Friday, January 27, 2006

Seven Deadlies

True. I've been tagged for the Seven List going around the blogs (Thanks, Deb!), so without further ado, here's what I came up with:

Seven Things To Do Before I Die

1. Watch my children grow up to become the amazing adults I know they can be.
2. Learn to tango.
3. Reach the NY Times Bestseller List.
4. Take an exotic trip (i.e., an African safari, a tour of the Egyptian pyramids, a beach vacation in Tahiti...)
5. Surprise my family with something wild and expensive.
6. Conquer my fears and weaknesses.
7. Grow old.

Seven Things That Attracted Me to My Husband

1. His sense of humor
2. His eyes
3. His broad shoulders
4. His intelligence
5. His passion for everything in life--including me!
6. The way he makes me feel
7. His smile

Seven Books I Love Most

1. Skye O'Malley or The Kadin by Bertrice Small (I love them both too much to choose between them!)
2. The First Wives Club by Olivia Goldsmith
3. Sick Puppy by Carl Hiassen
4. The Bone Collector by Jeffery Deaver
5. The Mummy by Anne Rice
6. Any In Death book by J.D. Robb
7. The Anatomy of Motive by John Douglas (All the John Douglas non-fiction books are fascinating reading. If you want to know the inner workings of a serial killer's mind, check out this original FBI profiler's works!)

Seven Movies I Love Most

1. Arthur
2. Airplane!
3. Terms of Endearment
4. The Silence of the Lambs
5. Scent of a Woman
6. Philadelphia
7. As Good As it Gets

Seven Things I Can't Do

1. Write romantic suspense (though I love reading it!)
2. Eat a tomato
3. Turn a blind eye to injustice of any kind
4. Run a marathon
5. Draw
6. Go for too long without checking my email
7. Stop writing

Seven Words or Phrases I Say Most Often

1. "Large coffee, please--milk, no sugar."
2. "I love you."
3. "Is your room clean?"
4. "Unbe-****ing-lievable."
5. "I know how it ends!"
6. "Thanks, sweetie."
7. "It's in the cabinet..." or "...on the dresser..." or any number of places. (Always in reply to "Where's the insert item here?")

Now, I'm supposed to tag someone else with this, but since it's been going around for a while and I'm not sure who's seen it and who hasn't, I'll make a deal with you. If you're reading this, haven't done the list yet, and think it might be fun to try, I tag you! Let me know what you come up with.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Happy Peanut Butter Day, Amanda!

While picking my son up from Spanish class this afternoon, I spotted a sign on a teacher's bulletin board: January 24 is National Peanut Butter Day.

This immediately makes me think of my daughter's friend, Amanda, who has her very own special jar of the stuff in my pantry. Some girls like chocolate, some prefer ice cream. Amanda's weakness is peanut butter. No matter when she pops in to my house (and mind you, she's so much a part of the family, she doesn't even knock anymore), she heads straight to the cutlery drawer for a spoon followed by a quick dive into her special "Jif Jar."

If you check the photos section of my website, you'll see Amanda--one of my "girls." She's the dark-haired one, on the right.

Happy Peanut Butter Day, sweetie!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Oh, the Weather Outside is Frightful...

So what better time to snuggle up on a couch by a roaring fire with a big bowl of popcorn and some great movies. Here are some of my favorite romantic comedies, in no particular order. (We'll save other genres for another time!) These are the ones I've watched so often, I've memorized the dialogue and can recite it at will. Yet I never tire of them. Have you seen them all?

Airplane! (Yes, it's silly and inane, but it launched Leslie Nielsen as a comedic actor and has some of the greatest one-liners in movie history.)
Terms of Endearment (So the ending ranks four hankies, but the chemistry between Jack Nicholson and Shirley MacLaine is classic!)
When Harry Met Sally...
Defending Your Life
A Fish Called Wanda
There's Something About Mary
Groundhog Day
Trading Places (The original hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold role ala Jamie Lee Curtis)
Look Who's Talking
I Love You to Death
Bridget Jones's Diary
The Princess Bride

Romancing the Stone (A movie that should be on every romance writer's list!)
Space Balls (For those of us who never "got" Star Wars, though we sat through it, Mel Brooks puts it all in perspective with such memorable characters as Dark Helmet, Dot Matrix, Princess Vespa and Prince Valium.)
Deliver Us From Eva (Cute title, great premise, little-known movie starring LL Cool J.)
The Wedding Singer (Sure, it's tough to see Adam Sandler as a romantic lead, but if you lived through the 80's, the music and fashions alone make this a fun stroll down memory lane.)
Raising Arizona
For Pete's Sake (Suffers a little from its 70's setting, but the police dog, the judge in the trunk, and the bulls are still good for giggles.)
The Naked Gun
The Ref (Okay, so it's a "Christmas movie" but dig deeper and it's a romance about a troubled married couple and the unusual visitor who helps them rediscover each other.)
Bull Durham (Kevin Costner telling Susan Sarandon about "long, slow, deep, wet, kisses..." Oh, my!)
While You Were Sleeping
Shallow Hal
Eurotrip (Even raunchier than There's Something About Mary, but also one of the funniest movies I've seen in a long time)

Snuggle up and watch one of these (or your own favorite) with someone you love.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Eureka! (and an epiphany)

Yes, 'tis true. As expected, I've come up with the black moment and HEA for "Nobody's Darling." The rest, as they say, is gravy. I'm hoping to finish the first draft by the middle of next week, time permitting. Then I'll play around with other responsibilities before working on revisions. I'd love to have a final draft by the end of the month, though I realize that's a little ambitious. Still, anything's possible.

On to the Epiphany: while reworking this story, I came to an inevitable conclusion. Sometimes, I am my own worst enemy.

As I explained in my previous post, I actually started this story a long time ago. I then got 200 pages into it, lost the spark, and scrapped it. I thought it was Gertrude's whims that caused this sudden ennui. But Gertrude set me straight over the last few days. When I think about it honestly, I realize the fault lies with my relying too heavily on critiques.

When I first wrote this story, I belonged to several critique groups. (I've since cut down to two.) One in particular, is extremely tough. (And if any RWUers are reading this, I'm not talking about you! The critiques I receive at RWU are top-notch: 100% encouraging, informative, and skilled--I think that's 300%, but who cares? If you're looking for the very best critique group, you'll find it at RWU.) The group I'm talking about is the one I own, the CritWits. I love these ladies dearly, but when it comes to critiques, they don't pull their punches. Many times, they're absolutely right. But it's important to remember, no matter who your critique partners are, they are NOT infallible!

In this particular case, I let their negative comments outweigh my belief in my talent and that left me frozen, unable to finish this work. Now that I've realized my error, I've not only corrected it, I feel free to let this story come to its natural conclusion. How liberating!

Will I make this mistake again in the future? Probably. I think one of the things that makes a good writer is the constant need for reassurance. But it's rough on the psyche, that's for sure! So whether you just received a negative critique or your fifth rejection letter or a bad review on your latest published work, don't let others' negativity affect you negatively. Let it slide off your back and move on. Believe in yourself and let the words flow!

Saturday, January 7, 2006

Synchronicity or Ghost in the Machine--Pick Your Favorite Police Album

I just love it when Gertrude and I are in sync. You see, I'm what's known in the biz as a "pantser." I can't plot my stories to save my life. The problem is, if I know what's going to happen to my characters before I write the story, I can't write the story. It's kind of like walking in on the last fifteen minutes of a movie with a surprise ending. If you know what's going to happen, why invest all the time in the setup? I have to be as enthralled with what might happen as my readers.
Being a pantser makes for some interesting events. I never know what my characters might get into next. Gertrude drafts the scenes in my head and I type them out. This procedure requires me to be extremely flexible in my writing process. As the story evolves, Gertrude can change direction at the drop of a hat. Sometimes, though, I can write half a book, then Gertrude decides it doesn't work after all and I have to scrap it. Thus was the case with a story I had planned as the first in a trilogy about three sisters.
About three months ago, having been away from this story for over a year, Gertrude and I decided we'd worked out the kinks and were ready to finish it once and for all. We've currently hit the 75% complete mark. I still need the black moment--the scene where all seems lost for my hero and heroine, and of course their Happily Ever After solution. But my mind is open to all sorts of possibilities. I'm certain the right scenario will occur to Gertrude soon and she'll reveal all--probably while I'm in the shower or stuck in traffic or at a wedding. Someplace where I'll be forced to scribble the idea down on a napkin or the back of an envelope or on my hand, until I can get back to the computer and write it all out.
The best part of all, though, is that Gertrude and I have come up with a title we're extraordinarily proud of. This latest soon-to-be-finished masterpiece is called, "Nobody's Darling." I know, it might not sound like much to you, but when you get the chance to read the story (and if I'm allowed to keep the title), you'll see why it works so beautifully. Stay tuned...

Monday, January 2, 2006


Things I'm Saying Goodbye To In 2005 (For Better Or Worse)

Hurricane Season: Yes, I know. It'll be back in 2006, but please, not so severe!
Howard Stern: With his move to Sirius Radio, I'm suddenly without the only man I had a relationship with for longer than my husband. Especially painful since I'm an XM subscriber. I can only hope for a satellite merger.
Napoleon: My kitty-cat, aged 17, who passed away suddenly this fall.
Tara: My coworker and partner-in-troublemaking. It's so quiet at Royal without you!
My unpublished status.

Things I'll Say Hello To In 2006 (Only For the Better!)

The LIRW: Another year serving as President of my local chapter
Bob: My Brother-in-Law's continued recuperation from a bone marrow transplant
Thanks to hubby: My new computer
Ditto: A new living room and dining room area, complete with new carpeting and furniture throughout. (Yay!)