• Books,  my view,  politics,  writers,  writing life


    Along with that down there. I wanted to say bravo to this opinion right here from Timothy Egan on Joe The Plumber’s 24.95 book. I’ve wanted to talk about this for a while but I just couldn’t find the diplomatic words. He did.
    Just why? How? What? Enough.

    And please scroll down see Jack and smile!

  • Books,  writers,  writing

    Long Suffering Heroes

    How do you feel about the long suffering hero in a romance novel? I’ve just finished two books. The first following The Quest was BROKEN WING by Judith James and the second was SEDUCE ME AT SUNRISE by Lisa Kleypas.

    Both books though very different in subject matter struck me as similar in the fact that they both contained the Long Suffering Hero and that got me think if I really enjoyed the suffering hero as a character or do I go for more of “the rake” or “the bad boy”? Now I know on some level every effective character has to have some flaw or thing that he suffers over or he’s just flat. What I’m talking about here is the hero that feels he’s just so bad that he’s no good for the heroine or that super sweet do-gooder. Please don’t give me that guy. I’d just hurt him.

    I’ll start with BROKEN WING and Kristie’s Ramblings on Romance Quest. This was an interesting book for me to get my head and heart around.

    Without a doubt I enjoyed it. A lot. I was pulled in right away and totally engaged. The author takes the tough subject matter of child prostitution and marries it with an innocent blossoming love story and an epic adventure. The love letters that she writes in the book are some of the most beautiful pages I have read in a long time. But for me I was frustrated by the very long suffering hero and the heroine that suffered right along with him. I wanted someone to stand up and be strong and fight. That said, I would still recommend the book. It’s an interesting love story that I’m still thinking about today. The historal detail is amazing. So am I a Quester? Kristie what do you think?

    Now in SEDUCE ME AT SUNRISE we have another long suffering hero that can’t get his head out of the past. First off, I loved this sexy book. But much like the hero in BROKEN WING this hero, Kev, feels that he’s not fit to lick the heroine’s boots. Though he doesn’t mind trying to lick at other parts of her. At times I wanted to reach though the pages and shake him too which I guess says something great for the authors writing. But this hero never got too deep in his sorrow that I put the book down. He was a fighter and filled with non-stop passion. Totally tortured, but acting a bit of a rake. But what pulled it out for me with this book was that the heroine didn’t fall into The Long Suffering Hero trap. She upped the ante and refused to suffer with him. She challenged him and fought against him to pull him out of his shell.

    So I guess I can take a long suffering hero if he’s got enough bad boy in him to be interesting and strong or the heroine has enough fight in her to challenge him.

    What do you all think about long suffering heroes? Are you Team Ashley or Team Rhett? I think you know where I stand.
    Um, sorry about that. I just can’t get over Twilight.

    Have a great weekend!


  • Books,  Elizabeth Hoyt,  jack,  jack pics,  Top Chef,  writers

    Un-Fashionably Late

    What’s Jack up to? Don’t let the sweet face fool ya. (he may never forgive the DD for this pic) Jack has been into all sorts of mess. Snipping at everyone lately and full of big time attitude. What’s with that? Could it be the new administration. Is he expecting an appointment? And now, I think he has allergies. Do both of us need them? Ugh. I have to give him eye ointment daily. Now that’s at good time. Uh, not really.

    Just call me Ms. Late To The Party, but I’m finally reading Twilight. I’m serious this time. After many, many false starts. I don’t know what’s with me and this book. I pick it up and put it back down. I don’t know why. I think I’m afraid I’ll be as into it as everyone else is and get sucked into another obsession. You know how I get. But check out what Katiebabs said over at her blog. I’m in in the company of the future Pres. So cool!

    But really I need to see what the fuss is all about and get with the program. Wish me luck. I hope to come out sane on the other side.

    Speaking of obsessions… I just finished another Elizabeth Hoyt. Yeah, I’ve got a problem. Admitting it is half the battle. This one was To Taste Temptation. The tension was high and it took a while for it to get really sexy, but when it did. Oh it did and well. I already know I’m fighting a losing battle with myself not to dash off to the bookstore for a least five minutes and get the next book in the series: To Seduce a Sinner. That darn Elizabeth’s gone a set it up so well too with two character that I’m dying to see get together. Sigh. I’m in big trouble here.


    P.S. Don’t forget TOP CHEF tonight.

  • conference,  jack,  writers

    Smart Women Rule

    What’s Jack up to? Jack’s running in circles right now with his new birthday chew toy. It’s already missing and ear. He’s going round and round. I’m not sure why, but as long as he’s not getting into serious trouble I’m happy.

    I had such a good time at the New Jersey Romance Writers Put Your Heart In A Book conference. It was a wonderful weekend getaway. No kids, no stress, tons of books. Bliss. And just enough info to not put me on overload.

    Like in said in yesterday’s post there were so many smart women there and so many writers that I admire such as: Eloisa James who reminded us of the importance of writing from your heart and Lisa Scottoline who gave such a funny and inspirational luncheon speech that she had many of us running to her workshop on how to write a novel right after. I’ll admit, I ran.

    I had an ah-ha moment in the world building workshop with Jessica Anderson (Hi Jess!) and J.R. Ward (Yep J.R. Ward!) when one really smart attendee asked the question about what was the hardest thing you had to learn or get over. I was shocked when J.R. said it was learning to plot. She used to be a pantser. Hmmm… Thanks J.R. you may have rocked my world.

    I have a new saying: “Plot it out B!” I won’t fill in the B here, but think Ari from Entourage and you’ve got it. Said with that type of attitude to really mean it and get to work. And make no mistake this is WORK.

    My all time favorite moment came when I got to meet live and in person, Elizabeth Hoyt. The very same author whose Prince series I blogged about last week. Who woulda thunk it! I’m happy to say she was lovely in person and gave an, um, informative workshop called: Sex Scene Viagra. Thanks Elizabeth!

    I was also thrilled to end up sitting right next to Katie from Rambling on Romance which got one of my blog awards last week. Small world. This was our first meeting and we hit it off right away.

    The conference ended with dinner at Bonefish Grill with old and new friends. So much fun.

    Clockwise from top left: Leanna, Sinead, Abby(hiding) , Megan, Me, Maureen, Katie, Stacy and Elizabeth.

    Big shout out to the PIC! Thanks for putting up with me. You’re the bestest!

    pic thanks to NJ website and me
  • bad dog,  Books,  jack,  writers

    You Call That Reading?

    What’s Jack up to? The wild one did the run out the door and down the block trick yesterday. After much calling my DH finally lured him back by opening the car door and getting him to run in. Sucker.
    Folks are always shocked then they find out that Jack actually went to 6 weeks of doggy obedience school. And passed. What up with that? Think he was a part of that no child left behind deal? Sigh.

    I’m so excited. After being about 242 or something in line my number was finally called and I got a hold of the audio version of Janet Evanovich’s Fearless Fourteen on CD. I promise once I’m as huge as Ms. Janet and am up to number 14 in my series I won’t hold it against any of you for waiting it out for the library copy and not buying my cd from the bookstore. That said I’ll have Fearless Fourteen loaded in my iPod in no time and have Stephanie, Lula, Ranger and Joe to look forward to on my walks with Jack. Yippee!

    I may have asked this question here before, but how many of you out there listen to books on tape or cd? Do any of you do like me and put them on your iPods? And do you consider it really reading or do you get a slightly dreamy/movie effect like I do from it. I’ll admit it’s a different feel than actually reading a book. But with my TBR (to be read) pile teetering on burying me or causing my divorce and the fact that there are just so many books I want to get to, books on CD are a wonderful time saver and loads of fun with the right narrator.

    What do you all think out there? What type of books do you listen too? I’ll stop back later. Right now Jack and I are going for a walk!

  • interviews,  jack,  phyllis williams,  writers

    Fab Interview! Phyllis Bourne Williams

    What’s Jack up to? As I type this he’s sleeping sweetly after a rip roaring day. Ah, peace is so good.

    We’ve got a treat today. An interview with Phyllis Bourne Williams, fab author of A Moment On the Lips and fellow blog buddy.

    Hi, Phyllis thanks to much for being here at KwanaWrites I really appreciate you doing this interview today.
    Thanks, Kwana! I’m a longtime stalker…uh, I mean reader of your blog. It’s a thrill for me to actually be your guest today.

    I’ll start with my traditional question. What lead you to become a writer is it something you always wanted to do or is this a career you backed into?
    I can’t remember not loving romance novels. In college, I hid issues of Romantic Times in my textbooks and read while the professor lectured.
    A journalism major, I went on to become a newspaper crime reporter. After a long day of covering the unbelievable things people do to hurt each other, I couldn’t wait to escape into a good romance.
    Years of reading evolved into the urge to write my own.

    Please tell us the story of your overnight success?
    Overnight success?
    I have to laugh at that. For me, it was more like years (and years and years). I spent a lot of time thinking, dreaming and talking about writing, but not much actual writing. Once I sat my butt down and wrote, my efforts were rewarded with several RWA chapter contest wins and two Golden Heart finals.
    A Dorchester editor was the final round judge of one contest, and she requested my full manuscript. I didn’t win, but the editor bought my book.

    What’s you typical writing day like? Are you a plotter or a pantser and how do you work this non-traditional job into your life?
    I’m easily distracted. I don’t think about laundry or cleaning – until I sit down to write.
    So when I need to get some serious writing done I go to the library or Starbucks. There I accomplish in a few hours what would take days for me to get done at home.
    I try to get out of the house early, so no matter what crops up later I’ve got my writing done. I’ve also learned to say no and not alter my schedule to wait around on repairmen or deliveries.
    I was a die-hard pantster, but I’m waning. Nowadays, I write my synopsis first and use it as an outline.

    I loved A Moment On The Lips. How did this book come to life for you? Also it incorporates knitting which a love of mine, is it a passion of yours?
    Thanks, Kwana!
    The story didn’t truly come to life for me until after it sold. My editor encouraged me to delve deeper into my characters and the story. By the time I was done, Melody and Grant were my best friends. I hated to leave their world.
    Yep, I knit. Keep in mind, I’m not a very good knitter, but I try hard.
    I typically start a knitting project at the same time I start a writing project. I like watching my skeins of yarn transform into a garment as my words turn into a novel.
    I just started working sweater. Here’s what it looks like now. (*See attached photo)

    (Sidebar: Phyllis’ knitting ROCKS!!)

    The main Character, Melody is a real woman with real curves is writing real women important to you?
    I wanted my heroine to wear a size 12, the average size of most American women.
    I also wanted the hero to appreciate and adore her voluptuous shape. It was important she didn’t believe she had to lose weight to be loveable.

    What main piece of advice would you give to an aspiring writing?
    BICHOK – Butt in Chair Hands on Keyboard. Simple advice that I don’t always follow myself, but it works!

    What’s up next for you, Phyllis?
    I have a novella in Dorchester Publishing’s October 2008 Christmas anthology, The Holiday Inn, along with authors Farrah Rochon and Stefanie Worth.
    In my story, “By New Year’s Day” I write about a couple whose thirty-year marriage is crumbling under the endless demands of their adult children.
    The fed-up husband whisks his wife away to a remote ski lodge, to rekindle their passion and save their troubled relationship.

    Thanks so much for being with us today, Phyllis. Please check out Phyllis at her website and her fab blog http://phylliswilliams.com/ and http://www.fortyisthenew20.com/. You won’t be disappointed.


  • guests,  interviews,  Roberta Isleib,  writers,  writing life

    Guest Blogger- Roberta Isleib

    Today we’ve got a treat on KwanaWrites, a guest blogger, Roberta Iselib who is here to share a few secrets with us. Take it away Roberta!

    Six Secrets for Keeping Your Sanity While Chasing Your Dream (Writing, that is!)

    Clinical psychologist Roberta Isleib has just seen her eighth novel published in seven years. ASKING FOR MURDER is the third book in the series featuring advice columnist/psychologist Rebecca Butterman. Roberta’s also wrapping up her year of service as president of National Sisters in Crime.

    In ASKING FOR MURDER (Berkley, 2008), Dr. Rebecca Butterman’s dear friend, a sandplay therapist, is found badly beaten and left for dead. Rebecca’s determined to help search for answers. With a would-be killer on the loose, she can only hope the clues are buried within easy reach. Think: best friends, crazy families, and the mysteries of sandplay therapy.

    ROBERTA: Thanks for agreeing to host me on your blog Kwana! It’s hard to believe eight books have come out since SIX STROKES UNDER in 2002. I promised I’d try to pull together some of the things I’ve learned over this time and here they are, in no particular order.

    MAKE A PLAN: As I begin a book, I look ahead to the due date and figure out how many pages I’ll need to write each week in order to hand it in on time. I build in time for trips and family and time for my writers group to read and critique, and then time for me to rewrite. Then I have a page goal for each week. I write until I’ve hit the goal, sometimes even getting a little ahead. If I have an unproductive day, it just means writing a little faster later in the week to keep up.

    HAMMER IT OUT: Get it all down, even if it’s awful. You can always go back and fix things later. Anne Lamott called this “the shitty first draft”—she had it right!

    SET YOUR SIGHTS HIGH: As a psychologist, I know the importance of having “big goals” for my subconscious to aim at. So I keep a copy of the NY Times bestseller list pasted up over my computer. Then I forget about it and work on the books word by word…

    FIND A BALANCE: The business part of writing is hard–the part I have no control over. I can produce a fabulous book, but unless the publisher is really behind it and I have a bit of luck somewhere along the line, it’s unlikely to be a commercial success. That’s why I do as much as I can to promote, as long as it doesn’t interfere with my writing! I want to be able to say I gave it my all without killing myself in the process.

    MANAGE YOUR PROCRASTINATION SOFT SPOTS: I’m still learning that I don’t have to answer every email the second it arrives! If I’m having trouble concentrating, best approach for me is to turn the email off and look at it as a reward for when I’ve reached my word count goal.

    YOU’VE GOT TO HAVE FRIENDS: Writing can be such a lonely, discouraging business. I’ve gotten very involved with mystery organizations (Sisters in Crime and MWA, and joined Romance Writers and Yahoo groups such as Fiction That Sells. The friends I’ve met there have saved my sanity and supported me endlessly along the way.

    TAKE YOUR TIME: Don’t rush off too soon to try to get your work published. This business is extremely competitive so it’s crucial to have your writing polished before sending it out. The Internet makes querying too easy—don’t press send until you’re sure the piece is the best it can be. I have lots of info on my website about agents and getting published and some of the scams writers fall for. Read it over when you’re ready. http://www.robertaisleib.com/

    Wonderful advice! Thanks so much for guest blogging here today Roberta. Stop back anytime. Everyone check out Roberta and her amazing books. You won’t be disappointed.


    P.S. Scroll down for “reality” rundown

  • jack,  writers,  writing life,  yorkies

    Time keeps slipping…

    What’s Jack up to? Jack’s had a fun weekend of food and friends and even a bit of bbq so I’m hoping he’ll be a little less snappish today. We shall see.

    The Olympics have ended and today begins the Democratic National Convention which I’ll probably be way too into (see below). I can’t seem to help myself it feels way too big. Cut to me bleary eyed in the morning.

    In a little over a week my Dear Twins will be back in school. The start of the new school year always feels kind of like New Years to me. A brand new beginning and with it all the pressures. I’m currently reading TIME TO WRITE by Kelly L. Stone when I actually have time to read. It’s all about time management for writers. I’ve vowed that when the kids are back in school I’m all about getting on a solid writing schedule. I really have to. The summer has taken it’s toll on me and if I’m going to make this work then time management is key.

    What are your back to school rituals?


  • happy birthday,  jack,  life,  Liza Palmer,  Megan Frampton,  writers,  writing,  yorkies

    The Quiet

    What’s Jack up to? Jack’s a bit better today. Not much snapping so that’s good. I’m taking a hard line, but of course it’s hard to do with those big brown eyes of his. I must stay strong.

    I’ve been a terrible blog hopper and lately not keeping up with many of my favorite blogs which maybe means that I’ve been a good blog hopper because for a while there blogs were taking up way too much of my time and kind of taking over my life.

    But yesterday while doing some perusing over at one of my favorite blogs The 5 Spot I read a post that really hit me that one of my favorite writers, Liza Palmer wrote. You may remember Liza from my interview I did with her here. Well Liza was talking about Ebbs and Flows and how this is an “Everything and Nothing kind of summer,” that “There’s this dip happening where it just seems like everything’s hard and nothing’s quite working out and life has taken on this molasses-y kind of pace.” Lines like this is why Liza is one of my favorite writers.

    She then talked about the journey and the quiet moments and how hard they are and how we as women especially hate those quiet moments (or years in my case). They can be positively brutal. You know those times when you plod along from work to work to work with what seems to be no real progress or reward. When people ask, “what new?” and you really don’t have anything new to report so you just nod and smile and say, “oh just the same ole thing,” With a small knot in your chest.

    But you’re at that strange point in your journey. Too far past the start to turn back. As a matter of fact way past the middle and the journey is not a hop on hop off type of thing. Take the next train back to normal. It’s a desert trek. If you turn back you could possibly die. So you have no choice, but shake your canteen, wipe your brow and plod ahead putting one foot in front of the other and move forward.

    I guess that’s what it’s all about the forward motion, not standing still or going backward, but moving forward and learning to enjoy and accept the quiet. I hear the best ideas come in the quiet moments anyway.

    You can check out Liza’s entire post here. The way she compare Michael Phelps and Mariska Hargitay is not to be missed.

    In Birthday news Happy Birthday to the P-I-C Megan. It is truly a magical moment when you find that special someone who really gets you. No, I’m not talking about that special someone. I’m talking about a girlfriend that other special someone you call to complain about that other special someone and all the other things that really irk you nerves because you that they just irk her nerves too. So cheers to you P-I-C!


  • Carolyn Jewel,  interviews,  jack,  writers,  yorkies

    What a Jewel!

    What’s Jack up to? Well he’s being a total Jack in the butt. Completely under foot with everything I do and feeling full of himself, barking up a storm. I’m sorting laundry and he’s stealing socks. Oh, Jack you are so asking for it.

    This Friday we have a treat. At RWA National I had the pleasure of meeting the super cool friend of my PIC, Carolyn Jewel. I was so happy that we hit it off right away. How awkward would that have been if we hadn’t? Whew.
    Well, Carolyn has agreed to be interviewed in my little corner of the blogosphere today.

    Carolyn is the author of: A DARKER CRIMSON, THE SPARE AND LORD RUN. Her newest release MY WICKED ENEMY is just out this August.
    Thanks for being here Carolyn. Let’s start with my traditional questions. Did you always want to be a writer and can you tell us the story of your ‘overnight’ success?

    Yes, I always wanted to be a writer, pretty much from the time I could hold a pen. But for some reason it never occurred to me that writing was something I could actually do. When I finished college I got a job and worked and really pretty much didn’t like what I was doing. I was, naturally, reading a lot. But overnight success? Kwana, it is to laugh! No, no overnight success, despite the story that follows. Read on for someone who sold her first book ever after sending one query. . . When I was 25 or 26, I read a book I thought was just awful. It was a historical romance that read (to me) as if it had been badly translated from some other language. I thought to myself that, surely, I could do better. From what I hear, this is a very common inciting event for writers. After that reaction I got to thinking that I really ought to see if it was true. I bought a computer and started writing and just kept going until all I was doing was changing the punctuation. Must be done!I did some research into next steps and discovered I needed a literary agent and a query package. I decided that I would not be able to tolerate more than two rejections at a time so I prepared two queries. I managed to transpose some digits of one of the street addresses on one of them so, leaping ahead a bit, I’ll reveal that six months later it came back as undeliverable. Flash back to me mailing off my two queries. Two weeks later, I came home from work to a message on my answering machine from a woman who introduced herself and said that she thought she had an offer on my book, could I call her, please? Well, I live in California so I had to wait until the following morning. In that one conversation I learned two Very Important Lessons about the publishing world. St. Martin’s Press had a line of historical romance called Americans Abroad. They featured, not surprisingly, American heroines who were, eventually someplace other than America. (Note: my heroine was French.) But an author had not turned in her manuscript. The woman on the phone with me was an agent and book packager who was desperately looking for a book to fill that slot. We chatted for a bit. She told me I was a talented writer and then said something along of lines of, “and you seem like you’re a rational person.” Would I mind, she asked, rewriting my heroine to be American. Heck no! And would it be possible, she asked, to do the rewrite in six weeks? The book was due out before the end of the year and they were all in a jam. No problem, I said. So the deal was done!.I’d sold my book to New York! But not for a royalty contract, for a flat fee. I knew nothing about the business, really, though as it turned out, I have no complaints about that sale.
    The two lessons were, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, that deadlines really do matter and that it pays to be easy to work with. They were, I realized much later, taking a risk that a complete unknown could pull off a rewrite as promised. There is a third lesson embedded in this, which is that talent isn’t necessarily enough. There’s luck involved. I was lucky not to have misaddressed that query. I was lucky that it arrived at a time when there was a need for a book like mine. If my writing were dreadful, they would have kept on looking. I wrote another book in pretty much the same unconscious way. By the seat of my pants. And when all I was doing was changing the punctuation, I figured I was done. I found an agent, which I confess didn’t take very long at all, and she sold my second book. It was ten years before I published again. The reasons are varied but it comes down to two pretty simple things. I wanted to write a more purposeful book, but I had not yet learned that I’m a panster, and I had a baby in the middle there and spent three plus years absolutely exhausted because I swear that boy never slept. As a single parent, I did not have any help, so the exhaustion was pretty desperate.Eventually, I did learn more about writing and myself as a writer, most of which occurred after I joined RWA and met other writers. I did publish again, but I also had other periods when I thought my writing career was over or that I would never be able to write a publishable book again. So, overnight success? Uh, no. Not exactly. The battle continues. Each and every day.

    You are a mother, a writer and you also hold down a separate job, not to mention all the many animals you care for, how do you handle it all and still make your deadlines? What is your typical writing day like?

    Let me start off my saying I am NOT a morning person. Nope. As far as I’m concerned, a good morning is one you sleep through. (Carolyn’s preaching to the choir here!) But I get up at 4:25 a.m. so I can get to the gym and then to work early enough that I’m home in time to supervise homework and perform amazing feats as a soccer mom. At the gym, I use an exercise bike because that leaves my hands free for 45 minutes of notebooking and brainstorming my current writing project. If I’m behind or otherwise panicking, I bring my laptop to work and write on my lunch hour. On days when there’s soccer practice, I get two uninterrupted hours in the car to work. Otherwise, in between or after my family responsibilities are done, I write in the evening, from 6:00pm to about 10:00pm with lots of interruptions until after dinner and homework. I put in as many hours as I can on weekends. If I’ve met my daily minimum word count, then I can stop.

    You seem to live in two worlds, the historical and the paranormal. How do you balance the two?

    When I was a child, my mother always complained I had a one track mind. So it should be no surprise that I write in two different genres by focusing on one project at a time. Although I think my voice is similar for both types, the sensibilities are very different and if I were to switch off between them, I think things would be very rough going.

    Tell us about your newest book MY WICKED ENEMY, especially the sexy Nikodemus.

    MY WICKED ENEMY is set in the contemporary world, but it’s a world in which there are demons and people who can do magic. They don’t get along. The demons can and sometimes do take control of innocent people and destroy lives. They also can only reproduce with humans. Is it any wonder that magic-wielding humans (the magekind) have learned to protect themselves and other humans? Unfortunately, they do this by enslaving the demons or by outright killing them. Worse, some of the mages have learned how to kill a demon in order to prolong their own lives. It’s no wonder the demons are thinking about outright war.Nikodemus is a demon warlord who has sworn to kill the mage Magellan and Carson Phillips, the witch who’s helping Magellan murder his kind. Imagine his delight when he discovers Carson all by herself! But Carson isn’t what he thinks and, as it turns out, she has ample reason to fear and hate Magellan.

    What’s next for you Carolyn?

    A book set in the same world as MY WICKED ENEMY is set for summer of 2009, it features Xia, a secondary character from that book. SCANDAL is a historical romance that will be out in February 2009 (Berkley Books). It’s about a Regency rake who has fallen deeply in love with a woman he’s treated very badly. Will he be able to prove he’s reformed?

    Thanks so much, Kwana, for asking me to appear in your wonderful blog. Please give the adorable Jack a biscuit from me, okay?

    Aw. Thanks to you Carolyn for being here and just because you said so I will give jack that biscuit and tell him it’s from you!

    Check out Carolyn’s book trailer for MY WICKED ENEMY below and catch up with her on her site here.