Friday, February 26, 2010

Met my deadline....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

UAS was sent to my editor today, coming in at a grand total of 53,000 words. 

I know what I'm writing next - get to dig into casting and character sheets on Monday - but I've been up since 3:30 this morning courtesy of wild storm that is dumping copious amounts of rain and blowing a gale.  The wind is ferocious and is showing no signs of abating.  This weekend is the usual groceries and cleaning the house and otherwise I plan to watch Olympics and read.

But right now I think I'm going to have a nap.

Night night.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

CDB gets a new title!

I'm just finishing up this go-round of UAS so I can hand it in to my editor tomorrow, and we also just spoke on the phone which was awesome.  I have a rough idea of what I'm writing next and I'll put together some notes for her next week - right now my head is full of Sophia and Tomas and there's not much room for thinking of a new hero or heroine.  But seeing as the next deadline is not too far away, it's nice to know what direction to travel.  :-)

I also found out that The Cowboy's Doorstep Baby is now Proud Rancher, Precious Bundle!  It's scheduled for a UK release in October, and will be out early 2011 in North America - not 100% sure of the month yet.   I can't wait to see the cover they come up with!

Now back to edits.  Not a moment to lose!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Rule of Three

I mentioned in my Pantser post the Rule of Three, and since then I've had a few people ask about it.  The way *I* see the rule of three might not be exactly the same as someone else, so bear in mind this is only my perspective.

Think about all the "3" things we have around us.  Sayings:  This, that and the other.  The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.  Veni, Vidi, Vici.  Environment: Earth, Wind and Fire.  Stop lights, for Pete's sake!  Three is all around us.  Gold, Silver and Bronze!  There is something really circular about it, and fulfilling.  A beginning, a middle, and an end.  All about the satisfaction paying off, right?

The definition of the Rule of Three is: a principle in English writing that suggests that things that come in threes are inherently funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things...  A series of three is often used to create a progression in which the tension is created, then built up, and finally released.

You can find more that that if you google, but I picked out those bits because those are the elements I'm going to talk about with regards to my own writing.

You know how you're reading a book and there's a dog and suddenly there is no dog and you wondered what happened to it?  What's the dog doing in the story?  What function does the dog have?  What does the dog show us about character?  Yes, people, even a simple pooch needs a REASON for being in your story.  And not just a reason - that dog is going to act like a vehicle.  And this isn't always something I've done well, either, but the more I write the more I become conscious of things.  Look at Hired: The Italian's Bride.  In the beginning, Tommy is Mari's companion, and her guard dog.  A gentle giant, he provides her with a sense of security.  Part way through the book he meets the hero, but instead of being a guard dog, he jumps on Luca and is very affectionate.  Yeah, the hero is someone to be trusted.  He also happens to like dogs...score one for the hero!

But later, when Mari is alone again, it's just her and Tommy, and Tommy is back to being a companion against loneliness.  Loneliness that is caused by being separated from the hero, not from running away from her life anymore.  It's a small thing, but it's important.

In One Dance With The Cowboy, it's the quartz.  First we have mention of the quartz and the bond between Drew and his dad.  Then we have Drew and Jen out looking for quartz - this really shows Drew's growth as a character and a growing bond between Drew and Jen.  And in the end, Drew leaves the quartz at his dad's grave - closure and forgiveness.  Important stuff for a chunk of rock, don't you think?  And all done in three steps.  More than three it can feel repetitive.  Less than three it feels like it's not doing its job.  Somehow THREE just feels RIGHT.

In my current WIP, I had the third of the three and had forgotten to layer in the first two - even though I'd made notes about it!  How silly was that?  The first represents my heroine's ties to the past.  The second is moving forward into the now.  The third is all about the future - actually, tying together the past, present, AND future, which is a pretty big load for a trinket to carry.  My hero also has nightmares, and I very deliberately set them up to show his growth arc of moving out of the past and into the future.  What he was afraid of then has changed so much, and so each nightmare has a bit of a progression to it.

What really strikes me is that we're not talking about BIG items here.  We're talking trinkets, tokens, pets.  But things that we, as humans, put store in and have connections to.  In fiction, you have to make the elements work extra hard, and so while a little piece of quartz might seem insignificant, the meaning to the character is very important. 

And I don't know about you, but when I read a story that has those sorts of details in it, I LOVE it. 

Questions?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pink Heart Picks day

Today's the day - and the discussion of Nikki Logan's Lights...Camera...Kiss the Boss! is underway at The Pink Heart Society!  Come visit even if you haven't read the book - something you hear might just convince you it's worth picking up before it disappears from shelves.

Monday, February 22, 2010

I'm a Pantser. Not That There's Anything Wrong With That.

Last week I made a startling discovery about myself and my writing process.  Total shocker to me, because I am one of those "must have my ducks in a row" kind of people who can't work with an untidy office and I write linear, meaning one chapter at a time.  I thrive on structure.  So realizing that I am indeed a pantser was, well, liberating.

For those who aren't familiar with the term, writers tend to fall into two categories:  Plotters and Pantsers.  Plotters are the planners, who lay things out in advance, know where the story is going, what the arcs are and how it plays out.  Pantsers fly by the seat of their pants.

Before I sold, and even a bit after, I was quite a plotter.  If I didn't have things mapped out in a prelim synopsis and chapter by chapter break down of plot points and character arc I felt adrift, and I totally think my pantserness has evolved from a growing sense of confidence.  Not one borne of any sort of brilliance, just that in the end it all seems to work out.  Probably five books ago I was writing the end and BAM!  Something hit from out of the blue that was so perfect for the story.  I started really enjoying those moments.  I then kind of admitted that I am a combo plotter pantser.  I do character work at the beginning, you see.  But that's not really plotting.  That's just kind of getting to know the people who are going to populate my waking hours for the next 12 weeks or so (or less, depending on deadline).  I usually have a few scenes in my head too, and they are usually turning point sort of moments, but again - not plotting.  These are more inspiration type vignettes that drive me forward.

As I'm writing this my buddy Trish is DM'ing me on Twitter and she just said:  I can see how that would place the writer in you at odds with the Mom and wife who does 467856 things a day off a pre-planned LIST.

Actually, that created another lightbulb.  Maybe the reason I need to pants it is BECAUSE I have so many balls to juggle and I simply can't fit the STORY side of my brain into compartments like I do laundry, school runs, dinner, dishes, promotion and marketing, and so on.  Perhaps my pantserness is like the yin and yang of me:  one side needing the structure and the other side needing pure creativity.  THAT makes perfect sense to me.

Part of the whole conundrum has to do with trust, and trusting myself and my story instincts and the ability to pull things off.  The more I go on the more I realize I just need to get a first draft down.  The frustration was coming because I was going chapter by chapter and not having it all perfect, but the truth is - it doesn't HAVE to be

Wow.  Lightbulb time.  I don't have to be perfect.  There can be holes and gaps.  And it's OKAY.

Now, THAT part of it does kind of go to war against my organizational ducks in a row concept, and that's where the trust comes in.  I need to trust my creativity and let it fly.  I can always rein it in if it goes a little crazy.  Case in point, the current wip Under Argentine Skies.  I thought I knew where it was going, but I kept getting stuck on the small stuff.  I decided I just needed to stop analyzing it and get on with writing THE END.  And as I was writing away, all the pieces started to come together.  SO MANY AHA MOMENTS! 

THIS is why I'm a pantser.  Cuz I didn't have this all figured out before hand.  The next thing is so many of the revelations have the groundwork all laid out - I just need to tease it out of the threads that are already there.  I started making notes about the Rule of Three and how it relates to my hero's character arc.  About symbolism that I missed but got in the end and now needs to be inserted at strategic points earlier on.  I couldn't foreshadow correctly because I didn't really know what I was foreshadowing.  I mean I DID, but not the true essense of it, not so I could really use its power.  Things like in the HEA scene when my heroine thinks:  Her heart had known from the start that he was exactly what she needed. It had just taken some time for her head to catch up.  That seems like a really simple idea, but truthfully it had hovered over the whole story without being given voice until that scene, and it just tripped off my fingertips and I stared at the screen in amazement.

The really great part is that I've realized it's okay to work this way, because when my creativity is let loose it can really come through with some great things.  And I don't really know how it's all going to play out until I get to the ending and my characters will say something or do something that has been there all along and suddenly is made brilliantly clear.

Then I go back and make sure all the threads are there.  It does make for more second draft work, but it also makes complete sense to me now.  The problem was I kept fighting it thinking I would get to the end and have a directionless mess.

But I don't.  I just need to trust myself and trust in my process and when I get to the second draft, look at it with a critical eye to bring it up to the best story it can be.

Monday means work

Working on:  revising UAS
Listening to: nothing.  Concentration required.
Reading:  Final RITA book

The weekend was...eventful.  Saturday we ran errands in the morning, and in the afternoon I worked for hours putting tax stuff together.  I would like to get everything to the accountant soon-ish so I organized everything, which, being self employed and working from home is rather involved as household bills need to be tabulated and expenses added. I only need one thing from my dh and we're good to go.

Saturday night the dh and I watched the Olympics and were just going to get ready for bed when we heard one of the kids up upstairs.  I muted the tv and said "Go to bed".  After which I heard the dreaded phrase, "I threw up."

Didn't make the bathroom either.

So here I am steam cleaning the carpet at 1 a.m. and getting youngest a bucket.  All was settled again, but yesterday she was still sick, at least until lunch.  After a failed "nibble" attempt she went to sleep for an hour, woke up and had some saltines and gatorade, and slowly but surely came around, enough to have some chicken noodle soup and 1/3 of a grilled cheese for supper.  She was awfully tired though, so bedtime was not a problem.  In the meantime the dh and I cleaned the house and I did laundry and the eldest and I walked the dog.  I finished reading my second-to-last RITA book and am about 80 pgs into the last one, too.

The weekend ended on a sour note, and that's all I'm saying about last night's hockey game because you really don't want me to get started.

But this morning is better, dd2 felt quite chipper and I packed her a bland lunch and off she trotted to school.  I'm about to dig in to revising UAS and I'm feeling pretty optimistic.  When it comes to second and third drafts, I look at it as one page at a time.  I only have to fix one page at a time and it is quite doable.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ok, so maybe it was better than I thought.

Working on: epilogue of UAS
Listening to:  oooh!  Must pick something
Reading: Rita stuff

Today I'm happy because it means I am done writing this book; I have a whole week to edit and polish and believe me, there isn't always that much time left over so I'm feeling fairly comfortable with it.  Plus, structurally I think it's sound.  There are some bits particularly in the last quarter or so that might need some POV adjustment, and then there are threads and layers that need to be trimmed or exploited, but it's all quite doable and I'm pretty excited about it.

I answered a tweet to Nicola Marsh today and realized that in essence I've written this book in 7 weeks.  I began it January 4, after spending the holidays with family.  During this seven weeks, I also did promo for my January book, held my pitch contest which including reading and critiquing 80+ pitches and 4 chapters, and I did three rounds of edits for my Samhain release.  I have also read 4 of the 6 books for the RITAs and 2 for the Pink Heart Picks book club.

At times I wondered how productive I was because it seemed I could never catch up.  Looking at my laundry list of stuff, though, I can see it was better than I thought.

Next Friday this book will be off to my editor.  The fact that I have 12 weeks to write the next feels almost luxurious!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Winter workout

Working on: the end of UAS
Listening to: Samuel Barber
Reading: Rita book number 6

Today I got another winter workout courtesy of the storm that hit Tuesday night/yesterday morning. Yesterday I had to shovel in front of the garage (thankfully my neighbour came by with his tractor and cleared enough of the driveway that I could get out) and the steps.  This morning I tackled the back deck.  The deck is quite high and the snow heavy, and there was a good foot and a half of it.  A cardio and strength session all in one, and it's still snowing.  Not much, but there was probably another inch or so down this morning and another few cm due during the day.  Plus they have cleared the road again which means mounds of snow at the top of the drive, making it hard to get in and out.  I'll probably go out and try to make a dent in that before the dh gets home tonight.  The side that hasn't been cleared has about 3 ft of snow thanks to the plow.

Yesterday was of course a snow day and in the afternoon the kids went out to play in it.  I think the animals were a little offended at being left behind, the dog in particular, but with snow this deep and this heavy she would end up with balls of snow caught in her fur which is no fun for anyone.  Just getting her outside throughout the day to do her business was hard enough.  She also has a mortal fear of cameras but she was so enthralled with the kids' antics that I was able to catch this pic of the two of them. 

But for now I'm off to continue writing the end.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

FINALLY! *excited wiggle*

My cover has finally shown up on the Samhain site which means I can reveal it to you!!!!!!!!!!!

SOLD TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER

All she wants is his name on the dotted line. He’s got other ideas…


For Ella, marrying Devin had seemed like a good idea at the time. Friends since childhood and in love with him for as long as she could remember, marriage had been the next logical step. Then the real world called, and Ella’s feet had itched to get out of Backwards Gulch, Colorado.

Now, with a new opportunity on the East Coast beckoning, it’s time to put her past behind her once and for all. When she sees Devin standing on a charity auction block, she decides it’s the perfect opportunity to finally get his signature on the divorce papers he never signed.

Devin’s certain about one thing when he sees Ella for the first time in twelve years—she’s not the girl he married. The way she left him still stings, and if she wants him to sign on the dotted line he’s going to make her work for it…for the full forty-eight hours she paid for.

When the old attraction flares between them, the years apart disappear and resolve melts faster than high-country snow in summer. But when Ella awakens with the same determination to get back to Denver, divorce papers in hand, she has a problem…

Devin still hasn’t signed them.


SOLD TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER releases in E-book on April 13.  :-)



And be sure to check out the Pink Heart Society today - my agent Jennifer Schober is our Industry Insider guest.  If you've ever considered getting an agent, and wonder if it's worth it for category romance, you should read her interview.  :-)

How I Spent My Weekend

I love spending time with local writers, and local readers.  There's something really cool about knowing how many people in your area read romance novels or are really talented writers.  For example - there are about 40 members in our local RWA chapter.  And about 25% of that number are published. 

Many of those writers were at The Annex in Tantallon NS for an afternoon of beating the winter blahs.  The Annex is owned by one of our chapter members who just so happens to be writing as well.  Carolyn is fantastic and knows how to put on a program!  In addition to those of us signing books (I signed One Dance With The Cowboy) and reading, there were other authors and writers in attendance as well as readers.  Add into that great food and a great diversity of writing styles and genres (we're talking non fic, poetry, historical, young adult, contemporary) and you can imagine the conversation that ensued!

I'm deep into deadline and the weekend was a bit crazy time-wise, so I'm afraid it was a "hair up" day for me.  But here I am with Heather Veinotte.  Heather's book The Mystery on Skull Island is for younger readers and since my girls LOVE a mystery, I grabbed a copy for them to read during their read-a-thon this week.  It was a chance to get to know Heather a little better too.

Jennie Marsland read from her new book McShannon's Chance and I was intrigued - this book was already sitting on my tbr and is likely going to make a move closer to the top...

Pam Callow had samplers of her upcoming MIRA debut, DAMAGED, and I read it and cursed that I can't actually GET the book until the end of May.

And Julianne MacLean was there.  I adore Julianne as much as I love her books, and she read from When A Stranger Loves Me.  I have this whole trilogy on my TBR taunting me.  One of these days I'm going to indulge. 

Let me tell you, having so many prolific writers in the chapter makes it hellish to try to keep up with all the great writing.  And I haven't even mentioned Lilly Cain, Renee Field or Cathy Fox...I need to catch up before Deborah Hale's new trilogy starts hitting the shelves...

Anyway girls - we rock, don't we?  And thanks to Carolyn for hosting another fantastic event.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Very Special Letter

A few weeks ago I got an e-mail from the mom of a school friend - Gail. Gail's mom (my friend's Grandmother) was my grade six teacher and I loved her. At school she was Mrs. T. At home she and her husband were "Gram and Pops". When I broke my arm, it was Mrs. T who looked after me and drove me home.


Mrs. T has had to move to a special care home, and so my friend's mum was going through her things. She found a poem I wrote when I was 11 - in Grade six. She e-mailed to ask if she could send it to me. I got it late last week and will admit to having a little sniffle.

I talk about connections a lot and why it's important for us to be connected to people or places. If you've read any of my stories, you'll find that there is often a response, a connection, between the character and the place where the book is set. Whether it's the open space of the prairies, the restlessness of the water or the call of the mountains, that connection is there and with me it is usually a rural type thing. I will admit to not being a city dweller. I love where we live now. Not really the country, but there is room to breathe, with trees and grass and only a minute away, the lake.

This connection goes wayyyy back for me, and I realized it when I read the poem I wrote when I was the same age my daughter is now. It made me a little nostalgic, gave me a little laugh, and made me feel a little proud that the girl who loved words and writing back then is still loving it now. So here you go - a little insight into my childhood - when I lived in a place lovingly called "The Ridge" and walked past our orchard to the school bus stop.

Apple Blossoms


While kids are anxious for school to end,
Apple blossoms are here again.
A silent moment to sniff the smell
Then off to school to make the bell.
The silent buzzing of the bee -
The country, that's the place to be.
City folks don't care a smidge,
But there's nothing as sweet as on the Ridge.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Her Lone Cowboy Review

Valentine's Day has come early - literally.  My dh got home, asked if I had any red for tonight, and when I said no, came downstairs with my Valentine's Day present.  A bottle of one of my favourite wines, a heart shaped teensy box of M&M's (since I'm trying to watch what's going in my mouth) and a new mp3 player!  I've been using dd1's the last few weeks and love it, and so while he was away this week he picked one up for me.  It's awesome!  He also grabbed a memory card that fits it - a Billboard fitness mix that has 1000 songs on it.

I was so tempted to order pizza tonight, but I didn't. I made something far more healthy, and now I have my new toy so I KNOW I'm going to be on the treadmill tonight! Good choices one day at a time.

The day had been a bit "pants" as Kate Hardy would say, so another thing happened as I was vacuuming and making supper - I got my review for HER LONE COWBOY from The Pink Heart Society Reviews.  I actually had blink and a sniff about it.  You guys KNOW how much I love this book and reviewer Donna got it.  She really GOT IT.  I loved her descriptions of Lily and Noah...in fact I don't usually post a whole review but I'm going to this time.

Her Lone Cowboy is book 2 in the Cowboys and Confetti miniseries by this author. It is a powerful story, written about the love and loneliness of someone so courageous he was willing to give his life for his country – then he met Lily.



Noah has lost his right arm in a skirmish in the war. He’s lost his arm, but he saved his men. Does that make him feel any better? No. He still feels it was his fault that they were there in the first place. So here he is, trying to re-learn how to do everything with his left hand, and not succeeding very well. He’s grouchy, he’s frustrated. . . and then the doorbell rings. You just know something’s going to happen. What a hook! We’re only on page two, and I am NOT putting this book down!


Lily is used to belligerence and surliness -- after all, she teaches home-economics at the local high school. Does she let him get away with snarling at her? Does she meekly do as he wants her to do? Not Lily! She stands right up, looks him in the eye and gives as good as she gets. She does not let him get away with anything just because he’s missing part of one arm. She makes him take a good long look at himself, and answer some hard questions.


Once Noah realizes he can trust Lily, he won’t let anyone else help him with anything. She has to go with him when he gets fitted for the tuxedo he has to wear for his brother’s wedding. So how does Lily handle measuring his inseam? How do they work it out for him to hold her while they dance? What decision does he make, in the end, regarding his career?


Lily is so afraid, because of the things in her background, yet, in the end, she digs deep into her soul for the courage to say “yes” to Noah. Noah learns that he is still a very valuable person, in his own eyes, in the eyes of his family, his friends, and his country.


Donna Alward treats the very sensitive topic of amputation with finesse and delicacy. She presents the emotions in this book with such strength as to almost bring you to your knees. Once again she has gifted us with a book impossible to set down. This Larch Valley series has magically taken us to a most beautiful part of our country, with believable characters, passion, and drama, and I truly hope that Donna will honor us with another title from here very soon.

Thanks Donna, for kicking off my weekend in such a great way. 

Tomorrow I'm at The Annex in Tantallon, Nova Scotia signing ONE DANCE WITH THE COWBOY and spending the afternoon with a bunch of other fab authors.  I can't wait to get my hands on Pam Callow's samplers for her MIRA debut coming this June in particular.  If you're in the area, drop in from 1-4.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Industry Overload

I'm suffering from industry overload.  Every day news hits my inbox or tweetdeck about the writing industry.  Yes, the times they are a changin'.  I know this.  I can't avoid knowing this.  And not everything is all "the sky is falling" but there's enough flux in the works that after a while I just want to pull the covers over my head.  The days of the traditional print novel are gone.  I get it.  Keep pace with the frenetic pace and I just can't.

The thing with change is that inevitably the dust settles.  Trying to keep up on everything is pointless, fruitless, and endlessly frustrating.  There is a part of me that KNOWS I should know what's going on.  And another part that is overloaded and just says, "Shhh.  Quiet.  And write the damn book."

Technology and developments are happening so fast it feels scattered, and so did my brain today  from too much industry noise.

So, my prescription for all of that was to back away from the PC for a few hours, and watch a little bit of timelessness.  The girls and I watched Northanger Abbey (and I laughed because they cheered at the final proposal, quite loudly in fact!) after dinner.  If you remember the earlier debate about Mr. Darcy and when and if he would ever smile, they had a similar thing for Mr. Tilney and his "slightly crooked" grin.  He did appear rather boyish at times and very appealing (played by JJ Field, of Sally Lockhart).

I also had a few episodes of Travels in Europe on the DVR and the girls went nuts over the program on Normandy.  It is hard not to when you move from Rouen to Givenchy, Honfleur, Caen and then Mont St Michel.  They are at an age where Joan of Arc, Monet and D-Day are known quantities so they found it very interesting.

Sometimes it feels like the world is moving so fast we forget to experience things.  Tonight it was nicer just to shut the world away and enjoy an evening with my girls and visit far away places.

And the north wind doth blow...

The vicious storm that hit the US and bits of Southern Ontario has mostly passed us by, but the result of that is a north wind that is blowing this morning.  It is a bitter, cold thing that makes the skin on your face feel like it is shrinking.  The dog and I were happy to be back inside after our walk, but I definitely felt like having a hot breakfast.




Then it is back to work.  I have made notes about threads that I have dropped that need picking up again, the kinds that are the little details but really stitch up a story if you know what I mean.  One of those threads have to do with this necklace:


And yet another has to do with this picture to the left.

Right now I am preparing to blow things up - in a big way.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Story Problems Solved

I had the end of this story all planned out but a little something or other kept niggling at me.  The problem is I wanted to go from Iguazu Falls back to Buenos Aires to blow things up - almost like 2 separate black moments which isn't that uncommon - after all it's quite normal for the hero and heroine to have separate ones and for one to feed into the other.  But the timing didn't feel quite right.  There was about 24 hours of space and a lot of awkward silence to fill up.

The nice thing is certain solutions do present themselves as you're writing and you just don't recognize them until you get to the proper point.  I realized that from a pacing and yes, even a symmetry to the opening point of view, I am going to let this whole thing blow up right where they are.  Emotions and tensions are high and would only be diluted by that 24 hours, which then would lead to repetition.  And knowing how I've opened the book, having it unfold this way makes MUCH more sense.

The good news is it does mean not waiting so long to use certain things.  Like this dress.  And these shoes.

The unfortunate thing?  As soon as I hit publish on this blog, I need to make supper, begin another batch of valentine's day chocolates, sign homework, make sure Valentine's stuff is ready for school tomorrow, work out...

And by then my brain is fried.

So it's a case of hold that thought, and moving forward tomorrow bright and early.  :-)

At least I broke the 35k mark today, and the last 15k usually moves quite a bit faster.  End of next week this bad boy should be all the way through with only edits to do.

Good Gracious, it's Wednesday

I can tell already that this is one of those weeks that is going to go whizzing by.  It is already Wednesday!  By the end of today I should be past the 35k mark (am hoping for nearly 40 by week's end).  The dh brought his tax slip home so there is also calling the accountant and setting up an appointment - and then getting my self-employment stuff  - much more considerable than the 3 slips that go with the dh's - ready so she can work her magic.

It is a beautiful sunny winter day here though and the dh and I walked the dog this morning after dropping the kids at the bus stop.  Just under the freezing mark and very white and glittery.  He is home for the morning so we're going to have some coffee and hang out before he jets off for work again.

And tonight, in addition to hitting the gym and eating sensibly (lol) it is finishing up Valentine things as the school celebrations are tomorrow.  Last night we made 68 red chocolate lips, x's and o's.  Tonight we have to do the white and then bag and tie.  There is never a dull moment - and there's also the matter of the RITA reading that needs to be done by month's end.

So...Wednesday it is.  Have a good'un.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Working away...

I'm working away on UAS today, trying to sort chapter seven by inserting a scene, making notes on places I need to layer earlier on to make sure threads run throughout and then pushing through with my characters venturing off the ranch and heading to the tropical and stunning Iguazu Falls.  Things are going to come to a head fairly soon so I really need to get cracking this week!

In the meantime, you can catch me over at Tote Bags 'n' Blogs today chatting about wedding dresses.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Winning Pitch

Am still ugh.  But today is desk clearing day.  I will feel ever so much better if I feel like I've actually accomplished something.  That's not to say I'm above more Bamber if the day warrants. 

But I asked Soraya if it was okay and she said yes, so I am going to post her pitch.  I'm leaving off the personal parts she added but there was a short line of greeting at the top and a brief, friendly thanks at the bottom.  I also want you to bear in mind that I DID have comments about this pitch.  But there was enough there that made me request the chapter, and it was the chapter that blew me away.  So really this is the goal of the pitch - give the person on the receiving end the goods so that they want to look at the REAL deal - the story.

Please find my pitch below for Soldier on Her Doorstep, a 54,000-word manuscript aimed at Harlequin Romance/Silhouette Special Edition.



Alex Dane has just returned from active duty in Iraq. His friend and fellow comrade died in his arms, and he has travelled to Alaska to fulfill a promise he made to his dying friend - to pass on a message and personal items to the man's wife. However the grieving, pregnant widow he was expecting takes him by surprise. What he finds is a woman who is definitely not pregnant, and a little girl who has lost her voice through grieving for her Dad.


Lisa Kennedy can't believe it when a soldier turns up on her doorstep. Alex brings a smile to her face that she's certainly not expecting, and helps her daughter in ways she could never have imagined possible. But this soldier has come home troubled, guilty that it was not he who died over there. Can Alex work through his emotional issues, and can Lisa fight the "widow" tag and brave small town life with another man so soon after her husband's death?

You know what hooked me?  The little girl who has lost her voice from grief.  That is emotional fireworks.  That has the potential for some fantastic scenes and character arc.  I also know from reading it that it is targeted for the right place - SSE or Romance are great choices for this type of story with Supers as a possibility.  What makes the difference?  How it is handled and the voice.  But Soraya knows the market and she has her word count right in there.

And her chapter made me cry.  When an author can take a turn of phrase and make it reach in and grab you, there is something special. 

I am really looking forward to working with Soraya on her story.  :-)

Happy Friday all.  On to desk-clearing.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Ugh...

The kids have generously passed on their cold.  Round 2 of edits also hit today (though I am glad to be getting them all done) and it was one of those days that simply required some Jamie Bamber to make things right again.

Two episodes later I'm substantially cheered.  Though still sniffly and perhaps ready for a nap.

There are some days you really do just have to give yourself a break.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Two down, One to go!

Am back to work on UAS.  I conquered the AFS's this morning.

To get back in the groove of things, I'm listening to this:

One Down, Two to Go

Working on: Art Fact Sheets
Listening to: Il Divo
Reading: Next RITA book

I finished my edits last night at 10 p.m. and sent them off in a bit of a daze.  I'm fighting the cold my kids had last week and I was pretty bagged by that time of night.  Today it is keeping the sore throat at bay.  It's so bloody cold outside that the doglet and I went to the bus stop and straight back. Even then when we waited for the few minutes for the bus to pick up the kids, she alternated lifting her front paws because of the cold.  Brrrrrr.

So now it is on to completing art fact sheets for The Cowboy's Doorstep Baby or whatever it ends up being called.  This is the first time I've actually had to do them for any of my Romances so it should be quite an interesting day.

And then it is back to the WIP.  I have been away from it long enough that I'm itching to get back.

The other day I mentioned reprints and how Montana, Mistletoe, Marriage will be reprinted in a Christmas anthology in November.  I also found out yesterday that Hired: The Italian's Bride will have an outing on UK shelves this July in Mediterranean Men and Marriage with Raye Morgan and Carol Grace.  I'm very excited to be having some stories make the rounds again and so early on for me too! 

Now back to the grind, as this afternoon the doglet has an appointment with the groomer and then there is a trip to the dollar store for props for a school project tomorrow....

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

New books and word count wars

Working on:  Edits for Sold to the Highest Bidder
Listening to: Kids singing from the Top Gun soundtrack.  Oh my.
Reading: next Rita book

I DID forget to mention something yesterday, and that's that HER LONE COWBOY is actually up for presale at eharlequin.  In both print and e-book.  So you can grab it now. 

Now.  About this word count war thing.  I was very happy to see my buddy Trish Wylie get back in the swing of things for the new year.  We did start a very good natured word count war as we were starting new projects.  At first she was in the lead because she was reworking a manuscript she'd started earlier.  Then she got stuck and I passed her on the inside.  Not by much, but for a week or two there I was really adding to my word count (hallelujah!).

Damn, though, I've fallen behind again, and for a couple of really good reasons.  First of all, I received edits over the weekend for Sold to the Highest Bidder which need to be back to my editor ASAP-  as in drop everything and do them.  I'm hoping to finish them today and send them back.  Then my other editor sent a few requests for some things to be done up also as soon as possible.  So that means probably no adding to word count for the first 3 days of this week.  After that I should be free and clear.

The other REALLY good reason is that Trish has found her mojo and is full steam ahead.  Check out her blog if you don't believe me.  I'm happy for her, really.  If anyone needed to find her mojo, it's her and so I'm trying not to hate her TOO much for breaking 33k.  While I sit a few hundred short of 30.  Sigh.

Warning, Trish.  After tomorrow I'm coming after you.  :-)

Monday, February 01, 2010

Loads o' news!

It's Monday, and I'm staring down the barrell of several deadlines now.  It never rains but pours.  However I have made a list and it will all get done as long as I keep the focus and don't allow myself to get distracted - or find ways of procrastinating.  I do tend to get a lot of work done while under pressure.  Conversely, my family usually eats macaroni and wonders when I'm going to do laundry when that happens.  LOL

But there are several exciting things to share with you!  And I'm feeling like I could use some colours so each item rates its own hue!

First of all, we have a winner for the Perfect Pitch Contest I held over at eharlequin!!!  Major congrats to Soraya Nicholas!  Soraya also finalled last year, but I can honestly say I see a huge jump in her writing this year and her opening chapter made me sniffle...lovely touching moments already!  I'm really looking forward to working with Soraya this year.  Thanks to all who sent in their pitches and chapters...it was a privilege reading them all.

And - we also have a winner for my January website contest.  Another congratulations to Judith Rachmani all the way from Israel who has won a signed copy of One Dance With The Cowboy!

I will be updating my site and doing up my newsletter shortly, so those of you that are subscribers can be on the lookout for that.

I don't think I announced it here, so I will do it now...The Pink Heart Picks Book Club reading selection for February is Nikki Logan's Lights...Camera...Kiss the Boss!  I'm really excited to read this book - it's a debut for the Romance line and got a stunning 4 1/2 star review from Romantic Times.  Please grab a copy and read and join me (and lots of others) at the Pink Heart Society on February 23rd, where we'll have a fun chat and I'll announce the March pick. We had a BLAST last week talking about India Grey's book. 

I also heard today that Montana, Mistletoe, Marriage will be having a new outing on shelves in the UK - in an anthology program with 2 other marvelous authors.  It'll be in stores in November of this year.  I'm thrilled - it's the first time I've had a reprint of any sort!

And unless I've utterly missed something...the last thing on my list is Nicola Marsh's annual Valentine's Day contest!  This year each author is featuring a favourite hero.  I'm up tomorrow...which will probably be later tonight my time if I have my time differences right (Nic's in Australia).  There's a prize up for grabs so you're gonna want to pay a visit.  :-)

That's all, folks.  Now it's back to first deadline on the list....