Thursday, November 30, 2006

A week off

I took the week off from blogging to catch up on all the stuff I've been putting off. My Top Ten list is down to four items:

1) Write
2) Take family picture for Christmas Cards
8) Send RITA books to RWA
10) Order Christmas Cards from COSTCO with family picture on them

Plus, I crossed off about twenty other items, including Christmas shopping, cleaning the toy room and kids' room and starting to decorate the house for Christmas.

A good thing, too. My agent called me and it looks like I may have some news to announce very soon!

NaNoWriMo is over and I didn't do very well with it. But I did do better than in previous years where I signed up and never wrote a word. My buddy, Tiffany, made her 50K words early in the week. Go Tiff! We'll see if I can do better next year.

At least my turkey came out great. I used Martha Stewart's Turkey 101 recipe. And I had a really fun time on Black Friday. I was up at 4:30 am and at the store by 5 am. I love a bargain and I got plenty of them.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

As God is my witness...

Here's a snippet from my favorite Thanksgiving sitcom episode. Enjoy!

If you can't see the screen, please go here to see the clip!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I wish I could say that I've been plugging away on my NaNoWriMo project, but unfortunately all I've been doing is getting ready for the influx of family for Thanksgiving dinner.

I spent Tuesday shopping and cleaning. I spent Wednesday doing what I always do and then had to start cooking on top of it. Right now, Shirley Jump's Sweet Potato Casserole, whole cranberry sauce and blanched green beans are in the fridge. The tablecloths are washed. The flowers arranged. And even the ice is already in the cooler. Of course it's past midnight. Which means...

It's turkey day.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

I'm very thankful this year. My writing has been going well and all of us are healthy and happy. Can't ask for much more than that.

I'll be curious to hear what everyone says as we go around the table and say what we're thankful for tomorrow. What are you thankful for?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Feised Out

I am so glad this weekend is over even if it means getting back to the daily grind. The kids did great at their competition, placed in most of their dances and the oldest even moved up a level in one of her hardshoe dances. Still hubby and I are ready to be done with competitions for awhile. I think the littlest one is, too. At least until she's old enough to dance herself.

Now it's back to NaNoWriMo, preparing for Thanksgiving and checking things off my To Do list. It's a list that keeps getting longer and longer. Top 10 items:

1) Write
2) Take family picture for Christmas Cards
3) Order photo calendars from Lillian Vernon
4) Make shopping list for Thanksgiving Dinner
5) Shop for Thanksgiving Dinner
6) Call Rita (friend who's birthday I completely let slip by)
7) Buy Nutcracker Tickets (Mackenna Irish dances with the girl playing Marie/Clara)
8) Send RITA books to RWA
9) Send out my yahoogroups newsletter
10) Order Christmas Cards from COSTCO with family picture on them

One thing I can say is I've already started Christmas Shopping. My godson, a niece and three nephews are all finished. That leaves my goddaughter and nephew to buy for. I'm probably just going to do what I did last year and send all the adults on my list something from Harry and David. They have my gift list with all the addresses so it's easy and fast to do. I wonder though if people prefer receiving something to eat rather than a gift they can keep.

Of course Harry and David won't work for my editor in London. Last year I sent her Moonstruck chocolate and a cat ornament. So far I'm drawing a blank. Anyone have any suggestions for her this year?

Saturday, November 18, 2006


The Oireachtas (aka Western Regionals for Irish Dance) are taking place at the Portland Convention Center. That's why I haven't been blogging. I needed to get some stuff done before the weekend hit. I managed a bunch of pages for NaNoWriMo on Friday. But I still haven't come up with my Thanksgiving menu. Yikes!

Anyway, this competition is considered a major event because you can qualify for the world championships and nationals. The pressure on these kids is intense. I remember one of the parents I know saying Nationals is borderline child abuse. Today didn't seem that bad, but there were tears. And one girl was throwing up in a plastic bag held open by her mom. At that point, I think it's safe to say it's no longer fun for either dancer or parent.

We were lucky. Today was all about having fun for the eldest kidlet. She isn't a champion dancer so doesn't qualify for the solo competition, but since the Oireachtas was in our own backyard, she was asked to be on a ceili team with four girls and four boys. Mainly the team was put together to give them experience, but they spent extra days in the studio to prepare. Their competition wasn't a world qualifying event (too young) so they didn't have the same pressure on them. Plus I think we were all hoping for them to get through the dance without bumping into each other and falling down!

Well, they did better than that. The team placed second! We are so proud of them!

Now to see how tomorrow goes at the feis for all the non-championship dancers in the Western Region where the two older kidlets will compete. I'm taking my alphie with me since hubby will be there to help with the kidlets. Today I was on my own so writing during the down time wasn't possible. Still seeing the smile on my daughter's face when she stepped on stage after their team was announced was better than any pages I could have written.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Turkey Planning

In one week, I'll be cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my family. Not just for the kidlets and hubby, but my parents and my sister's family. I haven't cooked a turkey (not counting ones I've bought pre-cooked and just had to heat to the correct temperature in years.)

But I have a thing about turkeys. They must be natural. Organic. And fresh.

One year, I told my mother to buy a free range turkey. She did and I've yet to live it down. I'm still teased about the much too expensive turkey who walked free among the grass while listening to classical music. This year's turkey that I ordered has one up on that last one. This one was not only fed organic feed, but apples and all sorts of other yummy, healthy things. Let's see what the family thinks about that!

I found a recipe by author Shirley Jump for sweet potatoes at eHarlequin, but I need some more to round out the menu. Does anyone have any great recipes for Thanksgiving?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Monday Madness

NaNoWriMo is now the priority. Well, after the kidlets and hubby and furbabies and field trip and speech. Oh, I can't forget the eldest's extra dance practice for the Oireachtas (Western Regionals) coming up on Saturday. And that's just today.

I found out on Saturday that I'm hosting our family Thanksgiving dinner, too. The holiday season hasn't arrived yet (though the stores don't realize this) yet my organizer already looks like it needs a vacation. I know I could use one! How about you?

In spite of a severe lack of writing time, I'm not giving up even though I have to be realistic. 50,000 words by November 30th just isn't going to happen. Still I'll keep plugging away. Miracles do happen and at least I'll have something to show by my efforts. I really do like this project, and with a new book due at the beginning of May, there won't be a lot of time to work on it come the New Year.

Before I forget, there's a contest on my website this month. Just click on the button on the right. If you read my diary, you'll have absolutely no problem answering the question!

The kidlets don't get up until after seven so I still have time to write. Have a great day!

Goldrush update: My nightmare came true. Okay, not exactly. I wasn't locked out of the game, but pretty close. I couldn't type the answers so I had to type them in my browser window, cut and paste them in the answer text box and submit. I was so bummed. I'm guessing no T-shirt since they were such easy questions. Oh, well... There's always Gold Rush 2!

Friday, November 10, 2006

One more chance!

I have been writing (with the exception of Wednesday.) I have been checking items off my To Do list. I even found out the Harlequin continuity is a go and I have a May 1st deadline for my book!

But now AOL has thrown a huge wrench into my plans for today and totally ruined any hope I had of being disciplined by adding a bonus round of Gold Rush today at noon. Three people will qualify to compete for $50,000. Five thousand people will win T-shirts. Which means today will pretty much be a wash.

You see, I really want a T-shirt. How badly? Last night I dreamed about playing the round. It was actually a nightmare since my computer froze. I couldn't finish and came in dead last out of roughly ten million people.

Crazy? Most definitely.

You're probably thinking, "What is the big deal? It's some on-line game."

It is, and I wish I knew why this has become an obsession with so many people (just so you know I am not alone in this.) The boards and chat rooms were buzzing last night as people found out about the bonus round via Entertainment Tonight and email alerts sent out by Gold Rush.

If you thought about playing (or even if you didn't) give it a shot today. Just head over to and register. Make sure you put a cell number down as a contact. If you qualify, but don't answer when they call, they move on to the next person. It's really fun. Trust me! Plus you can win a T-shirt or better yet compete for the 50K!

If you do decide to join me in the quest for gold, please let me know how you did! And if you don't, please wish me luck in my quest for a T-shirt!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Glad it's Thursday

The book is out. I've been good about updating the blog and writing and even folding laundry and then Wednesday rolled around. I got absolutely nothing done yesterday except losing my patience, getting frustrated and soaking wet in the rain.

Wednesday is the worst day of the week. Well, my week. Yesterday I had to throw in a couple extra errands/meetings/etc. I realized at six o'clock last night I hadn't eaten all day, just grabbed a bite of something not good for me. The only saving grace to Wednesdays has been the television shows I watch that night. Of course, I was trying to watch last night with my iBook on my lap (didn't work!)

LOST both redeemed itself and totally frustrated me. The whole Jack-Kate-Sawyer triangle took an interesting turn (redeeming) in last night's episode, which (this is the frustrating part) was called the Fall Season Finale. The show is on hiatus until February. How stupid is that? Of course, if they hadn't have done this viewers would be complaining about all the repeats and schedule interruptions between now and when they'd show a new episode (probably February anyway) so at least ABC's come clean about their plans. Not that said plans make any sense with falling ratings and loyal viewers like me ready to switch the channel to watch the smartly written, well-acted, ties-up-loose-ends Criminal Minds on CBS. Let's just hope the writers on LOST have enough planned for February to bring us back!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Muse Remembered

Today my book PLAIN JANE'S PRINCE CHARMING is officially on sale. To mark the occasion, I'm uploading a couple of pictures from Reno, July 2005, when I met my muse, Hayden Christensen. As luck would have it, I happened to be in Reno for the Romance Writers of America conference when the Bullrun rally stopped there.

Unfortunately, the picture of us posing for the cameras so you could see our face turned out blurry, so you'll have to settle for these. The first one shows Hayden autographing a page of my manuscript and the other is him signing my official Bullrun T-shirt.

If you want to read about the now embarrassing meeting where I acted like a giddy teenager, go to my blog archives for July 2005 and check out my entry Meeting the Muse. I'd love to have a do over, but since that's not possible I only pray that if I ever see him in person again I'll be able to say something intelligent and coherent. And, most importantly, get a picture of the two of us so I can see his face next to mine!

Have you ever met someone famous? Or a crush? How did it go?

Monday, November 06, 2006


I've mentioned National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) before, but I figured I'd post the link to the site as well as the link to my profile in case anyone was interested in joining me in the insanity.

You can find a brief excerpt of the book I'm writing though it's very rough. No editing/revisions are really possible when trying to write 50K words in a month. Of course I'll be trying to do it in less than a month.

I still have one more scene left on the proposal before I can dive into NaNoWriMo so I'm behind on where I should be. Way behind. Many people have surpassed the 5000 word mark. A few have over 10K words. Me? I have a little over 1600 words. A lot to make up, I know, but I'm being disciplined (a new concept for me) by working on what needs to be sent in first rather than go for personal glory and win at NaNoWriMo.

But I'll get there. I hope!

Have you ever wanted to write a book? If yes, and you haven't, what's stopping you? Consider NaNoWriMo!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

First Page Challenge

Harlequin author Julie Cohen challenged writers to post the first page of their books and comment how we created character and conflict right away. I decided to give it a go.

From PLAIN JANE'S PRINCE CHARMING on shelves November 7th:

"Mr. Ryder." Standing in the foyer of Cyberworx's state-of-the-art meeting facility, Jane Dawson couldn't believe how steady her voice sounded when inside she felt like a coffee bean being ground into tiny bits. Still she managed to smile at the gray-haired businessman. "I would like to speak with you. For a minute. That is if you have time. Please."

Here I wanted to show Jane's nervousness. She thinks of a coffee bean because she manages a coffee house.

Jane winced.

I wanted to show her being self-conscious and trying hard not to make a mistake.

So much for being smooth and collected, but this was different from speaking with customers while she managed The Hearth, a trendy coffee house in downtown Portland, Oregon. That job required patience, a smile and making sure the staff at the counter got the orders right, not cultured eloquence and grace.

This paragraph was intended to be a snapshot of Jane's character. Her job, where its located, what she's capable of and what she isn't.

"You want to speak to me?" In spite of his tailored suit, he looked more like a doting grandfather than the successful CEO of a multinational hi-tech company. "Chase...Ryder?"

He sounded surprised.

Looked more like a doting grandfather, sounded surprised and his dialogue were clues who the man may or may not be.

Of course, he did. People like Jane, college drop-outs who brewed coffee all day, didn't usually approach people like him. And normally she wouldn't. Especially when picking up after a catering job. On her day off.

She's a fish out of water here. "People like him" shows she stereotypes people and may have an us vs. them mentality which could come back to bite her. A key bit of characterization comes in with "college drop-outs who brewed coffee all day." She went to college, but never finished for some reason. "Normally she wouldn't" shows this was something very different for her to be doing. And to be there on her day off was to suggest it was important for her to be at Cyberworx and talk to Chase Ryder. The question now becomes why?

Interesting exercise. Thank you Julie for suggesting it. Doing this, I realized I've put way more character than conflict on that first page. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Ladies Who Lunch

Yesterday I met my good friend Tiffany at Mother's Bistro in downtown Portland. I love going out to lunch. The conversation, the food, just getting out of the house for an hour or two. We celebrated her birthday and caught up on life, family and writing. We discovered both of us had signed up for NaNoWriMo (National November Writing Month) which means we must write 50K words this month. We talked about meeting at a coffee shop to pound out words together. I even found out Tiffany would love to try out to be on The Amazing Race! As I left the restaurant and walked through the pouring rain to my car, I realized I need to come out of the cave more often.

Julia Cameron talked about "filling the well" in her book The Artist's Way. We need to have a full well to draw upon as we create. If we don't have that full reservoir, we can find ourselves feeling worn out, empty or blocked. I haven't cracked open the book in years, but yesterday I thought about it and how little "well filling" I make time for in my life. I used to do weekly "artist dates" (another Cameron idea) with myself. I remember one day I spent two hours walking around downtown Half Moon Bay when I lived in California. Another I tried to learn to waterpaint. Another I went to a movie that no one else wanted to see. Those were the days when I started writing full-time. I was a total newbie and nurturing my creativity in as many ways that I could. Of course, that was easy to do with a hubby who back then spent six weeks at a time in Japan and no kidlets or cats to worry.

Granted lack of babysitting is a huge deterrent these days (the nanny days have been over for months now), but that shouldn't stop me from getting together with friends or simply "filling the well." With a proposal to finish and 50K words to write this month, I'm going to need every ounce of creativity I can muster.

Do you have a special "me" time set aside? How do you fill your well?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Anatomy of A Cover

If you want to see what I sent, including the actual words on the AFS (art fact sheet) and pictures of my inspiration, to Silhouette for the cover art of Plain Jane's Prince Charming , check out I'm the guest blogger.

So did anyone watch LOST last night? I was sure Eko's words to John we're going to be that he saw the white light, too. Not they were next!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

D-Day Remembered

A year ago today, my manuscript, then titled NOT SO PLAIN JANE, was due. I called November 1, 2005 d-day for deadline day because I'd been given six weeks to finish the story. I tracked my daily writing progress and chocolate consumption on this blog.

Hard to believe that same book, now titled PLAIN JANE'S PRINCE CHARMING, is hitting the shelves on November 7th!

It was an interesting six weeks. There were great writing days and horrible writing days. Weight loss and weight gain. A returning television show to keep watching and a new show to fall in love with that's unfortunately no longer on. And all the while your comments kept me going. I dedicated the book to a little girl, Taylor, from my son's preschool, but please know without your support the book would have never been finished. So thank you!

Today is the start of something called NaNoWriMo. It's a national writing challenge that takes place every November to see if you can write 50,000 words. I signed up last year, but was too worn out to do it. And even though I'm still plugging away on the proposal, I'm going to try it this year. I've been researching a new book and I think it's time to put words to page. My only caveat is that I must complete the LAST MAN ON EARTH PROPOSAL first. Wish me luck! On both writing endeavors.

Oh and before I forget, I must boast about something non-writing related. Of course that means it's AOL Gold Rush related! I'm on the AOL Gold Rush Top 100 finishers for Round 11! I'm not sure where I fell for Round 12, but I had a really fast time during yesterday's final qualifying round (seconds away from qualifying for the million dollar round) so I hope to be there again for Round 13!