Thursday, December 31, 2009

I very rarely double post..but I had to do it!

Got my book trailer uploaded to Youtube FINALLY!!! Please watch and tell me what you think!!

A Bitch Named Karma~Book Trailer

My PSA for the day...

Friends don't let drunk friends go to the bathroom alone.

I was at an after Christmas party a few days ago. It was held at a venue downtown..a club sort of place where concerts are sometimes held. The party had a DJ spinning 90's tunes and there were two performers: an ACDC cover band and Tone Loc. My good friend wanted to go to celebrate his birthday (which was on Christmas), so a bunch of us went. It was only $20 a person if you bought your ticket before a certain date. Oh and it included open bar from 10 till 2.

We had a fantastic time- dancing and belting out the lyrics to the songs we jammed to in high school. Drinks were flowing and going down quite nicely but we are a pretty responsible bunch and know our limitations. We make sure there are DD's and everyone gets home safe.

And I was never so thankful for my fantastic girlfriends as I was when I stood waiting in line in the bathroom. From under one of the stalls you could see a women, obviously extremely plastered, who was sitting on the floor. Half her butt crack was hanging out. Then she layed down.

Now if you've never been to something like this...imagine for a moment, a public bathroom, disgusting enough on it's own, but now people are spilling drinks. The floor is sopping wet with a mix of liquor and who knows what else. I was completely grossed out when the hem of my jeans got all wet...imagine that all over your body. Yuck...gross...hand me a gallon of hand sanitizer.

So anyway, this girl is laying on the floor and she's crying. She sits up and she's obviously trying to open the door and she can't. Her shoes came now she's barefoot. Those of us on the outside are now trying to help her. One girl somehow gets in and is helping her. I go to the bathroom and leave.

But the whole time I'm wondering...where the hell are this girl's friends??? There was no one there with her.

So my advice this New Year's Eve...please....don't let your drunk friends go to the bathroom just never know when they'll end up alone on the floor crying.

Have a fun and safe New Year's Eve celebration! And be responsible!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Got my Sony Reader!! Yay!

Hubby outdid himself this year and presented me with the Sony Reader Pocket for Christmas!

I'd played with them in the store, but honestly, I was not really prepared for how cool it would feel to hold one in my hands...not attached to a cord or a stationary post in the store. It felt so nice!!! :)

Of course I right away bought my editor's book...the one I'd been wanting to read forever!! And then I ran into trouble. The Sony software is HORRIBLE!! With some extremely helpful advice, I downloaded a different program and now I am up and running! Haven't started reading anything on it yet though....still have some library books I need to finish!!

So I need to know all your best tips and tricks and the best ways to save on ebooks!! My editor sent me a link to Harlequin...they're giving away a bunch of free ebooks! I was so so excited to have a bunch of books uploaded to my Reader! Please share your experiences with the Sony Reader, regular or pocket edition. I read mostly great reviews on it....a few bad ones...but you can't please 100% of the people 100% of the time.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The story left me quite unfulfilled....

I worry about this in my own writing.

Last night we watched Public Enemies...a movie about John Dillinger, played by a sexy Johnny Depp. Normally movie or books about crime and violence are not my thing...but I have a curiosity and affection for stories of days gone by. So even though I knew the movie wasn't exactly my cup of tea, I wanted to watch it.

But I was disappointed for a couple reasons.

First of all, the movie started in the middle of the story. John was being hauled off to jail after being on parole for only 8 weeks- he had spent the 9 years before that in this same prison. He seems to have gotten himself sentenced on purpose and breaks out his buddies. He continues with his bank robbing with the aid of the friends he made while in the slammer. But I am left wondering what the heck happened between his parole and where the movie started. You do find out later that the original prison sentence was for stealing $50 worth of groceries....but I want to know why he started robbing banks. The movie only chronicles the end of his crime career and life. The movie ended and I never got a sense of why he did what he did. I wanted to know what those 8 weeks were like....I wanted to know more of his story...not just the end of it.

And the other part that disappointed me was the romance part of the story. So incredibly unbelievable. Basically he sees this woman in a bar (or whatever they were called in the 30's), goes up to her, asks her to dance. They leave and go to a restaurant....he tells her who is and tells her he wants her to come with him and he'll take care of her for the rest of their lives. This is the point where I say...what the??? I am a romantic through and through...I write romance.....and I often use the "love at first sight thing" in my stories....but seriously?? This was just too quick, too easy.....too unbelievable for me.

I know this is a true story and maybe that is how it all really happened...but I walked away wanting much more than what this movie gave me. I truly hope my stories never do this to my readers!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Is absolute truth always the best policy???

I'm referring to book reviews today.

I belong to Goodreads and really enjoy keeping track of books I've read and sharing my thoughts, reading what others have to say and see who agrees with me and who doesn't. I used to be brutally point in sugar-coating stuff like that. And as a reader, I think that is necessary. Writers need that stuff...they learn from least I do.

But as a writer??? honestly really the best policy??

Someday my books will be out there for the world to enjoy and scrutinize and I know not everyone will adore my stuff, I know bad reviews will happen. Can't please everyone....and this business is more subjective than any out there.

But what if other writers see me on Goodreads and read my reviews and OMG what if they see I wrote a not so pleasant review of their book??? Or just in general....should a writer be saying negative things about other writers' work??

Here is where I struggle once again between being a plain Jane reader and a writer. The reader in me wants to be honest, the writer wants to be pleasant.

Monday, December 21, 2009

What's your pleasure?????

Today I'm talking about pleasures....the guilty kind! This time of year we relax into all kinds of guilty pleasures from sugary treats, to corny holiday movies and that hippopotamus song.

You're probably singing it in your head now, aren't you???

"I want a hippopotamus for Christmas, only a hippopotamus will do..."

But anyway....I'm here to question why these silly things are considered "guilty" pleasures. The definition for guilty pleasure is: something one considers pleasurable despite feeling guilt for enjoying it. Often, the "guilt" involved is simply fear of others discovering one's lowbrow or otherwise embarrassing tastes, rather than actual moral guilt.

If someone feels pleasure from something...if someone enjoys something...why should they feel guilty about it?? If the pleasurable activity is not hurting anyone...then why not be proud?? There is so much in this world that is depressing and very un-pleasurable. I'm not going to waste any time feeling guilty for liking what I like.

So come on...share you pleasures!! Any of them...I won't make fun of you!!!! are a few of the simple things in life that bring me true joy and I don't care who knows!!

New Kids on the Block (and those of you who know me, know I have NO problems what so ever shouting to the world that I am a huge Blockhead!!)
All 80's music
Boy Bands: Backstreet Boys, N'Sync, LFO, 98 Degrees, OTown
Patsy Cline
Dirty Dancing
America Pie Movies (only the three with Jason Biggs...not all the ones that followed)
Chick Lit and Romance Books (and I like the sexy scenes too!)
Dancing with the Stars
All My Children
Disney World
Celebrity Gossip Mags

I will add more later when I think of them!!

This will be my last post before the holiday!! Have a wonderful week!!!!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

It's OFFICIAL!!! I'm beginning this journey!!

I received an email from my editor today...yep...round 1 of copy edits!!!!

I am beyond excited for this!! Yes, this all started months ago when I had a "Congratulations" email in my inbox. But now is when it REALLY starts! She told me she loved it and did the entire edit in seven days time!

And she prepared me for what lays heads. I know it's not gonna be all compliments and adoration...I know a ton of work is in my immediate future. But the work will be worth it. This time....editing is getting me where I want to's not just endless work that might get me somewhere. And I have a professional to guide me along the way!

She'd like it back by Jan. 15th...yeah...not a problem! I'm lucky in that I get a solid 3 hours a day while my son naps. Plus, the way I'm feeling right now, it may be all I want to do over the next few days! I say that now....I haven't even opened the file yet. She already warned me that there will be times I will call her names and close my laptop.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Either I'm fabulously brilliant...or really really stupid....

I can't decide which.

Either I take a huge risk and follow my heart and the inspiration that has struck me....or go the safe yet boring route.

Basically....what happened was....a fantastic story idea burst into my brain the other night (I blogged about it here, I couldn't sleep till I wrote it down and the opening scene). Today I finally got down to adding a file to my idea folder in my computer. I wrote the beginning scene and kept on writing. I did not want to stop. Ideas flooded my brain with where to take this story. I typed a quick outline. I turned off the computer and got ready to go out for the evening with my family...more ideas came to me..I jotted them in a notepad. I haven't been this excited and inspired in almost three years...since I started my second novel...the entire 70,000 words that poured out of me in about three months time. The novel that I fell madly, deeply, in love with and finally found a home for it this past summer.

But the timing is so so awful.

I got an email from my editor a few days ago. She will be emailing me my first round of copy edits within the week.

But that's not really the biggest dilemma.

I am attending The Write Stuff conference the end of March. There will be agents there...several of them. I will get the chance to pitch to one of them. I NEED a polished novel to take with me.

Up until today, I was working on a POV change for my third novel, 1st to 3rd. It was a major undertaking but aside from being time consuming, it wasn't as annoying as I'd imagined. It was going well. I had tons of time to do it and have the story perfected by the conference. But this story is...just........there. I love the first chapter, but the rest just has no sizzle. I like the has many endearing qualities, but I never felt the intensity I do for my other novel and the new one. And I don't know how to make it sizzle. I don't know what to do to it to make it something that an agent just HAS to have. I know the story has problems...I've had it out on submission to a good 50 agents not even one partial request. My hope was that a POV change would help.....but my fear is that it needs major work...and I don't have a clue where to even begin. I am in quite a predicament.

Do I take the my little tushie off and complete and perfect a novel in just over 3 months time??? (It is doable...I figured I can write it in 2 months, I would only need about 1300 words a day...completely doable when I am in ultra creative mode- added 30,000 words to my WIP in 3-1/2 weeks time once. People do NaNo every year and do 50,000 in one month.) Then I'd need to edit my heart out the last month.


Do I stick with what I have? I can easily finish the POV switch and clean up the rest. As far as fixing whatever is wrong with it and giving it some sizzle...well.....I just don't know about that. You have to know what's wrong before you can fix something.

Would it be the end of the world if I try option 1 and fail??? No. It's my first conference ever so if I just go and observe, that would be okay too.

So what would you do?? Go with your gut and take a risk.....or stay safe and try to fix what you already have?????

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Does the look of a Blog really matter???

When it comes to graphic design and web design and all that good stuff...I am about as dumb as it gets. I know how to use a computer...I can do some maintenance.....I manage pretty well and when something major happens I call up my uncle and he takes care of it for me.

I had a website for my floral business when I was still doing it. It was pretty awesome. I didn't do it, of course. I paid a cousin and his friend to do it. When I needed a website for my writing, I didn't have the cash to pay anyone so I went with a template. Then when I started template.

Do both of them look nice and presentable??? Yeah, I guess so. They're both neat and tidy. Check out my website if you want to take a peek. Do they serve the purpose?? Definitely. Original??? Not even slightly.

I do have some ideas of what I'd like them to look like, but bottom line, I do not have the money to pay someone to make them all pretty.

And how much do readers care what the blog or site actually look like?? Both of mine are easy to read...I am turned off by hard to read sites and blogs...especially those with dark backgrounds and funky fonts.

In this world of judging books (and most things) by covers, is an uninteresting looking blog page or website a deal breaker??? Or is the content more important?? I'm finally stepping into the publishing industry...and I am a reader myself...I know how important a fantastic cover is.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I love when this happens...I hate when this happens....

Last night I got into was maybe 11:30, which is a normal bedtime for me. I try to get in earlier if I have a book to read but I hadn't had a chance to get to the library yet. And if I don't have a book, I cannot get into bed before I am absolutely tired....I just lay there.

So anyway, I got into bed last night and I was tired. I thought I'd fall right asleep. Ah, nope. Somehow a new story idea popped into my head and it's fabulous opening line (we all know how important an opening line is!). When this happens, my brain replays the thought over and over in hope that I will remember it all in the morning. And that NEVER happens. It's gone forever. So I lay there, not wanting to turn on the light. But I knew I had to. The thoughts would not go away until I wrote them down.

So I turned on the light, grabbed a notebook and jotted down the idea and the opening line. The light goes off and I snuggle back under my comforter. But oh no...that wasn't good enough. My brain decides it wants to imagine what will come after that first awesome line. So again, I am forced out of my warm cocoon. I grab the notepad and write a page worth of dialog and text. I could have gone on and on but I stopped, hoping what I had was enough to jog my memory today. And finally my brain allowed my body the rest it desired.

I love when this stuff happens-- an idea comes to me out of no where...something that sounds fun and quirky, something different from what's already out there. I love the thrill of creation.

I hate when this stuff happens because the idea will nag at me till I get it on paper. And usually ideas like this come when I'm knee deep in something else and there is no possible way to start on it. I'm in the middle of my POV change on my 3rd novel and I'll be starting copy edits in the very near future for my 2nd novel. I just cannot start something new right now.

But what an idea it is!! I really love it!! So now I will add it to my "Project Ideas" folder and save it for another day :)

What do you do when inspiration strikes????

Monday, December 14, 2009

Good old-fashioned RomCom!!!

I write contemporary romance and if my books ever become movies...oh...wait....and now my brain has entered the dreamy state of "what if" land...

~~~~ Oh it's so lovely here! My books are adored by millions and so beloved that my story MUST be on the big screen. I see myself walking The Red Carpet for the movie premier of my first flashes come from all directions as reporters call me over to ask who I'm wearing and what my inspiration was for writing the book. Inside the Capitan Theater in Hollywood, I get to sit between Zac Efron and Cameron Mathison, the two leading men in the movie. Life is good!~~~~~~~

Okay, now I'm movies would most definitely be grouped into Romantic Comedy. I LOVE a good RomCom!! It's probably my most favorite genre of movies. I love to laugh, first of all, and I'm a sucker for the sappy stuff. If it makes me cry....oh yeah...even better!!!

But lately.....most of the RomComs I've rented have been serious duds. I know all romantic books and movies are predictable...the HEA (Happily Ever After) is a given...but still. Make the reader/watcher at least wonder a little bit!!

I watched two movies this week on TV...I've seen them a ZILLION times and it doesn't matter...I cry every time!!

Overboard's old...came out over 20 years ago....doesn't matter one bit! Kurt Russell was still young and Goldie Hawn still had a real face. (I noticed how much Kate Hudson really looks like her mom!) What a story of opposites attract!! And the transformation of a hoity toity rich b%&#* into a loving mother and irresponsible trash into a respectable man. At the end she remembers who she is and tells her "family" she doesn't belong there....the kids run after the limo and the youngest yells "You said moms never leave!". OMG...I'm tearing up just typing it!!! But then Kurt goes after her and Goldie turns her yacht to go back for him and they are reunited! He then finds out the money is all hers and asks- "What can I possibly give you that you don't already have?"....she replies, after gazing lovingly at the boys.... "A little girl." That's good stuff!!

You've Got Mail The story of the big corporation squashing the little guy...but what they don't know is that they're secret internet names, no faces...just emails and chats. They connect in cyberspace and start to fall in love...then they decide to meet. He sees it's her and stands her up.....he knows the guy in real life is not who she wants. He starts to befriends her and says something to her that makes her think her secret man might be him. She asks to meet in real life again...... they agree on a park. "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" is playing in the background..she starts to cry when she sees it's him. He says "Don't cry Shopgirl" (her internet screen name). And she says "I wanted it to be you." I totally melt here!!!!

The Notebook Don't think this one is RomCom but I couldn't write this post without mentioning it. This movie invokes tears...not just the watering of my eyes....I'm talking full on waterworks....bucketfuls come soaring down my cheeks. And the end...when she remembers but then falls back into her dementia...I can't even imagine the pain of that. Then at the very end...they die in each others arms....don't all couples in love wish they go that way???

What are your favorite RomComs??? How do they make you feel when you watch them???

Friday, December 11, 2009

I'm doing it...I'm changing the POV of my ENTIRE 93,000 word novel.

Yep......I decided it was a must. The entire thing is written in 1st person and sicne it's romance, I decided it would be in my best interest to change it to 3rd. I am keeping the original though.

So here I go. At first I was going to edit the entire thing first..again...go through...look for all the adverbs, work on taking out all those no no words...really change the spots that tell instead of show. THEN I would start the POV switch. But I decided it would be a much better idea to do the POV switch first.

So has anyone done this before....any advice???? So far it seems pretty simple....just a matter of going though each line and changing I to her, she, character's name, etc...

I will also be adding in some of the hero's perspective too...which I never could do this will be interesting.

I have a deadline in mind here for the POV change and the rest of the editing. I am attending a conference the end of March and I hope to pitch this book then. Do you think I can accomplish this all in, oh, just over 3 months time??? I think it's doable!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

That time of year again.....Christmas cards!!!

I spend a lot of time preparing my holiday cards. Usually they are handmade and include a family photo and a yearly newsletter (though this year, with Facebook, most of my family and friends have been kept up to date on our family happenings). I put a lot of effort into my cards and I'm usually proud of them. But every year I get the "Wow, you must have a lot of time on your hands....." No I don' would be much easier to buy some cards and slap our names at the bottom...but for me...a Christmas card is kinda's a wish for the season, a holiday hug in cardstock form. I put love into them.

I'd love to share my cards with everyone I know, but each year I struggle with my Christmas card list. Of course there are the must sends- family and my close group of friends. They always get cards no matter what. But what about the others? Everyone has at least a handful of people that you just aren't sure if you should send a card to. You recall the last year when you sent them a card and one came from them afterward....and you wonder if they only sent one because they received one from you. Did they feel obligated because you spent your 40-whatever cents for a stamp plus the cost of the card?? Or were they just late in mailing their cards last year?? Do I send one and do this all over again this year??? I sure don't know!!

What I do know is that this time of year is special. The preparation gets blown out of proportion sometimes with all the shopping and money and all that....but when it comes right down to it....the cards, the simple wishes, the time spent with's all so amazing. The smiles on my kids faces when decorating the tree and the joy of driving around at night and looking at the illuminated houses. Not one of us knows how long we have on this earth and I chose to see the holiday season as a time of family and togetherness.....and my cards are just a small token of my love and appreciation for those in my life.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

An Award!!!! I'm so excited!!!!

Beth at Aspirations honored me with this awesome award!!!!! THANK YOU so much!!!!!!!

I am really honored to receive this award...I strive to write a blog that is honest, down to earth...real. This is just proof that I actually am achieving what I'm setting out to do!! Thanks!!! are 10 honest things that I don't think I've mentioned before....hard to come up with more...I'm such an open book!! LOL!!

1: With Christmas fast approaching, some of my treasured Christmas presents ever: the game Mall Madness, a Roller Racer and an electric juicer. These are items my parents seriously searched forever for (well not so much the juicer...but the others!)

2: My favorite book as a pre-teen was Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret and when I read it for the first time...I couldn't take the suspense...barely halfway in I had to read the last page to find out if she got her period or not.

3: Once in 7th grade our nun principal came in and made a handful of us girls wet down our poufy teased bangs.

4: My first year of college, I probably only slept in my own bed about a dozen times. (My hubby attended the same school...we started dating before school started.)

5: I was 2 days from my 19th birthday when we got engaged...and here we are more than 14 years later!

6: All my serious boyfriends (all 3 of them) had last names that started with H.

7: The idea for the first novel I attempted came to me while playing a party game at a friend's house. (It is still not finished...I found it extremely hard to write from a man's perspective at that time...I will go back to it eventually! Maybe I'll make a POV change???? Hmmmmm??????)

8: At one time, I wanted to be a Wedding Coordinator/Planner...I wanted to be Jennifer Lopez in The Wedding Planner...headset and all. I even completed a correspondence course for it and became certified. I loved the planning parts but there is just no money in that profession in my area. And then I discovered my love for writing fiction and the rest is history!

9: My parents are great...they let me live my life and don't judge. They never tell me what to do or overstep their boundaries. (Though my dad will sometimes add in his comments from time to time..."Why aren't you going back to work in a flower shop?"- his question when I told him I was giving up my home-based floral business and pursuing a writing career.)

10: I love my husband and my kids more than words could ever say!! (which I am sure I've said this before, but it's worth repeating! :) LOL!) I want them to be proud of me and hopefully writing will take me there!

Thanks so much Beth!!!!! I so appreciate this award!!

Edited to add: bad...TOTALLY forgot to add my nominees!!

Lynnette at Chatterbox Chit Chat
Kristi at Random Acts of Writing
Jessica at Bookends
Jordana at Jordana's Musings

I think that's about it...there were more (Roni at Fiction Groupie, Natalie at Between Fact and Fiction, and Megan Rebekah at Megan Rebekah Blogs and Writes, but the honor has already been bestowed on them by someone else!)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Connecting with the World!!!

I love checking my recent visitor map!! I am floored by how many people outside the Unite States are reading my blog!!! Little ole' me.....people from around the world are interested in what I have to just amazes me! I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be reaching the other side of the world with my blog posts!

So a huge Hello to all my international visitors!! I'd love to put a face with the country! Please comment!!! Turkey, Slovenia, Portugal, Pakistan, India, South Africa!!! Many more too!! Thank you so much for stopping by!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

My thoughts on self publishing...

From the very beginning, self publishing was just not from me. I wanted to get paid...not pay out my money to have my book published. (Though I know traditional publishing does not make an author an instant millionaire). I wanted to see my book on the shelf of a bookstore not peddling it out of my trunk. (I know there are other avenues for selling self published books, but in the beginning, this is what I envisioned). I needed the publishing world to tell me I'm good...I could not say to myself "I am good". (Yeah, I may have some self esteem issues).

Now before self published authors come for my head...I completely respect those who do self publish and I think there are good reasons for self publishing. Sometimes a book is so niche that it doesn't appeal to an agent or publisher. Or poets....from what I hear, finding an agent or a publisher for a book of poetry is impossible. Or the writer who just wants to put together something for their own personal enjoyment, a family cookbook, a memoir, whatever....this is a way to do it and receive a nice looking product.

It takes guts, lots of em', to put yourself out there and do the work that is necessary to make money on a self published book. To make a self published book a success, it takes more work than a traditionally published author. (And I also know how much work it takes for a traditionally published author to make their book a success too...but being backed by someone helps, a lot).

At one point I thought of self publishing my second novel, the one that is now contracted by Lyrical Press, A Bitch Named Karma. I love that story so much and it was killing me that no one loved it as much as I do. I needed to see it published. I queried that thing like crazy and it just never found it's right match until I queried Lyrical.

I don't know all the details of the new Harlequin self publishing thing.....but I am a bit appalled at the way they plan on basically saying: "Your work isn't good enough for us to publish, but you can pay us to do it."

I read a self publishing blog called The Self Publishing Review. For that brief moment when I was on the fence about self publishing, this blog definitely made up my mind. It tells it's readers why self published books do not do well....unless the author has paid for professional editing services, many of the books are just not up to the standard that they could/should be. This blogger reviews self published books and gives them 15 mistakes before they close the book...many don't make it past page 10. That is a clear cut dose of reality.

Now that I am in the editing phase with a professional editor through my publisher...I see how, even after I've done multiple edits on my own, the story is still far from perfection. So glad I didn't shell out all that cash to self publish.

I hope I didn't offend anyone with this's just my thoughts about this topic.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Fiction only or some non-fiction too??

When I was a teen, I wrote newspaper articles for a club I was a member of, the FFA. I was the reporter and it was my job to tell the world (or at least our little part of it) about club happenings. My articles were published in small papers designated for individual neighborhoods in our city (Bee Papers, The Metro, and for my neighborhood- The Riverside Review) and one even made it into the big newspaper in our city (The Buffalo News). My writing was included in a county-wide agricultural paper too. That year at the FFA NY State convention, I was awarded the State Reporter's award. A huge deal for me! I applied to two different colleges: one for journalism, one for Floriculture Merchandising.

I went to college for floriculture, got married, started my wedding flower business and started a family. I started writing again but this time I was drawn to fiction. It started as something I just did cause an idea popped into my head. But quickly this new found passion grew and in record time I finished an epic novel. It was only the beginning for me and once again I craved publication.

I tried to write non-fiction again and found it to be incredibly difficult. The only pieces I wrote that satisfied me at all were about topics I knew A LOT about...things that were dear to my heart. All the research in the world didn't help either...I just did not have the gusto that is needed to make an article great.

Do you excel in fiction or non-fiction or can you do both well??

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Day 3 of my Brain Vacation

I decided to take a brain vacation this week. I've been editing my little heart out the past, oh 5 months. Not every single moment of every day....and there have been days where I didn't open a single file, but I decided I needed a whole week to step away and catch up on some things in my life that have gone neglected.

So let's see...what have I accomplished.... Not nearly as much as I planned.

I did get to pretty much finish the Christmas shopping. I have to buy for one more person (just a matter of picking it up) and I need somehting else for my dad. He's one of those guys who usually just goes and buys whatever he needs when he needs it. I did manage a robe and slippers for him....very exciting. I'd kinda like to get him something else...something that has a tad more wow factor to it.

Today I filled an Etsy order and sewed some drawstring bags. I need them for the Christmas party at my daughter's school. They will hold the kids letters to Santa!

Yep...that's about it.

I need to figure out what I'm doing for Christmas cards this year. Usually I do something fun and hand-made. I have zero inspiration this year. Not one thing has come into my head. I wanted to catch up on some scrapbooking...I have a good 200 or so pics that need to be scrapped. I have presents to wrap too.'s early...just after 1 in the afternoon. My son naps till at least 3:30...I still have a good 2-1/2 hours left!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Signed my first autograph!

It was quite the surreal experience!!!!

We went over to hubby's grandparent's house this past Friday for cake and ice cream to celebrate Grandpa's birthday. Just to fill you in, he just married hubby's grandma 12 years hubby was already an adult when he started coming around. The got married the summer before hubby and I did. He is really a fantastic man and no one ever found any hesitation in calling him "Grandpa" right from the beginning.

So anyway, as soon as he found out I had been published in an anthology, he went right out and bought it!! And I told him he didn't have to do that. (it's an erotic anthology and some of the content is pretty spicy...mine is a bit on the tame side though) But anyway, he bought it and said he has enjoyed reading it.

So Friday, he tells me I need to autograph his book. I felt completely honored!!! And a bit dumbfounded! What the heck do you write in an autograph???????

I told him I needed a minute to think...this whole autograph signing thing is extremely new to me!!! I went the heartfelt route, thanking him for his support and telling him that it truly means the world to me.

And then I had to sign my name....and I debated, do I sign just my first name?? Grandpa knows who I am. Or do I add my last name so it looks more official??? I went with the first and last.

So please, writers out there, if you've had the amazing pleasure of autographing your book, please share!! I'd love to hear your stories of that first signature!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Found my "thing"!

It's Thanksgiving and what the focus for my family is, after being thankful, of course, is the FOOD!

It seems everyone has their "thing", their signature dish that they make for every single holiday, get-together, or party. Grandma has her cheesecake, Mother in Law has her Lazy Man Pierogi, my mom makes the cheesy potatoes. I never really had a "thing". I like to cook and I think I cook pretty well (or at least follow a recipe decently!). I like to change things up and bring something different to potlucks and such.

But now I have been given a "thing".

Last family get-together at my parent's house, I made a cold broccoli salad. Very tasty...raw broccoli chopped with bacon, slivered almonds, sunflower kernels, red onion. Top it with a dressing made from Miracle Whip, sugar and vinegar...very sweet and very yummy! Everyone loved it...even my brother...he had three helpings. And it is hard to get him to love anything...especially something I made. screw up one dish and you're ridiculed for life!! But not this time.... I watched him take a small first helping out of courtesy, then a bigger second helping. Then I saw him go back for thirds...."Ya like that, don't ya!" I said and he smiled a sly kind of smile and answered a simple "Yes." I'm hoping this excuses me from ever being made fun of again for the infamous Pretzel Dessert Disaster. Knowing my brother, I doubt it :)

So I left my parent's that day happy that I had made something that was such a hit. My aunt called my mom and told her she needed to get the recipe from me.

So fast forward to a week ago. I called my mom and asked what she needed me to bring for Thanksgiving. Last year she told me pop and a box of crackers. That's it??? O...kay....I guess I could handle that. I got her back though...they came here for Christmas and when she asked what to bring...I said "pop and crackers". We got a good laugh out of it. So anyway, when I asked what to bring this year...."How about that broccoli salad?"

So now I have a "thing". I guess it makes planning a breeze and soon I'll be able to make it without glancing at the recipe.

Happy Thanksgiving to all! Hope your "thing" comes out spectacular this year!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gotta step away sometimes

I think this advice can be taken by anyone, not just writers. Every once in a while we need to step back...step we can look at things more objectively.

I am stepping away from my story. It's a novelette I wrote a while back. It was originally just under 10,000 words and was written for a romance magazine that has a 10,000 word max. Obviously they did not want it (well, actually..I'm not sure...I never heard back and it's been a good 7-8 months). I have been editing it like crazy lately...perfecting it, adding to it, in hopes that my publisher will want to publish it. So far I've added over 2000 words to it and really put a ton of energy into showing instead of telling. I think it's miles from where it was when I started.

But now I need to step away. I took an excerpt to my writers group and got some great feedback and some things to work on. I did them and hopefully accomplished what I needed with the changes. But now I need to step back. I need to give this story a rest...I will go back to it in a week or so.

So in the meantime, I did pull out another piece..another romance novelette. This one majorly needs a POV (point of view) change. I'm coming to find I do prefer romance written in 3rd person. It's so nice to include the guy's perspective......considering in real life we NEVER can tell what our man is thinking. At least in fiction, I can give that to my readers! :)

But anyway, I may take next week off....and GASP! no writing/editing whatsoever. Double GASP! I think my brain needs a vacation. I have holiday cards that need to be made and about a zillion photos that need to be cropped and matted and arranged onto unique scrapbook layouts!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Let's gives thanks!

As I scroll through my blog list I see that many people are blogging about what they are thankful for this year. I like to reflect on what I have in my life that is good. Sometimes I think people get too involved thinking of what they don't have.

Here is my list of things I am thankful for...most are serious...some not so serious :)

A husband who rarely tells me no for anything.

Two kids who love me like crazy.

Everyone in my family is relatively healthy (my son's asthma is pretty much under control, so I don't really worry about it!)

Fantastic parents who let me live my life without judgment and don't aggravate me.

The most wonderful girlfriends on the planet.

My publishing contract.

An editor that couldn't be more perfect for me!

My writer's group.

My laptop.

My electric blanket.

New York State Dept. of Corrections for employing my husband and giving us complete job security.

Walt Disney World.

New Kids on the Block

That's it for now...maybe I'll come back and add some more later!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What writery things are on your Christmas wish list???

This year I am asking for a portable hard drive. Exciting, I know. I have a lot of my work backed up on disk but it would be so nice to have everything in one place...and not have to worry about my laptop dying and taking with it all my hard work.

I also want a digital voice recorder...but I may just buy it myself instead of asking for it for Christmas. I am attending The Write Stuff writers conference in March and I am thinking it would be nice to record the seminars.

So what is on your list??? I want to know...maybe there's something I didn't know I needed!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

If I had a million dollars......

What a fun idea I found over at Romance in Writing!

Sometimes it's fun to dream and think about all the things we do if we were filthy rich!! (After feeding the poor, curing the sick, and saving the planet, of course!)

Here are my top 5!!

I'd buy a house like this:

With a closet like this (filled of course!):

I'd take tons and tons of dance lessons:

I'd go to every single show these guys put on, no matter where in the world it was:

And I'd visit this place at least 3 or 4 times a year:

So what about you???? What would you do??? Post a blog on your page and comment here so I know to go check it out!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"Yes Grandma, I wrote that explicitly detailed sex scene..."

I write women's fiction and contemporary romance and that means I write sex scenes from time to time. My first novel was very was a coming of age type story and I thought the details were necessary. Then I wrote my second and I got kinda prudish. The scenes were there but I left the details out. I wrote my third and I kinda went in between.

I found that I do enjoy writing the scenes, especially now that I've gotten a handle on striking a balance between corny and clinical. So many times I ran into that problem....searching for the right words to describe the action but not wanting it to sound silly. And using terms my doctor would use just didn't sizzle. It took a while to get it just right and I'm pretty proud of the scenes I can come up with now.

But the further I go in this process....I am forced to face facts that every person I know is most likely going to read my steamy scenes...even my parents and grandparents! It's one thing for my girlfriends to read is often a topic we talk about (we're a close knit bunch!) But my mom...and God forbid...MY DAD!!!

So now I worry that Grandma is gonna read my words and know where my inspiration comes from. Obviously she knows I've had sex before...I have two kids. But I don't's kinda weird!! I remember when I found out I was pregnant with my first child. I said to my husband (we'd been married for over 4 years mind you), "Well now my parents are gonna know we have sex!" I'm sure they already knew...but now there was absolute proof!

Romance writers out there.....or any writers....when you first started out, how did you feel about your grandma reading your sexy scenes?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Why can't I survive on like 2 hours of sleep???

Life would be so much easier.

I struggle every day with the things I do, the things I should be doing, the things I wish I could do, and the things I need to do.

I try to keep a clean home but in all honesty, there are things that definitely come before making sure the dishes are washed. I try to use my mornings for cleaning, doing other things around the house, exercising. My son roams around and plays...I play with him too. After lunch he naps and that is my time. The house could be a disaster pit and I do not care. I plop down with my laptop and check on everything that's going on in the world and then write or edit or whatever else I need to do with my writing that day. My daughter then comes home from school- we work on homework and I get dinner ready. We eat dinner as a family and then, depending on the night, there's baths, dance class, writers meetings, etc... We try to fit in family time as much as we can too.

But most nights I sit here and wonder where the heck the day went and I feel like I didn't give enough time to any one thing that day. The house is never clean enough, I never get to do as much writing or editing as I want and I feel like I spent hardly any quality time with my kids and husband. And if I do spend more time on any one of these things, I feel horrible that the others were pushed to the side that day.

I know I'm not the only woman in the world that struggles with balancing work, home life and household chores. Is there some magical solution out there???? Some fancy pill I can take that would let me sleep for two hours and be refreshed like I had slept for 10? I've just now decided that if I could have any super power, it would be to never need sleep!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Yuck! I don't like this one bit!!!

I'm reading a romance right book with three shorter pieces in it. The first is interesting and it has held my interest so far...but it is written in third person omniscient. Wow I do not like it!! I don't know if I can even pinpoint why. It just seems very bizarre to read all the character's thoughts and feelings rather than just one character's. Have you ever read a book like this...what did you think???? Seems like this would be tough to write too.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pen names.....yes or no????

I always said right from the get pen name for me. I loved the idea of seeing MY name on a book cover...not some made up name. And who doesn't dream of the day they hand their credit card to a clerk and they do a double take and ask "Are you THE (fill in blank with your name)?"

Okay, maybe that's just me. :)

I write romantic fiction and yes I have some pretty steamy scenes. It really does not bother me one bit if people know it's me who writes these things (and obviously has some lusty visions from time to time!! LOL!!) The people who's opinions I do care about, friends and family, have already read my stuff and they all loved it...even my mom and we really weren't a family that openly talked about sexual things. I did warn her though! But these are all the people who would know it was me even if I did use a pen name. I can understand teachers and other careers that involve kids or what not, where they would be looked down upon for writing sexual stories. I definitely get that reason for a pen name. And now that I've been published in my own name, in an erotic anthology and my novel which is chick lit with some sexual scenes, if I ever wanted to switch to childrens...a pen name would be a must.

But now I wonder if I should have went with a pen name anyway. Only because I'm afraid my last name is too hard to pronounce. It's Haefner, pronounced Hayf-ner. We're used to people mispronouncing it...usually we get Haf-ner (pronounced like half). I did debate on using my maiden name cause it's super simple: Stephanie Russell...but I googled it and there is another writer published under Stephanie Russell among tons of other people with that name. If I google Stephanie's all me.

So what do you think?? When you saw my name, did you know how to pronounce it correctly?? It is awkward to say??? (In all honesty, when I met my husband, I thought it was really weird to say! I debated on hyphenating my name when we got married because I really didn't like Haefner!) Does the name just look weird????

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Writers Age?? Does it matter????

The other day I took a book out from the that was made into a major motion picture (which I loved BTW). I'd never read the book so I grabbed it. Now that I am a writer myself...I take the time to read acknowledgments and the copyright stuff.....and while doing this, I notice her year of birth.....uh...same as mine. And the book came out 6 years ago. Yeah...she was about 26 when her first book was published that soon after it made millions at the box office........

Then today I was reading the talented Natalie Whipple's Blog. She made mention in a comment that she is not yet 26. (She recently snagged a fabulous agent of her own!!)

God do I feel ancient. And I shouldn't. I'm only 32. That's still young....right? RIGHT?

But it made me wonder if age matters. I know some writers write for years and years and do not find publishing success until they're middle aged or older. Others get an early start and by the time they reach the quarter century marker...their writing career has already blossomed.

So does youth give an advantage...or does time and experience???? Thoughts???

I guess I can't complain too much...I was 27 when I started writing fiction seriously. I've accomplished a lot in the past 4+ years.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Okay...if anyone has the time...I need some opinions.

I am debating on a POV switch...but the entire book is finished....92,000 words. This would be a MAJOR project. Book is written in 1st, debating on switching to 3rd so I can insert some POV from the hero.

So here goes. First scene. What do you like better?

The original in 1st:

I sighed and rolled my eyes as I answered the question for the third time.

“Yes, Mrs. Vandewater, your daughter’s wedding bouquet will be delivered to your house by noon along with all of the attendant’s flowers.”

I slouched into my leather desk chair and doodled the name Vandewater on a yellow legal pad. I added horns to the V and a pointed tail to the R. As the owner of a service oriented business, “The customer is always right” becomes a motto I have no choice but to live by, regardless of how insane it makes me sometimes. Numerous times I would have liked to take this lovely adage and chuck it right out the window, watching it splatter on the street like a water balloon tossed from ten stories up. What joy I’d have telling the customer exactly what I thought of them and where they could take their “one last question”. But in the end my desire to please everyone triumphs.

“No, I will not get lost getting to your house. I have the directions you gave me, plus printed directions off the Internet. I also have your home phone number, your cell phone number and your maid’s cell phone number programmed into my phone just in case.”

The door chime sounded and I watched a wide-eyed twenty-something step over the threshold. Her face beamed as her head slowly panned the shop. She smiled as she stepped toward the nearest shelf and caressed a plumed guestbook pen.
High-pitched screeches resonated from the receiver of the phone and I turned my attention back to this year’s Momzilla, a severe pain in the ass that had given headaches to my headaches. Each wedding season there had to be one nut and this lady was the whole can. She had driven me completely crazy for the past nine months, ever since she and her blue-eyed, blonde of a daughter/princess/pretty puppet on a string walked into my shop.

“Yes, I already spoke with the caterer about setting up the centerpieces exactly how you described. Is there anything else?…Okay then, I will see you on Saturday. Have a wonderful day!”

The greeting rolled off my tongue quite naturally with my perfected fake niceness, even though my brain was ready to explode. I then took a deep breath and let it out, purging my body of all things Vandewater.

“Hello! I’m Roda,” I said as I approached my newest client. “Can I help you with something?”

“Um, yeah, I guess. I uh, just got engaged,” she smiled coyly and waved her sparkly little diamond in front of me. It was a really pretty one. In this line of work I see many diamond rings and I’d seen my share of ugly ones over the years. This one was simple yet elegant, the kind I’d dreamed of seeing on my own finger someday. But first I needed to find a man willing to stick around for more than a month or two.

“Oh, how wonderful! Congratulations! Have you set a date?”

“Yes, June 7th of next year.”

I heard the phone ring as I showed her around the shop, pointing out various books, magazines and bouquet samples.

“Roda,” my assistant called out. “Line two is for you. It’s Mrs. Vandewater.”

“You’ll have to excuse me one moment,” I said to the new bride and sat her down with a photo album filled with pictures my past brides had sent me, snapshots showcasing the beautiful floral bouquets I made for them. I dragged my feet over to my desk, plopped into my chair and took a cleansing breath before picking up the receiver.

Mrs. Vandewater and her daughter Penelope had sat with me at least a dozen times to choose the bouquets and other flower arrangements for the wedding with several of those times being impromptu visits and of course only five minutes before I planned to close up shop for the night. In between our meetings, Mrs. Vandewater called me at least once a week to ask the most mundane of questions. Each and every time she called I cringed, but thanks to my fake niceness, I proudly maintained my professionalism. This was one wedding I could not wait to be done with. Only had three more days to go.

“Yes, Mrs. Vandewater. What can I do for you?”

“I need to make sure there won’t be any of that tacky netting in my Penelope’s bouquet. You know how I hate anything cheap.”

I answered her as politely as possible, even though she could have found the information herself if she simply looked at her copy of the order. It had been printed in big bold letters: ‘NO TULLE WHATSOEVER’.

After going over the directions with me yet again, I finally hung up the phone. I looked up to find my new bride-to-be standing in front of a full length mirror holding one of my silk bouquet samples, a simple hand-tied arrangement of white roses and Lily of the Valley. I took a rhinestone encrusted tiara off the shelf, fluffed its finger-length veil and placed it atop her head.

“What do you think?”

“Wow,” she replied as her eyes glossed over. The smiles I’d seen in that mirror were what I lived for. Those moments got me through the insane headache moments of other brides and their mothers and reminded me why I loved my job so much.

“Will I really look like one of those pictures on my wedding day?” she asked while pointing to a poster-sized print on the wall.

“I’ll do everything I can to make sure you do!” I promised.

New in 3rd:

Roda Morgan sighed and rolled her eyes as she answered the question for the third time.

“Yes, Mrs. Vandewater, your daughter’s wedding bouquet will be delivered to your house by noon along with all of the attendant’s flowers.”

She slouched down in her leather desk chair and doodled on a yellow legal pad, taking the name Vandewater and added horns to the V and a pointed tail to the R. As the owner of a service oriented business, “The customer is always right” became a motto she had no choice but to live by, regardless of how insane it sometimes made her. Numerous times she would have liked to chuck that motto right out the window, watching it splatter on the street like a water balloon tossed from ten stories up. What joy she’d have telling the customer exactly what she thought of them and where they could take their “one last question”. But in the end, her desire to please everyone won out.

“No, I will not get lost getting to your house. I have the directions you gave me, plus printed directions off the Internet. I also have your home phone number, your cell phone number and your maid’s cell phone number programmed into my phone just in case.”

The door chime sounded and Roda looked up to find a wide eyed twenty-something. She had a glossed-over look in her eyes and began browsing around the shop, stopping to caress a fluffy guestbook pen and smiled.

More screeching came from the receiver of the phone and Roda turned her attention back to this year’s Momzilla, a severe pain in the ass that had given headaches to her headaches. Each wedding season there had to be one nut and this lady was the whole can. She had driven Roda completely crazy for the past nine months, ever since she and her blue-eyed, blonde of a daughter/princess/pretty puppet on a string walked into her shop, Bridal Blossoms by Roda.

“Yes, I already spoke with the caterer about setting up the centerpieces exactly how you described. Is there anything else?...Okay then, I will see you on Saturday. Have a wonderful day!”

The greeting rolled off her tongue quite naturally with what she called “fake niceness”, even though her brain was ready to explode. She took a deep breath and let it out, purging her body of all things Vandewater.

“Hello! I’m Roda,” she said as she approached her newest client. “Can I help you with something?”

“Um, yeah, I guess. I uh, just got engaged,” she smiled coyly and waved her sparkly little diamond in front of Roda. She admired it, a simple yet elegant setting; one she’d dreamed of seeing on her own finger someday. But first she needed to find a man willing to stick around for more than a month or two.

“Oh, how wonderful! Congratulations! Have you set a date?”

“Yes, June 7th of next year.”

The phone rang as Roda showed the bride-to-be around the shop, pointing out various books, magazines and bouquet samples.

“Roda,” her assistant called out. “Line two is for you. It’s Mrs. Vandewater.”

“You’ll have to excuse me one moment,” she said to her customer and sat her down with a photo album filled with pictures past brides had sent in, snapshots showcasing the beautiful floral bouquets Roda made for them. She dragged her feet over to the desk, plopped into the chair and took a cleansing breath before picking up the receiver.

Mrs. Vandewater and her daughter Penelope had sat with Roda at least a dozen times to choose the bouquets and other flower arrangements for the wedding with several of those times being impromptu visits and of course only five minutes before the shop closed for the night. In between meetings, Mrs. Vandewater called at least once a week to ask the most mundane of questions. Each and every time she called Roda cringed, but proudly maintained her professionalism and most treasured trait. This was one wedding she could not wait to be done with. Only three more days to go.

“Yes, Mrs. Vandewater. What can I do for you?”

“I need to make sure there won’t be any of that tacky netting in my Penelope’s bouquet. You know how I hate anything cheap.”

Roda answered her as politely as possible, even though she could have found the information herself if she simply looked at her copy of the order. It had been printed in big bold letters: ‘NO TULLE WHATSOEVER’.

After going over the directions yet again, she finally hung up the phone. Roda looked up to find the new bride-to-be standing in front of a full length mirror holding one of the silk bouquet samples, a simple hand-tied arrangement of white roses and Lily of the Valley. Roda took a rhinestone encrusted tiara off the shelf, fluffed its finger-length veil and placed it atop her head.

“What do you think?”

“Wow,” she replied as her eyes glazed once again. The smiles Roda had seen in that mirror were what she lived for. Those moments got her through the insane headache moments of other brides and their mothers and reminded her why she loved her job so much.

“Will I really look like one of those pictures on my wedding day?” the bride asked while pointing to a poster-sized print on the wall.

“I’ll do everything I can to make sure you do!” Roda promised.

Ever change POV after something's been written???

I am seriously thinking of a POV change on my 3rd novel. It's currently in 1st and completely finished. I read this post about POV today over at Fiction Groupie's blog and it really made me think. I remembered how frustrating it was at times to write that book and NOT be able to get in my hero's head.

Has anyone ever taken an entire novel and changed the POV??? Sounds like an extreme amount of work. But maybe it would be worth it???

Bookstores need carts or something!!!!

I was out and about the other shopping, other miscellaneous errands, one of which included a stop at my local Barnes and Noble.

I love book stores, as I'm sure all writers do.......I walk in and immediately feel at peace. Gleaming covers smile at me...their bindings fresh..unbent. I could easily spend hours walking up and down the aisles, admiring cover art, reading blurbs on the backs and checking the insides too. Oh how I wish I had mega-millions so I could just buy every book I wanted!!

I feel inspired when I'm there too...proof is staring at me from every IS possible to get published and have your book sitting on the shelf with all the others!!!! I usually wish I had my laptop with me so I could snuggle up in one of the nail head trimmed chairs and write and write all day long.

But this trip to B&N was not a very fun one. I had my son with me and unfortunately I only had our double stroller with us and it was buried behind several bags of groceries and other things in our mini-van. No way I could have gotten it out...well...with my sanity still intact anyway. So I took him by the hand and went in. I sighed as I walked past all the tables and the Bargain of my favorite stops in the store. I bee-lined for the children's section to get what I needed. (My daughter has a birthday party to go to and I had another children's present to give. I got both kids Toys R Us gift cards but needed something to go I decided on getting them both an early reader book to go with the GC.) So anyway, my son is almost 22 months and wants to touch everything and run around and I know that if I let go of his hand for two seconds, he will run amok. I manage to sit him on the floor by the early readers. I browse while he also "browses" and yanks books out from their places. I try as quickly as possible to find one girl book and one boy book then clean up my son's mess. (My apologies to the workers of the Children's section at B&N...none were put back where they belonged.) We leave the section and I sadly dash past all the books I wish I could look at and get in line. The clerk asks me if I have a B&N rewards card thingy..I tell him yes but I can't dig for it in my purse. I know that if I let go of my son, he will take off. I pay with my one free hand and we leave.

But if Barnes and Noble had carts with a kid seat......oh yes...I would have been able to spend a ton more time in there!!!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Hubby made me laugh!!!

So the yesterday he is quizzing our daughter for her spelling test...she's in 1st grade, so the words are pretty simple. One was "lot". She spells it perfectly. I am in the other room and I hear him ask her to spell "a lot". She does and I come right out and say to hubby, " know that's two words, right?" He then proceeds to playfully argue with me. He finally accepts it but then says, "You're just playin' with me, right?"

"No honey.....'a lot' is two words."

So he goes to find a dictionary. I run and get mine and show him he is wrong. I smile and shake my head at him...we have a good laugh.

Friday, November 6, 2009

So my husband says to me the other day.....

Him: "You need to work on an autograph."

Me: "What?"

Him: "You can't go signing autographs with your normal signature. That's boring."

Me: "Um...okay...."

So my husband thinks I need to create some fabulous artwork with my name so when I start doing book signings I will be all set. I'm not a count-my-chickens-before-they've-hatched kind of I am in no way, shape or form going to be creating an autograph any time soon. But his enthusiasm and optimism about my writing career is so wonderful....and baffling.

When I quit my full time gig as a floral designer at a flower shop almost 7 years ago...he was worried....very worried. I was due to have our first child and doing my own floral business from home was always my dream. He was worried about giving up a huge chunk of income. I knew my home-based business would not generate the income my full time job did, but we wouldn't be paying daycare and most importantly, I'd be happy and here for our child. He was less than supportive about the venture but it worked out money-wise.... After a while though...I lost my love for the work....I was taken over by a different, ever-growing passion.

So what did hubby say when I told him I wanted to give up my floral business and ALL income to concentrate on my writing...."Yes! You should do it!"

Men....who understands em'? But I love him to death and it makes me so happy to see him excited about my successes and to hear how he brags about me to his friends, family and coworkers! :)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Digital book readers, how's a girl to choose????

I have wanted one of these fabulous gadgets since they arrived on the scene....but lack of funds has put it on the bottom of my wish list. But now the prices seem to be coming down and different models are being's becoming more of a reality for me. Yippee!!!!!

I was COMPLETELY bummed yesterday in Target. I've been checking out the Sony Reader and I played with one at Walmart last week. I looked at the new Reader Pocket at Toys R Us, but it was not a working sample so no playtime with that. I was at Target getting some other things and I knew they had the original Reader so I thought I'd mosey on over to electronics and see if they had the Pocket to play with. Couldn't find them anywhere. I asked the worker in electronics. She said they CLEARANCED OUT the remaining Readers they had and they were all gone. They sold them for....are you reader for this....$75. I wanted to scream. $75!!!!!!!! I asked how long ago...she said about a month. So at least I missed it by weeks rather than just a day or two.

So now I am starting to do research and weighing what I want and need and comparing prices. I love the price of the Reader Pocket, but you cannot make notes in the margin. For normal books...not a big deal...but maybe I'd like to upload my own work and read it on that and make notes that way. But is that worth an extra $100??? I would need to do edits on my laptop anyway.

I need feedback on this...please tell me what you have, how you use it....if you're happy.....

And now today I saw at Barnes and Noble that they are coming out with their own book reader....but you can only buy ebooks from B&N. But I think Kindle is like that too, right?? You can only buy books from Amazon??? What about the Sony...can you only buy books from the Sony store???

And then I run into the money thing. I sooooooooooooooooo badly want to buy books and support fellow writers....but I'm kinda poor!! (Not really...I like to joke. But we are a single income family and once bills are paid and food's been bought, not a ton of leftover money...especially in winter when my husband can't supplement his income with overtime.) So would spending the money on a digital book reader even be worth it for me right now???

*Sigh* Maybe I will have to wait a while before I get one.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

An Award!!! Thanks Kristie!!

A HUGE thanks to Kristie at R.A.W. Random Acts of Writing for honoring me with the Heartfelt Blog Award!!

This really means a lot to me!! One of the main focuses of my blog is to keep things real and part of being real for me is putting all my feelings out there. I want my readers to know me, share in my joys, my frustrations......I want to connect with others and be someone they can identify with!

Here are my honorees:

Lady Glamis (I know you may not read this, with taking a much needed break from blogging, but I ALWAYS appreciate your comments!!)
Megan Rebekah Always love reading your posts!!
Natalie Whipple Great posts!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Kind of excited here!!!

Got an email today from the people at Chicken Soup for the Soul. I'd written a piece a long while back....about my mom and my step mom and how I never knew why my biological mom left. But now as an adult, I don't so much care. My step mom was wonderful and I couldn't have asked for better!

So I came across a submission call for a CSFTS "Thanks Mom" edition. I sent the piece....I figured- "What the heck?"

Well, lo and my inbox today was an email informing me that the piece made it to the final round...which only 5% of entries make!! AND it said the vast majority of those entries make it into the final book! SWEET!!!!! If it makes it I get $200 and 10 copies of the book. All rights revert to me too!

My career keeps moving step by step in the right direction....some days I just cannot believe this is happening for me!!!!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Read like a reader, not like a writer....

Now that I write and edit and am going through this whole process with a professional editor....I am having an EXTREMELY hard time reading books and turning off the writer part of me. I see sentences written poorly (or at least I think they are written poorly. I see all the ways that it could be said better, clearer, smoother) or a grammar mistake (I gasp when I see those. Hello??? What is the purpose of a line editor if they don't catch stuff like that before it goes to print????) I see those no no words and adverbs that I spent months deleting and rewording in my own manuscript. Sometimes I get so distracted that I get lost and have a hard time concentrating on the story.

Then I have to tell myself to stop. I tell myself to chill out and just read. Read the story and lose myself in it...enjoy it like a every other Jane out there.

Does anyone else have this problem?? How do you remedy it???

Sunday, November 1, 2009

To all the NANO's out there....

Wishing you all lots of luck as you start today!!!!

One of these years I WILL do it too!!! It always seems something comes up when November rolls around and I just can't set it aside to concentrate on it. This year it's editing. I am expecting my first round of copy edits from my editor soon...hopefully by mid month. I'd hate to be on a roll and then have to set it aside to concentrate on something that needs my immediate attention.

Or maybe that's an easy excuse. What would the harm be in getting something new started???

I don't know..... I'm working on editing some other projects that I can submit them to my publisher. Plus I want to do another edit of my third novel so I can take it to The Write Stuff conference in March and pitch it to an agent.

And time...throw one more excuse on the pile. I really really need to carve out more writing time. I get a solid 3 hours on the computer in the afternoon when my son naps...but that time needs to be divided between email, networking, blogging, fun stuff (Facebook) and other stuff like check book balancing, uploading photos, etc... Sometimes the writing portion of my time is reduced to an hour or so. Hubby and I keep saying we are going to get a better schedule for me more time to write. We need to treat it like more of a job than we are. If I had a job outside of the home...I'd have to leave every day. We need to treat writing like a job. But as always, we have trouble with that....I may leave the room but they all know I'm still in the house. As any good mom out's extremely hard to hear your child scream and not go running towards it.

So anyway...doo luck to everyone out there!!! Can't wait to hear of your progress!!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

I'm about 99% sure I am going to a Conference FINALLY!!

I am very very very excited about this!!! I received an email from my publisher yesterday telling their authors that they will be participating in The Write Stuff, a conference. Of course I checked it out right away. It's in Allentown, PA....just under a 6 hour drive for me...doable. Then I looked at the cost....holy cow it's cheap!!!! Only $120 for non members and it includes all workshops, breakfast, lunch, a welcome reception, etc....I was blown away!! I checked out last year's schedule of events...awesome!!! They haven't announced much about this year's conference, but Kim Lionetti from Bookends will be there! And guess what?? She represents women's fiction and romance!! Conference attendees get a discount on a room at the hotel where it is held...$85 a night.....bargain!! I'm thinking I can do the whole thing for around $350 if my writer friend Sarah gives me the thumbs up and splits gas and hotel with me!!

Anyone else thinking of going to this conference???

Friday, October 30, 2009

That first moment

I remember the exact moment I knew I wanted to write a novel.

I've written my entire life practically, though I never called myself a writer. I kept a diary when I was a kid and teen, religiously....pages upon pages I'd pour my thoughts onto each night...especially in high school with teenage drama at it's peak. I was the reporter for a club in high school too..even won a state award for it. It was thrilling to have my little pieces published in local newspapers...see my name in lights...or newsprint anyway. I even applied to college for Journalism- I passed on it though. But I continued to write in my diary/journal..sometimes I went months without life can get so busy.

But the moment I wanted to write a entire fictional story...that came at a friend's house during game night...before we all had kids. A bunch of early twenty-somethings playing Guestures and drinking. At one point, a couple of my friends broke out into old song- like 60's I think. We laughed and everyone continued on....except me. The wheels in my brain were spinning. What if I took that silly song lyric and applied the situation to a real person in present day...and wrote a story about it. I could do that!!

And so started my infatuation with writing stories and creating my own worlds.

That original story did get shelved..the MC was male and I found it incredibly difficult to write from a male's perspective, especially in 1st person. I will finish it some day though...i still love the concept! I moved on to something a little closer to my heart after that. And like many novelist, my first completed story was based on my own life. I love that story so was so near and dear to me, as crappy as it was!! But I had done it...I had completed an entire novel!!! I felt so accomplished!! It's sitting here in my laptop...waiting for the day I yank it out, dust it off and make it into something fantastic.

What about you??? Where is your first masterpiece?? What inspired you? When did you first know when you wanted to write novels??

Thursday, October 29, 2009

How important is word count to you???

I remember way back when I first started writing a novel. It was just this random thought that had sprung into my brain. I ended up setting that story aside and started on something that was closer to my heart...a story that flowed from my finger tips much easier....a story based on my own life and experiences. I finished that story and I was so so proud of myself. At that time I counted it in was double spaced and over 500 pages. Then I learned that novels are counted by words. I was so new back then and so not familiar with word processing software that I picked a few random pages and counted the words on each page and added them and divided to get an average word count per page.....I was at about 225. I multiplied that by my page count and holy $%^@ I had a lot of words!!!!!!! I finally figured out an easier way to do my word count and my original number was around 135,000.

I worked on that story, I perfected it as much as my green self could and whittled it down to 120,000. I learned that was a reeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaly long story compared to most commercial fiction. Most fiction in my genre ranges between 80,000-90,000. I tried to cut out more but realized I couldn't without hacking off major limbs of the story. It takes place over 2's a long story!!

The story has been shelved for a while now....I was such a newbie back then and once I learned more about the craft of writing, it just wasn't worth it to spend the necessary time on it to get it where it needs to be to submit anywhere. I may go back to it someday though :)

But I learned a lot about word count and story pacing. I don't think I'll ever write a story again that takes place over such a long period of time, unless it skips a chunk of time in the middle.

What are your thoughts on word count?? Do you try to stay within a certain range? Do you just write and where it ends, it ends???

When you edit does your count go up or down??? I've gone both ways in the edit process.....For A Bitch Named Karma, it's official word count was 69,000 (up from the 64,000 when I originally finished writing it) when I submitted it to my publisher...which is short compared to other chick lit/women's fiction novels. (But not a big deal for my publisher because they publish works of all lengths from 5,000 to over 120,000) I'd tried in the past to bump it up but it just didn't work. Once I started my last self edit, per my publishers guidelines, I did manage to bump it up a few thousand by working more on eliminating adverbs and the infamous- show don't tell.

Wow...this post got kinda long!!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Do you read each and every comment on your blog???

My blog time is limited so I just cannot read every post every day by every blogger that I follow. I can't imagine anyone does unless you spend your entire day just reading and posting on blogs!!

Some of the blogs I read end up with 40, 50, 100 comments. Holy Cow!!! I cannot imagine having that many comments on one of my posts!!! Yikes!! I love reading what people have to say about my posts and it brings me such joy when people tell me how they feel about my thoughts.

But what if someday I do get 50 comments on one blog post??? I'm not sure if I could physically read that many comments every day.

And the blogs that generate that much of a the bloggers even read the comments????

So bloggers out you read every single comment??? Or once they get to a certain point do you stop???

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A range of emotions

For me, a story is not complete unless I've laughed, felt butterflies in my stomach and cried at one time or another throughout the story. And this is whether it's my story or someone else's. I love the ups and downs, the highs and lows, the laughter, the pain, the flutters of a first kiss!

I love writing something that brings a huge smile to my face. I love writing a first kiss scene or a sex scene that makes my stomach feel like a million butterflies are swirling around inside. And tears....I've shed tears while writing my stories, both from joy and sorrow.

My only hope is that my stories do this for others. I've gotten feedback form friends who've read my stuff and nothing makes me happier than hearing them tell me they sobbed at the end!! :)

Friday, October 23, 2009

The piece that is nominated for a Pushcart

I was asked what this piece is I decided to post it for you all to read!!


Flying in Pink Satin

I fidget with my hair, smoothing an already perfect knot atop my head. I check the pink satin ribbons criss-crossed at my ankles to reassure myself of their stability. Their pink is a bit more faded than the last time my fingers tightened them; their feel is softer too, but their strength is still there. I hope to pull from them what I need. They must do so much more today than simply hold slippers to my feet.

I look around the small waiting room which has begun to fill with others dressed like me, black Lycra with fluttering organza skirts. Their faces are smooth, devoid of crows’ feet and laugh lines. Even their ribbons are youthful, shining a much brighter shade of pink than mine. I look down at my feet once again, dull and dirty satin staring back at me. Does there come a time when it is just too late to reclaim a passion?

When the door opens, I follow into a room of floor to ceiling reflection. There is no hiding. A soft melody trails from the shelf as the instructor begins her lesson. I place my right hand firmly on the wooden bar but my body freezes in place. I will my feet to move like the others, but they won’t concede.

My gaze falls to the floor and I remember. I am taken to a joyous place where these same dull satin shoes soared and my heart did too. A warmth starts in my toes, climbing up my calves, my knees, my thighs. My feet start to find positions they hadn’t in years. They move like the motions were just made yesterday, rather than years ago. First position, second position, demi plie, grande plie, releve and back down again. I feel the warmth begin in my heart.

As our stretches come to an end, we line up. One by one the girls go ahead of me, each taking a few sashays then leaping into the air. I feel the fear and chill creep back into my chest. Simple warm-ups and bends are one thing. Can I reclaim the sensation of flying?

My turn approaches. I look to the instructor, a woman who is a bit seasoned like myself. She smiles at me and nods her head. Maybe she sees something familiar in me. I turn back and the line in front of me has disappeared. My arms form an “L”; the right straight in front, left out to the side. My right foot is behind me in preparation. On one and two, I sashay and on three my left foot crosses in front while my arms cross at my chest. On four my arms burst out from my body as I lift off the ground. I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, my head held high, my dulled satin shoes no longer appearing that way. The corners of my mouth have turned toward the heavens. I’m flying once again.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I've been nominated!!!!

I am so excited!!!! Here is an email I got today:


Flash Me Magazine nominated six stories for the Pushcart Prize
from stories we published in 2009. We are pleased to announce
that your story, "Flying in Pink Satin", published January 31,
2009, was one of those six nominations!

The Pushcart Prize - Best of the Small Presses series, published
every year since 1976, is the most honored literary project in
America. Hundreds of presses and thousands of writers of short
stories, poetry and essays have been represented in the pages of
our annual collections.

You can learn more at their web site:

Congratulations and good luck!
The staff at Flash Me Magazine

Wish me luck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Just how many adults read YA for the fun of it???

I know a lot of writers who read YA because they need to get a handle on the genre for their own projects. Me, I read YA because I want to!!

I don't know what it is...well, maybe I do. I am a sucker for a coming of age story!! And nothing makes me melt like reading of first loves, first kisses...first....everything! It's a feeling you just don't get in adult fiction. It takes me back...makes me feel nostalgic for the days when I felt those flutters of puppy love!

Some of my most favorite books are YA. As a kid, my favorite author was Judy Blume- Are You There God, It's me Margaret was my fav!! I remember being so excited for her when she got her period for the first time (I hadn't gotten mine yet when I read the book). I love love love Ann Brashares's The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. Every book in the series makes me laugh and cry multiple times throughout! She really knows how to write books that grow with her audience too. Sometimes I wish she would continue the story into Adult fiction just because I know her characters so well and I want to know how they are handling adult life!! (Which all goes back to my post the other day about sequels!)

I just finished the third installment of the Gallagher Series by Ally Carter, Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover, a series about a super secret school for teenage girl spies. While I'm not real fond of the way she leaves so many unanswered questions in her books, she's got me hooked and I need to know what happenes next!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress.....can we compare it to the publishing industry?

The Carousel of Progress is one of my favorite attractions at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. It was originally built for the 1964 New York World's Fair. It moved to Disneyland for a few years then made it's permanent home in Florida. If you've never been to Disney World, this is a must see, for me at least :)

The attraction takes it's guests through the 20th century, starting at the turn of the century, then into the 20's, the 40's and then present day. The continuing theme is progress and how we always think it can't get any better, but then a few years down the road, things are different and better and again we can't think things will ever be any better.

With all the discussion lately about the publishing industry...and where it's going to be a few years from now....I think of the Carousel of Progress. For a long while, I'm sure people thought books were fantastic and they were great just the way they were....and couldn't possibly think of how they could be improved upon. Well, lo and behold, the digital reader was introduced and it's thrown the industry up in the air. But I find myself thinking to the future....5, 10, 15 years from now, will digital book readers be the norm and and we won't be able to think of a better way to read a story?

Sometimes I think people have a hard time embracing change...but change can be a great thing.

"There's a great, big, beautiful tomorrow, shining at the end of every day!
There's a great, big, beautiful tomorrow, and tomorrow is just a dream away!"

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The big 5-0!! How do you feel about your number of Followers?

Hello to my growing list of followers!!! I now have 50! Woo Hoo!!!!!

I have to say, I never ever thought I'd have 50 followers. I remember those first few weeks, months of blogging. It was so new to me. I had read other blogs before...occasionally wrote a blog on Myspace. I designed a free website at and kept a blog there, but they were few and far between. Then I discovered Blogspot and the HUGE world of bloggers!! I made a commitment to do this blog thing and maybe it would help me. It would be really cool to meet new people, writers, share, commiserate...maybe make some connections. To quote HSM, we're all in this together, right?

So anyway, I started blogging, and of course my first few followers were friends I already had in real life, then a few of my friends that I met online through communities. I browsed and found a few blogs I liked and became a follower. Then I got my first non-friend follower...someone I didn't already know. How cool!!! Someone out in blogland liked what I had to say and wanted to read more!! As the days and weeks passed...I got more.....I remember feeling so good when that spot was completely filled with faces....poeple like me...they really really like me!

Now I'm up to 50 and I am so grateful!! I admit I am not the most interesting blogger. I read posts by others that are far wittier and give great advice. I'm so new...I have no advice to give yet!! I don't post as much as I'd like...because quite frankly...I have no clue what to blog about most days.

So a huge thanks to my first 50!! Thank you for following me! I truly apreciate it!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Be my Facebook Fan!!!

Hi all! Just trying another way to connect with people! Here s the link to my fan page on Facebook: Stephanie Haefner

Do you have one??? If so, please respond with the link!!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

To Sequel or not to Sequel.....

As a reader, I am always asking "what happens next?" when I finish a book..any book. The main character could live happily ever after but I always want to know if he or she really did. Did she go on to have dozens of babies with the man of her dreams? Did they buy a house and move to the suburbs? Or did more problems arise later on.

As a writer, even long before my manuscript was accepted for publication...I had the idea of a sequel rolling around in my brain. My story is complete has a definitive ending, the kind readers expect for my genre. All questions are answered, no lose ends are left. But even as the writer, I'd love to find out if the happily ever after really did pan out.

I just finished reading a book today...the third in a series. This author, as I noticed in the past two books in the series, purposely leaves many questions unanswered and to me that is frustrating. It feels like I just read a part of the story, not a complete book. Now I am left hoping she is in the process of writing a fourth. As one of her readers, I would be severely disappointed, even angry, if she didn't.

(Edited to add: I checked the author's website and she is indeed in the process of writing #4. I feel somewhat better about the ending of book #3.)

So, what do you think of sequels???

Friday, October 16, 2009

Editing while you write

I know some people are compulsive self editors. They write a paragraph then reread it a zillion times and rework it till it is perfect. Then they move on to the next. It's quite a long process for them. That's their way and if that's what works...great!

Me, I've never written that way. I've always been a get-it-on-paper (or rather computer) kind of gal. I always had the need to get the thoughts out of my head before they disappeared forever. It worked for me. I was able to write an entire novel in a relatively short amount of time. I then had to go back and fix things and perfect it, but the story was mostly done. Is my way better? Different yes, it works for me.

I realized something I do now that I never really did before though. Spelling errors. I used to just plow through. I am the first to admit I am not a great typist. I never took a typing class in my life and though I can type decently fast (my husband, who does a one finger hunt and peck method sits in awe of me), I must look at the keyboard and I make many mistakes. I used to be able to ignore the spelling errors (the zillions that there are) and go on...fixing them way later. But for some reason I just can't do that anymore. I have to fix them immediately. Thank God for right click spelling fixes!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Oh Yeah! That's ME she's talking about!!!!!

I am floating on a cloud right now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Read my editor's blog post from yesterday (visit her at Piper Patter)...and my heart literally wanted to burst!! I wanted to run around my house screaming, but by son was napping so I held it all inside!

Here is what she said, in case you don't want to go visit her page:

I started reading the new Dan Brown, The Lost Symbol, for a book club, but keep finding myself with the Reader open to the next book I'll be editing... A Bitch Named Karma, by Stephanie Haefner. It's chick-lit (which I'm thrilled to finally have on my editing roster!) and a ton of fun.

Mr. Brown will just have to wait.

As a writer you wait and hope and pray and wish so hard that someday someone will feel the way you do about your book...and then that day comes.....and the feeling is amazing!!! It's up there with my wedding day and the birth of my children!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Length of blogs...what is best??

I'll admit...there are many times I start reading a blog post and it loses me and I'm barely a quarter of the way in. Is there a need for such lengthy blog posts???

I do see many posts, for writers, giving writing yes, those sometimes have to be long.

Me, I like short posts. I like being able to read some great piece of advice or a quirky story, then comment and be on my merry way. Maybe it's because my blog reading time is limited....if I only have half an stinks to only read one or two.

I try to keep my blog posts short and sweet. I try to make them interesting and able to be read quickly!

What about you??? Do you try to keep posts you strive for epic posts???

Saturday, October 10, 2009

It's in her hands!!! (well...her inbox, anyway!)

I officially sent my manuscript to my editor!! She's had it in her inbox for over a week now. I stayed up to finish it the night before I left for my trip. I had to wake at 3:30 am to get ready to catch my flight, and there I was at 11 pm the night before hitting "send" on the email to my editor.

Now I am sitting here wondering how long it will be till I get my first official professional editor's comments. What will she say? What will she think? How much red will there be????? I'm both excited and terrified beyond belief.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Do you envision a face when you write??

I do. Usually it is some popular actor...if it's someone I've watched many times...and studied (especially cute hunky guys!!), I know they way they move, the way they smile. I know what their voice sounds like...I can hear my dialogue come from their lips. I envision them in my scenes and it helps me give better descriptions of the action. The story comes alive in my head and it helps me get it onto paper (or rather computer screen!) And if I am not sure about something, I simply have my characters play out a new scene and if I like my mental movie, it gets changed in my manuscript.

So of course.....IF my book were ever to be made into a movie.......I already have the leads picked out :) For A Bitch Named Karma, leading lady is Rebecca Budding. She knows how to play a sassy woman. Her gay best friend, Cameron Mathison- never seen him play a gay man, but I think he would be good at it!! (Google them if you need a visual!) And my MC's love interest.....oh yes....Zac Efron! (Yes, she falls for a young guy and he is dreamily perfect for the part!!!!! And if my book does someday get made into a movie, I would insist that I be present for any and all love scene filmings!!) He has those eyes and that sexy innocent smile!