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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Blog Day Afternoon by Trish Morey

The end of he month already? How did that happen? And as usual, the blog fairies have left me completely devoid of ideas. Or maybe it was revisions on my latest manuscript. Revisions can do that to a girl, trust me.

But I'm not going to leave you without making a small contribution. I heard a fantastic quote the other day and I actually printed it out and stuck it to my computer monitor, so I can't lose it (that's the theory anyway - I'm still looking for the last thing I stuck on there...) Here it is, for all you struggling writers out there...

"Writing a novel is hard work... You have to work long and hard even to produce a bad one. This may help explain why there are so many more bad amateur poets around than there are bad amateur novelists... any clown with a sharp pencil can write out a dozen lines of verse and call them a poem. Not just any clown can fill 200 pages with prose and call it a novel. Only the more determined clowns can get the job done... Let's not kid ourselves. It does take self-discipline."
From Lawrence Block's - "Writing the Novel" p 119

I think anyone who has completed at least one novel deserves to give themselves a pat on the back right now. Determined clowns. I like that:-)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Why I Missed My Blog Yesterday

Of course there is no adequate excuse for missing yesterday and for not realizing I missed until four o’clock this afternoon, especially when I missed last month, too. So here’s my attempt to determine what the heck I was doing. By the way, I have marked my computer calendar, so I will be reminded if I forget next month. Here’s what I was doing when I should have been posting:

1. Cleaned and reorganized the family room in preparation for my daughter’s birthday slumber party on Friday. I made the mistake of investigating the piles stacked on the fireplace hearth. Turned out they were folders from school (grades 3-5), toys, and art supplies. Yes, she’s a pack rat. So I had to go through the piles. Then I noticed the rolling cart where she’s supposed to store school supplies. The clear plastic bins were now filled with odd items from hair elastics, to tubs of beads, to dried up Play-doh, and even an old band-aid. As I explored her stashes, I found more stuff to throw away and organize. I felt like Sisyphus.
2. Wrote a few pages because even though I had fifteen million things to do, writing comes first.
3. Talked to my mom in Louisiana about my father’s foot surgery on Thursday, the status of the golf clubs my father refurbished for my daughter, and how Mom doesn’t want to watch anything on TV about Katrina because it’s too traumatic for her to see it again. They are doing well but are planning to move next year.
4. Revised my president’s column for my chapter newsletter, which I e-mailed to the editor. You’d think that doing something so similar would jog my memory. But no.
5. Realized I had a chapter to critique for my critique partners, read and responded to it in a last minute panic.
6. Removed the ribbons I sewed in the wrong spot on my daughter’s toe shoes and reattached them in the right place. I guess I should have checked in Ballet for Dummies. When I arrived home from critique group, my daughter informed me that the crisscrossed elastic that keeps her feet in the shoes is too long. Her foot is falling out when she goes on pointe. So I’ve got to cut about an inch off and reattach before tomorrow’s class.

Have you ever had a day like this?

Why I Missed My Blog Yesterday

Of course there is no adequate excuse for missing yesterday and for not realizing I missed until four o’clock this afternoon, especially when I missed last month, too. So here’s my attempt to determine what the heck I was doing. By the way, I have marked my computer calendar, so I will be reminded if I forget next month. Here’s what I was doing when I should have been posting:

1. Cleaned and reorganized the family room in preparation for my daughter’s birthday slumber party on Friday. I made the mistake of investigating the piles stacked on the fireplace hearth. Turned out they were folders from school (grades 3-5), toys, and art supplies. Yes, she’s a pack rat. So I had to go through the piles. Then I noticed the rolling cart where she’s supposed to store school supplies. The clear plastic bins were now filled with odd items from hair elastics, to tubs of beads, to dried up Play-doh, and even an old band-aid. As I explored her stashes, I found more stuff to throw away and organize. I felt like Sisyphus.
2. Wrote a few pages because even though I had fifteen million things to do, writing comes first.
3. Talked to my mom in Louisiana about my father’s foot surgery on Thursday, the status of the golf clubs my father refurbished for my daughter, and how Mom doesn’t want to watch anything on TV about Katrina because it’s too traumatic for her to see it again. They are doing well but are planning to move next year.
4. Revised my president’s column for my chapter newsletter, which I e-mailed to the editor. You’d think that doing something so similar would jog my memory. But no.
5. Realized I had a chapter to critique for my critique partners, read and responded to it in a last minute panic.
6. Removed the ribbons I sewed in the wrong spot on my daughter’s toe shoes and reattached them in the right place. I guess I should have checked in Ballet for Dummies. When I arrived home from critique group, my daughter informed me that the crisscrossed elastic that keeps her feet in the shoes is too long. Her foot is falling out when she goes on pointe. So I’ve got to cut about an inch off and reattach before tomorrow’s class.

Have you ever had a day like this?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

A Love Letter to the Posse

by Ila Campbell

I gotta tell you I’m a little worried about starting back up at school next week and getting back at my normal life. It’s not that I’ll have reduced time to write. That’s normal. I’m used to that.

What it is going to be, is a let-down. I gotta tell you that this summer vacation was pretty much as good as it gets. And I can pretty much credit that to the Wet Noodle Posse.

This summer’s RWA conference, I have to say, was the best I’ve ever attended. This year I didn’t witness any scandals, in-fights, nasty behavior or any general unpleasantness at all. Everyone from the hotel staff at the Mariott Marquis on up the President and Board of the RWA were gracious, patient, hard-working and hospitable.

But for me, personally, it was the Posse that went above and beyond in the supportive group. This group of women are absolutely the most morale-boosting influence I’ve ever had the privilege to encounter. The bracelets we made up for each other, the cheers out at the awards ceremony, the champagne celebration we had – they were all just trappings for the bond that was so obvious.

That good-vibe buzz continued during the three weeks I spent with my folks – away from the distraction of husband and kids. I was buoyed by the Posse enthusiasm and wrote like a madwoman (compared to my normal).

I’m home now, and I have my bracelet hung up next to the computer. It has three Chinese symbols on it – Love, Friend and Power – because that is what this group means to me. My biggest worry as this semester starts is not that the distractions of work and family will reduce my productivity, but that the Posse buzz is going to wear off.

I love you guys. It’s comforting to know that no matter how stressed out I get, you guys are only an email or phone call away.

I love you guys!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

How NOT to Win A Writing Contest

I'm in the middle of judging my favorite writing contest. It's a harder contest than most to judge because the submissions are 55 pages, and the entries run the full gamut of skill, but I love doing it. Sometimes I even have that special thrill of finding a manuscript that lights a fire in me, causing me to root for it from then on. It's an even greater thrill when I see those stories eventually published.

Unfortunately, there are always some others that are a real struggle to read (yes, editors and agents, I do empathize with you). I know most of those authors are really new to the writing game, and I'm supposed to be judging them with the thought of helping them on the rocky, rutted road to published-author-hood, so I work especially hard to be fair, objective, and helpful.

Most brand new authors believe in their hearts their stories are going to sweep through the publishing world like a whirlwind. The contest judges are going to fall in love with their stories and send them on to the final judge with great accolades. Publishing fame is all but in their hands.

Then one day, there it is, the frayed cardboard envelope bent and mangled to fit in the mailbox. Eagerly, they rip open the package. And– Eager anticipation deflates like a popped balloon. Not only not a finalist, but with scores that scrape the floor. Anger and humiliation take over. The stupid judges didn't have a clue.

Okay, listen to me. I know where you're coming from. I've entered and won so many contests I've lost count. I've been there with the judges who obviously don't know what they're doing (and a few of them actually didn't). I've also judged more contests than I can count. And I know many new authors hurt their chances in ways that aren't necessary.

So how do they shoot themselves in the foot?

CRAMMING, a.k.a. FOOLING WITH FONTS. "Let's see, the contest calls for a maximum of 30 page first chapter, double spaced. But I really want the judges to get to the good part, and that means 57 pages. If I change it to Times New Roman, no, maybe Elisia, and make it 7.9 point, and squeeze the margins to .89 inch, I can make one chapter out of the first two... Join a few paragraphs together into one. Maybe change the line spacing to 1.87..."

Yes, we know about cramming. It hurts our eyes and makes us feel irritated at your writing, which seems to go on forever. And it hurts the quality of your writing. Why? If it takes 57 pages to get to the good part, then you have 56 pages that should be discarded. Chances are, it's all backstory that you need to put elsewhere, if you keep at all.

I'll bet this is the most telling mistake a beginning writer makes. Learn how to edit instead. Go find out what I mean by backstory and ruthlessly cut it out. Yes, I know you want to ease into your story. But your reader doesn't.

GETTING CLEVER. "I thought up this really clever opening sentence that'll knock their socks off. Somehow I'll make it fit the story."

I believe in strong, grabbing openings, to a point. But I've seen some that were kind of like vomit in my face. Yeah it got my attention. But the author would not like to know what I was thinking. Some others were really catchy, but then the author had to twist and tangle her story completely out of shape to accommodate her cleverness. Better not to be so clever and just tell the story. Always make your opener fit your story. Always.

ATTENTION-GETTERS: "I'll just print this on fuchsia paper in Simply Lovely Script. Rubber stamp some cute little mushrooms in the margins. That'll get their attention."

Yes, I noticed. But I'm here to read your manuscript, not the quality of your hand-drawn unicorns. Let your manuscript stand on its own merit. Anything else detracts and points to amateurism.

IGNORING/ NOT READING THE RULES. "They want a synopsis and I don't have one. I'll pretend I didn't notice." "If I single-space my synopsis, I can meet the page count maximum." "I didn't notice the contest called for three chapters. I sent my usual entry of one chapter."

Anyone can mis-read a rule. In our local chapter contest, we will call a contestant and ask her to correct an error if it's vital to the entry– say, the check is missing, no SASE, not enough postage, too many pages, missing page 15, etc. But often all the problems tend to occur in the same entries. Read the rules. We have our reasons for them. If you don't like them, we urge you to find a contest with rules you like.

POOR FORMATTING, UNPROFESSIONAL PRESENTATION. "It don't mater if my speling and grammer are bad. They'll know what I mean. That's what editors is for, ain't they?"

If you think this, you're forgetting that the people who are judging your story are in love with words and how they go together. You may not care, but they do, and they really hate seeing their beloved words mis-used. And editors are not put on the planet to correct your manuscript. They don't have time for that anymore.

Clean it up. Learn how to use punctuation. Use Spellcheck. If your grammar is really bad, go learn how to fix it. Indent your paragraphs. USE paragraphs. And don't insert an extra line between paragraphs. Good formatting, spelling, grammar, and punctuation do make a difference, just as all of the above done badly reflect on the quality of your story.

AND ONE THAT'S NOT IN THE RULES: LESS IS MORE. Remember back at the beginning when I advised you not to use formatting tricks to cram lots and lots of extra words into your submission? There's something else new writers often do to make their submissions fit. They cut off their submissions at the maximum number of pages, regardless of where that falls in their manuscripts. Right in the middle of a sentence.

If you do this, you are technically following the rules, but you're not really doing yourself a favor because you are leaving the reader hanging at an unproductive place. It's far better to cut the entry at the end of a chapter or scene, even if that means sending in fewer pages than the maximum. As readers, we feel far more satisfied with a resolved scene than an unresolved one, and we tend to feel better about your story.

And finally, I'll tell you all contest judging is subjective. ALL OF IT. Score sheets are only a feeble attempt to find some way of measuring the unmeasurable. There is no perfect way to judge your story because we are all different, with different tastes and ideas. Our creativity flows differently. If this were not so, then we could all write the same story and it wouldn't matter. Judges cannot know everything, cannot always be right. They can only give you their very subjective feelings. But they give you their best, in hopes they have given you something worthwhile. And frankly, nothing could be more valuable.

So go ahead, rant to your friends. Have a glass of wine. Treat yourself to an extra Dove Bar. Give yourself some good old-fashioned wallowing-in-your-misery time. Then swallow your pride and get back to work. Pay attention. Learn from the judges.

Because writing is the hardest job on the planet. You don't get to be famously published without completing your internship. But really, would you want it any other way?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Getting It Done!

I always wonder when someone tells me they are too busy to write. Busy is the new lifestyle for women. I think it's been that way since the late 1980s when the phrase stressed out came into our vernacular. I myself have a part time job as well as my volunteer work with the girl scouts, church and school. Of course there is family time, and I haven't even gone into the routine (mundane) running of a household (and yes, my house is ALWAYS messy). Then I'm writing my contracted books, and should be working on some proposals.

1. I get up every morning at 5:30am. This is the time the dh gets up to go to work, so while he's in the shower, I'm reading e-mail. By the time he's out the door, I can begin writing. Believe me - the internal editor is NOT around that early.

2. Yahoo groups. These are addictive and I LOVE them. Get rid of them. In fact, I just signed off of one this morning. The yahoogroup addicted to Jeremy Northam.

3. Volunteer to judge. I agreed to judge every contest that ever asked me. This is nuts. Then I narrowed it down to judge in contests that I finaled in while unpublished. More manageable. But with recent life change, now, I only volunteer to judge in two. My local chapter's Finally A Bride contest and RWA contest. do you get the writing done? I'll share some of my tricks, and would love to read yours in the comments section!

The Power of the Notebook. I'm a journalist by education, and we did all our writing at the computer. Believe me when I say that writing long hand is about as foreign to me as...well, a foreign language. Now I take my notebook everywhere. When I'm waiting in line at Sonic - the notebook comes out and I jot down a few sentences here and there. The notebook is by my bed at night, and went with me on any trip. I can't get over how quickly a few lines here and a few lines there adds up at the end of the day. What's best - doesn't matter if you're a plotter or a pantzer.

Voice Recorder. This is so helpful in the car. How many times have you been driving and suddenly the idea for a great scene or the one detail you've been missing pops into your head? Voice recorders aren't expensive, and I have one that attaches to my iPod. Outstanding.

Planning and scheduling. I have plans and schedules and agendas for every meeting and activity I do. Why not writing? In fact, one plan is from 10 to 1pm on Wednesdays, I write. I don't do anything else. In fact, I turn off the phone. I used to think that this would mess with my creativity - but actually, it gave my brain time to relax to be creative. Plus, I just love the idea of being unavailable.

How Cool Is This? - Local author joins impressive list of novelists in winning major Romance Writers award

Monday, August 21, 2006

The First Day of School

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

No matter that it’s my 18th first day of school as a teacher, I still had trouble sleeping last night (despite 2 Tylenol PMs) and I have butterflies this morning.

No matter that I’ll be in the same classroom, SAME STUDENTS, I’m still nervous.

Expectations are high. I know these kids. There won’t be any “getting to know you” time. We can start the first day of school. We know our routines. I know what they know. Because of this, we’re expected to do well this year on the state test.

That’s a big pressure.

But I have faith in my kids. I have relationships with their parents.

So today is just going to be like any other day. I’m going to hug my babies, welcome them back and get to work.

Then come home and take a nap!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Communities by Diane Perkins

At the Romance Writers of America National Conference this past July, I was invited to participate in a Harlequin focus group. These are small groups Harlequin holds at the conference each year to pick the brains of their authors about the future direction of Harlequin. The discussion of the focus groups is confidential, but the idea of impromptu communities came up and it got me thinking.

I’m conceptualizing impromptu communities as ccommunities that are established for one purpose and over time become something more.

The Wet Noodle Posse is a great example. Back in 2003 when the Golden Heart finalists were announced and Jill Floyd organized a loop for us, the main purpose was to communicate about the experience. Important stuff, like what photo of ourselves to use, what we should wear to the ceremony. And other stuff like who sold, who had requests, who was interviewing with whom at the conference. Other topics crept in, though, more personal stuff about writing and then about life. Soon the loop was being used for emotional support through the confusing labyrinth of the writing world and other life crises, too. Somewhere along the line we named ourselves The Wet Noodle Posse, because several of us needed lashing with wet noodles for getting discouraged or wanting to give up.

I wasn’t an active member of the “community” at the beginning. In fact, I didn’t participate much until after the 2004 conference, but now I couldn't feel closer to these ladies. Every day I'm eager to hear from them.

As unique as the Wet Noodle Posse is, this phenomenon of impromptu communities isn’t. In fact, my first email group "All of Us" started ten years ago as a romance writing group. We didn’t even know about Yahoo back then. We’ve since professionally branched out into poetry, screenwriting, Reiki, soap-making, jewelry merchandizing, psychology, etc etc. Like the WNP we’ve experienced births and deaths, and our relationships now are personal ones. Friends.

I’ve also noticed the phenomenon on Michelle Buonfiglio’s Romance by the Blog. The comments on each blog show that these readers now “know” each other. They share life events. They support each other. They are a community.

But this is not something confined only to Romance writers or readers. I recently joined the MidAtlantic GB Tarts, the Gerard Butler fans of who are from the mid-Atlantic region. I knew of these ladies through my friend Patty and met some of them when we gathered for Gerry’s Beowulf & Grendel movie in New York, but now that I’m on the loop, I’ve seen the phenomenon here, too. The Tarts gather together for fun weekends. They hold fundraisers to raise money for charity. They talk--incessantly about Gerry, but, hey, that’s why I love them!-- but also about everything - current events, life changes, sorrows and triumphs. They reach out to each other with concrete help. One member says she needs a job and another member says her firm is hiring, send the resume.

I’m amazed, so totally amazed.

Belonging to these groups, having these friends, heartens me, makes me happy, makes me feel hopeful about the future, no matter what happens to me. It just goes to show ya that caring has no bounds. It even flourishes in cyberspace.

Tell me about your “communities.” Do you have close cyber-friends, perhaps friends you’ve never met in person but with whom you feel close? Do you have an example of this phenomenon that is not associated with the internet? I’m so intrigued by this idea, I’d love to hear more!

(Sigh! I wanted to add pictures, but Blogger wouldn't let me!)

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Kitty Obsession -- Kiki Cark

Musette 026

I have a new addiction these days, and she's covered with fur. I'm driven to touch Musette, talk to her, take photos and blog about her, buy her toys, and play with her. When she's not in sight, I wonder where she is, and when I'm touching her, I wonder what I can do to keep her there.

I've always owned cats. They've all been good, and I've loved every one. But Musette isn't just the crack cocaine of kitties, she's the heroin of all felinedom. All I'm missing are the needle tracks on my arms, and that's because she's so sweet, she never scratches.

She just walked in, announcing her presence with her little rasping meow, and my response was the usual: a sort of gasping coo -- the noise small children make when they see a Christmas tree or get a pony. I spend my days giving her my treasured belongings to see if they make good toys, moving her bed to see which spot she likes the best, and marveling that, even with all my attention, she still runs up and throws herself on my feet, rolling over so I'll pet her soft, warm belly while she makes happy little squeaking noises.

Musette 041

I carry a digital camera with home movies of her. I made a bracelet with her picture and I show it, not only to friends, but to cashiers at grocery stores. I tried five different kinds of treats to find her favorite, including venison jerkey and shaved bonito. Once, I cleaned poop out of her long fur, with my fingers.

Lest you think I'm ruining her, let me also say that I taught her what "No," means, which includes not scratching the couch, not climbing the screen door, not running outside at night, not jumping off the deck or getting on the kitchen table. But that doesn't mean I'm not obsessed. Today I taught her a trick. She'll jump into her foam igloo bed while I hold it a foot off the ground. How fantastic is that? Musette is the smartest, funniest, cutest, prettiest, softest, most acrobatic cat in my world. Now if you'll excuse me, I have things to do.

Musette 037

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Back to Cool

It's that time again--Back to School. As a mom who needs her summer downtime, I'm wondering what happened to the after Labor Day start date for going back to school. Here it is mid August and my leisurely morning coffee beside the computer has suddenly vanished. For the past month, my mail box has been overflowing with advertisments for back to school gear. Since I have a daughter starting middle school, I thought I'd better pay attention, because she wasn't. I may have been around since the Cretaceous Period, but I do know it doesn't do to show up at school on the first day in the smelly sneakers you've worn all summer or the T-shirt that swallowed a half bottle of ketchup at the beach and turned pink in the wash.

It's Back to Cool time--or not. I checked out the ads from my local department store. Can you send your daughter out the door with Jane's Pawnshop blazing across her chest above a skull and cross bones? Underneath is says, Knockin' and Rockin'. Who writes this stuff? Not anyone who ever changed a diaper. Or how about, It's all about me. Deal with it. It's sort of like putting a big warning label on your kid-- Toxic child, beware. At this point I'm thinking maybe a couple bottles of Rit dye could make the ketchup stain part of a very cool tie-dye pattern.

There was one shirt, however, that appealed to my rebellous but practical sense of humor. It said:
1. I lost it. (Bad choice. If you're going to get nailed, come up with something more entertaining. Teachers admire creativity, or should.)
2. My sister ate it. (Glad to see innocent dogs are no longer taking the blame for this one. Poor sisters have inherited the task.)
3. The flying monkeys took it. (Flying monkeys? From Oz? Does the Wicked Witch know about this? If I was still a teacher, I'd give extra points for the monkeys.)

I did happen to notice a boy in my daugther's class wearing a Beatles T-shirt, which I thought was pretty cool since I cut my rock and roll teeth on The Beatles' music. I think I'd like a T-shirt that simply said, Imagine. You remember John Lennon's song, right? Seems to me this is the sort of spirit we want to instill in our kids. Imagine.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Beetles on the Brain

After his gift of Dragon Naturally Speaking Software failed to improve my production rate, my hubby—undaunted and forever the optimist--hired a three sister housekeeping team for us. He reasoned that if I didn’t have to do house work, I could write longer, sell more, and he could retire earlier than scheduled.

The gals—Marie, Elsa, and Rita--are great, regular dynamos with a dust cloth and mop, cleaning places I never thought to clean. The problem: only one of them speaks English and then not very much of it. A problem clearly demonstrated by my difficulty in having them understand that I only wanted them to come once every two weeks, not every week…which they did for three weeks running, having driven 45 minutes to get here. (Ca-ching, ca-ching.) Ugh.

So last night I get a call from Elsa, the middle sister. She tells me that only two of them will be coming today, because Maria’s 4 yr old son is in the hospital.

I responded, “Oh no. What’s wrong?”

Elsa tells me, “He has beetles in brain.”


Earwigs were the only things that came to mind, but how would a 4 yr old get earwigs in Dallas? “Beetles?” say I.

“Si, beetles…bugs! He has headache and bleeding nose.”

Ah! “Bacteria?”

“Si!” she tells me, “Bacteria.”

After a thirty minute struggle I finally deduced that the child had been sick for 4 days with a high fever before being rushed into Children’s Hospital where the doctor “stuck needle in back.”

Meningitis. No question, and not good. After commiserating with her, I told Elsa I’d keep the boy in my prayers and to give Maria a hug for me. That they shouldn’t come to the house tomorrow if their sister needed them. That I would understand and would wait for their call to reschedule.

I was therefore surprised this morning when Elsa and Rita arrived at the stroke of 9:00. Happily they said that the child was doing much better today. That the doctors would be sending the boy home soon with medicine. Their only concern stemmed from the doctor’s talk going from “He’ll be fine,” to “We need to follow him closely,” but the women were pleased that as far as the doctors could tell the boy hadn’t suffered any hearing or “thinking” loss. All good news! But made me wonder if insurance--or lack thereof…

So if anyone ever tells you that they or someone they love has “beetles in the brain,” you now know.

And is getting a new look today…I think…I hope.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Bargain Hunter Extraordinairre

I think I finally managed to impress my husband today with my bargain hunting. He was somewhat impressed with the like-new sectional sofa I got for $50 and the nearly new washer and dryer I got for $100 and the Michelin tires (5 of them) that I got for $125. But today I managed to get a Subaru Legacy for nothing. Well, almost nothing.

A few years ago he decided to go into the flea market business and bought some scooters. We managed to unload most of them, except for the most expensive one--a 49cc gas scooter that cost us $300 and was supposed to retail for $650. We couldn't sell that thing to save our lives. But yesterday I was cruising Craigslist, in the barter section, to see if anyone was willing to trade a small car for something. I ran across a guy with a 1990 Subaru Legacy with a new paint job, new tires, and a brand spanking new MP3 player. He wanted to either sell it for $600 or trade it for something.

Okay, he wants to get rid of something I want, and I have to make him want something I have.

I did.

The car needs a new head gasket, and we knew that going in. Not a big deal. I figure the tires and radio are worth more than I paid for the scooter, plus I now have another empty spot in my garage. And as soon as I can talk the hubby into going out into the heat to work on my "new" car, I'll have a gas saver instead of a gas hog to drive. And this one actually has paint!! (unlike my 94 Ford with the rapidly disappearing paint job).

Yes, the Subaru is old, but I used to sell them and they last forever. 300,000 miles is common to see on a running Subaru.

I'm putting on my bargain hunter tiara now. I plan to milk this one for all it's worth.

Oh, and for the writers in the group? This guy is headed for Hollywood in 3 months with hopes to sell his WWII movie he just finished making. His uncle was the producer on Around the World in 80 Days. Anyway, Scott is willing to look at screenplays if anyone wants to send him one.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

I'm confused

I'm becoming skeptical about scientists and scientific studies.

A few years ago I heard about a scientific study involving glucosamine. This study reported that taking 1500mg of glucosamine daily would benefit joints. Just about that time I had some problems with one of my knees. So I decided to start taking glucosamine. In about a month the pain in my knee went away. Now my daily walks are pain free. Just recently I heard another report saying the first study was all wrong. Which one should I believe? Well, I'm going to believe my knee and keep taking glucosamine.

When I was much younger, I remember grown-ups deciding not to drink coffee because it was bad for you. It could make a person nervous or, heaven forbid, cause a heart attack. Imagine my surprise a few months ago when I heard that coffee is beneficial. In moderation, it can reduce the risk of colon cancer, gallstones, type-2 diabetes, liver damage, Parkinson's disease, and it can improve endurance in physical activities. Well, no matter for me. I don't like coffee. Besides, a few years from now we'll probably learn that coffee bad for you after all.

A few years ago we were all told to eat lots of oat bran. Then we were told that's all wrong. Now I'm hearing it again. Eat lots of oat bran. And what about all those diet studies? Don't eat fat. Eat fat. Don't eat carbs. Eat carbs. Don't eat meat. Eat meat. Are you getting confused yet?

My family has a history of heart disease. So I'm quite interested in doing things that will keep my heart healthy. I heard over and over that I should consume lots of omega-3 fatty acids. Good stuff for your heart. So in addition to eating that salmon and tuna and nuts, I started taking flax seed oil in a capsule. Now my heart should be much healthier, but is it? Just recently I heard of a study that said omega-3 fatty acids have very little benefit for heart health. I don't know which way to go on this one. Do you?

There are probably dozens of other studies that I could talk about, but I'm going to end with one that really irritates me. Global warming. There are scientists on both sides of the issue telling us what we should believe. Take a look at these differing opinions.

And for the youtube enthusiasts, here's one more.

I think the ones who agree with global warming are shouting the loudest. But I'm skeptical. About 30 years ago when I lived in Ohio, and we were having very, very cold winters with mountains of snow, part of the scientific community was telling us that we were going to freeze as the polar ice caps desended on us. Oh no!!

Well, that didn't happen.

Now a good segment of the scientific community is telling us that we are all going to fry in the heat or drown in the rising oceans. Do you see why I might be a little skeptical? How do we really know what's happening with the climate when the earth has been around for thousands of years and all we have is a couple hundred years of weather data? Hmmmm.

But you know that oceans rising thing might work out just fine for me. I live about a mile from the beach. Maybe one day I'll own some beach front property. Or maybe I should buy a good raft. What do think?

Merrillee, the skeptical and confused

Friday, August 11, 2006

Dimming of the Day

by Bridget Stuart

It's about this really sweet and lovely gal I know. On this past Fathers Day, she gave a little poolside party for her husband. She invited another family over for this party, made a salad and a cake. She borrowed her husband's car to go pick up pizzas for the dinner, saw a CD on the car seat and popped it into the player.

What she heard felt like amniocentisis performed with a pool cue. Big stab. Something dies inside.

It was song after song about sex and the joys of illicit love--even the campy "I'm Just a Love Machine And I Don't Work for Nobody But You". Songs she knew her husband would never, ever have downloaded for himself in a million years.

And with the pain came certainty: she knew who had given her husband this CD. It was someone she never would have believed could tempt her husband--or anyone--to unfaithfulness. A woman he worked and traveled with. A *married* woman with bulging eyes and a bulky lower jaw in serious need of corrective surgery, who monopolized conversations to the point of provoking desperate exchanges of glances at dinner parties. But still, this homely woman had been having more business lunches with her husband than seemed normal even for close colleagues. And there had been too many quickie trips to meet project donors (paid for with company dollars), trips on which, strangely enough, my gal friend never seemed to be invited along.

My gal pal did some research. She found almost 500 emails between the cheaters from the past three months, revealing lies that originated from the first days of her marriage. Guess what? Her husband who'd often come to church with her and pretended to have a spiritual life? Ding! He's an athiest. Guess what else? The parties she loved to give, cooking and decorating and having lots of friends over for lots of fun, the ones he always pretended to enjoy? Ding! He thinks they're silly and hates to be a part of them. Guess what else? He's been bringing her kids to meet the homely woman, and bringing the homely woman to her house when she's not there, to have sex in her bed, cook in her kitchen, hang around her pool, and just basically pretend to be...her. The homely woman even threw a party at my friend's house when my friend was away. It would be pathetic and sad--the homely woman's attempt to grab my friend's life and make it her own--if it weren't such a violation.

My poor gal pal. She's been married for sixteen years, and now she and the kids are moving back to her home state and starting over. And her husband? Well, he 'doesn't feel good about himself' when he's around her.

Funny. I feel good about myself no matter who I'm around.

Someone once said, "there's no one we hate quite so much as someone we've wronged". My gal pal's husband wronged her deeply, and I'll bet he thinks of it every time he looks at her. This is why he 'doesn't feel good about himself'. Perhaps he has no "self" to feel good about.

Gal pal, I know you're reading this-- all your friends sincerely love you, and you deserve better. You deserve simple respect, decent consideration, basic human kindness. You also deserve to be cherished, smooched, and deeply loved.

The day is dimming where you are, but you go, gal--go far enough to find the sunrise.

Of Golden Hearts and Silver Wings

By Charity Tahmaseb

A couple of weeks ago, when a large contingent of my noodler sisters headed for Atlanta and the RWA National conference, I got all nostalgic. Not just for the one and only time I attended National (2003), but for the one and only time I’d ever been in Georgia--not Atlanta, mind you, but Fort Benning, Georgia.

So I started thinking. Would I rather run the gauntlet of +2,000 romance/women’s fiction authors, agents, and editors, of lit signings, of nerve-wracking editor and agent appointments and pitch sessions? Of wearing pantyhose at some point?

Formal gowns, pantyhose, up-dos, and Georgia humidity. They really don’t mix.

Or would I rather get up at four a.m. for physical training, have each and every sergeant airborne within a five-mile radius in my face, get dropped for pushups, get dropped from the swing landing trainer, and at the end of it all, get dropped from an airplane?

BDUs and humidity. Now that mixes.

Oddly enough, this reminiscing led to two solid weeks worth of blog posts. I’ve never tried to chronicle my military service like this before. I’d be reluctant to. In some cases, I don’t have a lot of closure around certain events, some things simply don’t have a happily ever after.

But Airborne School was different. It was an isolate three weeks of my service that in retrospect felt a bit like summer camp (inasmuch as summer camp involves jumping from airplanes).

If you’re curious, my entire series on Airborne School is on my blog. But I think I’ll just leave you with the happy ending.

That’s me, third from the left.

Silver wings and Golden Hearts--I’m honored to be associated with both.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Self-analysis after the meltdown

Yesterday morning my “mother ship” computer, the big boxy one I work on at home, slipped into a coma. My address book refused to open, Internet pages looked like patchwork quilts, and all my files (including my book manuscripts) had been converted to one strange font, because nearly all the other fonts had disappeared.

I’m a compulsive backer-upper (pardon the technical term), so I wasn’t worried about losing too many things. I even have a backup laptop computer, which I quickly settled into place on my desk. But the laptop has only been used for travel, so it’s not connected to my local Internet service.

I couldn’t get on the Internet, not until the provider’s office opened. I was disconnected, cast adrift, out of touch with everyone and all the work I had planned to do, and...

...and free.

Without that Internet connection, my plans for the day--catching up on e-mail (currently piled sky-high), updating my Web site, communicating with various boards and committees--came to a halt. I could have worked on my current writing project, but first I needed to do some research. On the Internet.

It looked like I was going to have to--gulp--take the morning off.

And fifteen minutes later, after I’d alphabetized my spice rack and rearranged the linens in the buffet, as I stared out a window and wondered if I should fertilize the trees in the yard--and whether someone might arrive at my Internet provider’s office early and answer the phone before business hours--it occurred to me that I’ve forgotten how to take time off.

The Internet is a wonderful thing. But it’s also a way to extend the work day ‘round the clock, every day of the week. I can always find another story idea, another promotional opportunity, another article to read if I stay online. My compulsive nature matched with something that large and accessible--it’s a bad combination.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A Fresh New Start

By Jenna Ness

Remember being a student, when every new school year was a chance to reinvent yourself – to ditch the poor choices of the past and start with a fresh slate?

As an adult, sadly, we don’t have the possibility of disappearing for three months each summer and then bursting anew onto the scene, like a butterfly emerging out of a chrysalis. Whatever happened to the possibility of the makeover, the rebirth, the grand entrance?

As romance writers, we still have the opportunity to work hard in private, then make a grand entrance.

It’s called the RWA national conference.

Did you go to the conference in Atlanta this year? If so, was it everything you dreamed it would be? (If you’re Wet Noodle Posse RITA-winners Stephanie Feagan, Diane Gaston or Dianna Love Snell, it probably was!) And if you didn’t go, do you regret it? What would you change?

In the movie Happy Gilmore, after Happy is brutally rejected from a minor league hockey team, he doesn’t give up on his dream. Instead, he stands in front of a pitching machine in a batting cage, growling and clenching his fists while he lets baseballs pummel his body. When someone questions his sanity, he explains (between grunts of pain), “Only 364 days until next year’s hockey tryouts. I’ve got to toughen up!”

It’s time to toughen up. Atlanta is over, but we have a whole year to prepare for Dallas. Close your eyes and imagine arriving at the hotel. What’s different between now and then? What has changed in you? Keep your eyes on that star. Dallas. Be tough and work hard. Dallas. Love your goals more than you love your excuses. Dallas. You can burst into next year’s national conference like a gorgeous butterfly!

What specific actions will you take to reach those goals? What are those goals, anyway?

When you applied for college, you probably had a safety school (which was guaranteed), a target school (which was not) and a "reach” school (which was a farfetched dream; think Harvard). What are your biggest, craziest goals for Dallas – and what would you settle for?

By the time Dallas comes around, I’d like to look better. My “safety/target” goals are to lose most/all of the baby weight, and maybe buy a chic new outfit. My big, crazy “reach” goal is to lose the baby weight plus another ten pounds, and to look my confident best.

For writing, my “safety” goal is to submit The Greek Billionaire’s Baby to Harlequin and enter it in the Golden Heart. My “target” is to write another book by November and enter that, too. My “reach” goal is to write yet another book right after I have the baby, so I have two brand spankin’ new manuscripts to pitch in Dallas!

So what’s your big dream? Is it to finish that book? To get an agent? To sell? To get a bigger advance? To get an award or hit a bestseller list? Whatever your crazy goal, no matter how unrealistic or impossible it is, if you work your butt off you can achieve it – or at least, get closer to achieving it.

When in doubt, just take a deep breath and remember Elle Woods’s immortal words in Legally Blonde, when her former boyfriend expressed his shock that a “dumb-blonde” sorority girl could get accepted into Harvard Law School:

Elle (screwing up her little button nose): “What, like it’s hard?”

Be stubborn. Aim high. Andif you miss the target in Dallas, there are still plenty of fresh starts left. San Francisco in 2008. Washington D.C. in 2009. Nashville in 2010. And finally, in 2011, the granddaddy of them all – New York!

Monday, August 07, 2006

First book syndrome

by Anne Mallory

I had been happily clipping along on the first few chapters of my second book when I received The Call about my first. Twelve hours before my editor called, I had been writing. Four months later I had written exactly 15 pages more. I just couldn't do it. I was paralyzed, and there were so many new things to worry about - promotion, website, sales, editorial...and there was always something else I could be doing instead of writing...heck, cleaning the cat litter was a viable option. I couldn't even get the Word file open. I read tales of first or second book syndrome (sometimes used interchangeably), nodded along with the authors and started to work myself out of the black hole.

It took me over a year to finish that second book. It took three months to finish the third.

Janet Mullany has a great article over at the e-zine about First Book Syndrome and how to counter it or die trying. Okay, so maybe not so much on that second one, but at the very least you can take heart that there are lots of other writers that go through this same thing, and have gone on to write again and publish more books. So don't despair! Try and figure out what exactly is holding you back and then get your buns back in that chair and your Word document up on the screen. Or at the very least, know that I feel your pain, and am sending cyber chocolate your way. :)

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Music for a Saturday

by Colleen Gleason

This month in the Wet Noodle Posse August ezine, the Noodlers weigh in with our favorite things to do on a Saturday morning.

In case you didn't notice, you'll see that for the vast majority of us, whatever it is (sex, reading, conversation, snoozing) involves staying in bed as late as possible.

However, at some point we have to get up and get the day going. For many of us, Saturdays are cleaning days. At least it is for me. (Argh.)

The only thing that gets me to going is playing the right kind of music, blasting it through the house.

So...that got me to thinking about the realm of appropriate music for a Saturday, and I made a list of the music I always seem to play during certain times.

Call it my comfort music, if you will. (I blogged about Comfort Reads earlier this week, too.)

So, here's my Comfort Music list--I'll share mine if you share yours!

1. Music I like to clean house to: AC/DC-Back in Black or Liz Phair-Liz Phair

2. Music while I'm cooking a special dinner: Two Rooms (A Tribute to Elton John & Bernie Taupin) or The Phantom of the Opera Soundtrack (the London version)

3. Music to play at an appropriate volume during the special dinner: The Hannah & Her Sisters soundtrack, Frank Sinatra, or Pat Metheny-Travels

4. Music to play when I want to feel sexy: Jeff Buckley, James Blunt

5. Music to play when I want to dance around like a madwoman: Madonna

6. Music when I'm mad: Alanis Morrisette's You Oughta Know (of course) and Ben Folds Five's Song for the Dumped.

Now it's your turn. What music do you tend to gravitate to when you're in a certain mood, or have to do a certain task?

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Let the Celebration Continue

I didn’t think my week could get any better after getting home from the RWA national conference, returning to work to find out our budget request will likely be approved in late September and attending the kick-off the Osceola County Library System’s month of workshops on how to write romance.

As I unlocked my front door I could hear the phone ringing. I didn’t even think about letting the answering machine get the call. I pushed through to the living room, catching the sleeve of my dress on the metal wreath on the door. After struggling free, I made it into the kitchen, only to snag my skirt on a set of hangers that I’d taken to Atlanta and hadn’t put back in the closet yet. They clattered to the floor, scaring at least two lives off Max, who was waiting for his dinner.

When I grabbed the phone I realized the answering machine had beat me to it. I yelled “hold on” to the caller, and we both listened as my recorded voice informed her how important her call is to me.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’re thinking. Get to the point.

The point is that the caller was from Georgia Romance Writers and she was letting me know that my book, Daddy in Waiting, finaled in the traditional category of the published Maggies.

I said “that’s wonderful” and “that’s so exciting” about a dozen times and thanked the woman profusely, then hung up and danced around the house, screaming “yes!, yes!, yes!”

Do I know how to party or not?

At my chapter meeting today I found out CFRW has not just one, but three Maggie finalists! Yep, life keeps getting better and better.

Feel free to party with me!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

And the Winner Is.....

Pardon me for butting in when it is not my day, but I knew our readers were chewing their nails waiting to discover the WINNER.

Not of the RITA or the GH or any of those other contests announced at the RWA conference, but the winning outfit! Which did Diane pick to wear to the Awards Ceremony, the perfect little black dress or the interesting pants outfit????

Here it the winner:

Of course, when my friend and presenter, Sophia Nash, called my name, my button popped on the pants. And as I was crawling over Lavinia Klein (double 2006 GH finalist in Long Historical)reaching her husband, I realized my zipper unzipped and my lovely flowy pants were falling down. So inches from Lavinia's husband's eyes, I cried, "My pants are falling down!" and I zipped back up in a hurry. So all through my walk onto the stage and during my speech, half of me was thinking, "I hope the zipper stays zipped."
It could have been a memorable RITA/GH moment!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The cure for what ails ya

I've been suffering from a case of the "I haven't sold a book yet" blues this summer. I've watched what can only be accurately described as tons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel as therapy. But last week I really found the cure for what was ailing me -- being around a large group of enthusiastic, fun writers, particularly the members of the Posse. It's the week after the conference and I still haven't sold a book, but I have a new infusion of enthusiasm and drive to get me through the days and weeks and months ahead. And it's all because of these smiling faces: