Saturday, June 30, 2007

In The Bandit Lair

    posted by Aunty Cindy

    HURRAY! The Banditas are about to embark on their third month in the blogsphere! We are having such a fun time, and Aunty continues to be AMAZED at the things she sees and hears around the Bandit Lair. Just in the past week alone, I learned:
    • the correct way to make peach cobbler (and this is how Aunty made it before she retired from cooking) versus the North Carolinian way
    • how to properly affect the Stink Eye (sometimes known as the death ray glare or simply The Look)
    • more facts than I ever knew existed about Flint, Michigan
    • six ways to pronounce author Ayn Rand's first name, including the Finnish Russian way
    • how to "brand" myself without soliciting
    And that was only a few things.

    It was quite a week! Who knows what might crop up next week?

    Oh, all right, your old Aunty does have a FEW insights. How about TWO great guest bloggers? This Monday, the fabulous Alyssa Day will join us in the Bandit Lair. Then Tuesday, the always lovely and vivacious Jane Graves will be our guest! And don't be surprised if one or both of them have prizes to give away. (And it's still not too late to leave a comment on Brenda Novak's great guest blog on Author Branding and win an autographed copy of her latest book.) What might transpire the rest of the week is anybody's guess!

    As for the rest of July, expect a lot more of the same: another guest blogger or two, more contests, lots of fun and the Banditas will INVADE DALLAS!

    The RWA National conference will be held in Dallas on July 11 --15 and of course the Banditas will be there! Not to worry, a few of us (including your old Aunty) will stay behind to (wo)man the Bandit lair. But we hope to have some special "on the scene" posts for everyone's enjoyment and plenty of tales to tell afterward. (If you are lucky enough to attend the conference, be sure to look for a Bandit Basket of very special plunder that will be auctioned off at the Literacy signing.)

    July is gonna be a HOT TIME in the Bandit Lair, so be sure to hang out with us! Make lots of comments! And tell us what you'd like to see in the future on the blog.Source URL:
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Friday, June 29, 2007

Have a lovely weekend.

The writer's workspace

    Is that Will Turner, Captain Jack Sparrow and Elizabeth Swann striding out of the fog to make sure I haven't committed a severe cast of character head hopping? Is Will swinging toward my computer keyboard to make sure I don't take the plot of my latest story in the wrong direction? Not exactly. These two posters are among the latest additions to my office walls, part of the inspiration of the solitary writer. The three Pirates of the Caribbean movies were stories that captured my imagination and didn't let go. Those are the types of stories I want to write. Will, Jack and Elizabeth are the types of captivating characters I want to write. Thus, they're now on my wall to inspire me.

    Readers are often fascinated by what a favorite writer's workspace looks like. I'm a writer myself, and I'm often curious about the spaces in which authors type the words I later enjoy. Particularly if you're a visual writer, I think it's important to surround yourself with various bits of inspiration, be those movie posters, inspiring quotes or lists of goals. I have all of those things on the walls surrounding me and more. So here's a little tour of my writer's environs.

    The Elvish army from Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers greets you as you walk through the door of my office. The LOTR trilogy was also bigger than life, full of great stories and characters. Soundtracks are another love of mine, and I happen to be listening to the LOTR: The Two Towers soundtrack as I type this.

    I write young adult novels, so I enjoy watching television programs and movies that appeal to the younger demographic. The CW TV network caters to this demographic, and I'm a big fan of two of their shows -- Supernatural and Smallville. I was a fan of Veronica Mars too, but VM's now gone. Boohoo! Next to the CW posters is my filing cabinet full of story ideas, magazine clippings of "character" pictures, completed manuscripts, past issues of the Romance Writers Report, etc. On the side are clippings of more favorite characters -- the cast of Bones and Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. There are also a number of book-cover magnets. Atop the filing cabinet are books written by friends.

    Rejection is part of the writer's life, no matter how much we dislike it. To counter the negative feelings rejections bring, I've covered my walls with framed certificates from contests I've either won or placed in.

    There's also a framed poster of my category from the first year I finaled in the Golden Heart, one of the biggest boosts I've had in my career so far.

    Above my computer is a corkboard filled with tidbits such as my lists of goals for the year, quotes, trinkets from conferences, pictures of writing friends along with one of my agent and me at the Reno Golden Heart Awards. There's a bumper sticker for, fortunes from fortune cookies and "Firefly Life Lessons" from another favorite show that's now gone, Firefly. Among my favorites -- "Sometimes the voices in your head are right." To the right, you'll notice two more small LOTR posters.

    I love to travel, and I'm a big lover of America's national parks, so I also have some wall decor that highlights those facts. Here are two framed photos I took on my honeymoon 14 years ago -- one of a sunrise at Myrtle Beach, the other of Hickory Nut Falls in North Carolina's Chimney Rock Park, film location for The Last of the Mohicans, one of my all-time favorite movies. Next to them are official National Park Service maps of the entire NPS system and one of Yellowstone National Park, one of my favorite places. What do these things have to do with writing? If I sell oodles of books, I get to travel to more places like them. :)

    And what's a writer's office without crammed bookshelves?

    So, if you're a writer, what does your workspace look like and include that inspires you? If you're not a writer, are you curious about your favorite authors' work areas?Source URL:
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A New Light

    Remember the French light I had ordered a while back? Well, it arrived, but was very confusing. First of all, it came flat as a board, and secondly, it didn't fit with a non-European light fixture. I probably would have given up, but my brother Nick stepped in and rewired my whole light! He was amazing and gallant and weirdly not that scared of being electrocuted. The light is so pretty; I really love it. Thank you so much, Nick!!!
    P.S. Sarah Wilson, pictured, was his muse.
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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Fabric Animals

San Fran Paintings

Life Gets In The Way

    by Suzanne Welsh

    About two months ago a situation occurred in my other career that set in motion a series of events that changed my life this past month. My beta reader, (the person who reads my manuscripts strictly as a reader), took a new job with greater responsibility at a new hospital. She in turn offered me a position with this new staff. Taking a leap of faith in her and my own skills, I switched hospitals.

    This new position had me doing what I love, delivering babies, but it also meant a greater commitment of my time. Translation, I went from working twelve-hour nights for nineteen years, to one solid month of eight-hour days. For a confirmed vampire, this has been a shock to my system. And as a writer the whole ordeal limited my available writing time.

    This month of working days gave me a new appreciation for those writers who do it on a daily basis and still find time to write. I must confess, that not all of my home time has been wasted with mundane chores or sleeping. I did manage to work on a nursing article I hope to get published in a professional journal, and I taught a continuing education course to the other nurses this month. But sadly I felt like my romance writing, in particular my current work in progress (WIP), took a backseat to everything else.

    When working night shift, on my days off I am up by eight and write at least until noon, with at least one hour during that time to blog or answer e-mails or work on my local RWA chapter’s concerns. Then about one in the afternoon it’s nap time. If I work that night, then I’m good to go. If I have the night off, the nap allows me to write again later at night. This day shift gig has my system all out of whack.

    The other thing I noticed was how down I felt. The creative process must feed into some mental endorphins I need to keep my mood and mind balanced. Putting aside something I enjoy to focus intently on some other part of my life seems to put everything else off the axis in which I move on a daily basis.

    One positive thing that happened was during the extra half-hour it takes me to drive to and from work my mind would work like a sledgehammer on certain points I still need to write in order to finish my WIP. And one particularly disturbing morning a character from a Regency Historical I’ve played with suddenly started talking to me. Literally. The heroine sat in the passenger seat and told me her back-story and how it affected her actions in the beginning of the book. (Yeah, it freaked me out, too!)

    Thank goodness I return to nights next week!

    Have you ever had a situation in your life where you couldn’t concentrate on writing so you had to just tuck it away for a while? Did you find your mind gravitating towards it at odd times? How did you handle the added stress?
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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

This American Life

    Now and again, I get temporarily obsessed with one thing or another. I was really into graphic novels a couple years ago, then I was really into France, then I became totally fixated on my bike (which is pretty awesome, I have to admit).

    Right now, my slow burning obsession is This American Life, the unbelievably awesome radio show.

    Ira Glass—the effeminate but straight, smart yet humble, earnest but engaging, worldly yet relatable host—interviews regular people as they tell hilarious, poignant stories about stuff that happened to them. Each episode has a topic (e.g., neighbors or fiascos or pen pals) and features 3-4 stories on that topic.

    This American Life is so brilliant that there have been a few times recently where I’ve been walking down the street by myself and can't help cracking up like a crazy person. At one point, I even hoped (just for a split second) that the elevator would get stuck so that I could keep listening to an episode before having to go into the office.

    The ten best episodes that will change your life:
    Notes on Camp
    My Experimental Phase
    Time to Save the World
    Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time
    How to Win Friends and Influence People
    Americans in Paris
    Act V

    Download them immediately. You will love them. Trust me.Source URL:
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At least it's not brain surgery. Oh, wait, it is.

One Sentence

    Sometimes you need a website you can surf to when you need a break. Postsecret is still great, but a new favorite is One Sentence. True stories, told in one sentence. Some examples...

    * I conduct job interviews for a living and nothing gives me a better sense of wielding karma than giving the job to the nervous kid instead of the better qualified arrogant prick.
    * She’s ruined half of my music library for me.
    * It’s been so long that I don’t even look down your street anymore.

    What would you say in one sentence, dear readers?
    (Illustrations by Hope Gangloff)Source URL:
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Copper Lamps

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

What's in a Brand?

    There’s a buzzword in the industry that makes almost any author sit up and take notice: branding. Everyone’s talking about it; everyone wants to be effective at it. But…what is it, exactly? And how important is it that we learn to market in this way?

    An author brand is like any other kind of brand—Coke, Pepsi, Kellogg’s, Andersen Doors. The most familiar brands evoke immediate recognition and association with particular products or even a level of quality in a certain product. Basically, branding translates into a sort of shorthand. I see a Nora book, I automatically know what kind of experience I can expect by reading it, so I pick it up without having to think twice or do any research. Branding is having a reputation and a loyal following and helps with all those impulse buys that are so critical in the book business.

    Branding is important because it enables the author’s name in and of itself to become a marketable commodity. James Patterson is now using his brand to sell stories co-authored by other people. He’s even expanding his brand to include many different types of stories. Now that he’s so strongly associated with a good story, he can do that.

    How did he build such a strong brand? By writing consistently great stories. That always has to be first. But there’s more to it than that. Branding is an on-going process and doesn’t generally happen overnight. It’s most difficult in the start-up phase. As well known as they are, Coke and Pepsi are still out there, advertising and building name recognition. It’s like pushing a ball uphill. If you stop pushing, it rolls right back to the bottom—something else encroaches and takes the attention of those you’re hoping to reach.

    Specifically, an author brands herself by developing something that is consistent and unique in her writing. I do that by making sure every book I create delivers a deeply emotional, evocative story. How is my brand different from other authors who write in the same genre? My books are known for their deep characterization in a genre that is often more plot-driven (as you drift toward the suspense side). Once you know what you want your brand to be, you establish it through your writing style and “voice,” as well as your promotional efforts, until it becomes recognizable to others.

    Some tools an author can use to build her brand are:

    Paid Advertising
    An interesting and constantly updated Web site
    Strategic Contests
    Blogs and chats (See? I’m building my brand right here )
    Charity/Volunteer work
    Joint-promotion with other authors and businesses
    Writing articles
    Press releases/media attention
    Author response to fan letters/e-mails
    Mailers to booksellers/fans

    Your brand is your promise to your readers. When my readers buy my books they want to be able to count on a certain type of read. Therefore, I make sure I deliver that kind of read. Everything I do professionally is geared around building my brand and my career, so my Web site reflects that brand, my promotional materials reflect it, my charity auction reflects it, and my workshops/blogs reflect it.

    Think about how solicitors make you feel. Because we are approached by so many who are trying to sell us something, the melee is deafening. We learn to filter and filter quickly, which means, in order to be effective in today’s marketplace, we have to be creative and effective marketers.
    So my question to you is: How can you reach people who are already tired of the signals that are constantly bombarding them via the telephone, TV, computer, etc? How can you set yourself apart?

    Throw out some ideas, and I’ll be happy to contribute. ☺

    Remember to post a comment or question by Saturday night for a chance to win an autographed copy of Brenda's newest book, "Coulda Been a Cowboy."
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I'd Rather Be Napping

Author Brenda Novak Guest-Blogging on Wednesday

    Stop by tomorrow to read guest blogger Brenda Novak’s post on author branding called, “What’s in a Brand?” Brenda writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense from her home in Sacramento, California. She’s the prolific writer of twenty-five books, the mother of five children, and a great friend and mentor to those who know her. Additionally, her annual online auction for Juvenile Diabetes Research has raised over $269,000 in the three years she's been holding it. Amazing feat!

    Many of Brenda's books have been designated a Romantic Times “Top Pick” and have gone on to place in contests such as the National Reader’s Choice, the Bookseller’s Best, The Write Touch Reader’s Award, the Holt, the Award of Excellence, and the Beacon Award for Published Authors.

    Brenda's latest work includes a trilogy set in a small town in Mississippi. DEAD SILENCE and DEAD GIVEAWAY are out. The third book in the trilogy, DEAD RIGHT, will be available August 1st.

    An autographed copy of her latest contemporary "Coulda Been a Cowboy" will be raffled off on Sunday to one of our lucky commenters. "Coulda Been a Cowboy" is the story of a professional football player who suddenly finds himself saddled with an illegitimate baby, a public scandal involving that baby's mother, and a plain Jane nanny. He doesn't want any of the three--until he spends a few weeks with plain Dakota Brown and baby Brayden. Then he realizes that the embarrassing scandal has actually forced changes in his life that might bring him everything he's ever wanted.

    Be sure to post your comment by Saturday night. The winner will be announced on Sunday, July 1.
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Monday, June 25, 2007

Andre Joyau

Sunday, June 24, 2007

    There’s this sixteen-month-old baby, Ezra Brown (nickname Easy B), whose facial features are a wealth of expression. High, wide forehead, expressive eyes, mouth that becomes the Grand Canyon upon a smile, every muscle in his face and form are methods of communication. He speaks -- well, actually he jabbers -- in some Klingon dialect no human can understand.

    So what I thought was this: Why can’t we adult humans communicate so well. Easy B communicates with his mother through sign language, “please,” the rounding circle on his tummy and “all done” the waving of two tiny hands above his head. However, when he wants to nurse, his little face becomes very still; he uses only one hand to simulate the milking of a cow, a closed fist (okay, DO NOT ask), and holds the posture until his mother acknowledges what he wants. Then, when she bares her breast, he gives this little ah-ha of relief at being understood and given his most elemental need.

    Communication. Men and women have been doing this awkward dance for centuries. And it’s darned strange that I can read every nuance of Ezra’s face and body as if his words were emblazoned on a marquee, but have difficulty conveying the same language among my characters.

    When I want to cow a particular unruly tenth-grader in my high school class, a lifting of both brows and a stoic stare are sufficient to quell the ensuing rebellion.

    Why is it so much harder to use body and facial language for our characters without reverting to stereotype and caricature? I mean, come on, there are only so many brow lifts, steely stares, and mouth quirks the story can handle. And in real life, our dashing Alpha males express very little with their faces, more, perhaps with their bodies, and oh yeah, a whole lot with . . . well, ‘nuff said there.

    So my question to both readers and writers is: What’s your favorite character’s (male or female) non-verbal expression or use of body communication? NON-VERBAL, ladies and gents, to eliminate the classic, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” followed by an equally classic thunderbolt from the gods.

    Or what's a favorite communication tool you use as a writer?
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Sneak Peeks

    Design Sponge has a great section on her site called Sneak Peeks. She features photos of young designers' and artists' homes. Very cool and inspiring! Since my secret fantasy is to freeze New York and spend a day walking through people's apartments, this is a thrill for me....Enjoy!Source URL:
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Friday, June 22, 2007

My Town

    One of the really cool features of the elfreda ica is that we represent numerous countries, much less several US states. We have different backgrounds, different occupations, but a common passion - writing romance.

    I thought it might be nice to share a little bit of trivia about my home state, but I'm really curious about yours - so here's the deal: tell me some trivia about your home town, state, country - whatever you wish to share - and I'll pick a winner and send you a bandit mask.

    I live in Ohio which is considered part of the Midwest- which might be surprising. I mean, geographically speaking, it would be more accurate to call Ohio part of the Mideast... (I can almost hear the tourism department screaming). However, in all other ways we more closely resemble the Midwest.

    Most of the state lies on top of a plateau, so we're flat - lots of sky. It's a great place to learn how to drive a stick shift. Agriculture plays a large part in the economy. One sure sign of spring is the timing of the commercials for corn crop fertilizers and weed killers. Back in the day, it was said that Ohio had so many trees, a squirrel could travel from one end of the state to the other and never touch land, but the many farms and metropolitian cities changed that. We're still pretty green, though.

    Trivia fact - 50% of the entire US population is within a 500 mile radius of Columbus, Ohio which is smack dab in the middle of the state.

    Ohio has a rich history in culinary arts. We gave America its first hot dog in 1900, and chewing gum in 1869. Wendy's Hamburgers started in Ohio as did Bob Evans, White Castle, and Damon's Ribs. Okay, so our culinary history is more "fast" than "rich," but you get the idea - we like to eat.

    The world's largest basket is in Ohio - I've seen it. We also have an office building that is designed to look like a huge basket. Seriously. It tends to freak you out when you see it off the highway. The same company is behind both of these structures.

    Steven Spielberg was born in Ohio, though I'm not sure he stayed long. Clark Gable is from Ohio, as is Paul Newman (I met his wife, Joanne Woodword, backstage of a play once. Paul wasn't there though). Annie Oakley is also from Ohio - which surprised me.

    Seven US presidents were born in Ohio - but they were all boring - except for Ulysses S. Grant who had the good sense to get his mug on a fifty dollar bill.

    The "pop-top can" was invented in Ohio - a product I use daily.

    Cleveland was the world's first city to be lighted electrically in 1879 (did I mention that Thomas Edison is from Ohio?) Cleveland also boasts of America's first traffic light. They don't boast, however, about the Cuyahoga River that caught fire and inspired Randy Newman's song - "Burn on, big river, burn on."

    So know you know a little trivia about my home town. Tell me about yours. A bandit mask hangs in the balance.Source URL:
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Beyond the book ...

    My name is Anna Sugden and I am a bookaholic. I love books. Reading them, buying them, collecting them. Hard back, paperback, old and new. Luckily, my husband is a bookaholic too - we have over 20 bookcases in our house and a TBR room!

    Apparently, though, we’re a dying breed.

    The biggest issue facing our industry, from publisher through to bookseller, is not which genre is hot and which is not. Rather, it is how to convince the younger generation to commit their time and money to reading and books. With so many more options available to them - from the internet to all manner of ever-changing, ever-improving electronic technology and gadgetry (Blu-ray anyone?) - is it any surprise that the humble book struggles to appeal?

    Although e-books and audio-books have been around for some time, even they hadn’t really kept up with the times. Recently, thanks to innovators like Apple/iTunes and Sony, providing better listening devices and better readers, and the increasing use of the internet, these alternatives have had a new lease of life breathed into them. Add to that the increasing success of epublishers, like Ellora’s Cave/Cerridwen press and Samhain (who have just signed a deal with Kensington) and things are looking more rosy.

    It doesn’t stop there. Recently, publishers have begun to think ‘outside the book’. Both Harlequin and Dorchester have got manga-style lines, hoping to encourage cross-over from those who are hooked on the Japanese graphic novels. And for those addicted to their cell-phones, Harlequin has a download service that sends story instalments direct to your cell-phone daily.

    While I think the latter is a great idea, and know plenty of people for whom it would be perfect, it’s not for me. I don’t live on my phone! Nor are e-books. I spend enough time gazing at a screen and it doesn’t seem worth printing them out.

    But I could go for manga romance novels - like reading the teen magazines of my youth with the comic strip and photo stories! Plus, it’s still reading and holding a book in my hands. And I certainly enjoy audio books - especially now many are unabridged and with decent actors reading (some romance novels actually have a male and female reader for the different points of view).

    Who knows what the future holds. What other ideas publishers and retailers will come up with to keep the market alive and well.

    So, imagine there are no more books left in the world (an alien being has zapped them all into outer space). Which new format(s) would you choose to feed your reading habits?
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Good, Yes, Very.

Hamish Buys a Key Ring

    My uncle Hamish (here, with his wife Hal) lives in a little town in England. Here's his hilarious report of a recent ebay transaction....

    Wrote Hamish:
    "I bought a horribly garish key ring for my bike a week ago, paid for it immediately and received nothing, so I sent a note saying that if it didn’t arrive pretty soon, negative feedback would be on the way. Check out the guy’s response...'Dont worry about the bad feed back its on its way and i emailed you saying postman eva robbed it or your trying it on. My wife has resent you one and it will be the last one as this time i have proof off postage get what i mean. so eva you carnt robb me again or the postman carnt'"

    Heehee, love those Brits....Source URL:
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Thursday, June 21, 2007

John Derian Sale

    John Derian, the awesome shop in the East Village, is having a sale from today until Saturday. The whole store is 10% off, and many pieces are as much as 50% off. Derian sells home furnishings from designers he discovers in France and beyond. But his own decoupage paperweights and plates are especially beautiful. Look at those amazing sea plates!Source URL:
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Welcome To Summer!

    by Caren Crane

    Today is the first day of summer. Hooray! Summer, for me, is a get out of jail free card. Not like it was in school, certainly, but it marks the end of many obligations. Most of them are things my kids do all through the school year, but some are my own. Now that summer's here, we enjoy a brief respite from the must-dos.

    Which leaves me with more free time to write. Right? Well, sure, as long I don't start playing Chuzzle or start on the to-be-read pile of books or hit my Netflix queue with a vengeance. Fortunately, my dear friends have recently challenged me to write a brand new sort of book for me. One that has the back of my mind buzzing with activity. The new idea has made me listen harder to conversations, read my mail more closely, pay attention to things I normally wouldn't.

    A new book is like a new relationship in that way. It changes something profound about the way you view things around you. Now, I am filtering everything through my new heroine's point of view. I am considering the type of vehicle my hero drives. The kind of house my heroine would live in. Where her friends would live. What sort of jobs they have. The potential is limitless, like it is in that new relationship. Soon enough, I will start to hem my characters in, give them roots and problems and crazy family members. For now, though, summer is new and so is the book. Anything could happen. It's so exciting!

    So, what is the brand new summer calling you to do? Laze by the pool? Watch a pile of movies? Keep your nose to the grindstone by day and party through the twilit evening hours? Tell us your summer plans!Source URL:
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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

You had me at hello

    By Beth Burgoon

    In the 2005 movie version of Pride and Prejudice when Mr. Darcy tells Elizabeth Bennet: "I love you. Most ardently." I must confess, I swoon *g* I'm a sucker for romance (no surprise as I'm both a romance writer and reader) but nothing gets to me more than a simple, honest declaration of a character's true feelings. And those declarations are the ones that have stuck with me through the years. Some of my favorites:

    "Nobody puts Baby in a corner." -- Dirty Dancing. Yeah, it's cheesy but it still makes me want to cheer when Johnny (bad-boy from wrong side of the tracks) arrives and takes Baby's hand.

    "I like you very much. Just the way you are." -- Bridget Jones's Diary. Simple. Truthful. And just what Bridget is looking for -- someone to love her just as she is *g*

    "I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible." -- When Harry Met Sally. Okay, this one has a special place in my heart because it reminds me of when my husband proposed to me. He drove the 90 miles to where I was attending school to ask me to marry him IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT because he couldn't wait another minute for us to start our life together :-)

    "What is it you want, Mary? You want the moon? Just say the word and I'll throw a lasso around it and pull it down." -- It's a Wonderful Life. One of my all time favorite movies. And later when George visits Mary and they both listen to their friend on the same phone, the sexual tension is through the roof *g*

    What are some of your favorite/most memorable romantic lines from movies? Any that have stuck with you through the years or have a special meaning for you?Source URL:
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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Turn-ons and Turn-offs

    By Kirsten Scott

    A few weeks ago, I sent a draft of a short story I was working on to my critique partner. It was my first attempt at erotica, so I was curious what she'd thought of my efforts. Overall, she was enthusiastic, but she had a really strong reaction to a particular word I'd used. It started with "c" and ended with "t" and she absolutely hated it. Couldn't I use a different word? Something that started with "p" perhaps?

    Now unfortunately, my reaction to the "p" word was almost as strong as her reaction to the "c" word. It completely turns me off. To me, that word sounds silly and adolescent boy-ish. Not a bit sexy. I'm not entirely happy with the "c" word-I understand there are those, like my CP, who find it jarring and violent, something a man would use but a woman would not. But I like it better than some of my alternatives.

    Of course, we've all got our little turn-ons and turn-offs, from individual words to overall story-lines. I love stories about the "last of the line," the orphan who must be found because s/he alone can save the world. My favorite of this kind is Dragonflight, the fabulous Anne McCaffery book. I love a good romance where the heroine is mistreated by the hero, who will later have to make it up to her in any number of ways (try Anna Campbell's Claiming the Courtesean, if you're like me!)

    As for turn-offs...well, I tried to think of some, but the truth is, I can enjoy almost any tried and true plot line, if it's written well. Amnesia, twins, Cinderella, marriage of convenience, you name it, I've enjoyed it. Oh wait--I thought of one! Unhappy endings. I absolutely refuse to read them. I guess that's why I stick to the romance section. ;-)

    So what about you? What are your turn-ons and turn-offs? It can be a word or an entire genre--dish the dirt!

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Which love type are you?

    Oprah Magazine is like the dorky kid in school. People make fun of it for being cheesy and lame. But it's secretly awesome. I've hung out with it, and it's funny, smart, down-to-earth, and it knows all about relationships, books, bodies and periods!

    Last week, Oprah gave us a really cool quiz, which Lina and I are now obsessed with. The quiz tells you which kind of boyfriend/girlfriend you are: an Explorer, Builder, Negotiator or Director. It's funny to figure out the love style of yourself, your friends and your significant other. Which are you?

    (Photo from Bed Jump)Source URL:
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Monday, June 18, 2007

Of Laundry and Writing

    by Joan Kayse

    The Writer's life. Glamour, exotic locations, exciting adventure, tantalizing interpersonal relationships.

    Sorting the darks from the whites.

    It's not all chocolate and champagne. Cabana boys bringing us towels while we lounge by the pool churning out pages and pages of riveting fiction. Not even close (except for the chocolate).

    Many of us still have our "day jobs". We have households to run, children to raise and nurture (or in my case, drought striken plants to resusitate. A petunia with its tongue hanging out in thirst is NOT a pretty sight!) Obligations that demand our attention. But....

    During meetings we're trying to decide if our hero should arrive by horse or UFO. We zone out during church when we're really trying to work out in our heads a better way for our heroine to tell the villian to take a hike. Even going to the grocery store can solve a particular plot problem as we listen to the lady behind us in line complain on her cell phone about her boyfriend.

    Our minds. Always working.

    Our fans would be dazzled if they watched us during the actual process. Hours of staring at the computer screen waiting for inspiration to hit. Rewriting the same sentence twenty times. Talking to our inspirational character pics taped to our desks. (I've had many a long conversation with Damon, hero from THE PATRICIAN'S FORTUNE who just happens to look like an image of a scruffy Hugh Jackman from PEOPLE. I used to do it with my Davy Jones of the Monkees poster when I was 12 LOL)

    And it gets even worse when we're with other writers. I chat with my CP almost everyday. Last night she listened to me grouse about my bad weekend at the hospital. I listened to her talk about working our church picnic. Soon we were discussing our progress on our current WIP, hashing out plot issues, celebrating the completion of a manuscript. Multiply that by hundreds when we go to the RWA conference in a couple of weeks. Two thousand like souls all congregating for four days of talking writing! Nirvana.

    The writing life; highs and lows, joy and frustration, success and rejection.

    And I LOVE IT!Source URL:
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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Oops! Forgot to pick winner

    My bad. I forgot to pick a winner of one of Colleen Gleason's books after we had her as a guest blogger here at the elfreda ica on June 8. After culling all the comments made by us Bandits and using hubby's random number generator, danetteb, you are the winner! Please e-mail me at trishmilburn AT yahoo DOT com with which book of Colleen's you'd prefer to receive (The Rest Falls Away or Rises the Night), your full name and mailing address. I'll forward all of that info to Colleen.Source URL:
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    Two winters ago, when I was feeling unexpectedly sad, I went to therapy for a couple months. My psychologist told me to keep a journal, and it was AMAZING how it can help you have surprising, helpful realizations. I'd highly recommend it for soul-searchers out there, especially if you're going through a weird time.

    Or you could just make pretty drawings, either way!

    (via Hoping for Happy Accidents)Source URL:
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Why Perseverance is so Important

    by Christie Kelley

    I started my writing career 7 years ago during a small phenomenon called Y2K. Anybody remember that? I’d always wanted to write but never had the time or energy with a full time job, husband and two young kids. As Y2K approached, I had just started working part-time from home in computer software development (only the part-time working from home thing was new). The company I worked for wouldn’t let us do anything except fix emergency problems until after 2/15/00. That’s when I started my first (and never to be seen again) manuscript. I joined RWA and the Maryland Romance Writers and quickly realized that I’d found my true passion in life.

    So where am I going with this rambling post? After seven years of writing and seven manuscripts and many years of thinking this would never happen, it did. I GOT THE CALL.


    The one all the unpublished authors wait for with every manuscript we give to our agent or the all powerful editor. I sold my baby. The book that finaled in the 2006 Golden Heart and made me part of this fantastic group, Her Scandalous Proposal will be a February 2008 release from Kensington titled, Every Night I’m Yours.

    My agent called me a week after I'd received a pass from another publisher that really put me in the dumps. Her call came the same day I found out that I hadn’t finaled in a contest with my newest manuscript. When I saw her name on my caller ID, my first thought was: “Oh great, now she’s calling to tell me that I’ve been rejected by all the editors and she doesn’t want to represent me any longer.” For all you readers out there--this really is how writers think.I’m thrilled that my dream is finally coming true.

    But more importantly, I want the rest of you to know that I was ready to give up a hundred times. I didn’t. And you can’t either. As a real estate agent, we live by the mantra: location, location, location. As a writer, you have to live by the mantra: perseverance, perseverance, perseverance
    .Source URL:
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Friday, June 15, 2007

Letterpress Coasters

The joy of bookstore browsing

    By Trish Milburn

    I've been so busy lately that I've barely come up for air, but while my sister and nieces were visiting last week I got to indulge in a favorite pastime -- casually browsing bookstore shelves. Since I'm writing YA and just finished revising a paranormal YA, I gravitated to that section of the Barnes & Noble. And discovered there are an incredible number of very cool looking releases lining the shelves. It takes only moments to realize that paranormal is very hot in the young adult market now, and for that I'm glad. I love the combination of teen stories and paranormal elements. Thanks to Harry Potter, so do lots of readers 20 years younger than me.

    The YA publishers are also very good at putting eye-catching covers on these books. Those covers were what made me pick the books off the shelves, turn them over and read the back-cover copy -- and make notes to myself to read these books soon. Here are some of the books that caught my eye:

    Have you been browsing lately? What has caught your eye? And how important is a good cover in making you pick up a book?Source URL:
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Thursday, June 14, 2007

I left my heart in San Francisco...

Counting the Blessings

    posted by Tawny Weber

    For all it's ups and downs, I feel so blessed to be able to consider writing my career (not exactly a lucrative career... yet, but its getting there *g*). After all, I get to tell stories, have the incredible excitement of sharing my stories with others, seeing my name on a book - and that book on a shelf! All blessings!!!

    But one of the biggest blessings, the most inspiring things about writing is the friends I've made. In times of frustration, I swear, its my friends that keep my going. If I hit a wall, can't seem to write or focus on the story, they are right there wth me-- understanding, encouraging, nagging *g*.

    The perfect example is last night - I haven't been writing much the last couple weeks. I have excuses (and they are just that -excuses). Beth assures me that this is simply "my process" --the insane headgame I play with myself for each and every book (and she'd know, since this is the 5th she's held my hand through). Around 9:30 I got a phone call - its one of my plotting partners - she whispers in this deep voice "Tawny, this is the writing angel, I don't think you're writing like you're supposed to." Too funny! She informed me that I had an hour to finish whatever I was doing and we'd meet online to write. No excuses. So - an hour later, I wrote. And it felt great. I'm still "in process" in that I don't know that the direction I am heading is right, and I'm concerned with pacing, but... I wrote.

    Inspiration is a nebulous thing, sometimes. For me, I love the story I'm working on. The characters are solid, they feel great. I'm happy with my career direction and love what's happening. But sometimes, it takes that late night phone call or that friend who holds my hand and assures me this is "my process" or playmates who "get me" and are always there to cheer and hold my hand, to take the inspiration for a story and give me that final shove to turn it into actual pages.

    How about you? If you could give a shout out to your writing buddies, your backup, what would you say?Source URL:
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