucky. I am deemed an unlucky one. I tend to worry my alarm won’t go off on time and I watch the seconds tick my life away until the blasted thing explodes and wakes the dead. Then and only then do I aim for the snooze button.


FYI: There’s 365 days in a year: 52 weeks: 8765.81277 hours: & 31,556,926 seconds in a year. I did not waste my time calculating this, but I did, looking it up.

Of this useless info 2,920 are spent sleeping. 24 minutes lost one way to travel back and forth to work; 7.6 hours spent at work…eh! And 2.6 hours spent doing chores. Doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for much of anything else. What exactly is time you’re wondering?


Time: the measured or measurable period during which an action, process or condition exists.

Management: the act or art of managing. Control. Direction. (To which I have none.)


Time management: Doesn’t exist within the dictionary and there in lays all of our problems!

Without a proper definition how are we to muddle our way through the day?

There’s wedding planners to get you down the isle in a timely fashion, funeral directors to scoop you up after your time’s up, traffic cops to just flat out ruin your time, travel agents to make your time worth while, but no one out there with the title of Time Managers. I think I’m onto something. Can you imagine people out there running around telling you what time it is and what you have to do? Wait a minute, hold the horses, isn’t that thing called a spouse???

Or your boss???


Shopping centers are open day and night. Gyms and fitness centers are pumping with the same enthusiasm. Gas stations and fast food joints are ready, willing and able to fuel our hot little car or the minivan and our growling bellies, but the problem is people need sleep. People need relaxation, leisure time ~ to download, unwind and feel there’s more to life than all work and no play coz let’s face it, without playtime, it makes Jack a dull boy ~ scuse me ~ girlJ

Companies want you more productive, want you to basically throw up a tent in your cubicle and give them 110% of you.

You go home and your family expects more than your employer.

There’s chores, soccer games, cheerleading meets, marketing… need I go on?

Calgon take me away? I’m gonna go out a limb and state I just dated myself with that line. Am I right???

When can we find the time to write and enjoy our time?

The answer, you’re wondering???

Ya gotta make time.


As a self proclaimed pantser, this is not going to be an easy task for me for the obvious reasons. I tend to land where the winds have blown me. That whole three steps forward, two backwards has me for a poster child ~ eh ~ matured woman, and I use the term matured looselyJ

For the record I truly am as scattered brained as I appear most days, but, I am an intelligent scatterbrain, if there is such a thing! I live for chaos. Thrive in it actually. Too much time on my hands and I tend to get into all kinds of trouble.

Sad but true. Love that song by Metallica! Sorry, mini tangent.

 For me, at this point in time, until all my books hit the top 10 bestsellers list ( a girl’s gotta have dreams) my job is my 2nd priority. Family has and always will come 1st. No ifs ands or buts.

Unfortunately, saying that by 6:00- 6:30 every morning (in the bleeding dark now that it’s winter) I’m off to work for some days up to 10-12 hours. No two days are ever the same since I work with the mentally disabled, and I don’t mean my coworkers, although… there’s a few that could be tossed into the lot. Then it’s home to cook, clean, play with the dog, play with the dog some more and then maybe settle in front of this thing and hope my muse isn’t as worn out as I am.

Some days it’s a lost cause. I wake up with my face melded into my desk, drool in places it shouldn’t be and a stiff neck. Other days time flies by and I find I’ve been up all night partying with all the voices in my head giving everyone their say. I write whenever and wherever I can. Most of the time though its small allotted snippets of those sacred moments where its just me and my keyboard preparing to share our secrets to the world. Weekends work wonders, especially when you vow not to shower or come out of your cave for even food or water ~ caffeine’s a whole other beast. And now that I am embarking on a new career path, my studies will take up much of my time as well.

There’s just never enough to go around……….


Time is our most precious commodity. Treat her with kid gloves. Make time for her. Make time for you, because if you don’t life goes by in the blink of an eye and although your Timex may take a licking and keep on ticking, you won’t.

I believe the sand in my egg timer just ran out!

Jaclyn Tracey


Eden’s Black Rose ~ Release date Feb 19th, 2010  (Happy dance time!)


*Happy New Year to each of you. I hope it is prosperous and filled with laughter and love.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ultimate Forgiveness

Every year, I try to learn something – considering the fact that there are 8,760 hours, 365 days, 52 weeks, and 12 months in a year, one would think I could easily learn ONE thing, right? Problem is, that ONE thing seems to get bigger and harder as I get older. Although it doesn’t grow in amount, it tends to grow in depth – depth of emotion, depth of sacrifice, depth of introspection - Since learning has become such a challenge for me, I like to procrasti…ahem…encourage myself by considering others who have already mastered whatever my present challenge happens to be.

My lesson for the past four or five years (yes, I’m that slow on this one) has been forgiveness. There. I said it. I have to take a deep breath just to tackle this one, but here goes. Let’s just say that some things have happened over the last few years to reveal the hearts of some people I love (and we’re just talking philos and familial, here) and it ain’t pretty. I’m not talking about the blow-out argument that allows you to get everything off your chest and walk away – I’m talking about the insidious, seething disillusionment that settles deep inside about someone who’s a permanent fixture in your life.

I’ve often heard that holding resentments and grievances is like carrying excess baggage. The thought of carrying loads of unnecessary burdens from one year to the next is distressing, to say the least (a lot like carrying an extra 20 pounds), but realizing that someone doesn’t love you is painful. No matter how many times they say the words “I love you,’ their actions speak volumes to dispute their profession. To employ a parallelism, I’d compare this unfortunate realization to the grieving process – denial, anger, sorrow, and even self deprecation (they don’t love me, therefore I’m unlovable).

This Christmas, something finally dawned on me. How, then, does Jesus forgive? Surely He does not deny our loveless, selfish behavior – He’s well known for speaking the truth, and I doubt He’s wasted time thinking Himself unlovable.

I know what you’re thinking – couldn’t you have thought of a more earth-bound example? Er….no. When I reach, I reach for the best, and it’s Christmas, so I’m thinking about Him even more than usual!

Remember a while back when everyone was running around with “WWJD” on their bracelets, T-shirts, jackets? It became so popular that it was relegated to a fad and lost its significance, but it did make me think a minute... stop and think about how Jesus would handle every situation – what would He say? What would He do? So, back to my lesson…forgiveness. What would Jesus do? Better yet, how would He do it? I mean, how can the non-divine accomplish something divine in nature? Perhaps by following His example…

First, Jesus taught what it means to love, thus setting the foundation for forgiveness. Isn’t that what we romance writers do? Second, He is honest and open about what He believes and how He feels. This way, we’re not expected to “read His mind,” so to speak. I’m pretty good at the honesty thing, too, but my introverted nature requires that I ponder everything before I speak, so too often, by the time I say something, I’m furious and the person I’m furious with is shocked and confused. Of course, I have my legitimate reasons for being this way. Once something is said, it’s not as if you can sweep it up and throw it out – it’s permanent. You might not feel the same way later, but your words are a done deal.

Finally, I’ve read that Jesus knows our weaknesses. I know them, too, but it’s the acceptance of said weaknesses that I have problems with. So…I know you were hoping I had something profound to say on the subject, but what can I say? I’m not there yet. I have a great teacher, though, and that’s a start, right? As I prepare to enter another year with a little less baggage, I stand in awe and appreciation of one of the greatest gifts – forgiveness – not only priceless to the forgiven, but soul-freeing for the forgiver. On a scale from 1 – 10, how forgiving are you? Did you cast off any baggage this year?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Recovering from the Holidays

Although Christmas is done, it is far from over. People are still busy with their own Christmas traditions and the holidays often extend well past the 25th and into the New Year. For me, Christmas is filled with many traditions. We have the annual hunt for the Christmas tree, we bake cookies for Santa, make crafts for the kids' presents and then go to a dozen little events over the holidays.

It is a busy time but it is wonderful to be with family. The only bad thing about the holidays, besides all the extra calories, is the constant worry about work, kids, Christmas presents and even the year ahead. That worry, combined with the endless humming of Christmas carols that is present in my home, is usually what makes me suspect that I have lost a few more marbles before the holidays are over.

As it is, I am sure that I have lost a few parts as December 24th rolls into the 25th and by the 26th, I tend to uncover a large pile of said parts. I’m not quite sure what to do with them at first. I mean, I shuffle, and blush as I try to push them under the carpet. "Oh no sir, you are mistaken. That couldn’t be my will power peeking out from behind the curtain. ” "No dear, I didn’t just throw my sanity into the closet. It wasn’t mine. Actually, it looked a lot like yours.”

Of course, there’s nothing to be done about it except sit down on the carpet, pull out the super glue and start putting all those parts back. I’m never sure where they’re supposed to go. I, obviously, did not come with an owner's manual, although I’m sure my husband wishes I had. And I’m not the most mechanically inclined, but I really can’t take me into the shop so I have to make do.

The first piece is always the hardest to stick back, ah patience, where were you when I was standing in that line? Finally, it snaps back into place, and before I know it, I am completely absorbed in my work.

When I finish up, I look around and notice a few spare parts. You know, those few pieces that don’t seem to fit in anywhere but like every good mechanic will say, “If it runs without them, then they probably aren’t needed.”

Well, I’m running and who knew, sanity was optional! I’ll just run without it for the year and maybe I can find a place for it next year when I do this all again.

Of course, it’s the 27th now and minus a few of those parts, it’s time to start running with work. Like many people returning to work, I feel completely overwhelmed. Usually, despite the best of intentions, I lost some of the balance over the holidays. A few things were left unwritten and I had shuffled my priority list but now is the time to fix this.

The first thing that I always do is look at the pieces of my work schedule. Like me, a few parts have fallen off but unlike me, it can’t really run without them all. The first thing that I look at is reality. What can I accomplish? What can’t I accomplish? In reality, there is no way I will get everything done before the New Year so I break in the new planner.

I jot down all my deadlines and then I look at who I should contact. If I can, I contact the people who are willing to extend deadlines and I give them a call (or an email). The key to asking for a deadline extension is to be honest, don’t give them a line about having a sick Aunt Bo and that, on top of the holidays, just messed up your schedule. Tell them why you are behind and you are sure to get a good response. (And chances are, they are behind for the exact reasons you are).

Once I have a few deadline extensions, I give priorities to the rest. The ones that are due first are highest priority and then it goes down from there. It is best to start making a list of what you want to accomplish each day but again, think about reality. I write down two goals for the day, the dream and the reality. I always shoot for the dream, “Today, I am going to finish this article, write 5 chapters and discover a lost civilization…” but I usually hit the reality, “I’m going to finish this article.” Sorry civilization, I’ll find you tomorrow.

The reason why I recommend having two workday goals is that occasionally, you have a moment of inspiration and when you are taking that lunch hour walk, you stumble across the remains of your lost civilization. The dream is there to reach for, the reality is there to realize.

After the schedule is figured out, it is simply a matter of getting started but don’t rush too quickly. Remember that you are recovering from the holidays and soon you will be dealing with New Years so keep your schedule light. Do things gradually and then you will be at full speed by the second.

Lastly, when you are fixing your schedule and getting back on track, don't create a resolution for the New Year. Now is not the time to do it, no matter how tempting it can be. Instead, get back on track, recover both your sanity and your schedule and then make your resolution in February when you are sane and relatively well rested.

So for this week, enjoy the holidays, pick up the parts of your schedule and tap into the feelings you have had over the holidays. Chances are they will drum up some excellent stories to explore in the New Year.

Have a happy New Year!


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Reflections

Christmas Reflections

When thinking about posting today, the day after Christmas, I considered titling this post “Christmas Aftermath.” Dec 26 has always meant the following to me: leftovers, visiting stores to return gifts, waiting in long lines, disposing of mountains of wrapping paper, and watching my kids play endless hours of video games. It’s not a totally unpleasant day as memory serves, but I always sink a little into melancholy. After all, I have no more presents to give or receive, and I know I’ll return to my day job soon. But yesterday I discovered a new appreciation for the holidays that’s given me hope that the true Christmas spirit exists.

In my career, I work with many at-risk teenagers. Shortly before Thanksgiving, one 17 year-old boy I know experienced a big scare. Living in a single-parent home, his whole world nearly collapsed when his father was badly injured in a car wreck. After a long stay in the hospital, his dad got to come home in time for Christmas. However, the family had been living on the parent’s disability checks and had a hard enough time making ends meet before the accident, so the boy anticipated a bleak Christmas. But not for himself. His main concern was for his younger brother and sister. Fortunately the family received an inheritance they’d been waiting on, and were able to buy a good Christmas. Yesterday I talked to the boy about what he was doing. I expected him to tell me what he’d gotten for Christmas. I expected a list of clothes or games. The usual. Instead he simply said he was enjoying watching his brother and sister have the best Christmas ever. Eventually I learned he’d gotten some good gifts, too, but I was so humbled by his first response: the most important thing he’d received this year was the happiness of his siblings.

God blessed his family with the recovery of their father and a good Christmas…and I felt blessed to know such a wonderful young man. So this Christmas, I’m reflecting on the Season’s blessings and making the Christmas spirit last all year long.

Sandra’s new release, Midnight Cravings, is coming January 6 from the Wild Rose Press. Audrey has a job most people only dream about, visiting exotic destinations. But her new assignment, writing a review of a remote villa in Greece, exposes more than she'd bargained for-the handsome locals are really murderous werewolves, and worse, her steamy Greek lover is a lycanthrope with Midnight Cravings.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Creating Rhodes End

Creating Rhodes End by Barbara Edwards

When the idea for Ancient Awakening came to me, I needed a special place for my characters to interact. Ancient Awakening is based in New England in the present. Not so difficult a venue since I grew up in the area, except the Rhodes End has a few quirks and is home to a host of paranormal creatures.

Rhodes End is located on a confluence of ley lines that draws magic and paranormal activity. Rhodes End dog-legs the North-Eastern corner of Connecticut, the hip pressing against Massachusetts while the paw scratches into Rhode Island.

Rhodes End fails to appear on many maps due to various boundary and settlement disputes. Less than an hour from Hartford and Providence, major highways to both Boston and New York City cut through the hills less than a mile away.

The ley lines are the same lines that pass under Stonehenge, the Great Pyramid, Machu Pichu and Anasazi ruins in Arizona. Their mystical power is recognized by ancient religions. The power existed before the Caucasian influx chased away the small tribes who used the site to call their spirits. Nothing is noted of the even older pictographs in the deep caves.

Farmers, shopkeepers, teachers and other townspeople live normal lives unaware of the ‘different’ ones. An ordinary tourist tooling up the scenic road may tell friends of the charming village, but only the harmless or the expected find it easily. The basic rules of space and time seem the same, but magic can occur along with paranormal activity. In fact, those with paranormal senses find them stronger, more reliable.

My heroine ‘Mel’ is a normal, hard-bitten cop, who prides herself on her common sense. My hero Steve is a scientist who believes in the facts he can prove. Being confronted with a dangerous creature that cannot exist makes them doubt all their preconceptions about what is ‘real’.

To accomplish this transition, I researched chromosomes, diseases, archeology, myths and traditions. I wanted my readers to understand why Rhodes End draws the strange and outlandish. Power pulses in the air for those who are aware.

Barbara Edwards
Ancient Awakening, a Black Rose for Barb'Ed Comments

Here a Blurb: Police Officer Melanie Petersen is the only one who believes a suspicious death is murder. By disobeying direct orders from the Rhodes End Chief, she risks her career to follow clues that twist in circles to her backyard and lead the killer to her. Her neighbor Stephan Zoriak is a prime suspect. While working for a major pharmaceutical company, he is exposed to a dangerous organism that changed him. He suspects he is the killer and agrees to help Mel find the truth when the deaths continue. In the course of their investigation Mel and Steve find more death and continued distrust that make them wonder if love can defy death.

Legend gave him many names, but the wide halls of his mountain retreat no longer
echoed with countless worshipers. He could have ruled the world had his ambition
not died with the passage of time. The endless whispers were from the cold winds
and the few praying priests. He didn’t care that he couldn’t remember his real name
or birthplace.
For an eon he’d regretted the loss of softer emotions. Love had been the first feeling
to die, along with the woman who had insisted he would never harm her. He couldn’t
recall her features just the merry tinkle of her laughter and the bright smile she
had greeted him with every morning. He licked his lips. She’d tasted sweet.
Fierce need flared in his gut and he sniffed the air. Outside his chamber a single
acolyte in long brown robes waited to escort him. His mouth curved with a mirthless
smile. The silent servants had ignited the flickering wall torches. Shadows jumped and shivered in the drafty halls like nervous virgins.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Making time to write during a hectic season

Lists and schedules are what get me through any period, but even more so this close to Christmas. I have lists of writing projects that I want or have (if I’m under contract) to complete in a certain period of time.

Right now, I don’t have anything under contract, so most of my time is spent promoting the stories that have recently released and working on new projects that I plan to submit. I make lists of what I want to do and break them down into monthly projects. For instance, this month I’m editing a work in progress. My hope is to finish it by mid-January, make a print out, then start on the synopsis.

I also have other works in progress that I plan to complete in 2010. But for the month of December, I’ve kept track of pages edited on a daily basis. Some days, I can get 20 pages done, another day it might be 5 or even just 1. And some days I don’t get to my wip at all due to other obligations, but by tracking what I have done, I feel I’m at least moving in the right direction.

And I do the same thing with Christmas obligations. I make lists and a schedule of what will get done when.

It seems to work, because I’m not running around like a maniac or worrying about things I still have to get done. And for me, my favorite part of Christmas is the lights. While I don’t go overboard myself, I love to look at light displays. And I have just enough lights in my own house so I feel festive. Another important ritual for me is baking chocolate chip cookies and making fudge.

And now it’s Christmas Eve, I have time to sit back and do what I enjoy. Spend time with family and reflect on what Christmas is all about.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Courage Doesn't Always Roar

Christmas is almost upon us and another year about to wind down. People often think of Thanksgiving as the time to reflect upon all the things they are thankful for. Though I love Thanksgiving and the family togetherness it brings, Christmas has always been the special time for me. For as long as I can remember, it was a magical time even when our family was struggling and there was little money for gifts. Still, my earliest memories are of laughter and joy, of family and hope. No matter how difficult the year might have been, no matter how many struggles littered the path, nothing dampened the joy of Christmas.

This morning, I sit with my latte (in a lovely Christmas mug of course) and gaze upon our Christmas tree. In our house, it's not simply a decoration, but a tree of history and memories. Every ornament that adorns the tree represents a year of my life. For over thirty years, my parents have presented me with an ornament each Christmas. There's the the ball with Santa and Mrs. Claus noting my first Christmas as an adult. There's the teddy bear for baby's first Christmas to celebrate the birth of my son. There's the crystal heart representing the love of my family the year my divorce was final. There's a handmade ball of beautiful blue and gold for the year my new husband and I celebrated our first Christmas together. There's Santa on a Harley picked out by Dad (even though he was appalled we'd bought his and hers motorcyles), the last ornament he gave us before he passed away. Each and every ornament tells a story. Some happy, some sad, but all a piece of my heart. Whether it was a year marked by great joy or a year that required quiet courage to make it through, the Christmas tree reminds me how blessed my life has been and I am thankful.

So now that the latte is gone and the sun is beginning to shine outside my window, it's time to power up the laptop and write. May you find find joy and happiness in this holiday season and may your creativity flow.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Holidays to one and all!

Thank you, Lill, for inviting me to post here today. My topic of choice is what I love about the holiday season. Geez, where do I start? 

Well, for me the holidays are a special time of year, full of fun, love, anticipation, kindness, a stronger sense of the giving to others expecially those who are in greater need than we are. Not so much in the commercial sense but more so in the supportive sense of the term. Funny how we tend to be more aware of the dire straights of others during this time of year and tend to be oblivious during much of the rest of the year.

I love the festive lights and decorations, and for many years the desire and hope that Christmas would be a white one. No problem with that wish this year for much of the Northeast, eh?  I was born and raised in Southern New Jersey and miss the element of snow for the holidays, but am also happy to not have to deal with the mess in every day life:) Winter is beautiful if you can just enjoy it, isn't it? But too many years of de-icing, shoveling, and driving on black ice sort of gets old, LOL  Not to mention freezing and all the bulky clothing.

The same storm that has brought so much snow this past week to the northeast has dumped more than two feet of rain on us in one day!  We, fortunately, only had a couple of inches of water in our garage but many homes and businesses were flooded with knee-deep water. Wow! Been eightteen years since this area has seen that much water.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand.  Christmas to me is Charlie Brown, The Grinch, yards of multi-colored lights and garland, homemade cookies, get-togethers with friends and families, all the classic holiday movies and so much more.

I remember not being able to sleep as a child and waking my parents in the wee hours of the morning on Christmas day and the piles of gifts around the tree which seemed huge to me then. I remember seeing that Santa had really been there because I saw the cookie crumbs and empty milk glass on the side table.

I have watched "A Charlie Brown Christmas" every year without fail since it came out in 1965--I believe was the year. I still display child-like excitement every single year. I decorate inside and out, and still believe in Santa.  Afterall, you can't see God and you believe in him, right?  So how can you debate Santa?  And besides, you can go online and watch Santa's progress every year.  Proof enough for me.

With that all said, I'd like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  For those of you who celebrate in other ways a hearty Happy Holidays to you!

With the New Year comes a fresh start.  New Year's Resolutions and brand new goals.

Next month, after all the festivities have run there course, my plan is to reorganize. I am going to stick to some pretty strict goals with my writing.  I have never written holiday specific stories and plan on trying my hand at that. I also plan to complete Roma Wolf Tales Book II as yet untitled... 

I also have an erotic novella to complete which TWRP's Scarlet line has an interest in and two crime suspense novels to complete--one a rewrite and the second a sequel to the first. LOL busy I will be!  I also would like to have at least one novel and a couple of shorts publish per year.  Tall order, you think?  All I can do is work toward it and see where I get.

Please visit my blog and website:

Dayana Knight
Paranormal Romance and Erotic Romance
Author of:

Monday, December 21, 2009

December is a challenge

I love Christmas. I love December. But I’m going to go out on a limb and say that even an organized person can find the hoopla before that all-important day a bit exhausting. I have nothing but pure admiration when someone offers me homemade cookies a full ten days before the 25th... And her home is completely decorated the day after Thanksgiving.

Not so with me. Finding balance during December is a challenge. For a music teacher, it is concert time, with rehearsals, set-up, programs to prepare, etc. No matter how hard I try, my students’ performances, plus other musical commitments, throws all that organization I religiously practice the other eleven months right out the window. Now that my own children are grown, you’d think this would get easier, right? No way. So I give myself a break from keeping up with others who lead pre-holiday organized lives. I’ve learned to just go with the flow.

Professional commitments in December come first. After all, an entire school is waiting for our chorus to usher in the holiday spirit. An entire church choir is counting on my fingers to fly over the keys with passion and accuracy. Writing happens in sporadic spurts, and I use time wisely by editing a current manuscript. I answer emails a day or two late, and I prioritize that list of things to do. My family understands. I guess that’s the greatest gift a mother can give herself—raising caring adults who accept my busiest days. The cookies, my mother’s infamous recipe that feeds a small army, eventually get baked. The tree gets decorated with ornaments that have very special meanings. The house gets cleaned and the presents get wrapped.

When the last chord is played at Midnight Mass, busy is behind me, and joy swells in my soul. On Christmas morning, presents are opened, and I prepare a wonderful breakfast for my family. A plate of Mom’s cookies graces the table as well. She is remembered with love and I realize how much I miss her. Christmas music fills the air and balance comes back into my life.

I guess the point is that sometimes we just have to let go of our organization skills and let the angels take over. They are always in my life.

So Happy Christmas to all our talented Black Roses! May your angels circle ’round and light your lives with love, peace, and good health during the holidays you and yours celebrate.

~ Mickey ♪

P.S. Just had to share with you my new book cover from the very talented Angela Anderson.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Lists

I’m a list maker. My memory isn’t what it used to be (thanks to my kids) and being able to put my thoughts on paper is a huge weight off my shoulders. I have the To-Do list for Real Life and for Writing. There’s always something I should work on. Not everything needs to get done right away and if I want something to distract me from the Work in Progress - there is something to do.

Christmas brings even more lists. There is the To-Do List (Decorate, Christmas shop, Send Christmas cards, etc.), there is the Who-to-Buy-For list, and there is the Food-to-bake list (parties and gifts.) Then there is the Dreaded-List (more commonly known as the Santa List.)

I’m in charge of the kid’s wish lists: sending them to grandparents, aunts and uncles and most important making sure no one overlaps presents. Then there is my wish list. Its simple – Gift Cards to booksellers. Easy, but I feel guilty. Like I'm asking for money. But honestly books are what I want. I read a lot and as a kid no one ever bought me the titles I asked for. Only the ones they thought I should read. I’d much rather be able to choose my own stuff. And with gift cards, I can use it on books throughout the year.

What about you? Do you have problems creating a Santa List? Do you ask for books (gift cards) as presents?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas In Italy - Part Two

The Language and Customs of
The Italian Holiday Season

Welcome to Part Two of the Christmas in Italy trio that I’m doing this month! Once again, there is a video attached, a slightly different one to the last post, this time the singers are Italian, but they are singing in English. If anyone wants to locate the other blogs in this set, feel free to drop me a quick note, or come by my personal blog and I’ll leave the links there! So, on to the holiday in Italia...

You can find bigger Christmas trees (alberi di Natale) and more extravagant decorations (decorazioni) in other parts of the world, but nothing looks, tastes, feels or sounds like la stagione natalizia (Christmas season) in Italy. With roots in the “Saturnalia,” the winter solstice rites of ancient Rome, and Christian commemorations of the birth of Gesù Bambino (Baby Jesus), the Italian holidays blend religious and pagan festivities that light up the darkest of nights.

In Rome and much of southern Italy, the traditional sound of Christmas is the music of bagpipes and flutes played by shepherds from the region of Abruzzo. Zampognari (bagpipe players), wearing shaggy sheepskin vests, felt hats and crisscrossed leather leggings, used to come to Rome weeks before Christmas to play in churches. These days the shepherds arrive later and play their ancient instruments in front of elegant stores along the Via Condotti and other shopping streets near the Spanish Steps.

Festivities such as fairs and torchlight processions begin weeks before and continue weeks after December 25.

The Tastes of Christmas

When Italians are asked what they do most during the Christmas holidays, they invariably say, “Mangiamo” (we eat) – very often and very well, with a huge feast on Christmas Eve, il pranzo di Natale at mid-day on Christmas, and il cenone di capodanno, another elaborate dinner on New Year’s Eve. In some regions the Christmas feasts must have seven courses (for the seven sacraments); others serve nine (the trinity times three) or thirteen (for Jesus and his twelve disciples).

The centerpiece of the Christmas Eve dinner is fish, particularly eel, a favorite of the ancient Romans that appears in the earliest known cookbook, written by a gourmand known as Apicius. This symbol of life and immortality was traditionally sold alive and wiggling, then beheaded, chopped and dropped into boiling water, spit-roasted, grilled, stewed with white wine and peas, or pickled in vinegar, oil, bay leaves, rosemary
and cloves.

The Christmas day feast usually starts with a rich pasta, such as cappelletti in brodo, little hats stuffed with chopped meats, cheese, eggs or pumpkin. By tradition everyone is supposed to eat at least a dozen. Depending on the region of Italy, the main course may be capon, pork or turkey. However, everyone saves room for the special dolci (sweets) and breads of Christmas.

Buon Natale!

Special thanks to the following sites and people for their help in preparing my Christmas Posts: News From Italy, The Italian Notebook, Dream of Italy, and my wonderful friend Stefano Testatonda.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Healthy Eating for the Season

Balancing a healthy diet with your everyday living is difficult enough but add to the mix a writing career and the holiday season and it becomes easy to forget how important food is in our lives. Long ago, humans hunted and gathered to find their food. Healthy or not, they ate what nature provided or starved. Nowadays, humans have a plethora of food choices available to them and instead of eating due to necessity, often we eat for pleasure. During the holidays, the pleasure factor escalates and at times we overindulge. As writers, we work in a sedentary environment which adds another difficulty in keeping a healthy diet.

And while I could go on with this topic for several pages, I’ll limit myself to items that may help you, as a writer and a holiday reveler.

Water is essential for human survival but oddly it is often taken for granted. Not only does water replace fluids lost through urination and perspiration but it also transports vitamins to and waste away from every cell in the body. Drinking plenty of water reduces the risk of kidney stones, can cut the risk of heart disease, restores energy and prevents constipation. Water can also benefit those trying to lose weight. It’s recommended you drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day. A healthy way to start the day is to drink two glasses of water to flush out all the toxins that have accumulated overnight while you were sleeping.

During the rush to get the kids off to school, preparing for holiday shopping, or getting ready to work on that next page of your manuscript it’s easy to either skip breakfast or simply grab something quick to eat. Breakfast, as they say, is the most important meal of the day. To keep your energy up to last you through those busy morning hours, it’s best to eat some kind of fruit for breakfast. Apples, filled with antioxidants that can lower the risk of some cancers, can improve lung function and lower your risk of asthma, and are an excellent source of fiber to prevent constipation. Other recommended fruits are bananas, grapes, strawberries, blueberries, pineapples, peaches, oranges, pears, grapefruit, apricots, watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew.

And here’s everyone’s favorite health food: Chocolate! Yes, chocolate has health benefits. Remember, chocolate is a plant-based food and contains nutrients as found in other plants. Now, don’t get too excited, not all types of chocolate are good for you. The darker the chocolate the better, in this case, since milk has a tendency to neutralize many of the benefits found in chocolate. Moderate amounts of dark chocolate can lower blood pressure, can benefit your heart and cardiovascular system and can help lower cholesterol. Chocolate is also full of antioxidants which eat up free radicals that cause disease. It also stimulates endorphin production which gives you a feeling of pleasure and contains serotonin which acts as an anti-depressant. Also, having a small amount of chocolate may prevent a chocolate binge so when you have a craving consider this before you deny yourself the benefits of those wonderful dark chocolate nutrients.

I hope you find this information useful and I wish everyone a healthy and happy holiday season!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tipping the Writer's Seesaw & 2 contests!

Balance in writing? Is there such a thing?

I'm the last person who should be blogging about this lovely topic today. LOL. This year, I'm recovering from Lyme Disease. That's it. :( Okay, I spend a lot of time educating my 4 year old daughter--reading, addition, science, telling time, understanding the concept of earning candy rewards for productivity, etc. So, you're probably wondering what in the heck this post is for. Never fear. I do have purpose.

My favorite quote sums up my motivation for writing: "Be the change you want to see in the world." (Ghandi) When that doesn't help, I just eat candy. Okay. Okay. That's not what you want to hear...

I've always juggled my daily chores (unforgiving chuckling life) with the fun and fulfillment of writing by allocating time for revisions, writing a first draft, or preparing a submission. It's tough this year because I rarely succeed with the fibromyalgia knots in my upper back and neck. I may only find 5 hours a week to sit at the computer and work. And said hours rarely come together because of the upper back pain. I feel like a hunchback zombie. Being unable to focus and produce on a story drives me insane. How does anyone write let alone keep up with all their characters without being able to focus 24-7? Since my Time Guardian storyworld is founded upon numerology, I shall digress...

I'm the type of person who spends my time totally immersed in my current obsession. I tend to be a #1 (think Ares or Jack Russell Terrier) at work, i.e. writing. No laughing to those of you who actually hang with me in person!!! The #1 is the magician card in Tarot. The magician can focus to make magic happen. ;) Since my choice of blogging here on the 13th was for numerological reasons, I might as well confess that my #1 work ethic makes me forget the world and write. I couldn't even remember to turn on the dishwasher when swimming in that vast seductive ocean! When I'm interrupted during writing, I become extremely irritated. I wrote 4-5 novels a year before baby. Then I had a planned pregnancy. I didn't write at all the first year of my daughter's life. Now, I'm lucky to write a novel a year. But Mom retires Friday!!! I'm banking on a few hours a few days a week to get back in the swing of things. I'll have to keep you updated. Until Jan 13th when I can report again, I'm anxious to see how everyone else handles riding the great seesaw of a writer's life here at the Black Rose blog.

In conclusion, if you're like me and need a boot in the arse most days, know you are not alone. :) I find blogging about my reference-book collection, running a contest at my blog, or starting up a new promo opportunity like a yahoo author group keeps me feeling productive. And since you're here, enter to win my huge prize for December--a cache of Time Guardian treasure.

1 box GOOD MEDICINE Native American herbal tea (in honor of the Native-American hero of my novel FORBIDDEN ETERNITY)
2 vials cinnamon oil (flavoring guaranteed to spice up baked goods that's reminiscent of a Time Guardian Ring Master, i.e. dragon's breath. Use with caution.)
1 Voodoo Doll Little Wizard keychain (Little Wizard can help acheive a goal in school or work. He can help dreams come true, but only for someone else. He cannot help his owner. HE OF THE FIERY SWORD's King Arthur could have used one!)
1 AN ENGLISH LADYMASS: MEDIEVAL CHANT AND POLYPHONY album by Anonymous 4 (for the medieval period feel)
1 SCOTTISH TEATIME RECIPES (To reproduce a bit of SWORDSONG ambiance; ISBN: 1-898935-18-9)
The wee-est scrimshaw sailing-ship pendant (For those Time-Guardian wannabes like Twila Deeds in SACRIFICIAL HEARTS yearning for a journey through time and across space...)

To enter, just join me here.

I've also been fortunate to find myself in another contest... Enter to win a $50 WRP gift certificate.

My favorite holiday tradition is gift shopping. I love to find things I know people will love to possess. This is probably why I have so many contests on my website, blog, author group... Since the Winter Solstice quickly approaches, stay warm and make merry in whatever way you choose, my friends! Me, I'm off to purchase another box of these. ~Skhye

Buy Skhye's books or read the 1st chapters.

"Arthur is a masterpiece..." HE OF THE FIERY SWORD's King Arthur ~Diane Mason; The Romance Studio

"THE SPELL OF THE KILLING MOON offers the best of spine-tingling suspense. The setting is perfect... Moncrief’s ability to wield magic and emotion are without compare. Her words twist together emotions and visuals until you experience this tale as if the trap were set for you. Some lines blend a kind of poetic magic: “Moonlight wove a special kind of magic, a spell so vacillating that a person never knew if reality were anything other than a dream.” Darkness and premonitions and deadly intent fill these pages... a unique blend of mystic Medieval Gothic and romance…and a true blood-curdling thriller. 5 books" ~Snapdragon, LASR

"Intense, original, suspenseful, and dramatic... an unpredictable topsy-turvy romance... the suspense builds with every page in SACRIFICIAL HEARTS. In a world where symbols mean everything, magic is the way..." ~Snapdragon; LASR

Skhye's website

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Finding Balance During the Holidays

It seems life is even more hectic around the holidays. Whether it’s preparing food for Thanksgiving, shopping for Christmas or travelling to visit family and friends, the holidays are a whirl of activity.

The holidays are especially challenging for my husband and I because we have three different sets of family to divide our time between and we like our couple time. This year is even more challenging because everyone wants to see the baby. To top it all off, I have a release and a book signing scheduled.

So, how do I find balance? I prioritize. Do I prioritize my family? Believe it or not, yes, I do.

My son comes first. He’s not even three months old and while he likes to go and see people, there also comes a time when he needs quiet. So, sometimes I say no we can’t meet today, but how about … and name a more convenient time. I find saying ‘no’ to our extended family to be one of the hardest things about finding balance, but in the end, my son’s peace of mind and my mental health are more important.

What about my husband and my writing? Well, my husband understands how important writing is to me so he helps out when he gets home. He cooks dinner and takes care of the baby while I get my blog posts done and make goodie bags and cds for my book signing. He gets his time after the baby is asleep and on the weekends, which I try to reserve for family activities. After all, they are the most important part of my life.

There’s no magic formula for finding balance. I can’t say I’m going to write two hours, play with baby for an hour, talk to husband for an hour, etc. Things come up and have to be addressed. Some days are harder than others. So, I just do what I need to do to stay sane.

My tips: Don't be afraid to say no, and don't be afraid to ask for help.

While this holiday is a bigger challenge than normal, it’s also an exciting time for me. My husband and I are establishing traditions for our baby. Neither of us really had any sort of traditions growing up, but we get to start some and pass them on now.

So, what are our plans? We’ll hang our stockings, of course. I’ll bake my usual banana nut bread and pecan pies. Maybe I’ll make a coconut snowflake cake. But, we’re starting the new tradition of reading Twas the Night Before Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and A Christmas Carol out loud. We’ll also watch White Christmas. If I can manage it, I'm going to make my husband sing with me.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Time well spent

Hi All,
I've enjoyed reading everyone's posts about time management. Here's my take on it.

When I was first starting off as a writer, before I'd joined RWA, I sent one of my favorite authors an email asking if she had any suggestions for a beginning writer. Now, I've gotta admit I was hoping she'd read my three sentences praising her work, decide I was a wonderful author and offer her agent/editor up on a silver platter along with a free critique. Never hurts to be hopeful. :) It's amazing what we think, eh? Anyway, she did not read between the lines of the email, but she did answer my question. Her answer? Sit butt in chair and write. I thought, duh, I already know that.

Well, now that I've written more, I realize, I have trouble with that. Sure, it sounds logical. After all, how many of us really stand to write, or shop and write? But actually making time in our busy schedules to write, now that takes some effort.

I find it's hard. I try to schedule a certain amount of time per day to write, but also have trouble sticking to that schedule. Sometimes life intrudes. It's hard. But if we want to be writers, then we have to make that time to put our butts in the chair and let our fingers fly across the keyboard. Or at least hover. :) So now that I've given my pep talk, I'm going to try to take my own advice.

Happy writing! And Happy Holidays to each of you!


Winter Wonderland

Good Morning to all my friends at the Black Rose Blog,
I have a cup of coffee. I'm in my PJ's and this is a scene
outside my back door. Buried in snow. Love it.
Unfortunately, I have to be at work at 2:30pm for the night
shift. But that's okay. It gives me the morning to spend with
ya'll and finish the edits I promised Callie.
Balancing two jobs, two teenagers (3 if you count my DH),
3 dogs, 4 turtles, and a house can be hectic when your dream
is to write. I now understand the difference between organized calm
and organized chaos...the secret is...medication LOL!!!
I steal every chance I can get to be at my computer and let my
characters free of their cell inside my head. I have no method or
insight on how to balance the writer's life. My house has what I call
'the lived in look'. There's dust bunnies living here that I've given
I believe that if a person wants to become something bad enough, they'll do anything to achieve it. If that dream is to write and become published, don't
stop. Keep writing, submitting and trying. I learn something new with every
novel I write. Not all my stuff ends up in print or on the e-market. Once you're
published, it doesn't mean everything you hand your editor will be liked. Even
the published get rejected so don't stop trying.
Before I go, I want to share something I received from my mother after her
passing. My mom loved Christmas. She lived in South Carolina almost her whole
life and rarely got snow. She turned her living room into a showcase for
Christmas. In her later years, she never took down the decorations, simply
shut the door, did the occasional dusting of the room and enjoyed Christmas
all year long. Here's a picture of her Christmas village which my daughter and
I set-up recently. It gave her joy and happiness and helped her celebrate the Christmas spirit.Hopefully, it'll make you smile as you drink your morning
coffee, make your Christmas list and start your day.

Thanks for letting me ramble
Enjoy your day.
Have a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Finding time & Christmas traditions

We're creeping into week two of December and Christmas is getting ever closer, and time is getting ever scarcer. Along with full-time work, friends and family, and regular commitments, finding time to organise Christmas shopping etc... is added to the list. So, where does that leave time for writing? I always struggle to squeeze in time to write, and around Christmas it's even more tricky (especially this year as I have no vacation time).
Balancing out my annoyance of fighting with my schedule to find time to write is Christmas fun. Every year I have double Christmas joy. Years ago my parents gave up trying to split time between their families and decided to celebrate Christmas on Christmas eve and invite both families at once (then on Christmas day itself they could see family they hadn't seen the night before or simply spend time with all us kids).
What this means now I'm married is... I get Christmas twice. Once with my family on Christmas eve, and then again on Christmas day with my husband's family :)
Double the Christmas joy.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, and I wish you double Christmas joy !!!
--Louise Delamore

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Dealing with hectic days

Hello, everyone. I hope you’re having a wonderful holiday season! I love the advice given here by others on managing time. I guess I’ll take a different approach.

As a fan of history, I recall reading how back in the days before modern technology, people were so busy just surviving: growing their own food, making their own clothes, and falling into bed exhausted every night. Nowadays, with all our technological help, you know, microwaves to cook food in seconds that once took many minutes, washing machines…the list goes on, why are we still running around like wild, falling into bed exhausted every night?

I take the bus then the train home from work in the evenings. People often have their laptops open doing work on the ride home. Years ago, before cell phones and portable computers, people could at least escape that for a few minutes and read a good book or the paper or gaze out the window and relax. They still can, of course, but many don’t.

Have we created more work for ourselves because our ancestors had to do it, and it’s in our blood? Do we need even more technological doodads to free up our time? Well, we are just as busy, perhaps, because now we focus on so much more than just survival.

I work in a private reading school during the day, and I don’t drive. In the evening, I walk to the bus station, take the bus, and then walk to catch the train. Once I'm off the train, I’ll either walk home, or my husband of twenty years will pick me up. My daughter is in college, so I'm less busy than when I used to home school her back when she was small, but now, I'm a writer and editor as well. I'm also a musician, but when I pick up the guitar or play the piano, I use it to soothe the day’s stress away.

Here is what I’ve learned from personal experience, and it’s kind of ironic. Life is exhausting, and to keep up with it, you must schedule in some kind for physical exercise to have to energy to be equal to the task. It’s a bit funny to think about: exercise to get energy; it’s strange. But whenever I slack off and get off the exercise routine, I get even more tired. Sometimes, I have to break it up into ten-minute increments a few times a day due to time restraints: a brisk walk, a quick jog, or lifting the dumbbells I have on the floor near my desk. I’d walk the dog if I had one, but I belong to a cat family. My daughter and I would go on walks together as she was growing up. It was a nice time to chat about her day.

I use those stretchy bands as well or do a few crunches. It helps to work off that chocolate I can’t keep away from. Small things add up when it comes to exercise. Take the long way around to the kitchen…

A yoga move or two helps as well, relieving stress in the back, and clearing the head. Bending over at the waist and touching your toes while taking a deep breath is helpful. Take a breath to fill your lungs every hour if you can remember to; it will oxygenate your blood. I drink water all day too and sometimes have a cup of green tea. Little things to boost energy help.

So once you manage your time, do a little something for yourself to give you a little extra energy.
-Warmest regards, Corinne M.

Finding Time and Balancing a Busy Schedule

Hi everyone! As the holidays come speeding like meteors at us, I wanted to share with you my tips on time management. First, let me say I am very lucky to have several wonderful writing friends and we all work together on cross promotion and supporting and motivating each other, but there are many things we can do ourselves to make our dreams as writers come true.

1st - Don't let anyone tell you that your writing is not important, that it will never amount to anything. If you have a story to tell, don't ever let anyone discourage you from writing it down.

2nd - Make time EVERY DAY that is your writing time. We all have family and many of us work full time, but making time to write is not immposible. I don't particularly care for early mornings, but I know if I want to write, I must make that extra couple of hours in the morning. If you really want something, you will make sacrifices to get it - turn off the TV and write after the kids are in bed or get up extra early. But do it on a regular basis - make writing a habit.

3rd - Join a writers group - your local RWA chapter and attentd the meetings. Again I am very lucky to belong to such a talented RWA chapter, and we have some excellent workshops. These workshops will not only help you improve your craft, but you will meet other people with the same dreams as you, and it is great to have people around you who can inspire you to do what you love.

4th - Never give up. It's never too late to start writing - or to start again. Don't lose sight of your dream, and remember, you are writing for YOU - your passion and don't let life get in the way of your passion.

Just a quick sharing of our favorite holiday tradition. We love to adopt a couple of soldiers over the holidays and send them care packages. Even in peace times there are young men and women stationed all over the world looking out for our country, away from their families. We love to let them know them they are remembered.

Happy Holidays, everyone! May yours be safe and filled with happiness.

Until next month....

Friday, December 4, 2009

Finding Balance

Finding balance in my life has always been difficult, especially since there are some areas in which I'm extremely anal and other areas in which I'm not so attentive to detail. Over the years, I've learned to let go of some of my weird quirks, like insisting my towels and washcloths match before stacking them in the linen closet.

Of course, my youngest daughter doesn't believe I'm cured of this anal retentive disorder. She says I cheated because I bought all white towels for her bathroom and all blue ones for mine. But the blue towels are not the same shade of blue, and it hardly bothers me at all.

So, why do things like mismatched towels, dirty floors, clutter, and unwashed dishes bother me, and yet, if you look under my bed or sofa, you'll find mutant killer dust bunnies that have been there for who know how long? And let's not discuss my closets and cabinets!

Closets, cabinets, and dust bunnies not withstanding, I don't claim to be a great housekeeper. I sometimes leave the supper dishes over night, hoping someone else will do them. But it bothers me. And if they're still unwashed the next morning or when I get home from work, I wash them. But I hate external clutter and mess. It's the internal stuff that doesn't seem to bother me. It's like, if I can't see it, it doesn't exist.

Freud would have a field day with that one, wouldn't he!

So, how do I find time to work ten hours a day, four days a week at my regular job as a mammographer, try to keep a house clean, spend time with my family, and write?
It's hard, but it's gotten easier now that my girls are grown. When they were little, I felt as if I were depriving them of "mommy time" whenever I was at the computer.

But life has always been a balancing act for me because I've always worked full time and never had the luxury of being a stay at home mom. And once I decided I wanted to write, that was just one more thing dividing my time. Luckily, my husband has always been supportive and understanding. He bought my first computer.

I started out writing children's stories in 1995. In 1997, I wrote my first full length manuscript, a medical thriller with romantic elements. It read like a radiology text book with sex in the middle. It was so horrible I destroyed every copy and not one single version exists today.

I've since completed several manuscripts. Some show great promise. Others do not. OUT OF THE DARKNESS is my first and thus far, only published novel. It will be released on June 18 from The Wild Rose Press.

During the week, I get up at five o'clock. I shower and dress by six so I can spend about thirty minutes on the computer before leaving for work at six thirty...that is if Facebook doesn't suck me in and my husband doesn't decide he wants to talk that morning.

My husband is a route salesman with unpredictable hours so if I get home before him, I spend another thirty minutes to an hour on the computer before he gets home. My oldest daughter is married and living in Germany. My youngest daughter is in the x-ray program at the local college so she still lives at home. But she divides her time between work, school, and her boyfriend.

She and the boyfriend eat at home on Tuesdays and Thursdays so that's family night. But Monday and Wednesday are my days. I write and do laundry after work. And I'm off on Friday so that's house cleaning and writing day. Saturday and Sunday are up for grabs, but I try to spend a few hours each day at the computer, and if we go to the beach, I always take my laptop!

Now, with Christmas fast approaching, I'm having a hard time writing. Well, maybe it's not so much the holidays but these long winter nights. I hate the shorter, colder days, and I look forward to December 21. After the winter solstice, I know the days will get longer and then, spring will soon be here.

I do love the warmer weather! But I'm getting ahead of myself. I must get through the holidays, and this year, my oldest daughter and her husband will not be coming home for Christmas so I have to mail all their packages to Germany.

They were home last year, and we took a lovely family photo.

I still have so much to do and so little time, but my tree is up, most all of the presents are bought and wrapped, and I'm getting in the holiday spirit! Now, if I can only keep my but in the chair and write!

I suppose, getting published has made it easier for me to write. I guess it's like being in school and having a home work assignment. I seem to work more consistently with a deadline! If I know what I have to do and when it's due, I push myself and get it done.

So, why can't I just pretend I have a deadline and finish the sequel to OUT OF THE DARKNESS?

Good question. And I have a lot of excuses!

One excuse is my former agent. She suggested I rewrite two historical novels and make them inspirational. I did. Then she suggested I write an Amish story. I don't do Amish. Now, I'm rewriting the historicals back into traditional romances.

Lesson learned: Write what you read and remain true to your voice.

I guess I should have known from having published with TWRP. My fabulous editor, Lill, never tried to change my voice or OUT OF THE DARKNESS. She just helped make it a better story.

That's what an agent is supposed to do. If he/she truly loves your work, he/she will try to sell it as is with minor tweaks where needed. If an agent doesn't love your story, then you need to find an agent who does.

And if you find a good critique partner, keep them. I have one, though I think I neglect her. But, with Amy Corwin's help, I think I've figured out why I haven't been able to finish INTO THE LIGHT, the sequel to OUT OF THE DARKNESS.

Not that I've shared my revelations with Amy, but I think I know why I have too much backstory dumping in the first three chapters.

I'm writing a new story, but I'm trying to pick up where OUT OF THE DARKNESS ended. For INTO THE LIGHT to make sense, there's a certain amount of information the reader needs almost from the beginning. Instant backstory dump!

But as Amy pointed out, INTO THE LIGHT must stand alone. So, how do I balance a new story with information from a previous book?

Other writers have done it successfully. I know the secret is to feed the information in gradually and not force the information into the first chapter. But do I really want my sequel to be a continuation of the same story? Or do I want something fresh. A new twist in the old story? Can I have a fresh story if my characters have too much history? Do Tina and Gerard know too much about one another? Or are they just getting acquainted?

I know I want a new romance. Not a continuation of OUT OF THE DARKNESS. And since I want to start fresh and not pick up where I left off, then something has to change.

So, how am I going to do that? Do I change my characters? My plot? Or just the starting point of my story?

Hmmm. Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Timing Is Everything in Life

Hi Everyone,
Sorry this post is a bit late. I was at an account that let me onto the internet for exactly ten minutes today...and, of course, my boss won.
I've been told timing is everything in life. Well, to an actor on stage trying to hit a mark or deliver a line with just the right punch, yes, I guess it is. Timing is also crucial to the success of a book. Now I know that Lill would never say this but I've been told by other editors never to keep secrets from readers. But what if you believe holding onto certain information will give your readers that extra WOW, if you do?
Boy, have I struggled with this one.
And that's when I turn to the people I trust the most (and it ain't my hubby). I turn to my critique group.
Everyone has some kind of network built up. You have to. Otherwise, it's your mother telling you you're the best writer since Hemmingway or it's your friend who loves to read the really hot parts but wouldn't know point of view if it bit (her/him) in the ass.
So what do you do?
First, you ask. You may get five different answers/opinions from five different people but you ask them anyway. Second, you listen. None of them may be right but don't dismiss them right away. Third, you incubate (sorry, scientist day job). Consider their ideas. What have you got to lose? Nothing except some of your time. What have you got to gain? A new perspective that might just be the key to making a superb book simply outstanding.
One of the treasures of having critique partners is sharing insight. They can see what you might not. They can give you a completely different twist to the problem you're having. They can point out the painfully obvious yet unlock a floodgate of creativity.
So what do you think? Can a critique group help you achieve the timing you're looking for? Can they help you create a better book?
I believe I never would have gotten where I am in my writing career without my critique group.
What about you?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Welcome to December

A hearty holiday hello to everyone.

As usual I am running late with my post. It is a good thing that this month's topic is about how to balance writing with all the other things in our lives. Day jobs, family, school and all those other things that intrude on our writing time. I know that I will be reading everyone's posts looking for things that will work in my life!

Come join us for a fun filled December and pick up some ideas on how to make it all work within the confines of a 24 hour day (or maybe 24 and 1/2 for some of us).

We are also going to be talking about those things that make the holidays special to us. Do you have a favorite tradition? Maybe it is a dish you always make or a special memory. I know that one thing that I LOVE about the holidays is decorating the tree. It was always a house-filled event in my youth with whatever friends or family happened to be in the neighborhood. The chaos was topped off with hot chocolate with whipped cream. I've never been able to get my sons into the spirit but I haven't stopped trying!!!

I look forward to hearing from you. Please don't hesitate to jump in.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Why Bother Blogging?

Blogging is the new way to reach out to readers about your books, contests and news. It builds credibility and creates a readership devoted enough to return again and again. Sure you may never gain movie star status, but you’ll find people who enjoy your writing and have a positive association with you.

Your goal when creating a blog should attract the audience who will be interested in your books. The information listed on your blog will give the reader a chance to experience your writing style. Allowing the reader to make comments on your site is also a benefit. It gives the reader a chance to know you and actually have a conversation. It’s a way of introducing yourself with the willingness to be a friend. They can ask questions and know they will receive an answer. Write about what makes you an author and topics pertaining to your books. You also want to keep your blog fresh and updated. Be passionate about your topic and readers will return to see what you have to say next week. Let the readers see the personal side of you.

Blogging is also free advertising. Search engines will pick up on your blog when a person looks for similar interests posted on your site.

The business of being an author isn’t just having your brilliant story in e-book and in print. You must promote your work. If no one knows who you are, how do you expect a reader to find your book? You don’t have to be a public speaker to have your own blog. I personally don’t like public speaking. A blog gives me another option to talk to readers without feeling pressured.

How do you set up a site? You don’t have to be a computer guru to have your own blog site. There are many blogging sites with step by step information to help you along. I set up my blog with Blogger and use Google with RSS feeds. The RSS feeds are like long arms reaching out to your target audience. The search engines love blogs and RSS feeds because they offer feedback.

Now that you have your blog, here are a few other ways you can promote your Blogging Site. Include your URL address in your signature file and send it out with each of your emails. Add it to your business cards, bookmarkers and promotional material. Let your yahoo groups know you have a blog and list the new topic for the week. I'm not sure leaving your blog URL on asphalt is the best idea, but the person has the right idea. Promote, promote promote. :)

What’s your next topic going to be?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Well, hmm... Tips and Tricks for Writing...

Hi, all! I’m Brenda Huber, author of Mine and Shadows, both titles coming soon to the Black Rose Line of The Wild Rose Press, and Texas Blaze, coming soon to the Cactus Rose line. I’m sure everyone has some bit of advice, some little quirk or routine they follow religiously. A method to the madness, if you will. Different trips and ticks…excuse me, tips and tricks work for different writers. Obviously I can’t touch on every trick I use while writing, or let’s face it…Lill and Callie would ban me from the site. So please, bear with me while I ruminate on the tips that get me over the bumps. Hopefully somewhere in my ramblings you’ll find something useful to help with your own writing. Where to start?

How about we focus on a basic building block? I’m sure we’ve all heard the time honored phrase, A rose by any other name… But what’s really in a name?

The answer…more than you may realize. The name you choose for your characters (particularly your primary characters) helps define them every bit as much as a physical description, or an individual quirk or catch phrase your character prefers to use. For example, picture this… You’re browsing through your favorite book store/library and you come across this fabulous cover. A terrific title, a gorgeous man, a sensual woman, an exotic locale. Hmm… This might be an interesting read, you think. The back cover blurb has just enough detail, just enough hook to convince you that this would be the perfect book to take home and dive into. So you check out/buy the book and take it home in anticipation of losing yourself in a darkly sensual paranormal romance/an edge-of-your-seat romantic suspense…or whatever fascinates you. You eagerly open a cover promising a sublime setting and passion that will all but boil off the page…until you realize the hero’s name is…Lester. And the heroine’s name is Bessie. And the antagonist’s name…Bob. And you’re instantly pulled out of the story before you’ve even begun to drift away.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Those names are all perfectly nice names. No insult intended for all you Lester's, Bessie's, and Bob's out there. But, let’s face it, we all…every last one of us…have some version of a preconceived description that goes along with most every name. Now, I realize that everyone has his or her own “built in” picture to go with each name, and I also realize that as a writer, you’ve done your very best to feed bits of the characters description to the reader, but (as a reader myself) I often find my own preconceived picture taking precedence, regardless of how thoroughly the writer has described his or her hero/heroine/villian.

For example, when I see the name Lester, I picture a short, middle-aged man in brown polyester slacks and a tan cardigan, with thick rimmed glasses, a pocket-protector, and a receding hairline. Hardly the chiseled, testosterone-laden alpha male who charges in and sweeps his heroine off her feet. Now give me a Cole, or a Garrett, or an Ethan and I’m jumping, head first, into the story.

Likewise, nothing pulls me out of a story faster than if I have to stop and spent ten minutes guessing at how to pronounce a lead characters name. Not that the name has to be particularly long or exotic to be difficult to pronounce. I recently read a book by a very popular author. The story was great…except every time I saw the heroine’s name I found myself taking a mental step back as I consciously made the effort to connect the odd spelling with the way the name was supposed to sound. In the end, for me at least, I found that because the name was so distracting, the story lost something in the translation. Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t strive for individuality in your characters—and a unique name definitely stands out—but that name also helps to define the character. The name gives flesh to the character every bit as much as telling your reader he has blue eyes, or red hair, etc.

At this point, I’m going to send a special nod of appreciation to my wonderful editor, Joelle, who also gave me a very helpful tip when it comes to names in your writing. Be particularly careful as you’re naming your secondary characters as well. It can be confusing to the reader if you have several names that sound the same, ie: Cam, Carla, Chloe, Tom, Tim, Jim, Terry, Sherry. The reader finds himself/herself thinking…was it Chloe that worked at the diner, or was it Carla? Did Terry lose her bracelet, or was it Sherry?

So, I believe that about covers what I can offer as far as naming your characters. And, at the risk of rambling too much, I’d like to offer one last tip. Flesh out your secondary characters. Give them personality and an unique identity of their own…because you never know when the right one might just pop up and demand a book of his/her own!

Warmest Wishes for productive writing, and I hope you'll come visit me on the Darker Side of Romance!

Brenda Huber

coming soon to the Black Rose Line:




and coming soon to the Cactus Rose Line:

Texas Blaze