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I write novels for teens and adults. Visit me here & on my website http://www.jenniferarcher.net

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Marge In Charge, Sexy Rockers & The Magic of Three

Anyone out there? I've been blog-resistant lately. Not intentionally. Just busy. My husband, youngest son and I went to Tennessee to look at a school that offers a program my son is interested in. I'd never been to TN before. It was a whirlwind trip, and I didn't get to see as much as I would've liked, but we got a lot accomplished and managed to squeeze in some fun, too. The trees were gorgeous. Lots of them and they were vibrant with color--reds, yellows and oranges. We spent one evening walking up and down Broadway in Nashville. Every club and/or restaurant we passed had live music and the bands were all incredibly talented. Another night we went to see Aerosmith at an outdoor ampitheatre! Stephen Tyler still has "it!" I'm not sure what "it" is, but he's chock full of it. Despite the fact that in some weird way he's sort of androgynous, he is very sexy. And what a fantastic performer! In fact, the entire band is incredible. I would see them again in a second. And again! If you ever get the chance, pay the bucks for a close-up seat. You won't be sorry. Yes, I admit it, I'm a rocker at heart and always have been.

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

It's A Bird...No, It's A Plane...Or Is It Superman?

So I'm reading through the first draft of my current novel-in-progress and I start to notice I have a lot of references to birds in the story. A LOT. One of the characters even has the nickname "Chick." There are also alot of gardening references. And the thing is...I didn't do this intentionally. Obviously, some hidden themes are struggling to emerge in this book. What is the deal with the birds and the gardening? Are those birds really birds? Or do they symbolize something else? Freedom, perhaps? Loyalty because, though they migrate, they always return? Honesty and truth? Maybe. A verse in Ecclesiastes in the Bible says: "Curse not the king, no, not in thy thoughts; and curse not the rich in thy bedchamber; a little bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter." Hmmm...I wonder. Who is Chick, really? As for the gardening, do those flowers and vegetables sprouting up in scene after scene signify growth in my protagonist, Maggie? Are all those weeds she's suddenly desperate to pull really the clutter in her life she is finally ready to uproot and toss aside?

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

Fred Head, Or: Where Is Fred's Head, Anyway?

In the gutter, methinks... In the political race for Texas State Comptroller, Democrat Fred Head is running against Republican Susan Combs. Ms. Combs wrote and published a romance novel entitled THE PERFECT MATCH in 1990 and Mr. Head is labeling her a pornographer because of it. This one you have to see to believe. Here's Mr. Head up his tight...ahem...Mr. Head's website with the book cover and snippets of text he selected to display from the novel.

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.


Jennifer Archer

Well, I guess I better get busy writing my "pornography." I'm under deadline...

Happy Reading,


Friday, October 06, 2006

Why I Love Autumn Best

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!

Happy Reading,