Thursday, December 30, 2010

ARCs


Look what I received yesterday. The ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) for AS YOU WISH. This stage always makes the process seem more real. I'm holding a real book in my hands; it has weight and dimension; it has a cover, pages and a back blurb. Really a lot of fun. It isn't the final version, but it's one step closer. And now I have to let them go. Three are already in envelopes ready to be mailed to reviewers. And that's the scary part. Letting the book out there where no guarantee of love exists. I hope people will love it; I hope they find what I wrote to be humorous, uplifting, exciting, and an escape. I hope I succeeded in making this book a stand alone book despite being the second in a series (I believe I have succeeded, but my own perception may be skewed). Let me assure you that I did write it so that anyone could pick it up and read it without having read the first book.

AS YOU WISH is Reggie's tale. Regina Scott comes from a prominent Arcani family, but she never had any magic of her own. And then she discovers she's chosen to be a fairy godmother. Unfortunately the transition won't be easy. Reggie faces a curse, an attempt to overthrow the magical Council, and an entirely too enthusiastic mother.

Let's not forget the hero. Jonathan Bastion is a man of power and wealth and a hidden agenda. He wants to use Reggie for his own purposes and never expects to find true feeling for her.

Throw in a couple of special bakers, an irascible one-armed gnome, a demanding family,and a mysterious friend and you have a story that flew from my fingers onto the page.

So...the reviews start. The rest of you will have to wait until April 26.
--Gabi

Books I'm reading now:
The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
Somewhere Along the Way by Jodi Thomas

Thursday, December 16, 2010

AS YOU WISH

I know; I just posted a new blog yesterday, but I couldn't wait. Here, with much fanfare, drum rolls, and glee, is the cover for AS YOU WISH (Tor Books, April 2011)

Big, long, awe-filled sigh.
--Gabi

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

POD

I ordered a book to read for the holidays and mistakenly ordered an older book. That's okay, though, because I hadn't read it, but when I received the book I stared at it for a while because it looked different. The cover was slick, the binding extremely tight, the paper slippery, and some of the line were squished on the page. It looked like an ARC, but it didn't have any sort of designation on the front. I had the book for a few days before I realized it was a print on demand book (POD).

So what is my feeling about this technology? Well, I'm happy that I can buy and read this older book. But it feels wrong. It's too shiny. I'm a spine breaker (of books, not people) and I absolutely cannot open this book wide enough to read it comfortably. That's probably an odd complaint, but it's hard to read the words close to the spine. It slips through my fingers as I turn pages, and the pages are too white. There's a glare from any light (and it's not even an e-reader). I'm finding myself unable to read the book for long periods of time.

Overall, I believe the technology has to improve before I give it my stamp of approval. I have yet to try an e-reader (I know, I know. I have absolutely nothing against e-reader, but I like the feel of a book in my hand. I've heard the experience on an e-reader is comparable, and I've finally decided which one I want, but I haven't acquired it yet...yeah, because the one thing I need is easier access to books because I don't have an addiction already), but I expect that it would be more comfortable than the POD.

Sigh. I really am too obsessed about books.
--Gabi
Books I'm reading now:
As You Desire by Connie Brockway

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cookies

I just finished making the traditional Christmas cookies (Vanilias kifli, without the accent marks, for those in the know) that my grandmother made for her family in Hungary so many years ago. When my mother married my father, she didn't know how to make them. They were my father's favorite cookies, so she asked my grandmother to teach her. We had them every Christmas ever since. She gave me the recipe the first time I wasn't able to be with her for Christmas. I plan to pass it along to my kids someday.

I don't have many traditions passed along in my family. My parents immigrated from Hungary. Their whole lives were uprooted for a chance at a better life in a new place. As I grew up, I never knew Santa Claus--he wasn't a Hungarian tradition--and they dropped a lot of the Hungarian traditions because they weren't American. I never had a stocking, and we opened presents on Christmas Eve. But the cookies were always there. The kind I baked tonight and the two other kinds. Frankly, I don't really want to learn how to make the other ones. They're not my favorites and, really, should I spend hours working on something that I just won't enjoy? (Rhetorical--don't remind me that we all have do do stuff often for hours that we don't enjoy. I'm talking cookies here.)

My father died 21 years ago this week. So as I make the cookies, I think of him, my mother, my grandmother (whom I met once when I was four--she lived in Hungary, I lived in the US), my kids, my husband, and his family, who have accepted me as one of them. And I realize traditions are pretty cool.

Especially if you end up with cookies.:)
--Gabi

Books I'm reading now:
Eon by Alison Goodman
Big Jack by JD Robb

Friday, November 26, 2010

Pictures of Heroes

I admit it. I rarely look for pictures of my heroes. I'd rather imagine all on my own, thank you very much. But with my upcoming novel, AS YOU WISH, I had a definite actor in mind as I wrote it. The actor? Simon Baker. Usually my heroes are dark haired (for whatever reason, I prefer dark haired men), but for Jonathan Bastion, Simon Baker wouldn't leave my mind. He and the way he plays Patrick Jane on THE MENTALIST was the perfect fit--the outwardly casual demeanor that covers a tortured interior, the confidence he exudes, and the looks don't hurt either. My heroine, Reggie, is less than confident in her own skin.


This actor thing seems to be a trend, because as I was writing the third book (title forthcoming) in the trilogy, I found the perfect picture for my hero again. This time it was Til Schweiger (Inglourious Basterds). He looks the part of Hunter Merrick, right down to the dimple in his chin.




So now I'm working on something new and wondering if I again will find a pic for hero. I've decided that it's not a bad thing. Gives me a great excuse for looking at lovely men, even if I totally love my husband. But I may just not tell him.

--Gabi

Books I'm reading now:
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving...the easy way

The number one easy way to have Thanksgiving is of course to be invited somewhere so you don't have to cook at all. But that's not happening this year for me. I'm not doing the number two way either (Number two...hmmm, I really have to stop cultivating the preschool sense of humor), which would be ordering the meal from a supermarket. This year I saw an advertising from Trader Joe's for half a turkey already roasted and cooked. Yup, that's what I'm doing. Only three of us are home for Thanksgiving this year(Last year too; I made a duck for the first time last year) and my husband informed me--after 25 years of marriage--that he's not all that crazy about turkey; could just be my turkey--so all I'm doing is preparing the sides. I feel slightly guilty about it; despite his avowed lack of enthusiasm for turkey, I love it: the smell of it roasting, the taste, and best of all the leftovers.

So I'm going simple this year, less work, more time to...WRITE. For which I am truly thankful. The earlier health scare turned out to be nothing (yet another reason for thankfulness), and I have have the opportunity to entertain readers. Not to mention that I do have a terrific husband, great children, and wonderful friends.

What's on your thankful list?


--Gabi
Books I'm Reading now:
Hot Rocks by Nora Roberts
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (yeah, it's going slowly)
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Shyness

Believe it or not, I'm shy. It works in odd ways. I have no qualms about standing up in front of people and giving a talk (or performing--but I haven't done that in many, many years-if you were at RT in Houston in 2000, you saw me perform), but throw me into a cocktail party situation, and I believe I come off aloof and cold...not because I am snooty, but because I'm shy. Add my height into the equation and I come off as doubly arrogant. I don't mean it, really (okay, I'm sure sometimes I do), but I've never been good at first impressions or making small talk. I'm so afraid of saying something stupid that I don't talk. Or if I don't know anyone, it's really hard for me to just jump in and enter a conversation.

I know most people are like that. The cocktail party situation is hard for almost everyone. I really admire those people I call magnets--the ones who can find their way anywhere. I know three of them off the top of my head. No matter where they go, they find friends, whether or not they knew those people before. They are entertaining, are never afraid to say something stupid because they are the first to laugh at themselves, and seem to attract a crowd wherever they land. I want that skill.

My own shyness extends to continuing situations. I met a big name author at RomCon this year. She was completely charming and pleasant. We had a great conversation together, even to the point of exchanging contact info so she could send me Hungarian copies of her books when they arrive for my mother. We ate dinner one night together. For me it was a BIG deal. I saw her again at the RWA National conference two weeks later. I said "Hi," but then slunk away, convinced she couldn't possibly remember me. I bet she thought I was being rude, but it was my shyness kicking in. I once saw a different BIG name author walking toward me once at National. She smiled at me in greeting; I averted my gaze in panic.

I'm trying to get better. I'm trying to practice talking to strangers and exuding warmth, but somehow it's easier in the grocery store than when I actually have to interact for a while with someone. I'm really not a snob (except in some things), or rude; I really am afraid that I'll say something stupid and make you hate me.

So if you ever meet me and you're underwhelmed, now you'll understand why. Not that I'm a comedian when you do get to know me, but I do do voices.

--Gabi
Books I'm reading now:
Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts
The True Love Quilting Club by Lori Wilde
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (trying to plug that hole in my education)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Little things mean a lot

Silly? Perhaps. Illogical? Definitely. Today I was feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work I have to do and how little time I have to do it in. And a ton of little things were adding to the stress--jackets hanging on the railing, dishes in the sink, no extra rolls of toilet paper in the bathroom--you know, stupid little things. So my husband, the smartest man on earth (at least today), stood beside me and together we took care of the those silly little things. One little thing after another. Straightened a book shelf, got rid of outgrown toys, put newspapers into the recycle bin, replaced the filter on the refrigerator, and so on ad nauseum. And it worked. I feel unburdened now, as if I can face the big tasks with energy and enthusiasm.

And then I got to thinking that even the big tasks require the little things. One little thing after another. For example, on my list of big tasks this weekend is writing the first chapter of the new series (assuming it will turn into a series because someone will buy it). The first little task--making a new folder for it on the computer. Second, opening word; third starting a new doc for chapter one. Formatting, etc., follow and pretty soon I have a paragraph, then a page finished. Still have 399 to go, but it doesn't feel quite so daunting any more.

One step at a time. One step at a time.

--Gabi
P.S. Finished my first pass page proofs for AS YOU WISH this month. I can't wait to see the cover and get ARC's. April will be here before I'm ready. Hope you're getting as excited as I am.

Books I'm reading now:
Running Hot by Jayne Ann Krentz
Sword of Darkness by Kinley MacGregor

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Random List of Things that Made Me Happy in the Last Week

1. Coming in from outside on a cold day and the house is warm!
2. Puppy licks.
3. Husband made banana splits and bratwursts (not at the same time).
4. Went to Red River, NM, for a Writers' Retreat.
5. Saw Jodi Thomas.
6. Daughter was home (but then she went back to school which made me not so happy).
7. Reading my first pass page proofs for AS YOU WISH (April 2011).
8. Teaching Latin (Yes, I subject my students to Latin).
9. Having high tea at the St. James Tea Room. (Oh. My. God. The food is richer than any I've ever had. Sooo good.)
10. Receiving author copies of FILLED WITH GLEE, which contains my essay titled "At the Heart of Sue Sylvester."


--Gabi
Books I'm reading now:
Wizard Squared by KE Mills
The Devil Wears Plaid by Teresa Medieros

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Fear

I finished my book contract last month. All three books in the Time of Transition trilogy are done and turned in (heck, The Wish List is available right now at a book store near you). The dedicated author (That would be I) now needs to start on the next project. The idea has been brewing for a while. But along with the excitement and thrill of starting a new book comes the fear.

We writers are a neurotic group (I don't mean to speak for everyone, so consider that corrected to "I am neurotic"). The fear arises from so many different areas. Is the new idea at all good? What if it's stupid? Can I even finish another book again (the idea of writing 400 manuscript pages is daunting)? And if I finish it, can I even sell it? And if I sell on proposal, can I finish it in time? And if I sell it and finish it, what if no one likes it?

It's not like having books on the shelves is any easier. The first book of the trilogy is out and received mostly good reviews, but... "Will anyone like AS YOU WISH(the second book)? Will it have a good cover? Will it have good distribution? What if no one likes it? And the third book--I just turned it in and am still too close to it to make any judgments. What if it sucks? What if none of the book sell well enough for my publisher to want anything else from me? What if this is the death of my career?

Yeah, I can't concentrate on the good stuff--like the five heart review from The Romance Reader, like the positive review in PW, like the many readers I've heard from who loved the book. Nope, I focus on the negative possibilities--not even the realities.

The craziest thing of all? I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing than writing.
--Gabi

Books I'm reading now:
Wicked Becomes You by Meredith Duran
Wizard Squared by KE Mills

Friday, October 8, 2010

One step forward...

I'm up at an ungodly hour on my day off because the puppy seems to have taken a step back in her training. She's had accidents for the two out of the past three nights, and I was determined we wouldn't have another one today. So far, so good. But my problem with being up so early is that my brain won't stop dwelling on problems or frustrations, and then I make the mistake of reading news on line. Politics has me depressed anyway (I don't care which side you're on--it's all depressing), and reading about the latest round of muckraking, stupidity, and selfishness only makes my mood worse. Politics aside, other topics haven't been much better.

But the story that thoroughly floored me was the one about the four suicides after bullying in Ohio. You think that couldn't happen at your school, in your neighborhood? What has happened to kids these days? How are they being raised? What makes them believe they have the right to pick on someone who is different or espouses different viewpoints? What happened to live and let live?

Yes, I am at a school where bullying takes place. As a teacher, I can tell you, it's hard to catch it in the act. I never have. Then again, I have a small number of students and don't know most of the student body. I'm isolated at school and I've always been a rather naive person. I can stand in the hallway during passing period, but most of the time, I have students who need or want my attention during those four minutes. But it makes me sick to realize that out there is a child who is afraid to go to school because of other children (monsters--the real kind). And then to see the parents who think their child can't do anything wrong... What have we turned into?

When I was in sixth grade, I was bullied. The child of immigrants, too tall and skinny for her age (Snort, skinny--not a problem these days), and one of the nerds, I was the target for a couple of kids in my class. We did square dancing every Friday. Since I wasn't popular, when squares were formed, I'd invariably never be picked for a square and be stuck with my bullies. As we'd promenade around the square, the ones left "at home" would kick me as I walked around. I reported it to the teacher, but she did nothing.

It ended the day they made fun of my Hungarian background. (Oh, Hungary? Hungry? Are you a hungry Hungarian?--trivial, right?) I whirled on them and told never to say anything that stupid again. They had no idea what my parents had gone through to get to this country. They didn't know what hunger was. My parents did. I told these sixth graders they were ignorant and spoiled and completely clueless about life.

I don't know why that particular taunt made me defend myself. Maybe because they were attacking two people I loved rather than me. They stopped bullying me after that and other kids in the class came up to me and told me how much they respected me after the incident. I'm glad I stood up for myself, but not everyone can. Especially if the abuse is physical and the victim isn't big enough/strong enough. And I also don't believe a physical response is necessarily the answer(But I'm not ruling it out).

Sometimes when I think about the major and minor problems in this world, I wonder why I bother with writing romance. It's frivolous and light. There are more important topics to tackle. And then I realize that my books talk about doing the right thing. About having to leave your comfort zone to stand up for good. And of course that love is the most important quality in life. I may not hit readers over the head with those topics, but they're there.

So go out and do the right thing. Spread some love. Let's do our little bit to make this world better. I don't think we can fix politics.
--Gabi

Books I'm reading now:
The Phoenix Transformed by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

It's time. I haven't posted a new blog in weeks, but I was finishing up book three in the Time of Transition series. The book is now complete, turned in, and in the production process for publication in Mar 2012. Meanwhile, I also did the copy edits for AS YOU WISH (April 2011), and school is in full swing (and I would so ding my students for using a cliche like that last one.)

But now that book three is done, I'm feeling lost. Oh, I had a list of things to do when I finished (read some books, play a game, clean my office--which really needs to be done--spend some time with husband and family, catch up on correcting homework, etc), and I'm getting to them, but I miss the frantic writing, the being in my own world, a world of my creating. I'm feeling bereft.

So I guess that means I won't be idle long. I'm already mulling over the next project. I have two ideas. And there's an idea in the back of my head that intrigues me, but it's not ready to be written yet. It's still gelling, but knowing the character whom the story is about, he'd be the first to say that's right and proper.

In store for the next couple of weeks, Balloon Fiesta (my favorite part of living in Albuquerque), my daughter comes home for a visit from college, and our annual non-conference writers' retreat in Red River NM, a great chance to talk shop with other writers. And I'll have a chance to read a little bit more.

I feel downright lazy.
--Gabi

Books I'm reading now:
Between the Devil and Desire by Lorraine Heath
In Bed with the Devil by Lorraine Heath
The Phoenix Transformed by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I have a Title

Book Two in the Time of Transition series lost a title back in July. Turns out another book book coming out from Torin the same time period had the same title. And I totally understand why they made me change my title instead of the other author. His books are SpellQuest and then Spellbound. Mine were THE WISH LIST and then Spellbound.

So I sent my editor a list of possible titles--yes, they were mine, although one was suggested by my husband.This is the kind of thing they don't prepare you for when you first start out writing. You need to talk to other authors about titles. And as clever as you may think a title is, it may not work for marketing, so you have to be prepared to come up with alternatives.

But now a title has been chosen. I like it. Yes, it is a famous line from another book and movie, but I love the book and the movie, and it fits.

And so without further ado, the title of Book 2 in the Time of Transition Series:

*~*~*AS YOU WISH*~*~*

Coming from Tor Books April 2011. Watch for the cover soon.
--Gabi

Books I'm reading now:
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Proof by Seduction by Courtney Milan
The Perfect Poison by Amanda Quick

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A laugh

I'm in the middle of the final two chapters of the rough draft and don't have time for a long thoughtful blog, but I hope this leaves you with a smile.
It's A Trap!
see more Oddly Specific

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Escapism

I was reading an article on a current best selling novel. It features child rape and the aftermath of such rape. I had been considering reading said book because as an author I think it's important to read current trends and big hits. But right then and there I decided I will not read this book. The article was about how this book will be used to help victims of such violence almost as therapy. Wonderful. I think that's fabulous. I think that such books should exist and people can read anything they want to read and if it helps people, so much the better. But >I< don't have to read it.

I don't bury my head in the sand. I read newspapers daily, listen to real news, keep myself politically informed (sometimes too much I'm afraid). I grew up on stories of hardship from my parents who grew up during WWII (They experienced bombing, hunger, death, injustice) and then the takeover of Hungary by the Soviets. So really I'm not ignorant or hiding from reality.

BUT...
When I read a novel, I want to escape. I want to be carried away to a different world and I want to celebrate the triumph of the human will. OK, I don't know how said book ends, and I am inferring that it does end with the triumph of human will, but my own soul doesn't want to wade through the morass of human cruelty and depredation to get there. I want entertainment. To me, the subject matter isn't entertainment. Hell, I write romance novels. I want the HEA (happily ever after).

One of my favorite movies is The Shawshank Redemption. It, too, has a difficult subject matter, but, my God, how uplifting it is. Love that movie. But another of my all time favorites is Notting Hill. I love the post-apocalyptic YA novel The Hunger Games, but one of my favorite novels is also Bewitching. I am not a one note individual. I read and watch things for entertainment, and becoming thoroughly depressed is NOT my idea of entertainment.

So I'll pass on that best seller. I tried one before that everyone raved about and the story left me feeling ill. I won't do it again. Does it mean I'm not as strong as some people? Who knows? I've never been tested to that extreme before. Can any of us predict how we will respond when faced with horrifying situations? But I've had my share of troubles, some of them major and on-going, and I'd like to think that I've faced them with aplomb and have come through them with an optimistic outlook. I try to improve the world I've been given rather than weigh it down with more horror (not speaking about the horror genre here; I'm speaking of real horror, the horror humans do to one another).

Give me escapism and don't judge me. In return I won't judge you if you read novels that need Prozac to get through.

--Gabi

Books I'm reading now:
The Sixth Surrender by Hana Samek Norton
(only one this time because I'm on deadline and back at work)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Why I love genre fiction (and movies too)

This weekend I read a quote from Sylvester Stallone (yes, that Sylvester Stallone) that I can't get out of my mind. He said, "Good action films are really morality plays. They deal in modern mythic culture"(Time Magazine, August 23, 2010). I agree with him. We need to feed our souls with the mythic, cleanse the ugly in the world with a healthy dose of good vs evil where the good wins, feel that, at least in the story, things are as they should be.

This is the reason I love genre fiction. In genre fiction you can count on things to be the way they should be. The good guys win, the bad guys get their comeuppance, the murder gets solved, and people fall in love forever. In genre fiction we don't have to worry that the corrupt banker gets even more money and a hefty bonus after cheating the hard worker out of his life's savings. We don't have to deal with companies so greedy that they ruin the environment yet post major profits in following years. We don't have bombers escape justice year after year after year. In genre fiction, the banker goes to prison after having to pay back all the money he steals, the company and its CEO's collapse to be replaced with a company with a conscience that saves the otters, and the bomber is taken out by a Navy Seal, who also happens to be good looking.

In the movie SECOND HAND LIONS (love, love, love this movie), there is a speech given by the character Hub, played by Robert Duvall:
“If you want to believe in something, believe in it. Just because something isn’t true, that’s no reason you can’t believe in it. There’s long speech I give you young men. It sounds like you need to hear a piece of it. Just a piece. Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things that a man needs to believe in most: that people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that power and money, money and power, mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil; and I want you to remember this: that love, true love never dies. You remember that, boy. You remember that. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. You see, a man should believe in those things because those are the things worth believing in. Yeah. Got that?”

Yeah.

--Gabi
Books I'm reading now:
Kitty goes to War by Carrie Vaughn
Always a Scoundrel by Suzanne Enoch

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Another Harry Potter Pic



Me, very excited about Hogwarts.

Harry Potter World


So I'm late with this, mostly because I'm in a writing frenzy getting the rough draft of book 3 finished by the end of the month, so I have time enough to revise before it's due Oct 1. (If you're reading this Heather or Marlene, no, worries, I'll have it done.) It doesn't help that I had to be back at school early for textbook training, which is a blog in and of itself and I'm trying not to think about it except when I absolutely have to.

But I thought I'd report about Harry Potter World. First, I am glad I went. I would have hated missing it. That said, I give it a B/B-. It looks great. Just like the movies. But as you can see from the pic, it's crowded, which is odd because we didn't have trouble getting on the rides at all. We'd heard horror stories about the lines, but they proved untrue. So...

The Dragon Challenge was a challenge for a woman who hasn't been on a big roller coaster in years because her youngest is frightened of anything with loops. But I did it, although I have to confess my eyes were closed for parts of it. It's disconcerting to see the sun shining in your eyes at weird angles. We didn't even ride the Hippogriff after the Dragon challenge. It looked cute, but it's a small simple roller coaster. We stood in line for Olivander's to buy wands. The little show is cute but disappointing in that they only chose one person to measure and go through the wand choosing process. I understand (think back to the crowds) but it was disappointing nonetheless. Especially since I share a birthday with Harry Potter (and JK Rowling for that matter).

So the big ride was Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. This is the one where you walk through Hogwarts. Some of the paintings move and speak just as you'd expect, and in Dumbledore's office, he speaks to you via a hologram projection, and it looks 3-D (-ish; close enough). You move to the Defense Against the Dark Arts Classroom where the coolest part of the ride happened. Harry, Ron, and Hermione appear from under the invisibility cloak to talk to you, but Ron says something and gets excited and his wand goes off, and Hermione says, "Oh, Ron, you made it snow again." At this point the everyone in line let out an "Oooh" in awe, because SNOWFLAKES FALL FROM THE CEILING! Really. Snow. A couple landed on me and melted. And it was totally awesome hearing a room of people gasp in awe.

The ride itself is a combo of virtual reality and storybook ride (picture Haunted Mansion at Disney only the chairs --school benches that seat four--except the chairs swing, lay back, and whirl.) The 3-D film virtual reality part is really cool because it's 3-D without glasses and you slip almost seamlessly between the animatronics parts and the film parts. You go through a chimney to get "outside" and fly around the castle, then you see Hagrid looking for a dragon, then the dragon chases you, then you make it to the quidditch field, then the dementors appear, you end up in the forbidden forest with the giant spiders who spit "poison" at you, then you're in the chamber of secrets with the basilisk skeleton, and then you fly back to the Great Hall and it's over. It's not too bad.

But here are the negatives: the dementors look hokey, even though the blowing of cold air on you is a great effect. The spiders look fake too, but they're better than the dementors. The rest of the ride is good, but let's talk about the line. I've already mentioned we didn't have to stand in line long, but we wouldn't have minded because they entertain you along the way. In fact the second time we went on it, we decided we'd let people get ahead of us so we could take in the details. Dumbledore's Office and the DADA classroom were cool, as were the hallways with the talking portraits, but part of the line takes you through the greenhouse, where they had some mandrakes planted, but they were just figurines. They really should have been moving or squirming and they should have also had some of the other plants(they have some plants in hanging baskets, but not plants from the novel). The house hourglasses were the most disappointing. They look like those candy bins from candy stores (you know the ones--the huge tubes where you serve yourself out of the bottom) and they were filled with tiny bead size "gems." I really pictured them bigger, the gems I mean. And It would have been cool to see gems being added or taken away and the total points registering somewhere. That couldn't be too hard to do. And frankly I think walking through Hogwarts would have been a bigger thrill than an actual ride. To see the potions classroom and the common rooms. I guess I just think they could have done more.

Hogsmeade was so crowded with people, I was wondering if they miscalculated the flow of the area. And it was small. I mean I know they couldn't build an actual village, but it was surprisingly small. And while some of the window displays move (the Book store carries copies of Gilderoy Lockhart's books with Kenneth Branaugh primping on the covers) but there could have been so much more. Owls on the rooftops, more "magical" movement in the windows (The music store has some). I don't know. I just would have liked more. One semi-neat touch was Moaning Myrtle in the bathroom (at least the girls' room--I didn't go in the boys' convenience), but the acoustics were so bad that you can't understand her (the reason for the semi-neat).

So I'm glad I went; I had a fun time, and I won't even complain here about the humidity, heat and the thunderstorm that all but shut down Universal (everything except three rides).

--Gabi
Books I'm reading now:
Bonds of Justice by Nalini Singh
Confessions of a Little Black Gown by Elizabeth Boyle
Lady Be Good by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Monday, July 26, 2010

RWA Conference

It's that time of year again. The time when romance writers gather in a single hotel and discuss...well, everything. If you think 2000+ women are going to only talk about writing, you're nuts. It'll be loud and boisterous and wonderful. I'm on my way to Orlando tomorrow. Wednesday night, if you happen to be in the area, there is a book signing for literacy open to the public. Five hundred plus authors will be signing, including me.

So this is a brief post from me. I will write more when I return. Oh, and after the week with writers I"m stopping at Harry Potter World. So much excitement!
--Gabi

Books I'm reading now:
The Next Best Thing by Kristan Higgins
The Giver by Lois Lowry (Guess what I HAVE to teach this upcoming school year?)
Captive of Sin by Anna Campbell.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Why I am Socially Inept

So today I realized I should have posted about RomCon. I had a great time in Denver--probably the most relaxed and intimate conference I've ever been to. I should have posted the highlights when I still remembered them (Like having dinner with Jo Beverly; I don't mean listening to her speak, although her speech was great, I mean sitting next to her at dinner Friday night.And then having dinner with Julia Quinn on Saturday--again, I sat NEXT to her. Hey, I may be an author, but I'm also a fan). I met some wonderful people--readers and authors--and I am definitely planning on attending next year. In two weeks I Go to RWA and plan to post about that conference. We'll see how I do.

But I realized how socially inept I am. I had a lovely women invite me to have drinks with her and her friends in her room, and I turned her down, not because I was opposed to having drinks with her but because I can't switch gears that fast. If I have it in my mind that something is going to happen or I'm going somewhere, I can't just switch plans. It absolutely throws me. And about half an hour later, I was kicking myself for not joining in the fun this woman and her friends were having in their room. Spontaneity, you are a stranger to me.

I was on a panel at RomCon with others and didn't say a word. I suddenly froze up. If you know me, and know that I have an acting background (waaay back when), you'd be laughing at me. But suddenly this room was looking at us, and I had nothing brilliant to say, so I was afraid to speak up. There were words and ideas in my head, but I never peeped up. So I looked like a lump. Idiot!

I know we are all hard on ourselves, but I'm angry with myself. Few people are that outright mean to want to see someone fail, yet that is exactly what I am afraid of. Sigh.

So I'm determined to work on it. I'm neither glib nor witty in real life (That's why I write), but I have to remember that most people aren't judging me either. So if you see me at RWA, come engage me in a conversation, or if I sit down and say something stupid, just chuckle gently and love me anyway.

Yours neurotically
--Gabi
Books I'm Reading now:
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Dreams

I'm not one to follow dreams (I mean the ones that occur while you sleep) or look for hidden meanings in them, but you don't have to be a symbologist to understand mine lately. My dreams have been so vivid lately--which also means more nightmares for me (I read once that that average adult has a nightmare twice a month--mine are like twice a week)--and they are clearly speaking about things going on in my life. Last night's was a doozey. It covered everything from the writing I'm doing, the travel that's coming up, the health stuff I've been dealing with, family, and teaching. Seriously. I hate dreams like that.

I often have dreams that tell stories. I've based at least four of my novels on dreams I've had (highly edited, of course, to remove the purple kangaroos and milk-flavored hamburgers). And I like sleep (unfortunately). I still love to sleep in, take naps, laze away under the covers. I don't think I ever left that teenage phase where kids want to stay up late and sleep in. I know that's how I'd live my life if I could (It would help if my youngest's summer school didn't start at 7:30 AM). As luck would have it, I'm not queen of the world and I don't get to set the rules. (Someday...Mwahhahaha)

So I'm cranky today. I didn't need my dreams telling me all the things I have to do and take care of. I wanted rest.

What kind of wacky dreams do you have?

As for that travel, I hope to meet some of you in Denver this weekend for RomCon. I'm really excited about it, and not at all cranky about going.
--Gabi

Books I'm reading now:
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling
(I told you; I'm going to Harry Potter World at the beginning of next month)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I'm on the Radio

I just finished my very first radio interview (Thank you, Theresa Chaze). I think it went well. I haven’t listened to it yet—there’s that little fear of listening to myself to get over first—but I think it went well. I certainly enjoyed myself and I hope I didn’t say anything stupid. I think I spoke too fast at times (I get excited and start racing—I do that in class too. I start speaking about a book, and my face gets flushed, and I speed up; my students laugh at me) and I think I talked over the host a couple of times (Sorry, Theresa), but if you get me started, sometimes you just can’t shut me up. Not bad for someone who considers herself shy. (Really. Don’t put me in a situation where I have to mingle and mix—but ask me questions and I can get rolling).

We talked about the romance genre, fantasy, science fiction, the magic in writing, my puppy (Yes, I know I need to post a new picture—it’s coming…sometime), promotion, and stuff in general. If you’d like to listen to the interview you can download it or listen here at blogtalkradio.

So…how did I do?
--Gabi

Books I’m reading now:
Finding the Dream by Nora Roberts
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (because I’m going to the new Harry Potter World at the end of July)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Good News

If you remember that personal post of two weeks ago, I have the results. The pathology was negative. I don't have cancer. Good news. They did find what they called active tissue, which I will have to have monitored for a while (next MRI in December), but for now I'm fine.

So how does this affect my life? Well, it's freed me in my writing a little. I'm not afraid to be a little more out there, sink a little more of myself into the text. It's made TOIL & TROUBLE, the third book in my trilogy, a little more interesting to write because I'm able to turn off that internal editor with a little more success. That internal editor gets in my way a lot. That and being an English teacher. Hard to forget those grammar and essay rules I'm trying to drive into my student (That's right; it's driven into them; they don't want to learn them).

So now it's back to work, and loving it.

Happy summer everyone.
--Gabi

Books I'm reading now:
Duma Key by Stephen King
One dance with a Duke by Tessa Dare

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Tribute

Yesterday we had our monthly writers’ meeting, and I was struck by something. Earlier in the week, I had received an inquiry from a film producer about the film rights to my book. I know most likely nothing will come of it, but it’s fun to speculate, and I shared this news with my writer friends, and they were appropriately excited. Our meeting was about screenwriting (wonderful speaker, great meeting, by the way), and through the course of questions one of our members revealed that her book is going in for screenwriting through a huge Hollywood agency. She had not mentioned this to me.

Now, let me explain. This author got the fairy tale, the Cinderella story. Her first book sold in a major deal, foreign rights are being sold right and left, and now I’ve discovered she’s got a movie or TV deal in the works as well. I did not get the Cinderella deal, but that’s okay. I’m really happy with what I have. I didn’t get the guy who can sing well either, or the guy who picks up after himself, and while I love to look at my guy, I wouldn’t say he was a babe magnet either. But you know what? I love him with all my heart and soul. He is my perfect guy and I love being around him and I’m still thrilled he picked me (after 25 years of marriage that’s saying something).

I adore the author who received this deal. We are at the start of real friendship (yes, we’re friends now, but we still don’t know the names of each others’ children—okay, maybe we do, but you know what I mean). I’m thrilled for her, but I’m afraid she might be holding back on sharing some of the exciting details of her fairy tale because she is afraid she might put some people off, or it will sound like bragging, or because people will turn nasty with her (it has happened with other authors) out of jealousy. Really, she got the deal we all dream about as authors. And it’s exciting to be a witness to. It proves that dreams do come true. It doesn’t diminish what I’ve achieved. So it will take me longer to reach her level—I may never get there—but who cares? There’s room for everybody. Her success is everyone’s success.

Is she not allowed to celebrate because of her success? Isn’t she allowed to bask in her glory and just enjoy the whole process? I’m sure she’s celebrating with family and close friends, but I hope she doesn’t have to fear celebrating with the rest of us too.

So I’m here to be a cheerleader for her. (Not literally. Me in a skimpy skirt with pom-poms? That’s the stuff of nightmares. Wouldn’t give the right impression. Frightening. >shudder<). I want to hear about everything, because even if I never get there, I’m learning from her experiences, and if it’s my turn I’ll know a little more. Besides, she deserves it. She worked hard. She wrote a great book (which I’m still waiting to read—but I suppose I have to wait like everyone else.) and she was recognized for it. Good for her!!!

--Gabi

P.S. I don't have the results yet in regard to my last post, but I will keep you informed.

Books I'm reading now:
Ten Things I Love about You by Julia Quinn
Duma Key by Stephen King

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Take Your Health for Granted

Sometimes I think I need to get a little more personal on this blog, and this is one of those times. It promises to be a long one, so either stop reading now, or be prepared for a bit of reading.

I’m going back to the beginning, April 21. My book was coming out April 27, and I had nothing but high hopes for the future. April 21 was my scheduled annual mammogram. I took the day off of school for the appointment and spent the rest of the day writing guest blogs, planning promo for the launch of the new career. Excitement, nerves, and fear about the new book filled me. And then on Friday, April 23, they called and said that they found something on the mammo and want to do another one. But that this was fairly normal and that I shouldn’t worry. (Really? I’m a writer. I earn money from using my imagination.)

So my book came out on Tuesday, April 27, my puppy arrived April 28, and on Friday, April 30, I went in for another mammo and a sonogram. The mammo still showed something, so they scheduled me for a scintimammogram—that’s nuclear medicine for those who don’t know. May 11 was the next available date. Great. Not quite two weeks of worrying.

In the meantime, I had guest blogs, comments to make, keeping up a good face at school, and trying to enjoy my book’s launch. I also had a puppy to laugh at. I did most of the time, but sometimes the worry would get to me. By the way, thanks to all those bloggers who let me appear on their blogs, all the interviews you all let me give. It was helpful to keep my mind off of things.

So the scintimammogram consisted of having radioactive stuff injected into me, and then a special mammogram that shows the radioactive isotopes that react to anything unusual happening in the breast. I had to laugh while taking the test. The vial of radioactive stuff was kept in a lead tube, the technician kept it in a lead box, the syringe vial was encased in lead, but they just shot it into me. It didn’t frighten me; I just found it ironic. But the test was positive. Definite reaction. Next step: MRI.

Now lest you think I’m feeling overly sorry for myself, I wasn’t. I didn’t tell people because I didn’t want people coming up to me and asking how I was. That’s not who I am. My daughter joked with me. “If it is cancer, they can just lop off the breast. Of course, then you’ll be walking around in circles.” Best line ever.

Meanwhile, I’m checking reviews coming in of my book, scheduling more blogs. It was surreal, really. The excitement of the book coming out, the end of the school year coming fast, and yet behind it all I was frightened of the “c” word. My husband kept saying it wasn’t fair. I should be enjoying this time, enjoy the success the book seemed to have. Yeah, well, life doesn’t work that way.

May 19 was the MRI. It showed not only the spot in the right breast that was causing concern, but also a spot in the left that hadn’t been spotted through all the previous testing. Great. Of course, by now I was thinking this wasn’t so bad. Breast reduction on the insurance company. Never have been able to find blouses that fit well.

Met with a breast specialist who is fabulous, and we decided on a course of action. I went in for a lumpectomy on June 7. We decided that because whatever this was was caught so early, it would just be best to cut them out. Then if it was cancerous, they would be out, and if it was precancerous, then they wouldn’t be there to turn cancerous. She also said that if I were 65, she wouldn’t have done this, and just let it grow for another ten years, but because I was so young (preening here) this would take care of anything in the future.

Between May and now, I decided I wanted people to know. I had gotten used to the idea, and frankly, I didn’t think about it much. I was ready for people to ask me how I was. I’m still not thinking about it much, except now my chest is wrapped in bandages and I can’t take a really deep breath, but I have so much going on. I’m working hard on the third book in the trilogy, putting finishing touches on my GLEE essay for the fall book, and enjoying summer. I wish I had the definitive answer to give you right now. The pathology still isn’t back on whether it is cancer or not (I should find out tomorrow or Friday), but whatever it is, it’s out, and I’m good. I’m a little uncomfortable (I did have surgery, after all), but I’m good. We’re talking cure, not treatment. And really, if it is anything, we caught it sooooo early.

So here’s the explanation of the title of this blog. Take your health for granted. I don’t mean you should eat unhealthy, or that you shouldn’t exercise or see a doctor regularly, but you shouldn’t worry about your health if you don’t have to. Once you’re given a reason to worry, you’ll do plenty of it. No need to worry about things until they happen. So take your health for granted. I’m ready to do just that with only the occasional reminder that something happened to me in April, May, and June of 2010. I’d rather remember that‘s when my book came out and my career started.

--Gabi

Books I’m reading now:
Strangers in Death by JD Robb
Ten Things I Love about You by Julia Quinn

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Well

Today the well was finally opened. I sat down and realized that I have nothing hanging over my head: no classes to prepare for, no papers to grade, no meetings to attend. So I ran up to my computer to write.

And I did.

Oh, I've been writing all along, but not like today. The pictures were vivid in my head, and I was in the world. My world. It was so liberating, so wonderful.

So happy summer everyone. I know it isn't even June yet (tomorrow), but happy summer anyway. Do you remember that feeling you had as a kid when school was out? Grab onto that memory and enjoy life.

--Gabi

Books I'm reading now:
Soulless by Gail Carriger
Rogue in my Arms by Celeste Bradley

Monday, May 24, 2010

Reviews

So that thing that was supposed to be resolved two Wednesdays ago wasn't, and it's totally distracting me. I'm not going to announce it here because I don't want to, but I could use all the good thoughts you have to spare.

Meanwhile the reviews are coming in for THE WISH LIST. I don't really know how book sales are going (they don't share that info with authors often, and extrapolating from Amazon numbers doesn't tell you anything--although I am obsessing about them) but I've had several wonderful e-mails from readers telling me they love the book, which thrills me to no end. For the most part, the reviews have been fair and I can accept them. The majority have been good. As for the bad ones...well, they happen. Frankly I don't want to appeal to everybody. I'd rather elicit strong reactions one way or the other. Tells me I have a strong literary voice. I know I should just ignore all reviews, but that would take a stronger personality than I have.

The only reviews that do bother me are the ones that say something like "I wish this or that happened in the book instead." Excuse me? It's my book. You want a different book, write your own. I can understand if you say my logic is bad, or if you hate a character, but it's MY story. My story goes just as I wanted it to (although I could get into a debate on whether my characters tell me the story or I manipulate it). And I like it.

I hope you pick up THE WISH LIST and decide for yourself.
--Gabi

Books I'm reading now:
Stormfront by Jim Butcher
What I did For Love by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Soulless by Gail Carriger

Sunday, May 9, 2010

MIstakes

I've been so busy blogging everywhere, that I've forgotten about my own site. Oops. Sorry.

So today I want to talk about mistakes. In the past two weeks I've written at least ten blogs for different sites. The easiest were the ones where the owner posed questions and I answered them. But the ones where I came up with original content weren't too bad either. I felt it important not to repeat myself and send the same blog to every site (although I will confess I did repeat a couple of them because it's also the end of the school year and I'm crazy busy. Plus I have something going on in my personal life that's occupying a great deal of my attention but will be resolved on Wednesday, and no, it's not the puppy.) So I hope you've all been able to find me all over the 'net, and that you found the content interesting.Repetitive perhaps, but not just the same stuff over and over again.

As I visited the sites I blogged at, the one thing that irritated me so much were the mistakes I found. I can't believe the number of errors I made in my content. I want to go back and correct "un" to "fun" and take out the misplaced words and the partially erased sentences. I've done it all in my blog file (I keep my blogs in a file just in case someday someone wants me to put together a book on my magnificent self --Hahahahaha. Had you fooled for a second, didn't I?), but I can't go to someone else's blog and fix mistakes. So now I'm just cringing and hoping that people realize that everyone is human and mistakes happen.

There is a lesson in this. I really need to proof my blogs. But as I said earlier, I've been crazy busy and I didn't always have time. Of course I also believe excuses are lame.

And I do have a puppy.


Her name is Pixie, after THE WISH LIST, my book that came out last week.

--Gabi

Books I'm reading now:
The Mephisto Club by Tess Gerrtisen
Devil in my Bed by Celeste Bradley

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Search for a Puppy

It started last summer (2009). We decided we were ready for a new addition to the family. Most especially for my daughter, who has IDD (Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities), to give her something to love and care for and to love her back. But it would be a family dog. So we started our search. We visited the pounds and shelters of our city daily and never found a puppy. OK, we did once, but no kidding, we stood in line to adopt the dog, and the woman in front of us adopted the dog we were going to get.

Let me explain further. We had a specific idea for our next dog. We wanted a small breed, a puppy, but beyond that we were pretty flexible. And we were determined to rescue a dog.

Fast forward to today. We still don’t have a dog. As much as I wanted to rescue a dog, it just isn’t working out. Around here, every dog is either a Chihuahua or a pit bull. In fact we saw one puppy this weekend that was a Chihuahua/pit cross (don’t ask me how that happened). I know, I know. I’ve heard stories about great pit bulls, and perhaps they do have an undeserved reputation, but we didn’t want a pit. And sorry, we just don’t like Chihuahua that much (Don’t write me hate mail--it’s a matter of taste, just like dark or milk chocolate). From my experiences in the shelters, I’d say at least 50% of the animals available were pit bulls or pit crosses, and among the small dogs at least 50% were Chihuahua or Chihuahua crosses. I think if we lived elsewhere the outcome would be different. (I believe I’ve mentioned in the past how isolated Albuquerque really is.

So we’ve succumbed and bought a dog. For the first time in my life, I’ve paid to get a dog. I still firmly believe in rescuing dogs, and if we ever decide on a large dog again, I’ll definitely go to the shelters.

Oh what kind of dog? A cockapoo. I’ll keep you posted and maybe even get a picture up. The puppy won’t arrive for two weeks yet. ‘Til then, woof, woof.
--Gabi

Books I'm reading now:
Devil in my Bed by Celeste Bradley
Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Making the Rounds

It's been a busy few weeks. Want to see what I've been doing? I'm scheduled on the following blog sites for the release of THE WISH LIST. Yes, the blogs are all different from one another (although I can't be held responsible if they sound similar) and many include giveaways. So be sure to visit these sites to learn more about me and my novel.

Appearances:

April 13, 2010
Pen and Muse


April 16
PASIC To Be Read


April 22
Literary Escapism


April 26
Enchanted by Books


April 26
Paranormality

April 28
Borders True Romance


April 29
Lucy Monroe’s Readers at Home On-line Conference


May 5
Petit Fours and Hot Tamales

Paty Jager


May 11
Muse Interrupted


May 15
Speaker at the Rio Rancho Public Library (This one's live)

May 28

Much Cheaper than Therapy



Reviews:

The Pen and Muse


Michelle and Leslie's Book Picks



Single Titles


Genre Go Round Reviews


Larissa's Bookish Life

Wicked Little Pixie

Heather's Books

And I have a couple of items up for auction at Brenda Novak's 2010 Auction Anything for Diabetes Research. One for writers, the other for anyone. More details later.
Hope to see you there.
--Gabi

Books I'm reading now:
Texas Princess by Jodi Thomas

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Twenty Days

Time slips by when you're not paying attention. I've been getting so much ready for the release of THE WISH LIST, that I haven't posted anything here in weeks. Sorry about that.
So today's blog is about what I've been up to to prepare for THE WISH LIST's release.

Actually the process started several months back. As soon as I received the cover (It was November), I posted it on my blog and web site. In December I placed my first ad (in Romance Sells). In January, I started lining up guest blogs and contacting people who showed interest in the novel. In February my ARC's (advanced reader copy) arrived, and I sent them out to various review sites. Also in February, I designed my bookmarks--in the name of full disclosure, I have to tell you that my husband designed the bookmarks--and ordered them. And thus followed many trips to the post office. I also decided what other if any promo I would do, and more trips to the post office to mail off ARC's and bookmarks. More promo followed in March, as well as blog writing, making knick-knacks (I have some vials of fairy dust with labels), and just keeping current.

Now we're twenty days away from the release. Hooray! The first of my blogs shows up next week, and in the meantime, I'm biting my nails as reviews come trickling in (so far, so good). I'm excited and eagerly awaiting the first real copy of the book to hold in my hand. I'm also writing the third book in the trilogy, working on other ideas and still holding down the day job.

Ack! Twenty days!
--Gabi
Books I'm reading now:
Phantom in the Night by Sherilyn Kenyon and Diana Love

Monday, March 22, 2010

Blog Award


I was awarded this blog award much too long ago (Feb 28) and I've finally had the chance to pass it forward. First thank you to Jessica Rabbit for giving me the award in the first place. She has been so much fun to talk with.

Now here are the people I'm sending you to:

Lydia Parks


Molly Evans

Belle Sloan

Darynda Jones

Cat Lovington

These ladies have offered me friendship and support whenever I've needed it. THey make writing less lonely and are wise women.

Here are the rules in accepting this blog award:

* Post the award logo & use it on your own blog.

* Nominate at least 5 other bloggers you feel have become part of your circle of friends. {link to your nominees within your blog post}

* Include these instructions in your post.

* Link back to the person who gave you this award in your blog post, to show appreciation.

Thanks again to Jessica for picking me for this award.
--Gabi

Book I'm reading now:
The Phoenix Endangered by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Readers at Home online Conference

Courtesy of Lucy Monroe, a bunch of authors have gotten together to provide a an online conference for those readers who can't make it to the RT confernce in Ohio. So without further ado, here's Lucy:

Okay, so you all know I'm going to RT, but *I* know a bunch of you
aren't and I got to thinking what I could do to make the week of RT
fun for you all and any other readers who might be feeling a little
left out. Then I hit on it - I would host a Readers at
Home Conference
here on my blog. We'd have tons of
authors, tons of "door" prizes (more than 50!!!), tons of hotties
(cover models, hero inspiration...just plain yum factor) and tons of
fun!!!

I wanted something really special, something that made this a true
conference and my friends helped me make it happen! We are giving away
Swag Bags to the first 50
readers who register for the conference. To register, all you have to
do is send an email to me [lucymonroe @ lucymonroe
dot com] with your name and mailing address (for the Swag Bag) stating
your intention to attend the RAH Conference. The Swag Bags are for
conference attendees only and we are trusting that if you register,
you truly intend to attend the conference and interact with the
authors and other readers on the blog. :) I'm shipping the Swag Bags
at my own expense, but many authors have donated loot
for you all, and each Swag Bag will have a free book inside.

Yes, that's right - the Reader at Home
Conference
is FREE. How cool is that?

Every day there will be multiple authors visiting and guest blogging,
with new blogs posting every 3 hours between 6 AM and 6 PM. And cover
models? We've got 'em - with behind the scenes action as well as hero
inspiration. There will be daily drawings for multiple prizes,
including dozens of signed books, a B&N gift card, a t-shirt, 3
prize tote bags filled with books & goodies (donated by Sue
Grimshaw from BTRB and Becke Martin), free online subscirptions to
Affaire de Couer magazine and 2 more Swag Bags given away each day.
What could be better?

Readers at Home Conference Sponsors
~ Guest Blogging Authors ~
Elizabeth Amber
Jules Bennett
Jenna Bayley-Burke
Leigh D'Ansey
Jami Davenport
Kate Davies
HelenKay Dimon
Diana Duncan
Cynthia Eden
Kimberly Fisk
Barbara Freethy
Tricia Jones
Nicola Marsh
Kaylin McFarren
Susan Meier
Elisabeth Naughton
Erin Nicholas
Lorie O'Clare
Rick Reed
Maggie Robinson
Patti Shenberger
Gabi Stevens
Kay Stockham
Helen Scott Taylor
Karen Van der Zee
Mary Wine
Other Readers at Home Conference Sponsors
(donated prizes, items for the Swag Bags, etc.)
Affaire de Coeur
Borders True Romance Blog
Monica Burns
Christie Craig
Lori Foster
Donna Grant
Faye Hughes
Margaret Mallory
Becke Martin
Lucy Monroe
Alexis Morgan
Laurie Ryan
J.L. Wilson

So, while a bunch of us are at RT going crazy, you can be visiting
with some of your favorite and some brand new authors - wearing casual
clothes, ditching the makeup and your shoes. Oh, that? I envy! :)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Golden Heart is stupid...

My dear friend Sheley Wimmer, wrote a brilliant reaction to next week’s announcement of the RITA and Golden Heart finalists. In it she expresses the ridiculous, angry, hopeful, illogical, and plaintive emotions many of us feel as writers. We want validation. Publication does that, but the euphoria doesn’t last. We want to know that we are loved, that we are good, that we have mattered. So, in her words, here is Sheley Wimmer:

The Golden Heart is stupid…
So says someone who was once addicted to entering this contest. But no more. No way. Know why? I will admit something here... but it's a secret. The Golden Heart contest makes me cringe, especially the day the calls go out.

My first entry went in 2002. I heard nothing on that day. In fact, I received a whopping 28 [out of 45] on my scorecard. If I were made of lesser stuff, I would have stopped writing right then and there. Nope. Kept plugging along. I started entering other contests about three years later. Becoming a contest finalist was my new goal. Goal achieved. Twenty-five wins altogether, but still no Golden Heart call. One year I was at Disney World, refusing to ride anything because it was call day. Another time I was on the beach with the phone in my hand.

"Why do you have your phone?" the husband asked.
"No reason."
None at all… just hope.

Again, last March, I spent the day on the computer watching the calls come in one by one. Sigh. Still no call for me. My scores got better thought. I went from 28 to 35. From a 35 to a 38 and then last year, a 42 and a 40, on two different entries.

This last year I said to myself there is no friggin’ way I am going to enter the Golden Heart a-g-a-i-n!!! No way! I'm not doing it. That's for crazy people. Contest wins had already blessed me with a wonderful agent… what more did I need?

So guess what I was doing the last week of November. That's right. You know what I was doing. Need I say more? Okay, I will, but only because I said it was stupid before. That was just a hook to get you to read this far. Two days before the entries were due, I was making crazy insane copies of three manuscripts, the first fifty pages, formatted just right, six copies each, and rewriting each and every synopsis, because, of course, that had to be why I wasn't getting the call. Overnight mail really works! I won't tell you all what I paid. That's a secret between my credit card and myself. Suffice to say I had to hide that bill from my honey.

Through everything, something amazing happened. I had pre-paid for four manuscript, hoping that by some miracle I would finish my young adult novel. Well, I didn't. Not even close. But what I did have was three solid manuscripts, beginning to end, sitting on my kitchen table. Seeing them piled like that made me realize that I am indeed a true writer. There is a plaque I have hanging on my bathroom wall that says, "One shoe can make all the difference. Cinderella."

In my case, one phone call can make all the difference. It won't be the Golden Heart call… it will be the other one. The real call. Even so, what will I be doing on the twenty-fifth, next Thursday, between, roughly, I don't know, six am to, gee, midnight, because one can always hope they "forgot" to call someone? Nothing much. Mostly just sitting here. On top of my on my vibrating cell phone. With my house phone right by my side. Glued to my computer screen. Watching the calls come in. Hoping against hope that I might get one of them... or three. (Okay, now I am just being greedy!) Part of me thinks this IS all incredibly stupid on my part. But what if? I like the "what ifs?" So, like many of you, my fingers are crossed. That is my true confession. Anyone else care to admit a true Golden Heart confession??? =0)

Sheley

Sheley,
You are not alone. We all want that elusive feeling that today is the day. But I’ll let you know that the desire for that feeling comes back. Even after THE CALL. I was a Golden Heart Finalist way back when, and while I try to appreciate being published, I still crave that validation. So you know what I’ll be doing this November. Entering the RITA with THE WISH LIST.

Sucker. Right there, printed on my forehead. But beside it is also DREAMER. Because that’s what gets us writers through the day.

--Gabi

Books I’m reading now:
Lord Of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
Lessons in French y Laura Kinsale
The Phoenix Endangered by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory

Thursday, March 4, 2010

How to Write a Romance Novel--Dialog

Dialog is a crucial element in romance novels. At least I think it is. I love writing and reading dialog. It moves the story forward (plot), lets us get to know the characters without telling (characterization), tells us what’s important (theme), defines the mood and tone (setting), gives us insight to the author (voice), gets us into the characters’ heads (POV), and exposes problems (conflict). Great dialog can lift a book to another level of enjoyment.

Personally I’m a dialog slut. I write books heavy on the dialog. I always have to go back and add introspection, description, and emotion, because I usually just write down my characters’ conversations for a rough draft (yes, there is more to writing my novels than just dialog, but hey, this blog is about dialog.) So let me start with mechanics. Just kidding, sort of. I won’t speak of punctuation. Comma if there is a speech tag, when to use single quotes, when to use double, how to use a question mark, etc. You can look that up, right? Let me jump right in and talk about the speech tags themselves.

As Elmore Leonard said, “Never use a verb other than ‘said’ to carry dialogue.” Who am I to contradict the great Elmore Leonard…but…I would also add use only “ask when tagging a question. Rarely use “whisper,” or “cry,” or “shout,” or anything else. Every “whimper,” “stated,” “retorted,” “answered,” or word other than “said” stops the reader, requires processing, and slows the pace. Any time the reader has to stop to process the word in dialog, it slows your novel. Yes, sometimes you need to use a different word (remember, there are no hard and fast rules for writing--use what works for you), but the word “said” becomes invisible to the reader.

Sometimes you don’t need speech tags at all, especially if only two people are in the conversation. Action tags can indicate who’s speaking. An action tag is simply giving an action to the character who is speaking and attaching the line of dialog to that tag (but not with a comma). For example:

“Now you look terrified.” He sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose.
“Should I be?”
“No.” He drew his hand down his face.
“And I’m supposed to trust you?” Panic rose in her throat. “I don’t know who you are--“
“Ritter. Tennyson Ritter. I’m your arbiter.”
“The guy who’s supposed to test me?”
“Judge you, observe you, decide whether you pass or fail.”
“Thanks, but I’ll pass. I mean on the test thing.”
He let out an angry breath. “And you’re Kristin Montgomery, who lives at Seven Thousand Beadnell Way, Apartment Two C.”
She hated the Internet. Any creep could get all kinds of information.
“Don’t pretend you don’t know--” He stopped and peered at her, his eyes widening. “Good God, you’re a Rare One.” (THE WISH LIST, May 2010)

Notice that “said” doesn’t even appear in this passage. You might have also noticed that often no tag was necessary at all.

OK, I don’t want to drone on and on, so here are a couple of final points: avoid using the dreaded “-ly” in combination with your speech tag (she wrote vehemently). If you need an adverb to describe the tone, your words aren’t doing their job. And while we are trying to sound realistic in our dialog, we can’t be. We are writing. You’ve probably heard that communication is something like 85% body language (and 67% of all statistics are made up), and all we have are our words on the page. So, yes, strive for realism, but dialog has to convey so much more than just the way we speak, and if you analyze just how much goofy empty stuff we actually say when we speak, you don’t really want to write real dialog. (Yuck. What a horrible sentence.)

Spring is almost here. Yay!
--Gabi
Books I’m reading now:
The Phoenix Unchained by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory
The Golden Season by Connie Brockway

Friday, February 26, 2010

True Confessions

I have reached that age when I’m supposed to be dignified and refined. Yeah, that’s not going to work for me. This is my true confessions blog. I’m going to confess and admit in public some embarrassing facts. Actually I’m not embarrassed; in fact I’d like to meet the people who think I should be embarrassed by my tastes.

I’m going to start with candy. You heard me. Candy. I don’t like dark chocolate. I don’t care if it has antioxidants, I don’t like it. I like milk chocolate, and it had better be filled with nuts or caramel, and from a European nation, preferably Switzerland or Germany. But chocolate is easy. I’m not a huge chocolate fan in any case. The candy I really like is bubble gum. The old school stuff--the stuff that’s pink and semi-hard: Bazooka, Dubble Bubble, etc. I also like Pixi Stix, Sweet Tarts, and Lik-M-Aid. That’s right, kid stuff.

I’m not a big drinker. I like my drinks with umbrellas and fruit. I don’t understand wine, and I’m not a connoisseur. I won’t drink red wine, I don’t like white much, but I will drink White Zin. I will also drink what I call Kool-Aid wine--those fruity wines that really have no right to call themselves wine and taste like fruit punch. I know, I know. I would hang my head in shame, but really, I’m fine with it.

I don’t drink coffee unless it has four packets of sugar and lots of cream. It has to taste like hot coffee ice cream. Or it has to be one of the International Coffees…but not the chocolate ones. I like hot chocolate, but I like the whipped cream on top more than the drink itself. I don’t like tea either, which is really a pain on cold mornings.

Pizza is far from my favorite food, I love sardines and liverwurst (although not together), and apples annoy me. I love Disney movies, cried at all the “Thanks, Mom” commercials during the Olympics, and enjoy big commercial movies more than deep artsy ones. I like to stay up late and sleep in late. I take two hour baths when I can and read in the tub, with snacks and drink. I’m afraid of moths (yes, moths, and butterflies don’t thrill me either), like snakes and rodents, and get thrilled when I see any animals of the non-insect kind in the wild, including the rabbits in our neighborhood.

So what about you? What confessions can you make?
--Gabi

What I’m reading now:
Finished my Rita books
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
The Dark Knight by Frank Miller

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day

I don't do Valentine's Day.

I know, I know. I'm a romance writer, but I still don't do Valentine's Day. I have nothing against it. Go out and celebrate. Get candy, cards, gifts, etc. Enjoy it. Think warm thoughts about your lover, husband, significant other. That's all good. But I don't do Valentine's Day.

My husband and I are both too contrary. I admit it. It is a major character flaw. If someone (whoever may hold that power) tells us we must celebrate or do something, we don't. (OK, I'm not talking about paying taxes or seeing a doctor here--I'm talking about the fluffy stuff.) While we agree that we need to show each other our affection, esteem, and care, we just choose not to do it on Valentine's Day. Although I did make him bacon this morning because I love him.

No, I believe that little tokens of love, gestures, favors, surprises are better when they aren't proclaimed by some day, when they come spontaneously and are truly a surprise. It's too easy for my husband to bring flowers on Valentine's or my birthday. It's too expected and gets him off the hook too easily. It's much more difficult to show those feelings when it comes from the feelings themselves.

Now that I think about it, it's really hard, and there are definitely times we both fail in showing our love for each other, but when we do, it means so much more. And I think I'll make a resolution for myself now (you did read my post that said I don't do New Year's resolutions either, right?): I will make more of an effort throughout the year to show my husband and family I do think of them often with love. And I'll try to cut the hubby a little more slack.

So happy Valentine's Day. It's always a good thing to celebrate love.
-Gabi

Books I'm reading now:
Still working on the Ritas, but I've picked up several for my TBR pile when I've finished.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Inspiration

I’ve been waiting for inspiration to strike me for my next blog.

OK, let me say that’s a major error on my part. Inspiration doesn’t need to strike a writer. A writer has to write anyway. It doesn’t matter if you don’t feel like it, you have to do it. If you are a writer. If you are a dabbler, then by all means write when the mood or muse hits you. But if you are a writer, then write. No excuses.

If you want to pursue this as a career, if you want to be a professional, you sit your butt in the chair and write. Even if every line feels like it has to be yanked from your soul with serious tongs. Even if every word makes your brain hurt. Even if you’re tired, lazy, unhappy, giddy, or not in the mood. You write. How do you expect to fulfill contracts if you don’t get in the habit of writing anyway? How do you expect to last in the business if you don’t produce?

The funny thing is usually, once you get started, the words will come. Sometimes they don’t, not even if you’re diligent, but usually they will start to flow. That’s because the muse is shy sometimes. Sometimes she wants to hide, so she leaves you without the inspiration to create. But if you start creating without her, she eventually wants to take part because it’s fun. There’s that lovely sense of accomplishment when you’ve finished with a short goal (2000K words or one chapter or any such goal you may have). You’ve added to your manuscript, you’ve revised, whatever, but you’ve taken concrete steps in your career or toward publication.

And see? Even though I had trouble getting this blog up and going, once I started, the words came and now it’s done.
--Gabi
P.S. I received my ARC’s for THE WISH LIST. Yippee!!

Books I’m reading now:
Still the RITA books, the titles of which I am still not sharing with you.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

How to Write a Romance--Research

So, research. The word alone makes lesser mortals tremble. I’m kidding. Research is the stuff you do that isn’t actual writing but you need to make your writing better. Besides, you shouldn’t be afraid to learn new things or learn things more in depth.
I can’t think of a writing project I have undertaken that didn’t require research.

For THE WISH LIST, I didn’t have much research to do. It was my world, my rules. But…the story is set in San Diego. I went to college in San Diego. My husband grew up in San Diego. My father-in-law lives in San Diego. Nevertheless, I had to do research on places. So not only did I ask my husband about all his memories of the city, I also played on Google Earth for days, pored over maps, and visited hundreds of web sites. And when we went to spend the holidays with my FIL, we drove around the city itself. I found the cottage that appears in my novel. And since then I have written the second book, SPELLBOUND, but before I finished we drove around Del Mar just so I could get a feel for the place.

Research isn’t always so physical, but it will happen in one form or another. Most romance writers think research is only necessary if you’re working on a historical. Wrong. There’s always something. Now that I’m working on the third book of the series, TOIL AND TROUBLE, I needed to do research on weaving. (My heroine weaves—she couldn’t be a German teacher, no. she is a weaver.) The worst thing about my research on weaving is that I suddenly started thinking that I want to learn to weave in reality. Don’t worry. I talked myself off that ledge pretty easily (Like I have time to add a hobby.) But the research was so cool.

Whether you need to find out if a person who gets knocked out, then rouses to have a conversation with the heroine, then passes out again, would live in the Middle Ages (It helps if your critique partner is a nurse—Thanks, Brenda) (Oh, and by the way, he probably wouldn’t) or if you need to know which poison works the fastest, its all about gaining knowledge. Knowledge is power.

Research is crucial because you WILL receive letters or comments from people who do know more than you. I remember reading a story set in Venice, Italy, and within the first three chapters the hero and heroine were driving around Venice in a coach and four. Really? In Venice? Uh, no. I read a romance set in New Mexico where the hero ate a dinner of typically New Mexican food: red and green chili. That’s not a meal. Red and Green CHILE are condiments. Even expertise in an area doesn’t make you immune to criticism. I have a friend who has owned or ridden horses her entire life. She participated in equestrian events as a child and still has horses today. She entered a contest with a manuscript that has horses in it. The judge dinged her on her horse information, then wrote that she had been around horses her whole life and if my friend needed help with horse stuff she could contact the judge.

I haven’t written one…yet…but I would wager that elements of sci fi stories need research.

The danger of doing too much cool research is using way more than you need in your story. Most people don’t read romances to learn about a topic (although you certainly can learn from romance novels). In using what I learned about weaving, I didn’t think I had to go into all the parts of the loom. I needed to know about it so I could write comfortably, but my goal isn’t to educate the reader. My goal was to be knowledgeable enough about the subject not to make mistakes when I wrote about weaving. I don’t want to receive letters that tell me my heroine couldn’t do that (Of course my heroine knows magic, so who’s to say she couldn’t weave that way with her powers-heeheehee).

So where do you begin? Wherever you wish. There is no right way to research. There are sources available everywhere, and all kinds of sources available. If you want a short list of sources you may not have thought of, visit my web site and click on the “For Writers” page. There you will find an article on Historical Research, but many of the items apply to all kinds of research.

So plunge into the research and don’t be afraid that you’ll do something wrong. Knowledge is good, and knowing more is better. And who knows, maybe you will teach yourself and readers about whole new worlds. How can that be scary?

--Gabi

Books I’m reading now:
My RITA novels, and I’m not telling you what they are—confidentiality must be maintained (For you non-RWA readers, the RITA is the award given for the best romance novels of the year.)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Rebuilding

I know I said I would write about research this time, but sometimes life has other plans for us.

I just built a new web site. Building something new is an interesting idea right now. Two night ago, my mother's condo was destroyed in a fire (read: she left the building with nothing but what she was wearing. No shoes). Don't worry; she has insurance, and everything will be replaced. My mother doesn't care a lot about "stuff".This is the third time in her life my mother has lost everything: first time was when she left Hungary with nothing but the clothes on her back and my father; second was when my father died and within the space of a year she was robbed and then her house was seriously damaged in an earthquake; and now this.

But all the photos, mementos, and tangible memories are gone. We'll be able to replace some things, but the beret my father wore (they all wore berets in Eastern Europe then) when they left Hungary is gone, as is my baby book and the old family photos. But they aren't important. She is safe and unhurt. And we will rebuild.

That it happened in the same week as the Haiti earthquake puts many things into perspective. But they will also rebuild. With help and money and other aid, but I have no doubt they will rebuild. That's what we humans do. These trying times bring out the best and worst of human behavior.

I choose to focus on the best.

And rebuild.
--Gabi Stevens

Books I'm reading now:
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Born of Night by Sherilyn Kenyon
Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain