Thursday, November 30, 2006

American Title III--End of Round Two

The second round of the American Title III contest ended this past Sunday. Only six of the eight writers who made it through round one will go on. Yes, it was announced. No, I can't tell you.

Those of us voted out share a mixed bag of emotions. Happy for those who made it, sorry for ourselves and our fellow eliminees, relief that a certain amount of stress has been removed, disappointment that we won't get the prize. At least not in this instance ; ) I have great confidence about the publishability of my fellow finalists, and myself for that matter. It's just going to take a different route than winning the contest, that's all.

Round three starts in a couple of weeks with the Story Summary portion of the contest. I'll be sure to remind you to vote.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Season is Upon Us

I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving. We did the family thing, packing the kids into the truck (eco-unfriendly, but with 4 wheel drive, a necessity to get up my in-laws' driveway this time of year) and heading up to the Mat-Su Valley (north of Anchorage). It's a 5 hour trek on often windy, mountainous, phenominally scenic roads. This year the weather was very cooperative, which is unusual.

So now we're officially in the holiday season. The adult siblings on my husband's side exchange names, so we don't have to buy for everyone. (The kids are exempt and get tons of stuff from all the adults.) My husband, in-laws and parents keep asking me what I'd like for Christmas. I have nothing on my "ooh I'd REALLY love that" list, except to get published, of course. Somehow I doubt they or Santa can do that for me.

But on a more material note, I just can't come up with much. Not that we're so well off that I have everything one could possibly have. I'm just not good at thinking up things for myself.

My husband and I discussed getting cross country skis for the family. That's still in the discussion phase. We purchased a nice digital camera up in Anchorage (because I broke the other one that was just a year or so old--oops!). He was drooling over a compound miter saw, so we got that. My girls gave us their lists and we selected one or two things for them. But me? Nothing has caught my fancy this year. I managed to come up with earrings, a specific movie, and bookstore gift certificates. I could use a new vacuum, but do I really want one as a Christmas gift? It may come down to that if I don't come up with anything else.

Or maybe I won't worry about it. Religious connotations aside, part of what the season is about, for me, is the magic of giving, of surprising people with things they didn't realize they wanted or wouldn't have considered for themselves. So if I'm on your list, surprise me. Make me laugh with delight at the whimsy of the season.

Even better, donate to your favorite charity and tell me why it's important to you. THAT'S what the season is truly about.


Monday, November 20, 2006


A friend of mine recently said something along the lines of “You should write about living and writing in Alaska, like your blog says.” I haven’t written about being in the semi-Far North in a bit, and nothing particular about writing up here. So, here we go. Sort of. Not really : )

First, a little background. Originally, I’m from Long Island, NY. As a teen I didn’t see myself staying in “civilization” for my entire life. I went to college in a small town in North Dakota, then in Fairbanks. I was on my way to Wyoming for a stint with black-footed ferret re-introduction when I stopped off in Oregon to visit my then friend Scott. We got engaged (two weeks before I had to leave for three months), and then we were in Oregon for many years before a job in Alaska popped up for him.

I love living up here. I love the mountains and the ocean, and I have both when I look out my window. I love the moose browsing in the yard and having their babies next door. I love the fact it rarely gets over 70 in the summer. I love that it’s almost guaranteed we’ll have snow on the ground for Thanksgiving, definitely for Christmas, and sometimes for Memorial Day.

What does my penchant for cold climates have to do with writing? Everywhere I’ve lived I’ve had to deal with adjusting to the world around me. In biological terms, it’s adapt or perish. Adaptation is key in many aspects of life, particularly when you live in an environment where going outside without proper protection can freeze your skin in minutes. So you put on your bunny boots, parka, and Gore-Tex gloves to trundle to the mailbox 100 feet from your front door. You plug in you car’s oil pan heater overnight, then start it up 20 minutes before you need to leave so the engine gets a chance to warm up (my gas mileage absolutely bites in the winter), because driving a cold car at 60 below zero is uncomfortable as well as damaging. And yes, I know this from personal experience, having broken my first vehicle this way.

As a writer, adaptation can mean making changes that will give you a more marketable product, or adjusting your writing schedule around ballet and soccer practice. Sitting in front of your computer or whatever and not looking up to see what’s going on around you is dangerous. Sure, write the story of your heart, hell, write the story of your spleen, but keep in mind that a 300,000 word literary epic relating life and death to dust mite reproduction just may not be the thing to catch an editor or agent’s eye. And if you have to dash off bits and pieces of your story on fast food joint napkins while the kids play, do that too.

The first two books I wrote aren’t going to cut it for now. Maybe some time in the future. Maybe they will never sell. So I shifted gears and wrote a completely different kind of story. I don’t consider it writing to market, because by the time you do that the market has changed. It’s writing what’s more marketable. I hope. Like donning my warm woolies for a five minute walk to the mailbox, I know what I need to do to survive.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

American Title III Round Two Voting Begins!

But, unfortunately, I won’t be among the contestants. I’m afraid I was eliminated in Round One. And while I’m disappointed, I’m still happy. Why? Because I will forever be an American Title III finalist. One of ten manuscripts deemed publishable selected out of 250 entries! Who wouldn’t be happy?

I’d like to thank all the folks who voted for me. Your support means so much. Thanks also to Liz, the judges and everyone at Romantic Times, and Dorchester. You run a great contest. I appreciate the opportunity you’ve given me and the doors my finaling has nudged open.

So today, I will be reading the remaining entries and casting my vote. I know it will be very difficult; I wish they could all win. I want you all to go to Romantic Times and vote as well. These are some talented writers. I’m honored to know them.

And just because I’m no longer in the running doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit me here and at my website. I still have things to say, when I’m not busy working on my next story of course. Or dealing with kids. Or shoveling snow. Or grocery shopping… .


Thursday, November 09, 2006

What I Do When I Should Be Writing # 2


·You would have to assure your employees that every time you got up to leave your desk you would be right back. Really.

·Employees would follow you into the bathroom, asking you “pertinent” questions that simply could not wait 5 minutes.

·You would be responsible for providing employee meals, making sure they are nutritionally balanced and that they ate it all. Or no dessert.

·Paper cuts would entail a 15-minute comfort period, and a cute character bandage for the injured party as well as the co-worker with a sympathy “owie”. Worker’s compensation would require a kiss on the injured area and/or a cookie.

·When your partner comes into the office after being out all day or on a business trip, all of the employees cheer, ignoring you and the last directive you issued.

·Out of office meetings must not delay employees’ lunch hour (this is a union rule).

·Employees would require daily reminders to keep their office supplies off of the floor (“Because if someone steps on that stapler and breaks it you’re not getting another one.”).

·Office parties would inevitably end in crying jags and cake on the ceiling.

·You would be required to take your vacations with your employees and go someplace that interests them.

·Only after your employees are gone for the day can you get any work accomplished.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

What I Do When I Should Be Writing # 1


I was plucking my eyebrows one recent evening and thought, “I bet Angelina Jolie isn’t home on a Saturday night doing such exciting personal grooming.” (Though, with three children now, perhaps she is.) And for some reason, my science geek brain did a sudden leap to genetics.

Why is it that Angelina and I share darn close to one hundred percent of basic genetic material, and yet she looks like, well, Angelina Jolie, and I look like me? She has dark hair. I have dark hair. She has lips. I have lips. Okay, not THOSE lips. She has a killer body. I have...I have lips.

Legs, arms, the whole inventory is there.

And yet it’s not.

We humans share 98-99% of our genetic material with chimpanzees and there is no doubt which of us are humans and which of us are apes (certain individuals to be excepted). You’d think that something as close as 99% would have more physical resemblance. Ninety-nine percent of a pie is pretty damned close to a whole pie. (This may be one of many reasons why I don’t look like Angelina—I think in terms of food a lot.)

But think about it. There are six billion people on this planet. With the exception of identical twins, no two people have exactly the same genetic make up. And think about all the folks who have died. How much are the odds altered when you count all the dead genetic material and still don’t find an exact match? What are the odds of two totally unrelated people having the exact genetic material, sitting on their chromosomes in the exact same way, and producing two identical copies? The statistical perturbation is mind numbing.

I’m sure somewhere out there is a geneticist and/or a statistician champing at the bit to give me an answer. Please hold all comments until the end of the program. I know there is more to our genetic make up than the 46 chromosomes we have. And I do not envy the people trying to untangle the mysteries of it all. Thanks, I’ll stick to writing. But when I see the incredible amount of diversity there is in this world, and how the flip-flop of a single gene or molecule can give us such variety, I am awed.

But as much as I admire physical and intellectual excellence, it’s probably a good thing we aren’t all Angelina Jolies. Or Albert Einsteins. Or Cathy Pegaus, for that matter.

The chimps already have a hard time telling us apart.