Is it proper to put the title of my novel (“my novel”—how I love writing that!) in quotes if it’s not yet published? I would prefer to put it in less-bulky, more-graceful italics, but this particular blog program won’t allow it, no way no how. Whatevs, as the kids say. Call me a cockeyed optimist, but maybe if I treat the title as though it’s already in print, it will happen.

At any rate, I am almost finished with the second revision! Yesterday I reached a major milestone, because I finally fixed the ending, and it FELT like I had finished. Remember how I had to lop off 33,000 words at the end during the first major rewrite? Well that left my characters in mid-air, and I’m happy to say that my muse powered me through a new ending yesterday and heroine Amanda and hero Grady are once again on solid ground. Now I have to tweak the epilogue, go over my notes from my VVFR (Very Very First Reader) Belinda, and glance through the whole thing once more.

Then I figure out how to do the header, something I’ve been putting off, but it needs to be there if anyone in the publishing world is to take me seriously.

THEN I’ll e-whoosh it off to my friendly neighborhood FedEx/Kinkos (never sure what to call them since they merged; is it just FedEx now?), get it printed and hand it over to my darling, handsome, copy-editing husband who is already licking his chops at the prospect of circling all my errors with his pen with ink the color of blood.

Onward I go! And thank you for your continued support!!

  • Last weekend I went to San Francisco to visit one of my best friends and writing inspirations, Hal Katkov. (That’s his lovely cousin Elizabeth next to him, who has very toned arms.) It has taken me an entire week to recover from my trip, which is why this blog has been so lonely. Hal and his partner Ted were wonderful hosts!

    Hal and I have led similar lives since meeting 100 years ago in grad school at Northwestern, when we were forced to sit next to each other all day, every day during an entire stifling Evanston summer. You really get to know the person seated to your left when the person seated to your right doesn’t speak to you and has terrible body odor (see “stifling Evanston summer,” above).

    We both moved to New York and became advertising copywriters. Our friendship flourished, and Hal was there to set me up on blind dates, counsel me through relationships (“Don’t call him!”) and nurse me through breakups (usually assisted by chocolate and/or vodka). I didn’t know it at the time, but this was all fodder for my romantic comedies, because believe me, many of those dates were comic. Hal moved to California, I moved to Colorado, but our friendship remained vibrant.

    When he wasn’t writing award-winning ads, Hal wrote screenplays and I tried my hand at it too—as a writer and movie lover, I couldn’t talk to Hal about his scripts and not want to write one myself. The difference is, I wrote one; he wrote many. He always had a new idea, and churned out script after script. I had no clue how someone made that happen (see previous post, glass half empty and half full).

    Hal tired of the perpetually locked door in Hollywood and decided to turn his favorite scripts into novels, which I believe subconsciously compelled me to write a novel. Hal was like an icebreaker ship in the Arctic, clearing a path for my fiction career. “Thrown” started life as a 15-page treatment (outline) for a screenplay, only instead of writing a script, I wrote a book. So besides Hal being a great friend over the decades, an inspiration for writing just because he never made excuses—he just flat-out wrote—in a very concrete way he is responsible for me finding this new passion of mine.

    I can’t thank him enough! I hope you have someone or something in your life that inspires you to discover and pursue a passion. It’s a thrill a minute.

  • It had to be the rewrites. Here I am, on a gorgeous summer Sunday in  Colorado, revising my first draft. But that’s not the worst of it, the not being outside part. It’s the cutting. I have to butcher my little darlings, my sweet turns of phrase that I know in my heart of hearts don’t belong. They are clever but don’t pull their weight in the overall scene, so THWACK! I eliminate them with my word machete. I feel like a huge, hairy, ill-tempered bouncer strong-arming pixies and wood nymphs. But it must be done.

    And I have a LOT more words than Hemingway ever did. Maybe that was his secret—he was always a little buzzed, so it was less painful to delete words, phrases, and whole entire sections.

    I’ll continue on, sober (well, for a while at least), and let you know how I feel when I have a lean, superbly paced, not-a-word-out-of-place story. If that ever happens…

    Thank you for your support!

  • Yesterday I talked to a real live agent.

    Gail Fortune (great name) and I went to college together, went our separate ways but still ended up in publishing. We were literally blocks apart in NYC but may as well have been on different planets. Fast-forward two decades and another college friend, Allie Pleiter ( tells me how Gail encouraged her to write, and now Allie is the talented author of more than a dozen novels. Last month Darcy told Gail about me.

    The circle has landed. Er… or come to a close. Yesterday Gail called me! And not that I wasn’t focused—writing my book is so fun, I barely manage to go to bed—but now I’m more determined than ever to give Gail the best book I can write. The carrot in front of me just got dipped in chocolate, and those of you who know me and my love of chocolate know I’m now in hyperdrive.

  • It was a dark and stormy night. Okay, so it was clear and warm last night as my friend (and avid reader) Belinda and I had sushi at the Happy Sumo in Thornton. (Who knew they had sushi in Thornton?). But in my head and stomach it was a dark and stormy night as I waited for her.

    You see, Belinda is the first person to read the whole of my first-ever novel. She got the long version, before I cut, oh, 30,000 words. She is a good sport. I was exhilarated and petrified to hear what she had to say. What if she hated it? What if my instincts are completely whacked and I wrote a story that I love but no one else ever could?

    As it happened, Belinda enjoyed it so much, she read it twice, and was honored to be my first “beta reader”—as they say in the biz. Belinda reads approximately 3,000 pages a week, mind you. She loves to read. Loves to. A lot of plot and character has passed through her brain, so I took her advice to heart.

    I was encouraged to find that her comments were much the same as the ones clamoring for attention in my head. More backstory about the late first wife. Develop the kids more. Things I knew I had to address in the second draft. And there were a few things I hadn’t thought of, like one of the characters’ name was too suggestive of an unpleasant act (even though I had borrowed the name of a coworker—or perhaps that’s why, I was in the forest and this was one blighted tree). Or that readers might like to learn more about horses—for example, Belinda was fascinated to learn that horses can’t throw up.

    I left the Happy Sumo full of delicious sashimi, new/reinforced ideas for improvement, and the reassuring sense that I just might know what I’m doing with this whole crazy fiction-writing thing. Oh, and gratitude. Thank you, Belinda, my Olympic-caliber beta reader!

  • I am struggling with time management issues. (I ask those of you who know me well to refrain from making jokes about my tendency to run late. I’m much better than I used to be. Ask anyone. No really. Ask.)

    I am having trouble finding time to write. I have that pesky full-time job and a commute of at least one hour each way. Then there’s a horse that needs to be ridden and a dog that needs to be walked. Oh and friends. Trying to see friends. And trying to go to the gym to fend off the ill effects of aging, in addition to death and disease. Not to mention needing to spend time with my husband, who does, after all, inform all of my fictional heroes and could therefore be considered research.

    This would be the half-empty part, the struggle to find time to write.

    The half-full part is, this never used to be a problem. I never used to have trouble finding time to write because, well, I didn’t write. I talked about writing, I complained about how I should be writing but wasn’t, I beat myself up because I thought about writing every single day and never wrote. I saw myself as a writer, but one who never actually wrote anything, just one who whined about a deplorable lack of self-discipline and an abundance of self-loathing.

    It is a joyous problem to have. Now I love to write and find the other necessities of my life to be intrusions upon my writing. I hear people tell me how I have to buckle down and finish my novel, and I think to myself, ‘that’s so not the problem anymore. I can’t wait to work on it, whenever I can steal a few minutes.’ Perhaps I have finally found my voice and writing is no longer a heinous chore that is fun only every once in a great while. Perhaps I’ve found a genre I can embrace. Or maybe my initial theory is true and I was abducted by aliens and given a new brain. I don’t care. I love to write. I’ll find the time.


  • This is Darcy Eikenberg, friend and creative person extraordinaire. In this picture we’re gussied up for the Rita and Golden Heart awards dinner at the Romance Writers of America conference. We’re known each other since before Mandela was freed, before CDs existed, back when I wrote term papers on my portable typewriter in the dining room of the sorority house. Darcy was the first person I knew who had a computer—a Mac, back when they weighed 40 pounds and had a screen the size of a postage stamp.

    It’s Darcy’s fault that I’m writing this blog. You see, more than a year ago, I coerced Darcy into being my writing cop. I asked her to enforce a deadline for me to send her my completed screenplay. (So what I’d been working on that screenplay for 10 years? Literally.) I was late, but I did it. And that led me to taking a screenwriting course via UCLA’s online program, after which I had a detailed outline of a romantic comedy and a much clearer idea of structure. But instead of writing a script, the film outline became the basis for my first novel. I discovered a new passion—writing fiction—and I owe it all to Darcy.

    Darcy is a career coach/mentor, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when she turned out to be my catalyst. Check her out at Maybe she’ll inspire you!

  • One can only hope. We both wore green. This is a me (the shinier one) and New York Times bestselling author Susan Elizabeth Phillips last week at the “Readers for Life” literacy autographing (a fund-raiser for literacy charities). I refer to Susan as my patron saint, because when I started writing Thrown, I knew it was going to be funny. (Funny haha, not the other kind of funny.) Problem was, I hadn’t read many romances and I had never read a funny one. Enter my friend Kathryn, who told me about Susan’s books, and I also saw her It Had to Be You on several “top romances ever written” lists. Lo and behold, there was someone writing funny, and that someone also scaled the heights of the bestseller lists! As they say in those old movies about those drought-ridden farms, “The crops are saved!”

    Oh yeah, and she’s hilarious in person, very nice, and her books are great fun—her newest is What I Did For Love. (I have an autographed copy…)  Check out her website at

  • This is me and Meg Cabot, the author of The Princess Diaries. I went to her author “chat” at the RWA conference. I asked one question, made one quippy comment, and had my picture taken with her. I’m fairly certain she now wants to be my best friend.

    But seriously folks, she wasn’t serious at all—she was hilarious. I found I preferred going to author chats over regular workshops because they were more inspiring. For instance, Meg wrote The Princess Diaries as an adult book, with “smut” in it—her words. Then her agent suggested de-smutting them and positioning it to a YA audience. She did, and still…nothing. It got rejected everywhere. THEN her agent sent it to Whitney Houston (Meg said this was before Whitney’s recent decent into drugdom) and BAM! Disney bought it and made the now-famous film. Oddly enough, the book did not come out before the movie. Now Meg writes mostly YA and middle-school stuff, but just came out with Insatiable, an adult paranormal story.

    Meg gives me hope!

  • So here we are, my dear friend Darcy Eikenberg ( and me, in front of the lovely dolphin-encrusted (not real dolphins) fountain in the lavish lobby of the Dolphin Hotel in Walt Disney World in Orlando, attending our first Romance Writers of America national conference. Those orange rectangles on our name badges are not indicative of our great love for the Dutch, but rather our “First Timer” ribbons. If we ever looked lost or confused, someone would come up to us and ask if they could help. It was very nice. I’m thinking of getting a “First Timer” ribbon every year.

    This fountain was a terrific meeting spot, and I can’t tell you how many fantabulous conversations we had with other writers in the vicinity of the dolphins. In the evenings I had to prevent myself from “accidentally” knocking over the singer at the piano and grabbing the mic, but as Darcy will tell you, I refrained from belting out some Gershwin.

    My brain is overflowing with newfound tips on the craft of writing, how to market myself as an author, the names of new friends I made over the past few days, and—notably—details from bestselling author Linda Howard’s workshop on the documented stages of sexual attraction. I was gratified to know that so far, my characters are behaving as they ought.