Sunday, July 31, 2005

Back home

After an eleven hour drive, Reno seems far, far away. It's good to be home, but now I have piles of laundry to wash when the only thing I want to do is sit at my computer or Alphasmart and write. Attending an RWA convention is overwhelming and exhausting, but it's also inspiring. I'm fired-up to finish to finish my proposal for Harlequin! I'm excited about new projects. And I'm ecstatic to be able to get back to writing the way I was (or was trying to be) before my youngest got ill (she's doing much better now!)

Oh, and I turned on the comments button on the blog as a trial so please feel free to comment.

A little conference recap from Saturday...

When I was riding the elevator, I bumped into the author sitting to my left at the literacy booksigning on Wednesday night and she told me people had stopped by to see me. She told them I was off chasing some hot, young actor (which she said most understood completely), but I also ran into people who wanted my book and I guess I didn't leave enough copies before I left. So if you are one of these people, I'm very sorry and please contact me via the contact button on my website menu. Be sure you type in your email address, too, or I won't be able to reply. Thanks!

One of the best (and most entertaining) workshops I attended was called "He Said, She Said, They Wrote: Collaborating with the Opposite Sex" put on by Jennifer Cruise and Bob Mayer who wrote a book together that will be published by St. Martin's Press. The two authors played off each other so well as they discussed how they wrote the book using email (they've only met face-to-face four times though the way they interacted you'd almost think they were married), the pros and cons they faced, the compromised, the differences between men and women and how all this effected their writing process. I figured this workshop would come in handy if some hot, young actor ever wanted to collaborate with me on say, a screenplay;)

The covers for Harlequin/Silhouette's NEXT! are gorgeous. The new line is being published in two forms--mass market paperback and a taller version (same width). The tall version adds more white space and is easier to read. I picked up several recent releases and can't wait to read them. The line is acquiring many new authors so if you have a story featuring a heroine over the age of 35 be sure to check the guidelines at

The Secrets of the Best-selling Sisterhood featuring Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Jayne Ann Krentz was a lot of fun, too. And Susan was also Saturday's luncheon speaker. She's always fun to listen to and isn't afraid to speak her mind or share her embarrassing moments. Which is probably why she doesn't allow her sessions to be recorded.

I love Christopher Vogler's THE WRITER'S JOURNEY so I attended Kathryn Smith's workshop titled THE LOVER'S JOURNEY on Saturday morning. She adapted the structure of the writer's journey to fit romance novels. It was worth getting up for the 8:30 am start time!

The Borders/Waldenbooks booksellers' panel provided so much information. Not much, however, applied to series romance, which is what I write, but someday when I spread my wings and write something longer I'll need to know it. Since I have made the Waldenbooks Bestselling list for series romance, I was interested to hear the numbers it takes to make the list. And I also learned that to schedule a booksigning at most of the stores you must guarantee a certain amount of sales. That was a new one for me.

The awards ceremony lasted over three hours. My critique partner didn't win her RITA category, but other friends did including Shelley Bates for Best Inspirational Romance. YAY, Shelley! I kissed the top of her statue hoping it will bring me luck next year:) Following the awards show, we were treated to yet another dessert buffet (mainly chocolate, guess they know what romance writers like). We also received a foil covered RITA-shaped chocolate.

What I took home with me from the Reno Conference:
- Every book I write should be the book of my heart
- Write what has meaning to me
- Don't compare myself to anyone else; we each have our own careers, processes and lives
- It was great to see friends I hadn't seen since 2002, but I need to keep in better touch with them
- It was great to make new friends, and I need to make sure I keep in touch with them
- I'm very fortunate to be a member of RWA

And now it's back into the cave...

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Harlequin Rocks!

Tonight Harlequin threw its annual party at the Peppermill Casino. It's invite only (authors, agents, industry pros) and the best party of the conference. Picture a mouthwatering chocolate dessert buffet, open bar and dancing until midnight. I tasted my first Cosmo and my first Hypnotic. I also ditched my shoes about halfway through.

Suzanne McMinn (Silhouette Intimate Moments author) told me a guy in the casino, who was watching the authors enter, asked, "Is this a party for lesbians?" I guess he could have easily made that assumption. Mostly women attended. But there were a few men there, including my husband. Trust me though, he wasn't complaining and this more than made up for his accompanying me and playing photographer during my Hayden Bull Run Relay jaunt on Wednesday.

Melissa Benyon who writes as Lilian Darcy for several Silhouette and Harlequin line let me wear her belly dancing coin belt (though it's actually more like a scarf that ties around your hips) while dancing. My list of must have accessories now reads:

1. Light Saber
2. Jedi Boots
3. Belly dancing coin belt

Earlier today we learned the new name for the line that is replacing Silhouette Romance and Harlequin Romance. Drum roll, please.... It's Harlequin Romance. Supposedly that's what readers want. And we want readers to be happy. Readers should always be happy. I also learned at the Harlequin Silhouette authors' forum today that the old Harlequin Romance was actually called Harlequin "Harlequin Romance" and this new line is just going to be Harlequin "Romance". But even though the name didn't really change, there will be new packaging. I just don' t know what that entails yet.

Tomorrow is another full day of workshops plus the RITA awards ceremony. The RITAs are the romance industry's Oscar. My critique partner, Virginia Kantra, is a finalist in the novella category. As I read her story I told her it was a RITA book! It's nice when I'm right:) Oh, and if you like romantic suspense, be sure to check out Virginia's new release, CLOSE UP published by Berkeley Sensation. It's a great read.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Love honor, honor love!

So I'm still on a Hayden high functioning on very little sleep, but reinforced by newly one-hour developed photos from last night! I will contain myself from further gushing on him, however. I will tell you that Michelle returned to Circus Circus this morning for the Bull Run departure (okay, Hayden's), but I went listen to Randall Wallace, who was the speaker for the published authors retreat, instead.

Using stories about Braveheart, We Were Soldiers, the movie industry and his family, he wove together an inspiring talk that had us laughing one moment and wiping tears from our eyes the next. Sprinkled inside his tales were golden nuggets about craft, process and purpose.

Some of Randall's gems that resonated with me:
- "It's not a matter of genre, but where the writing comes from and is aimed at."
- "I know what it's like to put on your fuzzy slippers and have a good cry."
- "I write to try and find out what I feel. Not guess what the audience wants."
- "An ending that does not surprise the writer will not surprise the reader."
- "Love me, hate me, fight me, hold me. This is who I am."
- "Transcend the formula in a way we believe."
- "Write from your child mind. Let the child play."
- "I only know how to rewrite."
- "When I write, I feel His pleasure."
- "I will do the best I can. Say the truth in every way I can."
- "A movie is like a human being. If it doesn't have a spirit, it is a lost thing."
- "If you can be faithful to your heart, even if they cut it out, you will prevail."
- "If I refuse to honor that and worry about making bestseller lists or winning an Oscar then I'm not going to hell, I'm already there."
- "Why we tell a story is more important than how."
- "Tell the world how men out to be."
- "If anyone needs to die for this to happen, it's no problem."
- "Your writing is your own fantasy of yourself."
- "Put heart into your story. Write what you need to affirm."

Today happened to be Randall's birthday (my father's too) so we sang him Happy Birthday when he finished. I bought his latest novel, LOVE AND HONOR and had him autograph it. The title of this blog is the message he wrote.

Then I was off to lunch with several other Silhouette Romance authors and two editors from Harlequin Mills and Boon in London at the El Dorado Hotel. We learned the new Harlequin line aka The-Line-With-No-Name actually has been named. Only they won't be telling us the name until tomorrow at the Harlequin Silhouette authors' forum. Will it be a warm and fuzzy name? A sexy name? Something contemporary and hip? Some time after 3:15 pm, we'll know.

Meanwhile, my mom saw Nora Roberts in the hallway and introduced herself and all the kids, including my 10 year old nephew who came with us. When my nephew was 2 or 3, he picked up one of Nora's books I was reading and fell in love with her picture on the back. He would point to it over and over again and say "Nora. Nora." And yes, my mom had to tell Nora this with my nephew standing right there! Poor kid.

Later this afternoon I met with my super cool agent Annelise at the Siena Hotel. We discussed my story, NOT SO PLAIN JANE, for The-Line-With-No-Name, when I'd have the proposal done (some time in August), what changes I'd already made (a few big ones, but they only improve the story, I think) and the other projects I want to write next. We also talked about other things including seeing Hayden the night before. I showed her his autograph on my manuscript page, too!

It was then off to my Aunt Theo and Uncle Danny's house for a big family get together to celebrate my dad's birthday. My Aunt Tess and Uncle David also showed up. When you added all of us along with first cousins with their spouses and kids and second cousins with their spouses and kids, it was loud, busy and overflowing with love! I hated to leave.

Now we're back at the hotel and it's time for some shut-eye. Tomorrow is a full-day of workshops not to mention the Jane Rotrosen Agency get together, the Mills&Boon Open house and the big Harlequin Party for all of us Harlequin/Silhouette writers.

Meeting the Muse

So yesterday I logged on to find emails telling me that the Bull Run Rally was going to be in Reno on Wednesday night at Circus Circus. Big deal, right? Well, I do love racing. I love the engines. I love the cars. I love the speed. I followed the CART series for years, have gotten into NASCAR, went to the Jim Hall Kart Racing School in Ventura, CA, and crewed on a SCCA team at Sears Point. If I wasn't a writer (or if I had a lot of disposable income), I'd love to be a race car driver or involved in racing somehow.

But the emails weren't due to my interest in racing. The emails were because of one of the Bull Run drivers. Hayden Christensen to be exact.

You see Hayden is my muse, the inspiration for my writing. And the fact that he was going to be in Reno at the same time as I was in Reno...well the Force was definitely with me. If only I'd brought Darth Tater with me!

So even though I was supposed to be at the literacy signing autographing books, I skipped out early. Most people wanted to see Nora Roberts and the other biggie authors, not little old me. Though I did leave some signed copies just in case and bought the rest of my books so I wasn't being totally irresponsible. But hey, it was Hayden. Not only did he play Darth Vader, he was driving a race car. It doesn't get much hotter than that. Romance fans would have to understand that. Any living, breathing female for that matter.

So I had a goal for the evening. I wanted to see Hayden in person and take his picture. I thought that was an attainable goal if I timed it right. I just prayed I'd timed it right. My hubby dropped me off (he's totally cool about my crush on Hayden and I'm hoping he will get me that life-sized standee of Anakin for my birthday) and then parked the car. I was meeting a fellow Hayden fan who I'd met on-line and also wants to write romances so she signed up for the RWA convention. I called her cell phone to see where she was and she told me she was following Hayden. I looked up and there he was. And yes, he's even more gorgeous in person than his photos. Skinnier though.

It took a moment for me to remember I had a phone in my hand not a camera, but I recovered quickly enough to take a picture. I also heard him speak. Talk about being in Hayden Heaven. Only a few minutes after arriving and I'd already achieved my goal!

I saw a blonde holding a camera, looking like I felt so I said, "Michelle?" It was my friend. We hugged, she showed me her just autographed GQ with Hayden on the cover and we checked out the cars. Soon we met up with my hubby, who had missed Hayden completely. Not that he cared, but he was happy for us.

As we were hanging out by the entrance to the Circus Circus, I glanced inside. I saw a green shirt. Hayden was wearing a green shirt. I yelled for Michelle who yelled for my hubby and we raced inside. It was Hayden!

First, a couple of things. Hayden is a talented actor and totally gorgeous. The sexy curly hair, the full lips, the charming smile and the intoxicating eyes. Hero worthy, definitely. I mean, he is the muse for my writing. But what I saw tonight was the beauty inside him. This was a man who had driven from Salt Lake City to Reno. He looked tired, but he went out of his way to sign autographs and pose for pictures with his fans. His patience and generosity with his time amazed me. I never thought I could like him more than I had. I was wrong. He not only deserves his fans' affection; he deserves their respect. Okay, back to the story...

So I called out, "Hayden." I told him I was a writer and he was my inspiration, muse and pulled out the first page of one of my works in progress. I asked if he would autograph it. He did! I then asked if I could take a picture with him. He said yes! And he put his arm around me. At this point I was feeling like one of my heroines--pulse quickening, heart pounding, a bit shaky. I couldn't believe he was touching me. And yes, I also felt like a giddy teenager. I put my arm around him and managed to brush one of his curlies sticking out from the back of his baseball cap with my fingers. Now I truly had died and gone to Hayden Heaven. I only wish I could figure out how to post pictures here. I'll see if I can have my webmistress put a couple on the website when I get home.

Michelle was next and got her picture taken with Hayden. My hubby was the photographer. Michelle's picture came out great. Mine was dark and blurry. Not that I'm complaining. Meeting Hayden was more than enough.

After Hayden returned outside, Michelle and I each bought at Bull Run Rally T-shirt. She had a Sharpee on hand (yes, she was totally prepared for this!) and we were waiting with other people to see if he would come back inside. My hubby had gone out to look at the cars. My cell phone rings and it's him telling us to run to the opposite entrance of the casino. That Hayden and his brother Tove were outside. Have I told you how much I love my husband for doing this?

Michelle and I hurried out there (not an easy thing to do in the Franco Sarto heels I was wearing, I sure missed my Tevas) to find hubby standing only a few feet away from Hayden and snapping pictures. We'd each already gotten an autograph and picture so we didn't want to stalk the poor guy, but no one was around (not even security) so we waited for Hayden to walk towards us. I asked him if he'd sign my shirt even though he'd already signed my book and he did. He also signed Michelle's shirt. She asked him if he had to go to go to school to learn how to do that. He just gave her the cutest smile and winked. Thud! We both swooned as he headed inside.

We then checked out his car, a cool yellow Lamborghini with Star Wars decals on it. I would've loved to see the engine, but no such luck. We saw a few more of the stars pull in and then headed back to the Hilton. I had a couple parties to attend, but it was really hard to concentrate or carry on a coherent conversation when all I could think about was meeting Hayden. I'm hoping by morning, I'll be ready to conference. It's nearly three in the morning though and my feet still haven't touched the ground. I doubt my heart ever will!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Bright Lights and Buffets

The Romance Writers of America's conference doesn't get going until Wednesday, but I'm already in Reno. During the drive (twelve hours if you add in all the stops), I managed to write a scene on my alphasmart and brainstorm some story ideas, but mainly I just napped, daydreamed and tried to figure out if the money we saved driving vs. what airfare for five would have cost was really worth it.

Of course, we can eat cheap here so we probably should have just flown. You should have seen the buffet at dinner. Does anyone really need to eat that much food? The kids were completely overwhelmed by the choices. Me, too. But once we hit the midway at Circus Circus we recovered. Now I have to figure out what to do with all the stuffed animals they accumulated (some generous soul passed out his winnings and my kidlets reaped the benefits) and won.

Well, I'm tired. I was up at 4:15 am to load the minivan. After staying up late getting us packed. It's one thing to just toss in a pair of jeans, some shorts, t-shirts and a swimsuit. That's what I normally do for a vacation. But for the RWA conference, it takes a lot more effort. Not to mention make-up, hair product and shoes. I normally go barefoot or wear Tevas. I packed 5 pairs of shoes for the conference. Five.

Oh, and one more thing. Last night I made a run to Target for last minute supplies and hit the jackpot. I found these really cool Darth Vader spiral and composition notebooks to write down all the wonderful advice and insight I'm going to hear at the conference. Plus I found a Darth Tater (Mr. Potato Head dressed like Darth Vader for those who aren't into Star Wars and don't know what GFFA stands for.) I had to leave Tater at home though. It was either pack him or a pair of shoes. The shoes (pink, if you must know) won.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

No More Tears

So we're out of the house and into an apartment. The kids have been totally unfazed by the move. The cats are even more neurotic than before. The hubby is simply a moving machine. Me? It took me three days after we moved to finally be able to drive past the house without completely losing it.

Now, I'm fine. Well, almost fine. I'm no longer shedding tears. But the really good news is I'm back to writing! I have a chapter one. Chapter two is on it's way. And there's actually a story there. Huge sigh of relief. I never really know until I start writing the thing.

Next week I'll be at the Romance Writers of America's national conference in Reno. If you're there be sure to stop by and say hi at the booksigning for literacy on Wednesday evening. I have not been to a conference since 2002 and I'm really looking forward to it. Why?

1. I'm finally attending a conference not pregnant or with a new baby. This means I've been shopping:)
2. I'll get to see my friends who I email or speak to but never see face-to-face. Plus I get to make new friends. Romance writers are a friendly bunch.
3. I can catch up on all the romance gossip/trends/etc. Yes, I pretty much live in a cave when I'm not driving to all the various kidlet activites and adventures.
4. I'm having a new publicity photos taken. Actually I hate having my picture taken, but it's a necessary evil. The current picture on my website was taken a month after the birth of my oldest child when I was named a Golden Heart finalist and needed to submit a picture for the awards banquet. It's time for an update. (And a new bio since baby number 3 isn't mentioned and she's now a toddler.)
5. Adult conversation.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Goodnight room, goodbye house

The kids are at my parents. Our outdoor-soon-to-be-indoor kitty is at the vet. Our other two indoor furbabies are curled up in my office asleep. A great night for a date night, right? Say dinner and a movie. Revenge of the Sith for the third time, maybe. Gotta love Star Wars. Not to mention the incredibly sexy Anakin Skywalker.

Well, we managed dinner--Curry in a Hurry in Lake O (the Pa Nang Curry is my fave), but the movie will have to wait until next week.

Tonight is the last night in our house. Imagine boxes and rubbermaid containers everywhere. Then double that. Not exactly the home I spent so many weeks preparing to sell. But it's done. We signed the paperwork this morning and the movers come tommorrow.

I only wish I'd known how hard it would be to move away from our first house. I knew I'd feel sad, but I never realized how weepy I would be. Everywhere I look is a memory. It's as if a VCR is playing all that happened within these walls during the last eight years. Unfortunately it hurts too much to watch.

Better get back to work. The attic still needs to be packed, and I have yet to reach my page quota for the day.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Extras: Not-So-Perfect Princess

Princess Julianna, the heroine of Not-So-Perfect Princess, first appeared in my April 2000 Silhouette Romance If the Ring Fits... She also made an appearance in my February 2011 Harlequin Romance Expecting Royal Twins! I'm so happy she finally has her own book!

I had Kim at Hot Damn Designs make make three cards—one for my hero, one for my heroine and one for a stray kitten in the book. (If you're looking for the kitten's name take a close look at the trading cards!)

If you would like a set, you can follow me on my virtual book tour starting July 5th. I'll be giving sets away at each stop. All you have to do is post a comment on the blog I'm visiting. Or you can send a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) to me and I'll mail three cards back to you. My mailing address is:

Melissa McClone
PO Box 63
Lake Oswego, OR 97034