Deadline Diaries

Five Romance writers tell all.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Got Milk????


Posted by Christine

Well, and he is wet, right?

Plus, there's the whole building strong bones and teeth aspect. Daily calcium. So important...

Friday, September 29, 2006

TV and Me



Sometimes I feel like a traitor to my generation. I used to live for the issue of the TV Guide that was the fall season preview. In it, I’d circle the new cartoons I just had to watch and schedule my Saturday mornings including them as well as old favorites I couldn’t miss. My parents weren’t concerned that I watched too much TV, probably because I spent so much time with my nose buried in a book. I didn’t have as many scheduled activities as my kids seem to have now, and definitely less homework. So while I was a voracious reader, I still put in plenty of tube time.

In college, I caught a soaps virus passed on by my sorority sisters, so while my evenings weren’t spend so much around TV, afternoons were for One Live To Live and General Hospital. Regis got me through some pretty boring baby-centric mornings, and I can sing almost all the Sesame Street Songs.

Then my kids went to school. And a funny thing happened. My older son’s grades in English and Social Studies appeared to be slipping, so we cut off TV. This went on for about five weeks, until we realized that the teacher had mistyped the student ID numbers into her computer grading system and that my son (near the top of the class) was mixed up with someone else (who was near the bottom of the class). But once the mix-up was detected…we didn’t turn the TV back on.

We’re a bit more relaxed now, but never returned to our prime time TV habit. So I’ve never watched a Survivor episode or Amazing Race and I caught only pieces of last season’s American Idol. I do watch some shows that come later on, after my younger one goes to bed, but I confess…we get up early around here and it’s hard for me to stay awake through a show that starts at 10:00 (and even 9:00!).

And heck, there’s always a fascinating Law & Order on somewhere in the cable channels, or a subject that catches my interest on the History Channel. Yet I know there are good things I’m missing. I watched House last season, but haven’t turned it on yet this fall. My friend can’t believe I’m not hooked on Project Runway.

What can I say? I have been reading a lot. And maybe there’s another time in my life for being up on prime time like I used to be. But I am watching Studio 60. It’s on late, and I forgot about the second episode until it was almost over…but as Susan pointed out, technology is a beautiful thing. I watched it on my computer the next day at nbc.com! The writing is fabulous—with great dialogue and plenty of conflict. So, there’s hope that I might add one new, not-in-reruns show to my television repertoire. Because I think I’m going to love this series

What about you? What are you watching and is there something I should try not miss?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Have you seen the latest....

Posted by Susan

I happen to love technology. I’m not always good at it, but I love it. So many things are easier now. My phone actually tells me who is calling. In theory, I can listen to the electronic voice mangling names and then either pick up or not, depending on the caller. In truth, if I’m working, I lunge for the phone, grateful for any interruption, but the option is there.

I went to the post office yesterday to mail a package. Rather than face an incredibly long line and wait, I was able to use a machine to weigh my package and print out postage in about a minute. At the grocery store I adore the self serve check out stations. I don’t use them often, but if it’s early and I’m not feeling social, or I’m afraid a close up look at my morning face could frighten someone, I’ll zip through them and escape without having to speak a word!

I love my ipod nano. Music inspires my writing. I have an impressive CD collection, but I really only like one or two songs from each CD. An afternoon with the stack of CDs, the nano and my computer transferred all favorite songs onto a device about the size of a credit card. I can listen whenever!! I also download books onto my nano, so when Nikki, possibly the world’s cutest dog, and I walk, I listen to books.

I love that I can find out anything on the Internet. I can look up the closest Hallmark store and even get a map. I love shopping on line. It’s fun, it’s fast, it’s darned easy. QVC is a personal favorite.

I know this is really bad, but I love computer games. They’re darkly evil inventions that suck time from my day, but I love them.

I desperately want a Palm Pilot. I can’t really justify getting one. I work at home—I don’t really have a lot of meetings. Even if I call one, there’s usually only me and the dog attending. The cats aren’t into meetings. But Palm Pilots are so cool. I’m also lusting after a Blackberry. Again, I have no earthly use for it and have managed to resist.

I know there are down sides to technology and that change is challenging sometimes, but I think the good outweighs the bad.

So do you love technology?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Happily Ever After


posted by Maureen

That’s what it’s all about, right? It’s why we write what we write. Read what we read. It always comes down to the Happily Ever After.

Well, a year ago, I watched Happily Ever After up close and personal. This is a picture of my daughter and her husband at their wedding last summer. Gorgeous, yes?

For eight months before that picture though, there were a zillion or so tiny details to see to. Sarah and I did most of it and if I’m going to be honest, she did most of that. The girl is so organized, it’s inspiring to watch—and a little baffling to me. Actually, she’s organized enough that she probably should have been Susan’s daughter. (But I’m not giving her up!)

Sarah had lists and master lists of all her lists. My main function was to sign checks, on which I became quite the expert! We hunted up and down the coast of Orange and LA counties to find the perfect setting for the wedding and ended up in Laguna Beach. Of course, there were a couple of hitches—one being that they changed caterers on us halfway through the planning. And then one happy day, we showed up to take another look at the site a month after heavy rains—only to discover that we’d lost about six feet of reception space to a landslide!

But in the end, when all was said and done, the lists, the worries, the complications and the last minute emergencies all boiled in together to make for a truly fabulous party!

It was a celebration of all the things I love to write about. Hope and love and plans for the future. And being in on the ground floor of a Happily Ever After is a memory I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Me and the Boys

Posted by Christine

Let me tell you how it is with me. I live, alone, in a world of men.

Not a lot of men. There’s my husband, Hunky Mensa Man and our younger son, the J. There used to be our older son, Matt, as well. But as sons will do, Matt grew up and got married and now lives happily in Oregon with his bride, Jenny.

Even the cats, Tom and Ed, are male—well, yes, there was that little snip-snip thing that went on back when they were only kittens. But they’re still guys in their hearts and in their guy-cat perspectives. Trust me on that.

When you live in a world of men, there are certain…issues you’re likely to face. It’s all workable. One learns to survive—even thrive. I have. But there are certain challenges, certain battles you will always be fighting, certain differences in approach and perspective between you and the guys that you’re probably never going to totally get past.

Take the whole grooming issue. Trying to get pretty is…just not pretty, folks. When you live with a houseful of males—at least, my houseful of males—they can’t understand why you need to take so long in the bathroom primping and painting before you’ll leave the house. They tell you things like how beautiful you look without makeup. They even think they believe it. Hah. Well, okay, maybe the cats don’t care how I look. Maybe…

And then, well, what about my chick flicks, huh? I have a definite dearth of chick flicks in my life. I mean, there’s only so much time around here for movie-watching. And there must be compromise. Lucky thing I like Quentin Tarantino and Oliver Stone movies almost as much as I yearn to watch Stepmom and Failure to Launch. Now, I have noticed that certain chick flicks can be slid by even Hunky Mensa Man. If they’re really smart and funny. Anything Nora Ephron wrote, for instance. If Nora Ephron wrote it, we sometimes even watch it twice. But forget Hugh Grant movies. If it’s got Hugh Grant in it, HMM becomes very impatient. And he’s sworn to me that he will not watch another remake of Pride and Prejudice. I nod and promise, “Never again, honey. Never.” Mwahaha.

Am I complaining too much? Oh, probably. I must admit there’s something about the whole upper body strength thing men have that comes in trés handy at times. As well as a certain…fearlessness. HMM and the J are never so happy as when you give them a sledgehammer and tell them it’s time to bust through a wall. They do enjoy their power tools, as well. And they know how to use them. HMM is amazing at home improvement. He can bust that wall, install new sheetrock, texture it and then paint it—without taping it off first. We have some brickwork issues on the front of our house. He’s dealing with that himself, smiling all the while. “Hmm. Never done masonry before. This could interesting…”

I think I’ll stop now—not that I couldn’t go on for another ten pages. Overall, I do love my guys. They’re the best.

Got a good guy story? And I am so not discriminating here. A good gal story will do just as well.

Monday, September 25, 2006

American Title III Contest -- Breaking News!!

Posted by Kate
I’m popping champagne and blowing my own horn because...my sexy contemporary romance, THE KAMA SUTRA CHRONICLES, is a finalist in the American Title III Contest!!!!

Woohoo!!! Champagne for everyone!! And we've got cake and ice cream and—wait...is that Godiva chocolate I see? Pass that around!!!

So here’s the scoop! The American Title contest is put on by Romantic Times magazine and Dorchester Publishing, and it's run in a similar style to the TV show, American Idol, with judges commenting and people voting and contestants being eliminated each month.

For the next five months, Romantic Times will post on their website a different portion of the finalists’ books, such as the first line, a page of dialogue, a short synopsis, a love scene, etc. You go to the website, read the entries, and then you vote for your favorite. **cough—ME!! –cough**

Each month, two finalists will be eliminated until there’s one winner. The winner will be announced in April at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention and will be awarded a publishing contract with Dorchester!

This is the third year they've run the contest. The first year's winner was Janice Lynn with her contemporary romance, JANE MILLIONAIRE, and last year's winner was Gerri Russell with her historical romance, THE WARRIOR TRAINER.

This contest is intense and exciting and lots of fun. It all starts next month. I’ll be posting updates and schedules and reminders to vote on my personal Kate Carlisle blog, so come by and check out what’s happening!

Meanwhile…could somebody please pass the chocolate?? I’m gonna need it!

Cheers!!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

It's Sunday and another interesting site!


A friend of mine is one of the comedy writer-contributors to a site called www.topfive.com. Since 1994, they have daily posted Top Ten-like lists. Each day they send out the topic to a group of writers and the writers e-mail back with their best lines. Then the moderator picks from them for that day's list.

My friend drew my attention to the site this week when I heard about their list, "The Top 5 Wreath Inscriptions at Steve Irwin's Funeral." I'd like to think that Steve would get a kick out of their selections. This is my favorite:

"You will be remembered." --The Elephant Guild.

My family and I loved Steve and watched the Crocodile Hunter together many, many times. So we join with the Elephant Guild and pledge to keep him in our memories.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

What would Saturday be without...



Posted by Christine

---a really wet guy for Maureen.
And the rest of us, too...

Friday, September 22, 2006

On Letting Go and Lip Gloss


I’m learning to let go. There are just some things in life we have no control over and after years of banging my head on walls (cue the Head-On medicine commercial that annoyingly chimes, “apply directly where it hurts, apply directly where it hurts”) I’m a changed woman. Now I’m moving my forehead away from hard surfaces, opening my clenched fists, and releasing myself from the expectation I can “fix” or “adjust” or out-and-out change some matters.

Here’s where I’ve started:

I accept that Surfer Guy is never going to wipe down the bread board after making sandwiches. So rather than getting annoyed or upset, I am wiping it down myself. After all, he is making lunch for himself and the two boys, leaving me responsibility-free in the mornings except for ironing shirts, reading the newspaper, sipping the coffee that Surfer Guy made for me. So now after they all leave the house, I hum as I pick up the sponge.

I accept that son #2’s hair is his and his alone. That’s him, on the wakeboard in the photo (see—letting go!). He has beautiful, Shirley Temple-esque blond ringlets when he lets it grow. But after being mistaken for a girl one too many times (says I, he claims it’s too hard to surf, play basketball, skateboard, etc. with the long locks) he now regularly gets out the clippers and has Surfer Guy go to town.

I accept that I’m never going to lose my lust for potato chips, that I’m never going to rather go running than stay home reading, and that when I look at fashion magazines I will always believe that a new brand of mascara or that lip-plumping gloss will take off ten pounds, ten years, and add six inches to my height.

Now it’s your turn to play! Is there something in your life that you’ve learned to accept?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

My (new) hometown


Posted by Susan

As I’ve mentioned previously, we recently moved to Seattle. Now I’ve been coming for visits for nearly ten years, but I’ve never actually lived here. Permanently. Because that’s the new plan. To stay here until someone has to sweep our dried-up, dusty bones out of the house because we’re not moving again. Ever.

In theory.

While I’ve lived a lot of places, I’ve never had to look at one as somewhere I’ll be forever. At least my version of forever. It kinda changes things.

I grew up in Los Angeles. In “the valley” where, like, yes, we did talk differently, but what’s the big diff? Seattle is nothing like the valley. For one thing, there are trees. Lots and lots and lots of tall, beautiful trees. Some of which I’m allergic to, which I know gives the trees a good giggle. The streets are different here, too. Most of the city is like a grid, with the streets being given number names instead of regular names. And the address relates to the street. For example, if you’re looking for 10274 26th St NE, you’re going to find that around 26th and 102st. See, the first three numbers of the address are the cross street. Pretty darned clever, huh?

Seattle is very big on coffee. Because a Starbucks every fifty-seven feet isn’t enough, they have these coffee huts. (I’m sure they have a different and better name, but I don’t know what it is.) Anyway, any spare spot in a parking lot or turn-out on a road has a small shed-like building where they serve coffee. One of the ones between my house and the freeway (a two mile trip where I pass three coffee huts) advertises hot baristas in bikinis on Fridays.

I really like Seattle. I like that it’s casual and friendly. I like how I’m less than 45 minutes from downtown (assuming no traffic) and yet it’s as if I’m living in farm country. I like that when I take Nikki, possibly the world’s cutest dog, to her obedience training, it’s in a grange. I almost find it charming that the drivers here feel that putting on their turn signal is enough to change lanes, that actually looking is not required. I really, really like that I’m about fifteen minutes from the Chateau St. Michelle winery. I like the rain and the green. There’s not a lot of green in L.A.

Seattle works for me. I’m happy to be here and I hope they’re happy to have me.

So what's it like where you live??

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Boys and Girls and Dogs and Cats

Posted by Maureen


So, was going to whine about my latest WIP, but hey, who wants to hear that??? Instead, I thought about the pictures Chris posted on Sunday of her cats, and thought that maybe dogs should get equal billing!

This is a picture of Bristow. He belongs to my daughter Sarah and her husband, so I suppose that makes him officially, my Grand Dog. He’s a white lab and just a big sweetie. He’s only six months old and judging from the size of his paws, I’m thinking he’ll be eating Chicago by the time he’s grown.

Sarah was raised with girl dogs. So when her husband fell in love with Bristow, this was not in her plan. The plan was, they would get a Golden Retriever female. Just like our last dog Abbey—whose ghost is still seen from time to time in my house. Imagine Sarah’s surprise then, to be dealing with a boy. Not just any boy, either. A BIG boy. One who eats her hibiscus plants, gnaws through the television cable and is now halfway finished chewing through the fence to freedom!

Bristow, (named for Sarah’s favorite character on her favorite show, Alias), is big, clumsy and takes my daughter on walks every day. Rather, he drags her. So now he’s been signed up to an obedience class and I’m sure he’ll have Sarah trained in no time.

As for my daughter, she’s discovered that loving boy dogs is just as easy as loving girls.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Oh, Be-have!


Posted by Christine


I know I should. But…

Honestly. Truly. I am really, really trying to behave.

With my current work-in-progress, I mean. Hah. Had you going there for a moment, didn’t I?

Seriously, though. All professional writers know the drill. We’ve read the best books on the subject, books like Anne Lamott’s amazing, true and inspirational, Bird by Bird and Julia Cameron’s fabulous The Artist’s Way and just about anything by Natalie Goldberg

The drill is simply this: Show up. Get to the page every day, make page goals. Hit them—hmm. That sounds rather violent—well, and then, you know what? Writing, in its own way, is violent, on occasion. There’s a lot of digging that goes on, hitting the vein, watching the blood spurt and all that, going places within that sometimes aren’t pretty. Because there’s no getting around it. If you’re writing something you hope someone will put down their hard cash to read, you’ve got to deliver, baby. And all the clichés are absolutely true on this whole delivery thing. You may groan when someone tells you, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.” Groan all you freaking want. You better be crying when you write that reconciliation scene. You’d better be taking a page from Joan Wilder in Romancing the Stone, sobbing your heart out, buried in wet tissues, moaning, “God, that’s good…”

And am I carrying the whole “writing as a violent activity” a bit far? Okay, okay.

I’ll try again. Make page goals. Achieve them. Yes, much better…

And really, what was my original point?

Wait. I remember…

Funny, but behaving—in the writerly sense, as defined above—used to be easy for me. When I was starting out as a writer, I behaved as a matter of course. I didn’t have all day to write. It wasn’t my actual job or anything, so when I came to the page, it was glorious, naughty, exciting, stolen time.

And even for the first few years after I began to support myself with my writing, it was all just one big miracle to me: That I got paid for the writing, which meant I could write more, because I didn’t have to spend eight hours a day slaving away at some day job just to eat and make the rent.

But slowly, over the years, my sense of the naughtiness, the lovely, amazing stolenness of my work has…eroded? Degraded?

Whatever. Now, well, you know, it’s my job. And it’s become so tempting to find clever ways to make it naughty again.

This is the true scariness of the human mind. Well, at least my mind, which is a place only I go and everyone is happy about that. Just ask my family…

So. Clever ways to be naughty. Oh, like for instance, not showing up at the page for a few days. And then freaking out when I get there and realize no veins have been opened recently. I have to start at the beginning and build my story, my world, my characters’ reality. It’s very exciting, in a very emotionally violent way.

And, honestly, it is not a good idea. It is not the way to go.

So here I am on my current project, and I have, honestly and truly, been behaving. Not just trying. Actually behaving. I show up daily, I achieve my page goals.

And you know what? I feel…really good about that.

Though naughtiness does tempt me. And I’ve decided that’s good. I need to be naughty right there on the page. I need to always remember the miracle that is this job.

I guess I always secretly believed it would get easier. It just doesn’t.

All of which, Anne Lamott, Natalie Goldberg and Julia Cameron could have told me. And did.

How about you? What are your clever ways to be naughty and not show up for work? Come on. Whether you’re a writer or not, I know that you know ways you are naughty…

Mwahaha…

Monday, September 18, 2006

Finally Pictures!


Here's Ardverikie Castle, otherwise known as Glenbogle Castle in Monarch of the Glen.









Ensign Ewart pub, just doors down from Edinburgh Castle on the Royal Mile.












Mary King's Close, one of the popular ghost tours in Edinburgh. Not sure if you can tell, but this is a photo of an extremely narrow passageway with stairs climbing between two buildings. The lower rooms where the servants lived and worked were sealed off in the 1600's to prevent the plague from being spread to the upper floors. Unfortunately, many of the servants were still alive, thus the pesky ghost problem.

Monarch of the Pub

Posted by Kate

Twenty years ago I planned a trip to Scotland based solely on the movie Local Hero. Now I’m planning my latest trip back to Scotland because of Monarch of the Glen. Have you seen this show on BBC America? It’s a soapy drama with unlikely plots and bad chemistry between Archie MacDonald, the reluctant laird whose parents summon him back to Scotland to run Glenbogle castle, and Lexie, the cook he eventually marries in season four.

But I don’t watch the show for the plots or the characters, I watch it for the amazing scenery and the fantastic castle, both of which are stunning and dramatic and totally worth the (gulp) $60.00 price for the latest season on DVD.

Glenbogle is actually Ardverikie Castle and it overlooks Loch Laggan, about 60 miles south of Inverness. I'd love to stay in the castle gatehouse, although it’s booked up far in advance. But there are other houses on the land and—my favorite part—you can arrange for a cook to provide meals! That whole self-catering thing doesn’t really appeal to me or my husband. In fact, he’d just as soon spend the evening in the local pub.

Which brings me to part two of my planning. Pubs. That’s our deal. If I plan a tour of a local museum or castle, I'm required to find the closest pub for the husband to hang out in. As a former bartender and connoisseur of all things alcoholic, he’s perfectly content to while away half the day, drinking beer and getting to know the locals. It's his own way of soaking up the history of a place (that's his story, anyway). His favorite pub is the Ensign Ewart in Edinburgh, just steps away from the Castle.

Now if you look up the Ensign Ewart on any pub list or travel guide, you’ll find it gets extremely low marks for service. The reason is simple. They don’t cater to tourists. In fact, they hate tourists. They cater to drinkers. They love drinkers. If you’re there to enjoy the beer and the great music, you’re more than welcome. But if you’re looking for charming atmosphere and a welcoming smile, buzz off. As one reviewer noted, they even lock the loo to “halt the influx of incontinent and flabby tourists” traipsing down from the Castle.

However, if you prove yourself a regular type, the folks at the Ensign Ewart might invite you to explore the original pub, located under the present establishment. At closing time the first night we were there, the owner insisted we stay and have another drink as he ushered everyone else out the door. Then he had us step behind the bar where he lifted the floor plank and took us down the steep, narrow stairway into another world.

This original pub may have been operating as far back as 1590. The space is dark and just a bit spooky, and if you stand upright you’ll likely smack your head on the low ceiling beams. He led us toward a thick wooden door and allowed us to heave it open to reveal the original close that ran along the back of the pub.

If you make it this far on your private tour, you might see the resident ghost. I did. She wore a pale nightgown and was running away from us down the narrow passage. I couldn’t really blame her. After all, the loo was locked up for the night.

I love to hear travel stories! What are some of your favorite places in the world? Have you ever slept in a castle? Have you seen any ghosts?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Cool site!


Last weekend my newspaper had an article about the very cool music genome project. You can read all about it at www.pandora.com.

But what is really fun about the site is that you can type in an artist or song name and they will create for you a musical playlist that corresponds to what you like about that song or artist. You can do it any number of times to create "stations" that you can listen to and you can also give feedback as songs are played on your station. Say you dislike a particular song they've chosen, you can give it a thumb's down and your station won't play it again.

Give it a try! After a bit it will ask you to register, but it's free. It's really fun and is a great way to be introduced to artists you might not find on your own.

Have fun, and happy Sunday! I'm doing loads of laundry and trying to talk myself into going to the gym.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Saturday Hunks!


Posted by Christine


Big ol' hunks of...

my cats, Ed and Tom.
Ed's the tall guy. Tom's the chunk.




They're smart and elegant...








and so laid back.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Free to Be You and (Wimpy) Me


I met Surfer Guy (a.k.a my husband) in college in Santa Barbara. You remember, those years when you say yes to new experiences on the way to forging your own identity? So, Surfer Guy was into all sorts of things that were new to me and I said yes to a lot of them because a) I was seeking that identity, b) I thought he was cute and c) he called me “Princess.”

One time we went camping with no more equipment than a tent and two sleeping bags. I ended up with a terrible case of poison oak that began on my behind, because when I said “with no more equipment” that included the lack of a flashlight. And even when it’s after sunset a girl has to do what a girl has to do!

Surfer Guy and his roommates took me along water-skiing in autumn and we had to break ice off the boat cover before heading out onto the lake. All the boys had wetsuits and they let me borrow one from the smallest of the group. He was 6’1” and 180 pounds. I wasn’t. Somewhere there’s a photo of me with my arms sticking out like matchsticks from the half-sleeves. Oh, and I never got up, by the way, which means I bobbed around like an ice cube until someone said, “Hey, is that blue lipstick she’s wearing?”

I had been on snow skis one other time in my life when I again said yes to Surfer Guy. On our first run he took me to a slope rated “Medium.” A quarter of the way down, I dislocated my kneecap and made the rest of the run on my back in the Ski Patrol’s stretcher.

So yesterday, I was at the gym (where I tend to keep my athletic endeavors these days, for obvious reasons) when my work-out buddy mentioned she was buying a pair of roller skates and was going to start skating again. She gave me that hopeful, oh-we-could-do-this-together look. I harked back to my last time on skates. In San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park with Surfer Dude. The long, steep hill. The way he started down, slaloming back and forth, calling over his shoulder, “C’mon, it’s just like skiing!” (Obviously having forgotten how our skiing adventure turned out.)

You can guess how it ended.

You can guess why I didn’t say “yes” to my friend who is eager for a roller-skating partner. Instead I just smiled, the smile of the whole and unbloodied. “You have fun with that,” I said.

‘Fess up now! What have you tried for the sake of love, honor, pride (or a guy who calls you “Princess”) that you’d never do again?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

I honestly love you...

Posted by Susan

I am, I confess, hopelessly addicted to office supplies. I’m not the only person who has this obsession—I think it’s a writer thing.

I love places like Office Depot and Staples. I love that my Staples reward card means I get free shipping so I can order office supplies whenever I want and then they just show up at my door. I love sticky notes (We have to call them sticky notes, now. Apparently the people at 3M are getting very fussy about keeping their trademarked for p*st-its. It’s like v*lcro, that now is “hook and loop closures.” What is up with that? Are we fooled? I think not.) Anyway…back to my passion.

I love it when the school supplies start showing up in stores. Not only will I finally have the mall to myself on my early morning shopping trips, but there’s something wonderful about all those folders and pencils and paper. There is promise in office supplies. The promise of control.

I believe that with the right boxes and binders and tabs and sticky notes, I can organize everything. And if I can organize my life, then I am in control. I am the queen of my destiny, the captain of my ship, the ruler of my universe. Oooooh, rulers. I love rulers.

I recently bought a new shredder. It’s fabulous. Seriously, it cuts the paper in two directions. It’s fast, it sounds like it really means business. Best of all, it does CDs and credit cards. I’ve already shredded an entire manuscript—the first book I ever wrote. So dreadful. No one could ever read it—seriously, it was awful. But the thought of shredding it seemed daunting. Until now. It was so much fun! I’m searching the house for other things to shred. My husband is threatening to lock his office door so I can’t get in and have my way with his files!

But as in most of life, with great joy comes great sorrow. And so it is with office supplies. I had to buy a new stapler. It’s a heavy duty one that takes heavy duty staples. It will staple up to 20 pages and is guaranteed never to jam or miss or do anything wrong in the stapler kingdom.

Sounds good, you say. Where’s the problem? Well, although my regular stapler stopped working weeks ago and had been fussy months before that, it had one fabulous thing going for it. Pink staples! Yes, bright pink. I have yet to find heavy duty staples in any color at all. Plus the new stapler seems a little too serious for my office where sticky notes rule, my dog sleeps on a bright pink dog sofa and my cat sleeps in a bed of black toile. Maybe it’s just me but the stapler seems disapproving.

Still, I will accept it and hope that in time my midnight internet surfing brings me to a place where heavy duty staples (S.F. 4 premium staples from Swingline, to be specific) comes in purple or blue or red. Because color is our friend and office supplies are just so darned cool.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Tiaras and Mooses-Meece? Moosi?


posted by Maureen


Okay, since I didn’t get my shot at the tiara discussion, I’m taking us back! So, to explain the photo on the left...It’s one tiny corner of my incredibly cluttered and hey, dusty, desk. I write on a laptop, so my desk is more or less where I store everything.

Here, you see my tiara, given to me by some faboo writers at the Orange County Chapter of RWA, at a celebration of my cough-cough-birthday. A great time was had by all, and now we all wear our tiaras when honoring the next cough-cough birthday among us. And there, under my sparkling tiara...my dad’s moose. Yes, that's right. This blog is more about where I keep my tiara than the tiara itself.

My dad was never a big joiner. He didn’t like belonging to clubs or groups—(which is probably where I got it!) But as a retired cop turned real estate agent, he finally did join a local group called The Loyal Order of Moose, to make connections in the city where he and my mom had moved. Well, naturally, as soon as I found out about the Loyal Order of Moose, I laughed myself silly. My dad, a man with an amazing sense of humor, laughed along with me and put up with a lot of teasing. (Let it be known, I mean no slurs to the Loyal Order of Moose—this is about my dad, not the order).

Anyway...my husband and I took the kids to Disneyland not long after dad joined the ‘Order’ and while we were waiting in one of the endless lines...I spotted the little guy in the photo. Naturally, I HAD to have him! Bought Mr. Moose, toted him out to my dad, who immediately put it on and posed for photos. We even came up with a ‘moose call’ that we’d shout at each other for months after that.

My dad’s been gone four years now and I still miss him. But I keep Mr. Moose in my office, up on my desk, so I can look up at him and smile, remembering just how great my father was. And just how lucky I was to have him in my life.

And the tiara??? Well, I had to put it somewhere, didn’t I? Besides, I think daddy would be pleased to know that his moose now wears a crown. As is only right...

Now, I promise, no more talk of tiaras from me! Next week, I’ll be back to complaining about my current WIP or whining about a cover or...you get the idea

Naked Jungle Pictures!


Posted by Christine


Well, I couldn't get them to appear in the original post, but here they are in all their technicolor glory.

Now, how did you live without seeing these? Especially the French one. Totally...flaming.








When is a woman like a piano?

Posted by Christine

Why, when she’s Eleanor Parker in a movie aptly titled The Naked Jungle, that's when.

Okay, about that title. Naked Jungle? Huh? Suffice to say it is—naked—by the end. You’ll have to rent it and watch it to find out how that happens. Susan, don’t you tell them.

Yes, it’s true. Susan loves this movie as much as I do. And that’s a lot.

Where was I? Oh, yeah…

Nobody else—aside from the jungle, I mean—gets naked in this movie. Not Charlton Heston, who was quite the heartthrob back in the day. And certainly not Eleanor Parker. Though she does wear some really cool negligees—clingy and white, with lots of ruffles. Oh, and Charlton goes shirtless now and then, as I recall. He looked really good shirtless, too, if I might say…

I’ve read a number of reviews on this movie and they all remark on how it’s a solid adventure story cloaked in a “rather ordinary” romance.

Oh, those reviewers. They so don’t get it. What this movie’s got and got in abundance, is tension. Heat. Passion. Heston seethes. Parker…palpitates. It’s delicious. Yeah, okay. It’s perhaps a little over the top when judged by picky contemporary sensibilities.

But you know what? Let’s hear it for over-the-top.

Simply put, this is a mail-order bride story. Christopher Leiningen (Heston) has carved a paradise out of the wild, untamable jungle and everything he has in his own personal paradise is brand-new. His piano. His mansion/fortress and all the cool stuff inside.

Christopher, who came to the jungle at 19, is now 34 and has zero knowledge of women (Read: virgin hero, oh yes!) wants a wife. Enter Joanna, his mail-order bride. She’s supposed to be as “new” as all his other possessions. ...

(Spoiler alert. If you do plan to rent this and you don't want to know the plot ahead of time, skip down to the questions in bold at the end.)

For the rest of you, what no one has told Christopher is that Joanna’s a widow (Read: not “new,” but “used.”)

Of course, he’s going to send her back. Even though it’s obvious from the first moment he sees her that this guy is a goner and one way or another, these two will end up together.

Enter that vaunted adventure element. Marabunta--a two-mile-wide, twenty-mile-long devour-everything-in-its-path column of army ants--is on the march. Headed straight for Christopher's plantation. Oops. Joanna can't leave. Instead, she gets to prove why she’s exactly the woman Christopher needs. She does a great job of it, too.

And how is a woman like a piano? As Joanna explains to Christopher, both are better when they’ve been…played.

My fave line from this movie comes near the end, when Joanna’s right there beside him as the ants are at the gates. He turns to all the terrified locals and exhorts them to “Be brave. Like Leiningen’s woman…”

(and yes, there will be pictures...later in the day, if we're lucky...)


So then. Old movies. What are your favorites? And what are your favorite lines from old movies?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning?

Posted by Kathleen

I had a whole rant prepared about my family vacation and blogging with strangers at Starbucks and the high price of an internet connection in paradise, but it’s September 11 and I just don’t have it in me to be funny today. And while I would swear I’m not maudlin, I nevertheless do have a tendency to get weepy and sentimental and sad at odd times and that’s how I’m feeling today, despite the wild and crazy family madness going on around me and the fact that it’s a beautiful, sunny day in Southern California and I’m on vacation, a vacation I really needed and am enjoying immensely.

But here it is, September 11, and five years later I still remember waking up and hearing the news, turning on the television and staring in disbelief as that huge plane crashed into the second tower. Just typing that sentence makes me shake. I remember calling my office to say I wasn’t coming in and being told that they’d closed my building and no one would be working that day because my office is in the twin towers in Century City and they feared an attack. I was three thousand miles away from New York City but I was terrified. We have friends in the City. We visit twice a year. Two months earlier, we’d had cocktails at the top of the WTC. I love New York. And the thing is, I stared at the horror on the screen and wished I was there.

And it still hurts.

My heart goes out to the people of New York City and all of us on the fifth anniversary of September 11, 2001. We will never forget.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Wet Guy for Maureen


Posted by Christine


What would the weekend be without...

A hot, wet guy! Oh, my....

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Wildlife



Welcome to my backyard, where yes, there is wildlife. I saw this artist's work shortly after we moved to Seattle, but wasn't sure what to do about getting a piece. We were in temporary housing and everything he did was so darned realistic. So not me!

Then I saw a bear similar to the one on top and knew I had to have a carving just like that. Who can resist a bear who loves his coffee? He's Hank, by the way. I can see him out my kitchen window. In the morning, the sun hits his happy face and I smile. His friend is Walter. Walter, like me, is not a morning person. He's just a little crabby.

So this is part of my yard. I wasn't kidding about the woods. There they are, in the background. And my husband has informed me I'd better not get used to seeing Hank with the morning sun on his face. This is Seattle, after all, and fall is nearly here. Once it arrives, there won't be any sun. Just rain. Oh, joy.

I'm moving Walter to the deck. Hank's cheerfulness gets on his nerves. Walter and I will be grumpy together.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Christie's Life List

This TV season, Ellen DeGeneres's talk show will focus on "life lists" which are nothing more than an itemization of things you still want to accomplish. They don't have to be scary--just things that you want to be sure to do. I thought sharing four of mine might tell you more about me.

1. Make my living writing books.
Yeah, I already do that, but it's something I have to work at every day. And hey, even though I've been published for over a decade, I don't have the vet credentials of Christine, Maureen, and Susan. To date, I've sold over 25 books to Silhouette, Harlequin, and Avon Books. I write contemporary romance, California style. To me, that means warm and sexy, funny yet emotional.

2. Live in a tropical place.
Okay, I reside in San Diego and I've never lived more than a dozen miles from a beach. But I loooove warm water, and the Pacific Ocean is chilly around here! I love vacationing in Mexico and Hawaii and someday I'd like to actually live in a place--not just visit--that has sand and warm water.

3. Learn to play bridge.
I've been procrastinating on this one. I have friends who want to learn too, and my husband kinda knows how to play. But I have a guess as to why I'm stalling. You see, it used to be that I thought I was quite a good card player. Then I met my husband. Then I had these two sons who seem to have inherited his skills. When I play them, I never win. Of course, maybe that's because every time we sit around a table with a new (to me) game, there invariably comes a moment when they say, "Oh, um, we forgot to tell you this part..." and then they proceed to decimate me. Do you think they do this on purpose?

4. Own beautiful home decorations for each holiday.
I love my home and I love decorating for holidays! But somehow or other I have ended up with some quite tacky items that my kids have become so attached to that it's not Halloween without Mom putting on the front door the life-size Frankenstein head that growls when you get nearby. My good friend has beautiful glass pumpkins she sets out for Halloween...I have The Head.

But I confess... Last spring I bought on sale an inflatable 12-foot tall Thanksgiving turkey. Does this say "woman willing to give up tackiness" to you?

What's on your life list? Share the first thing that comes to mind. Remember, it doesn't have to be anything scary--like ownership of a 12-foot, butt-ugly plastic turkey.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Pictures...I hope



Okay--victory at last. Thanks to Maureen who suggested I try again in the afternoon when things seem to work better. ... Isn't it beautiful?

Field (or closet) of Dreams

Posted by Susan

I will start by saying I understand that we are all defined by who we are rather than what we have. That a spiritual connection with each other and our planet is a goal to which we should all aspire. That it is better to give than receive. That in the end, the material world will fade away and…

I can’t stand it. I have a new closet!! Yes, there were pictures, but blogger wouldn't load them. Anyway...

I know, I know, a new closet is probably a big yawn for some of you, but for me this is a little slice of heaven. I love being organized. I love having folders and boxes and baskets where things sit all neat and tidy. The biggest problem I have with decorating is all the “accent” pieces they want to put everywhere. To me, a clean, flat surface is a thing of beauty.

Whenever I finish a book, I take a couple of hours to celebrate. I clean off my desk. As I work, stuff piles up all around my work space until my massive desk is covered and I’m reduced to writing checks in a six inch square of clear space. So I go through everything. Toss, shred, file, mock, whatever. And then my desk is clear and I dust and I’m incredibly happy.

So to have a professionally designed closet in my master bedroom is an experience that defies description. It is bliss. Total, soul-stirring bliss.

I watched Spencer, my fabulous installer, at work. I was calm, relaxed. I felt that to show my level of excitement would be to frighten the man and that’s hardly fair. How he could know what that afternoon of assembly meant to me? I watched the pieces go together, like a wood puzzle. He took his time. He made sure everything was level. Then he cleaned off all the surfaces and left me alone with the beauty of my closet.

I stood in the doorway and just stared at the shelves, the hanging racks, the drawers. It was so amazing. I warned my husband not to even think about putting anything in the closet. I would organize it and then show him where his things were. But for 24 hours, it stood empty. A perfect shrine to being organized.

It was a time of unrealized potential. I saw all the closet would be. I knew the clothes would fit, that there would be plenty of room for my shoes and purses. I imagined myself folding sweaters, hanging blouses on the new wooden hangers I’d bought in anticipation of the event. It was beautiful. It was all I wanted it to be.

Now the closet it full and it works exactly as I hoped it would. I put all my purses together on one shelf and have realized that if I ever try to buy yet another leather handbag, someone needs to slap me really, really hard.

Organization is my guilty pleasure…well, organization and chocolate. What are yours?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Blogger has me baffled!

Posted by Maureen

Well, I already had my blog all set for today!

It was one that I had planned on posting last week, during our tiara discussion. So happily, I went on this morning to post that brilliant blog and upload the picture I had to go along with it, and Blogger wouldn't let me play.

That's right, our beloved web host refused to upload that picture. Now, I'm here to assure you, the pic was in very good taste, so there's no reason to think this was Karmic censorship or anything. But someone somewhere didn't want me posting that picture. So here I am, struggling to find something else witty and clever to say. Because it's my day here on DD and I cannot fail to post!

Which leads me to, hopefully, a point!

What do you do when your carefully laid out plans disintegrate?? Now, I'm not talking about life disintegration, we all go through that, and you tend to just muddle your way through. I'm talking about WRITING disintegration.

You've got your synopsis, you know your characters, you're pretty sure you know exactly where you're going in your story and all of a sudden...........NOTHING WORKS. Suddenly, you can see clearly that your synopsis, while being very entertaining, doesn't really add up to a full book!

Once I get over the mind numbing panic, I usually lunge for the phone and call either Susan or Kate and scream for help! With good writing friends on speed dial, I can talk out my plot holes, and with their help, I usually find my way out of the corner I've typed myself into. But when I can't get them on the line for whatever reason, I use another book to help me out. It's called THE WRITER'S BRAINSTORMING KIT. (I just tried to put a link up there, but Amazon says they're not available right now. So I suggest if you're interested, you go to the publisher, Gryphon Books).

Anyway, this book is amazing. It has character traits, plot complications and a handy deck of cards for you to select at random things that could be happening in your story to beef it up or push it back in the direction you wanted it to go.

So, that's me. What do you do to help yourself through those plotting chasms that seem to open up when you're least expecting them???

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Running with...flowers?


Or
Why are these happy people running from the chapel?

Well, because they’re Married in Haste.

Posted by Christine








The cover controversy continues. For some truly terrible covers and hysterically funny cover gaffes, check out Christina Dodd’s recent Squawk Radio entry. Yes, our own Susan was “honored” to be twice among the examples of when bad covers happen to good—or even great!—authors.

And I really like Jenny Crusie’s theory of cover design. Jenny proposes that a good-to-great cover must catch the eye, be pick-up-able, and represent the story.

And this leads us to why I’m posting my own cover above? Well, I mean, beyond the main point that the book is out this month and I’m shamelessly flogging…

Because sometimes a cover is not aggressively bad or embarrassing. Sometimes a cover is just…okay. And is just…okay enough to help sell a book? I think not.

Luckily for moi, this cover has a flash that says Bravo Family Ties. I’ve been writing about the Bravo family for a long, long time and I’m honored to have a lot of loyal, wonderful readers who follow the Bravo family saga, so this book is likely to do just fine no matter the cover.

But does this cover have all three of the Crusie cover design essentials? Well, not really. What it does do, in a very literal-to-the-title sense, is represent the story. There’s a chapel, she has a wedding bouquet and they’re definitely “in haste.” And it is pick-up-able, because of the flash, at least to all my fabulous readers. And because there’s nothing ugly or “wrong” about it. The guy’s sort of hunky and the girl looks like a person you’d want as a friend.

But is it eye-catching…?

Well, not especially.

And why not?

One word. Simply: no tension. These people are too happy and they are running forward, not even looking at each other--well, she's not looking at him anyway. He's looking, but he's getting nothing from her. And what does that imply? That he's totally beta and hangs on her every word and wish, is not the least conflicted about being her love slave and doesn't care if she knows it? Or maybe, simply, that she's not as interested in him as he is in her? Either of the above is...not what we're goin' for in a contemporary romance cover.

I think all great covers have tension. Tension in the sense of a hint of the conflict. Tension in the sense of something “happening,” something in the image that intrigues us, makes us want to know more.

And don’t be misled by the word tension. Tension can definitely have humor and warmth in it. It can be dark—but it certainly doesn’t have to be.

Here, I was planning to post some examples of covers with good-to-great tension in them. Unfortunately, Blogger is not cooperating. So I'm cuttin' it short at this.

So that’s the, er, Rimmer theory of cover design. What about you? What do you love to see in a cover, what makes a cover irresistible to you?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Happy Labor Day!

Posted by Kate

Labor Day means.........

.......I get the day off! Woohoo! I work for a behemoth law firm where I’m buried in sh*t and kept in the dark, much like a mushroom. Every day, my cruel bosses force me to do things I simply don’t want to do. They keep me from my true mission of surfing the net and blogging. It’s so unfair. On the bright side, I have an extensive file of lawyer jokes so if you’ve got a good one, send it to me.

.......I’ll spend the day writing, which is what I usually do on my days off, and believe it or not, that makes me happy—unless it makes me crazy. For now, I’m happy. I’m still in the early outline stages of a new book and I’m waking up in the middle of the night thinking of fabulous snippets of dialogue and fascinating character quirks which I write down on tiny post-its, then try to make sense of them the next morning. I love this part of the process.

.......It’s Back to School time. One word: Ugh! I’ll bet some of you loved starting a new school year, right? You’d see your friends, buy lots of new fall clothes, get your school supplies in order. Not me--I was filled with dread. First of all, fall fashions? Ha! Catholic school uniforms. Boring! And oh good grief, the nuns! The thought of facing Sister Mary Cletus with her beady eyes and that 18-inch ruler she'd smack against the palm of her hand as she threatened to—flashback! Talk me down!! Whew. Thanks.

.......Autumn is in the air! I know what you’re thinking -- bitch lives at the beach in SoCal. What does she know about autumn? Go ahead, have your little laughs at my expense but I assure you, you can smell autumn at the beach. It’s subtle, I’ll give you that. But the air changes, and the light is different. I love it. And the absolute best part about autumn is Halloween. I love Halloween. Call me nutty, but I still dress up every year. Yes, some co-workers and I wear costumes every Halloween. We’re very cool, in a scary, geeky sort of way. Some of my more memorable costumes.......

.......The Invisible Secretary. I dressed in black from top to bottom and wrapped my head in gauze, then slapped on a pair of sunglasses.
.......The Dominatrix Nun. Had the whole nun outfit plus whip and fishnet stockings.
.......Barefoot and pregnant.
.......The Old Fat Hooker – I swear I’ve got pictures somewhere--and no, you won't see them. I was truly glorious in faded, stretched-out purple spandex leggings and a chartreuse tank top with black push-up bra showing through, and funky old stilettos that wobbled when I walked.
.......Twice I’ve worn pajamas but everyone agreed that was a cheap, lazy way to go. But at least I was comfortable. Maybe I should’ve told them I was dressed as a writer.

So, do you dress up for Halloween? What are you going to be this year? I need ideas!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Dear Abby...Did She Blunder??

Posted by Maureen

The weekends are free for alls here on DD...any one of us can post about well, anything we want to. So, thought I'd bring this up.

Yesterday, in Dear Abby's column, there was a letter from someone concerned about her 14 year old daughter's love of romance novels. Now I'm all for a mom who's looking out for her kid. There just aren't enough concerned parents out there, you know? What I thought was sad, was Abby's response. Here it is in part..."Some might argue that the idealized depiction of romance, and women being 'rescued' by powerful, wealthy men, is more worrisome than the sex and eroticism. However, if you are raising your daughter to respect feminist principles, I don't think you have anything to worry about."

For me, I thought about writing in to Dear Abby and telling her that maybe she should read a modern romance novel. Then she'd see that our books are all about the empowerment of women. That more often than not, the heroine is rescuing the hero. But I figured thousands of romance writers would be doing that, so why get lost in the crush??

What do you think? Should we all take Dear Abby to task? Or should we just send her some books and tell her Happy Reading???

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Saturday Pleasures

Posted by Christine



For Saturday, probably the most popular heartthrob around these days...

Ya think?

Hey, here on the DD we're always open to suggestions...

Friday, September 01, 2006

New Blogger at Deadline Diaries!

posted by Maureen

Christie Ridgway is our newest blogger on the team of Five here Deadline Diaries! She's a fabulous writer (and gorgeous too, though we've decided to love her anyway!)

We're all really excited and planning to have a lot of fun. AND we've also come up with a new blogging strategy. Well, new to us, anyway. Each of us is going to be posting one day a week and the weekends will pretty much be a free for all--if any of us wants to post, we will...

So we wanted to give Christie a HUGE welcome!! Hence, the balloons!!