Friday, July 29, 2011

Losin with Susan July 29 2011 The Power of Commitment

I love to tell the story of how I sold my first book. (Who doesn't?) Oddly, it's even relevant for losing weight...Here goes...

Years ago (over two decades, actually, but who’s counting) I went to my first writer’s conference. The trip was one of those last ditch efforts. I had been writing unsuccessfully for four years and I was depressed and defeated. Something either happened for me at this conference or I was quitting.

So I packed my bags and left for the airport more depressed than excited. I felt I was walking through the last chapter of my writing career story. I was sure nothing good would happen and come Monday morning when I returned I would no longer be a writer.

Pretty darned sad, huh? I get misty just thinking about it.

Anyway, on Saturday morning when the workshops began, I made the mistake of attending LaVyrle Spencer’s session on description. For those of you who don’t know, LaVyrle Spencer was the master when it came to description. She read passages from her books to illustrate her points and I swallowed hard. I could not write like that. In the first workshop I had attended I believed I had found the answer to my write/don’t write dilemma. I had no place in this world and no business calling myself a writer.

So I went back to my room in the hotel, drew the drapes and started repacking. (In the dark. When I get depressed, I pull out all the stops.) About fifteen minutes later, my roommate found me. She was shocked. And a tad angry. She couldn’t believe I was leaving when I hadn’t really given the conference a chance! I explained that I had but she said I hadn’t and the next thing I knew I was promising to go back downstairs.

But I couldn’t face another workshop. So I took my cigarettes (back then I was a chain smoker. I no longer smoke.) and sneaked to the lobby seating area and settled in to “be at” the conference, but not really go to another workshop!

I sat next to a woman who gently told me she was taking a break and didn’t want to talk about writing. To her surprise, I said, “Great. I’m sick of writing, too.” Feeling I had found a kindred spirit, I proceeded to chain smoke while we chit-chatted about nothing in particular. After about fifteen minutes of discussing anything but writing, she asked if I wrote. I told her I used to. I explained that coming to this conference I had realized I knew nothing about writing. I didn’t know all the “rules” everybody kept talking about…Heck, I didn’t even know there were rules. All I knew was that I read two books a day for five years and loved them so much I wanted to write them, but apparently I couldn’t because everything I sent in got rejected.

She said, “Hum. Are you writing what you know?”

I told her I was writing what I liked. Marriage of convenience, secret babies, and larger than life heroes. She said, “Can you somehow take the stories that you like but infuse them with your life experience?”

I said I didn’t know but what she said made sense.

We chatted some more about my kids and husband and her family and what it was like to live in NYC. Then she rose. She really had to get back to things. But she also handed me her card. She said, “I’m Lucia Macro from Silhouette books. Send me your next manuscript and we’ll see if you really should quit.”

I was surprised, but my friends almost fainted. I was so out of the loop I didn’t realize Lucia was an exceptional editor and that most writers would climb Everest to work with her. I wasn’t even going to send her anything. I thought she was just being kind by asking me to submit to her.

Well, technically, she was just being kind, since she had never seen my work. But through our conversation she recognized that I loved the genre and love for any genre frequently translates into good stories for that genre. And she made the fair assessment that if pointed in the right direction, I could write good books.

So, that night my friends and I set about to figure out a plot for a new book. (Since all my others had been rejected.) And that Tuesday night, after work, after the kids were in bed, when I could have been watching television, I was back at my computer.

I had a reason to write. After years of getting form rejections, I had someone willing to give me more than a cursory glance, maybe even someone who was willing to help me. If I didn’t send her something I would miss what other people considered to be the chance of a lifetime.

That’s motivation.

So why did I tell you a story about motivation if my blog is supposed to be about commitment?

Well, it was the motivation of having an editor truly interested in reading my next book that caused me to COMMIT to writing another book.

Writers are funny people. When the muse is visiting or we've got the magic combination of a great story and great characters, writing isn't just easy, it's a breeze. So we think that all books will be that easy. But when a few "difficult" books go by, books that seemed as if they should have been easy to write, but weren't, we one day wake up and realize that the "easy" books are the exception. The difficult books are the reality.

If we love what we do, right then and there, we simply make a commitment to stay in the game. If our "difficult" books end up as good or better than the ones that are a breeze, we can stay in this game because we love books.

The same is true for your weight. Lots of us look at thin people and think...Lucky Dog. What I wouldn't give for her metabolism. But what if it isn't metabolism that gives thin people trim figures. What if it's hard work...and commitment.

I don't care how motivated you are, the thrill of hard work wears thin eventually and once you hit that wall where motivation (the want of a new dress or even to look good on a beach or be healthy) doesn't cut it, commitment has to step in.

Committment is the DECISION to stick it out even when you don't want to. When it's hard. When everybody else is eating cheese cake and you have black coffee. When the scale's not moving. When you're sick and tired of high fiber oatmeal...when any one or all of those hit, the only thing that's left is that decision. I WILL DO THIS. I WILL STICK THIS OUT.

Now, why in the name of all that is holy would you make a decision like that? Something that's going to push you farther and harder than you've ever been pushed before?

Because you like yourself.

Whether you know it or not, when you committed to lose weight, you made a backhanded promise to yourself to stick it out. If you quit, if you don't commit, then when you take that first bite of cheesecake or walk away from the treadmill or devour three doughnuts in the office break room, you are breaking a promise you made to yourself.

And, wow. Isn't that sad. You can keep every promise you make to your husband, your kids, your parents, your friends...your pets. But you won't keep one measly promise you make to yourself.

I think we all need to take a second here and ponder that. Do we devalue ourselves? Do we really think so little of ourselves that we not only put ourselves last on the list, we break our own promises?

It's truly something to think about.

Because if you'd once, just once, keep this promise, do the exercise, eat the right foods, it could totally revolutionize your life.

Not just from a health standpoint, but from a psychological standpoint.

If you kept one promise to yourself, would you keep more? Would you get your self-respect back? Would you become the person you want to be?

Wow. Luckily we have the whole weekend to think about that one!


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Backlist Books

I now have a slew of backlist books up. Part of me is going Woo-Hoo! I loved these books when I wrote them. I loved the characters and the stories...and I had a bit more humor in those books than my current Harlequin Romances.

The other part of me is covering my eyes and groaning. We all grow in our jobs. I've been writing for nearly 30 years. The books I wrote 30 years ago reflect my ... shall we say "newness" as an author.

I like to think my plots are better now. My characters are richer. My words flowing better. (How's that for a sentence!)

So if you have a Kindle or Nook or any kind of ereader and buy some of my Treasury might be surprised. LOL If you like silliness, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Just remember with all the Treasury Books you buy...they're going to reflect the writing of a much younger, much less experienced me! LOL


Monday, July 25, 2011

Segment 3 RWA NATIONALS workshop Creating the Perfect Hero...Internal Conflict

Welcome again. For the past weeks, we've been reviewing my notes from the workshop I gave with Jenna Kernan and Deb Mullins at RWA 2011.

We've gone over family and your character's flaw. Today we tackle incorrect core beliefs (which in Susan Meier World form the basis of the internal conflict).

So, read on...

I said before that the hero and heroine can be correcting or deciding not to correct little flaws throughout the course of your story and that can be used to move your plot or to show your characters’ level of commitment.

But I told you that they cannot CORRECT THEIR CONFLICT because then the story is over. LOL

So what’s the difference between a flaw and the conflict?

A flaw isn’t the big thing that will keep the hero and heroine from committing to each other for life. A flaw is something unique to your character that can be perceived as negative. A fear. A habit. An addiction. A physical imperfection.

When you sit down to write your story, one of the questions you should ask yourself is…

Okay, I have this wonderful, good looking, intelligent hero and this superfantastic, good looking heroine, who are uber attracted to each other…
Why won’t they commit for life?

Seriously, why don’t they just ask each other out, fall into bed, and begin plans for spending the rest of their lives together?

The answer to that question is your conflict. And most of us wouldn’t refuse to commit because of a flaw. There’s something deeper in us that causes us not to want to commit to someone.

Now, there are all kinds of workshops on conflict. So we’re not going to get into internal and external stuff.

We’re going to talk about the real, bottom line reason two people wouldn’t just fall into each others’ arms on page one and commit for life.


What are incorrect core beliefs? Maybe we should start with just plain core beliefs? (LOL)

A core belief is a broad and general conclusion a person comes to as a result of life experience. We create these core beliefs and use them as a sort of shorthand for how to live our lives. According to Tony Robbins (and about a billion psychiatrists) we do everything to avoid pain and/or gain pleasure. So these beliefs we create are used to either help us avoid pain or gain pleasure.

Think back to your 21st birthday. If your friends took you out and got you rip-roaring drunk and you don’t remember the last hour of the night, but woke up on your bathroom floor naked and bruised…You’d probably create a core belief or two about drinking…or maybe about getting totally drunk.

You probably would think, Wow, getting drunk is dangerous. I’m not doing that again.

Then on Saturday when you had a date with a guy you only met, you wouldn’t order the El Presidente Margarita at Chilli’s. You’d get a draft. A small one.

Or you might scare yourself so silly that you’d never drink again!

But, the point is, you wouldn’t sit in the booth staring at the waitress, reliving your entire getting drunk experience. You’d have a core belief that said, getting too drunk is dangerous, and you would simply either order no booze or something small. It wouldn’t be a big deal. It wouldn’t even be a thirty-second blip in your brain.

That’s the power of a core belief.

Whatever your core beliefs, they are based on your life experience and you believe they are correct. You also believe they protect you. Or make your life easier to manage. It – literally – would take something earth-shattering to change them. Most of them you wouldn’t want to change. You believe they are correct. LOL THAT’S WHY YOU HAVE THEM. YOU GENUINELY BELIEVE THESE BELIEFS ARE NECESSARY FOR YOU TO LIVE A LIFE WITH AS LITTLE COMPLICATION/TROUBLE AS POSSIBLE. Without these beliefs, you believe you would be hurt…So you cling to them, guide your life with them, use them to make critical decisions. You wouldn’t change them on a whim.

The same should be true for your characters.

Your characters' core beliefs have to be so firmly rooted it would take something earth shattering to change them…and when it comes to a conflict strong enough to sustain a romance novel, there has to be something strong enough and personal enough that it would preclude the character permanently committing to someone.

THAT creates your internal conflict.

So where do you find your character’s incorrect core belief … especially the one that keeps him or her from committing to someone for life? From your characters’ pasts.

This includes not just things they’ve done, but also things they’ve been taught and things they’ve seen other people do.

If you have a hero who has seen ten failed marriages of his friends who thinks marriage is a trap that ends in tragedy, who meets a woman who needs the commitment of a marriage because she grew up in a single-parent home, these two are going to conflict.

Conflict basically boils down to an incorrect core belief a hero or heroine has about trust.

I can’t trust myself.
I don’t trust women.
I don’t trust life.

For instance: If you’ve created a hero in his thirties, who has never married, he’s got to be the unluckiest guy in the world – never to have met a girl he wanted to marry – or he’s got a core belief that prevents him from marrying. And there’s a reason for that core belief!

A. He might have been hurt. (Can’t trust women.)
B. His dad could have been unfaithful – making him wonder about himself. (Can’t trust himself.)
C. He might have seen three or four awful marriages of his friends. (Can’t trust life! The institution of marriage doesn’t work. So he’s not going to participate!)

But what if you have a hero who thinks being single is fun? Is that an incorrect core belief? Sort of. But dig deeper. Why does your hero think being single is fun? Did somebody show him marriage wasn’t fun? Does he see it as a trap? Even if he’s having such a good time that he doesn’t want the party to end – that means he sees marriage as the end of the party! LOL What makes him believe that? That’s his incorrect core belief and coupled to the heroine’s crazy beliefs about life…THAT’S going to form your conflict.

The way to find good, rich conflict is to dig into your character’s past…look at his parents and friends, look at his history, look at his beliefs. Dig deep. Figure out what he believes that’s wrong…

Why? Because you're going to have to change this belief through the course of your novel. Know how editors tell you that they want your heroes and heroines to grow? This is what they mean. They want your characters to be "different" at the end of your story...And...wait for it...people don’t change, their beliefs do.

Ah. Magic formula. If you want to write a believable book about a hero who appears on page one as someone who will never marry (or wouldn’t marry that particular heroine)…don’t try to change HIM, change his beliefs about himself, about life about women (in general or the heroine specifically). Show this change throughout the course of your novel -- the incremental growth that’s needed to change his belief, and you will have the character growth required by most novels.

So that it. Family. Flaws and Incorrect core beliefs.

Everybody needs a family. Nobody’s perfect so use their flaws. And figure out your characters’ incorrect core beliefs so that you can have strong, believable conflict.


Those are my notes from my segment of Creating the Perfect Hero from RWA 2011.

Hope they help! If you have any questions, please feel free to post them.

Have a happy, productive week.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Losin with Susan -- Refocus your energy

In last week's post when I suggested that you spend the weekend looking for people to pay attention to, I actually hit on a gold mine. Loving other people, really being kind and genuine with other people, is a great way to refocus your energy.

As I march through this process of losing weight, I'm seeing how much attention I give to food. At a wedding a few weeks ago, I practiced what I preach by paying more attention to my tablemates than to my entre and it worked beautifully.

So does reading. If I'm dying for a snack, I can pick up a book and forget all about food.

Cleaning will do that too. But, sorry to say, I like to clean, so that's sort of not fair to the rest of humanity. But, if you're like me, looking for a distraction so you don't think about salami, clean a closet, scrub a toilet, dust a shelf. In a few minutes the craving will go away.

We spend so much time fighting our cravings that we sometimes forget the easiest way to get rid of them is to knock them out of our minds by thinking of something else!

Read a book! Scrub a toilet! Talk to your neighbor. Call your mom. Spend time with your children. Pop an old, favorite movie into the DVR. Take a walk. Ride your bike. Go to the local pool. Go window shopping -- and daydream about all the great new clothes you can buy when you're thinner!

Don't let your cravings rule you. YOU are in charge and food isn't the only entertainment (or boredom resolver) in the world!

Look around, remember what you used to like to do when you were thinner and get some of those wonderful things back in your life.

Happy Friday.

Have a great weekend. And remember to be nice to somebody. Wave someone ahead in the 20-items-or-less (which should be fewer) line in Walmart. Water your soul!

susan meier

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wednesday ... Dear Readers

On Monday night, as I was ironing my good capris to go to the hospital with my daughter to see her friend's new baby, I realized life is nothing if not full of irony and contradiction.

Only twenty-four hours before, my dear friend's husband called me to let me know her condition is worsening. He didn't have to say the words. I knew exactly what he was telling me.

So as I prepare to say goodbye to somebody who's been one of the best friends of my life, I'm ironing capris to welcome a new child into the world.

In the church, at my dad's funeral, my entire family was sobbing loudly. Because there are so many of us, we made quite a noise. I got to crying so hard, I did that hiccuppy thing where your're taking in air but can't let it out and before I knew it, I had inhaled my tissue.

Seriously. Inhaled a tissue. I instantly stopped crying. My husband looked at me wide-eyed. We both blinked, then we both burst out laughing. I could see us going into the emergency room, telling the doctors I'd inhaled a tissue. I couldn't even imagine what they'd do for me. Send down a Dust Buster?

Luckily, the thing must have gone down the pipe into my tummy because I never had any ramifications from it. I didn't even cough up a fuzz ball.

I don't think God does things like that to lighten moments that are unbearably sad. I think he pairs good and bad, sad and funny, sometimes, to remind us life goes on.

Because it does.

Not always happier. Not always better. Just on.


P. S. ...

If you're a writer looking for the writing info posts, remember Mondays contain the writing lessons. Everything's still here. Just scroll down. Or go into the archives.

If you're looking for dieting tips in Losin With Susan, those are posted on Fridays. Just scroll down and you will find them.

Have a great week.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Segment 2 of the RWA Nationals Workshop, Flaw

Happy Monday, and welcome back to our notes for the CREATING THE PERFECT HERO workshop I gave with Jenna Kernan and Deb Mullins at RWA 2011.

Today's segment is your character's flaw...Enjoy.


I don’t like the term fatal flaw. Because it sort of gives us the sense that our character should have a big, awkward, sometimes disgusting, flaw that prevents or precludes him or her from loving or being loved.

That can be true. There are plenty of successful “scar” or “wound” romances out there. But a huge flaw isn’t necessary for a successful story. A HUGE CONFLICT IS…but that’s our next segment.

For right now, let’s talk flaw.

What is a flaw? Something unique to your character that can be perceived as negative. A fear. A habit. An addiction. An attitude. A physical imperfection.

Why have a flaw?

Because no one is perfect. Seriously. I once heard a speaker tell a story of a book someone sent to her for a critique. The manuscript had been rejected by EVERYONE in the early 80’s when no one was getting rejected and the writer couldn’t figure out why.

The book begins with the heroine graduating from nursing school. She lands the perfect job. Finds the perfect apartment. Her landlords are a loving old couple who dote on her. She finds a great car, cheap. And the most handsome doctor in the hospital falls for her.

Sound interesting? Maybe. But is it a compelling story? Not even a little bit.

A great story is four things. Interesting, compelling, credible and consistent.

For something to be interesting it simply has to catch our attention. Credible…it only has to make sense. Consistent…if the guy is afraid of heights on page 12, he’d better at least shiver at the possibility of scaling a wall to save the heroine in chapter 12.

But for a book to be compelling, readers really want to be able to connect with and root for the main characters.

Do we root for perfect people? Sometimes. But they don’t resonate with us. We don’t connect to them because most of us have flaws, quirks.

But if you have a hero who longs to be understood after a past riddled with mistakes – lots of readers can identify. If you have a straightforward, strong, smart hero who drinks (like Robert Parker’s Jesse Stone) and can’t quit his addiction (thought he manages it) you have a character who intrigues us. Especially those of us who aren’t alcoholics. We’re curious about what makes this guy tick. Why would he risk everything for the contents of a bottle?

A flaw can be something as simple as someone who hates spiders (adding interest or maybe humor to a story) or something as intense as Jesse Stone’s alcoholism. But whatever you choose, the flaw needs to fit the story.

A hero with obsessive compulsive disorder like Monk’s on the TV show Monk, added humor but it was also the reason he was the great detective that he was. He saw things others didn’t. Because he was always looking.

But flaws don’t always have to be something you can use for good. Sometimes they are part of what the main characters have to overcome to achieve their happily ever after.

Whitney Ross in my book THE BABY PROJECT could not move beyond her husband’s suicide because he also killed their child. She had to overcome that. Jesse Stone’s alcoholism interferes with his life. And though he can’t seem to overcome it, he manages it.

So your character’s flaw has to have a purpose.

The purpose we see most often is the one where the hero (or heroine) has a flaw they have to overcome to save the heroine (or hero) from the villain.

The fear-of-heights hero who must scale the wall in chapter 12 to save the heroine – proves his love.
The hero who quits smoking for the heroine, proves his love.

But those kinds of sacrifices also demonstrate character growth…one of the biggest bugaboos for beginning writers.

Every editor, every agent…every reader…whether they know it or not, wants to come away from a book with the sense that the hero and/or heroine have grown -- that LOVE makes us more. Makes us better. Or if you’re not writing romance, that our challenges make us more…make us better!

Correction of little flaws can be used along the way in a book to show the hero and heroine adjusting to each other or their situation. Committing to each other.

Because we cannot resolve the CONFLICT that keeps them apart, (or the book would be over) these smaller steps of flaw correction throughout the story can demonstrate the hero and heroine becoming committed to each other.

I just read a book wherein the heroine was a workaholic. The first time she skipped out on work to see the hero, we all knew she was seriously falling for him.

Now, she didn’t totally correct the flaw. But she took a step. A big step and that spoke volumes.

So don’t give your hero a limp just to satisfy one of those things on the list of things every romance novel must have.

THINK THROUGH YOUR FLAWS. Think about how you will use them. Think about what they will say about your character. Think about how they will affect plot. Think about what purpose they will serve in character growth.

And think about what it will mean if they don’t correct the flaw. Will it be more important for the heroine to accept the hero’s flaw? Sometimes rather than fix it, the heroine’s acceptance will be the greater plot point!

Which takes us to incorrect core beliefs.


We'll talk about incorrect core beliefs, or internal conflict, next week.

Until then...Happy Writing!


Friday, July 15, 2011

Losin With Susan -- Pass the Affirmations, Please

One of the first things I noticed when we (the biggest winner team) started this diet was my reaction to food.

I'd see cheesecake and think I can't resist that. Though I'd wrestle myself away, it was always a struggle.

A few days into the diet, when confronted with chocolate marshmallow cookies in the cookie aisle in Walmart, I took a breath, said, I want to be thin, and walked to a different aisle.

The day after that, when my husband and son ordered pizza, I popped a Weight Watchers pizza into the oven telling myself, I like these better anyway.

As I thought that, I sort of paused, realizing that how I talked to myself made the difference in whether I walked away happily or had a huge struggle.

Now, I know all about positive affirmations! LOL. I've been doing them for my career for decades. I can write. I love to write. I'm happy to have this career. I CAN write a book in three weeks (that was for a special occasion).

I've been telling myself positive things about my writing, my abilities, my desires for this career forever. So why did I have such terrible beliefs about food?

Who knows? At this point, what difference does it make how or why my mind was such a bad place when it came to food. All I had to do was KNOW I had some bad thoughts running through my head and KNOW I had to create some good ones.


I love to eat veggies. (It's true.)
I love fruit.
I love oatmeal.
I long to be thin.
I look good in my orange bathing suit and want to fit into it again.
Eating well gives me energy.
I feel better when I eat well.
Vitamin water is my friend.
I have a closet full of thin clothes just waiting for me.
I need this success...

Let's pause here for a sec...

I need this success is a special affirmation. Do an experiment with me now. Take a breath, close your eyes and say that...I need this success.

I need this success.

What happens to your psyche or soul when you say that? Do you feel it? Do you feel how much you do need it? How much it will mean to you...I think so. I can't say that without getting a little heart hiccup.

It means something to me. That's what makes affirmations work. They tap into something deep inside of us that longs for whatever we're affirming. They remind us of who we are at our core. They remind us that ... we need this. If you do them right or well, they can also remind of us WHY we need this. Because if you know why you want something, it's so much easier to achieve it.

So copy my affirmations and start your day repeating them into the mirror. Say, good morning self...I love veggies. Do this every morning -- adding your own affirmations as you go -- for one month and see if your struggle with your weight doesn't take turn for the better!

Happy Friday. Enjoy the weekend. But isn't all about food. Every event doesn't have to be about food. Life is about people. Don't eat as much as you socialize. Make somebody feel good about him or herself. See the joy on someone's face when you really take the time to listen when they talk. That's really the spice of life. (I learned that volunteering at Hospice, by the way. There is no greater joy than giving someone a voice. Letting them know they're worthy of your time.)

By the way, my weight loss for this week was 3.38%. Not bad. I was "the biggest winner" on my team and also out of the 100 participants!


Thursday, July 14, 2011


Monday's posts are for writers. Wednesday's for Readers and Friday Losin with Susan.

If you're a writer, looking for some info on craft...just scroll down. There are lots of posts on writing and motivation for writing!

Get ready for a weight loss post tomorrow!


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

If it's Wednesday, it must be reader day

I made an amazing discovery this week!

Harlequin has digitized some of my Silhouette Romance backlist. Not all. My favorite series, BREWSTER BABY BOOM is NOT yet available.

But the TEXAS FAMILY TIES series, including IN CARE OF THE SHERIFF, THE RANCHER AND THE HEIRESS and GUESS WHAT WE'RE MARRIED has been digitized under the Treasury program.

The TEXAS FAMILY TIES series revolves around three foster children taken in by a grizzled old rancher Angus McFarland. Angus is rich enough to take in the kids, and smart enough to put them to work, teaching them the value of hard work, but also giving them a chance to find out who they are.

The first foster child Ryan Kelly ends up becoming the town sheriff. He's put in charge of beautiful Madison Delaney, a witness in a burglary trial. Madison had refused protection, but the DA is a friend of Madison's and secretly tells Ryan to keep an eye on her. When she's attacked, he grabs her and her baby and takes her to a private cabin to protect them. It's a cute story about a guy who thought he wasn't husband material discovering he's BOTH husband and daddy material! LOL

GUESS WHAT, WE'RE MARRIED is actually one of my all time favorite books that I've written. And, considering I've written close to 50 books, that's saying something! LOL Grace Wright is the only one of the foster kids Angus adopted. He adopted her because she was the youngest when she arrived on his doorstep. She's a sweetie as a child who falls in love with the poor, bad boy neighbor and actually runs away and marries him. The marriage immediately falls apart -- so immediately that they don't even have time to tell anyone they ran away and got married -- and they never get a divorce. Fast forward ten years. She wants to marry someone else and has to get gorgeous Nick to sign divorce papers. She wrecks her car on the way and loses her memory. When Nick comes to pick her up at the hospital, she doesn't remember him, but assumes they're still married because he takes her to his house. He only does that because Angus and her "brothers" are out of town and can't be located. (Couldn't write this book in this day and age with cell phones! LOL) So, she and Nick spend two weeks together rediscovering each other and falling in love again. But when Angus comes home and her memory returns she's furious--I won't tell you the rest. It's just too good of a book to miss!

And what about THE RANCHER AND THE HEIRESS? This is the one with really sexy Caleb Wright, Grace's brother. When Angus's real granddaughter comes to Texas for financial help, Caleb is furious. Angus's real family has ignored him. Now when the chips are down they want money? Oh. No. Not as long as Caleb breathes. But Alexis is heir to half the ranch, Caleb the other. And he's stuck working with her.

It's a fun read. I won't lie and tell you it's rocket science. It's just fun.

So those are my first three digitized books. Fun stuff from Silhouette Romance. Those of you who enjoyed my lighter stories will love them.

Go to Amazaon and B&N and check them out!

Happy Wednesday. I'd better hustle my butt to my laptop and get to work on the book that's due 8/1 -- since I'm going on vacation 7/31! LOL!!!


Monday, July 11, 2011

Monday July 11 First segment of RWA Nationals Workshop

Hey! Good Monday to you.

When I realized the notes for my segment of the workshop I gave with Jenna Kernan and Deb Mullins at RWA Nationals, was only about 18 pages, I also saw that I could easily put these notes up for those of you who couldn't go to Nationals. And for those who did go to Nationals but missed the workshop...or those who went to the workshop and just want the notes... LOL...I'm posting it!

To get you up to speed, Jenna, Deb and I gave a workshop on building a great hero. My 3 segments dealt with Family, Flaw and Conflict. So these segments will go up for the next 3 Mondays.

Today's segment is Family... Enjoy.


Everybody needs family. Your heroes were not hatched as adults on page 1 of your novel. They also do not live in a vacuum. They’ve had parents (either present or absent) who made a difference in their lives and who might still have some say. They should have brothers and sisters, cousins, friends, teachers, bosses, co-workers, a preacher, priest or Rabbi.

These people form your hero’s personality. So even though you have a hero and heroine trapped in a cabin in the woods or on a deserted island, their families will have played a part in the person/people they are now.

And we’re not just talking about dads who deserted their families or moms who were distant. A chatty mom could produce a chatty heroine…or a heroine who HATES to be chatty because her mom drove her nuts. A quiet dad could cause a heroine to feel insecure…or feel that she’ll never let herself depend on a man! Being an only child will produce tons of beliefs. Having doting aunts or no extended family at all will create other beliefs.

Religious parents? Alcoholic parents? Two teachers for parents? Nosy neighbors? A workaholic dad? A workaholic mom? A more successful than dad mom?

Your characters’ families don’t even have to step on the page to influence your hero and heroine…and your villain. (But that’s another workshop.)

So family…even without stepping onto the UBER IMPORTANT in the creation of characters!

But sometimes they are going to step on the page…

Because unless your characters are trapped on the moon, (or living hundreds of miles away, for their jobs) family also form your characters’ world. They give advice. They chit chat. They help the hero and/or heroine feel they belong or they don’t belong.

They form the basis for the characters’ correct and INCORRECT core beliefs about themselves, life and others. (And we’ll talk about this more in the segment on conflict.)

But they also pop up and mess with the plot.

They don’t merely show up on the pages of your novel to populate your book. They need a purpose. To win a spot on the pages of your novel, they should do something.

Whitney Ross’s dad in my April release, THE BABY PROJECT, forces her to become co-guardian of the hero’s infant half-brother, to protect the interests of Darius’s other half-brothers.

The death of Darius’s mom leaves him totally alone.

In SECOND CHANCE BABY, the heroine, Maggie’s step-mom threw her out when she got pregnant at eighteen. Now, fifteen years later, at that same step-mom’s funeral her relationship with her dad is strained.

The hero’s mom in A BABY ON THE RANCH match makes the hero and heroine. Worse, just the presence of Cade’s former father-in-law on his ranch serves to remind him he was married before and he didn’t make such a good husband.

Family pokes into business, offers unwanted advice, meddles, gives the hero and heroine a chance to shine…or shows the reader how they behave in an environment where they are just one of the bunch…or litter! How you behave with family says more about who you are than all your outside behavior!

Family can add depth and sparkle to a book. A dad who likes to cook and is always asking the hero to stay for supper can make us laugh. A little sister who sees through her big brother’s convenient stories and teases him about being in love can add some tension. A next-door neighbor who loses her husband and tells the heroine not to let such a good guy – the hero – get away can make us weep. (If it’s done right!)

And don’t get me started on babies and kids! A baby or a child can totally turn a story.


It’s never a good idea for the secondary characters to steal the show, but it’s wonderful idea to learn how to use secondary characters. How to manipulate them into having your hero and/or heroine do what YOU NEED THEM TO DO.

But most of all, intentionally or unintentionally your characters’ families have helped form your MAIN CHARACTERS’ personalities.

Which takes us to fatal flaw. Or What’s not to Love!


The Fatal Flaw segment will post next Monday. Have a great week. And if you have any questions, just post them! I'll be glad to answer them!


Friday, July 8, 2011

Don't forget

Today's Losing With Susan.

Wednesday's posts are Dear Reader posts.

Monday's posts are for Writers.

If you're looking for a post about writing, scroll down. There are lots of them.

If you're looking for posts about losing weight. Those only started. Today's Friday post in the first of the series.

If you scroll down enough, there's something for everyone!


Losin with Susan -- First Friday

I had a rough start to this diet. After three weeks of eating everything I wanted to eat and being at some great places like NYC where I could get cheesecake that melts in your mouth, I was cranky when I told myself I had to go back to eating good foods.

But when I thought about it I had to ask myself why I was cranky. Seriously. I'm doing something that's good for my health. Yet, here I was rebelling.

I sometimes wonder why we choose to rebel against the things we rebel against. Parental authorty when we're teens. Bosses when we get a little older. Vegetables when we need to lose weight!

Are we nuts?

Or are we just independent?

I'm going to vote for independence run amuck. And there's nothing wrong with running amuck, if you eventually realize you are amuck and get yourself going in the right direction again.

So what got me going? I took out a dress that I bought but never wore because I gained out of it before I had a chance to wear it. It's only ten pounds to get into it, so hanging that dress where I can see it everyday reminds me of a very reachable goal.

Reachable goals are the greatest tools we have for any endeavor that requires discipline. If I look at myself in the mirror and see 40 pounds that need to go, I will melt into a puddle of despair. The goal is too hard to reach. But if I look at that dress and KNOW it's only ten pounds away, perfectly within my reach...well, ladies and gentlemen, that's a goal I can handle. Plus, there's a reward attached. I will get to wear that cute little Liz Claiborne dress!

So look at your own life, your weight, your writing, your work...and see if you can't find a little, reachable goal that you can turn into a stepping stone for attainment of one of your big goals. Something sweet and shiny that you know should be yours!

Happy Friday!


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I'm back from Nationals...

Sorry to the writers among us! I missed posting something on Monday. Tired. Seriously. Hard weekend aftter a long 5 days at Nationals! =:)

This is going to be a difficult and interesting month for me. Not only do a I have book due the day AFTER I'm leaving for vacation, but also today is the second day in participation of THE BIGGEST WINNER. It's sort of a takeoff on THE BIGGEST LOSER. We have 50 romance novelists and 50 readers working to lose weight. We're in teams who share information and encouragement. And we're competing for a prize. Sadly, it's not the lump sum of money THE BIGGEST LOSER winner gets. I could really get on board with losing weight for that. Writers seriously do not make a lot of money! Any influx of cash is greatly appreciated. :)

So why do I want to lose weight? Have you seen my pictures LOL? Seriously, if I gain much more weight I'm going to explode.

But the truth is I don't want to lose the weight as much as I want to get back to good eating habits. I genuinely believe the accountability of a group like this will help.

So there's going to be another blog posting. Mondays will still be for writers. Wednesdays will still be for readers. Fridays will now be Losin with Susan days, as I blog about the experience of trying to get myself back on track with my eating habits!

I'm sure some of both groups, my readers and my writers, will appreciate these blogs. I can sometimes be profound when it comes to self-discipline.

One last thought to the readers...Thank you for helping A BABY ON THE RANCH become a top seller!

Those who liked the BABIES IN THE BOARDROOM series will adore the Montgomery Moguls duet I began to work on the week before Nationals. Once again I have two tasty heroes with some family problems they need to work out with the help of smart heroines. I worked on Max and Kate's story this morning and, seriously, that guy makes me shiver he's so ... hot. And cool. LOL

So come back on Friday to hear how the diet is going and meet me here next Wednesday for a little more about what's going on in my writing life.