Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Back to work!

I totally enjoyed my weekend off. Walks with the kids, dinners with friends and a trip to the movies to see Over the Hedge. Now I'm back to work on the revisions and making good progress.

My only problem right now is Monty. Who is Monty? Monty is a cat we found him on our deck a couple of weeks ago. He had a collar on with a tag so I phoned their owners who promptly came and got him. Later that day, he was back. He's been back every since. Now the collar is gone. And he stands outside our door and cries all night long.

I don't mind him hanging out during the day, but the meowing to get in at all hours is driving me crazy. At first I thought it was one of my fur babies so I kept getting up. Now I know better, but it still bothers me and is keeping me awake. I know he has a family, and we already have too many cats. Any ideas on what we should do about Monty?

Saturday, May 27, 2006

A little R&R

My facial and massage last night were wonderful. I left the spa feeling so relaxed and rejuvenate. I wish I had time during a deadline for something like this. I think it would really help, but as hubby pointed out last night, I would never take the time away from writing to visit a spa. Unfortunately he's right. During deadlines, I have the book and my kids on my mind. That's pretty much it.

Tonight we're having friends over for dinner. A wonderful family we met through school and church. They have 9 children. You can guess that my kidlets are so excited to have so many kids coming to visit at one time. I think our playroom will get a lot of use tonight. We're having pizza. Salad (they're bringing it). Apples and grapes. Brownie ice cream sundaes. Very easy and kid friendly.

We're still trying to figure out what to do tomorrow and Monday. The weather is not cooperating (rain, again) so we may hit OMSI and/or the movies to see Over The Hedge. We were hoping for sun so we could go hiking. Oh, well... that's what we get for living in the Pacific Northwest.

In spite of the rain, I'm just enjoying my time off from writing. I'm taking a three day break from the revisions to be with the family. I'm catching up on some house stuff, catching up with friends (dinner tonight here, tomorrow we're going to another friend's house) and trying to keep the kids from playing catch inside. I finally caved and put on Narnia. Everyone is a lot happier now.

Hope you have a Happy Memorial Day weekend. Talk to you on Tuesday!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Quick Update

Here's my week so far:

Complete emailed on Monday night.

Spent Tuesday doing the AFS (Art Fact Sheet) which Harlequin uses to make the covers. Ignored email except from agent and editor.

Wednesday morning an email arrived from my editor. She's already read the manuscript, likes it, but has a few changes (i.e. revisions). Spent morning as a substitute teacher in my daughters 2 1/2 hour class which went from order to chaos every five minutes. Spent the afternoon and early evening figuring out what revisions she wanted and how long I thought it would take. Watched LOST. Still ignoring email except from editor.

Thursday morning started decluttering house when I got a phone call inviting me and youngest kidlet to the zoo. We went. Missed naptime so no work. Took kids to piano and Irish dance. Still no writing. We're home, kids are in bed and now I get to start revising. (It's 9:14 pm) Not a lot of time for email today, either.

Friday - hubby made me an appt. for my facial and massage tomorrow. He's watching the kids. I can't wait!

Monday, May 22, 2006

It's off!

I just emailed my manuscript to the HMB offices in London! YAY! Now I can watch the Alias Series Finale.

A few things I learned during polishing:

- I called my hero (Jared) by two other names: Jake (from a book I wrote before selling) and Reed (from Santa Brought a Son)

- Tom Welling is cute, but he wasn't my hero. Don't worry, Tori and Lissa, you'll still get your books. But I learned yesterday my muse should have been Russell from INVASION. Yep, he was right in front me this entire time. So I had to go back in and add a dimpled smile. I just knew Jared was missing something. The scene where he is sweaty and doesn't have a shirt on tipped me off!

- By getting rid of the extra THATs, I lost a page. Some thing with, THING. I also overused the words LOOK, ALREADY, RIGHT NOW and FOCUSED. Not to mention a few others.

- By going back and searching on the word IT, and actually putting what I meant by IT into words, you can strengthen the sentence. Not that I'm suggesting not using IT, because I do, but there are instances the detail improves the writing.

- Smiles, unless they are dimpled or tell us something about the characters emotion, are worthless. As are most glances, gazes and looks. I still use the words/phrases, but not as much as I used to.

- Other words I could use for STALEMATE. IMPASSE, DEADLOCK, STAND-OFF. DRAW.

- I didn't have a lot of kissing in the book so I added three in the last chapter. And it's only ten or so pages long!

Huge hugs and kisses to my hubby who kept me fed and watched the kids so I could get this book finished on time. Now he's a true hero!

I'm going to relax now. Talk to you on Wednesday!

Deadline Day

Quick update. Spent the weekend writing. The manuscript is currently 216 pages. Longer than I needed. The book is due today so I'm kind of panicked right now that I can finish polishing and inputing the changes in time. I'm shooting for an email time of ten pm so it's in my editor's London inbox when she arrives to the office tomorrow morning.

As for the book...

My critique partner extraordinaire saved my hero, Jared, from being completely emasculated in the final chapter. I stayed up until 2 am rewriting my girlie man into a man's man. It works much better now. Huge sigh of relief.

I'm off to polish, polish, polish so I can buff my rough diamond into something that will sparkle!

Friday, May 19, 2006


I have a completed manuscript. You'll noticed I didn't say finished manuscript. There's a difference. Ever heard of the phrase "diamond in the rough?" My first editor once told me that about a completed manuscript that I hadn't had time to polish yet.

What this means is my work has really just started. I have a couple days to get the complete polished and sparkling like the diamond I hope it can be.

Here's the tally for Friday so far:

Today's goal: Finish complete!
Pages written today: Three new scenes
Daily new page goal: 10 (surpassed this and it's not even 2:30 pm)
Pages revised: none yet
Pages polished and good to go: 155
Pages left to polish: 57
Days until book is due: 3 (I emailed my editor. I have all Monday to work on book.)

What I wish I had in my hand instead of my iBook: chocolate

A special thank you to my friends Sue and L'rae. Each took my darling Rose for a morning this week giving me extra time to write. Thank you! Thank you! I just love playdates.

And for those Invasion fans out there. Thanks to everyone who signed the petition. It's got over 10K signatures! I don't know if it will make a difference but it can't hurt.

Oh, and I almost forgot... Invasion rocked on Wednesday night! (I hope I didn't already blog about this.) The finale had me on my feet the first ten minutes. Talk about gripping television. It was amazing. When they carried Rose away, my heart was pounding so fast. The last five minutes I was on my feet again talking to the TV. My hubby definitely thought I'd gone over the edge. But Larkin???? I can't believe Tom did that. And if we don't find out what happened... No, I won't even go there.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A plea for help

There is a petition to save Invasion. It might not work, but it can't hurt. I was signature 70-something and now there are over 3000 in just a couple of days. If you watched the show, or even if you didn't, but want to be my friend for life please go to this link and sign the petition:


Sorry, I can't figure out how to do hyperlinks on my mac.


As for writing, I plotted out the last three chapters today, and I've been writing. It's very rough, but lots of pages. Too busy writing to do the tally, but I know I'll surpass my 10 new pages goal and be ready for my two shows tonight.

Of course, I'll be waiting for the 10 o'clock hour with a heavy heart. Yes, it's just a television show, but it's been my escape, something to look forward to every Wednesday night. I emailed ABC and got the most ridiculous canned response. A snail letter is next.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Muddling through

Book Tally for Tuesday:

Today's goal: Figure out what happens in the last three chapters and write 10 new pages

Pages written today: I lost a page or two during the revision of Chapter 8, but it's only 4 in the afternoon so there's still time.

Daily new page goal: 10

Pages revised: 20 (Chapter 8)

Pages polished and good to go: 155

Pages left: 46 (though it will probably go longer than 200 pages)

Days until book is due: 6

What I wish I had in my hand instead of a pen: A television guide from September 06 with a listing for Invasion's Season Premiere on the CW or SciFi network.

Monday, May 15, 2006

One week to go

So my book is due next Monday. I hope that means if I email the manuscript by 11:59 pm on Monday night I'll still be on-time!

Mother's Day was great. My six year old painted a flower pot and planted a marigold in it for me. My eight year old made me two cards, unfortunately she couldn't remember where she put them (lots of tears that just broke my heart) though things brightened considerably when I receive a lovely email greeting from her and Americangirl.com. My awesome hubby came through with a cute skirt and top from Nordstrom, too.

Brunch at the winery was fun. The kids ate well, and my parents enjoyed themselves. I managed a nap on the hour plus drive home and then had a few hours to write while hubby took kids for a walk around the lake. To top off a great day, my hubby then made me one of my favorite meals-enchiladas stuffed with goat cheese and covered in a yummy tomatillo sauce.

I watched the final episode of The West Wing. Since I hadn't watched the show in years, I guess I didn't really get the full impact since I had no idea who Santos (Jimmy Smits), the new press secretary and a bunch of other characters were. Plus I have no idea what Toby needed a pardon for. Can someone clue me in about that please?

Of course, I wrote and rewrote. Chapters 6 and 7 to be exact. More romance was needed. I can't remember what well-known, talented author said she kept a sticky note on her computer with the words "It's a romance, stupid" but I think I need to do the same. With trying to bring out the conflict and the looming deadline pressing down on me, I sort of forgot about the romance. Oops. Anyway I'm back on track now. The two chapters come to 46 pages, but one chapter has a whole lot more pages in it than the other. I need to see if I can break them up a little different. I also finished a very rough draft of Chapter 8 and started revising it on paper.

Today's goal: Finish chapter 8 and write 10 pages of chapter 9
Pages written today: 0 (but I haven't started writing yet)
Daily new page goal: 10
Pages revised: Up through Chapter 7
Pages polished and good to go: 136
Pages left: 64 (but over half of those have already been roughed out)
Days until book is due: 7
What I wish I had in my hand instead of a glass of water: A chocolate milkshake topped with whip cream and sprinkles

Update: I'm totally and utterly devastated. ABC cancelled INVASION. For real this time, not the time before when it was only off the air for a few weeks. I can't believe it. What am I going to do without my fave show???? WAAAAAAAHHHH!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Pages and more pages

Whatever I caught got worse. Sleeping between coughing fits, trying to write and family stuff wore me out.

I met my daily page goal on Wednesday so I got to watch my two fave shows. I would have watched them anyway, but hey at least I could do so without feeling guilty. LOST was so-so after last weeks episode, but INVASION rocked. The whole WWII concentration camp overtones that were suggested in the previews came true and it was a heart-pounding episode from start to finish. I just wish Russell would stop spending so much time with Mariel and find Larkin and the kids. But kudos to Lewis for saving Dave. And Sheriff Underlay has grown on me. I thought he was the villain, but he's really a victim. Talk about playing a complex character. William Fichtner is great. I really wished I could have fast-forwarded to next Wednesday so I could see what happens, until I remembered I had a book to write.

Since I've been under the weather, I'm not sure where I am story-wise. The rough of Ch. 7 is done. I've been working on scenes that will go in 8 and 9. I've been working on the ending, too. I'd planned for 10 chapters, but it looks as if I'll need 11. I don't know why I don't just plan for 11 chapters since that's how many I usually end up with!

What I need today are pages and more pages. Way more than my goal of 10. Let's hope I can do it.

Tomorrow morning we're having Mother's day brunch in Salem at a winery with my parents and family. All I want for Mother's Day is a few hours of uninterrupted writing time. Though I have a feeling the kidlets will have something else in mind!

I'm definitely on edge from the deadline. I got a Mother's Day email from Fisher-Price and I got a little weepy. Boy, do I need a vacation.

By the way, I never did get around to using my facial and massage gift certificate from last year. Getting sick messed up my entire week. But the expiration date says 5/06 so I'm hoping that means at the end of May! I, like any other mom out there, could really use some pampering at a day spa!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

My Mom by Rose

My mom's name is Melissa.

She is 4 years old.

She likes to work on her computer.

My mom is great at working on her computer.

The best thing about my mom is loving her.

I love my mom because I do.

If I could give her anything for Mother's Day I would give her a puzzle.

So the above is what I received from my three year old today. An early Mother's Day Present. On the paper is also a beautiful, multi-colored flower she painted. Anyway, since I'm on deadline and have nothing to say except I wrote 6 pages this morning! YAY for me! But I need to get back to work so I can watch my two fave shows tonight so I thought I'd let my youngest take the stage.

She did great, too. I have a four in my age. I work on my computer (though I hope that's not all she thinks I do and to make sure when the older kids got home from school we head to the backyard to play!) And I love puzzles. Way to go, Rosie!!!! I will keep this forever.

Oh, and I'm bringing back the tally to make sure I keep posting to the blog as the deadline approaches:
Pages written today: 6 (so far)
Daily page goal: 10
Pages revised: Read through first six chapters and made some minor revisions
Pages polished and good to go: 115
Pages left: I have no idea since I didn't write this book in order, but am up to Chapter 7
Days until book is due: 12

Monday, May 08, 2006

Bound to happen

My daughter's First Communion on Saturday was a joyous and wonderful occasion. She beamed during the procession when she got to carry the wreath of flowers to crown the statue of Mary, she practically floated down the aisle when we were asked to bring up the gifts, she glowed when she received communion and she never stopped smiling afterwards.

The dinner was a success. The house looked good. And things went off without a hitch. Note to self-always budget for a personal chef and server when throwing big events. I got to enjoy myself and visit with everyone, including Mackenna's godfather Alan (and my former UAL travel buddy) and his girlfriend, who flew in from the Bay Area for the festivities! Plus my kitchen was totally clean when they left.

Unfortunately two thirds of the way through the dinner, my throat started hurting. I thought it was from all the chatting, but by the time everyone had left, it hurt to swallow. I wasn't about to let a sore throat knock me out. I had gotten up at 6 am that morning and written 3 pages in the hour before the kids woke up. I still had more to write so I got my iBook out and wrote until midnight.

The next day I slept in until 9 am. Unheard of in the McClone household, but the kids were worn out from the night. It was great. Except when I woke up, I still couldn't swallow, but I was coughing, too. Today I lost my voice. So much for my self-imposed twelve o'clock bedtime to keep me from wearing myself out. But I will not give up. I'll figure a way to keep going even though my bed seems to be calling to me 24/7.

Because even though I'm sick, the story, like my bed, is calling to me. It's taken awhile to warm up to my characters, Jared and Kate, but they have really grown on me and I feel like I'm hitting my stride. A little late, I'll admit, but when you're a mom with three kidlets who've had their share of the sickies this year, you take what you can get. And you often lose writing time. Sometimes, as in my case the last couple of months, all of it.

The next couple of weeks will be killer. I'll do my best to make the May 22nd deadline, but I won't turn in a book that's not good enough, and if it's not, I'll need to ask for more time. I'm hoping it doesn't come to that. (Miracles do happen!) But hey if it does, there are worse things than asking for an extension. The three kids could catch what I have!

Friday, May 05, 2006


I managed to clean the playroom last night and finish my chapter. I even made it to bed before midnight. I was feeling good about my progress both with the house and book. But when I woke up this morning, I felt as if something was wrong. During my shower the tiny suspicion crystallized into what I realized was a huge problem with my book.

I didn't motivate a huge point on my hero's emotional arc. I went from point A to Z without any of the steps that would show the reader why he was going to take this huge step.

So today I've been going back and trying to figure out what scenes I need to put in so this make sense. The bad thing is now I have an uncompleted Chapter 6 with only have 1 and 1/2 scenes, not three. The good thing is I can take the other 1 1/2 scenes and move them to Chapter 7. So all is not lost. That's where I'll be next week! So stay tuned;)

For all you writers out there, I don't no about you, but if I ever had an office outside of my house, I'd have to have a shower installed. That's where I do my best writing. I step under the spray of hot water and poof... My writer brain kicks into high gear. Ideas turn into books. Characters come alive. Solutions to plot problems materialize. The only problem is getting the stuff I come up with written down before I forget it. Too bad there wasn't a water proof Mac or Alphasmart. That's what I really need.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Yay antibiotics!

Okay, it may sound horrible, but I'm actually happy to be putting my youngest on antibiotics for an ear infection. She'll be better by Saturday (eldest daughter's big day), I won't have to call every guest and tell them my youngest is sick and I might actually be able to get something done tomorrow. My worst fear was that it was another one of those fever viruses that lasts for a week and will spread to the other kids and pretty much ruin everything we've been planning for months. Thank goodness it was only an ear infection!

As for what's been going on beside taking care of the sick kidlet:

I watched LOST. Oh my... the last few minutes blew me away. I wondered about Michael, but I never thought he would shoot Ana Lucia and Libby. I cannot wait for next week. And it really makes me wonder who these Others are and what is Henry's role with them.

I also watched INVASION. It was great, as usual. The tension keeps racheting up and now that sweeps are here things are going to explode. If you haven't seen this show yet, check it out. It's really, really good. I just love Dave, the conspiracy theorist, and Russell is a pretty nice piece of eye candy.

My mother in law arrived today. We haven't seen her since Rose's baptism 2003 so the kids are pretty excited that Grammy is here for a visit.

I rewrote an entire scene last night and wrote a new scene today. All I need is one more scene tonight to have another chapter completed.

I paid a visit to author Brenda Novak's on-line auction to raise funds for diabetes research and bid on a couple of items. A good friend of mine's 4 year old son, Nick, was just diagnosed with diabetes a couple of weeks ago. If anyone feels like supporting a good cause, check out: http://www.brendanovak.com/auction_index.php

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


I can't believe it. My youngest is sick. Again.

I don't know where all these illnesses are coming from. New germ pool since we moved? I just don't understand. We've had a horrible winter. I was sure spring would be better, but now...

It started yesterday when her runny nose turned this thick greenish color. Last night we put her to bed and an hour later it sounded as if a seal had invaded the upstairs. She had the most horrible croupy cough imaginable. Needless to say it was a long night with time spent outside to help her breath, lots of tossing and turning and then a wake up at 2 am when she was ready to start her day. I get the majority of my writing done after 8:30 pm. So last night was pretty much a wash.

Of course this means no school for her. She goes twice a week for 2 1/2 hours. And no writing for me. At least not until naptime.

The deadline in looming. I have no idea how I will get this book finished in time, and I'm craving chocolate. I wish I could wake up on May 23 and have it all done.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

In denial

I spent yesterday morning thinking it was the first of March. Pretending is probably a better word. But hey, it worked. I managed to get the kids to school on-time, have an enjoyable couple of hours and not think of the book. And then I got an RSVP to the upcoming first communion dinner and reality came crashing back. May 1, not March 1. I don't have two and half months to write my book. I have three weeks left. The first communion dinner is now up to 42 guests, and it's this Saturday. And we won't even talk about how much work I have to do around the house by then.

Panicked? You bet.

Overwhelmed? You can't imagine.

I'm making myself go to bed by midnight this week. I can't afford to get sick before Saturday. Come Sunday, the late nights will begin. I'm just praying the pages follow!

Last Mother's Day, my husband gave me a gift certificate for a facial and massage. I've yet to use it. Somehow I need to squeeze that in, too, or it will expire. That would be a pretty pathetic statement of my life if I let that happen.

And on top of everything, I'm on a diet. No gluten. No sugar. No chocolate. A deadline with no chocolate. I truly am a masochist.