Saturday, June 30, 2007

Bittersweet success - I landed an airplane!

Well, I did it.
I landed an airplane.
The good news...we survived!

My flight instructor suggested we go out with a bang. He wanted me to practice landing procedures and perform what's known as a "touch and go." It's where you land, then take right off again. We climbed into the plane and took off - no problem whatsoever. I still love flying and that won't be changing anytime soon!

Then we "landed" in the air - slowly practicing a traffic pattern while descending from 3000 feet to 2000 feet to "land." The first time going through we would have crashed and burned. I ended up at 2000 feet well ahead of the designated "runway." However, after more practice I got better. Then we headed back to the airport to practice the real thing.

I got to bring us down while my flight instructor did the actual landing, then he gave it back to me and I took off. It was SO cool. The second time we went through the procedure, I brought us in and he was ready to take over if needed, but I LANDED THE AIRCRAFT!!! Oh yeah. It was great.

Update about my instructor. He got the job he wanted and will be leaving for training next Monday. I know he is going to be incredible. The good news is when he completes training he'll be back in the area because he'll be flying out of Des Moines. I might get a chance to see him from time to time and I know his family and girlfriend will be happy to have him in the area too. It's nice to be close to home, yet able to do what you want to do for a career.

A big plus for me - when I talk to him I can pick his brain about flying the big jets. Who better to talk to for research than an airline pilot? :-)

Thanks for being such a super teacher, Ryan and good luck. See you around!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Calamity Jayne Hits the Library

I was pleased to have Kathy Bacus visit my library tonight. She talked about her writing and signed books for readers. It was a great night!

I know Kathy because we are both members of the Iowa Romance Novelists chapter of RWA based in Des Moines. Kathy is a dedicated author, former state trooper, and an all around cool lady!

We didn't have quite as large a crowd as I might have liked, but it was respectable and several bought books and had them signed - including me!

A really neat part of this is both of us are going to Nationals in July and Kathy is a finalist in the 2007 Daphne Contest for Published Writers. She is nervous and excited. I can relate because the Stroke of Midnight announcement creeps slowly forward. I'm all jittery about it. I definitely hope Kathy wins her category. It would be really wonderful and well deserved. If you enjoy a funny, cozy mystery be sure to give Calamity Jayne a try!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Body in the Library

Tonight we had a murder mystery at the library. It was a BLAST. The Teen Advisory Board and staff members were suspects. Because I worked this evening, I couldn't be part of the early fun - but I did record the newcaster broadcasts. Let me just say I am a MUCH better writer than I am actress.

We used a purchased murder mystery, though I really would have liked to try my hand at writing one from scratch. It would have been a challenge to make sure I laid out all the clues without tipping my hand. Kind of like writing a romantic suspense novel but without the really bad acting.

It was definitely interesting to peruse the game to see how it was done, and do some script rewriting. The mystery purchased didn't include a dead body and ALL the Teen Advisory Board wanted one. I even helped make up our DB so she had bluish lips and a "bruised looking" neck. Not only am I NOT an actress, I am NOT a makeup artist. But hey, I tried. She looked good, if a little striped.

All in all it was a very fun evening. Maybe next time we'll hold one for adults. It might be draw quite a crowd!!

Friday, June 22, 2007

My Flight Instructor is moving on!

I went flying today and it was a blast, except for ONE thing. I found out my flight instructor is leaving! What am I gonna do without my teacher! Waaaaaa!

Now on the plus side, he's decided to follow his dreams to become a commercial airline pilot. I really admire anyone who goes after their dream and takes a risk. I may be a bit prejudiced, but in my not so humble opinion, any airline that snaps him up is going to be very happy and should be highly smug.

Not only is he a good pilot, but he's a very patient, calm, and funny flight instructor. I'll find out more next week because - funding or not - we're flying together one last time before he leaves!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Imagine the Possibilities or Why I like to write paranormal romances...

I love to write paranormal romances. I've mentioned in other posts that I was influenced by my parents to imagine the possibilities. For myself, I like to ask..."What if?"

What if a woman finds out she is half-shapeshifter and her new lover shifts into a wolf a whim?

What if a medieval woman has psychic abilities? How does she hide them so she isn't accused as a witch?

The ideas are endless. That's why I like paranormal. I don't have to limit myself to the "real" world possibilities. I can imagine boys like Harry Potter are real. I can dream that one day I'll get to ride a dragon and fight thread. I get to spin my own tales set in a unique and wonderful universe and maybe inspire another would be writer to imagine the impossible. Or convince a reader to dream the wonderous.

That's why I write paranormal. If you're gonna dream. Well, dang it.

Dream BIG!!!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Musical Moods

I'm always surprised how many romance writers I meet who say that music inspires them when they write. I have to admit, I've used it for background too. I'm always reminded of the western music playing at the very beginning of Romancing the Stone. Remember how Joan Wilder wrote that cheesy but wonderful ending to her western? She wrote with headphones on and the soundtrack from How the West Was Won booming in the background. Flash to Joan, pulling the last page out of the typewriter, tears running down her cheeks saying, "That's so good!" And it was. It was the perfect soundtrack for her book.

When I'm writing a contemporary paranormal romance, I listen to my favorite love songs regardless of musical style. I have Billy Joel mixed with Tim McGraw and it's all good. I like to create a great mix the progresses from love song to sexy love song. And when I'm writing a love scene, there are some seriously hot love songs, like "Let's Make a Night to Remember" by Bryan Adams that makes writing that all important love scene so much easier!!

When I'm writing something historical though, I like to try to find music that fits the mood. Recently I've been writing a medieval paranormal, so I've been listening to polyphonic music by Anonymous 4, the Kings Singers singing my favorite historical folk songs like "Now is the Month of Maying," or the Medieval Baebes performing "Salva Nos." I've also discovered the Sherwood Consort and they have a nice version of "Sumer is icumen in." Listening to the right music puts me in the right brain space to work on a particular story.

What works for you when your writing? Contemporary or historical music or do you prefer blessed silence?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Writing madly

I attended my local chapter meeting for RWA today. I belong to the Iowa Romance Novelists in the Des Moines area. I was so pleased to be able to announce that I had written 90 new pages this month. The cool thing was those were all on the same manuscript. A medieval, paranormal romance called Seeking Truth. Lord Eaduin Kempe is my hero and as I said in a previous post, I'm falling for the guy. Damn he's hot.

In addition, I went shopping and found several cute outfits to wear to the RWA national conference, so I am feeling set. Now I just have to get my pitches ready and I'll feel less nervous...maybe. We'll see.

Starting next week, I will get back to writing (and editing) madly. It feels very good to be so productive!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Erotic Romance and Ratings

Of late, I've read far too many published and unpublished writers dissing erotic romance on listservs to which I belong. It has really upset me and made me angry. Posts I've read on these lists talk about erotic romance being all sex and no romance. Writers/readers say they skip over the sex to get to the next part.

Well, some important points are part of the expression of sexual love. I just wrote a love scene in which I drop clues about my hero's phobia during the love scene. If someone skips my love scene, they miss that clue and will get blindsided later in the story. BTW, it is a LOVE scene and not just sex. That's what makes it an erotic romance.

Now I won't tell a reader what they should read. I don't like being told what to read either. But another aspect of these postings included writers suggesting that books should have ratings. If publishers voluntarily put some sort of rating on their books, that is there choice but asking the state or federal government to step in to enforce some rating system is just wrong. It makes me cringe. I can imagine the easily offended specifically hunting out books with certain ratings in book stores and libraries then attempting to get those books banned. Fahrenheit 451 here we come! Now, perhaps that isn't what the writers meant, but it sure sounded that way to me.

Recently books have been challenged at the high school in my town. The uproar on both sides of the issue was thunderous. It is important to remember that every book out there is going to offend SOMEONE! Religious books offend atheists. Left wing political books offend right wingers and vice versa. Erotic romance books offend people who don't want their romances to have sex and strong language. Heck, Captain Underpants offends some parents. There is a solution...

If a book offends you, don't read it and don't buy it.
Problem solved.
All is right with the world.

For my next trick I'll solve global warming. ;-)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Adult Summer Reading - Get a clue at your library

Summer reading has started at my library. We had a wonderful kickoff picnic for kids and teens and had hundreds of kids and parents at the library to sign up. I love this time of year - even though the library becomes a zoo - because it shows how much people value the library's role in the community.

Not only do we promote a summer reading program for kids and teens, we promote adult reading too. We try to keep our summer reading program for adults simple. Most people don't have a lot of time to come into the library and read anyway. I put together a new program this time (based on something the YS librarian brought back from one of her seminars). I went to the food places in town and pitched summer reading to them in order to get coupons for free food. We had an AMAZING response. It felt great to score all those coupons to benefit/thank my readers.

People pick up their packet and it has a book mark and five entry forms. They can complete the entry forms or not. If they complete them, they can bring them in to be entered into drawings for $25 gift certificates for businesses in town. Everybody wins!

Why participate? Your time is limited and you have vacation and kids and...

Well, just remember....if you don't use it you lose it. Reading can sweep you away to new worlds and new civilizations. You can boldly go where no one has gone before. (Okay yeah, I'm a Star Trek fan - you get the idea).

So stop into your library for a chance to be swept away and have as much fun as the kids!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Am I being unfaithful?

I still love Diarmid Redwolf. Really. He is the hottest cop I've ever written. I love his humor (dry and macabre) and his sexy bod. But he has Mikaela. Diar has his happily ever after.

I feel like I should let him go. Why? I'm writing a new hero.

Lord Eaduin Kempe is my new hero and I'm falling for the guy. He's tortured and feels like he doesn't deserve love and happiness, but he does. Not only that but he is a very intense and passionate lover. Plus he looks damn good in chain mail armor!

Am I being unfaithful? I don't know and I wonder if every romance author has this reaction as she transitions from one book to the next. Do you ever feel like you are cheating on a lover when you start writing a new hero and he captures your imagination?

Friday, June 8, 2007

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Another personal post today because it's my mother's birthday. She would have been 78 years old today. I lost her in 2003 and it has left a big hole in my life. Yes, because she is my mother, but most especially because I would not be a writer today if not for her.

My mom believed in me when few others did. She encouraged me to write and told me to follow my bliss. Mom was smart, funny and a poet. No really. She wrote lovely poetry. When I lost her, I lost my best friend, my most fervent cheerleader, and my main source of unconditional love. She knew my faults and loved me anyway.

Now, the lady was not perfect. Never think it. She could be clingy and needy, stubborn, and bossy. Growing up I knew I could get around her, but I also knew I could push her just so far and no farther. She's one of the few people who has ever really understood me. I wasn't the only person who felt she was special though. Mom had many dear friends. Even acquaintences thought she was special and appreciated her humor and her genuine, warm smile.

Damn, I miss her. Have you ever wondered why I write paranormal romances? Partly my dad, but mostly my mom. Both of them were willing to entertain other religious philosophies than those with which they were raised. I remember mom getting help from the minister to get interlibrary loan books at a nearby University library. You might think that was no big deal, but what did she got on interlibrary loan? Not knitting books. Uh-uh. No, she ordered the Apochrypha and Pseudepigrapha because she wanted to read ALL the books of the Bible, not just those that ended up in the Protestant Bible she read as a child, but the expunged books, too. These suckers were 2-3 inches thick. I remember they literally filled up the dining room table because they were also a foot wide and a foot and a half or two feet tall. BIG BOOKS!

When this woman had questions, she went to the source and she researched her ass off! Her hunger for knowledge stuck with me. Dad used to do that kind of thing with science books, but just watching her read the sacred texts of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism really impressed me. Had she gone another path, she would have been a university scholar with a PhD in religion. Yeah, my mom was COOL!

She also explored new age thought. I was exposed to the used of tarot cards and psychic research. Mom valued me as an individual. She presented ideas, but never told me I had to believe as she did. Instead, she let me form my own belief system and discussed it with me. My mind was opened to the possibilities which is why I now write paranormal romance. I can imagine things because I wasn't forced to into a belief system which saw only black and white. I learned about shades of gray too.

My mother was a major influence on me. I miss her every day. I miss hearing her voice and feeling her hugs. I'll miss her until I cross over to the other side and join her. My one consolation is that I know with absolute certainty she will be waiting for me when this life is over and will provide just as much fun, teaching, and love for me in the new life I'll be beginning. And that's the way it should be.

I love you, Mom. Happy Birthday!