A Slice of Orange


Writer On The Verge

December 18, 2007 by in category Writer on the Verge by Kate Carlisle tagged as ,

Why I Can’t Blog Today

1. I have a headache. No, really. And no, it’s not a hangover so just don’t go there. It’s my sinuses. I’ve got bad ones. And with the rain and the changes in barometric pressure, I get all stuffed up. I’ll be okay, but I really can’t blog today.

2. As mentioned above, it’s raining. And rain effects the electrical connections in my house causing little brown-outs, which messes with the router and I lose my internet connection. How can I post the blog without an internet connection? I can’t. So I’m really sorry, but I can’t blog today.

3. I can’t concentrate on blogging because I’m stuck in Chapter Seven. Why am I stuck in Chapter Seven, you ask. Because in Chapter Seven my heroine has to go home, and I have to describe all that “home” stuff. Now, some of the home stuff has little to do with the mystery—and some of it does. But the point is, this is the chapter where I’ve got to introduce some of the ongoing characters who will appear and re-appear in subsequent books in the series. It all happens in Chapter Seven. So you see my dilemma, right? I mean, what if I give my heroine a sister with twins and a nice husband and a cozy lifestyle in the mountains near Lake Tahoe and it turns out in Book Four that the sister should’ve been a New York fashion editor? I could screw up the whole series. Or what if the heroine’s mom is a bi-polar hairdresser and her dad owns a liquor store, and then it turns out in Book Twelve that I really needed the heroine to be an orphan? You’d think I’d already worked all this out, and I have—for Book One. But what if I was wrong? What if–well, you get the idea. Who has time to blog when all this turmoil is eating away at my brain?

4. Christmas is less than a week away. I know most of you are just sitting around waiting for the fun to start but I’ve still got a pile of Christmas cards to write and address and mail, and a whole bunch of presents to buy, and hey, I’ve got to finish that stupid Chapter Seven (see Item No. 3 above), then start Chapter Eight, then pack for the trip to mom’s, and oh yeah, and I’ve got to stop at the drugstore to pick up sinus medicine (for my headache–see Item No. 1 above). But before that, I’ve got to make breakfast, take a shower, get dressed, go to work, FedEx a bunch of stuff to the family back East, then come home, wrap all those presents, finish Chapter Eight, pay bills, and bake cookies for the office holiday party.

So I think I’ve made my point here, right? I’m just too busy to blog. Sorry. Maybe next month.

But meanwhile, y’all have a Happy Holiday and a Wonderful New Year! Cheers!

[Kate Carlisle would’ve posted her really cute photo and some of her truly impressive writing credits but she was just too busy!]

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The Write Way (because there is no ‘right’ way)…….

December 17, 2007 by in category Archives

Just finished my latest work in progress and God, what a good feeling that is! Nothing quite like typing those two beautiful little words, The End.
But…for a working writer, The End only means a brief pause before typing the words, Chapter One. Although, every writer’s different. Some of us, when we finish a book, pop open some champagne, shut down the computer, walk out of the office and don’t even glance at the closed door for a month or more.

And ooh, sometimes I envy those writers! But you have to know yourself, and since I know me all too well, there will be no shutting down of the computer for me. Oh, I’ll take a day or two, it is Christmas, after all! But then I’ll open up a new document and start work on the next book.

See, I learned a long time ago that if I take a couple of weeks off, I get so far out of writing mode that it takes me several more weeks to get back in. It’s painful to sit in front of your computer and feel as though you don’t know how to write anymore.

It’s much easier to simply stay in writing mode. For me, at this time of year, that means writing one or two pages a day. It’s enough to keep my head in the book and easy enough that I’ll still feel as though I’m getting some time off.

So, during this great time of year, be kind to yourself. Play a little. Hug your kids, drop some money in the Salvation Army kettles. Give a gift to someone who’s not expecting it. Eat some cookies, sing some carols and do just enough writing to keep you ready for all of those January pages.

Maureen Child is the author of more than 100 romance novels and novellas. At the moment, she’s baking cookies and wishing you all—no matter what holiday you’re celebrating—a Merry Christmas and the very best of the season!

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Writer’s Word

December 17, 2007 by in category Archives tagged as ,

Words on 2007…
by Jenny Hansen

I planned an article on Track Changes for this month…really I did. Yet every time I’ve sat down to work on the blog, I’ve found myself writing other things — stories…emails…miscellaneous thoughts.

Christmastime is a very nostalgic season for me filled with family, traditions and memories of loved ones who are no longer here to celebrate. December marks the birthday of my first “baby girl” – 90 pound Akita, Hoshi – who just turned 12 today. That might not sound like a lot in dog years but in human years, she just turned 84. Impressive.

I made a celebration out of what could very well be her last birthday – bought pink party hats and a snazzy birthday bandana, gave her extra treats. We took her Golden Retriever friend, Tatum, to Dog Nirvana in Huntington Beach for a snack and a two mile walk…not bad for an old girl like Hosh.

Dog Nirvana is better known to locals as the Park Bench Café in Huntington’s Central Park where doggies get to eat breakfast (Hoshi had the Wrangler Roundup) with their humans and then walk along numerous trails, sniffing doggie smells and chasing ducks. If you’re an Orange County dog owner and you haven’t visited the Park Bench, you’re missing out! http://www.parkbenchcafe.com/

As we walked the trails, I looked down at my girl and lived in my memories of her. I thought of the changes we have weathered together these last twelve years: my entire 30’s, the tragedy of September 11th, the tearing grief of my mother’s death, the shining joy of my marriage. I’m hoping she will see the birth of my children and the advent of my 40’s next November.

Now that the party is over, she’s lying in a patch of sunlight in my office while I finish this article, snoring away as holiday music soars through the air.

After I post this, I will finish the baking I do every year at this time, bringing to life the treasures I’ve made each year for all my memory, as did my mother and her mother and grandmother before her. I make recipes like divinity, Almond Roca and Russian tea cakes that have been handed down through our generations.

Each November, I look forward to pulling out the package of papers and special notes, this one written in my grandmother’s elegant penmanship and that one in my mother’s bold scrawl. Each year, the ritual brings the shimmering presence of these strong women into my kitchen where I’m able to visit with them for a short time.

In a few hours, my house will smell like the home of my childhood and Hoshi will come lay her head against my leg and look up to give me “cute eyes”, begging for treats. In these final days of 2007, I wish each of you such a perfect day.

Next month is soon enough for the article on Track Changes…today is for family.

Happy Holidays!

By day, Jen manages the sales and marketing for a national training firm (after 12 years as a corporate software trainer, it’s nice to be able to sit down while she works). By night, she writes women’s fiction, chick lit and short stories as Jenny Hansen. She has been a member of OCC since 2001 and has served as the Orange Rose Contest Coordinator, as well as on OCC’s Board of Directors in a variety of capacities.

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December 16, 2007 by in category The Write Life by Rebecca Forster tagged as ,

by Rebecca Forster

I guess you’ve figured it out. The months of the year are my inspiration for this blog. You tune in and I give you my take on – well, something about the month. Sometimes it’s a stretch, sometimes not. But now it’s time for the big one.
December. Xmas. The holiday season.

So much to write about and so little time. Gifts. Holiday music. Horrid materialism which, if truth be told, would be relabeled miraculous generosity if I was the one opening a little blue box from Tiffany’s on Christmas morning. Be that as it may, I’m a writer and this time I’m not going to take the easy way out. I want to give you something to think about. I want my words to paint a picture that is eloquent in its simplicity, deep in meaning. In short, a blog that is unforgettable.
I want to tell you a cautionary Christmas tale. It is true. I saw it with my own eyes.

We lived in Los Angeles then. Our families were still in the South Bay. With parents getting on, brothers and sisters spread out all over the country, we felt obligated to spend the Christmas holidays driving: Long Beach, Redondo and back home to Los Angeles more times that I could count.

Back and forth; forth and back. Nothing spectacular – until two days after Christmas. The children were asleep in the back of the car. My husband was silent, tired of the freeways and cheer that had run its course. I sat beside him, my head resting on my upturned palm, thinking about nothing in particular. It was late afternoon and I would have nodded off too – but then I saw her.

I sat up straight and touched my husband’s arm. I raised my chin. He looked. His eyes narrowed. We didn’t wake the children. We didn’t want them to see the woman standing on the off-ramp but we couldn’t take our eyes off her. We passed her slowly. For a fleeting moment I wondered if we should stop. She looked so pitiful. I started to speak but my husband shook his head. He drove by. I swiveled in my seat hoping she saw that I, at least, sympathized. Perhaps she felt my interest. She turned to watch us. I saw the terror in her eyes. We could have helped. We didn’t. She held up her sign. The words were burned into my memory.

Spent too much at Xmas. Please help.

I turned my back just as the late afternoon California sun caught the diamond on her hand and shot a Christmas star of light into my eyes. She pulled her fur coat tight around her, shook back her streaked hair and turned to the next car. There, I thought, but for the grace of a credit limit, go I.

Merry Christmas to all those who give and those who receive.

Rebecca Forster

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Author Interview

December 13, 2007 by in category Archives tagged as

Interview with best-selling romance writer Hailey North

by Shauna Roberts

[Note: The original article about OCC member Nancy Wagner, writing as Hailey North, appears at http://shaunaroberts.blogspot.com/]

Welcome, Hailey, to my blog. Thank you for taking the time to answer questions about your new contemporary romance from HarperCollins, Not the Marrying Kind.

In Not the Marrying Kind, two urbanites reluctantly return to the small town where they both went to high school and bump into each other for the first time since then. You moved from the city to a small town shortly before writing this book. Did any of your experiences or emotions about this move make their way into the novel?

I appreciate this question . . . yes, I suppose my move from New Orleans to Covington did influence my characters’ experiences. Though as someone who lived in many small towns around the South and Midwest, I think I envisioned Harriet from that greater experience of having left (er, fled) the southern Midwest to college in California. The visits back to the Midwest were not without their challenges.

This book was different from your previous books. Less humor than usual and more . . . je ne sais quoi. Depth? Sorrow? Strength?

What was different was me pressing into places inside myself that really, really hurt. It’s more authentic. Most of my ha-ha funny stuff is a means of protecting my vulnerability.

For the post-Hurricane Katrina reader, romances were perfect for taking one’s mind off the difficulties of everyday life and vicariously experiencing good events. But for you as a writer, was it difficult to write a story with a happy ending when you were displaced and your house destroyed?

It was difficult to write, period. It would have been harder to write a bleak story. I’ve spent years and years of my life scribbling in notebooks, filling the pages with dreams and characters. After Katrina when my husband and I hauled wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow to the street, I cried as I said goodbye to the molded, warped piles of all those notebooks. But even as I cried, I was cheered by the reality that those notebooks had become published novels and if I’d done it before, I could do it again.

As you’ve noted, this book is not my typical “light romance.” I was in no mood after losing our home in Hurricane Katrina to tred too lightly into a happily ever after story. However, as I spent more and more time with Harriet and Jake and their family and friends, I came to realize that despite tragedy and trauma, we can all come out okay on the other end. They helped me to realize the redemption.

Did Hurricane Katrina change anything about the way you write, either your method or your characters or plot?

The most important thing that Hurricane Katrina changed about my writing is that I now possess a laptop. We packed, at the last minute, I must confess, to evacuate and I didn’t tow my desktop or any backup disks. We were leaving, after all, for only a few days. Hahahaha. When we made our way back to our flooded house and I found my desk and computer and boxes of files and all our wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves full of books tossed around like dinghies in a particularly violent storm, I could do nothing but cry. And then begin to shovel the resulting mess into the wheelbarrow my husband transported to the street to be picked up by the Bobcat and dump truck crews. Words can barely express the loss.

And about being a newlywed . . . thank God we went through it together. It made us even more bonded.

Even though Not the Marrying Kind takes place in Arkansas and never mentions Katrina, it feels like a Katrina book to me because the intertwined themes of loss and recovery are so strong. Yet it’s an optimistic book, not a sad one. It was cathartic for me to read; was it cathartic for you to write? Or was it hard to write about loss when the wounds were still so fresh?

I think my response above answers this question. And yes, when all was said and done, it was cathartic. We carry on. We grow through the loss. We are reborn.

I’ve always found the story of how your early critique group helped you get published inspiring. Could you retell the story for blog readers who don’t know you?

As to my early critique group . . . yes, and yes and yes. Gosh, have I written anything that contained a comma splice? If so, I owe a dollar! We were merciless. Met every Wednesday evening without fail for four or so years. We all published our first books, all five of us. Wow! And yes, I did have to “audition” to get accepted as a member. Thank you, Meryl Sawyer and Olga Bicos. And thanks for letting me pass muster!

Many romance writers, including you, started out as lawyers. Which is harder, being a lawyer or writing romance novels? Which is more fun?

Which is harder, being a lawyer or a romance writer? It depends. Seriously. My husband is a criminal defense lawyer specializing in capital cases. If he flubs up, his client gets the needle or the electric chair. If I slack off, I miss a bestseller list. Hmm . . . .

What is your favorite part of writing?

My favorite part of writing is hearing from readers who relate to my characters as people. Living, breathing, complicated, annoying, adorable people.

What is your writing regimen? Would you recommend it to aspiring authors?

My writing regimen?? Hahahahahahaha. When I’m on deadline I write like a maniac. A whirling dervish.

Do you write with or without your cats Mocha, Stanley and Daisy?

At this very moment, Daisy is asleep on my lap. Mocha is in her safe place, the laundry basket at the foot of our bed. And Stanley is snoring peacefully on the foot of said bed.

What books can we look forward to in the future from you?

Books in the future . . . ah, now, that’s a good question. I may do some more “Nancy Wagner” books . . . as in Two Sisters and All Our Lives, the first two books I published with Avon Books, before I transfigured into Nikki Holiday, author of paranormal romantic comedies. And then . . . and only then, came Hailey North. So it’s yet to be known who I shall be next.

Thank you again for visiting my blog to talk about writing and your new book Not the Marrying Kind.

Visit Hailey North’s Websites at http://www.haileynorth.com// and http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/17884/Hailey_North/index.aspx/. Her book Not the Marrying Kind is available at all major bookstores and can be ordered online from Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.


Shauna Roberts is an award-winning medical writer and editor specializing in diabetes and related subjects, a penner of fantasy, science fiction, and romance stories and novels. Her medical writing website: http://nasw.org/users/ShaunaRoberts/ Her fiction writing website: www.shaunaroberts.com Her blog: http://www.blogger.com/www.shaunaroberts.blogspot.com

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