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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Doncha just love good news!!! by Trish Morey

Today is a very special day Downunder! Since last Tuesday three miners have been trapped by a rockfall triggered by a small earthquake one kilometre under the ground in a gold mine in Beaconsfield, northern Tasmania. Last Thursday the body of one of the miners, Larry Knight, was discovered and brought to the surface. Hopes faded for the other two miners, the situation described as grim. Refusing to give up, still treating the operation as a rescue mission, it was decided to dig a new tunnel around the rockfall and try to access the missing men that way. It would take 4 days they said. All of Australia prayed that it would not be in vain.

Then last night there was a breakthrough. While still metres and possible a day or two away from Briant Webb and Todd Russell, radio contact was established. After five days the men were alive, saved by the cage of the cherry picker machine they were operating. Since then they’ve survived on the water off the sides of the mine. The whole of Beaconsfield apparently came out to celebrate last night. The whole of Tasmania, in fact the whole of Australia is cheering these men and their saviours on, praying that nothing goes wrong in the final hours of the dangerous operation as they attempt to free them and bring them once again to the surface. At the same time they’re trying to drill a small hole through more quickly to the men, to pass them much needed fresh water and food.

The news reports this morning are full of it and I think every ear Downunder is tuned in, waiting for final confirmation that the men have been rescued and reunited with their families. And what did the men have to say after almost a week underground? First of course, they wanted to ask about their families, how they were, no doubt to tell them that they loved them. And the second thing? In typical Aussie bloke style, they asked who won the weekend footy.

Ah, you’ve gotta love the Aussie bloke!:-)

It’s not over yet. There’s still a long way to go and we’re praying the men get back to the surface with noone else injured in the process. But it’s so great to hear a bad news story turn better. While there’s no happy ending for Larry Knight’s family, and hearts go out to them what they’re suffering, collectively as a nation we are cheering on the survivors. Pray they make it home safely.

Friday, April 28, 2006

I Am Fat

Sometimes when you look back over the events that occur in your life that may seem random, you suddenly discover a pattern, and that pattern creates a picture, perhaps a picture you’d rather not see, like the photograph of you in your chapter newsletter presenting a rose to a tiny writer who is a RITA finalist. Yes, I can no longer fool myself and think I’m slightly overweight or that since I am tall I can carry extra weight without anyone noticing. I have photographic evidence to the contrary. No matter how I see myself in my mind, I have crossed the Plump County line into Fat Country. I am fat. If you are wondering if you, too, have crossed that line, here are some signs to be on the look out for:

1.Your butt and thighs have taken on the lumpy profile of several family-sized bags of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup miniatures. It’s true. You are what you eat.

2.A recent photograph lets you know without a doubt that a bikini wax is less painful than viewing the lower portion of your body. And the upper arm flab ain’t looking so hot either.

3.Your side of the bed squeaks. Your husband’s side doesn’t.

4.You startle yourself getting out of the shower. No, that isn’t your mother; it’s you!

5.Healthy fruits and vegetables rot in your refrigerator, and your pantry is free of all carb-o-riffic snacks. Not because you no longer buy sweet and salty pleasures, but because you ate them all.

6.Your husband’s poor eyesight makes you thankful. You encourage him to take off his glasses as much as possible.

7.You fantasize about going on the TV show The Biggest Loser.

8.“Back when I was thin…” and “I didn’t always look this way” are increasing in frequency in your conversation.

9.You avoid getting your yearly physical because you know your doctor will scold you for gaining over 20 pounds in one year. You’re going to make that appointment . . . once you lose the weight.

10.Not only is your recumbent bicycle getting dusty, your daughter feels comfortable setting up her perfume-making kit on its seat.

Homilies

by Ila Campbell

Kick me when I’m down. When it rains it pours. Anything that can go wrong will. The hits just keep on coming.

Yeah. Really cheery. But I admit, that’s the mood I’ve been in this week. I’ve had this impending cloud of doom hovering over me, drizzling its bad luck all over me, and I’m just waiting for either a downpour or a lightning bolt.

I know that’s defeatist thinking, but I’ll tell you why it all came down to this one week:

I’m not published.

Now, this is a condition I’ve been living with for about nine years now, since I started submitting to publishers. I should be used to it now. Developed a thicker skin, learned to roll with the punches. I thought I had. I really did. Until.

Until I got turned down for a promotion this week at my "real" full-time job. The reason? I WASN’T PUBLISHED YET! Exactly. This is the job where I’ve been run ragged trying to do all the new tasks assigned to me this year so that I haven’t written a word in almost three months. Where up until now my writing was held in thinly-disguised scorn because it wasn’t literature with a capital L (I’m in academia), but suddenly both careers careened into each other. My lack of success in one field crossed over into the other. And it was hard to take.

This is the same week that my manuscript at St. Martin’s loses its exclusive. So each morning I’ve also been waiting for an email from my agent saying they’ve finally read it. And hopefully, bought it. There’s about 12 hours left. Will they read it before then? From their track record, I won’t be holding my breath. And the cloud of doom keeps whispering ‘no.’

So all week long I’ve been feeling this pressure to give up writing novels. Surely it would be easier to send out academic papers and get them published and thus succeed in at least one field, right? And it does come down to a choice, since I have three kids in my house. I don’t have time for both. So I should probably do the smart thing – the thing that will keep the raises coming in, give me job security, offer me stable employment when I move back to the States – and focus on language teaching instead of romance novels.

Except I can’t. I can’t give up the one thing in my world that is purely creative and immensely satisfying when it’s going well. I made a choice years ago that the teaching itself and my outside creative interests were more important to me than gaining titles and prestige in the academic world. I also think of all the women that I knew growing up who sacrificed their desires for stability (of marriage, of jobs, whatever). I. JUST. CAN’T. DO. IT.

So I guess I’m just going to go on looking for that silver lining in my cloud of doom. Turn my frown upside down. Tell myself it ain’t over til the fat lady sings.

And wait. With hope.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Special, Yes-- But not More Special Than Everyone Else

From Delle Jacobs:

Normally, I like to make my posts something cheery, uplifting, encouraging. I know how hard the writing world can be, and how easily a writer can get discouraged. But I've got something on my mind, and I think it needs to be said. It's a rant, and it isn't even about writing, so if you don't feel like reading it, then please don't.

I've always believed every child, every person is special. But I've also believed every person's rights stop where any other person's rights begin. I wonder what's going wrong these days that so many children are being raised to believe their rights supercede those of other people?

A few weeks ago, I attended a semi-family gathering in a restaurant, following a funeral. My step-son was there with his two beautiful daughters, their mother having left for another event. Now, these are my own grandchildren, ages 4 and 2, and I adore them. But they are also being raised to believe they can do no wrong, and the world should worship them. I have issues with all of that, too, as I'm sure you have already gathered. But I'm actually only their step-grandmother, and they had a parent present, along with two grandparents and several aunts, uncles and cousins, most of whom live close to them and know them better than I do. So I keep my lips zipped.

In very short order, these two children joined with two other children in running around the room, screaming, jumping into people's laps and screaming in their ears, tossing food on the floor, and other behavior that had me cringing. Soon they were running out of the room, to the rest rooms, which meant running through the rest of the restaurant, and the parents did nothing to stop them.

It wasn't until their father made two comments that I replied. First, he said, "There's no way to control children in public, unless you spank them."

"I never spanked my children, and they didn't run around in restaurants," I answered.

"Well, times have changed. All the other kids do it, and you can't stop them from doing what they see other kids do."

"Well, yes, you can. My daughters don't spank, and their children don't run around in restaurants." He was offended, I'm afraid. But he had brought up the subject, not I.

I told him I'd be happy to give him some ideas if he wants to give me a call. In my many years as a social worker, I learned lots of skills from foster parents, who often take extremely damaged children and within weeks are getting their behavior under control. Not only that, the kids are happier. Setting firm, kind limits didn't hurt them. It helped them. But good parenting is hard work, and requires effort, thinking, planning ahead, and having long-term goals for the children. It involves taking the time to figure out what the child intends to accomplish with his mis-behavior, finding out what will turn that around, and then having the guts to stick with it.

But the reality came at me with my step-son's next statement. "I'm just letting them do that because I know it irritates Aunt Xxxx."

"Do you really mean getting Aunt Xxxx's goat is really more important to you than raising your children right?"

Well, he said no, and he actually stood up and made an effort to control his daughters, which to his surprise was effective. But he'd let the cat out of the bag. It really was more important to him to irritate his aunt. He was enjoying using his children as weapons against the aunt he dislikes. So I'm not expecting a whole lot of change in the future.

The truth is, both parents of these little girls have another agenda. It's probably no big surprise to you that both parents see themselves as more special than everyone else, and they have an even more grandiose attitude about their children. Their children are so special to them, which I think is wonderful, they think everyone else should worship them, too. Their children have become little gods. That last part is not wonderful. But it's all too common among parents today.

The trouble is, people will tolerate a lot from children that they will not accept from adults. Children do grow up, but unfortunately the way they perceive the world's interaction with them is largely set in their early years by the attitudes of their parents. When these girls grow up, they aren't likely to lose that notion that they are more special than everyone else, and therefore entitled to more than the world is willing to give them. And they aren't going to understand how everything went wrong. They're going to become very miserable, possibly very angry adults if their parents don't stop playing out their own agendas through their precious children.

I wondered if maybe I might be wrong. I don't see these children all that often, after all, and just because they're being raised differently than I would do it, is it wrong? Their parents do love them very much.

And then I saw the older one slap her father so hard it left a red welt on his face. (She's a really big kid for her age.) He handled it well. He held both of her hands so she couldn't hit him again, then he talked to her about it. But then I saw the look on her face. Nobody could have missed what she was thinking, and it was scary.

How dare you stop me from doing what I want to do?

I think I am glimpsing the future, and I am in despair. And she's only four years old. Is this the way the world is going to be in the next generation, with everyone thinking they're entitled to do whatever they want, when they want, to whom,ever they want? How many tyrants can the world have?

Monday, April 24, 2006

Week for Irony

Week for Irony- by Dani Collins

I just spent half an hour writing a blog about how our chapter hosts something called a Writing Week Challenge, and I started calling it a Week For Success, and how much more motivating it feels. The punchline was that I got the blog done, which made me a success.

Then I hit 'publish' and ran out to drop the kids at school. I come back and I've got an error message.

How ironic is that.

dani

Week for Success

Week for Success - by Dani Collins

I'm doing this blog on the fly, and wouldn't you know I just lost ten minutes of much needed blog-writing time by reading all the comments on Debra's blog from yesterday. Now I can't wait to go to the mailbox today. Not ;)

Anyway, one of the reasons I'm not prepared to blog today is because I spent last week trying to focus on my writing, as opposed to, oh, house repairs, gardening, taking children to playdates, baseball, Tae Kwon Do, etc. You all know what it's like.

So I signed up for something our chapter calls WWC. We've been doing it so long we've forgotten what the WWC stands for. Something like Weekly Writing Challenge, except it doesn't happen every week, just when someone wants a boost to their writing output and goes on the loop and says, "I'm hosting a WWC. Who's with me?" Then a bunch of us will clear the decks and put up some casseroles and set some goals and immerse ourselves for a week in whatever goals we've chosen.

Mine was simply to focus on writing again, as opposed to all that stuff I already mentioned. And somewhere along the way, I was emailing the WWC hostess and we wound up accidentally calling it our Week For Success. Happy Accident. How great does that sound?

I mean, it encompasses so much more than simply meeting a writing goal or two. Suddenly, managing to write AND get a few seeds into the garden makes me feel like a success. The word Success suggests so much more energy and accomplishment than 'Challenge' doesn't it? Shoot, I know that writing around Real Life is a challenge. What I need is to get to the end of a week and feel like The Queen Of All Things.

Which is how I want to start my week, too, so I'm declaring this week a Week For Success for myself (and you at home, if you care to play along.) I'm starting with considering this blog, which I managed to write on my blog day, which is an accomplishment in itself because I have a brain like a seive, a hugely successful start to my week.

Look at that, I'm a success already. I could go back to bed now, if I wanted ;)
Dani

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Golden Heart Scores by Debra Holland

This past week, RWA sent out the Golden Heart contest scores to all the entrants who didn’t final. On Thursday, I started reading online how two of my fellow 2005 GH finalists had each received a 2 for a score. Appalled that they would even receive such a low number, I commiserated with them.

Then yesterday my scores arrived. For three of my books, I had good, but not great scores. Oh, well. But for Lywin’s Quest, a paranormal, I received 8.7, 4, 2, 9, 8. Welcome to the 2 Club.

The 4 I can live with. Lywin’s Quest barely has enough of a romance for it to quality in the category. That could annoy someone who wanted a sexy book. But a 2? For a book that was a 2005 GH finalist!

Then one more friend chimed in that her book had received a 2. This is the same book that a few weeks ago Kensington had snapped up and is a story I can’t wait to read.

On the 2005 loop, we’ve been discussing the care we give to the entries we are judging. The rare times any of us have given a 2 score was because the manuscript was truly awful--combining poor formatting, grammar, punctuation, a bad or unrealistic plot, lots of passive language, and a lack of understanding the basics of writing. Each low score we have to give is agonized over, because we know that we can be causing someone pain and discouragement.

The one time I have ever given a two--and even then it was a 2. something--was when the manuscript was SO bad, I cringed all the way through it. Plus it started out with a sweet, almost children’s story tone, then had the hero raping someone he met at a party. Ugh.

People try to say consoling things such as, “When you receive very high scores and very low scores that means you have a strong voice. People either love it or hate it.” Perhaps that’s true to a point. But if you hate my story, or any of the others I’ve mentioned, ask yourself, “Is it still a good book? Is it well-written, well-structured, with good character development? Are there a lot of beginner’s mistakes? Or is it just my personal preference?

If I’d turned in a new manuscript that hadn’t been critiqued by writers I trust, this kind of score could shake my faith in my work. Luckily that’s not the case for me, or my three other friends. We are all GH finalists, so we know we are good writers. And, since my 2 manuscript was a finalist last year, as well as finaling in the Futuristic, Fantasy, and Paranormal chapter’s contest, I don’t have to doubt it. But I don’t like the idea that doubts and insecurities could have happened.

Several people have written that they wonder if some judges would deliberately sabotage the scores so one of their friends could place in the contest. I have a very hard time believing that anyone could actually lack the integrity to do something like this. But since I have no other reasonable answer for the 2’s, especially since one of the other 2 recipients is in my category, that thought has also crossed my mind. Did we have the same judge? I hate that I could even think such a thing.

So what’s the solution?

There’s nothing RWA can do about dishonest judges. However, they can examine the scores that have big discrepancies and one of the scores is a 2 or a 3. Then check to see if the same individual is giving out these low numbers. Quietly cross that person off future judging lists.

RWA should also expand the guidelines given finalists for the meaning of each number. Perhaps they should actually state, “Don’t give a 2 or a 3 just because you don’t like the story.”

I also think there should be a simple sheet with about ten items that the judges can mark off. Items such as, Problems with Grammar and punctuation, or Needs more conflict between the hero and the heroine. Then the entrants would understand more why they received the scores they did.

For all of you writers in the 2 Club (or anyone else who’s received discouraging scores) you’re in good company. ☺ Don’t let yourself become discouraged by your scores. Keep learning your craft and writing better and better books.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Old Dog, New Tricks

Today I’m 40.

Okay, give me a moment. That’s the first time I’ve seen it in writing. Gulp.

End of an era and all that. It’s hard. It’s a little painful.

But.

As I’ve been thinking about this over the past week or so, I started thinking about how much more I’ve dared in my 30s than I did in my 20s. (Nothing like climbing Mt. Everest, but I was a WIMP in my 20s, so anything was an improvement.)

I learned how to drive standard. Now it’s all I drive.

I bought a house – responsibility and a MUCH bigger payment than rent.

I went on my first vacation that wasn’t planned by my family.

I had my first mammogram.

I went to my first movie alone (I’m telling you, NOT the bravest person on the planet!)

I joined RWA.

I joined a critique group where all the other writers are published.

I got an agent.

I went to three National conferences.

So I’m thinking, 40 is a challenge, right? If I was able to expand my comfort zone in my 30s, how much more can I expand it in my 40s? I mean, what some people take for granted in their lives scares the bejeebers out of me, like Trish taking her road trips on her own or my sister in law going for her doctorate or my best friend Cindi having her third baby at 42.

I have some things on the horizon. I’m speaking at National (ohgodohgodohgod), I’m going on an out of town, overnight inservice with some wild and crazy teachers, I’m having elective surgery.

Some things I’d like to try in my 40s (don’t be expecting bungee jumping or anything – I live vicariously through my characters):

Learning car repairs – at least how to change a tire and charge a battery.

Maybe some form of home improvement. Nothing crazy like roofing or air conditioning, but maybe learning how to change a faucet. Or fix a leaky one.

Vacation out of the country. Nuevo Laredo doesn’t count.

Vacation with some friends, instead of the dh and ds. The above-mentioned wild and crazy teachers don’t count. Of course, they may cure me of the desire ;)

Join a gym. (Whoa, now I’m just getting CRAZY!)

So I’m going to look forward to my 40s instead of mourning my 30s. I’ll wear pink today instead of black.

It’s a new beginning.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Beauty by Diane Perkins

Kiki’s blog about her scar got me thinking about beauty, our quest for it, our yearning for it. The amount women spend on beauty products of all sorts must be a brazillion dollars a year. I know I spend my fair share and more on skin care products, make-up, shampoos and conditioner, hair color. We diet endlessly for that elusive perfect figure (some of our Noodlers are depriving themselves of food at this very minute, so we can look ravishing at the RWA Awards ceremony in July). Some women even endure face lifts and tummy tucks and other cosmetic surgeries to reach some ideal.

My own face hasn’t fallen far enough yet for a lift, but a tummy tuck is a tempting idea...Naw. Too scary. Besides those things cost money. Not that I skimp on myself. I purchase the most expensive skin care products that Avon sells. I get my hair cut at Vidal Sassoon. I’ve been known to drop a bundle on make-up. I even ordered Bare Minerals from TV (it’s a good product!). When my husband shops at Best Buy, I go into Ulta and troll the aisles looking for that magic potion to give me-----Beauty.

I’ve passed this on to my daughter, too. She also worries about her weight, about how far short she might fall from that elusive idea of beauty. But when I went to the city where she lives and was to meet her in the hotel lobby, she took my breath away as she walked toward me. I’m not sure she believed me when I told her how stunningly beautiful she looked.

We really should not have this emphasis on beauty. We ought to be less superficial and judge ourselves and others by our character. Are we “good people” should be the most important question we ask ourselves.

But, dang. I still want to be 20 pounds lighter, smoother of skin, thicker of hair, whiter of teeth, firmer of abdomen, thicker of eyelashes, smaller feet, taller, thinner waist, longer fingernails, younger…..

I’m totally caught up in this vanity, even if the most important question I ask myself is if I’m “good people.” And when I look at my women friends, I never think of them as anything but beautiful, even though they come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and ages, because they are so totally dear to me.

Still, studies have shown that our attraction to certain body types and other characteristics of beauty is a deep-seated, instinctual, survival-of-the-fittest sort of thing. Maybe that is why in books I want my heroines to be beautiful and my heroes to be handsome. Not A-number one perfect, maybe. A little imperfection makes them more human and easier to identify with. Not for me are pudgy heroines or nerdy heroes, though. I want that deep instinctual fantasy of beauty, love, and happily ever after.

Shall I provide examples?


You knew that was coming. My current hero, Gerard Butler



Timeless beauty, Vivian Leigh



My very first bookcover, the Mills & Boon edition of The Mysterious Miss M, got the hero and heroine just right!

But you can see from my Diane Perkins covers and Diane Gaston covers that the artists did a spectacular job of depicting my heroes and heroines!!

Cheers to all things bright and beautiful!
Diane

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Writers Wanted. Must Be Beautiful. – Kiki Clark


I’m going to see a plastic surgeon today, to talk about the possibility of scar revision. It must have been two years ago that I asked my dermatologist to biopsy an area on my nose. He couldn’t see anything wrong, but the biopsy came back with a diagnosis of basal-cell carcinoma. I was recommended to another dermatologist, then poached by his referred plastic surgeon, who recommended an experimental procedure used to fix cataracts in cows’ eyes. To make a long story short, he microwaved my nose and left a pretty big scar.

Since then, I’ve had dermabrasion, discovered the joys of Physician’s Formula green concealer and camouflage make-up, and found that guys still flirt with me. But there’s still a scar smack in the middle of my face, and I’d prefer not to be known as that woman with the divot out of her nose.

Recently, one of the Noodlers pointed out a blog where a literary agent was extolling the virtues of a good-looking, highly promotable client. Someone whose smiling face looks good beside the book cover as Oprah points to it. Don’t see an author photo? That’s because the writer is a dog, this agent said.

You’d think, as writers, it wouldn’t matter what we look like. But with the merger of publishing and Hollywood, oh, it does. It’s not just about the words anymore. Who wrote the words? Did she have a scandalous youth that will make people want to know about her and buy her book? How about an illegal baby, a past drug problem, an affair with royalty? Is she young and sexy?

Ideally, I should be blonde, big-breasted and 25, with a fistful of dirty letters from Prince William and adoption papers that show Donald Trump as my biological father. I should have written a novel that’s a thinly veiled autobiography of my time in Saddam Hussein’s harem, and have a birthmark that's identical to one on Angelina Jolie’s butt, although mysteriously, we have never met. My book would then sell a million copies, the drug problem would come back, providing tabloid pictures of me, my goony face draped over the shoulders of Italian male models while one nipple accidentally peeks out of my $2,375 tank top. Cue the massive weight gain, becoming poster girl for a successful diet program, followed by a newly svelte and humble author, earning stars on her crown by saving baby tigers that are somehow exploited in Thailand’s sex trade, although there is certainly no penetration.


Whew. It’s a miracle I had time to write a good book.

So I made sure this surgeon is the real deal, with plenty of published papers and an office in Beverly Hills in addition to my major metropolitan area. Maybe I'll get a quote on big breasts while I'm there. It occurs to me that if I got three instead of the usual two, there'd be a book in it.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Revision-The Way of the Force

Revision—The Way of the Force

Lately my life has been a series of revisions, which I've begun to accept as part of a noble process, a sort of rite of passage. Perhaps it’s because I’m in a transition stage--husband retiring, children going off to college, moving--all the fun stuff at once.

In my effort to find balance amidst the chaos, I’ve come to the conclusion that periods of reflection and reevaluation are natural, even in stable times. I'm here to say that we should embrace these moments and give them our full attention and honest effort instead of rushing through them with the next hurdle in mind. Only when we‘ve had a chance to reflect and revise, we can move forward with the sense that we are on solid ground again.

It’s the Little Blue Engine sort of thinking we need to adopt. You know, I think I can, I think I can . . . We don’t drill this sort of thinking into our children’s brains without reason. Unfortunately, as we grow older, the good advice seems to be drowned out by phrases like, “Hurry up, slow-poke”, “The early bird catches the worm, and “Are we there yet?” Pretty soon we forget to reflect and revise because we are in such a hurry to keep up with the rocket scientists of the world.

Since I’m a writer, my thoughts on revision began there, then spread to the other corners of my life. Like gardeners expect weeds in the spring, we writers expect revisions, but naturally don’t welcome them. If you have a creative soul, you probably take the greatest part of your writing pleasure from the birth of a new story. The word REVISE may make you run for the cleaning supplies, any place but the computer. But I want to encourage you to add reflection, and yes, REVISION to your process.

First, what you’ll need is some distance from your story so you can gain objectivity. Then you’ll need to really love the characters as well as the dirt they walk on and want the story to succeed in the worst way. I’m encouraging you to be passionate about your revisions, passionate enough to murder your darlings!

Stephen King reminds us in his book, On Writing, that our job in the second draft (If you’re not Stephen, feel free to change the word “second” to “subsequent,” as in “many,” drafts down the road) is to make our work even more clear, which, of course, makes it more accessible to readers. And since our goal as writers is to communicate our thoughts, how can we let this part of the process slide when Stephen assures us that if we give it an honest effort, make the necessary changes, we will reap a more unified story? And, I might add, a story we have confidence in and feel passionate about.

So my new mantra is, embrace the process. Reflect and revise. It’s the Way of the Force—the path to knowledge and a fair shot at your dream—whatever it might be.

Lorelle



Run For This Book!!!

RUN FOR THE MONEY - By Stephanie Feagan

What’s it about?

Pink is honored by an offer to act as accounting watchdog for the Chinese Earthquake Relief Fund, but when she discovers someone is using her identity to embezzle the money, she loses that loving feeling. In her quest to find the crook who set her up, she comes face to face with the Russian mob, a Chinese man with an axe to grind and an annoying habit of getting in over her head. Literally.

But Pink’s not giving up, because out of all the options she has, including several with the two amazing men in her life, spending her old age in prison isn’t one of them. Pink’s going global, and the world won’t ever be quite the same.

Run For The Money

Is it good?

RUN FOR THE MONEY does a wonderful job of once again illustrating that being a CPA can be dangerous -- at least for Pink Pearl. From the moment Pink finds herself being framed for the embezzled funds, the story is non-stop action and suspense.

The mystery aspect has plenty of twists and turns and will keep readers guessing to the very end. The two previous books (SHOW HER THE MONEY and SHE’S ON THE MONEY) introduce the characters and the complex relationships among them, and both are very good, but otherwise RUN FOR THE MONEY stands on its own. And while the mystery is resolved by the end of the book, other things aren’t, leaving the door open for more tales from The Pink Files. I highly recommend RUN FOR THE MONEY.


Jennifer Bishop
Romance Reviews Today www.romrevtoday.com


You can visit Stephanie's website here.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter!

The Easter Bunny: Fact or Fiction?

Easter is a derivative of the Saxon, Eoster, goddess of the moon. Unlike many of our holidays Easter is not at its roots a solar holiday but one of the moon.

Now before there were domesticated bunnies we had hares. The moon has a month long cycle. Hares, the most prolific beasts on the planet, are born after a one month gestation and being nocturnal are the only mammals born with their eyes open. Thus, they’ve been associated with the moon for as long as there have been men on the planet.

Moon and hares, a match made in heaven, which Rome apparently realized and thus ordered the holiday be celebrated following a specific moon cycle, the reason for its ever- changing date.

But prior to Easter there is Lent, the fasting. And in early times eggs were forbidden. There’s a surplus. What to do?

Not wanting to celebrate a “Roman” holiday but hip deep in eggs, the German-Dutch Protestants of the 1700’s discovered Osterhase, a wily hare who made her nests in “good” children’s hats and bonnets and into which she laid dozens of colorful eggs. But how is this possible you ask?

Well, let me tell you…

Many of you know about Opal, the Dutch mini-lop who had free rein in our back yard. Last spring while our visiting 6 year old grandson and I were sitting on the floor playing a hand of War a mourning dove (the stupidest bird on the planet) crashed head first into the plate glass window to our right. Anxious to see if the bird survived the impact, we raced outside and what do we find? Where the bird should have fallen we found Opal, her mouth full of petunias, and beside her, a little blue-white egg! Yup, she’d done it!

So there you have it…the Easter Bunny is fact.

Sandy

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Top Ten Favorites

Over on the Wet Noodle Posse e-zine (www.wetnoodleposse.com), we
do a top ten list each month. Hop over and check out Stef Feagan's
Top Ten Things You Didn't Know About Men. But wait!! Read and
comment on this first, because once you get over there, you'll be
lost in the fun and might forget to come back...

My Top Ten list today is a list of my favorite blogs. (excluding blogs
by friends, family, and WNP members.) These are listed in no particular
order, just random favorites.

1. http://pubrants.blogspot.com/ agent Kristin Nelson
http://toberead.blogspot.com/ PASIC chapter members
http://misssnark.blogspot.com/ Miss Snark, literary agent
http://agentobscura.livejournal.com/ agent Nadia Cornier
http://jennycrusie.blogspot.com/ Jennifer Cruisie, author
http://knightagency.blogspot.com/ agent Deidre Knight
http://www.murdershewrites.com/ multiple authors
http://tessgerritsen.com/blogs.cfm Tess Gerritsen, author
http://wetnoodleposse.blogspot.com Us, of course!
http://www.blogmaverick.com/ Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks

You might notice that a number of these belong to agents. They're great places
to find info on current trends, publishing do's and don'ts, and some occasional
slapstick humor. Authors generously share their knowledge and expertise
through their blogs. The one out of place blog is Mark Cuban's, but I included
it because he's great about sharing the keys to success and not afraid to speak
his mind about idiocy, where ever he finds it.

So, which blogs are your favorites? Which ones do you visit daily because they
teach you something new about writing, publising, life? Which ones do you
visit for a daily dose of laughter? For practical tips and advice? Add your list
in the comments so we can all hopefully find a new favorite place to visit.

Tori

Friday, April 14, 2006

How old do you feel?

I'm not going to tell you how old I am, but let's just say I'm middle aged. That way you can guess as to my exact age. Most of the time I feel pretty young. Like I'm in my twenties. I'm still very active. I play tennis and walk between three and four miles most days. I do strength training and generally try to stay in good shape. But every time I look in the mirror I'm reminded that I'm not as young as I used to be. The gray hairs, the wrinkles and that extra weight around the middle all testify to the aging process. Every year those extra pounds I always put on over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays get harder and harder to lose. Some of them just like to hang around for the next Christmas. Maybe the best way not to feel old is to avoid mirrors. But even when I avoid mirrors, there are those mornings when I get up and I'm stiff. The joints and muscles ache. Then I wonder if I feel like this now, how am I going to feel ten years from now? Twenty years from now? That's the way I felt this morning when I got up. Stiff and sore. Maybe from the tennis match I played yesterday? Could be, but I've played tennis other days and didn't feel stiff. Maybe I can blame it on the weather. Our air is filled with pollen.

As I contemplated the reasons for feeling stiff this morning, I had to get ready for an appointment. I had an interview with the administrator of a local assisted living facility in order to get information for the book that I'm currently writing. The tour also made me think about the aging process. What does the future hold? I wondered whether I might eventually have to live in such a facility. Like most people I hope I can remain in my own home and take care of myself throughout my old age. I hope I can be like my tennis teammate who is in her seventies and still plays a wicked game of tennis and puts some of us younger ones to shame. I don't know what the future holds, but I've decided not to worry although you all ought to take Bridget's advice from her blog a couple of days ago and get your will in order, no matter what your age. So I'm going to make the best of everyday even when I feel a little stiff.

With that in mind, I'm on my way to the beach for my daily walk.
Merrillee, who can already feel the sand between her toes

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Mortality Moment by Bridget Stuart

The Professor and I went to sign our new wills yesterday. With two kids in school and him about to head off to Guatemala on a private plane and then get in a helicopter to fly into the jungle, I decided it was about time. (I mean, it may not be true, but don't these private planes *always* crash? Knock on wood.)

There is nothing quite like a long session of death and disability "what ifs" with your spouse and a bright, interested lawyer. It's almost like couples therapy with an extremely practical edge.

As in a therapy session, you'll get some surprises. Which of your family members do you trust--I mean really trust-- to take care of your kids if both of you die? You may think it's Edgar, but when it comes time to write in his name and sign before three witnesses, you may find yourself putting down Patsy instead. And that's only if your spouse agrees with your choice. Get ready for name number three!

You may find, if you're a writer, that it makes the whole process harder. I mean, our whole business is about "what ifs". Think about it! Don't lots of query letters start just like that? "What if a woman is hit by a beer truck and finds herself strapped to a hospital bed unable to speak her wishes? What if she's given complete power of attorney and medical powers to her husband-- and along comes a very pretty nurse!"

I scare myself sometimes.

Some things were simple. Under "Directions to the executor of your will regarding disposal of your remains", I wrote "I want a funeral." I don't ask much, really. Others were not so easy. We were ready to sign the page with the clause about "If my spouse and I both die, and our children do not outlive us, I give my entire estate to my surviving siblings, x, y and z." Then I happened to mention, "Well, what if we both die after our kids are already dead, but one of the kids had a son or daughter out there somewhere?" Oops. Time to add the "Stupidly Imaginative clause": "If my spouse and I both die, and our children do not outlive us, I give my entire estate to my surviving grandchildren, per stirpes." Per stirpes isn't a typo, silly. It's pretty imaginative, too. Go look it up.

We got it all done--despite my imagination and in spite of the Professor's paralysis when it came to deciding who gets his super-specialized academic library (oh yeah, the kids will be fighting over that one, tugging the books back and forth till the covers tear off)--and everything is signed and sealed.

Now I guess I'd better call the accountant and find out what happened to our tax returns.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

It’s a Library Thing

by Charity Tahmaseb

It was just what I didn’t need: a way to spend more time on the internet. Oh, sure, it looks innocent enough, scholarly even. I mean, anything to do with books can’t be a bad thing, can it?

Oh, it can. What is this new internet temptress? I give you:

Library Thing

I’ve wanted to start a database to catalog my books for a long time now. Thought about using an Excel spreadsheet or Microsoft Access. Then I discovered Library Thing.

This way is much, much more fun. And I can’t seem to stop with just myself (my library, a work in progress, I’ve been cataloging books in my direct line of sight). So far, I’ve created a library thing for Wet Noodle Posse books and one for my local Sisters in Crime chapter for Minnesota Mystery Authors.

You can establish a free account and add up to 200 books, or take the plunge (like I did) and buy a lifetime membership and add as many books as you like. Either way, it’s a scholarly pursuit.

It’s a Library Thing.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Wicked Ways...

The Viscount’s Wicked Ways by
Anne Mallory

0060872926.01._AA240_SCLZZZZZZZ_

What Others Are Saying:
"I found the THE VISCOUNT’S WICKED WAYS to be as charming and irresistible as the viscount himself! Anne Mallory gives classic romance a fresh and delightful spin with her clever plots and winning imagination."

-Teresa Medeiros, author of After Midnight

Excerpt:

The footsteps neared, then stopped. Patience closed her eyes, praying for deliverance. The pendulum of the longcase clock swung in measure with her racing heart. Time seemed suspended. Eventually, the person moved on, and she exhaled the breath she had been holding.

A hand shot out and grasped her arm, pulling her against a hard body.

“And what do we have here?”

Nerves gripped her as she recognized the viscount’s voice. “I was just picking up a book. I couldn’t sleep.”

“It’s late to be out. People could get the wrong impression.” His breath tickled her neck and she involuntarily moved back against him. “Or have the wrong intentions.”

Her muscles tightened. She stepped away and twisted to face him. “That they could. You should heed your own advice, my lord.”

She was pleased to note that her voice was cool and calm, in direct contrast to the rest of her body.

The viscount let go of her and leaned negligently against the doorframe. “And why would I do that? Of what do I need to heed?” He leaned forward, his lips inches from hers. “This is my domain, and I can take what I want.”

She forced herself to remain still, not wanting to give an inch.

His expression was both smirking and triumphant, and it was mixed with something she couldn’t identify. “I have never claimed Patience, perhaps I should work on that besetting sin.” And the last inch of space between them was lost.

Connections

When I glance over the top of my computer's monitor, one of the items directly in my line of sight is a painting my husband's grandmother made of the family farm back in Denmark. She never saw the farm; her painting is based on a photograph her mother brought with her when she emigrated to America. Both the painting and the photograph are part of our connections with family members no longer with us.

His grandmother also stitched a quilt of fabric scraps from the dresses she made for my mother-in-law when she was a young girl. We'll pass that quilt to our daughter, the latest in a long line of Kates, along with photos of ancestors in ruffled Victorian gowns and Edwardian wasp-waisted skirts and oversized bows pinned in 1930s hairstyles.

I used to wonder what I could add to the collection of artwork, quilts, needle-pointed chair seats, painted tea sets, and the dozens of other hand-crafted items each generation of McLaughlin women have contributed to the collection of heirlooms. The other day I realized what that something would be: my books. I'll make sure a copy of each one gets tucked into the chest my daughter inherited, carefully wrapped and placed between the layers of embroidered linens and delicate baby clothes. It's a wonderful feeling to know I'll be connecting, in my own way, with generations to come.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Confidence: How to Get It. (It's Easier than You Think, Duh) by Jenna Ness

Author’s note: are you unsure if you’re confident or not? Check out the original quiz I posted in October’s blog!


Okay, posse girls, it’s brutal confession time: What will it really take for you to feel good about yourself?

According to recent polls, the main reason for your lack of confidence is …

8% of you drive the crappiest piece of junk ever called a car (made in Taiwan, in 1974).

14% wear clothes that are so dumpy even the garbage man won’t take them (when did frayed sweatsuits picturing droopy-eyed kittens go out of style?).

32% have no man, or wish they had no man.

41% have the suckiest careers that ever sucked (and you’re tossing five days a week down the drain in your panting eagerness to make it to Freedom Friday).

98% of you avoid the beach, the pool, and life in general due to intense shame about your flat chest/ big boobs/ short legs/ cottage-cheese thighs/ weirdly shaped toes.

Sharp-eyed readers will notice that the percentages, when added up, don’t precisely equal 100%. That’s due to a rare statistical anomaly. (i.e. I made them up.)

The point is: most of us are lacking in confidence in some area of our lives. But getting a better job, a better man, a better body or whatever won’t give you confidence. Look around – there are plenty of people who have those things, and yet still feel insecure.

The truth is, the reasons we use are excuses. The reason we don’t feel confident is because we choose not to be.

“What?” you gasp. “I’m not getting anything out of feeling insecure! I’m stuck in a dead-end job! I never meet anyone new or try anything out of my comfort zone! I’m not only depressed, I’m bored out of my friggin’ skull!”

Maybe, but there are some benefits to your rut that you’re conveniently ignoring. Stuck where you are, you’re safe and comfortable. Which is a lot better in some ways than the alternative: nervous and out on a limb.

That’s why some people just stay out of the game. You know the ones I’m referring to. The talkers. The ones who are constantly yammering away about the diet they’re on, the manuscript they’re writing, the jerk they should dump. And yet mysteriously, the weight stays on, the manuscript never materializes, and the jerk stays.

It’s because, in our heart of hearts, we all do what we really want. We just don’t always realize what it is.

Sure, you might think you want to lose weight – but the real truth is that junk food gives you more pleasure than imaginary size-8 jeans.

You might think you want to write – but the real truth is that you love sacking out on the couch and watching TV more.

You might think that you should dump your boyfriend – but the real truth is that, even though he’s not perfect, you’re afraid to be alone.

So here's the deal:

1. Confidence means paying attention to what you really want. You might find that you’ve been far more successful than you realize.

For years I beat myself up for not traveling more. I yearned to see the world, and yet every time I had an opportunity – a year in Russia, a boarding school experience in England, a month in Africa – something would mysteriously prevent me. I felt like a failure for not following my dream.

Then I saw the truth. Deep down, I didn’t want to leave my family and go to Russia for a year. I wanted to dream about Russia from my safe, cushy sofa. So I wasn’t a failure. I’d actually been 100% successful at doing what I really wanted to do.

If you’re not putting your dreams into action, maybe it’s time for you to reexamine your dream, too.

2. Confidence means looking out for yourself. Selfishness has gotten a bad rap. But here’s a novel thought: what if you treated yourself with as much kindness and care as you give everyone else? You deserve respect and love. Give it to yourself!

As the old cliché says, if your plane runs out of air, make sure you have oxygen first and then assist others. We’re more generous and loving to others when we feel strong and nourished ourselves. So read that book, take that class, go to the gym. You need it, and your family needs you to be happy, not exhausted and resentful.

If you choose to spend every drop of your energy on others, then act like a martyr and whine about it, it’s a choice. And what are you getting out of that, really? An excuse not to go to the gym? An excuse to blame the people you love for everything you hate about your life? How selfish is that!

3. Confidence means practice, practice, practice. You don’t need to be perfect. You just need to make progress. That means practice!

The next time you’re tempted to take the easy way out, turn it into a challenge. Feel too intimidated to go into an uber-cool boutique? Listen to the little voice that whispers I dare you. Feel scared to submit a manuscript to the agent of your dreams? Terrified to ask for a raise at work? Hyperventilating at the thought of taking your dream trip to France – alone? I dare you. I dare you.

Each time you practice, you win. Every time you take a risk, even if it doesn’t turn out perfectly, you win. Because you’re practicing being brave and strong and free. You’re showing the world – and showing yourself – that you’re a force to be reckoned with.

Sure, being lazy can be great. And being afraid can keep you safe. But there’s a time and place for everything. If you’re bored, if you’re blue, then it’s time to be bold. That’s where adventure lies, and as Helen Keller said, ‘Life is either a great adventure, or it is nothing.”

Just don’t use lame excuses to be less than you are. If you’re choosing junk food instead of size-eight jeans, either change that or accept it – but either way, be at peace. You are the star of your life story. Why not have some fun?

So get a toe ring for those weirdly shaped toes. Get a nice wax job on that 1978 Pinto. Because you’re beautiful, smart, funny, and wise, and the whole world is waiting to benefit from your glory.

What are you waiting for?

Friday, April 07, 2006

Sleep-adoodle-doo

by Anne Mallory

Wow. Anyone else get kicked in the noggin by Daylight Saving Time? Seems to happen to me every year for about a week after the time change. Worse than jet lag because it insidiously creeps up on you. I try to set the clocks back around 10pm to trick myself, but this year I stayed up until 1:30am to watch a long, late movie, and 1:30 was really 2:30, which might as well have been a mallet wielded by the sleep fairy by the time I woke up the next day.

And now that the yearly Mockingbird has moved back to our telephone pole for his 2-3 week hunt for some hunnies, I see many sleepless nights in my near future.

To this end, I was delighted to read Norah's article on sleep this month over at the WNP e-zine. She has some great ideas for knocking off the sleep bug and getting in some good z's. Check it out and feel free to discuss any hot tips here!

Happy Sleeping!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Share With Jill Monroe

Now Shipping - Share the Darkness by Jill Monroe

Share the Darkness by Jill Monroe

Hannah Garrett has always felt safe in the dark. It meant she never had to show people the truth. On the run from a man who wants to kill her, Hannah's learned to keep to herself and not get attached....

Until she meets Ward Coleman.

Being around her sexy coworker has awakened a need she'd forgotten — and it's not just this heat wave that has Hannah hot and bothered. But she can't afford to get too close, especially when she's not sure she can trust him.

What she doesn't know is that Ward is on to her and is determined to learn her secrets. And getting caught in a hot, dark elevator is the best place to find out all this undercover FBI agent needs to know.

What Others Are Saying:

A sympathetic heroine and hero, excitement and a satisfying ending make Share the Darkness a great read. 4 Stars - from Romantic Times

Share the Darkness was an incredible book...Jill Monroe has a winner on her hands with this one - from Cataromance.com

About Jill:

Jill Monroe fell in love with reading romance novels when her Grandma handed her a Presents novel many (although Jill won't say HOW many) years ago. Her grandma couldn't be more proud when Jill sold her first book to Harlequin. Share The Darkness is Jill's 2003 Golden Heart finaling manuscript, and her first sale to Blaze. Look for 3 more Harlequin Blaze books from Jill in 2007!

Happy National Library Week!

This week libraries all over the country are celebrating National Library Week. I’m a library professional with 25 years in the business and darn proud of it. I’m proud of the free services libraries provide, the information we disseminate, the hands we hold, the things we teach, the lessons we learn from our patrons.

I talk to people all the time who say they don’t like to visit the library anymore. We have inconvenient hours (like 65 hours over 7 days each week aren’t enough?), we have impossible rules (return those books on time? Horrors!), and we ask our customers to pay for materials they damage or lose (take responsibility? You’ve got to be kidding!). Besides, the Internet is available 24 hours a day, isn’t it?

Yet, I ask you, where else can you go where you ask for help and somebody actually helps you? Have you ever tried to call your Internet provider with a question? As far as I can tell, most of them don’t even have phone numbers. And you know what? Librarians are happy to help you…and we’re right there in your community, not Bombay.

People always tell me I should write a book about working in a library, but I gotta say, no one would believe it. (Actually, I did write a book about a librarian, and guess what, nobody believed it). We see a lot of really nice people in the library each day, but we also get a lot of crazies in there, too. I guess every public place does, but we actually feel a responsibility to be nice to them.

Miss A used to come in the library every Sunday to look at the classifieds. She always claimed to be helping other people find jobs. She lurked around the library, trying to catch the employees in some illegal act, then would call me, and, using a false name, would complain about them and tell me they should be fired. She had a very distinctive voice and I always knew who she was. I wonder if she thought she’d get the jobs of the people she wanted me to fire.

Mr. B calls the library a couple of times a week to make suggestions about how he thinks the library should be run. It’s impossible to get him off the phone in less than 20 minutes. He always starts out by telling me what a great guy his is and how he’s sure he reads more books each week than anybody else in the community. Thank you, sir. I’ll take your suggestion under advisement.

On the other hand, Mrs. C loves the library and we love her. She never hesitates to tell us how much she appreciates what we do. She suggests books for the collection and books she thinks we personally would like to read. She makes fantastic oatmeal raisin cookies. She helps with our most important youth program each year. She has the most marvelous laugh.

Mr. D is 92 years old. He still comes into the library several times a week. His smile lights up the room. Need I say he loves the library? But more important, he believes in libraries and does everything he can to support us, especially at budget time.

Libraries have been a part of the landscape in this country from the earliest days. I’m sure Christopher Columbus had books on the Pinta. Ben Franklin, that wise old soul, felt so strongly that an educated society was a free society that he loaned out his own books. Andrew Carnegie donated millions to build libraries in every corner of America so that people who could not afford to buy books could share with their neighbors.

If you don’t patronize your local library, please reconsider. Take a look at the library’s website. Explore their services. I think you’ll be impressed. Then, take the next step. Check out a book, a DVD, an audio book. Attend a program. Visit the used book store or sale. Every library, whether large or small, has something to offer the individual. Then, step up and be an advocate for increased budgets and improved services. Without the support of the people libraries cannot continue to thrive.

Do it now. Once they’re gone, we’re going to be sorry.

For more information on all types of libraries, visit www.ala.org, the American Library Association.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

"I need a job, so I wanna be a paperback writer..."

by Stephanie Feagan

Now I've seen everything. Or heard everything. I had an email from a fellow Bombshell writer last night - Whoo, you're in audio! - she said. Naturally, I hastened over to see what the devil she was talking about, and I'm still caught between disbelief and uncertainty.

First, let me say that getting my first book, holding it in my hands, and reading my own words on a published page of cheap-ass paper was mind-blowing. I wrote a million-bajillion words to get to that point, and it was humbling, thrilling, and pretty damn good for my ego. Poor thing doesn't get much, so it really sits up and sings with joy when it receives a stroke or two.

But listening to words I wrote went way beyond mind-blowing. Not gonna lie - it was almost a little creepy. For sure, it was funny. The narrator they hired to read Run For The Money sounds like a nice southern girl from Alabama, with a soft, pretty drawl. I imagine Pink sounds like me, with a hard, Texas twang that's perfect for yelling out the back door, "Dayam cat, whaderudoin'? Git in the dayam house and stop bitchin' at those birds!"

I'm pleased they picked my book for an audio book, and it's also available as an ebook, but it sure is strange to hear the book that's been in my head for so long, spoken right out loud.

In other news, I'm just back from the Novelists Inc. conference in New Orleans. I stayed in the Quarter, so didn't witness any of the severe devastation in the city. A guy named Hotel Al will take people on a tour, but I didn't go for it. It seemed voyeuristic, or maybe a bit like ambulance chasing to get in a van and drive by those areas and stare. I mentioned this to Willie Shelby, my earnest driver who took me to the airport this afternoon. He responded by saying that a lot of the onlookers take photos, which they send to their senators and congressional representatives, demanding things get taken care of, and soon. I hadn't thought of it that way. Willie was mighty pissed off about those levees, and blamed the feds for failing to build them strong enough. I started to mention that I thought the money was provided for that, and it got spent on something else - a casino, wasn't it? - but I'm not 100% certain of the facts, and Willie seemed pretty convinced his lot in life was the government's fault, or Exxon, so I looked out the window and kept my mouth shut.

At the airport, I stood outside for a time, and met a man from Alaska who works with OSHA. He'd been in New Orleans over two weeks, working up close and personal in the stricken parishes. In one parish, he says there's a road block up and anyone who wants past it must pay $10. I said, who gets the ten bucks? He said, the parish powers that be. Then he talked about the process of razing houses. The owners must sign a release, and most all have done so. There are thousands waiting for a bulldozer, but he says the parish president must also sign off on the razing and the number he signs each day is capricious. Today, maybe 3. Tomorrow, could be 15. The federal government will raze houses for free. Independent contractors charge $3,000. Hmm. Wonder why the parish president drags his feet? My new Alaskan OSHA friend says, at the rate they're going, it'll be the next century before the city is even close to rebuilt. Louisiana has a long history of graft and dirty politics, and it appears Katrina didn't change that. If anything, she brought more of it to an already beleaguered city. I kind of regret not hanging out with Hotel Al - just me and my camera.

It was an interesting trip, and I can report that despite Katrina, Bourbon Street is still skeezy, sketchy, stinky, and downright fascinating. The Monteleone is still swanky and pretentious and wonderful. Cafe du Monde still serves pieces of heaven in the shape of a fried square. You can still get your palm read at Jackson Square. And you can still drop your entire monthly grocery budget at K-Paul's. If you love New Orleans, go there and support the city with your tourist dollars. Eat great food, buy cool stuff, and tell Willie I said hey.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

The amazing March challenge

By Trish Milburn

A month ago, I blogged about how the members of the Wet Noodle Posse were embarking on a month-long writing challenge in which we would push ourselves to write at the very least 2 pages a day, hopefully much more. I just did the calculations, and I must say we had some impressive results. Fifteen Noodlers took part, some writing all new pages and others doing a combination of new pages and revisions. Here's the breakdown:

*800 new pages were written!
*The count for those doing new pages and revisions was 1,286 pages!
*The top person for the combo of new and revised pages was Mary Fechter with 485 pages, followed by Priscilla Kissinger with 403.
*The top person with all new pages was me with 183, followed by Maureen Hardegree with 99 and Debra Holland with 93.

The challenge, the idea of Debra Holland, really worked wonders for me. It gave me the kick in the pants to finish a manuscript that had been sitting around one-third of the way completed. I know the daily progress check-ins were an incentive for many others to produce more than usual as well.

So, if you're at a point where you think you could benefit from a month-long challenge, I highly recommend it. Get together with a group of friends and have daily check-ins. Something about that checking in each day propels you to produce even on days when you might normally give in to the "I'm too tired" or "I don't feel like it" excuses. And if you're not a writer? Set up a challenge among friends based on some other task you want to achieve, whether that be consistent exercise, weight loss, reading or home improvements. I suspect at the end of the month, you'll have accomplished more than you ever expected and be riding high on that feeling of accomplishment.