Friday, December 30, 2011

Friday Plot Swap

Dawn's Plot Swap
Have a plot? Leave one
Need a plot ? Take one
Last Plot Swap of 2011. I was looking for sweet stories to end the year. Each of these squeezed my heart.
Here is what I have for you:
This is a touching story of a woman who made an ornament and hung them on the trees in front of her house for all 434 Texans killed in Iraq. That leads my mind to a infinite amount of plots about the woman herself, the soldiers on her tree, their families, the people who pass by it everyday. So many possibilities. 
A Christmas card that crisscrossed the country as part of an old joke between two Texas men will rest this holiday for the first time in 61 years.

You can imagine the stories that would go along with this card? What these men have seen in those 61 years and the loyalty to keep the swap going that long? 
 A New Mexico woman gave birth in the front seat of a truck as it sped down an icy highway in a snowstorm.

Lots of plot to work with here, but it doesn't seem particularly touching until you read this part :
[The father] said his 3-year-old daughter, Renee, was "so good" during the whole ordeal and tried to comfort his wife through her labor pains by patting her on the head and telling her, "It's going to be OK." 
Now, if that doesn't make you go "ahhh". Well, I guess you are just stronger than I am.

So, swap with me one last time. What's got your mind working? Any sweetness or sadness going on in your world (the real one or imaginary)?


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Five simple goals

Thinking about Thursday

Technically, it's the end of another year. As a teacher, I tend to measure years from August to July, rather January to December, but that's just me.

Last year, I came up with three basic goals for the year:

1. Find a critique group/ partner.
    I have to let someone with objectivity read my work. It is just time. (Achieved. I have two AWESOME, WONDERFUL, FABULOUS, critique partners. Teri Anne Stanley and Genevieve Wilson. Thank you both for all your support this year.)

2. Attend a writing conference.
    I am aiming for DFWCON in February.  (Achieved and it was great! You can check out the experience here. Cannot wait to go this year. Check out the website!

3. Query.
    Even if it is just one email. Just to prove I can. (Um, yeah... Look how good I did on the other two!) 

This year, I am expanding to five goals:

1. Become RWA PRO. This will force me to meet left over goal #3 up there.

2. Attend more writing conferences.  I actually have THREE on the agenda for this year. First, Texas Two Step Conference (put on by my local RWA chapter) in late April You should really come join me! Then DFWCon in late May.  All building up to RWA in July! I cannot describe how excited and, maybe a tad bit terrified, I am about that.

3. Pitch to an agent. That is the one thing I did not take advantage of at DFWCon last year. I have to do this year. I mean, I am going to all these conferences. Surely, I can manage to sit down and make words come out of my mouth for 10 minutes, right? Give me a minute,  I'm feeling woozy.

4. Edit, edit, edit. I have several (and by several, I mean, more than three.) completed manuscripts begging to be edited and polished. My husband brought me pretty pens and clean flash drives for Christmas. All I need to do is hit print and start hacking. Yeah, it's that easy. (not).

5. Keep up this blog. The friends I have made through this blog in the past year have been amazing. Thank you for reading. Thank you for commenting and Thank you for being a part of my world.

I wish you all a successful 2012. 

Do you have goals for this year? How'd you do on the ones you set for last year?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tell Me Your New Year's Eve Story

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday

Okay, I know it isn't New Year's Eve yet. In fact, if you are like me, you are still so stuff from Christmas you aren't even thinking about Saturday.

But I want to hear your best New Year's Eve stories anyway.

I having been trying to conjure up my best memory of New Year's Eve.

This is difficult because most of them blend together in an alcohol-induced haze. The overarching themes from my younger years involve  friends, a karaoke machine and lots of drinking in the back bedroom. Unfortunately, a good portion of it is preserved on video.

Must destroy all copies before my children are old enough to see...

One NYE that will always make me smile centers around sneaking a friend's underage brother  into a bar in New Mexico. He didn't drink, just hung with us.

That same night,  I vaguely remember running the table on a friend's overly-confident (read: cocky jerk)  fiance while everyone thought I was too toasted to stand up, much less focus on the cue ball.

At midnight, everyone else kissed their future husbands, I kissed three gay men. 

The New Year's Eve Kiss-at-Midnight thing as never worked out well for me.

Case in point, at the time of one of the aforementioned parties, I was seeing two different guys (one for fun, one for keeps- I thought) and heavily flirting with a third (because this was college and he was just hot!).

All three made an appearance at the our New Year's Eve party.

Fun Guy~ stopped by long enough to try to persuade me to leave with him. Stayed less than fifteen minutes. Wasn't there at midnight, but called at 2 am because he hadn't found anyone better to bring in the New Year with. Yeah, he was a winner.

For Keeps Guy~ Came by for a while. Had been drinking since noon. Drank more with me and inexplicably left at about 11:45.

Hot Guy~ Asked me to go outside with him when For Keeps Guy left so we could "talk some place private" *Promising* Made me sit in the front seat of his freezing truck while he confessed his undying love for my roommate and asked me to help set it up so he could kiss her at midnight.

Yet, another year I kissed three gay men.

So, tell me your story. What is your best New Year's Eve? What is your worst? Got any plans for this year?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Thinking about Thursday
From our family to yours.

No real post today. I have a ton of Christmas stuff still looming over me like a thunder cloud. Please feel free to enjoy these "Ghost of Christmas Past". Okay, most of them have nothing to do with Christmas, but they are past so, you know. 

Anyway, Merry Christmas...Happy Hanukkah...Merry Festivous...Happy Kwanzza... Merry Random day you get off from work because you don't celebrate holidays at all. Whatever your choice... Happiness and peace to you. 

Let's Talk about Sex ( That one always gets attention)

Just Me (Since we talked about Sex, I felt I should introduce myself.)  

How He Won My Heart with a Hammer (You can be in awe of my husband's romantic side.)

Remembering the Good Ole Days (You know you want to see my 80's hair!)
No Plot Swap Tomorrow. Here are some links to previous swaps to tide you over. :) 

Dream Style (Check out the comments on this one!)
Boy Band Style (Picture of me with 90's hair!)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy Release Day! Nikki Duncan!

Tell Me  Your Story Tuesday

Happy Release Day! 
Tangled In Tulle
 Today is the release of Nikki's new series, Tulle and Tulips.
Let's celebrate by getting to know her better!

    What made you pick your genre? What do you love about it? What stereotypes about it make you crazy?

I always loved reading the Harlequin Intimate Moments – the lighter romantic suspense stories – so I think it was a natural development for me. As for taking on straight contemporary without the suspense, that was a challenge issued to me by my first editor, and I’m so glad for it. I love where those stories are going.

  Tell us about this new series Tulle and Tulips. What can the reader expect? How is this going to differ from your Sensory Ops Series?

Well, like all of my stories, my readers can expect a strong hero and heroine who come together as a stronger team. There is also a lighter tone in all of my stories, rather than darkness. In that way, Tangled is Tulle (and all the books in the series) will be like my Sensory Ops series it spins off of. How does it differ, there is no suspense. It’s just about two people overcoming the obstacles that stop them from falling in love.

You are also involved with Wicked Writers . What is that like?

Wicked Writers is a great group of authors and readers. We have a great time talking books, movies and hot guys (and much more). And it’s always a BLAST to meet these women in person after years of talking to them online. They’re like an extended family for me.

  Do you have a writing routine? What does it look like? Where do you usually write?

My writing routine… HA! I squeeze in as much time as I can between the day job, volunteer jobs and the family. If I am lucky I get an hour each morning after the kids go to school where I can write. Sometimes I’m not lucky and only manage 5-10 minutes, but no matter what I am doing something on some book or writing every day.
  Is the life of a writer what you thought it be? What is different?

I didn’t think it would change things too much from the normal craze that is my life. Turns out I was right, I just seem to fit in better at times. J

  Do you have any special time management tricks for working in writing time and living a normal life?

The biggest time management trick is to stop making excuses as to why you don’t have time. After that, turn off the internet for at least 30 minutes a day. Longer is better.

What is the best advice you have received about this journey?

Stop making excuses and just do it. Oh, and allow yourself to write crap, because you can’t correct a blank page and you never know if it will actually be good.

  What do you do to fight burnout? Do you ever worry about "running out of stories"? How do combat that?

I have enough stories in my head right now (and the voices and characters to go with them) to keep me writing for the next 10 years, so running out isn’t a concern. As for the burnout, I truly love writing so as long as I take a break in between stories and don’t push myself too hard and too fast I’m okay.

   What kind of scenes do you have a hard time writing?

This is different for every book. Sometimes it’s a fight scene others it could be a sex scene or an emotionally pivotal one. It’s never the same, which is part of what keeps things interesting.

  Do you ever write material based on your close relationships, such as a best friend?, and how do you balance that material with the need to tell an interesting story?

The closest I’ve come to writing about a best friend is using a name. The first time I did it I had to learn to divorce myself from the real person, because the real person absolutely is not and never would she be a call girl (even under the circumstances my character was in).

 Tell us a bit about your work in progress.

My current WIP… I have a few. I am working on revisions for another WhisperingCove novella. It will be an erotic contemporary with the matchmaking grandfathers back to stirring up trouble. After that, I’ll be back to killing people in book 4 of the Sensory Ops.

What is next for you?

After TANGLED IN TULLE, I have ILLICIT INTUITIONS scheduled for release in April. After that, I should have another Tulle and Tulips book and somewhere in there will be the Whispering Cove novella.

How can we find out more about you? Blogs? Facebook? Twitter?

I’m pretty easy to find online. My website is and I have a prominent blog link on there. My Twitter and Facebook pages are both /nduncanwriter. Anyplace else I can be found is linked on my website.

Thank you for having me. 

Thank you stopping by, Nikki! Congratulations on your new series. 
So, what else would you like to know about Nikki?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Plot Swap~ Holiday Style

Dawn's Plot Swap
Have a plot? Leave one
Need a plot ? Take one
If you saw my post yesterday, you know I am trying to get into the Holiday mood. So, what better way than with a Holiday Style plot swap?
I am sucker for a sweet, Christmas miracle, story. Yeah,  that would be none of these. :)
There will be no plot swap next Friday as I will be out of town to have Christmas with my in-laws. This plot swap should be a reminder that our families aren't that bad... unless you happen to be related to one of these people!
This one was my favorite: 

This one sounded very similar to something one of my "genius" family members did when we were younger.

Two men in their late 20s stole DVDs and computer games from a Target store Tuesday and discussed their plans to fence the goods while driving away.
Investigators say the duo didn't realize one of them had accidentally pocket-dialed 911. A dispatcher listened in for nearly an hour as they discussed what they had stolen and where they might sell it. Police say they even described their vehicle.

And I am sure these sweet people are just trying to spread some holiday cheer...or something. 

Police in Houston were investigating Tuesday after an online ad promised extra time with an escort for customers who brought a toy for charity.
KTRK-TV reported that the ad, which offers a "Santa's little helper/Toys for Tots special," says customers who pay for an hour with the escort and bring an unwrapped toy for the US Marines' "Toys for Tots" charity for underprivileged children will get a second hour free.
This one particularly cracked me up because it used the word Besmirched
which is just a weird word for the situation.

So, swap with me!
Got any good holiday stories to share? 


Thursday, December 15, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like...

Thinking about Thursday
This is what happens when I try to get a sweet picture for the Christmas card.

It's beginning to look a lot like...

One week from today, I will FINALLY be on Christmas break. Most of the districts around us are getting out tomorrow, but we go until 11:05 on Wednesday, Dec. 21st. 

At 11:06, I plan to break into the hallelujah chorus and do the Jingle Bell Rock all the way to my car.

All I am thinking about today is:
1. The Christmas shopping I haven't done 

2. The fact if I have to listen to the 
one more time I might have to stab someone. 
(My level 1 students put on a Holiday song performance. I have heard the same six Christmas songs approximately 39,285 times since they started practicing last week.)

3. It was almost 70 degrees here yesterday, so I am not exactly in the "Holiday" state of mind.

What about you?
Do you have all your Christmas shopping done? 
What's the weirdest gift you've ever given/received?
Have any cool holiday traditions you want to share with us? 
Do you have a high-pitched, squealing version of Santa Claus is Coming to Town stuck in your head?


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Welcome Catherine Gayle!

Tell Me Your Story Tuesday


                            Catherine Gayle
Today we have Historical Romance Author, Catherine Gayle, joining us. 

Let's get to know Catherine! 

 What made you decide to write?  What did you do before becoming a writer?

A Summons from The Castle
Let’s see, I was a pizza cook, movie theater manager, retail sales associate, receptionist at a (TINY) non-profit, teller and new accounts rep at a bank, office peon at an investment firm…and then I ended up as a full-time college student, part-time tutor. Writing is something that I always had an interest in, but never really did seriously until I went back to college and was an English major. One of my profs for a poetry course asked me to try my hand at writing some poems for extra credit. I did, and he thought I had promise, so he encouraged me to take his creative writing course the next semester. In that class, I focused mainly on poetry (a mistake, as, in his words, I have a “maximalist” style which does not lend itself well to poetry), but wrote one longish short story. Based on that, he strongly “encouraged” me to try my hand at long fiction. I didn’t think I could write a book, so I researched how to write a novel before I ever decided to do it. And when I did decide to try it, the only ideas coming to mind that seemed strong enough to try were Regency-set historical romances. Two months later, the first draft of my first novel was complete, and I’d joined a critique group—where I discovered that, while I showed a lot of promise, I had a lot left to learn. I kept writing while going to school full-time, finishing three more manuscripts, getting an agent, losing an agent, etc. before seeing what might happen if I self published. Now, I am a full-time writer.

Do you have a writing routine? What does it look like? Where do you usually write? 

The only thing “routine” about my writing is that there must be coffee involved. I used to write primarily at home, while I was going to school. I’d moved back in to live with my dad while I worked toward my degree, but he was a long-haul truck driver which meant he was GONE most of the time. That made it really easy for me to focus. He has since been forced into an early retirement, and so now he is HOME all the time. Focus has gone out the window.  So now, I leave the house to write. I’ll go to coffee shops, the library, Panera—anywhere I can sit down for long stretches with a cup of coffee and plug in my laptop. Lately, I tend to try for 30 minute stretches of writing, followed by a five to ten minute break and then another 30 minute bout of writing. I feel like I’m better at ignoring the internet/social media and whatnot if I know I can check in again in half an hour, and then I get more words on the page.

 What do you do to fight burnout? Do you ever worry about "running out of stories"? How do combat that? Even though I’m a full-time writer, I haven’t let myself get burned out. I have learned my best writing times (afternoons), and don’t try to force myself to do writing related tasks in other times. In order to be sure I’m still working in those other times, though, I devote my mornings to editing tasks, maintaining my social media presence, writing blog posts, responding to emails—as much of the business side of things as I can. Writing can be addictive, though, so I have to be sure I give myself time off. I do write at least some every day, but I’ll go to a movie on the weekend, or have my nephew come to spend the night, or recently I’ve bought a mini-plan to see the Dallas Stars during several home games. Time away from the computer is essential. Lately, I haven’t come close to worrying about running out of stories, because I have so many wanting to be told that I haven’t had time to write, it’s ridiculous. When I get a story idea (a Shiny New Project, or SNP), I’ll write enough of it down that I can refocus on my current WIP and move on. Sometimes, these ideas don’t give up easily. I might have to do more than jot some notes down—like do some character sketches, a plot outline, or even write the first few chapters. Usually though, I spend at most a few days to a week away from my primary project lining out a new one before getting back to work. (Don’t ask me how many SNPs I’ve got sitting and waiting to be written. It’s liable to get me committed.)

 What kind of scenes do you have a hard time writing? 

Scenes involving either heavy emotion or action. I tend to write really quickly when I’ve got a lighthearted or humorous scene in the works, but action bogs me down like nothing else. And while I love reading heavily emotional scenes, writing them can really drain me. I have to do them a little bit at a time, or else I get so caught up in the emotion that I can’t function as a human being for a while.

 Tell us a bit about your work in progress. 

I’m working on Pariah, which is the second book in my Old Maids’ Club trilogy. The trilogy revolves around a set of three cousins who vowed as girls to grow old together as spinsters, just like their favorite aunt. Pariah has been a bit of a departure from the norm for me, as most of my stories have been highly humorous even when dealing with the occasional heavy subject. In Pariah, however, I’m tackling PTSD and dementia and more secrets than I can count (almost), and so I’m struggling to maintain my trademark humor without making a mockery of the weighty issues these characters are facing on a daily basis. It’s been a really good challenge for me, and I feel like I’ve grown so much as a writer for even attempting it.

What is next for you?
I’m planning to start soon on one of those SNPs that came up over a year ago and I’ve got a few chapters written on. It’s a project that is completely separate from any of my other books or series, and I’m hoping to use it to see what an agent and traditional publishing might have available for me. And once it is complete, I’ll get back to work writing the final book in my Old Maids’ trilogy.

 How can we find out more about you? Blogs? Facebook? Twitter?  

You can find me at my website, the Lady Scribes blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

Thank you for hanging out with us today! 

So, what else do you want to know about Catherine?