Sunday, December 10, 2006
In better news, I have seen a lot of movies in the past weeks. The Departed has a fantastic cast and incredible acting, most notably by Leonardo DiCaprio (did I spell that last name correctly?) and Jack Nicholson. Leo has grown up very nicely, I might add. Can't wait to see him in Blood Diamond, which also looks great, judging by the previews. The Departed is not for the faint of heart. Extremely gritty and violent. Vulger, too, but in a realistic way rather than gratuitously. The story deals with the Irish mafia so... Also saw Stranger Than Fiction and loved, loved, loved it! Smart humor, rather than Will Ferrel's (did I spell that last name correctly?) usual juvenile naughty humor -- i.e. jogging naked, etc. (Don't get me wrong, if I'm in the mood, I like his silly movies, too!) Stranger Than Fiction is the sort of movie that makes you think about its meaning long after its over. Let's see...what else? Borat. Oh my God. Very crude. Very politically incorrect and offensive. Very prone to induce uncontrollable fits of laughter. There's one scene...well, let's just say you can't look away, though you really wish you could. And you can't believe what you're seeing! If you go, you might want to wear a disguise so as not to be recognized coming out of the theatre by neighbors or your sweet Aunt Rose. :-) Also saw The Prestige. Not my favorite of the movies I've seen of late, but still very good. It's about an obsessive competition between magicians back in the top hat days. I loved the time period and the costumes. Also, it had a twist at the end that I didn't see coming. Finally, I saw Bobby. I heard people grumbling that they didn't like the movie as we were leaving. But I thought it was fantastic and so did my 20 year old son, who went with me. I think the people who were disappointed probably thought it would deal more with Bobby Kennedy's assassination. The story is about what was happening in the lives of some of the people who were in the hotel that day in the hours leading up to the shooting. To me, it really sent a message about how violence affects people from all races, of all ages, from all walks of life. Bobby Kennedy's speech, voiced over during the final images at the end, is so powerful I had goosebumps. Oh, to have people in office again whose words can so effectively inspire and stir emotion!
After reading the above over, I think I need to make my new goal to learn how to spell last names! Anyway, back to the craziness of Christmas preparations, deadlines, etc.!
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
On the plane ride home from Tennessee, I read an article about a scientist (whose name escapes me) who believes that if a person makes some new activity a part of their daily routine for 28 days (I *think* it's 28, it's 20-something...) it becomes a habit. He also believes in the "magic of three." At the first of every month, he chooses 3 new "habits" he wants to instill into his life, and he commits to doing those 3 things daily for the next 28 days. The idea is that, by the end of the month, those things will be an instilled part of his life. Then it's a new month and he chooses 3 more. So, as tomorrow is November 1 and the start of a new month, I'm going to give this a try. You read it here: Every day for the next month I will:
1) Walk 10,000 steps using my trusty new Digi-Walker my fabulously fit sis-in-law gave me to count the steps.
2) Have my butt in a chair and be working on my writing--no emails, checking Amazon, Googling for reviews, etc. -- by 9:00 a.m. at the latest, 5 days a week, and work for a minimum of 3 hours. (Now this doesn't mean that's *all* I'll work. This is just the MINIMUM DAILY. In order to meet my deadlines, I'll have to work a lot more than this most days. The object here is to set a fixed working time. A scheduled time set aside for nothing but writing. I'm bad about that.)
3) This one I'm not sharing, but it has to do with goalsetting.
I'll keep you posted on my progress with all this! Wish me luck...
Last Thursday, my puppy Marge and I started obedience school at Petsmart. We'll be going once a week for the next 7 weeks. Marge has lived with us for about 7 months now and she has definitely asserted her presence. At my house, Marge is in charge. Or at least it seems that way sometimes. I love her, but it's time she figured out who is boss -- not her hopefully! Petsmart teaches clicker/reward training. Our homework before this week's meeting is to (1) learn that the sound of the clicker means she's going to get a reward (2) learn the command "Watch Me" (Call her name to get her attention, when she looks at my face say "watch me" and if she keeps her focus on my face, click the clicker then give her a treat (3) learn her "release phrase." This is what I'll say after she's done what I asked her to do and now she can stop. I'm going to use the words "That's it."
In writing news, my agent sent out my YA novel to 14 publishers about 3 weeks ago and we're still waiting for the good news that at least one of them thinks it's wonderful and wants to buy it for big bucks (thinking positive here!). Send good vibes my way.
In the meantime, happy reading!
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Then again, maybe that's all a bunch of baloney. Maybe I've been craving Popeye's fried chicken the past months while I've been working on this book, and I've been obsessing about gardening because my thumb is far from green yet we've been remodeling our backyard and I have huge beds now to fill in the spring.(Was going to include photo of yard-in-progress and the gorgeous pergola my talented husband is building, but Blogger won't upload it). Either way, I'll find out soon enough. That's what I love about revising. Having that first draft, that huge lump of clay I've been mixing complete, and now I can really experiment with it, carve away what doesn't work, find the hidden surprises, mold and smooth until I find the right shape and the story and people in it become real.
Today my local writing club, Panhandle Professional Writers, held an Entertainment sale to earn money for the organization. I sat outside in our first day of real cold, froze my fingers off while autographing books, talked for 30 seconds on the radio to help promote the event and gave back 20% of my proceeds to the club. It was fun despite the cold, despite the fact that the radio guy introduced me on-air as Jennifer "Author" rather than "Archer!" Ah, well... I got to catch up with some writer friends I don't see often. One, Deborah Eliott Upton is always so much fun. We started out together. She was the first person I met in my first creative writing class many years ago, and vice versa. We've been through a lot together. She has a mystery story out in an anthology about the Seven Deadly Sins. Debbie is such a great writer. You should check out her website and buy her book if you're so inclined. http://www.expressedimagination.com/
On the reading front, I recently finished a fantastic book Blackberry Winter by Cheryl Reavis. It's been a long time since I've read characters who became this real to me. I catch myself thinking about these "people" all the time, lately. Blackberry Winter will probably be difficult to find in bookstores since it's been out a while. This is a story of family, regrets, forgiveness and finding home. Sounds heavy, but there's warmth and humor, too. It's worth having a bookstore order it for you, or buy it through Amazon or Barnesandnoble.com.
I'm off to analyze the birds in my story now! Stay warm!
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Now...I'm a Texan, and I'm a democrat. But I'm also a romance novelist. And I detest sleaze campaigns. This truly galls me and, though I'm not usually one to get into things, this morning, I sent the following letter to Fred Head.
Dear Mr. Head,
I am a Texas Democrat and a novelist. Though I currently write mainstream fiction, I wrote three romance novels in the past. For you to make your opponent's romance novel A PERFECT MATCH an issue in this campaign is sleazy politics, in my opinion. For the first time in years, I am considering casting my vote for a Republican. Why? Labeling an entire piece of work "pornographic" based only on snippets of text pulled from the book is ignorant and unfair, and I cannot in good conscience vote for a candidate who makes claims based on imcomplete information and misguided assumption. Have you read your opponent's book from cover-to-cover? Have you ever read ANY romance novel? If so, how many? I have read hundreds, and though I have not read A PERFECT MATCH in its entirety, I do know that pornography denigrates love and degrades human beings, while books in the romance genre are typically uplifting stories about the power of love. Sex may be an _expression of that love, but sex within a loving relationship is not degrading. According to Romance Writers of America (RWA), an organization of over 9,000 members, "in a romance, the main plot concerns two people falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work. The conflict in the book centers on the love story. The climax in the book resolves the love story." RWA goes on to explain that, "romance novels are based on the idea of an innate emotional justice -- the notion that good people in the world are rewarded and evil people are punished. In a romance, the lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded emotional justice and unconditional love." In my writing of romance novels and vast romance reading experience, I find this definition to be true. Does this sound like pornography to you?
This summer, the Romance Writers of America held their annual conference in Atlanta. At the "Readers for Life" Literacy Autographing that took place during the event and was open to the public, romance authors autographed and sold their novels, donated free of charge by their publishers, and raised sixty-four thousand dollars for literacy. Through RWA, romance authors and publishers have now passed the half-million mark in overall giving to literacy. Do we sound like "pornographers" who should apologize for what we do? Or do we sound like good, concerned citizens? "Professional, creative artists," as RWA states, who "contribute to constructive action in culture."
Mr. Head, as a Texas Democrat, I ask that you admit you jumped to the conclusion that romance novels were pornography on an assumption. Stop this type of smear campaigning against your opponent and stick to the relevant issues. You might also apologize to the many romance readers and writers you have offended by alleging they read and write porn. In case you didn't know, Romance Fiction accounts for $1.2 billion in sales each year, 54.9% of all popular mass market fiction sold, and 33.9% of all fiction sold. Our state and country need smart Democrats in office again. Please be one of them.
Well, I guess I better get busy writing my "pornography." I'm under deadline...
Friday, October 06, 2006
Fall is in the air -- my favorite time of year. I love the brisk coolness, gold and red leaves scattering across the streets, pumpkin patches, soft sweaters and socks. Food tastes better in the Fall -- I'm not sure why. Caramel apples, hot cider, anything cooked in a crock pot. This past weekend, we spent time at our cabin with family (see photos of the fall leaves, etc.) and I made this recipe. It's fast, easy, and delicious.
1 pork tenderloin cut into small chunks
2 small cans tomato sauce
A few dashes of your favorite spices -- I like Emeril's seasoning, garlic powder, onion salt, pepper, and oregano.
Dump everything into crock pot and stir. Cook on low all day. Serve in warm flour tortillas with grated cheese, salsa, avacado slices, lettuce.
Autumn is also a great time to curl up on the sofa with a book or to watch a movie. I did both this weekend, too. I finished the novel THE BOOK OF DEAD BIRDS by Gayle Brandeis. It was interesting and well-written, but not the sort of story material I would have gravitated toward on my own. That's why I really like having friends with whom I exchange books -- it exposes me to authors and types of novels I probably wouldn't read otherwise. That's a good thing. There's nothing worse than getting caught in a rut! My friend Michelle shared this novel with me. It weaves environmental issues into a heartwrenching mother/daughter tale. The movie I watched was a Disney called EIGHT BELOW, about a guide in Antarctica who is forced to leave his sled dogs behind during a recordbreaking harsh winter when a man is injured and there isn't enough room on the plane for the animals. I'm a sucker for a well-done animal story that tugs at the heartstrings. I loved this one!
On the writing front, I've been a bit under the weather and have given myself a short break. But I'll be back at it tomorrow. The rough draft of WHAT SHE NEVER EXPECTED is only a few pages away from completion. Then I have a lot of research to complete, that I've skipped over in an effort to push through to the end. Over the next weeks I plan to tour the pediatric ICU of one of my local hospitals, talk to some of my nurse buddies, my prior "boss" at the law firm and various other folks whose expertise can help me bring this story to life. I'm still waiting for news from Harlequin about the woman and charity I'll be writing about in the 2007 MORE THAN WORDS Anthology. Oh, and my agent sent PICTURE THIS (my Young Adult ghost story) out into the publishing world today to look for a home! I'm holding my breath. I love that book!
Off to bed with me. It's time to get well! I can't afford another sick day. And I want to enjoy the cool autumn weather predicted for the days ahead. I'd love it if you'd share your favorite fall recipes, books and movies with me!
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Back to Britta and Candy's workshop. Britta spoke about writing a "break-out" book, and Candy spoke about writing fast, getting that first draft down on paper before becoming hung-up in trying to make it perfect. They both talked about "writer karma." Reaping what you sow, so to speak. I needed reminders about all of those things, and I wasn't disappointed. Some things that stuck with me: To treat my writing like the career it is, rather than a hobby. To honor the work, devote the time and attention to the story it deserves. To study the craft. To find the essential element in my writer "voice" that makes it unique, and to push that button as hard as I can. To think positive and give myself permission to write a crappy first draft. (A crappy first draft can be fixed, a blank page is blank.) To send the internal editor on vacation while writing the first draft. As for "karma" -- To give back to the community that supports me and to be an inspiration to other writers by reaching out to them, (even when I don't feel like it) by sharing what I've learned.
In short, it was a great weekend, and we even managed to squeeze in some girl talk and a glass or two of wine.
On the reading front -- I recently finished a YA novel by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor called "Sang Spell." It was fantastic -- one of those stories that really makes you think and see things in a different way. If you don't read young adult novels, I urge you to give them a try. These days, a lot of them tend to cross over into adult territory and I've discovered many wonderful stories and beautiful writing in YA stories. This weekend, I plan to start reading a book recommended to me by a friend called "The Book of Dead Birds," by Gayle Brandeis. It's a couple of years old and is about a "Young woman's struggle to come to terms with her mother's terrible past while she searches for her own place in the world." I'll let you know how I like it.
Friday, September 15, 2006
I was told today by a good friend that she misses my blog entries, and that others have asked about them, as well. Since it's nice to be missed...here I am. I let myself fall behind on my writing while my sons were home (this photo is of my oldest, Ryan, and me), and I've been hard at it ever since, trying to catch up. (This is my excuse for not blogging for awhile!) So here's an update:
The boys came home. They flew one-way, spent three days and nights here visiting family, etc., then we drove with them to our place in Colorado and spent a couple of days and nights there. After that, on to Denver where we spent one night with my sister-in-law and went to my niece's very fun engagement party at a gorgeous home in the country. The next day we were on the road ten more hours headed for Montana to take the guys back. My husband and I spent four nights there where we all worked hard doing maintenance on our condo (which the sons live in). We also squeezed in some fun. Fishing on the gorgeous Gallatin River, etc. And it was great being with my kids again. They always make me laugh. Though a good time was had by all, I'm certain they were ready for us to hit the road again, and truth be told, we were ready to hit it! Four days and nights living in the basement of two college guys' condo was enough for me! (Here I am with my youngest, Jason.)
On the way home, we headed for Jackson Hole, Wyoming where we spent the night and had a great dinner in town. That's a very cool place, if you haven't been. Beautiful and lots of fun places on the square to check out. Puppy Marge went along on the trip, and she did great. (Here's a photo of Marge in the mountains with her friend McKenzie.
Tia stayed home with my parents who deserve a big fat present for keeping the grouchy old lady dog. See the lovely yet cranky Tia here!
As for the writing -- I took a copy of my YA on the road trip and worked on tightening it and making the narrative (I hope) stronger. Finished up the first week home and sent it off to my agent for another look. If she thinks it's ready, we'll start shopping that baby around to editors soon. Fingers crossed. Since sending it to her, I've been hard at work on my next novel for NEXT, "What She Never Expected." I've been averaging ten rough pages a day -- a LOT for this writer who likes to take it slow. My goal is to have the rough draft finished by October 1. I should be receiving information about the woman and charity I'm going to do a story about for the MORE THAN WORDS anthology around that time, and I want the month free to meet her and gather my thoughts for the story. Then I'll have the month of November and the first two weeks of December to polish up "What She Never Expected" before my deadline of Dec. 10. Whew! As you can see, I'm busy. But loving it, too. I've been a frequent fixture on the coffee deck of one of my favorite locally-owned coffee shops lately, notebook and pen in hand, scribbling away.
Last night was the first SURVIVOR show of the new season. Chances are this one will garner some controversy as they've split the teams up according to ethnic race. Being the SURVIVOR junkie I am, I had my butt firmly planted on the couch in front of the TV at 7:00 sharp. My close friend since 7th grade and fellow SURVIVOR junkie, Donna, came over and we watched together while sipping wine and making our own commentary. I also got to see photos of her adorable new granddaughter, Pere! I'm still trying to figure out how Donna is a grandmother, since we are not even CLOSE to being old enough for that...
This weekend, two of my favorite writer friends, Britta Coleman www.brittacoleman.com and Candace Havens www.candacehavens.com, fellow Divas, will be in my town for various writing events. Tonight, there will be pot luck at Jodi Thomas' house www.jodithomas.com. Tomorrow, Britta and Candy are presenting a workshop at the Panhandle Professional Writers meeting. Afterward, I'm doing a booksigning with them at Barnes and Noble. I'll post photos sometime in the next week or so. Check back. Britta's novel, POTTER SPRINGS, is out now in trade paperback. Candy's newest release, CHARMED AND DEADLY is in bookstores this month.
So...much more soon. Hope you'll come back! I promise to try to be more frequent in my blogging efforts!
Until next time...
Sunday, August 13, 2006
I'm getting ready for my two college kids to come home today. They're taking time off work and squeezing in a visit before school starts up again, and I couldn't be more excited. It's been more than 7, count 'em SEVEN months since I've seen my oldest! That's the longest ever. He's ready for some home time, and I'm ready for him to be home! My youngest, too. I saw him in May but even that's too long! So I'm putting sheets on beds, getting ready to stock the fridge here in a minute, etc. My oldest will meet Marge, my new puppy, for the first time. She's going to love him and vice versa. We're still working on some bad habits -- we keep the carpet cleaner out and plugged in if that gives you any clues -- but other than that and her love of barking at birds, she's loads of fun and so cute. My old dog, Tia, even likes her now, though she'd never admit it. She refuses to go to bed without Marge! Here they are sleeping in the back seat of the truck on a recent road trip. (Well, darn, can't get Blogger to download it. I'll try again later! Check back!)
While the guys are home I know I'll be tempted to set the writing aside, but I can't do it. I'll have to get up early and make my page count. The story is rolling along and I'm into it. Don't want to lose momentum! I love it when things start to click and the characters come completely alive!
I had my first booksigning for OFF HER ROCKER yesterday. It was great! I have so much support from friends and family members and that means so much to me. Also, loyal readers I only see when I have a new book out. It's like a reunion when I have a signing here in my hometown and everyone comes in. The signing was even more fun because my friend and fellow author Linda Castillo (www.lindacastillo.com) autographed with me. Her new romantic suspense novel, out this month, is called A Whisper In The Dark. Nobody writes chilling suspense mixed with a sexy love story like Linda. If you haven't read one of her books, you should! Be prepared to lose some sleep though!
I'll be guest blogging on Romantically Inclined for the next couple of days, the 14th and 15th. I hope you'll drop by there and check it out!
Have a great week ahead!
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Though I didn't bring home the gold, the Rita Award Ceremony in Atlanta was great fun! Writers spend a lot of time in p.j.'s and/or ratty sweats (at least this writer does!), so it was fun to get all glamourous for a change. Here's a photo of me with my good friend and fellow Rita finalist, Candace Havens before the ceremony began.
And one of my friend Jodi Thomas accepting her third Rita and an induction into the Romance Writers Hall of Fame! Very exciting! I was so happy for her.
To see more photos of the ceremony, stop by my website www.jenniferarcher.net and check out the News & Events page.
Barbara Samuel won in my category for her novel Lady Luck's Map Of Vegas. She is a fantastic writer and very deserving of the award. I've enjoyed her books for many years. I was just thrilled that Ally, Nick, Sonny and Warren, the characters in my novel The Me I Used To Be, had their moment in the limelight. I love them all -- they seem outside of me, is that weird? Writers tend to be weird, too, in case you didn't know!
Back to the real world of the ratty sweats. My new release Off Her Rocker is in bookstores this month! Walmart and other such stores, too. I hope you'll look for it. This story is one with "humor and heart," as my editor says. It's about a woman who, after 22 years of raising kids, feels like she's going crazy when she faces an empty nest -- until she reinvents herself while stranded in a little Colorado mountain village as lost as she is. You can read an excerpt at my website www.jenniferarcher.net.
Other great news! Off Her Rocker is available in audio from audible.com . You can download it onto your iPod, MP3 player or other audio device, including CD, for about half the price of buying an audio book in the bookstore.
And in other news, my novel My Perfectly Imperfect Life is available in large print hardcover this month, too. Check out the beautiful new hardback cover at www.jenniferarcher.net at News & Events.
I've updated my website with new movie and book recommendations on the Kickin' Back page, a new contest, and much more news. Hope you'll click on one of the links above and stop by. Meanwhile, I'll be hard at work on my latest work in progress. It's turning out to be quite different than I expected, which is ironic in a way since the title is What She Never Expected!
Monday, July 17, 2006
Sometimes I think I'm losing it. Truly. A few days ago, I dropped by a jewelry doctor to have a necklace repaired. I had broken the tiny clasp...or so I thought. In two seconds flat, the jeweler informed me it wasn't broken, that it had just become unhooked from the opposite side.
HOW I MEANT TO RESPOND: "I'm so BLIND I can't see the clasp without my reading glasses."
HOW I RESPONDED: "I'm so BLOND I can't see the clasp without my reading glasses."
Well, the guy cracked up and I managed to see the humor in it, too. Then things got worse. I asked if he had ring guards. Let me back up. When I married, my husband bought me a beautiful, simple band. Many years later, he bought me a ring with a larger diamond in the center and two smaller ones on either side of it. I wear it with the band, but the diamond ring is always sliding around to the back of my finger. I thought a pretty guard would hold it in place, but this store didn't have any I liked. So I asked the jeweler if he could attach the diamond ring to the band. He said yes, and I proceeded to show him which ring I wanted on top and which on bottom. The minute the instructions were out of my mouth, I realized that it didn't matter -- neither ring had an "upside down." The jeweler's brow arched, his mouth twitched. "I just said something blond again, didn't I?" I asked. He couldn't stop laughing as he wrote up my receipt.
A funny thing happened on the way to our cabin last week. Before we drove into the mountains and past the point where I have cell service, I decided to check my voice mail. To my surprise, I had a message from a confession magazine editor telling me she wanted to buy my story (insert very suggestive title here.) What? I never wrote any such story.! I called and told her so. She put me on hold, and when she came back on, she read my name, address and the titles of four stories I'd sent her as a "package." She wanted to buy only one of them. The one called (insert very suggestive title here). A buried memory began to dig its way up from the bottom of my brain. My friend Ronda and I years ago...writing novels...suffering rejection after rejection...hearing about other aspiring novelists making a little extra cash by selling stories to the confession magazines...coming up with some ideas of our own...laughing about them...writing them up...sending them off. One of hers sold. I never heard a word...until almost a decade later, driving down the highway to my cabin in Colorado and checking my voice mail. So, guess what? I'm about to make a whopping one-hundred-thirty bucks on a "confession" story I made up and wrote ten years ago entitled (insert very suggestive title here) !!
If you haven't stopped by my website lately, I hope you'll click here to check out the recent update! www.jenniferarcher.net
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
I saw the new Pirates of the Carribean movie a couple of days ago. Johnny Depp was as funny and fabulous as ever in his role as Captain Jack Sparrow. But I thought the movie was a bit long and had too many stories going on at once, which made it hard to follow at times. Still, it's worth seeing just to watch Johnny Depp in action. (In case you can't tell, I have a thing for Johnny Depp!)
My book OFF HER ROCKER should be showing up in stores in a couple of weeks. The prologue and chapter one are up on my website www.jenniferarcher.net I hope you'll drop by and take a look. The "Home" page has also been updated, as well as the "News and Events" page.
Just as soon as I sign off here, I'm starting a new book. Not reading one, writing one. It's called WHAT SHE NEVER EXPECTED. Wish me luck. The first step is always the most difficult one for me to take, for some reason.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
I received the coolest news from my agent last week! The Executive Editor of Harlequin’s More Than Words Program called her to ask if I’d be interested in writing one of the five novellas in the 2007 Volume 4 edition of the More Than Words Anthology, which celebrates women and their achievements. Of course, I said “yes!” The program is Harlequin’s primary philanthropic initiative, and there isn’t another publisher or company in any sector that so widely celebrates the good deeds of women. That really makes me all the more proud of my association with Harlequin, and I’m honored to be one of five authors chosen to write a novella for this wonderful program’s fourth annual anthology.
The third annual edition, More Than Words, Volume 3, will be available in October wherever
books are sold, or you can order it online at http://www.eharlequin.com/. In this unique collection of novellas, you will find stories of courage and determination written by Susan Wiggs, Karen Harper, Kasey Michaels, Catherine Mann and Tori Carrington. These award-winning, bestselling authors have kindly offered their time and creativity to write original short stories of courage and determination inspired by the lives and work of the five exceptional women selected as this year’s recipients of the Harlequin More Than Words award. And by purchasing the book, you will be supporting causes of concern to women. But let me back up and explain how the process works…
If you know a real-life heroine whose compassion is improving the quality of life in her community, a woman like Debra Bonde, founder and director of Seedlings Braille Books for Children in Livonia, Michigan, or Kathy Silverton, founder and president of Stitches from the Heart, a nonprofit organization that boasts ten thousand volunteers who send handmade baby and toddler items to to over 432 hospitals and charities, you can nominate her for the Harlequin More Than Words award at http://www.harlequinmorethanwords.com/. Any woman nominated should be someone who, with each act of kindness, each word of support, is proving that real-life heroines do exist. Five recipients are chosen each year from the nominees and are honored by Harlequin with: (1) $10,000 to advance the work of her associated charity (2) National recognition and promotion at www.HarlequinMoreThan Words.com (3) An all-expenses-paid trip to the award ceremony for her and a friend, and (4) A novella inspired by her life and work written by one of Harlequin’s “most acclaimed authors.” (That would be moi! ~wink~) For more details about the nomination process, please visit http://www.harlequinmorethanwords.com/. But don’t wait too long! The deadline is August 4.
Speaking of women, check back here soon for my next blog entry about my recent college girlfriend reunion. Six of my old college buds gathered at my house for a weekend of laughter and reminiscing. Some of us hadn’t seen each other in about 12 years! Wait’ll you see the funny photos! If I can get them on here, that is! I’m having trouble uploading shots for some reason! In the meantime, I hope you’ll visit my website at http://www.jenniferarcher.net/ and watch for the update which is coming soon. I’ll have updated news, new photos, and the first chapter of my August release OFF HER ROCKER.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
His talk about the importance of books was both funny and moving. I would've sworn no one could possibly recite Hamlet's "To Be Or Not To Be" speech in under sixty seconds, but this man did it! He also talked of once being a young boy with a speech impediment that made talking such a struggle, he pretty much stopped saying anything, turning to the library and books, instead. It occurred to me that most writers I know had some childhood trauma -- sometimes minor, sometimes major -- that drew them to books and a passion for stories. Moving around a lot did that for me, leaving old friends and having to make new ones, adjusting to a new place, a new school, new classmates and teachers.
Speaking of stories, my author copies of OFF HER ROCKER arrived in the mail today! It looks great! Flipping through it, re-reading passages, reminded me of the fun I had writing this book once I found the golden thread that tied all the pieces together. Her name is Mrs. Needlemeyer and once she came to life, everything fit. I have one of my critique partners, Dee Burks, http://deeburks.blogspot.com/, to thank for that. When I couldn't figure out what was missing, she said, "Every little town needs a cranky old lady poking at everybody." Or something like that. And she was right! Actually, I don't know how I'd ever manage to write a book without ANY of my critique partners. Like the fictional Mrs. Needlemeyer, they are all golden threads -- they help me tie the pieces together. Unlike her, they aren't old and cranky and they don't poke at me, they're gentle!
See OFF HER ROCKER under "Coming Soon" at www.jenniferarcher.net or
at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0373881037/sr=1-6/qid=1150834998/ref=sr_1_6/104-8560021-9751120?%5Fencoding=UTF8&s=books
This is already a crazy week. We have an outside remodel going on at my house and workmen are everywhere! The house is looking good, though! Also, I'm planning for a special weekend. Six of my college girlfriends, some of whom I haven't seen in many years, are coming in and staying at my house Friday and Saturday. We're having a girlfriend reunion! We have a lot of catching up to do and plenty of memories to relive! (Some of them should probably not have been lived the first time around, much less RE-lived!) :-)
Saturday, June 17, 2006
The weeks are rushing by and I'm having to run full speed to keep up! I'm a member of my local writing organization, PPW (Panhandle Professional Writers, http://www.panhandleprowriter.org/ )and last weekend we had our yearly Frontiers in Writing conference. Three cheers for Molly McKnight, our conference chairperson, as well as everyone else who worked to make the conference such a huge success. What a fantastic lineup of speakers we had! I'll be posting about them in the days ahead. First, there's Deborah LeBlanc who writes psychological suspense for Leisure Books. Deborah is not only a genuinely nice person, she's an interesting woman who doesn't shy away from researching her books, no matter the topic. In the name of research, she's been locked into a coffin for fifteen minutes and spent time alone in a dark, padded cell in an abandoned insane asylum! Check out her website and books sometime! www.deborahleblanc.com. I've also posted the cover to her latest release, A House Divided.
I was extremely honored and surprised when, during the annual conference awards ceremony, I was named PPW's Writer Of The Year for 2006! They gave me an absolutely beautiful engraved statue that now sits on the shelf above my computer. Each time I'm stumped, staring at a blank computer screen and a blinking cursor, I can look up at that statue and remind myself, "Hey, get your act together! You're writer of the year!" Seriously, the award is given to a member who has had a lot of positive things happen in their writing career over the past year. That's certainly been the case for me, I admit! I'm a lucky writer! Plus, I worked like a madwoman. (I was going to say I worked my butt off but, alas,it's still there).
Have a great weekend,
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
2)Organize a kitchen and prepare a meal for company (My oh-so-domestic hostess-with-the-mostest friend Michelle and her daughter McKenzie from Durango spent the night recently on their way through town going to Oklahoma City. At dinner I had to dig through 3 drawers before finding salad tongs. At breakfast, I burned the bagels and almost set off the smoke alarm. 7-year old McKenzie asked me, "Why are you hurrying so fast?" Because cooking for other people, even bagels, turns me into a blabbering bundle of nerves, McKenzie.)
3) Drive and talk at the same time. (Once my friend Candy and I were driving to a nearby town for our friend Donna's wedding. I was behind the wheel. We had a non-stop conversation, wound up thirty miles off-course in the wrong town and made it to the wedding in time for the reception. Another time, my friend Kimberly and I were headed home to Amarillo, Texas after attending a conference in Colorado Springs. Again, I was behind the wheel and the conversation was endless. We missed the cut-off at Raton, N.M. and didn't even realize it until I saw a sign for Santa Fe almost an hour later.)
4)Parallel park. (This is the one requirement I flunked on my driver's test.)
5) Sew. (In junior high, my home economics teacher assigned special homework for me: "Sit in front of the television with a needle and thread and a small piece of material. Practice pushing the needle into the material through the top, and pulling it out through the bottom.)
There are many more, but it's too depressing to list them all at once! Good news! The Universe finally heard my plan and set it into motion (see blog post below). Six days late, but, hey... I'm sure I'm not the only one out there making plans. Even the Universe can only handle so much at once. I accepted an offer to write three more books for NeXt yesterday! The title of the first one is What She Never Expected. Of course, that's subject to change. Sandwiched was originally called A Change Of Seasons! Not sure of the other two, yet. Or the release dates. Anyway...I'm happy to be a contracted writer again!
Saturday, June 03, 2006
Just yesterday my cosmetologist was microdermabrasing my face. (Yes, I'm still paying good money to be tortured in the name of vanity!) She told me that after returning home from a trip with her husband, she had found her razor in her 19 year old son's bathroom. Fearing he'd had his girlfriend over for the night while they were away, she confronted him. He blushed and told her not to worry, he'd used the razor to shave his legs. Apparently "girls like that," these days. From that conversation we segued into one about my book, My Perfectly Imperfect Life, which she told me she just began reading on another trip. "Did your son go with you on this trip?" I asked. "No," she answered. "He had to work. " A pause then, "Now, if I can just figure out why that black bra was in his pocket..." I burst out laughing. I thought she was talking about her son, and that she was the most naive mother of a 19 year old male on earth! Then it hit me she had switched topics midstream and that she referred to the big black bra discovered by Dinah in her husband Stan's pocket in My Perfectly Imperfect Life!
Haven't reported in on the reading front lately. Mary Alice Monroe's Sweetgrass was a lushly written story about family with a gorgeous southern setting that puts the reader "there." Currently I'm reading an unpublished novel written by a twenty-two year old young man--a friend and classmate of my son's. This is the first novel he's ever written and I predict a bright future ahead for him as a writer! It's wonderful to see fresh new talent, to hear a unique new voice, and interesting to see how a young man's thought processes work. (Sometimes a bit
unsettling, too, since I have two sons!)
Must go work on revising the YA, then I'm off to look for shoes for a wedding!
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Summer has definitely arrived at my house and it proves to be a busy one! We just returned from a weekend trip to the mountains with family and had a wonderful time. My youngest son went back to college this morning and I'm playing catch-up! Meanwhile, I received the back cover copy a.k.a. "blurb" for my August 2006 release OFF HER ROCKER. Here it is!
“Enjoy every second you have with them. Tomorrow you’ll wake up, and they’ll be all grown.”
Twenty years ago, Dana Logan reacted to this statement like any new mother would—with disbelief. Tomorrow? Didn’t the years ahead stretch like a long, sunny road…with no end in sight?
Well, Dana’s just fallen into that end. Hard. It’s like her whole life has been a prep course—only, without warning, they’ve canceled the test. Her children don’t seem to need anything she is able to give.
Okay—so she’ll just have to find someone who does want what she has to offer. If she has to drive into Hell to do it….
Judging by the sign she just passed—“Welcome to Hell. Population 512”—she already has….
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
For me, one of the rewards for finishing writing a novel is my first glimpse of the cover art. It's the first verification that my story is really going to become a book that will be on actual shelves in real live bookstores across the country! When an art department takes my idea and comes up with their own visual rendition of it, it's always interesting to see what evolves out of my creative force merging with theirs. My covers are never exactly what I imagined. Sometimes a few of the elements I'd envisioned are there, other times none of them are. No matter what, I'm always surprised in one way or another!
Today my publisher sent the cover art for my August release, OFF HER ROCKER. I imagined my heroine would be in a rocking chair but, other than that, nothing about this cover is what I pictured in my mind. Even the *type" of rocking chair is different. The good news is, I LOVE THIS COVER! It's better than what I pictured. It's fun, with eye-popping color. Now I can't wait to read the blurb my editor wrote for the back of the cover. When I do, I'll let you know what it says!
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
by Linda Pastan
Instinctive as swallows
the migratory children
return at Christmas,
strewing the roads
with their brief colors,
moving like the weather
from south to north,
from west to east.
It is November, these flakes at the window
are only leaves.
But, already the ritual
It is the birth we prepare for,
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Since I'm not normally outside at such an early hour, I noticed things I miss on my usual later-in-the-day excursions: the morning mist on my skin, dew on the roses I pass by routinely, a pretty white-haired little old woman who lives down the street. I've never seen her before, but she was out to pick up her paper and we said "hello" to one another.
When Marge and I made it home a half hour later, I wasn't the least bit sleepy anymore. I only required one cup of coffee to kick my brain into gear instead of my usual two. As I made my way to the computer and my story-in-progress, I felt a little like Marge headed for the playground. For the first time in a long while, the writing ahead of me smelled like fun rather than work. I couldn't wait to enter the world where my characters live, to explore it, to discover what adventures they had in store for me.
Thank-you Marge for reminding me it's good for the attitude and the creativity to shake up the old routine every once in a while. But could we at least sleep until seven tomorrow?
Happy reading and writing!
Monday, May 01, 2006
This weekend, I took a detour on the path I'd planned for my reading. I have wanted to read the YA novel SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson for a long time, so when I saw it at Barnes and Noble, I bought it and temporarily postponed the book I was about to begin. I finished SPEAK in two nights. It's a great story. Dark and funny and heartbreaking, at once. The author perfectly captured the voice of a troubled teenaged outcast. I ached for Melinda and laughed at the wicked sense of humor she maintained even in the face of almost unbearable depression and humiliation. I really admired the author's skill in making me know exactly what emotion her character was feeling at any given time without "telling" me. Ms. Anderson's writing is subtle and powerful. This novel is a former National Book Award finalist. After reading it, that's no surprise to me. I highly recommend it for older adults as well as young ones!
Back to the writing! Happy Monday,
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
I've been on a bit of a movie binge in the last few days. I'm behind and trying to catch up! I rented WALK THE LINE. LOVED it! I don't understand this -- I've never been a fan of Johnny Cash's or June Carter's music, but I really loved hearing it in the movie. Wish I had seen this one on the big screen. It did strike me that there are a quite a few parallels between Johnny Cash's life and Ray Charles' life. Both were raised poor. Both lost brothers during childhood. Both felt responsible for their brother's death. Both became music legends. Both developed a drug problem and had numerous extra-marital affairs. And both loved a strong woman who helped them turn their life around. I have a son who is a musician. I hope the above process isn't required to achieve success in the music industry!
The next movie I rented is LOGGERHEADS. This one is not filled with "big name" movie stars. It stars Tess Harper, Bonnie Hunt, Michael Kelly, Michael Learned (John Boy's mom on The Walton's!), Kip Pardue and Chris Sarandon. It won awards at Sundance and is somewhat of an "artsy" film. As with many films of this sort, it's full of angst and explores a touchy social topic. I thought it was well-acted, thought-provoking and heartwrenching. Some of the themes remind me of my novel, THE ME I USED TO BE.
Last, I rented MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS. This one received some Oscar nods, though I can't recall in which categories. Whichever, they were well deserved! It's funny and touching and the chemistry between Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins is fantastic. It captured the feel of the old 1940's big musical production movies I loved to watch as a kid. I really enjoyed it.
If you're looking for a good movie to rent and haven't seen these, I recommend them all!
Off to write. I sent a new proposal to my editor yesterday for another women's fiction novel. Now I have a young adult novel to finish up. I hope soon. It's called PICTURE THIS and I really want a publisher to buy it. It's about a sixteen year old girl who is an amateur photographer. It's funny and spooky and sad in parts. It's a nice change of pace for my writing and I'm having fun with it.
Have a good day!
Sunday, April 23, 2006
Whenever I go to the grocery store, I always swing by the book section. Yesterday I was surprised and thrilled to find my friend Mary Schramski's new release Falling Out Of Bed already on the shelf! Isn't the cover gorgeous? It has a May 1 release date so it's out a bit early. Mary and I emailed back and forth while she was writing this book so I know a little bit about the plot, and I can't wait to read it. It's a very emotional and uplifting storyline. And, if you've never read one of Mary's books, you should. She's a talented writer. (And I'd think so even if she weren't my friend!)Mary's taught me many things, such as how to tie a scarf, how to pack light, and how to feel better after consuming one too many teeny-weenie martinis. (Me, not her!) You can check out more about Mary and her novels at http://www.maryschramski.com. Take a look at her blog, too, while you're there.
I've finished reading Lani Diane Rich's novel Ex And The Single Girl , one of the other Rita nominees in the same category with my novel The Me I Used To Be. So, now I've read three of the other nominee's-- Candace Havens' Charmed And Dangerous, Susan Wiggs' Table For Five and Ms. Rich's. All great books! I've started a fourth, Sweetgrass by Mary Alice Monroe. Only one chapter into it, but her descriptions are lush! It promises to be another good one. After it, I'm going to read Mary's book before resuming my Rita reads.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Ms. Samuel writes:
"What I do care about is honest writing, about giving whatever work you're doing the whole of your attention and passion."
"The point is to do it honestly, with your whole heart. Be passionate. Love the work."
"Serving the work, writing the right stories, taking the time to craft them -- whatever they are -- is what makes it worthwhile in the long run. There are no guarantees, of course. Pursuing art does not offer any, any more than life itself does."
And this quote from author Jean Rhys who published several novels in the 1920s and 1930s: "All of writing is a huge lake. There are great rivers that feed the lake, like Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. And there are mere trickles, like Jean Rhys. All that matters is feeding the lake. I don't matter. The lake matters. You must keep feeding the lake."
Have a great day! I'm off to feed the lake.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Here's the hardcover large print version of SANDWICHED. The quality isn't that great, but you can get the idea. It's available from Thorndike Press and I notice it's already up for sale on Amazon www.amazon.com and at www.barnesandnoble.com! Very exciting! I can't wait to actually hold a copy! I've always dreamed of having my name on the cover of a hardback novel!
More book news. Rumor is a photo of SANDWICHED is in the May issue of Romantic Times Bookclub Magazine in a section on books celebrating mothers and daughters. It is in the “mainstream” category and only six books are included, including The Joy Luck Club and Little Women! Hey, I'm in excellent company. Those are two of my favorite books! Little Women is one of the reasons I wanted to be a writer in the first place. When I grew up, I wanted to be Jo. Another surprise...my agent tells me that THE ME I USED TO BE cover is featured in an article in Time Magazine in it's British version! I'm hoping to have a copy soon. Very cool!
I'm reading Lani Diane Rich's EX AND THE SINGLE GIRL, another of the novels nominated for a RITA in my category. This is a book that puts a smile on your face. Ms. Rich definitely has a sense of humor! The tone is sort of Southern chick lit. Think the YA YAs without the angsty subplot.
On the puppy front, Margie is learning fast to do her business outside, and she and my old lady dog Tia are getting along better, though Tia still doesn't think she's as adorable as I do. Margie has learned to fetch and loves doing it! Next I want to leash train her so we can go on walks, but so far she becomes terrified when I put the leash on her.
Monday, April 10, 2006
I'd like you to meet Marge, a.k.a Margie, my new puppy! We adopted her this weekend from the Animal Rescue Shelter. She's a 4 month old dachshund mix. Not quite sure what makes up the rest of the mix, though! She is a sweetheart and loads of fun. My 13 year old neurotic Brittany Spaniel is not as smitten. When Margie tries to roughhouse with Tia, Tia looks at me as if to say, "I'm too old for this. What were you thinking?" They are getting along better the more time they spend with each other, though. Margie is my reward for finishing my proposal and getting it off to my agent. Let's hope she brings me good luck in that area!
Thursday, April 06, 2006
Weather-wise, today is horrible where I live, and I find myself dreaming of Hawaii and this particular gorgeous beach. We've been having 45 to 50 mph wind gusts all afternoon. Step outside and you just might find yourself swept up, carried away, then dropped somewhere in the next county. But I have the perfect thing to wash the grit from my teeth. Champagne! I found a very nice bottle of it in a box on my doorstep, sent to me by my publisher to congratulate me on my Rita nomination! Definitely makes the wind a bit easier to take.! This is what it's all about about -- one of those feel-good moments in life that should be cherished despite winds blustery enough to blow you over the rainbow, writer's block, a messy office or any other such malady.
Speaking of what it's all about, I had a phone conversation with my youngest son recently that reminded me of when I was twenty and confused about what to do with my life. Not too long ago, I had the same conversation with his older brother. I guess most of us go through that stage of being afraid of making the wrong choices and becoming a little paralyzed because of it. As mothers will sometimes, I caught myself lecturing about finding balance and direction and all that good advice that's easy to give but not so easy to follow. Later that day, stopped in traffic at a red light, I read a bumper sticker on a car in front of me that said: What If The Hokey Pokey IS Really What It's All About? Wouldn't that be a kicker? All this time we spend trying to pinpoint the perfect college major, perfect job, perfect book idea, perfect get-rich-quick scheme that's going to bring us perfect happiness, when a little Hokey Pokey jig once a day is really all we need to do in order to be happy!
I've done the Hokey Pokey a few times over the course of my life -- usually in a roller rink wearing skates before I was thirteen. I can't remember ever being unhappy while doing it, either. In my experience, doing the Hokey Pokey is good exercise, good for a few laughs, good for the soul. I'm thinking about calling both my sons and telling them to forget my lectures. Instead, I want them to stand up, take a deep breath and do the Hokey Pokey, then see what comes of it. Sounds like a good way to clear the mind of a lot of worry so it can focus, instead, on the little things that make a life truly successful, fulfilling and enjoyable. Perfect happiness. Could it really be that easy? Put your right foot in, put your right foot out, put your right foot in and shake it all about, do the Hokey Pokey and turn yourself around, that's what it's all about...
After I catch my breath, I think a little champagne's in order. Hokey pokey and celebratory champagne. Feel good moments. That's what it's all about.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
While in Hawaii, we came across this lookout bunker from World War 2 while hiking down a beach one morning. Later, on other beaches, we saw more of these. Interesting and a bit eerie. Not much room inside. We didn't go to Pearl Harbor since we'd already visited it on a prior trip ten years ago. If you're ever able to go there, do. An eerie hushed silence surrounds the memorial site. It's difficult to describe, but I noticed the same silence when I visited the memorial where the Oklahoma City bombings took place and the 911 site in New York City.
Speaking of eerie, on the only day in Oahu that the rain kept us inside, I finished reading Blood Memory by Greg Ihles. Wow. It took me a few chapters to get into the story, but once I did it gripped me. I would classify this book as a literary psychological thriller. It's written in first person and the writing is beautiful and descriptive. Considering it's about a serial killer, it's sometimes disturbingly descriptive! And it's eerie as the protagonist begins to unravel psychologically while unraveling the mystery. The subject matter -- child molestation -- might be too upsetting for some readers, but I thought Ihles handled it well.
I've decided to read all the books that are nominated for a Rita Award in my category. Not sure if I'm trying to torture myself -- I don't have a chance! This book is too good! I'm not worthy of being in the same room with this author! Or if I'm trying to encourage myself. This book is great, but mine is just as good! Maybe...just maybe I have a chance! I've already finished
Table For Five by Susan Wiggs. I've always enjoyed her writing and her books, and this one was no exception. At this point, I'm still wavering back and forth day-to-day/hour-to-hour between I'm not worthy and Maybe just maybe...
Better get to work before the day slips away and I look out my window to see that the sun is setting. I only wish the view looked like this!
www.jenniferarcher.net has been updated on the "News and Events" page. Hope you'll drop by!
Sunday, April 02, 2006
I just returned from a walk and it's a beautiful Sunday morning. Spring is definitely in the air! I love to walk and hike. Jeff and I hiked a lot while in Hawaii -- or I should say we beachcombed. One morning, we wandered along a beach for almost four hours and only crossed paths with five or six people. Two of them, a couple from Canada, pointed out whales far in the distance then loaned us their binoculars so we could get a close up view. I saw one jump completely out of the ocean then dive back into the water in a graceful arch. We talked to that couple for a long time and found we had a lot in common.
On another evening, while having dinner on the patio of a restaurant overlooking the ocean and an orange sunset, we met two couples having dinner at the table next to us. Michele and Bob are both in the Navy and live on Oahu. Thier friends, Linda and Bob, were visiting them from Baltimore. We had a nice conversation and some good laughs. When they heard I was having a booksigning the next afternoon in Honolulu, they said they'd come. I didn't really believe them. Oh, I figured they had good intentions to show up, but as soon as we parted ways, they'd forget about it. The next day at the booksigning, Alison, Community Relations Manager for the Honolulu Barnes and Noble at Ala Moana Center, greeted me with a gorgeous flower lei. She had a big sign displaying the cover of MY PERFECTLY IMPERFECT LIFE by the entrance and a table set up with stacks of my books. She worked hard to have everything just right. Here's a photo of me with Alison.
Soon, members of the Aloha chapter of Romance Writers of America started dropping by to meet me and buy my books. They were all so gracious and friendly, and I felt at ease with all of them. It reconfirmed my belief that writers have an instant connection with one another; I sensed that these people and I were already friends due to our common passion for books and writing. Lynn Raye Harris, the Aloha Chapter's president, also brought me a flower lei to welcome me to Oahu. About mid-way through the signing, I looked up and the two couples I'd met at dinner the night before, Michele, Linda and the two Bobs, were walking through the front door! They bought 3 books each and extended a dinner invitation to Jeff and I for later that night. After they left, people asked me if they were old friends of mine! No one could believe we'd only met the night before! Here they are, along with Jeff & me (center)
Lynn Harris and Michael Little, the Aloha Chapter's newsletter editor, stayed through the entire signing and had coffee with Jeff and me afterward. Lynn's husband Mike also joined us and had everyone laughing--he's a very funny guy! Though we'd never met until that day, I had contacted Lynn through their Chapter website when I planned the trip and she put me in touch with Alison at Barnes and Noble. Without Lynn's help, setting up the booksigning would've been a lot more difficult. Here's Lynn, me and Michael.
My trip to Hawaii was made all the more special due to the kindness of strangers-- people who went out of their way to share with me, help me or support me--though we'd never met before. It's strange to think that chances are good I may never cross paths with any of these people again, yet they touched my life and will always be a happy memory.
Friday, March 31, 2006
I'm back and recovered (almost) from a fantastic vacation to the Hawaiian island of Oahu with my husband, Jeff. You may have seen in the news that the islands had A LOT of rain while we were there. In fact, according to the news reports, it's still raining. It's causing them some problems but luckily we were spared the worst of it. We stayed on the north shore of Oahu, and though we had rain every day, we didn't have rain ALL day like other parts of the island did. For the next few days, I'll be posting about the trip, some of our experiences while there, my Honolulu booksigning, and some of the very nice people I met while there. I'll post photos, too. This one is of our feet in the sand on a gorgeous beach with a wave rolling in. You were probably hoping for something more interesting than our feet, right? Sorry. It's a weird tradition of ours. We always take photos of our feet in the sand when we go to the beach so we'll have a realistic memory of what we were looking at. That awesome wave...Ahh. I'll show you something besides feet tomorrow--more of the island. I promise.
Rain or shine, Hawaii is gorgeous and magical. Truly. You feel the magic the minute you step outside the airport. I've never been to a more relaxing place! The water, the countryside, the air, the people -- they all combine to make the place seem like heaven on earth!
I felt the magic most of all on the morning of March 24th when I checked my home phone messages and got the news that my novel The Me I Used To Be finaled in the Rita! I'm a nominee in the "Novel with Strong Romantic Elements" category. And what an amazing group of talented writers I'm up against! I'm stunned to see my name on the same list with these women! Susan Wiggs, Barbara Samuel, Nora Roberts, Mary Alice Monroe, Beverly Brandt, Lani Diane Rich and last but definitely not least my dear, fabulous friend Candace Havens! I called her immediately and we giggled and gushed over the phone. What a great feeling! Her book, Charmed and Dangerous is incredible. Back before it was ever published and she read the prologue to my critique group, I told her it was not only going to sell, it was going to be a big hit! Am I right, or what? And Candy critiqued The Me I Used To Be for me while I was writing it! The Romance Writers of America national conference in July, when the Awards Ceremony will be held, should really be a fun one for me this year!
I'm still playing catchup on work since coming back home from the trip, so I'll sign off. Back tomorrow with more stories and photos.
Monday, March 20, 2006
We had snow in the Texas Panhandle today! The first since October. And it drizzled rain all day yesterday. Much needed moisture after a long drought and terrible fires that have burned land the size of the state of Kentucky, killed numerous cattle and eleven people.
I won't be blogging again until March 30th, but make sure to check back then! I hope to have some great pictures to post here of my booksigning in Honolulu!
Aloha! Have a great week!
Saturday, March 18, 2006
One of the questions I'm asked most when people learn I'm a writer is "where do you get your ideas?" When people ask me that, I'm a little baffled that they don't see ideas everywhere, like I do. Life is like that job jar only, in addition to tasks, it's filled with ideas, too. Usually, I'll see something or read something or hear something that sprouts the question-- what if....? An idea blooms then grows, often in a story direction I never expected.
The idea for my first published novel Body and Soul sprouted while I was sitting in line at a bank drive-up window. My children were small then and they were in the back seat irritating one another. I'd had a long day and their argument was wearing my nerves thin. I looked at the car beside me in the next lane -- a red Volkswagon with a young, pretty 20-something girl inside. Her window was down, music blared from her radio, and she be-bopped to the beat. She looked carefree, relaxed, everything I wasn't at the moment. I thought, "Right now, I wish I had your life." Then, "what if two women like us switched places, right here, right now?" Voila! The idea for Body and Soul bloomed.
The idea for Sandwiched grew out of a lunch date with two girlfriends. Over salads and tea, we talked about the fact that our parents were getting older and might soon need more of our time, while our teenagers were getting older and wanting less of our time. We were, in a sense, sandwiched between the needs of these important people in our lives.
I wrote The Me I Used To Be after reading a magazine article about a woman who got pregnant at the age of sixteen while at Woodstock. She gave her baby son up for adoption and he found her more than 30 years later. "What if that child had been a daughter?" I wondered. "And what if the daughter died before they ever had the chance to reconnect? What if a grandchild found the birth mother instead?"
My Perfectly Imperfect Life began at a writing workshop. The teacher had us take out pens and paper. "A character finds something unexpected in his or her significant other's closet," she said. "Write about it. You have one minute." I put the pen to paper, started writing, and here's what emerged...It was black, lacy, a size 42 DD. She wore a B cup...barely. As the woman stared at the big black bra hidden in the corner of her husband's closet, she couldn't help wondering -- did it belong to another woman...or to him? The paragraph was rough, but when I read it aloud to the group, everyone laughed. I thought I might be on to something.
If you're a writer searching for a story, pay attention to the life you're living, the world around you, the common things you might take for granted. Let your imagination wander. Though it's true that sometimes I really don't know where a story came from, more often than not the idea arises from an every day occurence, a minor incident that seems so mundane it's easy to let it slip by unnoticed.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Three summers ago, I learned the hard way that I have a sun allergy. I've always been sensitive and have had to be careful due to my white skin, but on a trip to Mexico that year, my feet and ankles swelled up like blistered balloons after a twenty minute stroll down the beach. Not fair! I'm a warm weather girl. A beach bum. An ocean lover. I adore nothing more than feeling the heat of sunshine seep into my pores, sand between my toes, salt water lapping at my feet. I refuse to give all that up, even if it means applying sunblock every ten minutes. And, if that decides to stop working, I'll resort to wearing an old lady swimsuit and a big floppy hat.
Now my newest allergy, apparently, is strawberrys. I love them in ice cream, on shortcake, with cereal. I've never had a problem with them before, but this morning I ate some with my Cheerios and my tongue started itching. Please, no! Not strawberries! What's next? My husband? Will I look at him and break out in hives?
One thing I'm allergic to that I don't like so much is waiting. Waiting for the next visit with my sons, who are away at college. Waiting to get that check in the mail. Waiting to see the cover of my next book, and then for the book to show up in stores. Waiting for those extra pounds to magically fall off, for that new wrinkle cream to start working, for my laundry to wash itself, for the dog to learn to feed herself. You get the idea. Right now I'm waiting to hear what my agent thinks of the two new book proposals I sent her yesterday, checking my email every half hour to see if she's sent me a message. What's the matter with her? Why didn't she drop everything when my proposals showed up in her "In" box? What else could the woman possibly have to do other than read my work? Sigh.
Wish I could stick around and talk about something profound but, alas, I have to go check my email again. And maybe try a martini while I'm at it. A'la' James Bond--shaken not stirred. With Vodka, not gin.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
I also have to tell you about Failure To Launch. I saw it over the weekend and it's fantastic! Don't expect any Oscars for this one, but it was a nice break from all the issue-oriented movies so abundant these days. I like those, too, but sometimes I just want to be entertained and this movie does that fabulously well! Many laugh-out-loud moments. I especially liked the secondary couple. There's this hilarious scene with a bird where they...well, you'll have to go see for yourself. And then there's Terry Bradshaw. He actually does a great job! In one scene he's...well, I don't want to give it away! It's just too funny!
I'm still fiddling with my blog--trying to learn how to add photos, etc. Soon, I promise. I'm technologically challenged.
Have a great evening!
Friday, March 10, 2006
If you're in the Amarillo, Texas area tomorrow, Saturday March 11, drop by Barnes and Noble from 2 to 4 where I'll be autographing my new book, MY PERFECTLY IMPERFECT LIFE. I'll have cookies!
More news on the hardback version of SANDWICHED. It will be available in a large print version from Thorndike Press in May! Here's the link http://www.gale.com/thorndike/coming.htm?user=601647&month=may06.csv
Scroll down to "Americana" and that's where you'll find it!
Have a great Friday night!
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Last weekend, I was treated to a dessert that is truly dangerous. It's the kind I'd like to make in a huge vat then dive head-first into it and not come up for air until its gone. I haven't made it myself yet, but I was told its easy. Here's the recipe. Try it. You won't be sorry. Unless, of course, you're dieting. In that case, you're going to hate me!
2 cans Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
1 tsp Cinnamon
2 8-oz pkgs Cream Cheese
1 stick Butter
1 1/2 cups Granulated Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla
Spray a 9 X 12 pan with cooking spray. Lay 1 can of crescent rolls in bottom of the pan. Beat 2 pkgs of cream cheese, vanilla, 1 cup of sugar and spread over crescent rolls. Cover mixture with other can of crescent rolls. Melt 1 stick of butter, mix 1/2 cup sugar, cinnamon and pour over crescent roll-cream cheese muxture. Bake for 30 minutes at 350. Eat. Groan with pleasure.
I'm going to coerce my husband to take me to a movie tonight. It's been a while and I need my movie fix. I'm considering Failure To Launch, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada or Walk The Line. Can't believe I haven't seen Walk The Line yet. Maybe it's the winner. Also, I think I think my blog needs to be dressed up a little. I've been looking at some other blogs and mine, well, looks a little homely. Stay tuned. I'll see what I can do. Meanwhile, back to the book!