Saturday, December 31, 2005

What Resolutions Are You Breaking in 2006?

New Year's Eve. Already.

The year 2005 is almost over. I woke up early this morning, before it was even light outside, so I could savor every waning minute of this year(and also because I remembered that I hadn't written my Warner Women blog....)

Since I was awake, I jotted down a list of resolutions. And when I wrote them, I really had the best intentions of keeping them. But as I read them over, after a cup of caffiene, I already know I am going to break every single one.

But it's the thought that counts, right? Or...is that more about being gracious when you receive a really horrid Christmas gift (like a lemon-head paperweight--and yes, the lemon-head was a real Christmas gift this year)?

Here's a peek at the resolutions I will break:

I will be more organized, and plan my time so I won't end up writing a book in a month. (I might be able to keep this one-- but after Janaury, when I have to write a book in 30 days--have a Feb. 1 deadline, after all.)

I will make time to relax, to read, and fill up the well again. (I probably can keep this one too, but after January, when I write my book, and after February when I am flying out to Arizona to do some signings and present a workshop, then fly up to New York for another signing. Then I can relax. Note to self: check on next deadline.)

I will eat better and exercise more. (LOL. Okay, I just know better. I am an author. I spend most of my time on my rear in front of my computer. It's in the job description, I think.)

I just erased everything else on my list. The best anyone can hope is to be a better person and to make the most of the coming year. Oh, and to have fun doing it. Fun = Happy, in my book (just my book in general...not the one I have to write in January.)

Here's to a Happy 2006. Cheers.

So, what resolutions are you breaking for 2006?

Thursday, December 29, 2005

He Says, She Says...Best Books of 2005

 

My New Year's resolution is to faithfully write down all the movies and books I experience through the year, to share a "best of" list.  My husband does this, and since I didn't write my own official list for 2005, I'll share his.  Plus, I'll throw in my own comments because that's what wives do.  Enjoy.

 

Kern says:  Here is the list you have all been anxiously awaiting, my top ten books of 2005 (Potter Springs, of course is a shoe-in on any list.)

 

Britta says:  See why I love him?

 

Kern says:

10. Gil's All Fright Diner, A. Lee Martinez:

Very funny book by local author and friend of Britta's. It's the story of a washed up vampire and zombie that save a west Texas diner from demon possession. Not usually my choice, but I laughed all the way.

 

Britta says:  Alex is a total hoot.  I don't care if you normally read this type of story - you'll love it.  He's hysterical and has those sentences where you grab a friend and say, "Listen to this!"

 

Kern says:

9. The Life of Pi, Yann Martel:

Story of a young boy adrift in the Pacific with a tiger. White knuckle ride after the first 100 pages which I recommend you skip altogether. I was thirsty the entire read.

 

Britta says:  Do NOT skip the first 100 pages.  Read them, soak them in, and know that after page 100 you're in for the roller coaster.  I still think about that book, and Richard Parker may be one of the best characters I've ever read.  And he's the tiger.

 

Kern says:

8. The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green, Joshua Braff:

Great story about two Jewish brothers growing up in the New Jersey suburbs in the 60's with crazy parents.

 

Britta says:  Funny book, a startling peek into the male point of view.  May share more than you'd ever want to know. 

 

Kern says:

7. The Lost Continent, Bill Bryson:

Travel essay written in the 80's. The author borrows his grandmother's Escort and hits 44 of the lower 48 states. Bryson is a hysterical writer with great insight to people. Any of his books are a hit.

 

Britta says:  Haven't read it.  For funny and true, try Augusten Burrough's memoir Running With Scissors.  It's raw and might turn your stomach at times, but you won't forget it.  Plus, they're making the movie and you should ALWAYS read the book first.

 

Kern says:

6. All The Pretty Horses, Cormac McCarthy:

Great adventure of a young man from Texas who travel to Mexico on a horse in the 50's. Great story.

 

Britta says:  I love Cormac McCarthy.  His writing is so spare and full of tension.  I'd also recommend No Country for Old Men.  The villain is terrifying.

 

Kern says:

5. A Million Little Pieces, James Frey:

True Story about the author's experience in drug rehab. Harrowing story that will spark conversation with anyone else that read it.

 

Britta says:  I started this one night at 5 p.m. and finished it at 2 a.m.   An all-consuming read...next on my list is his My Friend Leonard.

 

Kern says:

4. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini:

Story of a boy in Afghanistan, and his early adulthood. The narrator is detested in the beginning, but finds redemption in the end. Wonderful story, with a clear picture of life in Afghanistan from the Soviets through the Taliban.

 

Britta says:  I'm reading this right now, and I'm struggling with the unlikable lead character.  My husband promises there's character growth, so I'm sticking with it.  The writing is gorgeous and the immersion into a completely different worldview and setting is worth the trip.

 

Kern says:

3. An Unfinished Life, Mark Spragg:

Set in rural Wyoming, it is the story of a young girl, Griff who finds herself along with her mother, living with her crusty grandfather and an old disabled war buddy he cares for. The story is the love that develops between the grandfather and Griff. Loved every page.

 

Britta says:  This may be in one of my top 10 of all time.  I picked up the book last January because it had a blurb from my hero Kent Haruf who wrote the exquisite Plainsong.  I wept when I finished and am nearly evangelical about getting other people to read it.  Haven't seen the movie yet because the book is still so close to my heart.

 

Kern says:

2. The Captain's Wife, Doug Kelley:

True Story of Mary Patten, 19, who navigated a ship with a mutinous crew from New York to San Francisco around Cape Horn in 1854. Her husband was the captain, who fell ill shortly after departure. I woke up one night certain I needed to check the jib sail.  You will feel as though you are on board. I loved this book from start to finish, and had the pleasure of meeting the author in Oklahoma City last April. It is hard to find, but worth the look.

 

Britta says:  Haven't read it, but did meet the author and he's a lovely person. For a paranormal twist on the kick-butt female standpoint, check out Candace Haven's hilarious Charmed & Dangerous.  Made me want to wear stilettos and fly my own plane, sporting fabulous hair and clothes while saving the world.

 

Kern says:

1. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving:

Perhaps the best book ever. I will never forget the characters and events of this book. I read it in August, and I still think about it, quote it, etc.  Owen seems like someone I knew, or grew up with. It was that vivid. It is the only book of his that I've read, and A Widow For One Year is on my list for 2006. It is long, but don't be daunted. I loved every word, and often found myself going back to read certain parts. Owen is a tiny little boy with a sickly demeanor and funny voice, but has a razor sharp sense of humor. The story follows Owen and his buddy Johnny, the narrator, from childhood in a small New Hampshire town through the Vietnam War. Undoubtedly the best book of the year.  IT STILL GIVES ME THE SHIVERS!

 

Britta says:  Oh, little Owen.  One of the best characters in literature, ever.  This book is so powerful, funny, clever and wise.  Heartbreaking and profound.  I'd also add A Widow For One Year as a must-read.  It's a multi-generational twisted love story with all the humor and darkness that is John Irving.  Brilliant.

 

For all the great reads I forgot to write down and recommend, I apologize.  I hereby resolve to do better next year.

 

Happy Reading and Happy New Year!

 

 

Britta Coleman (author of Kern's favorite book ever, Potter Springs)

 

www.brittacoleman.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Week After Christmas

I hope everyone is enjoying a wonderful holiday season! I picture us all kicked back by the fire, enjoying a glass of eggnog, our smiling families around us.

No?

Okay, I'm really picturing us doing another load of laundry, still attempting to get on top of the dishes from the family Christmas dinner two days ago, and negotiating around kids who have worn out the batteries in their presents and are nagging to go down to the mall.

Better?

No matter where you are on the Christmas chaos continuum, I hope your holiday was full of love and music and twinkling lights.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

T'was the night before Christmas

Merry Christmas to everyone and may you get your heart's deepest desire. I wish for you all the most peaceful of holidays. May the spirit of the season fill you with love and joy that last throughout the coming year.

Much love,
Lori

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Merry Melodrama by Megan Crane

Some people look forward all year to December, when they can go home to visit their families.

(I don't know any of these people, but that's what they tell me on television, so it must be true.)

(The fact that all the people I know are drama queens might have something to do with this subjective analysis, I grant you)

I, however, traverse the country primarily so I can skulk about my hometown in a surly fashion, coming up with ever-more-exciting ways to depress myself. Trimming the tree, decking the hall, engaging in twenty-year-old squabbles, braving the mall parking lot, and eating all manner of Christmas cookies to the point of daily indigestion? Totally secondary.

My holiday routine is based on pain. The more angst, the better. I like to loiter near my high school, for example, and think of the eighteen year-old disaster I was when I escaped that place. That's always good for bringing the pain. I also like to drive in big loops around the outskirts of town, playing extremely dramatic music whilst staring out at the cold, barren landscape, shivering, and remembering the numerous things that broke my heart.

Now that I'm a legitimate writer-- or anyway, can prove my profession with a simple internet connection-- it's even worse. Because now I'm no longer wallowing or being histrionic. Now I'm working.

Here's the horrendous bar wherein my first love and I once quarreled terribly.

Here's the lake where I worked one long, hot, underpaid summer, while everyone else I knew from college was living the bright life in New York City and I was alone, alone, alone.

Here's the site of my first job, the unlucky company wherein I spent my boring days dreaming of greatness while racking up the long-distance phone bill.

Here's the building in which I suffered through the seventh and eighth grades; the building to which I should address my therapy bills.

Here's the junior high school staircase I once, famously, fell down-- five seconds after being unforgivably rude to a schoolmate, thus learning two very important concepts for the price of one: a) karma is, indeed, a bitch and b) you should listen to your mother because you never know when karma's going to get you and expose your ratty underwear for all to see.

All of which could be in a book someday, I tell everyone. You never know.

Wish me some Merry Melodrama, people. I've been back two days and I'm just getting going...

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Here's to you! by Diane Perkins

Today I am going to tea with my friends, Julie, Lavinia, and Mary (Mary Blayney -- see her “Poppy’s Coin” in JD Robb’s April 2006 anthology, Bump in the Night), a Christmas tradition. Last Saturday, I had lunch with Julie (again), Helen, and Virginia, more writing friends, the ladies to whom I dedicated my first book. And after Christmas when it isn’t so hectic, I’ll have lunch with Lisa, Darlene (Darlene Gardner, Million to One, Dec 2005) and Karen (Karen Anders, Give Me Fever, Dec 2005). How lucky I am!

One unexpected benefit to writing Romance has been the friends I’ve made. At this time of year when we remember friends with Christmas Cards (I never get around to sending cards!) and gifts, I want to acknowledge them all. In fact, I started writing this blog acknowledging them all, but it got way too long!

So let me go at this a different way. What is it these friends have brought me?

One thing is a feeling that I am never alone. There are other people in the world who also have stories running around in their heads, who love love stories, who believe in the happy ending. They totally understand and accept me, and when I am with them, the shyness I’ve lived with all my life just disappears. I love being with writer friends. I love talking about writing, about Romance.

They’ve given me courage. Had I not had this foundation of friends, I am not sure I could have weathered the inevitable rejection and discouragement that this business brings. I have always had examples of others who have “made it,” who have reached whatever new goal I’ve set for myself. They inspire me, make me believe I can do it, too. Encourage me to Never Never Never Give Up (Winston Churchill).

They’ve given me support. My friends have sustained my belief in myself as a writer. Before I sold they helped me believe I could be a published author. Now they help me believe I can still write books that readers will love. At last year’s RWA conference, when I learned that Warner had passed on my latest proposal, the Warner Women on this blog gave me hugs, told me their similar stories, brainstormed with me, and their belief in me helped me get that new contract. More Warner books from me, folks!

They’ve given me fun. With who else could I rave on about my obsession with the new Pride & Prejudice movie! My Romance writing friends understand the enriching value of fantasy, how even we happily married adult ladies can fall in love all over again, and laugh about it, and be totally silly.

They’ve opened the world to me. Through this writing life I have made friendships with people from all over the world. Some of my dearest friends are in Australia, including Melissa James who has written Silhouette Intimate Moments and is about to launch Harlequin’s new Tender line. She and I are in nearly daily contact through the wonders of Instant Messaging. My writing for Mills & Boon (as Diane Gaston) has given me friends in England and as far away as Egypt! Through the writing I’ve also traveled - to England twice on Novel Exploration tours geared toward Regency Writers (and which have given me another new set of friends)

I am so grateful to my Romance Writing friends. I wish this New Year’s I could be with them all at midnight, toasting them all with a glass of bubbly champagne. I’ll toast them, I promise, though we can only all be together in spirit. But that is what is so wonderful -- my friends are always with me in spirit.

Here’s to you, my friends!

(for more of Diane's musings on friendship read her Wet Noodle Posse blog, http://wetnoodleposse.blogspot.com/ )

Saturday, December 17, 2005

TIS THE SEASON TO BE JOLLY?

I was really looking forward to my blog post for December - the time of year for wishes of peace on earth, good will toward all. But this year it appears political correctness has become the new Scrooge.

My Fa-la-la-la-la is fading fast.

Poor Santa is even under heavy PC attack!

With Santa's permission, I'm forwarding the correspondence Santa received from the new PC Holiday Coordinator - and Santa's (ahem) reply:

************
TO: Santa@northpole.net
FROM: Holiday_Coordinator@PC.com

PLEASE BE ADVISED OF THE NEW PC HOLIDAY GUIDELINES:

1. Yelling out "Ho, Ho, Ho" in today's society could possibly offend someone's sister, girlfriend, wife, or mother.  Please use "Hee, Hee, Hee" in the future.

2. Rudolph with his nose so bright red has PETA concerned reindeer abuse may be rampant at the North Pole.  Expect a visit from the Humane Society.

3. "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good-night" is NOT PC!  "All" do not celebrate "Christmas" and hopeless insomniacs never have a good night and are offended by people who do.  Just leave the gifts and go - QUIETLY.

4. Thin people are offended by your weight.  And not-so-thin people hold you responsible for that offensive "fat and jolly" connotation.  Consult your physician about a proper diet - and stop being so dang jolly until you reach your goal weight!

5. All "Christmas" references have been deemed politically INcorrect and holiday songs have been modified accordingly as follows:  "I'm Dreaming of a White Whatever" - "O Whatchacallit Tree" - "We Wish You A Merry Who Cares" - and thanks to a fabulous suggestion from pop music idol Prince/TheArtist we now have  "The Twelve Days of the Holiday formerly known as Christmas."

6. PLEASE NOTE: Santa's Workshop will be closed down immediately by the EEOC unless equal opportunities are made available to non-elf, non-pointy ears, non-pointy shoe wearing employees.

7. Naughty or Nice has been declared irrelevant by the Civil Liberties Union - gift discrimination will not be tolerated!

8. Got milk?  Pour it out and choke down those cookies the best you can.  Vegans are threatening a protest - and CNN plans to broadcast the demonstration LIVE.

9. Your traditional red velvet suit is a "fashion fatality" according to Queer Eye for the Straight Icon.  And body hair is out - the beard has to go!  Carson Kressley will be contacting you for a complete makeover.

10. Donald Trump will expect you in his board room on December 26th to evaluate your implementation of the new PC holiday guidelines.  A WORD OF CAUTION: Just because you're Santa doesn't mean you'll be exempt from those fatal words "You're Fired!"

Sincerely,
PC Holiday Coordinator

************
TO: Holiday_Coordinator@PC.com
FROM: Santa@northpole.net

Are you elfing kidding me?

In the interest of being politically correct, I'll refrain from telling you what you can do with this job!

Ever so Sincerely,
Santa


Despite my own fading Fa-la-la, I truly do wish all of you a Happy/Merry (insert your own preference here).

But wouldn't it be wonderful if being politically correct meant respecting ALL holidays, traditions, and beliefs without taking personal offense to those that don't match your own?

Candy Halliday

Friday, December 16, 2005

One of those days . . .

Occasionally, my plot twists get tangled and my characters aren’t cooperative. On those days I may entertain the thought that I should chuck the whole business and go out and get a job. Nothing too strenuous or mind taxing.  Twenty hours a week, Monday through Thursday, 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. would be nice.

When the thought starts sounding too good, before I reach for the classifieds, I pull out my list of reasons I would really rather Not.

Lack of Wardrobe. Once upon a time I had a wardrobe. Oh, I have clothes in the closest.  Several pair of nice slacks and a trio of blazers that I can throw on when necessary. A few dresses suitable for special occasions. I own three pairs of pumps that I haven’t worn in years. Shopping might be fun, but I’m not sure my charge card could stand the strain.

Elderly Car.  My ’96 Grand Prix is in good shape with only 70,000 miles on it. I take it out of the garage twice a week or so for trips to the grocery store, the library, the coffee shop, or the post office. Twice a month I go for breakfast and a gabfest with friends. If I start putting major miles on the car, I’m sure it would protest, maybe quit, and then I’d have to work just to pay for a new car.

Office politics. I’ve worked for terrific bosses. I’ve also worked for those who think they know everything and absolutely refuse to listen to reason and then wonder why a project turned sour and blame everyone but themselves. Enough said.

My Grandsons. I’m listed as the contact on their Emergency Card at school. If they’re sick enough to leave school, I bring them to my house and proceed to fuss, pamper and spoil. They may now be too old to cuddle with in the rocking chair, but they’re still young enough to enjoy curling up on the couch with me to watch a movie. I’m enjoying it while it lasts!

I like writing. I may grumble and gripe and moan and groan over some aspects of the publishing business that I find annoying. Yes, some days sitting in front of the computer is tougher than I would like it to be. No, I can’t think of one single job I would rather be doing.

#1 reason for working at home. As I’m sorting out a tangled twist in TWILIGHT MAGIC, I’m sitting at the kitchen table in my comfortable jeans and a sweatshirt, with a cup of hot coffee and a warm banana walnut muffin, staring out the patio door into my backyard. Temperature is 21 and the snow is coming down in huge flakes, and the wind is blowing that heavy, wet snow around. And I don’t have to go out there.

Wishing you and yours a Blessed, Merry Christmas and a Healthy, Happy New Year!

Shari Anton

MIDNIGHT MAGIC, Available Now!  www.sharianton.com

 

 

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

A Flaw in the Ointment

The Style section of last Sunday’s NY Times had a front-page article about the “new” hero on television. Using the word “neanderthal” the writer referred to morally flawed or ambiguous characters like “it’s-every-man-for-hisself” Sawyer on “Lost,” or “it’s-for-the-greater-good” Jack Bauer on “24.” The idea, according to a fan of “Lost” quoted in the article, is that “men gotta do what men gotta do, and if some people have to die in the process, so be it.” This, of course, is in direct contrast to less complex heroes of the past, like Magnum, who were always on one side of the moral divide. But in shows like “Lost,” major characters have killed people, and the viewer still identifies them as “good.”

All of this got me thinking about romance heroes and heroines. My first book, LIKE A KNIFE, had a morally ambiguous hero, Nick. He’d sold arms to Libya when our country said it was illegal, and was implicated in the death of a child. In fact, the book was rejected by an editor at Avon for exactly this reason. Angelina, my heroine in DEAD RINGER, is a sexually aggressive woman who supposedly “feeds” off rich, old men. In my upcoming April release, BLACKOUT, the heroine, Margo, sleeps with the hero for the first time not because of any deep emotional attachment, but because the nightmare of her life makes it difficult to sleep, and sex is a good narcotic.

All of these characters find redemption, love, and acceptance by the end of their respective stories, and I ask the reader to see them as “good” people. But in romance, do more conventional characters have greater appeal? Is the fantasy that a romance novel creates more satisfying if the hero or heroine are old-fashioned “good” guys? And if so, is romance “stuck” in an out-dated concept of the world, which gets more complex by the hour?

Wondering,

Annie Solomon

Monday, December 12, 2005

A Christmas Story

Yikes!

My day to post is the 11th and I have no idea where I was mentally when that day came and went. My apologies.

The sad truth is that I'm just one of those people who has overextended her life - as have so many of you - only I handle it badly. Once Thanksgiving hits, I'm in an ever-increasing downward spiral of deadlines, responsibilities and to-do tasks, heading toward the end of the year with no hope of possibly getting it all done. For that reason, instead of enjoying the season, I tend to be somewhat of a Scrooge. I do, however, remember with great fondness, one particular Christmas.

It was years ago, before my third child was born, and my older son and daughter were four and two years old respectively. We were driving from Texas to Missouri to visit my family in Columbia. This was not our first long car trip and being much younger ourselves, my husband and I would usually set out in the late afternoon of the first day and drive all night while the kids slept. (Actually, my husband drove while I did that jello-neck head-bob thing while fighting to stay awake and keep him company. )

Now, if you are an avid hunter, like my husband, or married to an avid hunter, then you'll know that there's a huge Bass Pro Shop in Springfield, MO. In those days, we didn't have a Bass Pros Shop in or close to Houston and so the one in Springfield was the only one we were likely to see. Unfortunately, we were usually passing through Springfield long before the store opened and never had a chance to stop.

On this particular Christmas trip, however, something happened to prevent us from leaving Houston at our usual time and we ended up hitting the road around 3:00 or 4:00 the next morning. By the time we reached Springfield, the sun had set and both kids and adults were beyond tired of riding in the car, so we decided to stop for the night. The added bonus to this decision - and likely the final argument in convincing my husband to spend money on a hotel room - was that the Bass Pro Shop was still open!

With a light snow falling, we arrived at the store. It was in full holiday regalia with bright sparkling lights in the parking lot and on the building, huge candy canes lining the walkways and wreaths hanging on hunting stands. The grills, pits and four-wheelers were adorned in huge red bows and right by the entrance, in a display all his own, was Santa sitting in a sleigh pulled by eight white-tailed bow-and-arrow shooting dummies.

In eager anticipation, we walked into the store. It was like being transported into a wonderland. Music played in the background, the scent of freshly roasted nuts wafted through the air. There was so much to see, we hardly knew where to start. My kids were immediately drawn to the large grizzly bear standing in a display off to the side.

"Is it real?" my son asked, gazing up at the huge creature.

"No, honey. It used to be alive," I explained, "but someone shot it and stuffed it." I worried that this might trouble him, but he seemed to accept it and we moved on. Next we saw a bobcat, perched on top of a dividing wall.

"Is it real?" my son asked again.

"No, honey," I replied. "It used to be alive, but someone shot it and stuffed it."

This became a ritual exchange as we moved through the store, inspecting all the animals on display. Finally, hours later, replete with packages of goodies, we left the store. As we made our way across the parking lot to our car, I felt a tug on my hand.

"What's wrong?" I asked, looking down into my son's troubled face.

He cast a quick glance to the front of the store before looking up at me with big, sad eyes. "Momma...who shot and stuffed Santa?"

Happy Holidays to you all!

Best,
Robin

Sunday, December 11, 2005

From Sarah McKerrigan...

I have a motto regarding desserts.  If it isn't chocolate, it's not worth the fat.

Of course, there are exceptions.  I can't go to New York City without indulging in a slice of cheesecake.  Every Easter, I make these amazing macaroons that look like little bird's nests with pastel candy eggs.  And what's Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie?  (Though the best Thanksgiving pie I ever made was pumpkin-chocolate.)

But if I'm going to spend the calories, I'll take chocolate any day.

Recently, my husband, a lover of exotic, organic, raw food, has discovered chocolate nibs, chocolate in its purest form.  I have to admit, the taste of the roasted bean fragments is rich and complex, sugar- and fat-free, but you have to pick little chunks out of your teeth for hours afterwards, sort of like chewing on coffee beans.

I love a box of chocolates, even though a good half of them are likely to be duds.  I don't care for mixing chocolate with maple sugar or coconut or lemon cream.  But the surprise is half the fun, and if you get a nasty one, it's just an excuse for having another.  On the west coast, See's makes a reliable assortment, and Godiva is a pricier, but tasty choice.  Whitman's or Russell Stover's have probably sat on the shelf a while.  I'm actually quite spoiled, since my best friend lives in Switzerland, and I have access to the best chocolate on earth.  I have to limit her to sending a box of Lindt or Teuscher on Valentine's Day, no more.

Nutella is the nectar of the gods.  And never mind spreading it on bread.  I like to keep the jar in the refrigerator so that when you eat it by the spoonful, it doesn't drip.

But my favorite chocolate treat is homemade chocolate chip cookies.  They're so good that I have to make them only for pot lucks and at Christmas.  Otherwise, my family would look like potbelly pigs.  I don't do anything special, just use the recipe on the back of the Nestle bag, making them with real butter and chopping the walnuts very coarsely.  But I like lumpy cookies, and I always undercook them a little, letting the radiant heat kiss the tops just long enough to leave them chewy.  Sometimes on request, I'll make my special Christmas cookies, halving raw cranberries to add to the dough.

Unfortunately, chocolate didn't exist in Europe in the Middle Ages, which is where my novels are set.  As much as I love chocolate, my heroines can never indulge in its dusky, rich, melt-in-your-mouth, round-on-the-tongue, heavenly essence.  On the other hand, the women in my books always fall in love, which scientists contend creates the same endorphin response as chocolate!

Have happy holidays, everyone, and remember...with chocolate, nibble, don't gobble.

Cheers,
Sarah McKerrigan...

Stories to keep you up all night.
LADY DANGER
Riding to the rescue April 2006

Friday, December 09, 2005

Everything I ever needed to know about writing I learned from America's Next Top Model

America's Next Top Model has just wrapped up its fifth vapidly engrossing season. Some time during the previous season I realized that Miss Tyra Banks herself was speaking to me through the show. Telling me what I needed to know about being a writer. It may have been because I'd recently switched meds, I honestly don't know. But she spoke to me. She told me to impart her message to other writers, through the metaphor of modeling. And this is what I shall do. I am but a Disciple of Tyra. A D.O.T., if you will. Prepare for your life to be changed forever by this information*.

Eleven Important Lessons about modeling writing from "America's Next Top Model"

  1. Know what you want to achieve and be "fierce" about reaching that goal

  2. You have to believe in your own abilities and be proud of what you've accomplished

  3. You're only as good as your last photoshoot (err...novel)

  4. Have fun with it. A sense of humor will get you far

  5. Be open to creative criticism

  6. Those who work the hardest will eventually be rewarded

  7. Remember that you're always selling something. Keep it up front and center.

  8. Don't get distracted by the hottie male model. He's really just a prop. (well, this one really doesn't apply to writing. Sigh)

  9. Mistakes happen. Roll with it.

  10. Negativity begets negativity

  11. Take responsibility for yourself, because nobody else will


So there you have it. Tyra speaks and the world listens.

*a life changing experience is not guaranteed

--

Check out my website this month for your chance to WIN A ONE YEAR SUBSCRIPTION to Romantic Times BOOKclub Magazine!

www.MichelleRowen.com

Monday, December 05, 2005

Who Needs Enemies When We Have Ourselves?

I have the job of my dreams, and I am still ready to lose my mind. Isn't it weird how we can talk ourselves into craziness?

I spent years working the day job and writing from 4am to 8am every day, plus lunches and nights and weekends. I was so determined to sell and become a published author with a sustaining career. I wrote 18 books in 4 years while working 50-60 hours a week at a draining day job. The stress was incredible and everyday I felt like I couldn't take it one more day, but each day I did it again until I finally reached my dream.

Now, I'm a full time author, and I'm so stressed I'm losing my mind! I have a book due 2/1 that's about 80 pages from being finished (first draft). No problem! Then two weeks ago, I sold two books to HarperCollins (which is awesome and I'm so grateful for the opportuniy, of course!), and the first one is due 1/15. Suddenly I have a whole other book to write in the time I was supposed to write only one!

And now I'm flipping out! I've worked out my calender and I have plenty of time, even if I run into trouble. I even can take Christmas off. My paranormal due 2/1 is in pretty good shape. Everything is going so well, but I'm so stressed that my neck hurts, my head is killing me and I can't even think straight. Why? Becuase I'm worried about missing my deadlines. Ridiculous, I know. I have plenty of time and they are still 5-7 weeks away. But I'm worrying about it anyway. Why am I doing this to myself? Why create stress where there is none? I have no idea.

So I finally left the computer at five o'clock today, hopped on the exercise bike and rode like a madwoman until I was too tired to be stressed. And then my head cleared, and I realized I working myself up into a frenzy for no reason. I had half the stress I used to have, but I had managed to amplify it to fill in the gaps so I could be fully stressed again.

No more.

I refuse to succumb. I will not get worked up about crises that haven't occurred yet. I will enjoy each moment of my day, enjoy the wonder of writing a story, bask in the career I worked so hard to attain.

Stress is everywhere around us, but it's up to us whether we let it get to us. So much easier to say "blow it off" than to actually do it, but the power is within us. It's within me, and I'm going to do it.

Just say "no" to stress! I will not succumb!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Q&A with SHARI ANTON


Can you tell us about your new book?

MIDNIGHT MAGIC (Warner Forever, December 2005) is the first book in my Magic trilogy. They are the stories of three sisters who find themselves in dire straits during a war in medieval England. What fun! MIDNIGHT MAGIC is Gwendolyn's tale. She's the middle daughter of a baron who gets himself killed, and Alberic, the bastard son of the earl of Chester, to whom King Stephen gives the baron's lands. Gwendolyn is also the guardian of an ancient spell which requires her to marry a man she loves for the spell to work, and that man just can't be Alberic.

What was your favorite part about writing this book?

Being forced to read several books dealing with King Arthur and Merlin (who is the creator of the ancient spell). I've always been interested in any book or movie that explores Arthurian legend. Writing this book gave me a terrific excuse to delve into the research. Not that I need much of an excuse!

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

Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley. They were so lovely together in Pirates of the Caribbean that I wouldn't mind at all if they paired up again in MIDNIGHT MAGIC!

What are you working on right now?

Book two of the trilogy - TWILIGHT MAGIC (November 2006). This is the eldest sister's (Emma) story. Her magic is visions. Another utterly fascinating topic to research.

Where do you get your ideas?

I've harvested a few out of history books. A topic will catch my interest and my imagination runs wild. With others I've "seen" a scene, or "heard" a line of dialogue that pesters me until I write something down. Not every idea has developed into a book -- yet :). I have a file folder full of notes and I'm not ready to retire, so one never knows.

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

Write what excites and intrigues you. If a story has you writing page after page to find out what happens next, it'll likely appeal to someone else, too. The problem is finding that someone else! Perseverance is a necessary quality in this business.

What is your favorite movie of all time?

The Lord of the Rings movies. Okay, that's three movies, but I could watch them back to back (the director's versions) as one movie.

Favorite book?

I have a bookcase full of books that I consider favorites. I will spare everyone a very long list.

Favorite television show?

Current? Law and Order - Criminal Intent
I also have the videos of the entire Cadfael series.

Favorite author?

Dorothy Dunnett. My copies of The Lymond Chronicals are well worn.

If you were stranded on a deserted island with one person, living or dead, who would you like it to be?

My husband. He really is my best friend and is probably the only person alive who could put up with me. Besides, he's very handy and would know how to build us a shelter that wouldn't fall down!

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

Being a writer came late for me, so I've already done several things for a living. I'd rather not go back to any of them! However, if forced, I would probably go back to Administrative Assistant. I'm rather efficient at keeping other people organized. We won't discuss my own office.

What are a few of your favorite websites?
Google - I use it almost every day.
For research, I love www.theheritagetrail.co.uk and www.castles-of-britain.com.
The ladies at www.eclectics.com do a great job with my website and those of other authors.
For business, I have www.rwanational.org and www.twbookmark.com bookmarked.



Visit Shari's website | Reach Shari by email | Purchase Midnight Magic

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Q&A with KELLEY ST. JOHN


Can you tell us about your new book?

The idea for GOOD GIRLS DON'T (Warner Forever, December 2005) came about when I read a newspaper article about alibi agencies and started pondering what kind of person would work at a place that helps spouses cheat. Then I asked myself what would happen if an alibi consultant ended up lying to a friend. That's when Colette came to life. She explained, "I didn't plan to work here long, only until I got my business going. And I never, ever planned to lie to Bill."

What was your favorite part about writing this book?

I enjoyed researching actual alibi agencies, but my favorite part was creating a true friends-to-lovers story, where the good guy from high school grows up...and gets the girl of his dreams, and where the "bad girl" from high school finds that even her wildest dreams can come true...with the "good guy."

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

When I wrote the book, I had actress Charlize Theron in mind for Lettie and U.S. Olympic gymnast Blaine Wilson in mind for Bill. (I'm married to a gymnast, so several of my heroes are modeled after gymnasts.)

What are you working on right now?

Revisions for my next Warner release, Real Women Don't Wear Size 2.

Where do you get your ideas?

Newspaper articles, snippets of conversation, previous work experience, friends, family, life in general, you name it :)

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

The same advice I received from NYT Bestseller Linda Howard: "Don't settle for less than your dream."

Favorite television show?

Seinfeld, hands down.

If you were stranded on a deserted island with one person, living or dead, who would you like it to be?

My husband, naturally :)

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

I'd love to be an artist. Given that I can't draw stick people, however, I'm betting I'd definitely be in the "starving artist" classification. But if I'm playing "what if" -- an artist, for sure :)



Visit Kelley's website | Reach Kelley by email | Purchase Good Girls Don't