Monday, December 27, 2010

Cooking Up A Character

My first-ever guest-blogging opportunity *Fiction Groupie*: Cooking Up a Character.

Characterization explained in cooking terms for the foodie writer out there. Warning: the post will probably leave you hungry.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Food & Writing Blog SOS Modern Spice giveaway!

Hi all,

I finally got brave and set up a personal blog focused on food and writing. Since I'm technologically clueless...feeling kind of nervous. I'd really appreciate if you could visit it and give me feedback.

In appreciation, I'll be giving away Monica Bhide's new book Modern Spice. To win you have to leave a comment with your e-mail. I'll draw a random winner at the end of the Thanksgiving weekend!

The URL is

Thanks & Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

75 Christian Authors * One Amazing Online Event

The Christian Review of Books in conjunction with CrossPurposes Bookstore is excited to announce the first annual Christmas Book Signing Bash.

Beginning on the day after Thanksgiving and lasting ten days (26 November - 7 December), this book signing will be an unprecedented online event. 75 of today's favorite Christian Authors have come together to answer questions, chat with their readers, and offer signed copies of their books - all without leaving the comforts of home and hearth!

Readers can search by author, title, or genre at the Christian Review of Books ( and then follow the purchase links to CrossPurposes Bookstore ( and buy autographed copies of each book featured. The authors will sign the books and ship them to the customers.

For a full list of participating authors, visit the CRoB.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Earlier this week I typed my two favorite words: The End.

It was better than wild monkey sex with chocolate sauce. After many tears of frustration, many hours of hard work , the third revision of my completed manuscript was done. This time around I kept writing guru Donald Maass’ words in mind, “Revision is an opportunity to re-imagine your story.”

So that’s what I did. Yes, I looked for the easy fixes like grammar and word choices, yes I deleted entire sentences and paragraphs. But more than that I took a hard look at my characters and settings, each scene and thought about how could I make them more. More dimensional, more interesting, more functional to the story. The basics were down and having the skeleton (the draft) really helped. I knew who the characters were, what the inciting incident was, what the central issue was and how the book ended. But now I explored what exactly I wanted from each scene. What emotions did I want to evoke in the reader. I started with the biggies: the beginning, the hero-heroine meet, the climax, the conclusion. I compared what I had on paper with what I had in my head. Took notes and worked to make the two merge.

Now, I have a longer, richer story. Thirty-two chapters and 86,700 words that I’m truly satisfied with. It’s not a story that’s going to change the world or win a Pulitzer, but it’s a good story. It’s the story that had been haunting me, it’s a story I can be proud of. Until now, I’d start on another project, but then get sucked back in by this completed manuscript. I fussed around, unsatisfied, fixing a sentence here and there, knowing it didn’t work, but not having the courage to take a closer look, go for true change. But this time, I’m happy. It’s done. I’m done with it.

I’ve already started a new notebook for my next project. Here I’m jotting down all kinds of ideas that come to me regarding the story, the characters, and the plot. I’ve closed my eyes and visualized the MC and the setting, done some rough drawings, added color. I’ve worked out a rough synopsis. The back cover blurb is written. As is the three sentence pitch and the elevator pitch. With my other story, I did all this after the story was written, but I decided to try and add a little bit of order this time around. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a pantser, but now I’ve some bones to work with, a sense of direction.

I’m gearing up for November. Notebook in hand I’m going to participate in NaNoWriMo and launch into my new WIP. Any of you NaNoing this year? Do you do a lot of prep work or start cold turkey? Any tips for having a good NaNo experience? Any and all help will be appreciated!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

New Opportunity

Hi writing friends!

Fiction groupie is giving away an agent crit from Suzie Townsend and other cool prizes. Go check it out at Fiction Groupie:

Saturday, July 17, 2010

New Opportunities

July has brought two new opportunities.

1. I'm writing a weekly food column for my local news paper. It's called The Family Table and also a some feature articles with a food angle. Yes, food and writing, my two passions in one job. I'm floating on cloud nine. :)

2. I've agreed to write a monthly post at Romance Magicians, a group blog for my Southern Magic RWA chapter. My first post is about my training as a writer. If interested please check it out...and leave a comment so I know somebody is reading :)

Bonus opportunity: Getting myself a tweeter account....

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Yesterday I drove my husband to a doctor's appointment on post. He'd been having shortness of breath and coughing so much. Monday he spent most of the day in bed. So he agreed and called yesterday morning for an appointment with his Internal Medicine doctor. He saw a different doctor, his is on vacation, and this doctor was concerned about a possible pulmonary embolism. He talked to my husband, Jim was 62 yesterday too, and examined him. Then he sent him to ER via X-ray for a chest X-ray. After spending most of the afternoon and evening at the ER they decided to transfer him. I had to choose BAMC in San Antonio-3 hours away, or Temple, TX with Scott & White hospital-only 30 minutes away. I chose the closer civilian hospital. He was having problems with either his creatine or cretin level being too high. They were saying "creatine" so I don't know what is what but it is at 3 and it is too high. He had high hopes he'd being coming home today the doctor told him this morning after his blood work and the renal ultrasound he'd be able to leave. Then she came back this afternoon and told him she'd really like to keep him one more day. I had a meltdown coming home.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy July!

July came in with gifts. The first tomato from my garden. Isn't it beautiful? And a new meet and greet between my hero and heroine. And yes, it's hot :) Four chapters rewritten and revised. Moving forward.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Good Intentions

For those of you who suffer,
I keep you in my prayers
For those of you who celebrate,
Good fortune I will share
For those of you who wait in vain,
I will complete that task,
Unless I owe you money
In which case once more ask
I read your tales of joy and woe
As often as I can
I wish I had more time to write
It always is my plan!
But life soon overwhelms me and
I’m easily distracted
By work and home and other chores
That always are protracted
So know I often think of you
And YOU is everyone
That I have ever cared about
And hope that –

Sorry, gotta go.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Fantasy is Dangerous

I came across this really cool take on fantasy and had to share...

I learned things look different by the light of a dragon’s fire. Ordinary things become extraordinary; common problems change shape and become either unusually interesting or utterly insignificant. You really see things, sometimes for the first time. And you don’t forget them when you close the book. That, of course, is what makes fantasy dangerous. – Patricia C. Wrede, author.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Writers Retreats Are Good For The Soul

I just returned from Deborah LeBlanc's Pen To Press Retreat in New Orleans. Wowza. My master class was with author CJ Lyons, not only a wonderful author, but also an amazing teacher, joyful foodie and just a great, down-to-earth person. While I learned a lot from her, the most important thing to me was: the black moment is not the end. It's always followed by resolution. Then a new story.

That little nugget can be applied to any given WIP, finished manuscript, a writing career and life itself. Personally, it helped me know myself as a writer and what I want. It helped reignite my passion for storytelling, for the first book and beyond. And that understanding is priceless.

Earlier this year, I also went to TWRP retreat in the Texas Hill Country. That was amazing too because it drove home the message: writers write. Don't get me wrong: we went dancing, fossil hunting, attended craft-related talks, but also for hours people (including me) would just pull out their lap tops and start typing. Imagine a roomful of people, just typing. Uninterrupted soft clicks of keys and creativity. Amazing.

Yes both retreats cost money and time, meant work while others played, but the best part was connecting with other creative souls and getting re-energized. Writing is a tough business, and it can wear you out. This year I have treated myself to two wonderful gatherings and my soul needed it.

The end result: butt in chair, writing. And enjoying every minute.

Friday, May 28, 2010

NOW Officially Unemployed

I'm no longer employed as of 11:30 pm last night when I walked back into the store to turn in my office key and lottery box key. Gulp! I spent fifteen years working at Athens Shell Foodmart and while there were times I hated it basically it was a great place to work and learn as I worked there. My shift ended at 11:00 I had received parting gifts of a digital key chain, the movie AVATAR, and little Reese's peanut butter cups in the bottom of the bag under the tissue. My boss, Ida, paid for the pizza I had planned to order for dinner my coworker had a coupon for low price. All my coworkers had signed the card and a sweet customer brought me cake from a bakery in Tyler. It is an Italian Cream Cake and good. So on my way out I made two trips to the car first I carried the pizza left overs and the cake. Then last I carried my purse, my always there giant mug of Diet Coke, and my gift bag. I had to hug my friend and coworker that I trained six years ago. We had fun people would walk out shaking their heads going you two are having entirely too much fun. So we joked that was why the boss separated us. But the truth was Denise took the overnight shift and I was on evenings with one early morning. I always joked if you ever put two on nights Denise and I work well together. Our boss, Ida, would laugh and say I can't do that you two are my best employees and have to put someone else with you. I'd go I know but would be fun to work together again. We closed at midnight when she hired Denise. Denise made the comment one time when another girl who had only been there a week left her a note demanding she do something. Denise said it wasn't like Ida or Kathy had told her to do it, after all they'd been there 100 years they could boss her around. No this was a new person. She promptly wadded up the note and threw it over her shoulder. The 100 years stuck. Denise told Ida with me leaving only person could boss her around now. And Ida said oh no you didn't as Denise said, "Now it's you 'cause you've been here a 100 years." Gotta love your coworkers that make you old in a sweet way.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Repeat after me - I CAN!

I have a sticky note on my monitor at work. “Attitude is everything.” I strive to make mine good and not bad. With a high-stress job and long hours it’s not always easy, but I’m determined to smile. My good humor is not always appreciated but misery spreads like wildfire.

Why are we so more receptive to negative thoughts and comments? Talent and creativity should not be wasted. Any author, aspiring or published, needs a network of supportive friends for days of self-doubt, rejection, and humiliation. Everyone should make a list of their accomplishments and put it on their bathroom mirror. At the top note: “I am a goddess and I can do ANYTHING.”

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Inspiration --Tiger Eye

Books are what inspired me to write. Books that transported me, and made me feel a whole gamut of emotions from fear to tears and more. One such book was Marjorie M. Liu's "Tiger Eye." By the time I'd finished reading that book I'd traveled to a Chinese dirt market, fallen in love with Hari, cried over deaths and guilts. And I knew, I wanted to write stories, stories that touched others.

Tiger Eye is on my keeper shelf. From time to time, I'll take it down and read through it again. Even though I know the ending, I enjoy it every single time. When I get a rejection, I read it. When I'm stuck in my writing, I read it. And I always come away energized and inspired.

So, when I heard Passionfruit games is turning Tiger Eye into a game...well, of course I did the Snoopy dance, whooped and hollered. How cool will it be go active into my inspiration?

For more info on the game check out Passionfruit

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


My mother says there are different sorts of blessings. A person can say the words to you. Or do some action that translates into a blessing for you. Or, according to her this is the best, bestow a subconscious blessing.

A subconscious blessing is in response to some action of yours. It can be a lightning smile that illuminates the face for a brief second or a sigh of happiness. It is a blessing from the heart, requiring no conscious thought or formal acknowledgement.

On Valentine's weekend I was involved with a group of volunteers to host the fifth annual Valentine's Lunch at the Soup Kitchen (a Peace Ambassadors of West Texas project). We decorated, cooked, served, washed dishes, cleaned. We also visited, danced and sang. Both the guests -- the homeless and working poor --and the volunteers (a diverse group in terms of age, race, religion, socio-economic status) had a blast. Yes, I was tired by the end of it all, but smiling. Smiling from the inside all the way to the outside.

The breaking of a dream, a rejection, unanswered queries are all minor when compared to hunger and poverty. Life continues at its own pace, all we can do is live as best as we can. So, I haven't published yet, but I've done some things I can be happy about. And I've been blessed.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Writing Insight from a Pro

Found a lovely piece of writing insight today from an author I admire greatly for her productivity, straight talk, and sheer stubborness:

"Every time you write, you go to a construction site in your head. The words are waiting there, like a couple truckloads of loose bricks. They're not going to build themselves into anything, no matter how often you talk to your hands or mouth-breathe or get in touch with your inner Tinkerbell. You pick up the bricks. You mortar them together on a page. You build a story out of them. And that's it. The sweaty, nerve-wracking, non-glittery, unglamorous, orc-free work of writing."

Check out Paperback Writer: Where's the Mothership?">Lynn Viehl's entire post for a good laugh, a healthy dose of common sense and some more insights.

Thanks Lynn, you keep inspiring me. :)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Cool Photos

I recently came across some beautiful travel photography from a UK competition. Looking at the pictures I was reminded that even though writing and photography are different art forms -- words and visuals --some of the same factors are at play. An attention to detail, the ability to see something from a different angle, and then an ability to capture that idea.

The photographer of the year is a Bangladeshi and since I'm originally from Bangladesh...I'm mighty proud to present to you ...drumroll....

Cool Travel Photos

Friday, January 29, 2010

Today is a New Day

It's been a crazy, overwhelming week and I've felt like a rickety little sampan caught in a monsoon storm.

Besides the health scare, one of my non-writing dreams crashed and burned. I'd applied for a career in the foreign service -- passed the initial test, took a language test and submitted five personal essays and finally got eliminated. Since the essays were based on my personal experiences, I couldn't but help feel my life didn't measure up. Yes, major pity party and waterworks. Therapy included early morning talk session with the hubby and a scrabble match, prayer, lists, chocolates. All that sank into a conclusion: I'm doing the best I can and that's all I can do. Today is a new day.

But there's been good stuff too.

This week my WIP was chosen as a honorable mention in the QueryTracker contest, which resulted in an agent's invite to query. So I worked on the query letter some and should be able to send it off (with sample pages) by tomorrow. Eek!

I also submitted another short story to a spec fiction market. Waiting for their reaction.

And, I think I've a better beginning for the short story I'd been working on last week.

Somehow, the positive things seem like small, baby steps in comparison to the disappointments. But steps --any kind--keep moving us forward.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Not in the plans

Yesterday I landed in the ER after I felt bad --numbness and tingly on the right side, a black hole of emptiness in the center of the chest, dizziness, nausea, S-L-O-W thought process. My reaction? I lay down, until much of the feeling passed. Then drove to work. Just another day.
My friend at work --who happens to be a nurse-- heard all this and insisted I call my doc, which resulted me ending up in the ER for hours, undergoing all kinds of tests. Final diagnosis --all tests for a heart attack turned up negative, but now they suspect the beginnings of a stroke.

Lessons learned:

1. 37 isn't too young for a heart attack or a stroke.
2. With women symptoms don't have to be on the left side, could be on the right or any where else in the chest cavity.
3. It's not as dramatic as in the movies, instead the symptoms can creep up on and catch you unawares.
4. None of this was in my plans, my resolutions or my lists. Yet it happened. Life happens. So I'm going to stop putting off things for later and just do what I want to do. Such as write the story I want.
5. I need to take care of myself. Sometimes life gets busy, and exercise time falls by the wayside. Or life stresses me out, so I indulge in comfort foods --fries, nachos etc. Well, payback can be a bitch. So I am going to make me a priority.

So I guess I learned a few new things (part of my resolutions) but in an unexpected way. Sometimes the universe knows better what I need. And I definitely needed this wake up call.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Another list

Speaking of lists, here's a great one I came across on author Marjorie M. Liu's blog. While all of it is relevant, I love #5.

Let's hope I've linking success here:

Marjorie M. Liu's List


I like making lists. All kinds of lists --from grocery lists to lists of books to read. When I'm stressed, I make lists --of things to do, pros and cons, solutions, options. Lists help me think, calm me down.
So I decided to end my week with a list. A list of what I've accomplished this week. I'm hoping that will help me keep on track with my goals, show me where I stand before its too late.

1. Finished editing my manuscript Wild Fire. Yay! Still too raw from the experience to say whether I really hate the book or am just sick of it and actually like it. Anyhoo, I did send it off to a reader. That's a step in the right direction.

2. Rewrote my short story as a poem and submitted it to another market. Waiting to hear back.

3. Wrote 1,055 words on a new short story. Not finished yet.

4. Read two books --a J.D. Robb and an Inspector Ghote mystery. Looks like I'm into crime and detecting at the moment.

5. Signed up for a food writing class, which starts next week. I like food, I like writing...should be a good combination. But homework!? Looking forward, feeling nervous.

6. Asked the hubby out. Waiting for him to pick me up after work, so we can explore downtown a bit, have dinner, a conversation before we go pick up the kids and resume the chaos that's called family.

Here's hoping for a great weekend all around!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Late Resolutions

So, I've finally settled into 2010. I no longer automatically date my checks 09 and "Happy 2010!" trips and trots off my tongue easily. I've had time to reflect on the past year and dream on the new one, and these are my resolutions:

1. Laugh more --esp. in situations where the only other option maybe to cry or lose it. Given I've two kids, two cats, two dogs and the typical male of a husband, I'll have to recite this one as a mantra on a daily basis.

2. Learn something new --while publication has been a life-long dream, I can't let it consume me. One of the most important things I did last year was to realize that I can and do have more than one dream, one hope and I'm going to continue to build on it.

3. Write more -- regularly and more than my WIPs. I'm going to have fun and explore other forms --poems, short stories etc.

4. Send my words out to the world. I'm not going to let rejections, long periods of silence and my own doubts pull me back. I'll keep sending my writing out. To that end, I've already submitted and got rejected on a short story this month (while the rejection was very kindly worded and I appreciate it, an acceptance would have made my day). Anyhoo, I'm thinking of reworking the piece into a poem and sending it elsewhere.

So here's wishing for all kinds of wonderful this year....