Thursday, May 13, 2010

It's been 4 Years!

Yep, in May 2006, the Riders all met in the parking lot and hopped in the convertible (or something like that; probably it was a cyber meeting).  I thought we'd reminisce today with a look back at some of those very first posts.  [I've edited some for length; just trying to hit the highlights.]  Kathleen kicked us into gear with this first post...

This is only the beginning...

Welcome to RIDING WITH THE TOP DOWN! This is a brand new group effort. We are seven published writers, friends from a wonderful writers' group--Midwest Fiction Writers, Minneapolis--who write in a variety of Pop Fiction subgenres. We're here to blog, blog, blog about anything and everything, from the writer's life to family life, from getting published to getting the garden in, from crowded to empty nests and crowded to empty heads. Not that we're ever really empty-headed, but there comes a time in the writing day when there are no more words, and you start looking for distractions. You want to jump in the car, boat, ferris wheel, or on the back of a horse and take a ride. If you can get a friend or two to go along, so much the better. When writers get together--especially after they've been locked in the garret trying to make a deadline--man, do they talk.

First of all, I've only ever posted to one Blog, ever, so I'll have to get "broken in." I'll confess to not being a fan of chat rooms. I've been a "guest speaker" a few times, and I feel like I'm sitting in a room with a bunch of people I can't see. Terrified. My dear friend Jane--who is blind--would high-five me about now. And I'm a slow reader and slower typist. But maybe I can handle this blogging thing.

We have some ideas that should make this journey interesting. Yes, we'll talk about our books and how we wrote them. When you're in "deep write," you're practically living and breathing the book. It's almost all you can think or talk about. But we do have real lives, too. We're going to invite bloggers to pose questions for us. We'll choose a question each week, and each of us will give her thoughts. And, of course, we'll look forward to getting other bloggers' thoughts. In addition we hope to highlight each contributor's special interests and experiences. And, trust me, we run the gamut. You can tell that just from our book covers. We're all kids at heart, but some of us are also grandmas. So yes, Jimi, we are experienced.

We're still getting set up--three of our contributors are up against deadlines as we speak--but I thought I'd post a welcome and see how it looks on the page.

Oh! I just figured out how to make italics! It's old dog, new tricks time.

You've come a long way, Kathleen, since that first post!  Yay!  I jumped in next with anticipation for the upcoming Romantic Times convention.  Here's a bit from that...

Does this mean I get to go shopping?

I've just emerged from a wicked deadline, and with my flight taking off for Daytona in two days, I suppose I should start packing, eh?

And, yes, I did go shopping. A lot. And I still feel the urge to go once again. Because you just never know what you'll need, right? I feel an intense need for a Meeting The Editor For The First Time outfit. That is just cause for shopping, yes? I'm sure I can convince The Hubby that it is. Oh heck, who needs to tell?

My list of clothing is growing, and it's taking a weird turn. I've got the Meet the Fans in Club RT outfit. It's comfy, yet sassy. I'll be doing a stint as one of the members of the Vampire Vixens on Wednesday afteroon in Club RT at 3:00, so stop by. Then, there's the Sexy Fantasy outfit that I need for the Ellora's Cave party that night. Yikes! I'm not sure about that one. I think it'll be pretty difficult to get Johnny to show up on such short notice. The costume just wouldn't be right without him!

I love this post from Helen, who was waiting to here if her second book would sell...
 Waiting ... and waiting ...

I’ll say it right up front. I’m not a patient person. I put covers on my pans of water to get them boiling quicker, and, yes, I watch the pot! Driving in my car, I sweat and swear behind someone on the freeway going the speed limit in the left lane. It is considered a passing lane afterall! In a store, I always count the number of people ahead of me before choosing a checkout line. I’ll even hover sometimes if I know they’ll be opening a new lane.

How in the world I continued writing four plus books, suffering rejection after rejection, before finally selling is beyond me. I think maybe I had hope there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Now I’m wondering.

I’ve been waiting for a decision from my editor on a second book for five weeks. The book is finished, just needs some revisions. (Not the least of which is cutting 100 pps from a 425 pps manuscript, but hey, who’s counting?) I also sent in a proposal for a NASCAR trilogy about three weeks ago.

My editor said they’d have a decision after Memorial Day. I don’t know about you, but to me, that meant within the week after Memorial Day. Well, it’s Friday, and I still haven’t heard anything. I even emailed my editor the other day to tell her about this new blog in the hopes of triggering something. Surprise, nothing!

I scheduled lunch with a friend today to keep myself occupied, but it won’t be enough. This waiting is killing me!

What do you hate waiting for and how do you combat the pins and needles?

[Just so you know, Helen posted a few weeks later that the book had sold.  Lois knew exactly what we chicks wanted to read about with her first post...]

Men and Modesty

Okay, here’s a little something that recently came to my attention--men have no modesty. Now I happen to be one of those people who really bought the line about gender differences being caused by nature and not nature. As in…give your sons dolls and they’ll grow up to be just as sensitive and gentle as girls. I have sons. I gave them dolls. They used them as guns, hid behind the furniture, and shot each other over the arm rests. And modesty? What modesty? I once found my teenager trying on pants in the middle of a department store…took too long to find a changing room, he said.

For a while I thought I must have done something terribly wrong. That somehow I had damaged them beyond compare, but I recently returned from the Romantic Times convention. RT is a magazine for romance readers. Once a year they host an event to introduce readers to writers. More to the point, they introduce everyone to romance novel cover models and cover model hopefuls. They host a contest for these models. Somehow I was convinced to help out with costumes behind stage.

And this is where the full weight of the truth came crashing down on my na├»ve little head. Not only do men have no modesty, they don’t care that they have no modesty, and they don’t care if everyone knows they have no modesty.

Now I’m a mature woman (kind of) but sometime during the evening I found myself hiding behind the curtains. Maybe it was when one of the models had to relieve himself in a bottle. I’m not sure. But the fact remains…regardless how they are nurtured, men and women are terribly different, and I don’t just mean anatomically, although I recently learned…well…never mind. Anyway, yeah, granted, these guys are models and confident of their ummm attributes, but still, this immodesty thing seems to have very little to do with physical attributes and so much more to do with simple gender. I mean it doesn’t seem to matter if a guy is as pale as belly button lint or as hairy as an ogre, he’s still willing to strut his proverbial stuff.

So why is that? Why are they so different than women? Am I totally off the mark here? Or am I just jealous that I’ve never perfected the art of peeing in a bottle?

We've shared fun personal stuff with you all, and who could forget Betina's gorgeous toes!

More Improvements...

What does it take to change yourself? really change yourself?

I've come to a time and a place in my life that requires something new, something fresh, something different. My writing voice, my outlook, my routines, my location. . . everything is up for grabs. (Relationships, not so much. They're my anchor.) I'm hip-deep in the process of reinventing myself.

So where do I start? I'm on a quest to find out.

Clearly, some things are in my control and some aren't. One thing I CAN do something about is my health, which isn't bad but could definitely use some improvement. Get thee behind me, Cholesterol! Need to drop some weight and get into better shape. There are times I feel I'm melting and merging into the keyboard. I need better posture, better work habits, and regular EXERCISE.

In that vein. . . my nearest and dearest strong-armed me into buying the latest fitness thing for the ambulatory: MBT walking shoes. These things look like the foam from an old car seat tied on with piles of white ace bandages. I opted for the sandals, since I live in Florida and wear open toes year around. Not that you can see much of my exquisite polish job through this spandex-gone-wild stuff.

These shoes are designed with "Masai Barefoot Technology" which gives rise to the name "MBT." It's like walking in loose sand. . . heel sinks and you have use major muscle to walk up and over the rest of the shoe. Supposed to strengthen the legs and align the spine. . . improve posture and double the workout from walking. I'll let you know if it helps. Or stops hurting. They ought to sell the damned things with accessorized Advil. But I'm determined. Fitness, here I come! I'm going to be a new woman by this time next year.

Ohhh, ohhh! I almost forgot! Following the current Hollywood trend of combining names to create a new gossip-and-promo-worthy entity. . . I have decided henceforth to be known as one half of the blended-moniker: "T-Rex." ("T" being the appelation of affection my family and intimates use; "Rex" being the name of my dear fiancee.) So T-Rex it is. At least where people refer to the two of us.

Note to the daughters-in-law: Feel free to continue with Mom or Betina. . . no need to refer to me as "Mother T-Rex."

What about you? If you decided to change something about yourself, what would it be? And where would you start? And if you're hooked-up or married, what Brangelina-Vaugniston-Bennifer-style moniker would you choose to go by in the tabs? (Better to be prepared, eh?)

Susan Kay Law let us in on her favorite romances...

Susie talks about her first time

Do you remember your first time? I do.

I was in junior high. I’d always been ahead of the curve, reading books that were supposed to be too old for me. (What did you think I was talking about? First romance novel, people.) But I’d never read a true romance. At the risk of dating myself, they hadn’t been around all that long. Those were the glory days of Kathleen Woodiwiss and all who came after her.

I was in math class, and I was bored. Gee, what a shock. My very dear, and clearly more sophisticated friend, Merrill, tossed me a copy of THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER. I had no idea what I was getting in for, but I was hooked from the first line. From then on every time I went to replenish my book supply, the first things in the pile were big, fat (and in those days they were FAT) books with PASSION and WIND and SAVAGE in the title.

To their credit, my parents didn’t try to censor what I read. Yes, those books had SEX in them, but in truth they probably had the opposite of the effect that Mrs. Koslowski warned my mother about. After a steady diet of Damiens and Lucases, the dorky 14-year-old who sat next to me in choir and thought a fart was a mating call really didn’t have a whole lot of appeal.

I got away from my true love in college. For one thing, I was too busy reading things I was supposed to. Also, despite all things I loved about those first historical romances – notably the grand scale, and the fact that those characters got to trot all over the world to really exotic places – a steady diet of older, dominant heroes started to wear on me. Oh, I get that those really alpha men and the rape fantasies that went along with them were many women’s fantasies. But they weren’t really mine. Ands much variety as there was in plot and setting in those days, there wasn’t much in characters.

Then I started writing and it messed up my reading. But that’s another blog.

So . . . tell me about your first time.

Anne Frasier used to ride in the convertible with us as well...

but it's a dry heat

we're still trying to figure out the beat of this group blog.
what do people want to read?
what will they respond to?
let's just consider this a test post.
if any riders think it's tasteless and want to delete it, i won't be offended.

naked bookseller

writer Lee Goldberg ran into the naked bookseller on his way to ThrillerFest last week in Arizona. This has become one of my all-time favorite photos. Lee has a new Monk book out that's getting great reviews. And yes, naked bookseller is holding one of lee's books.

lee goldberg

another not-so-naked man:

Heh.  Apparently, none took offense at the above post.  Where did Anne go?  We need her to come back (and to bring some more pictures with her).  :-)

Since those innocent first days (well, ok, not so innocent, Anne!) we've said 'so long, and good travels!' to a few great friends as they've detoured onto their own paths, and have joined up with a handful of new friends.  We consider you, the readers, our friends, and love to share with you all our ups, downs, and in-betweens.  So what do you think the next four years will bring?


Playground Monitor said...

Oh wow! That was fun! You guys had been in business a while before I found you.

The next four years? More books, more awards and more fun rides with the top down, of course! Hope to see you guys in Orlando.


Debra Dixon said...

Alas! I was not here in the beginning!

It's fun to look back at where Team Riding started.

Anna Dougherty said...

I've only been around for a couple of these years but I remember that this was the first blog I ever commented on! What a fun way to start the day (yes I'm having lazy time) and look back at how it all started. Naked bookseller in AZ was a riot and I enjoyed Mr. Yummy-buns in the kilt.

Helen Brenna said...

Oh, Michele! What fun. I'm so glad you thought to look back. Hard to believe it's been four years.

It's especially fun for me to see the reader comments - like to know when you joined us, etc... And to think we were Anna D's first! So cool!

FWIW, the waiting has gotten MUCH easier. I now appreciate the down time. Funny. That second book was FINDING MR RIGHT and I'm now writing my 11th!

Deb, Christie, Kylie and Cindy have all joined us since then. Can't imagine the ole vert without you guys!

Michele Hauf said...

Yep, should have mentioned the original lineup was:
Kathleen Eagle, Helen Brenna, Lois Greiman, Michele Hauf, Anne Frasier, Betina Krahn, and Susan Kay Law.
We've since added Deb Dixon, Kylie Brant, Cindy Gerard, Christie Ridgway, and we and a surprise coming VERY soon!

Anne Frasier said...

Wow. I cannot believe that was only four years ago. It feels like at least six. Four, four, four. Maybe time isn't moving as quickly as I thought. I had a lot of fun here, and definitely miss everybody! fun trip down memory lane!!

Lee Goldberg said...

Thank you so much for reminding me about my encounter with the Naked Bookseller. I believe brick-and-mortar stores would be in much better shape today if more booksellers followed his example. Especially the busty ones.