Sunday, December 31, 2006

Music & Inspiration

I've blogged about this before over at Romance Worth Killing For, the link between music and writing inspiration. First of all, I love music. Just about all music. My students will ask what kind of music I listen to, and I honestly tell them a little of everything. I like classical and jazz, disco and 80's punk, country and alternative and rap.

I like music.

Music is powerful. It moves. It influences. It inspires.

I'm working on a "Behind the Scenes" page for my website, and as part of that, I'm putting together the song lists that make up the "soundtracks" for each of my novels. At the same time, I'm finding myself finding inspiration for what I think will be the next book in my writing life.

My heroine for that book is tough, a little rough around the edges, burned by life and love already. She's cynical, a little disillusioned. She's very much the songs "Kerosene" by Miranda Lambert and "Before He Cheats" by Carrie Underwood.

My hero I'm still getting a handle on. He's younger than the heroine. He's finally, I think, coming in to his own as a man. I'm tending to link him to the music of Kenny Chesney, Gary Allan and Dierks Bentley.

For the arc of their story, I'm listening to "Baby, You Save Me" (Kenny Chesney), "Addiction" and "Made a Man Out of Me" (Gary Allan), and "Settle for a Slow Down" (Dierks Bentley).

Oh, and definitely "Your Man" by Josh Turner.

"Crash Here Tonight" by Toby Keith.

Yeah, lots of country for this book. Maybe because I've been listening to the top 50 country songs of the year . . .

I'm telling you . . . music . . . writing . . . inspiration . . . there's a link.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

It's the Little Things

Like having a sparkling clean bathroom and all the dishes washed.

My DH and the Monsters detailing my Jeep as a late Christmas present (much better than jewelry or a sweater!).

Vegging out on the couch with Pam yesterday and talking about her baby-to-be.

Updating my website and not killing it.

Being two chapters away from finishing MOU.

Knowing what happens in those two chapters!

Learning that my new planner is in the mail.

Having my toes still look good two weeks after my pedicure.

The weather being warm enough to wear sandals so I can show off said toes.

What little things make you happy?

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Electronic Babysitter

I'm a baaaad mom.

Since Christmas Eve, my Monsters have been immersed in an imaginary world, one controlled by a little square called a GameCube. They've played for hours.

And I've let them.

Normally, I limit television time, make sure they're outside, with their bikes and the dog and the sports equipment.

But I really need to finish this book, it's cold outside, and it's kind of like letting them eat too much on Halloween . . . I don't do it every day.

So, it's like we're on a virtual vacation, don't you think?


Current word count: 50,007!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Quick Update

The Monsters have new toys to play with. One would think this would make the whole writing thing easier, because the kids are playing, right?

Uh, yeah.

With Roboraptor, who roars and attacks.

With Scannerz, so the Monsters are taking the house apart looking for UPC codes to scan.

With the GameCube (a gift from my brother), so they fuss over what to play, how to play, etc.

But I am now at 46K+ and I hit my average of 2000+ words today. Rough draft words, definitely. I have lots of layering to do.

However, I'm excited about the manuscript and about writing again, so I'm happy.

Monday, December 25, 2006


Total word count: 42,723

Percentage of goal: 50.26

Total words today: 2133

Last paragraph written:

“Who’s Turello?” A visible tremor shook her fingers as she recapped her pen. When she finally looked at him, her eyes were bleak, although a wry smile flitted around her lips. “I guess Bryan Turello is my Kathleen Harding.”

The Morning Of . . .

Gifts are opened.

Kids are happy.

Breakfast is eaten.

I'm already picking up the clutter because it makes me crazy.

Roboraptor is roaming the house. That thing is weird. Kitty Baby is hiding from it. Although I'm thinking I could get used to the whole virtual pet thing . . . very little upkeep.

It's very rainy and gloomy outside . . . perfect for hanging out at home. I may work a little on chapter nine (since I can't get near the living room because the Monsters are in there with the Gamecube their uncle gave them).

All in all, it's a Merry Christmas around the Winfree household.

Happy Holidays to you, too.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Update -- Word Count

I've finished chapter eight! In three days.

Today's total word count: 2199.

I'm 47.75% of the way to my targeted word count. I may come in a little short, but that's okay.

This feels good. Now if I can just keep it up!

Wish me luck.

One More Day . . .

Scarfed this from Steph:

You Should Spend the Holidays In

India - where your Christmas tree might be a banana or mango tree

Can you say, huh? :-D

This is more me:

You Have A Type A- Personality

You are one of the most balanced people around
Motivated and focused, you are good at getting what you want
You rule at success, but success doesn't rule you.

When it's playtime, you really know how to kick back
Whether it's hanging out with friends or doing something you love!
You live life to the fullest - encorporating the best of both worlds

Anyway . . . off to Mama's for Christmas Eve dinner. The Monster's have been up since, oh, six, I think. Monster #2 is way excited.

I'm finally hitting the zone, I think. My word count for the past couple days is only around 2500 words, but I have the rest of chapter eight outlined, the beginning of chapter nine laid out and I can totally see my movie and where it's going now.

Really wishing I could have another week of Christmas break . . .

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Two More Days! (Thank God)

Don't tell Larissa, but I'm beginning to understand Steph's outlook on Christmas. I'm tired, people!

My shopping is finished. All the presents are wrapped and under the tree. I don't have to cook for Christmas this year, because that's my mom's gift to us.

But Monster #2, you know, Mr. "Makes the Energizer Bunny on Crack Look Sluggish"? He's bouncing off the walls. I don't think he stopped talking yesterday. I mean, at all. Not even to take a long breath.

Plus, the DH is home. This is good. I love the guy. However. He has this thing about watching movies over and over and over again. Normally, I can tolerate this. Sure, I know all the dialogue to The Mummy and Sweet Home Alabama by heart. I don't understand the desire to watch a movie repeatedly until you want to scream, but I can live with it.


Couple that trait with an overdose of Christmas spirit. The man loves Christmas movies. Any Christmas movie. If it has Santa or elves or reindeer, he's there.

ABC Family is making him a very happy camper, because they're doing the 25 Days of Christmas. So I've been treated to every sappy, feel-good Christmas movie ever made . . .

Ad nauseum.

But he's happy. The kids are happy.

And that makes me happy.

Come Tuesday, I can make him overdose on Court TV again.

Happy Holidays, y'all.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Today's Post . . .

On the value of a good break and including contest information . . . is at Romance Worth Killing For!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Thin Line

I'm back at work on Memories of Us. This, of course, is the manuscript that I both love and hate. I've tried to abandon it and simply can't. I'm in love with the hero and heroine. I want them to have a HEA. If anyone needs or deserves one, it's Tom.

Because the book was such a pain in the hindquarters, I've put off working on it forever. I mean, I didn't have to finish it. At the time I started it, my then-agent wasn't invested in reading it. I had other manuscripts to polish and shop. It was okay if I put Tom and Celia to the side.

Then I stupidly sent a partial to my editor.

She wants to read it when it's finished.

So now I have to finish it.

And I have nothing else on my plate, until I get edits for What Mattered Most.

Which means I have no excuses.


I'm headed back to work on the thing, then.

Wish me luck.

If you hear any weird ripping noises? That's just me. Pulling out my hair. :-D


Edited to add: I think I've made progress. I spent the afternoon reading through the seven chapters I have written (about 40% of my projected word count). Then I sat, thought about where the characters were and asked, "What next?"

Started making a list. So now I have a plot list that goes up to the climax (I have an idea of what it is, but I didn't like the way my list was going there -- what I envisioned for the final scene was too similar to the ending of another manuscript. So I'll end up playing with the end, I think, but at least I have something to put at the beginning of CHAPTER EIGHT!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

From My Inbox, From MC

I have absolutely fabulous friends, for which I am truly thankful. MC somehow manages to ground me with the simplest observations. It's mind-blowing. Like the day I was griping about money (I have discovered I have major issues in terms of money ideas, LOL), and she said simply, "I have money, but I can't call my mother anymore."

Shut me up very quickly with the beautiful wisdom of that statement.

She sends me wonderful words from her "word of the day" list and passes on interesting links and tidbits and inspires me with her passion for getting kids to learn. She wows me with her passion for life.

Anyway, this was in my inbox this morning from MC, and I thought I'd share here:

A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring theoutline and covering up all the details. The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhaustedidioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink. In our age there is no suchthing as "keeping out of politics". All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia. When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer.

-George Orwell, writer (1903-1950)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

What's Worse Than Writing a Synopsis?

Writing a one sentence tagline.

And generating a list of key words.


Jumping the Shark

I don't watch a lot of television series. I used to not watch a lot of television, period, but I've gotten addicted to MSNBC's "Doc Block" and I love Court TV. (Hey, I write romantic suspense -- it's research!). I like A Haunting on Discovery. I like Mythbusters.

I like non-fiction stuff.


Not so much.

At one time I was an X-Files addict. I lived for the original Law & Order series. But when people start talking about House and Lost and a host of other shows . . . well, I'm clueless.

This is fairly ironic to me, since I write books that are a series of loosely-connected stories (a la Rachel Lee's Conard County series from a few years back). Even in my head, I tend to 'watch' my books as a series of movies -- I know what happens after a book, off scene during a book, etc.

I've known for a long time what the "series finale" would be. That particular novel idea scares me, not only because of the story line, but because it signals for me the end of something that seems almost as real to me as my daily life. The other thing that makes me nervous? What if it isn't "The End"? What if I find something after that finale?

And what if my series "jumps the shark" before I get to the finale?

(And could I use any more quotation marks in this post?!)

It's not like there aren't enough questions to worry about in the writing business. So what does my neurotic self go and do?

Find something else to fixate on!

Do you read series? If so, which ones? And what happens when an author's particular world jumps the shark?

Monday, December 18, 2006

This Is How It Begins

I have actually tried not to write books that are connected.

Truth and Consequences? Not supposed to be a Hearts of the South book. Yet Kathleen and Jason insisted it was set in my fictional Chandler County, and of course, Tick followed. I don't think he can help himself.

Finally, I just gave in. Several related books followed. Yes, it's a series, but it's one of those where you could pick up one book and you wouldn't have had to read the others for the book in question to make sense. Stand-alone yet connected books.

And here's how I get sucked in.

I'm rereading two manuscripts, A Formal Feeling and Anything But Mine. There is a minor, minor, minor character in A Formal Feeling. She appears in one or two scenes, in which the hero makes a pivotal choice. She goes inside her house, closes the door, hero walks away.

Only as I'm reading tonight, I'm wondering what happens once she closes that door. Her actions in those scenes are out of character (or so she claims). What pushed her to the point that she'd act out of character?

I can almost see how another story could unfold from what goes unsaid in those two scenes.

Kinda like a weird, writer's version of Six Degrees of Separation.

Odd, huh?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

A Snippet of Typical Winfree Conversation

10:00 A.M., Monsters playing outside, DH (who for some odd reason thinks the sun rises and sets in me) and I sitting on couch, still in pajamas, sipping coffee and reading the Sunday paper. I'm running through the Christmas list, what I've bought, what still needs to be purchased.

DH: I still have to get your gift this week.

Me: I really wish you wouldn't spend anything on me. January is always a tight month, you know that. Just tuck the money back, just in case you need it.

DH: We'll see.

Me: Rick, I'm serious. I really don't need anything and I'd rather the money went into budget.

Silence, as I sigh and realize what I'm saying is probably going in one ear and out the other.

A couple of minutes later, I show him a jewelry armoire in the Target salespaper.

Me: I think when we finish the house, I want something like this for the bedroom to hold my stuff.

DH: You know you're probably getting jewelry for Christmas, right?

Sigh. Maybe I should just give up?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Gifts, Unwrapped

First of all, wouldn't it be great if you could buy one of these for the man in your life? Mine would be thrilled. (Scarfed from

I've been working on my final gifts-to-buy list today. The DH and I shopped early this year (Thank God for ebay!), so I have very little left to do. Amazon assures me my order will be here by 12/22, I have photo gifts to pick up at Walgreen's later today, and the end is in sight!

I love shopping for others, adore the anticipation of seeing whether or not my gift will be enjoyed. Writing a novel holds the same allure. Sure, I write for me . . . I love the escape writing offers, the outlet for the stories that bounce around in my head. But don't we always write for others as well?

In On Writing, King talks of writing for his Ideal Reader (his wife). He anticipates her reactions. I have a real-life IR, but I also have an imaginary IR in my head. An IIR, maybe? ;-) My imaginary IR is my fantasy Ideal Reader, the unknown person who will buy my book, read it, laugh over it, cry over it, love it. That's why I have this sappy idea that each novel I craft is not only a gift to myself, but a gift I'm creating for someone else.

A gift I can't wait to see unwrapped.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Book Habit

I've decided my book-buying habits are anything but normal. All around the blogosphere, I read about people who have huge "to be read" piles (and many of my friends have them as well.).

Maybe it's the way I buy my books, but I don't have unread books around my house. If it's in the office, on the bookshelf, under the coffeetable . . . I've read it. Probably more than once. Whenever I get a new book, I'm like a kid with a Christmas present -- I can't wait to open it and dive in.

Maybe it comes from always having limited funds, but I don't buy large numbers of books at any one time. I keep a wish list on Amazon, and I'm developing a serious habit of buying e-books from my publisher. Once a month or so, my best friend and I hit our local indie bookstore, and I browse until I find something that I just can't live without reading. I buy a lot of books.

But I don't have a huge "to be read" stack. I can't wait that long.

How about you? What are your book-buying habits? Do you own a towering "to be read" pile?

Monday, December 11, 2006

One Down . . .

Three and a half to go!

Days until Christmas vacation, that is. I'm ready. My students are ready. My fellow faculty members are ready (Connie has had a countdown clock running on her laptop since last Monday.).

Exams for three days and a half day on Friday. I can deal with that.

Homecoming last week was a blast. I'm hoping I'll have pics from that week to share with y'all soon.

Hmmm. Wonder where Connie got her countdown clock? I need one for WMM's release. Anyone know where to find one?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Contest Details

I'm keeping this really simple because I hate complicated contests!

Beginning January 1, I'll give away a Samhain gift certificate every other week until February 26, the week What Mattered Most debuts.

To enter, all you have to do is join my newsletter group. Also, beginning in early January, I'll post to the group a weekly chapter of Through a Glass Darkly, the companion piece to WMM.

To join, send a blank email to Linda_Winfree-subscribe AT yahoogroups DOT com.

And for even more contest fun, check out what Sharon, Larissa, Amy, Jan, and Steph are up to over at Writeminded!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Oh, Wow!

I received the preview of my cover art for What Mattered Most and I can't stop looking at it! I can't wait to share.

My homeroom is winning the spirit week competition by two points at this time. I hope we'll widen that lead as the week goes on.

Check back tomorrow for contest details!

Counting Down

Five days until Homecoming.

Ten days until Christmas Break.

Twelve weeks until WMM releases!

I need one of those little ticker things. Anyone know of a good place to find one?

Hmmm, I think we need a contest, too. Let me think . . . details to come!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Oh. My. GOSH!

Look what's UP!

It's real! It's really, really real!

Oh, Lord, I sound like Sally Field . . .

Hitting the Hard Stuff

My very bestest best friend Pam is pregnant. I'm giddily thrilled for her, because this is her first (and she says only) child, after nearly sixteen years of marriage. She's pretty giddy herself. Yesterday, we went shopping for maternity clothes (which are amazingly stylish compared to what was available when I had my babies *ahem* years ago). On the drive to the mall, Pam laughed and told me she was worrying about "crazy stuff."

"Like what?" I asked.

Like she's afraid the baby will date the wrong person. She thinks she should be more worried about the right preschool right now.

I laughed, because I'm having the same fears, and my "baby" isn't even in his teens yet. However, as he grows closer, I'm dealing with stuff that suddenly makes two A.M. feedings look like a walk in the park.

Stuff like helping him define what is and what is not a healthy friendship. I want him to know that manipulation is not okay, that it's okay to walk away when a "friend" becomes poisonous. I know it's just a fifth grade friendship, but I don't want that elementary friendship to set the tone for high school dating, if that makes sense.

Six more years and Pam will be sending her baby to kindergarten, which she has already dubbed "the hard stuff." She's right. It is. Raising a child is the hard stuff defined.

But I can't wait for her to realize that it's also the best stuff.