Monday, December 18, 2006

The First Sneak Preview

With just about eight weeks now 'til the release of The Bonds of Matri-money, I figured it was time to post the first of a few sneak peeks. (Okay, so I'm still trying to catch up for the holidays and figured this was as good a time as any to fall back a bit on my writing--but hey! Everybody benefits, right?) So, without further ado, I introduce you to Renata Moon, the heroine, and her wacky next door neighbor, Lillian:

A new game show entitled, "The Bonds of Matri-money" is seeking newlyweds in the tri-state area willing to spend a month in the South Pacific for the chance to win one million dollars...

Seated at her kitchen table, Renata looked up from the newspaper article and into her neighbor's heavily made-up face. "I can't do this."

"Of course you can," Lillian told her. "As a matter of fact, I'd say this game show is just what you need."

"Don't start that again. Please?" She wanted to push away from the table, but the old lady's cardinal talons dug into her wrist, pinning her in place.

"Start what?"

"That 'you should take a risk now and then' speech."

"Well, it's true. You've spent your whole life living by the rules, and what's it ever got you? Your closest friends are your Nana, Buttons, and me--three useless senile broads with more miles on them than Route Sixty-six."


Buttons apparently took offense and screeched her outrage in near glass-breaking tones.

"Be quiet, old girl." Lillian passed the cockatiel a piece of corn muffin. "You and I may be ancient but we've still got our sex appeal. Rennie, honey, you need to shake up your life. Otherwise, you'll wind up an old lady all alone, wondering when your life passed you by."

"And you're the voice of experience?" she retorted. "You live all alone, except for Buttons."

"Yes, but I had a glorious time in my youth. Years ago, I had men clamoring to smell the perfume on my gloves."

"You did not."

Lillian nodded, tipping the gold turban forward over her forehead. "Indeed I did. Have I ever told you about the night I spent with Henry Kissinger?"

"No."


"Back in 1969, Henry was giving a speech at the U.N. and took in our Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall. Did you ever see one of those? With the live animals on stage during the Nativity scene? Do you have any idea how hard it is to maintain a straight kick line with two dozen other girls while you're all hopping up and down in camel dung?"

"But you digress..." she prompted, rolling her hands to speed up Lillian's memory.

"Yes, of course. How silly of me. Anyway, after the show, Henry sent a note backstage requesting my company for a late supper at the Russian Tea Room. Naturally, I went."

"Naturally."

"One doesn't say 'no' to a Secretary of State."

"Yes, Miss Manners."

"We were sitting in a booth at the Tea Room, enjoying baklava of squab and making our way through a bottle of Cristal when all of a sudden, one of his people interrupted us. The CIA believed a major crisis would develop in Cambodia in the next week. Do you know what Henry said to his aide?"

"What?"

"Never taking his eyes off me, he said, 'There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.'"

"You're making that up."

Lillian's grin widened. "No, I'm not. But regardless, you're missing my point. Your life is full of crises because you make time for them."

"That's a pretty simplistic view, don't you think?"

Lillian shrugged, causing Buttons to bounce up and down for a brief second. The cockatiel gave her owner a pertrubed look, then settled down to nibble at her corn muffin again. "Simplistic or not, there's some truth to it. You need to do something proactive about this situation. Sitting here writing a list on a legal pad isn't going to get you the money you need."

Want more? Buy the book! Or stay tuned. Next time around, I'll introduce you to Connell.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Hello/Goodbye

With the holidays drawing ever nearer, members of the LIRW gathered together yesterday to hoist a glass or two of wine and hold our annual elections for Board members. This, of course, means that I come to the end of my tenure as Chapter President. It's been an exciting, eventful, eye-opening experience. (How's that for alliteration?) I survived hosting my very first LIRW meeting with a Newsday reporter in the room. I bounced back from the abdication of one or two board members who found their positions too overwhelming to continue. I never once made it to a Presidents' Retreat at RWA National, despite attempts both in Reno and Atlanta. I learned to love public speaking, thanks to my monthly gigs and time at the podium during the LIRW's June Luncheon. At yesterday's affair, my chaptermates presented me with a beautiful basket of wine from Long Island's own East End (complete with two lovely hand-painted wine glasses) and a gift card to Barnes and Noble. Wine and books...who could ask for anything more? Well, maybe a tub full of hot, scented water to enjoy both in style. Come January, I'll take over as Newsletter Editor for the chapter. Out with the old position...in with the new.

Speaking of old and new, on my critique site, Romantic CritWits, I was forced to say goodbye to several long-time members. It wasn't an easy decision, but I stick by it. I think in each case the members weren't really interested in being members any more; they just didn't know how to leave the group or didn't have the motivation to move on without a nudge. I wish each of these ladies well and hope they don't harbor ill will. Their release may have come as a surprise, but I believe if they really think about it, they'll see that this action was for the best. When disinterest leads to apathy, it's only a short step to hard feelings. Luckily, the rest of the group has moved forward, anxious to welcome several new members now and celebrate the return of one or two former members after the holidays. In the last week, we've seen more activity than we did in the entire month of November! So much happening there and I'm glad to see the sparks flying again.

Timing for this flurry is ideal since I've decided to take a break from writing until January. With my revisions for my second book completed on Thanksgiving morning, I'm concentrating on family and friends, reconnecting with those I love and those who make my life a joy. I'm also squeezing in a bit of "reading for pleasure," something I don't get to enjoy as much as I used to. It's often difficult for me to remove my "critiquer's hat" and simply read without worrying about Point of View shifts or Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. Luckily, a few favorite authors (J.D. Robb and Jane Heller to name two I recently read) write such fabulous works, I manage to lose myself in their magic.

Wishing all of you a magical holiday season filled with love and laughter. What else is there in life?

Sunday, December 3, 2006

How Dedicated Are You?

Writing is a funny thing. It seems that everyone I meet has "been planning to write a book" when they have time. The trick is, you have to MAKE the time.

Personally, I'm thoroughly immersed in the writing world and have been since I first decided to take up this life. I volunteer my time to RWA and the LIRW, I belong to two very active critique groups, and I love to talk about writing with anyone who'll ask. When I'm not writing my own stories, I'm reading something off my constantly-growing collection of books written by friends and associates, or critiquing a work for one of my groups. I love discovering a new turn of phrase or plot point. For me (and most writers), it's all about the next line of dialogue, the next scene, the next story. Yes, there have been times where real life has called me away, but all too soon, Gertrude starts whispering in my ear again, and I find myself drawn back to the desktop to tell another couple's great tale of love and happily ever after. True success in writing only comes through dedication. Just ask Nora Roberts.

During a recent chat, another writer (hi, Deb!) confessed that she thought of a great story idea while in church and wrote it on the church bulletin so she wouldn't forget it. Now, that's dedication! Most writers admit to having written something on a cocktail napkin, a receipt, the back of an envelope or a steamy shower door at one time or another.

Yet, there are those writers who start out gung-ho, maybe finish a manuscript or two, but for whatever reason, they lose the passion. Maybe they received one too many rejections, maybe something serious took them away from the craft and they find it difficult to dive in again, or maybe the business end just depresses them too much. These are the writers who, after a time, find themselves with "too much to do to write" or hanging on to a writing group for "sentimental reasons." Guess what, gang? Writing is a business, not a club you join for the occasional chat or sentimental stroll down Memory Lane (i.e., "Remember when I thought I was going to be a published writer...?").

Real writers show up at that keyboard every single day. They write, they read, they critique their partners' works in order to strengthen their own prose. They live, eat, sleep and breathe the writing process. Anyone who tells you differently is selling snake oil in a magic elixir bottle. So plan to show up every day. Or don't show up at all.