All posts by Dana Rodgers

Sunshine and Daisies Make Me Happy


In our own special way, each of us strives for that happiness and joy that brings with it an inner peace, but sometimes life gets in the way. It could be a hectic schedule bogged down by playing taxi to your children or that cursed day job. The fact is, even when your life is going famously, sometimes you crack open one bleary eye to a rainy morning and feel like your blankets have claimed you as one of their own. Ahem, I’ve heard. 🙂

Regardless of what is drudging up the doldrums and making your creativity wane, all you need to turn that frown upside down is some inspiration.

I find peace in order. Yes, I am one of THOSE people. My books and DVDs are organized by genre and the movies are even alphabetized. And I love lists. I make a list of things to do every day. When I’m feeling particularly sluggish I have been known to make lists with simple things on them like “Brush my teeth” or “Start the dishwasher” just so I can check stuff off and feel like I’ve accomplished something. I know it’s my own special brand of crazy, but I love the sense of order it brings to my life when I feel productive.

Some other things that made my favorites list:
1. Laughter (it truly is the best medicine)
2. Lazy afternoons
3. Time with family
4. Dragging a blanket outside and stargazing on a clear night
5. Picnics
6. Books
7. Hiking (I love nature)
8. Watching a funny movie
9. Spending time with friends
10. Road trips (you don’t have to go far to have an adventure)
11. Kayaking
12. The beach
13. The mountains
14. Wine
15. Animals
16. Sunshine
17. Daisies

Everyone is different and the things that inspire us vary from person to person. I’d love to hear about some of the things that make your favorites list in the comments!

And credit where credit is due…
Stargazing Image:
Beach Image: Dana Rodgers
Cuddly Animal Image: Dana Rodgers

My First Story: Dana Rodgers


Let’s start by saying that every published author I know has a stack of rejection letters stuffed in a drawer or boxed up and safely tucked into a dark closet along with their insecurities. Those same writers also have a stack of incomplete manuscripts tucked away somewhere. Those starts and stops, poorly developed stories and half written best-sellers are an evolution as a writer develops their craft and comes out the other side as a multi-published butterfly.

girl-writing-fourth-gradeBut just like everything else in life, you can’t begin your evolution into that multi-published butterfly unless you pick up that pen and get started. My own humble beginning started in the third grade with a writing prompt about two brothers swimming in a lake. My story began with the brothers splashing each other and then it morphed into a race of who could swim across the lake faster. Hopefully it was a narrow lake because it never occurred to my eight year old self how large a lake really is.

As the brothers swam across the lake, one pulling ahead and then the other, something happened. My inside voice screamed, “What are you doing? This is lame and it is SO boring!” Something else needs to happen to make this story interesting.” For me that was the moment, that one moment, when my creative side broke through the mundane and my passion for writing was born.

Oh, I guess you’re probably wondering what happened to the brothers about now?

foaxhinhAs they raced across the lake one of them got pulled under by a lake monster. The other brother was able to pull him back to the surface but the water broiled with bubbles and angry green tentacles were waving in the air around them. The brothers dodged left and then right, they dove and surfaced dodging tentacles and certain death. The brothers raced for their lives across the water, utterly exhausted as they neared the shore. One brother had just reached the shore when he looked back and saw his little brother sucked under again so he grabbed a sharp rock and waded back into the lake stabbing and slashing at the monster screaming, “Die! Die! Die!” After the big brother had killed the lake monster he drug his little brother back to shore, and knew he’d get to stay up late and get extra ice cream for saving him.

Hey, don’t judge. I was eight. But I still feel that brilliant masterpiece deserved way more than the “C” that my third grade teacher graced it with. It had action, adventure, monsters, drama and even had a happy ending.

I’m so glad you stopped by the Mermaid Lagoon. I would love to hear about what inspired your writing and any masterpieces hiding in your closet. 

My Favorite Place to Write: Dana Rodgers

IMG_1171Over the years I have written many places, at home, in the car, at my kids’ various practices and rehearsals, on vacation, at the occasional restaurant or café during my lunch hour, even on an airplane. But the place I enjoy writing the most is at home in the sunroom off of my kitchen. The room is cozy and the windows offer lots of natural light. I love to get up early and put some yummy bread or pastry in the oven to bake. Then I can snuggle in the recliner with my favorite blanket or sit at the bar savoring the enticing smells while I work on my latest story.
The atmosphere helps to inspire me and, when the occasional bout of writer’s block happens to descend, I can let my mind wander and maybe catch a glimpse of one of the bald eagles that live near my house or a deer munching on some nice tender stalks of grass in the yard.

Do you have a favorite place to write?

Magical Summer Memories

Apple PieIt’s summertime again, and as always it’s passing too fast. Although schools out and we don’t have rehearsals and practices to rush to every evening, there is still that cursed day job and at least a thousand other things demanding my immediate attention. It makes me long for the simpler times and a slower pace of life.

Growing up, I loved visiting my grandparents house in the summer. They lived in a very rural area dominated by rolling mountains and lush green valleys. It is still litterally fifty miles to the closest fast food restaurant or Walmart. The cell phone reception is crappy and they are probably still using a dial up internet connection, but you know what? For me, my grandparents house represents one of the happiest places on earth.

My favorite part of the summer was when all of the aunts, uncles and cousins came for Fourth of July. After a day full of fun playing in the hayloft or swimming in the river you returned to the smell of grilling hamburgers, hot dogs and ribs. Tables piled high with deviled eggs, cole slaw, potato salad, pies and cakes. I fondly remember the lazy summer evenings where the adults gathered on the porch to talk and sip sweet tea or some other more adult beverage, while the kids played hide-and-go-seek and chased fireflys into the melting twilight. The sharp smell of freshly mowed lawn clung to the air as everybody ate watermelon, spitting seeds into the grass.

thCAG7TAUSAs the night grew dark the kids became more and more restless, begging for fireworks. There was nothing better than standing on the edge of my grandparents back field in awe as another rocket whizzed into the air, the explosive boom vibrating through my body. The colors showering down from the heavens set a magical backdrop to the Fourth of July.

Those are some of my favorite memories. I would love to hear some of your favorite summer memories in the comments.

So That’s How It Started…

Dana MermaidAll of the readers I know have certain authors or books that they read again and again. I am no exception. One of my favorites is Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss. I recently finished Shanna for the twenty-seventh time. Honestly, I have no idea how many times I’ve read it, but often enough that the tattered cover and well-worn spine mark it as a favorite on my shelf. This latest reading prompted me to think about all of the well-loved romance novels out there, and the happiness they have brought so many.

But where did all of this romance begin? If I had to guess I’d say back with the caveman. Maybe the first time a big bad alpha caveman brought his main cave woman squeeze daisies or drew a colorful painting on the wall to make their cave sweet cave a little homier. My point is, as long as there have been men and women, we have shown off, flexed, primped, strutted and gone out of our way to do special things to attract each other. The real question is how  did all of this romance and happiness get into books?

UnknownMany feel that the literary fiction of the 18th and 19th centuries are precursors to today’s fiction romance genre. Authors like Samuel Richardson, Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer were among the first to write literary romance. But during my research I was surprised to discover that Kathleen Woodiwiss is considered the mother of modern romance. In 1972, after many rejection letters from other houses, Avon published The Flame and the Flower, the first novel to feature an “…epic historical romance with a strong heroine and actual sex scenes.” This was the first romance novel to carry the relationship into the bedroom. The book was wildly successful, pioneering the historical romance genre and selling over 2.3 million copies in its first four years of publication. The Flame and the Flower’s success spawned a new style of writing that involved longer and more complicated plots, controversial topics, and steamier sex scenes. Also, the stories focused on monogamous relationships with helpless heroines who often found themselves in sticky situations, so it’s a good thing all of those strong alpha heroes were there to charge to the rescue. (We won’t mention the part where the hero was usually the one to put the heroine in danger to begin with).

According to the most recent statistics I could find, more than 50% of paperback fiction sales are attributed to romance novels. Romantic fiction made up 13.5% of the consumer book market in 2008, publishing 7,311 romance novels and generating $1.37 billion in sales. Most of these books are written by authors from English speaking countries but romance novels appear in 90 languages around the globe, proving that emotion translates. So it’s obvious, although thousands of years have passed since that first caveman got the hint and brought his girl flowers, not all men have caught on… and women are still looking for romance. 🙂

Renovating Your Book

I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend.

My husband and I spent ours working on our basement. Thank heavens my husband is a very handy guy because we have spent the last several months finishing our basement. It has been a long arduous task involving framing, insulating, dry walling, tiling and painting. After a long weekend of sanding and painting, my back is locked up tighter than Fort Knox and, sadly, I’m only halfway done painting the doors, windows and trim moldings.

As I labored away yesterday, it dawned on me how many parallels there are between building something and the writing process. Whether you’re finishing a basement, building a skyscraper or writing a novel it’s always important to start with a strong framework. Without a solid foundation your building or your story will fall apart.

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Next you run the wiring and plumbing, which is kind of like weaving together the plot threads that drive your story forward. This is what makes your reader turn the page. If you fail to tie all of the plumbing together you turn on a faucet and nothing happens. Or you run all of the electrical lines, but forget to tie them into the junction box, so when you flip the light switch, no lights come on. This can also happen in a story when an author has lots of great story elements but forgets to tie them together so the reader knows what is going on and why it’s important.

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Next comes walls. Just as you have to watch out for bows and seams when hanging and taping drywall, you have to be careful as you layer one event on top of another in building your plot. If you aren’t, you could wind up with a story full of inconsistencies, elements that don’t make sense or a sagging middle that doesn’t encourage a reader to keep turning pages.

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Once your structure is complete, it’s time to add the finishing touches like paint, tile and carpet to tie the space together and make it inviting. In much the same way, rewrites and edits tie your scenes together and give your story seamless flow. This is the place I’m at now, both in the manuscript I’m working on and my basement. I’ll let you know how it goes!

A Supernatural Experience


This year we decided to do things a little differently for Christmas and birthdays. Instead of purchasing something that would get lost, broken, pushed aside, or donated later in the year we decided that we would give our kids experiences that will hopefully stick with them for a lifetime.

Our youngest is really musical and almost came unhinged when she discovered that The Piano Guys were coming to the Warner Theatre in March, especially since cello is her primary instrument. For those of you unfamiliar with The Piano Guys, look them up on YouTube; they have their own channel. One guy plays a cello and the other a piano. They write their own arrangements of popular songs, often combining them with classical music, and then create fun videos with stunning photography. So anyway, we got VIP tickets and took Brenna. I cannot even express how thrilled she was.

Our older daughter chose Supernatural Con 2014, which took place last weekend. This was the first year that Supernatural Con has ever come to the east coast, and we were lucky enough to have it right in our backyard – Washington D.C.! Ryan loves Cosplay and Conventions so Supernatural Con was right up her alley.

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Richard Speight, Jr. was a hilarious Master of Ceremonies and Friday kicked off with panels by Osric Chau (Kevin Tran), Kim Rhodes (Sherriff Jody Mills), Corin Nemec (Christian Campbell), Gil McKinney (Henry Winchester) and Chad Lindberg (Ash). My favorite was the personable and hilarious Kim Rhodes. She was so nice when I ran into her in the bar and then later at autographs. Friday night also had an 80’s themed Karaoke Party with a ton of the cast participating. It was a blast!

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Saturday kicked off with a panel by Osric Chau and Gil McKinney, followed by a panel with Sebastian Roche. And let me just say, that man is just as crude and cheeky in person as he is as Balthazar on the show.  There were also panels by Richard Speight, Jr. (Trickster), Matt Cohen (Young John Winchester), Rob Benedict (Chuck Shurley/Carver Edlund) and Misha Collins (Castiel). There was a costume contest, which my daughter participated in. She didn’t win, there were some crazy good costumes, but she got a stock photo of Jensen Ackles.

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Misha Collins also hosted a live webcast airing two of his TSA (Transportation security Authority) web series. The TSA movie shorts were hilarious and the money raised during the event went to Random Acts, a charity Misha feels strongly about. As a bidding incentive Matt Cohen agreed to take his shirt off if the event raised enough money. Let’s just say, that boy has a rockin’ body! There was absolutely no reason for him to be breaking out into a visible sweat as the numbers climbed. 🙂

Saturday night we attended The Saturday Evening Cabaret starring the band Louden Swain (Rob Benedict is the lead singer) and many of the Supernatural cast members. The Cabaret was a great concert and some of the highlights included Osric Chau and Gil McKinney each singing a solo. They were all crazy talented but Gil was a voice major in college and in addition to being even better looking in person—I’m not sure how that’s even possible—holy crow can he sing! And then we hit the exclusive after party where I danced with Osric Chau and hugged Matt Cohen. So. Much. Fun!

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When it was all said and done, Ryan and I had met a ton of the cast members and gotten autographs from Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins, Osric Chau, Kim Rhodes, Gil McKinney, Sebastian Roche and Matt Cohen. We took pictures and danced, laughed and met some new friends, including Jen McKinney who is responsible for most of these lovely photos as I left my camera on the counter at home. Grrr… But the best part of the entire thing was spending time with my daughter one on one.

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Tickets                        —                    $678.00

Hotel                           —                    $314.00

The smile on my baby girl’s face – ABSOLUTELY PRICELESS!

Quotes For Writers

Writers are different. Not better. Not worse. Just different.

I have come to this conclusion in stages. First, when I was growing up and realized other girls generally didn’t spend hours sitting around making up stories in their head. As a young adult I discovered that most people don’t actually identify the character arc or the story arc or the black moment when reading books or watching movies for entertainment. Who knew?

And then I attended my first writing conference. I looked around and heard other people talk about sitting behind a computer for hours in hopes that one day someone else would enjoy the story they couldn’t get out of their head. There were entire conversations about fictional characters and people who didn’t think it was at all weird to get busted by the UPS man in your pj’s at 2:00pm. I did a little mental happy dance. At last I had found my people! Others who understood.

Dana MermaidSo in tribute to all of the fabulous, just a little bit crazy, writers out there I have compiled a few of my favorite quotes about writers. Please feel free to add your own favorite quotes in the comments. You never know where you’re going to find something that will light up your life, soothe your soul, or inspire that next great story!

The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say. ~Anaïs Nin

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~William Wordsworth

am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God
who is sending a love letter to the world.
- Mother Teresa

The profession of book-writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business. – John Steinbeck

If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it. ~Toni Morrison

Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia. ~E.L. Doctorow

It’s Retreat Time!

Dana MermaidIt’s Thursday. How did it get to be Thursday already!?! Tomorrow morning I leave for Washington Romance Writers Retreat and I haven’t even begun to pack. My CDO (my OCD is alphabetized) is kicking in. I must make a list!

Let’s see, what’s important?
1. Clothes (Yep, I’m betting that it’ll be too cold to be naked, so clothes would be good. Plus, probably no one needs to see that. ☺ )
2. Make Up and Toiletries (Definitely important! And might even hide the under-eye luggage after a wild night singing karaoke or playing romance jeopardy with this rowdy crew.)
3. WINE (Which will make me brave enough to sing karaoke and hang out with all of these crazy women… and Tim. ☺ )
4. Chocolate (Because one must eat.)
5. Costume Stuff for Karaoke and Romance Jeopardy (Like anyone needs a reason for fun.)
6. Notebook and Pens (To write down those pearls of wisdom from all of those fabulous workshops!)
7. Gift Basket Donations (Hmm… must go shopping. I’m thinking more wine and chocolate, maybe some yummy smelling lotion.)
8. Book Donations (One must give back, after all… Especially when ones bookshelves are overflowing into multiple boxes and bags.)
9. Money and return address labels for Raffle Tickets (I don’t know how I’m going to win without Carlene—our luckiest mermaid and perhaps the luckiest person on the planet based on how much that girl wins—to rub my raffle tickets on before tossing them into each bag. (You will be missed this year, sweetie!)
10. And Friends! (Because what would retreat be without catching up with old friends and making new ones?)

It’s been a busy week full of that darn day job, cello rehearsals, lacrosse games and a crew dry walling my basement. I feel like I’ve run a marathon and its not even 8:00am, but now that I have my list—all is right with the world. I can hardly wait to pack and get on the road. WRW Retreat here I come!

So now that I’ve told you what’s on my list, what do you pack for a writing conference?