Friday, October 27, 2006


I just returned from a week visiting my relatives in the beautiful state of West Virginia. Here in Maine the leaf color had already peaked and there's a lot of evergreens, but the hardwood trees in those mountains were glorious! Every curve in the road took us to another breathtaking rainbow view. Between relative visits, my hubby and I visited some state parks. I have to give him something to do other than visit and eat. ;-) Anyone who hasn't been to the New River Bridge Gorge or Beartown State Park is missing spectacular treats. There are also walking/biking trails along rivers where railroads used to be. I can't tell you how many waterfalls we saw. My home state may have a lot of poverty, but they know how to do parks and recreation. And the WVU football team is #4 in the country! Go Mountaineers!
Ah, the relatives. We stayed with my cousin (my age) for most of the time but visited others. I have two aunts who are 95 and a step-mother who is 93, so it's important to see them when I can. All three are as sharp mentally as ever. They can remember more than I can. Other ailments have slowed them down, however. One aunt is now legally blind from macular degeneration but she still manages to live in her own home and travel. When she flies to Florida or Louisiana, she uses her frequent-flier miles to upgrade to first class. One reason I mention this is as a cautionary tale for other older people who no longer can drive. When her driver's license expired, a friend took her to motor vehicles to obtain another form of picture ID so she could fly. They gave her the big run-around on various documents she needed. A birth certificate was only one of them. When the official then said she'd have to come back another day, she protested that she wouldn't have a ride another day and she was legally blind. The official then offered to renew her driver's license instead. True story. I swear I didn't make that up.
Happy Halloween!
Susan Vaughan

Monday, October 23, 2006

Amazon reviews

I'm making a case that should require their reviewers to sign their names. Real names. Hey, we can't throw eggs on them just because we know their name. Amazon can keep their other identifying info secret.

The reason I say this is because anonymity makes it really easy for people to heartlessly trash one of our books.

A lot of professional reviewers, like Harriet Klausner (amazon's Number 1 reviewer) or reviewers for some of the on-line review sites, are gracious enough to also post their reviews at amazon. Because these people sign their names, they are more apt to present a balanced review of the work.

Those who don't sign their names can make outrageous claims that are never substantiated.

I don't think you'll find many newspapers or magazines that will allow people to castigate someone -- or someone's work -- without identifying themselves.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Kudos to Dear Abby

Given the way romance has taken a beating in the media this year, it seems only right to congratulate Dear Abby for responding to our letters complaining about her offhand comment about romance.

A huge thanks to Nancy Butler, Sharon Mignerey, Arlene James, Joy Nash, Cheryl Norman and P.C. Cast for writing in to defend romance, and to Ms. Phillips (Dear Abby) who acknowledged that times have changed and that romance can have a positive effect on young women.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Women Talk

I knew when I got involved in blogging, I would become as addicted to blogging as I am to email. Fortunately, I have tempered my addiction with the reality of deadlines. So I'm eating my lunch and going through my blogroll and came across a fantastic blog by Jason Pinter on MJ Rose's site, about debut novelists getting a bunch of money--one's a success, one isn't.

But it's not Jason's commentary that really resonated (though it's fantastic, particularly his Janet Jackson comparison); it was the first comment on the blog about how women talk about books, and that's why women drive sales. According to this commentator, the book by the male author had "smut" sex--sleazy, not appealing to women--which is why the women who did read the book didn't recommend it to friends. I don't know if this is the case, but one thing is certain: women talk about books more than men. If women are talking about the book--recommending it to friends--creating that word of mouth that is essential for a book to really take off, you have a success.

What is your primary source of information when buying a new-to-you author? Browsing, word of mouth, pre-book buzz (ads, excerpts, reviews, etc), something else?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A to Z with nothing in between

Last night I watched the movie Lord of War with Nicholas Cage, who's a illegal arms dealer. My boyfriend Jon and I debated the movie's merits. While we both agreed it was an excellent film cinematically, I simply didn't like the ending. The character had no redemptive qualities (he wasn't supposed to), and then the movie director added a tag line "based on real events" and then added another tag line of the countries that sell weapons. IMO, in doing that, the director went from A to Z without enough things in between. What had the potential to be powerful simply washed out as the viewer got thrust to the end--big climax, quick wrap up, fast letdown on part of viewer. If the director had a point, I wasn't quite sure exactly what it was as he'd lost me somewhere along the way. I kept waiting for more--not sure what, but something--and never got it.

I just read a book like that as well. The novel was excellent, all the way up until the end. The author had me. I cared about the character and understood the motivations. I related with the dilemmas. But then all of the sudden there's a huge emotional crisis. I'm talking huge. Not just a black moment, but the type of thing that people don't recover from without years of therapy. And magically, within pages, all is well, a few years pass, and everything's been wrapped up in a pretty bow. I kept thinking I'd missed something somewhere. But no, I'd been moved from A to Z with nothing in between. I felt cheated and let down.

I went back and read some reviews of the movie, and discovered I wasn't exactly alone in not necessarily having a good feel for it. I'll read more books by the author for I love her work. And I'll work on my own, and try to make sure I've brought my reader from A to Z, without missing any of the necessary parts in between.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Doubting Thomas Inside

We, the writers of this world, teller of stories, all have him there, inside us—the little bugger—hiding, just waiting for the perfect opportunity to burst out and say: “What if your agent doesn’t like the new proposal? What if she sends it back? Says it sucks, send something else. (She’s never said that, by the way, but Thomas thinks it’s fun to taunt me.) Have you got something else? Because you’re still new to the game, you know, and it’s a good bet the NY editors are going to want a whole ms, not just the 3 chapter/synopsis thing. Worse, what if she regrets taking you on as a client? Eek!

Oh yeah, Thomas pops out regularly. Like every time I send my agent something new. I’m not just a newbie to the publishing game, I’m still new to the agent thing as well. The first one I had sent out my stuff, but never followed up. Wasn’t prepared to handle more than one ms at a time. We never really talked about what I wanted career-wise. Nothing happened. Time wasted.

My new agent—I LOVE HER—let me just get that out—is patient with me during revisions, edits for content, stays upbeat all the time. We’ve discussed the kind of books I want to write, the genre. Where I see myself in the future. She encourages me to try new things. She’s a gem.

I haven’t sold anything yet, since I’ve been with her. We’ve had stuff out there, received revisions requests that ultimately didn’t work out in the end, good feedback that can be applied. Which is progress compared to no thanks. But, still, I’m scared to death she’s going to break up with me. I feel like I’m letting her down. Like maybe she’s starting to feel like I’m wasting her time.

And I wonder, will I always feel this way? Will I always initially think my writing is crap? Will I always doubt myself? The answer: I don’t know. I’m making progress, working my way up the ladder, but God is it a long ladder.

Here’s a shocker: I’ve heard writers far, far better than me, best-selling authors, say the same things. Ask the same questions. Have the same doubts. They fight through writer’s block and dry selling spells and losing editors and closing lines. And I can relate. I no longer feel like that lonely rat Jenny Crusie talks about, swimming in search of the island. I’m in good company. I’m in excellent company, and proud of it.

The good news is: Like those who’ve attained success, I’m determined. I’m not where I want to be yet, by any means, but I don’t intend on giving up until I get there. So Thomas can just take a hike. Because my desire to succeed is stronger than the doubts he can plant in my head.

TLGray Finalist Anne-Bonney Readers Choice AwardThe World According To Ali--Cerridwen Press, In Stores Now! Winner 2006 LORIES-Single TitleObject Of His Affection--Cerridwen Press Feb 2006

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Mudslinging Opponent Drags Former Romance Author Through the Dirt

Fred Head, what are you thinking? This Democratic candidate for Texas comptroller apparently couldn't come up with enough substantive issues, so he stooped to calling his Republican opponent, Susan Combs, a pornographer for having authored a 1990 Meteor romance.

To make his point, Mr. Head has even posted out-of-context, "dirty" excerpts at

Hmm. Every hear of copyright infringement, Fred? Or how about angry and offended readers and writers? Plenty are visiting his site and venting their wrath.

And guess what. Lots of them are Texas voters.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Positive Article for Romance!

There's a fabulous article about romance books and the people who read romance! Check it out at: Desire Surges For Romance Novels.

Patti O'Shea

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Redneck Deer Hunting plus some industry news

This morning at 6:20 AM, I went redneck deer hunting. For those of you unfamiliar with the sport, it's when people like me who live in the country (like I do) kill the biggest deer you can find on a two-lane road using the front end of your car. I was pretty successful--I landed an 8-point buck in three seconds: one to see him running in front of me, two to travel less than five feet and hit him, and three to make sure my car wasn't in a ditch once the airbag smoke dissipated. I wasn't, my car had been pushed to the right by the impact, but I was safely two wheels on the road and two on someone's gravel driveway. The buck was down the ravine off the other side of the road--the impact tossed him at least 20 feet.

Once again I thanked God as I walked away from another car wreck--this one about 40 miles an hour to zero in seconds. I'm sore, but overall doing fine. No deer in my windshield, my car's fixable, and the rental is in my garage. Tomorrow I'll go to work, and later I'll put the pictures of my car (about $6,000 worth of damage) on my bulletin board and advise my students to always wear their seatbelts. The 8-point rack went home with one of the guys from the fire department.

So that brings me to my industry news. Since I had an unexpected free day from teaching as I was without a car, I decided to touch base with my editor. So I called Harlequin only to learn that she was no longer with the company. Torstar, Harlequin's parent company, decided to downsize 4 percent of Harlequin's personnel according to Reuters and Publisher's Weekly.

I'd just heard from my editor last week. But like the crash with the deer, when I spent about ten minutes in shock after calling 911, I recovered from the devasting news and went into action. I called my agent so that she can be aware of what's up as this event snuck up on everyone. In my opinion, and from the way the news media reported it, I don't many at Harlequin knew it was coming. If they did, it was kept very quiet.

I spoke with someone else at Harlequin to make sure that my files I'd sent had gotten there. I called another writer about the workshop we were doing--with our editor who is no longer there what did we want to do? Then I sat down and got to work meeting my current deadline.

In life and in publishing, things come up out of the blue that are sudden and unexpected. All of the sudden--pow--in an instant things change and life gets upheaved. I loved working with my editor. I'm going to miss her. She made me a better writer. I will always be grateful to her for that, and I wish her the best wherever her future plans take her.


Tidings of Joy

Tidings of Joy is now on the shelf at your local bookstore or grocery store. This is an October Love Inspired release.

Chance Taylor came to Sweetwater to repay a debt. He didn’t expect to have feelings for his new landlady, Tanya Bolton. He could see newly widowed Tanya had worked hard to put the pieces of her world back together, caring for her wheelchair-bound daughter and taking a job at the local bank.

Chance’s arrival interrupted Tanya’s routine…and brought unexpected happiness to her life. But the secret obligation he struggled with meant Chance could lose Tanya—and his chance for a fresh start—forever.

This is the last book in the Ladies of Sweetwater Lake Series. I will miss these characters, having really gotten to know them over the course of five books. Tanya’s story was the hardest one to write. She was wounded and hurting, and until Chance came into her life, she didn’t realize she could help another to heal.

In Tidings of Joy Crystal, and to a certain extent Chance, had to deal with a bully. I teach in a high school and have seen firsthand the harm a bully can do to another. If you or a loved one is dealing with a bully, get help. Don’t try to cope on your own. If you witness a bullying situation, speak up for the person who is targeted. Bystanders can make a difference in a bullying situation.

There are some excellent books about bullying and what can be done to stop it. I had the pleasure of listening to Barbara Coloroso speak on bullying in our schools. Her book, The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander, offers good suggestions to parents and teachers about making changes in how we raise our children to break the cycle of violence we’ve seen in our culture and schools.

Margaret Daley
TIDINGS OF JOY, Love Inspired, October 2006
HEARTS ON THE LINE, Love Inspired Suspense, June 2006