25 March 2011

Finding the rhythm...

I love music. It lifts me up. Makes me sad. Sets the mood for so many things in life -- dancing around the kitchen with my kids; indulging in memories; expressing my faith; cleaning the house; working through plots; connecting with the characters in my head; celebrating; mourning.

Music has become such a part of me that I really can't see living without a tune to hum or a chorus to sing again and again. Yes, I am that annoying. ;)

Growing up, I loved to watch musicals on television. I'd slip into the magical world where everyone knew the lyrics and the dance steps, letting the stories become part of me. I can still remember the lyrics to songs I haven't sung or heard in ages... but do I remember the algebraic equation to find the circumference of a circle? Um, not so much, although I really thought I knew that one. :\

Not to sound corny or anything, but music is a part of my soul. Okay, so that does sounds corny. Sorry. But it's true.

My soul, it seems, is continually changing. My tastes in music changes over time. I've had my country flings. My disco fevers. ;) While I still enjoy listening to those 80's hits (thank you flashback Saturdays), at the moment I gravitate more toward rock. Yes, I still prefer the softer side of it all -- there's only so much headbanging I can take. But I like the darker messages; the emotional pathos of the Indie rock.

Then again, give me a Michael Buble song just to lighten the mood. I adore "I Just Haven't Met You Yet".... It's so happy; hopeful; optimistic. All emotions that aren't so easy to hang on to day by day. We all need a bit of hope to carry us through, otherwise the darker stuff can really drag us to rock bottom. Pun intended. ;)

Music is essential to my life. Life, itself, is all rhythm and sound. Even in the most silent of rooms; the most desolate of settings; you still hear and feel the beat of the earth. The breath of the wind. The tick of the clock. The underlying hum of the world around us both mechanical and human.

Even in silence -- like the complete, utter silence after a storm has knocked out the power -- I can still hear the music. It's indelibly etched and recorded on my mind.

Ah... I can hear it calling to me now. A certain emotional song that expresses all the longing and fears of my latest hero. I think he needs to talk. ;)

~~Meg Allison
Indulge your senses...

24 March 2011

Professionalism Is...

When I was growing up, my family had a great stash of Peanuts books by Charles M. Schultz. One that I remember vividly was called "Happiness is a Warm Puppy" (http://www.amazon.com/Happiness-Puppy-Peanuts-Charles-Schulz/dp/1933662077/) with a picture of Lucy (the Schultz character with whom I most identified) hugging Snoopy. Awwww! I thought I'd make a little Thursday Thirteen called: Professionalism Is.

First I took an informal poll of people I know to get them to fill in the blank.

1) From Kendall Grey (http://www.kendallgrey.com/ ): Professionalism is...keeping your tattooes covered. Caveat: unless you're a tattoo artist.

2) From Misty Rayburn: Professionalism is...being honest but in a way where your peers aren't offended by what you say.

3) From Missy Jane (http://www.msmissyjane.com/ ): Professionalism is...an attitude that represents a person both in their career & life. It exhibits pride in self and work ethic.

4) From Kate Johnson (http://etaknosnhoj.blogspot.com/ ): Professionalism is...behaving in a manner appropriate to your client.

5) From Lilly Cain (http://www.lillycain.com ): Professionalism is...an honesty and an integrity that makes you want to believe and trust.

6) From Amanda Gillespie: Professionalism is...acting like a grownup and playing nicely with others.

7) From Laura Gifford: Professionalism is...bBeing honest and reliable and knowing your stuff.

8) From Carolyn Rosewood (http://www.carolynrosewood.com/ ) Professionalism is...taking responsibility for your own behavior and giving credit where credit is due.

9) From Monica McCabe (www.monicamccabe.net ): Professionalism is...to always be straightforward, keep your promises, and never verbally strike out at someone or burn bridges.

10) From GrowlyCub: Professionalism is...only mentioned when people don't like what others do.

11) From Kelly Fitzpatrick (http://www.kellyfitzpatrick.webs.com/ ): Huh? I wouldn't know anything about that.

12) From Me: Professionalism is...a warm puppy. Ok, not really, because puppies tend to pee on the rug and chew up household items. That's not very professional, unless you're a professional puppy.

13) Also from Me: Professionalism is...limiting your weird Thursday Thirteen blog posts to thirteen items.


Jody W.
So much cyberspace, so little time!
www.jodywallace.com  / www.meankitty.com

17 March 2011

Thursday Thirteen: Thirteen Fun Facts About St. Patrick's Day

Since everybody’s Irish today, I’m honoring the occasion with a Thursday Thirteen of St. Patrick’s Day facts. Enjoy!

1. St. Patrick, the saint credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland, lived between 387-461.

2. At sixteen, he was captured by pirates and lived more than six years as a slave, probably on Ireland’s west coast. He didn’t become a priest until after he escaped, and didn’t return to Ireland as a missionary until he was around forty-five.

3. Two of his letters survive. The first is exhorts a British chieftain named Coroticus to free some Irish Christians he’d taken as slaves. The second is apparently a deposition from the court case that followed. In it, he defended himself from numerous charges of wrongdoing, including accepting money from women.

4. Legend credits St. Patrick with chasing the snakes out of Ireland, but the snakes actually left much earlier, prior to the end of the last ice age. Modern scholars believe this anecdote may relate to serpent symbolism used by the Irish druids or as an insulting reference to 5th century heretics known as Pelagians.

5. The Irish began celebrating March 17, the traditional date of St. Patrick’s death, as a kind of national pride day in the Middle Ages, but it didn’t become an official Catholic feast day until the early 17th century. The man responsible was Franciscan friar and historian Luke Wadding, an Irish expatriate then living in Rome.

6. The legend that St. Patrick used the shamrock, a three-leafed clover, to teach the Irish about the Holy Trinity isn’t recorded until 1726, although people were wearing the shamrock in his honor as early as the 17th century.

7. Originally, sky blue, not green, was the color most associated with the saint. The connection derived from the Flaitheas √Čireann, the sovereignty of Ireland, who is depicted as a woman wearing a sky blue robe. Today, there are several shades referred to as St. Patrick’s blue, including the light sky blue found on the ribbon of the Order of St. Patrick, the royal blue found in the royal standards of the United Kingdom and the president of Ireland, and a dark navy used for the Irish president’s state car.

8. Irish rebels in the 1798 Rebellion against English occupation and repression wore green uniforms to distance themselves as far as possible from the hated redcoats of the English Army. However, “The Wearing of the Green” (as memorialized in the anonymous 1798 ballad of the same name) actually refers to wearing a shamrock in one’s hat or on one’s clothing.

9. The first recorded St. Patrick’s Day parade, ever, was held in Boston in 1737. It was a protest march. The local Irish community was unhappy with its low status and lack of job opportunities. This set the tone for St. Patrick Day parades in the American colonies and new United States until the 19th century.

10. Corned beef and cabbage is an American invention, too. The traditional Irish boiled dinner combination was pork shoulder or ham and cabbage. Beef was a luxury item reserved for Ireland’s English overlords. The situation was reversed in New York and Boston, where Irish immigrants found it difficult to purchase the right cuts of pork. Fortunately, local Jewish butchers turned them on to kosher cured brisket, and an American St. Patrick’s Day classic was born.

11. Montreal holds the honor of the longest, continuously running St. Patrick’s Day Parade. They’ve been marching in the saint’s honor every year since 1824.

12. St. Patrick’s Day didn’t become an official public holiday in Ireland until 1903. Today it’s celebrated as a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and Montserrat in the Lesser Antilles, where it also commemorates a failed slave uprising on March 17, 1768.

13. As if to prove everybody’s Irish on March 17, Seoul, South Korea, has celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with a parade and festival since 2001. Japan began honoring the occasion in 1992. Normally, the Japanese hold St. Patrick’s Day parades in nine different locations. Here's hoping they can return to celebrating the date very soon.

Jean Marie

14 March 2011

The Cascade Effect

Greetings, Kittens!

Originally I had planned to talk about cross-genre preternaturals, (psychic vampires, faerie shifters), and perhaps share a bit from PsiCorps #2; but before I could configure that I fell victim to the cascade effect. You see there was a spot on the toilet seat so I ended up spending five hours on my hair. Some of you are nodding, my people! Good to see you. For the rest of you completely lost, let me break it down and tell me if this sounds familiar.

Droplets of some lotion, potion or paste got away from one or more persons pouring, slathering or brushing with them in the bathroom and they landed unnoticed on the seat. The night goes by as does the early morning. I rise with the intention of writing and other lovely things only to notice the spots. I have new cleaning gloves which I promptly retrieve, grab a clorox wipe and get to cleaning. The spot comes clean but while leaning so close I notice uncleanliness behind the lid, then the lid, which moves to a glance under the rim and an untold time later the entire toilet is clean.

The clean, shiny toilet makes the tub and sink look worse so they have to be cleaned. The smell of the cleaning wipes is so strong I figure I might as well get the container of bleach and pour a bit into the toilet bowl to sit even though that's not one of my jobs. The bleach splashes a little on my arm and being allergic to it, (now you see why it isn't one of my jobs and why I need gloves to handle the wipes), I promptly wash off my arm. I go to put lotion on my now clean hands and arm only to realize I've become overheated cleaning the bathroom and it really makes more sense to shower.

I move everything from the edge of the tub, throw away the used wipe sitting there, pull the shower curtain into place and put on a shower cap with plans to go back and wash my hair after everything else is done for the day. I get in the shower and wash my hands so that I can wash my face, (yes, because who knows what I've touched up to this very last point before getting ready to wash my face), and for some odd reason my hand is getting red. I bring it closer and smell the faint sent of bleach. Oh yeah, I threw out the wipe, (yep, that little contact is enough), and not only did I through out the wipe but I the stuffed my hair under the shower cap. If my hand looks like that after a bit, let's not even contemplate my scalp in a few hours of waiting. So, there was a spot in the toilet seat and I therefore spent five hours working on my extremely curly hair that must be washed, conditioned, sectioned, detangled, moisturized and set into twists to maintain my curl pattern and protect my hair. And this is my shortest cascade effect recently.

I needed a pen so I ended up cleaning the kitchen and doing laundry. The pen was under papers that went on a table too cluttered to take them. Two things on the table belonged in the over crowded fridge and several more things on the table belonged on the small bookshelf. The shelf was unbalanced because several books were in the bedroom on the floor. His dirty socks were on top of the books and the hamper was full. When I went to rearrange the fridge, the door looked dirty, cleaning the door made me notice the counter and stove. I needed a pen so I spent a full day cleaning the kitchen and doing laundry.

I share this not only because it preempted my original post or because I want others to normalize by behavior by admitting their own, (please do), but because I had a revelation on how it directly relates to writing. My character is a loner and federal assassin sent to retrieve two boys out of harm's way. She leaves with two additonal men that she ends up taking home. Taking them home leads to fighting for their rights in the larger shifter community. That fight leads to growing close to the shifter leader who she really can't stand, (I'm serious, she can't stand him to such a degree she nearly sits down every time he walks in a room), and who has his own purposes for helping. That arrangment leads to delving into the vampire-shifter power play of the city. That leads to eight other things including becoming a political figure and creating a multi-shifter poly household. See, the cascade. This is why I can't plot.

I'm not a complete panster, I usually go into a story with an idea of scenes I definitely want to see and what needs to be accomplished to reach the desired end, but I can't plot an entire story from beginning to end; I have no way to forsee the cascade effect. It only reveals itself when you reach for one thing and immediately have to deal with everything else that must be cleared away first. The last attempt to plot and therefore to predict the cascade effect ended in utter catastrophe and a three week delay, blowing my deadline to hell. That incident makes this revelation utterly thrilling. I tried to explain to a plotter friend of mine what had happened and neither she nor my panster pal truly got it. But now I have terminology that fits. For me, it's all about The Cascade Effect.

That's all for now, I have to get some sleep. Let's see if I can brush my teeth without it ending in painting the house. *grin*

So do you cascade?

Cascading Ramble ~ Done


09 March 2011

Holy crap, Batman, this book is BETTER! or, Why Revising is Like Altering a Dress

So, about six weeks ago I had a real live phone call with a real, live editor from a real, live NYC big six house. No, he didn't offer to buy my book, but he did give me a laundry list of suggestions for improvement. Some of which had also been said to me in the rejection letter I got from the agent I REALLY WANTED to sign with. It took a few days to let it all sink in, and decide what to do about it - make the changes or not?

Now, before this, I had thought this was the best book I've ever written. It certainly is the longest one I've ever written, and the most complicated. But both said it was just too quiet. The editor asked me "Why is this YA and not Romance?"

This manuscript, or parts of it, have been through the gauntlet. Critique by another editor (at an imprint of this house, oddly enough) through SCBWI, and a dozen peer critiques. A partial critique by a fellow author. We all agree that the first three chapters are pretty much awesome. I didn't change much of that, except to shift the focus just a bit. And added a prologue, which I don't usually do but was suggested and I think in this case works for the piece. But I had taken one little bit of advice -- to add a love triangle (which is still there) and up the 'YA-ness' of it--too far. I had focused on the romance, and it turned into a romance. The other thing I did was cling too much to the original story. This is a fairy-tale retelling, and I had become a slave to the original work. Ack!

Anyway, once I figured out where I was going, off I went. And I pulled out thousands of words, many scenes, lots of sappy, melodramatic narration. What I was left with were bits of story with gaps in between. In a way, it's like  altering a piece of clothing. I had to rip out all the seams, throw away bits that weren't working, and now I'm left to stitch them all back together with new threads and add better pieces, creating a whole new piece of clothing. A ball gown, perhaps? LOL

And so far, so good. I have a new victim beta reader, and she hasn't given me her notes yet, but hints that she loves what she's read. Further along, I LOVE what I've written. THIS is the book I wanted to write in the first place!  How I got so far off track (which is really funny if you know the scene I'm working on now, if not,well, we'll all laugh about it when the book is published) in the first place, I have no idea!

I still have a LONG way to go. More to cut (hopefully - the book's now over 100K, which isn't bad for a dual POV historical fantasy, I guess, but too long for me!) and a few more bits to add.

I'm hoping the editor likes the new version, because I think I'm in love with it. I can't wait to put the finishing touches on it and take it down the runway.

Back to stitching!!

07 March 2011

The Deal

Shortly before we all flipped our calendars over to the first day of 2011, I mentioned to my teenaged son that I would love to write at least two books a year for the rest of my career.

He shrugged. “That’s easy to say, but can you do it? Say, for the next five years?”

“Is that a challenge?” I asked, raising my eyebrows.

“That’s ten books, Mom.”

I crossed my arms. “I may be old and feeble, but I can still count.”

“Ten,” he repeated. “In five years.”

“Easy peasy.” But maybe it wasn’t. I’d written many books over the years but never on a deadline. I had no idea how fast I could write under the gun. Oh, and edit. I might have forgotten about the editing ten books part.

He put out his hand. “Wanna shake on it?”

Who was this kid? I slid my hand into his. “Deal!”

And so in a fit of insanity, (I blame the eggnog) the deal was done. Could I do it with a day job, kids, and the usual daily life stuff?

I figured it out mathematically. If I wrote 2-3 pages a day times six days a week (I don’t work on Sundays), I’d end up with 12- 18 pages each week. Let’s call it 15 pages a week. In five months, I’d have written a 300-page draft.

I set to work on the first book to see how closely reality matched the figures in my head.

The beginning was a little slow. Lots of fits and starts, stopping to research, watching videos on my chosen locale, looking up words, and translating a foreign language. I did manage to get my 2 pages a day in.

Once I got into the story, however, the words started flowing and 2 quickly jumped to 10 pages a day. On one particularly glorious day, I completed 25 pages before I fell into bed that night. My mind was humming and I was a little delirious, but it felt good to accomplish so much.

In six weeks, I’d written 300 pages. I can honestly say that the first draft of the first book is done!

And I learned a couple of things as I went. To be honest, I’m not a great plotter, but I do a rough sketch of the scenes I know have to be in the book before I begin. The more scenes I sketch out, the easier it is to write faster. I also have to know my characters strengths, weaknesses, motivations and goals before I can begin. And the conflict must be sharp and growing in my mind before I put those first words on the page. After that, it’s all butt-in-the seat time.

It’s doable. It really is.

So what’s stopping you?


05 March 2011

Politically Correctness Fun

Political correctness began as an honest desire to make language more equitable for women. It didn’t take long for people with disabilities to decide they didn’t much like being called crips and retards and freaks and worse. Eventually others climbed on the linguistic respect bandwagon. Not a bad thing, really. The language a person uses tends to reflect both the person’s background and the person’s own personal views. The idea was that if people were required to pay attention to what they were saying, then they would begin to think about the attitudes behind the words. And I think it worked. For a while.

Nowadays, it seems political correctness (P.C.) has become a joke. There are jokes about, and even disgust for P.C. Terms like “vertically challenged” (short) became part of our slang. I don’t want to get into the politics of P.C., but I would like to have some fun with the idea. I made up some terms. Here are my ideas, feel free to make up your own.

Collection Overload Syndrome—hording
Jaunt impaired—poor driver
Canine Detestation Syndrome—hates dogs
Feline Detestation Syndrome—hates cats
Fiction Abhorrence Disorder—reality show fanatic
Corpulent Series Devotion Syndrome—lover of shows about people who are obese
Chic Impaired—lacks fashion sense
Delusional—someone who thinks all writers are rich

I hope I didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings or stir up problems. This was just a bit of fun to brighten up a rainy, gloomy day.

Have a great rest of the weekend!


04 March 2011

Best Laid Plans...

I’ve missed out on blogging for quite a long, long while. Not knowing what to blog about, I’d always ended up totally spazzing and forgetting about it until it was too late. My memory isn’t what it used to be. But, I guess I can’t be too hard on my ol’ brain. It does have to deal with the day job and the night job — getting dinner ready and spending time with the dogs. Oh yeah, the kids, too. I’m sure you get the picture. There are many of you out there who have the added soccer, cheerleading, wrestling, baseball, football, basketball…wow. I don’t know how parents do it. There should be a medal for that!

Thankfully, I do have something on my mind to blog about today. For weeks now I’ve known about a Women’s Expo being held this weekend in South Bend, Indiana and planned on attending. I thought I’d take the drive, perhaps with my sisters, pay the admission and enjoy all the information and goodies. And, for marketing’s sake, I had purchased promo postcards to hand out while I chatted up my books to other attendees.

Not going to happen, thanks to a sinus infection that combined with some other sort of infection. Seems they discovered a split on my lip and the two ganged up on my face, blowing up my cheek, jaw and neck like a balloon...not to mention making my lip on that side grow almost too big to talk. What’s worse is it left the cut right smack in the middle of it all and making me feel like a teenager with a humongous zit.

While allowing the antibiotics to do their job and as I pass this opportunity by, I happened upon a website for a winery in Kentucky. Oh how I love wine...but that’s a blog for another time. You see? I’ve already set up more plans! Yay!

Back to the website. On its upcoming events page it lists “She Expo” in Frankfort, Kentucky on March 12th. So yeah, I’m going to give promoting another shot. Barring any injuries, illnesses or inclement weather, I shall be there. But, then again, we are approaching tornado weather. Just saying.

If you know of any upcoming events where the audience’s interest may be in reading romance novels, please do give me a shout. I’m often found on Facebook. Love it, and so easy to get to from my cell phone.

Here’s hoping for my plan to do some promoting and perhaps some of you may make the trip as well.

D. (Diane) McEntire

www.dmcentire.com Facebook: Diane McEntire Vance

Samhain Publishing, Turquoise Morning Press, Silver Publishing, MojoCastle Press

02 March 2011

New Cover

I got my new cover for my April release, Wherever You Are and I just love it! Wherever You Are will be available for pre-sale at 30% off through my publisher on March 5. The official release date is April 5.

He’s in the fight of his life for a love that defies the centuries.

The last thing Juliana MacKenzie remembers is sitting in a friend’s kitchen. In Kansas City. In the twenty-first century. How did she wind up on a burning ship in the middle of the ocean—in the eighteenth century?

If that wasn’t enough to get her heart started, some dark corner of her memory responds to the ship’s enigmatic captain. A man whose touch ignites her senses even as he stubbornly holds her at arm’s length.

It’s almost too late when Morgan realizes his stowaway is not only female, but a woman from a life and a time he’d almost forgotten. Desire resurges like an undeniable tide—but he is not the man Juliana would remember. She has been unwittingly thrust into a dangerous world, and now she, too, is a target for the pirate who once enslaved him, who still hunts him across the seven seas.

Kidnapped by Morgan’s worst enemy, Juliana finds herself drawing on inner reserves she never knew she possessed. No way will she let anyone—not even the man she is growing to love—choose her path for her. And no way will she let him offer himself in trade for her freedom.

Product Warnings
This book contains hot pirates, a slightly confused modern day woman and an evil villain you’ll love to hate.

Read an excerpt