Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Back to it!

Funny how being gone makes everyone appreciate you a little more with comments like "I miss you so much, Mommy" to "Please don't die." Yet after only a few hours, it's as if you were never gone. I won't go into details since some things are better left unsaid, but that's what happened yesterday. Back to the routine in a big way. Sigh...

The kidlets were excited yesterday. They got filmed at the Oregon Children's Museum for some promotional thing. Not sure whether the footage will be used, but just being taped and asked questions on camera was cool for them. That's all they could talk about when hubby got home.

I got a nice little package in the mail I forgot to mention yesterday. My roomie at Dallas, Avalon author and good friend Shirley Marks sent me two books. These weren't just any books, but Trixie Belden books for my daughters! When I was younger I read the entire series. Absolutely devoured them. I'm excited to introduce my kids to them now. Thanks Shirley! Did any of you have a series you read and loved when you were a kids?

I saw this on AOL and thought it was so cute I had to share. Enjoy!

Have a great day!

No Place Like Home

I'm back home. Finally. Waiting for me when I rolled in around nine-thirty last night were three kidlets in jammies, two boxes of books from the conference to give away here on the blog and one-relieved looking hubby. I enjoyed my ten nights and eleven days in Tacoma and loved the class, but I was ready to sleep in my own bed again. There truly is no place like home. Of course, I'm leaving again on Sunday for a week, but this time everyone (well, minus the cats) are coming with me.

So before I get back into the daily routine, I thought I'd tell you what I've been up to since I didn't blog all that much:

1) Turned in the revisions for SOS Marry Me! (Gotta admit, the more I think about that title, the more I do not like it.) Received an email asking me to fix two problem areas they had--one paragraph in chapter one and a line in Chapter 10. Those changes were approved yesterday! That book is now done except for galleys. Huge sigh of relief.

2) Got back to work on the Mount Hood Christmas book! Loving it now!!!

3) Finished the second half of my class and received my certificate to teach 6-9 year olds (Level II of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.) These are some of the materials we use to help children understand the infancy narratives in the Bible. The work on the left is the Visitation and the one on the right is the Birth of Jesus & Adoration of the Shepherds.

These two works are the Prophecy of the Peaceable Kingdom (Isaiah 11:6-9) and and the Adoration of the Magi. It was so interesting to see how some of the works I've done with children ages 3-6 could be expanded for the 6-9 child, who has a new capacity for synthesis of similar works as well as an interest in historical and political details of the time.

4) Went climbing at Exit #38 off I-90 outside of Seattle with one of the climbers from the forum I belong to and had a blast. This is the view from the first place we climbed. The freeway is down below us so you do hear the sound of cars on the road, but the scenery is lovely. I did have a couple of height issues, but managed to work through them by clinging to whatever I could until the moment passed. Learning to rock climb is helping with my fear of heights, but I have a long way to go still.

The day was beautiful with clear blue skies and a slight breeze, but with the sun beating down on us it got hot fast. I forgot to put sunscreen on the back of my neck and had a not-so-nice ring of red between my collar and hair. The kids said it looked like a necklace.

Brian generously offered to spend the day climbing with me. He teaches people to climb so I was in good hands and learned so much. He taught me how to: lead belay, clean a route, rappel, multi-pitch rappel, lead a sports route and set an anchor. He also gave great advice when I tried to climb two routes that were above my ability.

Here I am leading my first route. When you lead, you bring the rope up with you whereas all the other times I've climbed, I top-roped, meaning the rope was already on the route. When I reached the top, I had to set up an anchor so Brian could climb the route and clean it (i.e. remove all the quick draws I'd placed going on.) As you can see from the picture, the climbing was so easy I didn't really have to think about it much so could concentrate on clipping these things called quick draws to bolts and then hooking the rope through. This is in case you fall you are "protected" and won't fall so far. It was a lot of fun leading.

I'm on a much harder route here trying to get up so I can clean the route. It was rated a 5.8, much tougher than anything I'd climbed before. I made it to the top (and managed to pick up the four quick draws on the way) but it wasn't easy. I tried a 5.9 next and flailed. I made it up a little, but took quite a few falls. I'm covered in bruises still!

I saw this sign as we were walking back to the car and felt it worthy of a picture. With climbing, all I seem to have are questions.

5) We all had a great time at the Irish dance feis. (Okay, minus the swimsuit incident, but Marriott is sending me a check so I can buy a new one.) The kids came home with medals for placing and even a trophy for the oldest in the Treble Reel. I think she tied for fifth.

Okay, now I can get back to the routine. Oh, and go buy a new swimsuit. I need one before we leave on Sunday!

Last call for suggestions on my weekly blog book giveaway. Sorry, but I can't have you all beg!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

No Access

I'm at Tully's Coffee in Old Town Tacoma. I moved from the hotel to the house I stayed at last summer and have no way to get on-line. So I'll be off-line until I get back home tomorrow night! Hope all is well! I'm learning lots, but missing the family, who left today, already.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Dancing a Jig!

Two of the kidlets will be competing today at the Dance for Life Feis in Seattle. I'm hoping to sneak out of class early to watch them. Fingers crossed I pull it off!

We had a great time last night once we got past an accident that pretty much shutdown I-5 north. It took me almost 2 hours to go 30 miles. Horrible! I hate traffic. I made it to the hotel first. The family was about twenty minutes behind me. We had dinner and swam. You won't believe what happened.

I was soaking my sore muscles in the hot tub. I got up and walked toward hubby. He got a really weird look on his face and pointed to my swimsuit. I looked down. The chemicals in the hot tub had turned my blue swimsuit a tan/nude color. Hubby thought the whole thing had been eaten away which was why he was looking so concerned since it looked like I was naked from far away! The only part still blue is at the top where the fabric didn't touch the water. Everyone around the pool was looking at me which was totally disconcerting. Who wants people looking at them when they are in a swimsuit? I'm bummed because it's hard to find a swimsuit that 1) I like and 2) that fits well. They told me the manager would call me today. We'll see.

I'm going to get ready for class. Hope you have a nice Saturday!!!!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Friday = Family!!!!

My family is driving up here today. I cannot wait. I miss them soooo much.

Climbing was so awesome. I had such a fun time. I'm worn out, bruised and cut, fingertips a little bare and hurting, but it was all worth it. I'll post more later, but I need to get packed and moved out of the studio I've been staying in so I can head to the hotel where the family will be.

Hope you have a great Friday. I'm really looking foward to mine!


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Day off!

No class today! A free day to do whatever we'd like so I'm going climbing at Exit 38 with someone from the climbing forum. I'm so excited! But I'd better keep getting ready. I was up a little late last night and dragging a bit this morning.

What do you have planned for today?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

No SOS needed!

I'm still homesick, but I'm hanging in there, trying to keep busy so I don't have a lot of time to think about the four people and three kitties waiting for me back home. I spent Tuesday night working on five wedding dress tips for SOS Marry Me! That was the last thing I had to get them for the book (at least until galleys arrive) and I'm happy to say, the tips are off.

As soon as I emailed them, I got back to work on the new proposal. Finally. I came up with the idea for this book in December and am only getting to write it now! Of course I had to stop when the revision letter arrived for the other book, and I've been itching to go back to it since then. Especially with the proposal is due at the end of August.

The idea for the book, Christmas on the Mountain (working title), came to me during the Mount Hood incident back in December when two climbers from Dallas and a third climber from New York went missing. It's amazing how that one event inspired an entire romance novel, but also my new climbing hobby and making new climber friends and becoming climbing partners with them.

I was thinking about that this weekend while searchers scoured Mount Hood for clues and the bodies of the two climbers still missing. They didn't find the climbers, but searchers did find a stash of their gear hidden in an A-frame. If you want to read more, check out this article and the Three Mount Hood Climbers blog written by Kelly James' brother and sister-in-law.

And now for an entirely different subject, the other day, hubby mentioned something about a Jane Austen enthusiast plagarizing her works to see what would happen if he submitted them to publishers and agents in 2007. I found the article here. It's worth a read if you're curious.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Another New Title

Just when I'd come to embrace Stranded with the Bad Boy for the title of my continuity book, they changed the title on my today. The new (or would that be newest?) title is S.O.S. Marry Me! I guess the other title was deemed too sexy and crossed line boundaries. Of course, that probably would have related to higher sales. Just kidding!

A title is a title. Too many people have input-editorial, marketing and focus groups-to get attached to a book title. I remember when I was asked to change Enough About Henry to something else. I was devastated. We came up with title The Wedding Masquerade since all the other Henry matchmaking books had the word "wedding" in the titles. Then marketing asked to add the word Billionaire so the title became The Billionaire's Wedding Masquerade. Talk about a mouthful. But then the book sold pretty well so I stopped worrying about titles. The powers that be do know what they are doing.

Do you pay much attention to titles as a reader? Would the title of the book make you pick it up? Or would it keep you from buying it?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Kitty Lost and Found

Sorry for not posting earlier. We had a crisis at home. Given the fact I'm three hours from home, it's been a long day.

One of our cats, Rocket, went missing yesterday. Hubby searched the house again and again. The cat was nowhere to be found. He hadn't touched his food last night or this morning. Hubby was sure the cat had gotten outside when the kids were playing. He talked to neighbors, but no one had seen him. I've been frantic!

I've been unable to do much except attend my class today. I was going to make the three hour drive home tonight, but hubby said not to since I'd have to be back here by 9 am tomorrow morning. He was making flyers to put up around the neighborhood. Next step was compiling a list of animal shelters to visit.

My oldest decided she was going to look for Rocket herself. She felt he had to be inside somewhere since it was raining outside and the cat doesn't like getting wet. Her reasoning and search paid off! Rocket was hiding in my closet under a pile of bags and a suitcase. Needless to say, huge sigh of relief by all of us.

Only Smalls our indoor/outdoor kitty has a microchip. I'm going to look into that when I get home. I don't want to have to go through this again!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Rain, rain go away

The rain keeps falling. I really want to see the sun. Still I managed to finish my revisions. YAY! I just want to read through the manuscript one more time before I send it off. I can't believe all the typos I found. Kinda scary, but then again I was working really early in the morning and late at night to finish it on time back in May. I shouldn't be so surprised!

The weather only made my homesickness worse, however. I'm missing hubby and the kidlets so much. I'm away from home again. Not sure if I mentioned that or not. This time to attend the second part of the class I started last summer. The good news is the family will be here next weekend. The bad news is it's still this weekend.

At least I'll have time to work on the new proposal, and I'll be rock climbing with some of the Seattle members of the forum I belong to if the weather gets better. Gotta think of the positives!

I'll be at class later today and writing tonight. What do you have going on today?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A Gray Day

The Pacific Northwest has forgotten that it's summer. The overcast skies and rain have returned with a vengeance. No matter, I have work to do: the revisions and the proposal. My critique partner helped me figure out how to get out of revision hell so now all I have do is get them done. This weekend!

Talking about Heroes' Emmy nods got me excited for the new season. Imagine my surprise when I checked YouTube for a song I'd heard and saw the actor who plays Peter Petrelli in the music video. Check out Milo Ventimiglia in Fergie's Big Girls Don't Cry.

Hope you have a great weekend!

Friday, July 20, 2007

I wanna be a Rockstar!

I went climbing yesterday with two friends I met on a climbing forum. This is Shelly. She invited me down to the Columns in Eugene, Oregon to teach me how to crack climb. Not only was this my first time attempting cracks, it was also my first time climbing outside!

She took me to the top to teach me how to set an anchor and rappel down. My fear of heights got the best of me so I walked down.

Here I am on the easy double crack route. For those who climb, it's an easy 5.7 according to Shelly, but it felt really hard to me. I fell many times, but Shelly made sure I didn't lose much ground. She was a very patient teacher and top-notch belayer. She kept telling me I could make it to the top, and finally, after several attempts, I did!

Shel shows me how it's done. She was a great teacher. I compared my hands to hers afterwards. I've got cuts and bruises and missing skin on my hands and arms. Hers were a little red.

Reuben, who acted as our ropegun, showed up and set another route for us. Here I am struggling to climb up this one crack. I didn't make it to the top, but I sure learned a lot from my attempt.

Here's Reuben on a harder climb. The guy can move. He belayed me on the fat crack route and, like Shelly, was a very patient and excellent teacher.

I loved climbing outside. It's a totally different beast than gym climbing, and I really need to get in better shape to do this. But I had a blast and can't wait until I do it again!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Revision Hell

Normally I love revising a book. I've mentioned it before, but I prefer rewriting/revising over the initial writing. That blank page/screen gets me everytime. So I'm kinda confused as to why I'm having so much trouble right now.

I received my revision letter on Stranded With The Bad Boy on Friday. I whipped through the minor changes which improved the story, and then hit a wall when I reached the biggie. I have an entire scene to rewrite. Significantly rewrite.

After smashing my head against it for two days, I decided to start at the beginning and go through the entire manuscript, hoping by the time I reached the problem spot (chapter seven, page 123 to be exact) I'd know the fix because "it really slows down the action between Serena and Kane and makes the middle of the story start to drag here."

There's dialogue I want to keep, but maybe I should just start that chapter over. I already moved one scene up a chapter. I just don't know.

Which is why I'm going climbing this afternoon. Tuesday's climb got cancelled so we rescheduled for today. When I climb every thing goes out of my head. I'm hoping once I'm done and driving home, the solution to my revision problem will come to me. Fingers crossed.

Do you have a way of figuring out how to solve a problem (doesn't have to be writing-related)?

Oh and before I forget... Congrats to my two favorite shows (and the only ones I watch!) Heroes received eight Emmy nominations!!!! Told you Heroes rocks! And The Amazing Race received five Emmy nominations!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Hey There Delilah

All summer I've been hearing the song Hey There Delilah by Plain White T's on the radio. More than once I've caught myself humming the catchy melody. But what I really love are the lyrics: sweet, sentimental and oh-so-romantic. If you haven't heard it yet, take a listen.

The romance writer in me immediately started thinking about the story behind the words being sung. Was this a song written for a real girl named Delilah? Were they really in a long-distance relationship and this was his way of making her feel better when she'd gotten herself in a funk? The questions continued.

An expert at procrastination (especially with a proposal to write and revisions to finish), I decided I wanted to find out the story behind the song. It didn't take long thanks to google. Here's what I learned:

• The song was first released in 2005, then rereleased in June 2007. Smart move to put it out there again!

• There is a real Delilah. Her name is Delilah DiCrescenzo. She's training for the 2008 Olympic Trials.

• Delilah, who was already in a relationship, was never romantically involved with Tom Higgenson who took over a year to write the song inspired by her.

If you want to read the entire story about the song, check out this article by USA Today writer Brain Mansfield. In the article, Delilah had to say about the song: "It was so beautifully written," she says. "There was pressure to live up to this ideal. I didn't know how to be polite but, you know, ditch him."

I shook my head when I read that. I remember when I was younger I would love to have someone write a romantic song about me. Who am I kidding? I still would like that. What about you?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Back to the Routine

Before I put Dallas completely behind me, I thought I'd tell you my five fave moments from the conference:

1. The Harlequin Party - a ride in a Hummer limo, an open bar and chocolate buffet, kicking off your shoes and dancing with friends and strangers. It doesn't get much better than that.

2. Dinner with three of the authors from our Wedding Planners continuity on Thursday night. It was great to see that we connected as well in person as we did on-line.

3. Saturday night's suite party!

4. Hanging out with my friend Darla on Wednesday afternoon and exploring a bit of Dallas and finding the Bobbi Brown counter at Neiman Marcus.

5. Meeting so many people I knew on-line (like Bailey) and reconnecting with others I hadn't seen in a very long time (like Alice).

I spent yesterday getting caught up around here. All the conference pics have been posted. All my bags are now unpacked. All the cats and kids are feeling well-loved and happy. I even managed to start on the revisions for Stranded with the Bad Boy. Not bad for a Monday. Now to catch up on my sleep. I'm still dragging a bit!

Today I plan to write (revisions!) before driving down to Eugene, Oregon to go rock climbing this afternoon with someone I met on a climbing forum. Fingers crossed it stops raining or we'll be hitting a gym rock wall instead.

What have you got going on?

Monday, July 16, 2007

RWA Conference: Saturday Happenings

I slept in a little on Saturday morning after a late night with the Harlequin Party and drinks in the lounge with my friends Terri Reed and Melissa Manley afterwards. I don't think I mentioned it, but I had received my revision letter for Stranded by the Bad Boy on Friday and that had been front and center on my mind. I hit the coffee shop for a non-fat vanilla steamer and banana nut muffin. Then it was off to meet my agent Annelise. We hadn't seen each other since Reno so had caught up for a few minutes and then got down to business (i.e. career planning.)

Afterwards I retreated to my room until my friend Alice called me to meet her for lunch. Meals at conferences are these huge events in ballrooms with a seated lunch served for 1900. I had registered for the conference before starting the diet which meant I hadn't signed up for vegetarian meals. I ate a little meat, but found I didn't really like it that much anymore. Amazing how your taste palate can change in just a couple of months!

This is what the ballroom looks like. Imagine table after table. On each chair are free books. At this luncheon we received a paperback by Lisa Jackson, who did my first booksigning with me, and her sister, Nancy Bush. Lisa and I used to live a few miles apart. She has always been the kind of writer to tell it like it is. And her speech was no different. She was at her finest, being frank and funny at the same time.

This is another picture of the ballroom where lunch was served. Imagine sit-down meal service for 1900! As soon as you walk into the ballroom you take a seat. As you can tell, finding someone in there isn't easy. Many people resorted to cellphones to figure out where they were supposed to sit. My first lunch I sat with a group of people I didn't know. The second lunch I met up with Alice while in line. Much easier than trying to find each other inside.

After lunch, I prepped for the workshop I had to give at 4:30, packed a few things in my suitcase and then headed up to the Harlequin Meet and Greet party. This is a new Harlequin author Kathryn Allbright and new Presents author, Jennie Lucas, who looked gorgeous at the Harlequin Party and later Saturday night at the gala.

Here is another picture from the HMB meet and greet. From left to right are editor Meg Sleightholme, Medical author Olivia Gates, Romance author Carol Grace, twice nominated RITA finalist Marion Lennox. Afterwards I went back to my room to finish up getting ready for the workshop and packing. Of course, I was so nervous about the workshop, I forgot to ask someone to take our picture!

My roommate and Avalon author, Shirley Marks made reservations for us at the Reunion tower for dinner. The restaurant revolves giving you a 360 degree view of the Dallas area. I couldn't believe how flat it was. No mountains, very few trees. Totally different from the Pacific Northwest.

I noticed a table of elegantly dresses, beautiful women at the restaurant and realized I knew a couple of them. Never one to miss a Kodak moment, I left my roommate and went to take their pictures. Here are Jane Porter and Marion Lennox.

After a yummy dinner, Shirley and I waited in line to get into the RWA Awards ceremony. Think the romance genres version of the Oscars and you won't be too far off. The attire varies from totally casual to the ultimate in formal wear. You never know what you might see there.

This picture is just to give you an idea of the magnitude of the ceremony. It really is a professional production with big screens, cameramen, teleprompters, etc. Afterwards, they served a dessert buffet. Yummy, but no-so-good for the diet. I came home two pounds heavier!

RWA Conference: Saturday Suite Party

After the Awards Ceremony, my roomie Shirley and I attended a party were food, fun and friends were to be found in a suite on the seventeenth floor. Many of us had belonged to RomEx on Genie years ago. Others were friends of friends. People popped in and out all night. Lynn Kerstan answered the phone, had no idea who was calling and invited them up anyway. It was that kind of party!

One of the suite's occupants was the simply fabulous, outrageously talented Anne Stuart! Her signature of success vignette during the award show was great!

The beautiful Barbara Samuel showed up. Don't you just love her turquoise blue scarf? I sure do. She also had her charming Neil aka Christopher Robin with her. He wore a suit rather than a kilt. I would have loved to see him in the kilt again!

Brenda Hiatt looked great in her stockings with seams. I had a picture of them, but the way I took it (legs only) was too much like the "fra-gi-le" Italian lamp in A Christmas Story.

This is Pam Menz Baker, a past Golden Heart Award winner and champion of traditional category romances! She loves romance and isn't afraid to speak her mind. I really enjoyed chatting with her.

I loved talking with past RWA president and beloved author Pat Potter.

Talented Jo Beverley was another one of the suite mates who hosted the party. She went around passing out the nun napkins that Anne Stuart had brought to the party.

We sat around and chatted about everything from men to writing to how the conference had gone for us. Once again I met people who I knew on-line, but had never met in person. A very fun time!

More Conference Pics to come

I'm home from Dallas. Home, but tired. I'll update the blog later with photos from Saturday. I've been spending as much time as I can with the kidlets! I really missed them, and I can't believe how much my little one grew since Tuesday!

Hope you had a great weekend!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

RWA Conference: Harlequin Party

This year's Harlequin Party was at the Fairmont Hotel. I went with authors Terri Reed, Leah Vale and Melissa Manley all from the Portland, Oregon area. We've known each other since our pre-pubbed days. Two of them were even at Mackenna's baby shower! I'm sure the third would have been there had she not been living overseas at the time.

This is the Hummer limousine we took to the party with a group of authors. The thing was so huge we could have fit eight more people inside! The driver, Sam, gave us a card so we could call him when we were ready to come home. So we got to travel in style both there and back.

We were like little kids in the limo, pushing buttons and touching things. It was a great start to a fantastic evening!

Special thanks to these authors who let us share the limo ride to the party. We in line to get a taxi when we saw what the bellhop had arranged for them and asked if we could join in the fun. The more the merrier was the theme of the evening! Once inside we introduced ourselves, but I can't remember anyone's name. Sorry!

The party was just getting started when we arrived. I was happy to bump into my friend, Shirley Jump. With so few people there, we took lots of pictures, grabbed a table, hit the appetizer table and chocolate buffet and snagged Cosmos from a waiter.

This is Neil, significant other of the lovely and talented Barbara Samuels who also writes as Ruth Wind. Neil was a smash on the dance floor. I wonder if anyone got a peek and saw what he wore underneath his kilt!

I don't consider myself sexist, but I made a total sexist faux pas when I introduced myself and asked a woman sitting at our table with her husband what she wrote. She told me it was her husband, Victor McG, who was the author. Oops! I apologized right away. Bad Melissa. I should know better!

Here I am with Shirley Jump, Susan Meier and Linda Goodnight. We'll be giving a workshop with HMB editor Kimberley Young this afternoon. I've never done a workshop at Nationals so I'm a little nervous this morning.

I caught up with Jenny Bayley-Burke, Fiona Harper and HMB editor Meg Sleightholme. The Richmond based editors were really tearing it up on the dance floor with all the authors!

Authors Pamela Britton and Terri Reed chat with John Hart from Amazon.

RWA Conference: Harlequin Party Dancing

There are so many wonderful things about the annual Harlequin Party. I love the dancing. Here are some dancing pics I took. If you want to know who anyone is, just post your question in the comment section. I don't have time right now to name each picture.