Friday, April 25, 2008

April . . .

. . . is zipping right along, isn’t it?

Today I’m stopping by to congratulate a couple of friends on their recent writing successes.

Rachel Goldsworthy is a finalist in the Wisconsin Fab Five contest with her women’s fiction manuscript, PASTEUR’S ANGEL. Good luck, Rachel!

And Jo Beverley’s stunning new book, A LADY’S SECRET, is #14 on the New York Times bestseller list!

Congratulations, Jo!

Happy Friday!


Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Office—"Hey, Pam . . . "

Have you ever noticed that when TV writers finally get two characters together, the conflict between them often evaporates and the couple is no longer interesting? Not so with Jim and Pam on The Office.

Last week the show returned from hiatus with Michael and Jan hosting the dinner party from hell and then finally calling it quits. This week, Michael’s biological clock was ticking. He wants to have a family, and he’s also shopping for a new chair for his office. The chair model in the supply catalogue turns out to be the perfect woman for him, with only one minor hitch. She died in a car accident.

To console Michael, Pam sets him up with her landlady, who happens to be a very nice woman, just not hot enough for Michael. That situation creates a perfect transition from the episode’s main plotline to some lovely Jim-and-Pam banter.

If Pam’s landlady kicks her out, she can move in with Jim.

Except she won’t move in unless they’re engaged.

Has he really not proposed yet?

Pam raises her ringless hand for inspection.

Then, in one of those fabulous vignettes with Jim talking to the camera, he shows us the ring he bought a week after they started dating.

The promise of Jim’s proposal will keep fans of The Office coming back for more. I can’t begin to guess what the writers have in store for us, but I’ll bet Jim’s proposal will kick everyone’s butt!

"Hey, Pam. Will you wait for me one second while I tie my shoe?"

Yes, Jim. We're all waiting.

Here's what I'm watching tonight:

Brothers & Sisters is back!

I'll also be tuning in to Sweet Nothings in My Ear, a made-for-TV movie staring Marlee Matlin - a family drama about a deaf and hearing couple who struggle to decide whether or not to give their deaf son a cochlear implant.

And of course Marlee's still a contender on Dancing With The Stars!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

And the winner is . . .

The winner of an autographed copy of Marrying the Boss is . . . Sheryll!

Congratulations, Sheryll! You can contact Megan through her website and pass along your mailing address.

My apologies to all for the delay in making this announcement. Sometimes life has a way of overriding a person's good intentions and for the past couple of days, life has run over mine like a steamroller :-)


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Megan Kelly

Hello, everyone! Today, Megan Kelly is guest blogging here at The Writer Side of Life. Megan’s first book was released on Tuesday, so of course a little party was in order! So glad you could join us!

Megan Kelly read her first Harlequin Romance as a teenager and became an avid reader. She dreamed of writing those exciting and moving stories she loved. After years (and years) of writing, she finally sold to Harlequin American Romance in 2007. She'll see two books published in 2008, Marrying The Boss and The Fake Fiancee. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and two children and is well-known at her local bookstore and library.

And remember, one lucky commenter will receive an autographed copy of Marrying the Boss. We’ll post the winner tomorrow, so be sure to check back.

And now, here’s Megan!

* * *

Hello! I’d like to thank Lee for the opportunity to guest blog today. She’s a real sweetie. If you ever get a chance to meet her at a booksigning or event, you should try to get there.

As Lee mentioned, my first book, Marrying the Boss, hit the bookstore shelves on Tuesday. I don’t have words to explain how excited I am, but maybe hearing about the journey I took to get published (long and circuitous!) will help you understand.

I fell in love with romances as a teenager, but back in those days, all the heroes were alpha males and treated the heroines badly. Many of these books hit the wall (because I threw them), leaving me dissatisfied. I started imagining scenes which would have made each book better. Soon I knew I wanted to write romances for a living. I was seventeen.

Now I’m not.

Oh, still need more? Okay. I went to college, got married, bought a computer, had children, and then started to fulfill the need to write. It wasn’t until I found the local chapter of Romance Writers of America (RWA) that I got serious. I went to a conference, met a Silhouette editor who requested my story, and I went home and wrote like crazy. It got rejected, and thank goodness! That’s definitely my “learning book,” dear to my heart, but never to see the light of day again. It’s that bad.

But I kept at it. I went to conferences and our local RWA chapter’s monthly programs and kept learning. I joined a critique group and entered contests for feedback. I worked at my craft and tried to pick up the business stuff, too. I finaled in a few contests, and then won the Maggie, which is heralded as the number one RWA chapter contest, put on by Georgia Romance Writers. I submitted that ms to NY and went to work on another. And another. And… you get the idea.

One day, I didn’t have the heart to write anymore. I figured I’d never get published and my stories would never entertain anyone but me. I was a mess. The “people in my head” not only stopped talking to me, they vanished. (You have to be a writer to think that’s not crazy.) I kept writing, half-heartedly. I had a ms I couldn’t finish, so I’d start something new, then go back to it, then work on the other thing, then go back… I still entered contests and even finaled in the Emily from West Houston RWA (third most prestigious).

And one day, because I kept writing and was open to the experience, the people starting walking around in my head again. I don’t know where they’d been or why they returned. My family noticed I was much happier. I started a new book, not really believing I could get published but wanting to try. And, no, it didn’t happen right away. That would be too Hollywood for my life.

The story didn’t gel at first. It was about two brothers vying for the family firm. One day, a different heroine took over, insisting this was her story. She was right. I finaled in the Maggie then won the Molly from Heart of Denver RW, the second most prestigious contest.

I submitted the ms to Harlequin American Romance after the senior editor ran an article in Romantic Times magazine, asking for new authors. I sent a partial because that’s all I had written, and I still didn’t have much hope of selling, so why spend the money? She requested the full. Oh, boy! So I said goodbye to my family (just kidding) and once again wrote like mad. I gave myself a deadline of six weeks, and off it went. About four months later, the senior editor called and asked to buy it! That book is Marrying the Boss.

And that horrible, monkey-on-my-back manuscript I couldn’t finish? It’s my July release, The Fake FiancĂ©e, which still tortured me, but I loved finishing it. My favorite quote for writing is from Winston Churchill: “Never, never, never quit.”

Whew. Any questions?


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Tuesday News—Guest Bloggers, New Releases and More . . .

I’m thrilled to tell you that Harlequin American Romance’s latest debut author—Megan Kelly—will be guest blogging here at The Writer Side of Life on Thursday. Megan’s going to tell us all about her path to publication, so I hope you’ll check back. She’ll also be giving away an autographed copy of her first Harlequin American Romance, Marrying the Boss, so be sure to leave a comment or ask her a question.

All his life Mark Collins has been fighting for a place to belong. Now just when he thinks the hard-earned family business is within reach, his adoptive grandfather's will has named a challenger.

Leanne Fairbanks belongs in Collins Company as much as Mark does—and she's just as determined to become its next CEO. Until her handsome rival starts arousing feelings that have nothing to do with business. With a lot more than who's going to be boss at issue, Leanne has to decide whether winning the battle will lose her the war, especially when it's her heart at stake.
I’m really looking forward to reading your story, Megan! And speaking of Harlequin American Romances, the four April titles hit the shelves today. Be sure to check them out!

Runaway Cowboy by Judy Christenberry
Marrying the Boss by Megan Kelly
The Marriage Recipe by Michele Dunaway
Downhome Dixie
by Pamela Browning

Last but not least, it’s conflict month over at the Wet Noodle Posse and I’m blogging today about GMC—Goal, Motivation & Conflict. Drop by and say, “Hi!”

Happy reading and writing!


Sunday, April 6, 2008

Sunday Fun—Cupcakes!

Last December I blogged about the Martha Stewart Show and the “great cake” she was baking. Since then I’ve tuned into the show from time to time, including this week, which was "Cupcake Week."

I'm sometimes out of step with current trends, so I was surprised to find out that cupcakes are currently all the rage. Who knew? Certainly not me!

I only caught the Wednesday episode of Martha’s show this week, and she and her guest Karen Tack were making Corn-on-the-cob Cupcakes.

How adorable are these? They’re decorated with jelly beans and served on corn cob plates, complete with holders. Perfect for a family barbecue or a child’s birthday picnic.

The recipe and decorating instructions are on the Martha Stewart website and in Karen Tack’s cookbook, Hello, Cupcake!: Irresistibly Playful Creations Anyone Can Make.

While I was searching Amazon for cupcake cookbooks—yes, there are plenty of them!—I came across this one—A Baker’s Field Guide to Cupcakes: Deliciously Decorated Crowd Pleasers for Parties and Holidays by Dede Wilson.

This cookbook “. . . brings the user-friendly approach of the [field guide] series to the ever-popular cupcake, with fifteen master batter and frosting recipes on which the sixty cupcakes in the field guide are built. This book features creative, fun ways to decorate cupcakes for a wide range of special occasions and holidays for children and adults, with a beautiful photograph of every cupcake.”

The science nerd in me loves the field guide concept, and the non-baker side of me likes the user-friendly aspect of this cookbook. It’s spiral bound and each recipe has a two-page spread, which means the book will lie flat and all the information for a specific recipe will be at the baker’s fingertips. I especially appreciate being able to create many different kinds of cupcakes from only fifteen recipes. Even I could do this!

But why cupcakes?

According to Wikipedia, New York City’s Magnolia Bakery is credited with starting the cupcake craze.

Several years ago my daughter and I spent two weeks in New York. She was a huge fan of Sex and the City, the TV show that helped popularize the Magnolia Bakery, so we popped in when we visited Greenwich Village. Even after lining up for ten minutes to pay several dollars apiece for cupcakes, I never imagined this was a trend in the making.

Now there are cupcake shops in nearly every major city in North America. You can buy containers for transporting cupcakes and stands for serving them.

You can visit blogs like Cupcakes Take the Cake, devoted to baking and decorating cupcakes. If you're as crafty as this blogger, you can even knit yourself a cupcake. So cute!

Watching Martha Stewart’s show this week reminded me of the cupcakes my grandmother used to make from a yellow cake batter with chocolate icing. They were simple, delicious, and the perfect size for a snack or a lunchtime dessert.

Deliciously simple—maybe that’s the secret to today’s cupcake craze. What do you think?

Talk to you later,

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Tuesday News

April is TV Month! It’s been a long time since we’ve seen new episodes of our favorite shows, so April is feeling like fall premiere season all over again. Here’s what I’ll be watching:

Men in Trees — Wednesdays (currently airing new episodes)

NUMB3RS — Friday,April 4 (6 new episodes)

Samantha Who? — Monday, April 7 (6 new episodes)

30 Rock — Thursday, April 10 (5 new episodes)

The Office — Thursday,April 10 (6 new episodes)

Brothers and Sisters — Sunday, April 20 (possibly 6 new episodes)

Gossip Girl — Monday, April 21 (5 or 6 new episodes; note the new night)

Grey's Anatomy — Thursday, April 24 (not sure, but there should be 4 or 5 new episodes)

For the writers out there, April is conflict month with The Wet Noodle Posse. On April 8 I'll be blogging about characters' goals, motivation and conflict, and about writing GMC statements for our characters. But it gets better!

"Along with the award-winning Wet Noodle Posse authors, we have a star-studded
line-up of guest bloggers, including bestselling authors Jo Beverley (whose new
book, A Lady's Secret, is out today!), Susan Gable, Anna Campbell, Tawny Weber,
and Christie Kelley. You won't want to miss a single day! We will be giving away
a signed copy of a Jo Beverley novel on the 24th to a lucky participant, but you
must comment to enter. So please plan to join us all month long and bring your
questions and comments to our knowledgeable group of writers."
The Posse hopes you'll join us and our guests this month for lively discussions about conflict and the chance to win some great prizes!

Talk to you later.