Friday, July 30, 2010

#RWA10, Karaoke with Heather Graham

Exhausted, but having a great time! Last night karaoke with Heather Graham was so much fun. Here they are, members of my chapter, some of whom braved the stage. Not moi.

The workshop Jennifer and I did on writing the novella went well. I was shocked at all the attendees. I had printed 50 handouts thinking we'd need only 25 and we ran out. I will be putting the handout on emotional conflict in a nutshell on my website.

Then it was dinner with the lovely Tara Gavin, Harlequin editor and director of the Nocturne line, and fellow Nocturne authors Barbara Wallace and Cindy Cooke. I was good and stuck to the grilled salmon, though the hazelnut crusted chicken sorely tempted me.

After, went to karaoke at the sushi bar, listened to Heather sing "House of the Rising Sun" and then left with Linda Conrad and her editor to attend the eHarlequin PJ party. Met Jayne from eHarlequin wearing the cutest sushi roll PJ's, and hung for a while. Saw Winnie Griggs and Margaret (can't remember her last name, but I'm sure she writes for LI) in matching Mickey PJ's. I hung for a while, then returned to karaoke.

I knew it would really be swinging by then. And I was right. I didn't brave the stage, but sang along with everyone else.

Now it's time for coffee and today I'm hitting a lot of workshops, including one Linda Howard is doing., R

Thursday, July 29, 2010

#RWA10, I need a golf cart

Arrived at the Yacht Club around 5 last night. Wow, great hotel, very posh. Love my room and its quietness. I unpacked and then went to the Dolphin to register. It was a short walk, I was told by the front desk.

Ten years later, I arrived at the Dolphin, registered and then went to the booksigning. I ran into Sharon Hartley and she was sitting on a bench, a glorious bench! My tired feet joined her and then some of my chapter mates like Kathy Pickering, Ona Bustos, Debbie Andrews and Susannah Gautier came along.

Then I went into the booksigning to find a few specific people. One is Claudia Dain, whom I adore and is extremely smart. I always have to find her at RWA. I remember my first conference when I was newly published with Dorchester and she acted like a "mom" and invited me to lunch with herself and few others. I listened more than talked at that lunch, and learned about the business.

I also saw Susan Squires and a few others and then returned to my room to get ready for my little wine and cheese party. A few people I had invited couldn't make it because of awards or agency book dinners. But those that came had a great time! To name a few, Piks, Aleka Nakis and her son, Rose Letson, my fellow Chatelaine CL Wilson and her friend Kelly, Mike Meeske, Linda Conrad, Heather Graham, and I finally got to meet Marianne Strnad who is on FB with me.

Some left after a couple of hours to get dinner, and then Linda, Marianne, Aleka and her son and me went to find food at around 11:15. It's Disney. They shutter most restaurants at 11 so we ended up having pizza on the boardwalk. We took the boats. Boats are slow, but good.

And now the Disney birds are chirping, the sun is shining and I have a white wine hangover. Which is what happens when you stop drinking and then have three glasses of white wine.

Today I'm chilling by the pool, which looks like its own attraction, and this afternoon I'm giving a workshop with Jennifer Ashley on writing short stories. That's at 4:15. After, it's dinner with Tara Gavin, HQ exec. editor, and then after it's hitting the sushi bar for fun times.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Good news, just in time for RWA!

My editor at Nocturne loved The Shadow Wolf and it's scheduled for release September of 2011! Woot!

The Shadow Wolf is the fourth Nocturne paperback about my Draicon werewolves. The Empath was the first, followed by Enemy Lover and then last year's release of Immortal Wolf (which finaled in this year's Maggie Awards).

The Shadow Wolf is Gabriel's story. Gabriel is one of five Draicon werewolf brothers (Damian, Raphael, Indigo, Alex are the other four). He is the most dangerous of all the brothers, and hides a terrible secret. Gabriel meets his match in Megan, an outlawed Shadow Wolf who turns invisible to hide from enemies pursuing her.

When I return from RWA, I'll be tackling a new proposal for Nocturne. This proposal is about Alex, the widowed brother who lost his mate and child in a terrible tragedy. Alex finds a new lease on life and facing a ticking time bomb from a demon threatening to destroy those he loves.

Tonight I'm packing and trying to figure out how I can get everything into a single suitcase. I solved the problem of walking back and forth from the Yacht Club to the Dolphin with a pair of white flip-flops, and will change into "professional" shoes when I get to the Dolphin. I've worked out my schedule and I'm pretty sure I know where I should be at what time.

First on the agenda after tomorrow night? Poolside at the Yacht Club! I'm taking Thursday morning to relax and recharge after Honduras last week.

Then Thursday at 4:30 I'm helping the multi-talented, best-selling Jennifer Ashley present a workshop on writing short stories. Look for me there if you don't see me at the pool!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Back from Honduras, packing for RWA


Home and getting ready to leave again for RWA. Exposed to dengue fever (big outbreak there) and TB, but I feel good and healthy! Just tired. Honduras was a tiring trip, spent each night in a different city.






I'm leaving Wednesday to drive to Orlando and I have a list of stuff to pack, things to bring, and stuff to do. It's a weird transition, going from a developing country and visiting poor villages to the fun and frantic pace of a national romance writers convention.


Here are some photos from Honduras. This photo is of a woman and her children standing before the "house" they lived in for more than 15 years. They couldn't afford anything else. We are building them a new concrete home. The entire community is so excited about getting houses.

"The donkey's hideaway" is the name of the community. Very nice people, they hold church services in each others' homes twice a week. We stopped to see their outdoor service held on the foundation of the house we are building for them. As I stood in the road, a herd of cows started coming toward me. Running fast.

"Stampede!" I had to get in front of the truck to avoid getting run over. By cows. Like I was an extra in a Wild West movie, lol.




This is a mother and her severely malnourished baby whom we are helping. The mom got a supply of formula and the baby is being enrolled in a nutrition program at the local hospital. Honduras has a lot of caring, committed people determined to help those who are poor.

My next post will probably be from RWA or just before I leave.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A mother's tears




5:30 a.m. I sat in the lobby of our hotel in Tegus, waiting to ride to the city garbage dump. Last time I went to this dump it was about 5 years ago, and men doped up on sniffing glue chased us out. They dumped on the car and pounded on it, screaming at us in Spanish.




Today's visit was different.


I met Angela, 57, and her daughter Reyna, 9. Angela was kicked out of her house years ago when her husband died. His parents threw her and the four young children out on the street to fend for themselves. Angela had no where to go, slept at her cousin's home at night and needed to find work for her children.



She began picking on the garbage dump. For years, this is how she has lived. She sorts through the garbage, looking for items to recycle. Plastic, cardboard.



It's dangerous work. Tears began streaming down Angela's face as she told me how she was nearly raped two days ago. Two men approached her and her friend (the women work in pairs for safety) and one had a butcher knife. Angela barely escaped.



She shakes in fear as she relays the story and glances at her daughter. Yesterday, Reyna, who goes to the dump to help her mom after school, pricked her hand on a syringe filled with blood. She didn't see it sticking out of the trash.




Angela is desparate to get Reyna out of this lifestyle. She even tried giving her away to an orphanage so Reyna could receive a good education. But since Reyna is not an orphan, they turned her away.



We took Angela and Reyna to the dump so they could show us how they work. As we stood watching, the priest we are working with explained there are 70 to 200 children at a given time working in this dump. "Newborns to teens," he said. "The women take the babies to the top of the hill so there is less danger from the trucks and one woman watches over them while the others work. They take turns."



I glance at the top of the hill and see a row of black vultures surveying the scene below. A group of men pick through the garbage, some distance away from Angela.


Four children approach us and begin to talk. They mug for my camera and then Besy Yolanda, who is only 9, tells me how she wants to go to school. But her mother is too poor this year to afford the registration fee. So Besy works in the dump starting at 7 a.m. and goes home at 5 p.m.




They work among the men who get high on glue. The children sniff glue as well, some of them. The hungry ones sniff it because it eases the pain of an empty stomach.



Reyna climbed into the back of the pick-up truck as we prepared to leave. I took this photo of her, a solemn portrait with the hard granite rock wall behind her. Little girl between a rock, and the hard place of the garbage dump.



The children climbed into the bed of the pick-up as well. As we drove off, the two younger boys dipped dirty black rags into a small bottle and began inhaling the rags.



They were sniffing glue. Just like the men today, and the men who chased us years ago.



I bite my lip to keep my emotions from showing.



Generation next.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The fine art of kidnapping

Here I am in Honduras. Been an interesting trip so far and it's only Tuesday.



Today we went to an area by a river that floods at least once a year. The woman driving us had a bullet-proof SUV and two armed bodyguards. We talked as she drove. Seems the violence has grown increasingly worse in the city and you have to be extremely careful. One of her friends and her toddler were killed as they were at a shopping mall in a robbery that went wrong. This was only last week.



Kidnapping is also on the rise. You have to bargain with the kidnappers because if you don't, chances are the loved one will be killed even if you pay the ransom. The professionals are the ones who usually don't hurt the victim because they are all business. They are in it solely for the money and the victim is their commodity.



When the gangs kidnap, they are more desperate and more violent.



On the way back from visiting this community by the river that had flooded three days ago and dumped more than two feet of mud and water into people's homes, the air conditioning in the SUV quit. Since the front windows don't roll down for security purposes, it started to get pretty steamy inside. Fortunately, it wasn't too long of a ride.


Where we are headed tonight there has been a huge outbreak of dengue fever. If it's not caught in time, your blood platelets drop and you go into shock and can die in 2 days. Note to self: Get mosquito repellent.

The talks about the women's program have been good and informative and I have a good feeling about all of this. The group we will be working with are dynamic and very dedicated and into women's rights and training women to become self-sufficient and financially independent. The biggest thing they do is give the poor women self-esteem so they believe, finally, in themselves.

That's something you can't put a price on. Or list as a budget item.

More later, including photos, when I get the chance to post.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Immortal Wolf is a Maggie finalist!


My Nocturne, IMMORTAL WOLF, is a finalist in the paranormal category of the prestigious Maggie awards!


I'm thrilled at the news. This book was special to me, because I wanted to write Raphael's character after he appeared in ENEMY LOVER.


Ok, off to finish packing for my Honduras trip tomorrow. We're meeting with the president of a small, very resourceful and dynamic NGO about starting a new women's program to give indigent women a chance to become self-sufficient. This idea has been a dream of mine for two years, and I'm so happy it's finally coming full circle.


I'll try to post from the field if I have internet. Have a great week!

Friday, July 16, 2010

News

I've received word that COURAGE OF THE WOLF is officially approved for publication. Woot! This story is the first featuring my immortal Justice Guardians. Michael, a Phoenix, must convince Sabrina, a Draicon werewolf, to fight the demons that killed her family.

As soon as I hear of a publication date, I'll post it here and on my Facebook page. Here's the link to my FB page. I've been updating it on a regular basis with news of projects and information like links to the free online read I did for Harlequin, so FB is a good way to get news from me the fastest on current writing projects.

I'm also finishing a short story for my chapter, Florida Romance Writers, to raise money. Our brilliant former president, Kathleen Pickering, came up with a great idea that has some of us writing stories. More later on this as details emerge. My story is a werewolf/zombie short.

Short stories dovetail nicely into the workshop I'm helping Jennifer Ashley present July 29 at RWA. It's titled "Put on your shorts" and it runs from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Jennifer's a fantastic, talented and NY Times best-selling author who has all sorts of wonderful advice on writing shorts. I'll be presenting tips on emotional conflict for your characters.

All next week I will be in Honduras for the day job and after that, off to Orlando for RWA! Honduras promises to be very interesting. The region we're visiting on the second half of the trip is a remote, mountainous area that promises to be very very hot. Jungle-like. I am most excited about the women's development program we are finally going to launch. This has been a dream of mine for two years since I first came up with the idea, and it's wonderful to finally see it come full circle.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

RWA National in Orlando, bring an umbrella


In three weeks, I'll be at RWA in Orlando, helping Jennifer Ashley present a workshop on "Putting on your shorts." No, it's not a workshop related to the image here, but we'll be talking about writing short stories for publication.

The workshop is 4:30 - 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

RWA was a last minute decision for me. I was saddened to hear of the tragic flooding in Nashville, but when the conference was moved to Orlando, I gave it a second thought. And made a decision. Mickey World is only a three-hour drive, so no plane fare, no struggling with baggage and trying to pack light.

If I truly wanted, I could pack a U-haul and take it with me to the Yacht Club where I'll be staying.

However, the one essential I plan on tucking into my purse is an umbrella. You need this during Florida summers. Every afternoon, rainstorms gather on the horizon and the downpours start.

I'm in the middle of organizing my schedule of where I need to be, and need to do, and need to pack (comfortable shoes for the walk to the Dolphin, where the workshops will be). It will be a bit hectic the week of RWA, because the previous week I'll be in Honduras for the day job. I'm excited about visiting Honduras, because the first half of the trip will be to set up and outline the parameters for a new women's program that's been a dream since I came up with the idea two years ago.

The program will not only provide food for poor single mothers and their children, but teach the mothers skills and give them their own businesses so they can become self-sufficient.

So I'll be in Honduras, come home, and barely be unpacked before packing again for RWA. Should be an adventure!