I have to say, I’ve never uttered those three words in my life, but I am tonight. It all started with an email I got this morning. In January I’d entered the Northeast Ohio Romance Writers of America’s (NEORWA) Cleveland Rocks Romance Contest. The big draw for the contest was it was only open to unpublished authors, and you didn’t have to submit a synopsis, just the first 20 pages or so of your story. (I love writing my novels, but I’ve resisted writing a synopsis. I’ll have you know I’ve written one over the past weeks. It was a Herculean effort, but now that I’ve done it, I feel like maybe I can split a few atoms in my kitchen.)

Over this past weekend, for whatever reason I remembered that they were going to announce the finalists in April, and I checked the website. Sure enough, April 4th was the big day. I wish I hadn’t looked, because then I was bummed on Monday (the 4th) when I didn’t hear anything. I hadn’t counted on anything, but certainly I had this tiny glimmerette of hope. When I didn’t hear anything, I thought, “Oh, it’s just a contest from CLEVELAND, for heaven’s sake. They can’t even keep their river from catching on fire.” (This was somewhat easier to think because I’m a Steeler fan.)

And then, and THEN, I got an email today (April 5th) telling me I’m one of three finalists in that wonderful contest from that wonderful city! The final judge is Alicia Condon, a romance editor at Kensington Publishing. I just hope Alicia likes movie stars and horses! I’ll know if I’ve won on May 14th, when the NEORWA has its annual Cleveland Rocks Romance Conference.

Now, I have no idea how many entries the Cleveland Rocks contest attracted. But I don’t care. I feel terrific that I am a finalist in the very first writing contest I’ve ever entered, so I’m just going to pretend there were FIVE MILLION entries. The great thing about this is, now I can say in my query letters that I was a finalist in a contest, and the final-round judge—an editor at a major independent publisher—will be forced to read the beginning of my novel!

Cross your fingers, press your thumbs (if you live in the Czech Republic), light some candles, send Ms. Condon a new iPad, whatever you have to do. Help me win!!

And, as always, thank you for your support.

Speaking of contests, my lovely friend and brilliant romance author, Joanne Kennedy, has an even bigger reason to celebrate. Her ONE FINE COWBOY was nominated for a RITA award, the Oscar of the romance novel world. I am soo happy for her, I feel like I was nominated! Yes I’m happy because I know a RITA nominee (which is really fun), but mostly because she is one of the nicest people on the planet. (And also because there’s all kinds of natural horsemanship in her book. Can you say “serendipity”?)

  • Let me tell you first that I made a typo as I typed the title of this post. Instead of “horses,” I typed “hores,” which made my eager-for-the-cheap-joke mind go straight to “whores.” Sounds like a fascinating blog post, but fortunately or unfortunately, it’s not one I am qualified to write.

    Now then. Back to our regularly scheduled post.

    I’ve been in love with horses for most of my life, so it’s little wonder my first novel features a bunch of them. Horses have taught me a ton over the years, but who knew they’d teach me about writing? It’s the patience thing.

    Yes, you have to be patient with horses no matter what, but a few years ago I started studying natural horsemanship. If you want a crash course in patience—and I mean an advanced degree—try this. Ideally, you have to outwait a HORSE, and horses have all the time in the world and know it. I used to think I was a pretty patient person, but my horse ran circles around me, patience-wise. But practicing natural horsemanship and having to think like a horse has upped my patience quotient a thousandfold.

    What does this have to do with writing a romance novel? As I journey along to get my book published, I’ve found that patience is a valuable arrow to have in my quiver. For one thing, just like when you’re looking for a job, you are, by and large, never the hiring person’s priority. Filling a position is typically a back-burner kind of thing. It’s the same with agents who are looking at your work—they don’t get paid to read queries or sample pages, they get paid for taking care of their current authors. Sure, yes, of course they want to find the next J.K. Rowling or Michael Chabon or (fill in successful author name here), but it’s a tough slog through the slush pile. Agents take months to read what you send them, and that can range from two to twelve months. Or more.  I learned at a recent workshop that it takes two-to-three years to get a novel from manuscript to bookstore shelf. And that’s AFTER you find an agent! In other words, traditional publishing is not for instant gratificationists.

    With luck, my horse has prepared me for the wait.

    Thanks for your support!

  • I am not published yet. I do not have an agent yet. But I feel like I’m making progress because two things that have never happened before happened recently.

    But first, an update. I am rewriting the beginning of THROWN as per the recommendation of Sara Megibow, the agent who looked at it a coupla Sundays ago. It’s not QUITE there yet, but it is coming along nicely.

    And now the first new thing. I emailed Gail Fortune, the agent from Talbot Fortune who is reading THROWN. I couldn’t help myself. I had to do something because although I am learning more patience from doing natural horsemanship (and that may well be the topic of a future post), I am going slowly mad. It’s a good lesson though, since the world of publishing moves at a glacial pace. In a way, it’s rather pleasant, since so much of our world is about instant gratification, with e-books, smartphones and just about everything “on demand.” Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself. I asked Gail about querying Sara, and also asked, in a roundabout way, about THROWN. That wonderful Gail emailed the very next day and said she’d likely finish in two weeks and would call me to talk about it. I couldn’t ask for more than that. VERY excited to talk to her—well excited and scared, as Little Red Riding Hood sang in Sondheim’s “Into the Woods.” (Pardon that reference, but Stephen Sondheim turned 81 this week. And I love him.)

    The other nice news. My friend Joanne Kennedy, whose third novel COWBOY FEVER just came out, graciously asked to read THROWN. She asked this, knowing full well she had looming deadlines for her own novels, since she is a full-time writer (how jealous am I??). She hasn’t finished it yet, but thought it might be a good fit for her publisher, Sourcebooks. Apparently they like horses and humor (well, not like Mr. Ed…), and I know my book has horses (five), and I pray that readers will think it has more than five giggles in it. This means that I have to write a synopsis—the dreaded synopsis—but I am up for it. Needless to say, I was completely flattered.

    More steps along the path.

    Thanks for your support.

  • My first agent workshop is now in the history books. I attended it yesterday morning, which would have been daunting on the first day of Daylight Savings Time if I weren’t so darned excited. I had no trouble getting up. (Just ask Galley, who got his full and proper walk before I left.) I went extremely high tech and extremely low tech: I took my iPad loaded with my query letter and my manuscript; and I had my trusty Moleskine notebook, the one that helped me capture memories from my trip to Italy, ready to receive notes. (I hate typing on the iPad—since I can’t feel a keypad, I make all kinds of mistakes.) Further armed with a latte, I was ready to learn learn learn. Sara Megibow of the Nelson Agency here in Denver taught me and 29 of my closest writing friends as much as she could about publishing in the time allotted. I know a bit about the business from having worked in it for ten years, but that was more than a decade ago and I wasn’t in the editorial department at Warner, so my information was tangential at best. Now, with the increasing popularity of e-books and the burgeoning self-publishing craze, the publishing world is changing quickly. Sara told us scary statistics like last year she signed nine authors and sold five of the nine manuscripts to a publisher. Those nine authors, mind you, were culled from an initial query-letter pool of 36,000. Eek! In other words, it hasn’t gotten any easier to get your book published. She spoke to us about elevator pitches, or a two-sentence description of your book, kind of like an expanded logline on a movie poster. We went around the room and spoke aloud our elevator pitches for our books, and she liked mine! She had no edits. I was overjoyed. I was glad and happy. Being a copywriter doesn’t hurt when you’re trying to write an elevator pitch, but still. But. Later we lined up to show her our work or whatever else we wanted to show her. One hopeful author told me Sara had requested the first 30 pages of her manuscript. When I got to the front of the line, I was practically trembling, and it wasn’t from the latte. I handed over my iPad and stared out the window, praying to the literary gods to smile upon me. Apparently, the literary gods had neglected to turn their clocks ahead and were still asleep. Instead of asking for my first 30 pages, or the whole manuscript, or dropping to the floor, hugging my knees and begging me to sign with her on the spot, she, um, told me she thought I started my story in the wrong spot. She was very nice about it, mind you. Lovely, really. But my book wasn’t wowing her. Her socks remained firmly in place. Sigh. There went my glad and happy. (I actually watched the poor things slink out of the room.) But, as I told a friend, at least she didn’t tell me I’m a talentless hack and should burn my manuscript. I’ve been obsessing over where to begin, now that I must take a fresh look at my book. The journey continues…

  • One of the funniest people I know—Susan Wright—is from Dallas. So how fitting that I recently discovered a writing blog, Fiction Groupie, by a romance writer from Dallas, Roni Loren, whose debut novel CRASH INTO YOU, will be published by Berkley Heat in early 2012. I was so taken with her no-nonsense post on query letters—the cover letter you send to a literary agent to see if he or she would consider reading your manuscript—that I’ve reposted the meat of it here. Roni was at a writer’s conference, and took excellent notes during a workshop given by a panel of agents who “gonged” bad query letters.

    If you’re not a writer you’ll never need this advice, but it’s fun to see what literary agents are looking for/repulsed by, and to get a behind-the-cover look at one of the first steps in book publishing.

    Personally, I hope I’ll never have to write a query letter—because Gail Fortune, who is considering my manuscript even as I write this, will love love love THROWN more than life itself—but just in case, I’ll be ready.

    1. Opening with a question.
    Most of us have heard this, but there was still a query in the bunch that did this. It got instantly gonged.

    2. Vampires
    You have to be REALLY REALLY different to get them to even consider another vampire novel.

    3. Cancer
    In and of itself, it may be an important issue in a book, but there were at least four queries where cancer seemed thrown in to up the dramatic effect. “There’s this and this and this! Plus, someone has cancer!”

    4. Too many things/issues/characters/plotlines.
    This was one that the agents said a lot. Stories that seemed to have too many different things going on, too many characters, or too many plotlines listed in the query lost their interest. Stick to the hook!

    5. Describing your own writing.
    Don’t tell them in your query that your story is fascinating, fast-paced, touching, whatever. Show them the story, not what you think of your own writing. One agent gonged out when the first sentence said “This is a fascinating story of…”

    6. Cliches and tropes
    Overused and tired phrases in the query got you gonged. If you’re using them in the query, the agents suspect they’ll be in your book. “Her life will be forever changed”…”The last thing she expected was”…”love is blind”…etc. Plus, cliched storylines as well—girl finding a diary with secrets, person finding a portal, romantic suspense where the wife suspects husband is up no good, the woman who loses her husband and goes  a small town to rebuild her life, etc.

    7. Inauthentic voice
    There was a YA one that used “awesome” “buttload” and “stupid” all in the first two sentences. It sounded like an adult trying to do teenspeak. Didn’t work at all.

    8. Stuff Happens
    Queries where there was a list of events but no hook or central conflict described.

    9. Teens and the elderly
    This is a bit random, but there were a few queries that were pitched at YA where the story is the teen gaining wisdom from an older person. They shot these down. Teens don’t want to read about old people. They don’t care what older people have to say when they are that age and so they aren’t going to want to read about that.

    10. September 11th plotline
    All the agents literally groaned. Some said it was still too close of a topic for them to personally work with. Remember, most of these agents live in NYC, 9/11 was a national tragedy but for those on the front lines realize that it’s got to be even more traumatic to relive.

    11. Going on and on and on….(kind of like this post :p )
    They want to hook, the main character(s), and what’s at stake. That’s really about it. Do not give a synopsis posing as a query.

    12. If you do the “it’s this meets this” kind of hook, don’t use two movies. Use at least one book in the comparison to show that you are well-read in your own genre.
    And don’t compare to the GIANT books. Twilight, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Hunger Games—they’re used so much that the comparisons don’t meant anything anymore.

    So many queries had a whole lot of words but said nothing. It’s a tale of love and loss and redemption. Of good and evil. Of whatever other completely vague abstract concepts you can think of. That may be a theme in your story but that is not what it’s about. The agents want to know what your story is specifically about. Do not waste words talking about abstract things. Every word must give them something that you haven’t already said and that speaks to the uniqueness of your story.

  • I was completely immersed in bookland today.

    First I went to the Thornton Barnes & Noble where author Joanne Kennedy was signing her books. I met Joanne on the first night of the Romance Writers of America national conference in Orlando in July. She lives in Cheyenne and writes fun, smart romances about women who have a thing for cowboys. Joanne has had three books published (COWBOY TROUBLE and ONE FINE COWBOY, and COWBOY FEVER will be out this April), and she has a contract for three more. She is my hero!

    Plus I got to meet four other romance authors and they might actually get me to read an historical romance! The books I got: NOTHING BUT DECEPTION by Allegra Gray (isn’t that a great name?), ECHO OF LOVE by Mary Hagen, SEDUCING THE DUCHESS by Ashley March and HEALING THE HIGHLANDER by Melissa Mayhue.

    Writing is something that, by and large, you must do alone. Yes there are collaborative efforts, but my joy comes from writing in the traditional sense, by myself. I love it when my characters go off on their own and I’m merely taking dictation. However, it’s nice to know there are folks out there who have gotten published, people who live right here in Denver, who I can talk to about the journey to the bookstore shelves and the listing on Amazon. What’s more, in my teeny exposure to the world of romance writers, I’ve found that they are incredibly nurturing, and today at B&N was no exception. Imagine an industry where competitors LIKE to help each other. That’s how it is. The authors I spoke to today were nothing but encouraging.

    After the B&N signing, I attended my first-ever Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers meeting. The presentation was by Patricia Ross, Ph.D. of Hugo House, an indie publisher. She told us all about the “wild west” of publishing, covering various aspects of the (many) alternatives to traditional publishing houses.

    In a word, it was depressing. I felt like I just watched SCHINDLER’S LIST, only instead of Nazis, it was about books. (That might be an exaggeration.) It seems I have decided to write books just as regular publishers are on the way out, and the only way to publish your book is to pay for it yourself and sell it out of the trunk of your car. Call me old-fashioned and stodgy—or, let’s face it, lazy (and my Bug has a tiny trunk)—but I want someone to pay ME for my stories. If I send my manuscripts out and no publishing house on the planet wants to take me on, I’ll reconsider. (Surely that won’t happen, right?) But for now, I’m staying in the right lane of the old, established publishing highway as opposed to the self-publishing/pay-on-demand/vanity press autobahn.

    ON the other hand, I felt good because I already have a blog (and thanks for reading, by the by), a Facebook author page and a Twitter account (@coletteauclair). So at least there’s that. And there’s something to be said for having finished a manuscript and having it sitting on a literary agent’s desk even as I write this.

    So. Quite a day. Seeing Joanne Kennedy was the best part, and not just because of the excellent chocolate-chip cookies. With luck, soon I’ll join her ranks as a published author.

  • You know how there are words out there that set your teeth on edge? Because that’s what I’m writing about, so if the title of this post led you to expect some kind of rallying cry, I’m going to bitterly and profoundly disappoint you. This is a rant.

    Here’s word #1 on my hit parade—meaning words I’d like to put a hit out on, not words I think should hit the top of the charts because they’re so fabulous. Ready?


    Hate it. Don’t know why. But mark my words (pun intended), you’ll never see it in my novels unless a character insists on saying it and there’s nothing I can do to stop him/her. I hate when characters munch a sandwich or whatever. It sounds…dumb? Why can’t they just chew? Eat? Masticate? I’m not even sure why I hate it, as there wasn’t a particularly heinous episode in my life involving munch. Not that I recall, anyway. Maybe it was so horrendous, I’ve blocked it out. If you love this word and have a compelling reason why I should rethink my munch prejudice, I’m all ears.

    Next is the phrase “strong woman.” Hate it. This probably makes me sound like some kind of antiquated thinker or disavower of women’s accomplishments, but that’s not at all true. I’m simply sick of this phrase. It’s overused, and to my mind, a qualifier. Why not just describe a woman as a strong person, or as plain old strong? A strong woman immediately makes me think whoever called this woman a strong woman thinks the woman is strong…for a woman.

    Last on my list for this rant is…lover. I put it last because I don’t hate it anymore, but I used to hate it with the white-hot heat of 7,000 suns. Used to. Used to think it sounded affected and bizarre, an unwelcome leftover from the ’70s and its notions of free love. But as I keep reading romance novels to catch up to my (potential/future) readers and learn who’s writing what (must know your genre!), I’ve become used to it. I no longer think it’s weird, but simply means the person one has sex with. And since most of my exposure to “lover” is courtesy of romance novels, whenever the characters have sex, you can be sure they’re either in love, on the way to falling in love, or will be in love shortly. So the sex isn’t cheap or temporary or purely physical—lovers in romance novels always end up with the whole shootin’ match. Which is nice.

    Surely there are more words I hate, and as I remember/come across them (I know ‘em when I see ‘em because I inwardly—and sometimes outwardly—cringe), I’ll let you know.

    I’ll also let you know when I hear from Gail-the-Literary-Agent-Extraordinaire. Nothing yet, but as the saying goes, no news is good news. My fingers are becoming more flexible by the hour as I keep them crossed.

    Thanks again for your support!!

  • I was looking in the mirror the other day and a lock—er, make that a strand, as my hair is stick-straight—was hanging down across my cheek. I thought about how if I were a heroine in a romance novel, the hero would likely tuck that strand neatly (and tenderly) behind my ear, causing either a burning sensation on my cheek or ear (or both), or possibly a maelstrom of feelings of longing in the rest of me. I would very probably become light-headed and/or lose track of our conversation

    I realize that romance novels are not real life, but they’re partially based on reality. But for the life of me, I can’t recall a single instance where a man has tenderly tucked a strand of my wayward hair behind my ear. (If you are a man and have done this to me, please remind me. And reveal how many martinis I had consumed at the time. Doesn’t count if you were cutting/coloring/styling my hair.) Since it’s impossible for me to believe that my hair was always exactly where it was supposed to be, I have to wonder about this. Is there something wrong with my hair that my dates shrank from touching it? Were my ears offensive in some way? Did I send out subliminal anti-hair-touching signals? Did I date men with hair phobias? Or is it similar to how my husband views dust—meaning he doesn’t view it, and so doesn’t see any reason to clean. Maybe the men I dated thought I wanted that hank of hair on my face.

    From here I pondered what other romance novel norms I’ve missed out on. There are the mostly perfect heroes. Yes they make mistakes, get jealous, make fools of themselves, misinterpret things, or are clueless about the heroine, but their faults just make them more endearing. So I won’t start on the complete absence of morning breath and other less-than-idyllic features of real life that have no place in an escapist romance novel. Although every now and then one crops up in a book I’m reading and I find it refreshing.

    I won’t even bother getting into the amazing sex that’s never awkward, even the first time (unless it’s key to the plot that the first time be weird, as in BREATHING ROOM or THIS HEART OF MINE by my idol, Susan Elizabeth Phillips). This goes hand-in-hand with another romance novel norm, the simultaneous arrival at delirious happiness in bed, even though studies show that only 35 percent of woman will achieve delirious happiness while their hero is doing what men do to achieve said delirious happiness.

    Oh, and no man has ever carried me up a flight of stairs to take me to bed. Then again, usually these heroes have great bodies, and I’ve dated very few guys with great bodies. And let’s face it, I spent the bulk of my dating years in Manhattan, and few Manhattanites have staircases in their apartments. So maybe this one isn’t a fair comparison.

    Which reminds me of something else I lack that romance heroines have: an appreciation for the male form. I cringe as I tell you this, but I’m a sucker for nice eyes and hands. I don’t even notice biceps or butts. In fact, as I realized I’d have to describe the physiques of the superbly attractive men in my stories, I forced myself to notice men at my gym. I would look at a guy and think, “How would I describe him? What does his butt look like? How to write about that guy’s arms?” I felt like a bit of a freak until I learned that some friends share my condition. As I think back on my dating life, there was one guy I went out with a few times—with the unlikely name of Glade—who had a truly outrageous body, but it was completely wasted on the likes of me. Maybe that’s why we didn’t work out, no pun intended.

    While I’m on this roll-call of absences, I also must confess that before I started writing THROWN, I had read exactly two romance novels in my life. The first was THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER by Kathleen Woodiwiss, which I now know is a groundbreaking classic, and to quote Susan Elizabeth Phillips, the first of the “rape me ‘til I like it” variety. I read it in high school after finding it in one of the lounges in the dorm. And I read Danielle Steele’s PALOMINO in grad school because, guess what, I thought it would be about horses. When I hear about writers who were avid romance readers and then wrote their own romance novel, I feel like I’m sneaking into the genre through a side door. Right now I’m scrambling to read as much as I can so I’ll know what’s out there.

    However, I’ve recently realized that I approach writing as an actor. I act out scenes and speak dialogue aloud, often while walking my dog (small wonder he wanders away from me…). I see my stories in my head as movies, scene-by-scene, possibly because THROWN started life as a screenplay and I wanted to be a screenwriter rather than a novelist. Susan Elizabeth Phillips said at a workshop that she considers herself to be an actress rather than a storyteller. So maybe the fact that I watch romantic comedies kind of excuses me from not having read a million romance novels?

    Still and all, even with all these holes in my past dating and reading life, I feel like I’ve found my niche because I’ve never had such a blast writing anything before. I hope that a publisher out there feels the same way.

  • I will not be writing my novel after 4:00 p.m. Mountain Standard Time today. I will not be worrying about the shifting point of view in my novel. I will not be concerned about tweaking the tone in the first scenes to be more lighthearted and—dare I say—funny. I will not be thinking about the most graceful and inconspicuous way to weave in the characters’ backstory so as to make it interesting and not dull dull dull. I will not be contemplating how to add thematic elements to add depth and power to my fluffy little romance. I will not be fretting over whether this scene or that scene is working hard enough to merit staying in the story—does it enhance characterization or move the plot along?—those are the key questions.

    I will not be concerned with any of this.

    Because the Steelers are in the Super Bowl.

    My worries will shift to whether Big Ben can scramble and elude the blitz. Will Ben throw into double coverage and be intercepted? Can the offense outwit, outcatch and outrun the formidable Packer defense? Can the defense stymie the Green Bay offense? Will Polamalu’s ankle hold up as he makes his trademark electrifying plays?

    So many questions. So many concerns. And almost as many volatile emotions as my characters feel! Maybe that’s why I have cozied up so completely to writing romance novels—they’re packed with emotion, much as I am when watching any of my teams (Steelers, Penguins, Pirates and Northwestern Wildcats) play in a big game. Sports and romance. Who woulda thunk?

  • I have been waiting to do something worthy of your attention, or for something to happen to me that would merit a blog. But, I realize, I have to find something to tell you about. I once went to a reading by Pam Houston, an author I have admired since my Worst Boyfriend Ever introduced me to her in the mid-90s when I still lived in Manhattan. She wrote SIGHT HOUND, a wonderful and devastating work that will stay with me for the rest of my days. Anyway, during the reading she spoke of “glimmers,” or moments a writer observes that can lead to a story. A spark. A burst of something that intrigues or conjures a question or suggests a further event. Pam talked about them in terms of fiction, but I have to also think of them in terms of blogging.

    Here we go. This past Thursday and Saturday, my horse Brooke colicked. If you know about horses, you know how scary this can be. Most colics are not serious, but they can go bad quickly and your horse can die. Brooke had to have life-saving surgery last December for a bad colic. For those of you who have the good sense to keep a horse out of your life and your bank account, let me explain. Colic, technically, is any sort of pain or discomfort a horse feels in any part of its digestive tract. Horses are horribly designed, with scads of intestine that just kind of hangs out in a vast cavern of equine torso. A lot can happen in there, and none of it good. When your horse colics and you keep it at a boarding facility, it’s like having a baby who can never tell you where it hurts, and the baby lives somewhere else (in my case, 25 minutes from home and more than an hour from work at rush hour). When they call you from the barn to tell you your 1,300-pound baby is ill, it’s a terrible feeling.

    I called the vet for the Thursday colic, and, happily, all Brooke needed was a pain killer and she was right as rain. Usually she’ll colic and be done with it, I’m off the hook for at least a month. But no. She has apparently joined a Colic of the Month Club, as she has colicked in November, December and now January. This is a new and delightful aspect of my horse ownership. In this most recent instance, she colicked 48 hours later, on Saturday afternoon.

    What the hell? Again, happily, it wasn’t serious, and I didn’t even  call the vet. Still. I was a wreck on Saturday night, keeping my phone attached to me as if it were a new appendage, waiting for it to ring with another colic alert. I had left the barn at 8:00 that night, but still. I thought I would have a relaxing evening after a harrowing day. HA! I couldn’t concentrate. I had to watch something mindless on TV. I had hoped I’d be able to write, since I had spent the entire day at the barn and lost all that precious writing time, but no.

    I couldn’t even THINK of writing. As you might deduce, one of the topics of my second novel, facetiously called LOVE IN THE TIME OF COLIC, is colic. I simply couldn’t do it. I couldn’t write about some poor fictional horse dying of colic and his owner’s subsequent distress when my own horse had been flirting with succumbing herself. It was too close for comfort.

    In the days since Saturday I haven’t had much time to write, even though it has been freakishly cold here in Denver, well below zero Monday and yesterday. I still had to go to work, and although I didn’t go to the barn on Monday or Tuesday, I didn’t write. LOVE IN THE TIME OF COLIC poses new challenges. It starts out with the colic surgery, and that’s how our hero and heroine meet. However, I had intended the book to be a romantic comedy, but it starts out about as light-hearted as a lynching. I either have to change the whole tone of the novel or fix the beginning. I think I have to fix the beginning. I ventured out into the Arctic Circle tonight (it was -2 at the barn) and as I walked Brooke for 30 minutes in the indoor arena (she wore her blanket, don’t go reporting me to PETA), I thought about how to make the beginning, um, happier.

    How to make a beloved horse’s death happy?

    Okay, so it’s not going to make you skip down the lane, swinging a basket of flowers and whistling. But I think I can make the heroine a little more composed and have her use humor to cope with her grief, as many of us do.

    This is making me grow as a writer, right? To change the scene I’ve seen in my head a certain way for a little more than a year? I sure hope so, because I think it has to be.

    And Brooke, if you’re reading this, please drink a lot of water and DON’T COLIC.