Thursday, November 30, 2006

Very Temporary Writer's Block

So I've actually had a bit of a bout with writer's block and it's not pretty. It's real and it's scary. But the other morning I had a very temporary (like ten minutes) bout with writer's block and I thought I would share.

Those of you who know me know I'm a morning writer. And I don't write at home, I write over breakfast. In fact, for ten years I ate breakfast at the same Owens restaurant anywhere from 5-7 times a week. RUMBLE was written in Owens and some of you may remember the anguish I felt when coporate sold all their restaurants and literally came in one day and closed them without notice - to customers OR employees. (And a big middle finger up to Bob Evans Corporation for that act, BTW)

Well, hubby and I moved in March to a new area of town so I had to find a new breakfast joint. I tried several but finally found one to my liking. It's the perfect diner sort of setting. Vinyl boths, metal chairs and tables that wobble. Worn carpet and a bunch of blue-collar workers, farmers, retirees, etc. It looks like a typical small-town diner except for the size and the fact that the waitresses take orders with wireless pda's - an irony that just amused the hell out of me given the outward appearance of the joint.

So I was at my breakfast spot on Tuesday, and typing away on my latest draft. There was a large group of retired gentlemen having some sort of meeting in a bunch of arranged tables close to my booth, but I had them screened out so I didn't know what they were doing. Then I got to this particularly steamy section of the work. It was the second kiss scene. The first kiss was one of those eye-opener experiences. The second kiss was one of those body responding on fire experiences.

So I'm in the hero's pov and just about to explain which of his parts are on fire when a gentlemen from the meeting group stands up and starts to pray. Apparently this is a religious meeting.

Normally, I can screen out anything except people speaking directly to me or kids (can't stand screaming kids), but there is just something so inherently wrong about writing about a stiffy while someone is praying not less than two foot from where you're sitting. It took me about ten minutes after the amen to recover my composure and continue.

And that, my friends, is my story of temporary writer's block.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Drvie by blogging

Sorry guys, another short post today. I am training today, working through lunch and doing some private training after class, so no rest for the weary.

Really cool item - gave RUMBLE an incredible review. Check it out.

The weather report has been updated now - we are supposed to have severe thunderstorms with the possibility of hail starting this afternoon and 1-2 inches of snow and ice overnight. Essentially, Dallas will be shut down for a day or two.

But that hail thing is looking real promising............remember, my husband is a body shop manager. We pray for hail.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Traffic Woes

I want to go ahead and apologize ahead of time for the length and content of this blog. I promise I was going to do better, but traffic sucked this morning and I have class starting in fourteen minutes and software that didn't clone. (sigh)

It is misting here in Dallas. That means no one can drive except at 2 miles per hour and with a wreck conveniently located at every red light. The cops, in their eternal quest to make our lives easier, are not moving these drivable cars into parking lots - nooooooooooo they're standing in the middle of the road along with the wreckees discussing it like they're having a coffee break. And hell, maybe they are. Anyway, long-story-short - it took me 5o minutes to commute 10 miles.

And hey, it's only going to get better. Thursday we're supposed to get sleet - SLEET! And the temperature will be down in the 20's. If you think Texans can't drive in water, you ought to see what they do on ice. Now, I happen to be able to drive on both AND have an all-wheel drive vehicle, but I'm not the problem. The question is, do I want to put my perfectly capable vehicle, with perfectly capable driver out on the road with all those OTHER people? Probably not.

I'll update you on Thursday/Friday whenever the bad weather comes and let you know how we're surviving here.

On the plus side - my husband is a body shop manager and sleet is wonderful for business. Not as good as hail, but we'll take it.

AND I wrote five pages this morning so the rain didn't effect my mind.

That's all for now - I'm off to class.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Monday Movie Review

Had a great four-day - still need another. But at least I got a lot accomplished. Things such as:

1. Unpacked approx 10 boxes in the spare room (yes, we moved in March - what's your point)
2. Cleaned hot tub so I could sit in it last night.
3. Wrote pages.
4. Ate entirely too much on Thanksgiving.
5. Despite my better judgement (and comments to the contrary), went shopping on Friday and got new Christmas tree and decorations. Decorated living room. Cat thinks tree is his new hiding place. Cat weighs 20+ pounds. You do the math.

I also got to see a movie this weekend, so today is Movie Review Monday. The movie was Deja Vu, starring Denzel.

I hoped for something good on this movie - the premise was interesting - the FBI has a device where they can look back in time and see everything live as it happens. They're using the machine to help solve crimes - mostly on a large scale like terrorist activities. They have been able to send back a piece of paper, but nothing live. Of course, the plot goes so that Denzel wants to go back and save this woman so he's the first human to go.

I think there are two main problems I had with this movie:

First off, there was never any big "whoa motherfucker" moment from Denzel. I mean, if someone told me I was looking into the past - live - I think I might at least let out a "damn!" He took this like it was completely normal, no questions, no concerns.

Second, his focus was solely on saving this one woman. So you have a machine that powerful and you limit your scope of action to one human being? And a human being he'd never met before. It wasn't like he was going to save his lover or anything.

So yet again, I feel this was an interesting idea, not brought to fruition. Bummer.

My rating: Save your eight bucks - this one is a rental.

Friday, November 24, 2006

The First Day After Thanksgiving.......

and the turkey gave to me - heartburn.

Or maybe it wasn't the turkey. Maybe it was the chicken dressing, lima beans, cajun rice, sweet potato casserole, fruit salad or baked beans. I'm certain it wasn't the four-layer pie. :)

So I'm up fairly early, even though I was going to try to sleep late - late being 7:30 or so. I have the day off today - whoohoo! Am I shopping - hell no!

My husband wanted to buy a dvd a couple of nights ago and I was like "I've already told you I will not go to Best Buy until 2007." Last weekend, when the PlayStation 3 released, there was a line around the building - with tents! People actually slept there all night to get a game. Hell, most people won't sleep somewhere all night to get a job, but apparently the new PlayStation is uber-important.

I found my first bad review of RUMBLE the other day, but it was from an individual and apparently not important as it hasn't circulated anywhere else. What tickled me about it was her problem with the book. She apparently didn't like when my heroine refused to ride in the hero's car and commented that no one drove a Honda Accord except someone with a stick up his ass. Then she goes on to call it a foreign piece of crap.

So this is the reason I hacked someone off?????? My heroine said "Jesus Christ on a stick!" some chapters before that one and THAT didn't hack her off, but God forbid we insult a Honda Accord?

I know my good blog readers don't have to be reminded of this, but IT'S FICTION. My characters says what small-town deep-south Louisiana people might say. The statements or comments of my characters in no way reflect my views on society, God or foreign cars. In fact, I drive an Infiniti and the exact opposite of the statement my heroine made is the reality for me - I don't drive American cars.

It scares me sometimes that certain people are loose in the world. How angry and uptight they must always be if such irrelevant things bother them so.

So for this Thanksgiving, I think I've finally decided on the one thing I'm most thankful for -

I'm most thankful that I don't give a shit what anyone else thinks.

Trust me, it's a peace of mind you can't come to any other way.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Movie Review

Hi guys! Sorry for the no-blog start to the week but I had class Mon/Tues and I had enough time to either write pages or blog - writing pages won. No class today and I'm just itching for all the good food I'll be eating tomorrow. So today I have time to blog and I'm going to do movie reviews because I actually managed to see two movies last weekend.

First up: Borat
Review: I'm not going to waste anyone's time. The cliff note version - silly, stupid, unfunny men humor. And really, REALLY gross scenes with ugly, out-of-shape men naked. No woman wants to see that but unattractive, out-of-shape actors always seem to want to show us their flaws. Ick.

Second up: Casino Royale

I was really scared about this movie. I'm a huge Bond fan - have the dvd's, love the character and the stories. So anytime there's a "new" Bond, I'm nervous. But let me put your fears to rest by saying - I loved this movie! The plot was great - gone was the "cheese factor" (as my lovely editor, Leah said) of the previous Bond films. There's a bit of fun with technology, as always, but not to the Get Smart extent we've seen in the past. The storyline was good, the writing was excellent, I absolutely loved the dialogue.

Soooooooo, only one item remained - what did I think of Daniel Craig as the new Bond?

One word - Perfect!

And that's the one thing I never expected to say. God forbid, I hack off some people here, but I like him so much better than Brosnon (and we're not even going to talk about Dalton). I like him better than Sean Connery - jury's still out on whether he'll beat Roger Moore.

I had huge doubts when I say pictures. I thought he wasn't good looking enough. He lacked the polish of Brosnon. I didn't know that I would warm to him. But I did.

Craig brought back to Bond what I think has been missing for some time - all facets of the man himself. Craig played the polished parts well. He wears fancy clothes and orders martinis with the best of them. His delivery of the clever, funny lines that Bond is famous for was right on target. Best of all, he has a rugged manliness to him - that hard side of Bond that enables him to be a killer when necessary - and he played all facets fabulously!

And the looks? Well, let's just say that this man has charisma oozing out of him. If you're unsure if Daniel Craig is sexy before you see this movie, I don't think you'll have any doubt when you leave.

So that gives Casino Royale two thumbs up and a hot flash from me!

Friday, November 17, 2006


Of course, it's going to be a very looooonnnnnnggggggg Friday - but hey, it's still here! I have a breakfast meeting this morning, finish seven company software migrations today, then drive back to Philly and catch a flight home. Yea! I should arrive in Dallas around 9:30. So my day started at 6:00 and will end about 10:30 (have to pick up baggage and drive home after landing). And that's if everything goes well, so cross your fingers that American Airlines doesn't lose their minds again and anything of the sort. If you have the time, you could also throw in an extra crossed appendage that my first class upgrade gets approved. :)

No weigh in today - I'm kinda not at home with my scale. And the pages were sorta dismal this week too, although I did get another chapter edited and out for review. Yeah! In fact, now that I'm thinking about it, I don't know if I'll be weighing in next week either since mom will be cooking every manner of good fattening food for Thanksgiving and I will be doing my absolute best to cut down on leftovers. It's my family duty, after all. :)

What's everyone else doing for the holidays? If you work, do you have Friday off? I do and plan to write my arse off.

By the way, I haven't forgotten the Madlibs, but two of you refuse to follow up on my blog and give me the missing information. I want you to know (Tammy & Colleen) I have your private emails (and in one case your phone number) and I WILL collect.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Not Quite Friday

It's not quite Friday, but I'm counting the hours. I'm ready for my own bed and more selection in shoes - you know, the really important things in life. And not that I'm one to complain (hehe), but I'm not exactly having the time of my life here in King of Prussia. Oh sure, it's got a huge mall (like there's no shopping in Dallas, so what the heck good does that do), but it's got other weird issues also. We can start with limited ability to turn left. There are these huge cement block thingies in the middle of the street that prevent you from making left turns into mostly everywhere you need to go. I have to drive about half a mile past my hotel before I can turn left, then guess what - there are no U-turns allowed anytime you've just spent a half mile or more passing cement bunkers. So I have to turn into a residential neighborhood which at the entry has a No U-turn sign posted. Which mean I have to journey into the neighborhood, scope out an empty driveway and turn there. To get to the job site, I have to do the exact same thing but in the opposite direction. Plus, there are rarely any right turns on red allowed here and traffic is horrible so it can take 20-30 minutes just to move a couple of miles.

The service has been less than desirable also. Last night I looked forever to find a breakfast place. I was really looking for this morning, but had worked myself into really wanting some breakfast for supper. but when I asked about a breakfast spot at the front desk of the hotel, I got these blank stares and headshakes. Are you kidding me? A town that doesn't have an IHOP, Denny's, Waffle House, anything????? I thought I remembered seeing "cafe" on a building on the way to the job site, so I headed that direction and pulled into the parking lot. I have apparently found the only cafe in the country that not only doesn't serve breakfast, it doesn't have coffee. Frustrated, I asked the girl at the "cafe" if there was any place in this town that served breakfast. She sent me to a deli, which oddly enough, did serve breakfast. The waitress, however, thought one cup of coffee was enough for a breakfast meal and an hour of working on my rough draft. She looked most annoyed when I asked for a refill. But not near as annoyed as the cashier when I asked for my reciept?????

Isn't Philadelphia supposed to be the city of brotherly love? If so, I ain't feeling it.

They're probably all angry because there's no place to eat breakfast.

In other news, our training facility lost their internet connection yesterday. Of course, I'm in the middle of doing seven software conversion on a WEB BASED software package. See any problems there? Lucky for me, I explained the seriousness of the situation and they rerouted us to a new provider. We only lost an hour and a half, but what are the friggin' odds? This is a test case that we're trying with this client - to do both the training and migration to the new software in the same week with the trainer leading the migration effort. So far, my flight was cancelled and the internet has gone out. I seem to keep having to dig out of holes.

But to end on a good note, my great friend and incredibly talented writer, Wendy Roberts, has just accepted a three-book deal from Penguin!!!!!! Her new series is entitled DOING FOR THE DEAD and features a forensic cleaner as the heroine. You should definitely check it out - well, as soon as they're available. Yeah Wendy!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I'm an Idiot

Okay, so I'm an idiot, but I'm claiming travel stress for my lapse in reading skills. I forgot two requirements for the Madlibs, so I need everyone who played yesterday to give me another noun and an adjective. Colleen, you missed an adjective (I think) somewhere, so I need two adjectives and a noun from you. You'd think this wouldn't be so hard for a writer, but there you go. :)

So yesterday class went well but at New Horizons (where we're doing the training), they have a great podium and projector for the trainer, but no stool. Huh? So my big butt had to stand all day - in dress shoes. Thank God I lost that four pounds.

Of course, my left foot, which is the one I damaged in a motorcycle wreck a couple of years ago is angry, angry, angry. In fact, my first three toes are literally still asleep. They had nerve damage from the wreck and I guess standing all day in high heeled boots set it off again. Do you know how uncomfortable it is to have your toes asleep all the time? I think today I'm wearing dress clothes and tennis shoes. Everyone will have to live with my disasterous wardrobe because my toes are not going to take another day of high heels supporting big booty.

I'm working on my next book and was just thinking how much I'd love to not have a day job as it interferred with my writing (but kinda provides me with food and rent money) and low and behold, I received an email that will change everything. Here's what it had to say:




TEL: +31 62 252 5068
FAX: +31 84 723 1270

So you see, apparently my money problems are solved. I mean, after all, this has to be legit, right? They drew my name from five hundred billion email addresses on the web and sent me an email in ALL CAPS. That's certainly professional.

I'll check back in after I've claimed my prize. Or maybe not. Maybe then I'll be too rich to want to blog.

Of course, if this doesn't work out, there's always those stock tips that I get every day - all day.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Monday Madness

So sorry I left you all hangin' today, but it's been a heck of a beginning for this week. For starters, I was supposed to be in King of Prussia (outside of Philadelphia) yesterday for training starting today at 9:00 am. However, American Airlines had other ideas. They cancelled my flight on Sunday and even though I had a 10:00 AM flight, they apparently couldn't see fit to cough up another plane to replace their screw up. Also, every other flight that day was full - on American and every carrier they have an "exchange" relationship with. So this morning I had to wake up at the crack of dawn, head to the airport and hope that I would have a seat.

After much security waiting, check in waiting, ticket issue waiting and god knows how much bitching, I finally landed a flight. I arrived in Philly somewhere around noon in the middle of a monsoon. Hertz had lost my reservation, so I got to stand in line there. Then I got to walk across the parking lot (in the monsoon) pulling two bags. Finally made it to my vehicle and proceeded out of the parking lot and onto the Interstate where it took me almost an hour to drive 22 miles. Traffic is horrible. I'm going to assume it's the rain, although taxes in this town have to be outrageous as I passed no fewer than ten cops on a twenty-mile stretch of road.

I grabbed a burger on the way to training as I had not eaten all day and finally arrived (frizzy hair, damp sweater and all) to class at 2:00 pm. Hey, a whole two hours of training day left. Great.

I could go on and on about the horrors of business travel - getting stuck with the middle seat, etc, but I won't bore you any more than I already have. So without further ado - let's have Madlib Monday. I know it's a little late, but hey, it's still technically Monday. So here's the list:

Name of Friend
Name of Friend (Female)
Nonsense Word
Verb Ending in "ing"
Same Person (Female)
Prestigious Award

So let's see what you make of this?

Friday, November 10, 2006


Well, it’s Friday and because of the recent “New Year’s” resolutions on my blog, I’m reporting on my progress.

Pounds lost this week – 4
Pages Written this week – 18

NOTE: I actually began my “healthy living” mode on Monday, because, well, you never EVER start a diet on the weekend. That’s against the rules.

I am short on pages written from where I originally planned to be but a strange and horrible thing has happened to my writing method – I can no longer “pants.” ARGH!!!!! This is a horrible, painful development. I used to be able to sit down and rip off about 5 pages/hour day after day, finishing a rough draft in a matter of months. But now, I can’t force my mind to move forward until it’s absolutely satisfied with what was written before.

This sucks on so many levels. One, because I really LIKED being a pantster. I LIKED rushing through a rough draft feeling that burst of adrenaline that came with each chapter ending. Of course, on the other hand, it has advantages – I used to edit twice as long as it took to write the rough draft. I’m definitely not going to be doing that now. But this new way of thinking was killing me and at the beginning of the week, I really struggled with getting a handle on my writing method.

Fortunately, by Wednesday, I hit on the method that swings both ways (so to speak). I rough draft one chapter, then edit the hell out of it until it’s perfect. So I’m roughing 15 pages or so then editing for submission to my CP’s. This way, when I’m done with the rough draft, I should be 80% done with the story. I think I’m going to like this, but the jury’s still out. Of course, it TOTALLY messes up my Nano participation, but what are you going to do?

In other news, RUMBLE got a great review from Romance Reader at Heart. Here’s what they had to say:

"It always impresses me to find an author who can write a debut novel that is out of the park the first time around. This is what keeps me coming back for more when I am looking for a good book to read. RUMBLE ON THE BAYOU is phenomenal, keeping me completely entertained from start to finish.

When Deputy Dorie Berenger finds a high alligator with a finger in its mouth, in the pool of the town drunk, she knows that she is in trouble. She knows that as soon as those fancy-schmancy city cops know what she has found, they will be sending in an arrogant, big shot, know-it-all to try to take over her case, and she is just not having it. She may be small and she may look like a beauty queen, but she has a big ol' gun and she knows how to use it.

Dorie is beautiful, has a great sense of humor and knows how to throw a mean left hook. All the people in Gaitor Bait love her and respect her. They know what she is capable of, and would never think to step in her way when she is doing her job. Unfortunately, the one person in this world that Dorie doesn't want in her town has come and set up camp, determined to catch his man and foil Dorie's every attempt to run her own investigation.

Richard Starke is absolutely, without a doubt, the biggest macho-man, big-headed, arrogant son-of-a-pup that Gaitor Bait has ever come across. He walks into town with an enormous chip on his shoulder and a "don't-mess-with-me" attitude, thinking that he is going to walk in and out of this little "hick" town with his man and never have to deal with the resident sheriff's department. Well, one little meeting with a fiery blonde fishing in her skivvies is all it takes for him to realize that this might not be such an easy job to undertake.

Richard and Dorie have outstanding chemistry. Watching the two of them spat and argue and generally hate each other one minute, and then having them set the pages on fire like a pair of lusty, horny toads, is the stuff that all romances should be made of! It is great reading and kept me glued to this book. RUMBLE ON THE BAYOU is a feel good, hysterical, great romp of a read, and I recommend it to romance readers of all genres." - Kristal Gorman

And now that we’re on the subject of reviews, I have a request. If you have read RUMBLE and liked it, please post a review on Amazon or B&N or if you’re feeling like cutting and pasting, both would be uber-great! I don’t know that it makes a huge difference, but it certainly can’t hurt.

Thanks everyone and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Hardest Question in the World

I'll give you a hint - it's not "how do we stop global warming" or "how do we solve world hunger." Nope the hardest question in the world is the one I keep getting since I received an offer on RUMBLE. That question is "how do I get a book published."

What? You think there's a harder question? You think I'm being narrow-minded and shallow to think that's the hardest thing to answer? Well, maybe, but it's the hardest thing that I get asked to answer. No one's hit me up on that global warming thing yet and until they do, I'll just cover the publishing question.

So here's the problem with that question - there's no easy answer. No secret handshake, no one person you have to know, etc. I've met so many writers that think there's some sort of 12-step program to selling a book. It goes something like this:

1. Write a book.
2. Make sure your margins are 1 inch.
3. Conduct a poll and find that most people are going with TNR 12 and not Courier New.
4. Make sure you have exactly 25 lines per page.
5. Turn off widows and orphans.
6. Agonize over the title because that's the most important thing.
7. Limit each scene to one pov.
8. Bind the manuscript with rubber bands and put in a Tyvek envelope.
9. Send to your dream agent.
10. Sign contract with dream agent.
11. Go to auction with book.
12. Sit back and collect millions in royalties and have Paul Walker as a cabana boy (okay, so that's my personal dream, but hey)

Uh, yeah - that's it. Heck that wasn't hard after all. Of course, it's better fiction than RUMBLE, but hey, I'm a writer.

The reason the question is so hard to answer is because it's like trying to shoot a moving target. Very few things in publishing remain the same moment to moment. One genre fades into obivion as another rushes in on a freight train. A formerly "taboo" item becomes the hottest new trend. And the list of changes go on and on.

So if I were to really write a 12-step program for publishing, I think my list would go something like this:

1. Come up with a high concept idea (note: if you do not know what high concept is, find out)
2. Write your butt off
3. Join a writer's organization and learn the industry
4. Write your butt off
5. Study technique like there's no tomorrow. Never, EVER assume you are done learning.
6. Write your butt off.
7. Find critique partners who aren't going to be polite and kiss your butt and let them rip your baby apart
8. Edit your butt off.
9. Submit to agentS (plural) until you find a good match.
10. Sign with good agent - hopefully one that provides line edits.
11. Edit your butt off - send perfect book to agent for submission.
12. Pray long and hard that you have luck and timing in the market.

There's no secret to getting a book published. It boils down simply to hard work, lots of learning and hitting the right editor at the right time. If there was another way, believe me, we'd all use it.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Splitting the Sheets

First Reese and Ryan, now Britney and K-Fed head to divorce court. The first I find rather sad since they looked so cute together and I absolutely love her in movies. But the second - c'mon people. Is this really shocking?

Everyone trying to publish a book knows there's certain unwritten "rules" about what sells and doesn't sell. The three big taboo items are actors/musicians, athletes and politicians. Now, I'm not saying no one has done these topics before and sold. Rachel Gibson has made a fortune off of hockey and even Harlequin jumped on the sports bandwagon by creating a whole NASCAR subgenre in their line-up. Ally Carter managed to write a great high concept story with a hero that was an actor in Cheating at Solataire (and the followup, Learning to Play Gin), proving anything is possible in publishing if done well.

But is it any wonder why these people don't make good characters? Look at their lifestyles. No one is going to buy a politician in love because no one believes they tell the truth. Now, a politician telling someone they love them for political position or gain - whole other story. But not a story of romance.

Actors make terrible heros/heroines for romances because their marraiges so rarely work out. Some of them ( ie Brit & K) are so miserably doomed from the beginning. And then the stupid heroine thing comes into play, too. I mean, c'mon Brit - if you were going to buy a husband, couldn't you have passed on the "used" model and gone for a better looking new one?????

And maybe all of Hollywood should consider hiring some aspiring writers to pen their press statements. I'm sure we'd come up with something more creative than ".....they remain committed to their family and ask that you respect their privacy and the safety of their children."


1. No one's ever respected their privacy and that's about to get worse not better.

2. If they were committed to their family, they wouldn't be divorcing. Obviously someone (if not both) lost that lovin' feeling. The only thing actors tend to remain committed to is their careers.

Let's face it - there are probably accountants, scientists, data processors, pubic health workers and all other manor of professionals behaving badly. The difference is, it doesn't make the evening news. High profile people are hard to immortalize in a romance because all their dirty laundry is regularly aired.

So what's the hardest profession you've tried to write?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Why Everyone Should Read Ally Carter

It's release Tuesday and I've got a great recommendation for you. Not that my recommendation is all that fabulous when the book in question got a cover quote from Carly Phillips - and Carly offered to do it after reading Ally's first book - it was not solicited!

The book is LEARNING TO PLAY GIN which is the followup to CHEATING AT SOLATAIRE.

There are a number of reasons you should read books by Ally Carter, but the most important reason is that she is my friend and an all-around great gal. Okay, so maybe that's not the most important reason. So let's just cover the list:

1. She's funny. Ally has a great wit and captures the hilarity that is apt to happen at the worst moments of life.

2. She's smart. Oh sure, Gin (and Solataire) are wonderful reads and not hard on the mind - unless you want them to be. Ally's writing style is deceptively simple and on a surface level everything seems straight forward, but heroine Julie James has a way of looking at things that will make you think harder about your own life choices.

3. She's incredibly accurate with writing small-town situations and down-to-earth people. But then, that one was easy. Ally's an original farmgirl and comes by it honest. Even today, she uses her degree to help ranchers run their business the best they can.

4. Did I mention she's my friend?

Here's a little teaser from LEARNING TO PLAY GIN. This is an email from Julia's (heroine) mom to her:

From: James Family Farm
To: OK Lady
Subject: Just checking on you

Nothing new here today. Daddy kind of hurt his leg, but the vet was here and said it was nothing, so he's not going to the doctor.

We're so lucky to have such a good vet nearby.



Now, how can that not make you smile??????? This is so typical, so real. And her heroine is a woman we'd all want to be. Julia is smart, successful, actually has hips and has all the same insecurities we all do when faced with deciding if this man is "the one." You'll cheer for her and agonize for her, but most of all, you'll love her.

If you haven't read anything by Ally Carter yet, now is the time to start. I promise, you won't regret it!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

I Couldn't Help Myself

So normally I wouldn't post jokes circling the internet, but darn it, this one could appear in one of my books. Too funny.

Special Forces!

The Pentagon announced today the formation of a new 500-man elite fighting unit called the United States Redneck Special Forces.

These Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma,Tennessee and Texas boys will be dropped off into Iraq and have been given only the following facts about terrorists:

1. The season opened today.
2. There is no limit.
3. They taste just like chicken.
4. They don't like beer, pickups, country music or Jesus.
5. They are DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE for the death of Dale Earnhardt.

The Pentagon expects the problem in Iraq to be over by Friday.

I was laughing hard enough when it said they didn't like Jesus, but the Dale Earnhardt line clenched it.

Friday, November 03, 2006

A New Me

Okay, I've turned over a new leaf - I swear. There is going to be a new Jana or an old dead one. So here's the things I've decided to do:

1. I changed my work schedule from 7:30-4:00 to 8:30-5:30. Of course, when I'm on the road, this is different, but this is for in-town office hours. I am an early riser and hoped that the getting home a couple of hours before my husband would allow me writing time in the afternoon. Unfortunately, I have decided that I am not a good afternoon writer. I tend to be too tired and too distracted by the time I get home and then accomplish nothing. My writing time has always been in the morning but at the old job I didn't have to be at work until 10:00. So I'm back to morning writing time. AND I'm back to writing at a diner. I wrote RUMBLE at a diner and that's the environment I enjoy - lots and lots of available coffee.

So, I got up this morning, got ready for work, headed out to the diner and got in an hour's writing time before shoveling in breakfast. And the best part - I got four pages written!!!! Now, it might not sound like much, but since I'd only managed one Monday-Thursday (and it wasn't even that good), four is huge! Plus, bear in mind that I haven't been writing regularly in over a year and only semi-regularly this summer (while writing proposal). So I'm a bit rusty, but I think I'll be fine.

2. I am changing my diet. Damn it, I am tired of being tired - and fat - shopping is far less fun when you can't wear anything or they don't make anything cute in your size. So since everything in life needs a goal, here is my goal. I am pretty sure I will be attending the RT Convention next April. By then I want to be 50 pounds lighter. And don't get started on losing weight fast - I have plenty to loose and that's no where near the max of 3.5 pounds/week. Of course, by RWA National, I want to be invisible. :)

So there it is - I know, it's only two items, but they're big items (especially #2). I mean, I could go on to say "I'm going to exercise" or "I'm going to remove my makeup before bedtime" but I don't want to sound crazy.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Energy Foods

I have a problem - I don't want to stay awake. Now, I know a lot of it is simply because I'm rushing here and there, doing five billion things and I probably need a break. But a break is not in the foreseable future, so we're not even going to discuss it.

The biggest problem I've had lately is wanting to fall asleep after lunch. Granted, I'm usually bored after lunch too. If I'm not training a class then I'm either in class or running a manual on a class. Running manuals is as exciting as watching grass grow. And I'll let you in on a little secret - trainers are some of the worst students - at least I am. I hate being in class even though it is a necessary evil. I was the girl that skipped most of college class in favor of playing pool. Hey, I won a pool tournament and still graduated with excellent grades so what did it hurt?

So lately, about an hour after lunch I am ready to crash. I have found that a Starbucks Venti-NonFat-Seven Pump-Four Shot-Vanilla Latte seems to pick me up a bit, but heck four shots of espresso in one drink ought to have me thinking I could fly.

So am I eating the wrong food for lunch? Wait a minute, don't answer that. Of course, I'm eating the wrong food for lunch. But what in the world does one eat for energy? And before you healthy people start spouting out your advice, here is a list of requirements for my food:

1. It has to be something I don't have to prepare. Either I buy it at a restaurant or it microwaves in a box. I do not have time to prepare food. Period. And if I'm traveling, it has to come from a restaurant.

2. It cannot consist primarily of vegetables (so salad is out). I do not like vegetables. Only a tiny bit of lettuce and broccolli (and only if it's little) will be eaten. Vegetables cooked into food are all right but only if chopped in small pieces and disguised with sauce.

3. It must last a minimum of 4.5 to 5 hours. I know when you're eating "right" you are supposed to eat more often. That's great, but I don't think my students would appreciate it if I stopped class to gnaw on a chicken breast. So the meal has to take me from lunch all the way to supper.

4. Whatever I eat cannot require tons of water for digestion. See #3. I cannot drink 40 gallons of water a day. I am teaching class. We break once in the morning and once in the afternoon. I know from experience that if I drink the requisite amount of water a day, I make a trip to the ladies a minimum of once an hour. Not do-able.

5. It has to have flavor. If it didn't, I'd simply buy SlimFast shakes and drink my meals all day. (Salt is a requirement - I'm from Louisiana - we have our standards)

6. It cannot smell funny. When I am at corporate, I eat at my desk so that I can work on my writing through lunch. My desk consists of a 10x10 cubicle with four foot walls in a huge area with about 60 other people. They would not appreciate it if I nuked tuna and waltzed through the department with it.

Did I make it hard enough?????? Well, let me also add that I don't eat sour cream, cottage cheese, mayanaise or musturd. I can also only tolerate so much fruit daily (and only certain kinds) because I have an ulcer and fruit is too acidic.

Ready - set - go! Plan me a diet - please!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Movie in Review

So after my "big" trip home to Louisiana, I arrived back home on Sunday not wanting to do a darn thing that required energy. Well, it took a little energy to put on decent clothes and go to the movie, but I'm glad we did. We saw The Prestige. It was pretty darn good for me and excellent for most other movie goers. Why the difference, you say. Well, I have this rather annoying habit of figuring out the twists and turns of plots before the writer intended me to. I can't help it - I write psuedo mysteries, for God's sake. I'm always looking for misdirection. So about half-way through I'd figured out the two main plot twists, but it didn't stop me from loving the movie. My husband, who is a huge movie buff and no slouch himself, didn't "get" the two main twists until I pointed them out so that's why I say it was pretty darn good for me and will be excellent for most other watchers.

The plot centers around two magicians (pre-1900) and the competition they get into (over personal reasons) to find the best trick and outdo each other. Sounds simple, but trust me, this movie had it all - liars, secrets, twists, plot turns, death, love - everything that makes a great movie. The acting was superb, but then who doesn't love Hugh Jackman and Christina Bale? Not to mention that neither are hard on the eyes. And let's not forget the huge talent of Sir Michael Caine.

It's not The Usual Suspects, but it's damn good!
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