Thursday, December 21, 2006

I'm Late!

Visit me and my LATE post over at Word Flirts!


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

This computer is for an adult...

That's what my hubby said to me tonight. Actually, he said, "You only click once, remember, this computer was made for an adult." He was talking about his spiffy Mac Powerbook which to his despair I'm using at the moment to compose this post and happily double click away. :-)

I'm using hubby's single click Mac... Which I explained was set up for just single click because the owner was too simple minded to understand the concept of double click on a pc (all in good fun, of course)... because my poor little Toshiba's ballast/backlight has gone out. It could be due in part to my puppy dog who has been pretty determined to prevent me from writing lately. So determined, he paws my computer. And funny thing... all of a sudden a gliche arises. Argh!

So it's heading to Mr. Fix-It. Tomorrow hopefully. I read that it wasn't too costly and the symptoms are exactly what I'm experiencing. So let's pray it's easy and chea... oh yeah, and fast. That's what hubby is pryaing... that it's fast. I think he thinks I'm cursed and anything technical I touch won't work. I did ask him how to turn it on just to tease him and I looked at his wireless mouse like it was a foreign object brought back from Mars. That probably didn't raise his confidence in me too much, but it sure was entertaining to watch his reaction. Hmmm... I'm gonna go see what other fun I can get into.

If I don't get to check back in, I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and New Year! We're heading out of town the day after Christmas. We're going bowling! For those not into college football, it means we're headed to a bowl game. But I'll be back by the 1st!


Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Number Four

Marybeth tagged me with this so here goes:

Four jobs I’ve had:
1. Toy Store Clerk
2. Ad Sales Rep.
3. Waitress
4. Real estate

Four Places I’ve lived:
1. Hmmm... my hubby is looking over my shoulder and shaking his head at this one because I've never moved more than 15 miles away and he says I can't say where I live on the internet. As though it's that hard to find out anyway. I knew I never should have told him about an author I know getting stalked by a prison inmate!

Four favorite foods:
1. Chocolate candy
2. Chocolate ice cream
3. Chocolate milk shake
4. Chocolate cake

Four movies I could watch over and over:
1. Dirty Dancing
2. Sixteen Candles
3. Ever After
4. The Saint

Four TV shows I enjoy:
1. Grey's Anatomy
2. Ghost Hunters
3. Studio 60
4. The Office

Four places I’ve traveled:
1. New York
2. Jamaica
3. Grand Cayman
4. Mexico

Four places I’d like to visit:
1. Ireland
2. France (southern)
3. Germany
4. Italy

Four websites I go to (almost) daily:
1. :-)
2. (I'm trying to cut down on my rumor spreading)

Four people I’m tagging to do this too:
1. Cole
2. Karen
3. Sarah
4. Julie
And anyone else who wants to :-)


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

It's Christmas Time...

As we speak, a cinnamon spice cake is cooling on top of our stove and the smell is making me crazy! I was working on a ginger bread house, but while it was "setting" the dog decided the icing mortar needed some work, so it had to be trashed. He never gets on the table. But I guess that icing was just too tempting.

The cake is for our office party tomorrow, so I won't get to eat it all by myself. But that's a good thing... For my diet.

I've put aside the wip temporarily to deal with the idea in my head. There's some issues I want to work out with the plot of the wip and I plan to work on that too, so I'm not putting it aside completely. And I'm not a habitual putter-asider, so hopefully I'm not starting a trend. But the other story is calling calling calling, and I can't ignore it any more.

Christmas shopping is ALMOST done. Woo Hoo!!

We decorate each year. I love Christmas decorating. But there's a limit to how much decorating I'll do. Last year a friend shared this with me and although I posted it last year, I thought I should share it again. It definately goes beyond my limit!

Wizards of Winter

Anyone know someone who decorates like that?


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Headless Heroes?

Check out the debate over at Word Flirts!


Thursday, November 30, 2006

Who Are These People??????

So I'm buzzing away on my wip. Well, maybe not buzzing away. More like slugging along at the pace of a snail. But that's more work than I've done lately, so I will NOT complain. And I start listening to the radio.

I like music while I write and I was stuck, so I turned on the radio for a few minutes. Of course commercials start playing, so I realize that was a stupid idea and turn off the radio. But not before one of those commercials plants an idea for a story in my head.

So I figure I'll put that on the back burner and save it for later. But all of a sudden characters start popping up. And I think, who are these people? Then I start having details pop up about them, like their names and hang-ups. I'm busy here on my current story. Shoot, I'm only around 20,000 words. I can't think about other characters right now. I have several people in a the makings of a real mess and it's up to me to get them out of it.

Only now there's these other characters and they're loud. Really loud. So I open a blank document and write a concept about them to satisfy their haranguing. And it worked. For a full ten minutes I was able to go back to writing. Then they came back. They want me to work on their conflict apparently. But I can't!! What to do??

In the mean time, I'm now at 20,250 and the wip is working out well. If only I can stay focused on it. What do you do when a new idea invades?


Monday, November 27, 2006

Just Happy to Blog...

I tried to come up with a thought provoking post about writing. But that's pretty much not gonna happen. One, I'm too excited by the fact that I'm writing again. I finally updated my word count at the side. It's nearly 20,000 words! And two, the holidays are upon us and I'm too excited.

I didn't get hardly any writing done this past week. It's been really depressing. And on top of that I have been absent from the blogosphere and that has been extra depressing.

But now I am happy because I'm back! I'm here and I'm writing, even though it's Christmas time. I'm so happy I thought I'd share this:
You Are Prancer

You are the perfect reindeer, with perfect hooves and perfect flying form.

Why You're Naughty: Because you're Santa's pet, and you won't let anyone show you up.

Why You're Nice: You have the softest fur and the sweetest carrot breath.


Friday, November 24, 2006

Look A-Likes?

Buzzing around the internet, trying to get motivated to write, I found a fun little exercise. It's a website where you can upload your picture and they'll find celebrities you look like and they'll give you the percentage of how much your face contours and features match the celebrity.

Here's what I got:

I have no idea how accurate any of those results are. I don't see a real resemblance with some. But there are others that I was surprised to see a resemblence in. It was fun and surprising to see who came up. Florence Henderson? Actually, I got Opera Winfrey too, which was a real surprise, but you can only include 8 of the results and it was one of the two lowest results, so I nixed it. I did another pic too and got some fun results. The really neat thing was to see who came up in both. Aishwariya Rai, Kelly Hu, and Selma Hayek all three showed up with each photo I did. So hmmm... They're all beautiful, so I will take it as a compliment and go on my merry way!

Try it and tell me who you got!


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Sunday, November 19, 2006

All By Myself...

Things haven't slowed down a lot, but they seem to be heading in that direction. Which is really wonderful. And just in time for the craziness of the holidays. Which I happen to enjoy, so I say "craziness" with great affection.

I haven't gotten much in the way of writing, but my cp... has skipped town and left me here to work alone... *grumble grumble* At least she left me with some chapters to enjoy before abandoning me. And that has certainly brightened matters.

For whatever reason, I work a lot better when she's around. Maybe it's because she IMs me and says, "Are you writing?" And honest person that I am, I have to IM back and say, "No." And then she tells me how naughty I am for that. Which in turn causes me to jump on the writing. Hmmm... Maybe I need to find a surrogate cp to IM me while she's gone.

At least I have her chapters to work on while she's gone. What about you? Do you have someone who spurs you on, or are you totally self-motivated?


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Still Here...

For all those worried about me, no my last post at Word Flirts did not give me a stroke. I'm here. Barely.

Life has just been nuts and I feel like I've been walking around in a fog. I have no idea what's going on. Maybe my writer's brain has decided to take a holiday. Business has been busy too, so that hasn't helped at all.

But rest assured I'm still here and my heroes refuse to permit me to ignore them completely. They've been hanging out bugging me, and being all around nuisances. But I can't complain about them too much.

Hopefully I'll be back in full force within 2 weeks. Let's hope. I've been so nuts, I forgot where I was going when I was headed home and needed to stop at the store. Then when I got there it took me a full 10 minutes to remember what the heck I had stopped for. Argh! How early can Alzhimer's set in?

How are things going for you? Are you focused, or finding it hard to do lately?


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Visit Me!

Over at Wordflirts where I'll be posting about one of my favorite Hero Flirts!


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Goblins and Ghosts and Ghouls...

Oh my, it's that day, folks. Good old Halloween. I used to live in a historic neighborhood and we only had one or two trick or treaters each year. But three years ago, we moved to a newer neighborhood and we have TONS of kids. I mean TONS. And we really enjoy handing out candy. So we've been having a ball tonight.

I hope you all have a really terrific Halloween too.

Things have been so nuts, I haven't been able to blog post or more importantly blog hop :(. Talk about sad. So I'm hoping to catch up on my blog reading by the weekend. I feel isolated without it. I also haven't written a single word on my ms. Argh!

What do you all do for Halloween? Anything?


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Today I'm Flirting...

Join me over at Wordflirts today!


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Collecting People

Suetagged me with a new phenomenon... collecting people. The idea is that you tag five people and they list some of their life experiences and then you keep that info on file so that when/if you need it for your writing later on, you have the resource. Sounds like a great idea, right?

So here's my list of five things everyone may or may not know about me:

1. I have a degree in Advertising and Public Relations.

2. I've been a real estate broker for eleven years.

3. I'm an avid do-it-myselfer. In case you couldn't tell from the hole in the bathroom wall story a few posts ago. The hole has now been fixed and a new fixture is up by the way...

4. For three years, I toured part time with a regional rock band (I didn't play, I did publicity and sales for them). Lots of really interesting experiences there. Even better, got to meet a lot of really great people.

5. My mother used to build and install radar systems from scratch in military planes. That's not me, but pretty neat considering most people see her as a little five foot, two inch grandma type :-).

Now I'm tagging Cole, Mary Beth, Bosey, Julie, & Sarah.

Message from Sharon:


Remember that it isn't always the sensational stuff that writers are looking for, it can just as easily be something that you take for granted like having raised twins or knowing how to grow beetroot. Mind you, if you know how to fly a helicopter or have worked as a film extra, do feel free to let the rest of us know about it :-)"

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Blogger Bogs...

The last couple of days I have had a really hard time accessing blogger. Which sucked even more than usual because I haven't been a really active blogger and I really wanted to blog FINALLY and couldn't.

But now I can and I have no clue what to say... So maybe you should take this as a warning that this will probably be a VERY boring blog post.

I have gotten 4500 words done recently. Which surprised me, because I thought I hadn't gotten much of anything done. And by some measures, that still isn't a ton, but for me it's A LOT!

This time of year is supposed to mean my day-work is slow. But it hasn't been cooperating. And I shouldn't complain because the money is a welcome addition. But I was so hoping to have more time to write.

So I guess I'll do some juggling and see what happens. In the mean time, my cp is flying on her wip and I'm the one benefiting because I have some excellent reading. So I'm off to read...

How about you? Too many things getting in the way of your writing or are you cruising along?


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Targeting Target...

A fellow writer just sent me an email stating that Target has decided to stop carrying Harlequin and Silhoutte books in their stores. I have no idea for their reasoning. I would find it hard to believe the sales are low, since the stores account for a good deal of HQ sales.

You can click here to send them an email if you would like. Maybe if enough people send emails, they will reconsider their decision.

Edited to add: I was given the news by Nina Bruhns, Intimate Moments & Nocturn author. She's a member of my local chapter and passed along the news...


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Surprise Makeover...

This weekend I knew I would be busy. Hubby had warned me that he wanted to clean on Saturday. But he didn't get around to starting until late and ended up just cleaning out all of our kitchen cabinets. Forget all of the vacuuming, dusting, and moping that needed to get done!

Friday night I did some necessary shopping. And I picked up some new towel bars for our master bath. So I decided to install of them on Saturday. There were three towel holders and the toilet paper holder. Not a really BIG project, but a little work.

Then last night we decided to go to Lowe's and look for new light fixtures for our bathroom. It's been in SERIOUS need of new fixtures for a while. This was the hundredth time we looked at bathroom light fixtures. We have textured walls, but the light over the mirror is one of those bars with the bulbs sticking out like movie makeup tables. We had hoped to find a light that would fit the space, so we wouldn't have to patch the texture on the walls, but we gave in and decided we would just get the light we wanted and patch the wall, because we couldn't find anything that had a 3ft wide base.

So we brought them home and then today after we got through with church and family, I installed the ceiling light in the middle of the bath and began work on installing the one over the sink.

Only I discovered there's no junction box. Just a whole in the sheet rock with wires sticking out. Which means I didn't have anything other than sheet rock to anchor my light to. And it's HEAVY. Which means I would get it hung and it would just fall out of the wall. Which would NOT be good.

So now, we have a big gaping spot above the mirror in our bathroom and their are wires sticking out (not live). And it'll stay like this until I get to Lowe's to get the supplies I need to put a junction box in and the patch stuff. Argh!

But just with the changes we made, the bathroom looks totally different and I'm happy about that! Even if I hadn't planned to do any of that this weekend. It seems most of our home renovation plans work out like that. We just decide to go to the home improvement store and do it. That's with smaller projects usually, at least.

What about you? Do you have to plan way ahead for home improvement projects, or do they catch you at the spur of the moment?


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Check Me Out

Wednesday was my day at The Word Flirts So come on over and check out the steamy post...


Monday, October 09, 2006


My hubby had to use my computer the other day and I was sitting by watching tv while he did. I noticed he had stopped typing and I looked over and saw he was searching my keyboard.

I asked, "What ya looking for?"

"The E," he responded.

I leaned over and noticed that the little letter on my E key had worn nearly completely off. "It's the only missing letter."

"There are a couple getting close," he responded as he went back to work.

I looked over again and noticed he was right. Then the next day at work, I noticed that the E key on that keyboard is nearly gone too.

I guess I use E's a lot. But you would think those little letters would hold up better. Apparently I use S and N a lot too, because those look like the next to go. Which is ok, because I type from feel most of the time anyway. But still... It was really funny to see him searching my keyboard. His Mac isn't THAT different. I guess he just doesn't type as much when he's doing his graphic designing :-)

What letters are the most worn off on your keyboard?


Friday, October 06, 2006

Moving On...

I'm now 8,000 words into my rewrite of my wip. Not as impressive as the 25,000 I had, but not too bad for just under a week's worth of writing. I decided to call it rewrite, so it didn't feel so much like I was just tossing it out :-).

I decided to let the ms(Picture Me) that was rejected by ModX just sit. Maybe forever, but I'm not making any commitments. Since it's only around 60,000 words, it's not really the right length for any other publishers I know of. So I'd need to do some major work to make it right for somewhere else. And it's just not what I want to do right now. This story is the one calling, so I'm answering :-).

It feels like a waste to not at least try subbing Picture Me more, but I guess I don't see the use right now. So oh well...

I've decided I'm moving on and I'm terribly happy with the decision so I suppose it's the right one.

How's your writing going?


Monday, October 02, 2006

Shameless Promotion

I try not to shamelessly promote stuff. Really, I do. Since taking over as co-coordinator of my RWA chapter's online classes, I've added a section on my sidebar with a listing of our upcoming courses. But for the most part, that has been it.

Until now. In November we're having two classes and both of them are going to be terrific! First up is an 8-day class headed up by Intimate Moments and Nocturne author, Nina Bruhns, along with several of her Harlequin cohorts. It focuses on the differences in the lines, and the nuances which aren't really relayed by the "guidelines" you see on the site. Along with secrets to breaking into the lines, including secrets of MIRA.

We're also having Amy Knupp's husband, Justin Knupp as a guest instructor. He's giving a class on websites. He'll be talking about EVERYTHING you need to know. From design, to planning, to hosting. He'll also talk about programs for you to do your own design and what to look for in a designer. It's a class not to be missed.

And since they're two really stellar classes, I couldn't resist blogging about them. If you want more info, you can visit the Lowcountry RWA online classes web page or email our coordinators (yes, that would be me and my pal Dorothy).

I've asked before, but I'll ask again... Are there any online classes you've taken or someone you know has that was just great?


Saturday, September 30, 2006

Lost My Mind...

It's official. I have lost my mind. Obviously given my last several posts, I have been feeling a bit "off" with my wip. Which as we've determined is not unique to me. I had determined some changes I needed to make in order to strengthen the story. And I've been away, in my cave trying to work through those changes.

Finally, I have them all flushed out. And I think I may have lost my mind. Because I am scrapping all 25,000 or so words I have written so far. Yeah, I've erased words before. But not 25,000! I didn't actually erase them, I just started a new document.

The most basic plot is still the same. But some pretty significant changes occurred. My hero has a different career and they traded a sibling, the inciting event has been altered and the conflict between them altered. I think it was the conflict between them... You know that "thing" keeping them apart... That was bugging me most.

There was a conflict in the previous version. A decent one at that. And technically, it's still there. But it's just not strong enough. And that was bugging me. So now it's a new one and that's great.

I don't regret all the writing I did earlier. If I hadn't written all of that, I wouldn't have realized what the real conflict is. So it was productive.

Now I've done a complete outline... something else new for me. And I'm taking it scene by scene. As much as I feel like I should be overwhelmed at scrapping the first version, really I'm just excited to have worked it out and be getting started. I might have made it to this point sooner if I had been more willing to just scrap the first. But that thought was a little scary!

What's the most you've ever scraped? Did you have a hard time doing it?


Saturday, September 23, 2006

Slowing Down...

Fall is finally here. And everyone has been talking about change. One change I am experiencing is slowing down to really think. When I first started writing, I kept hearing that the "average" writer completes seven manuscripts before getting published and I thought... holy mackerel, I better get writing. And I wrote like a nut.

Despite my push, it took me a year to complete my first manuscript of around 75,000 words. And then I began the second that fall (last fall). I was preparing to attend my first national convention in August of this year and my goal was to have it done and ready to pitch, so I pushed and pushed and finished it in time.

A lot has happened since then. I've narrowed and directed my focus of where I want to go and what I want to do with my writing, I've learned a lot from other writers, and I think I'm a lot different as a writer overall. Even if I do still want to use commas too much. Love those commas.

But a big change I've felt is that I don't feel like I'm in a hurry. I mean I want to be done with it. I want to have it complete, and I've been writing at a decent clip. 25,000 words in a month is pretty good for me. It's a much faster pace than my first story. But I don't feel like I'm writing fast. I feel comfortable as though I'm just plodding along and getting it done as it happens.

With my first two stories, when people asked about the stories, I was always stumped for a moment. I had a really hard time breaking the stories down into a small nut to explain in a few sentences, but I'm also not having that problem here. It's pretty easy to explain. It may not be EVERYTHING that happens in the story, but if it were, I'd just be reading the book aloud, right?

Moments of complete abject self-confidence failure aside (see previous post), I've really enjoyed feeling different with this story. I don't know if it's a sign that I've matured as a writer or that my abilities have improved, but it's nice and while I'm feeling good about it, I thought I should share that.

So my question is this: Has there been a turning point for you? Where your writing took a turn, hopefully a good one, but a turn none-the-less?


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Giving Yourself Permission

I've been busy with all sorts of activities and writing hasn't gotten the time it deserves. In a way, I think I may have been procrastinating. Maybe I even got bit by the self-doubt bug. Don't you just hate that little sucker. Or maybe it's just me.

Despite having a sketch of the upcoming scenes, I hadn't gotten any further on my wip. All of a sudden all sorts of questions started popping up. Is there enough conflict? Is there too much? Is the story too complicated? Is it too simple? Is it just a really stupid story idea all together? Self doubt.

While sharing emails with a friend, I revealed my quandary and she said, "It's ok. You're ok. Keep going." She pointed out that it's ok if it's crap. It's ok if I have to go back and edit or even erase. That's all part of the journey. And I know I've heard that a million times. And this may sound silly, but her giving me permission to keep going allowed me to do so.

Do you face self-doubt with your writing? How do you get beyond it?


Friday, September 15, 2006

Early Obsessions...

I had to go to an office supply store today. We needed those little dots you put on folded paper to keep them closed while they're in the mail. While picking those up, I also got a box of pens.

When I got back to the office, I handed over the dots and took the pens with me. I should probably note here, that my mother and sister both work in the same office with me. It's a family real estate business. Anyway, I happily went to my office and ripped into my box of brand new pens, not even noticing my mother following me.

When she saw what I had, she just shook her head and said, "Why am I surprised?"

I looked up from my glee and asked, "What? I just got some pens."

She gave me an indulgent smile and said, "You always have to have pens."

Since this remark resembled a Rain Man phrase to me, I of course immediately started to defend my purchase. "But I was out of black pens."

"You could have just gotten one out of the supply drawer," she reasoned.

What could I say? There are pens in the drawer, but they aren't these pens? Before I could answer, she pointed at one of the TWO pen holders on my desk. The one with my... novelty pens. There's a Tigger, a Mickey that lights up when you press down, a zany pink fuzzy guy on a spring and a big pink feathery pen. Oh yeah... and the red and white candy stripped double tipped pencil I stole from her last week. "You just like pens."

"Well, you always need a pen, right?"

She smiled. "Yeah, but you don't need the tub full you have at home." Did I mention I have a small... ok, 16"x16" tub o'pens at home. All sorts of neat pens and pencils there.

I guess she saw the defenses rising, because she sat down and her smile turned indulgent and she said, "Ever since you could first hold a writing instrument, you've been obsessed with them. When we'd go to the store and other kids had to have a toy, all you wanted was a neat pencil or pen, which was usually in the budget. I thought it was cute, I'm not criticizing."

Feeling somewhat vindicated, I twirled the new pen in my hand and said, "I just like them...."

Her reply was, "I guess it was an early indication of your writing desires."

That hit me like a brick. Because when someone learns I write, invariably, the question of how long I've been doing it comes up and I always hem haw around it. Usually I answer... "I've been seeking publication for two years." Because I've been writing forever, but not necessarily for a purpose other than to read my own dribble.

While I knew I had the desire to story tell in me, I didn't realize I had outward indications of those desires. And it was neat to discover one.

Did you have indications of your desire to write before you actually started doing it?


EDITED TO ADD: Big congratulations to Michelle Willingham who got THE CALL today. She's worked very hard to get here and it's a delight to see it happen! Visit her blog and read her story and congratulate her!

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Wednesday's post was an interrogation... I mean interview of author Mary Eason at Word Flirts. Check it out!


Sunday, September 10, 2006

Beach Patrol...

While I was writing the other night and hubby worked on some work of his own, we were allowing Cops shows to play on the TV. Most episodes are good for at least one laugh. I know... I have a twisted sense of humor.

Well, after Court TV had exhausted its supply of Cops for the night, a program came on that we hadn't seen before. Beach Patrol Miami. And I was instantly entranced. It had all of the makings of a great Cops episode. Stupid people doing even more stupid stuff. But it also featured fit, athletic lifeguards who play, life saver/peace keeper in a city where the beach is daily life.

Since I was able to get 2000 words done this weekend, I thought I would reward myself and you guys with some pictures of lifeguards from the show. Enjoy!

There are female lifeguards too and they too do amazing work. And no, they don't resemble inflation devices, thank you very much. Although, I'd pay my life's savings to have a set of their abs.

How did your weekend go?


Friday, September 08, 2006

Don't Forget...

I want to remind everyone to go to Romance Junkies and vote on the entries. There are a lot of great entries, each week. Also, take a peek around Romance Junkies while you're there. Cat and her gang have really done a great job with the site!

So, I'm thinking about my weekend and trying to figure out what I'll do besides writing. What are your plans?


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The First Kiss...

My characters have finally shared their first kiss and I'm at 20,000 words! Woo Hoo! So it's party time.

And I thought we'd party over a first kiss discussion.

My sister is 12 years older than me and I remember a discussion we had when she was considering dating her now hubby. They had gone out and he had moved in for a kiss and she'd backed off. She told him, "A kiss will change everything." And this was long before the days when Julia Roberts was trying to prevent herself from smooching Richard Gere. He wrote a song about it and recorded it for her and that song helped settle his place in her heart.

I remember my first kiss. Although it wasn't truly memorable. I was young and my best friend was a little boy named Timmy. We were really best buddies. I was a bit of a tomboy back then. We played fort, dared each other to jump out of trees and off various pieces of play ground equipment and when we caught my then teenage sister kissing her boyfriend, we decided to do that too. It took us a grand total of maybe two nano-seconds to decide it wasn't for us. He had cooties and I didn't want them.

It was many years later, when I finally understood that not ALL boys had cooties and decided to give this whole kissing thing another whirl. It lasted slightly longer than the first, and thankfully, he didn't slobber on me or anything. As far as first kisses go, it wasn't bad. He was my childhood crush of the moment (I had several) and it was definitely a happy moment for me.

My hubby and I took forever to have our first kiss. We were really good friends for four years before deciding to date. And we were both so nervous about totally blowing our friendship that we decided to take things very slow. We were juniors in high school and we dated for over a month and a half before we had our first kiss. And FINALLY I had found the right one. The rest as they say is history.

When I'm writing a first kiss, I always think back to the first kiss hubby and I shared. It was on the front porch of my childhood home and it was Christmas time. So we were standing there, freezing, surrounded by the glow of Christmas lights and hugging, when it happened. It's a really wonderful moment to reflect on while writing.

While I haven't written a similar scene for any of my heroes or heroines, I like to reflect on the emotions I felt then. It's a lot better than that first kiss with poor Timmy. It must have been hard to kiss a girl who could beat you up.

What about you? What was your first kiss like? Do you ever think about it as you write?


Monday, September 04, 2006

Look Mom, No Net!

It's a holiday weekend here in the US and my first thought was... Maybe I'll get a lot of writing done. Then, Saturday I got my hair cut, went ice skating with my nephew (didn't fall once), had drinks with some girlfriends and then came home and flipped open the laptop thinking I would do a little critiquing and then do some writing. Maybe even some surfing on the side.

Only I discovered there was a "failure to launch" with my modem. And I thought... What in the world? Turns out our DSL was down. Phone worked fine, but DSL was a no-go. So surfing was struck and thanks to my slackness, so was critiquing because I hadn't downloaded the file yet. Real smart, I know.

What was I left with? That's right... writing. I considered shutting off the computer and doing some reading. I mean how can I write if I can't look up something on the web when I need to? I can't! Only I discovered I could. I could very well in fact. So well that I wrote over 6000 words. I'm now at over 19000 words and flying strong.

Maybe this is a sign to me. Maybe I need to shut off the net more often. I missed getting to IM my cp when I had a question about a tweak. And I would catch myself trying to open messenger or aol messenger to see if she was on and then it would try to connect and spit all sorts of ugly phrases back at me. Something about attempting an illegal operation. Who knew messenger got so fussy when there was no internet connection. Stupid maybe, but illegal? Not quite.

But maybe now that my internet is back up, I need to open messenger and leave my browser shut. It'll be hard. Very hard. But I think I can do. In fact, if it means I'll write 6000 words, I KNOW I can do it. Sometimes.

Either way, it's past midnight and apparently my DSL is back to working because I can finally log into the net. Yay! Only now I'm sleepy. So hopefully I'll get some critiquing done tomorrow after the family festivities.

How'd your weekend go? Get much done?


Thursday, August 31, 2006

I'm Trying, Really I Am...

Writing these past couple of days hasn't been particularly smooth for me. I just can't seem to do it. And what's worse is that I don't think the usual "hump" is the cause.

I think I'm second guessing myself to death. Is the story right? Are the characters being portrayed correctly and well? Am I covering everything I need to cover?

And I know that I need to just do it and then worry about all of that, but I can't seem to stop!

What do I do? How do you deal with feeling unsure of your own writing?

PS I just had to laugh because I just realized Coldplay's Scientist is playing on my itunes. And for those who aren't familiar, the chorus is... Nobody said it was easy... No one ever said it would be this hard. How perfect.

Edited to Add: Tommorrow is the launch of the Pink Heart Society Blog. So you should stop by and say hello!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Visit Me...

Over at Word Flirts today... :-)


Sunday, August 27, 2006

New Digs...

What did I do today? A lot of editing? No. A bunch of writing? No.

I was sitting on the couch writing while hubby watched ESPN. Then, he turned it to Pirates of The Caribbean. And what was I to do?

I couldn't concentrate on being in another person's head when Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom are swash buckling across my TV. Not possible. So I decided I would toy with my blog template.

Three hours later, I have what you see here. My goal was to match my website. We'll see how long I'm happy with it.

What did you do this weekend? Any writing?


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Writing Like A Nut...

I'm still in the beginning, so things are going very smooth for me and I'm writing like crazy. Well, crazy for me.

And this of course makes me very happy. The danger is coming though. It's the "hump". That's what I call chapters 3 & 4. Because that's what they are for me. A hump. One I seem to srtuggle to get over every time.

Since I'm trying a new approach, an outline-but not in grave detail, I have no idea if the hump will be as bad or not. Let's hope not.

In the meantime, I've already started bugging my hubby by listening to Christmas music. The listening doesn't bother him so much. I use headphones with my itunes while I write. I think it's the off-key singing along that really gets him. Guess he shouldn't turn the football classics he's been watching all week in preparation for the beginning of college football next week, up so loud and I wouldn't have to compensate. ;-)

So here's what I want to know... Do you have a "hump" you traditionally experience in your writing process? And how do you get over it?


Monday, August 21, 2006

And It's Off...

My requested partial is officially off in the mail, winging it's way across the Atlantic. I have the hardest blooming time at the post office. I always forget stuff. I even make a list of what to do so I won't forget and still I forget!

This time, I forgot to write "Requested Material" on the envelope. Which since it says as much on the cover letter, I'm hoping isn't that big of a deal.

Speaking of envelopes, I discovered today, that something I thought was well known, may not be so well known. So I thought I would share. The post office provides these great envelopes for FREE. They're tyvek. I learned about them when an agent requested a partial and I sent it in and when she requested the full, she told me to put it in a tyvek envelope provided by the post office. They're made of this waxy material and nearly indestructible. There are domestic and global envelopes.

Not only are they free, but you can order a big bunch sent to you at home, for FREE! You just go to and then navigate your way through the maze till you find them and click order.

Thank goodness I've got my next project under way, because otherwise I'd be sitting here biting my nails. Crikes.

So now I have two questions... One feeds into my insecurity. Is it a big deal that my sub sent to Richmond doesn't have "requested material" on it? And, what's the best way you've found to make the wait easier?


Saturday, August 19, 2006

Printers, Spoolers, & Heads Oh My...

This post was supposed to be about waving bye bye to my submissions. The ones I had requested at nationals. But instead, it's about printer issues.

You see, yesterday afternoon I finally got time to print out my stuff to package up so I could drop by the post office on my way home. I had tooled away all day, printing out reports and info and stuff. So I opened my little folders and hit print. And my printer shot out page after page of blank paper. Yes, I said blank.

Now this is not the new printer at home... the one whose scanner still isn't working with my computer even after I paid an extra $150 to a computer tech to get the print function to work with my computer. Nope this is the slightly older model we have at my office which up until now has worked great and was the reason we got the newer version for home.

After spending twenty minutes with a tech on the phone, I was told it's a physical problem with the head or the little plate the ink goes out of. The only solution is to take it in for service. Or of course, they'd give me a great deal on a new printer. Not.

This means mailing the subs will have to wait till Monday. And I'm just one step away from a very public post in which I warn everyone about the folly of purchasing a specific printer brand. Speaking of which... As I'm sitting at home last night complaining about the printer issues, hubby says, "Yeah, I wasn't going to get it. I had two of those before and neither ever worked right."

And I just looked at him for a moment before asking, "Then why in the world did you buy that one for home?"

He looked puzzled for a moment before he said, "Oh, I did, didn't I. Well, you liked the one at work..."

Am I the only one with printer problems? Do any of you have a printer you L-O-V-E?

Oh yeah... And here's my reward for my frustration. A little "research"

Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Today's post is at Word Flirts.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Before and After...

Funny things happen when you get married. I mean Matt and I dated for eleven and a half years and still, funny things happened when we got married. The "funniest" was my amazing Willy Wonka Ever Expanding Behind! Really, it's amazing!

I hadn't realized how amazing until today. I have a pair of friends who share a house nearby. In fact it's right at a half mile from mine. So I walk there and back and viola, I've walked a mile. Apparently, I need to learn to run marathons.

One of those sweet friends... Beth. Yes, I'm naming you. Got a little camera happy when I stopped by yesterday. And then decided to email me the pictures of myself this morning.

And I was in total shock. I mean I have never been "skinny" but I used to be comfortable with my body. And I know I've gained a lot of weight since getting married. My doctor ran every type of test imaginable when I went for my yearly examine. And when they all came back okay... Well, except for my cholesterol, he sat me down and had a heart to heart.

Even then I hadn't grasped exactly how much weight I'd gained.

Here's the before:

And here's the after(thanks, Beth):
(I'm on the right. Susan, Beth's twin sister is on the left)

There were other pictures, but this was the least painful to see. Notice it's not a full body shot...

Not exactly the way before and after shots should go. For those hung up on numbers, there's about a 40 pound difference in the two pictures!

All kidding aside, I owe Beth because she gave me a really big push with that email. I've exercised twice today and recommitted myself to healthy eating. I had been overweight and lost 50 pounds at one time. Looks like I'll have to do it again. But hey, at least I know I can since I did it once, right? Let's hope...

So to those of you unmarried out there, if you choose to take that walk down the isle, remember to not let the walking stop there. And let's hope that by this time next year, the before and after shots go the opposite direction!

April :-)

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Getting Clear...

I spent last week getting clear. I milled over what I learned at nationals and what Sheila Hodgson had said to me about my story. At times I even agonized.

But I decided to give myself some time to get clear on things and to figure out what I needed to do to get my submission in shape to send off.

Late in the week, a kernel of an idea came to me. Then, last night I went to an event with hubby and my best friend and her hubby. It was called "Brew at the Zoo" and it was a load of fun.

It was a beer tasting event at our zoo. They had brew houses from all over there. When we went to the Budweiser building they were playing the Real Me of Genius commercials over and over and over, back to back and I thought of Julie S who once blogged about her fondness for those commercials.

We made our way around all of the tents, with our little sampling glasses. Then, through the thick tropical foliage of the African Safari camp, came the bright lights of the microbrews. And boy were there a lot of them. And boy did we sample.

Along about the twelfth sample, we used small sampling glasses, mind you, it came to me. The solution to the crux of the problem with my story. And I considered jumping up and down and shouting hooray! But then I realized I needed at least twelve more samples to do that and I was too lazy to stand in line anymore. We were hot and the humidity was near 100% thanks to an earlier storm.

So we came home and I slept on my idea and woke up and low and behold, the idea still had grand merit. So I emailed it my cp who thought it was a grand idea!

Now that I'm clear on what I need to do, I just need to do it. Argh. I knew there was a down side too all this revelation!

I found clarification while downing a tablespoon of Shiner Blonde. I know this isn't unique to me. So what about you? When and where have you found clarification on a story you were working on? Any special tricks for getting it to come along faster?


Thursday, August 03, 2006


Since my trip to Atlanta, I've done a lot of thinking. It would seem that the chaos of my mind is finally settling.

I learned so much. I think a recurring theme throughout the entire conference was not to permit ourselves to be bound by "rules". And another theme was that we need to really write. I mean I'm certainly not going to get published if I don't write.

So I've made some decisions. And one, very important one is that I have to stop spending so much time procrastinating. You know... all that "research" I do with pictures. It doesn't mean I have to stop it all together. It just means I need to cut back on it.

With that in mind, I've decided to limit my April's Space blogging to two posts per week. And I'm limiting my visits to other blogs to once or twice a week. This is much easier said than done. Daily rounds of my fellow blogger's blogs has become routine for me. So I am hoping I won't suffer too much withdrawal. The fact that it's just a cutback and not a complete stop helps a lot.

And never fear, I promise to keep posting... research pics. I mean, I can't do without those. :-)

So if I'm not around as often in the upcoming weeks, don't worry. I'm still here and I'm still visiting. I'm just chewing my fingernails to nubs between visits. ;-).

What about you? Do you find yourself spending too much time surfing or "visiting" other blogs, or do you manage your time better?


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Sunday, July 30, 2006


I'm finally home. And while I had loads of fun, I'm excited to be home too. My hubby and our poor little Buckley missed me bunches and I missed them too.

I do have some pictures from the trip. But not as many as I should since I'm terrible about forgetting to take pictures! But I should be getting some by email too. But for now, this is what I have:

I have a picture of Michelle Willingham and I not long after I arrived and just a few hours before she received some VERY exciting news from the editor who has her ms and just about 24 hours before she landed an agent! Woo Hoo, Michelle! But for some reason, maybe I mug, I can't get it uploaded properly... :-(

Here's a picture of Suzanne McMinn and me.

And here is the lovely Sasha White and Tess Harrison:

This is me and my roomies, left to right, Christina Sinisi, me, & Bonnie Joyner.

And here I am again with my good friends, Allison Carmody and Debbie Johnson.

I have more pics, but I'm having problems getting them all uploaded. So I'll post more soon.

My editor and agent appointments went well. I got requests from both. And the luncheon on Wednesday went great because I ended up sitting right next to Sheila Hodgson, the editor I was set to pitch to on Saturday! Woo Hoo! And she was a real sweetheart.

I went to a lot of really great workshops and learned loads of stuff. I also went to some of the spotlights. But there's so much, and I haven't been home long enough to process any of it mentally, so I'll have to dish on what I found out later this week when I can remember it :-).

Anything exciting happen in my absence?


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A Bientot...

So, Wednesday --which is technically tommorrow since it's after midnight--morning I am departing bright and early for Hot-Lanta. And given the heat here recently, I'm sure it'll live up to its name. But that's ok, because I'll spend most of my time in an air-conditioned hotel. Thank God I was born after the invention of AC.

I'm too excited for words, so I won't tell you how excited I am. Except I just did. I've got everything packed away and ready to go. Well, nearly.

I'm taking my camera and I plan to snap a lot of pics. It'll be fun to see friends I've chatted with or emailed or blogged with in person. Hope I recognize them ;-).

I'm not taking the laptop with me, because I hear internet is tres expensive at the hotel and I don't want to drag it around anyway. So this will be my last post before I get back. To hold you all over, I've decided to post another picture of Rafael. If you don't see it below, blogger took it down :-)

Ok, so I couldn't pick just one. And then I thought... more than one might increase my chances they stay up. So here's another :-)

And one last one for the road...

Is the man hot or what? His story is screaming in my head!!

Happy Writing to those of you not traveling to the conference and happy travels to those who are.


Sunday, July 23, 2006

New Digs...

Let's hope the third time is a charm. Because for the third time, I have revamped my website. Check it out by clicking here.

The picture in the corner is fuzzy because I had trouble with the image. But my hubby is getting that straightened out for me.

Preparations for nationals are winding down. I needed to do laundry today, but I didn't. Why do now what I can put off till later, right?

We ordered a new computer for my hubby tonight. The mac he wants has just gone out of production. The new ones are compatible with pcs. He doesn't care for anything pc. Even though he sure cares for mine when he needs to surf the net.

Anyway, to make a short story long, because of his bias against pc, we had to order a used one. Which was great, because it meant we didn't have to pay the $2700 they're charging for the new ones!

We found a reputable retailer on ebay who had one that was still under manufacturer warranty. And since there were a lot of bidders, I convinced hubby to sit on his hands and wait to bid. And then, at the last minute (literally) I did what numerous bidders have cruelly done to me in the past. I swept in and out bid the highest bidder, leaving them 5 seconds to counter. So we won! I feel bad for the tactic, but hey... the next cheapest one we found was $300 more.

Here's the picture of it:

So, if all goes as it should, his new computer will be here within the week. And hopefully, that blooming graphic will be crisp by the time I get back from nationals.

Only 3 days!

How'd your weekend go? Do anything fun like cruelly out bidding an ebayer at the very last second?


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Word Flirts...

Today's post is at Word Flirts.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Am I Crazy?

I think it's a very real possibility that I am going insane. Like hearing voices, wrapped in a white jacket and eating Fruit Loops for 3 meals a day-insane.

I think I have clothes for everyday of the conference. Let's hope, cause I'm pretty sure nudity is not permitted. Well, not appreciated if nothing else.

I know I have shoes. Because Lord help me, I have a pair of shoes for every possible life event. So there's one item off the list.

I got my agent appointment moved. Is it bad that the scaredie cat part of me thought... Oh well... guess I won't get to pitch to an agent, aw shucks. At least I won't pee my pants... And when it got changed, it said, Oh crap... Even though the logical part of my mind was overjoyed by it? See, hearing voices.

So I'm printing out all of my little notes and schedules and trying to keep myself on track.

Oh yeah, an author friend whom I love to bits a pieces offered me a very exciting opportunity to have lunch with a small goup of her friends, including several other published authors and editors and... this may have been the catalyst for the voices. But it is way too good of an opportunity to pass up! I can't share more, because then she'd have to kill me. But woo hoo!

So am I certifiably insane or just a regular old nut case? :-) Either way I hope you all are doing fabulously!


Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Final Countdown...

So we're now under two weeks until final blast off to nationals. And I would say my panic meter is registering a bout of mid-level turbulence.

I discovered today, that in my excitement over getting my editor and agent appointments, that I failed to notice they're scheduled for theexact same time. Which would be perfectly fine if I had the multiple personality disorder my talking to myself sometimes implies, but I don't, so there's a problem. I've emailed to find out what I can do.

In the meantime, I've been reading up on pitching. I found Diana Peterfund's lesson at Romance Diva's to be really helpful! Only now I need to work on a backup pitch. Argh...

So for those of you going to nationals... Am I the only one not ready? Or is you dashing around like a nut too?


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Revising Like It's 1999...

Ok, so I'm not a poet. I never claimed to be. But the words rhymed. And it's sort of what I'm doing. Thanks to the bestest cp ever, my revisions are coming along rather well!

Somehow along the way I added about 3000 words, but I figure some will get erased, so it'll all work out. And 4000 is within my goal range. Better to be over than under!

The big question here is: What time is it when I've gotten a lot done? That's right gang, reward time... So here's the reward for today:

It's the character who hoped in the car with us as we left TN. You know the same guy who was having "shorts" trouble a few posts ago. He's stopped bickering with the other guys. I think he accepted I have to finish revisions and I have a sneaking suspicion he convinced the hero of my suspense that he should go first. He's got that sort of power about him. Of course, he also has two older brothers to help with the "conniving". Now if only I could teach my characters how to give a good shoulder massage!

Tomorrow I'm going to work on getting my pitch for nationals down. Yikes!

How's your writing coming?


Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Black Whole...

That's what I'm calling my home office for now. It's a big black whole.

Hubby brought home a new bookcase from his office the other day. We have a sloping ceiling at one end of the room and I have these cute little 1/2 bookcases lined against the wall... Full of books, of course. They are BOOKcases after all.

Well hubby thinks I should be able to fit all the books onto the big case, so we can get rid of the 4 smaller ones. I wasn't a math major, but let's see... 4 - 1/2 size cases does not = 1 full size case. Nope, not gonna work. As a result, we have a new full size book case crammed full of books and two 1/2 size cases partially full and a whole bunch of crap strewed across the floor.

So hubby came up with a really bright idea... "Can't you get rid of some of these?" After I recovered from the apocalyptic shock, I shook my head at him and asked if he'd been taken over by an alien from outer space, because my hubby who has known me since I was 10 or so would NEVER ask me that. He rolled his eyes, hoping to say without speaking, that I was being a drama queen. And I was. But, hello! I do share with friends. We'll trade or give to each other. After all, if I want to read it again, they're only a mile away ;-) But to say goodbye permanently to a good book. That's hard.

In the end I promised to at least look through the books. And what do you know, I found some that can go! Of course, they're his... :-)

What do you do with the books you read? Do you keep them all? Do you give them away? Do you do a once a year clean out?


Thursday, July 06, 2006

Yay For Me!

After making my poor little wip sit and wait in a mid-revised state of distress, I have returned to my revisions. Finally! So maybe it should be Yay for WIP!

With the illnesses in the family and then the holiday and my mom's birthday and my mother-in-law's birthday, the 3rd and 4th respectively, I just got too busy to work on it. And there was the little side project I took on... Go Word Flirts!

But now the family seems to be recovering. The birthday mammas are all caked out and the Flirts are properly set off. So finally I get to return to my wip.

In the mean time, the hero from my wip has forced the other dueling heroes to back
off until I'm done revising. Just in case you forgot, a reminder of what he looks like is to the right.

The break has been nice, but I have to admit, I found the dueling quite... inspiring. Big sigh... I guess all good things must come to an end. At least it's only temporary.

My husband gave me the strangest look when he commented yesterday, "You look a lot less stressed." And I replied, "Yeah, the dueling has stopped for now." And went on about my business.

So I figure everyone hears characters from a story in their head. And if you don't, don't tell me. It'll only make me worry that I'm weirder than normal ;-). My question is this... How often do you find characters from one story interacting with characters from another? Sort of like the duel I've been experiencing?


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Saturday, July 01, 2006

How I Ended Up Married...

A question on Olga's blog brought back to mind for me, how my hubby and I ended up together.

You see, I met my hubby at the impressionable age of 11. The summer between our 6th and 7th grade years, my family moved to a new neighborhood. A neighborhood in which I was one of only two girls with a group of eight boys. Great odds for a young girl!

The story starts out rocky. Hubby lived a block away with his parents and younger brother. So it took longer for me to get to know him. In the mean time, the blond haired, green eyed pretty boy next door was attempting to make fast time with me. And sucker that I was for his dimples, I fell for him. Alas, that adolescent love was doomed from the beginning. Two years later green eyes moved away with his family when his father was restationed.

Hubby came around a bit more once green eyes was gone. And when I got my driver's license in high school, he rode to school with me too. Stubborn person that I was, I developed a crush on yet another guy. He was an older classman. And as embarrassing as it is to admit it now, hubby even rode along when I did the typical teenage drive by of my crush's house. Yet again, my poor little heart was destined to be broken to pits and pieces.

The summer between 10th and 11th grade, hubby and I spent a lot of time together. he worked on a project for his portfolio to get into Art school and I helped. Read: he needed to use my camcorder and I didn't trust him not to break it, so I supervised :-)

I can actually recall the moment I realized I felt more than friendship for him. We were walking through the halls of our school on our way to take the ACT, in the first few weeks of our junior year. And I looked up at him as he talked to a buddy. And I thought... "It's him. He's the one."

But I'm a coward. I mean... Hello, I'd already been crushed... TWICE! And I knew he'd laugh at me if I said anything.

So, I told the little first grader who lived on our street and was best buddies with hubby's little brother. I knew he couldn't keep a secret... but I also knew he was known for exaggerating and telling fibs. So if hubby reacted poorly, I'd just say he was lying. Only hubby threw a wrench in my plans. He decided for himself that the kid was lying. Argh!

Apparently this really offended the kid. And the next thing I know, the kid, hubby's little brother and their other first grade friend are working on setting hubby and I up. Long story short, the only thing that would convince hubby that it wasn't a joke was the horses mouth. But I wasn't talking. So, instead I did yet another typical teenage thing... I wrote a note. Check here if you like me too... Well, not that teenage, but still. It said something about liking him and being afraid to ruin a friendship, so no need to feel awkward if you think I'm a total dork. Not the best self-esteem. But hey.

So after waiting TWO WEEKS, hubby responded in kind and a first date was set. And now the rest is history....

As it turned out, he'd had a crush on me since the 7th grade, but didn't think I'd ever feel the same. Especially after riding past crush #2's house with me. Which I get reminded of from time to time :-).

And I explained to him that I'm a stubborn woman and he would have to just deal with that. I don't make up my mind until I'm good and ready. That may explain part of why it took us eleven years to get married.

As for green eyes, we still keep in touch and he's happily married with a little blond haired, green-eyed boy of his own now.

And the older classman... The last time I saw him was at a friend's wedding. He'd been in some trouble due to his bad boy ways, but was getting them straightened out. I hope he has.

As for me, who else can say they were set up by a bunch of first grade boys bent on match making?

How about you all? Any funny match making stories? Whether they worked out of not...


Friday, June 30, 2006

The Flirts...

Group blogs seem to be all the rage anymore... So, I am joining the craze along with a couple of other blog buddies.

Starting Wednesday, July 5th, I'll be posting here and at Word Flirts. See, Cole, it's not a secret :-).

I'll be joining Cole, Emma, Karen, Julie S, Sarah and Stacy in the venture. The current template is temporary, while another is in development. So check us out when you get a chance.

I will still be here full time and I promise to keep posting my... colorful pictures :-).

For now, I'm getting back to the revisions! See, Cole... I'm being good. Hubby is heading out of town to camp with his parent for the weekend, but he'll be back Sunday night. Just enough time for me to get some real work done. Hopefully. Then we're heading to my mom's house for the 4th. Her birthday is the 3rd, so we're going to cook out and eat birthday cake!

What are your plans for the holiday weekend?


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Getting Back On Track...

On our trip back through the mountains of Tennessee, we stopped to watch the white water rafters take off on the Ocoee River, the site of the 1996 Olympic river games. It's a great run of white water and since it was the weekend, it was of course packed.

There were all types of people there. Families... school groups... sexy outdoorsmen... :-) After watching for a while, we got back in the car to finish out trek.

Only problem, for me at least, was that the car had filled up with some very sexy characters and exciting stories. A group of brothers in particular. And it seems that they are ganging up against the hero who's not-so-patiently waiting for his suspense story to get written.

They're claim is that their stories will be so exciting that they'll get written fast, so he won't have to wait long.

He's not buying it, so I'm letting them duke it out for who's next.

In the mean time, I thought I'd share a picture of my inspiration for the brother whose story will go first. Whether it's before or after the suspense remains to be seen.

At least their arguing is getting me back in the writing frame of mind. So today I will tackle my revisions again. I think I'll up my goal to 2 chapters a day. Maybe...

How's you're writing going?


Monday, June 26, 2006

Who Wants To Be My Relative?...

Thanks for all the well wishes for my grandmother! I'm happy to report she's home now and recovering. She had a scare with some chest pains this morning, but refused to allow the EMTs to take her to the hospital. I don't know if she's just so scared that any pain makes her jump or if it's something to really be concerned about. So, we're all keeping a close eye on the situation.

When I got home last night, my father-in-law had just been admitted into the hospital here. He had stroke like symptoms and he has had a stroke and a heart attack before, so that was the first concern. But we just heard that he is apparently suffering withdrawal from where they changed his diabetes medicine two weeks ago. Who knew... So now he's resting comfortably too and hopefully will be able to come home by tomorrow.

In the meantime, Hubby's grandfather in VA has been rushed into emergency surgery. He had two disks removed from his neck around father's day. And an infection has settled in where they did the surgery. So now he's back in surgery.

Did I mention my hubby's great aunt died last Thursday.

I'm afraid family members are going to start excommunicating themselves from the family to save themselves!

But we're all doing okay and holding down the fort. At least for right now, it looks as though everyone is going to pull through their illnesses.

So, here's my question for today: Who's brave enough to want to be my relative?


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Changing formats...

I think it was Dee who recently gave this bit of advice and I decided to try it. Edited after original post: It was actually Karen who had blogged about learning it in a class she's taking. Which you'd think I would have recalled since I then asked her for a butt load of info on the class and instructor because I'm hoping to get her to teach a class for my chapter online. Anyway, Thanks, Karen!

She recommended changing the format of your ms while revising. For example, I compose in courier new 12 pt font, with double spaced lines. So I'm revising it single spaced, in times new roman.

The idea is that the new format will make the story look new to you and things will jump out easier.

I decided to do this for the first time with my second chapter of revisions and I was astonished at the difference it made! I saw so much more. And even better, it dropped the page count from 15 to 9 or 10, so it seemed shorter :-).

So I thought I'd pass along the idea to anyone who hadn't heard it.

It's so easy to miss things when you not only wrote the page, but have been staring at it for what seems like an eternity. Do you have any "tricks" to picking up things in revisions?


Also added after original post:
PS I'm leaving town this afternoon. My grandmother is sick and we're going to see her. So I won't be around this weekend and I didn't want anyone to wonder if my revisions had swallowed me whole :-)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Setting Things Up...

Recently there was some conversation on the Harlequin Blaze Boards about setting. Since I'm currently mulling over my next idea, setting is something that has been on my mind.

Just like in the movies, a book's setting should be an integral part of the story. In my humble opinion at least.

But setting intimidates me because I wouldn't call myself well traveled. I've been to all of the conventional places on the east coast. But since I live in the Southeast, I am most familiar with locations in that region. So I've been debating with myself whether or not I should stick to that area. But then I think... Would that be boring? I find that I often feel like I need to pick settings "away" from me.

Someone pointed out that a lot of Linda Howard's books are set in Alabama. I think that's where she resides. And they said it didn't disturb them that they were mainly set in that area.

The problem with setting my stories "away" is that I'm not as familiar with the places. The internet has a bunch of info, but you know it's not all correct and if you get a detail like that way wrong because of poor information, you stand to piss off some people pretty badly.

Which brings me back to setting my stories where "I know". Thankfully I've been to NY, DC, Miami, & Atlanta in addition to nearly all the areas between, so I do have SOME choices.

Still, I worry over the decision of where to set a story.

So my question is this: How do you decide where to set a story? And is it always somewhere you have been before?


Monday, June 19, 2006

New Beginnings...

Thank you everyone for your sweet sentiments on my previous post. We didn't make it to the park, but we have plans to go this upcoming weekend!

Since I have finished the first draft of my wip, I am sitting myself back in the writer's seat. I plan to focus on doing revisions. However, I am also doing preliminary work on my next project.

A few weeks ago I posted about a workshop I'd been to, given by my RWA chapter. The speaker, Alicia Rasley spoke about Acts, and plot and scene structure. Her teaching has been bouncing around in my head for quite a while. And as a result, I think I'm going to take a different approach with this next story.

I've tried setting everything out before writing. With my first story, I did it all, the characterizations, the blurb, the synopsis, the detailed plotting, everything, before I wrote it. And I found it difficult to stick to the original plan.

With my last story, I did very little preliminary work. I wrote from the seat of pants pretty much completely. And it was a fun experience, but at times, I felt very weighed down by the fact that I wasn't sure what came next or if I was really headed where I wanted to be.

So, with this one, I plan to find a happy medium. Alicia spoke about plot points and specific ones. And I decided I would use this to outline my story and plot it out without filling in all of the "details". I think this might prove to an effective way for me to plot.

But in the mean time, I'm going to work on my revisions before my cp beats me :-)

Is there a plotting technique you've found that works for you?

Edited to add: GO Hurricanes! Who would have thought the Stanley Cup would ever venture so far South?


Sunday, June 18, 2006

Daddy's Day...

When I was just a day old, my dad could look down at me in his arms, and make me smile wide enough to show the two front teeth I was born with.

I can remember thinking as a little girl that my dad was the most handsome man ever. I can remember playing games and going camping and fishing. I don't have any brothers, so my dad often enjoyed my tomboy inclinations. He'd take me fishing, toss my line into the water in just the right spot. And after telling me NOT to touch the pole a half billion times, I'm not known for my patience you know, he'd coach me on how to watch for a bite and then hook a fish and reel it in. Without fail, I'd catch something bigger than him.

We lived on the edge of a forest that was part of a state park when I was young. He would take me on walks and tell me all about the plants and animals we saw along the way. A native Tennessean, he was a true outdoorsman. On one of those walks, he taught me about acorns, and how when planted, they'd take root and grow into a tree. We planted one and sure enough, not long after, a small sapling broke ground. That was nearly 25 years ago.

Fourteen years later, I graduated from high school. Despite my parents divorcing when I was three, they'd maintained an amicable relationship so that I could have them both in my life. And they were both there in the audience to cheer me on as I walked across the stage. That evening we all went to dinner and my dad got his first crack at the new man in my life (who is now my hubby). I asked if he approved. He said that he always wanted me to remember how special I am and that as long as I'm being treated with the love and care I deserve, he would approve.

My dad was always a healthy guy. At just under six feet tall, he weighed an athletic 160 pounds. He played basketball and baseball with my sister and me and our little cousins. It was a shock to us when a month after I graduated from high school, he had a massive heart attack. Thankfully, he miraculously pulled through after spending months in the hospital.

He'd suffered some damage to his short term memory ability due to lack of oxygen. Thanks to some cruel and thoughtless kids, the street sign to my grandparents house (where he was at the time) was missing. As a result the ambulance got lost. He was "normal" when he came home. But sometimes, he would think it was six years prior and I was twelve. But he'd see me and the most wonderful smile would spread across his face and he'd say, "Wow, you've grown and you're beautiful..." He complained that sometimes he felt foggy, as though he had all the memories, but couldn't always put his mental fingers on them.

I'm so thankful for the two and a half years I was graced with him after his heart attack. It had served as a warning that loved ones wouldn't be here forever and I got to do and say all of those things many people don't get to do and say to and with a loved one before loosing them. I spent most weekends traveling fourteen hours back and forth between school here and his home in Tennessee. During the summers when I didn't have classes, I could stay for longer periods.

He passed away two years and five months to the day from the time he had his heart attack. He was suffering from rapidly developing pneumonia, which was in part related to the ARDS he'd developed while in the hospital two years prior. He was comfortable, cared for and surrounded by loved ones when it happened.

That was eight and a half years ago. In the years since, Father's Day has of course not been the same. My dad's words and memory are a constant companion to me. And it isn't something that I've set aside a special day to think about. Maybe in part because I wasn't sure I could handle putting that sort of focus on it.

This year I'll be celebrating Father's Day with my hubby's family. He had to remind me tonight that it is tomorrow. And I'll admit that celebrating Father's Day for the first time in eight or so years will be awkward and maybe even a bit painful. But his dad is a wonderful man. And I couldn't be happier to celebrate with him tomorrow.

I think after we leave there though, I might ask hubby if we can visit the state park and take a nature walk. I'm sure the little sapling we planted is no longer so little and probably mixed in with hundreds of others. But it would be a way of remembering a special time I spent with my dad and I think he'd like that...

For those of you who are still Blessed to have your father here, I hope your time with him is as special and magical as the time I spent with mine and for those whose father has passed on, I hope you also have special memories to cherish on Father's Day.


Saturday, June 17, 2006

Changing It Up...

So now that I finished writing, I took a moment to really look closely at my website. And you know what, it looked way too bubble gum for me. I thought... I look like I'm a fourteen year-old Bubble Yum fan!

So, hubby helped me out by making me some swirls. I'm a swirlie sort of girl. And I spent a few hours tonight messing with the site and made some changes! So take a look and tell me what you think. Just click here!

I'm off to our chapter meeting tomorrow for a talk about "The Male Perspective" by... a man. Should be interesting.

What are you up to this weekend?


Thursday, June 15, 2006

The End.

Aren't those wonderful words? I think so. I wrote them late last night! Finally, I am at the end of my wip! WOO HOO!

I think I'm gonna party like it's 1999. Oh, wait... 1999 went by a long time ago. You get my point.

In honor of my hero and heroine's blissful happiness and my euphoric glee over not having to sort out their "issues" anymore, I figured I'd do some fun research and share a few pics. Come on, you were all expecting it. Admit it...

And here's another just because I feel like a reward :-)


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Hop, Skip, & Jump...

Edited to add: Hop over and congratulate Karen on her sell!

Back to your regularly scheduled blog post:

I'm so close! Only 3000 words away...

Despite going to bed last night much earlier than usual for me, I got 1000 words done.

My poor heroine and hero are in a terrible mess. They're both upset with each other. Poor girl thinks he's just like every other creep she's ever met and poor guy has too much pride to realize he could make it all better if he'd just explain himself. But like most men, he doesn't think he should have to do that. She should trust him explicitly even if she's been given good, yet deceiving evidence to think otherwise.

I'm not sure I'll get their mess straightened out if 4000 words, but going a little over never hurt anyone. Right? :-)

That means I'm just a hop, skip & jump away.

It's been nice, because as with my last ms, I'm finding that I write more per day once I'm near the end. But apparently that's not the same for everyone. I've heard other writers say that they write slower towards the end because they're sad to see it end.

So, my question is this: do you find you write faster, slower, or just the same as you near the end of a story?


Tuesday, June 13, 2006


It's late and I decided to blog despite not having an idea of what to blog about. Which is probably a good indication that 1. I shouldn't be blogging and 2. There will probably be a picture at the end. I just can't help myself.

I forced... I mean coerced... I mean persuaded my cp to enter a writing contest. It's Romance junkies 2006 writing contest. She was reluctant, but I didn't want to do it alone and I got her to see the light of day. Plus, it's good for her. She hasn't entered a contest before. Thanks, Cole!

Anyway, I encourage everyone to take a look. They've had a small technical snafu so the first batch of entries aren't up yet. But if you're at all interested, you should enter. You're supposed to change the name of the work and your name, to protect the names of the innocent... I mean so that it won't be a popularity contest. Which is probably good. Because I don't know that I would hold much ground in one :-).

But if you don't want to enter, you should check out the entries and vote. Each Monday (once they start posting them) a new batch of entries will go up. Readers vote on their favorite. The first round runs through September. When the readers have picked their favorites, those go on to be judged by a panel and the top three from there go on to be judged by Kara Cesare of Penguin (Signet/NAL).

Last year's winning entry was co-authored by Michelle Styles and Kate Allen. And it sold!

So take a look and vote vote vote!

Ok, that post had a small semblance of reasoning. And since I don't want to overload you all with yet another picture. I have been sharing quite a bit lately and I don't want anyone to become faint of heart, I'll skip the picture. This time.

So, anyone enter the Romance Junkies contest before? Anyone going to enter this year?


Sunday, June 11, 2006


I guess the past two or so days has been a bit of a back slide for me. And that really stinks since I'm so close to THE END!

But work took over my life on Friday and then some of my hubby's relatives decided to make an impromptu visit Saturday night, which led to a rage of cleaning after I finished catching up on my left over work from Friday. Sadly, his relatives were not able to make it into town early enough, so they ended up passing up the visit. But hey, at least the house is clean.

Well, maybe not the entire house. Our office still looks like a tornado hit it. Which may be appropriate since hurricane season has started and we already have a tropical system in the gulf. We've been working on "cleaning out" the old office area and then we're going to move it around a bit. It's been a slow process.

So I decided to get back into the groove and get some writing done today. Which of course means that I need some inspiration. I loved the comments on the questionable picture in the previous post, by the way. I'm still on the fence about that pic.

Here's one that I hope will inspire us all...

How was your weekend? Anything productive done?


Thursday, June 08, 2006

Not All Pictures Are Equal...

For the first time in months, words are streaming on the wip. Which is fantastic because I'm nearly to home base. I promise to blog more about all the "act" stuff I learned weekend before last soon.

In the mean time, Karen's recent blog post about body parts made me think of a picture I have that I can't decide if I like or not. Anyone who visits with any frequency knows I like to share pictures :-). Her post was about favorite body parts and she has a HOT picture of a guy's back. You simply must check it out.

And I recalled that I have a picture of a guy's... back too. He's a rugby player. With great, muscular legs. And we all know what those muscles are good for... But I digress. I've considered sharing it before, but there's a particular "issue" I have with it. Maybe it's the fifth grader coming out in me. But after I get through oggling the legs and my eyes move up on his body, I always snicker. So I thought I'd share it today and see what you all think.

Drool, snicker, or gag? You decide...


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Aw, Shucks...

Thanks everyone for your sweet words of comfort and encouragement.

You know, something I have enjoyed over my last year or so of blogging is how great the writing community is. Writing is such a solitary activity. But the internet has permitted writers to build a fantastic network of support and interaction. There are so many benefits to this community. I can't list all that I have learned from my fellow writers, I can't be thankful enough for their support. And without that interaction, I may be sitting on my couch eating this:

Instead, I'm back up and writing today, and I even seem to actually be more motivated to work. Maybe it's because I no longer feel like I'm "on hold." So instead of the cake, I'm sitting at my desk, writing and looking at this:

Ok, I can't write and look at the same time. So I'm trying to do more writing than looking :-)

What's your favorite thing about being part of the online writing community?


Monday, June 05, 2006

Don't Open The Mail...

For the past week, I have been hovering over my in-box, awaiting a reply from the editorial assistant I emailed inquiring as to the status of my submission that had been in their office for six months.

And every day for the last week I've gotten nothing. Until today...

Today I received a very nice email apologizing for my not having gotten the letter they mailed out on February 7, 2006, explaining that they were passing on my ms. I'm actually not too upset. Which surprised me a lot. Maybe it's because my cp got some good news yesterday and I'm still flying high over that. I don't know.

What I most regret is that I don't know if their letter they sent in Feb had any feedback or input at all. Which would be most helpful. My guess is that in ten years, the package will arrive and I'll have no idea what it is. It's just the mail way.

So, I am taking a brief break tonight and jumping right back in tomorrow!


Sunday, June 04, 2006

Blurbs and Cheese...

As some of you may remember, I, like many others am in the midst of having a nervous break down over going to nationals :-)

Last week, during a particularly gripping panic, I was dwelling on "blurbs" and trying to figure out what in the world they are. It hit me that it sounds sort of like something a two year old does after eating mac and cheese. And while that may sound particularly disgusting, I realized that feeling is exactly what I get when I think of blurbs, so it's also fitting.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I finally delved in and wrote a blurb. Well, that's what I'm calling it anyhow. Maybe once I've run it through the grind mill a few thousand times, I'll even share it publicly.

The point here is that I'm celebrating having written one. Note that I didn't say a good one. Just that it was one. And I didn't have to eat any mac and cheese to do it.

And as always, I am rewarding everyone for my achievement. Here:

(It's another pic of Mr. Silent. He's still not sharing any info. Just brooding. But hey, I can't complain. Not much anyhow.)

What about you, do you like writing blurbs? Do you have a good example of one to share?


Friday, June 02, 2006


I used to have a website. Some of you who have been visiting for a while may even recall it. I liked it, but it never really felt right. Then a problem came up with the coding and I took it down.

I had done it in all html using Notepad. All self-taught html. So, most of it was done the long handed way and I was really limited as to what I could do.

I'm happy to announce that I am finally back on the web. It may not be perfect, but it's a presence. Take a look at my new website! I found a nifty web page maker program thanks to Fiona!

It's pretty simplistic and I'm sure my graphic designer hubby will have plenty to say about that! But it's a start.

So let me know what you think. Too much pink and purple? Anything wrong standing out at you?


update: hubby came home and took a look at the site. And of course, he felt overwhelmed by the pink and purple. He recommended some changes with the header to make it black and white and in his opinion better. Ok, it does stop the tooth ache of the bubble gum look a little. So I guess I owe him a thanks ;-) And I've implemented the changes!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Dorothy McFalls

One of the best benefits of being a part of the writing community for me, has been meeting other writers.

One author I have had the pleasure of getting to know is Dorothy McFalls. Dorothy's first book, The Marriage List, was published by Signet Regency in 2005. It was released with rave reviews and has gone on to win numerous awards. Currently, The Marriage List is a finalist in the National Readers Choice Award for Best Regency Romance. Dorothy also has releases with Titan and Venus presses. Her most recent releases include a sensual paranormal suspense entitled, Neptune's Liar and a short sensual regency entitled, Lady Sophie's Midnight Seduction.

Recently, Dorothy graciously agreed to allow me to interview her. (read: I begged and pleaded till she gave in) Here's how that went:

How did you get started writing romance?

I didn't read romance until...let's see...eight years ago now, I think. I admit it. I was a romance snob. Thought those trashy novels were beneath me. Instead, I read mysteries and suspenses and adventure stories. What I didn't realize at the time was that I really enjoyed the parts of those mysteries, suspenses, and action-adventures that had romance in them. It was by happenstance that I picked up a romance to read on a plane in a small airport gift shop. It was one of Catherine Coulter's romances. Oh my, was it a great read! I was instantly hooked. That was what I really enjoyed in those other stories, and here was a book that emphasized the relationship. I wanted more.

A year before I'd discovered romance, my interest in writing had been rekindled. I've always written stories. As soon as I learned to write, I wrote fiction. They weren't very good, but they made me happy. But when I started college, I didn't have time to write and that part of my life was put on hold until one day I was driving home from work and I remembered. I wanted to write! I started out writing mysteries. And then I discovered the romance genre. The pieces fell into place. I was going to write romance novels. And nothing else.

You've written regency, paranormal romantic suspense and sensuals in both categories as well. Is it difficult to write across such different lines?

I like to dabble and try new things, so writing different genres and styles comes naturally to me. I think I would be sad if someone told me that I had to stick to just one. That said, dabbling isn't something I recommend. Readers don't like to jump genres with an author. (I know, I'm a reader. It took me years to read Catherine Coulter's contemporary romances. They didn't disappoint, by the way.) Also, changing styles slowed my learning process. One of the most difficult things for a writer (at least this one) to learn is creating the right tone of the story that matches the publisher's guidelines. It is subtle and involves a blending of the plot, the word choices, and the pacing. You can't just take a Regency, throw in some suspense elements, and get a romantic suspense. Every time I switch genres, I'm having to learn and relearn what it takes for that genre to feel right and to provide the reader with a satisfying experience. If I had stuck to one genre and focused on writing for one publisher, I probably would have found success faster.

You took a big leap when you quit your job to write full time without selling first. What was the drive behind that decision and was it harder than you originally anticipated?

I started to write full-time because, quite frankly, I was exhausted. I was working full-time at a job that required many night meetings and long hours. Add to that, my writing during lunch breaks, evenings, and weekends. I didn't have a social life and I was work, work, work. It felt like I had two jobs and was burning my candle at both ends. I had to make a choice. With my husband's help, we trimmed our budget until my paycheck was no longer needed. Leaving work, knowing that I was chasing my dream, made me feel like I was walking on air. It was the right thing for me.

But it hasn't been all roses, though. I gave myself three years from the time I left my job to get published. That put tons of pressure on me. And I felt every bit of it. Facing loads of rejection letters, negative comments from contest results, and scores of self-doubt has taken a toll. There is also the problem of not getting out enough and not making money. Writing is a lonely business. I didn't realize just how lonely until I quit my job. I missed the team meetings and working toward a common goal. I still do. But I'm not going back to work...well...not yet, anyhow.

I cut it close and sold my first book to Signet three months before my three year time limit had run out. I had already started looking for employment opportunities. It just goes to show, you never know when success will come...

You offer visitors to your website free short stories. As a result, you've even had to have a collection published due to requests. Have you considered working on novellas or anthologies?

I love my short stories, even though they aren't that short. They tend to run about 35-50 pages. I have written a couple of novellas. The last one wasn't plotted out in advance and turned into a novel! I don't do true short well.

I use the short story as a sketchpad to test out new writing techniques and to grow. I started to publish my short stories online because I wanted my writing out there where it could be read.

I don't think I'll write too many short stories for publication anywhere other than on my website, though. Within the confines of these stories I have full freedom to do whatever I want. They can be whatever I want them to be. I have no guidelines, no rules. If I'm happy with a story, that is all that matters.

What is your favorite thing about writing?

I love dreaming up new people, new worlds and setting them in motion. Perhaps it is a control thing. In this world, things happen like I want them to happen (as long as a character doesn't hijack a scene). It's exciting watching the story grow into something that makes sense, something that I can feel proud about. When my writing is going well, I feel like I'm riding on the crest of a wave. My fingers are flying over the keyboard, my mind is humming, and I'm perfectly focused on what I need to do. For me, that's writing in its perfect form.

What is your least favorite thing about writing? (And don't say doing this interview ;-))

Shucks, and I was going to say that, too! Interviews are hard! I write fiction. You know how hard it is for me to keep to the truth? It's nearly impossible, let me tell you. I'd much rather make something up that would sound good and make people sit back and mouth the word, "wow!"

But here's the truth (or as close as I'm able to get). My least favorite part about writing is that it strips away my confidence. Someone once said that writing is easy, you just have to cut open a vein and bleed. I think there is a lot of truth in that. You strip away your defenses and dig deep, touching on emotions that perhaps are raw and painful in order to create characters that feel real. Doing that makes me anxious. I question everything I do while I write, uncertain if I'm choosing the right words, taking the characters in the right direction, revealing enough or perhaps too much. I get myself worked up, worrying about how an editor or a reviewer or a reader might react to my writing. That stinks!

Is there a particular author who inspired you to write or inspired you along the way?

As I mentioned earlier, Catherine Coulter's books are what got me hooked on romance. Her books continue to inspire me. I also have a few authors such as Ernest Hemingway, Laurell K. Hamilton, Kay Hooper, and Julie Garwood, whose writing gets the words flowing in my head. Their books make me excited about the written word. They inspire me to write and to write better.

And now for the million dollar question, what's the best piece of advice you can give an unpublished author dreaming of one day being in your shoes?

Read. Know where you want to sell your book and read everything that publisher puts out. It will be the best thing you can do for yourself. An Avon romance reads differently than one published by Signet or Berkeley or Dorchester.

And one more thing. Never, ever give up on yourself. Writing is one of the few arts anyone is qualified to do. I think that's great! Everyone of us has a different perspective on life in this world. Everyone of us has an important story to tell. Celebrate your writing...especially in the face of rejection. What you have written is important. It is a picture of the world, a slice of life. Treat it with the honor it deserves.

Thanks, Dorothy, for sharing so much about yourself and your writing. Without authors who are willing to share, unpubs would be lost! Well, I would be ;-)