Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

October 31, 2012


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I was glad to say yes when Amy Raby, one of my Starcatchers sisters from the RWA Golden Heart class of 2011, asked me to take part in the Next Big Thing blog hop.

Unlike Amy, I don’t have a book scheduled for release. But I’m happy to talk about one of  my many works in progress.

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing

What is your working title of your book?


Where did the idea come from for the book?

I started it right after I learned I’d finaled in the Golden Heart with BEAUTY AND THE BALLPLAYER. It’s the tale of a teammate/friend of the hero in that story, and something the hero mentioned to the heroine as his reason for doing something that upset her. My reasoning for writing it? If BEAUTY was going to be my success, I wanted to have one to go along with it.

What genre does your book fall under?

Contemporary romantic comedy

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Oooh — that’s a tough one. *Runs to Pinterest for inspiration* Even with some visual help, I had trouble answering this one. I could see Dylan McDermott or Chris Evans as Dave, my bad-boy shortstop-turned-father. Or maybe Channing Tatum (though he might make a better Matt, the catcher in BEAUTY). As for Melinda, my heroine, maybe the young Kate Hudson or Cameron Diaz. Brittany Snow could probably do it, too.

Final answer: Chris Evans is Dave Reynolds; Brittany Snow is Melinda Cline.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A decent shortstop with a bad-boy reputation discovers — five years after the fact — that he’s a father and has to prove to the girl’s skeptical and super-protective mother that he can step up to the plate and knock one out of the park for fatherhood and everlasting love.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

That’s yet to be determined. I’m still on the hunt for an agent and publisher.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Six months. I started it in late March 2011 and had a draft by the beginning of September.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I think I’m going to have to pass on this question. I’ve plumbed the depths of my mind and can’t come up with an answer. I mean, I’d love to say my story is like those of Kristan Higgins or Susan Elizabeth Phillips  … but that’s probably stretching it a bit (or a lot). Those are the authors I most admire, and hope to be like, but I’m just not sure I’m there yet.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

After Dave’s backstory came up in BEAUTY, I knew I wanted to tell his story. I often get ideas for a new story when I’m in the middle of writing. Besides, I love the idea of a bad boy, reformed. I can’t remember which historical author wrote it, but it’s the world’s worst-kept secret that reformed rakes make the best husbands.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

In DIVA’s first incarnation, the book began with Dave and Mel hooking up for their one-night stand  … and that scene will probably eventually show up on my blog as an “extra.” I had to cut it because my beta readers said it made neither hero nor heroine likable.

Since I’m coming in several weeks into this, and with NaNoWriMo kicking off this week and a superstorm ravaging the East Coast, I’m having trouble finding five friends to tag. Please forgive me for shorting you two.

Tag, you’re it:

Abigail Sharpe, who writes contemporary romance. Her first novel, Who Wants to Marry a Cowboy, is due out in 2013. I met her when she called me to tell me I’d finaled in the Beacon contest (as I was leaving the post office after mailing off my Golden Heart entries), and we’ve since become friends.

Fellow Starcatcher Diana Belchase writes romantic suspense. She already posted her answers to the Next Big Thing questions on her Facebook page.

Connie Cockrell and I met through our Power Writing Hour group on Facebook. She just had a short story accepted in an anthology.

September 30, 2012


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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

July 31, 2012


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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.


July 17, 2012



Pardon me if I still sound a little starstruck. It’s because I am. I had the chance to meet Susan Elizabeth Phillips at a book signing in Phoenix on Monday night — and it was glorious.

She’s on tour for her newest book, “The Great Escape,” and she made a stop in the Valley … at Tempe’s Changing Hands Bookstore, to be exact. When I got there, about five minutes before the event was scheduled to start, it was standing-room-only. Lucky for me, the Boyfriend scrounged up some extra chairs.

I believe Susan started off her talk by telling us her introduction as “fabulous” and “hilarious” was completely untrue. But she’s wrong. I think both adjectives apply. So did the rest of the crowd, if the belly laughs are any indication.

As I listened to her spiel, I got the feeling she’s a pantster, like me. She confirmed it when she signed my book. She also said she’s going to be doing a plotting workshop at Nationals. I know where I’ll be for that hour. (I just hope it’s not at the same time as my editor/agent appointments. That would suck, big-time.)

She’s definitely an inspiration, and I’m glad I had the chance to go. Normally, I’d be working on a Monday night, but this is Week One of my two-week vacation, which culminates with Nationals.

Even the Boyfriend said Susan was quite funny. I figured he’d go hang out at the bar next door, but he stayed and listened to the talk. (He didn’t want to spend money.)

As we walked out of the bookstore, he said, “I could see you doing that.”

Me? Captivate a crowd? I don’t know about that. Not that I wouldn’t love to, of course.

From his mouth to God’s ears. I’d be blessed if I could have a writing career even half as successful as Susan’s.