Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I'm a fangirl!

Yes, yes, it's true. I get giggly and child-like when I'm around a published author. And when said published author is a friend of mine, I'm almost embarrassingly childish ... er ... child-like! :)

Last night was Jeanne Stein's signing at the local Tattered Cover for the (re)release of her book The Becoming, now with Ace. It was a grand & fun event, with a crowd of more than 50 and so much chatter and excitement that high school study groups came over to see what the fuss was about (I have pictures of them looking inside the book). I got the opportunity to meet members of the RMFW who I missed meeting at the Christmas gathering last weekend (due to brain damage on my part), and watch first hand the joy in my friend's eyes as she signed each book and greeted each fan & friend. It was a tremendous success and a true testimony to Jeanne's perseverence, passion, and personality. Congratulations, Jeanne, on a wonderful event and a bright future for "The Becoming" (now #7 on the Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi Fantasy list!).

I am now officially the newsletter editor for RMFW. One of the great treats of last night was in meeting Jeff Shelby, previous newsletter editor and my new stalking victim. He assured me that this job was a piece of cake. Of course the awe with which others spoke to me in welcoming me into the fold makes me wonder .... just how big IS that piece of cake? Hmm, well 12 pages worth each month for starters, but I know with the help of the many RMFW writers I met last night, and the great accummulation of information and history that Jeff has passed onto me, I'm sure it will be a lovely, fun, and eventful piece of cake ... chocolate, with chocolate frosting ... from Cold Stone. :)

In other news, I have just finished my run of Miss Nelson Has a Field Day at Town Hall Arts Center in Littleton. It was great fun, a great cast, and a great experience. Just great all around! Of course I also saw short stories & novellas in each of my fellow cast members ... hehehe ... we'll see how that develops. I think Kent would make a FABULOUS werewolf in an upcoming book.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Cool Happenings

Jeanne Stein mentioned me this week on the blog she shares with two other Denver area writers, Biting Edge." It's the first time I've been mentioned on a blog (that I know of). :D That's really cool. I'm all giggly about it!

And finally, contratulations to John Turley, from Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers (RMFW), took first place in the Bay Area Writer's League short story contest. He just signed the contract to have his story included in a new Anthology they are publishing called, "That Thing You Do, Too." John's advice to authors ... that I am sharing with you now ... "Can't publish if you don't write and can't win if you don't enter."

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Writers' groups

I have recently joined the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers (RMFW). What a terrific organization! It is comprised of both published authors and unpublished authors with a friendly, helpful atmosphere and a depth of great experience and knowledge to share.

Last Saturday New York Times Best-Selling author Joan Johnston gave a program on "Writing the Unputdownable Novel" that was interesting and exciting. I learned a lot, and I am extremely grateful to Joan and her generosity to fellow writers in both sharing her professional style and her great sense of humor in her presentation. Joan writes primarily contemporary western romance, a genre I've never been drawn to until I heard her this weekend. Wow, I'm now chomping at the bit to jump into some of her works. And that is the main reason any aspiring author should join into a local writers' group, exposure to authors of different genres and the opportunity to learn from masters of their craft.

On their web site, the RMFW states they offer four things essential to writers ..

  • Support for each member, published or unpublished.
  • Education through critique groups, workshops, programs, & the annual Colorado Gold Writing Contest.
  • Access to agents and editors from major publishing houses via our annual Colorado Gold Conference. Recognized as one of the best in the country!
  • Monthly news & articles through the Rocky Mountain Writer. The official newsletter of RMFW.

This is a lot of support and information for the $45/year dues. Joan's program this weekend was worth more than that. I must thank Jeanne C. Stein (a terrific local author whom I met at the Romantic Times Convention this spring) for pointing me toward this great group and for being my friend.


Jeanne has a book coming out at the end of November. The Becoming, a paranormal about Anna Strong, a bounty hunter, who discovers strength she didn't know she had in a strange twist of fate. It's quite wonderful. Don't miss it!

Joan Johnston's newest releases include The Next Mrs. Blackthorne, Hawk's Way Brides, and Texas Brides.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The E-book Challenge

Paperback Writer issued a challenge a few months ago, asking writers to provide some free stories on their web sites or blogs. Though I was late getting into it, I did join in the fun and managed a short story. Okay, an almost finished short story, but it has a cool cover I designed myself. I'll be adding to it, hopefully weekly, and let it be a bit of an e-serial type of book.

As noted on the dedication page, special thanks go to Michele Bardsley who, when I approached her at the RTCon with the idea I had been toying with, and her book with the same basic theme was scheduled for late September publication, said .... "Write it anyway!"

If it's received well, I'll probably continue the saga of Vampire Mom with other strange adventures.


Sunday, October 29, 2006

As November approaches ...

It's that time of year. Before the sugar rush of Halloween has begun to crash, writers all over the world will be neglecting their families, jobs, housekeeping, and personal hygiene to reach a challenging goal ... the NaNoWriMo.

For the unintiated, NaNoWriMo stands for "National Novel Writing Month" and the many, the demented, and the determined accept the challenge and attempt to crank out a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. It begins at the stroke of midnight November 1st and ends at 11:59 p.m. November 30.

What are the benefits? You write, write, and write some more, focusing on little else but writing in an effort to beat the clock. If you make it to 50,000 words, you win. What do you win? Bragging rights and a little banner to put on your web site or email or elsehwhere. Approximately 16% of the thousands of entrants actually reach the 50,000 word goal.

I encourage anyone who is serious about writing to give it a try. You can join up at the NaNoWriMo web site (linked above), and it's free. You can become as involved as you want to be, as much as joining a local chapter that meets weekly (or more) or just reading the forums or just locking yourself in your study space and shutting off the internet (it's a distraction) until you finish.

If you need some ideas, the founder of NaNoWriMo, Chris Baty, has written a book called No Plot? No Problem! explaining how to survive the NaNoWriMo successfully even if you have no clue what you're going to write about!

Good luck to any who are going for it. Be sure to stock up on coffee, water, granola bars, and your chocolate of choice. And don't forget to set up you soundtrack to write by ... music soothes the savage beast and titillates the writing muse (well, it does for me anyway) I'll see you in a month!

Monday, October 23, 2006

On being a juggler

Lately I've been playing the juggling game. Most women, and particularly moms, know what I'm talking about, that game where you are doing more things at one time than you have hands (or even limbs) to accomplish well.

For me, I'm in rehearsal for a children's show (very fun, but potentially stressful and very time-consuming), I teach privately four afternoons a week, DH is systematically painting the inside of the house (which requires at least my frequent attention if not my all out assistance), the usual home chores like dinner and upkeep, plus I'm trying to prepare for my son's Eagle Court of Honor and a house full of guests over Thanksgiving, get a jump on (no I WON'T say it) that time of year when we buy gifts, as well as finish a short story for a contest and do preliminary work for this year's NaNoWriMo challenge in November. All this while exercising 6 days a week (3 swim days, 3 yoga days) to get my weight, blood pressure, and blood sugar down.

Whew. Are you tired? I am! And totally overwhelmed. ACK! I feel like one of those patients in "Awakenings" where I'm going so fast that I actually seize up!

So what happens? I make a lovely routine/to do list that is almost impossible to accomplish in one day. Stare at it. Pour a cup of coffee to enjoy while I ponder revising the list then read all my email, group lists, and favorite blogs. I'm not writing. I'm not cleaning. I'm not memorizing my lines.

The thing is, I love doing all these things! I love writing, I love reading blogs, I love helping paint in the house, I love rehearsing and teaching. But I hit certain times of the year and I find all things collide into this cornucopia of activities that are difficult to keep up with. Hmmm, perhaps that's why Thanksgiving is traditionally portrayed with a horn of plenty?

So, I'm going to slow down. Dump half of my to-do list. Turn off my email alarm. Restrict my email groups to daily digests and prioritize. Then I'm going to enjoy the heck out of everything I do and anything that doesn't get done that day can take a higher priority the next.

That should work ... uh ... right? :-)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

He made it!

My son passed his Eagle Board of Review last night and officially became an Eagle Scout. We are so excited and so proud of him, and it's been a long, challenging road.

For those not in the know, Eagle Scout is the highest achievement a Boy Scout can reach. 1-2% of all
Boy Scouts make it. He must do all the requirements and plan & carry out an approved Eagle Project before his 18th birthday. The project is a test of leadership and organization and must include other people, it can't just be him and his family. He has to have earned a minimum of 21 merit badges (12 specific ones), received letters of recommendation from a few adults, a teacher, his parents, and his church minister (or write a statement of faith himself), he has to have served as a troop officer, and passed all the previous rankings before Eagle. This is not something you do over the weekend. It takes years of dedication and the project alone takes months to achieve with planning and paperwork. Then comes the board of review, the final step, where he is questioned & interviewed by a committee of adult scouters (in this case, four, plus the Scoutmaster watched but is not allowed to participate).

He came through with flying colors and everyone was congratulating him and us immediately afterward. I couldn't be more proud, and I know his father (who is also an Eagle Scout) is so excited he's almost dancing. We will be celebrating with an Eagle Court of Honor over Thanksgiving when some of my family is coming up from Texas and my father will be here from overseas.

It's a wonderful thing to see our children achieve something so challenging right as they enter adulthood. I just keep saying the same thing over and over again ... I am so proud of him!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Surprise! I'm a Published Writer!

It was news to me! I just kind of stared at the web site and realized I am a published author. I haven't finished my novel(s) yet, or had my short story picked up, or even a couple of articles I keep hidden to submit to some publication 'some day' ... but ... after dropping a note to Leigh Michaels (who has been teaching the online course I've been taking for the last month), I got the official verdict. I'm published. I'm actually published.

Where am I published? Online, and yes, that counts as long as it's not your web site or sponsored by you in any way. I am published at International War Veterans Poetry Archive (http://www.iwvpa.net/piercev) and Inspiritnews.com (http://www.inspiritnews.com/James.html). Both of these publications are a direct result of an email I wrote several years ago after attending the funeral of my nephew, James Kiehl, who was killed in the early days of war in Iraq. From time to time I get requests to post it on someone's web site, and I always give them permission. It is the least I can do for James, his family and the sacrifice they made for our country. What I hadn't realized was that in doing so, I became a published writer.

So I spent the day updating my new web site with links, small blurbs on my works in progress, and other official looking details and mentally celebrating that I accidentally became a published writer two years ago and didn't even know it.

Who'd a thought? :D

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Getting Started

Getting started is half the battle, they say. For me, finishing is a bigger challenge. I have no problem getting started; I have started four novels, I have started cleaning up my office, I have started painting and decorating my house. But I don't want my headstone to read, "She almost finished," so I've decided to make an end-of-the-year resolution to get some things finished.

I'm finishing an online writers' course taught by Leigh Michaels, a Harlequin writer. It's been wonderful and I've learned a lot. I'm on the final lesson and I WILL FINISH. I will have done all the lessons and writings, something that is more difficult than you might think. It's very easy to fall behind and skip some of the steps with an online class.

What have I learned in this class? Diligence. That there are unlimited sources for an interesting story in your local newspaper (something I have always worried about, the end of ideas and being blocked). That a romance novel comes down to one man and one woman overcoming adversity together and making a happy ending. Wouldn't it be great if life could be that simple? Perhaps that's why so many of us enjoy romance novels, their simplicity and promise of a happy finish.

So, with that, I'm off to do my last writing assignment and then draw lots on which of my unfinished novels becomes the first one to be finished. And I think I'll clean off my desk while I'm at it.

Happy finishing!