Sunday, December 28, 2008

100 Words

That's all I'm looking for today. Considering I haven't written since the day before my granddaughter was born, 100 words would be progress.

Since Aubrey was born, what have I gotten done? Well, besides the grandmotherly things (like watching her occasionally while her mom & dad rest, helping to sterilize her bottle and helping out with washing her stylin' little clothes, and staring at her gorgeousness for hours on end), I've been TRYING to be good. In WeightWatcher-ese, that means trying to stay OP (on program). Not doing so good, especially tonight when we had "potpourri"--a little bit of this and that, leftovers. I have, however, been squeezing in time at the gym and hourlong walks at least 4 times a week.

And I've been doing a lot of cooking, like a lot of mothers-slash-grandmothers out there. Yesterday I cooked a ham at Joey's request, knowing our older son was returning to Jersey after visiting us for Christmas. His younger brother Brandon (Aubrey's daddy) came downstairs, dressed for work, and said, "Mom, dinner smells AWESOME." You know, you can use every air freshener out there, but nothing makes a house smell homey and inviting like the scent of cloves, which I used to spice up the ham.

Before that it was the pernil, the roast pork, served with rice and beans, the traditional Cuban Christmas Eve dinner, actually prepared for Christmas this year. I don't know, but it just wouldn't be this time of year without pernil, rice & beans!

But now it's back to taking "human bites," to quote an old commercial for a Broadway play that they aired some years ago on TV. It's back to writing, back to my WIP, maybe to get to work on a new idea. I know I can't be the only writer out there heading back to their respective writing tool, be it a computer, an AlphaSmart, a notebook, or papyrus leaves. My only writing resolution for next year is to write SOMETHING, doesn't matter how many words ends up on that paper, but write.

WRITE. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. With the exception of, say, the dinosaurs coming back or something.

Oh--and the major non-writing goal would be to stay OP. OP, OP, OP.

Except maybe on New Year's Eve, when we'll just be having a quickie dinner of a cheeseburger, fries, and a milkshake.

Now it's off to meet with my characters!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

"Rules" in Writing Were Made to Be Broken

There are people who love rules. I mean, they love those suckers. Remember that kid in school who always got that superior little tone in her voice when she admonished you with, "Oooooh, we're not supposed to do that! That's AGAINST THE RULES!" I don't know about you, but I often came away thinking, "Okay, well, if I ever break that rule, I am so gonna make sure Little Miss That's-Against-the-Rules doesn't hear about it."

You can imagine how annoyed I was to learn that there were "rules" when it came to writing, too. They weren't always called "rules". Probably because the word itself isn't considered cool. It's also an interesting phenomenon, but there are writers who do like rules. They seem to see them sort of like recipes; if you know exactly how many eggs you need to put in, how much grated Swiss cheese, the precise amount of milk, then you'll be pulling a perfect, yummy Quiche Lorraine out of your oven.

Except we're dealing with stories. We're dealing with the muse. It's not a quiche, folks.

Incidentally, The Rules are not to be confused with publisher guidelines. There's also a difference between good critique and rules that are downright bizarre. Here's a few dillies I've heard over the years:

1. Make sure you fit a baby into the book. Now I LOVE babies. See my previous post about my granddaughter. But squeezing a baby into every single book you write, with the express purpose of selling the book, kind of dictates what's going to happen in that story. It's a little hard to write about a town visited by a big, strong, handsome alien, for example, if you've gotta have oh-look-they're-having-a-cute-little-bouncing-baby-boy scene here and there. It also makes the baby into a sort of gimmick. This was a Rule that was really big some years ago, and I guess, if like Marisa Tomei's character in My Cousin Vinny, a reader's biological clock is doing some serious ticking, then 150,000 books with babies in them are called for. I notice, though, that this Rule isn't followed that much these days in newer releases.

2. Make sure the hero wears protection. An editor actually did tell me that once. Obviously, not the same one who touted having a baby in every book. "It's the responsible thing to do," she basically said. Of course practicing safe sex is being responsible--except a romance novel is supposed to be fantasy, an escape, not a public service announcement. It's also very difficult preaching to your audience while writing a scene that is supposed to be spontaneous and passionate. That editor is no longer in the field, by the way.

3. Never use judgment words. This was a writer who, as far as I know, made up this gem. What was meant by "judgment" was that you're never supposed to call a hero "handsome" or "sexy"...a good writer is never to describe a waterfall as "beautiful"...a good writer doesn't remark that a heroine was listening to a "funny" song. The writer who actually did say that "good writing doesn't do that" stressed that you can show the waterfall as being beautiful, and yes, you can do that. But I've seen better and more beloved writers than the one who insisted on this rule use "judgment" words--sparingly, but they've used it. I'm a stickler for preferring to use "he said" and "she said" with sparse usage of words that follow like "angrily," "loudly," "bitterly," etc. Yet I find the "Never use judgment words" rule to be one of those rudimentary, objective things that might work well for one person, but there are other more important things to focus on in the creation of a story. This is one of those rules that you can follow, you can omit all the beautiful, gorgeous, sexy, and so forth that you want--but that's not what will make good writing better. I wish it was that easy! Again, this ain't quiche, folks.

4. You have to find the right place to start for a story. That rule is true, but the person who told me that one made it sound like you have to agonize over that beginning scene. No--they BELIEVED you have to agonize over it. Contrast that to a tip I've heard attributed to Nora Roberts, who said (and I paraphrase), "With writing, you have to throw it up, then clean it up later." In my personal experience, I've found that to be true. You find the most interesting place to start, but you don't agonize for it to drop from Heaven. (It'll come as a surprise to the writer who swore this Rule had to be adhered to, but trust me, Heaven has more important things to do.) Get that story out. If your characters, who by the end of their story you'll know them a lot better, tell you the story starts out in a different place, you can always go on back to the prologue or Chapter One and change it. Agonizing over the beginning is no fun. And writing should be fun.

5. You can never rewrite too much. Oh, yes, you can. You SURE can. This is a sacred cow with some folks, too. I put this in the same category as washing your hands three times before pouring yourself a glass of milk. Again, this is my personal experience, but if you rewrite a story--and I'm talking about rewriting it from scratch, as some writers neurotically do--twice, and that baby doesn't work, then it just doesn't work. Period. Also, there is a BIG difference between editing and polishing and rewriting. I'm not suggesting a writer send in a first draft, which typically guarantees rejection. There are sections that always can use reworking; there are sections a writer will realize are unnecessary, or your inner editor will tell you, "The heroine would never do that" now that you really know her. Those are sections you either rewrite (sometimes, yes, from scratch), or you eliminate them completely. I know--I've ripped out whole sections that I knew would have affected the rest of the book or story adversely, and then I was able to take it in a better direction. But rewrite the whole thing over and over again? The result is rarely a better story. The object of editing and polishing is to enhance, never to erase the creative blood and soul. That's the art of storytelling, not rewriting a piece to death.

And there are a lot of other crazy rules, but these are just some of the crazier ones I've heard of.

And broken.

Had fun while I did it, too.

Our Family's Newest Addition!

These last few days of December have always been my favorite time of the year. Besides that being time for two of the biggest holidays--Christmas and New Year's Eve--I've always considered it a time of reflection and hope. Reflection, because you look back on what kind of year it was, what you were able to accomplish (or didn't get to do). The ups and downs, the excitement, the disappointments or mishaps along the way, the adventures and new discoveries. And hope, because next year holds new possibilities, new adventuries, new chances and new memories to be made.

This year is unique, and its last few days have been especially happy and thrilling, and all because of our first grandchild. That's Aubrey Lynn in the picture above, with both her Grandma (me, on the left) and her "Nonna" (the affectionate term for grandmother in Argentina), Mercedes. It must've been the Cuban side of her, but the little lady was late! She finally burst into our lives like a tiny shooting star on Wednesday, December 17, weighing in at 9 lbs. 1 oz.

Needless to say, my newest WIP, Sundown, has been on hold since Wednesday. LOL! And I was being really productive up till then, too. Plus, I've got other irons in the fire. Things have quieted down some, so I may have time to get a chunk of writing done tonight. Sitting here in my home office, I'm aiming to get at least 500 words down tonight. That should get me back into the swing. My goal for 2009 is to write 2 books (of varying lengths), plus a short story anthology and a novella.

That's a tall order for a brand-new grandma whose favorite pastime is staring & smiling at her beautiful little grandchild! I was in awe the first time those two words came out of my mouth, too. I'll always remember that moment, when Aubrey's grandpa and I stopped off to pick up a cheeseburger for her daddy to bring back to the hospital for him, and I told the young kid waiting on us that we were headed back to see our granddaughter.

WOW. Our granddaughter.

Knowing that she is now a big part of our family and our lives, that really makes me look to 2009 with joy, hope, and a heart that can't help but sing.

In case I don't blog again before the end of the year, I'm sending out wishes for a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Waiting for Baby

Our granddaughter, Aubrey, was due TWO days ago. Both of our sons bounced into the world 3 days before their respective due dates, so I'm not used to this. With this little girl, I was antsy the DAY she was due. I'm the same woman who, back when I was a new writer, would check to see if the mailman had left me any news, good or bad, 10 or 12 times before lunch on a Saturday. If we had someplace to go, my husband would practically have to drag me out the door, telling me, "I'm not waiting for that guy all day!"

So in the meantime I'm avoiding housework, sprucing up my blog, getting ready to do Christmas-y stuff like wrap gifts, write a grocery list, trying to squeeze in time for an hour-long walk, plus get something done on my new WIP, all before we head out to a birthday party for our grandbaby's twin cousins, Anderson & Alexander. My WIP is 22,616 words long (yay!!), which means that if the word count stays at the targeted 75,000, I've got about 52,000 words to go. My deadline to get that done is January 31, 2009--or sooner.

But that all depends...since I'm going to be busy with my soon-to-be new best friend, whenever that little lady gets here!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

From the Mother of the Groom...

Just a quick little note on my blog (which has been waaaaaaaaaaay overdue in being updated), but I wanted to announce the joyful news that our son, Brandon, and his fiancee, Yesica, are getting married next Saturday! His big brother, Joey, will be the best man.

Considering I was so afraid of this age--my mom passed away at 48--I'm really touched and delighted that this year has brought so many blessings. I'm grateful that Brandon's marrying into Yesica's loving family. We're all looking forward, together, to meeting little Aubrey Lynn when she arrives this December!

More notes later. This will be a REALLY busy week!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Changing Face of Publishing


I was 33 years old in 1993 when I decided to finally pursue my dream of becoming a published writer. My life was already full then, with a husband, a full-time secretarial job, one son who was nine and the other a little guy of six. But since this was something I wanted with all my heart, something I’d wanted since I first began writing around the age of 9, I was going to make the time to do it, one way or another.

My mind was made up: I was going to become published.

Fifteen years have passed since I bought my first copy of The Writer's Market. I don’t recall the exact price of the book, us old chicks don’t have the best of memory; something like $20 or so. What I do remember was that I considered it an invaluable investment in my own career. For me, someone who had no idea what she was doing initially, who was literally going about it on a wing and a prayer, The Writer’s Market was like a roadmap. Sandwiched between the pages of that writer’s bible were how-to articles; sound advice on how to prepare a query letter, and other really useful tips that I, like many prospective writers, would end up putting to good use.

But the best part of the book was, obviously, all…those…markets! Not only did you have the names and addresses for tons of magazine and book publishers, you also had the name of their current editors as well. The listings included information on how to submit, what each individual publisher looked for in terms of word count, and—this was sometimes upsetting—which editors wouldn’t even look at your work without having an agent to represent you. The Writer’s Market continues to be published and I still advise brand-new writers to get themselves a copy, along with Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.

This was a huge, bigger-than-life, sometimes heartbreaking, often exciting new world for me. Like everybody else, I learned what a SASE and guidelines were. For $300, I bought my first computer equipped with MultiMate (ha! Remember that one?) and banged away on that keyboard once the hubby and the boys were asleep. In the first two years, I wrote one full novel that never saw publication called Crystal Waves. Then there was an unsold middle grade series entitled The Ladies (which almost sold to Simon and Schuster’s Archway line. It was shot down, much to my disappointment, because it couldn’t have stood a chance against the current middle-grade heavyweight at the time, The Baby-Sitters Club.).

Oh, yes—and then I wrote some YA novels. Two of which were favorite projects of mine. One was a mystery called The Ghost of Little Bay and the other a romantic comedy called Suburban Vampires. Though both books generated interest and near-hits, neither was published. Well…until later. We’ll get to that.

Anyway, I was running out of publishers. That happened in the Stone Age, aka B.I. (Before Internet). I was also running out of faith in my own work and my own abilities as a writer.
Before I go on, I’d like to note that that’s one thing that has never changed, and that is the importance of having faith in your work. Once you lose that, and many writers do, the journey is over. That’s something that’s taken me, personally, almost two decades to learn, and it may sound like a cliché but it isn’t: Becoming a published author isn’t a destination; it’s a journey. And besides that self-belief, what is required of any writer who is determined to fight the good fight is lots and lots of patience; recognizing the mentors who are right for us as individuals; a healthy dose of self-discipline, without which no craft is honed; and an almost child-like excitement, rather than resistance, when that journey suddenly changes course.

In writing, as is true in many professions, persistence does have a way of paying off. Eventually, about two years after I first began submitting, I was published by True Confessions magazine. True Love followed only a month afterward, and that began a long relationship with what is affectionately known by confessions writers as “the Trues,” who published roughly 100 of my short stories. In addition, I also worked for three years as the associate editor of True Romance.

And about four years after first setting out on my journey, I finally saw the publication of my first romance novel, Rumor Has It, which was released by Avalon Books in 1997. Other print books followed—but it was The Ghost of Little Bay and Suburban Vampires which became the first of my works to be published as ebooks, a medium that was very young at the time and that, despite earlier predictions that it would disappear, has not only continued but it has had an impact on the face of publishing.

(Part II of this entry to follow…)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Three-Day Weekend

It's 7:33 in the morning. My husband is still asleep. Very first thing, I let Jessie and Chi-Chi out into the yard because last night was the Fourth of July and there were these spectacular thunderstorms in the area. Between the fireworks and the booms of thunder, Bill and I had a Chihuahua and a German shepherd who thought they were in a war zone instead of a peaceful North Carolina suburb. They didn't have to be prompted and cajoled and pleaded with now, they just trotted out onto the deck with an attitude that said, "Okay, NOW we'll go out there--the backyard looks pretty safe."

This is the second day of a three-day weekend. An extra day, basically, but psychologically you tend to think it's even more time off. It's an embarrassment of riches. I'm not the type to spend it in bed, either. While I fix my breakfast of coffee and Special K with Berries and milk, like most women, I'm planning out the day in my head. Maybe I should clean the house? Naaaaaaaa. Did that last week. Besides, who cleans the house on a three-day weekend???

Do I head to the mall where Teavana is? The last of my tea blends, Key Lime and Blueberry, I used to make a kicked-up-a-notch (as Emeril would say) iced tea. Usually I get my nails done on every-other-Saturday morning, but I got that out of the way yesterday. There's food shopping, and not a lot of it, but it's summer and we may have company coming. That means making sure we have some fresh veggies for salad and knickey-knacks like those air fresheners to scent the house nice on hand.

Right after I blog, do I sneak in a walk in the park? Even better, will the summer heat ease up and we can head for one of the hiking trails? How about a couple hours with Bill at the community pool? Could we use some of those neat little handsoaps from Bath & Body Works? We haven't been to Black Mountain or Blowing Rock in a while, either. I miss my mountains.

And how about an extra hour of writing? My book is going reeeeeeeeeeally slow, not because I'm not enjoying working on it (it's an adventure because it's a bit different from other stuff I've worked on, but time has been limited lately), so I'm itching to write a romantic novella in between the longer work. I'm making time for writing this week because it's been a rough couple of weeks at work, and writing works as well as walking and hiking and a LOT better than binging on ice cream and chips when it comes to relieving stress.

Writers love these three-day weekends. If we don't let the manicurist, the farmer's market, shopping and window-shopping, and housecleaning whittle down the time. I know I'm not the only writer in the world who has learned to grit her teeth and smile when someone says, "Oh, I'd love to write--if I had the time." I don't know many writers who don't have "civilian" jobs, who don't have family or friends, who Real Life doesn't make 8 hours a day seem like 2. For me, writing time is a lot harder to find than non-writers would imagine, because I'm not willing to spend days on end using all my free time to do it. First comes life, which includes time for worship and time for my husband, my family and my friends, and then comes writing.

I've found that makes time spent with the Muse more of a pleasure for me, if I know I've given time FIRST to the relationships that are precious to me. I feel more of a connection with my characters, those fictional folks who people my stories, who become so real to me during the course of writing their stories, if I have put first those flesh-and-blood folks who people my life.

I'd probably have more writing credits if I put writing above all. But that's a sacrifice I'm not willing to make. Besides, my characters know I'll go to bed at 2:30 or 3:00 in the morning when their story's heating up and we're having too much fun to stop.

That's why One More Day on the weekend, to us, is like winning a few bucks from Lotto. Not a lot, you know. You get four numbers out of the six, but you say, "Yes!!! I'll take it!!!"

Now it's 7:56. I'm getting some writing done this weekend, more than I usually do.

But I REALLY need to get to Teavana, too.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Meet my (first!) guest blogger, fellow ByGrace Publishing author Cindy K. Green! Cindy's the author of six titles, and she's an author to watch. She drops by to share some insight on writing, plus an excerpt from her fun new book, Meeting Mr. Right Online. It is a sweet, chick-lit novella and it's available NOW!

What is chick-lit?
Chick-lit is primarily about young women in their 20’s or 30’s dealing with life (some newer titles include older women as well). It contains a light, humorous and most importantly a confiding tone (like you’re speaking to your girlfriends)—almost always in the first person. The themes focus around love, relationships, friendships, professional dilemmas, and a penchant for fashion—usually facing hilarious and embarrassing situations. But what it all comes down to is the heroine figuring out herself and what she really wants out of life. There is usually some kind of epiphany that blows her mind away and finally she can see clearly about what she really wants—or more importantly—needs.

Chicklit is a completely different genre from romance because the focus is on the woman and how she navigates her way through the twists and turns life throws at her. But the romantic angle is usually at the forefront of the story. Another things about chicklit is that it does not always end in a happily ever after for the heroine and her love interest. Now I am an HEA girl all the way, so never fear, mine is very romantic and sweet and ends with an HEA.

How did you go about writing MEETING MR. RIGHT ONLINE?
This story resulted from a few factors. I was reading a couple of chick-lit novels last spring, I’d just watched several episodes of a certain TV show with my sisters which resulted in the names of all the side characters, and I really did have an online friend like this who I had come to rely on and then all of a sudden didn’t hear from. My friend though was only a friend and we started writing again in a very short time. But the situation made me think…What if??? It all went from there.

Did you plot out this story or write it pantser style?
There was no plotting to this story until toward the end and then it was only ideas of what I wanted to happen to bring about the conclusion. I began writing this story on my PDA late at night in the dark (this is also how I wrote NovelTea #1). Sounds weird, right? :D Well, we authors are an odd lot. LOL! I was in the middle of editing a full-length novel and to those of you who have ever done that we know how consuming it is. I needed to write something new. So, there in the dark as my husband slept, I began this story.

Is the finished version much different from your first draft?
Yes, actually, it is. It is about 5,000 words longer to begin with. I changed the heroine’s profession, adding a secondary plot line about her work worries. And I made her love interest British instead of American. My husband calls me an Anglophile as I love all things British especially Period Dramas and British television. I thought, ‘I can write an English bloke.’ I had a couple English author friends read through his passages to make sure he seemed real. It seems he passed muster.

Meeting Mr. Right Online
By Cindy K. Green
Sweet/Chicklit Novella
By Grace Publishing

Watch the book trailer

What’s a girl to do when she’s thirty-three and all her friends have started their lives and left her behind?
Lucinda Kelley works for a local cable television show, assists her sister in her tumultuous relationships, and yearns for the day she can meet Mr. Right. All that seems to change when she meets Londoner Julian Crawford in an on-line tv chat room. Eight months later, via email he has become her best friend and closest confidant. Then one day the messages cease, and Lucinda feels lost until she makes a vow to end this infatuation with someone she has never met and move on to something real. When an alarming revelation is exposed, it could be Lucinda’s undoing or it might be exactly what she was looking for.
Excerpt #1: The Opening

Good evening, this is Amber Heffernan reporting live for Channel 11 entertainment news outside the beautiful Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. In just a few minutes, the glamorous Lucinda Kelley will emerge with her new husband, that handsome British financier. This couple has been in the media limelight since they first started seeing each other almost six months ago, outshining all of the other popular Hollywood pairs. The bride was married today in a Vera Wang strapless scoop-neck wedding gown, and I’m told she looked absolutely stunning. When the couple exits the hotel, they will travel to JFK International Airport to board the family jet to Jamaica where the twosome plan to depart for a two week honeymoon. After that they will settle into their Malibu home in California where Lucinda produces her award winning television sitcom…

The computer beeped letting me know it had finally booted up, and there I was, daydreaming again. I really had to stop doing that. I clicked the button once more, hoping this time it would be there. I held my breath for the few seconds it took to check my email messages, feeling that depressed, empty sensation yet again when I didn’t see it. Rubbing my forehead, I closed my eyes. This was absolutely ridiculous. Why did I torture myself so?

Read a couple more excerpts and watch the book trailer on my website.

**********Cindy K. Green is a multi-published author with degrees in History and Education. Previously a middle school English & History teacher, she now homeschools her own children and writes in several genres: Inspirational, Contemporary, Suspense and Historical romance. Find out more about Cindy and her books at

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Return of Consuelo Vazquez

I wasn't going to announce this yet, but when I find a home for my new WIP (of course, I have to finish it first), it will be published under my other pseudonym, Consuelo Vazquez.

Originally, I'd planned to write only under Connie Keenan, which is the name you'll find as the author of my newest works, like THE COP & THE MERMAID, PARADISE ROAD, and the novela "Prince of the Forest," which you'll find in Midnight Showcase's STRANGE DESIRES digest. Consuelo Vazquez was the name I used when writing for Kensington's Encanto line, for which I wrote SALSA KISS, SEA SIREN, and other books before the line was closed.

The old saying of "Never say never" surely applies here. Encanto was fun while it lasted. But when it died, I was sort of adrift for a couple of years. I was trying to decide, "Well, what do I want to write?" Following my heart, I began focusing on what I enjoyed doing, which were paranormals and contemporary romance that ranged from sweet (PARADISE ROAD, the upcoming novel "One Hot Chocolate Night") to sensuous (THE COP & THE MERMAID) in heat levels. Small presses have been great to work with because they don't allow marketing departments to dictate to them; instead they rip the sky open and tell their writers, "Go for it. Push that envelope. Write from your heart or don't write at all."

I've heard people say lofty stuff like, "Writing is like a blank canvas; you take the brush and dab this color on, give it this little stroke, that, until, voila! you have a picture." Poetic, no?

Not necessarily accurate, though. My experience? It's more like, "Writing is like a blank canvas; you slash your heart open as deep as you can without actually dying, then you bleed all over that thing." Worry about making it pretty later. In other words, writing cannot be bloodless, depending solely on skill and tipsheets and "experts" teaching writers how to write, being done as if by rote. You want to follow a recipe, make muffins.

That said, I completely rewrote my new work-in-progress from scratch when I realized in which direction the story really needed to go. And I also realized something else it needed...and that was Consuelo Vazquez's name. Her heart. Her blood.

In the past, works written under my pen name were always higher on the heat level. That's going to hold true to this new WIP, too. I'll be writing sexier works under Consuelo Vazquez, but I will, of course, continue writing under Connie Keenan, too. Don't expect anything like what I wrote for Encanto. You could say I'm reinventing the pen name and her projects, many of which will be for sci-fi and magical, fun stuff.

So if you've never read my works under Consuelo Vazquez, be sure to drop by my website and check out her backlist. And whether you're a new reader of hers or you remember her from yesterday, hope you like what she's got in store--beginning with the upcoming DEEP BLUE.

It WILL be fun. ;D

Thursday, May 29, 2008

8,062 Words

"Every writer I know has trouble writing." -
Joseph Heller

Oh, well, THAT'S a relief. Sometimes you think it's just you. This hasn't been an easy week (are ANY of them easy?), but somehow I managed to get 8,062 words written. That amounts to 39 pages and almost the complete first three chapters of my new book.

Some of it was written at lunchtime, while sitting in my car and eating lunch in the park. Some of it was written in the late hours of the night, some during the first hours of morning. Some of it was written while sipping on Diet Pepsi; some of it while drinking coffee. Some of it was written on the treadmill at the gym, though neither pen and paper nor my laptop was available. Some of it was written during a brisk walk in the woods, when certain parts of the story became clearer to me with each step.

I'd be a lot further along if I hadn't kept clicking on the little "e" button at the bottom of my screen and ended up Internet surfing every couple of days. I hate that. It's okay to goof around on the 'Net, but not when I want to devote what precious little time I can to delving into this story.

But I forgive myself for that and move on. As writers, we can't dwell on yesterday because we'll lose the opportunity that is today to work.

I don't know if all writers go through this, but I had a couple of false starts with this particular book. Then I realized who the story belonged to, that I had the wrong hero and heroine. That makes all the difference in the world. Also, this is one of those stories that kept brewing for some time, and it's one I want to share with my readers.

Not to give away too much, let's just say that this one is a sci-fi romance, though there'll be some fantasy elements in it, as well. Besides this being my first sci-fi, there's something else about this book that sets it apart from my other recent works. For right now that's a secret, but I'll be revealing it in a future post, hopefully not long from now. That has also made a difference in the approach to this latest work-in-progress.

By this time next week, I hope to be posting the new word count, placing it over 20,000 words.

That's if I don't keep clicking on that little blue "e"!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Joie de Vie!

If I was to give an award for Woman of the Year, it would have to go to my aunt, Soledad.

During our trip back to New Jersey this weekend, we thought we wouldn't have time to see her or her daughter, Solie, and Solie's husband, Mark. Bill and I had--no exaggeration--wall-to-wall visits with family and friends. Those visits were packed in between 20 lovely hours of highway driving.

But since our son, Joey, lives a hop, skip and a jump from Solie and Mark, we decided just to barge in on them on our morning walk. Hey, if you can't barge in on family, who CAN you barge in on? Solie immediately got on the phone and told her mom we were there, and like Barbara Eden poofing out of a genie's bottle, there was my aunt at the door.

Now this is all happening before eight in the morning! It was Saturday, the weekend, and my aunt was peacefully in bed, getting her rest. Yet minutes later she comes through that door as vibrant and beautiful as a bouquet of mountain wildflowers.

This is a woman who is 70+, going on twenty-five. Actually, Soledad is younger than a lot of twenty-somethings I know. She's a walking bottle of champagne, only bubblier. She wears a size 8, slimmer than she's been in many years, because even at her age, exercise is not only important to her but it's a source of true enjoyment. She told me that our visit that morning was an answer to prayer because she hadn't seen me in a long time and she'd asked the Lord to bring us together again. We're more than just an aunt and niece; we're close friends, too.

Soledad is one of those people who's never starred in a movie. (There's a LOT of us like that, right?) She was never a corporate CEO or a politician or anything that got her name on the news. She was never on the New York Times bestseller list. In her lifetime she's been a wife, mother and grandmother, and when it comes to her Cuban cooking, she can mop the floor with any famous chef out there. Oh, and the lady can out-dance all us forty-somethings at a party.

Yet whenever I think about Soledad, the first thing that comes to mind are the words, joie de vie. That's French for, "joy of life." She's one of the people I've known who absolutely loves life, and she expresses that love of life every single day in everything she does. After our visit, my husband remarked about that as well, that she's in love with life and not at all embarrassed to show it.

This isn't a person whose life has been all rainbows and sunflowers, either. Soledad has shed her share of tears and faced more than her share of adversity. That makes her inner strength, her ability to laugh and light up a room with her megawatt smile, and her sincere faith even more remarkable. You would never know by looking at her that this woman has known hardships, because she reflects an almost childlike excitement and she's never stingy, never holds back with a smile or laughter or words of pure affection.

My best friend, Linda, recently told me she's always been interested in reading about longevity, how she reads any article she can find, trying to figure out what it is that makes some people live longer than others. I don't know if my aunt will live to be 100 or more, though she's certainly a good candidate, but I do know that she lives as if every day is her last her on earth. She savors every day, she has to enjoy it, she has to laugh and shine that light inside of her, and she has to make all who love her know they're in her thoughts and in her heart, even when they're miles away.

That's even better than blowing out 100 candles!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Cool Little Discoveries

Just had to share a handful of discoveries. Well--you may have heard of them, but in case you haven't, I thought I'd spread the word.

First up is Victoria Magazine, which is back! This has to be my all-time favorite magazine. It's been back for some months now (my hubby gave me a subscription for my birthday, a very welcome gift) after being gone from the shelves for much too long. If you're a girly-girl, you'll love this celebration of feminity and all things gorgeous! You'll find lots of neat ideas for the home and travel, too.

Another "new" discovery for me is International Coffee's Chai Latte. This tastes pretty authentic and weighs in at a sugar-free and svelte 30 calories per serving. If you like the taste of chai tea, it makes an exotic little break from coffee...and it's fun to sip while working on a novella in a month!

This last one I "discovered" quite by accident. I'm a big fan of preserves and I thought that was what I was picking up while at Walmart's. What a great surprise when I spooned it over light cream cheese for a snack with crackers and found not preserves but WHOLE blueberries! Sweet fruit, no fat--what's not to love? I'm going back for the black cherry and boysenberry. ;D

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Those Two Wonderful Little Words

If you're a writer, published or not, you already know what those two little words are.

Yep. You got it.


I just wrote those words last night, which means I moved into Editor Mode this morning. With a cup of coffee and my hubby reading the newspaper next to me on our porch, I started editing my newest work, an inspirational novella entitled Boardwalk Angel. Because of time constraints, that romantic little tale--all 85 pages of it, though the page count is subject to change--took at least two weeks longer to complete than it usually takes me to write a story that length. Know what was a pleasant surprise? That over a decade of writing professionally, the thrill of writing the words THE END (as in, writing an entire project from start to finish) never loses its thrill.

And now that I've got the time, I decided to finally start this blog. I don't know if I'll get many readers, but if even one person passes by and is inspired to write after reading my words, that'll make it worth it. I won't just be blogging about writing. Probably scribbling about whatever catches my attention, whatever makes me laugh or feel or think. But if you're looking for something upbeat to read, I hope you'll drop by.

You're probably wondering what I've done, writing-wise. For a list of my past, present and upcoming publications, you can visit Connie Keenan's website or visit me on my MySpace page, ckwriter. The publishers of my most recent works include New Concepts Publishing, Midnight Showcase, and ByGrace Publishing.

Okay, that's it for now! Hope you'll come by again. If you do, feel free to drop me a note. And if you love writing, you're going to enjoy coming here.