Thursday, July 22, 2010

Gearing Up....

As many of you know RWA Nationals is just around the corner. And I'm totally stoked.

Not only are there great workshops and parties, but I get to see friends (fellow authors) that I only get to see once a year.

I'm already anticipating what to take, what to wear, what to eat, drink and yes even when I'm going to fit in exercising.

Whew - are you as exhausted as I am already?

I didn't make any agent/editor appointments this year, as I don't have a manuscript completed, but that doesn't mean I won't enjoy talking to them at the bar or with friends.

The itinerary is getting full and as each day passes I find I'm getting edgier and edgier for this trip to be here.

I love all the information, but honestly, I can't wait to once again see my friends that through the rest of the year are email buddies or occasional phone friends.

So since I won't be around next week, I raise a glass of pink lemonade in salute and hope to see you all in Orlando.

Tell me what is the one thing you won't travel without?

Me = a book (even though I'll be getting way more than needed at this conference)


Thursday, July 15, 2010


Is it really so hard to understand why women are in love with vampires. I've collected a few pics and to me it's quite obvious.

And for they guys - well she is HOT

Who is your Favorite?


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Gardening and...Bugs

I love having a garden. It’s totally cool to plant seeds and watch them grow into plants. Picking my own tomatoes and bell peppers has saved us money and they taste better than any I’ve purchased in the grocery store.

Our cantaloupe and watermelon haven’t faired quite as well. We’ve had great flowering and even had fruit, but they don’t seem to grow very big before they just sort of rot. I’m not sure what’s happening to them or than days of too much rain and bugs.

These pests are the kind you can just see and kill. No, they’re tiny microscopic things that leave a fine white dust on the plants. We didn’t put Sven on the plants, as Science Guy didn’t want to put pesticides on our veggies and fruit. I agree with him, except we apparently need this in order to stop the bugs.

Grasshoppers also had a great time. In fact, I’m pretty sure they thought we planted all of this just for them. Their own personal restaurant, one without cost, but plenty of food to be devoured.
I really don’t like grasshoppers.

We have plenty of lizards running around and me, being the very inexperienced gardener that I am, thought they would take care of any bugs who might harm or eat to the core our garden. Not so much. They do eat bugs, but not this kind.

The bell peppers are doing fine. They grow regardless of anything and there doesn’t seem to be anything wanting to eat the leaves or flowers. Our cucumbers did beyond belief. We had so many that I took them into work several times. The corn even grew (for a while). But everything else is pretty much toast at this point.

Since we live in the Sunshine state, we can pull everything out and start over again. This time we’re going to plant some pumpkins. :) Craving a pumpkin from our own patch would be cool.

Instead of regular cucumbers, we’re going to plant the pickling ones. The smaller ones are better to pickle or so I’ve been told. Yep, I’m going to try to make my own sweet relish. Why would I do this when I could buy it at the store, save time, and it doesn’t cost much at all? Great question and one that I ask myself from time to time. I’ve never done it and so I want to try it. Kinda like when I decided to make my own chocolate syrupy from cocoa powder and regular sugar. (I know LKap, I know, way to much sugar). It was fun to do and I could say that I’d made it homemade.

This time we’re using a better fertilizer (thank you AM!) and yes, we’ll be using Sven on the plants. As much as we didn’t want to do this, it seems it’s the only way to actually have a garden.
I didn't put a picture of the garden in it's current state as it's sad. Most of it is gone with the exception of the tomatoes and bell peppers.

What about you? Do you plant gardens? What type of pesticides do you use? Do you know any organic ones that would work?


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tuesday Ten - Summer Favorites

Summer is here and in full force! While there are some things that I am not crazy about (the heat for one!), there are still many things that I just love about summer time.

Top Ten Things I Love About Summer:

10: All of the summer blockbuster movies that come out (and the time to go see them!)

9. A light summer rain.

8. Time to catch up on my "to be read" pile

7. My husband wanted to ensure that I mentioned Olive Garden's annual Never Ending Pasta Bowl that will start soon. :)

6. Summer only TV shows - I love So You Think You Can Dance!

5. The nocturnal sleeping habits I so readily adapt to...I am such a night owl!

4. A viable excuse to have frozen treats. Hey, you gotta keep cool, right?! :)

3. A little break from students (and parents). I truly adore my job and am itching to get back into the swing of things by this time in the summer, but let's be honest: Summer is just as much for the teachers as it is the kids! heehee

2. Pool time!

1. Sleeping in! I truly hate alarm clocks! :)

So what about you? What are some of your favorite things of summer?

SB Jane

Monday, July 12, 2010

RWA Nationals Is Around The Corner – Are you ready to pitch?

Yesterday at TARA (Tampa Area Romance Authors) was our normal July meeting. With RWA National conference the month of July, we typically have what we call a Bird of a Feather meeting. We have critique groups by genre and it’s just a great day. This year we added a shorter morning workshop with Kimberly Llewellyn who talked about pitching. It was great. People even signed up to pitch their story to Kim at the end of the workshop. In front of everyone. Kim acted as the agent/editor (she reminded us several times she was a published author, not an agent or editor), and once they were through she asked questions much as would happen in a pitch appointment. It was great and amazing what you can hear when your listening. They all had really good/great pitches.

This got me to thinking back to my very first pitch. Several years ago (okay, more than several), I wrote an article on “Pitch That Story”. I was going to my very first RWA National conference. I didn’t have an appointment to see an editor/agent as my wip wasn’t finished. But I was working on a pitch.

Why? My book wasn’t finished, so why did I need a pitch? Because people will ask you about your book. You never know who you may end up talking with, meeting through another friend, or by simply having a drink at the bar. Oh and yes, the smoking area. It amazed me at my first conference how many people who DO NOT smoke, hang out in the smoking area. Lot’s of great connections happen there.

Anyway, back to the pitching thing. Whether you have an appointment or not, you should have an elevator pitch ready. Yes, if your wip isn’t complete.

Creating the perfect pitch sounds easy, right? Not so much. You’ve written the book and you know every detail that to you seem major important. Don’t get me wrong, each of those details are important. To the book. Not to the pitch.

Maybe you do have a pitch appointment or perhaps you’re going to check out any open/canceled spots. Either way you’re working on the pitch. You’ve got roughly eight minutes to tell them everything you believe will hook them and have them wanting more. The eight minutes is if you’re in an appointment. If you’re in the elevator you’ve got a couple of minutes at best.

Sit down, type out a summary of your book. If you have too, type bullet points of each chapter. Then condense those bullet points to one or two sentences for each chapter. Then condense again. One or two sentences for every three chapters. Touch on the most important parts of the story. The hero and heroine’s names are the only names you’ll want to use. Secondary character’s may be important to your story, but using their names in a pitch will only confuse the person you’re pitching to.

Don’t forget the GMC, goal, motivation, conflict. Someone wants something, but can’t have it because. Your pitch isn’t a synopsis. It’s more like a backcover blurb you’d read on the back of books. You can’t add to many words or it’s no longer a pitch. No one wants to pitch their work to an agent or editor only to see said agent/editors eyes glaze over when your in the middle of it.

Kathy Carmichael has an awesome pitch generator. It’s a starting off point though. You then have to do the same as you would with you wip. You have to flesh it out.

If you don’t have an appointment and especially if this is your first year, think about volunteering at the appointments if they still need people. Lkap and I met a lot of agents and editors that first year. It’s a good thing to volunteer at Nationals. People learn who you are and you are giving back your time to our “Mother Chapter”.

Back to the non-appointment but still need that pitch concern. I’d been told by several that while I may not have the actual appointment since I’d be there for quite a few hours directing appointment traffic that more often than not the volunteers are asked what they write and what it’s about. Again, several friends who did this the past several years were asked for partials just by volunteering and talking with the agents and editors.

I realize that this may or may not happen to anyone who is volunteering. But if it does you don’t want to stand there fumbling over your words. Looking like you have no idea what you write, how long it will be, and what the conflict and hook is.

And then there’s the sitting in the bar, riding the elevator, and just general conversation that could lead to someone asking: Tell me about your book question.

So, here I sit working on the all important pitch. Nope. This pitch isn’t for a finished book and no I don’t have an appointment (because my current wip isn’t finished). I am working hard to make it a back cover blurb in fewer words yet still giving what the book is about all the while making the person asking feel like “I’ve just got to read this.”

What about you? Are you pitching at nationals? Writing a query letter? Or are you reading a great book that you chose because of what you read on the back?


Friday, July 9, 2010

Julian Beever and Kurt Wenner, are both amazing artist who draw their pictures on sidewalks all around the world. The 3-D effect is unbelievable. Several weeks ago Science Guy and I watched a documentary on Julian Beever. Over the course of several days (all put into an hour show thanks to the miracle of TV time), we watched as he created one of his masterpieces.

Here’s the thing. The pictures below are but a few of his finished pieces and what you are seeing is the picture looking through the lens of a camera. Not a special camera, but an ordinary camera. If you were to look at it with out the lens it would be hard to see exactly what certain things are. The woman’s leg goes on for probably twelve feet.

That alone amazes me as to how he envisions his art work with such abstract lines and outlandish over drawn lengths.

Hope you enjoy the Friday Fun.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Vacations from Hell...

So Princess and I spent a week at my Mom's in Illinois.

Okay, so technically not a week since our flight was delayed three times before it was finally cancelled and we had to spend the night in lovely Detroit, MI (cough, cough) because of tornado's.

Now I wouldn't normally mind, since we can't control Mother Nature, but.... Had we left for the hour long flight at the 2nd delay we would have missed all that, but you see Delta has a crappy scheduling group obviously, because we didn't have a CREW!!!

I don't get it - you book a flight but don't schedule a crew. WTF - oh well, they were nice enough to give me a $59 credit for my hotel room. Which I still had to pay out $80 cash, mind you. Nope, not a full comp - why, you ask? Because they coded it as an act of nature, there by negating any of their own responsibility. I would like to call them a lot of names for this infraction since I was out $100 before I ever even left the airport, but really what good is that going to do me. And then there was the delayed flight the next morning because there wasn't a pilot - again...WTF.

But with all said and done a full 26 hours later we were finally at my mom's in BFE, Illinois. No Internet, there were only 2 places in her house where my cell phone worked correctly and town (and I use this term loosely) was 6 miles away.

Yeah, here I am stuck with a 22 year old who has just been plucked down the rabbit hole and isn't afraid to say it. Yes, I needed a Xanax that night. ;-)

All in all the trip was nice. Mom was doing well, but I still need to figure out all the red tape to move her to Florida, because I can't stand for her to be practically alone in the middle of the country.

Up side - Princess and I went on daily 4 mile walks. Which, in the country, is very peaceful and didn't feel like exercise at all. For which, I was thankful and actually miss.

I was able to show my daughter where I grew up and hit a few bars with her in my hometown. Where, of course, she started a scandal. Being pretty and a new girl, it was comical to watch the boys fawn and the girls fume.

Now here is where I wish I had the pictures, but alas, Princess has been working non-stop since we returned. So while enjoying the company of some dear old friends at the bar in the middle of no-where, a school bus pulls up and low and behold a train of men (okay young boys) files out. Upon closer inspection we realize that this isn't just any ordinary school bus - this is the equivalent of the "Redneck Limo" and the boys were part of a bachelor party. So classic and perfect I couldn't have written the scene any better myself if I tried. And don't think this will not be in a book of mine.

So classic and ingenious - the "Redneck Limo" was and still is one of the highlights of my trip. It gave us all a great laugh and my only regret is that I didn't ask to see the inside to see if it was equipped with a stripper poll - now that would have been classic behind those dark tinted windows. (yes all 25 windows were darkly tinted)

Now we are home all safe and sound - after yet another delay getting out of Detroit, but we're here. I have more memories and special memories of being with my daughter and showing her a bit more about my old life, sharing in a birthday party for my oldest and dearest friends daughter, and laughs with mom and old friends.

Sometimes going home isn't so bad after all.

Any good stories from your travels?


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hello? Sunshine State Where Are You?

I live in the sunshine state. Hey, no laughing. It’s the truth. We have sunshine ninety-five percent of the time. Maybe more.

It’s hot and humid and during the summer, it can be beyond sweltering, but if you’re a Floridian, you deal with it. Sure, you complain from time to time, but hey you also can go the beach any day of the week and that sometimes includes the months of January and February.

This past winter was crazy. Thirty-one days of freezing temperatures. When it’s in the thirties for that many days, you run out of clothes. Our winter wardrobe consists of a couple of sweaters and some lightweight jackets. Not so this year. We learned to layer and we bought more sweaters. :)

Now we’ve got rain. Everyday rain, all day long rain, makes huge puddles in your yard rain. My garden is water logged and my flowers are begging for some sun to turn their pink, mango, white, and red faces towards.

And we’ve got more rain in the forecast. I need some gloshes and raingear. Not something I really want to buy. Sunday Science Guy and I were out shopping, and thank goodness I always keep a pair of sandals in my car because the ones I was wearing broke. They were only a few weeks old, but the grass cloth that is in the soles couldn’t handle the water.

I know rain is a good thing. It’s free watering and really I do believe grass, flowers, and veggies (okay, the weeds too), love having God’s water better than water from the hose. Saves money on the water bill and I’m always thankful to save money.

But Mr. Sun, I want you to know that I miss you and hope you’ll come back soon if only to peak your head above the clouds for a little while and sends us some of your wonderful warmth.

What about you? Do you get tired of having the same weather for weeks and weeks? How’s the weather where you live? Heat wave like up north, rainy and dreary like us?



Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tuesday Ten - Warm Fuzzes

I just love the 4th of July. It makes me feel so proud to be an American (where at least I know I'm free...sorry I ramble into song every now and then...just ask Vicki!). It never fails that while I'm watching those fireworks make the night sky sparkle, I am overcome with emotion. So as I sat down to write this week's Tuesday Ten, I started thinking about what other activities make me feel warm inside (a good glass of wine aside, of course!). I hope a few of them make you smile too...

10. I said before I tend to break out in random song. I love singing and there isn't much I'd rather be doing than sitting around a couple of talented people singing in four part harmony.

9. Watching success stories on TV...I am such a sucker for the people on those reality talent shows who have come from such negative past experiences and are now showing how truly talented they are. Did you see the group of formerly homeless veterans on America's Got Talent this year? I get teary every time!

8. Cuddling up with a good book next to an open window as the rain falls steadily outside.

7. Sitting on my Aunt's deck. Everyone else has left for the night and it's just she and I, the moonlit water, and a couple of glasses of wine. Some of our best chats have happened out on that deck.

6. Making a difference in someone's life, no matter how great or small the action.

5. Watching the sunset. My personal favorite is watching it set behind mountains or the ocean. I can't help but marvel at how creative God is when I catch those perfect evenings.

4. Coming in the door and being greeted by what is arguably the cutest, most perfect dog in the world.

3. Having a student on their way to high school dedicate their final talent show performance to you because you always believed in and supported them...priceless. This is why I do what I do.

2. Once a year my mom comes to visit. It is without a doubt the week I look forward to all year, starting the moment I drop her off to fly back home. There's always once during that trip that we get into the most uncontrollable giggle-fest possible. I adore my mom and treasure the memories of us laughing until we can't breathe any more. I love you, mom. Our visit can't come soon enough!

1. Spending time with my wonderful husband and knowing he is my best friend.

What about you? What makes your heart smile? Have a great week everyone, and I'll see you next Tuesday!

SB Jane

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Birds - Beware!

The next time you hear the sweet tweeting of birds in your backyard, you might want to be careful...

Since LKap has just returned home I thought I'd put up a funny.