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Monday, July 25, 2005

Monday's Musings

I have decided that buying tickets to any event in California is an absolute undoable thing. Each time I try, I'm sorely disappointed in the seats I get. I've tried different strategies, but the bottom line is, if you want to see your favorite sports team, singer, show or whatever, money talks. There are scalpers out there with "legitimate" companies, selling tickets for three and four times their worth. Somehow, and I have yet to figure this out, those companies seem to get their hands on the best seats, the best tickets, selling them for the highest price.

Those of you who know me best, know I'm a huge country western fan. I love the new country groups, and the songs that tell a story. But my favorite is Tim McGraw. And I discovered him, and country music quite by accident one day while listening to a Faith Hill song. I had no idea that man she was singing a duet with, was her husband and soon to be my favorite artist.

Back to the ticket thing. Well, I joined Tim's fan club to see where and when he'd be in town and to get hold of his pre-sale tickets for his CA tours. Mind you, I've never joined a fan club for anyone, not even Elvis when I was a teen! But this pre-sale opportunity sounded pretty good. The only problem was, when I planted myself in my chair, waiting for the exact moment the tickets would go on sale online thru the pre-sale, something happened on THEIR end, and I couldn't bring up the page for 30 minutes. Well, by that time, all the good seats were gone. GONE. Not only that, the next to good seats were gone too. There was nothing worthy coming up on that online site. So, off to my next plan. Ticketmaster was selling Tim Tix in a few days. Luckily, I was home that morning. I planted myself by the computer and waited until the exact moment the tickets were released. And to my amazement, within a few seconds I pulled up some really good seats -- this has never happened before. I've never gotten decent seats from Ticketmaster. Well, I didn't hesitate, but plugged in all the information needed and had tickets in hand within five minutes. Now, mind you, I'm not going to be able to look Tim McGraw right in the eyes, but these seats are pretty good! I'm almost center stage with only one section in front of me, and I didn't have to pay scalper prices! That's the best of all.

Still and all, it's a jungle out there when trying to vie for good seats. I'm wondering if it's like this throughout the entire country? Have any of you had to fight and claw to get good seats for a concert, show or sports event? And have any of you been pleasantly surprised when you actually did get those seats?

I won't even discuss those lucky few who have WON Tim Tix on the radio. Nope, not going to discuss them at all.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Thursday's Thoughts

I had great news today. My editor emailed to say that I'm approved for my most-fun-to-date historical story, Shanghaied Groom. The story was due back in May, but because of many delays, I've only just heard from the senior editor. Which means, now I'm on two deadlines. I've done this before ... once. And it actually wasn't too bad writing a contemporary story and doing an historical at the same time. I just have to make sure that I keep names, hair and eye color in check. I'm not one for lists, but this time, I plan to make up a list so I don't confuse my characters. Oh and I just realized that my heros' names are close. Sam and Shane. That could be a problem. I'll have to check and double check. In the past, I've worked on one story for a few days, then shifted back to the other. Or, I've worked on one in the AM and the other in the PM. I'm not sure how I'll work this one, but honestly, I have such a busy, busy weekend, the Janet Evanovich book is calling my name so I doubt I'll get too involved until after my visit to Reno and the national convention. Then, it's back to work ... with a vengeance!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Wednesday's Words

Ever notice how we set mental priorities? I know I always do. I'm pretty disciplined in my approach to my craft and to life in general. At times, being so disciplined can get a little bit ... tense. So once in a while, I let myself go and give in to what I REALLY want to do, rather than do what I know I must. There aren't too many things that get me to change my priorities. Except yesterday, when a friend of mine handed me Janet Evanovich's 11th Stephanie Plum novel, I knew I'd be rearranging my priorities today. Even though the copyedits are finished and I should be working on the Desire that I just sold, I'm going to give myself a break, sit down with a cup of coffee and read! I started the book last night, but after a full day, I couldn't keep my eyes open as long as I would have liked -- all night. But I knew this morning, I'd be up early and reading. Like I said, there aren't too many things that can get me to change my plans. Reading a Stephanie Plum novel is one of them. I'm afraid I'm woefully addicted and hey, we only get one per year. So I'm off now ... with coffee in hand to read.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Tuesday's Tidbits

I finished my copyedits yesterday for RENEGADE WIFE and while reading through I discovered that I had 2 running themes in the story. Now, usually an author finds it hard getting one theme out of their story, but I seem to have two. And if you ask me to explain theme, I'd have to hesitate and pause and think, what exactly is "theme?". Well, to me it seems to be an underlying running thread in the story that takes you all the way through. It's not something I consciously do -- it's part of how I write. All good books MUST have a theme. I remember when a bestselling author gave a workshop about Theme -- and it's true. As she says, if you don't really know what your book is about, "theme-wise", then you haven't done your job.

Does that make sense?

And if you really think about all the good books you've read recently, haven't they all had one underlying running thread that tied the book together. Whether it be faith, truth, deception, redemption ... all of those things can play into the theme of the book. And any rate, theme is really hard to describe, but you'll find it when you read from your favorite authors. If you look hard enough. But that's the thing with theme - you don't have to consciously recognize it and say "Oh, so that's the theme", but it has to be there, the undercarriage of the story, whether the reader is aware or not. It makes all the difference.

Now, have I confused anyone?

Monday, July 18, 2005

Monday's Musings

The Joys of Exercising --- Have any of you gotten into the swing of an exercise routine and just when you're really getting into a groove and enjoying it (yes, I said ENJOYING it) your body breaks down? Well, if it's age or wear and tear, I'm not sure, but we recently bought a treadmill, and this has been happening to me. I have to admit, while I don't like any other form of exercise, I don't mind walking on the thing. I turn the TV on and do half an hour or more, using the weights and incline and when I'm through, I feel pretty darn good.

That is, until a while ago, when my hip starting aching so badly, I thought I was in serious trouble. I couldn't figure it out. Luckily for me, when I complained to an aerobics instructor I know, she figured it out immediately. Seems I was walking on the threadmill incorrectly. Yes, there's a right way and wrong way of walking -- and I was doing it all wrong. Walk heel to toe, keep a straight upper body and tuck in the tummy. Don't use the incline more than 30%. I had the thing up to almost max -- as if I were climbing Mount Rushmore. Well, sure enough, I began fixing the way I walked and the hip pain vanished. A happy camper I was, I was.

Until a few weeks ago, when my knee starting aching. I could visibly see the swelling underneath. The Dr. put me on Motrin, a knee brace and no more treadmill for a while. Ouch! That hurts. I was really in that groove again. So, while my intentions have been good, my body isn't cooperating. This time, I can't figure out why my knee gave out, but I'm not giving up. I'll be treadmilling again as soon as the Dr. says it's a go. Anybody else out there have an exercise story to share?

Friday, July 15, 2005

The Real Friday's Finds

When it comes to home repair, I'm finding that nothing comes easy. The other day I put a roast in the oven and an hour later when the timer went off, I was ready to set the table only to find that the oven never went on. No cooked roast and worse yet -- my trusty oven of 20 years decided to retire, right then and there. It had put in it's service and that's that. No amount of pleading, cajoling or shouting would convince the thing to ignite again.

Well, that meant going shopping for a built-in oven. Needless to say, I dreaded the whole procedure having doubts in my head the entire time. And I wasn't wrong! It seems things have changed a great deal in 20 years. Gas ovens are almost a thing of the past. This, I can't understand because electric costs run 4 times higher than gas, yet we were lucky to find two companies still making our size oven. Now, the doubts are filtering in. Should we go with gas, or with the more popular, easier to find, more expensive electric? Seems only two states still use built-in gas ovens in their new homes, California being one of them. This was news to me.

And now, without an oven, we're feeling pressure to do our kitchen remodel a lot sooner than we planned. Again, though the outcome of having a new face to our kitchen is appealing, I know I'm not going to enjoy the journey. There's so much to consider, but right now, we're getting out the BBQ grill. It's summer after all -- I'll improvise. It's going to take at least three weeks to get someone out to the house for an estimate, anyway.

Geesh, ain't home repair grand?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Thursday's Thoughts

If you can't laugh at yourself -- then what's the point? Okay, I blew it! All morning long I thought today was Friday! As you might notice, my last blog, posted on July 14th says Friday's Finds!! Twas not meant to confuse you, just a sign of how confused I am. :)

We are creatures of habit and NO I haven't lost my mind completely! It's just that I usually teach my childbirth and babycare classes on Thursday nights. (Did you know that's what I do in my other life?) And last night, on a rare occasion I had to go into the hospital where I teach and do some work. So ... needless to say, since it was a work night last night, today HAD to be Friday! Okay, and I did get up super early this morning-- still a little groggy. But, Friday's Finds speaks of all the good things and new prizes added to my "Summer Rain" contest. THAT hasn't changed. Be sure to enter and good luck!
As for me -- I'd better get another cup of coffee!

Friday's Finds

Love In Bloom Contest -- The contest is going strong and looks like I'll be adding to the list of prizes posted on the Summer Rain Contest page! I keep finding wonderful things in my daily travels to add to the contest. And I plan on returning home from Reno with some great books that I'll include from my own personal list of favorite authors. Of course, you can't go to Reno -- The Biggest Little City in the World, and not go shopping! I'm planning on adding a "Reno" gift or two to the "Summer Rain" contest as well. We've set the contest to end on August 15th deliberately so that we'll have time enough after our convention to add things to the prize package. If you haven't yet entered, now's the time. And remember to add your name to the mailing list as well. There's be some fun things and surprise giveaways in the near future!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Wednesday's Words

It's time to do my copyedits for my Feb 06 book, Renegade Wife. It's amazing how much I've forgotten about my stories once I turn them in and move on to something new. The copyediting process has you really reading every single word and it's great to see when you get a light copyedit, meaning you've sent in a pretty clean copy AND your editor trusts you enough not to change much in the text. It's makes the process easier and quite frankly, if they didn't give a rush deadline of having it back when I'm in RENO, then I'd have to say I don't mind them. But TPTB need these edits done before the end of July, which means I have to devote all my writing time to them. It's amazing how you wait and wait and wait, and then once they begin making your story into a book, everything has to be done yesterday.
Well, I'm off... more reading and editing to do. But I do love this historical. It's perhaps the most witty and best researched story I've ever done. If I can toot my own horn, here. Toot. Toot.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Tuesday's Tidbits

The last minute "stuff" I have to get done before my trip to Reno is mind-boggling. And yes, the RWA National Convention isn't until the end of the month, two weeks from now exactly, but there's so much to do and I find that I'm making lists and rethinking my wardrobe, fretting over small stuff while I try to pace myself. Each day I try to accomplish something significant. Yesterday, my friends and I changed our travel plans and that took the better part of the day trying to coordinate. Now, I have the task of cancelling the old plans, taking clothes to the dry cleaners to make sure they are ready to go, decide whether I need new luggage or borrow from my daughter's new set.

I write for two lines and each line has decided to run a contest during the Literary Signing on Wednesday night -- it's a great cause and I love participating, but that means remembering all kinds of "stuff" again, like extra books, magnets, bookmarks and this year I hope to have my guests sign a book so that they might be included in my newsletters. A guestbook I have yet to buy. Little things. But they add up. And our OCC Chapter is running a contest also, so I'll have three in all -- it's a good way to meet people and interact but again, if I don't stay focused, use my lists, I'm gonna get confused real quick.

It's a challenge for those four days just to show up in the right place at the right time, dressed appropriately! I think the stress factor is kicking in already. I woke up extremely early this morning, thinking and rethinking all the things I need to do, hoping I don't forget something! I know it sounds like a hassle, no fun at all, but going to convention is usually the highlight of my professional career. It's a blast really, once you get there, with your clothes, notes and MIND intact. Then you can kick back and have a good time. It's the "getting there" that's the problem.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Monday's Musings

It was a whirlwind weekend but lots of fun. Our OCC meeting went well, with Joan Johnston giving great tips for new and established authors. She was very generous in sharing information about her writing life and how she dealt with editors and agents along the way. We did an informal Pitch An Author session before the meeting that I coordinated. I have to say that we had a great turnout of OCC writers coming in to practice the "pitches" they will do before an editor in Reno, at our National Convention. We listened and gave feedback as to how they might improve their pitch and what seemed to work well. I'm happy to say the session was a success. I did a booksigning at our meeting for LIKE LIGHTNING, which is always fun -- giving away all my goodies, magnets, bookmarks and pens. And then it was off to a graduation party for my close friend's daughter. Sunday was a family BBQ where we celebrated my birthday (yes, I'm still having those but I find that mystically, I've lost track of my age) . I was treated very well by my hubby and close family members. When the CA sun subsided some we went out to play Bocci Ball, an old Italian family game, a little like bowling, but not quite. We had decadent cake and ice cream and by 10 PM I fell into bed. Even our kitty Skittles wouldn't dare wake me this morning. I needed a full night's sleep so I could be "fresh" to continue my work on CAROLINE'S MAN FRIDAY, the newest Desire I'm contracted to write. Off I go ...

Friday, July 08, 2005

Friday's Finds

TGIF-- It's Friday and that's a good thing for most people. The end of the week and the beginning of the weekend, but unless I've had a really great writing week, the approaching weekend isn't just fun and games. When I'm on deadline, I'm still comitted to writing those five to ten pages a day, regardless that it's the weekend. This week was my birthday week and I had some fun things to do, besides dental appts and other work related stuff, so my writing suffered. Only problem is: Life Doesn't Stop and I'm finding myself a little frustrated when I have such a full weekend schedule that there's no time to plant myself down to write. Oh well, I'm going to have to hussle this morning and try to get enough done, that will sustain me through the weekend. Self-discipline is key when you write. Otherwise, your deadlines will stare you in the face, two weeks before the book is due. Off to do some of that writing now...

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Thursday's Thoughts

A new Desire Sale! I'm busy working on the minor revisions on my latest Desire. I've already written one third of this book, it's going really well. Needless to say, I'm happy to have another contract with Harlequin/Silhouette and hopefully if this book is finished on schedule, I'll have three books out next year. That's my goal. I'd love to have three books each and every year. Still waiting to hear about my latest historical proposal. That book will take lots of research so I'm happy to have a jumpstart on this Desire right now, because if I get approval, looks like I'll be writing two books at the same time. And I'll have two deadlines. But that's okay, I seem to work better under a deadline. Either way, I'm happy to keep working and writing. And I hope to keep some part of this title, since it was named after my dear late mother. Caroline's Man Friday. I'm hopeful, but then my track record with titles isn't great. I've only kept one of my orinigal titles. Back to work ...

Monday, July 04, 2005

Tuesday's Tidbits

Recovering from vacation -- and back to blogging. Happy Fourth of July every one. Hope you had a safe one. Ours was quite a bit harrowing for a few hours. We live at the end of the valley, about three blocks away from the hills that separate our county to the next. Today with the sweltering heat and summer breezes, a fire broke out atop the ridge overlooking our housing community. We were spending time with family when we noticed the helicopters and smoke billows in the sky. We raced to the park to get a better view and saw the fire and smoke, barely being contained by the efforts of at least eight fire engines and water-dropping helicopters. Each time we looked up to find a line of fire coming down our side of the hill, our hearts stopped, but luckily and thanks to our firefighters, the fire was finally contained. We've had all kinds of fires here in CA, but nothing has ever come this close before. I'm happy to say no one was hurt and the no homes were endangered. But oh, that was enough fireworks for me on the FOURTH. Time to end our little vacation now and get back to work!