Wednesday, February 27, 2013

While the Physicist's Away...

The Physicist is overseas. He's been gone for over two weeks and will return on March 3. I miss him and he misses me. We talk whenever we can and we Facebook message each other a lot, but a nine hour time difference means those interactions are fleeting.

That's okay. He's always traveled for work. And at least he's not completely in harm's way--though I was worried about this trip more so than others. I know he'll be home soon and I have regular communication with him. This is a luxury compared to many of the military spouses who go months without seeing their beloved ones.

Up until this year, I always had someone else to look after. But now I'm officially an Empty Nester. So it's just me, Tonks, and Mischief rattling around this cage. I've become a bit feral as a result.

So the following things have occurred during this long time without my hero.

1. Those of you who have met me know that I am a hair and makeup girl. I get dressed for the day, put on make up, style my hair and try to look decent for the Physicist when he comes home from a long day's work. But when he's gone, my routine changes. I go to the gym, work out, come home, shower and get cleaned up but no more. Not unless I have to be seen in public. I wear a ratty holey sweater and write all day until about 4PM.

2. A real meal for dinner is optional. Really. I love to cook, but eating tuna salad out of the bowl it's made in is perfectly fine when there is no one around to watch me. Oh, Cheerios can so be a starch. I also eat when I want to eat--which  means no waiting for someone to come home and unwind before eating a later meal. There is a level of bonus to this situation.

3. I don't sort my laundry. Nope. I just wait till the basket gets full and dump it into the washing machine. Most of my laundry comprises of workout clothes and socks. And I don't care if my socks get a little dingy. Turns out that while the Physicist has been overseas working, he's also done the same thing with his laundry. Yes. We are a couple of wild and crazy peeps!

I've also become unafraid of asking for help when I need it. To date I've had to work with my security company to fix the alarm system, and I had to call the fire department over the weekend because my gas stove top was acting weird. I tell you it was rather nice having three gorgeous, extremely young men standing in their full uniforms in my kitchen. I am writer. I can look. Right?

And yes, the Physicist knows about my little stove top incident. He's evolved that way.

So what do you do when your "cat's away?"

Monday, February 25, 2013

Writing Life 101

Sometimes writing is two steps backward, one step sideways, and it's often never in the right direction. But I know I will get to the end of the story if I write every day. And I know I have a critique partner Pam Mantovani who will help along the way.

I'm a crapper-pantser-fixer-upper. A moniker I forever immortalized accidentally during a Southern Magic meeting when I learned I was the 2012 Linda Howard Award of Excellence triple finalist.

My CP can attest to my process. It is kind of scary. However, I do appreciate her sticking with me.

How do you face down your manuscript demons? Got any suggestions to make my writing journey less messy?

Friday, February 22, 2013


From Valentine’s Day through the end of March, three romance authors are combining to not only bring readers an easy opportunity for a chance to win a 7” Kindle Fire HD, but also the chance to discover a new and exciting way to read books!

Have you heard of Kindle Serials? It’s a blast from the past, where books are released in episodes in the same vein as in Charles Dickens’ day. Only, instead of getting each episode in a magazine or newspaper, you’ll get them on your Kindle or Kindle app. It’s kind of like your favorite television shows. The ones that leave you hanging each week, anxious to get to the next episode and know more!

Cheryl Bolen, Kim Law, and Patrice Wilton each have a Kindle serial releasing, and are hoping you’ll give them a try! In return, they’re giving away a 7” Kindle Fire HD on April 1st, and will give away three $20 Amazon gift cards along the way. All you have to do to enter is go to one of their websites and answer a simple question about their serial. Want to enter three times? Go to each website and answer a question about each serial.

Additionally, after reading each episode, join the fun by chatting with other readers on the Kindle forums, and discussing how you think the next episode will play out! Links to the forums are found on each book’s Amazon page.

Falling for Frederick, by Cheryl Bolen – Laden with mystery and suspense, Falling for Frederick is a fast-paced romance that takes place in contemporary England. Aided by the lord of the manor, a lovely doctoral student seeks a priceless medieval artifact – just a step ahead of those who've already murdered to get it.

Ex on the Beach, by Kim Law – Andie Shayne is getting ready to host the wedding of the summer at her resort on Turtle Island. As the guests arrive she’s taken aback to learn that her ex--who left her at the altar--is the best man. What he did was unforgiveable, and now he’s back with an agenda for her affection.

A Hero Lies Within, by Patrice Wilton – Old secrets linger and two reunited lovers are faced with more deception and mistrust. Can their love survive a second time around? Jake Harrington left her once when her life was falling apart, and now he’s back, and so are all the emotions she fought hard to expel. Can she forget his bitter betrayal, and will he forgive hers when to save her career she must betray his trust?

$20 Amazon Gift Card giveaways:
February 28th – Winner pulled from all entries from Cheryl’s contest page.
March 14th – Winner pulled from all entries from Kim’s contest page.
March 28th – Winner pulled from all entries from Patrice’s contest page.

7” Kindle Fire HD giveaway:
April 1 – Kindle Fire HD winner will be drawn from all entries gathered from the contest pages of Cheryl, Kim and Patrice. Enter up to 3 times to win!

By submitting your entry you agree to share your information with and sign up for Cheryl, Kim and Patrice’s newsletters. They agree not to share your information with anyone else. You may unsubscribe at any time.
One entry per person per contest page. (Up to three entries possible, one at each contest page.)
You must be 18 years old to enter.
You must be a US resident to enter.
Giveaway ends at midnight EST, Sunday, March 31, 2013.
One winner will be chosen at random from all entrants for the 7” Kindle Fire HD.
One winner will be chosen at random for each of the Amazon gift cards.

Winner selections are at the sole discretion of Cheryl Bolen, Kim Law and Patrice Wilton. All decisions are final.
Winner will be notified via email.
Winner agrees for their name to be used in newsletters, on websites, twitter, and on the Facebook pages of Cheryl Bolen, Kim Law, and Patrice Wilton.
Giveaway is sponsored by Cheryl Bolen, Kim Law, and Patrice Wilton. No purchase necessary. Cheryl Bolen, Kim Law, and Patrice Wilton are not responsible for transmission failures, computer glitches or lost, late, damaged or returned mail.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Writing Life & Tidbits & Sneak Peek Interview: Latoya Smith, Editor, Grand Central Publishing

I've been working on a new story that's challenging me as a writer. I want to write it fast, but the characters and the emotional journeys they are on toward deserving each other are taking a long time to unravel. In addition to the characters's journeys being very crucial to the development of my WIP,  I've had to deal with making the core emotional development occur in a very short amount of time.

Time is compressed. That means I have to figure out how to compress time in more pages without being BORING. I want to engage the readers's senses and emotions and raise the stakes at the deeper level during the compressed time. It's not easy. But I'm having fun figuring it out. And that just brings a smile to my face even now.

Another thing that brings a smile to my face is the interview I had with Latoya Smith, editor at Grand Central Publishing. She's the final judge for the Linda Howard Award of Excellence's  Paranormal/Urban Fantasy. I'm very excited about what she had to say about her life as an editor. As part of her interview, I asked her the following question:

If you were to give an aspiring author one piece of advice, what would it be? 

Promote, promote, promote and remember to stay humble.
Remember to stay humble. No matter who you are or where you are in your writing journey, that is a most excellent thing to carry forth into your publishing career. To find out more about what Latoya Smith thinks about the "slush pile" and read the rest of her interview, go to tomorrow, February 21st. Polish your entries now. The 2013 Linda Howard Award of Excellence is still open for your diamond waiting to be discovered. Check out for details.

Happy Writing!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Writing Life & Tidbits & Sneak Interview Preview : Beth Miller, Agent, Writers House

I've been teasing you about my current WIP. And it's been fun. I think part of the reason I'm being coy is that my characters are behaving exactly the same way. This hero and heroine are driving me batty. He's a stoic, only child who buries his emotions. She's the youngest of five and was neglected so she's learned to be a spark of light.

They're perfect for each other, right? But they aren't making it easy for me. I'm working hard to figure out what's driving them together and pushing them apart. At heart they are more alike, than they are different. It is in the differences that the conflict occurs. The EMOTIONAL conflict. And that's why this story is a little different for me. Instead of external devices and turning points being used to drive the story forward, internal revelations and emotional responses are driving the story. THE CHARACTERS are in charge.

And whenever I try to put them somewhere to make the story move a bit more, they fight me. But then she's a rebel and he's an alpha male who wants to control everything. Trust me, there's a lot of hair washing going on at my house just to shake loose what they want to say.

Agent Beth Miller at Writers House took the time to speak with me about her writing background and how she ended up becoming an editor with a very unique skill set. You'll have to tune in tomorrow, February 19th at to learn them. But I do want to share who we both go fan-girl over in the Romance Writing world. Here's what she said when I asked her this question:

Have you ever become star-struck when meeting an author? If so, who?

Nora Roberts.  I may have drooled.  J

I still can't stop dropping my chin to the ground and gaping at Nora Roberts whenever I see her at the RWA National Conference. She's just amazing to me. And so is Linda Howard. She supports our writing chapters at the local and national level. How awesome is that? So polish your entries now. The 2013 Linda Howard Award of Excellence is still open for your diamond waiting to be discovered. Check out for details.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Welcome Pam Mantovani

I'm so excited to welcome my critique partner Pam Mantovani into the World Wide Web. I already know she's a fabulous, award winning writer who I'm lucky to have reading my CRAPPER-PANTSER-FIXER-UPPER manuscripts. She's a gifted writer targeting the American Romance Harlequin line and I have a feeling her career's going to soar. I can't wait to read all about her life with her Craftsman in the upcoming months.

But don't hog her from me. I need her to read my manuscripts.

So if you want to welcome Pam Mantovani to the cyber world and start following her, click and say hello to one of the best people I am lucky to have in my life.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Writing Life, Tidbits, & Sneak Interview Peek: Chelsey Emmelhainz, Avon Impulse

Ah, this week is good. Love is in the air. Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, and I'm a romance writer. What could be better than writing about my favorite subject? Love. The possibility of attaining a Happily-Ever-After with someone who is made for you. I've been working on a first draft of a new story, but revising is where the meat of the story falls into place. This is why I love to bang out my first drafts fast.

However, my current WIP's first draft process has been slightly slower for me. I think this is because I am on a learning curve regarding the line I am targeting. This is a different animal for me. I used to write fast, furious, high paced all the time. Whew, you'd be exhausted reading my first drafts. Stay tuned for how I'm changing my approach with this new WIP.

Right now I've got a King, a commoner, a secret baby scandal, and a forced marriage of convenience story between two reunited lovers who have to learn how to forgive each other and themselves. A story of second chances. I believe in them. Do you?

Another thing I believe in is opportunity. AVON Impulse offers authors a place to send their work whether it is single title, historical, romantic suspense, or contemporary series romance with a high concept. This year the Linda Howard Award of Excellences final judge for the Historical Category is Editor Chelsey Emmelhainz with Avon Impulse. She's Southern Magic's Carla Swafford's editor and very fun to interview. As part of our time together, I asked her this question:

While reading a manuscript, how long does it usually take before you know whether or not you want to request the full? Why?

For me, I can usually tell within the first ten pages. While we may not want to judge a book by its cover, I can generally tell fairly quickly whether or not the writing is clicking. My advice to authors? Grab ‘em early and really showcase your writing!

To find out what grabs Chelsey's editorial eye visit the Romance Magicians Blog at on Thursday, February 14th. And polish your entries now. The 2013 Linda Howard Award of Excellence is still open for your diamond waiting to be discovered. Check out for details.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Writing Life & Tidbits & Sneak Interview Peek: Alethea Spiridon-Hopson, Entangled Editor

Wow, I've been a busy bee these past few weeks. The Physicist has been gearing up for a very long trip overseas to parts unknown, and the College Kid has had some health issues I've had to wrangle long distance so my free time to blog has been minimized.

I love blogging and connecting with my cyber world. It's another water cooler for me, but if I have less time in my day it means setting the blog aside. Why? Oh, that writing thing I do? The stories I need to generate? They always come first. I've put myself on a series romance schedule of 3 books a year. I'd like to add to that schedule, but quality is important as well. I'm dedicated to mastering my craft and becoming even more adept at revising. More about that on Wednesday as I tease you about my current WIP.

In addition to real world interferences and my writing taking on a life of its own, I've been coordinating the 2013 Linda Howard of Excellence Contest. The deadline is approaching fast! February 22nd is just around the corner. I'm excited about the final judges and who will win this prestigious award. I won it last year and my interview about the Linda Howard Contest is running concurrently with today's blog. I've never been interviewed about my writing experiences before. It was fun. So check out for that interview.

Though I've only given one interview, I have interviewed so many of my wonderful friends who have had debut novels and achieved their dream of publication. I love their stories because they give me hope that the dream is attainable. And now, in another new thing for me to do, I have interviewed four delightful people on the other side of the publishing fence: 3 editors and 1 agent. All this for the Linda Howard Award of Excellence.

I learned a lot from these wonderful women. The main thing was that they care about writing and the stories and the craft as much as I do. And they're also very generous with their time and energy even though they have real lives and work demands, too.

My first interview will be up tomorrow on with Entangled Editor Alethea Spiridon-Hopson who is judging our Contemporary Series finalists this year. Here's a sneak peak at what she has to say when I asked Alethea this question:

What do you consider the most important qualities of an author?

Flexibility, professionalism, cooperation, patience, and kindness in how they deal with you. Sounds simple and what should be, but you have no idea... it's often not the case.

Wow. Kindness. The Golden Rule. Let's hope we all apply it regardless of where we are in our publishing and writing journeys.

To find out what Alethea's looking for and more, visit the Romance Magicians Blog at on Tuesday, February 12th. Polish your entries now. The 2013 Linda Howard Award of Excellence is still open for your diamond waiting to be discovered. Check out for details.

Happy Writing!

Sunday, February 10, 2013


OPEN for Contest Entries.

No Synopsis? No Problem! 
Enter first 25 manuscript pages in the Linda Howard Award of Excellence Contest
No Synopsis required in first round of judging. Finalists given a week to revise entries and add synopsis before sending to final judges.
First Round Judges are PRO, published, unpublished & trained.


Tuesday, February 12: Alethea Spiridon Hopson, Editor, ENTANGLED for Contemporary Series.

Thursday, February 14: Chelsey Emmelhainz, Editor, HarperCollins/AVON IMPULSE for Historical Romance.

Tuesday, February 19: Beth Miller, Agent, Writers House for THE WRITE MAGIC/Southern Magic Category

Thursday, February 21: Latoya Smith, Editor, Grand Central Publishing for Paranormal/Urban Fantasy Category.

Teasers on this blog from the interviews on February 11/13/18/20 along with a special link to an interview with Christine Glover, 2012 Linda Howard Award of Excellence Triple Finalist and Winner in Contemporary Series category. 

DEADLINE FOR ENTRY: February 22, 2013 
Finalists Announced: Friday, May 3, 2013
Deadline for entry and synopsis to be returned to coordinators: Friday, May 10, 2013

FINALISTS Announced at a restaurant TBD on July 16, 2013 a day before the RWA National Conference. Pitch with confidence all who make it to the finalist's circles.


Final Judge: Chelsey Emmelhainz, Editor, Harper Collins/AVON IMPULSE

Final Judge: Latoya Smith, Editor, Grand Central Publishing

Final Judge: Alethea Spiridon Hopson, Editor, ENTANGLED Publishing

Final Judge: Eleni Caminis, Editor, MONTLAKE Publishing

And for Southern Magic Members who Final and/or receive an average score of 90 out of 100 in their respective categories:

Final Judge: Beth Miller, Agent, WRITERS HOUSE


For score sheet, registration information, and more information visit the Southern Magic Website at