Friday, August 31, 2007

Girls rock and Mean Jeannies

Okay, so I'm slogging, slogging, slogging through revisions *more research, please* and stopped to lunch with writer pals this week. Super talented, all, and Emily McKay with a birthday, and I got her a super cool Rosie the Riveter tool set--okay, so Rosie had nothing to do with it, but it was chock full of tools, including hammer, nails, measuring tape and an electric screwdriver *the kind that screws stuff into walls, not the OJ and Austin-made Tito's Vodka kind, although, that would have been a nice gift, too.* Fellow Writer Gals Cheryl Rae and Jan Yonkin rounded out the week with a yummy noodle bowl--just call us #36, 37 & 38 *not ages, that's our noodle numbers...* Thanks for the noodles, Cheryl! And Jan just got back from El Paso with some fresh Hatch Chilis...gracias, chica, guess what we're havin' for dinner?

And Lexi Connor, I saw you posted, but I've been away from the computer, so here's a shout out to you--Hollah!

I've forgotten how girl friends can be such a tempting treat for the Muse. And speaking of M
uses, I've discovered mine has an evil twin--like the slutty, green-clad Jeannie of "I Dream of" fame. She looks an awful lot like my Muse, but when I'm away from the work for awhile, she comes in and has a party on my desk, messes with my stuff and scatters ideas and characters around that have nothing to do with The Book. At least she hasn't tried to steal my guy--but she is mean to him sometimes and says it's me.

I've got to make peace with this girl, because I've just realized she's been around forever, and I don't think she's going anywhere. Anyone know of a Jeannie Trap, maybe by Acme?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Bourbon, bananas and back to normal

The SAR chatter was right--Dean missed us, but is barreling in on Mexico. We dodged the proverbial bullet, but some of the guys are ready to head down to help sort things out after the storms. And, it was a pretty good drill, with a staging area in San Antonio, a good place south central to mobilize while missing the worst of the storms.

In the meantime, I'm finishing up revisions while enjoying some tasty Bourbon Banana Bread, which has been known to make the neighbors swoon. Baking is my default position when I get nervous. My grandmother used to wake us up in the middle of the night and say, "Who wants cake?"

Then we'd all tumble downstairs to clatter around with mixing bowls and big, wooden spoons while the scents of vanilla and bourbon floated along the stark, yellow light of the kitchen bulb. Our granddad (who slept in a seperate room) never emerged for the theatrics--either because he was *laying on his good ear* or because he was listening to baseball on the AM, drifting in and out of sleep.

And for those of you who asked...
Granny's Bourbon Banana Bread:
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 eggs
1 stick melted butter (cooled)
3 ripe, ripe, nearly rotten bananas
1 1/2 cup toasted pecans
3 shots and 1 tbl bourbon

Slug down the shot of bourbon and roll up your sleeves. Mix together butter, banana, eggs, and bourbon.

Mix together the dry ingredients (including the pecans) in a large bowl and fold the wet ingredients in, making sure you don't overmix. If you're tempted to keep mixing, go get another shot of bourbon and settle down.

Preheat the oven to 350-degrees and butter a loaf pan. Slug down your last shot and let the bread bake for about an hour.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Missing Texas

The buzz from several SAR buddies says we're not even close to being hit, but we remain ready, just in case. And, if Hurricane Gilbert that hit Mexico was any kind of example, we could have freak tornadoes. Hope not. Let you know.

Hurricane Readiness--Really?

So, this weekend, I was writing, cleaning house, getting ready for Novel in 90 Days and keeping a close eye on the weather, as Hurricane Dean is heading for the gulf, and may hit Brownsville in the near future. At least two Texas Search & Rescue teams responded to the devastating earthquake in Peru and now we're at the ready for a possible disaster closer to home. Sure enough, my phone beeped this morning with the readiness message--so while Brownsville battens down the hatches, we're gearing up the teams in case we're called.

In the mean time, Governor Rick Perry says, we, as a state, are ready. Really?

Remember the DISASTER of Rita, the "Tex-Odus," the completely unorganized trainwreck of an evacuation of Houston where people actually died sitting in 109- degree heat for 18 hours or more on Sam Houston Beltway and the resulting RoadWarrior-like battle for non-existant gas after being ORDERED to evacuate? My mother, brother and three of his children, as well as a neighbor's child (the neighbor came to the house and couldn't leave, but begged my brother to please, please take his child to safety) were caught in that sweltering heat in that horrifying death trap.

USA Today said, "Rita forced what could be the largest evacuation in U.S. history. Three million people fled in two states. Only Hurricane Floyd, which struck near Cape Fear, N.C., in 1999, comes close with an estimated evacuation of about the same number of people." However, in order to have an "evacuation," you need to actually provide the leadership to get people the hell out. Today went on to say, "What Rita may be remembered for most is the evacuation. As it swelled to a Category 5 with a predicted path over Galveston and Houston more than 3 million people hit the roads almost simultaneously."

What most people don't realize is that many Rita-damaged areas, like those ravished by Katrina, remain economically, ecologically and psychologically damaged beyond recognition.
Mr. Perry. I'll believe you're ready when I see it. Until then, you can bet our local SAR teams will be watching and waiting. We'll be ready, Mr. Perry. Will you?

One of the disasters of the Rita mandatory evacuation is that both sides of the freeway should have led north to get out of town, with emergency gas, water and medical provisions in medians.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Liz Taylor time and other liabilities

Okay, I got to Julie Kenner and Julia London's signing/Q&A at 3:30 (fashionably late, ala Liz Taylor time, but apparently, Mizz Taylor is passe after the demise of Sex & the City) and I wound up on the tail end of their big To Do at Barnes & Noble La Frontera this Saturday. So . . . the pics I promised are not forthcoming, but I have to say, a good time was had by all.

Despite my tardiness, I heard it was a packed crowd in the Starbuck's area *got my fave--a venti black iced tea--NO ICKY SYRUP* and shared a toasty, cheesy pretzel with fellow ARWA writer Lexi Connor. Want to hear more about the signing, visit Lexi at her super blog, which she updates way better than mine, and actually got there in time. Saw fellow ARWA'r Marj Allen off before her big trip to London; bought Julie's latest, Demon's are Forever, but alas, Julia's American Diva was gone before I got there. Ordered it, will report later.

In other news, the class for Writers' League is going well--almost sold out, so if you're planning on attending, get in touch ASAP.

I'm slamming though revisions, and about to pay a visit on a real morgue. More on that later. Have fun, and hope your week is filled with the things that make you happy . . .

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Writers, Meetings, Revisions, and still have a life?

This week I've had my nose to the digital grindstone with revisions, attended ARWA's monthly meeting, and got to pal around with writer pals Marjorie Allen, Jan Yonkin, Evelyn Palfrey--all lovely and as much a kick in the proverbial writing pants as a mint julep for made for two.

Thursday did the Writers' League-thing where Joe O'Connell, author of the recently released Evacuation Plan: a novel from the hospice, gave a moving account of his days as writer in residence at Christopher House.

I met and re-met some lovely, lovely people. Of course, the super swell April Kihlstrom, Queen of Book in a Week was there--look for some exciting news from her soon *how's that for a tease* Laurie Cosbey, who I met years ago when I was *cough cough* married and therefore, somebody else, was a dear, and new pal Greta L. Hillin.

Today, I powered through five pages this morning, R went off to Fredericksburg and property to beat back the wilderness *wish I could have gone*, but stayed to clean house and empty garage *ick--but not near as ICK as beating back the wilderness, esp. since the lawn mower's self-propel petered* but will be using house-cleaning time to formulate a scene in a funeral home I've been struggling with. Then, it's off to Barnes & Noble to support Fabulous Fellow Writer Babes Julie Kenner and Julia London, as they chat about writing and sign new releases Demon's are Forever and American Diva, both getting great reviews. Demon, of course, is the third in a series that began with Carpe Demon, which Julie K sold the rights to Christopher Columbus's 1942 Pictures. Can't wait to see that movie!

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Tonight I'm going to address the good people at Writers' League of Texas, at the Westlake Barnes & Noble. We'll be talking about the upcoming *sound of trumpets* Novel in 90 Days. I'm bringing a sample of the workbook, along with other fun stuff, including an intro on how to get started.

In the interest of fairness, I'm putting my rear in the hot seat, too. I will also be writing a Novel in 90 Days. Come and hold me to it! See you tonight!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Git 'r Done: Novel in 90 Days

You asked for it, you got it, now it's time to follow the sage advise of Larry the Cable Guy and Git 'r Done! Make the committment to your current (or next ) novel with Novel in 90 Days!
<-Proof You Can Do It!
Clear your calendar and roll up your sleeves to dig into this hands-on workshop to build your book, from brainstorming an irresistible opening hook to pounding out an ending that leaves readers breathless and wanting more.
Novel in 90 Days is a five-part workshop that gives you the tools you need to build your story and helps you find the time to get that novel done. Included in the course is the Novel in 90 Days Interactive Workbook that provides brainstorming tools, character-building worksheets, easy-to-use storyboards for plot planning, a revision checklist and Agent Quest and query tracking tools for your completed project. Attendees will have the opportunity to join an exclusive online writing community devoted to the 90-Day Novel.

Don’t spend one more minute wishing you were an author—make this the year you get that novel written!

Week One: There are only two things you need to write a novel. An idea and the time to write it. In Week One, we'll brainstorm ideas for books, discuss genre and market analysis to figure out where your novel belongs in the bookstore, and we'll look at the writing life to in a segment called, "How to find time to write when you don't have time to write." Next, we'll break down the first page--or hook--of a few bestselling authors to see what makes them tick, and then we'll brainstorm your novel beginning and set doable daily goals. We'll begin an online forum to track progress.

Week Two: We'll ask for volunteers to read their "hook" in class, and discuss strengths and weaknesses. Next, we'll look at plot and character development. Both of these segments include worksheets and tricks of the trade that will help you get to know your character and your story. Class will receive the tools to create an effective outline or storyboard for their book. We'll set manageable goals to meet before our next meeting.

Week Three: Volunteers will submit their outlines and discuss strengths and weaknesses and brainstorm "stuck" parts. Next, we'll discuss Goal, Motivation and Conflict, and different types of endings, including circular storytelling. We'll discuss the importance of chapter beginnings and endings, scene structure and the three most important pages of a book. We'll set manageable goals to accomplish before the next meeting.

Week Four: The call for volunteers continues, and we move on to Revision Took Kit, which includes a three part check list for revising a manuscript. We'll discuss how to crank up your conflict and punch up your prose for a non-puttable-down book. Again, we'll set goals for the next meeting.

Week Five: Agent Quest. Where do you find these elusive creatures, how to lure one from the mist and what to do with one once you've got one. You'll receive an Agent Quest Took Kit with information on questions to ask an agent, which agent is right for you and the quickest way to get your work in front of him or her. We'll also take a look at book contracts, marketing plans, print runs, distribution and the business end of publishing. And then we'll talk about the book we're writing next . . .

Friday, August 10, 2007

Get your wishes ready...

This is one of my very favorite times of year--the Perseid Meteor Showers. Just like the song says, "The stars at night shine big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas," but this time every August, they shoot across the sky en masse, and not just here, all over the United States. So get ready with your wishes!
I love these seasonal shooting stars so much that they figure prominently in my second novel, Dead Copy and will make appearances in upcoming novels. In fact, I've gotten a lot of email about the significance of the stars in the romantic scenes.

So, get yourself a bourbon and Diet Coke, snuggle up with your honey and make some wishes! What do you wish for? Wish for something wild and you could win a Cauley tee-shirt, fresh off the printer!

Photos from the University of Texas McDonald Observatory...check it out!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Big 'Doh!' moment ...and other writing breakthroughs

Okay, so I'm revising Book Three, trying to figure out what's wrong with it, and I was at the Magnolia Cafe, wracking my brain (never a pretty sight) when it came to me...I was having main character Cauley meet a confidential informant at an Austin area park. I wanted the park to be ultra-Austin, ie, wild, weird and completely unconventional, but, most of Austin's parks could be described that way. Originally, I set the scene in historically significant and slightly wacky Waterloo Park, but as I nibbled on Magnolia's extra yummy Voodoo Chicken, it hit me.

Hippie Hollow. What's more Austin than the only county-run nude beach in Texas?

Well, of course, this sparked a whole new level to the book, so, today I sat out in the back yard near the koi pond, listening to the falling water, dog at my feet, sangria at the ready, and I happily knocked out eight--count 'em-- eight pages today. Now, off to clean up and start dinner to cookin'. . .

Monday, August 6, 2007

Okay, for my pal Ed Morris . . .

Ed Morris at ForeWord Magazine wrote to tell me there were some Cauley-isms that gave him a grin or two in Dead Copy. Ever the curious gal, I asked which ones he liked most. Without further's Ed's faves, along with his comments...

*Thanks, Ed, you made my day :)*

"Apparently she'd skipped the silicone and gone straight to helium." (66)

"Same ho, different hoedown." (67)

". . . I believe if something was really worth doing it would have been done already." (83)

". . . like he'd been sucking glue sticks since the second grade." (94)

"Miss Preteen Tractor Pull" (100) (For all I know, that may be a common Texas honorific.)

"My heart did a little two-step around my rib cage." (121) (An arresting image.)

"Holding my breath, I waited for the other Ferragamo to drop." (135)

" . . . I could hear molecules bouncing around in my ears." (176)

" . . . sex with a man like that would probably be like Jet Skiing in a force five hurricane.' (209)

" . . . she smelled like fresh gin and the Old Testament. . . ." (248)

" . . . taking a corner so fast the G-force gave me Angelina Jolie lips." (253)

" . . . flashed him my second-best smile. . . ." (282)

" . . . a pair of black stilettos that have been known to make men beg for mercy." (293)

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Amazon loves RWA

Okay, I promised more on National, so here's the scoop on the Amazon panel. The Amazon gods spoke about utilizing Amazon plogs, AmazonConnect and Amazon shorts.

The Shorts, first. They said two very successful Shorts authors are Michael Palmer and fellow ChickLit loopie Lauren Baratz-Logsted. These two authors have written side-stories to books they've written, generating interest in the author, the book, and endearing the secondary characters to readers.

Now this one seemed super cool. AmazonConnect is a targeted blog feature where authors can post messages directly to their customers' homepage and to their own product detail pages. Authors can communicate directly with known customers who have purchased their books from Amazon. How cool is that? I'm pursuing this one...

AmazonConnect lets you have prime placement by surfacing an author's posts on their customers' home page, showing the three most recent posts by an artist on each of their product pages, along with a featured link to the author's profile page.

AND: If you already have a blog, you can use RSS to surface your existing blog directly to your Amazon customers via AmazonConnect.

Barnes & Noble Round Rock Signing

Barnes & Noble Round Rock Signing
My friend Pantera with Tahoe & Me

Tahoe and a new friend at the signing