Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Things that can be found on my desk right now

1-My Starbucks coffee cup. It's red. It has "love" scrawled in loopy letters on the side. It's filled with French Vanilla roast Starbucks homebrew. Heaven.

2-A silver heart shaped box given to me by SFARWA via Sophie Littlefield. I received it after being a member of the chapter for a year. It's looking a little stained, but the inside is deep blue velvet, soft and warm. There's nothing in it, but it doesn't stop me from peeling the lid and peeking inside every now and again.

3-Three notebooks. There's a pink one with papers sticking out all over for SFARWA meetings. There's another worn pink one with white spots containing messy notes for Book2 in the Crimson Bay Series. It's falling apart and I love it. There's a blue and green spotted one for Book3. That one is less messy, but it's new. Give it time.

4-A fake orchid. I have a black thumb. The plant is perfect because it's always pretty, it's always green, and because I don't have to worry about watering it, I can focus on my WIP.

5-The board book "Five Silly Monkeys". Tank wanted me to read it to him over and over again yesterday. Here it sits, just in case he asks again.

6-A box of Tangled party invitations. Princess' 7th birthday is coming later this month and I have to send those puppies out to family and friends.

7-Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola bar wrapper. Breakfast. What can I say?

8-A rectangular straw box holding my thumb drives and pens...for my work and note taking.

9-A picture of Tank at a high school track meet wearing too-big sunglasses. His "girlfriend" let him wear her RayBans. He thought he was too cool. He's even got his tongue out and his eyebrows up.

10-Bronze hair clip. Because for some reason I slept with it in my hair and when I sat down at the computer this morning my head hurt like hell. I must've slept on it until my scalp was raw and didn't even know it. Ouch.

So that's what is on my desk. What's on yours?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Silent Sunday: Letter from John Keats to Fanny Brawne

"...I must write you a line or two and see if that will assist in dismissing you from my Mind for ever so short a time...I cannot exist without you - I am forgetful of every thing but seeing you again - my Life seems to stop there - I see no further. You have absorb'd me. I have a sensation at the present moment as though I was dissolving...My sweet Fanny, will your heart never change? My love, will it?...Do not threat me even in jest. I have been astonished that Men could die Martyrs for religion - I have shudder'd at it - I shudder no more - I could be martyr'd for my Religion - Love is my religion - I could die for that - I could die for you...You have ravish'd me away by a Power I cannot resist: and yet I could resist till I saw you; and even since I have seen you I have endeavoured often "to reason against the reasons of my Love." I can do that no more - the pain would be too great - My Love is selfish - I cannot breathe without you."

--John Keats: Letters to Fanny Brawne, 1819

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Extreme Makeover: Writer Edition

I've been thinking a lot about what kind of writer I am. I figure I'm a good mashing of a plotter and a panster. I create a sort-of-plot-outline-thingy with turning points labeled out (that rarely turn out that way in the end). I don't know where my chapters should begin or end or what my characters are going to do in any given scene. I let the story work itself out...within my boundaries, I suppose.

I stepped back from the computer today, listened to the washing machine whish and whirl, watched Bailey, my "rat-dog" terrier, curl up in a ball at my feet and waited for inspiration to strike me. It didn't, but that's not the point.

I realized I'm not an organized writer. Not at all. I don't clean my house (or even my desk!) before settling down to write. I don't shower, dress in my best, or get a manicure before pounding away at the keys. Most days I'm in my pajamas with a cooling cup of coffee and my hair--Lord, my hair!--just isn't cutting it. I think I've scared the postman on a few occasions.

What about you? Are you a grungy writer like me, or do you primp and prep for your writing day?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Things I'm loving right now while I plow through Book 3 in the Crimson Bay Series

10-How long this freakin' blog post title is. Yowzer. Guess my brain is so fried I can't come up with anything more concise.

9-Ben Harper

8-Devil's Food chocolate cake.

7-Last week of school for my munchkins=no early morning alarms

6-While I've gained 3-5 pounds writing each of my books, this one is different. I'm LOSING weight while writing. No, I don't have one of those treaddesks. I'm writing in the mornings and spinning in the evenings. Seems to be working.

5-Early summer rain. My muse is flowing even though everyone is grumbling about the rain sticking around later than normal.

4-I can't stop thinking about RWA National. It's in New York City at the end of June and I'M GOING. I didn't think I'd be able to make it this year. Finances got a little tight. My daughter's birthday lands smack dab in the middle of the trip. We've resolved those issues--albeit with a lot of mommy guilt. Wanna know what I'm most excited about? Traveling alone. Last year I went with critique partner Lisa Sanchez and had a BLAST. But there's nothing quite like showing up to the airport, checking in, finding a corner to sit and read or write all by your lonesome. Very freeing feeling not knowing anyone. It's like taking yourself on a date--dinner and a movie. LOVE it.

3-Deadliest Catch. It's my all-time favorite show and the season just started.

My obsession over the show is no surprise to those who know me well. I love the ocean. I'm fascinated with ice, ice fields, ice bergs. I love anything and everything revolving around ships. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with adding a little gruff in the form of crabbing alpha males.

2-Finding The First Book Ever Written. Yup. I cleaned out my desk yesterday and found Nine Days in Joliet, the first book I ever wrote. I laughed, combed through it, Ooh'd and Aah'd. I can't believe how far I've come in a few years. No wonder I received rejections from everyone in the business. Sheesh. Needless to say, that manuscript is now lining the burn barrel in our backyard. (I have a thing for burning old work--very liberating. The day of my college graduation I went to the beach with friends, lit a massive bonfire, and tossed in all my notebooks.)

1-I got the cover for Book 1 in the Crimson Bay Series! Can't share it yet, as I'm not sure if the image they shared is the final cover. As soon as I get the go-ahead, I'll post it here. *grin

Monday, May 23, 2011

Meet an Author Monday Blog Hop! Join in!

Here's how it works:


Follow as many authors as you like. Just follow the Linky list and hop from author to author. The idea is to find as many "new to you" authors as you can, and hopefully some great new reading material as well. Leave a comment as you hop from blog to blog! We'd love to chat with you!


Follow the Meet an author Monday host (Cali Cheer Mom) along with any of the wonderfully talented authors on the list.
You will need to enter your name and blog url into the Linky tool.
Grab our super cute button and place it in a post. (THIS IS IMPORTANT!) If you don't create a post for the hop, your readers won't have a place to comment, and the hop will stop with you. So create a post, paste in the Linky code and start hopping!
The purpose of the hop is to meet "new to you" authors and discover great new reads. Follow as many authors as you can. Leave a comment and introduce yourself!
If you'd like to share the Linky list in a post on your blog ( Please do!) just follow the link and grab the code.

Authors! The more you promote this hop, the more successful it will be. Tweet about it. Post a link on Facebook. Talk about it on your blogs. Let's get the word out!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

People Searching Your Characters

Quick post this morning in between church and a friend's baptism.

I was Googling recent reviews for Dark Tide Rising the other night and happened upon a People Finder type of service that popped up near the top. I thought it was odd that something like that would show above the links to reviews the book already has.

You'll never guess whose profile was there, registered as if he actually existed...that's right...Mark Thurgood, the hero in my story. My blurb from the book is on his page, the profile picture is blank, but his age and physical description are there and spot-on with how I wrote them. It shows he lives in northern California and has some likes and dislikes that are oddly similar to the story.

Either someone read Dark Tide Rising and created a profile using my hero (which I think is the most likely) or I happened to write a character based on someone from real life whom I've never met. (Okay, if the latter is true, I should start a career as a kick-ass psychic. Bet I could make pretty good money.)

This whole thing makes me think of the T-shirt slogan, "Be nice or I'll kill you off in one of my books." Yeah. Now I mean it. Heh.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sunday, May 15, 2011

My weekend with an editor

I spent Friday and Saturday with an editor from Grand Central Publishing. She came to San Francisco to speak with our RWA chapter and answer questions about the industry.

I picked her up from the airport early Friday afternoon, showed her around the city, then spent the whole next morning and afternoon talking about "the business".

I. Learned. So. Much.

Surprisingly though, most of what I learned this weekend had nothing to do with writing or publishing. Of course I took away gleaming tidbits of information about what goes on behind Oz's curtain. Of course there's things I know about being on submission that I didn't know before. Of course I feel like I have a better grasp about how the industry's cogs work. But that's not what I'm writing about today. And because lists are neat and easy and I'm in a neat and easy kind of mood, here's five things I learned from my crazy, whirlwind of a weekend:

1-I should never handle parking tickets. Never ever. I lose them every time. Is it in my wallet? On my dashboard? In my pocket? Nope. This time it was stuck in the machine and instead of waiting for the ticket to spit out, we were on our way, gabbing about Weight Watchers and laughing about big butts (mine mostly). It took a good Samaritan holding the ticket up, screaming through the parking garage, "Did anyone lose a ticket?!" for me to wise up. I'm parking ticket challenged. There have to be others out there...

2-It's freezing ass cold in San Francisco in May. (On a related note: Minus the racks and racks of *I Heart SF* sweatshirts, there are NO warm clothes sold in the city in May.)

3-When a friend is on vacation, thereby able to eat whatever desserts they wish, if you are the one showing them around on their vacation, you are by default on vacation too. Diets need not apply. We ate at the Cheesecake Factory for a mid-afternoon snack after realizing that both of us had eaten there before without trying their infamous cheesecake. (Random similarity, right?)

Doesn't it look delicious? It really was.

4-Doing absolutely nothing is absolutely something. We drove around San Francisco from one spectacular stop to another. We gawked at Alcatraz, drove across the Golden Gate twice, curved our way down Lombard Street, strolled Pier 39, and ate absolutely tongue-lolling food. We talked family, shopping, friends, boyfriends, husbands, school, books and alpha heroes. Although I'd only just met her, by the end of the day I felt like I'd known her for years. We didn't really do anything, yet it was one of the most memorable days I've had in a long time.

And finally...

5-Editors aren't scary three-headed creatures who chomp on manuscripts for lunch, glaring hungrily at debut authors as they begin their submission process. Contrary to what debut authors think, editors are helpful and friendly. They want you to succeed! Editors are people too. Great people who love books and writing (many of them are authors themselves). They smile ear to ear with their clients as all their hard work shines on the printed page. They're people who fight for authors and genuinely love the publishing process.

I had a great weekend. Now excuse me while I get my cheesecake-lovin' butt to the gym.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Second Chance Prom

I went to both of my high school proms, junior and senior, with the same boyfriend. I think we went to Mallard's on the Stockton waterfront for dinner both years. The first year was a blast, although we'd just got together so we spoke sparkles and walked on rainbows. Prom was held on a riverboat on the Delta. We gambled. We danced. We met up with friends afterward. (And hey, wouldn't you know it, one of those friends happens to be my Husband. Funny how things work out.) By my senior prom there was tension. Pictures were too expensive. I wanted more keepsakes to remember the night, he wanted to save money for "the real world". I wasn't ready for post high school reality just yet. We broke up not long after high school, after I met up with that after-prom friend again.

Things just clicked. Values stepped toe to toe. We laughed at the same goofy shit. We wanted the same things. He was drop-dead gorgeous to top the cake. Fun followed us wherever we went. We couldn't stop being together. (We've been together thirteen years now.)

When I was asked to chaperone prom this year at a high school I used to teach at, I was ecstatic, as I always am when prom rolls around and I get to spy on all the hot dresses. It's a fun night with sequins, sky-high heels, tuxedos, flowers and smiles...that is, until I see couples fight.

It always happens. There's that one couple that can't get along for one stressful night.

Side note: What's so stressful about prom anyway? Shopping for the dress, shoes and jewelry to make you feel like a movie star? Spending all day in a hairdresser's chair getting ready? Seeing your date at his most handsome? Going out and feeling like a princess? I don't see the problem. I don't understand why couple's fight on prom. Maybe the pressure and expectation? Maybe the sparkles--the princess dream world--are too enticing for her and too blinding for him? I don't know.

Anyhow, this year, couple's fought. A handful of couples left early and went their separate ways. I even saw a couple fighting over a cell phone. The guy was holding out his hand, demanding her phone, she wouldn't give it to him, he nearly pushed her outside to get to it, thereby ensuring she wouldn't be able to get back in again. (Once outside, the security wouldn't let kids re-enter.) I couldn't help but watch the train wreck, thinking back to my own prom.

I realized that prom wasn't the problem. It was me. It was my date. We didn't see eye to eye on what we dreamed, what we expected and what was real and we didn't care enough about the dreams and expectations of the other person to change. I think I was more the dreamer, wanting to be whisked away somewhere magical and he was more of a realist, not wanting to dream about anything for fear of wanting something unattainably great.

So this year I went with another dreamer--my Husband. And together we dreamed of going back to Titanic.

*Although it looks like Husband is holding my purse, he's not. (Not that there'd be anything wrong with that if he was.) My arm is tucked beneath his. Just wanted to clarify.

I seriously had one of the best Prom's ever. Okay, okay, it may have had something to do with one or three lemon drops I had right before the dance. Whether it was the company, the dream date or the drinks, I don't care. It was great.

All sparkles.

Can't wait for next year.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Meet An Author Monday!

It's Monday and that could only mean one thing around these blogging parts:

Yup. It's Meet and Author Monday. Do you want to discover new authors and find new books to read? Do you want to be entered to win a free copy of Eve of Samhain by Lisa Sanchez? Of course you do. Join the hop, leave some comments, and meet some amazing new people.

Stay tuned tomorrow for my Prom story. And a picture! For now I'm diving back into edits. They'll be finished today. Woohoo!

Here's how the hop works:


Follow as many authors as you like. Just follow the Linky list and hop from author to author. The idea is to find as many "new to you" authors as you can, and hopefully some great new reading material as well. Leave a comment as you hop from blog to blog! We'd love to chat with you!


Follow the Meet an author Monday host (Cali Cheer Mom) along with any of the wonderfully talented authors on the list.
You will need to enter your name and blog url into the Linky tool.
Grab our super cute button and place it in a post. (THIS IS IMPORTANT!) If you don't create a post for the hop, your readers won't have a place to comment, and the hop will stop with you. So create a post, paste in the Linky code and start hopping!
The purpose of the hop is to meet "new to you" authors and discover great new reads. Follow as many authors as you can. Leave a comment and introduce yourself!
If you'd like to share the Linky list in a post on your blog ( Please do!) just follow the link and grab the code.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


If you haven't noticed, Pararomance got a makeover! This is now my new author website, kristinmiller.net. I'm very excited to make the change from blogspot to .net and hope there'll be a .com in my future. (If you're a fortune teller and can let me know when the .com owner will be passing on their domain name, let me know. There may or may not be delicious homemade chocolate chip cookies in it for you. Actually, judging by the amount I've eaten today, there may not be any left. Get on it!)

Until then, the blog is being overhauled. I'll still be making changes to the color scheme, the gadgets on the side, and the banner on the top, but for right now I think this will work.

It's plain right now, I know, but it'll be tweaked this week. Whatcha think so far?

Friday, May 6, 2011

How to use Hyperboles!!

I love dealing with insurance companies! They're the best! Adjusters, specifically.

Let me take you back to Mother's Day, two years ago. The Miller fam was headed to Santa Cruz along with all of my extended family. I was driving a Rav4 at the time and we had it packed to the max. Hey, with two little munchkins you need buckets, shovels, towels, strollers, blankets, food, more food, toys, etc, etc, etc. That list goes on forever. (Sadly, the Rav4's truck space did not.)

We were merging from one freeway to another when WHAM! another car hit us from behind. Thank God traffic was slowly merging and only going about 40 mph. My coffee went flying from my hands and splattered all over the windshield. My seatbelt snapped me good--it hurt then, but not enough to seek medical attention. Husband was out of the car in a flash, checking to make sure everyone was all right.

We were fine.

Elvira, the tall, gothic-slicked driver of the other car (NO, I'm not joking. I couldn't make up a character this rich!) said she didn't have insurance. We had to move our cars off the freeway. Husband got the feeling she was going to bolt, so he snagged her ID and asked her to follow us off the ramp into a parking lot up ahead. With her license in hand, she couldn't run. (Smart move, wouldn't you say?)

Everyone was okay. Kids were a little scared, but unhurt. I was soaked in hot mocha goodness. Husband was on the ball.

Flashforward one month.

I'm laying on the couch watching television and I hear a very loud, very scary POP! from my chest. My chest goes warm and tingly. My arms and hands go numb. Husband, who was across the room, looks over and says "Did that pop come from you?"

I nodded. Oh, God. That was loud. My mind raced. I cracked a rib. I popped a lung. One of my arteries snapped. I can't breathe. My breathing became shallow.

"Are you okay?" he asked.

I shook my head, getting dizzier by the second.

"Can you breathe?"

Again, shallow pants, more numbness.

"Do I need to call an ambulance?" Husband asked, watching color drain from my face.

I nodded, more of a fast twitch, and struggled to take a full breath.

The hospital ran all kinds of tests. EKGs. X-Rays. MRIs. All came up negative. Lungs fine. Ribs intact. No evidence of heart attack or stroke.

So what the hell happened? And why, two hours later, was I still having trouble breathing? After seeing my primary physician the next day, he discovered I had a massive tender spot beneath my left breastbone...from where the seatbelt had snapped me in the accident.

Turns out the seatbelt had broken the cartilage in my chest. My muscles tightened around it, holding it in place, until they relaxed a month later, releasing it. POP! The warm sensations, the tingling, the numbness, the shallow breathing? That was attributed to the muscles and tendons finally relaxing...with a little panic attack and hyperventilation thrown in there too.

When I first dealt with Elvira's insurance company, Draco Alliance, (okay, now I'm kidding) I thought there wouldn't be a problem covering my medical bills. But there was.

How could I prove the injuries a month later were a direct result of the accident? The ER visit didn't prove a thing. In fact, it simply ruled out everything major.

Brings me back to my initial claim: I love dealing with insurance companies. Adjusters, specifically.

Two years later, I'm still dealing with them. I'm not trying to screw them out of anything. I don't want a landslide lawsuit when I'm not really hurt anymore. (Sure, cartilage doesn't ever heal--EVER--and I'll hear popping sounds from time to time, but that's not earth-shattering.) I just want the money I'm out from copays and such. Not too much to ask, right?


Happy Mother's Day to me. The day I have to revisit the accident and all the insurance paperwork from both parties and bills and hoopla involved. My injury claim closes Monday.

I love dealing with insurance companies. They're so worried about people scamming them that they make it a pain in the ass for legitimate claims to go through.

Adjusters, specifically.

(Edited to Add: Wanna know what happened to the Rav4? The damage to the back end was fixed--paid by Elvira's insurance--no problemo. A few weeks later the computer in the tow compartment went out from "some sort of extreme jostling". $6K to fix it. Insurance denied responsibility. It's long gone now.)