Archive for February, 2010

De-Grouping

Friday, February 26th, 2010

I’ve decided with much reluctance to step away from my (now former) Golden Heart 2007 finalists (“The 007s”) group blog, Nobody Writes It Better. If you’ve visited the blog lately and noticed that the posts are really, really old, that’s because they are. The blog experienced a bit of a disaster in late December in the way of a nasty virus that was whipping its way around the web and somehow made its way onto the site and infected several of the members’ computers, including mine. Ol’ Delbert. May he rest in pieces. This happened just as I was going on vacation, so I had to leave the fixes to other members of the management team. Our blog designer fixed the problem, but then it seemed to reoccur, which was horribly confusing, as we didn’t know how it was happening. We had over 30 members when we started blogging only last June. The planning and design process of the blog occurred for another several months before that. Well, once the blog was fixed, it seemed like a good time for members to take stock of their involvement. And the exodus began. About ten members still remain with the blog, but it’s undergoing a transition period so currently is inoperative.

Everything in me wanted to stay with the blog (I have a problem giving up), but as one of the members of the initial management team, I’d put hours and hours and countless hours into not only the design of the blog, but also the set-up and several aspects of the continuing maintenance. I just couldn’t keep it up. I also discovered along the way that I’m not really suited to group blogging. With 31 or 32 members, we had to keep a pretty tight schedule, and scheduled blogging makes me feel…pressured. Yes, I only blogged every 6 weeks, however, unlike here, I didn’t feel like I could just whip out a post. No, I had to take more time, say something important or clever. And trying to be clever, as we all know, is stressful. It’s better when the cleverness just pours out of us naturally!

Would I consider joining another group blog? Yes, maybe, we’ll see. It depends. It would depend on a number of factors. But right now I need a break.

Regardless of who stays with the blog and who has decided to leave, we are all still 007 Bond Girl sisters. We’ll still cheer each other on, celebrate our successes and commiserate with our lows. We don’t need a group blog to do that.

How do you feel about group blogs? Do you read them? Do you participate in one? What about it works for you (or doesn’t)?

Circle of Friends Blog Award

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

I visited Natalie Damschroder’s blog the other day to discover that she’d passed on The Circle of Friends Blog Award to little ol’ moi. Thanks, Natalie!

You know what this means, don’t you?

(1) She reads my blog on a nearly daily basis

(2) She enjoys my wit and intelligence

(3) She wants me to buy her a drink in Nashville

(4) She wants to buy ME a drink in Nashville

(5) She is constantly amazed at our mutual GMTA. Excellent. Because I am, too.

I’m pleased to have the award. The shade of blue looks so wonderful on my website that a little, evil part of me isn’t sure I should pass on the button to others. But I will. Because I enjoy blog-hopping. I don’t do it as much as I used to, what with Facebook and Twitter and those nasty things called deadlines getting in the way. I wish I had more time to blog-hop, because I think it’s much more personal, shall we say, than truncated Twitter posts. But there are several blogs that I visit nearly every day (even if I don’t always comment) and their authors deserve a look-see. So blog-hop-on over to:

Avery Beck

Edie Ramer

HelenKay Dimon

Maureen McGowan

Old Writer, New Tricks

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Well, middle-aged writer is more accurate. I’m not 103 yet!

I have made a transition in my writing life that I never thought I would accomplish. I have :::gasp!::: finally begun typing in black font on a white screen. It’s almost like typing on white paper. Amazing. Why didn’t I think of this before?

Back in the Blue Ages, when WordPerfect was the word processing program of choice, I became used to typing white font onto a blue screen. One day My Liege came home from work and announced that his employer had converted to this strange new program called Word. We were getting a new computer, and he didn’t want to have to know how to work two word processing programs (plus, back in the Blue Ages the hard drive on our computer was so small that it didn’t have room for two word processing programs). So it was decided that we were moving to Word. I wailed, I gnashed my teeth, I believe I even pulled out some of his hair. I LOVED WordPerfect. For a writer, it’s amazingly simple compared to Word. The Reveal Codes alone was enough to keep me committed to WordPerfect for life.

However, then I learned that not only had my husband’s employer moved to Word, but Word was the program of choice pretty much across the publishing industry. Teeth ground down to gums, I made the transition. But one thing I refused to give up was typing in white font on a blue screen. Typing in black on a white screen hurt my eyes. Plus, it didn’t look pretty. It looked business-like, not creative. It stunk.

Lo and behold, Word has a “white font on blue screen” option for those of who were dragged kicking and screaming away from WordPerfect. I used that option religiously until this year.

Two things happened. (1) My eyes are older and weaker than they used to be, so suddenly the black font on white screen doesn’t seem so harsh; and (2) as my frequent blog readers know, my desktop died. I had a full manuscript request, so I was forced to work on My Liege’s and Youngest Son’s laptops. They both type black on white. Afeared of screwing up their laptops somehow, and noting that the laptop screen wasn’t as big (and therefore not as blinding) as my 19-inch desktop LCD monitor, and rationalizing that I was only editing not creating, I boldy went where my fingers had not gone before and typed black on white. And after a few days it wasn’t that bad.

Then the weirdest thing happened. I loaded Word onto my new desktop, opened a document, cursed that the default was once again black on white, went into the options panel and changed it to white on blue, then…decided the blue screen was too bright. Yes, finally, finally, after all these years, I have made the conversion. It will be interesting to see if it sticks. Having submitted that requested full manuscript, I am now returning to revisions on my single title. Revisions I can manage typing black on white. I do most of my revising with pen and ink, anyway. But when I finish those revisions and finally start crafting a new story, that will be the real test.

Have you forced yourself to learn new writer tricks? The other biggie for me was going from two spaces after a period to one. When I finally decided to make the move, it only took my fingers three or four days to become accustomed to not typing that extra space. I thought it would take forever. Not so.

Maybe there’s hope for me with the tiny keyboard on my new netbook, after all. It’s replacing my old AlphaSmart, and if I could type on that, I should be able to type on the netbook keyboard. But I did order a mouse to go with, and I can’t wait until it arrives. I still absolutely abhor touchpads. Maybe someday I’ll get used to them..but not now.

Mammogram PSA

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

I’m having my annual mammogram this week. It’s not something I look forward to, but it’s an exercise I commit to without fail. Really, in Canada, there’s no reason not to. Annual mammograms are free for women forty and over. At least they are in my province. I believe they are across the board, but I shouldn’t speak to that when I haven’t looked into it.

I don’t know what the situation is in the States, but it boggles my mind that several provinces in my country (if not all the provinces) offer free annual mammograms to women over forty, and yet so many women continue not to take advantage of this service. I’ve offered to accompany friends who still refuse to go. No, your boobs aren’t too small. Yes, it can hurt if you have glandular breasts or schedule your mammogram for the wrong time of month (going in mid-cycle is best). Yes, the first time is embarrassing. Okay, every time is embarrassing. Just like pap smears are embarrassing. But the embarrassment lessens each time you have it done. Breasts are like teeth. To a mammogram technologist. Compared to a dentist. Think of it like that.

Now, go forth and have your boobs squished. Thank me later.

Life’s A Beach

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

More pictures, as promised:

Tourists on horseback. “She Who Gave Me Life” calls this beach “Horse Poop Beach.”

 

The mission in the town square.

 

“A Day at the Beach.” Not the beach in front of the hotels. We drove and got away from it all.

 

Not a bad way to spend a Sunday, eh?

Okay, back to the grindstone.

Baja-Ha-Ha-Ha

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

One of the reasons it took me so long to get set up with a new computer recently is that my old one kicked the bucket three days before I left for a week in sunny Mexico. I wasn’t ready to accept that it needed replacing, so I sent it to the computer shop while I was gone. Upon my return, I discovered, yep, it was time for ol’ Delbert to retire, and at that point I needed to research and then shop for a replacement. So while you were all feeling sorry for me, I was actually relaxing (and trying very hard NOT to think about the computer). I didn’t take any work with me, because I planned to catch up upon my return. Ha-ha, joke on me!

Anyway, that’s my convoluted way of explaining why I’m so late sharing some photos with you. But here they finally are!

“She Who Gave Me Life” walking the beach. That’s a fresh water estuary on the left and the Sea of Cortez on the right.

 

I scared the birds at the estuary trying to sneak up on the egret in the foreground.

 

 

Dive-bombing pelican. I followed him with my camera for at least ten frames. This was the shot right before he landed in the water.

 

The elusive Mr. Egret.

More tomorrow!

Who Inspires You?

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

By Donna Russo Morinrusso_morin_pic

Like so much of life, the inspiration for my second book came to me when I was least looking for it.

I had always been a fan of Katie Couric through the many years she worked on the Today Show. So when she was appointed as the anchor of the CBS Evening News, I tuned in despite my typical aversion to television news programs, feeling a sense of camaraderie and sisterhood for a woman trying to break boundaries. How could I know that just a few weeks into her tenure, a two minute story would provide me incredible fodder for my second book?

It was a feature story about the glassmakers of Murano. While other countries were vainly attempting to imitate the artistry of the centuries old craft, few had come close to revealing the secret of the glass—the particular formula that made Murano glass so exceptional. Laced throughout the story were snippets of Murano glassmaking history. One point in particular caught and captured my imagination: for hundreds of years the glassmakers of Venice were virtual prisoners in their own land, captives of russo_morin_secret_of_glasstheir government, a powerful republic determined to keep the prestige and the profit produced by the glass for themselves.

The percussion of inspiration in my mind was as loud as a foghorn blast in the middle of starkly still night. Within a half hour of viewing the story, I had a two page synopsis written, a complete plot mapped out about a young Murano woman who must somehow save herself while protecting the ‘secret of the glass,’ a phrase that would become the title of my second book.

Other than what I had gleaned from the news, I knew little of Venetian history and that of the glassmakers, though I was enthusiastic to begin my research. Always a favorite part of the process for me, the subject matter would also take me to the land of my ancestors (of full Italian descent, I am but a second generation American as proud of the land of my antecedents as I am of my homeland). Having spent the previous year researching France for work on my first book (The Courtier’s Secret, Kensington, Feb. 09), I couldn’t wait for my time in Venice.

And there, between the pages that brought the old world to life, I found Galileo. I was unaware of how much time he had spent in the magical city, unaware how prominently the land figured into his story and he in Venice’s. I was astounded when I learned that, like myself, the professor suffered from a chronic illness. The more I read, the more sure I became that, had the astronomer been privy to modern day medicine, his diagnosis would have been auto-immune, like my own. I found kinship in his tale of determination, one echoed in the story of the land itself and the people that had made it so unique.

It became a daily thrill to tell their story, to give breath to these marvelous characters. On every page are the words their inspiration gave to me.

Tell me who inspires you and why and enter to win a copy of my latest release, THE SECRET OF THE GLASS.

***

Leave a comment or question for Donna to enter to win THE SECRET OF THE GLASS. If you’re reading this post through a feed on Facebook, Goodreads, or another social network, please visit the comment trail at Muse Interrupted to be eligible for the draw.

To read Donna’s bio and the back cover blurb for THE SECRET OF THE GLASS, see yesterday’s post. To learn more about Donna and her books, check out her website.

Donna Russo Morin Guest Blogs Tomorrow!

Monday, February 15th, 2010

Tomorrow I’ll welcome repeat guest blogger Donna Russo Morin back to the blog. Donna’s blogging about what inspires her and is giving away a copy of her latest historical romance, THE SECRET OF THE GLASS.

About THE SECRET OF THE GLASS:

At the dawn of the 17th Century, Murano glass-makers are celebrated, revered, and imprisoned by the Venetian government. Sophia Fiolario, the daughter of a glass making maestro, has no desire for marriage, finding her serenity in the love of her family and the beauty of the glass. She learns of its secrets at her father’s side, where a woman has no right to be. But the life Sophia loves is threatened and she’s thrust into the opulent world of the Venice court, becoming embroiled in the scheming machinations of the courtiers’ lives. The beauty of Venice, the magnificence of the Doge’s Palace, can only be rivaled by the intrigue and danger that festers behind their splendid facades. As she searches for an escape, she finds the arms of another, a man whose own desperate situation is yet another obstacle in their path.

Amidst political and religious intrigue, the scientific furor ignited by Galileo, and even murder, Sophia must do anything to protect herself, her family…and the secret of the glass.

About Donna:russo_morin_pic

Donna Russo Morin began writing in elementary school, when talking animals and numbers who were in love, filled her imagination. She is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island where she obtained two degrees.

Her short fiction has appeared in critically acclaimed anthologies and she has published more than twenty-five non-fiction articles and more than sixty book reviews in newspapers and magazines nationwide. Since she was seventeen, Donna has also worked as a model and actress and has appeared in everything from an automobile supply commercial where she changed her own oil, to Martin Scorsese’s film, The Departed.

For most of her life, her writing took a back seat to her responsibilities, and Donna would fit it in between working a day job and caring for a home and her two children. In 2004, after being diagnosed with chronic Lyme Disease and losing her father to cancer, she asked herself…if not now, when?

Donna’s first historical novel, The Courtier’s Secret was released in February of 2009, when she was fifty years old. Her second book, The Secret of the Glass, goes on sale next week, and she is currently hard at work on her third novel. Her goal is a book a year until she turns 70, when she’ll cut back to one book every two years.

Donna lives close to the south coast of Rhode Island with her two sons, Devon and Dylan, her greatest works in progress. You can visit her website at www.donnarussomorin.com.

Valentine Give-Aways–All Month!

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

Red Sage Publishing is hosting a series of give-aways all month long over at Red Sage Revealed. Today, Valentine’s Day, features a blog post by Penny and her Volume 28 compadres. Enter by commenting on today’s post at Red Sage Revealed to win a download of Secrets 28. Yes, you heard me. Secrets are now available as ebooks as well as the ever popular trade paperbacks! Check out Secrets 21 and Secrets 26 while you’re there.

Personalized Rejections–Why Not?

Friday, February 12th, 2010

Carina Press editor Angela James blogs about why publishers don’t often send personalized rejections. Well worth a read.

My favorite personalized rejection over the last year? “Your story made it to our ‘perhaps’ pile, but sadly we can’t publish them all.” It made me laugh. The editor also apologized for the length of time it took to receive a reply, which is always nice. (No, it wasn’t Angela James!)

Do you have a favorite personalized rejection line? Paraphrase it for me, baby.