Sunday, June 29, 2008

Ask The Author...Who ME?

Recently I started a delightful email correspondence with a “newbie” fantasy writer, who asked me some questions about being “a professional writer.” I was thrilled at the chance to respond, and some of my answers to her questions turned out to be as enlightening for me as I hope they were for her. I thought I’d share a few and see if they give you any insight to your own and other writers’ processes.

1) Do you outline your story first or just write freely?
This is also known as being a plotter or a pantser (writing by the seat of your pants). I've always been a pantser. Write where ever the story and characters take me, never know what's coming next. Wrote myself into a lot of dead ends and corners that way! But lately I've been trying to reform. WHY? Because in order to survive as a published author (at least until you become as popular as Nora Roberts and could sell your grocery list), you have to do something called sell on proposal. What's a proposal? Approximately the first 3 chapters of the book and an outline or synopsis of the rest of the story. Can't exactly do that if you don't plan a bit of the story ahead of time! So far this has been very difficult for me.

2)How long does it usually take for you to complete your story?
All three of my romantic suspense novels have taken me about a year to write and research. I'm trying to get faster, but again it's been a struggle.

3)What is the process you use to complete a story?
I'm a very linear writer. I start on page one of Chapter one and I write through to The End. At least on my first draft. Once I start revising, I skip around all over the story.

4)Do you write every day?
Usually, however, I can't write when I'm on a vacation. Lord knows, I've tried! My CP actually loaned me her Alpha Smart TWICE (both times I was on a cruise) and I never did use the dang thing. So lately, I've quit trying to write when I travel. But I do read... a lot!

6)Do you write by hand or type? Why?
Definitely type! My handwriting is so bad that even I can't read it sometimes. Plus, it is far easier to delete and cut & paste on the computer than cross out words and write between the lines and in the margins.

8) Are you a character writer or plot writer?
Actually, I think one depends on the other, so both.

9) Why do you write?
I've tried "not writing" and discovered I was not a happy person then. And you know the saying, "When mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!" LOL! So as difficult and frustrating as writing can be sometimes, it still beats not writing ALL TO HECK!

If you want to see a slightly longer version of some of these answers just go to my post on the Casablanca Authors blog (click on the title of this post to take you there).

Monday, June 23, 2008

99 and Counting

"99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer..."

NOOOO! Get that tune out of my head!

This is not a post about beer or repetitive songs that make you crazy. This is about 99 and counting...

99 more days until The Wild Sight is released!

HURRAY! I'm down to double digits!

Some numbers are just too much to conceptualize, like the national debt (GAH!). Or visualize, like when the pilot comes on the p.a. system and announces we are flying at 35,000 feet. I can't even wrap my mind around how much that might be, so I usually just say, "Are we there yet?" When I think that my book will sell more copies (I HOPE) than all the current residents of the small seaside town where my son resides, I even have a difficult time with that.

But 99 is easier to wrap my mind around. 99 is a doable number. Large, but not insurmountable. With 99 I can actually see that tiny shaft of light at the end of the tunnel, and it is definitely not an oncoming train.

In 99 more days, my dream will be realized! My book will be on the bookstore shelves! It still doesn't feel entirely real sometimes, but with only 99 more days to go, it's starting to.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


My DH had that look in his eyes this week. Not THAT look, the other one! The one he gets when he's itching to make travel plans. So it really wasn't a big surprise when I came home from lunch today and he told me he'd booked us on a cruise. This will be our twelfth and I'm tickled pink about it!

Cruising really has become my favorite way to travel. Beautiful surroundings, great food and entertainment, people waiting on you hand and foot -- What's NOT to love?!?!

What's that you say? You've never been on a cruise and you don't have a CLUE about it? Never fear, Aunty will share some cruise tips that she gave to her friend Terri S. who recently enjoyed her very first cruise and is already saving up for cruise #2!

Aunty's General Cruising Tips

DO NOT buy bottled water on the ship. It is horribly overpriced! Wait until you get onshore and buy a small bottle of already chilled water at a grocery store or pharmacy. KEEP the empty bottle and refill it on the ship for the next time you go ashore. Either refill it yourself in the buffet, or sometimes the waiters in the dining room will fill it for you if you ask nicely. If you have a fridge in your room, keep it cold in there, but be sure to get a brand of water they do NOT carry on the ship, or they might try to charge you.

You are not allowed to bring liquor onboard. Even if you buy it onboard, they keep it and don’t give it to you until the end of the cruise. However, you can smuggle on a small bottle in your purse if you are discreet. They have NO PROBLEM with you bringing in plastic bottles of water, juice or soda (or even cans). Again, don’t buy the same brands they carry (Coke cans) or they might charge you for them.

I never eat from street vendors, but I have never gotten sick drinking a soda with ice in any of the local bars or restaurants. They all have “purified” water or ice, so no worries! If you do get travelers' revenge, DO NOT go to the ship’s infirmary (unless you've had an accident or are truly ill). They can and do quarantine people to their cabins (esp. since the Nor virus)! Also buy medicine onshore, they have all the same stuff at half the price as onboard.

Speaking of the ship's buffet, don’t eat there unless you have to. ENJOY the dining room for breakfast, lunch and dinner! The food in the buffet is never as good and it is always crowded around 8 am and noon (probably at 6 pm too but I NEVER eat dinner there!).

Take advantage of sitting at large tables as an opportunity to meet people. And do not be afraid to ask for something that is not on the menu. I can’t eat melons and most of the fruit at breakfast includes melons, so I always ask the waiter for strawberries or sliced pineapple. Most good waiters will bend over backwards to bring what you want. When they do, I always make a note of their name and mention them in my end-of-cruise survey as giving excellent service. These surveys do carry clout with the home office. Any comments less than stellar and HQ can come down on crew members, or so I’ve repeatedly been told.

It is also fun to ask the waiter or assistant how to say thank-you in their native language. They are usually pleased that you are interested, plus you can impress your friends when you get home by saying thank-you in Polish, Tagalog, or even Farsi! You’ll also notice that a majority of the wait-staff will be from a certain region. Our last Alaska cruise on NCL, the preponderance of wait staff were Filipino, and were wonderfully friendly and all around excellent! Our last cruise (on Royal Caribbean) had mostly Eastern European wait staff. Our waiter was from Bulgaria (but also spoke Polish and was impressed when I thanked him in Polish!) and was truly top-notch! Also, if they aren’t too busy (and sometimes even if they are!) they like it when you ask about their families back home.

The maps they hand out when you get off the ship are pretty worthless. Mainly they just show the stores that give the ship a kick-back. Likewise, those oh-so-important talks that the cruise director or staff give are a waste of time. They are one big info-mercial for the same shops (Diamonds International, etc.) in every port that give kick-backs and jack up their prices accordingly.

Also those “guarantees” they tout on the jewelry purchased onshore are worthless. We’ve been told by more than one frequent cruiser that when they contacted the cruise company about a defective watch or something else they bought with a “guarantee” they were told they had to go back to the shop… RIGHT! You’re gonna go all the way back to Mexico (Alaska, Bahamas) to get them to make good on that guarantee? Save your big purchases for stores back home, and buy something inexpensive from the street vendors. As long as you like it, who cares?

That is truly the bottom line on a cruise -- as long as you have a good time, WHO CARES?!?! And you will have a good time! Aunty guarantees that.

If you have any specific questions about cruises, feel free to email me (via my website) or use the comments. Bon Voyage!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Off and Blogging

I'm popping up all over the blog-sphere these days. Today I have a post up at Wickedly Romantic ( or you can click on the title of this post to take you there) about The Sight. The post includes a brief, heretofore unseen, excerpt from The Wild Sight, so I hope you'll take a peek.

Then, this Friday the 13th (very appropriate for those paranormal elements that tend to creep into my stories) I am being interviewed over at Romance Writer's Revenge ( If you haven't ventured aboard that pirate vessel with her crew of hearty wenches, you are in for a TREAT! And if you stop by and leave a comment, you might win some chocolate!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Galley Proofs and More!

HOORAY! My galley proofs arrived yesterday. In case you don't know what these are, they are the pages, fully set up and ready to go to the printer who will then produce the actual book. What I (the author) have to do is read through and make sure there are no errors.

YIKES! No pressure!

But this is one step closer on my road to publication, and I'm excited to make it.

Another first for me will be happening on June 17th. This month, Sourcebooks is the featured publisher at Enchanting Reviews and they will be hosting a chat with upcoming Casablanca authors, Marie Force, Robin Kaye, Malena Lott and ME! The chat begins at 8 p.m. Central time. Hope you will drop by!