Tuesday, November 29, 2005

No, this is NOT normal...unless you're an author



I know, it's only the 29th of November, but my house is already decorated for the holidays. Little antique Santas everywhere, wreath on the door, most of the presents bought and wrapped. I even have George Winston's December on my iPod.

I am soooo ahead of the game this year.

No, this is NOT normal for me (I'm not sure it's normal for anyone). Usually I finish up all the Christmas prep...oh, right around New Years. But this year is different.

I have a book due February 1...and I have only written twelve pages. Twelve. No excuses... I am just a procrastinator.

But by tomorrow or the next day, the time crunch should be sufficently frightening enough to summon my muse. (Pressure seems to be the only language the wench understands.) Then, no coming up for air until the book is finished.

To do this, I will need to be completely ready for the holidays by December 1 at the latest (does anyone know what to buy a 66 year old dad who doesn't golf?)

This "must be ready" rule doesn't apply to the Christmas tree, of course. We're getting that this weekend. There is no substitute for the smell of real Frasier Fir. I don't even mind it when a pine needle punches through my sock and stabs my big toe. The smell of Christmas in the house is worth it.

So, in the spirit of the coming holidays, and since Shelley Bates mentioned it and has set off a wicked craving--I present my quickie recipe for Peppermint Bark.

Crunchy Peppermint Bark (start to finish, about 15 minutes-my kind of recipe!)

Note: White chocolate scorches easily. So, you can be "Martha" and use a double-boiler --or just check the chocolate's progress in your handy-dandy microwave. Guess which I do?)

Yield: Makes just over 2 pounds or one cookie sheet full

Ingredients:

2 bags of Nestles white chocolate morsels (I've tried about every brand there is, and Nestles works best)
12 large candy canes
1/2 teaspoon peppermint oil (oil, not extract--find it at craft or baking stores with candy making supplies)
1 Ziplock freezer bag, gallon size

How to:

1. Line an 11-by-17-inch baking sheet with parchment and set aside. In a pinch, you can use aluminum foil.

2. Take the candy canes out of the wrappers and drop them into the Ziplock bag. (Freezer bags are thicker--but you can double up on a regular zipper bags if you like.)

3. Hand the closed bag to the kids and let them bang it on the kitchen counter until the canes are smashed into 1/4 inch pieces. (No kids around? Roll a wine bottle over the bag a few times. I like to use a good bottle of red --Pinot Noir is my choice--more festive, you know. )

4. Empty the white chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl and heat on high for 60 seconds. Microwave strength varies, so watch carefully. Take the bowl out and stir well. Heat it for another 30 seconds. Stir again. If the chocolate isn't melted, continue at 10 second intervals to avoid scorching. (Note: the morsels hold form until you stir, so you can't just look in the bowl to check if they've melted.)

5. Immediately stir the pieces of candy cane and the peppermint oil into the melted chocolate.

6. Pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet; spread evenly to about thickness of 1/2 inch.

7. Refrigerate until firm, a minimum of 10 minutes. Break into pieces and eat some to check crunchiness (okay, just because you want to). Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to one week.

Want another indulgence? This one is guaranteed to put a fire in your hearth-- "Good Girls Don't" by Kelley St. John.

Cheers!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Dark Night of the Sheetrock

First, a disclaimer: I held out as long as I could. I admit, I feared the blog.

What if I say something stupid? What if my writing is less than...writerly? It's what I do in my day job, so there's an added pressure to blog with excellence. What if one of my asinine remarks floats in cyberspace indefinitely, and fifty years from now it comes back to bite me in the rear?

But then I got over myself and joined in the fun. Somebody crack the champagne.

Lord, I hope I do this right and don't misspell my own name.

I find blogs a wonderful diversion from things I should be doing. Like writing my novel. Which I should be doing right now. I have a stack of edits on my desk, ready to key in and push my draft to the next level.

After a day like today I could use the diversion. While my husband cooks cheddar potato soup for dinner (yes, I know I'm blessed) I'm hiding in my office.

Why, you ask? Because of the brand new hole in my living room ceiling. It's a nice hole, with square edges. But did I mention it's in my ceiling? In the living room? Just in time for the holidays?

It started small, you see. A whisper of a shadow, hardly noticeable. Being type A, I noticed. "It's nothing," my husband assured me. And yet the shadow grew. Evil things, I believe, grow when untended. Especially when they're located underneath the children's bathroom on the second floor.

A plumber came out to battle our dark shadow, and sawed through sheetrock for closer combat. The rectangle birthed a new view into the guts of our plumbing system. Intricate bends and twists carrying unspeakable things to wherever unspeakable things go.

He found nothing wrong. Or, nothing he could fix anyway.

We thanked him, gave him a check and he disappeared into the night. I sat on the kitchen counter looking at the hole.

I cried.

After telling my husband I had one more assignment for today, I crept upstairs and wrote my first blog ever.

You know what? I still have a hole in my ceiling, crumbled sheetrock in my carpet, mysterious plumbing issues and a manuscript in need of edits.

But I feel just a little bit better.


Britta Coleman

www.brittacoleman.com

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The season of good intentions

When I turned in my last book in October, I congratulated myself on having scheduled my calendar so cleverly that, for the first time in a couple of years, I wouldn't be working to a deadline over the holidays.

I was going to Take a Break. Rest. Do nifty things recommended by creativity books to refill the well. Honorable intentions, right?

Well, we know what happens to good intentions, don't we?

So far I have been laid off by my Big Four employer in Silicon Valley and taken on two new part-time jobs to make up the income. I have cleaned my office--twice. I have cleaned the house and the chicken coop, entertained at Halloween and Thanksgiving, and given to the needy.

Somehow this doesn't sound like refilling the well. In fact, a glance into its murky depths produces nothing--not the glimmer of an idea for a book or hope there will ever be another one.

So ... hubby and I took what Bridget Jones calls a "mini-break." We drove down the coast of California to San Simeon and camped by the ocean in glorious sunny weather. We walked on the beach at sunset. We saw Harry Potter and went to dinner afterward. Now, dinner and a movie is probably normal for most of you, but this is only the second time it's happened in 17 years of marriage. This is a Major Date for us. Woohoo!

I saw Pride & Prejudice (rev 4). My mom came for a week-long visit and we behaved like giddy girls. Hubby brought home peppermint bark (on my top ten list of favorite things to indulge in) and I ate it.

And suddenly the ideas began to bubble to the surface of the well. I had a dream last night that with a little tweaking could become a story. While doing the dishes, I got a flash of an opening scene that packed a lot of punch. My editor sent me an article that sparked a synopsis that sparked a first chapter.

Hoo boy. We're rockin' now. Maybe there's something in this filling-the-well stuff after all. Here's to good intentions!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Late, And Really Bad Excuses

I was supposed to post yesterday and forgot. The 25th of every month is my day and I like remembering, like doing what I've agreed to do.

Thankfully someone else remembered to post. Whew. The 25th didn't slide by forgotten.

So what was I doing yesterday? The leftover Thanksgiving dishes and then leftover Thanksgiving laundry, and then it was time to make a Thanksgiving day after lunch. And that was just until noon. In the afternoon there was Christmas shopping with the boys, and then there were the kids friends coming over, and later a Blockbuster rental of Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. That's my life. Not very literary, is it?

Truly, I haven't been writing enough, haven't been doing anything enough but being a mom and even then its apparently not enough as I get random emails from parents of kids at my sons' school. They write to tell me that my boys miss me and never see me because I'm always working. Sigh. I'm *not* always working. But I do sit at my computer a lot. I pay my bills online now. Have email. Google searches. Research. I book all my travel online. Do shopping online. And every now and then, I actually open a Word document and write.

I did write today. I wrote all day. I am very proud of myself. I started before nine am and finished after five pm and only took time away to shower, brush teeth, feed kids, settle boys fights, feed them again, and make myself ice coffee. I finished a chapter and wrote half of another chapter and when I returned after dinner to print my days work, I discovered I'd lost a chapter I'd written previously. The whole chapter 2 was gone. Vanished. And I'd never printed out chapter 2. Have no notes, no back up, no hard copy, no soft copy, nothing. Nada.

Okay. I cried. I fumed. I did search on my computer. I looked through all my old notes. Looked for anything to help me rebuild the chapter and its all gone. That's when I went and watched Scooby Doo with my youngest. It was that or cry some more.

Now it's time for bed and I only just remembered that yesterday was my official blog day. At least I remembered before it was absolutely too late. At least I tried to make up for my shortcomings.

And maybe tomorrow morning when I wake I'll discover that the Microsoft Word Fairy visited my house and returned my missing chapter.

And maybe I'll win the lottery.

And maybe I'll just go to bed and wake up and write the @$#%! chapter all over again like a good little writer should.


Jane Porter
www.janeporter.com

Friday, November 25, 2005

A day late and but still thankful.

Yesterday was my turn to blog. It was Thanksgiving. I was doing the family thing and oops, forgot that it was my turn, but here I am, to make amends.

I love Thanksgiving because it is about being grateful. Expressing gratitude for our many, many blessings. It's something we should reflect on every day, not just once a year.

This year besides all my usual blessing, I'm also thankful for my cat.

See on Monday my husband went out to feed the ducks and my cat, Halloween, (Three years ago she shows up on our doorstep as a tiny black kitten, hiding in a pumpkin we had the front porch, the day before Halloween, hence her name) followed after him. She'd normally quite a well behaved kitty. She never ever goes out into the road in front of our house, that unfortunately resembles the busy highway from Pet Semintary (You can see where this is headed right?) But for some reason, this time, while hubby is feeding the ducks, Halloween decides she's going to explore that stretch of asphalt. My husband hears a car horn honk. He turns around in time to see a small compact car slow down, but still hit Halloween.

Black kitty is airborn, catapulted to the other side of the road. Hubby, knowing I will freak, prudently does not tell me what's happened. He goes across the road to retireve her little body, but the weeds are very high and the traffic is fierce and he's forced to give up the search.

Meanwhile I'm calling and calling and calling for Halloween. Hubby finally breaks the bad news. It's back out to the weeds. The grass is thigh high and filled with thorny things (We live in Texas where there's lots of thorny things in the weeds) We search for over an hour and can't find the cat's body. I'm sobbing and barely have the heart to finish the book I have due the next day, but it must be done, so I soilder on. Hubby puts away Halloween's things because I burst into tears every time I see them.

Then yesterday, as I'm running around preparing the Thanksgiving feast, I hear something at the back door. Yep, it's Halloween. Looking skinny, acting skittish but damn if she isn't a alive without a scratch on her.

So this Thanksgiving, besides all my other blessings, I'm grateful to announce that Halloween now has a middle name. Halloween Lazarus. But I have to ask, what is it with this cat and holidays?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Sweet, Sweet Gluttony (Some Random Notes on Thanksgiving)

I have accepted the fact that nothing will ever taste as good as my mother's cooking. It might be delicious, but if it's not the way she did it, IT IS WRONG.

When I called my ninety-year-old grandmother to ask if she could give me her recipe for sweet potatoes with the marshmallow melted across the top, because I love the way she makes them and wanted to celebrate her with every sweet, delicious bite, she snorted. At me. "I don't know about any RECIPE," she said. Her tone suggested that even the use of the word "recipe" tagged me as both snooty and useless, and the fact that I thought I NEEDED a recipe? Clearly, I had failed her. "Take a coupla sweet potatoes, mash them up. Then throw some marshmallows on top. No RECIPE required." And then she hung up.

I don't care if you think creamed onions are disgusting. Of course they're disgusting; they're CREAMED ONIONS and are by definition disgusting. I LOVE THEM ANYWAY.

If there isn't a green bean casserole with fried onions on top, it might be a feast, but it's not Thanksgiving. This is non-negotiable.

One Thanksgiving when I was in England (and thus the only celebration in town that year, for obvious reasons) my college friend and I spent about an hour attempting to make said green bean casserole, with little success. My mother swanned off a plane, ignored her jet lag, took immediate control of my kitchen, and sorted out everything else from the turkey to the pie without seeming to break a sweat. The only mediocre dish? The beans, of course, which the two of us managed to ruin. It shames me even now.

Why are pastries universally translated as love with confectioner's sugar?

It is not coincidental that as dark comes sooner and everything gets colder, we have eating holidays. In fact, I usually give up shortly after the Halloween candy coma, and eat straight on through until January 2nd, when I roll myself into the bathroom, get on the scale, and vow that THIS TIME I will get into bikini shape for summer OR DIE TRYING. But January 2nd is some time and many cookies away!

Homemade gravy makes the travel, petty arguments, and longwinded drunken stories well worth it.

Most people I know have already started baking. And then plan to spend most of Thursday morning on the phone with their mothers, getting help and running up their long-distance bills trying to determine when they should baste.

Happy eating, people, if you're celebrating this week.

(And if you're not celebrating Thanksgiving, you could always go and see Pride & Prejudice several more times. I believe yummy Mr. Darcy qualifies as dessert...)

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Pride & Prejudice...& Obsession by Diane Perkins

I love a good love story. This is probably no shocking revelation coming from a romance novelist, but I really love a good love story. It is the only kind of story I want to read, and certainly the only kind of story I want to write. I also love the Regency time period, the era of stately country houses, ladies dressed in beautiful empire-waisted dresses, men in neckcloths and breeches or bright military uniforms. I have the best of all worlds writing Regency Historical Romance, fantasizing life in that elegant time period, dreaming up yummy heroes and spirited heroines, and then watching them fall in love. What a job!

So when the trailers for the new movie Pride & Prejudice started appearing online and on TV, I knew I'd love it. I loved the Pride & Prejudice television mini-series, after all. And though I could not imagine a better Mr. Darcy than Colin Firth, I was very optimistic about the movie, because it was clear that it would add an element of sensuality to the beloved Jane Austen tale. So I seized upon the opportunity to see the movie as soon as I could.

And, oh, I was not disappointed. It is a beautiful film. It is a wonderful love story! Matthew MacFadyen is a magnificent Darcy. From the moment he first sees Elizabeth Bennett, you can tell he is smitten. He is just so palpably in love, the kind of first love a young man does not know what to do with. And when he declares himself to Lizzie (played to perfection by Keira Knightly), he speaks the beautiful language of Jane Austen with all the passion that could be desired. And, if that were not wonderful enough, all this is set against the beautiful English Landscape. Sigh!

Needless to say, as soon as I got home from the movie, I searched the internet for more information about it. Looked up every photo of Macfadyen that could be found. Two days later I went to see the movie again, and loved it the same. Two days after that I badgered my husband to go see it ("You'll find out what I'm trying to do in my writing," I told him). He loved the movie, too. I have plans with my Regency Romance writing friends to see it again on Tuesday. And I have a contest going with my friend Carol to see which one of us sees the movie the most times. The loser has to treat the winner to another showing of Pride & Prejudice.

This is so much fun! I love being all caught up in a movie like this. It's like being a teenager again. It is like being Lizzie and Darcy, falling in love all over again.

Sigh!


See what I mean?

(Speaking of love, check out my other blog of this date, The Wet Noodle Posse, to see why this is the anniversary of the happiest day of my life)

Diane Perkins aka "The Obsessed"

Friday, November 18, 2005

EXTREME MAKEOVER: MANUSCRIPT EDITION

I had a near-death experience this week when I received the revision letter from my editor for my next book, "YOUR BED OR MINE?." I had opened the e-mail with the subject line: "Revision Letter," hit print, and when the printer info box thingy popped up and said "Printing Page 1 of 4000 pages," I passed out cold.

Seriously. Passed Out. Fell Backwards. Landed flat of my back on the floor in my office.

As I was lying there, hovering between this world and the next, and knowing I preferred death to the revisions awaiting me, a loud voice boomed "WAKE UP CANDY HALLIDAY!"

My revision-weary spirit left my body and moved toward the light.

"God?" I called out. 

NOT!

It was hunky Ty Pennington with his megaphone to his lips!

The design team was standing beside him, cheering and clapping. Paul gave me a big hug. Paige and Tanya had tears of joy in their eyes. Michael (I adore Michael) leaned over and kissed my cheek.

Ty put a supportive arm around my shoulder and said, "Candy, we know you were hoping you wouldn't receive those revisions until after Thanksgiving. That you really wanted to eat Thanksgiving dinner with your family this year."

"Yes," I sniffed.  "Yes, Ty.  That's so true."

Ty put his megaphone to his lips again and yelled, "DESIGN TEAM, ARE WE READY TO GIVE CANDY'S MANUSCRIPT AN EXTREME MAKEOVER?"

The design team yelled back, "YES, WE ARE!"

Holy megaphony! I wouldn't be spending Thanksgiving alone in front of my computer, after all. My family and I were going to Disneyworld! And when I returned, all I had to do was yell, 'MOVE THAT MOUSE!" and my revised manuscript would pop up on my computer screen, I could print it out, and zip it off over-night mail to my editor!

I really HAD died and gone to Heaven.

Or, had I?

As a test, I opened my eyes to find out.

Crap! No Ty. No design team. No Disneyworld. And worst of all, no extreme makeover for my manuscript. :(

Another voice said, "Is there any particular reason why you're lying in the floor?"

"Yes," I said, turning my head toward my just-got-home husband who was now standing in the doorway to my office. "Revisions suck. Ty Pennington isn't going to give my manuscript an extreme makeover. And we aren't going to Disneyworld."

Should I be concerned he didn't think that was a strange response coming from me?

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!
Eat a big turkey leg for me. :)

Candy Halliday       

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Squirrel Wars

He, or she, is back. I don’t know and don’t care if it’s male or female, but that dang squirrel has got to go!

The squirrel started it. If it would stay out of my birdfeeder I wouldn’t have had to declare war. Granted, it’s winning several battles, but I intend to prevail.

Sure, I could end it all by taking down the feeder but with winter coming on, I’d prefer not to. The feeder is on the deck where I can see it out the patio door, and besides the juncos and sparrows and finches that brave our Wisconsin winter, so do the cardinals and blue jays. The feeder stays.

Naturally, I’ve tried chasing it out whenever I spot it. Every so often it gets sneaky and tries to hide on the other side of the feeder (yes, it’s a Big feeder), but I can spot a flickering squirrel tail from forty feet away. At first, it would respond if I rapped on the patio door. Now it just sits there and looks at me until I actually open the door and go out on the deck. It knows that soon several inches of snow will prevent me from chasing it in my sock-covered feet. Ever see a squirrel with an evil grin?

Did you know that there’s bird food on the market that claims squirrels won’t eat it because it’s coated with something nasty that birds don’t mind? Ha! This squirrel didn’t read the company’s guarantee because the nasty coating didn’t bother it one bit. It just sat there and munched away, keeping the birds from getting into the feeder and driving me crazy.

I even tried to accommodate the beast by getting it a squirrel feeder, filling it with yummy corn kernels (I don’t even make it gnaw the corn off the cob!) delectable sunflower seeds (in the shell, I’m not that desperate yet) and tantalizing peanuts (also in the shell, see above). The little monster loves the peanuts, likes the sunflower seeds, and tosses the corn kernels on the ground. Talk about ungrateful!

My husband has promised to stop at his parents’ home on his way home from work to borrow a live trap. Said fuzzy-tailed nemesis is about to move far, far, far away.

I’ve heard of abandoned dogs finding their way home. A squirrel can’t do the same, can it?

Shari Anton, obviously procrastinating from working on TWILIGHT MAGIC

www.sharianton.com         MIDNIGHT MAGIC, December 2005

Saturday, November 12, 2005

In which Julie natters on about Flaubert, crackers, spiders and the nature of originality

I read a Flaubert quote recently that got me all excited: "Be regular and ordinary in your habits, like a petit bourgeois, so you may be violent and original in your work." Gosh! I thought. How dramatic! What an inspiring ethos! I wonder if it works? And if it does work, is the reverse true? For example, if you're violent and original in your habits, say, does it stand to reason your work will be regular and ordinary?
 
So to test this little ethos, I did an inventory of my "habits"… and that's when confusion set in. Because, frankly, I don't know whether my habit of eating rye-sesame crackers over my keyboard while I'm writing is "ordinary," but I certainly do it so "regularly" that I just had to pry my "D" key up with a paperclip in order to free a sesame seed that was stuck under there and hindering the "D" key's ability to make "D's." And I certainly rather violently and vainly struck the "D" key a few times before I actually realized something was stuck under there and causing problems, but I'm not sure whacking the "D" key was very original.
 
In truth, it was kind of hard to test the reverse of this little ethos, because I'm not sure I really have any tendencies that can be remotely construed as violent…for example, last night I herded a spider the size of the first joint of my finger around in my bathtub with a Tupperware container so I could catch it and put it out on the back porch rather than squish it. I squealed the whole time I was doing it, granted, but I did catch it. See? I'm a pacifist.
 
Is my habit of letting the garbage get as tall as possible before I take it out "ordinary" and "regular?" See how difficult this is? Maybe Flaubert was just full of it.
 
So I thought I'd look at it from the reverse: are THE RUNAWAY DUKE, TO LOVE A THIEF, and BEAUTY AND THE SPY (out in March 2006—hello book plug! Can you blame me??) violent and original? If so, maybe my habits ARE ordinary and regular. Well, in looking at the three books, we have a little gunplay, some fisticuffs, a bit with a knife, but nothing too terribly violent. As for original…well, it's not like I reinvented the wheel or anything, but I kind of like to think they're all quite original, thank you very much.
 
So much for my new ethos. It's a nice idea, but I don't think it works that way—in other words, I don't think applying your energy sparingly to one part of your life builds up any sort of artistic reservoir that you can unleash at will. I think people who are compelled to create (whether it's a work of fiction or a painting or what have you) experience and interpret even the mundane elements of their lives in vivid, original ways, even if only in their thoughts, because they simply can't help it. And the seemingly mundane things—brushing your teeth, dropping the kids off at school—often fuel creative work. It's all of a piece.
 
In other words, I fully intend to keep eating crackers over my keyboard.
 
Julie Anne Long
 
BEAUTY AND THE SPY
March 2006

From Sarah McKerrigan...

From Sarah McKerrigan...
 
    My family thinks I make "too much of a big deal" over everything.
    My son shakes his head when I tell him I get teary, hearing him play drums for "The Star-Spangled Banner" before high school football games.
    My daughter rolls her eyes when I gush over her two-minute version of "The Daily Show" at her college campus.
    My even-tempered husband says I'm the Queen of Superlatives... best, most fun, saddest, craziest.
    With me, nothing is fine or okay or so-so.  My emotions come in vivid shades of ebony and scarlet, verdigris and eggshell.  Daily events are exhilarating, miserable, adventurous, heart-wrenching, fascinating.
    I realize this may be tiresome to people who would rather float along on an even keel.  Truthfully, sometimes I tire myself out with my wildly fluctuating emotions.  But that's what sleep is for.
    As the years have passed, I've learned to temper the outward exhibition of my feelings.  I no longer burst into tears at the movies.  I don't slam doors.  And I try not to scream on roller coasters (well, okay, once in a while, just for fun).  But that doesn't mean I'm not lit up inside with a rainbow of emotions a good deal of the time.
    I used to think it was a curse, especially in my teen years, when the slightest criticism could make me feel suicidal and having a crush meant such an intense devotion that it would have sent the object of my desire running for cover.
    But now I understand that sensitivity can be a blessing.  I'm a writer.  I need to be intimately in touch with emotions.  I have to be able to remember what it's like to have a broken heart, to feel the comfort of strangers, to be deeply in love, to weep like there's no tomorrow, to laugh with childlike delight.  Even more important, I need to speak for those who cannot remember or who have, because of their own vulnerability, shut down those feelings.
    So I embrace my emotions and let them loose to play upon the page.  My characters giggle and scream and lambaste and roar.  They scowl and smirk and choke on laughter.  Their hearts melt with affection and harden with determination.  Their spirits drown in despair and soar to the heights of ecstasy.
    And when friends and family tell me I'm too "over-the-top," I just grin and nod.
 
Sarah McKerrigan...
Stories to keep you up all night.
LADY DANGER
Riding to the rescue April 2006

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Glamorous Life of a Writer – or – A Day in the Life of Robin T. Popp

- 4:30 am - Alarm goes off, jerking me from a sleep so deep that it takes endless seconds to figure out A) how to shut off the damn noise; B) who I am and why I’m waking up so early and C) how to reset the alarm so it will go off again in two hours to wake my husband.
- 4:35 amDig through closet and try to find something to wear that A) fits, B) doesn’t have to be ironed and C) isn’t the same thing I wore yesterday. Move clothes and (hopefully) matching shoes to bathroom so as not to disturb sleeping husband. Stumble into kitchen and make cup of Stash’s Black Spice Chai Tea – the only beverage in the free world with enough caffeine to wake me up.
- 4:40 amDrink tea.
- 4:45 – 5:15 amDo hair, drink tea, apply make-up, more tea, get dressed, more tea. Finally, put in contacts – which is done successfully thanks to the tea.
- 5:15 amMake sandwich for lunch, grab purse and satchel, get into car and drive.
- 5:15 – 6:00 amDuring commute to office, listen to music, think about what scenes need to be written and sit at stop sign waiting for the light to change. Uh, yeah - well, maybe I should have had two cups of tea.
- 6:00 amArrive at office, thank various deities for my safe arrival as I have no memory of how I got there, go inside and say hello to security guard. Take the stairs to second floor, mentally checking “exercise” off my “to-do” list and walk to desk, located in open cubicle environment. Leave lights off as it’s nicer that way and resist urge to race up and down empty hallway waving arms and screaming at top of my lungs (because I don’t want to overdo the exercise). Dump my purse and satchel on my desk and proceed immediately to coffee maker and start a pot of coffee brewing.
- 6:10 amArmed with pocket pc, wireless keyboard, CD player, headphones and a cup of coffee, retire to private enclave where no one will disturb me.
- 6:10 – 8:00 amListen to music, drink coffee and stare at blank screen. Glance at clock and see time slipping by. Stare at blank screen. Wonder what family is doing at home. Stare at blank screen. Drink coffee. Tentatively start writing even though it’s bound to sound horrible and will need hours of reworking. Stop writing at 8:00 and realize that I have actually managed to kick out 5 whole pages. I have no idea what they say, but at this hour, I don’t care. However, I must be more productive during lunch.
- 8:00 – noonWork at day job, using any down time to think about next scene in book, doing internet search on my name or title of my book to see if there are any new reviews out there, checking Amazon.com sales rank, and reviewing the emails in my four different email accounts.
- Noon – 1:00 pmWith a good eight to ten cups of coffee in me, retire to enclave again with pocket pc, keyboard, CD player, more coffee and a sandwich. Write, write, write.
- 1:00 – 5:00 pm– Return to desk, feeling good about the five to seven pages I actually wrote and didn't just fantasize about. Do day-job.
- 5:00 – 6:00 pmCommute home, which now takes longer because it’s rush hour in Houston.
- 6:00 – 11:00 pmGo to game (three teenagers, all in sports, always a game going on), go to store, go to any fast food joint in town and ask for the "usual", make mental note (again) to start diet tomorrow, eat and spend the rest of the evening convincing children I’m NOT Jeeves – their father is.
- 11:00 pmDrag self to bed and attempt to read a book for pleasure.
- 11:05 pmPut book down because after reading same paragraph four times with eyes closed, it just ain’t happening tonight.
- 11:06 pm – 4:30 amSqueeze 8 hrs recommended sleep into 5 ½ hours.
- 4:30 amRepeat the above.



Robin T. Popp
www.robintpopp.com

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Michelle's "Theatre of the Mind"

When I was a teenager, I wanted to be an actress. Not just any actress… a very, very famous movie star. (I mean, why aim low?) But since Ontario is a long way from Hollywood, I used my imagination.

I’d push open the front door to leave the house in the morning.

CUE SUNSHINE ON FACE.

CUE RISING THEME MUSIC.


And walk to school.

If someone would call my name, I’d swing my (what I imagined to be) perfect long hair around and fix them with a movie star smile (braces optional).

I’m sure this all looked way more goofy than it felt.

But, strangely enough. stardom never came knocking on my door.

Then I decided that one day I’d be a writer. A passion which has lasted much longer than the passing fancy of acting. But writing comes with its own…side effects.

She walks into the store and sighs heavily. Long line up. Another long line up. But, after all this time, after all these years, she should be used to it.

Finally, she reaches the front, summons a smile to her weary face and speaks the words which will change her life for the better.

“Large double-double coffee,” she says. “Please.”

The Tim Hortons employee grudgingly goes about making the beverage. She can hear the tapping feet of impatient people behind her.

“That’s a dollar thirty-five,” the cashier says sadly.


No, not sadly. Don’t want to use that word. How does the cashier ask for the money? Grudgingly? No, hate those –ly words. Plus, I already used it in the previous paragraph. Maybe she’s tired. What’s the cashier’s motivation? What does she want?

“That’s a dollar thirty-five,” the cashier says as her gaze travels to the photo she keeps next to the cash register. Little Timmy. The child she had out of wedlock and put up for adoption. Only a few more years and she’d have enough money to find him.


No, wait. This isn’t the cashier’s story. It’s my story. Besides, splitting the point of view like that is bad and distracting to the reader. Also, what a sob story. Please. I write funny. Where’s the funny?

She snatches the coffee off the counter, peels back the lid and takes a generous swig of the ambrosia within. And starts choking.

Must remember not to breathe and drink at the same time, she thinks, as some tan-colored beverage shoots out of her nose and sprays the other customers.


Sometimes it’s fun having the endless inner monologue. Sometimes, not so much. I only wonder if other writers experience the same thing?

She reads her blog entry over, cringing slightly at how lame it sounds compared to Stephanie Rowe’s really cool entry about her socks, then presses the "Publish Post" button.

The End

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Love Me, Love My Feet

Image hosted by Photobucket.com Hi, my name is Stephanie Rowe. I'm a professional, I'm a career woman, I like people to take me seriously. And these are my socks. They're a little hard to get on (labor intensive, anyone?). They're a wee bit uncomfortable (not a huge fan of material between all my toes). But I love them. L-O-V-E. LOVE.

Why? Because these socks have attitude. They say things I don't always have the courage to say with my mouth or my pen. These socks are about daring the world to tell me I have to conform, and then thumbing my nose at them. These socks are cheerful, bold, high energy--all of the things I wish I was, and so often am not. These socks announce to the world that I am not afraid to be different. That I'm not afraid to buck the system. And even if I am sort of afraid? These socks empower me to do it anyway.

These socks give me spirit, energy and hope on those days when my dreams, even my little ones, seem so far away. So hopeless. Even foolish.

Guess what? Your dreams are attainable and worthy, and you are worthy of having them.

But to get there, you need your special socks. Or your pen. Or your mantra. Or whatever it is that lights a fire of hope and energy under you.

Because you never get anywhere wonderful if you don't have strength, or courage, or attitude. The best things in this world aren't handed to us as we roll out of bed in the morning. You have to fight for them. You have to take risks to get them. Sometimes you have to be far more patient than you want, while still plowing forward with every fiber of your soul. But if you get there...No. WHEN. But WHEN you get there, it will be because you've left a mountain of socks like this strewn in your wake, and because you're pulling on a new pair as we speak.

Stand out. Be bold. Dare to have your dreams, and then dare to fight for them.

These are my socks. Where are yours?

Stephanie Rowe

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Q&A with CANDY HALLIDAY


Can you tell us about your new book?

MR. DESTINY (Warner Forever, November 2005) is a romantic comedy about a woman determined to marry the wrong man - until destiny steps in and points her in the "Mr. Right" direction. When Officer Tony Petrocelli literally drops down off his horse at Kate Anderson's feet in Central Park to announce he's her destiny, already engaged Kate figures it's just another typical day in New York City. But engaged or not, Kate can't ignore the immediate attraction she has for Tony. Now Kate is faced with a huge dilemma. Should she stick to her plan and marry her safe and secure corporate attorney? Or should she listen to her heart and accept the fact that destiny has a mind of its own?

What was your favorite part about writing this book?

I'm always a sucker for anything with a "destiny" theme. Giving fate the freedom to bring Kate and Tony together was a ton of fun for me.

If this book was made into a movie, who would you pick to star in it?

If destiny pointed this book in the movie direction - I'd be thrilled to bow out and let fate choose the actors for me. :)

What are you working on right now?

My next project for Warner Forever will be a two-book linked series. The "Housewives' Fantasy Club" series will take a look at sex and love in the burbs vs. sex and love in the city.

Where do you get your ideas?

I wish I had a perfect answer for this question, but I don't. I'm always reading, looking, and listening for anything that tickles my muse.

What is the best advice you could give an aspiring writer?

Never give up. If writing is truly what you want to do, never lose sight of that dream.

What is your favorite movie of all time?

The Good-bye Girl.

Favorite book?

Way too many favorites to choose only one, or to name only a few.

Favorite television show?

I adore Will & Grace.

Favorite author?

Jenny Cruise is my all-time hero!

If you were stranded on a deserted island with one person, living or dead -- who is NOT your husband -- who would you like it to be?

Someone who knew how to build a boat, maybe? Or Matthew McConaughey - who definitely floats my boat. :)

If on that island you could only listen to 2 CDs, what would they be?

Motown by Michael McDonald. And anything by Wynonna.

If you weren't a writer, what would you like to do for a living?

I'd love to be Oprah's co-host. :)

What are a few of your favorite websites?

Romance and Friends, Romance Reader at Heart, and Romantic Times always have my vote.




Visit Candy's website | Reach Candy by email | Purchase Mr. Destiny