Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I'm at Nationals...But...

If my guess is correct, I'm probably sitting in a coffee shop right now, either chatting with a friend or reading on my Kindle. (Or waiting for a friend while reading on my Kindle.)

I ADORE the Kindle. Like most people who love books, I resisted the urge to buy one...but Oh heaveny day, when my husband bought me one for my birthday and I downloaded free books, I nearly swooned.

My son and his girlfriend got me an Amazon gift card and I loaded 25 books on. Quickly. Easily. And they go with me everywhere I go. It doesn't matter what I'm in the mood to read...I have it. Even the Bible.

How cool is that?

Ebooks are typically a tad cheaper. And there are bargains. Lots of authors or publishers run specials on their books and if you're watching you can get lots of great titles for $.99.

And...I can change the size of the font to whatever is comfortable. At night I can make it the size of my thumb and read without straining my already tired eyes.

So, loving my Kindle. Probably at Nationals reading it right now!

If you get the chance...get one. Or a Nook...or whatever Ereader suits your fancy!


Monday, June 27, 2011

Not Going to Nationals?

I only go to Nationals about every other year. It's expensive. And noisy. And buying the tapes of the workshops is sometimes easier! LOL

But that doesn't mean you can't share the fun. Lots of people will be putting things up on facebook and also twitter. Not to mention private webpages.

I won't be. I don't want to take my laptop and I don't have a fancy phone. But lots of people will be and you can still stay in touch and feel part of what's going on at Nationals by reading the blogs and tweets and facebook accounts of those who do!

Also, check out websites like Savvy Authors and Cataromance to read the workshops and articles they have available. Create your own mini-conference by reading a workshop or article or two and expanding your own writing knowledge. (There are workshops on my website and if you've already read all of those go to my ezine section in the For The Writers Among Us section and read the workshop lessons I've posted there.)

And work. While we're playing, YOU have a chance to get a week ahead of us!

Next week I will be back with some great stories about the conference, I'm sure! Or I may just once again crack the whip with some writing lessons or info, getting us all back to work after two weeks of craziness!


Thursday, June 23, 2011


There WILL be a new ezine on July 1. Though I'll be at RWA Nationals, I've set it to post.

I will be sending a reminder email that it's available when I get back. But if you want to be ahead of the crowd...pop back July 1 and check out the new ezine.

I'm posting the next lesson in the POWER OF QUESTIONS workshop.



Monday posts are for writers. Wednesday for readers. Occasionally I toss in a review as I did yesterday with the review from Donna at Cataromance.

So, if you're looking for a how-to-write post, just scroll down.

If you're a reader looking for something more personal...look for Wednesday posts.



Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Great Review for BABY ON THE RANCH from Donna at Cataromance

At last, Cade’s story, the third Andreas son to meet his match…"

Suzanne Caldwell was raised in a wealthy Atlanta neighborhood and attended college until her grandmother’s death and the avalanche of debts put her and her daughter out of their home and on the road to Texas, looking for a job. She was shocked to discover the man she traveled to Whiskey Springs to find, was the same cantankerous coot questioning her about her intentions in “his” town. Rather than embarrass both of them, she told him she wanted the waitress job at the diner where the confrontation occurred. How could she tell this irritatingly handsome man she held one third of Andreas Holdings’ stock but they didn’t pay dividends and no one wanted to buy them from her so she needed a job in the family business?

Smart citified Suzanne makes Cade’s business sense twitch along with his libido. When he finally found out what she was doing in his town, Cade immediately called a family meeting. His brothers recruited Cade to smooze Suzanne and take care of her like family until they could raise the money to buy her out. Meanwhile, she is living in his house with her daughter and both are driving Cade crazy. He can not resist the cute darling baby nor her beautiful mother but he doesn’t deserve either one because he is not marrying material, his first marriage proved that.

Be still my heart, Cade Andreas does not disappoint. He is as devilishly handsome and gregariously generous as his brothers. And of course he has met the love of his life in the heroine, Suzanne, the mysterious co-owner of Andreas Holdings. (Now, I wonder what the story is behind that?) Award winning author Susan Meier keeps her readers all hot and bothered as she creates one hunky hero after the next in this delightful series, Babies in the Boardroom. A BABY ON THE RANCH may be the final book in this series but to help your withdrawal pains be sure to check out Meier’s website; she has written stories about what happens to the Andreas babies in free reads just for us! Muchas gracias Susan!

For Readers

We've been having so much fun with our Writer Mondays that I've sort of neglected the "reader" end of this deal. So this week we start Reader Wednesdays.

So if you're a writer, rest assured, we won't stop having those fun Monday blogs that chit chat a bit about this craft we love.

But readers need love too! So I'll be posting a blog for them every Wednesday.

Here goes...

I'm preparing to go to the RWA National Conference next week. It's a biggie for me because I finally get to meet my London-based editor, Sally Williamson.

So, I want to look nice.

Which means shopping.

I'm not a fan of shopping. Usually, I have to bargain hunt and I don't really need many things anymore anyway. So I look at everything with a jaded-eye. Hum? Do I need this? Where will I store it? What will The Rat (my husband...strange nickname, nice guy) think of this purchase?

Usually, it's too much trouble to buy I end up coming home with nothing.

But shopping for conferences is a whole different ballgame. I do not look at prices. I want to look nice, so whatever fits and makes me look pretty...Well, it goes in the cart...or to the checkout counter.

I get help. If a clerk is foolish enough to say, Are you looking for anything in particular, I snag her. And she's with me while I try on 50% of the clothing in my size.

I go to every store imaginable because when it comes to dressing for a conference I'm picky.

I dedicate a day to underwear. We all know how important the right undies are when you're trying to look your best.

I dedicate a shopping day to jewelry. (That's just for fun. Who doesn't want a whole day to weed through bobbles and sparkly things.)

Actually, I have an entire week I dedicate to underwear and accessories. Shoes. Purses. Undies. Jewelry. Panty hose. (Yes, some of us still wear them.) Hair clips. I spend hours staring at nail polish and get a pedicure.

Then there's hair dye day. A holiday for me. I get up early, drink coffee, a little TV...In other words, I don't work! I buy a starbucks coffee and spend two hours at the salon chatting with my sister (my beautician) and the other clients...and go home refreshed.

It's like I store up all the shopping and primping a girl would do for an entire year and do it all in the two weeks before a conference.

But the end result is that I typically look a few steps beyond clean. I don't look down in a workshop and curl my toes because in all the hustle and bustle of conference shopping I've forgotten to cut my toenails! LOL

I have the right color hair. A purse to match every outfit. Jewelery that sometimes caues passersby to say, Hey, nice necklace.

And that leaves me relaxed enough that I can enjoy the conference. Meet other writers. Have fun with my editors.

So that's what I'll be doing next week. A blog will pop up...I'll probably write it on Sunday. But while most of you read it I'll be have the most fun week in a romance writer's year!

Hope this Wednesday finds you comfy and happy...and reading!


Monday, June 20, 2011

Prepping for RWA Nationals

Everybody who's ever attended a big conference knows that the week before is a lost cause for work. Why?

One word. Shopping.

Second word. Pitching.

And now I'm going to throw a third word at you. Schedule.

I confess to having shopped last week. I couldn't focus to write so I knew I had to get out there and buy some clothes.

I had 3 lovely dresses to wear during the day. But I had nothing for the booksigning...or evenings. (Or traveling to and from the conference itself.)

Lots of us forget that we won't want to wear the dress we've been wearing all day in the evening and they won't let us in the bar in our pj's. So bring capris and a T. Or jeans and a cute top. Or bring capris and jeans because you're going to want to be in the bar (or relaxing with friends) on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.

Pitching is a whole different matter. I'm not pitching this year. Actually I haven't pitched for many, many years. But lots of my friends do. So, shrink your story into one paragraph.

Who is the hero and what does he want?
Who is the heroine and what does she want?
Why is this trouble?
How do they grow (what do they learn) to have a happy ending.

Write that out a couple of different ways. Find a way to make your one paragraph really interesting, or fun, or dynamic so the editor or agent can't resist it.

Practice it enough that you're enthusiastic when you talk about it. Let your passion for the story show through. (I once had an editor ask for a proposal based simply on the fact that she said I glowed when I talked about the series.) Passion is important!


Do it now. Do not wait until you are in your room at Nationals, trying to figure out where you're going and who you'd like to eat breakfast with.

Get the workshop and event schedule off the RWA site. Figure out which workshops you want to attend. Figure out what your free time spots are. Email your pals now and ask them to meet you in the banquet/ball rooms for the lunches. Email the people you want to see for breakfast and dinner NOW. DO NOT WAIT. They will be booked.

If you don't have friends, don't sweat it. There will be plenty of people networking. They will be glad to take the empty seat beside you at the table at lunch. Or if you chit chat with someone at a workshop and discover you have a lot in common, ask if they'd like to eat dinner with you. DO NOT BE SHY. (LOL) Lots of people are looking for someone to eat with or spend the evening with. If you share the same intersts and think you'd enjoy their company for dinner...ask.

Being anal retentive, I will be making a spreadsheet of my breakfasts, lunches, dinners, meetings, parties, and the workshops I want to attend. You might not have to go that far, but you do want to have a list.

So shop -- not just with days' events in mind, but also evenings. (And don't forget clothes for travel...remember everybody will be standing in the hotel lobby when you arrive. You do not want to look like a schleb.)

Write a one-paragraph pitch. Practice it. But make sure your delivery demonstrates your passion for the story.

Call your friends now to set up breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Make a schedule.

And one more thing...Go to the workshop I'm doing with Hotcakes Pals, Deb Mullins and Jenna Kernan. We're giving away 3 great gift cards. One to Starbucks. One to Staples. And one to a bookstore. (Shame on me. I can't remember which bookstore!)

If you see ME in the hall...say hello!


Monday, June 13, 2011

Maybe you need a vacation...

Or at least a rest!

Last week, we were talking about reasons for the inability to write that sometimes hits us. I mentioned that the week before I'd written 30 pages, but I hated them and didn't know why. My husband had retired that week, so we packed up the SUV and headed for his sister's house for a little R&R and to celebrate his retirement.

Anyway, if you read that week's blog you know that I left my suck-o pages behind because, frankly, I could not figure out what was wrong with them. But after a day of golfing and dinner out, I slept like a baby and dreamed that I'd left out some information. What I had as chapter 2 needed to be chapter 3...and the new chapter 2 should contain the info I'd left out.

I woke up, set up my laptop and wrote out the new chapter and it worked.

Truthfully, I wasn't surprised that a little bit of rest awakened my subconscious and gave me the answer as easy as pie.

Writers are some of the hardest working people I know. Most of us have day jobs before we're published and even after we're published to keep insurance! So we're working 8 hours a day, taking care of kids/a household, then writing for the hours before bedtime. Or, maybe you're getting up at four so you can write until six...and then go to work.

I did that for at least fifteen years. And I noticed 2 things. I was much thinner =:) and it took me longer to write a book.

We could suggest the extra weeks needed for each book was the result of having limited time to write. But I think there was another buggaboo at play. No rest. No time off. I worked sixteen hours a day, seven days a week.

Everybody needs a rest. Even God commanded (not suggested) that we take one day a week off. Yet most of us who are writing and working and raising kids, don't feel we have that luxury.

But is it really a luxury? If taking a day off every now and again refills your creative well, maybe it's not so much of a luxury as we think.

Maybe it really is a necessity.

And maybe you should set aside a day to rest. Play with your kids (or your dog), go out to dinner with your DH (or DW), sit by a pool, go shopping (even if it's just window shopping), see a movie.

Rest. Rest your brain. Refill the well.


PS...Almost forgot! Thanks to those of you who are buying A BABY ON THE RANCH. [My bank thanks you too.] It's pure joy to see any book do well, but this book is extremely special to me. It's one of my all-time favorites. To see it doing well...well, it makes my heart smile.

And thanks, too, to those wonderful people who have read the book and emailed to tell me they loved it. I <3 you!

At home, writing four hours every morning and teaching or writing workshops most afternoons, I have to tell you, it can sometimes feel that I write to a great void. So when you email to tell me you loved the book ... you more than make me :).

Thanks bunches!


Monday, June 6, 2011

Getting yourself to work

Okay, we talked about all the ooie, gooie, nice stuff. The positive side of getting yourself to work. We learned ways to get beyond our fears. Then we used some of those same tricks to drive us in a positive way. Visions not just to get beyond fears, but visions to motivate us.

But what if you're still not doing as well as you'd hoped? What if you're still sitting at your desk, staring at a blank piece of paper.

This blog is going to get a little more down and dirty with some unhappy truths. But, swallow hard and suck it up. Sometimes we need to hear these things.

Reasons you're having trouble writing...

1. You're not ready to write the book you're working on.

Sometimes when we can't think of what to write next, it's an indicator that we don't know our book well enough. I'm not saying that you need a scene by scene outline. Sometimes that takes all the fun out of writing.

What I am saying is that you at least need to know who your characters are, what they want and why they don't have it.

You also need to know why the main characters are in conflict with each other.

If you sit down to write with a vague sense that you're going to write a single title paranormal about shape shifters and the woman who doesn't know she's their only have a bit of the story. Maybe enough to get three chapters, but not enough to drive you for an entire book.

So step away from the computer. Get a notebook and pen. Ask yourself who these people are, what they want, why they don't have it...and why they are in conflict with the antagonist (or hero...if this is a romance).

2. If you're having trouble writing...have you studied enough?

When I first began speaking at conferences, a line that always found its way into all my workshops was...Everybody likes to believe their talent will carry them through, after five years (or 8 or 20 or 25) I've learned that knowing how to write works better.

It's true. There are people out there like Donald Maass, Michael Hague, Debra Dixon, Dwight Swain and Jack Bickham...who are master teachers. They've written books and give workshops that teach the basics and beyond. If you don't read their books or take their classes, you won't just struggle; you'll probably find yourself falling behind the people who have read their books.

Online classes are a fabulous tool. I teach four a year. (Only 4 because I also have books to write.) I have one coming up in August, JOURNEY STEPS (which is about plotting) and one in October PREPPING FOR NANO. (You can get information in the coming attractions section of

People who teach love to share the wealth. Sure, you'll see some teachers pop up who are only teaching to get their name out so their next book sells. And if you've gone to some of their workshops, you've probably come away disappointed and maybe even disillusioned about online workshops.

Don't let a few bad workshops turn you off from one of your greatest writing tools.

There are lots of us who teach regularly. Lots of us who generously share the true wealth. If you find a workshop that interests you, go to the teacher's website. If he or she only seems to teach when they have a book out, that should be a red flag. Also, those of us who love to teach can't help teaching! So there will be free stuff on our websites. I have 2 or 3 workshops on this site and will soon have articles posting. (I don't yet have the articles button connected! I will though. I swear. Writing frequently gets in the way of that! LOL!!!)

Anyway, read the how tos from the really smart people. Dixon, Maass, Swain, Bickham.

Then find the online workshops from people like me who are in the trenches. I know how to write because I write. Especially romance. If you're looking for some real life, every day tricks and tips, I'm your gal.

Put the time in. Do the work. And you will cut down on your "staring at the page" time considerably.

3. Maybe you can't write today because what you think should happen next isn't what should happen next?

Hum. Think that one through. LOL.

Last week, I was having the devil's time with my new proposal. I "wrote" 30 pages, but I wouldn't have sent them to anybody. My husband and I went to his sister's for the weekend and I tell you no lie, I dreamed that what I had as chapter 2 needed to be chapter 3 because something important had been left out...and that should be chapter 2. I got out of bed, set up my laptop, wrote what my dream told me should have been chapter 2 and worked.

If something won't come. There is frequently a reason. In my case, I'd missed some important stuff that needed to go in. But lots of times I'm trying to get a character to behave out of character. Or I'm trying to put in a scene I like because I like it but it doesn't enhance the story. So the writing will be slow, like walking in knee-deep oatmeal. And we all know that's just bad and it's going to result in a bad book.

So what do you do?

Again, get a notepad and pen, sit down in a room that isn't your office and start doodling. Why isn't this working? What should fit here? What's the point of the next scene? What's the point of the story? Just ask yourself a bunch of questions until you find yourself answering honestly and pretty soon you'll have your next scene.

4. Maybe you can't write because you're just not thinking creatively enough.

That happens. You're working diligently, maybe too diligently, and your brain dries up. Or fries.

You think, okay next scene has to show the hero seeing the heroine in a different light. And you sit down and write something totally trite. Because your brain is empty.


How? List of 20. If you know what your scene should be ... Hero needs to begin seeing the heroine in a different light...then get a piece of paper. Number from 1 to 20. Write the question... WHAT ARE 20 WAYS THE HERO CAN SEE THE HEROINE IN A DIFFERENT LIGHT? and start listing answers.

The first few will be trite. Because your brain is tired. The next few will be silly because your brain is harrassing you. But then it will click in and you will start getting better answers. Go with that. Go the whole way to #20. Why? Because even if you get a great answer at #13 (which I always do) if you keep going you will get a fantastic answer at #16 or 18 or 20. And you want fantastic.

Why? Not just to give yourself a better scene, but also to totally wake up your brain so that when you write that scene, it will be magic.

So there you have it. 4 reasons you might be facing a blank page right now and how to get past them.

Even though I was a bit tough today, you still love me, right? Of course, you do. So, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post them in the comments section.


Oh, and in case you're wondering, I still read how tos and take classes. You can never know too much and you also never know when someone's information can take you to the next level!

And, by the way...A BABY ON THE RANCH comes out this week! Yay! (Go buy it! :) Seriously, I have a mortgage...some day I'll post about how that mortgage drives me to write!)