October 1, 2012

Contests

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Every year (at least for the last few years), the folks at Harlequin sponsor a contest called So You Think You can Write.

Well, this year, I decided to enter. Yes, I think I can write — I just need to find enough people agree with me.

That’s where you come in. You can find the full text of the SYTYCW2012 contest rules here, but here’s a brief rundown:

Public voting begins Oct. 2 and continues through Oct. 11. The 25 submissions with the most votes, along with three “wild card” submissions chosen by the judges, advance to the next round, in which they submit their full MS to the judges’ panel, who evaluate voice, content and writing skills. The top three manuscripts will be put back to another public vote.

You can vote once a day, Oct. 2 – 11.

I’d love it if you’d vote for my entry, OPERATION SNAG MIKE BRAD.

Don’t worry: I’ll tweet/Facebook plenty of reminders. How many is too many before y’all relegate me to the “spam” folder?

P.S.: My awesome CP, Jennifer Faye, has also entered SYTYCW2012. If you don’t like my entry, cast your vote for her.

 

September 30, 2012

Musings

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Source: The American Library Association

With Sept. 30-Oct. 6 being Banned Books Week, I want to go on the record: People — of all ages — should be able to read what they want. Yes, even those poorly written “Fifty Shades” books, if that’s what keeps them turning the pages.

It’s not so important what they read, just as long as they’re reading. Of course I’d like them to read well-written, expertly crafted tales (like mine!). But what matters is that they’re engrossed in something that allows them to escape their reality, exposes them to new ideas or just plain entertains them and keeps them out of trouble.

Besides,  even the classics have their critics — a reality that not only baffles me, but riles me up and honks me off. We write because we have stories we need to share. Who is someone else to say, “Your story offends me so no one should have the chance to read it”?

Among the wealth of information on the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week website is this list of banned or challenged classics.

I’ve organized them into categories: Books I’ve read, books I want to read, books I have no interest in and ones I’ve never even heard of. (Thank goodness only a few of them ended up on that list!)

No matter where they fall on my list, try to imagine what our lives would be without them.

Read (many for a class, some for “fun,” when I had time for that kind of thing)

  1. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  2. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
  3. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
  4. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
  5. The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
  6. 1984, by George Orwell
  7. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
  8. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
  9. Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
  10. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell (One of my all-time favorite books. I read it for the first time in 7th grade and for years wanted to live in a restored Ga. plantation house with my three cats, a tiger-striped one named Scarlett, a black one named Rhett and a white one named Ashley.)
  11. The Call of the Wild, by Jack London
  12. The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie
  13. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
  14. A Separate Peace, by John Knowles
  15. An American Tragedy, by Theodore Dreiser

Want to read (if I ever have time)

  1. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
  2. Lolita, by Vladmir Nabokov
  3. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
  4. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
  5. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
  6. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair
  7. Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by D.H. Lawrence
  8. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
  9. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote
  10. Sons and Lovers, by D.H. Lawrence
  11. Women in Love, by D.H. Lawrence
  12. Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller  (Wasn’t there a “Seinfeld” episode featuring this one? George still had the book he checked out from his high school library …)
  13. Rabbit, Run, by John Updike (This book, along with other “Rabbit” books, graced my parents’ bookshelf in the living room when I was a kid, but — unlike some of Mom’s other books — I never stole it off the shelf to read it.)

Sorry, not interested

  1. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck  (Tried to read it in high school, but could not get through it)
  2. Ulysses, by James Joyce
  3. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
  4. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
  5.  As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
  6. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
  7. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
  8. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey (I watched the movie because I read Brad Pitt said he loved it, and — despite my love for Brad Pitt, hated it)
  9. For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway
  10. All the King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren
  11. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien  (Blasphemy, I know.)
  12. Sophie’s Choice, by William Styron
  13. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh

Never heard of it (showing my ignorance, I’m sure)

  1. Native Son, by Richard Wright
  2. Go Tell it on the Mountain, by James Baldwin
  3. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
  4.  Naked Lunch, by William S. Burroughs
  5. The Naked and the Dead, by Norman Mailer

Wow. Long time, no blog, eh? It’s been too long since I jumped into Six Sentence Sunday, so here goes.

When last we left Dave and Melinda, they’d just started making out. Terrible place to leave the poor dears, I know. These six sentences pick up several days later. Dave’s on the road with his team, still stewing over Mel’s attack on his character. Telling him she’d kept their daughter a secret because he didn’t strike her as father material. Hmph.

Dave reassumed his batting stance, ready to take another swing.

Matt stopped him by dropping a hand on his shoulder. “You’ve hit enough.”

Three hours at the batting cage wasn’t nearly long enough. He wanted to keep smacking balls around until he no longer saw the doubt in Mel’s big, green eyes …  until he forgot the mother of his child had so little faith in him. If she doubted his skills as much as he doubted himself, he didn’t stand a chance of succeeding.

July 31, 2012

Musings

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Is it wrong that I can remember which desserts I ate on which days while I was at RWA’s National Conference in Anaheim?

No kidding. The days all run together in terms of who I met/spoke to, which workshops I attended and who I hung out with — but the memory of each sweet consumed is as clear as the sparkling, turquoise pool I enjoyed watching from the balcony of my hotel room.

I have a problem, no?

On Tuesday, it was a red velvet cupcake from a stand in Downtown Disney. The cupcakes don’t look like much in my photo, taken in the dark after we piled them all up on the sidewalk. Bad photo aside, mine was to die for, piled high with yummy frosting. Good thing I waited until I got back to my room to eat it, because the shot of pure sugar knocked me out. (At least we went on an adventurous quest — on foot — to find the cupcakes.)

Wednesday after lunch at TGN retreat, I had two small lemon squares and a salted caramel brownie pop — and then got a slice of banana cream cheesecake to go after dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. (I did manage to leave most of it in the fridge overnight, eating just enough to polish off the banana slices so they wouldn’t turn brown and gross.)

Thursday’s luncheon dessert, some kind of flan, was tasteless enough that I took one bite and pushed the plate away … then headed to my room before the afternoon sessions to retrieve my leftover cheesecake. After a lovely dinner with some of my Starcatchers sisters at Carolina’s Italian restaurant, I took home a piece of tiramisu for later. Since it was as big as my head, it served as a sweet treat on both Friday night and Saturday afternoon. (And it was delicious!)

Let’s not forget the chocolate-raspberry dessert from Friday’s lunch. That was like fudge on a plate. Yum!

That’s not to mention countless pieces of chocolate and other goodies I picked up in various conference venues.

I didn’t need the sweets, and had I been home, doing Atkins properly, I wouldn’t have even looked twice at them. But seeing as how I was on vacation and “off plan,” I just could not stop treating myself. And the more junk I ate, the more I craved. Even on the way home Sunday, I got a burrito and fries from Del Taco and then a mint chocolate chip shake from the truck stop DQ at our next bathroom break.

I wish I didn’t have such a love affair with sweets, but I do.

You’ve heard of gateway drugs? Well, for me, sugar is a gateway food … eat it, and I start making all kinds of unhealthy choices (like ignoring the workout clothes I’d packed in favor of a Starbucks ultimate oatmeal cookie for breakfast. Yep. I did that on Saturday. And then I devoured at least four different sweets on sticks at the awards ceremony.).

Conference is a once-a-year experience, and logically I know eating like that for most of a week won’t make me regain all the weight I’ve lost. I also realize that if I don’t get back on track — and soon, I’ll slide back down that slippery slope and end up right back where I started. Not somewhere I want — or need — to be.

So here I am, promising myself to hit the grocery store and stock up on good, healthy fruits and veggies so I’ll be free to buckle down and fulfill the agent/editor requests I snagged.