Conference, Anyone?

I’ve been looking at conferences this year. Which ones to attend, how much money to budget, etc. Late last year I had my heart set on going to National. I’ve never been to New York and I thought this would be a good time to check it out. Let’s not look at the fact that I seldom leave the conference hotel when I attend National, not even when it was in Reno. So why do I think I’ll see very much of NYC? Dunno. Just thought it’d be a good idea.

Then I find out the cost. Oh. My. Stars! Between the conference, hotel, travel, food, books and misc expenses, I figure I’d drop close to $2,000. Easy. Now if I were highly published, or if I’d sold my first book and wanted to wear the pink ribbon, I’d suck it up and head east. After all, I’d have roommates to help defray room costs, right? Uh, well, not. At least not the gals I’d thought would room with me. They also are backing down due to the cost. Don’t blame them.

Instead, I’m going to go to a regional conference plus take some continuing education classes at the local community college. I’m also looking at a week-long workshop in Amarillo as well as some online workshops. This approach won’t be the same as attending the National Conference with the 2,000+ writers and the Awards Ceremony (I love getting dressed up!), but you have to draw the line somewhere. You have to get the most bang for your buck. Pure and simple.

So what are your plans to help with your writing career this year? Anything I might be interested in? Do you already have the year mapped out? Are your plans set in stone or are you flexible? Clue me in. You never know – you just might have the perfect class/workshop/conference for me. 😉

Modern Romance

RWI VP Kathlyn sent this to us a few weeks ago, and since it made me laugh out loud, I decided to report it here. Hey, it’s Friday. It’s January. Everyone can use a laugh.

Thanks, Kathlyn!

I wish I knew who to give credit. If anyone knows, pass it along, please!


He grasped me firmly but gently just above my elbow and guided me into a room, his room. Then he quietly shut the door and we were alone. He approached me soundlessly from behind and spoke in a low reassuring voice close to my ear. “Just relax.”

Without warning he reached down, and I felt his strong, calloused hands start at my ankles, gently probing and moving upward along my calves slowly but steadily. My breath caught in my throat. I knew I should be afraid, but somehow I didn’t care. His touch was so experienced, so sure.

When his hands moved up onto my thighs, I gave a slight shudder and partly closed my eyes. My pulse was pounding. I felt his knowing fngers caress my abdomen, my ribcage.

And then, as he cupped my firm, full breasts in his hands, I inhaled sharply. Probing, searching, knowing what he wanted, he brought his hands to my shoulders, slid them down my tingling spine and into my panties.

Although I knew nothing about this man, I felt oddly trusting and expectant. This is a man, I thought. A man used to taking charge. A man not used to taking “no” for an answer. A man who would tell me what he wanted. A man who would look into my soul and say . . .

 “Okay, ma’am,” said a voice. “All done.”

My eyes snapped open and he was standing in front of me, smiling, holding out my purse.

“You can board your plane now.”

Love ’em or leave ’em!

I just finished the latest book in Eileen Wilks’ Lupi series.  As usual, it left me wanting to re-read the entire series from the beginning.  That’s the beauty…and the trouble with series.

There are a lot of series available in many genres.  One of my favorites, THE DRAGONRIDERS OF PERN, has been around since the 1960’s.  Anne McCaffrey is the primary author and, now, her son Todd has taken over.  While his voice is a little different, it’s close enough to his mother’s that his contributions are welcomed.

But occasionally, when I read a new book in the series, I have to go back to where it all started.  Back to the characters I fell in love with and the magic they made.  If the series is “young”, that’s not so bad.  But the Pern series has over 30 titles.  When I bought the Kindle editions of J.D. Robb’s IN DEATH series, I re-read all 16 of them.  When I do that, it takes reading time away from the new titles I’ve bought.

But there are times when  a series lets you down.  I sure it’s not the author’s fault; I’m sure their editors keep them to the “pattern” that’s always worked.  When this happens, the later stories can get stale.  Then what’s a reader to do?  If you don’t buy the later books, you won’t have the entire story.  But if you DO buy them, you may not enjoy the stories and that can aggravate the reader.

Luckily, most good series authors find a way to keep the series fresh.  Most concentrate on secondary characters, making them the hero or heroine in the another book.  Sometimes, it’s a matter of setting the story in a different time period or part of the world as the McCaffreys did with Pern.

Whichever, series books can be a matter of love ’em or leave ’em. And it’s often this worry about adding more books to my TBR stack than I need that can keep me from picking up a new author who’s already in the midst of a series.  I even found myself liking a short story by an author, but when I checked out her website for other books, I found the short story was part of a series that’s already 12 books down the road.  And I turned away because I just can’t take on another series.

Hopefully, I stick to that policy…or the books will want a bigger room than they have now!

True Lies

I love a good oxymoron. I usually come up with them accidentally on purpose. DH and I were watching The Princess Bride on Sunday, and he roared with laughter because the movie was so over-the-top melodramatic but it has it all–romance, fantasy, comedy, adventure.

So what does that have to do with True Lies? Nothing other than it is another funny movie–mostly clean–and more adult than TPB, and we saw trailers for it. The clips made us remember it, and how much we liked it. Just like a beloved book. 

Debra Dixon, as well as others, uses movies to illustrate her points in both her workshops and in her book, Goal, Motivation & Conflict.   Sometimes you can see in a movie what is necessary for your book. If you don’t own this book you should!

For me, it begins with characters. Compelling.  Interesting.  Relatable. Believable.

Happy Writing!

Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Last Thursday I braved the snow and ice to attend a booksigning by Susan Elizabeth Phillips in Tulsa. (See her website for details on her book tour. The event had been scheduled at one of the libraries. However, they were going to close early due to the snow that hit late Wednesday and early Thursday. Arrangements were quickly made to move the signing to the Barnes & Noble bookstore on 71st street.  (Thanks B&N!)

Mind you I live about 30 miles away and driving on black ice is not my idea of fun. But if I left early so it was still semi-light going in, I figured I’d have a feel for what the roads would be like coming home. Huh. Turns out they weren’t that bad after all. Go figure.

There was a fairly decent turn-out, around 30 maybe. Ms Phillips was very entertaining, read lines from her books with a prize of chocolate to whomever could guess which book, read a scene from her latest book and told some about herself and her writing habits. We even got to find out about her Idea Warehouse that’s located in Tulsa. (Shhh. Sorry. It’s a secret so I can’t reveal its actual location.) She then took questions from the audience before the signing and picture taking.

I did learn that she’s a pantzer and not a big plotter. Made me feel good to know someone so successful has glitches along the way – with each and every story she writes. There’s hope for me yet. Hehe   One of her favorite places to write is in the spare bedroom in a really old recliner . . . or anyplace where she can curl up and block out the world. Just goes to show that you don’t have to have a private office to crank out a good story.  In fact, she only uses her office for the business end of writing. Go figure.

She’s a very gracious lady and I’m VERY glad I made the effort to attend. I know if the weather hadn’t been so bad, she would have had three or four times the number of attendees. But there is no controlling Mother Nature. I did get in a plug for RWI and handed out a few flyers that WS Jackie had made up. Don’t you just love meeting other romance writers? There’s nothing like it.

Sorry y’all missed getting to meet SEP!

Sitting by the Fire

I have a wee problem with the central heat in my office: if you ask it to warm up by too many degrees at once, it blows the breaker. You have to let it sit for about five minutes — while the temp in the room is heading south fast — then reset it, then wait for it to come on again and hope it doesn’t blow the breaker AGAIN.

Twice, in late summer, I’ve had the repair guys come out to add freon and correct this problem. I SCHEDULED with the secretary for them to work on the HEAT. And both times the guys said nope; call us back in the fall; we’re not working on heating right now.

(Which translates, of course, to another freakin’ $80 service call.)

This morning I head off to work. It’s 21 degrees outside . . . and less than 48 in the office. (I know because that’s as low as the thermostat goes and the needle was to the left of that mark.) At some point during the night, the heat blew the breaker.

I cannot work in that kind of cold. My fingers get stiff and numb and I can’t feel the keyboard. My feet ache before going numb, too, and my brain freezes. Who cares what’s going on in beautiful Louisiana or sunny Georgia when I’m losing the sensation in parts of my body??

So today I’m working in the house. There are downsides: too many distractions, too many things that need doing, too many puppers wanting attention. But it’s warm. The heat’s turned up and there’s a fire in the fireplace and feeling is slowly returning to my toes. My brain unfroze enough for me to remember that I was nine hours late with this blog!

How are you staying warm? (And if you tell me you’re someplace where it’s sunny and 80 degrees, just know this: I hate you. I hate you so very much.)

When Our Tools Break

Today, I designed and printed a flyer for RWI to hand out at the Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ book signing scheduled for Thursday.  After making 25 copies, I realized I put the wrong room number on it, but because I was running late for my mammogram, (Short plug: if you’re a woman over 50, have you had a mammogram lately?  Huh?) I had to wait until I came back home to re-do it.

But when I returned to my computer, it died!  Ack!  My stomach clenched and my adrenaline level spiked.  Okay, okay….don’t panic.  Take it one step at a time.  First, let’s do a shut-down and re-boot.  What??  What do you mean my cursor is now frozen?  It wasn’t a minute ago!   Another stomach clench and screaming at the computer.  “What is wrong with you?  How can you do this to me when I keep you covered with a nice blanket of dust?” 

No, I didn’t say that, but this is a family blog and we can’t use the language I did.  Bottom line…after replacing my track ball, doing a hard re-boot (pulling the power plug twice), and more screaming, I eventually bullied my computer to a point where I could do a proper shut-down.  By then, I’ve upchucked my lunch, developed a pounding headache, and am crying like a baby.  So I did what any self-respecting writer would do…my computer and I took a nap.

And it worked.  When we both awoke, we worked perfectly.

The point of this entire blog is what happens to writers when their tools fail them.  Yes, I’ve written using pencil and paper, but I’m addicted to using a computer nowadays.  The irony of my anxiety attack is that I have a laptop and a netbook to use as a back-up.  I have a portable printer I can use to print off pages.  Heck, I even have an app on my iPhone I can use to write if I don’t mind using my pinky.

But important point is, I was betrayed.  That computer and I have been through good times and bad.  It has place of honor in my living room.  I make sure it always has the best paper and ink cartridges available.  I dust it more than I do any other piece of furniture in my house.  How could it put me through this torment?

See if I ever trust it again.