Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Nostalgic Stop on the Christmas Ride

Thinking about Christmas Carols for this Christmas Ride contest made me think about my own childhood Christmases. But when I think of childhood Christmas memories, I have to admit, I don't just think of carols. I think of classic Christmas TV shows. Maybe it's because I was sick a lot as a child, so I spent an inordinate amount of time in bed or on the sofa. But I think those Christmas specials were big events back in The Old Days, even for kids who weren't confined to bed as frequently as I was. I try to explain this to my son.

"You didn't get to watch a show over and over," I say. I tell him there were no VCRs or TiVo.

My son tears himself away from his iPod while watching a Netflix DVD on the big screen TV. His jaw drops in astonished horror. He is rendered speechless by this news. He almost passes out when he learns that we only had five channels and NO remote control when I was a kid. 

By God, son, if you wanted to change that channel, you had to walk across the room to do it, I tell him! And channel surfing just didn't exist. You watched a show from the beginning to the end. Because, especially with Christmas shows, you wouldn't get to watch it again an hour later on the replay. It was gone, gone for an entire year. Maybe even gone forever. I think the idea of anything being gone forever is incomprehensible in the Age of YouTube, when we can digitize every second of our lives and then upload it to the fabulous InterWeb for all eternity.

A Charlie Brown Christmas or Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer came but once a year," I explain to him. "And then they were gone, buddy." He shakes his head in disgust at the primitive conditions in which I lived.

Every holiday season, after Thanksgiving, I would begin anxiously consulting the family Bible (also known as
TV Guide) for an indication of when or whether my favorite holiday specials would air. There were so many to watch, and so little time! How the Grinch Stole ChristmasThe Little Drummer Boy, Santa Claus is Coming to Town and A Charlie Brown Christmas. My favorite, though, had to be Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Because it was the touching tale of a misfit who finds his place in life, you ask? 

Hell, no. Because that Abominable Snowman scared the crap out of me. I have always loved a good horror story, even as a child. And to me, that's what Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was - a horror story. Every time I saw that Bumble roar, I screamed and threw my head under the blankets. But every year, I came back for more. Because even then, I guess I was intrigued by the secret of telling a good story. 

Near as I can figure, the secret turns out to be this: Create a character your reader (or viewer) cares about (Rudolph or the Little Drummer Boy). Do a lot of really, awful, terrible, mean things to him so the reader feels his pain. And then hey, presto - give him a happy ending!!! That's all anyone really wants from a story. Just like in real life.

Hey, I almost forgot! Here's that Christmas carol clue:

I don't know if there'll be snow, but have a cup of cheer. . .

Got it? Hint: There's a big clue about this Christmas carol in my blog post today.

If you know the name of this carol, post it here in the comments section of my blog. If you post your guess here or sign up for my newsletter, I'll enter you in a drawing to win a $10 gift certificate for or iTunes, your choice. Post your comment or sign up for my new newsletter by next Friday, December 5th.

And don't forget to add this Christmas carol to your list of carols for the Christmas Ride Grand Prize. Remember, we're giving one lucky person a $75 Wild Rose Press gift certificate! All you need to do to enter is attend each day's blog post, identify the carol, and make a complete carol list to submit after the final blog post of Christmas Eve. Don't forget to check the list twice! Send it to by midnight, CST Dec. 31st 2008!

For tomorrow's Christmas carol clue, visit
The Wild Rose Press blog. Just in case that link doesn't work, here's the URL:

And if you missed the previous clue, visit Patsy Parker's 

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Prizes, Prizes, Prizes!!!

I've gotten together with a bunch of other Wild Rose Press authors who are filled with Christmas spirit. Each day between Thanksgiving and Christmas, one of us will post a clue to a popular Christmas Carol. Collect all the clues and identify all the carols. Then submit your list of carols to by midnight, CST on Dec. 31st 2008. What will you win? One lucky person gets the Grand Prize of a $75 Wild Rose Press gift certificate!

The ride starts today with Patsy Parker's blog. Just in case that link doesn't work, here's her URL:

And if you post your guess for tomorrow's song on my blog, or sign up for my new newsletter, I'll enter you in my own drawing to win your choice of a $10 gift certificate or an iTunes gift certificate in the same amount.

See you tomorrow!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Ten Things I'm Thankful For

10) I am thankful that the President-Elect has come out forcefully against the Droopy Drawers Syndrome afflicting the nation's young male populace. ("Some people might not want to see your underwear - I'm one of them.") Since the President-To-Be appears to be something of an arbiter of cool as far as my son is concerned, this now means that we spent yesterday morning in a panic-stricken tizzy because the line of our boxers was the teensiest bit visible above the waistband of our jeans. This was formerly a non-issue for the Tazmanian Devil Boy and was only of concern to the backward creature known as Mom. Fortunately, Mom was able to save the day yesterday by suggesting Taz pair his slightly baggy pants with an insouciant yet stylishly untucked shirt and sweater combo. Problem solved.For both of us. Thank you, Mr. President.

9) Again on the subject of underwear, I am thankful that no celebrities have felt compelled to have their bare private parts photographed by the paparazzi in several months.

8) I am thankful that tomorrow I get to eat as much pie as I want. Thanksgiving is all about the pie for me. In fact, life is all about pie for me. I love pie. Maybe one day I will write an entire blog about pie.

7) I am thankful that teen girls are now channeling their libidinous urges toward Robert Pattinson as opposed to The Jonas Brothers. Smoldering vampire lover with bedroom eyes or Disneyfied pop stars? I know which one I would have chosen in my teens. Well, and if he were a bit older and I were single, I'd probably still choose him!

6) I am thankful that Thirty-Nine Again has finally reached the galleys stage - the last step before actual publication.

5) Boy, am I thankful the presidential campaign is at last over, at least for a little while. Let us hope the media allows the various elected officials to get on with governing and doesn't feel compelled to start interviewing people about who would be a viable presidential candidate in 2012. I swear, we need time limits on political campaigning, like they have in some European countries. But that, too, is a blog for another day.

4) I'm thankful for surviving a very weird and stressful year full of extreme highs and extreme lows. In one year, my mom passed away, I had two car wrecks, I signed a contract for the publication of my first book, and I received a request for the manuscript of my second book from a major publisher. Talk about a roller coaster year.

3) I'm thankful for all the wonderful, encouraging fellow writers I've met in person at conferences like NJRW's, local chapters meetings for the Maryland and DC romance writers,  and at various writers' groups online - especially Elements of RWA. You've all really helped me keep writing and keep my spirits up!

2) I'm thankful the Tasmanian Devil Boy appears to be adjusting well to his new school and finding his niche in the theatre program and swim team there.

1) And the number one thing I'm thankful for is my family: Chris, who isn't really a Tasmanian Devil Boy at all, and Matt, my hubby, who is the best friend a girl could have and also pretty darned sexy when he wants to be. Corny but true.
Happy Thanksgiving birthday, sweetie!

Check back here on Sunday for a chance to win a couple of great prizes as I take my turn in a special multi-author "Christmas Ride" blog!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Lazy Blog Post

Well, already I am getting behind on the whole blogging thing. Silly me, writing, proofing galleys, caring for family and inching down the rural road to my home on an unexpectedly treacherously icy road - have all prevented me from finding time to blog this weekend. Not to worry, though. I decided to take advantage of one of my favorite websites: The Lazy Blogger's Automatic Post Generator. This is a truly demented and absolutely hilarious page at the Aussie Bloggers website that will generate a blog post for those of us too busy or too bored with the whole blogging thing to exert any mental effort on the project. Here's the delightful post those clever Aussies generated for me:
Holy Blog Of Doom, Batman! I just climbed out from under my rock and realised I have not updated this blog since "Hammertime" was in the charts. . . You would not believe that I couldn't blog because my hands were chopped off and I was waiting for bionic ones. I prostrate myself in sorrow and beg thy forgiveness.

I am absolutely consumed with an awfully big adventure, a ticking crocodile, and just generally being the life of the party to every Lost Boy that crosses my path. My day is filled with fluorescent light from the second I am woken by murderous Teletubbies to way past dusk. I am so tired of my kid wanting me to give him attention and stuff. Can't he see I am blogging?

I swear on the bones of my ancestors I will make more of an effort to blog more frequently, at least until the nice men in the white coats come back. Honestly! Don't hold your breath though, you're likely to turn blue. . .

So there you have it! My automated blog post. To create your own automated post, go here.

Next week, I'll be back with a real post all about the holiday season. OMG! You mean it's really that time again already?! Eek. I wonder if I can find a Lazy Shoppers Website that will automatically pick gifts, wrap and send them for me? Oh, wait. I guess that's Amazon. Off to get head start on the online shopping, folks.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Blog About Choices

Colleen Gleason begins her novel, The Rest Falls Away, with a quote from Muriel Rukeyser: "I think there is a choice possible to us at any moment, as long as we live. But there is no sacrifice. There is a choice, and the rest falls away."

Now, I have no idea to what the late great Ms. Rukeyser was referring, but I suspect it was something a bit more mundane than the choice between marrying a marquess or becoming a first-class vampire slayer, the choice Victoria Grantworth faces in Colleen Gleason's story. When I first read the quote, I rebelled against it. Of course a person would be aware of her choices in life and would be horribly torn by the sacrifice required to pursue some goal. But then I looked out my window and I noticed the state of my garden.

Just what does my garden have to do with making choices? If you saw it, believe me, you would know.

I used to be a pretty avid gardener, and while I admit to still pining for the garden at my old house, that doesn't entirely account for why the garden in my current yard looks like it's tended by a psychotic horticulturist with a black thumb. No, the garden is a weedy, seedy mess because it's one of those things that fell away this past year.

This has been a busy year of transition for me. For a while, I was spending a great deal of time caring for my aging mother. I also wrote for a local newspaper while pursuing fiction writing "on the side." This spring, Mom passed away and the newspaper folded, all in the same month. I decided I would devote myself full-time to writing fiction. Now I have one book in the final stages of editing, another under consideration by an editor at Harlequin - and a garden full of weeds and dead things. I know it's common for gardens to be full of dead things in the fall, but mine never used to be. I always loved planting fall-blooming flowers and bulbs, but I haven't done any of that for ages. I'm not even sure when I stopped gardening. It just fell off my list of things to do. At some point, a choice was possible. I never consciously said, "Well, the garden is the thing that's going to go." It just fell away.

What about you? Have you given up one love to pursue another? And were you conscious of the choice when you made it? Or did you just wake up one morning and realize your garden was full of weeds?

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Blog About Blogging

So I just came back from a romance writers' conference in New Jersey, and every freakin' workshop leader was going on and on about the importance of blogging. Really? Frankly, I'm still skeptical as to whether blogging sells books. I haven't seen one single statistical analysis linking blogging and book sales. So far, all the evidence is entirely anecdotal. But the pressure is there now, and of course, you don't want to NOT do it and make future editors or agents think you lack sufficient drive and ambition to get your name out there.

Plus, there's the real secret reason why so many people are blogging. We love to hear ourselves think. But in fact, that's my main objection to blogging. I worry that the current Blog-Mania is creating a Tower of Babel - the whole planet is talking, but no one is really listening. However, my own ego is pretty super-sized, so I'll be happy to share my opinions and experiences with anyone who lands on this little corner of the Blogosphere. And believe me, I have LOTS of opinions.

But what about you? What do you think of blogging? Is it a zippy new inexpensive promotional tool? Is it the 21st century equivalent of the Salon - a marvelous new high-tech way to bring together people of diverse views and exchange ideas? Is it the Tower of Babel? OR is it just a positively fabulous way to avoid writing the next chapter of that novel - or that financial report, business presentation, or other odious work-related task??? Aha. Now I think I might be onto something!

And now I think I'll get on to writing that odious next chapter. I'll try to update this blog weekly, and I might even get really carried away and start doing some contests and inviting guest bloggers to join me. Ann, I'm looking at you. . .