Wednesday, March 26, 2008

RWA 2008 Award Finalists Announced

On March 25, the Romance Writers of America announced its list of finalists for the Golden Heart for unpublished writers and for the for published writers.

RITA: Congratulations to Anna Campbell, Lisa Kleypas, and Allison Brennan for double-nominations; Laura Lee Guhrke, Julianne MacLean, Rachael Gibson, Susan Anderson, Toni Blake, Diana Holquist, Elizabeth Hoyt, Ann Gracie, Nora Roberts, Karen Rose, JR Ward, Christina Dodd, Nicola Cornick, and Julia Quinn among others.

GH: Congratulations to Courtney Milan, Susan Seyfarth, Kimberley Howe, Pamela Bolton-Holifield, and Darcy Burke among others.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Change Coaches

I have three change coaches, identified here only by their initials: LS, DGP, LK. They have been instrumental in deep changes in my life by supporting the downs, encouraging the ups, and providing a safety net for when life takes a downward turn. Perhaps even more important than these three is that they demand accountability. My word is my bond. My plan is my bond. No excuses, no whining, no exceptions.

In her workshop on Defeating Self-Defeating Behaviors, author, psychologist, and an extraordinary teacher, Margie Lawson asks the questions, "Why doesn't everyone maintain new behaviors that are good for them? Why do they allow debilitating doubts to derail their goals?" It definitely sounds counter-intuitive, but ingraining a new activity in the fabric of your life as a habit requires repeated doing and a coach to buck you up, to cheer you on, and to make you toe the line. According to Dr. Lawson, "Having a good Change Coach makes [all] the difference between wallowing in mind-muck and following your great map to success."

I knew there were three things that I really wanted in life. Writing, working out, and reducing stress. For years, I'd sratched my head attempting to make my committments to those three things stick.

Every time I made forward progress into the ocean of understanding, only to be flung back harder by the surging tidal forces within and without. For a while then, I would lie bemoaning fate and faith, until the finger pointing to this, that, and the other returned to point to me. Then I would get up and try again, hoping this time I would be able to swim out to freedom.

In December, I read Dr. Lawon's workshop packet over and over to mine it of all the nuances.

January 1 arrived, and suddenly forces within and without were with me. This time, I did not merely hope, I knew. I knew that I was going to be able to break free. This time, I had three change coaches guarding my back and holding the safety net. They would not allow the tides to take me hither and yon.

Nearly three months later, I will tell you that my life has changed in ways I hadn't dreamed of. Without LS, DGP, or LK I wouldn't be where I am now. On the backs of their strength, courage, and compassion rides my current to freedom.

A final word from Dr. Lawson: "No matter what life deals you, your Inner Sunrise can shine."

So, what do you think of the concept of a Change Coach. Is this something that you've already implemented in your life or wish to pursue? In which different ways do you keep your committments?

[Images courtesy of Candice Hern.]

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Blogging at Risk Regencies on April 13

I'm going to be a guest blogger at the Risky Regencies on Sunday, April 13. Please be sure to note the date, and stop by to join in the discussion.

For the latest on-dit sign up for the Riskies' newsletter at riskies @ yahoo .com (please put NEWSLETTER in subject line).

Monday, March 17, 2008

Why Do I Write?

Top o' the Monday Morning to you, Genteel Readers. I have been actively pondering this issue of my writing since the start of the year.

Why do I write? The answer to that is simple. I'm a writer; of course, I write. I've always been one. For years, it was short stories, essays, and letters. Post-college years were devoted to letters, postcards, and e-mails. The past two and a half years have seen voluminous production from me: blogs, blog comments, message boards, continuous correspondence in the old style, and two medieval manuscripts.

Despite it all, there was no true answer to: Why do I write? To find my voice. To find me who gets hidden in the press of daily life. Ah, now we're getting somewhere. I use words to express intentions and beliefs of my characters, and in doing so, I understand myself better. The tap-tap of the keyboard brings me into the present, not thinking about laundry or the grocery list, but centered in the moment with heart and emotions vulnerable and open and all senses questing. Yes, this is why I write. But there's more.

I'm not simply a writer. I'm a writer of fiction—of novel-length fiction. And the final last committment: I'm an author of romance fiction novels on a chosen path to publication. I get up at 5 o'clock every morning regardless of the weather, health, family, what-have-you. And for almost two hours, I write. Then I go to the gym. Those are the top two items of all my lists (more on this and Time Management next Monday 3/24/08).

All forms of writing from personal letters to business e-mails to books require passion, hard work, and committment. You have to truly believe in what you are and what you're doing. Otherwise you might as well "pack up your knives and go home," to quote Bravo TV's reality show Top Chef.

So Genteel Readers: Why do you write? What is your committment towards writing? Do you believe in it? What are you doing to fulfill it?

And in honor of St. Patrick's Day, I wish you all the luck with your writing.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Thank you!

Thank you heaps to everyone who commented and lurked last Monday on this blog's debut post. It was a rousing party lasting for days. Please visit next Monday (3/17) for the second post.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Project Runway Finale: My Take on Tim Gunn's Take

Top o' the Monday Morning to you, Genteel Readers. This is the first of my regular Monday Blogs, and how better to start those off than by gossiping about the finale of Bravo TV's reality fashion show called Project Runway and its host Tim Gunn.

Christian SirianoChristian looks rather fierce here. Reminds me on his playacting with Posh Spice during the show. I fell in love with Christian's selection from the first outfit to walk out, because I noticed the hats. I loved that about Princess Diana. And by the gods, I hate that full fringe that's all the rage. It suits very very few faces and with very very few hair styles. Heidi Klum is not one of them.

Hey, Tim talked to Marion Cotillard on the red carpet. That's cool. I didn't see him, but I saw Heidi arrive with her husband. She has three children, and yet she's a supermodel-thin and travels the world for various events.

I'm glad they brought highly talented people with experience to the show, as opposed to mediocre ones with hobbies. This is why I like Dancing with the Stars as opposed to American Idol. I want to see talented people do things that awe me. I'm not so much into what the ordinary citizens do. Snob Alert!

I was glad to see the back-stabbing drop away as the show wore on. All that high drama can be tiresome to watch. One of the chief complaints I have against DWTS is that America's Ballroom Dancing on PBS doesn't have people talking and talking about how they feel, how their brother feels, and their opinions on everything. ABD was about dancing. So the contestants danced. Now I know some of you will say that showing some personality is good, but Samantha Harris (beautiful and beautifully gowned) always gets on my nerves. Bias Alert!

Tim GunnI had a great big chuckle over Tim's comment on New York City apartments. In my voluminous correspondence with authors Amanda McCabe and Diane Gaston, I had commented that apartments in NYC like apartments in Paris are handkerchief-sized--you enter in sideways and exit similarly--unless you're nouveau riche or connected to old money and connections. Bourgeoise Alert!

I'm so glad Tim brought up Laura and talked about her business savvy. Now those are clothes I'd love to wear. Most of all, I appreciate how Tim has stayed in touch with former participants and continues to guide them. Too bad about Uli from last season. She seems to be as flowy as her work, however, I thought she had more business savvy than say Carmen (spit-mark). There was no mention of Jeffrey Sibelius and what happened to him.

Rami KhashouThe Bryant Park pre-contest between Chris and Rami was such a high-stakes contest that was wholly unnecessary in my view. They could simply have had four finalists and have them compete against each other. However, I liked how Tim differentiated between Rami and Chris in that final elimination by who is customer-focused and who doesn't care who his client is. Now that makes the choice so much clearer. This is couture after all, not a carnival.

So, Genteel Readers, do you guys know why Posh was chosen as the finale guest judge? Granted she's a couture fashionista, but since when has Victoria become an arbiter of fashion? Why not John Galliano, for instance? Posh tipped the scale towards Christian automatically with her love of McQueen and European designers.

I think Tim's spot on worrying about Christian's narrowing his focus too early and putting blinders on his talent. I think for that reason, he shouldn't set up his own shop right away. He's too young and immature; and he needs to somehow be with other designers, directed and challenged, just not too much under anyone's wing.

JillianAnd regarding courtesy, I think that is one of the main reasons why I liked Rami so much. Other than that brief period in the middle where he was insufferable, he's been balanced, polite, and with nerves of steel. Jillian's flapping around at the last minute is one reason I can't take her career too seriously. She does her talent injustice by pulling everything through by the skin of its teeth.

I like Tim so much more this season. He's hilarious when he has his diva moments. And I had no idea before that he was seminal to the show, as opposed to a c'mon-buck-up fellow. He's involved in the auditions, too. And he really knows the industry and the business. I don't know how PR would survive if he chooses to leave after season five. He should let go of his own Guide to Style show though.

Thank goodness Michael Kors perked up as the season wore on. Heidi Klum and Nina Garcia, editor of Elle magazine, have always been steady and attentive from the begining to the end of the season. Oh, and there was a telling typo in the article a Project Rungay instead of Runway.

So Genteel Readers, what is your take on Tim Gunn and Project Runway and season four versus the other seasons? Do you have Tim's book Tim Gunn's Guide to Style?

[Edit 3/10 6:51pm PT -- I was completely mistaken about the typo. I've since found out that Project Rungay is a very active blog about Project Runway from a gay perspective.]