Monday Mayhem – An Open Window

Thanks so much for all the positive feedback and social media support for my new release, PLAY FOR KEEPS!

And, if you have already reviewed, THANK YOU! If you have not, please consider posting a review on Amazon.com when you are done reading. Not only do reviews help other readers decide if they want to give a book a shot, but they help authors gain visibility within the Amazon algorithms.

I admit was a little nervous about this book, because I knew Millie might be a bit much for some people. She doesn’t fit the traditional romance heroine mold, but I love her, and I’m glad readers are connecting with her.

So…this week I stepped off into a new adventure. My position at the day job was downsized, and Friday was my last day in the office.

As many of you know, I thrive on structure, so adjusting to this new phase may be a challenge for me, but I think I am up for it.

I have drawn up a schedule.

In Excel.

There may be wrapped text, merged cells, mixed borders, and color coding.

My resume is spiffed up and I am sending it out into the world. In the meantime, I am going to focus on wrapping up my WIP, a sort of Nashville-meets-A Star is Born story, and outlining a new series for proposal.

I’ve started exercising again, and I’m still meditating. All in all, I’m trying to take things slow and let what is meant to happen…happen.

I’m also preparing for the Chicago-North RWA Spring Fling. There will be a multi-author book signing at the Double Tree hotel in Oak Brook, IL, Saturday, April 21. Join us!

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Monday Mayhem – Old Dogs and Happy Goats

This weekend was the annual Diamond State Romance Authors writing retreat! We rented a lovely house on Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs. Here was my writing view from the deck:

This time, I didn’t have a deadline pressing on me, but I had a couple things I wanted to work on. Like many of my writer friends, I’ve found myself struggling with the words over the summer, so I was also looking for some new tricks to jumpstart the old motivation.

Most writers will classify themselves in one of two ways: plotter or pantser. Plotter is pretty self-exlanitory. Those writers plot each bit of a book before they even begin. Pantsers write by the seat of their pants.

I started out as — and still naturally identify as — a pantser. But my career has moved at such a pace that I find I am selling books to publishers based on a synopsis of what I think future book will be. If I leave it up to my pantsing tendencies, I tend to veer off course from that synopsis, so I’ve evolved into sort of a plotser.

Adding dictation to my bag of tricks has also changed my writing style. I found I needed to have a pretty good sense of what I was trying to accomplish in that scene before I could speak it. Which meant, I had to do some *gasp* plotting.

This weekend, I took my first steps toward becoming a full-fledged plotter. The fabulous Brinda Berry showed me an awesome template she’d started using. I bought the book (FOOL PROOF OUTLINE) and downloaded that template.

In one afternoon, I’d done over 3,000 words of story outline, character worksheets, and scene plotting for a new project. Here’s hoping this new trick will work for this old dog.

In other news, Kelli Reep and I saw a goat riding in the back of a truck on the way home.

 

Welcome to Arkansas.

How about you? Did you learn any new tricks this week?

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Monday Mayhem – Eeep! It’s December!

Yeah, so super fast post because it has been a super crazy week and I am super tired. I’ve been keeping up with my #31brightspots, though I admit some days have been a little darker than others. Here are a few highlights:

Long, frustrating day at work, but I came home to this

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Tacos make everything a little better.

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Truth.

Lolled in my warm bed with a hot book on this cold morning. Now, lunch with my girls.

Best way to spend a Saturday morning, in my opinion.

And the best way to spend a Saturday afternoon is with my Diamond State Romance Author pals. Here’s a picture of me and Brinda Berry. I may or may not have been squeezing her knee under the table. A lady never tells.

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And Sunday was spent preparing for Christmas. The house is decorated outside and in. Any my little angel helped his doting granddad put his Great-grandma Willene’s angel atop the tree.

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As I type this, we’re just home from attending a living Christmas tree concert and ready to collapse. That was my jam-packed week. What happened in yours?

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Monday Mayhem – How about a quickie?

That got your attention…

Just home from a fabulous weekend at the Chicago North RWA Spring Fling! Thanks so much to all the hardworking volunteers and speakers who gave their all to make it an awesome conference. I also want to thank all those who came out to the book signing. I had a blast sharing FLIP THIS LOVE with the world!

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Proud to report that I kept up with my daily word count (barely). I also left my room even though I wanted to hide from the stranger danger. As a reward, I got to meet some fabulous people I’ve only chatted with in a virtual world.

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I’ll have more to report once I’m caught up with the laundry, but here are some teasers for stuff coming in June: A sale! Another sale! And a new Yankee Candle newsletter giveaway!

In the meantime, check out the bling that was waiting for me when I got home. 🙂

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Monday Mayhem – Nothing but good things

Over the past couple of years, I’ve tried to focus more on the good things in life than the things that get me down. I think it’s working. Last year, I started doing the notes in a jar. In 2016, I plan to continue that, but I’m also adding the Happier app to my repertoire. It allows me to take pictures and note the happy as it’s happening.

Still, I love my pretty post-its, so I can’t abandon the good old mason jar. I opened my 2015 good things jar on NYE.

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That sucker was stuffed!

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Wanna see what went down this year? Here’s the scoop:

January

1/1/15 – Pan fried praline french toast in butter. We are rebels!

1/1/15 – 1017 words to kick off the new year!

1/2/15 – The best days are royalty check days!

1/2/15 – Print copies of The Last First Date for RITA have arrived!

1/4/15 – Cracker Barrel with Kathy, Monica, and my man!

1/6/15 – Facebook harassed Kay Fairchild with the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.

1/6/15 – Spring Chickens re-release!

1/7/15 – Hug therapy and Pillsbury ready-to-bake sugar cookies.

1/23/15 – I got a raise!

1/24/15 – Snuggle nap.

February

2/3/15 – Switched RT enrollment for RWA in NYC with Karen B!

2/4/15 – Colin James Kidwell is born!

2/11/15 – Popeye’s Pandora, and the perfect truffle from my love.

2/12/15- Viva Las Vegas with my Super Cool Party People!

2/14/15 – Spring Chickens will be in the Unforgettable Heroes II boxed set!

2/15/15 – Stranded in Las Vegas with my girls.

2/16/15 – Spa day with Iwanna. There are worse places to be stuck than Las Vegas. J

2/23/15 – Signed up for NOLA Stars conference in Shreveport.

2/26/15 – Finished draft on Full Court Press.

2/28/15 – Request for a full on Full Court Press – agent J.A.

March

3/1/15 – Submitted Bossy Pants (retitled A Will and A Way) to Kensington.

3/1/15 – Tulips, pretty tulips!

3/7/15 – NOLA Stars – request for full on FCP – editor P.B.

3/7/15 – NOLA Stars – request for partial and synopsis – agent L.B.

3/7/15 – NOLA Stars – submitted full and synopsis FCP – agent D.K.

3/7/15 – NOLA Stars – Won 1st chapter critique from Molly O’Keefe in auction.

3/18/15 – Query S.M. on FCP.

3/24/15 – Partial request from S.M.

3/29/15 – 3.5 miles in 44 minutes watching Rory’s Birthday Parties on Netflix.

April

4/4/15 – Flying Fish, grass sledding, Riverwalk, salted caramel ice cream, and Outlander. The perfect day!

4/9/15 – Kensington wants Bossy Pants (to be renamed) and two more to follow Going Deep!

4/12/15 – Sara Megibow offered representation!

4/20/15 – Accepted representation with Sara Megibow, KT Literary. Officially a part of Team Megibow!

May

5/4/15 – Charlotte Castle Kolleng is born!

5/6/15 – Boaz Joshua Kiewiet is born!

5/20/15 – Full Court Press going out on submission.

June

6/2/15 – Jewels booked her flight to Little Rock!

6/10/15 – Chicago! Got to smooch Kat, Becky, Johnny, Katie, baby Lottie, and el Jeffe!

6/11/15 – Chicago part II – visit with Strokie at State Farm, Garrett’s Popcorn, and Lou Malnati’s pizza!

6/12/15 – RUSH at the United Center with Wild Bill, Jazzy Jeff, Dazed Dan, Kat and Carol!

6/17/15 – Terms with Kensington at good. Three book deal is a go!

6/21/15 – Father’s Day Italian beef, sugar cookies, and hoops with my boys.

6/24/15 – Kidneys and bladder passed their tests with flying colors.

July

7/4/15 – Annual viewing of The Music Man.

7/18/15 – DSRA, Café Cinco De Mayo, and pre-RWA mani/pedi.

7/21/15 – Surprise bonus at the day job just in time for my trip. 🙂

7/22/15 – RWA in NYC – I touched Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Such a lovely lady.

7/22/15 – RWA Literacy Signing.

7/22/15 – RWA with Karen B. – Up late girl talking. 🙂

7/23/15 – Kensington party – Cab ride with Sharon Struth, Terri-Lynne DeFino, and Sonali Dev.

7/24/15 – Harlequin party at the Waldorf Astoria – Nine authors, one limo. Danced the night away with Karen B!

7/25/15 – Ate a delicious Steakburger in NYC. You can take the girl out of Bloomington…

7/25/15 – RITA awards – two wins for Team Megibow authors!

7/26/15 – Sad news about my BeBe to start the day, but smooth travel with Renee N Kelly. Now home to my pillow.

7/31/15 – Turned in Flip This Love – 64k in 31 days!

August

8/8/15 – Amazeum in Bentonville to meet Sara Megibow.

8/13/15 – Jewels hits Little Rock. 3 Sams BBQ for PB pie. Shooting hoops in the back yard.

8/14/15 – Burgers, shoe shopping, Flying Fish, cardboard sledding and Willy D’s piano bar with Jewels, Joe and Deb!

8/15/15 – Took Jewels to DSRA for show and tell. Mexican food, Trainwreck, and bopper sundaes.

8/16/15 – Jewels, Kayson, and juggling.

8/29/15 – 1st round edits on Flip This Love.

September

9/15/15 – Going Deep release day!

9/27/15 – 12331 words at the DSRA writing retreat 2015!

October

10/13/15 – Flip This Love cover is FABULOUS!

10/13/15 – An offer on Full Court Press!

10/17/15 – I had a bunny. He made me very happy for a very long time.

10/28/15 – Entered Going Deep in 2016 ROTA awards.

10/28/15 – Signed 3 book deal with Samhain Publishing for Warrior (Full Court Press) series.

10/31/15 – Batman returns for trick or treating!

November

11/1/15 – 1st round edits on A Will and A Way.

11/4/15 – Samhain deal announced.

11/9/15 – Lulu bought a house in Missouri just to be closer to me!

11/12/15 – Watched WKRP turkey drop. “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.”

11/14/15 – Loblolly ice cream sundaes for lunch.

11/14/15 – Hogs beat LSU – always a good time.

11/15/15 – Dinner at Marketplace with the kiddos – chocolate mess sundae with my favorite little boy.

11/16/15 – 47th bday – New Kindle and Snoopy book on writing.

11/21/15 – Shared a teeny-tiny birthday cake with Mr. Bill.

11/22/15 – Playtime Pizza with the family for Bill’s double-nickel birthday.

11/26/15 – Thankful for a fun Thanksgiving.

11/27/15 – Finished 1st draft on Love and Rockets…finally!

11/28/15 – Joe and Deb’s wedding!

December

12/1/15 – More good publishing news (announcement to come in January).

12/2/15 – DSRA lunch and PHC party. Eat, eat, and eat some more!

12/6/15 – Christmas lights are finally up.

12/13/15 – I am a turkey roasting goddess. Who knew?

12/18/15 – Sally finally learned to play tug.

12/20/15 – My man bought me cookies after a long day of inventory.

12/25/15 – Family, little smokies, monkey bread, and I left The Isle up $5!

12/26/15 – Kidwell Christmas = Babies, babies, babies, and euchre.

12/27/15 – Bill became the fool who ripped his pants!

12/28/15 – Free bonus charm at Pandora.

12/29/15 – Brinda Berry proved that she is magic, like a unicorn.

12/31/15 – Dinner with my man, puppy play, yoga pants, West Wing on Netflix, football and Little Debbie Nutty Bar.

Whew! What a year! Thank you all for being a part of it!

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The jar is empty again and ready to go. My goal for 2016 is to top 100+ notes. How about you? Are you doing anything to tap into your happy?

 

 

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Monday Mayhem – Woohoo!

If you’ve been following this blog for the last few weeks, you know I’ve been struggling with my mojo lately. Well, I’m pleased to announce that the word drought has ended!

This weekend was the Diamond State Romance Authors annual writing retreat in Hot Springs. I was hoping the change of scenery, gathering of like-minded friends, and structured writing time away from the distractions of home would help pull me from this slump, and it did!

I set a goal of trying to write 5000 words per day and 10000 words total. Here’s my play by play of how the weekend unfolded.

Friday:

I was up and ready early, so I decided that I needed to use the time before I left productively, so I sat down in the recliner and didn’t move until I finished chapter four.

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Pre-retreat word count – 2214

We stayed at the Blue House on Lake Hamilton again

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I staked out the same spot as last year

And tried not to spend too much time staring out at the view

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We called Papa John’s to deliver and wrote into the night, stopping only when it was time for refreshment

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Word count before retiring to the hot tub – 2840

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Total Friday: 5054

Saturday we were up and at it early. The forecast called for warm temps and sunny skies, so this served as my motivation

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I managed to put up about 3000 words before this happened

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Then I wrote some more before we decided it was time to head for Mi Pueblito (aka: the gas station Mexican place) for fortification

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Word count before enchiladas and cheese dip: 4575

Word count while in food coma: 688

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Total Saturday word count: 5263

We knew we had to be out by noon on Sunday. We also knew many of us were close to our previously state goals, or close to a new one. Me? I realized I could make it to the the approximate halfway mark in my book if I could manage just a couple thousand more words. Fueled by the last few cookies in the Snoopy tin, I made it!

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Sunday word count at retreat: 2014

Total weekend word count: 12331!

So yeah, I’m home now and totally stoked to have made so much progress on the first draft of LOVE AND ROCKETS. I’ll keep plugging away at it, a little bit during the week and a little more on weekends and soon the bones of the book will be there.

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Happy Monday, everyone. I hope this is the most mayhem you’ll be forced to endure this week!

 

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Monday Mayhem – Gastronomic Edition

This weekend, Team Awesome took Little Rock by storm!

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Okay, the reality is that we ate our way through Little Rock. There isn’t a whole lot to do around here other than eat. My fabulous Jewels arrived on Thursday afternoon, and we had her snarfing real southern BBQ and peanut butter pie at Three Sams before we even took her home.

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Wanna know what else was on the menu?

A movie night feast fit for a Gilmore Girl!

Half-price shakes at the Sonic, David’s Burgers, the Flying Fish, Panera, Dunkin, Cantina Cinco de Mayo, movie theater popcorn, caramel pecan rolls, and of course….

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AND

 

Bopper sundaes from Shakes.

Yeah…so if anyone is looking for me, I’ll be over here having my stomach pumped.

Between meals we managed to squeeze in a little writing, a spot of shopping, some cardboard box sledding, a bout with some dueling pianos, a few hours with the Diamond State Romance Authors, and about 5 movies.

How about you? Did you indulge in anything particularly yummy this weekend?

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As promised…

I went to New York for 5 days to attend the Romance Writers of America national conference. Here are some highlights of my trip to NYC for RWA15.

Wednesday:

Travel was smooth as silk. After discovering that we’d be on the same flight, I hooked up with fellow writer Renee N. Kelly in Atlanta and we shared a ride into Manhattan together. I even brought Pocket Jamie along for the adventure!

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Got checked in, changed, and ready to head down to the Harlequin author Meet & Greet when who did I spy waiting for the elevator on my floor???

SUSAN ELIZABETH PHILLIPS!!!!!

I have no photo because, frankly, I was too busy trying to fangirl without actually dropping to the floor and worshiping the ground she trod upon. Those of you who know me know that I am wary of meeting my idols live and in person. I hate it when they disappoint me by being human. I’m happy to report that SEP is everything gracious and lovely. We had a nice chat on the ride down, and apparently no restraining orders were filed.

Wednesday night was the huge Readers for Life Literacy signing. Here’s my set up:

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My friend and roommate, Karen Booth was signing as well:

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Now, some of you may have noticed that there was no mention of food so far in my post. That’s because, other than a bagel at the airport, I had none. The schedule was so jam-packed, and I didn’t want to miss a thing to take time out to eat. You can bet your bippy I did once the signing was over. Back in comfy clothes, I ventured across the street to Junior’s Famous Cheesecake for fortification.

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Thursday was my busiest day.

I started out by attending some publisher spotlights and signings. Here I am with my new BFF, Lisa Kleypas.

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After offloading books and other goodies in my room, I joined my DSRA pal, Mia Kay, for a walk up to the Random House offices. There we had lunch and listened to their editorial team talk about their digital first imprints, Loveswept and Flirt. Here are some highlights from the walk up Broadway:

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Upon our return, I worked the line for the Kensington Books signing, handing out my nifty ‘How deep is too deep?’ promo buttons for GOING DEEP (September 15, 2015).

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Then, I ducked into a fabulous workshop on Conquering High Concept led by Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan, and Avon editor, May Chen.

After that, it was time for the Carina Press wine break, where I got to schmooze and booze with my fellow Carina authors.

The next thing I know, it’s time to slip into my party dress and head off to the Bowery district for the Kensington Books party at Duane Park jazz club. I was lucky enough to hook up with fellow Kensington authors Sharon Struth, Terri-Lynne DeFino, and Sonali Dev in the cab line.

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There were cocktail and passed hors d’oeuvers. We had a great time mixing and mingling with publisher, Steven Zacharius, and the whole Kensington team, including my acquiring editor, Martin Biro.

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Upon my return to the Marriott, Karen and I slipped into our PJs and headed downstairs for the Harlequin.com pyjama (they are Canadian, after all) party where we sugared ourselves up good before heading off to bed.

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Friday we hit the ground running with a keynote address from historical romance mega-star, Julia Quinn. After that, more spotlights and signings. Here I am with my fellow diamond, Elle James:

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And the always charming and glamorous, Olivia Gates:

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As the morning wound down, I slipped out of the conference to meet up with fellow Gilmorian and NYC native, Marla, for a fabulous lunch at Arriba, Arriba and my very first caramel frappachino.

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Back at the hotel, I slipped into a session on developing characters given the incomparable Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Copious notes were taken, but will make sense to no one but me. Then it was on to another publisher spotlight before I dashed up to the ninth floor to help set up for the Passionate Ink RWA speakeasy party:

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Sadly, I couldn’t stay long once the festivities started to heat up, because I was due to change and head for the historic Waldorf-Astoria Hotel for the Harlequin authors Black and White Ball!

There were a bunch of us in the cab line, so the doorman cut a deal with a limo driver, and nine of us arrived at the party in style!

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Once there, we drank, ate delicious desserts, then donned our dancing socks – yes, socks – and boogied the night away.

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I’m proud to report that my partner in crime and I shut that baby down!

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Saturday was tennis shoe day.

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It was also the easiest day in my schedule. I attended workshops and leadership meetings, slipped into a great seminar on dialogue led by Alyssa Day, Elizabeth Hoyt, and my other new BFF, Kristan Higgins (squee!):

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After that, the roomie and I decided it was time to slip out for a little John’s meatball pizza, and a walk in the lovely low-80s evening before dashing back to dress up one last time for the RITA and Golden Hearts awards ceremony.

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I had a few author pals who were finalists. so the cheering was loud and proud. So happy for fellow Team Megibow (kt literary) client, Tiffany Reisz. She won the RITA for best Erotic Romance for THE SAINT.

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She even let us touch her RITA. Very gently. And with great reverence.

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We shared a celebratory cocktail in the bar after the ceremonies, where I posed with my RITA. She’s a little smaller, and made of chocolate, but someday….

The following morning, I hugged my roommate extraordinaire goodbye while she stood in the FedEx line, then hooked up with my travel partner, Renee, for the trek back to JFK.

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And that, my friends, was how I spent my summer vacation. Want to share in a little of the loot from my trip to NYC? Over the next few weeks, I’ll be giving away goodies to random winners chosen from my mailing list and from my Maggie Wells Street Team.

Sign up to be a part of one or both today!

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Monday Mayhem – Frenzy!

First, let me just say:

 

 

The draft for FLIP THIS LOVE is complete, has been pre-edited, revised, and is now back with the ever-fabulous Jewels for another round of scrutiny. Which is good because this

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appeared in Friday’s edition of Publisher’s Marketplace, and my agent posted this awesome announcement on the kt literary blog.

Next up? RWA National Conference in NYC!

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Literally finished revisions Sunday, so I’ll be frantically packing for the next two nights. I can’t wait!

In the meantime, you can gaze upon this and we’ll all pretend we’re at the beach.

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I’ll be back next week with a full report!

 

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Monday Mayhem – One Click Edition

Hi all!

I’m here! Still in a full-on writing sprint whilst attempting to have a life. Silly me.

The book is going well. I’m chipping away at it bit by bit and hope to have the rough first draft completed by 7/15/15.

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In the meantime, I am preparing for my jaunt to NYC later this month to attend the Romance Writers of America annual conference. I’m super excited. Not only do I get to room with the fabulous Karen Booth, but I get to meet a bunch of other publishing biz friends and associates live and in person. It’ll be four days jam-packed with signings, seminars, speakers and soirees.

The downside to all that means I’ve been forced to do some clothing shopping. Those of you who know me in the three dimensional world, know that I loathe shopping for clothes. Add this crazy-pants deadline to my natural aversion and you can understand why I’ve been doing as much of my acquiring as possible online.

Dress at RWA National ranges from pajama party to formal. I’m trying to be strategic in my packing. I’ve picked a basic color scheme of black, white, & re(a)d. [sorry, had to throw the Gilmore reference in] I’m adding in some silver and everything (including shoes and accessories) will work around that.

Of course, I’m a chronic over packer. God forbid I get stuck without at least three days worth of extra underwear and socks (genetic flaw), and I live in fear of forgetting the one essential item that I won’t be able to procure in the nation’s largest metropolis. So, of course, I ordered packing cubes as well. They claim I can squeeze an entire week of tops into one neat and wrinkle-free bundle. I can’t wait to see if it’s true.

So yeah, when I’m not tapping away at the manuscript, I’m clicking away on the shopping sites. So far, I’ve hit all the usual suspects – Kohl’s, Target, and Amazon. Had a fabulous customer service experience with Zappos. The shoes didn’t work out, but they were so awesome about the order, tracking & return that I’ll definitely be ordering from them again.

So yeah, that’s where I’m at this week. What about you? Are you an online shopper? What are some of your favorites?

 

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