Monday, February 28, 2011

Where Do They Come From?

What is it with cardboard boxes? Do they breed? Do they call up their friends and invite them over? I mean where do all these things come from?
I did a little (A VERY LITTLE) cleaning and rearranging today and every time I turned around I was tripping over a cardboard box! Very small, small, medium, larger and extra large, they came in all sizes.
I’d flatten one and put it in the recycle bin, turn around and there would be two more! Where are they coming from? Is it a conspiracy? Is my house the only one affected?
Now I know I brought some of them home, I mean I’ve been shopping at the warehouse place, and some of them came with merchandise carefully packed in them, but seriously I think there is a problem.
How can one garage hold so many cardboard boxes?
Is there a limit to how many cardboard boxes I can put in the recycling? Will they pick them up?
I guess the real question is; will more appear before the garbage truck comes?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Top 5 Lists

I have a running competition with an old friend to see who's list of Top 5 lists are actually the biggest.  We each easily top 20 or so favorites in our top fives. So, in no random order...


1. Beauty & The Beast (1993, Disney) - This one has topped my list since the day I saw it. The artistry, innovation, storyline and music are wonderful. They form a cohesive story with a heroine we can root for and the ultimate wounded hero. Plus, all the underlying adult humor really cracks me up. One memorable line comes when Lumiere and Cogsworth are counseling the Beast on how to win Belle's heart long enough to break the curse: "Well, there's the usual things... flowers, chocolates ... promises you don't intend to keep."

2. Braveheart (1995, Icon Entertainment) - This movie captivated me with its rich detail to history (however fractured and fictionalized, but they made it SEEM like the gospel truth) and the double love story of William Wallace. In my opinion, the writers pulled off an amazing feat by creating this unique love triangle. William and Murron were the perfect pair - in love, defiant, willing to (and did) die for each other. His entire war campaign was for love of a woman, not Scotland (okay, only peripherally). So, this great love spurred a man to war how in the world could we root for him and a different woman? Quite easily, as it turns out. His affair with Princess Isabelle is both sensual and satisfactory.

3. Gigi (1958, MGM) -  Gigi, a young girl learning about love is swept off her feet by the older, suave family friend Gaston. Again, the heart of the movie is a love story surrounded by fantastic music, gorgeous scenery  and Maurice Chevalier. Eva Gabor also had a small part as Gaston's mistress Liane and she was wonderful. I never tire of watching this movie, it really is a feel good for me.

4. Star Wars (1977, LucasFilms/20th Century Fox) - Only Star Wars in my mind, none of that episode IV: A New Hope crap. The best hero's journey ever put on film. There are so many things I love about Star Wars, it is nearly impossible to pick out just a few, but I'll give it a try. I was 7 when the movie came out and I was in a blond-loving phase, so Luke Skywalker was my dream guy. My mom loved Han Solo (I admit, I switched allegiances when I grew up). But even now, I realize that Luke's heartfelt anguish and sense of helplessness, then growth, is what attracted me. Sure, he was whiny in the beginning, but he turned out pretty good in the end. I also liked Leia's character - she was a strong woman with definite goals and no one, not even Darth Vader, was going to stop her. And, of course, light sabers. The look, the hold, the sound. Every kid in the nation was ran around holding a vacuum cleaner hose making the light saber noise after that movie.

5. Jaws (1975, Universal Studios) -The movie that changed an ocean-loving nation forever.  Spielberg took some of our most basic fears (the dark, the boogeyman, the unknown) and created a masterpiece of terror. Right down to John Williams' shiver-inducing soundtrack. Martin Brody, Amity's sea-fearing Sheriff, is not prepared to face a great white shark using his beach as a snacking ground. His personal growth through the movie helps offer a human side to the terror. Helps us empathize as a viewer. The ancillary characters of Quint and Hooper are perfectly played as well. I know my family is not the only one to have ever used the "We're gonna need a bigger boat," line, but the scene I enjoy the most is the scar swapping one between the three. Such an odd bit of normality before the climactic ending.

Other movies in my Top 5: The Princess Bride (As you wish!), The Replacements with Keanu Reeves, Aladdin from Disney, Singin' in the Rain,   Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,  Star Trek (The 2009 reboot); Pure Country with George Strait, I could go on, but you get the idea.

MUSIC (Albums)

1. Phantom of the Opera, The Original London Cast Recording. Favorite. EVER. I listen to this soundtrack for every book I write. It's like a switch that helps flip my muse into ready-to-write mode. I have worn out two sets of discs. Thank goodness for the advent of mp3 players. It was the first thing I loaded onto my new iPod Nano.

2. Rockferry by Duffy. Duffy is a young singer from England who has a raspy voice which reminds of throwbacks to the early 60s. Her songs on this album are catchy, poignant and insightful. Very bluesy, very awesome. Warwick Avenue is fantastic.

3. Rock and Roll Jesus by Kid Rock. It's raw, rocking, danceable and just plain fun. I listen to it all the time. Some of my favorite tracks are very naughty (So Hott, Sugar) and in no way ever kid-friendly. But every time I listen to it, it puts me in a good mood.

4. The King of Rock 'n' Roll: The Complete 50s Masters by Elvis Presley. I grew up listening to Elvis. I love his soulful voice, the way he digs down past every barrier he has and lets every emotion leech into his music. When he sings, it's with such a sense of vulnerability and depth which makes me appreciate it even more. Though it doesn't appear on this album, American Trilogy is probably my favorite song that he does. Or Peace in the Valley. Or Kentucky Rain. Shoot, just can't choose one.

5. Use Your Illusion I & II by Guns n' Roses. Their self-titled album was good as was Appetite for Destruction and GNR Lies,  But this double album is filled with myriad sounds, rhythms and styles that it's as addictive for me as chocolate. November Rain is genius. Swelling and soulful, poignant and pointed. Unbelievably entrancing. The video ain't half-bad either. Mr. Brownstone, though the subject matter is typical for Axl and Company, also rocks out. Ah, I miss the old GNR. <sigh>

Others in my top 5 favorites: Grease I AND 2 soundtracks, Back To Basics by Christina Aguilera, 25 All Time Doo Wop Hits by various artists, Riverdance soundtrack, ...Oops, I did it Again by Britney Spears, Golden Road by Keith Urban, The Four Seasons from Vivaldi...

1. On Friendship: A friend will help you move, but a real friend will help you move the body. Anonymous
2. On Success: "Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success” Napoleon Hill
3. On Humor: “Where humor is concerned there are no standards - no one can say what is good or bad, although you can be sure that everyone will”: John Kenneth Galbraith
4. On Children: Any child can tell you that the sole purpose of a middle name is so he can tell when he's really in trouble - Dennis Fakes
5. On God: What we are is God's gift to us.  What we become is our gift to God.  ~Eleanor Powell

Other quotes: Shoot for the moon, even if you fail, you'll still land among the stars - Brian Littrell; The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams - Eleanor Roosevelt; Don't stifle, you can do anything you want - Christiane Payton (my mom!); If you obey all the rules, you miss the fun - Katherine Hepburn; Be happy. It's one way of being wise - Sidonie Gabrielle

There you have the randomness of my brain. It amuses me to see the vast difference in taste I have. But being predictable is boring, don't you think?

Happy Random Day,
Jennifer August

Friday, February 25, 2011

Music and Emotions

"Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak." William Congreve

The play was called The Mourning Bride [1697], and the quote id from Act 1 Sc1.

Personally, I love music, all kinds. I start my day off by turning the radio up loud on the way to work and off I go. The minute I hear the first few notes of certain songs, I’m either jazzing along with my feet thumping the floor and my head bobbing, singing my heart out, or I’m yanked back in time faster than the speed of light. I especially like music that takes me back to a time when I was young and having lots of fun, not that I’m not having fun now, of course, But remember those songs that make you think of when you were 13 or 14 and so madly in love you thought you would die, or had a super bad crush on some gorgeous junior high school guy that you knew would never ever pay any attention to you? Or what about that guy you slipped beneath the bleachers to make out with? And the songs you and your girlfriends used to blare on the radio and dance to. Those are big emotions. Certain music from that era, truly evokes that same feeling in my heart as if I were reliving that time of my life. For me a couple of those songs are:  Sunshine Superman by Donovan, Summer In The City by The Lovin' Spoonful, Lil' Red Riding Hood by Sam The Sham and the Pharaohs, Long Cool Woman (In a Black Dress) by the Hollies, just to name a slight few. I mean we were the luckiest generation, growing up with songs like, I Want to Hold Your Hand, by the Beatles, Return to Sender, by Elvis, Paint it Black by The Rolling Stones. My list could go on and on forever. I have downloaded all of these songs on to my Zune and I listen to it all the time.  

Try listening to breathtaking Classical

Different types of music affect me in different ways as well. Take classical. I listen to classical occasionally but would rather sit at an orchestrated symphonic concert than listen on the radio, although I do sometimes. Being in the same room and watching a large symphony perform gets my heart beating like nothing else. Truly feeling the rhythm of the music rush through your body is a breathtaking experience and makes me wish I possessed the talent to play a musical instrument. When I’m highly stressed, I can close my eyes and listen to a performance by Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, or Ludwig van Beethoven, and am immediately relaxed (and sometimes put to sleep-not a bad way to nod off!). Check out Yo-Yo Ma playing an interesting rendition of the prelude from Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 – You do all know who Yo-Yo Ma is, right? Watch the video first, and then listen with your eyes closed and think about the feelings the music stirs in you.

And then there are movie theme songs and soundtracks that take you back to many wonderful and amazing films. Those are always fun and most, especially the big Disney movies, use quite a lot of classical music in the background. For instance, for the movie Fantasia’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice had an amazing classical background and every time I hear it I imagine the mystical scene from the movie. I am a huge fan of all Disney’s films and especially like the animated ones and the themes that go with them. Just think about all of the films made over the years and the musical compositions that the incredible producers compiled for them and you can imagine how much music is out there for that genre. Check out these links to several different movie soundtracks and music clips. Fun to listen to.

Rock 'n' Roll, Baby!

Rock and Roll evokes a very different feeling than Pop music of course. More gritty. I like gritty somtimes, one of my alter egos. I have my favorites in that genre as well. A couple of my favorite Rock and Roll songs from my era are (ok, so I've been aging myself all through this-no jokes) In A Gadda Da Vida by Iron Butterfly, Magic Carpet Ride by Steppenwolf, Paint It Black by The Rolling Stones, and of course there are so many more. Just do a search for 70's Rock and Roll and you'll be amazed what you find. Great music! Go hunting for some memories of your own, no matter what generation you're from, there's an amazing world out there just waiting for you to explore. 

Jazz is another of my favorites. They recently changed my local jazz station so if anyone knows of a local (Fort Worth, Texas) jazz station I'd love to know about it. I need to dowload more of this kind of music, I just can't get enough. Jazz has a calming effect on me so I like to listen when I'm tired. It's very soothing. Here's an interesting website that tells the history of jazz.

And then there's Pop music, one of my favorite sounds. Pop songs I couldn't stop listening to were Sonny and Cher’s I Got You Babe, Tonight's the Night by Rod Stewart, Stayin' Alive by the Bee Gees, and on and on. I love these songs, not only for the lyrics, but because of the emotions they stir. That is only one of, gosh, so many many songs or groups that I listened to while I was growing up.  Music was and still is a huge part of my life. I can't even begin to list all of the gourps I enjoyed, so here is a website that has loads of them.  Listen to the amazing music!

Country Music
makes me cry!

Most Country and Western songs make me cry so I can only listen to those at the end of the day when it’s okay for my mascara to run or I need to get some water proof but then I wouldn't be able to see the computer screen. The beer drinkin’ and honkey tonkin’ songs are lots of fun and for the most part, I can listen to those without balling my eyes out, but even those choke me up, not sure why, but there you have it. We used to go two-steppin’ (or four steppin’ with my husband) at Billy Bob's Texas while we were dating. Those were surely fun times.

And while I was at the dentist today, they gave me a credit card sized radio and headphones so I could listen to music while they worked on my mouth. It helped keep me from thinking about what they were doing to me and I thanked them afterward. I also got a back massage which was cool. But try singing out loud with your lips numb. Not a very pretty sight. Sounds funny too. And you dribble :-)

And on the radio I heard about a group of musicians called "Musicians On Call" who go around delivering the healing power of music to patients in healthcare facilities. We all believe music heals, right? I thought this was pretty cool. Check out their website.

And then there are the songs that when you hear them, you go, yeah, that’s about me, that's my life! Go out there, get adventurous in your search for music to listen to, there is a multitude of choices. Enjoy your mood music and try to think about the joy it gives you while you listen, the memories you can drift off into, the emotions the lyrics pull from you, or the fantasies you can create anew.

It's everywhere! Music is in the air! What are some of your favorites songs? What emotions does music evoke in your soul? What kind of music motivates you and in what ways? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Happy Listening!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Within Us

Those who know me know I love quotes. I have them everywhere. My house, my car, my desk, my office... You give me an empty space and I’ll nail up a quote.
I particularly like to read Ralph Waldo Emerson. One of my favorites is: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when we bring what is within us out into the world, miracles happen.

Yeah, that’s on my desk!1274623

As a writer I think Emerson is talking to the creative spark inside us that creates every word we put on paper. Writers are such magical creatures we don’t even know our own powers. Writers pull more stuff out of the ‘blue’ than any other profession. We put together other worlds, people, towns, tragedies and love stronger than anything else on earth. The amazing thing is, people reading our books believe they are real. We transform the reader into another world.

1183643And we do it without acknowledging where it all comes from. All of us have sat in the dark and typed away on our computers; creating God only knows what, until it’s done. There are times I have no idea where I’m going with a story, but something within me does. Something guides me to the end of that raw chapter, and often ignites an idea for the next chapter.

To some, it’s simply their muse. It shows up and words get written on the page. Ideas materialize out of nowhere. All is well, and the muse gets all the credit, for we are mere mortals. Nothing of genius comes from us.

1005737It does according to Emerson. It’s all within us right now and has been since the very beginning. There is more within us than we can ever imagine. The stories are unlimited and they get better and better as we go along. We over come great adversity, we learn things we never knew. We push to the absolute limits of our imagination to come up with a plot others will believe.

We’re writers, so we’re mystical.

I leave you with this quote by Orison Sweet Marden: “There are powers inside of you, which, if you could discover and use, would make of you anything you ever dreamed or imagined you’d become.”

Write On!

Geri Foster

Monday, February 21, 2011


A few days ago a friend forwarded an email from an American currently living in Egypt. Maybe it was real-maybe not, I didn’t check because the words struck a chord in my heart.
In a very straight forward fashion the writer gave an insider’s view of life in Egypt now and the near future; the hardships, precautions, obstacles to everyday life, of being safe, and hopeful. I sensed her courage, her determination to survive.
I take for granted things like fresh water (not to mention enough for a hot shower). I turn on the tap and water flows from it.
I take for granted fresh food and milk for my grandchildren. Those are a short trip to the market not a perilous journey of many hours that will probably prove fruitless.
I worry about my children being late to work and driving fast to make up the time, not being accosted on the way or having to work without pay for days on end because others can’t make it into work.
My mothers’ heart knows this woman’s fears, her pain. Those feelings are universal to women everywhere. We make a home where our families are safe and comfortable.
Her last paragraphs remind me how lucky I am to live here, in the U.S.A., in a place call Texas. It started me thinking about my life and the liberties we enjoy.
I am grateful to live in a country where I’m free to express my thoughts and live my life as I choose. Sunday I got to spend time with family; happy children ran enthusiastically around parents, aunts and uncles. Not once in the eight or nine hours we were together did any of us feel threatened.
I am grateful for this crazy life of mine; for family and friends who love and encourage me, for the simple pleasures that enhance and enrich my life.
Today as I go through my day I’m going to make a conscious effort to count my blessings and be grateful for everyone of them.
Want to join me? Please, leave a comment; I am grateful for…

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A year in the life

Party like it's your birthday!

Today is my birthday, though if you ask my family and friends, they’ll tell you I actually celebrate all month long. It seems each day in February brings a note, an email, a phone call, an invitation to lunch – all with the special point of noting my birthday. I love it! It might come as a surprise to you (but probably not) that I am also supremely spoiled. My mom calls it being loved and believe me, I am very, very loved.

Growing up, my mom, dad and brother always took great pains to make my birthday special. I have so many wonderful memories, so many special cakes and gifts.  Although, I would like to point out that my brother, my OLDER brother, used to tease me mercilessly about my birthday being in February. All real members of our family, he would say, were born in October. Which is true. I was the only one born in February. When I was younger, it broke my heart. He also told me I was adopted and they traded (insert vegetation here) with Gypsies for me. My mom’s response? You were wanted.
I personally think they got the better end of the deal!

At some point, though, I realized being the only one born in February made me unique. Ha! Take that, older brother. Pfffft. This is probably when I started claiming the entire month of February as my birth month. I like that logic, at any rate.

Last year was a milestone birthday for me. I turned 40! I had a huge dinner at my favorite Mexican restaurant and invited tons of friends and my family. We had a blast. I had tons of chips and salsa, a very large margarita and laughs out the whazoo. Then, the next day I took the first step on a rather surprising and alarming health journey. I like to say that my warranty expired. I have since purchased the extended warranty and all is well again. But the experience made me stop and reflect just how incredibly blessed I’ve been. I am.

So, today as I turn 41, it is with a thankful, loving heart.

Thank you to my family and friends for a year of support, care and concern. It might be my birthday month, but all of you are in my thoughts every day.

Jennifer August

Friday, February 18, 2011

Happy Valentine’s Week - Simple things that mean a lot.

Happy Valentine's Week!

We don’t do a lot of gift buying or big time celebrating for Valentine’s Day. I think it started when we were so broke we couldn’t afford to get each other gifts. That hasn't changed much, but we do small things for each other throughout the day. My husband was first to say Happy Valentine’s Day, give me a kiss and a hug, and tell me he loves me. He told me several times before I left for work and then when I got home from work. How sweet is that after thirty years of marriage? In fact the way he still calls me "Baby" makes my heart skip a beat. We clinked a couple of glasses of wine and then ordered Chinese to be delivered. Not having to cook is a big gift too.

Come to think about it, he does many simple things like that for me. On some mornings he brings me coffee in bed. Some mornings, I get coffee for him, but mostly we take turns. He goes out early in the morning in the winter time and warms up my car for me. He used to travel all over Texas and once he surprised me and brought me a signed and numbered painting from a woman who bought his insurance. And then there was the time that he stopped alongside the road and picked wild flowers for me. Except for the bugs, I loved this one and the flowers were beautiful. Once, when I used to collect angels, he brought me a cute little angel figurine, and although I still need to paint it, it's as cute as it can be! Occasionally still, he’ll bring me chocolates, you know the ones that look like mini-candy bars. Hey, at least he didn't buy me a gun :-) 
Yummy, chocolates!

No special occasion, just out of the blue. I think these mean the most to me, because they are a “just because” thoughtful gift.  

And even though some of these events took place with long time lapses in between, I appreciate that he still thinks about me. Of course, now that he no longer travels, the small “gifts” he finds for me come from the grocery or drug store. But hey, he’s still thinking about me, right?!

It's the simple things in life that mean a lot!

Enjoy the simple things in life!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Listen Up! by Cindy Procter-King

Special Guest Cindy Procter-King

 Today, we are delighted to have Cindy Procter-King visiting with us. She has some amazing, exciting news. Read on!!

I’m celebrating the audio book release of my romantic comedy, HEAD OVER HEELS, which came out on Valentine’s Day from Audiolark and is available all week at a New Release Special price that is 2/3rds lower than the retail price! (Translation, surf on over and grab your copy now—well, after you finish reading my post). I admit I haven’t listened to many audio books in the past. Everyone has their reading preferences, and I prefer to read lying down, which lends to using my eyes, not my ears. If I’m listening to something, I can’t lie down. I need to jump up and move, be on the go somehow. However, back in the days of cassette audio books, my husband would buy them for his truck stereo and we’d listen to them while on long road trips with the kids.

Head Over Heels now available as an audiobook!
Today, audio books are often published as digital files, and such is the case with Audiolark. The books are DRM-free and can be listened to on any device that plays MP3s. I think there was a short time in the industry when audio books were available on CDs. Technology changes very quickly, and as writers we must adapt. In these days of tinier and tinier MP3 players (instead of huge “portable” stereos, or can you imagine carrying a Hi-Fi around on your shoulder?) (if you don’t know what a Hi-Fi is, yes, it’s confirmed, I’m much older than you are), I can easily imagine readers listening to audio books on MP3s while driving to work, cleaning the house, or exercising. Rather than listening to music on your player, select an audio book. Just be wary of those love scenes if you’re listening to a romance. You don’t want to run into traffic when your heart rate escalates!

I was able to sell HEAD OVER HEELS to Audiolark because my ebook and trade paperback publisher, Amber Quill Press, only contracted the subsidiary rights they intended to pursue. I consider this a plus, even though it’s difficult to sell subsidiary rights on your own, especially if you don’t have an agent. I managed to sell the Manga rights to HEAD OVER HEELS to a Japanese publisher that has published anime comic book editions of hundreds of Harlequin and Silhouette romances. The translation is complete and illustrations are now in process. The publisher also purchased Japanese cell phone rights. Imagine, a romance novel serialized on cell phones! What has the world come to? However, in the case of my Manga sale, the publisher came looking for me (via the NYC scouting arm of a Japanese literary agency). The opportunity pretty much dropped in my lap, for which I’m grateful.

As an author published (so far, anyway) under two different names with small presses and non-NYC publishers, I’m very particular about the rights I sign away. My decisions always come down to a particular publisher’s distribution, reputation, and whether they offer an advance. I have turned down an e-publishing contract because the publisher in question wanted to retain rights they didn’t intend to pursue. However, they didn’t offer an advance. That made no sense to me. If a publisher is large, or earns decent money for its authors within a relatively short time frame (I need to keep my family in macaroni and microwave popcorn, you know!), or offers a decent advance, then it’s a different ball of wax. I’m more likely to sign away subsidiary rights. Because pursuing those rights on your own is time-consuming, and I prefer to write more books. Both as Cindy Procter-King and as my super-secret erotic romance author persona (hint, checking the Site Info link on my Cindy website pretty much gives away my alter ego’s identity) (viewing the RWA Conferences slide show on my Photos page does, too) (I’m nothing if not proud) (but what’s the use of having a secret identity if you don’t attempt to keep it secret?) (Yes, I’m addicted to parentheses) (but only in blog posts, not my novels).

The upshot is that in these days of “indie” or self-publishing via Kindle, authors are realizing that we have more control over our stories and our characters than we did a few short years ago. Gone are the days when a successful, RITA-nominated romance author discovers she can no longer sell a book in the traditional sense because of an editor change at her publisher that stalls her career in its tracks (I have seen this happen to several writer friends. She’s writing the same stories, the books already in the pipe are getting nominated for the same prestigious awards, but the new editor doesn’t connect with her writing or the publishing house is dropping the line of books for which she writes). Today, that same author, who might have felt at the mercy of her publishing house or an editor’s subjective taste, can take her skills and years of pleasing her fans in new directions.

What do you think of the new opportunities available for writers? “Self-published” was once a red flag. If a book was self-published, it was usually considered crap. Granted, hundreds, if not thousands, of self-published books could still fall into the “crap” category. It’s not always the greatest idea to self-publish the first book you write. Most professional writers hone their craft over years and years and years of writing and submitting, enduring critiques, getting down and dirty with revisions, and doing comprehensive editing. They send out their work, bear the beast of rejection that is bound to occur, then dig in and make their work better (or more marketable) and send it out again. But then there are the “orphaned” authors who have survived rigorous learning curves and now find themselves without an editor or book line. Or the talented unpublished writer who has come close to selling to a major house over a dozen times, but writes too out-of-the-box to ultimately satisfy New York. For those authors, the current publishing opportunities must feel like a creative field day.

Do you buy ebooks or audio books? Are you more willing to try new authors in these venues or do you stick to your tried-and-true traditionally published paperback writers? If a writer finds herself abandoned by her publishing house, would you follow her into audio book or ebook territory? Would you support her self-publishing efforts? How have the changes in publishing changed YOUR reading (or listening!) experience?

Cindy Procter-King writes quirky romantic comedies and emotional contemporary romances set in British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest. Cindy lives in Canada with her husband, their two sons, a cat obsessed with dripping tap water, and Allie McBeagle. Learn more about Cindy and her books at or visit her blog at

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Happy Valentine’s Day Gift

1336757I hope all of you have the best Valentine’s Day ever. I hope it was romantic and you enjoyed some time with your special somebody. I hope the chocolate flowed and the flowers cheered you up, and made you go, ah. And the cards! Oh, I love those Hallmark moments. But if that didn’t happen to you, you are not alone, my friend.

Let’s talk about presents, shall we. I love flowers, chocolate, lingerie, and jewelry. I would have been happy with any of those gifts in any quantity. My husband on the other hand, loves guns. So guess what I got for Valentine’s Day? You betcha! I got a gun. A .32 Caliber Magnum. Now isn’t that sweet?


I don’t know what my husband was thinking. And the gift was unnecessary. I’d already bought me a nice pair of shoes from Norstroms, and he bought me an Iphone Saturday night. We had a lovely dinner with friends, and I was perfectly content with the beautiful card I woke up to on Monday.

Obviously, my husband had other p1146529lans. He felt this great compulsion to go to the gun show and buy me, of all people, a weapon. Those who know me, are probably having a very difficult time envisioning me ‘packin’. If you’re smart, it should scare the living hell out of you. I am not a normal person by any stretch of the imagination. I even scare me.

I have no idea what to do with this gun. I’ve never fired a weapon in my life. I grew up around guns because my dad and my brothers were avid hunters. However, shooting never interested me at anytime. Maybe I was afraid I’d kill someone. Trust me, I’ve wanted to do that before. But really, at my age???, to be given a gun?
It’s absurd.

Not only do I have a gun, my hubby insists I learn to shoot the damn thing. Now, this Saturday we are going to the shooting range and I get to fire the first bullet from my brand new gun.

Stay low to the ground, my friends.
1208355Last night I got out my Bedazzler, and found my hot glue gun. I’m thinking a pair of pink handle grips, a little glitter and a few rhinestones and I should be good.

So, that’s my crazy Valentine’s Day gift. What about you? Have you ever been given a gift you didn’t want? How about something so out of the blue, it makes you wonder what the giver was thinking. If so, leave a comment. We’ll see who has the craziest gift of all.

Write On

Geri Foster

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

I hope you spend it with someone you love. Do something unexpectedly wonderful and live in the moment that is this day and what it stands for.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Art of Zen

I was recently told by my doctor that I need to relax more. Easy for him to say. Does he not realize how busy our lives are? I don’t know about you, but my day is full from start to finish and probably even after I go to sleep, I just don’t know it.
With family, work, writing, laundry and so on and so forth, it’s nearly impossible to find that essential downtime. And personally, I found it funny when he told me to “schedule” it.
But he has a point. And he made some valid suggestions. My favorite, though, was when he told me how I should end each night. For what it’s worth, I’ve done this several times and it is working for me.

1.       In a quiet room, sit comfortably either on a chair or on the floor. Do not lie down or you’ll fall asleep.
2.       Close your eyes and begin to visualize your body, beginning with your feet. Flex and relax them, imaging the tension flowing from your toes. Okay, this part cracks me up mostly cause I’m terribly ticklish, but also because I have problems with flowing. My tension apparently shoots from my toes in blue flames. The perils of being a writer, I suppose.

3.       Next, flex and relax your calves, then your knees, making your way up your entire body, ending with your head. Don’t ask me how you’re supposed to flex your head, cause that just makes my ears wiggle.

4.       Finally, take several deep breaths. Inhale through your nose, hold for a slow  count to five then exhale slowly. Do this five times. I have issues with holding my breath to five. What’s slow? What if I’m going too fast? What if I’m going too slow? Will I pass out? Will I hit my head? Crap… I just realized I’m tense again.

5.       In a quiet room, sit comfortably …

Since being told by him to create a peaceful bedroom environment (although I flatly refuse to remove my TV from my room!) I’ve looked into different ways to accomplish this. Lots of ideas and thoughts about this on the interwebs, of course. Aromatherapy, noise machines, pets, sleep masks and noise canceling headphones (which I would never wear while I sleep because I’m positive I would strangle myself!), all sorts of things. Some work and some don’t.

I really like the Lavender pillow mist from Bath & Body Works but I dislike going to sleep in total quiet.  I have my TV on as I go to sleep. Having it off makes me wake up a lot. Plus, my teenager INSISTS on having his music up loud and the bass thumping along the wall. Not conducive to a peaceful bedroom environment.  I am generally cold, but when I go to sleep, I have to have the A/C running. I change my sheets every day (yes, you read that right). I find slipping into a freshly made bed one of the most comforting sensations in the world. Right along with that first sip of ice-cold Dr Pepper. Which, apparently I’m not supposed to get up in the middle of the night to drink. Huh, still working on that.

One of the other things is to visualize something tranquil. Again, this is where I get into trouble. Oh sure, I always START off nice and relaxed. I’m on the beach, in a nice chair, the sun warmly (not too hot) beating down on me, the waves lapping at the shore. No, wait. I’m IN the water. On one of those long lounging floating chaise things. Hm, maybe not because my balance is crap. I’m in one of those huge round tubes you use for river tubing. Yeah, that’s it.
So, in the tube, warm sun, eyes closed, fingers gently trailing in the water, the soft screech of gulls from the shore… oh crap, what’s under me? Is that a shark? What just brushed my leg? Seaweed or sharp teeth?! HELP! … and just like that, there goes my tranquility.

So, I’m still working on perfecting my sense of Zen. Got any more ideas? How do you relax and find time for yourself in the hustle and bustle of your day?

Happy Zening

Friday, February 11, 2011

Take Time To Listen

Take Time to Listen
One of the things I’ve been doing lately, especially first thing in the morning, is allowing myself to enjoy the sounds of silence. Silence can be quite noisy if you listen. The house is usually quiet, unless my husband is snoring, which is more often than not, but that sound I consider normal and can actually tune him out at times. Gratefully, this morning he is quiet.

I hear the coffee pot gurgling its last breath as it finishes its morning task automatically at 5:20 am. The scent of French Roast pulls at my droopy eyelids. I turn a bathroom light on and crack the door to filter in just enough to see where I’m going so I don’t stumble in the dark and break my neck. The house is so bitterly cold.

In the living room I can hear conversations coming out of the TV. My husband isn’t one for the awesome sounds of silence. He’s so dependent on noise that he can’t sleep without it, thus moving himself to the living room sofa in the middle of most nights. I turn the sound down on the TV and check to make sure he's covered against the cold.
Gusty winter winds blow outside my window

I get a cup of coffee and return to bed. I prop myself up on a pillow mountain, pull the warm covers up to my chin, and sip in the dark silence of the pre-dawn morning. On the day I'm writing this, a blustery February morning, sleet pelts against my bedroom window warning that the meteorologists were correct in their prediction of another severe winter storm. We are iced in and I will be working at home today. I can hear the gusty wind blowing outside my bedroom window and can picture the snow blowing off of rooftops and across frozen roads, an annual sight that's becoming more usual for us Texans. The high today is in the teens, brrrrr. I don’t want to get out from under the warm covers and go to work, even if it is just to the dining room. As if it could hear my plea, the heater kicks on and the warm smell of heat fills the house.

A neighbor starts his vehicle, poor guy has to drive on those nasty frozen roads. In the distance, some three miles away, a train blares its warning signal that it’s approaching an intersection of the tracks. We hear it more loudly in the winter when the northern wind sends the sounds our way. Birds are actually chirping in this freezing weather. We’ve been setting bird seed out in dishes that will stay on top of the ice. I truly believe they squawk at us until we put out some feed for them.

These are just some of the things I hear. Give yourself a small amount of daily time to just sit, close your eyes, and see what sounds are floating around you. Take time to listen.

I have tinnitus so the ability to hear any sound other than the loud constant humming between my ears is a true joy. Savor the silence sometimes, or as it will, the noises you hear when the television or radio is turned off. Plus, it’s good research for one of the five senses.

Happy Listening,

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Best Intentions

All of us have good intentions. We’re going to lose weight, exercise more, eat better and work to be a better person in general. Writers also have good intentions. They want to finish their WIP, hire an agent or take their writing to the next level.

We intend that. That’s our desire. But what are we really trying to accomplish?

To see change, we must change. Or to see a difference, we must be different. Wasn’t it Einstein who said you can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results? Well, he’s right.

So, let’s change things up a little.

Here we go: I want to finish my WIP and have it ready for Dreamin’, I want to have my short romantic comedy ready to mail out by September 1st, and I want the second book of my series finished by the end of the year.

Lofty? You bet!

Not only do I want these books finished...I want them to be the very best possible work I can do. This is NOT a race.

Here is my plan. You don’t have to follow it, and it might not be for you, but see if there is anything that you can use.

First, I can not and will not set myself a daily word count. I won’t do that. I can set for hours and write crap and call it writing, and that’s what a lot of people who are on word count games do. Not everyone!!! I know some very dedicated writers who do remarkable well on those lists. They simply aren’t for me. Again this isn’t a race.

Second, I write every single day, every chance I get! That said I sneak in as much as I can during the day. I do this by writing two hours before work at least one day a week. Usually Wednesday. Also, I write during three lunch breaks a week. That still gives me two days I can join my co-workers for lunch. One evening a week I stay late at work and write for one hour. Usually Monday. Then when I get home, no matter what, I write two hours. Yes, I set the timer.

Third, I keep my other writing to a minimal. I don’t do a lot of blogging, emailing or loop hopping. Instead, I keep a yellow pad beside my right hand, and when I get an idea or snippet of dialog, I write it down. I still love my cyber buddies, and my chapter friends and everyone else I come in contact with via email. I’m just changing things, so that change will happen.

Lastly, I put aside complete silent, alone time to edit my pages. I don’t do it at work, I don’t do it in front of the TV and I don’t do it in a hurry. I may read/edit a chapter six times before I’m happy with the whole chapter. I have a list of questions I ask at the end of every chapter to see if I accomplished everything I wanted to in that chapter. Also, is there anything I can delete and the reader still understands what I’m trying to convey.

So you ask, what’s changed?

I’m more immerse in my stories, I’m more dedicated to the outcome of my WIP, and I’m amazed at how much easier it is to write when your head is in the game.

I hope this advice helps you a little and you are able to pick up some tidbit of information that will help you make your dreams come true.

Write On!

Geri Foster

Monday, February 7, 2011


No it’s not Klingon, but it is a battle cry. If you want to write a book you must put your butt in a chair and your hands on the keyboard.

I had forgotten this phrase, until this last week. I, like so many others, found myself home due to freezing weather. So much time to write, but so many distractions; coffee to savor, a novel I haven’t read, movies to watch, even the dust bunnies started calling my name after awhile.
I was looking through some papers and found the letters written in the margin of a manuscript. Oh, the memories that simple phrase brought back.

Many years ago, four youthful writers met every Wednesday night. They were convinced that their dreams of publishing and seeing their names on best selling lists would soon arrive. We would write, read, critique, and pass along marketing news. Many times, when parting, the evening air would ring with this phrase, BICHOK. I don’t think it’s original to our group, but we sure used it-lots. With this simple phrase we challenged and encouraged each other to write every day, write more than yesterday. Come to critique with your best pages and try to make them better.
Support, encourage, commiserate

Even though we no longer meet weekly, we still encourage, challenge, commiserate the rejections, work on plots, and critique each other’s work. That’s a sacred task-helping a friend achieve their publishing dreams.
So today I want to encourage you live your dream, whatever it is. If you’re a writer I want to challenge you to write, write more than yesterday. Submit your work, believe in yourself and BICHOK.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Books on Film

I have a t-shirt from a local bookstore with the slogan “Books – Read the Movie.” It’s an interesting concept, I think – reading. Mostly because I *love* to read. But I also love to watch movies. And when the two combine, it reminds me of the old commercials from the 70s for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. “You got chocolate in my peanut butter!”
Lately, I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon, though I’m not sure you can call it that. Books made into movies where the movies seem to become either the authority on the subject or a separate entity altogether. Which brings about even more interesting digressions.
For example:
Harry Potter. Read the books, loved them. Saw the movies, also loved them. But in my mind, they are completely different things. The movies have a sense of drama and suspense that I don’t find in the books; yet the written pages exude a sort of lush artistry the movies can’t quite depict.
Lord of the Rings. Really, there’s a set of books? Yes, J.R.R. Tolkien is the bee’s knees, but personally, I’ve never been able to slog through his work. I know many, MANY people who have and adored them, but not me. However, I can sit through Peter Jackson’s visual interpretations time and time again. In fact, not too long ago, I watched the last 45 minutes of Return of the King, then whooped when I discovered it was going to show again immediately. I didn’t care that it ended at 3:40 in morning. I watched the whole thing. Again.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Now this one is unique. Certainly Dr. Seuss’ book occupies an ever-present (pun intended) on my keeper shelf, but the cartoon version with the delightfully dulcet tones of narrator Boris Karloff makes my heart pitter-patter to this very day. THEN it got the live action treatment from Ron Howard. I’m still on the fence about it, but whenever I think of the Grinch, I think cartoon.
Percy Jackson & The Olympians. I only saw the movie on this one, but my son loved all the books and Ron Riordan gained a lifetime reader out of him. I do plan to sit and read the books one of these days.
Gone With the Wind. Eh on the movie, though visually it was stunning. Then and now. I read it once and had to force myself to struggle through it. Neither of these impressed me and I don’t really know what all the fuss is about. If I were Rhett Butler, I would have smacked Scarlett and ridden away about 10 seconds into meeting her.
Jaws. Once the scariest movie I’d even in my entire life seen. So bad that my family still teases me about it. And now it’s one of my favorites of all time. The book differed wildly from the movie. I mean, Hooper and Ellen, Sheriff Brody’s wife have an affair in the book! (Hey, I’m not calling spoiler on that one cause you should have read it by now). And the movie itself spawned THREE sequels (Jaws 2 was decent; Jaws 3D is awesome for humor and Dennis Quaid; Jaws: The Revenge had the unfortunate tag of This Time It’s Personal and good grief, was not even worth seeing for free.) Not to mention the movie inexorably tied the haunting sounds of the cello with danger. That’s something not as easily done in a book.
The magic of books ... and film ... and television
And there’s the flip side, as well. TV shows and movies have created long-lasting worlds of books. Star Trek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica (the rebooted series), Star Wars, X-Files and many, many more.
I find it all entertaining, which is the point of imagination, but I also wonder if any of the original authors could even fathom for one second, how widely “seen and heard” their written words would become.
What are some of your favorite books into movies?
Happy reading/watching,

Friday, February 4, 2011

Submissions and The Sting of Rejection.

The Sting of Rejection!

In the writing industry, submitting is a necessary evil, and her sister is rejection. We pour hours and hours of blood, sweat, and tears into our work, our perfectly placed prose and polishing our stories. What do we get for all that hard work? Even if you are published the chance for a rejection letter is always there, so I know you can relate to the sting of rejection.

I was going to approach this subject last week, but the tenderness of a recent rejection letter (my second in just a few months) was just too fresh and my blog would probably have been a tear stained blurry negative mess. Not really, I’ve had enough of those nasty form letters that they no longer bring me to tears, but still, frustration definitely looms over my aura. When I get a rejection, if I could just move more quickly past the constant questioning of my ability to write, I believe I could recover more quickly, but I guess a couple of days isn’t too much to ask for grieving over a rejected story. I need to get past the beating myself up stage.

Oh no! Another rejection!

If it weren’t for my friends who keep encouraging me to keep writing and submitting, I’d probably let those bad boogers trip me up, but I refuse to give in. I couldn’t stop even if I wanted to; I know my brain wouldn’t stop creating characters, worlds and stories. So, I allowed myself to wallow in self pity for a full day and a half, then I started to examine why I thought the story may have been rejected. Turning my focus back to my writing helps me get back on the road to recovery quickly. I have to remember to tell myself how long it took for some very famous authors to finally get published. I have to tell myself that it wasn’t necessarily my writing the editor didn’t like; it could just have been a story premise. So I will take another look at my story and see if I can make it better……..and submit it to someone else.

Without submissions there would be no published books or stories. It’s part of the process. And if you receive a rejection letter, allow yourself some grievance time, and then move on. Do not let these detour your dream. Get back to writing and get back to submitting. Perhaps you will be lucky enough to get the kind of rejection letter that gives you advice on what that particular editor thought about your story and giving you the opportunity to revise and submit. Do it! Whatever it takes!
So what is your advice on submitting and rejections? How do you handle getting back into writing after having a story turned away? Do you turn to chocolate? Martinis? Lots of tears? Covers over the head? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Good luck to all with your submissions and I truly hope your next response is “Consider your story sold!”