Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Road Trip

It's that time of year again when the kids are out of school, the days are longer and warmer, and everyone heads out on their summer vacation. Well, I live in Florida where the weather goes from warm to steamy hot, and I don't have kids to worry about, but I do have a job and it's time for my summer vacation. :)

After considering all my financial options to get myself from central Florida to northern New England, I have decided to drive. That's 1500 miles one way. Phew. Okay, everyone thinks I'm a little crazy -- which of course I am -- but because of my need to have a vehicle up there when I arrive, I'm driving.

Understanding my history with long-distance driving my decision may not seem so far-fetched. At twenty-years-old, my best friend Annie and I bought an old van and fixed it up. We took two months to explore the vast United States, camping along the way. We had an awesome time driving down the east coast, along the gulf coast, through exhilarating mountain passes, into the dusty southwest, reaching our goal -- California. Our many exciting adventures will be a blog for another day. Fortunately Annie kept a journal of our trip so many of the delicious details are preserved forever. Without revealing my age, I will say it was many, many moons ago. ;)

Two months after that trip I boarded a plane and flew back to California to join the largest, traveling repertory acting company in the world. Covenant Players. I spent four years on the road traveling throughout the United States, western Canada, and parts of Europe with some amazing people and in all sorts of vehicles. My education behind the wheel was priceless. I had acquired an international drivers license so I was able to drive in the USA and Europe as well.

I own a Toyota Yaris that's fun to drive and boasts great gas mileage. So weighing my options -- flying vs. driving -- driving it is.

Wish me good luck!!

Monday, July 13, 2009


As a member of the Romance Writers of America, I have the opportunity to enter dozens of romance writing contests every year. According to the RWA website, there are 126 state chapters of RWA in the United States, 6 in Canada, as well as 19 special interest chapters. The special interest chapters are online chapters catering to specific genres and needs - historical, mystery/suspense, paranormal, erotica, chick lit, etc.

Many of the RWA chapters sponsor writing contests to raise money to support their chapters and enhance the writing skills and publishing opportunities for all members.

Some of the contests are geared to the unpublished writer, some specifically for the published author, and some include opportunities for both. With nearly 10,000 members of RWA, the competition to final in any of the chapter contests is tough. The national RWA hosts the RITA and GOLDEN HEART contests. The RITA is for books copyrighted within the year of entering the contest, and the GOLDEN HEART is for unpublished writers with a completed manuscript.

If a writer is looking to enter a contest, there are several factors to take into consideration.

Money: The cost of the contest, including postage, paper and ink. Although many contests are going all electronic so the latter isn't always a concern. However, for published writers there is the cost of shipping their books.

Time: Researching contests and the amount of time to polish the pages being submitted.

Final Judges: Is the final round judge an editor who works for a publishing house that publishes the genre you write and the word-count of your manuscript? Or perhaps an agent you would want to represent you and your work?

Scoresheet and critique: Many of the contests post their scoresheets on their websites, and there is usually some kind of critiquing offered -- but not always. This helps in the decision making process whether to enter a particular contest. Keep in mind, the national Golden Heart contest does not offer any critiquing, you simply receive a letter with your final scores.

Which contest to enter: There are a variety of contests to consider for unpublished writers, so depending on your need or expertise you can make your decision. For example the GOLDEN HEART can only be entered if you have a completed manuscript, but the first round judges only read the first three chapters and synopsis.
Other choices available are: 1st chapter contests, synopsis, query letters, individual scenes such as where the hero and heroine first meet, or first kiss, or first time making love. Some offer a contest where the scene features the villain.

So, make your decision on whether you desire a critique, or the editor/agent is one you want, or the prize is enticing, etc.

Be aware, however, that if you have a piece of writing polished and perfect and your goal is to get in front of an editor or agent, you better have the rest of the manuscript finished. The professional editors and agents sign on to judge these contests with the ultimate goal in finding fresh, undiscovered writers ready to be published. I have heard many stories of finalists having requests for partial and full manuscripts and they aren't finished writing the book. Not only does this make RWA look bad, it's a waste of time for the editor, and unfair to other contestants who might have finaled in their place with a completed manuscript.

That said, there are many newbie writers who use the contest circuit to enhance their writing skills with the critiques offered. As long as they submit knowing their piece needs work and they probably won't final.

It's about being professional. Follow the contest rules and regulations with the understanding of your responsibilities.

I usually enter only two contests a year due to limited funds. Although I'm on the prowl for one right now, so wish me luck, and here goes...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

What is It?

And what's it called?

I've been in Florida for over three years now and have never seen this flowering plant before. It bloomed from a gray branch shooting along the ground seemingly overnight back in February. It bloomed for about three weeks before it began to shrivel into a brown, dead-looking plant.

Recently the branch was broken (not certain what happened) so now it won't bloom again unless more shoots magically appear.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

New For July

Three more members of Tampa Area Romance Authors have new books out this month:

Atlantis Unmasked by Alyssa Day -- paranormal romance
Outcast by Joan Johnston -- romantic thriller
Kill For Me by Karen Rose -- paperback release -- romantic suspense

Congrats ladies! :)

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Happy 4th of July from Anna Maria Island.

Lean back in your favorite recliner.

Soothing landscape.


Have a fun and safe weekend.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Make Me Yours

Betina Krahn, award-winning historical author of The Husband Test, Paradise Bargain, and The Mermaid -- to name just a few -- has a new release out today: Make Me Yours!

This is her first book published by Harlequin Blaze and it sounds wonderful. I can't wait to buy a copy!
Congratulations, Betina. :)