Archive for February, 2011

29% done

I wrote a lot of pages today, but I also cut a lot. Not sure what the net ended up being, but I’m ahead of where I was, anyway. And this book is finally clicking. The characters were “off,” but now I think they’re better. Sometimes you just have to write through the “yuck” to get to the good stuff.


18681 / 65000 words. 29% done!


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No, I didn’t jump into a cage and duke it out with spike-haired lady wrestler. (I had to clarify that for those of you who know I’ll jump in and do almost anything in the name of participatory research).  No, I was a spectator only. Honestly, watching men beat each other up has never been high on my list of desirable activities. When my father used to watch boxing on TV, I would leave the room. When I went to my husband’s T’ai Kwan Do black belt test, I had to close my eyes during the sparring. Even the promo ads for Tap Out totally turned me off. It all seemed so … unsavory. And stupid. These guys risk serious head injuries every time they step into a ring (or cage).

But, for some reason, I decided to make the hero of one of my books a serious MMA competitor. He needed a secret life, and that was what I chose. So I needed to do some serious research. My generous husband offered to take me to a live event (even the cheap tickets were $40 a pop). So off we went last night to a Fight Club OC (Orange County) show.

We sat through seven matches. Most of them were boxing, which I found rather boring (and the other audience members didn’t seem very involved, either.) But when the first MMA event started, the crowd came alive. We happened to be sitting next to the cheering section for a guy named Luis, so we got into the spirit of it and cheered for him, too. (My husband was yelling advice to him, like “Get in closer!”) The two booze hounds sitting on the other side of us seemed more interested in getting smashed and taking pictures of the Hooters Girls and the bikini-clad ringside girls (you know, the ones who hold up the signs announcing which round is coming up.

I have to say, I rather enjoyed the MMA (although I did not enjoy it when one guy got knocked out–literally. THEY SHOULD WEAR PROTECTIVE GEAR ON THEIR HEADS). I like all the different strategies they can use, from striking to take-downs to grappling. The event was very orderly and civilized. I guess I was expecting something closer to “professional” wrestling, with showmanship and costumes and such. But it really was more about athletic skill.

I liked it enough that I might go back. Or maybe I’ll sign up for those Jiu jitsu classes I see advertised all the time!

Here’s my latest word count; moving forward slightly! Yay!

15244 / 65000 words. 23% done!

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Almost going backward

13272 / 65000 words. 20% done!

Judging from the pathetic progress between yesterday and today, it looks as if I didn’t work very hard today. But my first note from my editor suggested I tighten the first three chapters and eliminate one scene. So I did lots of cutting today, which is why it doesn’t look like I made much progress. But I did.

I also did some research into mixed martial arts and cage fighting. I even went to Borders (it’s closing soon, sniff sniff) and bought an MMA magazine. And a cookbook. And a book on antique jewelry. And some chocolate. It’s hard to walk out of there without an armload when they are doing such deep discounts. Afterward, since it was “Date Night,” we went to Islands and had dinner. Islands has started including the calorie count on every item menu, and it was so scary that I ended up ordering from the “healthy” section of the menu. I wish every restaurant would do this so I wouldn’t eat 2,000 calories’ worth of nachos without knowing.

Finished up Season 1 of Medium. I love that show. So sorry they canceled it.

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Now that I have a contract, it’s time to get serious about writing. I have to put the vampire book aside (sniff!) and get to work on the next Project Justice book. My writing schedule has been hit and miss lately as I try to work on the house and keep my online businesses afloat. But now that I have deadlines–real deadlines that someone besides me cares about–it’s nose to the grindstone. To that end, I’ve revived the Word Meter (last used during NaNoWriMo).

13069 / 65000 words. 20% done!

Here is my current status on SHADOWS FROM THE PAST (temporary title). I plan to post my daily progress.

In other news: The bedroom is ready to paint! After weeks of sanding, scraping, and patching, finally I get to do the fun stuff. I’m hoping to get started tomorrow.

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The Cabrillo Aquarium

My stepson Nick and his girlfriend, Dani, were here briefly on their way back to Australia. One of the things we decided to do while they were here was visit the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in nearby San Pedro. It’s not as grand as Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific, but it does boast the largest collection of local sea life.

That’s me, inside the aquarium that you can walk under. And the next picture is Nick and Dani, shot from inside the aquarium. Being in there, it was sort of like the fish were just swimming around in the air all around you.

The other pictures are the various sea stars and urchins, anemonies and jellies. I am fascinated by those pillow-y sea stars. They look so soft, but they are hard as rocks. (They have a touch aquarium where you can find out exactly how those stars feel, and what it’s like to have a sea urchin hug your finger.)

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It’s raining cats and dogs here in SoCal (more weather wierdness) but I’m not letting that get me down. I got a phone call from my editor today, and the next three Project Justice books for Harlequin Superromance are a go!

Book #4 will feature Beth McClelland from the PJ Physical Evidence Lab and Mitch Delacroix, the super-sexy Cajun computer hacker unraveling a mystery from the past. Current title is SHADOWS FROM THE PAST, but that might change.

Book #5 will star Claudia Ellison, the cool blond consulting psychologist, with hot investigator Billy Cantu, a missing body and some gold coins. Current title is FOR JUST CAUSE.

Book #6 will feature Daniel Logan’s personal assistant, Jillian Baxter, going undercover for Project Justice to find out who murdered a whistle-blower at a lumber company. where her adolescent crush Conner Blake is CFO. Current title is INSIDE JOB.

All of these characters (except Conner) appear in the first three books. That is the fun of writing about an organization like Project Justice. There is an endless supply of intriguing characters who drift in as consultants, clients, reporters, cops and the like who can fall in love while solving mysteries.

You’ll also be seeing more of Celeste, the eccentric, seventy-something office manager. Every tense romantic suspense book needs some comic relief.

My year is going to be busy! In addition to the books, I’m teaching several online workshops this year and next, and I’m attending at least two conferences (Dreamin’ in Dallas and the national RWA conference in New York) and there is a possible bike trip in Serbia (not sure about that, yet–waiting to see if my sister-in-law puts it together). The home renovations are never-ending, too.


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So I recently joined Freecycle, where people give away stuff, and someone was giving away an Indian hawthorn bush. Since I have a lot of yard to landscape and not much money to do it with, a large, free flowering shrub sounded like a great idea. The woman said I could come dig it up. She described it as about four feet tall and five feet wide.

“Can I dig it up by myself?” I asked. She said she would help me, and she thought together we could get it into my Toyota hatchback, maybe with some pruning beforehand.

I was expecting something a bit airier. Something I could squash into my hatchback. So I almost fainted dead away when I saw this monstrous plant. The shrub is, I’m guessing, 30 years old. It had a trunk about 10″ in diameter, and it was solid, unyielding branches and a zillion roots, some as big as my arm..

Gamely, I got out my shovel, and this very tiny woman got hers, and we went to work. Some of the roots were more than three feet long; they extended under the driveway, under the house, and around pipes. Eventually we had to resort to a saw to free the bush. It took an hour and a half.

Thankfully, the woman’s boyfriend was around to help us wrestle this behemoth into my little car, and they even provided some bungie cords to secure it and an old red T-shirt to tie on the back.

Rob was, shall we say, surprised when I came home with this thing. (He knew nothing of my nefarious shrug wrangling activities.) But, being the good sport he is, he helped me wrestle the thing out of my car. (And here is serendipity for you; earlier in the day, having no idea I would be getting this bush, I saw a garden wagon at a yard sale and bought it.) So we were able to pretty easily roll the bush into our back yard. As twilight settled in, we quickly dug a great big hole (thank goodness the ground is still wet) and planted the sucker.

Given the sad state of its roots, I don’t know whether it will live. But hawthorns are hardy, so I will keep my fingers crossed. I think the birds will love it.

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