Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Wednesday Whimsical Weirdness

Okay, I am trying something new. A theme in my blog cause I feel like I need to get somewhat ... well... less erratic. So here it goes. My Wednesday Whimsical Weirdness. I plan to post little odd snippets of writing, not book blurbs, but just my own little pieces of unpredictable thoughts. Feel free to post your own Whimsy and Weirdness, or just comment on mine.


"Everyone keeps telling me to pray," Delainey said.

"Well darling, that's cause they want you to have peace of mind," her aunt replied. She tossed another shucked corn cob into the pot.

Delainey twisted her long hair into a knot. "I don't care about peace of mind. I just want my daddy to get better."

"So do we, but we don't know what the Lord wants."

"Well, He should want what I want," Delainey pouted. "And I don't want my daddy to die."

"Honey," her aunt said, "it's not our place to tell the Lord what we want. We have to accept His will and seek comfort in His word."

Her aunt wrapped her arms around her, but Delainey pulled out of her embrace. She didn't want to hear more hocus about the comfort of the Lord. She only wanted the deep pain growing in her belly, sprouting in her soul and making it black with anger, to go away. And the only way that would happen was if the doctor said her daddy wasn't sick anymore. Tomorrow she'd know if  her daddy could run and play with her again and not lie around in his bed for hours on end as he grew skinnier than her cousin Billy's old barn cat.

Her daddy used to laugh and his eyes used to crinkle whenever he smiled. Now his lips were dry and chapped. His deep blue eyes had lost their sparkle and had turned into pale rheumy orbs. Her daddy wasn't even strong enough to sit up.

Delainey picked up another corn cob and ripped the husk off of the pearly yellow kernels. "I won't feel comforted till God makes daddy strong enough to swing me onto his shoulders and carry me to the County Fair."

How old is Delainey?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

HEART OF DIXIE Online Workshop -- September 13-27, 2010

Dates: September 13-27, 2010
Instructors: Kira Sinclair, Kimberly Lang, & Lynn Raye Harris
Cost: $20
Sponsored by: Heart of Dixie, RWA
Register at: www.heartofdixie.org
There is no one path to publication; no one way to get an editor or agent’s attention.  In this workshop, three authors draw on their own experiences to prepare you for success on the three most common paths to an editor or agent’s desk.
The Pitch:  Kira Sinclair’s pitch led to a request, then a sale.  Kira will go over the basics of how to craft a short, informative pitch designed to showcase your book’s best bits and leave the agent or editor requesting more.  Kira now writes for Harlequin Blaze.
The Pile:  Kimberly Lang is a slush pile success story.   Since your query letter is the first thing an editor or agent reads, it needs to be the very best it can be. We’ll build on what we learned from Kira’s pitch lessons to build a query letter that encourages the editor or agent to read on. Kimberly is a USA Today bestselling author for Harlequin Presents/Mills & Boon Modern Heat.
The Public:  Lynn Raye Harris got an editor’s – and the public’s – attention in a big way when she won the Harlequin-sponsored Instant Seduction contest.  Lynn will share her tips on how to make your first chapters pack the punch needed to get judges, editors, agents (and eventually readers!) wanting to see what happens next. Lynn is a USA Today bestselling author for Harlequin Presents/Mills & Boon Modern.
Class format includes lectures and Q&A.  Some students may have the opportunity to have their pitches and/or query letters critiqued by the instructors for the benefit of the participants.
For more information contact online@heartofdixie.org

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Romance Writers Share the Love --August 27th

As part of a summer "Book Lovers" program, the Huntsville Library is presenting a series of writing workshops and author appearances by romance writers. This Friday, southern romance writers are Sharing the Love in Huntsville, AL at the Huntsville Library. If you live in the Huntsville, AL area and you're curious about writing books, especially romance novels, then you'll want to check out this all day event at the Huntsville Library.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Road Warrior Writers

I have a dear writing friend in Alabama who joins me on many of my writing adventures. Sometimes the adventures only require meeting at a coffee shop to share thoughts about our work. Sometimes our adventures require more planning and a road trip is involved.

And that's when the adventures get crazy. While we are reasonably intelligent beings, we seem to have an innate ability to confuse ourselves whenever we hit the road. And this is with my TOM TOM GPS on board. Of course, I'd like to add that TOM TOM lies to us and steers us wrong on a regular basis. TT once took us to a hotel in Atlanta that didn't exist despite inputting the correct address.

During these moments, I'd like to say that I'm the epitome of calm. Anyone who has driven with me when I'm lost will quickly refute my claim. There is no point in even bothering to pretend I'm cool when late, lost or both. Nope. I'm not. Fortunately, my co-pilot is -- this is helpful in that we eventually do need to find our location.

With this knowledge, the fact that we are directionally challenged firmly ingrained in our heads, we ventured off to Atlanta for a GRW meeting. Once again, I dutifully plugged in TOM TOM and inputted the address. This time I was smart: I also printed a map with directions to our hotel. Didn't matter. As I was driving over the mountain in Huntsville, TOM TOM blathered on and on about making left turns and U-turns.

His instructions did not coincide with the map's. And so it goes. Confusion ensued. Fortunately, we're visual so once we spotted a few familiar landmarks, we decided TOM TOM was deranged and kept driving. All and all, we had a pretty decent drive. No major mistakes and other than frightening some other drivers with our sudden lane changes, we managed to arrive at our hotel in Atlanta unscathed.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why drive 4 hours to another state to attend a chapter meeting? In fact, why leave home at all when we have writing to do? Why take the time away from our computers?

The answer is simple: these trips feed and nourish our writing souls.

Our journey was valuable to us. We got 8 hours total of talking about our books, our career, our writing, our process, what we learned, what we wanted to learn.... get two writers together and stick them in a car for that length of time and we're in constant create mode. Although all that creating is probably the reason we get confused and lost and more while we are hunting for our exits and freeways... but I digress.

We also spent time with our writing friends on Friday night. Writing is a solitary pursuit and often filled with doubts about our talents, our stories, and the business. Connecting with other people who share our passion and who understand why we plunk ourselves in front of the computer despite all the roadblocks we encounter is vital to our creative process. In GA, sitting around a table in a restaurant, we discussed the most important aspect of our writing.

It's not the business aspect about how many queries or submissions or requests to we have out, but the very heart of our writing: the books of our heart. We all have them. To be honest, I was battling back a darkness about my writing and my process. I didn't want to worry about if or when I got published, I desperately needed to recharge my belief in my abilities, my process, and my stories. I think my friend did, too.

Friday night I began to believe in my stories again. Saturday I revitalized my belief in my process after attending the GRWA meeting. In addition to a great program discussion led by Missy Tippens about building the premise of the story, we also participated in a round table chat with a published author, Berta Platas, which validated my writing process. I guess I need to hear the same thing over and over again before it sinks in.

My process is my process. And yours is yours. It sounds so simple, but it's hard. I've often wished I could be a clean and tidy writer with excellent grammar skills. I have fabulous writer friends who have those skills. I don't. And it's taken me a long time to accept the fact that I'm never going to be that kind of writer. However, on Saturday I realized I was lucky: I KNOW my process. I know how I write and how I need to build my stories. I will probably be impatient with my process, but I know my strengths and I have the people around me who can help me shore up my weaknesses.

My friend also had an epiphany about her writing and her goals. By taking the time to get away from our daily writing grind, we were able to take the long view and gain perspective. We returned to Alabama with renewed enthusiasm for our tasks.  And we can't wait to go back to Atlanta for the 2010 Moonlight and Magnolias Conference. We'll see our friends, attend an amazing workshop given by Michael Hauge and we'll celebrate the MAGGIES on Saturday night. And I imagine we'll come away from that conference filled to the brim with writing spirit. We'll return to our chairs renewed and motivated.

How do you nourish your writing souls? How do you replace the darkness with light and energy? And if you can make it to the M&M this year, let me know, I'd love to see you Atlanta to talk about our favorite subject: writing.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

M&M MAGGIES 2009 --Looking Back at Last Year's Conference

I'm finally coming up for air after a weekend of learning, laughing and playing at the MOONLIGHT AND MAGNOLIAS conference in Atlanta, GA. I got an honorable mention as did my CP for the MAGGIE. And I was thrilled. To final was huge. And the feedback I received from my judges and the published authors I met at the conference validated me as a writer.

I'm recapping the conference--hazy memories at best. Was it really a week ago that I was getting ready to put my party shoes on?

Thursday: I arrived in Atlanta at the same time as my CP's flight. I checked into the Hilton, got concierge privileges (thanks to Diamond member DH), and then zipped to the train station to fetch CP. It was so good seeing her again. We registered for the conference, got our cool goodie bags filled with books and promo items, and slipped on our badges with the ribbon flagging the fact that we were MAGGIE FINALISTS. Woot! That flag was a conversation starter everywhere we went. People were impressed. People wished us luck. By the time the award ceremony night arrived, I felt like a winner for life, regardless of the outcome. Later that day, we ate pizza and tried to watch the movies, but we were so tired, we went to the room and crashed. Well, we talked and talked and talked and then we fell asleep.

Friday morning I was nervous. I had to see the agent I'd pitched the book to in July at the National Conference. I had seven minutes to review the fact that she'd requested the full, tell her about the MAGGIE, and pitch the next book!! The rest of the day we learned, ate, met other writers and published authors, played, talked, wrote, and planned for the following day. My CP had two pitches to prep so we huddled in the concierge lounge and worked in privacy (thanks DH!).

Saturday: My CP had two successful pitches, then we were nervously awaiting the awards ceremony, and we were cramming in more learning. Every workshop I attended was beneficial to me. There were so many options, I had difficulty choosing. Then we had the keynote speaker during lunch and let me tell you, Sherrilyn Kenyon's story is poignant and inspiring. If she can forge through fourteen years of disappointment and real pain, we can do it, too. I will never give up my dream, and I will never try to chase a writing trend either. Sure, it would be wonderful to have a bevy of vampires to write about, but I can only read the wonderful books written by paranormal authors. I am not one of them.

We put on our party clothes, our fancy finery, and fun shoes and went to the awards ceremony. First we presented to the published authors. I presented the award to the author in my category. That was fun! I hope I can do it again. I didn't trip on the stage, and I managed to keep my mouth from seizing in panic. No. I didn't win, but afterward three authors spoke to me and said I was already a winner because I finaled. I feel like a winner. I am validated as an author. I am going in the right direction.

Sunday we were all tired, but we went to an amazing workshop run by Mary Buckham and Dianna Love. If you have a chance to learn from them, do it. The information they impart is invaluable to writers. My head is spinning with their advice and knowledge. Then it was time to load up the car with four writers' baggage and head to the airport to drop of darling CP, and two new writing friends. We almost didn't get out of the parking lot. Someone backing up out of a space nearly rammed into my front end, but my CP saw it, I braked, then blared the horn. I think we're all pretty much space cadets after a weekend like the M&M, so my only thought was I hope her heart isn't beating as fast as mine is right now. Whew. We were off. I dropped everyone off at the busy airport. Then it was on route to home and hearth. Four hours later, I returned to my casa and was to reality.

Here are my tidbit takeaways from the M&M/MAGGIE experience--if you get the chance to go, here's why you should:

1) GWRA is a fabulous chapter. The people are the best around, and there is a genuine desire by all to make sure you are having a positive experience. Published authors are warm and inviting. They remember the BEFORE WE WERE PUB stage of writing. They understand the hunger. The drive. The hopes.

2) The contacts you'll make are tremendous. More happened in hallways and during luncheons than anywhere else. This is an easy conference to network in. It's a great conference to cut your teeth on before hitting the NATIONALS.

3) Before you go, enter the MAGGIES. If you final, your experience will be magical. But even if you don't, you'll get AMAZING feedback from the judges. It's a fabulous contest.

As soon as I got home, and dropped my luggage in the bedroom, I joined GWRA. I can't wait to get to know this fabulous group of people.

And now.... off to the beach!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

AWOL for Writing Priorities

I love my blog and all my blog buddies, but right now my rear is BICHOK first for my current revision. I want to nail this puppy to the wall by September 1.

Why am I so dedicated to my characters and so fickle with the blog? For the same reason all writers should be dedicated: the manuscripts must come first. All else comes second, third, fourth--priorities. My second reason for pushing this through and making it my top priority is that I want to start querying again. My third reason is that I want to move onto another story, one that's been tickling my happy writing soul and it is demanding to be written.

But first things first. First me H/H must have a semblance of completion before I move on.

And I've discovered that all my social networking, while vital to me as a human, does detract from the energy I need to focus on the other side of writing: the business side. I am gearing up for a new year and preparing for the future. Researching agents and publishers, creating spreadsheets for querying and submitting all require time. Again, prioritizing means setting aside something I love until I am finished my task.

I'm sort of going through a mini-withdrawal. So here I am posting about my lack of posting.

How do you prioritize your writing day?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Monday, August 9, 2010

You're Live with Sandee & Buzz on WZYP 104.3

My current WIP in Revision is about a radio star who works in a southern Alabama station. Years ago I had worked in a radio station, and I wanted to revisit those memories with my heroine. I wrote the first draft and revised the manuscript based upon my experiences. However, I knew that a lot has changed in the world of radio and I wanted to reflect those changes in my manuscript.

But how? I couldn't revisit the old station I used to work at because it no longer exists and my former co-workers live in a different market. I mentioned this deficit (okay, I whined) to my friend and fellow writer and she said she knew someone who worked at WZYP 104.3. Several texts and emails later, we'd arranged to go visit the hosts of the WZYP 104.3 Morning Drive Show, Sandee Satterfield and Buzz Stephens.

Friday morning, at 4AM, my friend and I woke up -- actually I dragged myself to the shower, found a cup with my eyes closed and slept walked to the closet to get dressed. Then we drove over to Athens, Alabama to meet the hosts at 5:30AM. As usual, my friend and I got lost--writers without sense of direction and extremely sleepy ones tend to do that a lot. We managed to find the station and Sandee let us into the studio. Then she introduced us to Buzz who was as funny in person as he is on the air. 

I can see why Sandee and Buzz make such a great team. They are both witty, giving and driven people. While I could barely articulate that early in the morning, Sandee and Buzz were wide awake, happy to receive goodies from us, and very generous with their time and talent. What floors me is that they get up that early every morning, go in to host their fun show and then they keep on working for hours after they go off the air. I personally did not manage to do much of anything for three days after I watched them work. I believe I am still sleepwalking. But they put in over 12 hours of work a day on a regular basis. 

Despite my lack of sleep that day, I am so grateful that they invited me to visit their studio because radio has changed a lot more than I thought it did. I was surprised to learn that they no longer use CDs to run the show. They use a hard drive and a computer. There are tons of buttons to push, screens to touch, and playlists to run all stored on the computer. Commercials, taglines, jabs (a new term for me), swingers (not the human kind, but the verbal kind), and songs are all on beds that are stored on the hard drive. I asked what they'd do if the computer failed. They can use their back up CDs and wing it, but the show is well timed. In fact, so well timed that they know exactly what length of song to cut from a play list should they go over  or what to add if they have additional time. 

A lot of the stations are satellite driven with syndicated shows feeding through the dishes into our radio waves. I won't give away all their secrets, but I can say that even with all the technology that's available, the WZYP morning show would not be the same without the morning personalities running the board. I was very impressed by their ability to tune into their live chats and seg into the different on-air moments. When they weren't on-air, they were cutting commercials, taking calls, rehearsing their on-air moments, and talking to me and my friend about their work. They must have some kind of weird internal clock because one minute we'd be chatting about the industry and then they'd turn around, grab their earphones, adjust their mikes and countdown the seconds before they went on-air.

There were a lot of visual cues surrounding them in their tiny, dark and cold room. There was a white board with instructions. In another corner a poster board with notes from their engineer and program director on it. Pieces of paper with notes about what to say were taped to their computers and on their security televisions. A televisions set was on, muted. They watched their computers all the time for new information about the weather, the area in general and more. They have to juggle a lot of different balls while they operate their board and run the show. 

I asked about live remotes. I remembered how my old station way back when ran its remotes, but the advent of cell phones and satellites have made it possible for radio personalities to call in their show! Wow. Now I know my radio star's tour to promote her book is plausible. Sure, they still have a truck which can be part of the remote, but it's not always necessary. 

Once again I've learned how vital hands on research is to my writing world. I have so many real images and bits of information to incorporate into my current WIP in Revision. The duct taped chair, the cues, the terminology, and the overall feel of the studio will be woven into my story thanks to the generous hospitality of my hosts, Sandee and Buzz. 

Buzz Stephens Morning Show Host for WZYP 104.3

WZYP Morning Host Sandee Satterfield looking very awake at 6AM!

Shortly after this photo was taken, I went home to sleep for four hours. Buzz and Sandee continued working!

Thursday, August 5, 2010



Instructor: Jennifer LaBrecque

Dates: August 9 – 23, 2010
Cost: $20
Registration Deadline Extension: August 8, 2010
More Information: Heart of Dixie

Class Description:

Join award-winning, veteran Blaze author Jennifer LaBrecque and learn how to notch up your writing’s sensuality level from so-so to sizzling. The two-week course will cover sensuality vs. sexuality, creating sexual tension, awareness, steps to intimacy, the emotional component, engaging all five senses, and moving beyond tab a into slob b. Join Jennifer as she shares her secrets for writing which have earned her reviews such as, “Nobody writes a hotter novel better than Jennifer LaBrecque.” – CataRomance Reviews and “This one is hotter than hot!” – Romantic Times Book Review.

Instructor Bio:

Despite a journalism scholarship award, Jennifer LaBrecque graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in business and marketing.  However, she has now come full circle and writes short contemporary romance with a unique blend of humor and sensuality.To date, Jennifer has penned 20+ novels and novellas, along with teaching workshops at national and regional conferences.  Her work has finaled in such prestigious contests as the RWA RITA ® Award of Excellence and Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Awards. A Georgia native, she lives in metro Atlanta where the hot temps serve as inspiration for her steamy scenarios.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

RWA Conference Confessions

I'm back from the 2010 RWA National Conference held in Orlando, Florida. The four day conference was amazing and a big congratulations goes out to the organizers and volunteers who helped make our conference happen despite the loss of our venue in Nashville. To pull of a conference of this magnitude in less than 3 months is nothing short of tremendous.

Rather than go into great detail about my conference experience, I thought I'd give you all a few tidbit confessions. After all, confession is good for the soul.

Christine's 2010 RWA Conference Confessions:

*I did not attend every workshop or spotlight on a publisher. I couldn't despite trying to duplicate myself in the copier room. There were too many wonderful events to attend occurring at the same time.
*I enjoyed my solitary walks around the Boardwalk at Disney's resort. Quiet time was necessary as a rejuvenator for my soul. I also enjoyed stopping at the Yacht Club and buying a cold glass of Pinot Grigio.
*I did have a lot of inner Fan Girl moments when I saw any of my favorite authors out and about. Breathing the same air as Nora Roberts, Eloisa James, Jayne Ann Krentz, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Linda Howard and the list goes on and on gave me continuous inner happy dances.
*Nora Roberts is a super generous person who is patient and kind, but she expects writers to write, not whine. My new motto is: Don't whine, just write.
*It's kind of cool hearing multi-published authors confess that they also have no idea what they're going to write when they reach the dreaded middle.
*No, Virginia, there is not just one way to write a book. Develop your own process and keep going.
*The synopsis is dreaded by all.
*That woman running across between the Swan and the Dolphin in her pajamas with emergency Benadryl in her hands for her CP was me.
*I finished all my wine.
*I didn't get to see everyone I wanted to see, but I saw some of the same people all the time.
*I have a crush on Donald Maass. Who doesn't? Now I want to find the Silhouette books he wrote under his pseudonym.
*Spanx are a horrible invention, but a necessary evil.
*Chicken? Who wants some chicken?
*The Golden Heart/Rita Ceremony was extra special this year because my dear friend Sharon Wray was a finalist. She glowed.

*And last, but not least.... trying to explain that a Romance Writer's National Conference is a lot different than a Scientist's conference to one's husband is impossible because I've never seen darling hubby come home from a conference with blisters upon blisters due to wearing sassy shoes, nor has he ever suffered from "conference voice."

Thanks to RWA again for my fabulous conference. I'm honored and proud to be member and a romance writer. Happily Ever Afters are attainable if we keep believing in our dreams.