Monday, November 30, 2009

Fashion Files - The Space Age!

Ahoy, fellow 21st century space travelers! When blasting off into orbit (AKA the dating scene) it is important to look ones best.

If you are uncomfortable wearing ruffles, chains, midriffs or silk shorts ensembles however, then perhaps the future is not for you!

But if those styles do float your boat (or moon rover) then perhaps you should take a look at the Pucci-inspired fashions highlighted by Jay Scott Pike in Secret Hearts #143 (April 1970). They're outta sight!

Beware the lurking astronauts!

Don't Take it Personally...

This morning, literary agent Rachelle Gardner posted a must-read article for those querying writers who are getting fed up with agent responses-- or lack thereof-- to their work. It basically boiled down to this:

"Vent about your frustrations, but please, please, please: Refrain from making every complaint a criticism of agents."
At the risk of branding myself a suck-up or worse, I believe Gardner when she explains just how busy the average literary agent is. Query letters alone must take up an inordinate amount of time for what amounts to a fairly thankless head-ache of a task-- something I think we can all agree on.

But if literary agents really didn't care, there wouldn't be so many of them blogging about their experiences, and about what makes them keep reading a query letter or a submission. Agent blogs are my lighthouse, the flame that guides me through the querying process. The operative word being "guide"-- I take their word as guidelines, not Gospel, and it has helped me to craft my queries to where I have about a 20% success rate. Can't argue with results. And I get most of my information about what's happening in the publishing industry from agent blogs, too.

Just in case you've missed a few, here's a short list of agents who blog, which is by no means exhaustive, but these are the ones I check the most regularly.

Kristen Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency
Nathan Bransford of Curtis Brown
Jessica Faust of BookEnds, LLC
Jennifer Jackson of Jennifer Jackson Literary Agency
Jenny Bent of The Bent Agency
Janet Reid of Fine Print Literary
Kate Shafer-Testerman of KT Literary
Jenny Rappaport
Jill Corcoran

There's also a Blog Roll here on the Agent Query website, which is another invaluable resource for learning about a particular agent's likes and dislikes. After all, if you send off your query and a writing sample, and things go well, you could be in a serious relationship with this person for some time. Isn't it worth getting to know them a little before hand?

But just remember-- if they choose not to begin that relationship with you, it's not personal.

So perhaps as a gift to them, we could be a little gentler on literary agents this holiday season. That means no querying NaNo novels in December, folks! ;) And even if you've had a bad experience with a particular agent, remember they're all individuals who deserve our respect.

Happy Holidays, Literary Agents!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Mis-Adventures of Penelope Potter

Happy belated Turkey Day everyone! Unfortunately, I was unable to find any Thanksgiving related romance stories from the '60s and '70s. Perhaps the publishers figured it would contradict all the dieting advice! :)

Anyhow, I am always on the lookout for recurring characters in the romance stories, and I have found another series of one-pagers -- "The Mis-Adventures of Penelope Potter." These two are from Young Love #80 (May/June 1970), but the Mis-Adventures of Miss Potter are also chronicled in a few issues of Secret Hearts.

"The Rival"

"Caught, At Last"

The premise of the stories are simple. Essentially Penelope jumps to conclusions over things, which are sometimes warranted and sometimes not. Either way, she ends up asking for Guy's forgiveness and admits that she feels like a fool. Notice the Cockney accents and the fact that Penelope prefers magenta and Guy, green plaid. I sure 'ope you enjoyed 'ese stories!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Choose Britain's favourite romantic novel of the past 50 years

Choose Britain's favourite romantic novel of the past 50 years - Eligible titles published between 1960 and 2009.

Threads of romance run through many forms of fiction; general and historical, sagas, chick lit, even thrillers and science fiction. From the early days of novel- writing romance has featured strongly. Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters provide us with a romantic heritage.In the romantic novel the love story is a major part of the plot, whether in Regency romps, sagas crossing the generations, light-hearted city scenarios or serious contemporary fiction as well as the genre of romance itself.

What do we need? A hero, a heroine, a mutual attraction, emotional upheaval, tragedy, despair, a happy ending – some or all of these will be in your favourite romantic novel.

Nominate your favourite romantic novel by emailing the title and author to:

The poll is being conducted in conjunction with Women's Weekly magazine, libraries and reading and writing groups all over Britain.

The top 30 titles will be published in Woman's Weekly in May for the magazine readers to vote on their favourite, with a shortlist of 3 for the final voting in July.

The winning novel will be announced in September 2010.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving US Family and Friends

May your turkey plump,

May your potatoes and gravy

Have nary a lump.

May your yams be delicious

And your pies take the prize,

And may your Thanksgiving dinner

Stay off your thighs!

~Author Unknown

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Have an awesome and safe Holiday and I'll be back next week!! Don't forget to catch up on your reading, too!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Back to Basics - How to Layout the Copyright Page

I know, I know, we need to get back to the heart and soul of this Blog. I get many e-mails asking how to layout a Copyright page, so here it is in brief; hope it helps!

The Copyright Page is one of the few components in a book which is placed on the left-hand page. The typeface’s size is smaller than the book’s core text, but it should be legible. Eight- or nine-point type is suitable for the copyright information. The copyright is usually printed toward the bottom of the page and centered.

Your printed copyright information should include the publisher’s name, the city and state of publication, the copyright symbol (©), the month and year of each edition of the book, as well as your name and the names of contributors to the work, such as photographers and artists. Follow with specific copyright information about reproduction and permission. Finally, include where the book was manufactured and a book printing numbering system.

Plain and Simple Books, LLC, North Bend, Oregon
© Copyright January 2008 by Carol Denbow
Artwork © January 2008 by Joe Talent
ISBN: 0-937861-00-0
All rights reserved. The text of this publication, or any part thereof, may not be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the publisher.
(Space here reserved for the Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data.
Manufactured in the United States of America
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

(Note: the lowest number in the chain represents this printing. If you do a second printing, you will delete the “1,” for third printing delete the “2,” and so on.)

The Copyright should be centered on the page. My example is not centered only because Blogger won't let me do that.

If your book is fiction, you will want to include a statement such as this: “This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.”

For more on book production, read A Book Inside, How to Write, Publish, and Sell Your Story (ISBN 9780615199245) by author Carol Denbow

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Two Teaser Tuesday!

Hey, y'all! This morning I wanted to start with a recipe since so many people said they loved the food in New Orleans. We really are all about food here, which is the reason I know I can never move away. Also, when coworkers see you at a food festival with a beer in one hand and two cannoli in the other, they don't find anything strange about the situation. They just ask where you got the cannoli.

So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, and cooking for your loved ones, I'd like to share a recipe for callas. Leftover white rice from take-out? Don't throw it away, make calas!

What are calas, you ask? These hot, sugary fritters in the photo are from Elizabeth's, one of my favorite brunch places. I ALWAYS get the calas.

Diana Rattray, an avid home cook and recipe collector living in Mississippi, explains that calas are:
a breakfast fritter mixed with cooked rice, flour, sugar, and spices, and then deep-fried. According to "The Dictionary of American Food & Drink," the word Calas was first printed in 1880, and comes from one or more African languages, such as the Nupe word kárá, or "fried cake." African American street vendors sold the fresh hot calas in the city's French Quarter, with the familiar cry, "Calas, belles, calas tout chauds!"

Here's a recipe from Nola Cusine. Read the instructions carefully-- the dough needs to rest overnight.

1/2 Cup warm water
1 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
1 pkg Active Dry Yeast
3/4 Cup Cooked White Rice
2 Large Eggs, beaten slightly
3/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 pinch Kosher salt
1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/8 tsp freshly grated Nutmeg
Peanut Oil for frying
Powdered Sugar for a heavy dusting

The day before you want to make your Calas, combine the water and sugar in a small bowl. Add the yeast and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add the rice and stir well. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature overnight. This step will really give your Calas a distinctive flavor; think sourdough.

The next day, stir the rice mixture and kind of mash the rice against the side of the bowl with a wooden spoon. Don’t go too crazy though, I like to have a bit of that rice texture in the finished product.

Add the remaining ingredients to the rice mixture, mix well with a wooden spoon. The mixture should be a fairly loose batter, a little thicker than pancake batter. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour. This step will make your Calas as light as air when fried!

Heat 3 inches of peanut oil in a large saucepan to 365 degrees. Drop spoonfuls of the Calas batter into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, turning once. Serve with lots and lots of powdered sugar, like Beignets, or drizzle with Cane Syrup. Recipe makes about 6 good sized Calas.

Hope you enjoy the recipe, and keep reading for a teaser from EVANGELINE!

Monday, November 23, 2009

DC's Pity Party

Influenced by the struggles of other groups fighting for Civil Rights, the Disability Rights Movement gathered steam and momentum in the late 1960s and early '70s. During this time, DC made efforts to be socially "with it" and began to feature stories of the Women's and Student Movements as well as African-American characters. It was also during this time that DC published numerous stories with wheelchair-bound characters.

DIAGNOSIS: Paralysis from car accident

"Don't Pity Me -- Love Me!"
Falling in Love #108 (July 1969)
Cover pencils by Ric Estrada, inks by Vince Colletta

DIAGNOSIS: Broken leg due to falling of porch

"Love, Love Go Away... Come Again Another Day"
Falling in Love #120 (January 1971)
Cover pencils and inks by Nick Cardy

DIAGNOSIS: Knee injury as a result of a football accident
(yes, even guys can be pitied)

"Too Much Loving... Too Many Tears!"
Girls' Romances #150 (July 1970)
Cover pencils by Nick Cardy, inks by Vince Colletta

DIAGNOSIS: Hit by a car while trying to catch up with two-timing Paul

"Pity Her -- But Love Me!"
Love Stories #147 (November 1972)

The word "pity" seems to be the signifier of a character in a wheelchair. In the world of DC romance, pity and wheelchairs go hand-in-hand. In these stories, none of the characters are permanently disabled or in a wheelchair due to congenital disorders or childhood illnesses. All are results of recent accidents, are temporary and are overcome within the length of the story.

I have yet to come across any wheelchair-bound characters in the Marvel or Charlton romance comics, but I am sure they are out there somewhere!

Aspire to the Stars, or, That Which We Call a WiP by Any Other Name, Part II

Friday's Editorial Anonymous post really got me thinking about the importance of a good title, especially agent Jill Corcoran's comment at the bottom. Corcoran shared her feelings about how a good title can help your query get noticed in her in-box in her own blog post.
"Your book title is your whistle, your magnet, your bullhorn."
More often than not, I have a working title in mind while I'm drafting, but a title for my current WiP has eluded me from the start. November has actually been pretty kind to me since it morphed from NaNoWriMo to NaNoRevisMo. I'm excited to finish up my EVANGELINE rewrites and send some fulls out to betas so I can jump back into Mara's story. Except that I'm sick of calling it "Mara's Story". The manuscript is simply titled, "Mara", as well as the folder in which I keep all my research, mind maps, etc. And for this YA paranormal murder mystery, simply "Mara" just won't do.

So I've been voraciously reading mystery titles for inspiration. I'm also doing some research on how other writers think up titles, and playing around a little with lists and even Wordle to work my way closer to a title.

One method involves sitting down for five minutes with a piece of paper separated into three columns: Nouns, Verbs, Adjectives, filling those columns with words that come to mind when you think of the theme or tone of your story. My list from this exercise looks pretty good, but it's easy to fill up the noun column before you even think of the adjective and verb columns, so pace yourself, lol.

Once I finished that, I opened the file (without looking at the text, mind) did a copy all, and pasted the body of my manuscript into Wordle. I compared the words and added any good ones to my columns. Using these columns, see if any word combinations stand out to you.

Now, this list's use as a writing tool isn't limited to titling. I've saved it for my rewrites. There may be words on that list that I've overused, and will need to be replaced. But there may also be words that suit the tone of the manuscript that don't appear at all, words that I'd like to use if I can without sounding forced.

Corcoran has some great advice from her blog post that I'd like to share here:
"Free associate a bunch of titles. Type them out, double spaced, and eliminate the ones you hate. Send the list to fellow writers, friends, kids. These writers, friends, kids do not have to read your book first. Heck, the agent/editor you are querying hasn't read your book yet and that is who you are trying to attract. Ask 'which title would make you want to pick this book off the shelf?' Let each person only pick three and order their winning choices.

Don't pour years into a book and short change your title. You are just short changing yourself.

And yes, not every title of famous and super seller books are bullhorns. But that argument does not hold water with me. Don't look towards the mediocre and say it worked for them, aspire to the stars and look towards the neighboring galaxy."

Her advice to ask others for help can be hard for some of us prideful writers to swallow. We want to think that genius will strike us eventually, and that we of all people should be able to name our own baby. But just as we ask others to help whip our manuscripts into shape, we shouldn't neglect the importance of the title.

Margaret Mitchell titled "Gone With the Wind" from a line of poetry, a tactic I've tried with minimal success since my WiP is set in Belle Epoch France, but it may work for you. Quotes from famous writers, artists, etc, are also great sources for titles.

Here are a few more sites with tips, inspiration and advice for naming your baby, er, I mean novel:

B. W. Clough's "The Theory and Practice of Titles"
Sarah Stodola's list of the "Top Ten Novel Titles of All Time"
Elizabeth Richards' 2008 article- "How to Write a Great Book Title"
Rebecca Lake's 2009 article- "How to Name a Novel"
Let luck guide your quest for the perfect title at "Random Book Title Generator" or "Serendipity: Fantasy Novel Title Generator"
Sandra Haven's "Fiction Titles"
Christina Hamlet's eHow article, "How to Title a Novel"
And of course, once you've got a relatively unique title that suits your novel, check it's possiblity of success at "Lulu Titlescorer" Put your title to the test!

I understand that the title may be changed on a publishing house's whim, or when an ill wind blows through marketing, but Corcoran-- in a position to be an authority on the subject-- couldn't be more right. A good title in an agent's inbox is like waving an Hermes scarf in front of Shopaholic. Or a Vietnamese po'boy in front of me. ;)

She's also spot on when she says not to look toward the mediocre. Doesn't our work deserve the best, brightest, and loudest bullhorn we can think of? I'm aspiring for the stars to title Mara's story.

Are you?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

New Kid on the Block!

Romance comic book lovers! There is a new romance blog out there that you should check out called Out of This World. In the short time it has been up, it has featured the stories of DC's Mary Robin, RN from Young Love, Charlton's free-spirited Jonnie L♥ve and some other fine examples of romantic goodness. Check it out -- I have a feeling there will be lots of more good stuff to come!

I hope everyone is enjoying the last few hours of the weekend! I know I am!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Do We Need to Save the Contemporary Romance as Dr. Author and Smart Bitches ask? YES!!"

THE PINK HEART SOCIETY - This is a place for readers and authors, so please stop by and become a part of the international family,

We Love Category Romance and We're proud to say so!!!!

And we make no excuses for talking about books, films, TV Shows, Travel destinations, new and aspiring authors, the things that make us pick up those little books we love, Writing and Hot Hero Material!!!

The PHS is open to everyone - there is no long drawn out sign up and no fee!!! With a wide selection of Harlequin, Silhouette, Avon, Samhain, Moonlight Press, Berkeley, Little Black Dress, Kensington and any other publishing house that may care to join's authors - chatting about all the things they love best with readers and friends!

We do regular competitions, book promotions, guest authors slots and we are gearing up for recipe of the week and writing tips and tips on how to keep the love alive in your own life...

In My Mailbox (2)

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren, and is a way for everyone to show off their new books for the week, including those bought, swapped, won, or received for review.


Homer's Odyssey by Gwen Cooper

I'm really looking forward to reading this one! It's the true story of a blind cat, Homer, and his adventures.

Knight of Desire by Margaret Mallory:

I've heard some great things about this new author!! I'm always looking for new historical romance authors!


French Kiss by Aimee Friedman:

I was so happy to find this book by one of my very favorite YA authors!! Everything else I've read by Aimee Friedman has been awesome!

I can't wait to see what books everyone else got this week!!

"Wed Him Before You Bed Him"

"Wed Him Before You Bed Him"
by Sabrina Jeffries

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Mrs. Charlotte Harris, widow and owner of the girls' school featured in the "School for Heiresses" series, is disappointed to lose contact with her dear pen pal and benefactor, Cousin Michael. He was offended by her persistence on learning his identity and stopped answering her letters. Also troubling, is the reappearance of David Masters, Viscount of Kirkwood, into her life. David should want nothing to do with her after the scandal she caused for his family years ago when they were teenagers. On top of all of this, the future of her girls' school is in jeopardy and David may be the only one who can help.

The first part of "Wed Him Before You Bed Him" was fantastic, but the last 100 or so pages really dragged, as the romance was overshadowed by the mystery and all of the lies that had built up between the hero and heroine. The story is one of my favorite premises- childhood sweethearts who are reunited as adults. Jeffries spends a lot of time on the romance between the two leads when they are eighteen as a flashback. I really enjoyed this part of the book and I'm glad she gave so much time to this piece of the story instead of just skimming over or summarizing it. This background really made the intensity of their feelings for each other as adults seem more believable. The flashback was a really sweet, romantic, and innocent part of the story that I really enjoyed.

I liked David a lot more in the flashback scenes, he was much more open and innocent. The hard times he's lived through really harden his shell and make him seem a little gruff and jaded. Charlotte's character shows a lot of growth and she becomes a stronger woman as an adult.

I have read most of the "School for Heiresses" series and while this isn't my favorite one, it is good to finally be able to read Charlotte's story. Also, readers finally discover Cousin Michael's true identity. This is rewarding since a letter between Charlotte and Cousin Michael opens each chapter in the preceeding books.

The book is very much worth reading for the beginning two thirds, even if the ending is a bit disappointing. The flashback portion might be the best part!

Friday, November 20, 2009

You know you live in New Orleans when...

Since I've been revising EVANGELINE, I realized that I missed writing about New Orleans. I love setting, and I especially love this city. So in lieu of a real post today, I thought I'd share some of my favorite "You know you're from New Orleans" lines...


You know what a "second-line" is, and where to find the best spot for Super Sunday.

You reinforce your attic to store Mardi Gras beads.

You proudly claim that 'Monkey Hill' is the highest point in Louisiana.

You drive your car up onto the 'neutral ground' if it rains steadily and heavily for more than two hours.

You have 'flood' insurance.

Someone asks for an address by compass directions and you say it's 'Uptown, downtown, backatown, riverside or lakeside.'

Your idea of a 'cruise ship' is the Canal Street ferry, and your idea of a 'foreign cruise ship' is the Chalmette ferry.

Your burial plot is six feet 'over' rather than six feet 'under.'

You know the 'Irish Channel' is not Gaelic-language programming on cable.

You don't worry when you see ships riding higher in the river than your house.

You get on a bus marked 'cemeteries' without a second thought.

You have no idea what a turn signal is or how to properly use it.

You can cross two lanes of heavy traffic and U-turn through a neutral ground while avoiding two joggers and a streetcar, then fit into the oncoming traffic flow while never touching the brake.

You can consistently be the second or third person to run a red stop light.

You know how long you have to run to a store, get what you need and get back to your car before you get a parking ticket.

You got rear-ended 10 times by people with no insurance.

You take a `right-hand turn' instead of a right turn.

You judge a restaurant by its bread.

The white stuff on your face is powdered sugar.

You know better than to drink hurricanes or eat Lucky Dogs.

You visit another city and they 'claim' to have Cajun food -- but you know better.

You have the opening date of any sno-ball stand in your Daytimer.

You know that a 'po-boy' is not a guy who has no money, but a great-tasting French bread sandwich.

You judge a po-boy by the number of napkins used.

The major topics of conversation when you go out to eat are restaurant meals that you have had in the past and restaurant meals that you plan to have in the future.

You consider having a good meal as your birthright.

The four seasons of your year are crawfish, shrimp, crab and oyster.

Your stomach can handle a dozen Manuel's tamales at 3 a.m. after having a few at Markey or Saturn Bar.

The waitress at your local sandwich shop tells you a fried oyster po-boy dressed is healthier than a Caesar salad.

You know the definition of 'dressed.'

You can eat Popeyes original chicken, Haydel's kingcake and Zapp's while waiting for Zulu. Then you go to Jackson Square for a Central Grocery muffaletta with a Barq's while sucking hot crawdads and cold Acme oysters, hurricanes and several Abitas. Then you can ride the St. Charles Avenue streetcar home past Camellia Grill for a chili/cheese omelette ... without losing it all on your front stoop.

You have gained 10 or 15 pounds permanently, but you don't care anymore.

Ya stood ya'selfs in da' line by Galatoire's.

You think 'drinking water' when you look at the Mississippi River... but you know better.

You don't really teach people the right way to eat crawfish, so there's more for you.

Your idea of cutting back on calories is to suck the heads and not eat the tails.

The smell of a crawfish boil turns you on more than Chanel#5.

You burl (boil) crawfish and fry them in erl (oil). Don't forget to pack the uneaten tails in furl (foil).

The first thing you do every morning is pick up The Times-Picayune obit section to see `who died inna'papah.'(paper)

There is a St. Joseph lucky bean in ya mama's coin purse and on yo'dressa' too.

When you speak with a tourist, he asks, `Are you from Brooklyn?'

You make groceries at Schwegmann's to get da' Zatarains for da' crawfish. Den', ya' suck da heads of those crawfish for da' juice. Don't forget da' beer and da' white Russian daiquiris. Afterwards, you go down to Randazzo's for some king cake. While in da' parish, you stop at Rocky's for some baked macaroni and pok(pork)chops to take home. On Mondays, you get da' begneits, coffee anna'Gambit. (Dat' Gambit has everything.) For lunch, you go down to Mother's for some red beans and rice. Tomorrow, you get da'muffaletta at da'Central Grocery. And dat's what we do in N'awlins, dawlin'.

You're not afraid when someone wants to 'ax' you.

You were born at Baptist, raised in Metry and hang with Vic and Nat'ly.

You go by ya' mom-n-ems on Good Friday to eat crawfish, drink beers and play touch football on the neutral ground.

You believe that purple, green and gold look good together -- and you will even eat things those colors.

Every time you hear sirens you think it's a Mardi Gras parade.

On Christmas Eve, your daughter looks up in the sky, sees Santa Claus and yells, 'Throw me somethin' mister.'

You fill your Nativity creche with king cake babies dressed like Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the wise men and the angels.

You go buy a new winter coat and throw your arms up in the air to make sure it allows enough room to catch Mardi Gras beads.

You have a parade ladder in your shed.

Your finest china has 'Endymion' written on it.

Your first sentence was, 'Throw me something mistah,' and your first drink was from a 'go-cup'.

You describe a color as 'K&B' purple.

You have a special set of well-broken-in shoes you refer to as your 'French Quarter' shoes.

You move somewhere else and you feel like you are from Oz and you moved to Kansas.

Everywhere else just seems like Cleveland. Sorry Cleveland! ;)

You're a lil' short on money but it's O.K. 'cause ya' can get a 'french fry poboy wit' ros' beef gravy and it's jus' as good and it'll fill ya' up too.

You can remove the cap from a Tabasco bottle with one hand.

You have spent a summer afternoon on the Lake Pontchartrain seawall catching blue crabs.

You watch a movie filmed in New Orleans and say things like, 'Dere ain't no way they can run out of a cemetery right on to Bourbon Street ... and don't call me "Cher."'

You haven't been to Bourbon Street in years.

You bring empty 'grocery bags' to a parade.

That brown bag you take to the Saints game ain't your lunch.

You know that 'Tipitina' is not a gratuity for a waitress named Tina.

You have to buy a new house because you ran out of wall space for Jazz Fest posters.

You drink 'Dixie', whistle 'Dixie' and name your dog 'Dixie'.

You worry about deceased family members 'returning' in spring floods.

You're sitting on the Lakefront reading the Gambit, eating hot crawfish and drinking Abita beer.

You can ask for 'lagniappe' and not feel guilty.

You reply to anything and everything about life here with, "Only in New Orleans."

You're out of town and you stop and ask someone where there's a drive-thru daiquiri place (then they look at you like you have three heads).

You consider a Bloody Mary a 'lite' breakfast.

You go to sleep Friday evening before you go out Friday night.

You have a monogrammed 'geaux-cup.'

You like your crawfish so hot, you can't distinguish between sweat, a runny nose and crawfish juice.

You save newspapers, not for recycling but for tablecloths at crawfish boils.

When you give directions you use “lakeside and riverside’ not north & south.

Your ancestors are buried above the ground.

You get on a green streetcar to go to the park and a red one to the French Quarter.

You listen to holiday songs such as “The 12 yats of Christmas” and “Santa and his reindeer used to live next door.”

You walk on the “banquet” and stand in the “neutral ground” “by ya mommas.”

Someone asks for directions and you stop and help them with a smile.

You start an angel food cake with a roux.

You think a lobster is a crawfish on steroids.

You think boudin, hogshead cheese, and a Bud is a bland diet.

You think Ground Hog Day and the Boucherie Festival are the same holiday.

You take a bite of five-alarm chili and reach for the Tabasco.

Fred’s Lounge in Mamou means more to you than the Grand Ole Opry.

You have an *envie* for something instead of a craving.

You use a “#3″ washtub to cover your lawn mower or your outboard motor.

You use two or more pirogues to cover your tomatoes to protect them from the late frost.

You use a gill net to play tennis, badminton, or volleyball.

The horsepower of your outboard motor is greater than that of your car motor.

You pass up a trip abroad to go to the Crawfish Festival in Breaux Bridge.

You are asked to name the holy trinity and your reply is “onions, celery, bell pepper.”

You let your black coffee cool, and find that it has gelled.

You describe a link of boudin and cracklins as “breakfast.”

Every once in a while, you have waterfront property.

Your mama announces each morning, “Well, I’ve got the rice cooking …what will we have for dinner?”

None of your potential vacation destinations are north of the old Mississippi River Bridge (US 190).

You refer to Louisiana winters as “Gumbo Weather.”

You think of gravy as a beverage.

You greet your long lost friend at the Airport with “AAAAAAAYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.”

You sit down to eat boiled crawfish and your host says, “Don’t eat the dead ones,” and you know what he means.

You don’t know the real names of your friends, only their nicknames.

You give up Tabasco for Lent.

You worry about a deceased family member returning in spring floods.

You don’t learn until high school that Mardi Gras is not a national holiday.

You push little old ladies out of the way to catch Mardi Gras throws.

You leave a parade with footprints on your hands.

Your last name isn’t pronounced the way it’s spelled.

You know what a nutria is but you still pick it to represent your baseball team.

You like your rice and your politics dirty.

No matter where else you go in the world, you are always disappointed in the food.

Your loved one dies and you book a jazz band before you call the coroner.

Your accent sounds nothing like Harry Connick, Jr’s.

You ask, “How they running?” and “Are they fat?” but, you’re inquiring about seafood quality and not the Crescent City Classic.

Your town is low on the education chart, high on the obesity chart and you don’t care because you’re No. 1 on the party chart.

Nothing shocks you. Period. Ever.

Your idea of health food is a baked potato instead of fries with your seafood platter.

You have to take your coffee and favorite coffeemaker with you on a three-day trip.

You have sno-ball stains on your shoes.

You call tomato sauce “red gravy.”

Your middle name is your mother’s maiden name, or your father’s mother’s maiden name, or your mother’s mother’s maiden name, or your grandmother’s mother’s maiden name, or your grandfather’s mother’s maiden name.

On certain spring days, Crawfish Monica is your breakfast. Ahh, JazzFest!

Your house payment is less than your utility bill.

You’ve done your laundry in a bar.

You don’t show your “pretties” during Mardi Gras.

You know that Tchoupitoulas is a street and not a disease.

You “boo” the mayor on national television.

You wear sweaters because it ought to be cold.

Your grandparents are called “Maw-Maw” and “Paw-Paw.”

Your Santa Claus rides an alligator and your favorite Saint is a football player.

You suck heads, eat tail, sing the blues and you actually know where you got dem shoes.

You shake out your shoes before putting them on.

You don’t think it inappropriate to refer to a large adult male as “Li’l Bubba.”

You know why you should never, ever swim by the Lake Pontchartrain steps (for more than one reason).

You cringe every time you hear an actor with a Southern or Cajun accent in a “New Orleans-based” movie or TV show.

You have to reset your clocks after every thunderstorm.

You waste more time navigating back streets than you would if you just sat in traffic.

You consider garbage cans a legal step to protecting your parking space on a public street.

You fall asleep to the soothing sounds of four box fans.

Your one-martini lunch becomes a five-bloody mary afternoon… and you keep your job.

You’re walking in the French Quarter with a plastic cup of beer. When it starts to rain, you cover your beer instead of your head.

You refer to people older than you as Mr or Mrs. and their first name.

And lastly, you eat dinner out and spend the entire meal talking about all the other good places you’ve eaten. Mmm, Boucherie tonight for my husband's birthday. Can't wait!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

NaNoRevisMo-ing my brains out...

No time for a real post today. Squeezing in some revisions whenever I have time, like my lunch-break. I can eat in December. ;)

Thanks to the amazing Wendy Sparrow, I've already received some awesome feedback on my first three chapters. Her fresh perspective has really helped me to nail down some of the reasons the story isn't working, so thanks again, Wendy! Everyone should check out her blog, Where Ladybugs Roar.

Hope everyone else is doing well on their WriMo-ing and RevisMo-ing. There's still a third of November left, folks! Keep up the good work!

Sorrento Hotel - Hunt Club Bella-Edward cocktail

From the Puget Sound Business Journal and in honor of Twlight and the release of New Moon:

Sorrento Hotel enters the “Twilight” zone with the Bella-Edward Cocktail

With “New Moon,” the second in a series of films based on Stephanie Meyer's popular “Twilight” vampire romance novels opening soon, the Hunt Club at the Sorrento Hotel has created a ghoulish new cocktail honoring Meyers’ star-crossed lovers, Bella and Edward.

A sweet-and-sour combination of balsamic vinegar reduction, honey liqueur and raspberry vodka, the cocktail represents “the forces of good and evil, light and dark and the passion and restraint of the romance” between Bella and Edward -- according to a Sorrento press release. It also looks like someone cut an artery preparing it.

The Sorrento’s recipe: Line the inside rim of a well chilled martini glasss with a balsamic reduction. Add a teaspoon of raspberry puree to the bottom of the glass. Combine two ounces of raspberry vodka, one ounce of Krupnik Honey Liqueur and ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake well and pour into the chilled glass. Watch the balsamic reduction drip slowly down the side of the glass into the blood-red pool of raspberry puree below.

Visit the eHarlequin Community Open House

Jayne Hoogenberk, eHarlequin Community Manager posted this on the Harlequin Blog this am.

Don’t miss the Holiday Event of the year at! Be sure to mark your calendars for December 16th, 2009 for the eighth annual Holiday Open House in the online Community.

We’ll be sharing virtual eggnog and holiday cheer with 22 hours of discussions in the forums, three hours of live chat, over 100 authors, fabulous door prizes and all your favorite romance categories represented, all to celebrate the best of the Holiday Season and give you a sneak peak into what to expect inside your books in 2010!

You’ll meet the authors you love, and a few we know you soon will—from warm-hearted and tender romances to the thrills and chills of the paranormal, they write the stories that keep you turning the pages and churning through that To-Be-Read pile. So make a date to join us as we share the joy of the season, make some new friends, catch up on forum gossip and get up-to-the-minute news about series, books and authors—you might even win a prize or two while getting to know us!

2009 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense



* Terms of Surrender by Kylie Brant -- WINNER

* Tall, Dark, and Lethal by Dana Marton – Finalist

* I'll be Watching You by Tracy Montoya – Finalist

* The Heart of a Renegade by Loreth Ann White – Finalist

* Christmas Spirit by Rebecca York (aka Ruth Glick)


* Seduced by a Spy by Andrea Pickens -- WINNER

* Camp Follower by Suzanne Adair – Finalist

* An Improper Aristocrat by Deb Marlow – Finalist

* Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn – Finalist

* An Impetuous Abduction by Patricia Frances Rowell – Finalist


* Suspicious Minds by Christy Barritt – WINNER

* Keeping Her Safe by Barbara Phinney – Finalist

* Pedigreed Bloodlines by Sandra Robbins – Finalist

* A Taste of Murder by Virginia Smith -- Finalist

* Wiser Than Serpents by Susan May Warren – Finalist


* The Tenth Case by Joseph Teller – WINNER

* The Matters at Mansfield (or the Crawford Affair) by Carrie Bebris -- Finalist

* Tempting Evil by Allison Brennan – Finalist

* No One Lives Forever by Jordan Dane – Finalist

* Boneyard by Michelle Gagnon – Finalist

* Lifelines by CJ Lyon – Finalist


* Aphrodisiac by Allyson Roy -- WINNER

* Midnight Signs by Cynthia Eden -- Finalist

* LaVida Vampire by Nancy Haddock -- Finalist

* In Twilight's Shadows by Patty O'Shea – Finalist

* Heart Fate by Robin D. Owens – Finalist


* Victim by Gayle Wilson – WINNER

* Unlawful Contact by Pamela Clare – Finalist

* No One Left to Tell by Jordan Dane – Finalist

* Stop Me by Brenda Novak – Finalist

* Now You Die by Roxanne St. Claire – Finalist

* Then You Hide by Roxanne St. Claire – Finalist

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"Don't Tempt Me" by Loretta Chase

"Don't Tempt Me"
by Loretta Chase

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

This was my first Loretta Chase book, and I really became a fan of hers! In "Don't Tempt Me", Zoe Lexham has found her way home to London after 12 years of exile in the East. She was kidnapped and sold into slavery on a family trip there when she was only 12 years old. Lucien de Grey, Duke of Marchmont, is determined to prove that the woman claiming to be Zoe is lying, but one look proves she is the spirited childhood friend that he'd given up on ever seeing again. Lucien decides that its his duty to Zoe's father, who was like a father to him too, to present Zoe to society. Only the Duke can protect her from the scandal of being known as "The Harem Girl."

I really enjoyed this book, but I've seen some poor reviews. I think people may have expected another "Lord of Scoundrels" and dismiss this one as not up to par. But I thought this book was a keeper in it's own right.

I loved Lucien's character, he is somewhat of a wastrel, going through life in a daze, never taking responsibility for anything after being devastated by losing his family. But once Zoe comes back into his life, he really grows as a person and learns to take responsibility for his life and those that depend on him.

I thought it was really great how the book focused a lot on Lucien and Zoe's lives after they were married, instead of only on the buildup to the wedding. I believe Zoe threw a thing or two at Lucien, and their quarrels were believable and real. This book also touches a little on jealousy for both leads, which always adds a little extra spice. Also, after Lucien realized he was in love with Zoe, there was no hiding it, he became quite a doting husband and wasn't afraid to let everyone know!

Probably the only reason why this book received 4 stars from me instead of 5 is that Zoe's sex appeal is a bit exaggerated. This of course is explained by the harem plot, but the harem scandal was another thing about the book that I didn't really care for.

The supporting characters were quite funny, Lucien's valet was always in tears over this or that. And Lucien's observations about Zoe's busybody sisters were hilarious.

Overall I loved the book and the characters' realistic relationship and tender feelings for one another.

"Waiting on Wednesday" Anastasia's Secret

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine, and it is a way to show off the books you can't wait to be released!!

This week I chose:
"Anastasia's Secret"
by Susanne Dunlap

Bloomsbury U.S.A. Children's Books
Release Date: March 2, 2010

The following description is from

"“Will I never see you again either?” I asked, feeling as though I was about to jump off a high mountain peak and hope to land without hurting myself. That’s how impossible everything seemed at that moment, no matter what I did.

“Perhaps we will mee
t again,” Sasha said, softening his voice. “But you must see that it does not matter. You have so much ahead of you. It’s your choice now. Choose the future! Choose life!”

For Anastasia Romanov, life as the privileged daughter of Russia’s last tsar is about to be torn apart by the bloodshed of revolution. Ousted from the imperial palace when the Bolsheviks seize control of the government, Anastasia and her family are exiled to Siberia. But even while the r
ebels debate the family’s future with agonizing slowness and the threat to their lives grows more menacing, romance quietly blooms between Anastasia and Sasha, a sympathetic young guard she has known since childhood. But will the strength of their love be enough to save Anastasia from a violent death?

Inspired by the mysteries that have long surrounded the last days of the Romanov family, Susanne Dunlap’s new novel is a haunting vision of the life—and love story—of Russia’s last princess."

I love Anastasia's story and historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, so this book is a must have!! I might have to check out this author's other books while I am waiting for this one to be released!

Free Your Mind-- Mind Mapping Software

Because of my new-found love for Wordle as a writing tool, I thought I'd share a tool I use for just about every stage of finishing a first draft. Mind mapping software. What is a mind-map, you ask? Remember those bubble diagrams and flow charts you learned to make in grade school English? That's a type of mind-map.

The easiest way for me to brainstorm--whether it's a new story or one I'm trying to finish-- is longhand. But sometimes I need to have a more concrete worksheet to go from. I am a huge mess-maker when it comes to flow charts, which is counterproductive to my brain, so software works for me to keep me organized.

I prefer FreeMind for its simplicty of use. It's also FREE, plus, one of the label icons is a penguin (for Linux, I know, but still, it's adorable).

So what can this program do for me, you might ask. I can't tell you that, but here's how I use it.

During the initial "What-if" stage, where the story is in its infancy, I use the software to follow different story threads simultaneously, searching for the one I like best. I like being able to compare ideas side-by-side, and because the roots are collapsible with a click, I can hide the nodes I'm not currently working on-- the alternate realms of possibility. Once I have all my potential ideas organized, I find an ending that works for me, and work toward it.

For those honest-to-goodness outliners, it's easy to format a mind map into your standard three act structure-- or the beginning, middle, and end, if you prefer. Because of the ability to create so many child nodes, as the program calls them, you can continue adding story ideas as you write to flesh the story out further and keep yourself organized.

Another way I like to use it for plotting is as a character development tool. I usually try to plan my main characters around their purpose in the story: antagonist, obstacle character, double-crosser, etc. You can make a node for each character, give their relation to the main character or protagonist, and add character traits, quirks, physical features, and their role in the story. I tend to make one outlining each character's motivation, as well.

The right tool for the right job, as my father always used to say. At least this one is a multi-tasker.

Anyone use any other free online software for writing besides wordle and mind maps?

"The bodice-ripping Mills & Boon novel has made the leap into cyber romance"

From the London Standard:

Publishers today released an electronic book, the Sony Mills & Boon reader, loaded with novels including Snowbound: Miracle Marriage and Christmas Betrothals.

It comes with a voucher to download 10 more titles. The firm sells 10million books a year in Britain and began releasing novels electronically a year ago.

"We now sell between 10,000 and 20,000 a month," said Tim Cooper, its director of direct and digital marketing. "The response has been amazing."

From Stuff:

If you’d been thinking about buying an ereader for you mum or your nan for Christmas this year, or if you’re a hopeless romantic yourself, Sony has outed a special edition of its Sony Reader device specifically aimed at romance fans.

The Mills & Boon Reader Pocket Edition will come with three Christmas-themed lovey dovey novels from the classic romance publishers, as well as a voucher for a further 10 Mills & Boon ebook downloads of your choice.

The Reader’s shell has been given a makeover too, with a rose-pink finish and a protective case with the Mills & Boon rose logo on the cover.

Specwise you can expect the same as the regular Pocket Edition, with a five-inch electronic-paper display, with storage for 350 standard ebooks and two weeks of reading on a single charge.

You’ll be able to pick up the Mills & Boon edition from 23 November, but a price is yet to be announced – the current Pocket Edition sells for around £180.

From Pocket-Lit

The Mills & Boon Reader Pocket Edition comes pre-loaded with three eBooks - exclusive to the model - as well as a voucher for ten further Mills & Boon eBook downloads.

The "romantic rose pink finish" will get bosoms heaving while the premium case with the "iconic Mills & Boon rose logo" embossed on the cover will see hearts aflutter.

Each model comes pre-loaded with three Christmas-themed Mills & Boon titles – "Snowbound: Miracle Marriage", "Under The Boss's Mistletoe" and "Christmas Betrothals" - all of which are no doubt classics in the making.

From Suzi Perry @ The Gadget Show

Does a gadget have to be pink to appeal to the ladies?

I see that Sony has released a pink version of its excellent Sony Reader, packed with Mills & Boon titles. This is, by Sony’s own admission, to attract the female market on the run-up to Christmas.

Now, while I’m sure that there will be plenty of mums, grans and aunties who might like this gift, not all ladies a) Dress like Barbara Cartland and want their gadgets to match b) Enjoy Mills & Boon bodice-rippers.

I know I’m not alone in being a lady who likes her tech, and it doesn’t have to attract me by having a rosy hue or be encrusted in crystals – it just has to be cool and work well.

What do you think? Are pink gadgets patronising or is it a good thing to offer more choice in the marketplace?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Harlequin and Author Solutions Announce Publishing Partnership - Self-Publishing Imprint Harlequin Horizons Furthers Opportunities for First-Time Authors

TORONTO, Nov. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Harlequin Enterprises Limited -- the global leader in series romance and one of the world's leading publishers for women -- announced Tuesday the launch of Harlequin Horizons; a self-publishing partnership with Author Solutions, Inc. (ASI) -- the world's leading self-publisher.

Harlequin, Book Business magazine's 2009 Publishing Innovator of the Year, regards the self-publishing venture as an accessible opportunity for emerging authors to bring themselves to the attention of the reading public.

"Harlequin Horizons expands upon Harlequin's tradition of providing wonderful opportunities for fresh voices in women's fiction," said Donna Hayes, publisher and CEO of Harlequin Enterprises. "Partnering with Author Solutions, Inc., the recognized world leader in self-publishing, is an innovative and original approach to discovering new authors to add to our traditional publishing programs."

Through this strategic alliance, all sales, marketing, publishing, distribution, and book-selling services will be fulfilled by ASI, but Harlequin Horizons will exist as a division of Harlequin Enterprises Limited. Harlequin will monitor sales of books published through the self-publisher for possible pickup by its traditional imprints.

"Harlequin has been a leader in driving change in the publishing industry for many years, and we are thrilled to partner with them to launch Harlequin Horizons. This new imprint will give thousands of emerging authors the unprecedented opportunity to make their professionally published books available to the enthusiastic and growing set of women's fiction readers," said Kevin Weiss, ASI president and chief executive officer.

Harlequin Horizons is the second such partnership ASI has launched with a leading trade publisher in the last two months. The parent company of industry-leading self-publishing imprints AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Trafford Publishing, and Xlibris, ASI brought to market more than 21,000 new titles in 2008.

To learn more about the publishing packages available through Harlequin Horizons, visit

About Harlequin Horizons

Harlequin Horizons is the self-publishing division of Harlequin Enterprises Limited -- the global leader in series romance and one of the world's leading publishers for women. The rich array of industry-leading publishing services and products available to authors through Harlequin Horizons is fulfilled by the world's leading self-publishing company, Author Solutions, Inc. Titles published through Harlequin Horizons will be monitored for excellence and retail potential for possible pick-up by Harlequin's leading traditional imprints. For more information about Harlequin Horizons, please log on to

About Harlequin Enterprises Limited

Harlequin Enterprises Limited is the global leader in series romance and one of the world's leading publishers of books for women, with titles issued worldwide in 28 languages and sold in 114 international markets. The company produces over 110 titles monthly and publishes more than 1,100 authors from around the world. Harlequin Enterprises Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of Torstar Corporation, a broadly based media company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TS.B). Harlequin's Web site is located at Harlequin has offices in 18 countries, including offices in Toronto, New York and London. For more information please visit or

About Author Solutions, Inc.

Author Solutions, Inc. (ASI), an Inc. 5000 company, is owned by Bertram Capital and is the world leader in indie book publishing--the fastest-growing segment of publishing. ASI's self-publishing brands: AuthorHouse, AuthorHouse UK, iUniverse, Trafford, Xlibris, and Wordclay, have helped more than 85,000 authors self-publish, promote, and bring to market more than 120,000 new titles. Through strategic alliances with leading trade publishers, ASI is making it possible for publishers to monetize unpublished manuscripts, develop new literary talent efficiently, and provide emerging authors a platform for bringing their books to market. Headquartered in Bloomington, Indiana, ASI also operates offices in Indianapolis and Milton Keynes, England. Visit, or call 1-888-519-5121 x5238 for more information.

SOURCE Author Solutions, Inc.

Will the Real Prince Charming Please Stand Up?

It is not that unusual for the stories in romance comics to adhere to the old adage, "you can't have it all." Sometimes, the stories have stellar art with so-so plots, and sometimes it is the story that shines, accompanied by mediocre art. Lucky for us, with "Will the Real Prince Charming Please Stand Up?" from Girls' Love Stories #147 (November 1969) we can have it all! In the market for a highly satisfying story with delicious art by the legendary Ric Estrada? Continue reading!

The star of our story, Felice is a well... um, how do I put this nicely? A gold digger. After turning down a date invite by her perfectly handsome office mate, Dick -- Felice recounts to her other co-worker, Myrna that her goals include finding herself a rich guy and not wasting her time on a "poor dum-dum" like Dick.

Felice is a pro-active kind of lady. Instead of waiting for a man of the wealthy class to find her, she decides to go scoop one up herself at the Lakeside Resort for millionaires. Felice realizes getting a millionaire at the resort will take spending a small fortune in itself, and has already saved the necessary funds for the vacation by skipping meals and going to movies only when asked to on a date. To demonstrate her scrimping prowess to Myrna, Felice asks Dick to lunch and manages to coax him into buying her a gift.

Lunch turns into dinner, and poor smitten Dick tries to convince Felice they should give it a shot. Instead of keeping an open mind -- Felice proclaims, "I'm not marrying anyone who can't support me in a manner to which I'm definitely not accustomed."

Seeing he can't change her mind, Dick says goodbye to Felice and she departs for her vacation. Felice quickly forms an ally on the beach who points her in the direction of a multi-millionaire with the largest mansion on the lake -- Peter Mason.

Felice tries to be patient while waiting to spot the elusive Peter Mason, and almost has her attention diverted for a moment. But alas! Only a lowly waiter beckons! Finally though, she spots Peter's speedboat and makes her way over to introduce herself.

A whirlwind romance ensues, and Felice feels the bliss. She visits Peter's mansion, eats delectable dinners cooked by the millionaire himself, spends afternoons in the pool with him and rides in his fancy sports car.

And then, tragedy strikes! The man Felice has fallen for is not Peter Mason at all, but Larry -- one of Mr. Mason's caretakers!

After being lied to, Felice (understandably) looses her cool. What ensues next only proves the other old adage is true, "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned who is armed with a bowl of spaghetti marinara."

Possibly the best use of Plop in the history of comic books

The next morning, Felice heads home on the train and thinks about the events that transpired. She realizes that next time she will be sure she knows who the guy really is before taking it too far. This epiphany hits Felice hard, and she wisely conjectures that "being able to spot the real thing is half the game!" Unfortunately, her realization is much too little, too late. Upon her return to work, the real thing (charming and handsome Dick) has passed her by for the sweet Myrna, and he turns out to be the boss's son to boot!

Karma -- it will get you every time!

Well, there you have it folks! A story that not only portrays a character that gets what she deserves, but has the art chops to back it up! In my opinion, this is one of those stories that will make it hard for you to choose between art and stories in the current poll. No need to choose with this one though. Just enjoy it all!!!

"Sins of a Duke" by Suzanne Enoch

"Sins of a Duke"
by Suzanne Enoch
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

"Sins of a Duke" has a really odd plot, which was based loosely on historical events. Because, as always, truth is much stranger than fiction. The background info Enoch provided in the Author's Note actually made me more interested in the story.

Sebastian Griffin, Duke of Melbourne, is being set up to marry Josefina Embry, the Princess of a brand new South American country, Costa Habichuela. But Sebastian doesn't blindly believe everything that the Princess and her family claim about their country, thinking they are con people wanting to use English investments for their own gain.

I'll try not to give any spoilers, but the Princess plot took over the entire book, as the author had to go into a lot of detail to explain what was happening. I guess that is what happens when an author takes on such an ambitious plot.

My favorite characters were the supporting characters in this book, Sebastian and Josefina didn't do much for me. Josefina started off as a strong character, but became wishy washy and I never really felt her involvement in the scandal was forgivable. I also don't understand why both main characters were willing to steal from banks but not willing to steal from individuals. To me, all stealing is wrong, but the author seemed to think stealing from a bank was ok for some reason. This irked me.

The supporting cast was quite fun and made the book readable! Sebastian's young daugher, Peep, was adorable and had some very precocious remarks to put her doting dad in his place. I also enjoyed the rest of Sebastian's large family, especially Valentine-I need to read his book!

This book was okay, but there were a lot of problems that I had with it. However, it might inspire me to do a little more research on the true story that inspired it.

The Benefits of Drafting in First Person

Playing around with Wordle and the first chapter of my revised manuscript of EVANGELINE. Looks like I need to do a search for "just" and see where I can use something else. Of course Evie is the most common word in the chapter now that I've switched it to third person, but I wonder if there's a way to reduce the number of times I use it. The whole manuscript would probably benefit from a chapter by chapter word cloud before I start querying again. See, Wordle isn't just for stalling. ;)

However, I did notice something quite interesting during this revision (yes, NaNoWriMo had become NaNoRevisMo around these parts, lol). Most of the prose and exposition sounds more natural being delivered by an invisible narrator than the main character-- to me, that is. Whether or not that's the truth is yet to be seen, but it's not the first time I've re-written a manuscript in a different tense.

I'm actually thinking that despite which perspective I wind up using, writing the first draft in first person was very helpful to me in getting deeper into the mc's head. When I draft in third person, I often feel there's something missing, or that I'm watching the main character from outside, rather than in their heads.

I actually began the novel before Evangeline in rotating first person with four female main charaters. Over the course of writing the novel, I decided to switch it to third, but by then I had already been privy to my character's secrets and desires, inside their head rather than a simpel on-looker. Finishing their stories in third made perfect sense at that point, and kept my novel from being unfavorably compared to an urban fantasy "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants". (Which also had four first person female povs, and even went to one of the exact same places as one of the Traveling Pants girls, as I found out too late. Grr...) And I know I was able to get a better feel for each character by starting off in first person, as if they were telling me their story in private.

My current WiP, Mara's Story, is the first novel where I didn't have to struggle to get into the main character's pov. So it will likely stay in first person, which I think is the only way to tell that particular story. Since it is a mystery, I like the limited point of view, and I enjoy the intimacy and tension that I used to show the main character's inner-struggles. I can't imagine this story NOT being told by Mara.

As for EVANGELINE, this month marks one year since I began it during NaNo 2008. I couldn't resist dusting it off and trying to breathe some new life into it once this year's NaNo story fizzled out before it got started. I'm also shamelessly soliciting for betas-- either to just read and give me your thoughts, or for a full-on critique-- after I get it cleaned up in the next week or so.

Anyone learning any other tips for writing first drafts? Especially those of you still cruising along on your NaNo without looking back. Any fun new tools for stalling-- er, I mean drafting that I don't know about?

Stay tuned for tomorrow's post on free mind map software!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Debbie Macomber's Mrs. Miracle to Air on Hallmark Channel

From Debbie Macomber's newsletter:

The same day the reissue of one of my very favorite books, Mrs. Miracle, goes on sale. This is the story of a widower, with two out-of-control six-year-old boys, who needs help (big time) rebuilding his life after the loss of his wife. It's been a revolving door for way too many nannies who can't measure up to the job—until a delightful woman by the name of Mrs. Merkle shows up at their house. The boys dub her "Mrs. Miracle," and she truly does work miracles for this family!

And a third reason November 24 is turning into a magical day for me: That's when the December issue of Woman's Day hits the newsstands with an article titled "Four celebrated women share their thoughts on holidays past and present—making memories," and I'm one of the four women! I hope you'll pick up a copy and let me know what you think of my story about a special gift my sons gave my parents.

Back to Mrs. Miracle, Wayne is driving with Bogie to our Florida home while I wing my way to New York to meet up with Doris Roberts the first week of December. We're hoping to do the early morning talk show tour for the Hallmark Channel movie, Debbie Macomber's Mrs. Miracle, which will air December 5 at 8 ET/PT and 7 CT and at several other times throughout the month. (Check your local listings.)
To increase your viewing pleasure, check out Hallmark Channel's Watch With Me feature for the movie. You'll find a Family Discussion Guide, Lessons & Activities and a link to a three-chapter excerpt of the book.

Revenge of the Swimps


Today I am home sick. I bought some bad boiled shrimp yesterday(or burled swimps, however ya wanna say it), and I've been paying for them ever since. Only live shrimp for me from now on.
So for a reminder of the pain I'm in, I thought I'd promote a New Orleans food festival. Yes, I know I'm a glutton for punishment.

If you're in the SELA area, next Sunday is the Po-boy Preservation Festival. I'd love a copy of the poster, with art by New Orleans' own Bunny Matthews. Yes, I'm still thinking of food, even when I'm sick to my stomach. Mmm, Vietnamese Banh Mi, muffalettas, and Thanksgiving po-boys, oh my!

Hope to see you there!

Why Sinetrons?

“Ma’am, why does my Mom like watching sinetrons on television?”
An ex student of mine asked me this question several weeks ago via chatbox on FB. Instead of giving him direct answer, I asked him to think first,
“Why do you think?”
He was somewhat annoyed perhaps coz I even returned the question to him.
“I need your answer, based on your perspective. I don’t know the answer, that’s why I asked you about that.” he said. LOL.
Well, he was in my SPEAKING 5 class many years ago. As far as I remember, in such classes, I could give any topic to be discussed in the classroom. You can guess of course I exposed my feminist perspective when discussing things in the class.
“I want to hear your idea first, then, I will tell you what I am thinking.” I said.
But he was adamant. LOL. He wanted to hear my opinion.
And I insisted to know his opinion first.
Like teacher like student? LOL.
Unfortunately, some minutes later, he disappeared.

The following day he popped up in the chatbox again, and said, “Ma’am, I have found the answer.”
“Ok. Shoot!” I responded.
“It is because the stories are very interesting and make the viewers curious what will be going on in the continuation. That is what my Mom said when I asked her about it.”
I laughed to hear that. I didn’t laugh at him nor his Mom. Not at all.
Well, if the answer is like that, well, everybody knows, I guess.
“Anything behind that?” I inquired.
He didn’t give me a satisfying answer, but just, “Well, if my Mom thinks as complicatedly as you do, she will not just be a housewife. She will be a lecturer, like you.” he whined. LOL.
However, before I told him my opinion, he disappeared. Until now we haven’t had time to continue this discussion. Therefore, I am writing this. :-)
I remember my time when I was only a housewife. Long long time ago!!! I spent many hours a day to watch TV too. I watched telenovela, such as Maria Mercedez, Marimar, etc. So I think the first reason why many housewives watch sinetrons is because they have plenty of spare time. The second – perhaps this is even the main reason – many mere housewives don’t have lots of things to think, to contemplate, to maximize the use of their brain. They need to find something to think, to contemplate, and even then to discuss together with their neighbors.
People who often use their brain while working will not have much spare space in their brain to think of any other things, such as those themes or stories of sinetrons.
The third reason is perhaps people need to see something to be pitied, so that they will not feel so miserable in their life.
The fourth, people need to escape from their real life.
Anybody else wanna add? You are certainly welcome.

N.B.: Perhaps he is right, I think too complicatedly. LOL.
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