Thursday, July 26, 2007

What's NEXT in September

September is the re-launch of the NEXT line with all new covers and great stories from great writers.

Marie Ferrarella and Nancy Robards Thompson lead off the new NEXT with:

DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE, by Marie Ferrarella, an RT TOP PIC!

Bailey DelMonico has finally gotten her life on track, and is passionate about her recent career change. Nothing will stand in the way of her becoming a doctor . . . that is, until she's paired with the sharp-tongued Ivan Munro.

BEAUTY SHOP TALES, by Nancy Robards Thompson

Can this "beauty operator to the stars" find her own Hollywood ending?"

Nancy's book was an RT 4 star review:

After being widowed at 35, stylist Avril Carson returns from Hollywood to Sago Beach, Fla., and the sometimes suffocating relationships of small-town life. The women in her mother's beauty shop form a warm, if eccentric, nest, but it's hard to keep secrets ‹ and there are secrets. Emotions spill out from the stress of always knowing everyone's business, and Avril must make a heartbreaking decision. Another complication is a handsome cowboy returning from L.A. to another small town in the area. They meet on the plane, and he pushes for a relationship she may not be ready for. The first-person Beauty Shop Tales (4), by Nancy Robards Thompson, is about forgiveness, letting go and moving on. There's sharply drawn humor as well as pain, and the book flies by.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Only my hairdresser knows for sure

Remember that commercial? I can't even remember what color my hair really is - but that's a small part of aging gracefully for me.

I wonder what I was thinking when I suggested this as a topic for our blog - perhaps I wasn't thinking at all. Because I'm not sure just what that means. Does it mean letting it all hang out and not worrying at all about how or even if you're aging? Does it mean fighting every wrinkle, every sag, every grey hair?

For me, the answer is somewhere in the middle, something about balance.

I'm not the woman I was 30 years ago or even 10 years ago. I'm better. Certainly I'm better emotionally and intellectually. I've learned a lot of lessons - the most important of which for me seems to have been to enjoy the moment. The trick for me, I suspect, is to keep on getting better physically as well.

I don't want to run a marathon. I don't want to go to the gym every day. I don't want to bulk up. What I do want is to feel good in every way and that means walking an hour a day (which is easier than it sounds seeing as I live downtown and don't have a car which means I walk everywhere) and swimming for half or three-quarters of an hour two or three times a week and maybe even (when I get the time) taking a yoga class once or twice a week. I'm talking gentle exercise and mostly exercise that relaxes me as well as energizes me. I'm a big fan of the middle path.

I like the woman I am now. I'm not one of those people who remembers being young as the best time of her life. I enjoyed it, I did, and if you ask I'll tell you about those parts that aren't censored, but you could pay me a million dollars and I wouldn't be a teenager again. Or even in my twenties. I like this Kate Austin.

I like the things she knows and the things she knows she doesn't know. I like the fact that she's way more willing than she used to be to admit that she doesn't know everything - just almost everything. I like the way she can laugh about herself.

I like the way she's willing to make a fool of herself and try something new. I like the way she's open to new experiences and new people. I like the way she'll talk to anyone. I like the work she's doing and the books she's writing. I like the amazing, astonishing, wonderful women and men she's meeting. I like the way she appreciates what she has and who she knows. I like the way she - finally - understands that love and friendship and joy and laughter and tears don't need to be hoarded but need to be shared. I like the way she knows that she's got more than enough of all those things for everyone.

So I guess you could say that I am aging gracefully. And joyously. And I definitely can't complain about that.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Growing Older

I'm older than most people think I am. At my high school reunions I always win the award for the most NOT changed. I kid people by telling them I have an aging portrait that I keep in the attic. My house does have an attic, but it has no floor and I never go up there.

When I was in graduate school one of the questions the professor asked us was to name some things that technology had made obsolete. My small glass of thirteen frowned and scratched their heads. I rattled them off like jelly beans. His comment, "You're a lot older than you look."

Same thing happened with a doctor when I went for a colonoscopy (now you know my age). He looked at me and said, "Why are you here?" These comments made me feel good. If they couldn't tell my age by looking at me, I must be doing it right.

I believe I'm growing old gracefully. Of course, I don't know what my real hair looks like because I keep having it done and redone. But why not? It makes me feel good and I'm the only one that I need to please. I've long since stopped doing things to please other people. That's a strong statement and I don't mean I'm a mean person, but if there is something I want to do, I don't need approval to do it. That's the me that's pleasing me.

I'd say growing old gracefully runs in my family. My parents died at young ages, but some of my aunts and grandparents lived long lives. Now that I'm equal to or older than some of them who have passed away, I can see that at the same age, I look as good or better than they did. I exercise (walking two miles a day) and try to eat right, although I didn't even think of resisting the chocolate at the recent Romance Writers Conference. I don't think that's all of it, however.

You just gotta be lucky.

And since I think I got gipped on the long hair and boobs genes, I at least got the good skin, weight control and non-dimpled thighs ones.

Getting older does worry me some. I have so much I want to accomplish and I'm afraid I won't get to do some things. I have a five year old to raise and educate, and I pray that she's an adult before I pass into the next level of creation.

I plan for the event by keeping things in order like wills and insurance and making sure my family knows where they are and how to get them. I also make sure they know that I have collections of value that they may not realize, like my first edition Nancy Drew novels and a huge non-DVD record collection, the vinyl stuff. Some of those are worth a lot of money.

All any of us can do is take it one day at a time and live it as if there was no tomorrow. And being romance writers, we all believe there is another day to live and love.

Speaking of living and loving, I love that song from RENT about 525,600 minutes. The end of the song says there are 525,600 minutes of love in a year. What a wonderful thing for anyone!

Aging . . . Just Like Mom

Visible signs of aging – oh, the enemy, for sure. For years my goal was simply not to let it get me the way it had gotten Mom. Her fair skin was deeply lined while she was still in her forties. She developed a turkey-wattle chin. When an angry colleague told her she “looked about 95 years old,” she shrugged it off. “I work rings around the woman, and she’s just jealous” – but I knew the insult had hurt. Lesson learned. Nobody was ever going to have the chance to say such things to ME.

As I entered my middle years, Botox became a trusted friend. When my sagging face began to look . . . well, saggy . . . and my double chin grew floppier by the day, I steeled myself for a facelift. It got rid of the jowls and wattle but not the wrinkles. Time had its own plan for etching itself on my skin.

Then my 57-year-old husband, the handsome, fit-looking man I’d lived with for more than 30 years, died of a massive heart attack while hiking in the mountains with his brother. That was six years ago. I haven’t worried about my wrinkles since.

What concerns me now is spending time with people I love, while I still can. Working as much as I can, while I still can. I’ve even had the chance to write a few books about aging women, plastic surgery and all. Time and age, those old adversaries, have turned out to be gifts.

In the mirror these days, I see an aging woman with a pale, lined face, who looks a lot like Mom once did. I wonder now why I ever wanted to eradicate her from my reflection – why any of us do. Except for the wealth of warm memories, it’s all of her that I have left.
Ellyn Bache

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Aging, Gracefully Or Not?

Aging? Who, me?

I don’t like to think about that, but this morning I’m almost forced to admit that time is, yes, marching on. I just got home after nearly a week in Dallas at the annual RWA (Romance Writers of America) conference, and as usual I didn’t get enough sleep.

Who needs sleep when a bunch of normally reclusive writers get together and the much-needed chatter starts flying? It was so good to see people from the various chapters to which I’ve belonged, and still miss, and to meet others among our group of Nexties with whom I’ve e-mailed. The PAN (Published Authors Network) workshops, plus a number of RWA sessions, certainly helped to recharge my creative batteries—one of the best benefits of going to conference each summer. And all those fabulous meals when I’m more used to simpler fare, even sandwiches all but inhaled in the race to finish a book by August? What a treat. It seems safe to say that a great time was had by all.

My stay in the beautiful conference hotel, the Hyatt Regency, was almost enough to make me forget the hassles of travel. My trip home proved to be quite a challenge—delayed flights, lost luggage (with all my best clothes inside the missing suitcase)—but I’m here. And ready to work again. Never mind that my not-quite-youthful body is still struggling to readjust after that (finally) five a.m. arrival in Chattanooga. My bag, thank goodness, did eventually, and unharmed, show up at my door. (sigh of relief)

But today—yes—I’m feeling a wee bit old. Older, that is.

How else to explain the white face I see in my mirror? Or those new dark shadows under my eyes?

Still, there’s hope. My mother-in-law will turn eighty-nine in October. She still wears makeup, styles her hair in her signature red beehive, and has her nails done, fingers and toes. Last week, while I was in Dallas, she went with my husband to dinner and the theater. She and I are planning a girls’ day out soon to shop for an end-of-summer suit she can wear to my younger son’s wedding in August. She’ll be taking the trip to Connecticut then, a traveler herself at nearly ninety.

Graceful? Yes. Old? I don’t think so.

There have been lots of articles written lately about the now-retiring Baby Boomers. In fact, we Nexties did a workshop at RWA on just that topic, well, and with some sex thrown in for spice. Our somewhat older characters still know their way around a bedroom! Today’s retirees are no longer riding off into the sunset of their years, or plunking down in a rocker on the front porch.
We—and our characters—are moving and shaking and developing second careers. My husband, for example, is in New York right now, building his new business as a consultant to the financial world. He’s been busier than ever since he took early retirement in February! No grass grows under his feet. And then, again, there’s his mother who must have given him that energy and drive, a little of which I could certainly use today.

Right now I’d rather take a nap.

But that’s not going to happen. I have a book to finish for Next. My forty-four-year old heroine and her still-hunky-at-forty-six ex-husband are waiting.

And as further inspiration I’m reminded of my great grandmother who lived to be 105. Even then, she thought of herself as a young bride.

With so many grand examples like these, I’m convinced that the old saying is true: Aging is a state of mind.

Or—to use another cliché—you’re only as old as you feel.

Monday, July 9, 2007

My First Romance

I read my first historical romance novel at the age of 13, SHANNA by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, and from then on, I was hooked. I compared all my teenaged suitors to the dashing, steadfast Ruark Beauchamp. Too bad for them. No one could seem to live up to those standards.

Years later, inspired by Ms. Woodiwiss's works, as well as those by Johanna Lindsey and other greats who transformed the genre in the late 70s and early 80s, I started to write my own historical romance novels. And too bad for me, because my own writing could never seem to live up to their standards.

A few years ago, just before I was published, I had the honor of meeting Ms. Woodiwiss at a writing conference in New Jersey. I'm embarrassed to say, I cried. I blubbered to her that she was my inspiration, and yada yada yada. She was very sweet and gracious, and I must say, really embarrassed by my display. But she murmured some encouraging words and gave me a tissue, and it was one of my great writing-related moments.

Afterwards, I wished I would have said something else. Instead of telling her she inspired me to write, I should have told her how many hours of pleasure she'd given me as a reader--a gift I now know, as a writer, is no easy thing to give.

I learned yesterday that Ms. Woodiwiss passed away on July 6th. It was a sad day for romance, indeed.

I hope she is mentioned in tribute at the RWA National conference this week in Dallas, TX. I can't be there in body, but I will be there in spirit, and my guess is that Ms. Woodiwiss will be, too.

Because you simply can't have a gathering of romance writers without her.

Music--inspiration or. . .um. . .what was I saying?

Is music a distraction for. . .
two out of three ain’t bad. . .
What was I saying? Oh, right. Music. Is it a. . .
If you see my reflection on a snow covered hill . . .
Yes, yes, right. So, music.
Here you come again. . .

Hmm. Maybe I should turn off iTunes.

The truth is, I love music–can’t produce a note, can’t even carry a tune. My older sister once said I sounded like a giraffe with a sore throat when I sang. She’s apologized many times for saying it, but has never said it wasn’t true!

Anyway, that’s beside the point. I love --when I’m alone and no one can hear me--to sing to music. Especially country music. I like to clean to it. (Well, as much as I like to clean. . .) I like to dance around to it (when no one’s around to witness that, either). I like to fall asleep to it, I like to wake up to it.

But write to it?

Ha! Words in my head are words on the paper, and if there are lyrics in the room, they are, as you saw at the beginning of this blog, on the paper.

The only time I write to music is in airports and on planes, where I can’t shut out the conversations around me and they begin to appear on my laptop screen (as in: “Well, it started as just a burning, but then the itch started and I don’t know how to tell him, but the doctor says. . .” and “He thinks I’m on my way to a conference in Dallas, but. . .”) Okay, not really. The conversations are always boring, but they invade my brain space and make writing impossible. And so I plug into my iPod. But I only allow myself the classical, non-lyric stuff that is really too highbrow for my tastes (remember I like country music. Gretchen Wilson, Dixie Chicks, etc.) but which block out the conversations around me.

After writing the above, I thought I should take a look at what my fellow Nexties had to say on the subject. Wow. We’re all, it seems, in the same Row, Row, row your boat. . .

Earworms? Thanks loads, Hank. The actual experience of having a song floating in your head isn’t bad enough? It has to have a gross name attached to it?

Anyway, right now I’ve got the music blasting because I’ve finished another Teddi Bayer book–this one is called WHO CREAMED PEACHES, ANYWAY? and now I’m allowed to blast the music and dance. And maybe even have a glass of wine. . .

So excuse me while I crank up the music and dance~ cause we all know you gotta dance like no body’s watching you, sing like nobody’s listening. . .
Stevi Mittman

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Imperfect - Perfect Day


I didn't get to post a Perfect Day post when we were in that subject. I did write one, so late as it is, I still would like to post it. So here goes.

My perfect day is a fantasy since I’ve never actually lived it. I’ve been into reading biographies for a few years now and I read Katherine Hepburn’s Me: Stories of My Life. To sum it up, the book said: It’s All About Me! That would be my perfect day. One in which I was pampered and praised. Not too much praise mind you. Sometimes it can get embarrassing.

I’d begin the day with a relaxing massage. I had one massage in my life and I thought the guy was trying to force the fat out of my body through my pores. I hated it. By the time he finished, I could hardly walk back to my room. I slid into the bathtub and let the soapy water wash the oil off me and then I crawled into bed. However, at a conference in a resort in Arizona, my fellow friends and writers were having massages and raving that they wanted to marry the masseuse. It sounds wonderful and my perfect day would include one of those.

I’d have a light lunch prepared by my housekeeper/cook (who also shops and keeps me on my diet) and while it’s also delicious, filling and nutritious, it won’t add any pounds to my Barbie-doll waistline. Then I’d get dressed to be ready when the limousine comes to pick me up to take me to my booksigning. The line wraps around the block with people waiting for my signature. At the bookstore, my picture is on the store bags and walls. I’ve already checked out Barnes and Noble and know that not all the people on their bags and walls are dead, so I don’t have to die for the opportunity.

My publicist would be there to help with the books and store personnel for crowd control. We know NeXt fans are courteous and friendly, so most of the store personnel’s work is to talk to the people in line and give them papers to write the names they want in the multiple copies of the book they plan to buy. Of course this would be exhausting work for me, but I love this kind of exhaustion.

After a short drink (soft drink) with the publicist where we discuss promotional plans for the next book, I’m returned home for a short nap. I get up to write and the words just stream out of computer. My fingers can hardly keep up with the story the characters are telling. The book pours out of me like an open water faucet. When I finish for the day, I spend the evening with my family and we watch a movie – a love story, of course.

Notice, my perfect day doesn’t include kids or husbands or picnics in the park. After all if it’s perfect. And it’s all about me.


I think they call them "earworms." Have you heard that term? Now that you have, you can’t get it out of your head, right? And that’s exactly why I can’t listen to music when I write.

Don’t get me wrong. When I was in high school, much to my mom’s chagrin I insisted I could not do my homework without listening to music. I had my little transistor radio, and I would put that plastic earpiece in, and bop around to Da Doo Ron Ron or I Get Around or It’s My Party. Dancing in the Street. And then: The Byrds, Simon and Garfunkel, Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins… And then the Beatles Beatles Beatles. I cried when they were on Ed Sullivan. I was president of the Midwest Chapter of the National Beatles Fan Club. (High school. A blog for another day.)

But I digress.

Now, older and wiser. I’m a television reporter, have been for 30 years, and there’s not a moment of my workday when the television is not on. Sometimes three of them, all turned to different stations, all humming and buzzing in the background. And I ignore it, until my brain (is it the hypothalamus?) picks up on a word or phrase or sound that drags me to the remote to zap up the volume. Extraneous noise? Nope, it’s just the music of the news, and I’m used to it and embrace it.

But in my study, at home, at the computer, working on the next Charlotte McNally mystery--(Which, ta-dah! Just sold to the wonderful Harlequin Next line, and will be called Air Time. There’s Prime Time, on the shelves now as I hope you know, and Face Time, coming out in October. Then Air Time, and then Drive Time! So go meet investigative reporter Charlie McNally, age 46 and counting, savvy smart and successful—and just a tad worried about her age…)

But I digress.

Anyway, at home, working on the computer, I cannot, cannot listen to music. It’s the earworm thing.

What’s an earworm? Let’s say you’re in the grocery, and that Muzak is on. Just in the background. And you have the misfortune to hear "It’s A Small World after All." Ahhhhh. That darn song is going to stick in your brain, humming over and over, forever. It’s an earworm.

How about Saturday in the Park by Chicago? (Saturday, in the park, I think it was the fourth of July…) Ah…stop. Oh Mickey, you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind…

There’s a commercial for sour cream about "a dollop of daisy." Have you heard that? I heard it once, and sang it for about a week.

Hey, Macarena.

And so, that’s why no music when I write. Or read, even. If it has words, they stick in my brain and play where my own words are supposed to be.
Otherwise, bring it on. Turn it up. Radio. CD’s. Records! (remember those?) But not while I’m thinking about Charlie and her adventures.

Do you have your personal earworms? Tell me—if you dare!

Hope you’re having a prime time of a summer…

Hank Phillippi Ryan

PS. Someone told me: if you get an earworm, the only cure is to sing Jingle Bell Rock. Okay, I know. It sounds weird. But it does seem to work.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Selective Listening

Happy Fourth of July, everyone.

I don't normally listen to music while I write--not to have the distraction. I love music of all types from classical and opera to old ballads and country and western. But I tend to get so caught up in the melody, the lyrics of a song, that all of a sudden I'm humming along, swaying to the tune, and I've forgotten that I'm supposed to be writing.

Yet I also find music to be an inspiration.

For a while I wrote books with musical titles: Unforgettable, Just One of Those Things, Oh, Susannah, and Danny Boy. They were all my titles, too, from concept to print! I guess they worked from a marketing department standpoint because no one changed them.

For whatever reason, those titles actually seemed to make my writing easier.

With the memory of the particular song clear in my mind, if not actually floating through the air from a pair of sound-system speakers, the tone of the story became almost automatic. The emotions flowed. Even characterization seemed easier to develop. I don't know why this happened. But it did.

With Danny Boy I made an exception to my no-listening-while-writing rule.

Every morning, before I began to work, I played that song on the piano (maybe I was procrastinating). I'm not a very good pianist, mind you, but I did have an excellent arrangement of that old standard, which--as it does for my heroine in the book--always makes me weep. It was kind of like having a story conference with myself to start the day. I played, I wept, I wrote. Perfect.

And sometimes, without its title, music helps to inspire a story. The germ of Danny Boy, in addition to that song, also came from a Garth Brooks album. In my book the hero is a professional bull rider, and in the song, "Wild Horses," a rodeo cowboy calls his girlfriend from the road in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He knows he must quit the circuit, which he loves, as he keeps promising to do, "before I hurt her more than she loves me."

I love that line.

Its message was exactly what I needed then--Danny's goal, even at thirty-six to keep riding bulls until, finally, he wins the world championship. Yet if he keeps going, following his dream, will he lose the woman he loves but left behind? The wife who needs him to help raise their son?

There's another cut on this album that helped, too, with my book. It's called "Wolves," about the difficulty of being a rancher. It's a sad song that compares a friend's foreclosure by the bank to a pack of wolves bringing down cattle in a winter storm. It's about loss and hope and surviving, and in Danny Boy his Montana ranch is also in jeopardy, though of a different sort.

Oh, goodness. I'm doing it right now: sitting here, listening to that song on the computer, and feeling the inspiration, the distraction, all over again.

Music is, for me then, a little bit of both.

But then, we Geminis do tend to have somewhat split personalities!

And if that helps with my writing--with the next book--that's just fine with me. Maybe I'll do another story with a Western setting.

Music - inspiration or distraction?

First of all, let's get this straight. I love music - of almost all kinds. In fact, I can't think of a kind of music I don't like, though not all at the same time - and at some times I like one thing and others, another.

If I had to have only kind of music - it would be blues. But if all I ever listened to was the blues, that would make for a very specific type of writing, wouldn't it? Now that's something I'd like to do a survey on - how many of you writers listen to a specific kind of music all the time - and does that affect your writing? If so, how? Wouldn't that be fun? Okay, I've stolen that idea so none of you can use it. But maybe that's why I listen to a whole bunch of different things.

But I don't, ever, listen to music while I'm writing. It's very very very quiet in my house when I'm writing.

I think I'm easily distracted - okay, no thinking about it - I AM easily distracted. I turn off the "you've got mail" feature on my email because even if I'm sitting away from my computer and I hear that sound, I jump up to see who's been mailing me. Most times, it's junk mail but I still get up and get distracted. I don't answer the phone and I really should put it on Do Not Disturb so that I don't hear it ringing, but then I'd still see the light flashing so why bother?

So music is a no-no. Very occasionally I will put on a piece of classical music - generally Bach - if I'm still working late into the evening. It can't have words, not even in another language, because I'll try and make up words for them. It can't be a piece of music that ever had words put to it (like for a movie or a commercial) because then I'll sing them. The reason I like Bach is because in some ways his music is quite abstract, there isn't a melody that I feel compelled to follow.

I do, though, once I'm finished what I'm doing, put on some music to cheer me up or make me cry or make me dance. Some nights I'll sit next to my CD player and play the same song over and over and over again, singing along with it the whole time until I get the perfect inflection. I NEVER get the perfect notes (I'm not a great singer!). Most recently, it's been Patsy Cline singing You Belong to Me. You know....

See the pyramid along the Nile
Watch the sunrise on a tropic isle
Just remember, darling, all the while
You belong to me...

I love that song...

So, for me music is a distraction - at the right time it's a wonderful distraction, at others it's a terrible one. I suspect most things are like that...


Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Blog contest

First, the two winners of June's contest are photoquest and deseng.

Hi, you two, please email me at with your names and mailing addresses and the prizes will be on their way to you.

The July contest began July 1 (so if you posted after that you'll be entered in the July contest) and the prizes are from Hank Phillippi Ryan and Stevi Mittman. Post and post often!!!



Distractions? Who has distractions? Writers are notorious for finding any excuse for not getting their pages done. It’s not that we don’t love our work; we just need a few warm-up exercises to get us cranked up and in the mood to create stories. For me, distractions come in many shapes and forms. One of the main ones is the mail. Our mailman is sort of like the one in that Chevy Chase movie--Funny Farm--I think was the name. That mailman would fly down the road and toss the mail out without stopping. Ours is almost as bad. He used to come late in the day--which was great since I usually knock off work around three or four. Now he comes at 9:30 AM, just about the time I’m getting into my next chapter. Of course, I have to stop and read the mail, which usually contains a pile of lovely, tempting catalogues. I am a shopper, no doubt about that. So I naturally will drop everything to look at my catalogues. Not a good idea. I look up an hour later and my poor characters are stranded in mid-sentence, waiting for me to get back into our story.

Inspirations are a lot easier to handle. I get inspirations from reading, from music, and from walking around the neighborhood. A good long walk will usually help me figure out a plot problem. A song can help me set the mood for a scene. I haven’t combined the two yet--no
I-pod for me--I like to hear the birds chirping and the traffic whizzing by. But when I do listen to music I love everything from Jimmy Buffet to the Beatles to Bach and Beethoven. I love hymns that move my soul and I love good old fashioned rock and roll. Music brings out the emotions in me, while I try to bring out the emotions of my characters. So when I’m stuck, music will sometimes give me the push I need to take a scene to the next level. Of course, music can also distract me by pulling me so into the song that I'm sitting there, bouncing around in my chair and singing at the top of my lungs instead of being a studious, serious writer. But music helps to soothe me, too. And it certainly can inspire more complex, conflict-centered writing. Just think of a Johnny Cash song all about angst and pain and you'll understand. That's why I do love music of all kinds and I'm so glad that I'm able to enjoy such diverse choices when listening to good music. Some of my favorites are "Bridge Over Troubled Water", "The Long and Winding Road" and "How Great Thou Art." Oh, and Jimmy Buffet's duet with Martina McBride, "Trip Around The World."

There are many distractions and inspirations in a writer’s life. I guess the mixture of the two is what makes our job so unique. Even distractions can lead to story ideas, and so can good music. I’ve gotten lots of ideas for books while singing in church. I’m distracted by my ideas, but the paradox of that is that the very idea came to me while singing and being distracted in the first place. It’s quirky, but it works. So the best advice is to take anything in life--a distraction, a challenge, a crisis, or a joy, and allow that to become part of a good story. And music offers us all of these elements. We need the music of life to make our characters real. After all, our characters are only human. They get distracted and they get inspired, just as we do. And I love being able to help them along with my own experiences. That is, when I’m not busy looking at pretty things in my catalogues or dancing around my office to the tune of "Cheeseburger in Paradise"!

Lenora Worth :)