Saturday, February 27, 2010

Another Award & Welcome


Simon at Constant Revision has given me an award to celebrate my 3rd partial request. It is called the Sunshine Award and his title for the post that day was "I've got Sunshine on a Cloudy DAYYYYYYYY" and I've been singing that song ever since. This award is handed to the people who make my life have just a bit more sunshine in them.

Sarah Jayne at Writing in the Wilderness whose writing is so slap-you-in-the-face-awesome it is not to be missed.

Nicole Ducleroir at One Significant Moment in Time because she has talent, is an excellent cheerleader and is married to a French man. Oui Oui!

Shelley Sly at Stories in the Ordinary because she's one of the kindest people I know, helping little old ladies, talking to strangers on the bus, and listening to a lonely lady tell the sad story about her deceased son.

Tara at Feel of Something New
Guenivere at Some of its Tragic, Some of its Magic
Steena Holmes at Chocolate Diva
and Jessica at Coffeelovnmon
because they are all in query mode right now and a little sunshine might warm the cockles in their hearts.

I also want to say Welcome and Thank You to E. Elle and Natalie Murphy who joined in the chaos here. I've got a buffet set up in the dining room so feel free to munch and grab a coffee (or tea or hot choccy), browse around, and please feel free to jump on in and comment. I'm a little crazy but we have a good time.

Have a great weekend everybody!!!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Fridays at the Piedmont Grille

Okay so I've designated Fridays for a bit of fun. Last week you all got to ask me questions, and for those of you who missed it (because there were awards going on) I give you another opportunity to ask me any question you want, about -- writing, my craft, the Regency, cooking, whatever you want.

This week I think, I would like to ask you a question. What is your favorite romantic movie? Or two or three or six.

Mine are:
LadyHawke with Rutger Hauer and Michelle Pfeiffer (the cinematography is amazing)
The Wedding Date with Debra Messing and Dermot Mulroney (such a cute story)
Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant (Jane Austen, who doesn't love Jane?)
Bull Durham with Kevin Costener and Susan Sarandon (baseball, who doesn't love baseball?)
The American President with Michael Douglas and Annette Bening (soundtrack -- I also loved the one she made with Warren Beatty, Love Affair)
A Good Year with Russell Crowe and Marion Cotillard (favorite favorite favorite all time favorite)
The Story of Us with Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer (this is so much my fairy tale with a man I'll never marry)

So what's yours?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Researching Characters

I'd like to talk a little bit about my research for Richard & Amanda (I really have to come up with a title). Richard is a Captain with the Royal Navy (circa 1816). In my novel I have made him the person who captured Napoleon at Rochefort. I had to totally scope out how he could have done this at such an early age, he's only 36. I found a sight on Wikipedia (thank god for Wiki) who listed all the people who were in the Navy, on ships, at that time. I then had to go through that list and find men who were on boats at a particular time which corresponded with Richard's age and career track. Richard is now an amalgum of 9 different people with a career, that might be construed as totally fantastical. (That's why it's called fiction.)

Once I figured out how Richard could have his career, I made him chuck it. Once he captured Napoleon, what else was there? (Napoleon tried to sneak out the proverbial back door to get to the open sea, but the HMS Bellerophon received word he would try and escape from Bordeaux. The captain then sent two smaller craft to reconnoiter and watch the French coast at Bordeaux and Arcachon. The captain's suspicions were correct that Napoleon would try to leave from Rochefort. (Because he was a brilliant commander.) The HMS Bellerophon moved in and took Napoleon's craft, took Boney and his crew on board. The captain then spent a few days with Napoleon as his captive. They say, both the captain and Boney played chess and became sort of friends as they discussed Boney's attempted take-over of the world.) Just a little history lesson for ya'.

Any-hoo you may wonder why I spent so much time researching all that if I made Richard retire from the Navy right after it happened. And the answer is, to see if I could. The real captain of the Bellerophon did not retire, he went on to become a commodore and then an admiral. I wanted Richard to have had the conversations with Boney during those days/weeks about life, love and pursuit of the Empire's happiness. And guess what, after almost 20 years fighting for a cause, Richard found that he didn't need to fight anymore. Boney and the threat had been defeated. So why shouldn't he retire?

I felt I needed all that background to help flesh out more of Richard's character. I already knew he was going to be strong and decisive, used to handing out orders, and not being disobeyed, even-tempered, level-headed, a commanding presence. (no pun intended). Now I just needed a reason for him to be that way, hence a captain in the navy. Rather than the army, too much bloody battle.

The reason I made Richard retire was that I also needed him to be at odds with his life, now the war was over. His retirement was a disappointment to his father (who was an Admiral), his grandfather (who was Admiral of the Fleet), the Prince Regent -- (he and Richard and Robert were great friends at one time) but most importantly to himself. Having been hailed as the hero of the century for capturing Napoleon, where could he go from there? Richard is now loaded with angst. What could he ever do for the rest of his life that would compare to what he had already done? How could he ever live up to his own reputation? I suppose if you want to say, that is my character sketch for Richard. And truly the only one I've ever done. All of my other's I have pulled from the ether.

Now, most of this information won't be in the book. More than likely it will be alluded to, through dialogue and discourse, perhaps a dream, perhaps a memory, I don't know, I haven't gotten that far. I also have scores of information on the slave trade, South Carolina crops, what a full compliment means on a sailing vessel, the differences between a boatswain and a coxswain, geographic and ocean longitude and latitudes, and a whole boatload of other stuff that who knows if I'll use.

But I needed all this to make a believable book, to make Richard a believable character. I LOVE Richard. He is by far my most favorite character of all that I have in my head and in files. (In answer to a question Falen never asked.) He has the most sadness in his soul (until he meets Amanda). He has the most angst. He has the most incredible grey eyes. LOL

So I guess what I'm trying to say with this post, is that you CAN over research, you just need to know WHY you're researching it. I wanted Richard to be the best damn captain he could be, the best man he could be. I wanted Richard to be BELIEVABLE.

So tell me gentle readers, why do you do research? Or do you?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Something-Something

After all yesterday's fun and excitement, today's post will be a little more serious. So be prepared.

I've been thinking about the Nine Muses Challenge that Sarah Jayne did last week over at Writing in the Wilderness. I don't write dark. I never have. I don't even write grey. I just don't see a need to. That being said, I also watched Persuasion on Masterpiece Classics on Sunday night. I'd never seen it, nor read the book (until now) however I took the quiz "Which Austen Heroine Are You" on someone's blog last week and I found out I'm Anne Elliot, so it was a special treat for me to see whom I was most like. And well, yes, I must admit after watching Persuasion (and also having finally read the book) I AM most like Anne Elliot. In more ways than six.

I've had this next blurb stewing around for awhile and after watching Persuasion, decided to let it out.

****DISCLAIMER -- to me this is very dark, almost black, about a funeral so feel free not to read it, it's kind of depressing. And also, I have a lot of swearing in it, so if you have delicate sensibilities, please don't read it either.

****

She slipped into the church quietly, smiling weakly as a member of the funeral home held the door for her, his black suit coat jacket still covered in rain drops on the shoulders. He handed her a program as she moved past him and walked silently down the far left aisle to the front of the pews. She heard the whispers of the congregation as she walked, and knew they were whispering about her.

Her bitch of a sister-in-law had heard the chatter and turned, so by the time she got to the family, her brother Charles has stood.

"Where the hell have you been? We waited at the house for forty-five minutes," he whispered hoarsely.

She genuflected and made the sign of the cross. Kate ignored his question, moved into the pew and whispered back, "Don't swear in church." She knelt down wearily on the worn leather kneeler. Kissing her rosary beads, she didn't even bother trying to pray but for the sake of the rest of her family, made believe. She gazed up at the statue of Saint Joseph holding the infant Jesus and wondered why the artist had painted their lips that awful shade of red.

Again she made the sign of the cross and leaned back into the pew. Her trench-coat was still soaking wet and made her skirt damp, her legs cold. Her feet were frozen in her shoes and she tried to stamp them as quietly as she could to warm them.

Her Uncle Randall leaned over the pew from behind her and whispered, "Are you okay?"

She turned and smiled, "Yes, Uncle, I'm fine."

The organist began the music and the congregation rose as one. Slowly all eyes turned to the back of the church. Father Brannigan blessed the casket, gave the small font of Holy Water to one of the alter boys, retrieved the incense from Father Alvarez then turned and preceded the casket to the alter.

Kate sat numbly, staring at Saint Joseph. She smelled the incense long before the casket came to rest in front of the alter and was grateful it overpowered the cloying smell of the flowers. She had no thoughts, she couldn't seem to form any. She instead watched the alter boy trying to tie his shoe and not fall off his chair. Father Brannigan droned on, sometimes in Latin, the way her mother liked mass, but most of the time in English. Kate didn't bother listening to Father reciting her mother's virtues. Kate had heard them all her life and knew she could never live up to any of them. She also tuned out Uncle Matthew as he gave the eulogy.

She moved through the mass with ingrained methodical habit, rising, kneeling, sitting, rising again. The organist began playing the opening notes to the Ave Maria and before Mrs. Kelly sang from the choir box upstairs, Kate knew that was the end of the mass for her. She would not make it through that song and did not want to feel the comfort from another when she began to weep. She wouldn't cry for her mother, she had already done that and there were no tears left to shed. No, she would be crying because the Ave Maria always made her cry.

She gathered up her small purse and umbrella and left the pew. She ducked out the little side door to the left of Saint Joseph that led downstairs to the church hall. Escaping through the exit door to the outside, she breathed a heavy sigh. She fumbled in her purse for a cigarette, lit it, and inhaled deeply.

Her brother Michael slammed out the door, "What the fuck is wrong with you? Leaving Ma in the middle of her mass."

Kate choked on her drag and looked at Michael with contempt, "Nice talk from a good Irish Catholic boy like you. I couldn't handle it, but of course you wouldn't understand that."

He was her eldest brother, the one who had kept the family together when Pop had died. The one who had laid down the rules, the one who had become the 'man of the family'. He was fifteen years her senior and the weight of his responsibility had left him with nothing but loathing for his youngest siblings. He had given up his own dreams for them and this made him bitter. Kate felt it now, as he looked at her.

"No, no Katie, I don't. Ma's up there in a fucking brown box and we're going to put her into the ground and all you can think about is having a damn cigarette."

"No Michael, that's not all I can think about. Do you have any idea how hard this is for me? Do you? Do you even see beyond your own fucking grief?"

Michael unclenched his hands, staring at his youngest sister. She had never used language like that before and it scared him. "All I know is that there's a church full of people up there expecting us to be united as a family when we put our mother in the ground. If you're not there, you know there'll be talk."

Kate took another drag and looked at her brother, disgust showing plainly in her eyes. "That's the whole point Michael, do you think I give a flying fuck what those people think? Where were they Michael, when Ma needed to go to the hospital? Where were they Michael, when Ma was puking her guts out in the toilet? Where were they Michael, when Ma peed herself every night? Did they come to help with the sheets and the laundry when she shit herself? Did they come to offer some sort of comfort? Stop by to say hello, how are you? Did they even bother to send a fucking casserole? No, they didn't. And neither did you. Or James, Peter, Charles, Rachel, Sarah, or Rebecca. No one did, except me. I took care of Ma. You all had your own lives, and kids, and work, and fucking little league. Not one of you fucking bothered to see if I needed a day off, or an hour, or just enough time to take a fucking shower and shave my legs so Ma would have someone with her. Do you have any idea what I've been through?"

She pressed her eyes shut and leaned against the freezing wall of the church.

"I'm sorry Katie, I know this has been hard on you." Michael tried to assuage his guilt.

She opened her eyes and looked at her eldest brother. His hair was nearly white, and the beer belly pushed itself over his too-tight slacks. When had he become so old? He was only forty-five.

"No Michael, you don't know. You have no fucking idea how hard this has been on me. And neither do the rest." Kate threw the cigarette on the ground and stepped on it with her black ballet flat.

"Look, they're starting the procession to the grave sight. C'mon, I'll walk with you." He said softly and touched her elbow.

"I'm not going. I said good-bye to Ma a long time ago. I don't need or want to watch her get lowered into the ground." She took a step toward the parking lot, then turned back to Michael. "She was always afraid of the dark Michael. I thought, you of all people would have remembered that."


****

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What Are You?

I had to fill out an online questionaire the other day and one of the questions was --what is your occupation? I really wanted to say "Domestic Goddess" but thought that might not be suitable. "Domestic Engineer" as I do have my own power tools, but then again, no. I'm a stay at home mother, who can build things and is not afraid of climbing ladders. I can mix cement, and lay flooring, hang sheetrock and cedar shingles. I know the difference between joint compound and spackle. I can prune trees, trim shrubs and grow just about anything. I can even make dirt.

I can also sew, mend, crochet, bake, cook, type, repair broken toys, broken hearts and broken videos, scoop doggy poop, get rid of stains, build a perfect fire in the fireplace, am an expert in the placement of band-aids, can conserve money, energy, gas and water, help my friends, forgive my enemies, and sometimes see into the future.

But still, what is my occupation? I didn't want to say stay-at-home-mom. And I am not knocking that profession at all, no way, no how. I think stay at homers should make at least $20-$35 per hour. It's hard work and a dirty, ungrateful job most of the time. I mean, I do it too. But that's not what I am.

I am a writer. I finished writing a novel. Yes, I looked in the mirror and said to my reflection "I am a writer." (Janet Reid and Davin Malasarn at the Literary Lab both had posts on this, funnily within weeks of each other last year. Coincidentally, just as I finished with Masquerade.)

Now, some could say, I am a pre-published author, but I will not use that term. I think it's cheating. It's like pre-cooked bacon. Sure you could eat it cold out of the box, it's been cooked, but yuk, heat it up again. "Pre-published" is like "domestic goddess". We are all goddesses (with the exception of the men -- who would then be referred to as gods but we don't want their egos blowing up all around us now do we), hence, we are also all pre-published.

Then I had the most amazing, fantastical, mind-blowing thought -- I could be a novelist. Ooooh, doesn't that sound rich? And fancy, and so F. Scott Fitzgerald-ish. So I looked it up in The New Lexicon Webster's Dictionary -- "novelist - a person who writes novels." Hey, wow, look at that. Isn't that what I do? I write romance novels. So couldn't I call myself a novelist then? And well, yes, yes I did. I finished filling out the questionaire and I wrote down novelist where it says occupation. How much fun was that?

I'll tell you what, it changed my way of looking at the world. I used to be a writer. I could write all day long and it was pretty good. Now that I'm a novelist, well, let me tell you about the sky, or the flowers, or the great dialogue I had with a friend. Even the air smells better. I could be channeling Hemingway. Okay, maybe it's not all that. But it is kind of fun if you think about it.

The question today gentle readers, is, which are you -- writer or novelist?

Another Request

I couldn't wait until next Monday. I got another request for a partial!!! Yay me!!!
So that makes 3 requested, one rejected. I am happy happy happy. But I bought two more bags of leftover Valentine chocolate today, just in case.

And don't forget to read my blog post for today. I think it's certainly apropos now.

Welcome & Thank You

Thank you and Welcome to Kristen and Elaine who joined our little group over the last few days. Come on in, grab a coffee, the buffet opens at 7am. breakfast only.
Feel free to browse, comment, share a laugh. We're all friends.

Monday, February 22, 2010

On to Something

As most of you know, I've decided to sort of formalize my blog. It's been a challenging experience to say the least but I think I'm a little more organized. I find I have a better thought process as to what I'm wanting to say on my blog so I'm not droning on & on about "stuff" that has nothing to do with writing. I now find I get up before sunrise, read and comment on blogs before the Small One gets up for school, and then when she's IN school I can work unimpeded on my WIP. When she gets home at noon, we have lunch, I comment some more, work another 2 hours on my WIP, and then spend time with her again. When she goes to bed, I finish up with blogging, write my post for the next day, or tweak it because now I found the post options tab I can write them all on Sunday. It's delightful having a schedule.

To get on with Monday business -- Query Tally Stats.
16 out -- 5 rejected, including one of the partials, 1 partial still out, 2 we'll get around to reading it when we do thanks. Yeah, one of the partials got rejected. I'm glad I didn't fall apart (that's a lie, I did fall apart and had a messy 3 days crying, eating leftover Valentine chocolate and raging against the machine, It also didn't help I had PMS.) but I'm glad I didn't post about it. We all have to go through with the process and I went through it and I put it behind me. I still have 11 floating around out there and hopefully, someone or maybe 3 or 4someone's will like what I've written and request something. Or maybe the partial that's still out will request a full. It's all I can do to just wait at this point.

On to the next...I've been astonished lately how so many people have found me and decided to become my friend. I don't know if it's because of what I've written, how I comment or it's just because of the awesome buffet I've got in the dining room. LOL. But I do want to thank you all for finding me and commenting, it's been a really great experience to have so much feedback. So thank you. I also want to apologize to those of you who became my friend and then I didn't friend you back until recently. It was thoughtless of me to do so but over this weekend I have tried to rectify that, (with the exceptions of those who don't have blogger addresses -- Donna, this means you). If I've missed anyone else, let me know. I HATE being rude.

Elana Johnson over at the QueryTracker blog had a really good visual aid for doing up an outline. I'm going to try it with MisMatched because I had to scrap that whole storyline, and now I have no idea how they're going to meet. I've got something along the lines of a puppet show, but I'm not sure yet what's going to happen. I'll keep you posted.

I also found Casey McCormick's Blog and you have just got to follow her. Holy Beans Batman, she's got some stuff going on right now that'll blow your mind. Adverbs, adjectives, and it's only part 1. I can't wait for the rest because even though I had a creative writing minor in college, I still don't know my dangling participles from subjective modifiers. (And does that even make any sense. It's a wonder I got a partial request.)

There's also a new agent blog out there, Mark McVeigh. He had some kind of contest going on over the weekend and the deadline is tonight at midnight. Scype or phone call with an agent, if you get 10 other people to join up. I'm not a big joiner-upper and am also not really interested in talking to an agent unless he's repping my genre -- which he isn't.

And so gentle readers that is my Monday post. I have tomorrow's all written but I might just scrap that (in honor of my shiny new award) and write something different. We'll see. I had an idea two days ago that I thought might be fun...so if you're in the neighborhood swing by. It might be interesting to see your comments.

And what did you do this weekend?

*** I tried to fix the link for Casey McCorminck's blog but I can't seem to do it. Here is the address for her blog sight. http://caseylmccormick.blogspot.com/

Sunday, February 21, 2010

They Always Say


Awards come in threes. Here is my third one in as many days. (Now if I could get partials to come in threes as well...)
Thanks to Kristi at Random Acts of Writing. There didn't seem to be any rules for this award so I'm going to pass it on to:

Tara @ Feel of Something New
Dominique @ En Violet
Shelley @ Stories in the Ordinary
Hannah @ Musings of a Palindrome
Sarah A @ Falen Formulates Fiction
Simon @ Constant Revision because he needs a little kitty on his blog

Happy Weekend Everyone!!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Another Award


I have to say I've been secretly coveting this award for many months now. I don't know what it means but it's just so flippin' cool. My Uncle Howard used to own a scrap yard. My Uncle Jake has always collected scrap cars, and my father is a carpenter and has so much scrap wood you could build a brand new house. So I guess, in a kind of weird way, I deserve it. Hopefully that doesn't mean that my books are scrap. But I won't think about that.

First let me thank Roxy over at A Woman's Write for giving this to me. She says she has the same mental block about computerly things that I do so it's no wonder we're friends. With this award I believe I'm supposed to tell you 10 things that make me happy and except for the first one, they are in no particular order.

Here goes:
1) My daughter -- even though since before Christmas she's been trying out her new found independance and I'm wondering where my "precious child" has gone.

2) Masterpiece Theatre -- especially when they're running a Jane Austen marathon which they're doing this month.

3) My writing -- I think it's progressing nicely and I feel I have a grip on what it takes to bring a story together.

4) My amzing blog friends -- you guys totally rock my world. It's great to know I have someone to talk to each and every day.

5) Sunrise -- now that we're out of the blue funk of the holidays I love getting up with the dawn. It's peaceful and calm and for an hour or so I feel like it's just me and God hanging out for a little while.

6) Bedtime -- as much as I love waking with the birds, I'm pretty dang tired by the end of the day and I just bought some new sheets and a beautiful down comforter so snuggling into them has been an especially nice treat these last few weeks.

7) Being Outside -- I love being outside and working in the yard and in the next few weeks the weather will definitely be improving here in the Piedmont so I can start re-doing my gardens and working on my fence.

8) Reading -- I haven't really had the chance to indulge these last few years so I've been playing catch up. Nothing like curling up with the cat and a good book.

9) The Beach -- any time, any season, any beach, for any reason or no reason. Some day I will go back.

10) Earth Day -- cuz it's my birthday. And my dad's too.


Without further ado, I need to pass this on to: (and I'm trying to figure out who I haven't given out an award to at all)

Ryan at The Life of an Aspiring Writer
Jesica at coffeelvnmom
Lisa at Why A?
The other Kristi at Random Daily Thoughts
Sarah Jayne at Writing in the Wilderness because her writing is mind-blowing and if you don't follow her you should.

Happy Weekend.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Fridays at the Piedmont Grille



Summer over at Andthistimeconcentrate! has given me this award where I'm supposed to list 7 random facts about myself. Hmm....

1. I have hazel eyes. When I wear a purple shirt, they turn green. When I wear a green shirt, they turn blue.

2. I've only broken one bone, my third toe, in my whole life. It got run over by a telephone pole. (We were playing on one that was used as a stop guard for cars in the school yard.)

3. I live in total chaos, until I can't stand it anymore then I have to scrub, clean, and organize like a mad woman. The euphoria lasts about 2 weeks.

4. I once gave a Christmas party at the beach house and invited 50 people. The night it happened, it began raining, then snowing, then sleeting. I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off, cooking, setting up the bar, decorating, making sure everything was perfect, just in case 20 people showed up, you know my stalwart friends. Because you know only a third invited will show, and besides I lived at the end of a dirt road, in the rain and snow, yeah not so good. In the end, 85 people showed up. It was the best party I ever gave and I had more fun than I ever intended, especially as the hostess.

5. I love trees and refused to move to NC if there were no trees in my backyard. I think tree cutting should be outlawed.

6. I can tie a cherry stem into a knot with my teeth. (Lots of practice at the bar with that. Back in my bad old days I used to make money off it too. $5- bucks a stem.)

7. I didn't know my brother's name was Robert until I was in second grade. I always called him Brother. (Because my mother would say, "Go play with your brother" not "Go play with Bobby".)


And in some cosmically amusing way, this brings me around to today's post. I don't know if I'll be doing this every Friday but I thought it might be fun to try it out and see how it goes. I know a few other bloggers do this and, to me, it's kind of interesting. Here goes -- Ask me a question. On anything. Writing, my personal life, my stories, the crazy thing I call my craft, cooking, what I would do with a 6-figure contract -- whatever you want. I will answer it.

I love when the Awards come around (ha ha see this post was actually written last Sunday and I had already decided to do this) and you get to find out a little more about the person behind the blog. I figured, why wait. This could be kind of like internet dating, only not, you know.

So whatever you want, (although I should put in a disclaimer and say I will only answer in a generalized way any questions asked about my Monster Child. Need to keep some form of privacy.)

I also need to pass the award on to new blog friends so: The Award goes to --
Roxy at A Woman's Write
Steena at Chocolate Reality
Shelley at Stories in the Ordinary
Lindsey at Dangerous with a Pen

So fire away with the questions, I'm ready.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Excerpt

Now that I have a blog schedule, yes, yes I do, today, Thursday is excerpt day. On Thursday's I will post a little piece of something-something to let you see I am actually working on my writing. However today, I'm going to post two excerpts from the same book. The first one is the original scene from Masquerade. The second is the final draft that is in the book. It's just to let you know I know how to revise. And spoon foam.

Original

So what do you think?


***Sorry this post has been removed by the author.

Welcome & Thank You

Thank You and Welcome to Donna and Wendy and Roxy for joining me on this adventure. Although someone told me people are only being my friend for the buffet. That's okay too, I love to feed people almost as much as I love writing. Anyway, welcome, feel free to browse, grab something to eat, comment. We have a good time here.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Genre - Romance/ Sub-genre - Regency

Most of you may be wondering (especially after reading my Valentine's Day post) what in the hell I am doing writing romance. All of my real romances (for the most part) have been bad. Not to say there weren't a few good times in each of them, but in the end, they ended. Badly.

I have also maintained I am a pessimist. So no wonder, you may be thinking to yourself, does she have bad romances. That is the funny part...I am not a pessimist when it comes to love.

I love love. I love being in love. I love reading about love. I love sappy movies. I love Hallmark commercials. I love hearing that love has conquered all. Hence my proclivity to write romance. I love the way the characters meet, the way their eyes light up, the way they get stupid and tongue-tied and nervous when that special someone walks into a scene.

I started reading Historicals when I was in high school. Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers. Hey, who hasn't read that. And from there it just never ended. Anyway, as I read more historicals, it was plain I didn't like the longer ones, the medieval, the Scottish, Edwardian or anything that wasn't Regency.
Every once in awhile, I'd be able to get into a Victorian, if the plot was okay, but when I find something I like (from ketchup to toilet paper) I stick with it.

There's something about the class system in Regency England that I really enjoy. Perhaps it had to do with my upbringing in the 70's, the city where we lived, the religious ramifications my parents placed on me that I couldn't date a non-catholic boy. Yeah, hey, I know, but they're my parents.

I lost myself in those books. I became the heroine. I loved the hero. Back then they were all rakes and blackguards, but every one of them was redeemed by love. That thought has never left me. Music calms the savage beast, blackguards can be reformed by virgins.

Nowadays, the hero is called an alpha male, the heroines, although still technically virgins are much more savvy than they used to be. They're not simpering and scared, most of them are pretty smart, and have minds of their own. In the Regency, they still have the strict moral code, the strict socal class system, the strict adherence to social custom and forms of address. How cool is it that people get to address you as 'My Lady'? (Even if she is a peasant you know by the end of the book she's going to be a duchess.)

I love the Regency for all that and more. There was no greater architectural, artistic, musical or gardening movement in Britain, before or since. King George, before he went mad, was a patron of the arts, his Queen, of horticulture, and their son, Prince George, everything in between. (But more on the Prince next week.) It was a time of building, rebuilding, forging new ideas, and creating art in all its forms. You gotta' love that.

So tell me -- What kind of romance do you like to read? Contemporary, Erotic, Historical, Vampirey, Paranormal, Sappy? Did I forget anything?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

On Drafting

Now, for those of you who don't know this about me, I used to be in the restaurant business (before I had my mid-life crisis, had a baby and started writing full-time).
One of the many things I did in this business was bartend. I'm sure most of you think it's a relatively easy job (for those of you who know how hard it is, thank you) however, after pouring many countless drinks for patrons over the years, there is a kind of ease one may be able to achieve. Until you have to tap a keg.

I don't care who you are, how many keggers you have been to, or how many drafts you have drunk, there is a subtle art to pouring the perfect draft beer. Now, I'm sure you've seen it done, the bartender holds the glass under the tap, gives the lever a flick and the malt beverage of your choice pours down into the glass. However, did you know that if you hold the glass directly under the glass, you get a glass full of foam? You must hold the glass to the lever so that the beer flows against the glass. As the glass fills to a little over 3/4ths, that is when you hold the glass directly so just the tippy-top of the glass is foam. A perfect draft beer is when there is only a quarter to half inch of foam from the top of the glass. Unless you are at an Ocktober Fest celebration and, well, anything goes.

Now, you may be wondering what this has to do with writing. Yes, actually I am too.
I've been working on Richard & Amanda's story for the last two weeks. (Regency romance set in England & America 1816) It is a first draft. I am now up to Chapter 5. Richard & Amanda have met, they have had conversation, and quite possibly sex, he must leave her (for altruistic reasons) and now, he and his humble servant are in the swamps of South Carolina freeing slaves. Up until this point I have poured a perfect glass. The story arc is going in just the right direction, the dialogue is pretty good, the moods are what they are supposed to be.

In doing my research for this book, it seems I have over-researched, so much so that Chapter 5 was turning into a litany of slave trading, abolitionists, and the horrors of being a slave. I forgot to tip the glass. I have too much foam. Now, sometimes in the bartending world, there is a spoon for this sort of calamity, set right there in the reservoir of the draft taps. Too much foam, you take the spoon, spoon it out, refill the glass on the side. Easy. Same is true for over-drafting. I have since pulled apart Chapter 5 and spooned out what I really don't need, as much of a history lesson I would love to incorporate, this is still a romance novel.

In my first book Masquerade I ended up with 124K words. Talk about foam! I didn't realize what I was doing, I just thought I was writing the perfect book. Only until I read so many more blogs and books did I realize I had over-drafted and there was no spoon in the world big enough to help me. Which brings me back to tapping a keg.

When you tap a keg, you must first roll the keg to its spot under the tap. Usually these are mounted on the wall. Now, because you have rolled the keg to its spot, the contents in the keg have been shaken up, the bubbles are bouncing and the beer wants to get out. As you tap the keg, you generally make a big mess with foam and beer getting all over the place. (I only knew one man who never ever made a mess.) Now, as the tap has been locked into the keg, you are ready to pour from the lever at the bar. But remember I said, the beer was jostled, and is bubbling and it wants to get out so when you pour from the lever, all you get is foam. You need to let this run until all the foam disappears and you have smooth running draft.

Now, because Masquerade was the first book I ever finished writing (the first keg I ever tapped) it was foam. Only until I let the book (keg) settle, did I realize what had happened which is when I had to spoon, spoon, spoon much foam from it. It was a daunting task to have to keep spooning foam. But I did it, and now have a beautiful glass of finished beer.

I guess, gentle readers, what I'm trying to say, is when you're writing your book, try not to have too much foam in the first draft. Sure you need a little, who doesn't, it tickles your nose, and looks cute on your upper lip. But as you write, keep the lever against the glass, so what you do end up with is narrative. The more foam you have, in the end, the more you have to spoon it out. And sometimes this is a very slow, agonizing process.

The question for the day -- Do you have foam in a first draft or do you wait until you have poured and then put the foam in later?

Welcome & Thank You

I guess someone had a party on my blog and didn't tell me. A big fat Piedmont shout out goes to Christi Goddard, Steena Holmes, coffeelvnmom, Garret and Ryan who all joined my little square of heaven last night Come on in you guys, grab a coffee and some danish from the buffet, browse around, comment. We may not get much work done but we sure have a lot of fun. I've got great friends.

And Thank You to Rick Daley for linking my Five Stages of Querying over at TPQSP. Thanks man.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Pence for Your Thoughts

Good-morning gentle readers, Happy Monday. It's a holiday so I'm hoping you are doing something relaxing.

I got the chance last week to talk to an agent (yes, one of those who has my partial -- although not about the partial). He maintained that my web-presence needed to be more than what it is, that I needed to be more in tune with my genre and the other writers who are writing Regency/romance, instead of just blogging around and ranting and writing about how I can't write because the Monster Baby is driving me up the wall. And I agree.

So I will now be including things like -- how I write -- helpful hints and tips --stuff from the Regency era -- excerpts - with (hopefully) more of a formal fashion. I've begun taking notes and accumulating links. I think it will be kind of fun, you can see what writing "Austen-ian prose" is like, dearest.

And if you know any other Regency/romance writers, send them over, or tell me who they are so I can scope them out . I feel like I'm the only one writing this, amidst all you YA, paranormal, literary types and I'm lonely. For my own kind. That's not a slur on any of you, I LOVE you guys. You TOTALLY ROCK.

Any-hoo on to Query Tally Stats. As of today, February 15 -- 16 out, 2 form rejections, 2 partial requests. 2 we'll get back to you when we do. It is somewhat daunting to know I might have to wait months for anything else to come back however, now I can work on Richard & Amanda's story.

Speaking of which, as I worked on it last week, I noticed I was going further afield than I wanted to with the plot line. It's a great plot, lots of twists, but I found as I was researching, this was taking over the whole book. So I had to put a stop to it. So I stopped writing. And thought, and thought, and thought. I had a semi-aha moment where I could bring it back around, but I have to work out all the details. Don't you hate that? Getting bogged down in details. UGH! (More on this to come Tuesday. I finally figured out how to schedule a post and so spent all day Sunday writing them while cruising around checking out the blogfest entries. Great fun.)

I've also posted three sights on my sidebar that should be helpful if you find yourself in need of critiques -- no pressure. Rick Daley's The Public Query Slushpile, which is an excellent place to get help for the much needed query letter. (Rick's sight takes a lot less time and is a lot less brutal than the other two sights for queries I've seen and tried to use which I won't mention by name because I don't trash anyone on my blog). The people at TPQSP are very nice and always respectful and they have quite a few people whose advice I respect. Rick also has a critique exchange blog started for those of you who are looking for a critique partner for chapters or whole books -- any genre. critxchange. And our own Kristi Faith has a critique exchange program Critter Corner for those of you who need help -- although I think hers is for YA -- Kristi, want to jump in here. So go take a look.

I also did find out, this IS the year of the Tiger. Of which I am. A Tiger I mean, according to the Chinese Calendar. As this only comes around once every twelve years, I am very pleased it is FINALLY happening. I have had the most dreadful last twelve years, (with the exception of my daughter) although I'm sure this also has to do with Saturn who has been in misalignment, or realignment or whatever it is he does to mess up my life. So now, Saturn is leaving whichever house of mine he's been screwing with (for the last 5 or 6 years), and I'm finally having my year. Hopefully this will mean what I think it does, but not wanting to jinx myself, I'm not saying what you know I want to say. Starts with a C ends with a T, 8 letters, legal term....

So gentle readers, now that I've blogged long enough about nothing, let me ask you these questions: Do you think your blog should follow a formalized writing schedule with your genre as its main focus, or should it be fun until you publish your first book? Do you think you should publish excerpts of your current works in progress on your blog -- or do you think that takes away from the work itself? How many of you have beta readers and how many readers do you have? How many do you think are necessary?

Welcome & Thank You

We give a warm Piedmont Writer welcome to Lindsey Brooks, Carolina Valdez Miller, Lisa Amowitz, and Elle Strauss who became my friends over the weekend. I'm overwhelmed with warmth and appreciate you all for being here. I have a buffet set up in the dining room so grab something to eat, have a coffee, or tea, browse around, make a comment or two. We're all friends here.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, in a place called Oceania, there lived a little cook. She was smart, she was beautiful and she waited for the day when she would meet her Handsome Cook Charming.

One day in Cook School, while she was beating her eggs, a very nice boy stopped by her station to say hello. He was so handsome she dropped her bowl of eggs and they splattered all over the floor. The boy helped her pick them up and every day after that he would meet her for coffee at the local Dunkin' Donuts. He made her laugh, and told her she was pretty, he was very handsome and very smart. They fell in love. But one day, the little cook introduced him to her best friend. Soon the little cook wondered why her handsome cook boy wasn't spending as much time with her as he used to. He gave her the excuse he was busy. But it wasn't true. The handsome cook boy was having an affair with the little cook's best friend. The little cook cried for a long time, but then, having graduated from cook school and started a new job, she soon forgot about the handsome cook boy.

At this new job, the little cook learned all about bartending. One day a handsome young man walked into the bar. He paid the little cook compliments, and left an enormous, outrageous tip. The little cook was flabbergasted at that, and went all over town searching for the handsome bar boy. She found him at last, and the two started spending so much time together, all their friends thought they should get married. The little cook thought that was a marvelous idea but the handsome bar boy said no. His mother did not like the little cook, and we all know that handsome bar boys must do as their mother tells them.

As the little cook progressed in her career, one night out with friends, she met a handsome sailor boy. Now some people believe in love at first sight, and the little cook was one of them. The handsome sailor boy was SO handsome he made the little cook's heart beat so fast she thought it would beat right out of her chest. The handsome sailor boy thought she was witty and clever and charming. The little cook adored the handsome sailor boy, but soon the handsome sailor boy began asking the little cook about her passion. She answered, "Well, of course, that's you." And he replied, "No, someTHING you are passionate about?" The little cook couldn't think of anything other than him. The handsome sailor boy's passion was sailing and didn't want to think about love with the little cook, so one day he got on a boat and sailed off to the Keys.

After a long time, the little cook decided she would try something called internet dating. She met a handsome teacher man who said she was wonderful and how he loved her food and he would love her forever, if she would only marry him. The little cook took him home to meet her parents. They thought he was wonderful. The little cook planned their wedding with glee, bought a beautiful gown, booked a restaurant, and had the invitations made up. One day, the little cook overheard a conversation the handsome teacher man was having with his best friend. The friend asked if the handsome teacher was really going to go through with the wedding. The handsome teacher said, "Of course. Once her parents die, she will get all their money and that fabulous beach house. I won't have to work another day in my life." The little cook cried and cried and ran away.

After a very long time, the little cook found herself working at a casino in the far-off land of Nevada. There she dated a lot of nice men, a lot of handsome men, and a lot of okay men. The little cook's heart had been broken one too many times for her to trust herself as far as men were concerned so she kept her secret heart hidden from everyone. Until she met the handsome miner man. They dated, and dated, and dated, and then one magical Christmas Eve he told her he loved her. The little cook was in heaven and her heart blossomed open again. Until one day, the handsome miner man's ex-wife showed up in town. Unfortunately for the little cook, the handsome miner man wanted to get back together with his ex-wife and broke the little cook's heart. So the little cook ran away back home to Oceania.

A long, long time passed. One night as she and her BFF were having a refreshing liquid beverage, a boy from her old high school came into the tavern. He spent time with the little cook and her friend and made them laugh until they cried. He told the little cook he wanted to see her again and again and the little cook said that would be okay. Finally, the little cook began to believe that the high school boy truly loved her. One day, to her complete surprise the little cook found out she was going to have a baby. She knew she would love the baby and she knew she loved the high school boy so she decided to keep it. The little baby was beautiful, everyone said so, and the little cook was so happy she cried. But then, one day, the little cook found out the high school boy had lied to her...about everything. He did not love her, or the baby, he did not own his own construction business, he did not even own the construction truck. He was a professional con man and he only wanted to be with the little cook because she had made so much money cooking. But now she had the baby, the little cook had stopped working and there was no money. He left her and the baby to fend for themselves in the big, cold, world.

The little cook and her little baby went back to her parents beach house where they lived happily for a long time. The little cook did not think about love anymore because she had so many other things to think about. One day, her parents told the little cook that she and her baby would have to leave the beach house and move away to a place called the Piedmont. The little cook cried and cried, she loved the beach house and didn't want to leave it ever but she had no choice. She couldn't find a place for her and the baby and the two dogs and the cat to live. So she packed up all her belongings, the baby, the two dogs and the cat and moved to the Piedmont to be next to her parents who were suddenly very old. The little cook knew it was her responsibility to take care of them for they had taken care of her all their lives. The little cook was miserable. She had no friends, she had no job for no one wanted to hire a little cook from a place called Oceania, and she had no love.

After a long time, the little cook adjusted to her life in the Piedmont. She had finally made one friend, her little baby was in school, and the little cook had written a book. One day, she met a wizard who told her that her handsome Cook Charming was on his way. The little cook laughed in his face. The wizard said, "You will be very surprised when this happens. He is coming from far across the sea. You see, he has been looking for you all his life." And the little cook asked the wizard, "If what you say is true, how will I know this is the Cook Charming I have been waiting for all my life and not just another low-life scumbag who sucks all my love or wants to marry me for my parent's money." And the wizard said, "You must open your heart and not be afraid. He will possess great strength, and fortitude when it comes to loving you. He will also possess a bright gleam in his beautiful green eyes when he looks at you and your lovely daughter. He will have his own job and his own money and his own vehicle. He will love you and care for you and forgive you for not believing him when he tells you he loves you. Know what I say is true." The little cook wanted to believe the wizard so she asked him, "When will he come?" And the wizard replied, "I do not know. I only know he's on his way if you believe."

So the little cook waited....


Happy Valentine's Day!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Five Stages of Querying

The Five Stages of Querying By Anne Gallagher

In 1969, Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross wrote the Five Stages of Death and Dying, an invaluable book as to what many patients may face when they are presented with the knowledge they are going to die.

I have chosen to take this premise with regard as to what many of us may face when we have finally honed our manuscripts to perfection and are ready to query. It's a little like death, it's a little like dying. As writers, we are singular in our occupation and sometimes the only human contact we have about writing is through the internet. I hope this will help you identify the emotions you may be feeling as you send out that first query.

The Five Stages of Querying

#1) Conceit – This is the beginning of the query experience in which you are convinced that any agent would be a fool to turn you down. You know deep in your heart this is the most fantastic book ever written and every agent who reads your query will request a full, (or at least a partial) immediately. And your mother, husband/wife and BFF said so.

#2) Fear – This second emotion is harder to contain as it encompasses a variety of anxieties at the same time: Is the query strong enough to get a request? Is the manuscript good enough? Have I revised enough? Did I find all my typos? Did I say everything I was supposed to say? Will I be a babbling idiot when “The Call” comes?

#3) Bargaining – This is when you’ll do absolutely anything for God if s/he chooses to let an agent request any part of your manuscript: Spend more time with the kids, your mother-in-law, the PTO. You’ll keep up with the laundry, dishes, dust bunnies. You’ll remember to make breakfast, pay the bills, feed the dog. And you’ll pass up the new shoes you saw last week at the mall…you swear, if you could only get a request.

#4) Depression – This is how far you’ll actually sink before you start climbing up from the pit of despair. Some frequent comments in your head will be – “My query sucked, the agent will hate it. My book sucks. Why am I doing this? I can’t write a book. No one would read it anyway, it will never sell.” At this point, you must remember you do have family and friends who love you and care for you. Step away from the chocolate, get out of your sweats, take a shower and go for a nice long walk. A little fresh air never hurt anyone.

#5) Acceptance – And this last stage is when you realize, the query is out, agents are looking at it, you gave it your 100% best shot and there is nothing more you can do. So relax. And I won't tell you not to check your e-mail account fifteen times a day because I know you will, just try and get it down to three.

These five stages are not all encompassing or complete. Some people will never reach the acceptance stage, others will be stuck in Fear or Depression, and still others may fluctuate wildly among the five. The emotional reactions to querying varies across individuals and largely depends upon their support systems. And how much bourbon is still left in the liquor cabinet.

Queriers are in a unique position as compared to other writers, given that they are forward looking and can anticipate some aspects of the future. How many of us have already spent our six-figure advance, scheduled a book tour, or designed our web-site?

Recognition of a Rejection however, can be the factor that helps us temper our excitement and bring us back down to earth. Our awareness of the Rejection is necessary. If we defend ourselves against the improbability of that, we are only postponing the agony when it arrives.

Here are Five Guidelines that will help you to manage these Five Stages of Querying and allow you to get on with writing your next book.

Five Guidelines After the Query Has Been Sent

#1) Responding – Try to respond appropriately when someone asks about your book.
Incorrect Response: “Oh my God, I sent it out to query like three weeks ago and haven’t heard a word, and it’s like freaking me out, I can’t stand the waiting, it’s killing me because I knew I forgot to fix the typo in the return address and it’s like…”
Correct Response: “I’ve sent my book out to query. I should hopefully have more information in a few weeks. Thank you for asking.”

#2) Education & Developing Increased Resourcefulness – Now is the perfect time to stroll through agent blogs and find out what you need to ask them if "The Call" comes. Do they have their own Foreign Rights agent and if not, who do they use? Is it possible to get a smaller advance in lieu of a larger royalty rate? Can you get the rights reverted back to you after five years instead of seven? These are just a few of the things you'll want to know, so write them down and put them in a safe place, just in case. An agent will appreciate you've done your homework instead of babbling incoherently "I can't believe it, YOU really called me. Oh my GAWD!"

#3) Encourage Your Peers – As I’ve said before, many times – We are all in this boat together and if we don’t help and encourage other writers, it’s going to be a nasty voyage. I’d hate to be the one stuck out on the poop deck.

#4) Recognize That a Moderate Level of Anxiety is Acceptable – Of course, you have anxiety, your ‘baby’ that you’ve slaved over is out in front of the world. Falling on your face is never anything we want to think about so do have a modicum of hope. Someone may love what you’ve written and as we all know, this business is subjective – What one agent may hate, another may do back flips over.

#5) Develop a Sense of Control & Efficacy – Clean your office, your workspace, your kitchen. Write your author blurb, dedication, back cover blurb. You’ll have to do it sooner or later and, who knows, if "The Call" does come, you’ll be ready and agents love an efficient and prepared writer. Besides, you won’t have to panic later.

Life, After Rejection

This is the most difficult aspect of querying for sure. You’ve sent out however many queries and they have all come back as rejections. Righteous indignation that your-work-is-a-best-seller-and-why-can’t-they-see-that, is useless. Rage is oppressive and despair is not an option. We cannot all be picked up on the first try. So dust your keyboard, sharpen your pencils, open your mind and start writing. It’s very hard and perhaps overwhelming that you have to let this one go, when you finally have to admit to yourself, “They're just not that into it.” You don't suck, the book doesn't suck, you must convince yourself "it's just not right for today's market." However, you now have the opportunity to try again, whether in revisions or something new.

Courage in the face of adversity, my friends, is what keeps us all writing.

Happy Querying!!




Thank you to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition whose resources I modeled this article after. http://www.nccc-online.org/resources/caregivers/stages.html

© 2010 Anne Gallagher
No part of this article can be reused without the express permission of the author or a link to http://piedmontwriter.blogspot.com



**I just had to tell you all -- I couldn't wait until Monday -- I got another request for a partial on The Lady's Masquerade. Yay Me!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Honorable Mention

I know it's not Friday but it is Thursday and next week I'm sort of changing my blog schedule around and Thursday will be the day I post excerpts from my WIP's. So gentle readers, you get two surprises from me this week.

This is the short story I entered in the Genre Wars contest over at the Literary Lab which received an honorable mention and is going into the anthology. I am so excited. I hope you like it. Any comments, questions or criticisms are welcome, but if you're going to criticize, beware, I may withhold the danish from the buffet.



High Tide

Owen sat on the deck and watched the gulls swarming over the school of frenzied skipjacks trying to get away from the voracious blues underneath. Summer was fading and the blues were running almost every day now. He thought about grabbing his pole off the back patio and throwing a line into the surf but couldn’t be bothered to go to the fridge in the shed to get the worms.

High tide had started coming in and the breeze had turned. Owen went into the cottage to close the windows. It would be cold later, not that it mattered. Dee wouldn’t be coming tonight. He closed the windows none-the-less; there was nothing worse than sleeping on damp sheets.

Owen grabbed a beer and went back out on the deck. Skip and Henry were down on the beach now with their poles and buckets. Skip’s dog chased some gulls off the beach further down past the breakwater that had had the audacity to land there after their feeding frenzy. Owen watched Henry cast his line and secured it in the makeshift pole-holder he’d put together with PVC pipe, duct tape and his lawn chair. Henry was creative that way.

Owen thought about the fight he’d had with Dee. Again. Was it his fault, or hers, he wasn’t sure. He only knew he hadn’t heard from her in twenty-seven days. She was usually the one who called after their arguments, to make him feel like an asshole so he would apologize, but she hadn’t called. At first he’d be damned if he called her. He wasn’t going to apologize for something he didn’t remember but he knew without a doubt that she would remind him. Now he thought it was too late to call.

Owen went back into the cottage, grabbed the phone off its cradle before he thought about what he was doing and dialed her number. One, two, three, four rings and the message played, “Hi, it’s me, leave a message, I’ll get back to you as soon as I can, thanks.”

He waited for the beep. “It’s me,” he said and couldn’t think of anything else. Well, he could but how did he start. ‘I’m sorry.’ ‘I’m an asshole.’ ‘When are you coming down?’ ‘I miss you.’ Would she even buy that one? Finally, he just said, “Call me if you want.” He hung up.

He grabbed his old jean jacket off the back of the chair, put it on and went back out to the deck. Owen wondered where she was, what she was doing. It was Thursday, 4:30. If they hadn’t had the fight, she’d be on the highway, on her way down to see him. She’d stay the weekend, maybe until Tuesday if he could convince her, which he usually did. Where was she now? Home. At her wacky girlfriend’s with the weird name. Somewhere he would never know about, fucking some other guy.

Henry came clambering up the small stretch of rocks that separated the beach sand from the road. One more good storm and Owen would have the beach in his driveway.

“Hey man,” Henry said, “How’s it hangin’?”

“Same shit, different day,” Owen replied.

“Where’s your girlfriend? Ain’t seen her in awhile,” Henry stopped and put his hand up to shade his eyes. The sun was starting to set, glowing red over the lighthouse on the hill.

“I think we broke up.” Owen said with truthful regret.

“Oh that sucks man. She had nice tits.”

Henry was a pig but he was right, Dee did have nice tits. Owen didn’t respond.

“Blues are biting, why’n’t you grab your pole and come down.” Henry said.

Owen looked over the huge rosa rugosa in front of the house to see Skip reeling something in. “Nah, I’m waiting on a call.” This was almost true. Owen doubted Dee would call him tonight. She’d probably wait until morning after she finished screwing the new guy.

“Your loss man.” Henry trudged back down the beach.

Owen downed the last of his beer and went in the house. He placed the empty bottle on the counter and opened the fridge to get another, decided against it and stood in front of the kitchen window that looked out to the east end of the beach. Skip’s dog was still chasing gulls, or were the gulls chasing the dog, Owen couldn’t tell.

The phone rang. Owen reached behind the counter and picked it up. His heart did a little fluttery thing before he said, “Hello?”

“You called?” It was Dee.

“Yeah,” Owen said not knowing what to say.

“What’d you want?” She wasn’t friendly.

“I don’t know.”

“Then why’d you call?”

“I don’t know. To say I’m sorry, to say I’m an asshole, to tell you I miss you.” And your tits.

There was silence on the other end of the line. Owen opened the fridge and got another beer. He cracked the top and took a long gulp.

“Owen, I don’t think I can do this anymore.” Her voice sounded tired.

Owen didn’t want to know what this was. “This what?”

“This, us, this thing we do. For Christ’s sake O, we’ve been dancing around for too long now. Something’s gotta’ give and I’m sick and tired of the bullshit. I’m done.”

“Look, why don’t you come down and we can talk about it. I…I’m sorry. I really am. You can tell me all the things I’ve done to piss you off and I’ll work on them. I swear. C’mon, we can go to that funky little Chinese place in the city that you like.” He was grasping at straws, he knew, but the tone in her voice made him believe she was truly done with him this time.

“O, please, we’ve done this a hundred times already. It’s not working. I can’t lie to myself anymore.” She sounded sad.

“Dee, I love you, I don’t want to lose you.” Owen grasped the only straw he had left.

“Owen please, don’t start.”

“Well, what do you want me to say? It’s true. I do love you. I want us to be together. Look, I’ll go up there for the weekend. I can be there in forty-five minutes,” he glanced at the clock, “Okay, maybe an hour. We’ll talk, we’ll go out, we’ll stay in, we’ll do whatever you want to do. Please Dee.”

The silence was deafening. Finally she whispered, “I’m sorry Owen, I can’t. Not anymore.” He heard the click of the phone and the line went dead.

Owen placed the phone back in its cradle. He stood at the sink looking out the window. Skip’s dog had something in his mouth and was dragging it up the beach. Owen wondered if the crazy mutt had finally caught a gull.

He wanted to cry, thought he should, but didn’t know how. There was an ache in his guts, something he’d never felt before, he didn’t like it, but didn’t think Pepto-Bismol would take care of it. He should drive up to Providence and find her. Talk to her. He should, he knew he should.

“Aw fuck.” He said to the house. He stared out the window at the empty beach. The setting sun hit the windows of the A-frame on the other side of the shoreline, half a mile down the beach. Its red glare hurt Owen’s eyes. He turned away from it and looked around his little house. What was he supposed to do now?

He went into his bedroom and grabbed a few things for overnight, stuffing them into his backpack. In the kitchen, he grabbed his keys and his beer and went out to his truck. He threw the backpack onto the front seat, put his beer in the cup holder and started the Chevy. He let it idle for a few minutes as he sat thinking. Should he go? Would she be pissed if he showed up? What was it he wanted from her anyway? Marriage? Commitment? A decent sex life? What the fuck did she want from him? He’d never asked.

Owen turned off the truck took his beer and his backpack into the house. The sun had set and the pink and lavender sky made the ocean dance darkly in front of his little house. Skip and Henry were still down on the beach.

Owen made his way out to the shed and got his box of worms. He grabbed his pole off the patio and headed down to the beach. He glanced in Henry’s bucket and noticed a big blue and a striped bass that was definitely under the thirty-two inch limit.

“They catch you with that, you’re gonna’ be in some shit you know.” Owen said.

“Who’s gonna’ tell?” Henry asked.

“I thought you were leaving. I saw you get in your truck.” Skip said.

“Yeah, I was, decided not to. I’m gonna’ fish instead.” Owen said while putting a worm on the hook. He walked down from the two men about ten feet then cast his line past the breaking waves. He walked back to Henry and Skip, put his pole on the sand and waited for the line to bob.


© 2010 Anne Gallagher
No part of this story can be reused without the express permission of the author.


**Now that I've re-read it, I can see some glaring 'oops, probably should have changed that' but there it is. What do you think?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Out of It

My dearest friends, I can't thank you enough for all the help, support, love and chocolate you threw my way yesterday. You can't even begin to know how much it means to me. You guys are the best. I wish I could have a giant sleep-over and we could stay up all night talking. And eating. And talking. And eating some more.

I wanted to give you a weather report, we are in the midst of high wind warnings. After last week's snow/ice storm, severe tree damage cut power and internet capabilities, mine included. So in case I don't blog for a few days, you'll know my internet/power is out.

However, I would like you all to know I wrote something that I think will be funny as well as enlightening. It's really kind of cool, if I do say so myself, and I think it will explain a lot of the emotional upheaval I've been feeling in recent weeks. I may even have a shot at it being posted somewhere other than here, which is kind of exciting, but he's not really sure if he can do it because it's kind of too long right now, but we'll see. (Do I sound like a 16 year old surfer dude or what?)

Falen Formulates Fiction is having a contest over at her blog, prize is a $25 gift certificate. Go check it out.

I hope you are all safe and dry, most of you are probably still digging out from the Snowmargeddon. I'm sorry for that. But no one can say we will be in a drought this summer, eh?

I'll talk to you all when I do. And thank you all so much for putting up with my madness.

Welcome & Thank You

Hey Summer, and Shelley Sly, glad to have you both here. Feel free to browse, make a comment, I've got coffee on and a buffet set up in the dining room, help yourself. Questions? I've got answers!!! LOL

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

My Friend Jack

My friend Jack has reared his ugly head once again gentle readers...as in, I don't know Jack. Some of you may be unfamiliar with this phrase, it means... I don't know ANYTHING.

Questions from the past posts on being smaht and what makes us, me in particular, smaht, don't seem to cut the mustard anymore. (I'm full of cliches today, sorry.) I've been blogging around and have read some absolutely phenomenol stories, clips, snippets of work by other people and I am just so wholly down-hearted. It's not that I don't like my work, my stories anymore, it's just that they're just not smaht enough. Perhaps it's my genre -- historical romance -- some consider that FLUFF. Perhaps it's the way I can't tell one POV from another. I don't know. Maybe it's because I was so hyped up on the partial request that now I'm in the bewilderment stage, wondering if and when they're going to get around to reading it. Maybe I'm heading for PMS again. Who knows. (This whole menopause thing is killing me. Sorry all you men out there.) I mean, for God's sake, I spelled segue wrong yesterday, although I do blame it on the fact it was 6am when I wrote that and only had one cup of caffeine in me and so didn't bother to look it up, but...c'mon, that's just dumb. I know how to spell it. What is wrong with me?

I'm just feeling stupid these days. I'm feeling like I should go back to the restaurant and hang up my pen. I'm feeling like being a quitter. However my stubborn Taurean self won't let me until I have completely wrung this bad boy out for everything it's worth. Do you feel like this? Is it just me? I know it's not, I've read enough blogs that we writers go through this crazy "I'm not good enough" phase. When does it end?

It also could be that I got into a blog where the woman said it took her seven years to be published. SEVEN FREAKING YEARS. I can't wait that long. I just can't. I have patience, I'm a Taurus, but my patience wears thin after awhile. I know I'm supposed to be writing my second book and I am (blissfully this morning Small One was back at school and I wrote almost 2000 words) but I'm having trouble with it because I have to do research...and I hate research in the middle of writing, it slows me down. I want to write it and be done with it. But I can't.

I apologize for being such a bummer today but I can't be all shiny happy all the time. It's not in me. I was born a pessimist. And Jack has come knocking once again.

My question to you gentle readers is...what the heck do you do when you feel like this? And does chocolate really help?

Monday, February 8, 2010

On Reading

As some of you may know, we had a lot of snow last week and here in NC that means no school. All week. But I have survived and so has the Small One. That being said, I could not write. I need to be silent to write. NO music, tv, phones, and especially no "mommy, mommy, mommy."

I decided to read instead. Study up, polish a voice or two, take a stab at the pile in the crate. And so, I read the three books you find in my sidebar. (I know, I read really fast, I finished those in 4 days.) One was literary, one 'chick lit'**, and the other genre - historical romance. (**the author says in the back of the book she queried this out as women's fiction but the publisher printed it as chick lit.)

I made some really interesting discoveries, about writing and about myself. Last week while I was blogging around, there were several posts on POV; head-hopping, deep 3rd person POV, 'narrator' POV, second person POV, (which some say is really hard to do) first person, first person omniscient -- all this stuff I didn't quite grasp. (Sometimes I'm smaht, other times not so much.) I read through the blogs and wondered what the hell they were talking about. And that's all I did. Just wondered. For the longest time, I haven't paid attention to the "rules" of writing I just write. If it sounds funny, I change it. As my brother would say, "Not anymore." (Think Steve Martin with a French accent.)

(As a side note, I will not identify any of the books by name, only by genre. I don't want the google police after me, or the authors if I say something bad.)

Okay, Book One - Literary. This was written in second person POV, and it was a little tough to read. I couldn't seem to get into it easily. Don't get me wrong, it was a great story, sort of, (the ending confused and bewildered me) and the descriptive prose was beautiful but the writing was heavy, like Hemingway's. If I hadn't known who the author was I would have sworn it was written by a man. This book taught me, again, why I don't read literary fiction. It didn't have a happy ending. And it made the beginning unbelievable, well, actually it made the whole thing kind of unbelievable (and not like sci-fi fantasy unbelievable either.) This book taught me a lot, especially about 2nd person POV and descriptive narrative.

Book Two - Genre, Historical Romance. I love this stuff. Hence, why I write it. However, this time I read it from a student's eye and boy howdy, did I learn something. For one, the copyright was 1987, so that says something in itself. The story was great and kept me engaged but now I know why word counts have gone down since then. It dragged and dragged and dragged through the same plot points over and over and over again. It was written in 3rd person POV but talk about head-hopping, which to me, in a romance, you can't really get away from, but I did notice a few scenes where there was a sort of 'Narrator' POV that shouldn't have really been there, I'm sure would have been cut from my manuscript. It was interesting for me to read this and say, "Oh look at this, look at that, that's wrong, no move this." At least I can see what I'm doing in my own MSs now.

Book Three - Chick lit. This was written in first person POV which was okay. I could follow it. The writing was light and airy, sometimes funny, sometimes quite engaging. And then it wasn't. I read through it and thought, well, where's the transistion scene for this. Where's the plot point for that? And then toward the end she kind of segues into this really important moment, and I wondered, why did she bother with the segue, she should have written a BAM! And of course the ending was NOT HEA, but sort of, which is why she wanted it to be women't fiction. I would have personally liked it if I knew definitely the MC was going to stay home, but the author only hinted at it, and that really kind of rubs me the wrong way. I'm a Happily Ever After girl. You know.

And so, there you have it. My wonderful walk through POV's. It has taught me I like and can write in 1st and 3rd, and I should probably stay away from 2nd, or at least wait until I get a few books published under my belt before I start to tackle that kind of thing. And as for the 'was's' and the 'that's', well, guess what, the literary book had a boat load of 'em in there. So they can't be all bad. Now if I can only figure out where my dangling particples are, I'll be all set. LOL

What POV is your favorite to write in?

And read down through the Welcome post -- there's a contest announcement over at Chuck's blog. And I linked to it. Honest.

Welcome & Thank You & A Contest

Thank you for joining my little group of friends and a big fat Piedmont Writer Welcome to Roni from *Fiction Groupie* and Erin from Musings of a Writer living in Paradise. (I've seen pictures, and even if it is in Canada, it's beautiful.) C'mon in, browse, I've got a buffet set up in the dining room, feel free to help yourself, and no fighting over the danish. There's plenty, and I don't want another episode like last time. LOL.

And Chuck Sambuchino has a contest over on his blog Guide to Literary Agents for YA and middle grade writers, so any of you who write that, go on over. I think the prize is a critique by an agent. Or something big. I didn't read it, my YA isn't finished. He did a narrative fiction, memoir one last month and he said it turned out great. So go check it out.

And did you notice -- I linked. Yay me. I'm learning how to speak computer. Finally.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Query Wars

Well, as it's Sunday, I decided I would work on sending out more queries. Nine to be exact. God, what a pain in the carpel tunnel this is. Some want only queries, some only query and first 10 pages, some the whole shebang -- query, first three chapters and the synopsis. And I did remember to change that line this time. Enclosed you will find...instead of I would be delighted to send you...

The first list of 7 I sent out two weeks ago went to 5 previous agencies and 2 new ones -- all A-list.

This list of 9 went to all new A-list agencies. I also found 4 in these who might request additional material. (fingers crossed) I think with 3 I don't have a shot, and the other 2 a maybe. Then again, everything is subjective and I might get 9 solid rejections. Then again, I might get 9 requests. (Wouldn't that be totally groovy?)

I'll tell you what, this is exhausting. I've been on the computer since 7 this morning, researching addresses and blog posts, and all kinds of other stuff. I have a pad with all the information and a tally list, sent & rejected. I could end up being a walking encyclodpedia for the historical romance genre agents once I totally finish.

I still have maybe 6 or 7 other e-mail agents to query, then I suppose I'll have to query through snail mail which could get quite expensive. The ink alone for the printer will kill me I'm sure. The partial I sent was only $3.00 but multiply that by 10, well, there you go.

Nobody said this was going to be easy. And what are you doing today?

* as of 4pm I received another of those, "Thanks for sending us your query, we'll get around to it when we do" messages. Which I think is actually very nice, and extremely polite, even if it is computer generated.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Award


Nicole over at One Significant Moment in Time has bestowed an award on me. Over the Top. And if you knew me in real life, that's what you'd say about me. I AM over the top.

I have to try and come up with one word answers which I think is damn near impossible but I shall try. Here goes:

Your cell phone: emergencies only
Your hair: dyed
Your mother: Suzanne Pleshette
Your father: James Dean
Your favorite food: comfort
Your dream last night: sexy
Your favorite drink: Coca-cola
Your dream goal: owning a beach house
What room you are in: playroom/office
Your hobby: landscaping
Your fear: being mediocre
Where you see yourself in six years: almost famous
Where you were last night: home recuperating
Something you aren't: shy
Muffins: eh
Wish list item: 4-wheel drive truck
Where did you grow up: beach in RI
Last thing you did: make tea
What are you wearing: you don't want to know
Your tv: non-cable
Your pets: 3 dogs, 1 cat
Friends: real 2, online 18
Your life: a bad B-movie
Your mood: hopeful
Missing someone: the man I haven't yet met
Vehicle: Hynudai
Something you aren't wearing: you don't want to know
Your favorite store: Ikea
Your favorite color: green
When was the last time you laughed: long time ago
Last time you cried: yesterday
Your best friend: real life - "G", online - Michelle
One place you go over and over: fantasy land
Facebooking: NO!
Favorite place to eat: my mother's house

And there you have it. My list. I have to pass this on so here we go:
(And please remember I can't link.)

Lady Glamis -- The Innocent Flower
Sarah Jayne -- Writing in the Wilderness
Dominique -- En Violet
Sarah A -- Falen Formulates Fiction

I wish I could send this out to everyone but I'm sure you'll all get your own at one point or another.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday

This post is going to cover a myriad of things, a few questions, an award. It's Friday and I am out of steam. It's been a week. Well, you know what I mean. We had snow, as you all know, and the Small One has been out of school except for 2 hours yesterday. She is out again today because...snow is falling again and the Piedmont is in a panic. You might think we were having a blizzard like the east coast, we're only getting a few inches, maybe some sleet, maybe not, I hate to say it the weather people on the tv arent't the brightest bulbs in the box, I don't care how much Dopplar they have. (Or maybe I should say -- Dopelar.) Question #1 - Is it snowing where you are?

And with that, I haven't written a word. Not on anything. I've looked at all the manuscripts I have in file, I've penned a few bits of dialogue on paper while waiting for the phone to ring, watching the baby in the bath tub, but I haven't written anything significant. I DID however, draw up an outline for Richard & Amanda's story, so I at least know what I'm going to try to do with it. I have also decided I'm taking out the first couple of pages, and jump right into the action, which I believe you read last Friday. (Let me see if I can make a link -- nope I can't. It's not that I'm stupid [well, when it comes to computer things, yes, yes I am] but I don't seem to have the "link" icon -- does it make a difference if I say I have OfficeXP. Question #2 - Is anyone else as computer challenged as I am?

I've been tooling around the blogs and a couple of writers seem to be trying to start their reading lists from New Years'. I didn't make a list but thought it was a good idea, so I've started posting the books I read on my side bar. I have so many books in my to-be-read pile I can just grab one and go. I also read really fast, I read Girls in Trucks in one day and am almost finished (2 days) with The Last Time They Met. (I'm trying to work something up for book reviews for the blog and will discuss them next week.) And because I'm not writing, I have the time to read. And reading is not distracting me from my writing. I tend to copy-cat when I do both at the same time. Question #3 - Can you read and write at the same time?

Thank you to Sarah Jane from Writing in the Wildnerness for giving me the Happiness Award. I appreciate it. I have already received it though from Stephanie at Writer's Cocoon so my list (which I can't link to but is from January 19) remains the same except for #8. I am happy I finished with the query process and am out scouting for agents. I am deliriously happy I received a partial request.
I would like to send this award to:
Lady Glamis, Nicole Ducleroir, Julie Cross, Kristi Faith, Elana Johnson, Teebore, Lisa, Tara & My Friendly Neighborhood Palindrome. Question #4 - Did I forget anyone? If I did, please take the award as well. I know Simon, Steph and the two Sarahs already have it.

I mailed my Partial out on Monday afternoon, and the postal lady said it would take 3business days to get there so I am assuming it will reach its destination today. I am hoping the agent will take it home over the weekend and will e-mail me by Monday to say, "Yes, I'd love to see the full." (I have no choice but to be a writer, my fantasy life is outstanding, is it not?) My cousin Liz says I'm manifesting my destiny. I have to think good thoughts and good things will happen. (I have always been a pessimist, always.) I've been thinking good thoughts for awhile now and well, if the partial is any sign.... Question #5 - Do you think you can manifest your own destiny? Or shall I leave this question for another time and post.

I think this will be the last thing I say today, (Small One is waking) there has been talk of author platforms on some of the agent blogs, and I was wondering if you think all that is necessary. Blog, Twitter, Facebook, LinkdIn, and whatever else I don't know how to do. I have a blog, I started with this intention, to use as my platform, as the agents said to do so and follow a few other blogs regularly and comment. So I did. I don't think it would be worth it to me to have a web-site, as I'm not published yet, can't put up cover art, or excerpts, or any of that crap.
Question #6 - Are you building a platform or are you just blogging it for now until the big day gets here like me?

And so gentle readers, that is my post for the day. If the electricity doesn't go out I will hopefully be working on Richard & Amanda. If I don't kill the Small One/Monster Baby first. Happy Weekend. Drive safely wherever you are.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Neologisms

My mother sent this to me and I thought you might enjoy them.


Once again, The Washington Post has published the winning submissions
to its yearly neologism contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate
meanings for common words.
Also, The Post has added a "Style Invitational" (see end of Neologism list for these.)


The winners:

1. Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs.

2. Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.

3. Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

4. Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.

5. Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.

6. Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightgown.

7. Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.

8. Gargoyle (n.), olive-flavoured mouthwash.

9. Flatulence (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller.

10. Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.

11. Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.

12. Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.

13. Pokemon (n), a Rastafarian proctologist.

14. Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.

15. Frisbeetarianism (n.), (back by popular demand): The belief that, when you die,
your Soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.

16. Circumvent (n.), an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.


The Washington Post's Style Invitational also asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

This year's winners:

1. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

2. Foreploy (v): Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.

3. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.

4. Giraffiti (n): Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

5. Sarchasm (n): The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.

6. Inoculatte (v): To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

7. Hipatitis (n): Terminal coolness.

8. Osteopornosis (n): A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)

9. Karmageddon (n): its like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.

10. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.

11. Glibido (v): All talk and no action.

12. Dopeler effect (n): The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

13. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.

14. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

15. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a grub in the fruit you're eating.

And the pick of the literature:

16. Ignoranus (n): A person who's both stupid and an ass.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Are You Smaht? Paht II

Just a quick side bar before we start today's Smaht Session.

I received another form rejection for my query yesterday afternoon, so that makes two. I also received a form rejection from another agency from last September 16 when I queried this same book. It's a good thing I wasn't holding my breath waiting to hear from them. Four months on a query? Hhmmmm...I think they need to hire a secretary or something. Although she also said if I had something else for her to look at, she'd be delighted, but not until after May. Yeah, no, somehow I don't think so. Good thing I didn't send her this query.

Okay, as you all read, I have a bachelor's degree. My major was Native American Ethnology, my minor was creative writing. I went to a hippie college in Vermont where you wrote, and read, and read and wrote, and then wrote some more. Some colleges make you write thesis' at the end of the term, well, we wrote thesis papers for everything. Which is where I learned to write. When we graduated we had to give a lecture based on the culmination of all the work we had done at the college and present it to the students and faculty. (Kind of a nerve wracking event actually and really a very big deal.)
There was a professor, whom I never studied under, (and I respected enormously) come up to me after my lecture and say that my presentation was just as good as any dissertation written by a grad student. I was overjoyed and blown away, and just basically in awe because I never thought I was that smaht.

Which is why I am so (still) blown away that my query actually got a request for a partial. When you are told by your friends who read you work,"oh this is fantastic" do you believe them? Or do you think they're just telling you that because you want to hear it? If someone REALLY SMAHT told you how good or bad your writing was, would that make a difference in what, how or if, you continued to write?

I for one don't know the difference between a dangling particple and a modifying clause but does that make me a bad writer? I think the only two rules I ever remembered were " i before e except after c " and "not 'that' -- 'who' -- when speaking of people" Just because I have a bachelor's degree, does that make me smarter than the person who doesn't? I don't think so. Just because I don't know the difference between the above mentioned, does that make me a bad writer. I don't think so.

As I said yesterday, I have read some really interesting work over the blogosphere these last few days and have been blown away by the quality of the writing. Does that mean I think they're smarter than I am? I don't know. I know how to do a lot of other things in this world besides write, and some of them really well, does that make me smarter than they are? I don't know.

And so gentle readers, the questions for the day are -- do you think you're smarter than the average person? And do you really need to know all the rules of grammer to write a fantastic book?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Are You Smaht?

After yesterday's heady upheaval, I think it's time to get back to the real world.

Now some of you may know, I am originally from Rhode Island, which means I talk funny. Some days I sound like Ted Kennedy, others I sound like Fran Drescher, without the annoying laugh. I now live in North Carolina. They talk funny down here. I joke with my one friend, (because she's originally from California and didn't move here until she was 15), that I can't understand what some people are saying, "I can't understand Southern." I also can't understand, French, Italian, or Urdu either. And because I am who I am, I'll talk to a rock. I love to talk, get me on the phone just to say hi, I'll keep you on it for 3 hours. But how frustrating is it, to be in your own country and not be able to carry on a conversation, or get directions, or find out what day the trash goes out.

When I lived in Nevada I ran into sort of the same thing. My friends (I had more than one there) would make me say, "We pahk the cah in the yahd at the mahket." over and over again. They laughed, they thought it was funny. I also used to say Ne-vah-da. It's not pronounced that way, it's pronounced, Ne-va-da. Same with Oregon. I used to say Or-eh-gahn. Boy howdy did they let me have it on that. It's pronounced Or-i-gginn.

Funny how the way I speak seems to garner different results from people I've met. The people in Nevada made good-natured fun of me, but didn't think of me in any way other than I was a nice person, and a good friend, you know the usual stuff people think of you. I had a lot of friends in Nevada. (Some I still have 12 years later.) The people in North Carolina think I'm a snob and too smart for them, which lends to the fact I only have one friend here. Honest. The other mommies in school won't talk to me because they say I'm too smaht. I scare them. HUH?

Now, please let me reassure you, I am averagely intelligent. There are people I've met in real life, and people I've met here through the blog who are infinitely so much more brilliant than I. Words fall from their mouths (or on screens) that I have to look up and say, "Wow man, where did you learn that word?" Sometimes I wonder if they were raised on Greek and Latin tomes, Mommy read the Illiad to them at night instead of Goodnight Moon. I am in awe of these people. Because I thought I was smaht.

I have a bachelor's degree. I read the classics. I read trash, I read current fiction, I read newspapers, I read the New Yorker. I read a lot. Does that make me smaht? I don't know. I'd read a few blogs yesterday and decided I was not so smaht,
especially for people not to talk to me.

Let me ask you this -- do people not talk to you because they think you're smarter than they are? Do you not talk to people because you think they're smarter than you?