Shut Up and Listen

I’ve been out of touch recently, lavishing in the brief respite from the buzzing schedule of my normal life. My family and I have seen a few sights, visited with grandparents, attended a reunion and just relaxed. I’ve enjoyed basking in the sun by the pool with a favorite book (that I’m reading for fun, not research), the air permeated by the familiar scent of sunscreen while my kids swim with their friends. I’ve enjoyed taking my girls to the mall where we can walk and talk, have lunch and window shop. And of course lots of giggling over boys—I do live with two teenage girls after all. For me, a family vacation allows time to unwind and reconnect with each other without the day-to-day distractions of home life.

During the school year I’m all about schedules. Who has to be where? Soccer, field hockey, volleyball, basketball, track, chorus, cello, friends,…
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Summer Lovin’

Summer Lovin’, had me a bla-aast…

Don’t you remember the anticipation of summer?  Counting down the days and planning adventures with friends.  Just waiting for life to begin. When every day was a gift and you yearned to make the most of it. 

I’m not talking about the scents of freshly cut grass or wild honeysuckle or even the feeling of sand between your toes and the sun’s rays tingling the tanning oil on your body.  I’m talking about feelings of love and anticipation and a world ripe with…possibilities.  The possibility of falling in love.  Again and again.

I remember the excitement about boys.  I can now look back with the realization that summer relationships taught me a lot.  It was that first taste of all-consuming love—when you knew IN ADVANCE that it wasn’t meant to last beyond the season so you tried to make each and every little moment count.

Sleeping in and sneaking out.  Giggling into the night with girlfriends about boys and willing to sneak out for…
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What reality TV has taught me about writing

I love reality TV. Love it. Over the years, I have wasted countless hours watching shows such as Survivor, Amazing Race, American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance, Project Runway, Top Chef, The Biggest Loser, The Bachelor, and The Bachelorette. Among others.

But were these hours really a waste of time? For one, reality TV has provided me with a much-needed way to unwind after a long, stressful day. For another, amidst the drama and the scandals, these shows have actually – gasp! — taught me something about writing.

Goal. Interestingly, the only reality shows I watch are the ones based on a competition. From the outset, even before we know anything about the contestants, we know what they want. To be the sole survivor. America’s favorite dancer. The biggest loser. Recipient of the final rose. Their goals are clearly defined, and the entire season revolves around the progression towards achieving…
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New York City, Nationals and the Creepy Crawlies

Bed Bugs!  My attention from Nationals was diverted by an abundance of urgent discussions on this topic amidst the WRW loop.  Shuddering, I firmly pushed aside thoughts of infestation and focused my attention on the conference and all the whispers that I had heard – “ overwhelming, awe-inspiring.. “You’ll laugh, you’ll cry.. your life will never be the same again.”   Yeah, sure, I thought, assuming the adage applied to those earthlings who have not been able to reign their emotion to such perfection it should be introduced as an Olympic sport.    

On the first day of the conference, I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something was off.  Don’t get me wrong, there was NOTHING wrong with the conference.  Compared to the millions of others I attended for work purposes, this one rivaled anything I had ever seen; efficient and organized and with attention and preparedness for every detail. 

But as day one morphed into day two, I could no longer keep at bay the creepy crawly feeling seeping into…
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What’s the Buzz? – Self Publishing

RWA Nationals 2011 had loads of inspiration gushing from every workshop, meal function and hallway conversation. You name it. I loved it. But I usually do. The annual RWA conference is a drug that fills you up with the kind of joy and excitement that can keep you motivated through New Year’s Eve.

But that’s what Nationals is all about. The people. The connections. The camaraderie. The inspiration.

But like in other years, there’s always one topic that haunts me. No matter where I went or what the workshop was supposed to be all about – this subject found a way to worm itself into the moment…yep, I’m talking about self-publishing.

At my RWA 11, there wasn’t one workshop, luncheon or publisher’s spotlight that didn’t feature a comment (or more than one) about self-publishing. And those comments varied dramatically in tone and flare.

Some agents…
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What Is It Worth To You?

Being at the RWA national conference must have triggered some deep-level thought processes I was unaware of.

What do you want? What are you prepared to do?

Here’s the story – I was a member of NYSC for several years.  I loved that gym and all it had to offer.  I’d  joined with a friend who later discovered that she would get a cheaper membership with her school district’s corporate membership, and she loved getting that bargain.  I tried every trick in the book but I couldn’t match her. She worked closer to home. I didn’t. She made more money. I certainly didn’t! Even with a husband who’d been tossed out of work, there was no mercy. Pay the price, or take a hike.

But, because her school district had negotiated a corporate membership, she had advantages I didn’t. And I was supposed to be happy. I wasn’t. I kept thinking about leaving, but couldn’t find a gym that would…
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Conflict and the Ten Year Old

Conflict…an essential element of any story in the 21st Century. 

I know this because I’ve just come back from the Romance Writers of America’s National Conference in New York City where I attended several workshops attempting to really show us the core of what conflict means.   And not just that, but how it affects almost every aspect of your writing.  If you know what you’re doing with internal conflict, then you’ll have characters the readers care about.  If you can boil the main conflict of your story down to 25 words or less, you may just have a high concept which will help you have a dazzling pitch.  A tight, fast-paced novel with no sagging middle means you know what you’re doing with external conflict and your readers will appreciate that.   Every stage from the pitch, query, synopsis, the meat of the book…if you’ve got the conflict down, then you’re on the right path. 

Pages and pages of copious…
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Happy Fourth of July!!!

July 4th is my favorite holiday. I could watch fireworks on a nightly basis. Perhaps my love of glitter and sparkles has something to do with it.

Plus, the Fourth of July is fun. There is no present-buying-stress like Christmas. Sure, you may get some picnic or barbecue food together, but that doesn’t seem to be as stressful as a huge Thanksgiving dinner.

Instead, July 4th is easy. It’s summer, the weather is (hopefully) beautiful and you can just relax and celebrate with friends and family. Again, hopefully with fireworks.

But the real reason why this is my favorite holiday is the meaning. Let’s take a moment to remember the significance of this day; what it represents and why we celebrate it. The Fourth of July is about freedom.

I’ve been thinking about my love for this relaxing holiday and how it makes me feel. Interesting that that same easiness and carefree feeling used to be applied to my writing. Before I learned about publishing contracts, query letters, protecting your…
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The End

So I watched season premiere of True Blood the other night. Tradition holds that I enjoy an adult beverage or two while I’m watching my favorite vampire/warewolf/fairy/telepath/God-I-Love-Lafayette TV show. That first beer went quick (it was a hell of a week), so I hit pause to make a quick kitchen run. That’s when I saw the show was already half over.

“No!” I squealed. (Yes, I really did squeal, this is not a proud moment for me.)

Waiting a week for the next episode would be bad enough, but I’ll be twiddling my thumbs for two weeks because as you read this I’m on vacation. And while my parents have lots of fun stuff at their house, HBO is not one of them. I’d like to say that’s the only reason for my outburst, but the truth is that any time I’m sucked into another character’s world I hate having to step out of it.

You know the feeling. You’re…
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FIX THIS!

There are a lot of books out there.

In the days of Dickens and Hawthorne, writers were worth far more than a dime a dozen (a whole dollar, at least). It was a romantic profession, revered by many and envied by more, so much so that many an impoverished author had a benefactor or two to support them as they honed their craft.

Even taking into account the ones that have gone out of print, time alone has grown the number of books in existence exponentially. Digital publishing has doubled that exponent. Many well-to-do writers aren’t as well off as you’d think. We have to get things like day jobs to support ourselves. As for benefactors…well, there’s always Kickstarter.

What kills me is when an author–I won’t name names, but I will qualify that these authors I’m referring to make enough money to be only authors and nothing else–releases a new,…
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