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Friday, April 28, 2006

The Truth About Lightning

The first process in the generation of lightning is the forcible separation of positive and negative charge carriers within a cloud or air...
--Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia

Eh??? Yeah, I know, what does that have to do with our lovely little world?
Well, as a follow-up on my meandering post on falling into the light, I thought we'd chat a bit about the complicated beauty of lightning. That's what it feels like to hit gold while you're revising a story. You've worked for hours, days, weeks to get the draft done. You know it's not what you want yet, so you keep digging. Negative thouhts keep piling on those you've already beaten away.

"You CAN make this good," you say with as much positive energy as you can muster.

"Um, have you looked at this CRAP lately?" negative-and-not-giving-up counters.

"Yeah, well, I'm not stopping, so there!!" Okay, at this point you're sounding pretty childish, but it's the inner child that LOVES lightning, right (even if you're also kinda afraid of it, the power and beauty of that amazing flash of light sucks you in every time).

Then if you keep going, as I am today even if my flash is still hiding amidst the 300 pages of drivel I'm pouring over...one day...FLASH!!!! The positive clashes with the negative...the energy splits just right...and you hit on something amazing.

The key I think, in life and in writing, is to keep going--no surprise there, since I rant about this all the time--but also to see the negative energy as necessary and vital to the end result. Without the negative, the positive charge couldn't produce such an amazing show. If you use negative thoughts to challenge yourself to keep digging for the light, to find positive energy to counter it, then you've got it made!!! It's only a matter of time before something beautiful happens ;O)

I'm away this morning to recharge my positive side. Hope you take a few minutes to do the same. Then off we'll go, fighting for the lightning that makes the world such an amazing place!!!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Falling into the Light

When you're too busy to realize something beautiful's happening right in front of you, pray you have the good sense to fall into the light!!

Believe it or not, the draft of The Perfect Daughter is finished!!! It's not beautiful yet, but the potential for all it can be is staring me in the face. I have a little over two weeks to make it shine, and I've resigned myself to falling into the light. I really believe in this story--only the best for Maggie Rivers (our younger hero who took a back seat to the other heroines in my last two "Daughter" books). The best guy, the best happily ever after, the best friends and family helping her get there... A tall order? Yes. But I'm giving myself over to the process and believing that good things will happen, just like I teach in the writing workshops I give.

How about you? What new adventure or challenge awaits that you have no idea how you'll meet, but if you'll only let it happen and put everything you have into it, the light is going to be so beautiful. We're often most afraid of the greatest things we'll ever do, because we know these things can be great and we're afraid of not living up to the potential.

That's every writer's paradox...we want to reach readers and give them something they'll love, then once we do, we're left with the worry of disappointing fans with the next book. I let this sort of nonesense get to me when I started my second book, a project I'm very proud of now and am still getting raves about from readers. As a matter of fact, A Family for Daniel is a 2005 Holt Medallion finalist in the Southern Theme category. What if I'd let my fear hold me back? What if I'd never finished the book, or let myself dream that I could write the next one, or the next one? I know authors who struggle with crippling anxiety each and every time they have to start anew.

Potential is the light, my friends. It's the promise of what we can be if we are willing to let ourselves fall. There are no guarantees, except that if you don't keep going and honoring what you're dying to do next, you will fulfill any expectation you've had of failure. The only hope we have to beat failure back into the cave where it belongs is to keep trying and refuse to let the fear and doubt dim the light.

So, I'm falling into the light these next few weeks. My dh who's been travelling non-stop for a month will be home to hold down the fort while I tunnel under and give my writing the lead for a while. I hadn't planned on being a single mom while I wrote the bulk of this draft, but I didn't let fear of the unknown stop me when my husband's work got in the way of what I expected--I simply adjusted and expected that I'd be just fine. And here I am. Cut off from the outside world a bit more? Yes. Just where I need to be to turn over a wonderful book to my editor in early May? Yes. It's a trade off. It was a change. But what didn't change is my dedication to my goals--to living in the light, rather than in the shadows that come from worryng myself into doing nothing but worrying.

Need a little light in your day? Check out the winner of Romantic Times cover model search last year--Andrei Claude. He's a young accountant from Florida who won the model contest (and a modeling contract) at last year's Romantic Times conference in St. Louis. There was a lot of competition, and modelling is a tough world to break into, but he took a chance, got on a plane, and now has a great shot to do really well. Really, really well ;O) Yes, I know he's too young for me, but can you blame me!!!

I can't wait to see whose dream comes true at this year's bash in Daytona!! Until then, please enjoy a taste of Andrei, on me ;o)

Friday, April 21, 2006

More Peter, Jumping Around, and a Kick-Ass Review!!!

We could all use a little more Peter in our lives, right???? Wait a minute, that didn't come out right, sigh.

I'm always doing that. But you know what I mean. At least you should. And if you jumped to any other conclusion, well shame on you, tee-hee ;O) Okay, okay, shame on me!

I just received a kick-ass review for The Prodigal's Return. I've included it below because, really, it blew me away, and where else am I going to brag about something like this and not annoy everyone reading it. You ladies put up with me, so I'll do my bragging here!

But first, let me tell you about my new favorite thing. Jumping on my son's trampoline--his HUGE trampoline we got him for Christmas. I'd forgotten how much fun it was, and my ten-year-old's fallen in love with flips and so forth. The best part, is that this is something besides tennis we can do together.

His dad covers most of the other sports. I could take the lead in basketball or soccer, but my son's never been all that interested. So, I'd resigned myself to being the tennis buddy until his game progresses beyond mine (like in about six months at the rate he's going). But now, each night when his friends have gone home or in for dinner, he's begging me to come jump. Me!!! I'm the fun one this time--there's a weight limit on the thing, and the big, strong dh has to sit this one out.

Who knew what we'd bought for Christmas was my ticket to being more of what I always want to be for my child: accessible, fun, easy to talk to? We have some of our best talks while we're out in the backyard trying not to kill each other as we double jump. Sometimes at twilight, we lay on the canvas and stare up at the deepening sky and wait for the stars. He's a poet-in-training, my boy, and it's in these special moments that I start to hear echos of his soul. It's a beautiful thing, trampolines. Go out and pick up one for yourself!!

Okay, the review--from Donna Zapf at www.cataromance com.

5 Stars!!! And while their reviews tend to be more favorable than nasty (a lot of other sites are quite the other way around), they don't give 5s away often. Let me just say in advance, Wow!!! Now if only the Romantic Times reviewer could be pursuaded to do more than read the back cover before writing hers:


Like fine wine, Anna DeStefano’s writing improves with each inspired novel she produces, and The Prodigal's Return is the best yet.

Eight years ago Neal Cain was a frightened sixteen year old boy convicted for the involuntary manslaughter of his best friend. His mantra, "survive and never look back, " got him through five years of prison with early release for good behavior. Neal thought he could never go home because he had broken all ties with his father and with Jennifer, the girl he loved. Then his lawyer and long time family friend called to give him some bad news about his ailing father.

After Neal’s sentencing, Jennifer Gardner’s life whirled out of control with wild partying and drugs. She ended up pregnant and a disappointment to her family. She ran away and made a life for herself and her daughter, never expecting to return home. However, when her father called on her for help after his heart surgery she jumped at the chance for a new beginning. Jennifer doesn’t count on the complications of Neal’s reappearance in her life or on her role as a counselor to a pregnant teenager.

Anna DeStefano describes familiar small town settings and enriches them with genuine characters that we easily recognize and identify with. Their struggles and accomplishments come to life through Ms. DeStefano’s creative storytelling. The Prodigal's Return seized my interest and held me captive from the gripping prologue to the gratifying ending. Add The Prodigal's Return to your “to buy list” and keep Anna DeStefano on your "buy anything by this author" list.

Monday, April 17, 2006

I found Maggie!!!

No, that's not Maggie... That's Peter Decicco, but we'll get back to him later ;O)

In the midst of deadline dementia, something wonderful always happens...right about 2/3rds of the way through the rough draft... Whatever's missing, whatever's not right in what I'm writing and, therefore, slowing me down, starts to work itself out. A ray of understanding begins to shine, if I'm just faithful and keep writing when what I really want to do is throw my laptop against the far wall.

This time around, I'm writing the third in the Daughter series, The Perfect Daughter...Maggie Rivers' story, that is sceduled to be on the shelves next Feb. And while I understood what I wanted to write, something wasn't clicking and it was painful, painful to get through scenes that refused to inspire me...until I hit p. 200 just the other day, and I FOUND MAGGIE!!! The lovely girl sat up and told me exactly what I'd been missing, I have a plan for the last 10 or so scenes of the book, and everything I need to go back and rewrite the first 200 pages to my heart's content.

The kernal of truth I'm starting to trust more and more each time I step off a cliff and begin a new book (particularly now, when I've been given the opportunity to have so many out next year, if only I can stick to the writing and get each one turned in on time), is keep the faith. Believe. And when you can't, fake it 'til you make it. Keep writing, or doing whatever is currently tough for you, knowing that it WILL get better. And usually, quitting has the opposite affect. You're depriving yourself of your ah-ha moment if you give up too soon...stick it out until you can have the success you've dreamed of. It happens for me every time, even though the work gets toughest right before it happens ;O)

Thanks again for hanging in there with my on-again, off-again posting. When friends start threatening to call in the Calvary if you don't respond to their emails, you know you've been away too long. But part of my process is the need to hide when the deadline starts to get tight. The need to refocus on only the writing for a while and shut out the noise of the rest of the world. That was particularly hard this time around, so thanks EVERYONE for being so supportive. I'm trying to answer everyone's emails individually, but if you haven't gotten your reply back don't t hink I've forgotten about you.

Off to get Maggie and her handsome NYPD Detective love interest, Matt Lebretti, ready for their black moment. I've attached a pic. of the model I'd LOVE to have pose as Matt on the cover--Peter Decicco. Not that I have much control over these things, but I thought I'd give you a visual of how incredible Matt is in my head ;O)

Oh, and here's an early quote from NY Times Best Selling author Hawyood Smith for The Prodigal's Return (my July super):

"A wonderful story...that tugs at your heart and leaves you with a satisfied sigh."

More soon!!! Including the latest award I've been nominated for, and website prizes to be awarded by the end of the week!!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Author Interrupted

Thank you so much, my online friends, for the emails you've sent recently wondering where I'd wandered off to and sharing hopes that everything's okay. Well, yes and no, and the no part's been why I haven't been able to hang out lately. But I'm working my way back to a normal schedule, and your support's meant so much to me!!!

The end of March was just mania around here--spammers making my life a living nightmare, new book contracts coming in, tons of promotion still to do for the Feb. book, as well as an avalanche of planning for the July one, travelling, family stuff out the ying yang. Don't you just hate it when your ying yang gets in your way???? I was overwhelmed but looking forward to keeping my online routine going. I needed to be out here sharing and listening and enjoying with all of you. I still do.

But a few unexpected phone calls was all it took to blow that plan to hell and back. The first one kicked an existing commitment into high gear. Then came a few others that insisted I stop, smell the roses, and focus on friends who really, really needed my time. I won't go into details, except to say it's been a difficult few weeks for people that I care deeply about. Like nothing else, concern for what others are going through can stop me in my tracks, and for a while and it quite literally has done that this time. I wouldn't have been any use to anyone out here, so I faded away until I could handle everything better.

Long story short, I'm fighting my way back. I have great news to share and lots of energy returning that will hoepfully keep me going through the next few weeks of finishing my Feb '07 book, The Perfect Daughter. Granted I have a newsletter to get out, a website contest to award prizes for (I'm waaaaay past due on that one), and lots of new online friends to coax out here, but we'll get there. One step at a time, that's my current plan.

Just to get things rolling, I'm including a pic of my July cover--for The Prodigal's Return!! And here's a quote from NY Times Best Selling author, Haywood Smith: "A wonderful story...that tugs at your heart and leaves you with a satisfied sigh."

Thanks again for being such good friends!!