Thursday, May 31, 2007

Last Thursday 13 in May

13 "Happy" Songs That Always Get Me Bouncing:

1. Walking on Sunshine - Katrina & the Waves

2. Rock DJ - Robbie Williams

3. Mistaken - Save Ferris

4. Your Horoscope For Today - Weird Al

5. Don't Worry, Be Happy - Bobby McFerrin

6. 1985 - Bowling For Soup

7. I Do - J. Geils Band

8. Mint Car - The Cure

9. Found Out About You - Gin Blossoms

10. Clint Eastwood - The Gorillaz

11. Are You Gonna Be My Girl - Jet

12. Banana Pancakes - Jack Johnson

13. Short Skirt/Long Jacket - Cake

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Break that Block!

Every once in a while, when I'm suffering from ye dreaded block, I pull out my Quotations book and choose several quotes at random. Then I play with the meanings behind those quotes. Can they help me strengthen characterization? Will they create a new scene that I can use to propel my story forward? Whatever they do, I find them a tremendous help in overcoming obstacles to my writing. Here are a few for today's blockees:

"People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built." - Eleanor Roosevelt

"Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity." - Anonymous

"Your birth is a mistake you'll spend your whole life trying to correct." - Chuck Palahniuk

"Family isn't about whose blood you have. It's about who you care about." - Matt Stone and Trey Parker

"No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit." - Helen Keller

"If you put tomfoolery into a computer, nothing comes out of it but tomfoolery. But this tomfoolery, having passed through a very expensive machine, is somehow ennobled and no one dares criticize it." - Pierre Gallois

Here's hoping something in this list inspires you!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Back To School

This past week, I got the opportunity to do something I never thought I'd want to do: revisit high school. Now, admittedly, this time I was there as a guest and not as a student. And it wasn't the high school I attended in my teenaged years. Still, the nerves I experienced the evening before were pretty familiar. Why was I pushing through throngs of adolescents in those painted brick walls? To speak to my daughter's English class (and a few others) about writing, of course!

Her teacher was thrilled with the idea of having a "real live writer" talk to his students about the writing process, what it takes to get published, and the various aspects of my "craft." For the most part, I found the kids fun, insightful, and interested in what I had to say. I didn't prepare a long speech beforehand, knowing that (a) the last thing these kids want is another person lecturing to them, and (b) I didn't want to repeat the same info to several different classes. I wanted to be able to hear their questions, find out what interested them, and let them choose the direction my visit took. It turned out to be the right course. In one class, we spent a lot of time discussing names for characters, in another, we discussed movies, and in a third, we talked about hidden themes. In each, however, I think the kids left with some kernel of information they didn't have beforehand. Who could ask for anything more?

So a great big thank you to Mr. Oatis for inviting me, and to all the students at Ward Melville High School for opening their classrooms to me! I had a wonderful time!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

It's Thursday Thirteen Time!

My Favorite 13 Alcoholic Beverages

1. Razzarita
2. Killian's Irish Red beer
3. Black Opal Chardonnay
4. Piper Heidsieck Champagne topped with a shot of Chambord
5. Bailey's Chocolate Mint Irish Cream
6. Cosmos, baybee!
7. Samuel Adams Spring Ale
8. Traditional Margarita
9. Parrot Bay Rum Runner
10. Godiva Liqueur
11. Zombies!
12. Pindar Winter White wine
13. Yellowtail Grenache/Shiraz blend red wine

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

My Latest Obsession

I've never been a big fan of reality TV, despite writing The Bonds of Matri-money, which is based on a Survivor-style game show. I made an exception for the tryouts of American Idol, and my guilty pleasure, Parental Control on MTV. Enter Shear Genius on Bravo. Don't ask me why, but the trials and tribulations of hairdressers as they attempt to design winning do's and land a contract with Nexxus has me enthralled. Over the last few weeks, I've seen hair done through the ages (Elizabethan, Medieval, Punk), bridal designs, and styles fit for the Red Carpet in Hollywood. And the personalities of the contestants make the show as much fun as waiting for the finished products week after week.

We're down to four contestants now (having lost my personal fave: Tyson, last week, along with my least favorite: Tabatha.) But you can bet I've pegged a new favorite to win it all, and I'll be glued to my television set to see the action unfold until the last hairstyle (and the winner) is revealed!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Farewell to the Great Ones

Recently, two agents extraordinaire have announced their retirement from the blog world: Nadia Cornier of Firebrand Literary Agency, aka Agent Obscura, posted her goodbye message on May 11. And now, we bid a sweet adieu to the queen, Miss Snark.

Luckily for those of us in the trenches, both have insisted the blogs will remain up, archived, for anyone who would like to refer to them for sage advice, witticism, or good old fashioned snark. I'll miss them both, but now think I may have more time to get some writing done.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

13 Reasons I'm Looking Forward To the LIRW Luncheon

On Friday, June 15, the Long Island Romance Writers will host their 10th Annual Editor/Agent Luncheon. With less than a month to go, here are 13 reasons I can't wait for this year's event:

1. I get to shop for a new outfit.

2. I'm not a speaker this year (first time in four years!) so I get to relax and have fun without worrying about where my index cards are and how soon I should step up to the podium.

3. The awesome baskets at the Chinese auction (and I know what's in 'em, 'cuz I filled most of them!)

4. The relaxed atmosphere of the Carriage House at the Milleridge Inn.

5. Champagne punch

6. The excitement in the air (which may, in part, be due to the champagne punch.)

7. No appointments: just sidle up to an agent or editor and strike up a conversation.

8. Getting to see long distance friends.

9. Raspberry chocolate mousse for dessert.

10. Seeing who'll win the LIRW's Light of the Island Award this year.

11. The cost: $40 for LIRW members; $50 for non-members. (Such a bargain!)

12. Lindt chocolate favors.

13. The guest list. Along with guest speaker Maggie Crawford of Pocket Books, attendees include Faith Black of Avalon Books, Erin Galloway from Dorchester, Heather Osborn of Tor, Tara Parsons from HQN, Hilary Sares from Kensington, Kristen Weber and Becky Vinter of NAL, Olivia Wong of Loose Id, Diana Szu of Thomas Dunne Books, Rose Hilliard from St. Martin's Press, as well as agents: Pam Strickler, Donald Maass, Emmanuelle Alspaugh, and Meredith Bernstein. And there's still time for more business professionals to sign up!

How could I not be excited? If you're planning on attending, look for me and say hi!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Bravery, thy name is Mother

So yesterday was Mother's Day--the perfect time to take my daughter for her first driving lesson. I know; I'm a brave soul. But guess what? She didn't do so bad. Okay, so she's not ready for three point turns and parallel parking yet, but at least she didn't hit anything. Fire hydrants, trees, garbage pails, neighbors all survived unscathed.

Dad, not to be outdone, took her for a longer drive after Mom did, but Tori came back inside and begged, "Please don't let Dad teach me. He's too jumpy."

Poor guy. He'll have to stick to practicing sports with the boy.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Food for Thought

The following is the original Mother's Day Proclamation, written by Julia Ward Howe, after seeing the devastation caused by the U.S. Civil War. How sad that so little has changed more than a century later:

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have breasts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:"We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,

Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: "Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.

Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask

That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

For more information, check out this website.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: 13 Reasons I Became A Romance Author (with tongue firmly in cheek)

13 Reasons I Became A Romance Author
(with tongue firmly in cheek)

1. For the fame and fortune.

2. I have room on my mantel for a few Pulitzers and a RITA or two.

3. To quiet the voices in my head.

4. So, at tax time, I can write off all the books I buy.

5. I get high on the smell of ink inside newly printed books.

6. I thrive on rejection.

7. I'm too old for American Idol.

8. To gain revenge by crafting fictional justice for real life foes.

9. I do my best work with a deadline hanging over my head.

10. To increase my number of friends on MySpace.

11. Because I'd much rather be inside working on edits than spending time in the beautiful outdoors.

12. To gain respect in the literary world.

13. Because it's so easy!

Eight Random Things...

With great thanks to Debora for getting me into this mess.

Here are the rules:

Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.

2. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
3. At the end of your blog, you need to choose four people to get tagged and list their names.
4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

Eight Random Things About Gina...

1. I'm a sap for teen girl movies like Ice Princess, What a Girl Wants, The Parent Trap, etc. (If you've seen Colin Firth wriggling in his leather pants in What a Girl Wants, you really can't blame me.)

2. I love to flirt. Still.

3. I have a pretty high tolerance for pain.

4. I'm really great with kids and pets, but can kill the heartiest plant in no time.

5. Despite exceptional grades in high school (and a NYS Regents Scholarship), I've never gone to college.

6. I collect unusual earrings.

7. Nicknames I have been known by: Red (duh!), Pinhead, Bean, Flake, The Girl With the Nice Chickens, Pumpkin, and most recently, Vix the Crit Dominatrix.

8. I'm addicted to Comedy Central: South Park, Mind of Mencia, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report--I can't live without it!

I'm tagging: Jerri, Dawn, Debi, and Sarah.

Get crackin', girls!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

All Hail La Nora!

Congratulations to the Queen: Nora Roberts has been named to Time Magazine's List of 100 Most Influential People. While I take exception to the comment that we've had our "fantasy lives shaped by her work," I certainly wouldn't kick the enigmatic, always charming, and drop-dead sexy Roarke out of my imaginary bed.

Still, romance novels are about more than fantasy--as any reader of the genre will tell you. Why is it that when a man reads James Bond or Jack Ryan thrillers, there's no needling about him looking for fantasy and pretending to be a suave or rugged spy in the service of his country? Yet when a woman picks up a novel about the relationship between two people, about love overcoming obstacles, she's labeled as some kind of air-headed boob, who dreams of being swept off her feet by her Prince Charming and carried away to a castle in the pretty pink clouds?

Nora Roberts is a dynamo for a reason! As are all the members of the Romance Royal Court: Jennifer Crusie, Bertrice Small, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jayne Ann Krentz, and too many others to list here. To those who snicker behind their hands or make comments about "fantasy lives," I have a message for you. Until you've hit the bestseller list a coupla dozen times, please keep your snarkiness to yourself.

Congratulations, Nora! You keep blazing trails for the rest of us!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Another rave review for "Bonds!"

Coffee Time Romance has given "The Bonds of Matri-money" their top rating: 5 COFFEE CUPS! You can read the full review here.

Thank You!

Thanks to everyone who popped by Waldenbooks yesterday for my signing with Dorchester author, Dawn Thompson. We had a lot of fun speaking to romance fans, and even promised to borrow a name or two for heroines in future stories. If you couldn't be there, fear not. Dawn and I left a few autographed copies of our books there for purchase. You'll find them behind the register on display, so why not stop in and pick one up? They make great Mother's Day gifts!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

13 Things I Love About Tori

Today is my daughter's SIXTEENTH birthday! her honor, I've come up with 13 things I Love About Tori:

1. Her cute little monster face

2. Her eyes

3. Her friends

4. Her sense of humor

5. Her many hair colors

6. Her cheery disposition (especially first thing in the morning!)

7. Her patience with her little brother

8. Her sense of style

9. Her athletic prowess

10. Her love for animals

11. Her musical side

12. The beautiful lady she's becoming

13. And the joy she brings to my life every day!


Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Let the Countdown Begin...

Yesterday, the RWA site opened for editor/agent appointments for National in Dallas. I'd love to say I was first in line, but I wasn't. I was close and did manage to get an appointment with my first choice agent. So, life is good. Then I signed up to volunteer in a few areas, as well. How could I not? RWA has given me so much in my journey, it would be sinful if I didn't attempt to give something back. I see it as paying my good fortune forward. If one writer benefits the way I did, then my few hours of time were well spent. Yes?

I've already had a few discussions with my roomie, Debora, regarding plans and strategies for getting the most out of this trip. I know as time draws nearer, we'll plan ourselves into overdrive. But that's half the fun.

The other half, is of course, shopping. I've already picked up two new outfits and a possible dress for the Awards Dinner, but I'm still scouting the stores for the "ideal" garment. Once the clothing is assembled, shoes are the next big target.

Don't you love this time of year?