More than a place--it's a writer's muse.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I'm so thankful for--excuse me, I need to unbutton my pants.

Today, us Americans celebrate the only holiday where getting into a state of undress in front of family members is encouraged, even if you are only unbuttoning your clothes because you are more stuffed than the turkey.

Oh, happy day.

I've been up cooking since 7 am. Insane you say? Well, perhaps, but the smells are so fantastic! The knowledge that I won't have to cook for the next week helps, too. Thanksgiving this year at our house will be celebrated in the fashion it should be. Lots of yummy foods, lots of great companionship, and lots to be thankful for. I did a quick poll on things we are grateful for this year:

DD="I am thankful for cake"
DS="Don't touch" (Actually, that's his answer for any question you ask. He's just happy he can say a sentence)
DH=Didn't answer. He was too busy trying to get outside so he could play with his logs.
Me=Oh, just about freaking everything. We've got a new fab house, I've moved leaps and bounds in my writing, and I have come to know a group of fantastic ladies on textnovel. Who could ask for more?

Not me, that's for certain. We have health, happiness, and love. I wish the same for all of you.

While we are all feeling all giving and smooshy, take a look to the far right of this page. There are links to follow to give a thumbs up for the Divas in the top 10. take a seond to vote, all you have to do is reply on your fave Diva's novel, even if it is just an emoticon. You don't even have to log in, just reply as "unregistered". That's what my DH did while I forced him at turkey baster point.

Happy thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Holidays

It's Wylde Wednesday again, but my trademarked smark (smutty snark) has been shelved in honor of the joy of the holidays! That and I mean, who is really working today or tomorrow? You'll be plump and sleepy, the way it should be.

I'm thankful for so much this season. My family, my friends, the opportunities I've found professionally and personally, and the ability to find beauty and joy in my world.

I wish that for all of you not only this holiday season, but throughout the year. And of course, may your muse dance for you often.



Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Impact of Dark YA on Teen Readers and Responsible Parents

A couple weeks ago I was discussing the idea of "dark" stories with you all--tales that "push the envelope" on topics like sex, drugs and violence. It seems they're very popular now and such topics are also creeping (and sometimes racing) right into YA fiction as well. Some people seem disturbed by the trend and some, flat out, don't want to touch any such fiction with a ten foot pole (consider how YA author Ellen Hopkins was treated by a couple public schools and libraries recently).

From the get-go realize if you're writing things that include "disturbing" topics and teens, you will get flack. When I was hemming and hawing about the mild cussing I included in 13 TO LIFE, my editor pointed out authors will always deal with someone who doesn't like something about their book. You can't make everyone happy, but you can be true to your story.

Got cussing? You'll hear about it (author Maggie Stiefvater of Lament commented in a NaNoWriMo post about the fallout she received as the result of using the f-word once in a novel).

Sex? Author P.C. Cast deals with several sexual incidents in her House of Night series and has gotten a lot of heat as a result.

Drugs and alcohol? Check out other articles about Ellen Hopkins' books (there are tons of others dealing with these topics, too, but hers are currently on my mind).

Violence? Eh. That's the weird one with us in the USA, it seems (still). We can tolerate violence in far greater quantities than sex and violent language.

Some of you may feel horrified about the frankness authors take with teen audiences when it comes to tough topics. However, as authors, it's imperitive we don't talk down to our readers. We can't skirt or gloss over issues if they're important to the story and to a character's development. And frankly, sex, drugs, violence and self-expression (like cussing in certain cases) and the way we handle those issues are very much a part of our character... and our characters.

Here's the reality check: Many teens cuss (usually they pick it up from adults--or their peers). Teens are filled to the brim with hormones and curiosity and (I know, it's as frightening as imagining our parents "doing it") some teens do have sex--and the others have questions about it). And, some teens (waaay too many teens) will experience violence.

Just because the majority of books in the past few decades didn't address these topics head-on doesn't mean that these issues didn't exist. My mother used to tell the story of the girl who disappeared one year in her high school--her parents tried to keep the girl's pregnancy a secret and shipped her away to deliver the baby but the imagination of her peers in her absence did even more to her reputation than dealing with things head-on.

As a writer we have to consider the impact of our words on our audience. We need to avoid gratuitous everything. Unless the topic is inherent in the story and character development, save it for another tale. BUT. There have always been dark stories (think about the Greek myths--rape, murder, incest, the Oracle of Delphi tripping out--all good "Classical" tales; or the original Grimm Brother's tales--pre-Disney; and Shakespeare--come on, have you seriously read Romeo and Juliet?).

Will reading Dark YA make your child experiment with drugs, seek out danger, or sleep around? Not unless your teen already has significant issues with separating reality from fantasy (which is always possible, I guess). Did reading Sherlock Holmes make you want to experiment with heroine? How about reading Cinderella--did you have an undeniable desire to cut off some toes to have a chance at marrying a prince? I hope not. But you probably started considering where your own moral and ethical lines would be drawn. That's an important part in growing up.

Teen literature or YA, whether it be inspirational, sweet or dark gives adults a chance to open up a dialogue with teen readers.

Let's think about the outrage many parents felt over the relationship between Stephenie Meyer's Twilight characters Edward and Bella. Many complained he was an older man stalking an underage girl. Now, consider the ways those same concerned adults could have opened discussions with their teens about those very concerns... Wow! Suddenly you can find even more value to Stephenie Meyer's work.

Teens gravitate to dark and dangerous tales just like we do (partly because we can sit safely at home and fall into darker worlds). I like writing the stories teens like (because I like them, too) and I think they'll be around for a while. As authors we have a responsibility to our teen readers. We need to address things they want to know about and let them experience the repurcussions of certain choices (good and bad) and actions without doing it firsthand.

As parents there is an additional responsibility--know what your child is reading and don't dismiss or ban it out of fear--use it as a bridge to talk to your teen about things that scare you, too. Dark stories can be used very successfully to help teens make good choices--if we talk about those dark stories with them.

What do you think?

Friday, November 20, 2009

TGIF Cheers and Jeers

Happy Friday, Divas and friends!

Before breaking out the chocolate martinis, I was going to write a diatribe basically foaming at the mouth about Harlequin's new self-publishing imprint. But then I read the statement by Russell Davis, President of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, on that very subject. Mr. Davis so brilliantly explains why this move by the two ton gorilla of romance publishing is odious that I knew I couldn’t come close to improving on it, or even equaling it. So I decided to post the link instead:

According to Publishers Weekly, the marketing plan for the new imprint, Horizons, includes soliciting authors whose manuscripts have been rejected by Harlequin. Harlequin CEO Donna Hayes told PW she was “surprised and dismayed” by the outcry. Say what? Did she honestly think the company could make a business decision to deliberately prey on the vulnerable and no one would get their knickers in a knot? No chocolate martinis for you, Ms. Hayes!

On the other hand, keep the chocolatinis flowing for the editors at Dorchester Publishing Co., who gave the finalists in the America’s Next Best Celler Contest a bonus we hadn’t been promised and weren’t expecting – one-on-one help with our jacket copy. Alicia Condon, Chris Keeslar and Leah Hultenschmidt really know their stuff when it comes to marketing. It’s been eye-opening to see the fabulous copy being posted at based on their input. Only one finalist will win the contest, but all ten of us have been given an invaluable learning experience.

What are the rest of you drinking to during this happy hour? Whether you're celebrating or drowning your sorrows, the Divas will be happy to join you.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I wanna sleep with your book!

My Darling Daughter has a charming quirk. On her nightstand (which is actually a Rose Petal Cottage toy washing machine. I think her use of it as a nightstand speaks of her attitude towards housekeeping) are a tall pile of books. Not just Peter Pan, Max & Ruby, and The Tale of Tom Kitten, but also The Encyclopedia Of World Religions, a book on growing trees and shrubs, and Blue Diablo by Ann Aguirre.

Every night, at bedtime, we read her a story, tuck her under her blankets, set up her stuffed toys so that they are all around her, then leave her to look through her "big" books.

After about 10 minutes, I go in, untangle my sleeping bibliomaniac and the books from her blanket and put them next to her bed. I usually let her keep a paperback in there with her.

Yes, my daughter sleeps with books. I have no idea where she learned that from. (Okay, fine. It was me.)

She's 3. Why did she choose these books? Because she likes the covers, of course. Why do you choose books? (Only a little sarcasm there.)

While browsing a bookshelf for something to read, we look at the cover. If it passes muster, we usually turn the paperback over or open up the hardcover to read what is called the jacket copy. The Dorchester contestants are now working madly on their versions of jacket copy as we sit here and read. Sometimes, it's the author's copy editor that creates these 200 word insights to the novel. As an author, I would like to have more control over that stuff, if possible.

As I was writing my version of a jacket copy for two of my manuscripts, I went online to the wide, wide web and did some research. The best resource I've found for hints on writing a jacket copy that works was a--ready? Please, don't throw any rotten food my way!--self-publishing site.

Wait, think about it...makes sense now, doesn't it?

Xlibris has a very good "how-to" on what is expected from a back of jacket copy.

As much info you get on a jacket copy, I miss when paperbacks used to have that excerpt in the front of some sexy/intense moment between the two main characters. In a rush, I would just open and read to see if it, well, tickled me in some way. In a good way. I'd take it home, and, if it was really good, I'd sleep with it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Power of the Pen

What's more intimidating than a white space that you're supposed to fill with your words?

When I open a new document to start a new piece, be it an article, a technical manual, or a novel, it's always the most beautiful and horrible thing I've ever seen.

Yes, your friendly neighborhood Amazon Goddess can be intimidated. Not by other goddess types, writing gurus, or hard work. Just a simple blank document is enough to send me screaming and yet, that same document lures me back in every time. I always stop and turn around for that last backward glance and I'm sucked back into the blackhole of expectation.

It's gravid with possibilities that range from the Great American Novel to tortures that are straight from the innermost ring of Hell.

I always hesitate before writing those first words, but the longer I stare at it, the bigger and more infinite it seems. As writers, we're the welders of Chaos. We take all of those things floating out in the ether and cement them down with only our keyboards and the sheer force of our will. How amazing is that? Civilizations can rise and fall with a keystroke, plagues, Armageddon and the horrors that slither in the darkness can all come to light. Or that candle of hope that we left burning in the window can blaze to a brilliant nova and incinerate all who read what we've written.

It adds a little more weight to the question, 'What will you do today?'.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Word about Contests and Publishing

I know, I know. I was going to write about Dark YA today, but (considering the Textnovel/Dorchester "America's Next Best Celler" contest announced the top ten yesterday) I decided I'd go for "timely." Yeah. Who'dda thunk it?

I've developed a few opinions regarding contests recently (thanks in part to the 1st TN one that landed me a contract and a few other contests I've checked into).

First, let me make this perfectly clear: If you compete in a contest you are already a winner. Why? Because it takes guts to put your work out there to be judged. You're putting a part of yourself on display and hoping for good stuff. I understand that. And I know that for everyone of you who had the guts to compete in "Best Celler" there are tons more who didn't have the guts to get in the mix.

As I was watching the announcements and congratulations flitting by on Twitter, I was also pretty certain I was watching a few hearts breaking. Knowing you've made it to a certain level and then being told you can't proceed--well, it sucks. And I noticed a few folks saying things like "just because you aren't right for Dorchester..." and "your time will come."

I want you to understand two things:

1.) If you continue pressing forward, honing your writing skills, working on things like query letters and high concept pitches, etc., and if you are determined to persevere (without bitterness and ego) you WILL make it. Regardless of what naysayers proclaim, publishing is a VERY open field. Keep writing. Believe in yourself and your story.

2.) And no matter what anyone says, keep in mind that although you may not be what Dorchester wants RIGHT NOW, IN THIS CONTEST lists change. What they want now may not be what they want in spring or summer. There are some publishing houses (like my publisher St. Martin's Press) that don't really work to a preconceived "list." They want good stories. If you catch their attention they'll find a home for you.

3.) I said there'd be two--right? This is why I didn't go into math... Look at all the good you have already gotten from this experience: You met some other talented authors and probably built some relationships; you pushed yourself forward with your writing and learned a bit about marketing and engaging readers; you tested your own hunger for getting published by a NYC publisher. I daresay you've learned a lot about yourself through this contest.

So where do you go from here if you didn't make top 10?

1.) You complete your manuscript. Heck, try and do it to the same specs Dorchester has at the Textnovel Blog.
2.) Try doing your jacket copy (and see how the top 10's turn out--compare, contrast, learn a little more). That jacket copy can potentially be used in your query or synopsis, so it's not like the experience is wasted.
3.) Do some research. Who do you SERIOUSLY want to be published by? Maybe it's Dorchester. And maybe not. Make sure you're ready to exceed the expectations of the publishing house you really want (but don't get all "I'm so much better than this author, they HAVE to want me").
4.) Begin to build your platform and brand.
5.) Figure out if you need an agent or not. If you need one, get one. Be careful though. Some are good and some aren't (and there are all sorts of degrees in between).
6.) Do your query letter, your synopsis, your outline.
7.) Submit to your dream publishers first.
8.) Persevere.

You can do this!

Monday, November 16, 2009

What Autism Taught me about Writing.

It's so easy to talk down to a person with autism, in much the same way as one might feel the urge to shout in the presence of a non-hearing person. Even now, thirteen years after my oldest son's diagnosis, he remains mostly nonverbal (except when reading out loud, but that's for another blog, another day).

I sometimes find myself directing David in baby sentences, making the presumption that if he cannot answer me, or show me with eye contact or via gesture that he is attending to my voice, then he does not comprehend.

And it drives him nuts. There is no better way to insure David's non-compliance than talking to him like a baby. And yes, I've kept data charts on this, so I know what I'm talking about here.

I've gotten a lot of flak from fellow behaviorists and special education teachers for the choices I've made to read age appropriate material to David. I feed him these age appropriate works of literature because the truth is, we have no standardized way of verifying his intellect, or his lack thereof.

So, in the measurable absence of intelligence, I have chosen to presume his intelligence, and give my son the benefit of the doubt as far as literacy is concerned. After all, who am I harming?


And if I'm right, and he does understand every word I say? Then failing to do so would amount to outright intellectual neglect.

When my son started reading out loud after a couple of years of this, and becoming able (on his good days) to answer multiple choice tests on information I'd read out to him, I realized that my son had an awful lot more going on inside his head than any of us could ever imagine.

My sons, they teach me. Not just about raising kids, but about writing better books.

I'm beginning to learn that one of the biggest mistakes I've made as a writer has been to risk spoon feeding information to my reader on the assumption they won't follow if I force them to depend on subtleties in character actions and dialogue.

I was watching the movie "UP" with my kids this weekend.

The movie took a lot of risks, and let me tell ya, I like risks. In killing off a beloved character as the inciting incident, the movie gave it's young audience an awful lot of credit for both emotional intelligence, resilience, and empathy.

It was a good gamble. It was also the right choice for that particular story. And it got me to thinking about my own stories.

In the future, I'm going to treat my readers with the same presumption of intellect and emotional depth that I give my children.

Readers are smart.

And so are people with autism.

Failing to presume as much bears far greater consequences than presuming illiteracy.

What about you? How do you feel when you're being spoonfed information? How much is too much--or too little?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A marvelous way to edit

Using WORDLE, I made a cloud of my novel. Yes, all 50,000 words. Now i have a visual of words I need to cut or rethink. Words such as LIKE, BACK, FEEL, JUST. LOOK, and SOMETHING. and the cutting begins.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

I've been a bad, bad girl. Someone, please spank me

Yes. I have been naughty. I did not post my blog on Thursday. I forgot about it. I was to busy doing...well, that's the kicker. I wasn't doing anything necessary at all. At least anything that couldn't have waited.

I took what I call "a mental health day". I didn't do any writing. A bit of brainstorming, but nothing fancy. I started a story that just kinda flopped over my keyboard and died. The juices just weren't flowing. The Baby Boy was starting to get sick and had to sit on my hip the whole day, and that meant Darling Girl wanted to be on that same hip as well. In between the hacking of one and the whining of the other, I just didn't want to get anything done.

So I didn't.

And that is okay. Sometime, the stars aren't aligned and Mars has situated himself comfortably in retrograde. Sometimes life is in upheaval with moving or construction or a loved one coming home after being away for far too long. Sometimes you just don't wanna. That's okay. Walk away. Get refreshed, do all the stuff that is forcing itself onto your to-do-list and just get back into writing the next day.

Which is what I did. Well, sorta. I decided I needed a web page, so I went out and got a domain name and started designing my own website. I also sent out my RWA application and ordered the Writer's Digest magazine. While money was flowing more freely than words (trust me, I wish it had been the other way around) I also went ahead and purchased WRITE OR DIE for my desktop. This funk I'm in isn't gonna last. However, I may just need a little help kicking my butt out of Lazytown and Dr. Wicked and his amazing writing program will be there to do it.

So, what's been going on with you all that life is kicking you in the teeth. Go ahead, let it out. I'm here for you.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Not Totally OT

During this week that includes Veterans Day, and that follows last week’s senseless and shocking incident at Fort Hood, where 12 soldiers and a civilian were shot to death by a fellow soldier, I’d like to put in a plug for a worthy organization – the Armed Services Blood Program, or ASBP.

The ASBP is a joint Army, Navy and Air Force activity subject to the authority of the Secretary of Defense and under the operational control of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Its mission is to provide quality blood products for Service members and their families worldwide, in both peace and war. Towards this end, it operates over 20 Blood Donor Centers.

The ASBP was especially challenged last week. Over 139 units of blood had to be transfused during treatment of the 29 people wounded in Major Hasan’s rampage. Although the military blood supply is now adequate, the ASBP is urging people to give blood regularly, since blood is perishable and there’s always a downturn in donations during the holiday season. You can locate a military blood donor center on the ASBP’s website, If you’re not close enough to give at a military blood donor center, consider giving to your local civilian blood program, because giving blood is giving life.

Why, you may ask, is this not totally off the topic of writing?

Well, I became aware of the ASBP through my day job. Among other facts, I learned that each Blood Donor Center has a civilian employee with the title, “Blood Donor Recruiter.” This set my slightly twisted writerly mind to work, and on November 1, I started my NaNoWriMo novel – a romantic comedy about a conscience-stricken vampire who finagles himself a job as a Blood Donor Recruiter because he wants to stop harming humans.

Five days later, the very first thing I heard about the tragedy at Fort Hood was a CNN report of a call for donations of blood of every type. I was reminded that while my manuscript is funny (I hope!), the work of the ASBP is serious and important.

So, I raise my chocolate martini glass in a Diva salute to the men and women of the ASBP, including the Blood Donor Recruiters (not a vampire in the bunch!), and to the donors who support the organization, and of course, to the Service members who depend on it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Escaping into Darkness

We're currently in a cycle of darkening novels. Larissa Ione recently wrote a great article for RWR about writing on the dark side of romance (I recommend RWA members revisit it). Perhaps we're already seeing fallout from the 2012 madness with all its End-times talk. I dunno.

I used to narrowly consider books as a potent form of escapism (a belief I still hold to, mostly). The problem with that line of thought is that I was thinking people wanted to escape the dark--war, hate, anguish and loss--not jump into it...

But we're diving right into some of the darkest tales around right now. Why?

I recently had an epiphany (hey, it happens ;-). It led me to believe the reason readers are so quick to jump into the darkness we writers are currently creating is because we're giving them characters who are struggling with the same things they are (or bigger, wilder things) and these characters are finding the means and the strength to get through it.

Even in the darkness there’s a hint of light.

I like to think of it this way: I'd never willingly "escape" into an Indiana Jones scenario--unless I knew he was there to fight “beside” me. But living it through him, with his sharp wit, ready whip and gun--I'm thrilled!

Even better-- in dark novels, YOU control everything because you decide when to put the book down and take a break (or quit altogether--as I had to do with one recently).

So what do you think of the trend of more dark romance and the emergence of dark heroes?

*Next Tuesday—Dark YA. What are the limits if there are any?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Brand Me, Baby! Guest Post by Candi Wall


Okay, so maybe this wasn’t what you had in mind for ‘Branding’!

That’s good. I hate to disappoint and I just wouldn’t be able to go through with this – for anyone.


Ever notice in this industry, we get to hear the oddest turn ‘o phrase. Seriously.

Head hopping, POV, WIP, WP, critique partners, galleys, plot holes, dirty drafts, genre jumping, cross genre… the list just goes on and on! But one of those odd phrases is by far one of the most elusive in understanding.
Why’s that? It’s not tangible, visual, tasteable (I know that’s not a word!), audible or buyable.

But what it is – is INVALUABLE.

Your Author Brand is what makes you YOU.

An author brand is your personal, visceral, immediate response from a reader. Your logo or trademark as it were. It’s what keeps your name in a reader’s mind when they peruse the shelves of their local bookstore or favorite website and have X amount of dollars to spend, expecting quality.

YOU and your brand have to deliver.

So the sticky part is how to build your brand. Since you along with all your readers probably aren’t willing to have the hot iron process, (not to mention you want an emotional brand instead of a painful brand) it’s up to you to define your brand, promo your brand and fuse your brand into the minds of your readers and networks like super-glued sticky notes.

Here’s an easy one: Toys ‘R Us!

The first thing you thought about was toys and that clever little jingle, right?
THAT is the response you want when people hear or think of your name. Okay, maybe not toys and a jingle, but you want your brand to click an emotional connection when a reader hears your name.

 So the first thing you have to do is have a stellar product. Learn, refine and perfect your writing. It’s an art, but it’s a subjective art. Make your writing the best it can be. Leave them sighing, crying, singing or laughing.

 Next - figure out what your brand is. What sets you apart? What do you offer that’s different? How do you want to be seen? Make it unique and OWN IT. It’s not enough to write ‘hot romance’. You have to find that spark of difference that screams ‘Hotter than Hell Romance.’

 Then - you as the author have to build/create your brand and get it rolling before any amount of promo will help. Network, pitch in, join loops, do workshops. Get you and your brand out there and make it good. Word of mouth spreads faster than any promotional tool available.

 In the meantime - make yourself remarkable and memorable. Ever met two people and walked away only remembering one name. Why did that person stand out? Did they lag in the corner, or did they get in the mix, help out, make you feel good? Emotional connection. Hit ‘em where the heart strings run.

 Tailor your presence to your brand. Write hot and sexy? Play the part, have a smokin’ website, and do workshops on ultimate love scene blunders. More conservative? Tailor your presence.

(Here’s a fun example of the last point.) Think of your immediate reaction to - a Brain Surgeon.

I see a tall, thin middle aged gentleman with a starched shirt and tie, wearing a white lab coat. He’s sitting behind a desk, forehead wrinkled slightly from years of concentration. Maybe some Bach playing in the background, and a brandy snifter with crystal glasses near the antique globe that sits by the window.
NOW imagine him leaning forward to tell you that he is a Sumo-wrestler on the side.

Throws off the picture you had in your mind. Discombobulates your whole immediate reaction right? Same with your brand. Make it yours and stick to it.

 Keep your brand consistent. While many authors shift their brands, starting out, you really need to focus your brand.

 Beware of Shadow Branding. This is why I say be consistent. If you appear one way, and build a brand on that, but are caught on the side being or acting in a totally different fashion, you can develop a shadow brand. An alternate brand that usually isn’t very good. So keep your brand as close to who you really are unless you’re ready to commit to your brand 100% when you are in the public eye, ear, or reach.

So get out there, and make yourself available. Take on fundraising. Picth in with other authors. Blog. But you have to get out there. No agent or editor is going to come knocking on your door. As much as we wish they would. So until they do, anything you can do to cast a positive light on your name is branding. It may take years to build yourself a strong brand, but every step you take along the way just makes you and your brand more pronounced.

In the interest of defining Brands, let me know what brand an author has that stands out for you, and maybe we can pick it apart. Figure out how that author managed to make their brand so memorable.
Drop us a comment!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Food For Thought: Feeding Those You Love During NaNo

Spouses and children alike groan with despair when November 1st comes around. Why? Because they know it's time for them to try and survive on their own without our help. We are too busy creating alternate realities, for Bard's sake. We can't just stop in the middle of a scene because people are hungry. If you've read any of the comments, you'll know that I am the mom of a 3-year-old and a 19 month-old, and that I routinely throw food in their general direction from my place at the computer. I have a confession to make. I only do that during snack time. I really do make up and serve 3 meals a day for their little bellies.

Where is my DH? Well, he works so that I may stay home and raise our lovely children, or so he believes. I'm usually writing when I'm not teaching them to be polite, independent, creative, and generous human beings. The housekeeping suffers. Hey, I'm a stay-at-home-mom, not maid.

But we all have to eat. Living out in the boonies leaves us limited take-out options, so I have to come up with easy, fast, and yummy foods. I really don't want to cut into my limited writing time, and those doing NaNo know what I speak of.

So, my friends, here are some yummy recipes and hints that will make your significant others happy and keep your children's bellies full.

HINT ONE: Buy lots of fresh fruits and veggies. Apples, oranges, bananas, broccoli, carrot sticks, grapes, berries, peppers, cucumber, etc. These are great quick things to feed them that have little or no prep work. Other items to pick up: Whole wheat crackers, natural applesauce cups, cheese sticks, yogurt and yogurt smoothies, raisins, dried fruit, canned fruit (in pear juice). A romaine lettuce salad with dressing as a side dish makes even your most lazy moment (delivery pizza) seem a little less lazy. I also splurge and buy juice boxes. Less sippy cup parts to wash.

HINT TWO: Buy meat in bulk, then take an hour to make and freeze meatloaves, meatballs, cut up cheap cuts of beef into cubes for stew. This 1 hour on 1 day will save you loads of time later in the month.

HINT THREE: Buy easy-to-make foods, such as whole wheat pasta, mac-n-cheese, hot dogs, brown rice, and canned beans. Then even the big kid in your house can help out when prepping.

HINT FOUR: Cook for an army, even if there are only three or four of you. The rest can be frozen or refrigerated. If you aren't a leftover kinda person (I'm raising my hand here), just dump the wet stuff into a resealable bag. Rice freezes REALLY well. A few days later, on your way to the computer, pull it out and pop it in the fridge to defrost. It's already cooked, so when you remember you have people to feed, toss it into a dish and microwave with a a paper towel on top. Then go back to writing. They can serve themselves.

When reheating rice, add a tablespoon or two of water, then lightly cover with a microwave-safe lid.

Ok, onto the recipes!

African Beef Curry Recipe | Taste of Home Recipes

This is a favorite at our house. Easy to put together, pretty much everything comes out of a can or from the snack closet. We don't usually add the coconut--it's not in our pantry--but I highly recommend tossing pineapple on top. It cooks for awhile, but that makes the house smell good and others will think that you actually care about food.

Make "breakfast for dinner". Scrambled eggs (we add a tablespoon of real whipped cream to the eggs, along with salt n pepper. Trust me. It's freaken yummy), toast, and melon. Sometimes we have sausages. This also includes oatmeal and cereal.

Black Beans & Rice.
Just as it says. Heat up 2 cans of black beans with 1 bullion cube. Pour over rice. We add balsamic vinegar and chopped, seeded, cucumbers.

"Dump Chicken"
When you buy chicken pieces, add salad dressing to the bag before you freeze. Then defrost and bake as usual. Visit the The Dump Chicken Pages for some real fancy cooking, and if you do Once A Month Cooking, then that place will be like mana for your cooking soul.

The old standbys--Spaghetti and meatballs, meatloaf and mashed potatoes, mac-n-cheese with fish sticks or hot dogs, and soup. Dust out the old crock-pot and start using that baby. Chili is at it's best when made in a crock-pot. Here are some crock-pot recipes to get you started.

Also, skip dessert. Really. The kids don't need the extra sugar to burn off and it just makes more dishes.

The best piece of advice I can give: Everyone eat together at the table. Chances are they have seen you scream, yell, curse, and watched in awe as your head spun around while writing your NaNo. Everyone at the table should see you in front of a hot meal instead of a keyboard, and though your thoughts may be distant (should your main character already know how to use a sword or would that be a great characterization scene if they were to learn it?), they would all appreciate you just being there.

Hope this helped and good luck NaNos!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Thieving the Time

So, there's my stern writerly look which was supposed to enjoin the huddled and hungry masses to leave me alone while I was tapping away with a wild and unfettered abandon on my NaNo project, Warlock of the Month.

I think I should have gone with the scowl that I normally reserve for inmates who have come down with a contagious case of stupid. Of course, I couldn't post that one. We'd like to keep our blog followers and we prefer them upright instead of dead. Yes, looks can kill. If you do it right.

Short of shooting our loved ones, what is it that you do to have writing time? It's hard enough for us to sit down to the computer and write to start with. What's the most creative strategy that you've used to secure some quiet time to yourself?

Mine isn't that creative. I've roared like Tiamat and I think I might have actually sprouted six other heads. The husband tiptoes around with a lighter tread when I'm writing than when I'm parting the red sea on the cotton pony. He doesn't trust any food that I've cooked if I had to stop writing to prepare it (Which is just silly.)He'll sniff it carefully like a wild dog and snatch it before I can take it back. He even manages not to glue his hands to my blouse gnomes when I'm writing. He'll sneak up behind me, even though he knows I hate that, and grab on. (Working in corrections, you learn to never let anyone hang out behind you. Not just for the "rear" jokes either.) Unless I've got Word open and then he tiptoes away as quietly as a large, viking looking hottie can.

Spill! The Wylde Diva wants to know.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

(Another) America's Next Best Celler Semifinals Afterparty Post!

I confess that by throwing up this post, I'm usurping our dear Shannon's blog post day, so before you start partying down, please go read her amazing thoughts on contests and waiting beneath this post. You'll be glad you did. Leave her a comment, too, because our Shannon, she's the real deal. We're grateful to have her here.

Now, fire up the grill and mix up a vat of margaritas, cuz it's official. The top twenty in Dorchester Publishing's Next Best Celler contest @ textnovel have been posted. And that gives us another excuse to party down here at the Textnovel Divas blog!

We did it!

Come join us as we cut up, share funny stories, tell how our stories began...whatever ribaldry happens to hit the comments thread. Got questions about the contest? About what it's like to write a textnovel? Want to know our dirty secrets? Go ahead, ask them.

We might even be up for a spot of textnovel-ish truth or dare if you ply us with enough margaritas! :)

With that said. Party on, dude-ettes!

Waiting IS the Hardest Part: Welcome to Publishing ;-)

So, although I didn't compete in the Dorchester contest through I can relate to waiting for results. I have to say (sorry) it seems to be a major part of being in the publishing business. But there's hope. There's always hope. ;-)

We wait to know how we've done in contests (anywhere from a week to a couple months), we wait to hear back from agents (sometimes for up to eight months), we wait to hear from editors and their publishing houses (can be another month or two there) and then we wait on lawyers about contracts (usually at least once, but they're often the quickest part in the process).

Then we wait for revision notes (I've been lucky here--not long, but some take a few months), release date (totally hinges on the publisher's meeting schedule), copyedits (also, not long for me, but it depends), cover art, galleys (about a month and a half to two months from when copyedits get back to the editor--at least in my publishing house) and then--finally--we wait to see the book on the shelves (in my case, almost six months after galleys).

By the time our book lands on shelves it's often been a year and a half to two years since we signed a contract. It can really wear on you--the waiting.


The good news is, every step in that very drawn out process feels like an amazing victory. Seriously. Every step forward helps build your author's momentum back up (and there are TONS of things you have to do personally between each of those steps--so it's not like you're twiddling your thumbs).

You'll also get bits of good and great news throughout the process--interview requests you didn't expect, interest from Hollywood producers and (just yesterday for us) news you've sold translation rights to the Hungarians (eh, maybe you'll get a different country to start the ball rolling--me? Hungary :-). Stuff like that makes it feel like the time's flying!

So, the waiting may be the hardest part, but as an author, just keep pushing forward. Build that momentum so your dreams snowball into something huge and great.

Hugs to the Divas--you're all winners from where I sit!

~Shannon (<--the chick whose publishers just sold translation rights for 13 TO LIFE to the Hungarians and whose brother says she should use that $ to have the Hungarian version re-translated back into English. "It'll be like a totally different book," he says. *snort*)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Kindle Winner

So, is this not one of the coolest prizes yet at Diva-Palooza? It's the grande finale and we're wrapping this up with a bang. (You know, it's so hard to leave that one alone.)

First of all, I'd like to say that we couldn't have gotten there without all of you. I'm so thrilled that we were able to thank our readers and supporters with such an awesome giveaway.

I hope you guys plan to hang around long after the confetti is swept away. (You do know that confetti is really more like lice than a party, right?)

Oh, are you ready for the announcement? Should I monologue for a few more paragraphs? Nah, I said everything I needed to. All but congratulations to...

Jenn Hart

Contact Liane for your Kindle or gift card! Enjoy your prize in good health, doll!

The Day After

Please, make the waiting stop. I can't take anymore!

From the Day After
I wanna see the remnants you you all! e-mail me your day after photo & I'll post it for you. Let's see who has been hit the hardest!

After Party Post 1 - How Low did YOU go?


It's the morning after.


No more pimping for votes.

No more refusing to pay the pizza dude until he agrees that I am, indeed, America's Next Best Celler.
Oh. Did I just put that in print?

Why, yes. I guess I did.

So with that particular skeleton out of the closet, it's fess up time here at Texting Between the Sheets.

Just how big of a vote tart are you?

The commenter with the best confession wins a e-copy of my (ultra steamy)Christmas novella from Red Sage Publishing, Believe.

The only rule to play is you must have participated in Dorchester Publishing's Next Best Celler contest at Textnovel.

For readers, we'll have a contest later on today!

OK, girls. Spill it. How low did you go?

Yeah,baby, it's the diva version of the limbo!

Leave your most shameful vote tarting moment in comments.

Our brand new textnovel divas, Valorie Dorr and Courtney Sheets will pick the winners tomorrow because...I said so!

To ALL of you who participated in the Next Best Celler Contest, major congrats are in order. This is your party, too. You put your hearts and souls and stories out there and did your level best to build a readership.

And we all did just that.

In my mind, all that heart goes a long way toward making each of us next best sellers.

Oh, so how low did I really go? Well, for one, I refused to let my daughter's boyfriend take her to a movie until he found me a voter.

OK. Three voters.

Yeah, I know. ::hangs head:: I chalk it up to CVTS - Compulsive Vote Tarting Syndrome.

The Sanibel Divas © 2007 Template feito por Templates para Você