January 1, 2015



The Monterey Bay chapter of the Romance Writers of America is now:

Monterey Bay Fiction Writers.

We can be found at:


and on Facebook at:



Posted by Barbara Cool Lee at 12:00 AM
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October 1, 2014



Well, today I received a black-bordered e-mail from RWA National that begins: “We regret to note that the final date for renewing your membership with Romance Writers of America (RWA) has passed. In accordance with RWA’s bylaws, your membership in the organization has been terminated.” 
      So ends an era that began in 1991. I wanted to write novels and, after every publisher in the country rejected my first, I was advised to join a writers' group and get critiques. I saw an ad in the paper for the local RWA Chapter and went to my first meeting where I learned why every publisher in the country had rejected my novel. I realized that I, a former editorial secretary with a B.A. in Creative Writing, had to go back to writers' kindergarten and learn the whole process from the ground up. (A business journal is not a genre novel.) 
      Lots of learning, lots of growth through good times and bad. Thanks to RWA I learned to write fiction (plots, character development, dialogue, pacing, POV) and tons of "how to be a writer" stuff, like critique groups, how to query and submit, identify publishers, how to find an agent, how to get rid of an agent. I felt really good about serving on the Board of my local Chapter, first as Secretary, then Treasurer, and for the past years as Newsletter Editor--again, lots of work but tremendous learning (I got to read all the articles posted to the Editors' loop). And I'm one of those nuts who enjoys obsessing over formatting and type-fitting. 


     Je ne regrette rien. 
     But sometimes one’s just gotta move on, so I chose not to renew my membership in RWA. 

Posted by Christie Maurer at 1:48 PM

December 18, 2013



CONTEST!  As part of the Harlequin Historicals Christmas Advent Calendar contest, go to my webpage (www.lynnabanning.net) on December 20th (my assigned calendar day) and answer the question.  The winner will receive a l a r g e box of chocolates and two autographed books, plus she/he will be eligible for the grand prize of a fancy, newest-model Kindle.

Posted by Lynna Banning at 3:34 PM
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September 4, 2013



My book is now up on Kindle. 

I'm learning a lot about e-book formatting these days. After I'd wrestled mightily to extrapolate instructions for Word/Win 2003-2007 to Word/Mac 2011, Kindle posted a free manual that turned it into a piece of cake.  I could hire a formatter, but these days I have more time than money, and, besides, I enjoy tinkering. 

Now on to SmashWords. 


Posted by Christie Maurer at 10:51 AM

August 23, 2013



I am now a Published Author--after 25 years of trying.  This morning I hit GO in Create Space to publish The Dark Lady's Stone on Amazon. I must've uploaded the manuscript to them 50 times, fixing little things. Like yesterday it was a typo in the Table of Contents. It'll be available for sale on Amazon in 5-7 days at $11.99 and also UK and European markets.
WHEE!


Posted by Christie Maurer at 10:59 AM
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July 11, 2013



My new book, Smoke River Bride, is the story of a half-Chinese mail-order bride who travels to the small ranching community of Smoke River, Oregon, only to find that the townspeople shun her
 . . . and how she fights back.


Posted by Lynna Banning at 9:31 AM
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June 10, 2013



Hi, everyone. This is test #3 to see if I've correctly set this up.

The Monterey Bay RWA chapter blog should now send a copy of each blog post to our chapter's email loop.

Let's hope this works!

~Barb

http://www.BarbaraCoolLee.com

Posted by Barbara Cool Lee at 2:29 PM
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May 11, 2013



After going to the trouble of establishing a pen name and identity I'll be self-publishing as myself: Christie Maurer. It came about sort of by accident. Last winter I sold a story, "Whitewood Kitarra," to Swords and Saga Press and, since my other stories had been under Christie Maurer, I kept that name. However--"Whitewood Kitarra" is a prequel to The Dark Lady's Stone, so it makes sense to keep the same name on the novel.
Self-publication is slowly coming together. Thanks to cover artist Sheri McGaffy http://sherimcgathy.com/sheri/book-cover-design I have a cover, and I love it. The image of the Dark Lady is one of my own paintings, originally intended to be the last true High Priestess of the goddess of waters. Sheri has done a number of lovely Romance book covers. I am awaiting my edited manuscript, after which I'll make the necessary changes, and...

Posted by Christie Maurer at 9:37 AM

May 1, 2013




I am blogging about my writing office today at Mid-Willamette Valley Writers. Feel free to stop by and tell about your actual or dream office:



Barb
Have you been to Pajaro Bay?

Posted by Barbara Cool Lee at 8:00 AM

March 17, 2013



Recently speakers at our Monterey Bay Chapter meetings have spoken positively about self-publishing and cleared away some of my misconceptions. It no longer has the stigma it once did and a former critique partner self-pubbed in the last year (Mary Holland/Bone Road). A birthday (we won't mention the number) and a health setback eradicated my last doubts. I've had a lifetime ambition to have a book out, so I've decided to self-publish The Dark Lady's Stone. I want a free-lance editor who is not familiar with it to check for grammar, spelling, punctuation, missing words, and major glitches (one can never see one's own mistakes) and I'll need a cover artist. No, I can't afford it, and I am not naive enough to expect to earn it back from a best-seller, but this is something I have to do.  I downloaded Smashwords guidelines and posted a request to Broad Universe re. editor and artist. I've had some excellent responses and I hope to make a decision soon.

Wish me luck!

Posted by Christie Maurer at 1:17 PM
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February 6, 2013





My local chapter mates convinced me to give Downton Abbey a try. So now we've just been through a marathon of Downton Abbey-watching: one episode a day from the very first one up to the most recent one.

And it has been making me think about series. What is it that makes us so addicted? Why do millions of people get so excited to watch the latest escapades of a fictional family who lived far away and long ago?

There's the fun of the settings, the costumes, the hairstyles, and the slang, of course. The fun of taking a peek into a world far removed from our own. But that kind of curiosity wears thin quickly, I think.

I think it's not the distance from our own lives that keeps us coming back week after week. I think it's the recognition of ourselves in the people: haven't we all known an Edith, who struggles to find a place for herself in the world while being overlooked by most around her? Haven't we all met a stalwart Mrs. Hughes, or a gentle but a bit out-of-touch Cora, or a crusading Isobel? Do we recognize the bitterness and rejection behind Thomas's nasty actions? And I hope we all have been lucky enough to know someone as quietly heroic as Mr. Bates.

I think the power of a series like Downton is in the links the audience builds with the characters over time. We argue over the choices they make, we root for them, we cheer and we boo at every new development in their lives.

It's a powerful thing for an audience to be invested in the happiness of fictional characters.

How can we bring that power to our own writing? How do we get readers so invested in the characters' lives that they boo when something goes wrong and cheer when it goes right?

I'm still learning, myself, but I think Downton Abbey shows that the flaws in the characters, their foibles, their little triumphs and losses, are at least as important as the main plot of the story.

I think a scene where Anna and Mr. Bates are kept apart is only powerful because we know of their long struggles. And watching Thomas cry real tears for the loss of another person is much more moving because we know how rarely he allows himself to care about another. It's the history we share with the characters that gives meaning to those small moments.

How do you build a connection between the reader and your characters? If you have the luxury of writing a series, and revisiting the same characters over time, how do you try to keep the reader invested in the lives of your story people?

~Barb

Pinterest:  http://bit.ly/12FqCXq

On my own blog this month I'll be profiling the "People of Pajaro Bay" on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and highlighting joyful things in life in my "Good Fridays" feature. You can follow the posts through any of the links above.



Posted by Barbara Cool Lee at 8:00 AM

January 2, 2013




The new year brings thoughts about new beginnings. So I was thinking about quotes on beginnings for January. Then I came across a quote that reminded me that sometimes the greatest changes stem not from beginning, but from ending:

"A well-known Zen parable tells of a wanderer on a lonely road who came upon a torrential stream that had washed out the bridge. He couldn't swim and was afraid to wade across, so he had to spend several days cutting down trees and vines with his small knife to build a raft. The raft he built was solid, and the heavy raft carried him safely across the flood. On the other side of the bank he thought, 'This is a good raft--if there's another stream ahead, I can use it.' And so, he carried the raft for the rest of his life." (Julie Morgenstern, When Organizing Isn't Enough: Shed Your Stuff, Change Your Life)

Is a new beginning for you about letting go of something old? For me it is. I am letting go of old patterns and old rules in 2013. I started this process in 2012, when I took the plunge into self-publishing. Now, since that has turned out to be one of the best career decisions I've ever made, I am feeling even bolder about letting go of other assumptions, patterns and ideas that I have outgrown. 

So for me, beginning 2013 is for chipping away at everything in my life that no longer fits me. It's about no longer hauling around old rafts that once served me, but no longer do.

How about you? What does beginning a new year mean for you? Do you have any plans, ideas, or dreams you want to make room for in your life (or any to let go of because they no longer fit you)?

~Barb

Pinterest:  http://bit.ly/12FqCXq

On my own blog this month I'll be profiling the "People of Pajaro Bay" on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and highlighting joyful things in life in my "Good Fridays" feature. You can follow the posts through any of the links above.

If you have a book release in 2013 and you'd like to be a Wednesday guest on my blog, email me and we'll set it up.

Posted by Barbara Cool Lee at 8:00 AM

November 24, 2012



Well, I didn't win the poetry contest. When I read some of the winners, I realized just how far I am from being a poet. What the heck. It was still fun to enter.

Posted by Christie Maurer at 3:02 PM
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June 9, 2012



This week I saw a post about the Science Fiction Poetry Association contest on the BroadUniverse listserve  http://www.sfpoetry.com/contests.html For kicks I checked it out and it looked feasible. So, what the heck, I went over my troubadour hero's two poems with a fine-toothed delete key and entered the one about Sacerdote Danestor and the Dark Lady Death. I won't hear the results until November, but oooo it's exciting to put something out into the world!

Posted by Christie Maurer at 10:46 AM

May 12, 2012



Yesterday I opened my blog, The World of Elisabeth Christie, to search engines.
Whew! Feels like stripping naked on Main Street.
http://world-of-elisabeth-christie.blogspot.com
It's got information about my fantasy world, history, maps (that still need tinkering), and some original paintings.
I hope people find it enjoyable and informative.


Posted by Christie Maurer at 10:22 AM

March 14, 2012



Great news! Gauchos & Gumption, my g

My grandmother's fictionalized memoir about running cattle in Argentina, is (at last) out in print! Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Turquoise Morning Press (www.turquoisemorningpress.com).

Posted by Lynna Banning at 2:14 PM

March 3, 2012



Today in the MBC/RWA meeting our own Carolyn Comings led a workshop on how to create your blog. I got so caught up in it that I tuned out much of the discussion and poked around with all the neat tools. At the end, I actually had a Blog! Granted, it needed tinkering--a LOT of tinkering--but when I got home I found it and was able to open it.

Then reality set in. I'd used a potential pen name and during the Google hunt I discovered a number of problems. Like the name I chose corresponded either to a playgirl or an official of some Italian-Romanian company. Further, the design sucked, I'd used the wrong e-mail account and a picture I don't like.

So I plan to abort it at birth and reincarnate it in a more pleasing form.

Posted by Christie Maurer at 5:31 PM

September 1, 2011



One of my favorite things is used bookstores. Visiting Ashland, Oregon, recently, for the Shakespeare festival, I wandered into Yesterday's Books and found a treasure trove of interesting western-oriented fiction. One, titled Pan Bread 'n Jerky, by Walter L. Scott, is an authentic collection of memories of the author who grew up and "thrived" in eastern Oregon, around Baker. This book is full of nuggets of information about mining, schoolteachers, crooked lawmen, and stalwart frontier wives.

Walter was born in Conway, Missouri, in 1882 and came out to Oregon with a wagon train in 1884. As a young man he broke horses, cut hay in the summer, did some freighting with a wagon and teams of horses in Baker, Grant, and Harney counties. This was the era when "each person roasted and ground his own coffee, ground wheat for flour, and largely lived off the land."

One interesting note about schoolteaching in the Old West: women schoolteachers earned $45 per year and usually boarded with a town family. Men schoolteachers earned $55 per year.

Posted by Lynna Banning at 6:13 PM

July 25, 2011



Last week I received a touching tribute to my writing. Most of my short stories end up as novels, but I did sell a couple fairy-tale themes to mytholog.com in 2003 and 2005.

I was waiting in the doctor's office when I got a call from my cousin Mary Alice's daughter, Pam, that her mother had just died after a long illness. They live in Massachusetts and we haven't been close in years--just exchanged Christmas cards--but she was Force of Nature who did everything 200% and was active almost to the end.

In a subsequent e-mails, Pam said that her mother died at home, under Hospice care, with four generations of family around her. In her last days, they read her one of my stories, "A Maiden's Heart," and it was as if I were there. Pam wasn't sure her mother was aware until she opened her eyes and laughed aloud.

I could not ask for a greater tribute to my work.

Posted by Christie Maurer at 9:14 AM

June 11, 2011



I'm going to the Historical Novels Conference next week; here's the pitch I'm preparing for the editor at St. Martin's Press:

High concept: On opposite sides of a war, a man and a woman find love in 12th C Spain.

Preamble: I have a completed 100,000-word historical romance novel set in 12th Century Spain at the time of the Reconquista, when the Christians were pushing Saracens out. Concurrently, the Cathar sect and the Catholic Church were also at war.

The “elevator pitch”: DAMASCENE ROSE is a love story between two people on opposite sides of conflicting forces, played out against the vibrant Moorish culture of 12th century Spain.

Story: A young Catholic novice, Malenda de Balanguer, is rescued from an angry Cathar mob by Saracen warlord Barik ibn Hassam. When her abbey is torched by the Cathars, Malenda flees to the Saracen’s fortress where she comes to appreciate Moorish culture and falls in love with Barik.

When Christian forces attack the fortress, Malenda is torn between her Catholic world and the Arab she loves; en route to safety in the north, she is kidnapped by a Spanish count who intends to wed her against her will. Again, she is rescued by Barik, and they marry. As was common in that time, Malenda retains her Catholic faith and he holds to his Muslim tradition.

They then flee south to Granada, which becomes the center of a peacefully blended Moorish, Christian, and Jewish civilization for the next 300 years. Known as the center of the Golden Age of Spain, Granada did not fall until 1492.

The author, Lynna Banning, has a background in history, specializing in the medieval period, and is also a musician who performs Sephardic and other medieval music. She has published 17 historical romance novels to date with Harlequin Mills & Boon.

Posted by Lynna Banning at 12:53 PM

May 27, 2011




Ups: I finished formatting of The Bride and the Bandit for the Wild Rose Press senior editor who requested it. And I'm planning promotion for Gauchos & Gumption, My Argentine Honeymoon, a novella/memoir which will come out in January 2012.

Downs: I'm starting the third (!) set of revisions for my "Chinese" story for Harlequin Historicals; tentatively titled Smoke River Bride, it's the story of a young Chinese mail-order bride who ends up in a small town in ranch country on the Oregon frontier. Harlequin liked the "Chinese" aspect; they want more conflict and more sex. The sex is easy. Ah well, to work...

Posted by Lynna Banning at 8:53 AM
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May 3, 2011



Ever since my wonderful SF/F critique group broke up a couple of years ago, I've been missing genre-specific feedback. Through clicking on a flash-fiction story noted on the Broad Universe listserv, I discovered that the author lives in the Santa Cruz mountains and I e-mailed her. Yesterday we met at Starbuck's and had a wonderful talk. Turns out we were both looking for genre-specific critique partners.

Last night we exchanged a chunk of our respective WIPs. My fingers are crossed that it works out.

Posted by Christie Maurer at 9:07 AM

April 29, 2011



In 2009 I did two things for myself. I joined a local writing group and I joined the Monterey Bay RWA. Both have been life-changing events.

My writing group kept me on track. For the first time in decades, without the obstacles of difficult children, treks to hospitals and juvenile courts, husbands who needed to be ex-husbands, and Corporate America, I kept a writing schedule. For the first time in my life I completed a novel.

RWA members taught me how to write a novel. They encouraged, suggested, red-penned, critiqued and didn't hold their punches. At the same time, they were always in my corner, urging me to keep going, keep developing my craft, and keep sweating the small stuff. Maureen O. Betita and Cat Grant dragged me to RT the beginning of April where the miracle occurred--I pitched well enough to get requests for manuscripts.

This morning I sent off the novel. I am proud of the work I did and I'm grateful for the groups I joined. Thank you.

Posted by Casey Dawes at 4:41 PM

February 19, 2011





After many long months of angst and annoyance, I’m happy to report that my new book, Lady Lavender, is at last on the shelves! Angst and Annoyance because it’s been three years since my previous book (Templar Knight, Forbidden Bride) was published, and I have the sweat and frown-lines to document each and every month of the interim period.

But no matter, the novel is here and I am celebrating.

Lady Lavender is a western historical romance about an immigrant French woman on the frontier trying to grow lavender (yes, they grew it in Oregon) to support herself and her 4-year-old daughter. The problem is the Oregon Central Railroad and the dishy exec it sends to gobble up her land, and her lavender field, by laying shiny steel rails right down the middle of it.

Hence, a romance blooms. For me, the “romance” derives not only from Jeanne and Colonel Haliday and their struggles, but from the early 1900's, when my mother was a young woman raised on a ranch in Douglas County, Oregon. I’ve visited the old Banning homestead, seen the barn my grandfather built - still standing but listing badly after all these decades. I’ve researched the Deer Creek School where my mother and her brother and sister went to school, tramped over the hills and meadows where she rode her horse and picnicked, and reveled in the feel of the land, the smell of the trees, and the whispers of long-ago stories.

The tiny town of Dixonville, Oregon, is the setting for my very first book, Western Rose (and all 16 of my subsequent works). Now there’s only a moss-kissed split rail fence and a post office - general store, but then . . .

Then it was alive with stories handed down from my grandmother and grandfather, Leora and Claude Banning, which to me grew into wild tales and imaginings about dramatic confrontations, dangerous exploits, and enduring love stories. And ended up as the characters in my stories. Western Rose, for instance, was based on the rather oddball courtship of my grandparents, both of whom grew up on Douglas County ranches.

Now I have a Big Fat Confession to make: recently I re-read this first work, Western Rose, and found that I still like it! I also re-read a later work, The Ranger and the Redhead. Ditto. O frabjous day!

Maybe I’ll soon work up the courage to re-read Lady Lavender. In the meantime, I’ve fallen in love with yet another story from that era and my favorite Oregon setting, and . . .

Posted by Lynna Banning at 1:28 PM
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February 17, 2011



I'm on my "who knows how many rewrites" of my WIP. I'm ably abetted by a critique group and our own Lynna Banning.

Right before I left for a short trip to Montana, my inner critic decided she'd been quiet too long and the bottom fell out of my writing world. You know the feeling. I'll never write anything good. No one will want me...why would an agent even listen to me...I may as well shut my computer, give it up, and get a J-O-B.

But sometimes a change of scenery is all you need. And going from Santa Cruz to Missoula in the winter was quite a change of scenery, although the below zero temperatures kindly waited to show up until we were on the plane south. I didn’t do much writing in Missoula, but regrouped, did some business and allowed my lungs to fill with brisk mountain air.


I’ve sushed my inner critic and gone back to my novel with renewed vigor. Sometimes when you’re stuck, walking away is the best thing you can do.




Posted by Casey Dawes at 8:01 AM
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January 5, 2011



A couple of days ago I posted a message about being strongly tempted to get a free copy of my NaNoWriMo "book" from "Clear Source" just to have a book to hold in my hand. I even included my attempt at cover art--a cobbled-together collage from some of my old paintings.

I just deleted the message. When I slept on it, I realized the whole thing was childish, an ego trip. Who in their right mind would try to publish a book they didn't want anyone to read? And furthermore, the publisher was Create Space, not Clear Source.

We all make missteaks.

Posted by Christie Maurer at 9:21 AM
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January 1, 2011



Yesterday my RWR came and I was pleased to see my Letter to the Editor. I'd commented on an article by Beatrice Small that discussed the history of romance literature and mentioned Sue Burke's ongoing translation of Amadis of Gaul.

It may be a teensy thing, but it is so gratifying to see one's name in print.

Posted by Christie Maurer at 10:05 AM

November 28, 2010



No, not THAT kind of contest... this one is easy!

Beginning December 1, the Harlequin Historical Authors are hosting a contest in the form of an online Advent Calendar.

You'll want to check in every day, because there will be new prizes each day, offered by the individual authors who are participating, and the more days you enter, the more chances you will have to win the final grand prize--a Kindle 3G.

And our very own Lynna Banning, who has a new book coming out in February, will be Miss December 1, so be sure and check her webpage that day, and follow the instructions and enter to win the prize!

Of course, there are eligibility rules, as in any contest, so make sure you are eligible before entering.

Posted by CrankyBeach at 4:54 PM

November 16, 2010



Founding member Suzanne Barrett's book "Late Harvest," a good old-fashioned romance set in the wine country of northern California, is just out in a new trade paperback edition! I had read it before, but even so, in re-reading this novel I found I could not put it down! Honestly--I kept putting off cooking dinner for just one more chapter.



This is a beautifully written work, chock full of meticulously researched wine-making lore.

Amazon Print

Amazon Kindle

Barnes and Noble Nook e-book

Multiple format e-book at Smashwords

Posted by Lynna Banning at 10:24 AM

September 25, 2010



The Nook is available at Best Buy, as well as Barnes and Noble stores, and of course via mail-order.

Looks like the Kindle folks have declared a price war, because now the wi-fi Kindle is $10 cheaper than the wi-fi Nook, and the 3G + wi-fi Kindle is (you guessed it) $10 cheaper than the 3G + wi-fi Nook.

The new Kindle has some nifty features, and a lot to recommend it.

But what finally sold me on the Nook was that, unlike the Kindle, the Nook is compatible with e-books checked out from public libraries online. Since I have library cards at 5, count 'em, 5, public libraries statewide that all have slightly-differing e-book collections, this capability is very important to me. Why buy a book if I can check it out of the library?

And by borrowing library copies of just one or two books, rather than buying them, I made up that $10 price differential almost immediately.

If, on the other hand, all you want to do with a reading device is buy books, download and read them, either device should work just fine for you.

A couple more advantages of the Nook. One, you can expand the memory by adding an SD card. Two, and VERY important, YOU, the user, can replace the battery yourself. Apparently with the Kindle, you have to send in the device to get the battery replaced.

Posted by CrankyBeach at 7:54 AM

September 8, 2010



Just learned that Target is the ONLY nationwide "brick-and-mortar" store that sells the Kindle in-store:

If you're tempted to buy the popular e-book reader from Amazon . . . but want to try it out first and perhaps compare it to Barnes & Noble's Nook . . . Target is the place to go: It's the only national brick-and-mortar retailer to carry it. The brand new Kindle 3, which is smaller and lighter than previous models, will sell for $189 at Target, the same price as at Amazon.com. "Look someone up in the store who knows how to work the device, so you can get a feel for it," suggests James McQuivey, a media technology research analyst at Forrester Research. If you've never seen someone use it, it can be a little bit tricky to figure out on your own.
 Just another public service announcement, for your perusal.

Posted by CrankyBeach at 9:29 AM

May 29, 2010



I did it! After searching lists of e-publishers, checking websites (lurid covers with naked bodies--no), reading sample contracts, etc.-- on May 12, 13, and 18 I submitted the Dark Lady's Stone to three likely ones. I tried to send it to a fourth but my submission bounced. (Scratch them!)

To my amazement, one editor got back to me in an hour with a question. I mean . . . when I've submitted other things to NY publishers, agents, and even e-zines it can take up to a year for a response. Fortunately the editor took the trouble to ask, she liked my answer, and didn't reject my mss out of hand. I should hear back in a couple of months.

I don't know why I've been shy about posting this but I guess it's kinda scary to send my baby out into the world. It's not that I'm afraid of rejection, it's more like I'm afraid of success--and the concomitant loss of privacy. I just Googled my name and was horrified at all the places it showed up on the web. I even found an artist and a poet with the same name! I'm thinking of taking a pen name.

Posted by Christie Maurer at 9:40 AM

May 25, 2010



I'm finishing up my western novella for Spring 2011 and am now starting to think about the "next" western plot. Or characters. Or something...
Carolyn Comings is revamping my website... I've joined Facebook as Lynna Banning.
My "Lavender Lady" western (will be retitled, I'm sure) will be out in February 2011... sound like a real writer, huh?

Posted by Lynna Banning at 1:01 PM
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May 24, 2010



On a tip from TYWKIWDBI:

You Deleted Your Cookies? Think Again


More than half of the internet’s top websites use a little known capability of Adobe’s Flash plug-in to track users and store information about them, but only four of them mention the so-called Flash Cookies in their privacy policies, UC Berkeley researchers reported Monday.

Unlike traditional browser cookies, Flash cookies are relatively unknown to web users, and they are not controlled through the cookie privacy controls in a browser. That means even if a user thinks they have cleared their computer of tracking objects, they most likely have not.

I installed a Firefox add-on called BetterPrivacy. If you read to the bottom of the article linked above, they have some other options listed.

Not, mind you, that I much care who sees that I browsed some photos at Flickr... but better safe than sorry.

Anyone besides me ever feel like they're playing whack-a-mole, trying to stay ahead of all the possibilities?

Cross-posted at the Coffee with CrankyBeach

Posted by CrankyBeach at 2:12 PM

May 3, 2010



And now it should look right for those of you viewing on widescreen monitors. At least, I hope it does.......

Posted by CrankyBeach at 11:12 AM

March 18, 2010



Progress, I think. I just received the (apparently) standard 4-page revision-request letter from England on my Western novel. This time, it's from my "new" editor, who is actually the head editor at Mills & Boon/Harlequin, and THIS time they don't want "rewriting or revising," just "tweaking" here and there.

So I feel as if I've hit a triple and am hovering on third base waiting to steal home.

Posted by Lynna Banning at 10:11 AM
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January 12, 2010



I just submitted "The Whitewood Kitarra" (alternatively titled "Tournament of Verse" or "Reputation" to Aoife's Kiss.

This story is a prequel to my WIP (The Dark Lady's Stone) and tells how my hero overcame his murky past and came to the Karaskan court.

Posted by Christie Maurer at 9:51 AM

January 11, 2010



I finally sent something out. Broad Universe is having a mailing party where members get a "ding" for each submission. The idea is to get women writers to submit those stories they've got stashed on their hard drives.

I knew I had to get off the dime and send something out. When one member posted that the anthology she's editing is looking for submissions, I polished up "Heritage," an Agatha Christie type short story, to which I added a ghost, and sent it to the Drollerie Press anthology on Ghosts. Their deadline isn't until March 31 so I may not hear right away, but what the heck...

Posted by Christie Maurer at 10:26 AM

December 26, 2009



I'm finished! My western is done and I've typed "The End."
Now I'm going to celebrate...
And then I'll start re-reading the 300-page manuscript for final revisions.
Happy holidays to all,
Lynna

Posted by Lynna Banning at 2:45 PM
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December 5, 2009



I'm on the last 100 pages of my western ("Lavender Lady") and sort of floundering around through the last steps of the "W" diagram (crisis, resolution, etc.)
I just received my San Francisco RWA chapter newsletter and in it there is an article (by Shelley Bates) about Alicia Rasley's wise words on how to end books.

Rasley is straightforward and specific: "End a scene after something happens, either a disaster or a surprise." And "Keep the emphasis on doing, not enduring bad things happening. Come up with four or five events and assemble them in an order that keeps up the pacing--easiest to hardest, least dangerous to most dangerous, leaast to most emotional risk or pain." [italics added--this is what is helping me through the muddle]

Posted by Lynna Banning at 10:18 AM
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November 26, 2009



For all those with posting privileges on this blog, here at long last are the instructions for creating clickable links inside your blog posts.

Let's make a link to our main chapter website.

First... be sure you are in "edit HTML" mode, not "compose". Now highlight the text that you want to make into a link. For this example, let's use the "chapter website" text above. Use your mouse to highlight that text, so it looks like this:


Next, click on the link button at the top of the blog post composing screen. That's the one that looks like this:

A screen will pop up that looks like this:


In the "enter url" box, type (or paste) the full web address for the site you want to link to, in this case, our chapter website. If you copy and paste the URL, you need to erase the text that's already in the box (just hit your "delete" key) and then paste the text. The advantage of this method is that if you have pulled up the site you want to link to, and then copy its URL directly from the browser's address bar, you are less likely to make a typographical error. Again, using the example of our chapter website, once you have pasted the text, that box should look like this:


Then click OK.

Now, the text for that section of your blog post entry will look like this:


And when seen in "real life," the words "chapter website" will be an honest-to-gosh clickable link.

Here's one more nifty trick, for the adventurous. The link we have created with the above method simply takes the clicker to the requested web page, within the same browser. A favorite trick of web designers is to make links open in a NEW browser window, so that while the person reading your website might wander off into new territory, you can get them to come back to your site by leaving your site open in the original window, while they wander off into a new one. Clear as mud? Nevermind. Here's how to do it.

Edit the text of the link you just created, so that it now will read as follows. I have highlighted the text to be added:


The text happens just before the > symbol, and there are no spaces in it. Since it's a little hard to read in the image, the text is as follows: target=_blank That's an underscore after the = sign and before the word "blank."

Clear as mud? I thought so....

I will create a separate link to this tutorial, on the sidebar, so that it can easily be found even after it scrolls off the main page.

Posted by Carolyn C. at 10:21 AM

November 8, 2009



I just read, with great enjoyment, Kathleen Dougherty's blog.
It's accessible through her website (www.kldougherty.com) [that's an "el" not a "one"], and her latest entry discusses dealing with change, in both stories and life.
It caught at my heart.
Lynna Banning

Posted by Lynna Banning at 11:55 AM

November 1, 2009



This year I really wanted to finish my WIP. It's darned good, if I do say so myself, and I wanted to keep the momentum. I'd decided not to do NaNoWriMo.


A few days ago I hit a block revising a key scene. And started thinking about that rough sketch I'd embedded in my 60-page Ancient World synopsis--Queen Vira. Five years ago my critique group virtually threw me out over that synopsis, but they did like Queen Vira. So I searched out the synopsis on my hard drive, found Vira, and copied her into a new file. Boy, did it need work! Two days ago, just for kicks, I set up a Scrivener project and hunted up my Ancient World map--still in AppleWorks, would you believe. I spent a couple of hours with EazyDraw, moving mountains and lakes, changing the course of rivers. It's such fun to play god(dess)!

Well, since I'd put in all that, I spent 6 hours yesterday revising the synopsis. Yeah, it'll fly! It's even a romance. So I signed up for NaNoWriMo. I checked in with the Santa Cruz Forum, downloaded the score sheet from truckpoetry.com, and can't wait to start!

Posted by Christie Maurer at 9:24 AM

October 31, 2009



And the blog, like its owner, is highly entertaining.

It is called "Argh Ink" and can be found here.

Posted by Carolyn C. at 10:55 PM

September 26, 2009



Blogger/writer Cara Ellison has some interesting thoughts on agent query letters, and on the writing process.

Just a taste, to whet your appetite:

1. Write a serious query letter. Do not try to be funny. Do not try to charm them. Be bland. Just describe what happens in the book.

2. Do not ever say that your book is super great, the next bestseller, etc. It’s just ridiculous sounding. Do not boast at all.

3. Do not compare yourself to other authors. You will lose.

4. Follow the agent’s conventions for submission. If she only wants paper queries, don’t send equeries.

And now, some of her writing advice:

2. Don’t drop us into action without giving us some time to get invested in the character. You’ll just confuse the reader. That said, get to the action right away. This is where skill comes in – you have to do two things at once – set up the character, and get the character into trouble quickly.

3. Make sure you have an actual story to tell. I realize this is basic but a list of events does not make a novel. You really have to have a central thrust.

4. Derivative works, basically copying a writer you admire, is normal for a first novel – but first novels are not meant to be published. Wait until every single thought you write down is completely your own before you start thinking about publishing (or as I say, empublishment.)

5. No more vampires, please! I’m sick of vampire stories!

6. Read widely. It will make you a better writer.

Also, be sure and read the comments on the post... especially the third one.

Posted by Carolyn C. at 9:23 AM

September 10, 2009



In a recent interview with author Lois McMaster Bujold she said the following:

Some years back, I read an interview with a forensic pathologist who made the remark that he’d never walked into a bad crime scene, the kind with blood on the walls, in a house with a lot of books. These disasters were all in book-free spaces. Makes sense to me—books give a time-out, a place of temporary escape till one’s spirits lift, not available to trapped non-readers. It suggests that genre fiction, which tends very much to be chosen by readers’ mood needs, is not so trivial in its social benefits after all.

Emphasis mine.

Get thee to the library forthwith and check out a good book!

Posted by Carolyn C. at 10:59 AM

September 8, 2009




The saloon, evolving from the pub or tavern, is simply a neighborhood bar. It moved west with the pioneers and gradually earned its reputation as a den of iniquity with card tables full of gunslingers, dancing girls, and barrels of whiskey. Life in those old days was difficult, and the saloonkeeper provided a place to “let loose” or just socialize.

In some towns of the Old West there were more saloons than churches. And in some tent cities sprouting up around gold or silver mining camps, there were more saloons than wooden buildings.

Saloons were the place a cowboy or a rancher or a miner (but never a lady) could drink, gamble, and maybe even get a girl. Some were just shacks (or even tents); some were fancy. The Silver Dollar Saloon in Leadville, Colorado, had a mahogany bar, tile floor, and a real cash register. Abilene saloons featured glass doors, paintings of Renaissance-like nudes, mirrors reflecting rows of whiskey and brandy bottles, polished brass spittoons, and often a green baize gaming table. Abilene in 1871 had a population of only 800, but the city made millions on the 11 saloons that served 5,000 or more cowboys driving longhorns up from Texas to the Kansas railhead.

A glass of beer cost a nickel; two drinks (often watered down) cost a quarter. Hard liquor had some spell-binding names: Tarantula Juice, Skull Bender, and Red Eye that would “make a hummingbird spit in a rattlesnake’s eye.” Sheepherder’s Delight contained clear alcohol, plug tobacco, prune juice to add color and taste, and a bit of strychnine “to enhance the jolt.” The original Tom & Jerry originated in the Old West: whiskey, a raw egg, sugar, and milk.

The saloon stayed open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The sound of gunfire was common, as was piano music plunked out by a musician who doubled as bouncer and, in the really fancy establishments, a woman’s voice singing “Oh Suzanna.” The voice was usually attached to a “fancy” girl who waited tables, entertained the customers (often in the private back rooms), and sang for her supper

So music-starved were saloon clients that an Idaho City Irish fidler had a performing platform built, rigged it to the ceiling by pulleys, and whenever a gunfight erupted, he simply had himself hoisted aloft and played over the noise.

Prize fights were often held in saloons because they were the largest buildings in town. In Cheyenne, in 1867, one memorable prize fight went 126 rounds, each round lasting until one man knocked down the other. The purse was $1,000.

Saloons could be the core of a community. In some towns they had the only women in the area--dancers and “calico queens” as shady ladies were known. Sometimes an enterprising owner added a stage to present variety shows or short plays. Gradually some of these performances moved from amateur to professional theatrical performances; Lillie Langtry (an English courtesan) was a big hit playing Cleopatra and Salome’s Dance of the Seven Veils.

One saloon owner turned his establishment into a theater featuring both local productions and professional performers from the East, including Lotta Crabtree. A serious production (Shakespeare’s “Richard III”) would be followed by a farce. The Taylor Family Troupe, performing in Dodge City, was a big hit as well, as was Eddie Foy. Foy, a wisecracking song and dance man, was riding high until he composed a ditty which poked fun at certain members of the audience: Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and Bat Masterson. The lawmen captured Foy with a rope and ducked him in the horse trough.

San Francisco was the wildest of saloon cities; during the Gold Rush, the population of the city was 90 percent men. Massive shipping through the Golden Gate brought people from China, Brazil, Russia, and points inbetween. Life was hard, work in the mines was back-breaking, and everyone wanted to “make it” one way or another. The most successful of entrepreneurs were those who “followed the money.” Such men made millions of dollars off the millions of miners trying to make their own millions: foremost among these were (1) the manufacturers of denim work pants and (2) saloon-keepers!

Long may they reign.

Posted by Lynna Banning at 10:48 AM

August 30, 2009



Yesterday I downloaded a book from Kindle onto my iPod where the author did not follow a single one of the rules:

* Begin in a place of action, drama, danger.
* Your first sentence must hook the reader.
* No prologues.
* Show your hero(ine)'s goal, motivation, conflict.
* Reduce the narrative--reveal character and plot through dialogue.
* No infodumps.
* Show don't tell.
* Dribble in your back story. You must carry your action forward.

And the one that says the hero and heroine must meet within a certain number of pages.

This book has a long prologue--a narrative historical, sociological, and geographic study of the inhabitants as well as page after page of back-story and info dump giving two versions of a past conflict that was long ago resolved. The third part of the prologue is a catalogue of scholarly studies and sources for this information.

Chapter 1 beings with a long description of a character in a bucollic setting who has a few minor conflicts with family and neighbors that he easily resolves. There is also a lengthy back story about his nephew. And I saw only a few scraps of dialogue. Their main goal seems to be to give a party. Heroine? None in sight. E-books aren't paginated, but I'd guess by now we're 30-40 pages in.


This book was only published because the author was good buddies with the editor who did it as a personal favor. Yet the first time I read it, summer of 1968, I ripped through the whole thing in 3-4 days. Picked it up on the way home from work Friday night, read while cooking, eating, in the bath tub, on the jon, in bed. I barely slept. Read, dozed, read, dozed. Brought it to work Monday and kept sliding open my desk drawer to read just one more page. I must've read it a dozen times. It's been called the most influential book of the 20th Century. It was made into blockbuster, Academy Award winning film(s). Now it's drawing me in again, and I'm coming back to some dear old friends.

Oh there is a hint of a larger conflict in the prologue: "Though [Gandalf] did not say so to Bilbo, he also thought it important, and disturbing, to find that the good hobbit had not told the truth [about finding the ring] from the first: quite contrary to his habit."

Posted by Christie Maurer at 11:16 AM

August 24, 2009



Listening to Quentin Taratino talking about his new film, I wondered about the creative process. He worked on it for over 5 years. Gerry said just write the action and fill in the description later. I would like to know what the rest of the group prefers to do.

I will demo the Kindle, now that I feel more confident in it. Primarily Naomi Noviks 4th book and others will be shown.

Posted by Unknown at 5:37 PM
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Talked to Gerry asking,"Do we need a new penname?" Me and Mrs Jones popped into my head but Garrett Jones might jump start Gerry's creative juices. I think it must be emasculating to write with the implication that we are a female team. At least with Garrett we establish the guy in the team.
What do you all think? Let us know at the meeting.
Naomi

Posted by Unknown at 5:24 PM
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August 17, 2009



Awful Library Books is a blog maintained by two public librarians, in which they showcase, um, questionable CURRENT titles in various libraries' collections.

One of the most fascinating recent posts has to do with a 1972 book about computers, which currently lives in a school library somewhere in Britain. How many of us remember this sort of setup?


Posted by Carolyn C. at 8:56 PM

August 13, 2009



As it is, I've read 8 books on Kindle. I seem to do everything by fits and starts. Read but don't write. Watch On Demand season finales all day. Now this has extended to not going as heavily on Kindle2 as I was doing before. DH brought home a Mystery Guild ReJoin bulletin therefore we are going hardcover with some books again.
This extends to diet, bill paying and all the other stuff that keeps us going. Seems as if my on/off switch is a tad bizarro and occasionally shorts out.

Amazon continues to be a problem for some. The reality is if we try to link through and buy anything from any other website including author's websites, it is ridiculously laborious. IMHO, we don't need it and won't benenfit from it.
Don't think Amazon wants to share revenues with anyone.

Posted by Unknown at 9:55 AM
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July 31, 2009



I've been dying to get a Kindle but couldn't afford it.

I've got several e-books and stories on my Palm Zire 21 (convenient when I have to wait somewhere) but I have to squint at the fuzzy type and it's hard to maintain continuity on the small screen.

My E-Bookwise Reader is heavy and there's an awkward bulge on the side. Further, every time I look for a book I want they don't carry it, either in E-Bookwise or Palm format. When I look at amazon.com, Kindle does--and cheaper.

Last week someone showed me an iPod Touch. It's beautiful! A clear, readable screen. It has the features of an iPhone without the phone--address book, calendar, scheduling (synch with iCal and Address Book), web browsing, iTunes (listen to music)--and you can get free apps for Kindle books, Palm format, Barnes & Noble. And the price is comparable.

I posted queries to BroadUniverse and MacWomen. Have you tried Kindle and Touch? Do you like them? Any caveats? So far, the votes are all for iPod Touch. People who have them love them. Why spend the $$ for a device that only does one thing when you can get one that does lots?

Next month I'll have enough WorldPoints to cash in (like found money) and treat myself to the iPod Touch.

Posted by Christie Maurer at 8:43 AM

July 30, 2009



Just when you think nothing is ever going to change...

Yes, groan, the western proposal (Summer Charade) I submitted to HM&B
was rejected; no surprise there. What was surprising was being
asked by the head editor (not my regular editor) to submit a 1-page
story outline for a NEW western.

To be honest, I am wearing thin. BUT I have a new editor! Even though
she's English, she liked the new western frontier story outline, so now I'm writing
the first 3 chapters/50 pages to submit to her, under a September deadline.

It isn't writing that is so difficult... it's writing what is wanted.

Posted by Lynna Banning at 10:53 AM

July 14, 2009



Greeting me when I went to order Kindle books was Templar Knight Forbidden Bride, I purchased it immediately. I have my first Lynna Banning Kindle book.
Looks as if I will be reading lots of historical fiction now.

Having just finished Naomi Noviks Free Kindle book, His Majesty's Dragon, I went out to buy more. Her Dragon Series during the Napoleonic wars has been optioned by Peter Jackson of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It should be smashing since it is action packed. Propriety with the English Naval Captain thrown into a rough and tumble Dragon training camp. Romance is hinted at but mostly it is detailed action which Jackson can translate to the screen.
I have been waiting for Dragonriders of Pern forever but I'll forget them now that I have a whole new set of dragons to like.

BTW it was the first name Naomi and the fact that the book has Dragon in the title that made me order it. PLUS the first book was free. You can tell the author wrote games for computers (Graduate work Columbia) but gave it up for writing (bachelors at Brown in Literature).

It is a bit dicey trying to figure out how to order using a combo of Amazon website and the Kindle itself. Experimentation is a priority. I ordered five books at one time. Lots of flipping back and forth to figure out what was actually going on.

Posted by Unknown at 10:21 AM
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June 30, 2009



I'm taking an on-line class on Vikings in Scotland via the Celtic Hearts Chapter. Key backstory in my WIP is a Viking-like culture, so, what the heck, I might as well learn a bit. I'm learning a LOT.

Some of my instinctive details are right on--like Dragon Ships. That was what they called the big war ships. Now I know how many men they carried, but I may have to modify the sails. My pseudo-epic is a modern-type story with a plot and skips the battle scenes. Real sagas started with the characters, their geneologies, and had lots of fighting.

A participant's post turned me on to Tyr, a Faroese heavy-metal rock band that performs songs based on their Viking heritage. They sing in Icelandic, Faroese, Norweigan, etc. Now, I prefer new-age, medieval, classical, Dylan, Joan Baez. I checked Tyr out on iTunes--they're terrific! To my amazement I got hooked and downloaded several songs, and can't stop listening.

Posted by Christie Maurer at 10:07 AM
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June 28, 2009



Having demonstrated Kindle to my doctor. I'm pleased to say I've learned some tricks on using it. Reading only one book at a time. Use it in the daytime. Get the larger version might be better. Finally learn to live with no pages. One has to be content with the percentage figure that is displayed.
Don't rush to buy accessories. I'm not crazy about the case but it is okay. I would prefer to have something that I could carry everything in.
But it beats piling up or losing books in the house.

Posted by Unknown at 10:25 AM
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Landscaper removed a tree in our front yard. Feng shui and all that, we wanted it gone. Had replaced it three times already. I was thinking about the flow of money and ideas.
Actually this probably started Memorial Day when my son and family came up and initiated some issues then father's day emails between others with daddy issues.
The issue was probably simmering my whole life. It helped to start a resolution to an inner conflist that has been with me since I was 18 months old would be the first daddy/mommy problem. It explains why I have been wary of men and women my whole life. It established a pattern that was repeated my entire life.
All sorts of ideas have been flooding in, including business ideas.
Had already signed for two online classes in July but then I went out and got 2 DVDs from Sol Stein and John Truby. Gerry and I attended the Truby workshop in LA before we got married.
BTW Carolyn - I had to experiment with the blog in order to figure out how to use this sucker. Lets hope it worked. Not that it is worth anything.

Posted by Unknown at 10:07 AM
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June 19, 2009



According to the folks at Yahoo! Finance news, a rise in romance novel sales is one of the "10 quirky indicators" that the economy is still in the porcelain fixture.

The economy has broken your heart and stomped it to pieces and now you need to put it back together. At least that's what Harlequin, the giant romance novel publisher, says is happening. In 2008, Harlequin's sales were up 32% from the year before. In 2009, its sales are still rising.

The publisher credits this its uplifting stories that offer a haven, and to the low prices of the books relative to other entertainment. This theory has stood the test of time. Harlequin saw a similar sales increase during the recession of the early 90's. So if these stories start piling up unwanted on the discount table at the bookstore, alongside all those mis-timed guides to real estate riches, better news is on the way.

We report, you decide.

Posted by Carolyn C. at 7:27 AM

April 18, 2009



Hooray! I just finished two brand new chapters for Stone. These are "relationship" chapters, and it was like pulling teeth. I'm going over them for glitches, but I think they're almost ready for my critique group.

Posted by Christie Maurer at 9:52 AM

April 13, 2009



Harlequin is celebrating its 60th year by offering 16 free titles for e-book download.

The offer is probably time-limited, but the limitation is not specified on the website. Get them while they're available!

Posted by Carolyn C. at 10:33 AM

March 25, 2009




Song of My (groan) Self

What makes me weep
And tear my hair?
Gnash my teeth
And scream and swear?

What is the cause
Of such a mess--
Of feeling dumb
And worse distress?

Deliver me from wimpy verbs,
Fragments and elaborate puns.
Save my spirit and my brain
OH, RESCUE ME FROM THESE REVISIONS!

Posted by Lynna Banning at 11:18 AM