Saturday, December 24, 2005

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas!


This is our tree. I still can't get the hubby to put the photos of the house on my computer, but at least you can get a glimpse of our new house. This is a portion of our great room. Next year we need to get a bigger tree. I want the angel up to the ceiling!

According to NORAD, Santa is just entering North American. He'll finish up in South America before he hits the US. My kidlets are so excited. They can't wait for Santa. Of course, we had our family Christmas this morning at my parents house and Santa really doesn't need to show up tonight. Every year I ask that my family (parents, sister and brother-in-law) keep the toys to a minimum. Every year I'm ignored. This year my parents gave each of my child 5 gifts not counting the Gund Pooh tied to one of my youngest's gifts. I lost count of the gifts my sister and her hubby gave them. I appreciate their generosity, but does my five year old really need a decorate your own hermit crab world? What exactly is a hermit crab? And is it something my cats are going to want to eat?

It's become a tradition for them to pick toys that will annoy me. I'm not kidding. One year it was a real toy vacuum cleaner that when turned on made so much noise it scared the cats and had the neighbors wondering what was going on inside our little house. This year, a monster truck that plays "We are the champions" while lights blink and flash wins the award. Though the American Idol Barbie that sings and stage comes in second.

Holiday traditions can be both frustrating and comforting. When we used to have a big Christmas dinner with all of us together, it just wouldn't be right if the fire alarm didn't go off while my mom was cooking or if they television wasn't on with my dad reclining in his Lazy-boy watching football. Going through the photos taken this morning, the TV is on with a football game. Some things never change!

A tradition I've carried over to my family is opening one gift on Christmas Eve. After we get home from Mass and have eaten dinner, we each get a gift to open and every year it's the same thing--pajamas. The kids still don't realize that each year they get pjs on Christmas Eve. I'm wondering when they will remember!

Other traditions we've developed over the years:
1) Driving the track at the Portland International Raceway to look at the Winter Wonderland Lights
2) A visit and picture with Santa Claus
3) A box of Mrs. Prindable's caramel apples from QVC
4) Advent calendars full of chocolate
5) An Advent wreath to light each night
6) Dinner at the Rhinelander for all the December birthdays
7) A walk through the Grotto to see the lights and puppet show
8) A walk through Zoolights at the Portland Zoo (though the weather and illnesses have made this a sometime tradition)
9) Watching all the Rankin-Bass holiday shows, Holiday Inn and It's a Wonderful Life
10) Reading The Donkey's Dream by Barbara Helen Berger (the birth of Jesus from the perspective of the donkey)
11) Tears at Christmas Eve Mass (tonight only two of the kids cried. That's better than all three!)
12) A birthday cake for dessert on Christmas Day.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Broken arms and naked bottoms

Two more days until Christmas. The cards are in the mail. The ham is in the fridge. A few groceries need to be purchased. About a third of the presents still need to be wrapped. We're all slowly recovering from a nasty cold. And one scene of the new proposal has been written!

Things are quiet in the house right now. Two of the cats are asleep under our bed. Another is asleep under the tree. The kidlets are sitting at the table coloring wood ornaments for family members. But about ten minutes ago I thought we would have to make another trip to the ER. My son was running around, in socks (my fault, I know), and slipped on the hardwood floor. He went down on his upper arm. Needless to say the amount of tears and level of screaming suggested something serious like a broken arm. I managed to get him on my lap and my daughter, only seven but a dancer who wants to be a vet, grabbed the ice and then brought me the phone. Luckily it was more drama than true injury.

All three kids seem to have a flair for drama. Though my youngest might just be the comedian of the family. For several months now, she has been doing her naked bottom routine. She shakes her bum and sings, "Naked bottom, naked bottom." The older kids think it's hilarious. It is! Though I imagine she'll be pretty embarrassed come time for her wedding rehearsal dinner and we put together video clips from her childhood.

I'll be back tomorrow. I already know the subject-holiday traditions!

Monday, December 19, 2005

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Sorry for not posting. I've been busy. The house is still full of boxes, but I have made some progress unpacking and getting ready for Christmas. The tree is up and finally decorated, school is out for the rest of the year, my daughter's Nutcracker performances are over and I've addressed all but three of my Christmas card envelopes. I even finished my revisions!

I have a new title for NOT SO PLAIN JANE. It's now called PLAIN JANE'S PRINCE CHARMING. I also have a new release date--November 2006. Yes, I killed myself to make the November 1 deadline so I could have an October 2006 release for nothing. Oh, well... No one ever said being a writer was ever easy or fair. At least I had six weeks without having to think of anything to write for the blog.

Waiting for the revision letter for the book to arrive was hard. I was happy with the story, but you just never know. Turns out I was sweating for nothing. The revisions were minor and very doable. Plus they made the story better! I had to answer a couple of questions my editor had, make a couple clarifications, tie up a thread I introduced but never followed through (oops!) and rewrite the resolution (my choice after reading the editor's concerns/suggestions). As I read through the manuscript, I found a few more things to change, but it wasn't as much as I thought it would be! YAY! Not that I ever want to write a book this quickly again!

Oh, and I got an idea approved for my next book. The working title is MARRIAGE FOR BABY. The proposal is due January 13th so I'd better get busy on it!

So here's my holiday To Do list:
1) Get pictures of the new house to post on the blog
2) Copy the Christmas Letter and buy stamps so I can mail Christmas Cards
3) Wrap gifts
4) Finish shopping
5) Make menu for Christmas Dinner and Dessert
6) Put all the boxes from Christmas decorations away

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Playing House

We have finally moved into our house. Sunday was moving day! My parents took the kids (sickies and all) so my hubby and I plus our mover Travis and three of his workers could finally get us out of the apartment. The cats arrived Sunday night around 10:30 pm. The only things left in the apartment are some clothes, our television, DVD and VCR. My kids were devastated when the TV did not make the trip, but I had a good reason. (Though the kidlets would disagree.)

Anyway we can't get cable hooked up until the 13th and there was no way I would miss LOST or Invasion even if it meant sitting on the floor and watching in the dark so I said we couldn't move them until Thursday. Of course, my good pal and writer Tori Lennox emailed me that LOST was a repeat and Invasion wasn't even on so I got to stay home tonight!

So about my new house. It big and beautiful and I love it. There's one problem...it doesn't feel like our house. It's much too nice and I feel like I'm playing house. That at any moment another family is going to walk through the door and tell us to get out!

All my Christmas stuff is still in a storage facility near our old house. I must get it out. The kids keep asking when we can put up a tree! Do you already have your tree up and your house decked out for the holidays?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Ears and throats and antibiotics

I have not one, but two sick children. My third child is upset because he isn't sick. Needless to say, I'm not getting anything done. And I have lots to do. An idea for my next book has been approved and the proposal is due in January. Our house is finally ready and we're supposed to be moving in this weekend. And then there's Christmas. Usually by now, our tree is up, the advent wreath is on the table and my Department 56 villages light up the mantle and shelves. But everything is boxed up in storage. So we bought a new advent wreath and three of the chocolate advent calendars. Fingers crossed we find the Christmas decorations sooner rather than later when we unpack.

I actually got a good start on my Christmas shopping. Thanksgiving night I pulled out my catalogs and started ordering. Then on Friday morning, I woke up at 5am and hit four stores by eleven. I didn't see any fights, but one woman was near tears in Toys R Us when the toy she wanted was sold out. Thank goodness for eBay!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

Turkey day is here once again. The cranberry sauce is made. That's my contribution this year to our family meal. Yes, I get off easy and I'm grateful for that.

Every Sunday we go around the dinner table and each of us says what we're thankful for that week. It's something I put in a book (Billionaire's Wedding Masquerade) and had my family start doing, too. Tonight we'll do it again. But there isn't time to list all the things I'm thankful for this year or the food would get cold so I'll do it now:

1. My family. Our move into temporary housing, that has turned out to be not so temporary, has shown us that home is really wherever we are together.

2. Our health. After a year of nightly antibiotics, our youngest was finally taken off her medicine a couple weeks ago.

3. My friends. For their support and love.

4. My writing. It feels so good to be writing each and every day again. I'm so excited to be a part of the new Harlequin Romance line.

5. My readers. For allowing my stories to be a part of their lives and for letting me know their opinions-both good and bad!

6. George Lucas. For the amazing Star Wars saga and casting Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker.

7. ABC. For LOST and Invasion. The two television shows I watch each and every week.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

I'm back

My few days away turned into a couple of weeks, but that deadline really did me in. I've been catching up with my family, my To Do list and my sleep. Forget about NANOWRIMO. I tried. I had my alphasmart all ready to go, but then I realized my brain was just too tired to jump into another book. Plus I had to send ideas to my editor for my next book. And since I didn't have any ideas I had to spend my time brainstorming. I sent three ideas off yesterday. Fingers crossed she likes one of them!

Today we signed the paperwork to close on our new house! But do you know what music played as we sat at the title company? Christmas music. One radio station in Portland, K106.7, has been playing all Christmas music since early November. I don't know about you, but that's just too early. I heard the song Do They Know It's Christmas Time and all I could think was Do They Realize It's Still November? Another station K103.3 is doing weekend Christmas samplers until Thanksgiving when they switch over to all Christmas music, too.

I have a question for you all? Do we really need Christmas samplers? What's to sample? I emailed them about that. I was asked if I didn't like Christmas music. Anyone who has seen my Christmas music collection would know the answer to that one.

I love Christmas music, but I like it when it's Christmas time. Not when we haven't even started planning the menu for Thanksgiving dinner. Too bad the radio stations in town don't agree. Thank goodness, the hubby got me the iPod for my birthday. It's getting a lot of use this month!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

A few days off

Thanks for the congrats both here and in email! Although I finished the book, I realized I had to fill out a AFS (art fact sheet) which gives Harlequin information they can use for the cover art. I emailed that off last night. So today is my first real free day! I'm still tired and have not yet managed to find the time to watch all the extras on the ROTS DVD, but I did watch the movie with the kids on Tuesday.

Anyway, I'm going to take a few more days off from the blog and try to get some rest and caught up! I also must start nanowrimo, too. I'll be back in a couple of days!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

D-Day

Here's the final tally:

New pages written: none
Old pages revised on paper: all
Pages of revisions typed in: all
Pages lost or gained due to revisions: 2
Total page count to date: 217 (goal: 200 pages)
Days remaining until D-day: none

Hooray! I did it! I emailed the completed manuscript to my editor a few minutes ago. I even managed to read the entire thing out loud, too. Hubby just got home from the 24 hour Walmart where he bought me the ROTS DVD with bonus DVD when it went on sale at midnight. He was the first one there. I love that man so much!

Thanks for all your comments. The support, words of encouragement, photos of Hayden emailed to me and virtual chocolate really helped me get through this!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Crunch time!

Here's the tally up until now:

New pages written: Please no more new pages!
Old pages revised on paper: all
Pages of revisions typed in: all
Pages lost or gained due to revisions: I'm trying to lose as many as I can
Total page count to date: 219 (goal: 200 pages)
Days remaining until D-day: less than 24 hours

Emails from editor in UK: 0
Emails from agent in NY: 0

Chocolate consumed: Halloween candy
Junk food consumed: Halloween candy
Exercise: Does opening a pack of M&Ms count?
Television watched: You've got to be kidding.
Pictures of Hayden downloaded: Too tired to look
Tears: Too exhausted to cry
Weight loss: Let's not even go there.

I've spent the last 6 weeks trying to write pages, now I'm desparate to delete them! Oh, the joys of writing. This is it. I'm panicked. Worried. Exhausted. I'm still plugging away at it. I will continue to do so until I cannot keep my eyes open any longer. I'm still hoping to give it a final read out loud tonight before I email it to my editor. If not, I'll do that during the copy edit stage.

Gotta get back to work now! Oh, and Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

3 days to go

Here's the tally for Friday and Saturday:

New pages written: 2 (epilogue)
Old pages revised on paper: all
Pages of revisions typed in: all
Pages lost or gained due to revisions: +4
Total page count to date: 226 (goal: 200 pages)
Days remaining until D-day: 3

Emails from editor in UK: 0
Emails from agent in NY: 0

Chocolate consumed: Friday - ice cream, Saturday - none
Junk food consumed: Friday - beer, Saturday - vanilla milkshake
Exercise: none
Television watched: none
Pictures of Hayden downloaded: Hayden, who? (Just kidding!)
Tears: yes, when I reached the end. I'm praying this means it's good!
Weight loss: 0 lbs (oh, well, I tried)

I have been a writing machine. Staying up way to late, getting up way too early. I don't even feel human. But I'm getting it done. I'm not even sure where it's coming from. I've got my soundtrack playing and I just do it. I have only made it through the first six chapters of my checklist. It's amazing how many of the same words I use over and over again.

I'm printing the entire manuscript out right now. I will take it with me to the Irish dance feis tomorrow to go over one last time and try to cut as many pages as possible before I read it out loud. Horrible timing for the Irish Dance feis, but I need to be there for my daughter. She will actually be doing one of her reels dressed as Padme from AOTC!

My little Rose just wanted me to hold during Mass tonight. She misses her mommy. Even though they can see me while I'm working, hubby has been keeping them away. I miss them horribly. That's the hardest part of deadlines. I wish I could be better about getting it done sooner, rather than later. If not for me, for them.

Oh, and hubby is going out on Halloween Night to buy me a copy of ROTS when it goes on sale at midnight!!!! I'd better be done when he gets home!

Friday, October 28, 2005

4 days and counting

Here's the tally for Thursday (I couldn't get the spell checker to work so I apologize for any and all typos):

New pages written: 0
Old pages revised on paper: Chapter 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
Pages of revisions typed in: Chapters 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
Pages lost or gained due to revisions: +4
Total page count to date: 220 (goal: 200 pages)
Days remaining until D-day: 4

Emails from editor in UK: 0
Emails from agent in NY: 1

Chocolate consumed: ice cream
Junk food consumed: sliver of cheese cake
Exercise: none
Television watched: JoJo's Circus
Pictures of Hayden downloaded: none
Tears: none
Weight loss: 0 lbs (oh, well, I tried)

What's left before I can read this thing from start to finish: Rewrite Chapter 4 and 2 scenes in Chapter 6. I'm hoping to cut some pages. Once again I'm going to be long. And I still would like to write an epilogue.

What's left after I read the entire thing: Write an epilogue. Type in whatever revisions I make while reading. Use my checklist to see if I've overused any words. See if I can jazz up some of the tags and/or word choices. Read the entire manuscript out loud (this is very important and I will do even if it means staying up all night after I've taken the kids Trick or Treating!).

I went to a new website. Hayden fansite, of course. They have a countdown clock until the ROTS DVD goes on sale. Since that is the same day as my deadline, I was watching the seconds tick down and getting very nervous. I'm afraid to go back. Good thing since I really don't have time to play on the Internet right now.

Tiffany asked in the comment section how I pick whose POV to write a scene in. I've heard all kinds of suggestions such as use whoever has the most at stake. Sometimes I use whoever is learning something new so you get those reactions. Back when I was first starting, I'd write it from both POVs and see which one had the most impact. I've done that a couple times when I was having problems, but now I just write the scene without that much thought to the POV. Experience perhaps? More like luck, I'm guessing. I don't really know. I do usually alter POV between the hero and heroine, but not always. I think you just have to write what the story needs. The hard part comes when you don't know what that is. But it will usually come to you. An example is my 4/05 release. The entire first chapter is from the hero's POV. I tried to use the heroine, too, but it just didn't work so I went back to hero POV only.

Sorry that's not really a good answer regarding POV, but it's late and I've been writing all day. My brain hurts and my fingers want to stop typing.

What have I done? Okay, I will admit it. Not only am I insane, I am a glutton for punishment. But due to my lapse of rational thought, a modified daily tally will now continue on my diary even after the book is done. I just signed up for the National Write Your Novel in A Month challenge that starts November 1st. The goal is to write a 50,000 word novel by the end of the month. Since our new house should be closing on the 17th and well be moving, I'm going to try to do it before then. (Yeah, right! Are you laughing yet? I would be if I weren't so darn tired!) Wonder how many words I can write as I watch ROTS over and over again?

For anyone interested in joining me, go to: www.nanowrimo.org I'm too tired to figure out how to hotlink it so you'll just have to cut and paste.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

5 days to go

Here's the tally for Tuesday:

New pages written: 5
Old pages revised on paper: Chapter 7, 8, 10, 11
Pages of revisions typed in: 10, 11
Pages lost or gained due to revisions: ?
Total page count to date: 216 (goal: 200 pages)
Days remaining until D-day: 5

Emails from editor in UK: 0
Emails from agent in NY: 1

Chocolate consumed: donut, ice cream
Junk food consumed: none
Exercise: none
Television watched: Invasion and QVC Star Wars show (LOST was a repeat so I wrote)
Pictures of Hayden downloaded: none
Tears: none
Weight loss: 0 lbs (oh, well, I tried)

I finally have a Chapter 10 I'm satisfied with. Chapter 11 is still not there. I think the problem is I'm not going into POV deeply enough. That was the problem in 10. I think I need to pay attention to that when I revise the entire book.

I keep adding pages. I always go long so I hope I can tighten a bit when I read through the entire manuscript. I'd really like to write an epilogue for this one. I feel it's really important that the reader knows what happens to the little girl in the story.

What's left before I can read this thing from start to finish: Revise Chapter 11 again. Type in revisions to Chapters 7 and 8. Rewrite Chapter 4 and 2 scenes in Chapter 6.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

6 days to go

Here's the tally for Tuesday:

New pages written: 2
Old pages revised on paper: Chapter 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
Pages of revisions typed in: 10
Pages lost or gained due to revisions: ?
Total page count to date: 211 (goal: 200 pages)
Days remaining until D-day: 6

Emails from editor in UK: 1 (Page count method clarified. No more panic!)
Emails from agent in NY: 1

Chocolate consumed: donut, ice cream
Junk food consumed: none
Exercise: none
Television watched: none (world series on in the background)
Pictures of Hayden downloaded: none
Tears: none
Weight loss: 0 lbs (oh, well, I tried)

I'm plugging away. My biggest obstacle-time. There just doesn't seem to be enough time to write. But I'm stealing every bit I can.
I still have not reached the end. I keep going back and forth since revisions in earlier chapters change later ones. But I really need a complete manuscript in the next day or so. I'm hoping Chapter 10 will be done tomorrow so I can move on to Chapter 11.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

A Week To Go

Here's the tally for Saturday, Sunday and Monday:

New pages written: many (I have surpassed my page goal, no need to keep track any more)
Old pages revised on paper: Chapter 8, 9, 10, 11
Pages of revisions typed in: 8 and 9
Pages lost or gained due to revisions: ?
Total page count to date: 209 (goal: 200 pages)
Days remaining until D-day: 7

Emails from editor in UK: 1 (I'm now totally freaked out about how the UK office calculates word count. Waiting for clarification before I crawl into my cave and never come out again.)
Emails from agent in NY: 0 (1 phone call in regards to a contract question I had last week)

Chocolate consumed: donut, piece of fudge, ice cream (over three days)
Junk food consumed: beer, french fries (over three days)
Exercise: none
Television watched: none that I remember
Pictures of Hayden downloaded: 3 (one of him in a suit from Cannes is my current inspiration and keeping me going)
Tears: I'm on the verge due to email from UK editor, not the book itself
Weight loss: 0 lbs (oh, well, I tried)

Thanks for your comments and encouragement. I've really needed them! I'm feeling the deadline. Pretty much I've got book on the brain 24/7. I can get the kids where they need to go, but I'm really relying on hubby to help me out this week so I can concentrate on Jane and Chase and nothing else. I added three new songs to my book soundtrack: Across the Stars by John Williams (Star Wars Ep. 2 love theme), You and Me by Life House and She Will Be Loved by Maroon 5.

Chapters 8 and 9 are finally finished. Chapter 10 became two chapters as I thought it would. I've been over them a couple of times, but they still need more work. I added one new scene tonight and have another to rough out before I tumble into bed.

LauraP's plan called for me to finish the book tomorrow so I'd have a week to polish. Not sure I'm going to have Chapters 10 and 11 finished. But tomorrow, Tuesday, is nanny day so who knows how much I'll get done?

Revisions on earlier chapters are starting to pile up. I need to rewrite Chapter 4--I'm going to delete a scene that I really don't need and rewrite the other scenes. The lead-up to the second kiss scene in Chapter 6 needs some work. Some minor revisions in 7 that shouldn't take too long. I've yet to read this thing from start to finish. That scares me a little.

Okay, it's late. I need to get back to writing.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

And then there were two

Here's the tally for Friday:

New pages written: 3 (goal: 6.4 pages)
Old pages revised on paper: Chapter 8 and 9
Pages of revisions typed in: 8
Pages lost or gained due to revisions: 0
Total page count to date: 195 (goal: 200 pages)
Days remaining until D-day: 10

Emails from editor in UK: 1 (an auto reply telling me she's out of the office until next week)
Emails from agent in NY: 0

Chocolate consumed: donut, piece of fudge
Junk food consumed: bottle of beer
Exercise: none
Television watched: none
Pictures of Hayden downloaded: none
Tears: none
Weight loss: 1 lbs (gained back a pound since I haven't been skipping meals)

I revised Chapter 8 again. Now it's done! Finally. Only two chapters left. Of course those two will most likely become three and I'll be trying to decide what pages to cut! No matter how hard I try to change my process I can't. Chapter four still needs more work, but I'm waiting until I'm done to do that.

I've moved on to Chapter 9. A four page scene became 8 pages, but I cut elsewhere so I still haven't hit the 200 page mark. But I'm close. I cannot decide how to open the chapter though. I have the scene written, but I don't like the beginning. So I skipped that scene and wrote the next one. Now I realize a later scene should go in between these two! I'm going to have my work cut out for me tomorrow. But I'm feeling pretty good. I remember one book where I was still writing the last chapter with a half hour to go before the FedEx drop deadline. I really never want to do that again!

Not sure if I've mentioned Halloween yet. (I'm pretty braindead!) Anyway, I forgot about Halloween. My kids told me months ago what they wanted to be: Padme, Darth Vader and Yoda. Did I buy the costumes when I had the chance? No. A couple of weeks ago, I finally thought about it. Found Darth Vader on sale at a local store. Bought Padme on eBay using Buy It Now. But Yoda remained elusive. Finally after searching the internet, checking ebay and filling out email in-stock notifications, I received an email from buycostumes.com telling me Yoda was back in stock. I should have it on the 24th! Thank goodness because the last thing I have time to do this year is try to make costumes on my own.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Hanging in there

Here's the tally for Wednesday and Thursday:

New pages written: 7 (goal: 6.4 pages)
Old pages revised on paper: Chapter 7 and 8
Pages of revisions typed in: Chapter 7 and 8
Pages lost or gained due to revisions: ??? (I just put everything under new pages)
Total page count to date: 192 (goal: 200 pages)
Days remaining until D-day: 11

Emails from editor in UK: 0
Emails from agent in NY: 0

Chocolate consumed: Ice cream, donut, 3 Musketeer bar
Junk food consumed: none
Exercise: Irish Dance class
Television watched: Doodlebops, LOST, Invasion
Pictures of Hayden downloaded: none
Tears: none
Weight loss: 1 lbs (gained back a pound since I haven't been skipping meals)

Okay, I just finished Chapter 8. I think it needs another pass. But something interesting is happening. I think I need another chapter in the book. I was worried about not having enough pages, but now I'm running out of room and need new stuff in there. I'm just going to keep writing and get to the end so I can then see if I need to re-chapter the book and/or cut things. I'll be emailing my editor to find out what the maximum number of pages I can turn it. I do not want to have to cut pages from the manuscript. That's happened with other books and it is no fun to do. Especially during copyedits.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

2 weeks to go

Here's the tally since Saturday and through Tuesday:

New pages written: 17 (goal: 6.4 pages)
Old pages revised on paper: lots
Pages of revisions typed in: lots
Pages lost or gained due to revisions: ??? (I just put everything under new pages)
Total page count to date: 185 (goal: 200 pages)
Days remaining until D-day: 13

Emails from editor in UK: 0
Emails from agent in NY: 0

Chocolate consumed: Ice cream, donut, M&Ms
Junk food consumed: Appletinis, chips
Exercise: Piggy back rides
Television watched: Barney, Doodlebops, Boston Legal
Pictures of Hayden downloaded: 2 (Once again Maria came through for me. I owe you!)
Tears: NO!
Weight loss: 1 lbs (gained back a pound since I haven't been skipping meals)

Sorry for not updating the tally. I have been locked to my keyboard except for a martini bunco party on Saturday night (a girl has to have a little fun), a trip to see how our new house was coming along, church and driving the kids around the past couple of days.

I'm still having some trouble with NOT SO PLAIN JANE. I really hate middles. Chapter four STILL isn't right, but I need to get to the end of the book first before I go back to try and fix it yet again. I have three chapters left. Chapters 8, 9 and 10. That's where the fifteen pages will go. Mostly in Chapter 9, but all three chapters are rough.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Hitting the wall

Here's the tally for the past few days:

New pages written: 0 (goal: 6.4 pages)
Old pages revised on paper: The first seven
Pages of revisions typed in: The first seven
Pages lost or gained due to revisions: 6
Total page count to date: 168 (goal: 200 pages)
Days remaining until D-day: 16

Emails from editor in UK: 0
Emails from agent in NY: 0

Chocolate consumed: Chocolate chip cookies, ice cream
Junk food consumed: a tea biscuit, a donut
Exercise: giving piggy back rides
Television watched: JoJo's Circus, LOST, Invasion
Pictures of Hayden downloaded: 5 (thanks again to Maria!)
Tears: yes
Weight loss: 1 lbs (gained back a pound since I haven't been skipping meals)

It happened again. I thought I'd made it through the middle unscathed, only to come to a screeching halt. Something was wrong that kept me from moving forward. What you may wonder? The kiss. I had it in the wrong place. Originally I had it in Chapter 4. Too soon. So I moved it to Chapter 6. Too late. So now I have it in Chapter 5. Perfect. I hope. I've got my fingers crossed. But moving it changed everything after it. Not completely, but all the internal stuff needed rewriting. I still have a kiss in Chapter 6, too, that I must now write. Anyway, I've been writing so much, I didn't update the tally. Needless to say, you didn't miss much except some hair pulling and frustration.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Forward progress

Here's the tally for Tuesday:

New pages written: 4 (goal: 6.4 pages)
Old pages revised on paper: Chapter 5 again and 10 pages of Chapter 6
Pages of revisions typed in: Chapter 5 and 8 pages of Chapter 6
Pages lost or gained due to revisions: 2
Total page count to date: 162 (goal: 200 pages)
Days remaining until D-day: 20

Emails from editor in UK: 0
Emails from agent in NY: 0

Chocolate consumed: Chocolate chip cookies (homemade by my talented hubby and kids)
Junk food consumed: none
Exercise: giving piggy back rides
Television watched: JoJo's Circus
Pictures of Hayden downloaded: none
Tears: none
Weight loss: 2 lbs (yes I've lost weight eating chocolate, but I forget to eat meals and don't snack so that's why)

Okay, I'm heading back in the right direction. Added new pages! YAY! Today was nanny day so I can't take all the credit, but I will take some. I finally got through the first half of the book. I think something's still not right in Chapter 5, but I'm going to sit on it for a couple of days and then see if I can figure out what. But I've moved forward to Chapter 6. The first kiss scene again. Sigh. I got it revised and typed in. I like it even better. But I just realized the one thing I forgot to do was to dress my characters so tomorrow I will go back in and add clothing.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Losing pages

Here's the tally for the weekend and Monday:

New pages written: 4 (goal: 6.4 pages)
Old pages revised on paper: 105
Pages of revisions typed in: 105
Pages lost or gained due to revisions: -6
Total page count to date: 156 (goal: 200 pages)
Days remaining until D-day: 21

Emails from editor in UK: 0
Emails from agent in NY: 0

Chocolate consumed: Tootsie roll and some whoppers
Junk food consumed: ice cream
Exercise: walking
Television watched: Legally Blonde, JoJo's Circus, The Doodlebops
Pictures of Hayden downloaded: 8 (Thank you Maria for providing much needed inspiration!)
Tears: none
Weight loss: 2 lbs

Okay, I'm in revision mode and I'm losing pages. Not good. But they needed to go. I think a few more need to go, too, but not until I have more pages on the second half of the book written. Yes, I'm still working on the first 100 pages. Okay, really only chapter five. The missing scene took longer to do. The revisions took longer to do. Everything is just taking me longer to do.

Am I panicked? I wouldn't say panicked. I've calmed down a bit, but I am feeling the pressure and am a little discouraged, too.

I have reached the point of sleeping with my manuscript under my pillow. Just one of those things I've always done during deadline time. I dreamed once that writer elves finished a story that I left under my pillow. So when I'm in a time crunch I always sleep with pages under my pillow. The writer elves have never shown up, but you never know! That's why I buy a lottery ticket when the jackpot gets large. Somebody's gotta win!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Almost halfway

Here's the tally for Friday:

New pages written: 0 (goal: 6.4 pages)
Old pages revised on paper: 0
Pages of revisions typed in: 15
Pages lost or gained due to revisions: 3
Total page count to date: 158 (goal: 200 pages)
Days remaining until D-day: 25

Emails from editor in UK: 0
Emails from agent in NY: 0

Chocolate consumed: none
Junk food consumed: ice cream
Exercise: walk with daughter
Television watched: Dora The Explorer with daughter, The Replacements with hubby
Pictures of Hayden downloaded: none (but I saw a couple cute ones of him from Thursday's ROTS DVD junket at Skywalker Ranch!)
Tears: none
Weight loss: 2 lbs

I managed to type in the revisions for the first half of the book. I realized I need a new scene in Chapter 5 though. I haven't a clue yet, what that might be except it needs to be from her POV and I need to use it to get two people who don't want to be together in the same room again.

As for Free Book Friday, some great answers. I would love to go to Walt Disney World. I've never been, but that's not in the plan until our youngest is old enough to make the flight across country worth it. I do hope to sleep and get some R&R in with my family, too, so this one is definitely on the list. And boy, does a bubble bath with a glass of wine and a romance novel sound good. Not to mention dinner out at a quiet Italian restaurant. I would love to do this one, too. But the real way I plan to celebrate is by watching the Revenge of the Sith DVD, munching on Darth Mix M&Ms and swooning over Anakin Skywalker.

Our Free Book Friday winner is StDebb. Please email me (via contact button on website) your snail address, which book you want, who you want it autographed, too, and I'll stick it in the mail.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Free Book Friday

Here's the tally for Thursday:

New pages written: 6 (goal: 6.4 pages)
Old pages revised on paper: 0
Pages of revisions typed in: 3
Pages lost or gained due to revisions: 0
Total page count to date: 155 (goal: 200 pages)
Days remaining until D-day: 26

Emails from editor in UK: 0
Emails from agent in NY: 0

Chocolate consumed: finished the rest of the jedi mix M&Ms
Junk food consumed: none
Exercise: none (skipped Irish Dance. too long drive in the pouring rain and needed to write instead)
Television watched: Wiggles with toddler
Pictures of Hayden downloaded: none
Tears: none
Weight loss: 2 lbs

New pages, revised pages, I'm on a roll. Chapter Five is in worse shape than I realized so I'll work on that today. Chapter Four needs another pass, but I'm very pleased with it.

When I write a book I usually have a song or songs that I associate with it. Two examples are Could It Be Magic (Take That's version sung by Robbie Williams) for IF THE RING FITS... and High Above Me for THE WEDDING LULLABY. One reason I wanted an iPod was to put together a book soundtrack to listen to when I'm working or just bumming around. Last night, my hubby decided to do it for me since I'm too busy at the moment. So I now have two of the songs: Collide by Howie Day and True by Ryan Cabrera.

Okay, since I'm back on track and can afford to visit the post office, I'm going to give away a book today. You have your choice between a hardback copy of The Billionaire's Wedding Masquerade or a paperback copy of Blueprint for a Wedding. Autographed to you or person of your choosing, of course.

To enter simply answer this question in the comment section: How will Melissa celebrate after she sends in her manuscript?

Thursday, October 06, 2005

No longer LOST

Here's the tally for Wednesday:

New pages written: 0 (goal: 6.4 pages)
Old pages revised on paper: 0
Pages of revisions typed in: 17
Pages lost or gained due to revisions: +5
Total page count to date: 149 (goal: 200 pages)
Days remaining until D-day: 27

Emails from editor in UK: 0
Emails from agent in NY: 0

Chocolate consumed: handful of jedi mix M&Ms
Junk food consumed: ice cream
Exercise: none
Television watched: LOST and Invasion (wrote through invasion)
Pictures of Hayden downloaded: none
Tears: none
Weight loss: 2 lbs

A much better day even though I had to drive the kids all over town this afternoon. I felt back on track working on Chapter 4. I added a short scene to it and gained five pages. YAY! I also read over Chapters 1, 2 and 3 and revised them on the computer. I realized I hadn't described something so I had to do a little research tonight. Amazing what some rest will do for a person. I'm feeling good about the book and writing again!

LOST made up for last week's episode. More questions than answers once again. I'm not sure where Desmond ran off to or what's up with the other FLT 815 passengers from the back of the plane. Or if hitting that execute button saves the world. I wish I knew what Walt had whispered to Shannon. It was something about the button. And what's with Jin speaking English? That was in the previews for next week's episode. I cannot wait!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Back at it

Here's the tally for Tuesday:

New pages written: 0 (goal: 6.4 pages)
Old pages revised on paper: 18
Pages of revisions typed in: 0
Pages lost or gained due to revisions: 0
Total page count to date: 144 (goal: 200 pages)
Days remaining until D-day: 28

Emails from editor in UK: 0
Emails from agent in NY: 0

Chocolate consumed: donut, handful of jedi mix M&Ms
Junk food consumed: none
Exercise: none
Television watched: none
Pictures of Hayden downloaded: none
Tears: none
Weight loss: 2 lbs

I revised Chapter 5 on paper and went back over Chapter 4. I haven't forgotten that I'm 56 pages short, but I want to get the first 100 pages finished and polished. That's the goal for the next two days. And then I'll send them off to my critique partners and let them have a go at it while I write and work on the last 100 pages. I'm actually feeling better. I just remembered that I always hit a wall at this point. So all is not lost. Just my memory.

By the way, I'm trying to pace myself. I overdid it in September to try and get ahead of the deadline (as if that is possible-live and learn.) Anyway expect my entries to get shorter from now on. The book comes first. Well, after the hubby and kidlets.

For all you writers out there, if you aren't reading Miss Snark's blog you should be. I'm so not snarky, but I'm on my way to becoming a snarkling. I have no idea who she is except that she's an agent, but she loves George Clooney and I appreciate a woman who shares her crush with the world. When you visit her site, be sure to check out her critiques of the first 300 words of manuscripts. Great way to learn how to write more compelling beginnings!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Some R&R

Here's the tally for Monday:

New pages written: 0 (goal: 6.4 pages)
Old pages revised on paper: 17
Pages of revisions typed in: 0
Pages lost or gained due to revisions: 0
Total page count to date: 144 (goal: 200 pages)
Days remaining until D-day: 29

Emails from editor in UK: 0
Emails from agent in NY: 0

Chocolate consumed: donut, ice cream
Junk food consumed: none
Exercise: piggy-back rides for Rose up and down the stairs and around apt.
Television watched: Blues Clues
Pictures of Hayden downloaded: none
Tears: a couple in the a.m.
Weight loss: 2 lbs

A little rest and relaxation was just what my brain and body needed. I might take care of my kids and make sure they get enough sleep, food and attention, but I forget about myself. Being on deadline just makes it worse. So I revised rather than wrote. I chatted with friends. And the kids and I had a delicious dinner at a friend's house. My friend is a writer and is interning at Hip Mama, a Portland-based magazine, so we had lots to discuss and she made me feel so much better.

I now realize why LauraP had scheduled weekends off in her writing plan for me. You need some sort of break. I need to figure out what the best days for a break will be and how to work this in. Maybe no writing only revising for two days a week. I've got to be careful not to overdo it (when I swallow it hurts, so that is not a good sign), but I must get the book written (which means even if I get sick again I must keep at it.) This time next month the manuscript will be in London. Can you guess what I'll be doing?

Monday, October 03, 2005

Crash and burn

Here's the tally for Sunday:

New pages written: 0 (goal: 6.4 pages)
Old pages revised on paper: 0
Pages of revisions typed in: 0
Pages lost or gained due to revisions: 0
Total page count to date: 144 (goal: 200 pages)
Days remaining until D-day: 30

Emails from editor in UK: 0
Emails from agent in NY: 0

Chocolate consumed: ice cream
Junk food consumed: none
Exercise: none
Television watched: none
Pictures of Hayden downloaded: none
Tears: none
Weight loss: 2 lbs

The alarm going off at six and six plus hours at a feis (Irish dance competition) were too much for me to take. All the tiredness I've been fighting finally caught up and knocked me out. I tried to write. I couldn't. The screen blurred. The brain shut off. So I gave up. Tried to revise. It just wasn't there. So I gave up.

Sunday was a total wash. No new pages, no revised pages, nothing. I didn't cry. Too tired if you want to know the truth. I even put on my jammies at 7 o'clock. That's earlier than the kids put on theirs. Just how tired have I been? I didn't download any of the pics of Hayden on the beach in Barbados that hit the Internet the past couple of days. Yep, I've definitely crashed and burned.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

So much to do

Here's the tally for Saturday:

New pages written: 6 (goal: 6.4 pages)
Old pages revised on paper: 0
Pages of revisions typed in: 0
Pages lost or gained due to revisions: 0
Total page count to date: 144 (goal: 200 pages)
Days remaining until D-day: 31

Emails from editor in UK: 0
Emails from agent in NY: 0

Chocolate consumed: cupcake, ice cream
Junk food consumed: none
Exercise: none
Television watched: a little AOTC with the family before heading into the cave to write
Pictures of Hayden downloaded: none
Tears: none
Weight loss: 2 lbs (if this becomes a weight gain, it will go away)

Typical Saturday: soccer game (nothing but mass chaos on the field with 6 kindergartners), errands, birthday party (Happy 6th Birthday Noah!), church.

For Star Wars fans only: I must tell you about my 2 1/2 year old Yoda-wannabe. I already mentioned that she duels while making light saber sounds. Well tonight, she started using Force powers. She sticks her arm in front of her with her palm out (while making sounds) and uses the Force to repel you. The kids and hubby think this is hilarious so they spent ten minutes showing me how Rose could use her Force power against them. I'm not sure which was funnier--Yoda Rose or everyone else falling and jumping backwards.

In the morning, I pasted scenes from my draft file into chapters. I have 17 pages in Chapter 4 and the same amount in Chapter 5. Chapters 6 and 7 contain about half of that. Chapters 8 and 9 are non-existent and Chapter 10 has 18 pages. Still a ways to go, but I need to start revising the first 100 pages. I've got all the pieces. It's time to rewrite, layer and polish. Yet I can't forget about the missing scenes. Four of them from the synopsis plus all the fillers, sequels and ones I don't know I need yet. I've been concentrating on getting the pages down, but how long is that going to take? I need to revise. So I can revise again and again.

After lunch, I managed to squeeze in some writing and a half-hour nap because my hubby took the kids. And again after dinner, I left the family watching Attack of The Clones and retreated to my room with my Alphie to write.

Lack of sleep is playing a part in my rising anxiety, but having to be finished by the end of the month (or earlier if possible) is playing a huge role. I know I can do this (and thanks for all the encouragement in the comments. You can't know how much it means to me to know I'm not alone!) but I do feel as if this morning the gun appeared and is being aimed at my head, only for brief moments, but it is there.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Time to get serious

Here's the tally for yesterday (Friday):

New pages written: 5 (goal: 6.4 pages)
Old pages revised on paper: 0
Pages of revisions typed in: 0
Pages lost or gained due to revisions: 0
Total page count to date: 138 (goal: 200 pages)
Days remaining until D-day: 32

Emails from editor in UK: 0
Emails from agent in NY: 0

Chocolate consumed: 2 cupcakes
Junk food consumed: none
Exercise: none
Television watched: none
Pictures of Hayden downloaded: none
Tears: none

It's October. I'm trying not to freak out. I really wanted the rough draft done today. I think about the sick days and the pages I didn't write, and my confidence wavers. But I have to look forward, not back.

I worked on the second kissing scene. I would have hit my page goal had I written the scene to the end, but I just got too tired to continue. When my writing reaches a certain point and becomes all telling and synopsis-like then it's time to quit for the night.

I was writing when I heard a drip, drip, drip. I looked at the carpet and saw a wet spot with drops of water hitting the same spot one after another. I glanced up and saw a huge bulge in the ceiing. Yikes. A roofer stopped by and will be back tomorrow. The damage is minimal, but it's still a real bummer and a huge time drain.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Rock walls and writing

Here's the tally for yesterday (Thursday):

New pages written: 7 (goal: 6.4 pages)
Old pages revised on paper: 0
Pages of revisions typed in: 0
Pages lost or gained due to revisions: 0
Total page count to date: 133 (goal: 200 pages)
Days remaining until D-day: 33 (I'm thinking this number might be wrong, but I'm too chicken to check it!)

Emails from editor in UK: 0
Emails from agent in NY: 0

Chocolate consumed: Ice cream
Junk food consumed: Carl's Jr. for dinner
Exercise: Irish dance class
Television watched: Nightstalker and Without a Trace (on computer or writing during them)
Pictures of Hayden downloaded: None
Tears: a couple

I exceeded my page goal today. Only by .6 of a page, but hey, I'll take it. I struggled with words. I was so tired I didn't want to write. I wanted to spend time with my toddler so we played, colored and went to her little dance class. She was so cute in her pink leotard and skirt. It was the first time she'd worn it and didn't want to take it off. No tomboy here, though she can hold her own in a lightsaber fight and can already kick a soccer ball correctly.

Tonight I stopped in at a local health club to check out their rock wall and do some research for the story. I have a scene where Chase pushes Jane out of her comfort zone by taking her rock wall climbing. I spoke with a staff member who answered my many questions, explained the various equipment and even showed me the calluses on his hands from climbing. Did I mention that he was young, attractive and athletic? The things we writers must do to ensure accuracy in our stories!

And although I had fun with Rose and later researching, the actual writing was, in a word, brutal. I'm up to an important scene for my hero, Chase. It involves a little girl who has leukemia and I'm having a tough time with it. As a writer and as a mom. I've had sick kids. In another month or so, I'll be back at the hospital with one of mine for testing and a visit to the specialist to see if she's getting better or not. I'm not looking forward to that, but at least it won't kill her. And that's the big fear. One of my children facing a life-threatening illness. I don't like thinking about it and now I'm writing it. Remember when I sold this book and said I must be insane? I guess I'll see if facing my own fears brings out the emotion or simply pushes me over the edge. Anyone want to place a bet?

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Another day, some more pages

Here's the tally for yesterday (Wednesday):

New pages written: 6 (goal: 6.4 pages)
Old pages revised on paper: 0
Pages of revisions typed in: 0
Pages lost or gained due to revisions: 0
Total page count to date: 126 (goal: 200 pages)
Days remaining until D-day: 34

Emails from editor in UK: 1
Emails from agent in NY: 0

Chocolate consumed: Cupcake
Junk food consumed: None. (forgot to eat lunch unless you count the cupcake since Rose was at a friend's house)
Exercise: None
Television watched: LOST and Invasion (wrote through invasion)
Pictures of Hayden downloaded: None
Tears: None

Busy day with school stuff and driving the kids to various activities so the focus wasn't on writing. I did manage to write pages, but they will need lots of rewriting. I've been dragging all day. Must sleep and remember to eat. That would help my output.

And of course it's Wednesday, which meant from 9-10 pm I didn't do anything except watch LOST. I wasn't blown away by this episode as the premiere. That means I'm probably too tired to pay close enough attention so I hope they show it again next week so I can rewatch it. Still going back to Locke being in the hatch was anticlimactic for me. I could've used a bite of Kate's candy bar. I was happy to finally see Sawyer and Michael and I'm so relieved Jin is alive. The ending with "the others" running out of the jungle was cool. Of course, Jin's version of the others is actually survivors from the back of the plane not "the others" who took Walt. And who knows whether either of those are "the others" Rousseau spoke about. Next week should be very interesting.

Here's another question posted in the comments: "how do you decide when you need an extra scene that wasn't there before?"

Something I learned from the talented Virginia Kantra (romantic suspense author) is to see if I've 1) maintained dominant mood/emotion between scenes 2) or if it is different, shown how a character's dominant mood/emotion has changed between scenes. That is if my heroine is happy at the end of a scene, she should start her next scene in that same mood unless you show what's caused her change. If not, the reader is missing something important. How could the heroine go from happy to depressed when the only thing that happened in between was a scene with the hero and his mother that had nothing to do with the heroine? The reader needs to know what happened to cause the heroine's emotional change. Not every writer does this, but it's good advice and a way to figure out if an extra scene (or a little rewriting) might be needed. I hope that makes sense. I'm so tired, I can no longer focus on the monitor. That means it's time for bed!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I love Tuesdays

Here's the tally for yesterday (Tuesday):

New pages written: 6 (goal: 6.4 pages)
Old pages revised on paper: 0
Pages of revisions typed in: 0
Pages lost or gained due to revisions: 0
Total page count to date: 120 (goal: 200 pages)
Days remaining until D-day: 35

Emails from editor in UK: 0
Emails from agent in NY: 3 (Some chit chat and book 2 delivery dates finalized: Proposal in mid January, Complete on April 1. It's going to be a busy few months.)

Chocolate consumed: Some more of the Darth mix of M&Ms, a piece of chocolate and bowl of ice cream
Junk food consumed: Rice chips (not sure if those are junk food, but at least I ate today)
Exercise: None
Television watched: Commander in Chief and Boston Legal (wrote during them, but hubby was watching)
Pictures of Hayden downloaded: One
Tears: None

Yes, Tuesday is definitely my favorite day of the week. By the time the nanny left today at 4 pm, the kids' homework had been completed, piano practice done, dishes in the dishwasher, the kitchen was clean and pages written. Not a lot of pages, but today I went for quality over quantity. The kind of pages that will actually make it into the book with limited revisions. They already have texture, the five senses, sexual tension and clothing. (I usually don't dress my characters until the final draft so YAY! One less thing to worry about.) Hubby didn't get home until late so I made dinner. Spaghetti and garlic bread. The kids treated us to a song and dance performance of Hillary Duff/Lizzie McGuire songs afterwards. All in all, a very good day.

I wanted to reply to a comment left by Michelle. Craft is not my strong point and I'm very tired so please keep that in mind. She posted: "The toughest part for me now is deciding whether the scene truly needs to be there. There are a few where, if I delete them, the manuscript feels jagged. But they're not quite where they need to be. :/"

I feel your pain! I really do. Some scenes need to go and it's brutal to cut them because most of the extraneous ones are nearest to my heart. Other scenes need to be moved and deciding where can be almost as hard as cutting them. Unfortunately I haven't found an easy answer to where a scene should go. Sometimes it's trial and error. Other times luck. I haven't developed the skill of just knowing yet.

If the manuscript feels jagged, you may only need to rewrite some of the transitions and/or a sequel. Sometimes we don't need entire scenes, but an image/feeling/emotion from a deleted scene that will bring it all together. I also end up combining scenes so one scene can do double duty. That can really help smooth out things plus tighten the story.

Something that has really helped me decide whether I should keep, move or delete a scene is watching DVDs. Listening to the audio commentaries of movies has taught me so much about storytelling and characterization. I love watching the deleted scenes and I use them as teaching tools, too. I can see (and hear) exactly why a scene wasn't included in the final cut at the movie. That's helped me be more objective when I decide what stays and what goes in the manuscript.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Forward Progress

Here's the tally for yesterday (Monday):

New pages written: 7 (goal: 6.4 pages)
Old pages revised on paper: 0
Pages of revisions typed in: 0
Pages lost or gained due to revisions: 0
Total page count to date: 114 (goal: 200 pages)
Days remaining until D-day: 36

Emails from editor in UK: 0
Emails from agent in NY: 1 (Not about this book or the contract)

Chocolate consumed: Two handfuls of Darth mix of M&Ms
Junk food consumed: None. (Just realized I didn't really each much today. No wonder I'm hungry.)
Exercise: None
Television watched: Attack of the Clones with my sick son
Pictures of Hayden downloaded: None. (But I got to seem him in the above movie. Sigh.)
Tears: Yes (A new category. I will only count tears that fall due to writing frustration/anger/despair. Lack of writing time, too.)

Okay. All is not lost. I finally made some forward progress today even with a sick kid at home and my youngest one who made her day's goal to annoy him. The kids had a lightsaber fight with Crayola makers at one point. But I had to stop it before one of them (namely my son) got hurt. My 2 1/2 year old, a Yoda fan, has the light saber sounds down pat.

To soothe the day and make it easier on myself, I bought the Star Wars Ep. 2 DVD this morning. I sat on the couch with my son, who now has two ruptured eardrums, and my trusty Alphasmart. I had to stop working every time Kit Fisto (my son's fave) appeared on screen, but that was okay and he loved pointing him out to me. I must admit to being more than a little distracted each time Anakin was onscreen, but I managed to meet my page goal thanks to my muse providing much needed inspiration as well as a new resolve not to go to bed until I've met my page quota.

This means I have now entered into panic mode as well as the dove head first into the hate portion of my love-hate relationship with writing. I love having written. I hate writing. Those blank screens/pages just mock me which is why I use my Alphie to draft. With only a four line display, there's not much to mock. I don't draft on my computer. Otherwise my poor keyboard takes take the brunt of my frustration. And nothing, including molded plastic and circuits, deserves that.

Focus, I must, and concentrate on the task at hand. A complete rough draft. A complete rough draft. That's my mantra and goal for the next two weeks.

One more thing, I'm going back to linear writing for a few days. I've been jumping around as the scenes hit me, but I need to know I have all the parts of the story down. So I started back at Chapter Four today and filling in the gaps. We'll see how long this lasts. I'm guessing until I get into Chapter 5. It never fails. I always hit a wall there. A huge I'm-never-going-to-be-able-to-muddle-through-the-middle wall-everything-I-wrote-sucks wall. I'll need lots of M&Ms when that happens and Kleenex.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Manic Monday

Here's the tally for yesterday:

New pages written: 0 (goal: 6.4 pages)
Old pages revised on paper: 0
Pages of revisions typed in: 0
Pages lost or gained due to revisions: 0
Total page count to date: 107 (goal: 200 pages)
Days remaining until D-day: 37

I took yesterday off. I needed to rest and take care of my son. He's got one ruptured eardrum. The doctor thinks the other will rupture today. He has a very severe ear infection. Poor little guy. He's home today from school and just miserable. I told him we could watch a Star Wars movie. That made him smile.

But...the panic has set in. I'm behind. I need to write. The book is constantly on my mind. Scenes popping. Characters talking. The entire plot imploding.

I just need everyone to be healthly! And start meeting my page goals no matter what.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

The Circle of Life

Here's the tally for today:

New pages written: 0 (goal: 6.4 pages)
Old pages revised on paper: 0
Pages of revisions typed in: 4
Pages lost or gained due to revisions: 0
Total page count to date: 107 (goal: 200 pages)
Days remaining until D-day: 38

Emails from editor in UK: 0
Emails from agent in NY: 0

Chocolate consumed: Handful of Darth mix of M&Ms (dark chocolate Star Wars ones. Yum!)
Junk food consumed:
Exercise: None
Television watched: Weather channel
Pictures of Hayden downloaded: None.

Still not well. Still not writing. Worse, my son is sick. He skipped soccer and napped today, but I was a bad mommy tonight. Gave him children's Advil (we were out of Motrin) and took him to see The Lion King. We've had the tickets for months. We didn't want to miss it so what was I going to do? I knew the kids would love it. They did. Seeing the joy spread over Finn's face was better than the show (which was fantastic!) I had to keep telling him to sit down. He was so excited and never stopped smiling that I knew I'd made the right decision bringing him. By the end, he started fading, but he sat on my lap and hung in there like a real trooper. After the show my hubby carried him all the way to the car. We realized on the way home that Finn probably has an ear infection which means a trip to the doctors in the morning if we can get a Sunday appointment or it's off to urgent care.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Under the weather

Here's the tally for today:

New pages written: 0 (goal: 6.4 pages)
Old pages revised on paper: 0
Pages of revisions typed in: 14
Pages lost or gained due to revisions: +2
Total page count to date: 107 (goal: 200 pages)
Days remaining until D-day: 39

Emails from editor in UK: 0
Emails from agent in NY: 1 (from agent's assistant telling me agent is away in case the email I sent was urgent. It wasn't.)

Chocolate consumed: Bowl of ice cream
Junk food consumed: McDonalds for lunch
Exercise: None
Television watched: Weather channel, Disney channel and Nick Jr. (I was a bad mommy and let Rose watch more than one show.)
Pictures of Hayden downloaded: None.

Still not feeling well. I gave up on writing new pages and revised old pages. Our neighbor downstairs took my kids this afternoon so I could rest. (I tried writing, but my brain was mush.) Poor guy had his two plus my three. I owe him big time. Tomorrow we have tickets for The Lion King. I MUST GET WELL. Not only for the show, but the book. I'm falling behind, but I don't feel well enough to panic. But that will come.

Hugs and prayers to those affected by Hurricane Rita.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Sick

Here's the tally for today:

New pages written: 1 (goal: 6.4 pages)
Old pages revised on paper: 0
Pages of revisions typed in: 0
Pages lost or gained due to revisions: 0
Total page count to date: 105 (goal: 200 pages)
Days remaining until D-day: 40

Emails from editor in UK: 0
Emails from agent in NY: 0

Chocolate consumed: 1 oreo
Junk food consumed: 1 pretzel
Exercise: None (skipped irish dance class)
Television watched: Didn't keep track. Weather channel and Disney channel were on at various times today.
Pictures of Hayden downloaded: None. Not even Hayden could make me feel better today.

Yucky day. Woke up feeling bad. Checked email and took a long shower hoping it would help. It didn't. Unfortunately, mommies don't get sick days. I decided to not let feeling icky stop me. Stupid decision. I struggled to write one page when I should have taken a nap with Rose instead. I kept feeling worse. Survived a toddler dance class after lunch, was asked by more than one parent when I picked up the kids if I was okay and then forced myself to stay awake during the kids' piano lessons. At least we got through homework. By late afternoon, I was running on fumes and had the chills. No way did I want to head out again for Irish dance and then stay do my class, too, so I told kids we wouldn’t be going. My daughter took it well. She even offered to watch the kids so I could nap. Too bad she's only seven. I sat comatose while they watched television. My wonderful hubby made it home so he could take daughter to class and the other two kidlets to dinner. That would have given me a huge chunk of writing time. I thought about doing that for about a nanosecond then crawled in bed. That was a little before 5. I woke up when the family got home two and a half hours later. Napping helped, but not enough. Maybe tomorrow I'll feel human again. And I can write.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

LOST!

Here's the tally for today:

New pages written: 6 (goal: 6.4 pages)
Old pages revised on paper: 0
Pages of revisions typed in: 0
Pages lost or gained due to revisions: 0
Total page count to date: 104 (goal: 200 pages)
Days remaining until D-day: 41

Emails from editor in UK: 0
Emails from agent in NY: 2 (still working out delivery dates for book 2. I have a deadline for the complete, now we're working on when the proposal will be due. I proposed a day.)

Chocolate consumed: oreos, bowl of ice cream
Junk food consumed: pretzels
Exercise: None
Television watched: A lot. 3+ hours-Safe landing of Jet Blue FLT 292, LOST (WOW! It didn't disappoint. I can't wait for next week.) and Invasion (a new show that premiered after LOST. It's still on so I'm not sure yet if it's something I'll continue to watch)
Pictures of Hayden downloaded: I lost count after 8 (New pics from the Star Wars fashion show and others posted to the yahoo groups list I'm on.)

I was sure today would be a lost writing day, but I surprised myself. Yes, a tad short on the page count, but I managed more than I thought I would thanks to my Alphasmart and-drumroll please-I have passed the halfway point and it's not even October yet! Snatching a minute here and there to write can really make a difference when you add up the pages. And the Alphie allows me to turn off my internal editor and just get the words on the page. I would be lost without it. I write every rough draft using my Alphie. Best purchase this writer ever made.

I received a surprise call this morning from my friend, Monica, who I mentioned in yesterday's post. Synchronicity? When we critiqued together, it was almost as if we shared the same brain sometimes! We spent nearly an hour catching up even though we are both on deadline. Remember the name, Monica Pradhan. When her novel, The Hindi Bindi Club, hits the stands, you'll be hearing a lot about this talented and gifted writer!

And finally we get to what I've been anticipating all summer. The season premiere of LOST. Amazing. My only complaint was I wanted to know what happened to the four on the raft. It looks as if some of those questions will be answered next week. That scene between Walt and Shannon sent a shiver down my spine. Why was Walt wet? Where was his life jacket? So many questions. But that's LOST. Each episode raises more questions than it answers.

Who is Desmond? Any guesses? Usually LOST surprises me, but you could see that one coming. Why else would they have a random stranger play such a big part in the flashback? And that accent was a dead giveaway. Still they managed to reel me in and had me on the edge of my seat once again. Kudos to JJ Abrams and crew.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A very good day!

Here's the tally for today:

New pages written: 8 (goal: 6.4 pages)
Old pages revised on paper: 0
Pages of revisions typed in: 44
Pages lost or gained due to revisions: 0
Total page count to date: 98 (goal: 200 pages)
Days remaining until D-day: 42

Emails from editor in UK: 0
Emails from agent in NY: 0

Chocolate consumed: 4 oreos, bowl of ice cream
Junk food consumed: Does a bottle of beer (Firestation Five Blonde from a local Portland brewery) count?
Exercise: None, but I actually thought about it for once and even picked up my pilates DVD
Television watched: 1 1/2 hours - Big Brother finale (Howie, the Jedi in training should have won. Loved his light sabers.) and Baby Noah video w/Rose (while counting and building/knocking down towers)
Pictures of Hayden downloaded: two plus a couple of videos (just the inspiration I needed to write the first kiss)

I'm psyched. Lots done. Page goal met. 2 chapters worth of revisions typed in. A couple new pics of Hayden to stare at. And I didn't go too extreme in my chocolate consumption. I'm a very happy camper:)

I wrote the first kiss scene! I love first kisses. It's always interesting to see what happens. Will it be hot or sweet? A combo of both? I wasn't planning for it to happen when it did, but I think it works. Some emotion is missing (the h/h reactions need to be put under the microscope as my former critique partner, the immensely talented Monica Pradan used to tell me) but I'm going for quantity not quality right now.

And I have to be honest for all you writer moms out there, I did not accomplish today's page goal on my own. The kids' amazing nanny, who stopped working for us during the summer, is now back one day a week. From 10-4, the only thing I had to do was kiss and hug Rose when needed and pick up the kids from school. No afterschool activities today, either. My hubby also cooked dinner (he usually does unless we're having company or it's a holiday so that's a huge help timewise.) Needless to say Tuesday is my new favorite day of the week. Of course tomorrow I'll be back to the real world writing during naptime and after bedtime and driving the kids all over for their various activities so I expect to see the output drop significantly.

Oh, and if anyone notices any math errors, please let me know. I'm usually pretty tired by the time I type this so my brain isn't functioning on all cylinders.

Don't forget. Tomorrow is the LOST premiere!!!! Tune in to the best show on television. All my pages must be completed prior to 9 pm so I can concentrate fully on my favorite show. Do any of you watch it, too?

Need to crank it up a notch

Here's the tally for yesterday:

New pages written: 5 (goal: 6.4 pages)
Old pages revised on paper: 0
Pages of revisions typed in: 0
Pages lost or gained due to revisions: 0
Total page count to date: 90 (goal: 200 pages)
Days remaining until D-day: 43

Emails from editor in UK: 0
Emails from agent in NY: 0

Chocolate consumed: 2 oreos
Junk food consumed: none
Exercise: None
Television watched: Jo Jo's Circus with daughter
Pictures of Hayden downloaded: none

I really wanted to get down to business this week and increase my page count. Didn't happen yesterday. Of course, Monday is the day I'm more bus-driver than anything due to kidlet activities. And I did have dinner with a friend from my old neighborhood. She's also a writer and wants to do a writer's retreat at her house in Bend, Oregon with her writer friends. Now to find a weekend we can all get away! Post D-day, I'm guessing.

I have found a few problems with the proposal either due to research (found something that requires an entire part of a conversation to be rewritten and I really liked how it was:( or just having a clearer mind when I think about the story now. I definitely need more conflict on Chase's part. I have no reason for him not wanting to pursue the relationship early in the story. I think that weakens the romantic conflict, but I now know what to do to increase that push-pull between the characters that ups the tension and emotion. Or at least I think I know. We'll see how it translates to paper if I ever meet my page goal and start typing in revisions. At this rate I won't be sleeping much the month of October. That won't be a pretty sight.

Maybe I just need more chocolate and some Hayden inspiration!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Better than expected

Here's the tally for today:

New pages written: 6 (goal: 6.4 pages)
Old pages revised on paper: 0
Pages of revisions typed in: 0
Pages lost or gained due to revisions: 0
Total page count to date: 85 (goal: 200 pages)
Days remaining until D-day: 44

Emails from editor in UK: 0
Emails from agent in NY: 0

Chocolate consumed: The remaining Junior Mints and 2 oreos
Junk food consumed: none
Exercise: An hour teaching 18 4-5 year olds
Television watched: The Emmys (YAY! LOST WON!!!! Only three more days until it premieres!)
Pictures of Hayden downloaded: none

Okay, I was half a page short from meeting my goal, but I'm not complaining. I could have turned off the TV, but I had to see whether LOST won. It's my favorite show. Of course, my hubby said the show is taped so why not just check on-line, but I'm a sucker for award shows. Plus I'm still ahead of page goal since LauraP's plan called for taking weekends off, but I haven't.

Today I managed to connect with a friend who is helping me with the leukemia research for this book. We've been playing phone tag all week. She answered my questions and gave me so much helpful information. I couldn't wait to get to work once I hung up the phone. I will admit that these past couple of days it's been difficult to put the children battling ALL out of my mind. Although the cure rates have increased to nearly 80% with the proper treatment, it's a horrendous journey for these courageous children and their families to endure. My heart just aches them and I pray they never hear the word "relapse."

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Back on track

Here's the tally for today:

New pages written: 7 (goal: 6.4 pages)
Old pages revised on paper: 0
Pages of revisions typed in: 0
Pages lost or gained due to revisions: 0
Total page count to date: 79 (goal: 200 pages)
Days remaining until D-day: 45

Emails from editor in UK: 0
Emails from agent in NY: 0

Chocolate consumed: 1 bowl of ice cream and a few Junior Mints
Junk food consumed: none
Exercise: none
Television watched: none
Pictures of Hayden downloaded: none

Met my page goal. YAY! Tomorrow will be harder. My nephew's birthday party is tomorrow and it's a 90 mile drive each way plus I'm teaching a class. I'll just have to be real disciplined. And bring my Alphasmart with me everywhere I go.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Not so good day

Here's the tally for today:

New pages written: 2 (goal: 6.4 pages)
Old pages revised on paper: 0
Pages of revisions typed in: 0
Pages lost or gained due to revisions: 0
Total page count to date: 72 (goal: 200 pages)
Days remaining until D-day: 46

Emails from editor in UK: 0
Emails from agent in NY: 0

Chocolate consumed: none
Junk food consumed: 3 Teddy Grahams
Exercise: none
Television watched: The Wiggles during lunchtime
Pictures of Hayden downloaded: 7 (He showed up at the Star Wars Fashion show in NY last night so there were yummy new pics of him. Love his hair in them! One of the ladies in the Hayden group I belong to got his autograph there.)

Okay, a not so good day especially after the progress yesterday. I'm bummed, but I had no choice. I start teaching a class this weekend at church so I spent this morning and tonight finishing up the classroom. What writing time I thought I'd have disappeared when my youngest's nap schedule got messed up and she wouldn't sleep. I even tried laying with her, but I fell asleep and she woke me up. Oh, well... I thought about staying up until I met my page goal, but I'm not feeling that desperate and I really am tired.

I must do better tomorrow and try to make up for my lack of pages today!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

I'm on my way

Here's the tally for today:

New pages written: 9 (goal: 6.4 pages)
Old pages revised on paper: 61
Pages of revisions typed in: 0 (I let revisions sit over night to make sure I want to make the changes before typing them in)
Pages lost or gained due to revisions: 0
Total page count to date: 70 (goal: 200 pages)
Days remaining until D-day: 47

Emails from editor in UK: 1 (No revisions or changes required on the proposal. I was asked to maintain emotional conflict throughout the story and make sure the reader knows why h/h can't be together.)
Emails from agent in NY: 2 (Also received a phone message from her. We need to determine delivery dates for book 2)

Chocolate consumed: 1 bowl of ice cream and 1 cookie
Junk food consumed: 2 rolls of Smarties
Exercise: 1 hour of Irish dance (We learned the 6-hand. My legs hurt from dancing on my toes and trying to kick my bum.)
Television watched: None, unless you want to count Blue's Clues while I built a tower of blocks with my daughter on the floor.
Pictures of Hayden downloaded: 2

A very good day. Let's hope I can keep this up!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Countdown to D-day

Remember NOT SO PLAIN JANE, the proposal I sent in a couple Fridays ago? Well, I was offered a two-book contract with the new Harlequin Romance line. My agent is negotiating the contract, but unless something has happened in the last eighteen hours, I'll have a November 1 deadline (aka D-day) for the first book. That means:

1) I'll have a book out in October 2006
2) I can celebrate finishing the book by watching Revenge of the Sith on DVD (release date is 11/1)
3) I have six weeks to write the rest of the book
4) I am totally insane

The excitement of #1 and #2 quickly dimmed when the reality of #3 and #4 dawned. Okay, I've done it before. I've actually written a book in less time and it even won an RT Book Club award for best Silhouette Romance, but that was before. Before I had my third child, before I took time off to care for that child when she got sick, before I wondered whether I would ever be able to write and sell again.

As doubts set in, my faithful friends quickly came to my rescue with words of encouragement this afternoon. They know me so well that one friend actually broke down what I needed to do and emailed me the following:

6 weeks to 50,000 words, with 3 chapters already

Assume 40-45 pages for the 3 chapters, 250-word pages - say 10,000 words done, 40,000 to go.

40,000 divided by 5 weeks = 8,000 words/32 pages per week
Divided by 5 days per week = 1600 net words/6.4 pages per day with 2 daysoff
Leaving one week for tightening, cleanup, spellcheck, etc.

Not as scary when you break it down.

LauraP, the breakdown queen
(hmm, that doesn't sound so good)

Actually it sounded great considering I had 61 pages for the first three chapters and when I pulled out my organizer to double check the dates I discovered I actually had 7 weeks instead of 6. A doable game plan. Right?

There's one problem. I don't write. I revise. And revise and revise. But I'm still going to take LauraP's plan and go for it. A systematic approach might keep me from the exhaustion and deadline dementia that normally happens to me. Or it might not.

If you want to see what happens when a writer (okay, this writer) is on deadline, stay tuned. The posts won't be long because I have a book to write, but I'll keep you updated on my progress, my setbacks and any nervous breakdowns I suffer in between. Words of encouragement, chocolate and news/pics of my muse Hayden Christensen will be greatly appreciated.

Wish me luck! I'm going to need it:)

Saturday, September 10, 2005

We have a winner...

Cherlyn Michaels is the winner of the autographed book. Congrats! Please use the website button on the left to go to the contact page and send me your snail address. I also need to know whether you want the book autographed for yourself, someone else or generic. Thanks!

No one guessed the correct answer. The picture I sent in for the cover was not Hayden Christensen. Back in 2003 when I wrote the book, I didn't know who Hayden was. Hard to believe, but true. I missed seeing Attack of the Clones in the theater due to a difficult pregnancy so I decided to wait until Episode 3 came out to watch it. I remained Star Wars spoiler free for two years. Not that hard to do living in a cave with three young kidlets and writing to keep me otherwise preoccupied:)

As for the picture... I was thumbing through a magazine and saw a photo of a man in a tuxedo. It was Henry Davenport! I looked again and realized it was actually Jude Law. So I bought the magazine and sent in that picture for the cover. Do you see the resemblance?

Friday, September 09, 2005

Free Book Friday


Hero, Henry Davenport, has been on my mind since seeing Troy. Imagine my surprise when I received a package from Harlequin M&B and found hardcover copies of Henry's book, The Billionaire's Wedding Masquerade. The pink hardcover copies are sold to libraries in the U.K. I love them and keep one of each title on our living room bookcase. I've never had extra to give away. Until now...

It's Free Book Friday! Simply post a comment and you'll be entered to win an autographed hardcover copy of Henry's book. I won't even make you answer a question like I do on the website contest, either. If you have an overwhelming urge to answer a question, tell me the name of the person who's picture I sent in for the cover art? But you don't have to get it correct to win.

I usually have between 1-5 comments on my diary entries so I've written down a number between 1 and 5. If more than 5 people enter, I'll use a random number generator and pick the winner that way. The winner's name will be posted on Saturday's blog so be sure to check back if you enter!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Random Thoughts

My parents offered to take the kidlets on Friday and Saturday nights so I spent the weekend resting, watching the coverage of the Katrina disaster and catching up on my to-be-watched list of movies.

Katrina: The images and stories are heartbreaking. There are plenty of websites and blogs offering links for donations and how to volunteer so I won't do the same here, but I hope everyone does whatever they can for those affected, including the pets who had to be left behind. I also encourage you to write your U.S. senators and representatives. We not only need long-term relief for the Gulf Coast, but we need to ensure that the lack of immediate and appropriate response never happens again. If you don't know how to reach them, simply try google.com. I received a response from Senator Cantwell today so at least I know that the email I sent last week arrived.

Movies: I watched two DVDs this weekend including Troy. The first question out of my hubby's mouth when I put on Troy was, "Is Hayden in this?" No, Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom. (Plus a bunch of other eye candy which I didn't mention.) "Orlando who?" Legolas. "Oh, him." My hubby says he's not into movies, but he just likes to say that. Put on Slapshot, Jaws, Rush Hour, Sense and Sensibility or a few others, and he won't move until the credits role.

What did I think of Troy? Well, the credits read based on The Iliad. Perhaps they should have said, character names, a few scenes and plot points borrowed from the Iliad, but the rest is all Hollywood (or rather what Hollywood thinks we, the audience, wants to see.) Still you can't beat the eye candy. Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Sean Bean and Orlando Bloom, just to name a few. So at least they got that part right. But Orlando's Paris was so absolutely beautiful that Helen paled in comparison.

Something hit me while I was watching that took me by surprise-Paris (not his looks, but his character) reminded me so much of Henry Davenport, a character from several of my books. Both men were privileged and indulged their every whim (i.e. flawed), but both managed to redeem themselves at the end.

Back to school: Today was the first day back to school for my two oldest kids. They dressed in their uniforms, put their lunchboxes into their backpacks and off they went to the school. I'm nervous about my seven year old adjusting to her new class and school. I still can't believe my five year old is in kindergarten. Full day kindergarten. It's been a hard day. I'm sure they are both fine. I just miss them so much!

Friday, September 02, 2005

Deadline Day!

My NOT SO PLAIN JANE proposal is finished. Finally.

I would have liked to go over chapter 3 again. Okay, the entire thing a couple more times. And I realized something I could have added to chapter 2 that would have motivated my heroine, Jane, better. But it's too late now. I emailed it to my editor in the U.K. a few minutes ago.

I'll keep notes in hopes that they like it enough to buy it. If they don't, I'll just start over again with a new story.

But right now I don't want to think about that. All I want is some food and some sleep. Too bad one of the kidlets is already awake and another is stirring. I could really use a nap!

Monday, August 29, 2005

Writing Time

I have until Friday to make sure this proposal gets whipped into shape. I wish I could spend the entire week writing, but it's the last week before school starts so I made plans with the kidlets to do some fun things: blueberry picking, Oaks Amusement Park, the zoo and swimming. Of course, it's raining and more rain is forecasted this week.

Oh, well, that's one of the hazards of living in the Pacific Northwest. I'll take it (along with the earthquakes and volcanos) especially when I see what's going on in the Southeast right now. Hugs and prayers to all facing and having to pick up the pieces of Katrina's wrath.

One more thing... if you haven't entered my website contest, make sure you do before it ends on the 31st of August. There is a link here on my diary. The prize is a $10 amazon.com gift certificate.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Happy Birthday To Me!

After the disappointment of my birthday last year, my wonderful hubby has completely redeemed himself.

He took the day off. I woke up not to "Mommy, I'm up. Come get me" but to silence. A rare occurrence around here. I glanced at the clock and it was 8 o'clock. That's late for me. No wonder I felt so rested.

I headed downstairs. The smell of freshly baked coffee cake hit me halfway down. The kidlets greeted me with "Happy Birthday Mommy." They had already been fed and were waiting to give me my presents.

And what presents! The best birthday presents ever!!

1) A Life-size Anakin Standee - yes, I got it. And yes, he is so hot! He even has a light saber. So very cool. "Hello Anakin," I said, my voice more sultry than I intended. "I'm Melissa." My hubby just sighed and said he'd let that pass since it was my birthday. I love this man so much!

2) A 60 GB iPod that was wrapped in a really cool star wars gift bag

3) A iBook G4 with 14 inch screen plus Word for Mac - this was a complete surprise. I'm still in shock. I needed a new computer, but planned on waiting until I had a new contract. But to use the iPod with my Mac Cube, we would have had to upgrade it so much that hubby decided to just get me a new computer instead. I honestly didn't know this (I may have an engineering degree, but I'm a complete technophobe now) or I wouldn't have asked for an iPod.

Now I must pack! We were supposed to be on the rode already and I haven't showered yet. As of last night, ROTS was playing in three theaters in Boise. Depending on when we arrive, I may try to catch a showing tonight. That would be a nice ending to an already perfect day!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Getting there

Huge progress on the proposal. I rewrote my synopsis! This is a big deal for me. I hate writing a synopsis. Until selling on proposal, I never wrote one until the book was completed. So sending in a synopsis based on little more than an idea to my new editor was very difficult for me. Especially when I only knew the characters names, the opening scene and the last scene.

I'm hoping it's better now that I've actually put conflict and character into it. The original version was 3 1/2 pages. The revised version turned out to be 9 pages. I was shooting for 5 or 6.

Of course I changed the story. I always do that. And I'll probably change it again once I get past the first three chapters and have to muddle through the middle. I hate middles. Almost as much as I hate openings. What I do love are the endings.

I always know how my stories will end before I begin writing them. I often write the last scene first. It's just a draft, but that gives me direction, a place I need to go.

Some writers say if they know how the story ends why write the book. I don't understand this thinking. I write romances. All my books end happily ever after. For me, it's all about the journey. I might know where I need to end up, but there's never only one way to get there.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Proposal and Pre-birthday Presents

I've been hard at work on the proposal! It's still not done, but I'm getting there which is why I still haven't gotten any pics on the blog. But I'll figure it out one of these days. We're heading out of town on Friday and I want the proposal finished! Or at least close enough that I don't feel compelled to work on it this weekend.

On the home front, Mackenna can now ride her bike without training wheels. Huge sigh of parental relief!

My b-day isn't until Friday but since we'll be driving to yet another Irish dance feis that day, my sister gave me my presents on Sunday when we celebrated her son's 6th b-day at Chuck E. Cheese down in Salem. When she handed me the presents--wrapped in Star Wars (Ep 1 TPM) wrapping paper, she told me that I didn't need any of these things, but she thought I would have fun with them.

So here's what I got:
1. A package of Dark Side Peanut M&Ms. (dark chocolate ones with Star Wars themed packaging. Very cute. And tasty!)
2. A puzzle with Anakin and Darth Vader on it
3. A "Sith Happens" t-shirt
4. An "Evolution" pack of Anakin action figures showing him as a padawan (Ep 2 AOTC), a Jedi (Ep 3 ROTS) and then Darth Vader (Ep 4 ANH).

As an extra bonus, my brother in law got me a gift he'd made all on his own--a long-sleeved white t-shirt with an ironed on decal he created. It has all of the Disney Princesses in a half circle. In the center is Princess Leia with a blaster. Near the top is a tie fighter. It's really cute. He also gave me extra iron-ons so I can make matching shirts for Mackenna and Rose.

At Chuck Es while Rose was on one of the little rides, Mackenna came up and said, "Mommy, they have a Star Wars game." She handed me one of her tokens and said, "go play it. I think you'll like it. And I'll watch Rose for you."

When we got home, she asked me what my favorite thing was. she was talking about the gifts I received. Finn answered before I got the chance. "Anakin," he said. "Mommy loves Anakin."

Yes, my family recognizes and acknowledges my Star Wars geekness! As well as my Hayden crush:)

We'll just have to see if the hubby comes through on Friday. I really want that life-sized Anakin standee!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

House Day

Friday turned out to be all out houses.

In the morning, I found a used video of the movie Life As A House (LAAH) for sale at Hollywood Video. I've tried renting the tape, but it's always been checked out. Fellow Hayden lovers from a yahoogroups list told me it was required viewing for any fan. Of course after I bought the tape I was told that listening to the commentary on the DVD was also necessary. Oh, well…

That afternoon the kids and I put on red hardhats and walked through our house that's being built. WOW! It's so big compared to the little cottage we had in Lake Oswego. We don't have enough furniture to fill it, but that will just leave more space for the kids to play, run and dance! The kids went into the rooms they'd picked out and luckily no one wanted to switch. Everyone was laughing and jumping around and just so happy. We also toured a house similar to ours that's almost done. Another WOW! It was so nice. Selling our first house, living in this apartment, everything we've had to do so far has definitely been worth it!

That evening I received a phone call from the woman who had purchased our little cottage. I hadn't heard from them since the day of the home inspection and it was so great to talk with her. She and her husband will be remodeling the house before they move in, and best yet, they are using the same contractor we used to remodel the upstairs back in 2000. (I actually dedicated my April book to Jon and the crew at Beals Design-Build.) Anyway, she sounded so excited about the house. That made an already great day that much better.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Vacation, Stitches and the Lost Kitty

Where has the week gone?

Our Sunriver vacation turned out great. We biked, swam, played at the playground and just relaxed. I wrote and read more chapters from the Harlequin Romances my editor had sent me to get a feel for the new line. We saw the meteor shower on Saturday night and had dinner with friends from our old neighborhood at their new house in Bend on Sunday. My five year old, Finn, learned to ride his bike without training wheels and is now a speed demon. The way he leans into the curves has me seeing more visits to the ER in the future. My oldest, Mackenna, is close to riding without training wheels, but she was more interested in bonding with her cousin. Rose went on her first pony ride on Monday. Now she wants a horse-a big horse. This will not surprise anyone who has met her. There's something about third children. I need to find the birth-order book that I used to use for my characters and see how it applies to my kids.

Rose's second stitch fell out on the drive home, leaving only one to be removed yesterday. More tears fell with that one removal than during the suturing! The doctor told me to keep antibiotic ointment on it. If anyone has other suggestions to help the skin from scaring too badly, please let me know!

Today I not only revised an old scene, I wrote a new one. Now to download it from my Alphasmart and see if it's any good.

Oh, and we averted a cat disaster today. Our former-outdoor-now-indoor-hissy-kitty, aka Smalls, escaped this morning. It was nearly an hour worth of searching until I found her. She'd crossed the road into another apartment complex. Poor baby actually seemed relieved when I trapped her on a second floor landing. Of course, she may have only been hungry since it was breakfast time. Still she only hissed at me once as I carried her home and didn't try to scratch me. That's an improvement.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Mommy, Rose is bleeding

I had big plans for yesterday. I was going to put my two-and-a-half year old down for a morning nap so I could finish packing for our Sunriver trip later that day, get a little writing done and play with my older two kids. I put Rose down for her nap and headed downstairs. When the crying started fifteen minutes later, I sent my oldest upstairs to tell Rosie that it was naptime. What happened next is still a blur.

I'm not sure how fast I made it up the stairs yesterday when I heard Rose was bleeding. Seconds later I was staring at a child covered from head to toe in red. The only thing on her face I could see where her blue eyes. She kept pointing to her knee, which was covered in blood, too.

As I washed her off, I managed to call my husband. The call went something like "Rose is covered in blood. She has to go to the hospital. Come home. Now."

I finally figured out that the cut wasn't on her knee but on her face, between her eyebrows. When you hear that head wounds bleed a lot, it's true.

My five year old son was upset his bed was covered in blood. My seven year old couldn't stop crying. Me? I just wanted the bleeding to stop and kept thinking I should have put her down in her crib not her brother's bed.

Rose needed three stitches. Not that many considering the amount of blood. They gave her something to make her loopy so the suturing went smoothly. We were on our way to Sunriver only an hour and half late. While Rose slept during the drive, I tried to write on my Alphasmart. I couldn't. I tried to brainstorm my book. I couldn't. I tried to sleep. I couldn't even do that.

We arrived in Sunriver, a resort community in Central Oregon. Rose seemed to be fine. I was the one suffering now. I was surrounded by family all of who had questions and comments. You mean, you didn't call a plastic surgeon in to stitch her. Just think if she would have hit her eye instead. Scars can be cool. Needless to say, all I wanted to do was hold onto my baby and have a good cry.

Tomorrow, I thought, everything will be back to normal. And then this morning we had to call the hospital. A stitch had come out. We ended up at a local hospital in Bend. They taped the missing suture. We were done.

Still no writing. I decided to take another day off. Mommy-guilt-trauma-whatever. So we napped and then went bike riding to a playground. All twelve of us. My family, my sister's family and my brother-in-law. The vacation had truly begun. I only hope tomorrow, the writing returns! And that the remaining sutures stay put.