Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Reindeer Jacqueline

You Are Comet

A total daredevil, you're the reindeer with an edge!

Why You're Naughty: You almost gave Santa a heart attack when you took him sky diving

Why You're Nice: You always make sure the sleigh is going warp speed

Sunday, November 18, 2007

30 Nights with a Highland Husband by Mellissa Mayhue - Action!

If I could put any book to a movie...hmmmmm.......well, I think I would have to say Diana Gabaldon's Outlander, staring Gerard Butler as Jamie, off the top of my head. Honestly, that would be very unoriginal. There are blogs that are devoted solely to that discussion. And there are u-tube presentations galore on the subject as well. The staring actors vary, but Gerry Butler seem to be the favorite choice. If you know me well, you know that he is my favorite actor and favorite heartthrob. So, let me be a little more original. I read a great book a few months ago where I really connected with the Hero in the story. It was 30 nights with a Highland Husband by Mellissa Mayhue. Here is the amazon description:

SCOTLAND, 1272. Connor MacKiernan, a descendant of the Fae Prince, is a warrior who lives only for honor and duty. Though he's vowed never to marry, that's exactly what he must do to save his sister. Enter a little Faerie magic, and the search for a bride is on.

DENVER, 2007. Caitlyn Coryell is having a really bad day -- she just discovered her fiancé with another woman! Imagine her surprise when she puts on some sexy lingerie and an antique pendant and Connor appears in her bedroom, begging for her help. He offers a simple yet outrageous adventure: travel to his time, marry him, and return home.

OK - Now would you go with him? What crazy woman would?? Well, I can tell you if Gerry Butler popped into my bedroom with a belted plaid and his “300” abs, I think I would be so entranced I would not even consider saying no!

As for heroine,,,,well it should be me! I did star in the 9th grade production of “The Soapy Murder Case”. Seriously, I probably would be too old by Hollywood's standards, even though I am six months younger than Gerry himself. So, who could be the feisty American Caitlyn? WEll, Hawai’i born, Aussie raised Nicole Kidman would be a great match, not only for the role of Caitlyn but for the thrill of staring opposite Gerry.

Pick this book up today and give it a read. The twists and turns are worthy of Hollywood's glances. This fun story would be a welcome change. Read it and let me know what you think.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Books to Sweep you away

I am up to my ears in notes, trying to win NaNoWrMo and finish for Golden Heart. Honestly, I am not sure what the heck I was thinking, trying for both of these while my Hubby is at Joint PME! It does not look good. I hate failing, but I hate quitting even more. So, to keep you busy while I am typing away, here are some books that swept me away, I thought you might enjoy them too!

  • I Thee Wed by Amanda Quick- I have kept this book through move after move!
  • Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas - by far the best romance I have ever read.
  • The Perfect Rake -Anne Gracie - outstanding regency writer, very witty
  • Thirty Nights with a Highland Husband by Melissa Mayhue- you positively can not put this book down!
  • Highland Warrior (actually all her highland books) by Hanna Howell - verra verra steamy, with lots of family love
  • Miss Darby's Duenna by Sherri Cobb South - unparalleled regency - gives Heyer and Austin a steely run!
  • Stealing Heaven by Madeline Hunter - smart, historically accurate, and passionate
  • All seven Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling - I know it's not romance, but these are the greatest stories I have ever read.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Next Five Adventures Between the Covers

What is on my bedside table to read? Well, that is an easier question than what is in my closet to read! There are over 300 books in my closet waiting to be read and 60 on my bookshelf. I have a mix of sub-genre and genre on the night-stand waiting for my attention.

1. I am currently reading The Reapers’ Song by Lauraine Snelling. This is the forth in the series of Books called the Red River of the North. They tale the tales of Norwegian Immigrants who came to tame the harsh prairies of the Dakota Territories. These stories have changed my life quite literally. I used to live in North Dakota and I was a tortured soul while I was there. I could not understand why the people lived and acted the way they did. As another Norwegian-American, I thought I would be welcomed with open arms into their community. This was hardly the case. The brutalities and hardships these people suffered was like no other in American history. I feel so much compassion for these people and I can see how they shaped the lives of their decendants. So, I read these award winning books of Ms. Snelling and my heart heals with every page. Plus the story lines are great, the characters are engaging and the history is not only accurate, but riveting and quite humbling. We are so spoiled today.....even those of us who still live on those brutal prairies.

2. Book #5 of the series Tender Mercies

3. Book #6 of the series Blessing in Disguise

4. Spirited Away by Cindy Miles. I picked this book up at the RWA convention and Ms. Miles signed it kindly. I have been drooling for the chance to read this book, as I have not read a ghost love story since they were popular in the 1980’s. In this book a knight and his men are murdered in 1292 and their souls are cursed to roam his estate for all of eternity. Enter the heroine: a 21st century archaeologist digging up the remains of his castle bailey. She thinks some one is watching her and calling her......Is she imagining it...we'll have to read and find out.

5. The Thrall’s Tale by Judith Lindbergh. I picked this up at Costco, where I snag many of my books. It looked fascinating! It is the story of a slave girl (Thrall) and her life as a settler in the inhospitable new colony of icelanders in Greenland. The back blurb says it appeals to readers of fantasy, romance, historical fiction, and literary fiction. This basically sums up my entire reading repertoire. Everything I love all in one book. Maybe I should have purchased it in hard cover!

Well, that is my reading list for the next couple of weeks. If you pick any of these up and read them yourself, just let me know I would love to learn what you think of them. Now, What is on your to be read pile?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Out with the Fluff!

This week Macy asked us if we think the Voice class has changed the way we write. I think, with a resounding yes, my voice has changed quite a bit. I think it is simpler and more to the point than ever before. As I peel back the layers, I lose the flowery prose covering of the heart of my writing. Although, that was a bit flowery, wasn’t it?

What my heart wants to write about has changed as well. I spoke last week of feeling raw and tender after completing two Barbara Samuels’ classes in a row. At first, I felt as though I needed to be writing about things that matter, not just things I enjoyed reading. These “things” would change the world and speak to people in deep and meaningful ways.

This initial feeling is starting to wane as I am falling in love again with my favorites; regency and medievals. I love the lightness of the regency, and I love the medievals for their dangerous edge.

As National Novel Writing Month Approaches and I delve further into the MIP, which begs to be completed in time for Golden Heart Deadline, I will have a greater sense of what my voice has become. But for now, I think it is striving to be simple, and profound, with a reverence for peace.

Good writing to you all today. Namaste.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A love hate relationship with my MIP

The greatest secret of success in life is for a person to be ready when their opportunity comes. - Benjamin Disraeli

A few weeks ago Alyson and Macy chose a blog topic of "Things we love and hate about our MIP". For me that seemed to get lost in the doldrums several of us went through, the May Mopes. Now that I see the light at the other end of the tunnel, I thought I could let you know why I love and hate my MIP. Don’t you just love my self promotion?!

What I love:

1. My Hero. He is strong Alpha Male type. Typical for a Historical Romance, I know. I spent a long time deciding who he was and who he resembled. I considered the three most important men in my life: My grandfather, a devastatingly handsome Nordic god who was a dashing rouge, and the twinkle of every young (and old) lasses eye. My Father, also very handsome swashbuckler who could charm his way in or out of any situation you could imagine. And lastly my husband, solid as a rock, strong and sacrificial, the Chief. Well, Ian had to be the chief. He knew he could be nothing other. He is strong and sensitive, and knows what direction he wants to take in life. He is a bit opinionated, instead of wanting the last word, he wants the only word. In fact he says that “Everyone should just shut up and just listen to me!” As you see, our heroine has her work cut out for her!

2. My setting. Medieval Scotland. I know the movie Brave-heart spurred a torrential flood of medieval scottish novels, and people may be sick of them by now, but I have always loved medieval history. Since my Mother has me searching the family archives for her genealogy I am surrounded by all things Scottish. Oddly enough, this search of the ancestors of the Buchanan clan is what started the story in the first place. One of my Mother’s Ancestors were refuges from clan wars in Norway in the 900s and settled in the Loch Lomand area under the protection of the Buchanan clan. They themselves are not Buchanans, more like the adopted little siblings.

Although I have romantic ideas about living in that time period, I am not sure I would be too happy about getting up at 4 am to milk a cow, spend an hour churning butter, and another hour baking bread; all before I could feed my family. Geeze! I would definitely have to be part of the nobility. What? Only a 1% chance? Hmmm.... Good thing I can pick up my bread and butter at the quicki-mart and read about living in medieval times.

3. My plot. I do not want to give away any secrets, but I think I have a pretty original idea, which is very hard to come by in the historical romance genre. Since I have yet to read every historical romance every written, I could be completely off base. Interestingly the plot started from a phone call from my Dad. He called to tell me he was marrying again. His third wife is three years younger than myself... After stewing for a few minutes and deciding it really was none of my business, the idea for “His Father’s Bride” was born.

What I hate:

1. Conflict. Conflict. Conflict. Before I took the Gotham class I knew nothing of conflict, motivation, goals, character arcs. I was just going to happily type my life away, spurning out pages that would be brilliant, funny, and endearing. Every editor would want to publish me and I would sell to the highest bidder! OK, back to reality. Seriously, I did not expect it to be that easy, but I also did not expect conflict to be so hard. It took me so long to understand the reasoning behind “contrived” conflict and why it is harmful to your story. I thought ”What do you mean I can’t make my characters do what I want them to do, I’M WRITING THE STORY!” Yes, you are writing it, but unless it is believable and makes sense, no one is going to read it. “OK. point taken”.

SO there it is: Three loves, One hate. Not too shabby for only being half way through. I am sure I will have a different perspective when I am finished. I will let you know when that golden day arrives.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Oh The Power of Me!

What I learned in Voice Class.... This sounds strangely like the topic of a 3rd grade theme! I hope I do not write it like a third grader as well! hahaha! Well, What did I learn?

I came out of the voice class fresh from the soul exploring, wall tearing class of the Girls in the Basement, and truly, I have not completely finished that either. But when I started Voice, I was at a point in the Girls class where we were digging into our ancient raw and reopened wounds. This had a dramatic effect on my ability to think clearly and write from the heart. I started the voice class raw and disturbed, just like I was feeling at the time. I think many of the comments from my classmates helped me along the journey of realistically looking at my mental and spiritual scars and examine them so closely. Once these were out in the open and I began to deal with them one at a time, the voice seemed to wander from happiness and fulfillment to anger and frustration and back.

For me, this was more about dealing with who I thought I was, who I wanted to be, and who I truly am. Instead of discovering my voice, I discovered me. Some of the comments, although heartfelt, really angered me at first. I did not know how to respond, because I did not want to lash out for what was clearly my problem. Upon more reflection, I wondered if I was basically just lying to myself. I started to panic, and my heart and mind filled with doubt and apprehension. I wrote to Barbara about owning everything. I thought I had, but how exactly do you do that, for maybe I did it wrong. I wrote to another classmate about the overwhelming process of “owning” this life. Along the way, everyone gave me so many wonderful and beautiful things to ponder. I mulled them over for many days and nights and came to the conclusion that I really did not see these things as they were, but in only one way; I was terrified of looking at my life as the whole picture and digesting it all at once in it’s entirety. Instead, I took everything piecemeal, one event and experience at at time. I had advised others that all these experiences make you who you are. I did not realize it was the SUM of all these things TOGETHER AS ONE which amounts to who you are. Elated, I could now move forward. For all the wonder, beauty and even ugliness in my life, this is what I learned in voice class:

I am a really great human being. I have a huge capacity to be caring, considerate, and forgiving. I am a good wife, loving sibling, forgiving daughter, a devoted mother. I am conscientious, responsible, and a hard worker. I love God, but I am not limited to where and when I can be in his spirit, nor am I closed to all the possibilities of the nature of his (or her) existence. I am courageous, enduring, and my spirit will bless others and live on forever. I know that I can handle anything life gives me, with a smile - at least at the end. When the world crumbles, I will not only still be standing, but I will be standing strong!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Ho Ho Ho! Christmas Comes Early!

Man, it has been a great week. Other than the kids getting the tummy flu, I mean, it has been a really great week! One of the many highlights included Santa Claus finishing her shopping for the kids - One limited edition, almost out of stock, Nikki - girl of the year American Girl Doll, and the ever elusive Nintendo Wii! Santa has never been so generous, EVER. (Santa has been peddling stuff on Ebay for months. )

I already know what I want for Christmas...Internal conflict. Well, not for me, for my characters. I can’t seem to wrap my head around this one. I write a scene, and toss it. I type all day and then hit delete. The conflict that seems so obvious to me, does not present itself in my writing in an obvious way, or even in an obtuse way. I thought it was genius at first, lending my character a bit of a selfish flaw - but it sits there on the edge of my mind hovering, taunting me at every waking moment.

We know that conflict is what interferes with a character meeting his or her goals. We also know that these said goals are spearheaded by our character’s motivation. This is where I seem to get lost in my head, the a dark forest with so many twist and turns it makes a compass spin.

Perhaps to solve the conundrum of conflict we need to back up. Here is where I am running into trouble. Follow me here:
Internal Conflict for my heroine: (Naming it was the easy part) “fear of abandonment”

OK, this is a paralyzing fear for many people. Now, how does this interfere with her goal, or more specifically what is her internal goal? Well, if she wants to live alone alone she will never worry about feeling abandoned. But living alone would be external, not internal, right? If she surrounds her self with many people, not wait...still external. Internal goal and internal motivation. Find security and true love..well, no not if our heroine is focused on saving her brother and keeping him safe. She has raised him, and she is the only mother he has known. A-hem...External Jackie...get back to the internal. Ok, Internal goals: Security, Safety, to sleep at night and not have to worry about who will take care of them. To feel secure and know that her family will not leave her. Motivation? She is overwhelmed and terrified that yet another person will leave her alone with the weight of the world on her shoulders.

Do you feel like your head is spinning? Well, mine does! Does that make sense to you? Let us recap:

Internal Goal: To FEEL secure and safe from harm.

Internal Motivation: She is overwhelmed and terrified to be left with more responsibility.

Internal Conflict: Fear of abandonment is paralyzing her from doing the things she needs to do procure safety and security.

Wow, for the first time in months I feel like I am getting somewhere. This blog started as a desperate Christmas wish, and the universe instantly answered my prayers as I wrote! All I needed to do is just ask. OK - Here is your assignment for this week. Blog about what you are having trouble with. Ask for your enlightenment. Sit back and write as it is divinely given to you.

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Voice Class Exercize

The following is an exercise from the Voice Class I took with Barbara Samuels. It was a wonderful class, and I could hear my voice growing stronger with each exercise.

1. Where did you grow up? What are the Old World or native languages that
predominate in that area? Any special accent? I grew up in 36 states. I have no accent that I know of and everyone else did have an accent particular to their area.

2. Who taught you to talk? Do your parents have an accent of any kind? Did
anyone ever speak a language other than English around you/to you? My parents taught me to talk. My father grew up in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the US. He has no accent at all and his speech is very refined and articulate. My Mother grew up in New Hampshire, and still retains a small amount of the Northern New England accent. My Father spoke french and german to me growing up. My grandfather spoke norwegian to his brothers and mother, but refused to speak it to us, because he wanted us to be Americans.

3. What were the main ethnic groups around you when you grew up? WASPs and Native Inuits.

If there's a predominant ethnic group in that geography, do you know any of
the stories/legends/superstitions of that group? Did any of them stick with
you particularly when you were a child? When I was 5, I loved being from Nome Alaska, and I knew many legends and native words and customs of the Inuits. When I was 6 we moved to Northern New Hampshire and the kids teased me so terribly about being an eskimo that my parents took me out of the school and put me in school in quebec, where they did not speak English. I still excelled.

4. Have you ever felt a particular affinity for a geography or culture that
is not your own? I often wish I was still in the lands of my ancestors: Scotland, Ireland, and Norway.

Why? What about it do you love or identify with? The history of the lands and the people.

5. What did you love more than anything on earth when you were twelve? My Sunshine Family Dolls. I wish I knew what happened to them.

What did you want to be then? A marine biologist. I spent every waking moment that I was not at school or swim team exploring the intercostal waterway behind my house in Florida.

6. What are your top five favorite novels of all time? What was your
favorite book when you were 12? Fourteen?
1. Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas
2. A prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
3. Emma by Jane Austin
4. Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crieghton
5. Harry Potter 1-7 (Is that cheating?)

Favorite book when I was 12: Tales of 4th grade Nothing by Judy Blume
Favorite book when I was 14: All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor

7. Can you point to a writer or a book that made you want to be a writer?
Who/What? No, I started writing when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade.

8. What book do you most deeply wish you'd written? Why? What parts of it
make you swoon? Characters? Voice? Plot? Sherry Thomas’ Private arrangements. Her plot is unique, she breaks the rules yet it still flows, her characters are deeply flawed and you love them all the more for it. AS for swooning...no I did not swoon, but I bawled like a baby when I thought they really would never be together.

Try typing a few pages from it, just to see how it feels to you. Where you'd
change the flow of the language, the way the paragraphs are broken. She is much more articulate than I, so the pattern and cadence of her sentences are longer at times.

9. What are your obvious passions? (Hobbies, avocations, etc.) Swimming, scuba diving, trail running, reading, and photography.

10 What are the defining characteristics of these passions? (for example,
gardeners and photographers are usually interested in light and color. Model
builders and cross-stitchers tend to like attention to detail.) Being surrounded by or immersed in nature.

11. What would five friends all say about you if someone asked them to name
a defining passion?
creative artist endeavors - scrap-booking, sewing, cake making, writing

12. What are your secret passions? Reiki and healing arts. I know it is not a secret to many of you who know me on line, but in my social circles that I interact with, I do not tell people about it. Mentioning that you can feel other people’s pain and ease their suffering and they will look at you like you have three heads. That is the world that I live in right now. (Flag-waving, Apple-pie loving, patriotic, fundamental and evangelical Christian Military.)

13, What charities speak to you? What one world or national ill would you fix magically if you could? What world sorrows can move you to tears? Children's’ Charities. The suffering of Children destroys me, crimes against children enrage me. I would change that the fact that billions of adults use power over the small and weak to better advantage or thrill themselves.

14. If you weren't a writer, but could be any other kind of artist/musician,
what would you choose?. What would be your tools? why? I would be a cellist. I love the music and the passionate way the cellist moves with the cello while performing. It is intoxicating.

15. Now focus on your own work: do you notice yourself returning to certain
themes? Yes, the trilogy or love triangles that C. Alyson Love pointed out. Everything has some sort of triangle!

Are there times/places that you use repeatedly? If so, can you identify the
reasons it appeals to you, and if so, are there other times/places that
might also stimulate your passions? Have you ever tried to use those other
places/times? I think I focus on medieval historical because life in the middle ages was more fragile. There were no antibiotics to cure a small cut or a mild fever. There was the plague, and then the plague again. The regime in power could disappear in a matter of minutes, leaving you and your family homeless or dead. There was no time to mess around. Life was short and harsh, marriages were for convenience, political gain, titles and wealth. So when love could be found in desperate situations, it was worth fighting for, worth dying for, literally. I am also interested in the Viking Age, Colonial America, and Regency and Victorian England. I have not used these yet.

What do readers/editors/outsiders seem to respond to most enthusiastically
in your work? Is there anything that they see as a strength that you don't
notice or value? The sexual tension and setting the scene. Some people think that my dialog is witty , but I did not notice that. I really want to be witty though!!! :o)

What would you LIKE people to say about your voice? I would like people to say my voice is witty, passionate, and moves them to a deeper level.

If you could only write ONE book in your life, what book would it be?
I would like to write a book that lifts your soul and leaves you completely satisfied and satiated.

Why aren't you writing it? I did not have the time to devote or the creative energies to devote to it. But now after girls in the basement, and voice, and my little ones going back to school last week, I am ready to go!

Now, if you can, try to condense all these defining things into a paragraph,
or even better, one sentence.

My voice is......,the feeling of Christmas night when you are sitting in front of the fire, sipping hot chocolate, watching the lights twinkle on the tree and the snow drift lightly down outside the window, while Nat King Cole’s Christmas Song is playing softly in the background.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Voice reponse

This week in Barbara's Workshop she gave us Photos to examine and write a response. I think I did it incorrectly. I just started writing from the gut, where everyone else was writing stories. I still like my response, even if it was wrong.

Photo #1 Runner's feet going down the hill:

Freedom. Freedom from my earthly constraint . Freedom to be who I
really am. Free Range Human. Go anywhere unrestricted. No
boundaries, no baggage, no limitations. Anyone and everyone can
obtain this, even me. Running sets you free. There is nothing that
can hold you back nothing that you can tie you down to the drudgery of
our society, the drudgery we have impaled ourselves on, and
conditioned each other to accept as normalcy and happiness. Freedom
to escape all societal shackles.
I love running trails best of all. I will not run asphalt. I have
left the sport of triathlon, to get off the roads. Running the trails is like going to church for me, although some of my christian friends say that the devil is pulling me
away. To hell with that. I find peace and God out there in the woods, along the streams, and high atop the mountains. I have always found him there and listening to me, much
easier than in the dozens of churches I have tried to find him in. He
is there with his feminine persona "Mother Nature". They are one, the
great creator, and I can be out in the middle of his majestic works
and speak to him, rather than in a man made creation designed to teach
me how man thinks I should worship him. Running causes endorphins
that I do not get from swimming. When I swim I am feeling calm and at
peace and I work through problems in my head. But when I run, it is
like a wave of cleansing crashes over me, then pours into me, and then
finally leaves me taking with it all the bad thoughts, fears, and
environmental, social, and mental toxins that have accosted me through
day to day life.
My Freedom, My life.

Photo #2 Nude:
arbara picked Nude for me
It is so interesting that you picked the nude for me. I have been
struggling with body issues for about 14 years now. Although my mother
says I was anorexic before I became an over eater. It started when my
running slowed down. I got a job and I could not run for hours and
hours so I started to snack to deal with stress. When I married my
husband all the issues I had with my parents and their dysfunctional
marriage started to bubble to the surface and I blocked out the issues
with food. My husband withdrew after the first year of marriage for
other reasons, and I consoled myself with food. This became a pattern
with me. When I had finally worked out the issues with my parents and
confronted them with the problems, my weight began to drop. When my
husband realized what an Ass he had become and turned our marriage
around, my weight continued to drop. I was at a very healthy weight
for the first time since puberty. And then I got pregnant, and lost
the baby. And lost another, and another, and another. When Bryn came
along after months of bed rest, and was brought into the world almost
dead from a delivery my OB called, and I quote, "Absolutely horrific",
the roller-coaster of eating to dull the pain and guilt started again.
10 pounds, 20 pounds. Pregnant again, lost it. 30 pounds, pregnant
with twins, lost one, and the other Hung on with tenacity (She is
still the most tenacious person you will EVER meet.) Then everything
was going OK. 10, -20. Annika is diagnosed with Kawasaki Disease, the
Chemo starts, + 10. Pregnant with twin again, lost them both +30. #)
lbs of Pure Guilt. It had to me my fault right? And so on and so
forth. Time is up. I did not mean to whine so much.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Why don't I understand secondary characters?

I went back to my closet and went through all my “keepers” looking for a book with notable secondary characters. (I usually pass my books on to others, as we are very short on space in military quarters.) Out of all my keepers I could not come up with six books – or series of books, that had a moving secondary character, one that influenced the story in a memorable way, other than the antagonist. Even in my Collection of the great Jane Austin, I felt the secondary characters were so lacking. In Pride & Prejudice, Jane is such a lackluster individual it is hard to imagine that she and Elisabeth came from the same family.

The one notable exception of course is the Harry Potter series, I love how both Ron Weasly and Hermione Granger help Harry along his true path, supporting him when he needs support, and standing up to him when he is wrong. But what does JK Rowling do wrong? Besides not write about Harry for the rest of her life! Just kidding, we do not want this bright mind to burn out.

But as for my main reading genre, Romance, nothing really stands out. What does that mean? Does it mean in Romance secondary characters are not important? Why have them? Are they just filling up space? No, because all characters must have an impact on the story, correct? Why would they be there if they have no impact and if they have an impact, why can I not remember them?

I do recall one secondary character that did leave an impact on me but it was one of pity, I felt so badly that the heroine treated her friend so badly, it actually made me hate the story because I could not care less about the heroine after her callous treatment of someone who truly cared about her well being.

So, as I wrestle with the role of my secondary characters in my book, I leave you with a list of questions about secondary characters.

1. Are they a necessity to the Romance Genre?
2. What type of role do they have in the structure of a Novel?
3. Do we need the impacts of these characters to be sublime in order not to detract from the story?
4. If antagonists are not considered secondary characters, can a secondary character also be an antagonist?
5. How much of an impact should a secondary character have on your protagonists’ goal, conflict, and motivation?
6. Should they all impact our story, or are some just along for the ride.

I will not taint your opinions with my answers right now, I just would like you to ponder these questions and use your answers to assist your in your MIP. Cheers!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Conference Reflections

Seize the moment before it is gone, for another day begins at dawn.
-Clay Harrison

We have been home for a week now, and it seems as though the RWA conference was eons ago. Do not think that all of the excitement is gone, for that is not the case at all. It is more the case of being submerged in a magical world for a short while and then dumped back into everyday existence. I feel the way a seven year old would feel on the day she returned to school after a week of vacationing at Walt Disney World.
The first day was a blur, between meeting my writing buds for the first time and then entering the room at the literary signing, the day was emotionally charged and full of excitement and anxiety.

At the literary signing giddy with excitement, I approached my favorite writer, Jacquie D’Alessandro. She was even more bubbly and cheerful than I had imagined from her writing voice and her adorable photo on the inside back cover of her books. Charming and sincere, she graciously accepted my gush of compliments and graced me with the opportunity for a photo. At the end, she even offered me her shirt featuring the cover of her new book, Sleepless at Midnight. It is hanging on the wall of my office right now as inspiration. Like a schoolgirl I practically skipped back to my room that night, wondering to myself how could the conference get any better?

The next three days continued to be magical. The company was wonderful, the food was great, the lectures were fantastic, and my star struck giddy gently wore down to a admirable respect.

There were a few emotional moments. After hearing an agent speak disapprovingly of unpublished authors who blog, I rashly asked my husband to delete my entire blog. (seven months worth of blogs). I learned quickly over the next few days that everyone in the business seemed to have a different opinion on blogs and everything else, so I immediately regretted my rashness.

Then there were the Golden Heart and Rita awards. Oh, how I cried! I was so happy for all the winners and disappointed for the “runner’s-up”. And as I sat on the plane eight hours later, I envisioned myself in a long beaded gown befit a princess thanking my darling AOTP buddies, without whom this award, for me, would not be possible!

Ah-hum, OK, now back to reality. Upon returning home, I sat and digested all that I had learned, all that I had absorbed, and all that I had observed. Was this everything I had imagined? Is this really the niche I wish to carve for myself in my life? Is writing worth the time, energy, heartache, and personal sacrifice? I leave you with five words to answer these questions. San Francisco here I come.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Braveheart Who?


This week at AOTP the buzz with those of us who are going RWA convention is “which workshops are we going to attend?”. There are so many choices, it has definitely been a challenge to narrow it down to one choice for each session. I will be leaning mostly to the craft workshops, not the business end, because if assume that if I do not have a well crafted manuscript, it does not matter how great my synopsis is written or how wonderful my query letters are written, or does it matter? Perhaps I should through a few of technical classes in for good measure.

There is such a diverse group of workshops offered at RWA, there are few attendees who will be left wanting. Although on some introspection, I came up with a few suggestions for nest year’s convention.

Tie Me Up 101: Do you long to write, but still have young children home during the day, or older kids home for summer break? In this class we will learn all the ethical ways to “occupy” your children so you may get a least one hour a day of uninterrupted writing time. Topics include; What children can do with a soda can and a butter knife, How much TV can a child really watch without frying her brain?, and Gagging - safe or sadistic? This is so popular it will be offered in two different time slots.

Hovering Over the Slush Pile: For those interested in the Paranormal, this class will teach you spells and incantations that can be used to enhance your completed masterpiece, and get it to your editor or agent. Highlights include: the Hovering Manuscript Spell - always be at the top of the pile. Literally, your manuscript can not be buried! The Query Letter Adhesive Incantation- your query letter will not leave the editor or agents hands until she has contacted you personally via e-mail or telephone. And the long awaited Synopsis Perceive Charm - one look and your editor can instantly see your entire manuscript from start to finish in her mind.

Braveheart Who?: Do you love historical romance, but want to take a break from Medieval Scotland and Regency England? Traditionally editors have shied away from more unpopular areas of time and location for the Historical Romance Genre. In this workshop we will explore the possibility of opening the genre to new and exciting locals and time period: Ancient Mesopotamia - who was that alpha hero (or heroine) who invented the wheel? Medieval Spain - was the Spanish Inquisition that bad? Antarctica - Love among ice and penguins.

Anyone else game?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Six Favorite Heros

OK, This is definitely much easier than the Heroines. I think because I like many of the heroes for superficial reasons. Romantic heroes, often alpha males, are created to entice your heart and ...uhm...senses, but not necessarily your brain. Sometimes there is the rare Hero who does both. Here is my list of those who do entice every part of me.

1. Tristan of the 12 century tale Tristan and Isolde. Tristan is torn between the agony of betraying his Uncle and most loved friend Mark, and the woman who both saved his life and tried to kill him. Isolde loves him and leaves him, and then when Tristan finally finds his own Isolde, the first Isolde returns to haunt him further. He is a true example of chivalry, honor, and integrity.

2. Mr. Knightly of Jane Austin’s Emma: He is the perfect man; patient, kind, wise, honorable,and considerate.

3. Hawk from Karen Marie Moning’s Beyond the highland Mist: This is the first Moning book I have read. Hawk was perfect, I have not come across a hero so enticing in any book I have read. She endeared him to me with the hand carved nursery he created for his future babes.

4. The Phantom of the Opera - from the 2004 film, not the book or opera: A tormented musical genius, passionately obsessive about the heroine. He is highly intelligent, erotic, and possessive. He is so fragile within his heart. The paradox between his tender nurturing and violent obsession makes him very fascinating.

5. Leif Draugr of Kat Martin’s Heart of Honor: Smart, ambitious, willing to risk everything for family, but torn between the love of his life and the love of his lost world. Who can resist a Viking caught in 19th century London?

6. Mr. Darcy, Mr. Darcy, Mr. Darcy! No need to explain, I am sure!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Six heroines that I love

The gals of my writing group, Affairs of the Pen, have been talking about their favorite heroes and heroines. We picked six of our favorites and I will share my favorites with you.

I love my heroines because I relate to them so well, there is a little bit of me in each one of them.

1. Hermione Granger of Harry Potter: She makes being bookish cool and being a know it all rather endearing, even though it stems from being deeply insecure and feeling completely inadequate. She is spunky, calm, collected, and best of all a loyal and true friend in all circumstances.

2. Emma of Jane’s Austin’s Emma: Emma has a heart of gold, but she can take her charity too far. I relate to Emma. We both continually overextend ourselves to help others and much to our dismay disaster always ensues and we end up hurting ourselves as well as the people we care about.

3. Bridget Jones of Helen Felding’s Bridget Jones’ Diary: Ok, I know this book is a blatant plagiarism of Jane Austin, but I still love the story and her endearing Bridget. She is loyal, caring, and a real heroine. I can also relate to Bridget very well. Slightly overweight, always saying the wrong things, being a complete slob and clumsy ox...Bridget and I are twins! Plus, I too drink a little bit too much wine.

4. Madeline Hunter’s Nesta of Stealing Heaven: Proud and loyal even though she has been outcast by society. A true fighter, she never gives up even though her situation is pretty bleak.

5. Keira of Hanna Howell’s Highland Champion: I think the reason I like her is because she is an energy healer.

6. Kim Possible: Ok, I know she is a cartoon character. BUT I LOVE HER! Not only is she smart, strong, fearless, but she loves her goofy sidekick Ron...definitely not an alpha male hero. I tell my daughters the show is really about me. She really can save the world.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Lost in my own world

It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness. -Charles H. Spurgeon

Hello Again,

After weeks of being absent from the blog, I am back again. Did you miss me? Life was seemingly spinning out of control for a while and now things are starting to settle down a bit. The close of the week has been excellent, although I am nursing a pretty nasty sunburn on my face from today’s outing.

I live in Hawai’i and I am a triathlete, albeit not a very good one, and I raced the North Shore Triathlon today. I do my best “writing” when I am out on a run or during a swim. My mind is free from distractions and can wander as far as it likes. Today, however, I was distracted from my usual creative reverie. I finished dead last in my age group, but I was helping a friend through the swim and I went verra verra slow for her. I even stopped a few times when she was having bike trouble - she clipped a guy coming out of transition and then couldn’t get into her pedals. Once she was stable on the bike she took off like a flash and I did not see her again. She finished 181st and I humbly stumbled in at 250th or so. As they say, no good deed goes unpunished.

Luckily, in the writing world my writing friends are always there to support me. We have a very stellar group of writers in my opinion, and there are some of us, who I suspect will have their MIPs picked up for publishing very soon. I would never want any of my AOTP buds to slow down and wait for me. I want them to press ahead and succeed. So what happens after publication? Will the dynamics of our group change? Will our stellar writers have the time to give suggestions, chat about Harry Potter theories, or to lend a helping hand with personal issues? I wonder how other writing groups have handled this transition with the demands of a newly published or contracted writer.

I cannot speak for all writing groups, as they are all as different as the individuals that make up their membership, but I think I can speak for us. I think AOTP would always have time for the friends that we made as budding writers. Our support and love has helped guide each of us on our journey to success and we would miss each other so much if one of us chose to move on. I guess as long as we continue to grow as writers, we can still be an asset to each other professionally as well as personally. Published or not.

So, this sunburned girl learned a valuable lesson today, support your friends, but always press ahead.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Ice cream relieves the pain

Ahhh, late night blogging again! I have been absent for a few weeks due to, well, lets just say “Oh the Drama!”, but now it is simmering down. Presently I find myself, late at night, in front of my Mac. The house is quiet, and I have all my time to myself. No laundry, no kids, no nagging. The Night Jasmine is even in bloom and the Tradewinds are carrying it down from the mountains to my window. I think I love writing at night. Yes, I am tired and words do not flow as well, but it is peaceful, and I have no interruptions.

Do any of you writers out there suffer from lack of family support? Writing is becoming a dirty word in our household. It is partially my own fault. I agreed to be the stay at home Mom, I agreed not to work during our marriage, and I agreed to home-school our children. Yet, my stories are calling me and I can not ignore them any longer.

I think the major battle began when I decided I wanted to go to the Romance Writers of America Conference in Dallas. This has been the heartache and the headache of my household. It was begrudgingly agreed upon when there was the possibility of getting to meet with agents and editors. But now, being only 25K into my story almost a year later, it is obvious that if I was lucky enough to get a general membership appointment with someone, I would have nothing to show. There in lies the problem. I bite my tongue as the fury abounds and try to convince myself that I can be a stepford wife for as long as humanly possible to have the opportunity to go. For nothing else, I will get three days of vacation, and a chance to meet these great friends who have endeared themselves to me over the past year.

So, off I will go with my workshop list in hand, and hopefully I will comeback refreshed and rejuvenated with new skills to keep my story going. So many of the workshops look wonderful. I am having a hard time deciding between the career workshops versus the writing workshops. The writing workshops would be the most helpful in finishing my story, but the career workshops will help me to sell the story. It is dubious that I will have the opportunity to go again unless I actually sell a book. Which, honestly I do not care about. I want to write, if it sells great, if not ...well, I still will have written a book. Ah- so the goals of the week are: A. Transform into the Perfect Wife and B. Decide which workshops will be most beneficial. OR alternatively C. Go to the freezer and sneak some Breyers Chocolate ice cream now that everyone is in Bed.

mmmmmm, I will let you know how it goes.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Outdoor Amore

Outdoor Amore... in honor of earth day Alyson and Macy came up with the Blog topic of "Best outdoor lovemaking scenes". This topic is a bit difficult for me for two reasons. Number 1: I think I am in the early stages of Alzheimer's - I literally have a memory of a sieve. Number 2: since we live in a 1000 square foot military house with little to no storage, anything that is not absolutely needed is donated, pitched or sold. Very unfortunately...this includes most of my books. So, although I may not be able to give you the exact titles and authors, I can give you the setting, in most cases.

1. Hannah Howell is a master at lovemaking scenes. Her specialty seems to be outdoor and, uhm, creative, lovemaking. She seems to also have a knack for food-lovemaking. I no longer have my Hanna Howell collection to reference, but any of the 13 or so books in her highlander series offer a foray of outdoor “activities”. There are numerous lovemaking sessions under the trees in the dark outside edges of a military encampments. With only a blanket or the long wraps of the Hero’s plaid to cover them, or conceal their activity, these scenes could appeal to someone who likes to live on the edge of danger.

2. I can not remember the particular author, but there were three books in her series. She has had several scenes from separate books, where her hero and heroine are making love besides a freezing cold loch in Northern Scotland after bathing. Her heroes must be very well endowed or her heroines must be hotter than Aphrodite, for after a dip in 40 degree water, there is noting holding these couples back. These scenes will warm you up in the middle of a North Dakota Blizzard.

3. Shannon Drake is my next recommendation for tumbling in nature. Under the moonlight, in a grassy clearing of the wood, her hero and heroine laid bare their souls and the rest of their bodies. This seems to be the most romantic setting to me. Who doesn’t look good in moonlight? The soft wind blowing through the grass and gently rustling the leaves. Quiet, sensual lovemaking. The kind that lulls you softly to sleep when you are finished. mmmmmm......

4. Jackie D’ Alessandro wrote a great scene in the Love and the Single Heiress about making love in a hot water spring outside in a garden. It was very sensual. My heart was racing the whole time because the story took place in Regency England, and I was terrified they would get caught by prying eyes or by the antagonist who was trying to kill the heroine. In the water lovemaking is very sensual, but hard to imagine.

5. I can not remember the novel’s name or the author’s name, but there was a historical novel set in 1700s of Italy where the heroine and hero made love in a grotto by the sea. The details of the grotto, the waves crashing along the rocks, and the silky sand still stand out in my mind today. What a beautiful place to consummate your passion.

6. The last on my list is a shameful advertisement for myself, Jacqueline McDermott - My Father’s Bride. The Waterfall scene. Details - well, you will have to wait and read the book to find out. :o)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Purge! Purge!

Discipline is remembering what you want

Well, here it is 11:11 pm, and I am just getting my blog started. I think the idea is for the blog to be up in time for everyone to read at night. Well, let’s see who is left to read it at this time at night...hmmmm...the Samoans? No, I think they are on the other side of the international date line. Dang! I keep saying that my goal should be tuesday night, that way the blog is up for Wed morning. OK, that is the goal for next week!

Speaking of Goals, in keeping with the goals I discussed last week, I have been working all this week to eliminate all the things that are preventing me from writing, minus of course my darling offspring. I resigned from the last of the committees I lead and I elected not to run again for office of the largest organization I serve, my commitment will be up at the end of May. I still have several projects that need to be taken care of before I can fully throw myself into my work, but I am quickly checking them off day by day. Even though I am not actively writing scenes, I am jotting notes here and there, working on my GMC and pondering things over in my brain.

The act of freeing myself of all these other hobbies and commitments has been exhilarating. Not only am I freeing up my time and space in my closets, I just feel so unencumbered and light! For example: I have approximately 50 books of english smocking patterns, and literally hundreds of yards of fabric. At one point in time I was going to smock and sew everything my daughters wore. Hello!? Where the heck was I going to get the time for this? (I only made about 10 dresses) This week I freed myself from all the guilt and anxiety associated with the incomplete projects. I donated most of the fabric to Project Linus and I am Ebay-ing all the pattern books! It is amazing how great I feel. I just gained 100’s of hours for writing.

Do you have any hours you can gain for writing? Seriously, take a good look at your schedule and the things you are doing in your life. There may be items that can be eliminated or delegated. What about incomplete projects? Even though they may be out of sight, they may not be completely out of mind, they may be weighing on your subconscious draining your creativity at this very moment. Can you put your writing aside for a day or so to get all those things caught up? Perhaps you do not want to loose your momentum, perhaps only reduce your writing time and get these other items out of the picture.

What about multitasking? Personally I completely suck at multitasking, my brain is entirely too scattered, but for others people it works, or does it? Studies show that multitasking can really fry your creative processes. According to an article written Lauren Morton-Farmer of the Pepperdine University Graphite there are newly released studies Which show that people may feel more productive by by multitasking, but “they may be doing themselves a disservice”. She quotes David E. Meyer, director of the Brain, Cognition and Action Laboratory at the University of Michigan, in a recent Time article, saying “habitual multi-tasking may condition the brain to an overexcited state, making it difficult to focus even when we want to.” So even though we may not be multitasking when we write, when our brains are preoccupied, we can not put all our effort into what really counts.... our MIP.

So Jacqueline’s advise for this week is to find at least one thing to purge from your life that will keep your brain from doing so much multitasking while you write. Lets watch your creativity soar. Happy Writing!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Roles and Goals

If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased- Katherine Hepburn

It is 10:40 at night on Wednesday and it is my night to blog. I am just sitting down to write and I better hurry as my AOTP friends on the east coast will be getting up for the day in about an hour. Luckily, Samantha is blogging tomorrow and she is on the west coast of the mainland, so there should be a few hours in between blogs. Isn’t it grand being half way around the planet?

It is not procrastination which has kept me away from writing my blog tonight, but commitments. During my teenage and college years I became committed to my own needs and the needs of my family. Somehow after marriage and children there was a shift, and everyone else’s needs came before my own, and sometimes even before my family’s needs. Criminal, isn’t it? What changed my desire from meeting my goals to assisting everyone else with their goals? Is it a need to be liked or feel included? The answer to that is a resounding “no”. So, why do I feel the need to help everyone? It is good to help, to a point. Where do we draw the line?

Lately, I have been out of sorts, full of anxiety, and just completely discombobulated. As I spent five hours cleaning up the home-school-disaster-area today, I had a little conversation with myself. Writers often do that. At least I hope they do. I am not crazy, am I?

I said to myself “What is going on with you!!!! Why is your life and your house such a mess? Where is all your time going, why can’t you seem to get anything done?” So I pondered these questions for a while and I think I have found my answer.

Commitments. What commitments have I made to occupy my time? I thought about all of the things that I do during my day. I won’t bore you with the details, but my day was filled with quite a bit of stuff I neither cared about nor wanted to do. So, why then was I doing all of these things? Excellent question. I really shouldn’t be doing any of them. So, if I shouldn’t be doing those things, what should I be doing? Are you still with me?

I needed to figure out what my roles were in life and what goals I want to achieve. Then I would know what I should be doing with my time!

Role #1 Wife - Goal: Be a supportive & loving wife. - Actions: Lots of hugs, good listening, nookie, hot meals, and a nice clean house. (Guys are easy to please)

Role # 2 Mom - Goal: Be an excellent example and loving teacher. - Actions: Love, hugs, good listening, play every day & firm discipline.

Role # 3 Teacher - Goal: To provide my children with an excellent education until they can attend a quality school. - Actions: Prepare adequately, foster learning and motivation, and be patient (that one is really hard for me).

Role #4 Writer - Goal: to write a complete novel and foster relationships with my fellow writers. - Actions: Write every day and support my on-line writing friends.

Role #5 Sister, Daughter, and Friend - Goal: Provide love and friendship - Actions: Be readily available to those who need me.

OK, so where does it say anything about serving on boards and committees, organizing field trips, sewing all my kids clothes, watching all the older kids at the chapel during meetings, being the testing coordinator for all of the military home-schoolers on the island, training and competing in Triathlons with my neighbor, and coaching swimming? Nowhere. So why am I spending hours and hours everyday working in these activities if they do not meet my personal goals? I do not know either. Perhaps I am too soft hearted and I do not want to disappoint people when they need assistance. But, what about disappointing my family, or myself? Is that selfish? Do we need to be a little selfish to complete our goals in life.

The other day I said “writers write.” What about the writer that doesn’t write? Are you being true to yourself, your roles in life and your goals? What I have written tonight seems like a big whine session, which absolutely was not my intention. It was more of an epiphany of sorts, a breakdown to the simplest form of what my life is about and where it should be focused. I wanted to share it with you because I do not want you to be as far off track as I have become. I hope you can define your own roles, what goals you want to achieve for these roles, and find the actions you need to meet your goals.

Good luck, and may your foster the writer and all the other roles within.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007


He who shirks action does not obtain freedom; no one can gain perfection by abstaining from work - Bhagavad Gita

Aloha from Honolulu. It is a warm Saturday afternoon, and I feel I can tell you all that without the worry of nasty rebuttals. It is finally warming up on the mainland, right?

Well, like Alyson I really struggled with what to blog about today. I spent all of today cleaning my house, and it is still not done! I have to say this is probably the second messiest my house has even been in my entire life. There is not one clean surface to eat on. By “clean” I mean non-cluttered. There is stuff everywhere! Laundry waiting to be washed, laundry waiting to be folded, but now so wrinkled that no one will want to wear any of the clothes. Toys, books, mail, home-school supplies, and other odds and ends strewn from one end of the house to another. And the clock is ticking. I only have 2 hours left until the hubby is home from Maui. He is a great guy, but he does get VERY crabby if the house is a mess, and since I am the stay at home Mom, well, you can guess whose job it is to clean it. Which brings me to my blog topic today, actually......

Family Support of a Writer.

Now, I am by no means Cinderella, but I do get a little overwhelmed by the amount of work I do and the amount of help I receive. My hubby works 14 hour days - sometimes 16 or 18 when things in the military world are extra tense- so I feel very guilty asking him to pitch in. However, when I get comments like “You are on the computer again?”, “Did you spend all day writing, is that why the house is a disaster?”, I get a bit irked. Interestingly, there is a flip side to these comments. I also get “ You always talk about being a writer, why don’t you just do it?”

Oh honey, did that fork land in your temple? I am so sorry, I can’t imagine how that happened!

My problem is, and it is highly dubious that it really is a problem, I am married to a Type A super hero. The kind of guy who can diaper a baby, scour the house from top to bottom, cook a four course meal using one pot and a fork, and finish his dissertation on orbital mechanics, all in the time it takes me to drive to the grocery store to pick up the gallon of milk I forgot when I went shopping earlier that day. I, however, am not that type of person. I can barely keep track of what day it is. Knowing this, how do I convince my hubby to let the little things go, like a tidy house, and let my creativity soar? Good question.

My loving offsprings’ particular talent is interruptions. Following Macy and Alyson’s lead, I have been getting up at 5 am to start my day and write before the little ones are out of bed. 5:05 am - “Mommy why are you on the computer?” "Mommy is being a writer today, Go back to bed, please.” “Mommy I am hungry now, can I have a cookie?” “No it is 5am, you can have a cookie after lunch, please go back to bed.” “Momm-” “GET BACK IN THAT BED BEFORE I TIE YOU TO IT!!!”

Ok, I am not that crabby in the morning, maybe by 7 p.m. I can be heard yelling things of that nature. There must be a inner Mommy meter in their head that lets them know when I have risen from my bed. This is the same part of their brain that lets them know that you are on the telephone for the first time in months and all of a sudden they will die if you don’t help them find their blankie, get them a snack, or listen to the latest round of “Mommy, know what?..”

They are still pretty secure in their ego and the whole world revolves around their needs, so I can hardly blame them for that. Following the advise of my AOTP gals, I have explained to them that I want to be a writer, and I think they are getting it. They have stopped interrupting chats, and as soon as they get used to my new writing schedule they will stop interrupting the early morning writing sessions as well. I think they know how bad I want this, and they also instinctively know that I am not willing to sacrifice their childhood to get it.

In order to succeed as a writer, you have to write. Not just chat about it, read about it, and take classes and workshops about it. A writer writes. It is that simple. My plans earlier in life included just that. I was going to be a writer. I was going to live in the woods, on top of a mountain, in my log cabin with a dog. I was going to write. Now I live with 2 cats, two kids, and a man. So not in my plans! But, I would not change a thing, at least most days I wouldn’t.

To continue with my dream, I must meld my fantasy life with my real life and find a workable solution. Life is about compromises and balance. I mean this in both a physical and spiritual sense.

So, what is the answer for winning your family’s support? I guess I would suggest four things:

1. Follow the AOTP gals’ advise: Sit your family down and explain to them how bad you want to write.

2. Give your family a set plan or itinerary. If they know ahead of time what you are going to be doing and what time you will be doing it, there may not be so much resistance. “Sunday afternoons, and Tuesday evenings are Mommy’s writing hours. Please do not disturb Mommy during these times. Mommy will take care of everything before or after these times.”

3. Take the time to organize as much of the rest of your life in order to allow yourself the time to write without guilt or apprehension!

4. Well, #4 just pertains to me, but you can use it too, if you want to: End each day with a glass of good wine.

Here’s to hoping your family is supportive of your dreams and ambition! Cheers!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Glass or Steel?

Lately I have felt like a complete poser. Forgive the 80’s terminology, but that is what I feel like. I want to write, I want be a writer, but I am doing very little writing what so ever. Whine Whine! As my Hubby, the Air Force Academy grad, would say... "Wah Wah Wah...I want my milk and cookies!" This blog tonight may not be about writing at all, but there are some things I would like to talk about that may influence someone’s life out there.

As Alyson so sweetly pointed out, my daughter had surgery in Texas last week. This was not her first, nor will it be her last. It was the most invasive, and the second most important. My daughter was injured during delivery due to a failed ventouse and forceps delivery leaving her paralyzed on the left side. She has a Brachial Plexus Injury called Erb’s Palsy. The past 8 years have been a very emotional journey for all of us in our family. Our whole world revolves around Bryn’s physical therapy, occupational therapy, craniosacral therapy, water therapy, dr.’s visits...etc. It can be a bit overwhelming, but it is life. She is an amazing kid and an amazing

I think over the past eight years I have deliberately punished myself for the guilt I feel over what happened the day she was born. The day before she came into this world, I was carrying two large boxes of water. We were living in Australia and water commonly comes in 4 liter boxes, like cheap wine here in the states. I carried the boxes of water from the market all the way back to the house. Well, it was too much and my water broke, even though I was not in labor. I will spare you the details, but I have always thought...”if only I had not carried the water, then Bryn would have stayed “inside” until full term, and then the Doctor would have.....”...bla bla bla. Somehow I thought everything would be different, if I had just changed my behavior. This belief was further complicated by an acquaintance who quoted a verse from the bible that was something along the lines of “Visiting the inequity of the Father unto the children”. Bryn was paying for my sins. I have been harboring this guilt in my heart for eight years.

When we were in Texas I met an amazing woman from Iraq. She and her husband are both Doctors and on the night her baby was born there was too much fighting outside the hospital, she could not get in and her husband could not get out. So she had to go home and deliver her baby at home with the help of the neighbors. Her baby was delivered by forceps as well. He also was left with a debilitating Erb’s Palsy. You may have heard of his story on CNN or in People Magazine. He and his mother flew to Texas and had his surgery the day before Bryn’s. While our children were recovering we spent some time together. She said the most beautiful things to Bryn. I wish I could recall every word for you, but I was so in awe of her strength and beauty that I can only paraphrase for you.

She told Bryn that she had been thinking about how to explain to her son why this had happened to him and what he was going to need to do as he grows. She told Bryn that people who are born perfectly healthy and grow up easily are like a delicate glass. When they come to face the very difficult things in life they will shatter like the glass. But that Bryn and Karm, because they will face so many difficulties and have to conquer so many hurdles in childhood they will grow to be strong and solid. When they come up against the very difficult things in life they will survive and succeed because they have learned to survive and succeed as a child.

In America many people look at children like Bryn and feel pity, sorrow or anger (at the situation). Here is a woman whose country in in civil war, who makes only $400 a month as a doctor, whose baby is permanently disabled due a series of events leading back to a war started by an outside country; and she is focused on how good this will be for her son. Just hearing her speak was so humbling to me, and liberating. Who am I to think I am so important that I should feel responsible for the the greatest life learning event for my child? There are much greater powers at work here. This is not something to crucify myself over, but something to rejoice over. It takes quite a stretch to change to this mode of thinking, but I am working on it, every hour, literally. I have always known that Bryn would be stronger for her experiences, and I try to remain ever so positive, but I never honestly viewed it as good.

So I guess the human experience, what ever that may be, is mostly good. We are all learning, and traveling through time and we should be grateful for the bumps in the road that life hands us, even the ones that seem cruel at the time. Even though I have gone off the track from writing, I hope this story brings you a little peace too.

Monday, March 5, 2007

What's in a name?

What is in a name?

Several months ago, members of our writing group discussed whether or not we would use our real names when we became published. One of us is a teacher and at the time was a bit leery of her student’s parents knowing that she may write a steamy romance novel. Another one of us values her privacy and just would not want to use her real name at all. I write in more than one genre, so I would not want the any of my pen names to ever cross. This could lead to disaster, like when I was a kid and I read Judy Blume’s erotic book Wifey, quite by accident. I was ten years old at the time. Ten was a bit early to discover what kinds of trouble bored housewives can find.

So how did we go about choosing our names? At first I suggested we could use the “Porn Name equation”. Have you heard of this? For your first name you use your middle name. In my case that would be Ann. Then you take the name of the street you grew up on for your last name. Well, this is a problem as I moved several times before I grew up. This leaves me with several choices.

Ann Chanticleer
Ann Bay
Ann East Fifth
Ann Windsor Forest, etc.

The last place I lived with my parents was Purple Brook Road. Ann Purple Brook? Hmmm, ah , NO!

So we decided to go with names that were more personal and close to our heart. I chose the name of my grandmother. Not just because her name is a beautiful name, and not because I loved her, but because she was so in love with romance. Never did I see her with out a a romance novel in her hand. Walking across the house caring a load of laundry..... with a French damsel in distress. Watching her favorite football team on Sunday.....with a beer in one hand and a Gothic in the other. The question of “Who moved my book” was one that all thirteen of her grandchildren feared. For loosing Grandmama’s book was a crime punishable by the horrid WOODEN SPOON! Grandmama did not loose many books!

Grandmama introduced me to romance and as early as the age of 13 we were swapping books back and forth via mail or her yearly visits. When she found out that I wanted to write romance, she gave me my first piece of writing advise. My 75 year old grandmother looked strait into my eyes and said. “If you want to sell your first romance, the sex has to be really hot and the couple has to jump in the sack really early!”

So in honor of my Romance Worshiping Grandmother, I chose the pen name Jacqueline McDermott. I think she is smiling down on me, and I hope to make her proud!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I will survive!

While running errands today, Gloria Gaynor’s song “I will survive” played over the radio. As I blasted the volume and damaged my little girls’ eardrums, (not by the radio but by my poor singing), I thought to myself “this song is a theme for a romance Novel!” I belted out the lyrics while writing the back story and act one of “Starlit Embrace” in my head. Ok, that is a pretty cheesy title, but not bad for a gal weaving in and out of traffic, singing at the top of her lungs, while sucking down a Jamba Juice.

Our Survival is so primeval. It is ingrained in our psyche from the earliest moments of life, from even before conception. The fact that the egg and sperm actually meet in the hostile alkaline environment of the womb is an amazing feat of God and Nature. A fact that many of us unfortunately struggle with for years in search of our own progeny. Unless, of course, you happen to be 17 years old and in the back of a Ford Taurus on Prom Night without adequate "protection". Then, of course, eggs and sperm have their own microscopic GPS receivers.

Thousands of years have taught us humans what we need to do to survive. Whether you believe in Evolution, Creation, or a Borg-like collective conscious, we can not deny our innate nature to push through the terrible events in life while searching for greener pastures. Perhaps we get the strength from our parents, perhaps from our own faith, or perhaps just from growing up in the jungles of urban, suburban, and rural America. What ever you believe, the truth is we are products of our own environment, but as much as we struggle, we are not in control of that environment. Those of you who believe you are in control are living in a plastic bubble.

The great thing about being a writer is that we have the experiences to draw upon for not only our stories, but for further life adventures. Observers by nature, I believe we are champions at the survival game. We use our powers of observation to challenge our mental and physical survival skills. We have the imagination that will bridge us from the heartbreak, confusion, and physical hardship to what ever we can imagine is on the other side of this gulf. We can imagine pretty great things. Writers will always survive, as they will always have the power to see their way through any situation as if they are a character in their own stories.
I will survive. How will you write your own story of survival?

At first I was afraid
I was petrified
Kept thinking I could never live
without you by my side
But then I spent so many nights
thinking how you did me wrong
And I grew strong
And I learned how to get along
and so you're back
from outer space
I just walked in to find you here
with that sad look upon your face
I should have changed that stupid lock
I should have made you leave your key
If I had known for just one second
you'd be back to bother me

Go on now go walk out the door
just turn around now
'cause you're not welcome anymore
weren't you the one who tried to hurt me with goodbye
Did you think I'd crumble
Did you think I'd lay down and die
Oh no, not I
I will survive
Oh as long as i know how to love
I know I will stay alive
I've got all my life to live
I've got all my love to give
and I'll survive
I will survive (hey-hey)

It took all the strength I had
not to fall apart
kept trying hard to mend
the pieces of my broken heart
and I spent oh so many nights
just feeling sorry for myself
I used to cry
But now I hold my head up high
and you see me
somebody new
I'm not that chained up little person
still in love with you
and so you felt like dropping in
and just expect me to be free
and now I'm saving all my loving
for someone who's loving me - Gloria Gaynor.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

We all need love, we all need a little escapism

The red rose whispers of passion,
And the white rose breaths of love;
O, the red rose is a falcon,
And the white rose is a dove.

But I send you a cream-white rosebud,
With a flush on its petal tips;
For the love that is purists and sweetest,
Has a kiss of desire on the lips.

John Boyle O’Reilly (1844-1890)

O, to have the fortune of Blogging on Valentine’s Day. I have spent the last three days trying to come up with something cute and clever to write about, something completely romantic. Alas, I have failed you. I do ask your forgiveness, I have been a bit discombobulated for the past seven months, following a series of strange, tragic, and wonderful events. My muses seemed to have abandoned me along with half my brain. The muses are sitting on a hillside in tibet, a great Buddhist temple looms in the background as they contemplate and meditate on the meaning of life. Everyone needs time off, even muses. Which leave me to the question, where did my brain wonder?

But it is Valentine’s Day, so let us talk about romance. I have heard it said that romance readers have sex 75% more often than non-romance readers. I do not know if that statistic is true, but it does leave much to ponder. If you subtract the celibate singles (and nuns), then romance reading is inspiring quite a bit more bedroom, or kitchen table, action than the statistics show.

I have also read that many romance readers read for escapism. I certainly do! I am a stay at home mom who home-schools two very active, special needs children. By the end of the day I am fried beyond belief. Two of the things that keep me going are the posts from my writing group and locking myself in the bathroom with my latest book. I desperately crave the escapism.

Does that call upon us, struggling writers and proficient writers alike, to inspire the masses to meaningful, lusty, romantic experiences and escape from the drudgery or complications of life? Is that our calling? Tell a tale that sweeps us out of our world into a world of adventure and create sex kittens from the overworked and over-stressed? Would that be a bad thing?
Some people want to save the world. Perhaps we are helping to do just that. A little more romance in everyones life would have a huge impact. Think of all the endorphins created from having sex, and to a lesser degree holding hands and snuggling with someone. Human touch is essential for survival, it improves physical and mental well being. Babies and the elderly wilt without touch, and so do we. We all need romance in our lives.

If that statistic is correct and Romance reading does inspire more amorous behavior then we do have our work cut out for us. It is our moral and social obligation to give the world more desire, more endorphins, and most importantly, more love.
Aloha and Happy Valentine’s Day from Hawai’i

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Love Scenes to Curl Your Toes

Aloha! Here are my favorite love scenes in honor of Valentine’s Day, six love scenes to leave you burning with desire and holding your heart.

1. “Past the Point of No Return” from the movie Phantom of the Opera. In this scene Christine and the Phantom sing the duet “Past the Point of No Return”. I am passionately moved by music to begin with and when you add the sultry looks and sexual tension of this scene, I am completely blown away.

Our heroine Christine is intrigued and innocently sexually awakened by the Phantom, her musical mentor, who she once believed to be an Angel sent by her dead father.

“What raging fire shall flood the soul? What rich desire unlocks its door? What sweet seduction lies before us . . .?”

Christine’s heart belongs to her childhood sweetheart the Dashing Viscount, Raoul. She is torn between wanting to escape the Phantom’s obsessive, possessive, jealous hold on her and succumbing to the passion of this musical genius.

“Past all thought of right or wrong - one final question: how long should we two wait, before we're one . . .?”

The Phantom uses both her innocent desire and the mystery of her father’s promise of sending her an “Angel of Music” to manipulate and confuse her.

During this scene the Opera House owners and Christine’s Fiance Raoul have set a trap for the Phantom and are using Christine for bait. She is absolutely terrified, but agrees to free herself from her fear and her betraying desire. Once the disguised Phantom enters stage and starts to sing Christine immediately recognizes his voice. To the complete disgust of Raoul, Phantom’s passionate lyrics consume her and momentarily drive her to the edge of reason. Only when Phantom stops singing the enticing lyrics and proposes marriage, Christine is brought back to her senses.

“Say you'll share with me one love, one lifetime . . .Lead me, save me from my solitude .
Say you want me with you, here beside you . . .Anywhere you go let me go too - Christine that's all I ask of . . .”

He never finishes his sentence. Christine rips off his mask and exposes him to the Police and the audience, only to bring upon them the the Phantom and the Opera House’s demise.

Despite all of his evil, during this scene I find myself wanting Christine to forget that the Phantom is an obsessive murderer and give in to his magical voice and magical touch.

Any other love scene I can remember will pale to this scene, if you have not read the book, please watch Joel Schumacher’s 2004 production of this tragic love story. If you have not melted into a puddle by the time they are atop the bridge on stage, I will be shocked.

2. The Pride and Prejudice’s scene where Mr. Darcy gives her a tour of her home and introduces Elizabeth to his younger sister. Darcy begins to open up to Elisabeth and exposes a bit of his venerability. As much as could be exposed for a Georgian Man.

3. The “About Time” Episode of Season four of Northern Exposure. Chris the local DJ and existential preacher accidently kills someone’s dog. When he goes to meet the owner and give her the bad news she explains that she is studying “Pi”. The mathematical number 3.14...... Despite the initial pet mourning, they find themselves attracted to each other and arrange a dinner date at Chris’ trailer. She arrives with two cats in tow, and Chris discovers that he is allergic to cats. Just when you think there is no hope for the Allergy prone Dog killer and the Mathematician, they begin to discuss her dissertation on Pi. The way they describe the numbers and the universal truths and relations of the equations escalates their passion until the mathematics melt into make out. It is a very hot scene, even if you never passed Algebra.

4. Nicolas’ Sparks The Note Book, the kiss in the Rain. The two heartbroken lovers, torn away from each other because of war, parents, and social obligations reunite for a weekend. All their angst and heartbreak fuels them into a fit of rage. She is about to marry another and he is furious that she has abandoned them. As they release all the pent up frustration of the years, they realize how much they still love each other and how much they want each other. They embrace in the rain and kiss as though they will never be able to kiss again, one last desperate kiss before she goes away. I do not want to give the the ending in case you have not read the book, but if there was ever a kiss to mend all wounds and bind two people together this would be the kiss.

5. The last historical romance I read was Heart of Honor by Kat Martin. I picked it up because honestly, I could not figure out how a Viking would end up in the 1840’s, as the culture had died out 400 years earlier. It was a fun read to say the least. The combination of the raw untempered desire of the Viking set in Georgian English society was a great combination. I do not think his love scenes would have been half as sexy set in the Viking Age. But, it is not the hot sex scenes that draws me to this book, but the tender scene at the end of the story where the Viking rescues the Heroine Krista from a loveless marriage. In doing so he gives up his home, his family, and his community standing as the Jarl of his clan. He sacrificed everything. He who has the most, has the most to loose.

6. My first real Kiss. No not a movie, and not a book. My honest to goodness first grown up passionate kiss. OK, don’t get me wrong, I had been kissed before by my high school sweetheart, but those kisses were slobbery, usually tasted like Doritoes (I HATE Doritoes!), and there was very little passion involved. For my REAL kiss, I was eighteen and about to leave for my freshman year in college. A childhood friend and I were sitting on the rocks along the lake of my family’s lake house in New Hampshire. We were discussing all of our hopes and dreams for college and our future. We had agreed to send each other sweatshirts from our schools as soon as we could, and we also promised to write as much as we can. Although we had just been good friends for years, something this night was different. There was almost visible electricity moving back and forth between us. At the close of the evening, when he leaned over and kissed me, I swear I thought my head was going to explode. Everything around me lit up in pure bright white light even though we were sitting in the darkness. There was no slobber, no Doritoes, and this time there was my first taste of passion. Our parents called us in for the night, breaking the magic spell, leaving me with only my memories. It was four years before we saw each other again, each of us dating our future spouses. I have never spoken of it, and this is the first I have written about it. My little secret, that I will share with you. I will never mention it again, but I will never forget it either.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Getting to Know You

Last week for my first blog I jumped right in to a serious note on death that hounded me during several runs. This week I am walking, nursing two very sore heels, and my thoughts come slower, calmer. I realized in my quest to write about something profound and meaningful I neglected to even say hello and introduce myself. So “Getting to Know You” will be the short topic of this blog this week. Not very exciting, I know, but who is this Jacqueline person anyway?

The first thing you should know about me is that I live in Hawai’i . Yes, the apostrophe is supposed to be there. Before you conjure images of a quiet little hut on the beautiful pacific ocean, let me correct you. I live in Honolulu, in a 1100 square foot pre WWII military house with rats in the attic, flying roaches that the Terminex guys can not drive away, Geckos on the ceiling, and bullets from Japanese fighters lodged into the floor under the cheesy 1980’s linoleum. Ahhh, but I do have the nicest yard in the neighbor hood with the most amazing tree I have ever seen in my life. It’s branches are more than 40 feet across! And I do enjoy having only three pairs of shoes to wear: running shoes. dressy slippahs (flip-flops) and casual slippahs. I digress.......I do live in paradise, but things are not always what they seem.

The second thing I would like you to know about me is that I am the worst time manager in the world. Wednesday is my day to blog. Here it is, 10:44 p.m., and I am just now getting to it! Pretty soon people on the east coast will be rising for work on Thursday! It is not as if I do not want to get things done on time, I just have no sense of how long a project will take and do not plan accordingly. I also have a very dastardly bad habit of committing to to many outside organizations, projects, and other miscellaneous things that take me away from my writing. I am weeks behind all my writing goals, and yet I volunteered to be the testing administer for my darling daughters’ home school group. “Just say No!” That should be my new motto!

The third thing I think you should know about me is that I love to create new places, people and situations in my mind. The only activity I love as much as writing is reading. I am definitely not a great writer, but I have many great ideas. You can always learn to write better, but you can’t always change the way your imagination works. I pray the ideas never cease to flow.
Those are the most important things, at least that apply to writing and my blog. Thank you for joining me at Cinderwriter, I look forward to chatting with you next week.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Life is a Bullet Train Mommy

With so many birthdays among friends and family this week, my thoughts have been dwelling on life and the journey we take across time. Sometimes, long before we expect it, death creeps up and starts to follow us as we pass from one day into the next. At first we ignore it, like the shudder you feel going up your back for no reason at all. It is easily and quickly dismissed. After a while it begins to make its presence a little more known and we begin to see it, barely. At first it appears out of the corners of our eyes. We turn and nothing is there. Just a figment of our imagination. Slowly, we start to feel its presence draw closer everyday. The chest pains after a night of indulgence, the high cholesterol reports from our doctors, or the near miss accident on the way home in rush hour. It is always there like a naughty little fairy toying with our emotions and enjoying the thrill of fear, despair, and paranoia it brings as it approaches closer with the passing hours. 
In our minds we are the picture of youth, with the energy to soar us to the clouds. How do we picture ourselves? Eighteen, twenty-five, thirty two? Personally, myself in my mind I am twenty-three. Then one day by chance we catch a glimpse of ourselves in the window of a coffee shop, or a full length mirror in a department store. We instantly turn back to look in the other direction to see who was walking in our place. “That couldn’t possibly be me!” Perhaps this is what sparks the human condition, aptly called the “mid-life crisis”. Our lives are passing before our eyes and there is so much left to do, so many places to see, rivers to cross, mountains to conquer.
And then it begins, Buying the Harley Davidson Motorcycle, although you have no idea how to ride one. Daydreaming about implants, after years of silently criticizing anyone who underwent the plastic transformation. Purchasing the gym membership that will take your first born child faster than Rumplestiltskin if you default on the membership. Staying up late to catch all the infomercials on the latest beauty, exercise, diet and anti-aging products on the market. For just 3 easy payments of $19.99 you can get your youth back! But wait if you call in the next ten minutes......open your eyes, It is 2 am and sleep deprivation is not the path to youth. 
My brother believes that each human has only a certain number of heartbeats for a lifetime, and once you have reached your quota, this existence is over. No matter where you are or what you are doing, your life is complete. You can call it an atheist’s view of predestination, but we all only have a certain amount of time, and death trails us from the crib to the coffin. Should we run and hide? Should we try to cram five lifetimes worth of achievements into one? Should we forget about self gratification and turn to a life of servitude for others? It all could depend on what your views of life after death contain, but that is another topic entirely. For this mere mortal, all I can do is hope to fulfill at least a few dreams on this journey. Raise responsible and caring children, tend to the earth and her injured ones, explore the lands and seas, and write my heart out. As my profound six year old says, “Mommy- life is like a bullet train, it never slows down.” I don’t mind it slowing down, I just hope to give all I can before it stops.