Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Writer's World

Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. ~Anton Chekhov

Doesn’t this quote define the essence of a good writer? Show me.

Do you remember the classical movie, My Fair Lady, and Audrey Hepburn’s singing with Julie Andrews’s voice? Show Me.

Before we immersed ourselves in workshops about show vs tell, we instinctively knew the difference between a boring book with paragraphs of descriptions and a fast-paced story that takes us on a ride where we experience the characters’ feelings.

Obviously while sitting in our chair, fingers hopping on the keyboard we try hard to show our characters’ actions and feelings. We often become a character to better experience their emotions, live their lives.

Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia. ~E.L. Doctorow

No kidding? Are we writers schizophrenics in denial? Maybe.

My husband would agree with that quote as he repeats for the third time, “I’m talking to you. Come back. Live with us.” Too often, while I am concentrating on the story I am creating on my monitor screen I live in my little world.

Am I missing on life while I withdraw in my stories?

My friends threw a big party to celebrate my first book, TO LOVE A HERO, and advised me to start enjoying life now that I reached my goal and published a book.

But one book published wasn't my goal. I didn't stop writing and I didn't socialize more. My second book, FRENCH PERIL, came out but few of my friends bothered to congratulate me. They think I am pushing it too much.

Will I wake up one day and wish I hadn’t spent so much time on my own?

Writing is my life. I can't stop.

A word is not the same with one writer as with another. One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket. ~Charles Peguy

Writers do you feel isolated?
Readers do you realize how much work goes into a book creation?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Do you believe in miracles?

I do and I believe harder now after my daughter’s accident.

It happened at eight in the morning on her way to work on Rt 95, a four-lane highway. She was on the second lane from the left. A truck dragging a trailer with sandbags drove on lane one on the extreme right.

He lost control of the trailer. The sandbags flew. The trailer twisted and overturned. The truck skidded at high speed, crossed over the next two lanes, spun, and hit her at full speed on the right front side. Her car spun in the lane on her right.

Thank God, she was in her husband's Jeep and not her little car. Thank God, he hit her on the passenger side. Thank God, there were no cars passing her on her left at that very second. And thank God she wasn't hurt although the car is totaled. She was very scared and unable to talk for five minutes. She just sat in the car in shock. She can't remember if she lost consciousness. She can't remember if she saw him coming.

Someone called 911. It's only when the police knocked on her door that she got out of her shock and called her husband. The truck driver was not hurt also. But the highway was blocked for two hours around the accident area because of the overturned trailer and sandbags.

Being a doctor herself, she managed to go to her hospital and work, but she stayed home the next day, hugging and kissing her children. Her back hurt badly and she still has to see a doctor. She told us late at night when she came home. She is still in shock and had nightmares for the last two nights. I am in shock.

But I do believe in miracles. Have you ever experienced real miracles?

Now to take my mind off the nightmare I play along with my friends.
I have been tagged by Kelly Kirch.

Tag rules:

1) Link to the person that tagged you.
2) Post the rules on your blog.
3) List six unspectacular quirks you have.
4) Tag six bloggers by linking them.
5) Leave a comment on each person's blog to let them know they've been tagged.

My six quirks are:

1. I braid one strand of my hair on and off and undo it, while I think and type.
2. I snack on nuts, pistachios and pumpkin seeds. The cracking noise to open them relaxes me but annoys the hell out of my husband.
3. My birthday is January 19, my son’s January 17 and my husband January 21.
4. My eyes are different colors. One green and one hazel.
5. I am terrified of height. It took me years to be able to drive on a bridge. I always stay in the middle lane.
6. My dreams come true. My family and friends believe in them.

I'm tagging six more authors: Kelly Kirch, Anny Cook, Sandra Cox, Jenyfer Mattews, Regina Carlysle, Molly Daniels.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Never Forget


USS New YorkIt was built with 24 tons of scrap steel from the World Trade Center ..

It is the fifth in a new class of warship - designed for missions th at include special operations against terrorists. It will carry a crew of 360 sailors and 700 combat-ready Marines to be delivered ashore by helicopters and assault craft.

Steel from the World Trade Center was melted down in a foundry in Amite , LA to cast the ship's bow section. When it was poured into the molds on Sept 9, 2003, 'those big rough steelworkers treated it with total reverence,' recalled Navy Capt. Kevin Wensing, who was there. 'It was a spiritual moment for everybody there.'

Junior Chavers, foundry operations manager, said that when the trade center steel first arrived, he touched it with his hand and the 'hair on my neck stood up.' 'It had a big meaning to it for all of us,' he said. 'They knocked us down. They can't keep us down. We're going to be back.' The ship's motto? 'Never Forget'Please keep this going so everyone can see what we are m ade of in this country!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Fay in Florida

Fay will hit tonight. We already had gutsy winds and pouring rain all day long, but it was just a prelude to convince us it's coming and we better get ready.

Okay, we are as ready as we will ever be. We bought two cases of water bottles, cans, bread. We tried three gasoline stations and drove almost to the airport to be able to fill the car. We sat candles and two flashlights on the table and filled two big pots with water just in case we lose electricity and water.

I'm watching the ocean from my living room. The waves are not very high yet, but wildly frothing the sand.

In the morning, I went out for an hour and came back soaking wet in spite of my raincoat and umbrella. Later I decided it was the best writing day I could wish for. I sat at my computer, typed and wisely saved my writing every hour. I bet tomorrow will be a repeat of today.

If you live in South Florida, be careful and stay home. And don’t forget to pull your hurricane shutters. We installed hurricane windows last fall and hope they won’t leak. I guess this storm will be the ultimate test.

Monday, August 11, 2008


Are you watching the Olympics?

The opening ceremony was amazing. All the regalia, the perfect coordination, the show of historical and contemporary China. It was impressive. I can’t believe the amount of work and discipline necessary to produce that incredible result.

The little hero from the earthquake was adorable walking next to the tallest (7.6 ft) flag bearer.

Is it a proof that if we put a lot of work, a lot of effort, a lot of discipline we should garner successful results?

Is it a proof that if we don’t succeed, it’s maybe because we haven’t put enough effort?

Our TV is running non-stop while I work on my computer and my husband on his laptop. We watch from time to time and exchange comments. Of course, we followed carefully the tennis matches and applauded Federer. Tennis is as important as eating for my husband who complains I spend too much time sitting in front of my computer and no time at all exercising or walking. He gave up on my tennis long ago.

Americans won gold and silver for swimming. I am looking at the winners now as they stand straight listening to the Star Spangled Banner. Early in the afternoon I applauded the gymnastic show, my favorite part. Is watching gymnastic considered exercise?

Which part of the Olympics you like best?

What's your favorite exercise?

I was just talking above about hard work bringing reward. It’s true. Honestly. I just saw a review for my romantic suspense, French Peril.

Mona Risk
Cerridwen, 2008
ISBN: 97814419917189
Reviewed by Anne Boling for
4 Stars

Mystery and intrigue surrounds the excavation of an old chapel.
Mona Risk, author of French Peril, offers her fans another great read. In French Peril, she creates a swirling air of mystery around the excavation of a chapel ruin. Murder, mystery, and intrigue seem to follow Cheryl as she assists Fran├žois on his project. She finds his presence gives her a sense of security, but she also senses that he does not trust her expertise. Francois is attracted to the beautiful American and soon finds he is in love with her. Risk has a talent for character development. Cheryl is a multitalented, impetuous person. Fran├žois is harder to define. He is romantic, determined, and very protective. French Peril is a great contemporary romantic read.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

RWA Workshops

Emotions, emotions, emotions by Barbara Mac Mahon, Barbara Heney, Jessica Hart, all published with Harlequin, and Lucy Gilmour, Mills &Boon editor.

We all have to deal with problems in life and we all face emotion in life. Focus on what all women have in common, not what makes them different, what appeals to women in general. Wherever we live, we relate to being lonely, disappointed, hurt. Romances are about happiness being achieved in spite of problems, disappointment, hurt.
A romance is an emotional fantasy.

HQ books are big books in small packages with strong emotional ties. They use:
Universal emotions.
Universal settings.
Universal themes.

Draw the reader right away with different backgrounds for the hero and heroine. Different but easily recognizable. Take the hero and heroine out of their comfort zones.
Attraction vs obstacles.
Keep the reader worrying about the hero and heroine. Keep the reader holding her breath because as readers we don’t know how the hero and heroine will overcome the obstacles that are keeping them apart.

Plunge your characters into emotional situations.

What are the things that women get emotional about:
Insecurity; sickness of loved ones; death in the family; financial stress; guilt; infidelity; medical anxiety; custody of children; family secret; betrayal; friendship; old flame; homecoming…

Don’t make the big city better than the small town.

Who are they?
Where are they coming from?
Where are they going?

Throw the backstory in bits and pieces. Because of their backgrounds, characters react differently to the same situation.

Make sure your hero and heroine act in characters to who they are, according to their backgrounds.
Make him honorable. Make her sympathetic.
Keep their conflict strong.

What bring them together?
What keep them apart?
Where is the emotion?

Summary of important items in a romance:
A for action
B for backstory
C for chapters one and characters
D for details
E for easy and gradual steps
F for frustration and sexual tension
G for goals and gorgeous end.

More on RWA 2008

What a great conference. The accommodations were first class, rooms, meals and entertainment. The best part was meeting so many friends. I also had the added bonus of being able to visit my former company’s headquarter. Imagine, the president sent me a limousine to pick me up at the airport and drive me to the Marriott.

On Wednesday, I attended the Heartbeat Medical Chapter luncheon. Three editors from HQ Mills& Boon were invited and many published medical romances authors from US, Australia, England and New Zealand were present. A real feast, especially that I was sitting next to Lucy Gilmour, HQ editor.
See picture of Julie Rowe (Heartbeat prez) Sally, Susan, Lucy Gilmour, (three editors at HQ Mills& Boon) and Mona Risk.

On Wednesday night, I toured the Literacy signing tables where more than 500 published authors signed their books. $58,000 collected for the Literacy.

Later on, my critique partners, Helen Scott-Taylor, her husband, Joan Leacott and I relaxed with a drink on the 39th floor lounge of the Marriott, enjoyed the view and chit-chatted.

On Thursday, it was registration, Pro and Pan general meetings. Helen, Joan and I walked through downtown and Chinatown. I came back for the RWA lunch and Victoria Alexander keynote speech. A hilarious speech from a lovely lady.

At 3:00 pm my former boss picked me up at the Marriott and too me straight to the company building. I had tears in my eyes when I entered the lobby of the four story wide building overlooking the Burlingame Bay, and saw a big frame on the wall with my picture receiving an award from government officials. The frame has been hanging for seven years already. Of course, I took a picture next to it. then toured the place and showed several people how to buy my ebooks on line.

Back at the hotel, I hardly had enough time to change and rushed to the FTHRWA on line chapter gathering. I have met my CPs, my friends from the Writers at Play, and many fellow writers through this chapter, and I feel I owe them a lot. Literary Agent Scott Eagan gave us a talk about his career and what he was looking for in new authors. At 9:00 pm I met with Carolyn Hughey, one of my first CPs and other authors, and we walked together to the PASIC (a published authors loop) cocktail. There I met and chatted at length with a great lady, Mardi Balou, who is published by Ellora's Cave and Cerridwen Press. Mardi was a well of advice on how to make it in ebooks. Carolyn introduced me to some of her friends from Avalon and to the owners and editors of Source Books. They are actively looking for new authors with single title books of 90,000 words.

Friday was even busier with many workshops, the most important for me being Emotion, emotion, emotion presented by Barbara MacMahon, Barbara Haney, Jessica Hart, and Lucy Gilmour, about what HQ editors are looking for in new manuscripts. Just before lunch time, Beth Trissel (published with The Wild Rose Press) recognized me and called my name. We walked to the lunchroom together. She was wearing a t-shirt printed with her cover book. We sat together for lunch. See picture of, Beth on the left and Mona on the right at the GH reception.

And then came the moment all writers wait for while biting their lips or chewing their nails or tapping the floor, the moment we gather in a room and wait to be called for the Pitch to the editor. Mine went smoothly as I pitched a medical romance. Now please cross your fingers and toes for this pitch and request for partial to bring something positive. After that, I was able to relax. Friday night was the party nights for Harlequin authors, Avalon authors, Avon authors, Dorchester authors… Editors invite their authors for drinks and food. Since my editor Cerridwen Press/Ellora's Cave was not present at RWA National this year, I visited my boss for a delicious dinner with his family.

Elevators are great place to meet people. Seriously, and not only in Grey’s Anatomy. I saw Terry Odell, a Cerridwen Press fellow author and the famous Barbara Vey. I profusely thanked Barbara for posting a review of my book, TO LOVE A HERO and the bookcover on her column at Publishers Weekly for a whole week. She gave me her card and said to write to her. You bet I will. Helen met her in the lobby. A friend of Helen introduced her to Barbara Vey as the winner of the Romantic Time American Title. Barbara hugged Helen, took a picture with her and gave her her card. We are eagerly checking Publishers Weekly.
See in this picture, Mona, Helen and Joan Leacott.

Too soon, it was already Saturday and the Golden Heart/Rita Award ceremony and reception. I clapped hands so hard for Helen Scott-Taylor, paranormal finalist, and for Beth Trissel, Historical finalist. Even if they didn’t win, they were winners just by being finalists. They wore a pretty corsage and lovely smile. Joan has sewed her outfit and wrap herself. She looked splendid.

Terry Garey, a good friend from the Writers at Play loop won the the Best First Book. Terri was gorgeous in a golden silk dress that matched the golden Rita statuette she won. We took so many pictures and met so many authors. It was worth the long trip.

Finally here is a group picture of the Writers at Play. From left: Tawny Weber (HW Blaze), Leslie Dicken ( Samhain), Janice Lynn (Mills& Boon and EC), Kathleen Long ( HQ Intrigue), Marlene Urso (incredible quilt maker, second place win in the Hearts Through History contest), Stacey Kayne (HQ Historicals), Terri Garey(Rita Award winner Dead Girls Are Easy, published by Avon), Carla Capshaw (HQ Inspirational), Mona Risk, (Cerridwen Press), Lisa Paitz Splinder (Science fiction and Website expert).

More about workshops tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

RWA 2008 in San Francisco

It was a wonderful conference. The best out of the four I attended so far. And the icing on the cake was my friend Terri Garey winning the RITA and so many friends from the Playground signing their books.

Beth Andrews signing her first book, Not Without Her Family. I read it in one sitting and love it.

Stacey Kayne signing The Gunslingers Untamed Bride which promises to be even better than Mustang Wild and Bride of Shadow Canyon, my favorite westerns.

Tawny Weber signing another Wicked Chick hot novel, Does She Dare?

And the lovely lady on the right Terri Garey, posing with the blue flag of a Rita finalist.


Mona with Terri Garey the RITA winner for Best First Novel 2008, Dead Girls Are Easy. Notice the little statue in Terri's hand.

More pictures and stories on my blog tomorrow.