Wednesday, December 1, 2010

New Blog : Get Lost in a Story

Dear Friends,

Today marks the end of Heather's Historical Hodgepodge.  Well, maybe not the end, but a definite LOOONNNNGGGG hiatus, as I consider how best to spend my limited promotional time whilst being a mom of a young boy and meeting my new deadlines!  While the blog may come back at some point, restructured and geared towards readers, it won't be until closer to my release date in Spring of 2012.  I want to thank everyone who has followed along with me in my pre-published blogging experiment!  I very much value the friends I've made.

However, I won't be completely gone from the blogging world.  Today, a group of multi-genre authors is launching a blog geared toward readers, and it's going to be fantastic!  I am joining with fellow debut authors Donnell Ann Bell, Maureen McGowan, Angi Morgan, Cat Schield and Simone St. James at the Get Lost in a Story blog  where we blog about our love of storytelling and we interview new and favorite authors!  There will be great conversation and lots of giveaways!

Today, Harlequin Blaze author Tawny Weber is our guest.  Tomorrow, mystery author Joelle Charbonneau.  More authors coming soon: Lynda Simmons, Allison Chase, NYT Best Seller Rebecca York, Elizabeth Essex, Kathleen Eagle...and that's just next week!  In the weeks to come, tons of fabulous authors will be coming by.  We hope you will be, too!

So please, come over and follow me there and I will see you all somewhere in the blogosphere!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Promote Reading - Break the TV

I love TV. Okay, actually that’s not true. I don’t particularly care for TV. The last two network shows I actually watched with regularity were Moonlighting and Quantum Leap, so I guess you couldn’t really call me any network’s targeted ideal viewer.

But I do love the screen, big and small, and with the advent of VCR’s followed by DVD’s followed by DVR’s, for many a year I have loved my television set. I am a huge movie buff, old and new, and many hours have been spent sitting in front of my tube, being swept away by a great story.

But I love books more. Books allow me to use my creativity to fill in the spaces the author leaves me, to make the stories more personal to me, to let me imagine what a character looks like or feels based on my own personal biases, to get lost in a compelling plot or lyrical prose. Books are, I think, the most personal form of storytelling available.

In this world of 1400+ cable stations, not to mention internet TV viewing and myriad other choices, so many people today take the time to enjoy the simple pleasure of reading. The Washington Post says 1 in 4 American’s didn’t even pick up a book last year.

If you or your family falls into that category, what is one to do?

Break the TV.

Yes, that’s what I said. And it will work.

Don’t believe me?

A few weeks ago, I ran into a 30 year old man I hadn’t seen in quite some time, a good family friend. When he asked what I’d been up to, I told him I’d been writing. He became very animated, telling me how recently he’d began reading again (after more than 10 years of not even sniffing at a book) and then launched into praise for a particular Sci-Fi series he was halfway through. Meaty, 800+ page books for a man I know spends more time in the bar than in the library, and yet here he was (at a bar, yes. What? I can go out now and again, can’t I?) animatedly extolling the virtues of reading.

When I asked him what had started this journey back to books, do you know what he told me?

“Well, my girlfriend left me and she took the TV. I couldn’t afford a new one, so I had to find something else to do.”

So simple. But let’s see another case.

I recently learned that getting rid of the television works on 2 year old boys, too. In our house, I must admit that I’d fallen into the “but it’s educational!” trap, and my toddler was getting a little too much “pre-school on TV”. I really began to feel that if it went on, his imagination development and creativity would suffer. So I put the TV “night night”.

It was hard, at first (although it did produce one very cute moment when I came into the room to see The Boy standing in front of the closed TV cabinet, begging the television to “Get up, TV! Get up!”)

But yesterday, I walked into the bedroom, and there was The Boy, reading aloud (as much as a two year old can) one of his Dr. Seuss books on the floor, his little face alight as he turned the pages…a far cry from the Zombie stare that so accompanied the television watching.

So there you go…it may not be scientific evidence, but it’s true all the same. Break it, take it, or put it “night night”, the best way to promote reading, in my estimation, is to say bye-bye to the TV.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about TV time in your life and family…

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Congratulations MARA Fiction From the Heartland Contest Finalists

This week, my local RWA chapter's contest announced its finalists.

The MARA Fiction From the Heartland contest recognizes the top Ten scores, regardless of category. This year, we had some incredible entries and it was tough, tough competition. It took more than 93% of total points to final in the top ten, so our agent/editor judges should look forward to some stellar submissions!

Six other entries, received at least 90% of total points possible and we thought that deserved some recognition, so we added Honorable Mention finalists as well.

Finalist' entries will go on to an agent and editor, while Honorable Mention Finalists' entries will go only to their respective category editor judge.


Erin Rieber
More Than a Stranger - Historical

Crista McHugh
Tangled Web - Paranormal

Isis Rushdan
Kindred of the Fallen - Paranormal

Diane Burton
The Pilot - Paranormal

Sarah Baker
Saving Captain Brookes - Inspirational

Deborah Gross
Stealing Justice - Romantic Suspense

Sharon Wray
Midnight Guardian - Romantic Suspense

Robin Weaver
Burned Illusions - Romantic Suspense

Rebecca Sampson
Alli’s Playground - Young Adult

Robin Weaver
Deep Speak - Young Adult

Honorable Mention:

Margaret Golla
The Demon Connection - Paranormal

Meredith Conner
Tall, Dark and Furry - Paranormal

Regina Tittel
Abandoned Hearts - Inspirational

Robin Weaver
The Bookstore Connection - Category Romance

Sarah Tormey
Rough Riding Ranger - Category Romance

Shoshana Brown
Squeaky Clean - Young Adult


But also, I want to offer a BIG Congratulations to all who entered. Having entered my share of contests before selling, I know what it's like to put my heart into an entry and wait. I know what it feels like to get dismal scores, to not final, to miss big or to miss finaling by 1 point. I know what it feels like to read judge's comments and wince, or to smack myself for missing this thing or that thing or to smile big because the judge "got me". It takes courage to write and submit something, be it to a contest or to an agent or editor, and each of you should be proud that you put yourselves out there.

Best of Luck to all of our Finalists and Honorable Mention finalists in the Final Round. May the requests abound!

I'd love to hear some of your contest experiences...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sale Story and Superstitions…


When a woman is nearing the end of her pregnancy, she is generally miserable, ungainly and desperate for her child to just hurry up and come out already! At this time, well-meaning friends and relatives shower her with advice on how to trigger labor. “Go to the mall and walk,” is common advice. Or, as my Aunt Cindy always says, “Go bowling. I went bowling when I was 9 months pregnant and ‘poof!’ Labor.” My cousin, on the other hand, would advise you to go to the 54th Street Grill and order a spicy Philly…threw her into labor 3 times.

Well, I don’t have any advice on how to help you if you’re impatiently waiting for Junior’s arrival, but if you’re out on submission and you are miserably waiting to hear news and your nerves are nearing their breaking point, I can tell you just what to do:

Get a Pedicure.

And while your feet are soaking, and you are pondering the book-deal just handed down to Snookie, your agent will call.

Oh yes, she will. With an offer for a 3-book deal. It will go something like this:

(Phone rings, causing instant guilt that you forgot to turn off your ringer and are now disturbing fellow customers who are just trying to relax while nail technicians are filing away their calluses. You glance around with an apologetic smile and reach to turn the phone off when you notice it’s your agent calling. You snatch the phone up, other pedicurees now forgotten.)


“Hello! What are you doing?”

“Well, believe it or not, I’m having a pedicure,” you say, sheepishly.

“Isn’t that nice? Well, you might as well sit back and relax, sweetie, because today’s the day.”

(And much whooping and hollering ensues, drawing surprised stares from other customers, but that is another story.)

That’s pretty much how it went September 30th, at high noon (CST). Going to auction is a whole 'nother story indeed, but after the dust settled a week later, I am very proud to say that "Sweet Enemy" will be published by NAL Signet Eclipse in Spring 2012.

So, if you’re out on submission, and the least bit superstitious, hie yourself to the nearest nail salon and plop yourself down in the self-massaging chair. If you’re REALLY superstitious, here’s a picture of the actual pedicure, so you can have it replicated exactly…

Sadly, the little sticker on the OPI bottle that told me the color had been pulled off, so you’re on your own for that…

See you next week!

Blurb from Publisher’s Marketplace:
2010 Daphne Du Maurier Award Winner and Golden Heart nominee Heather Snow's SWEET ENEMY, where beakers and ball gowns don't mix, but chemical attraction is hard to ignore, to Laura Cifelli at NAL, at auction, in a three book deal, by Barbara Poelle of Irene Goodman Literary Agency. Foreign: Baror International


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A New Appreciation for Contest Coordinators

Just popping in this week to say "hi", as I'm trying hard to be a more dedicated blogger this year :) (We won't talk about the fact that being a better blogger has more to do with content than just showing up, though...this week, I'm just shooting for consistency!)

You see, I am coordinating the electronic entries for my chapter's writing contest this year and since I've just finished up sending a hundred contest entries to two different first round judges (and hence each entry had to be renamed and numbered and addressed twice), I am too exhausted to have anything of interest to say this week except:

Thanks, out there, to all you RWA Chapter contest coordinators. You rock!

And for that matter, thanks to all of the judges in our contest and any other. I love being part of an organization where writers volunteer their time to help each other make our writing better, and contests are one of the ways we do that.

Next week, I'll think of something really interesting to say...

Have a great one!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

198 Years Ago Today...


It’s been a while since I’ve lived up to the “Historical” part of “Heather’s Historical Hodgepodge”. September 14 is a very important day, not only in our history, but in the fictional history of the three heroes in my Regency series, who were all soldiers in the Napoleonic wars. You see, September 14th, 1812 marked the turning point in that war and therefore, is the perfect day to rectify my appalling lack of historical posts.

198 years ago today, a victorious Napoleon invaded Moscow expecting to be met at the gates by a delegation from the city. He’d been chasing and defeating the Russian army for months, and now, expected their capitulation and the surrender of Czar Alexander. It was customary for the leaders of a captured city to greet their victor with a key to the city (a traditional symbolic gesture that was meant as a negotiation to keep the population and the city’s property safe from the victorious invaders) and, as part of their surrender, make arrangements to feed and house the invading army.

Instead, Napoleon found the glorious city of Moscow deserted. The majority of the 275,000 citizens had evacuated completely, taking with them every bit of food and supplies they could, stripping the city of anything the French expected to revive themselves with, leaving them to break and scavenge.

Shortly after midnight, fires broke out all over the city—some say started by Russian patriots set on destroying or scorching anything that might help the French, some (like Tolstoy) say by the inept French soldiers carelessly setting fires to warm themselves without taking in account that most of the close buildings were made of wood. Either way, a firestorm erupted and in the end, Napoleon had to flee through burning streets to escape. When the fires went out days later, at least 2/3 of Moscow lay in ruins and Napoleon and his Grande Armée had been robbed of their traditional victory as well as whatever food and supplies the city might have offered.

Czar Alexander said that the burning of Moscow “illuminated his soul,” and the leader surprised Napoleon again by refusing to surrender. A month later, unable to replenish supplies and with his men starving, Napoleon gave up and led his army out of the ruined city.

Many factors contributed to what happened next, but more than 400,000 French soldiers never survived their disastrous journey home. The rest of Europe took advantage of this failure and banded together to turn the tide, ultimately defeating Napoleon once and for all.

Still, it’s very sad that so much history and human life had to be lost in order to bring about something that was ultimately for the good, and as such, I can't think of a cheerful question to end this blog post with, so feel free to just comment at will.

See you next week, and as always, thank you for stopping by Heather's Historical Hodgepodge.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Do Contests Really Help Your Career?

Contests have been good to me in the 2009/2010 season, most certainly. All told, I’ve finaled in 7, including the RWA Golden Heart®, and won three (Chicago North’s Fire and Ice, Kiss of Death’s Daphne du Maurier and Heart’s Through History’s Romance Through the Ages) the last of which introduced my writing to my now agent, Barbara Poelle with the Irene Goodman Agency.

I’ve been getting a few e-mails here and there from people who have noticed my finals/wins asking me how valuable I thought contesting was to launching a career, and if I felt that doing so well in contests was instrumental to getting an agent.

I must say yes. And no.

You already know my agent read my first three chapters in a contest, and went on to request the full, so you may be saying “Duh, of course contest finals were instrumental in launching her career.” But it’s not that simple. I had several agent offers to choose from, only 2 of which found me through a contest. Two more came through referrals from existing clients, and the other 4 through the good old query process. Had I chosen one of those agents instead, the answer would be very different.

Here’s the thing: getting an agent or editor to buy into your story ALL COMES DOWN TO THE WRITING, and not just in the first 25-50 pages (the average length of a contest entry). I’ve heard more than one editor and agent say that while contest finals are nice, they don’t pay a ton of attention to them (yes, even the Golden Heart) because many times they’ve read a polished, perfect first three chapters, but then the story falls apart, or the voice/story/plot/characters don’t carry through to the end of the book.

The most instrumental thing for your career then, is to WRITE A DARNED GOOD BOOK, through and through. No matter how well I’d done in contests, I wouldn’t have gotten a single offer if the entire book hadn’t stood out in some way.

That being said, I would still answer YES, as to whether contests have been instrumental to my career, and that is because of the feedback I’ve received. You see, before Sweet Enemy started doing well in contests, I entered another 5 (4 previous to my actual first finalist entry) that I did not final in at all. But what I did get was valuable feedback. I learned something from each and every one of those entries, even from those judges who hated my story or wrote pretty harsh or nitpicky things (most judges were absolutely lovely, btw, even when giving criticism). I learned what was working (thus building my confidence), what people were tripping over, what words I over-used, what images weren’t coming through as I intended, and so on and so on and so on. Taking that feedback and unbiased criticism helped hone my story, showed me areas I needed to better educate myself in on the craft, and then I would try again and enter another contest to see if what I’d changed worked.

Just as important in my growth as a writer has been JUDGING contests. It’s amazing how much you learn about your own writing, or about mistakes writers make, when you are seeing them in someone else’s work. Conversely, you learn when you see something done just right!

And remember, contest finals are great, they let you bypass the slush-pile of whichever editor/agent is judging, and that’s nothing to sneeze at, but that’s all it does. In the end, it’s the writing that is going to win you that editor/agent’s heart, so above all else, educate yourself and hone your craft. That’s what will launch your career.

For those of you who have entered contests, how would you answer this question? For those thinking about contesting, what do you hope to get from the experience?

Now, a shameless plug for my chapter’s contest, deadline of September 10th. And yes, we’re known for great feedback.

Why YOU should enter MARA’s Fiction From the Heartland Contest

o You get TWO full page critiques, one from a published author.
o Our contest provides detailed feedback on your entire entry, including big picture story feedback from your synopsis
o You will receive your comments back in time to prepare to enter the RWA Golden Heart®
• Manuscripts that final are read by BOTH an EDITOR and an AGENT

o Check out 2010’s Fabulous Line-Up!

• Helen Breitwieser, Cornerstone Literary Agency
• Sara Megibow, Nelson Literary Agency
• Laura Bradford, Bradford Literary Agency
• Karen Solem, Spencerhill Associates
• Claudia Cross, Sterling Lord Literistic

• Category Romance - Susan Litman, Harlequin/Silhouette
• Contemporary Single Title - Danielle Poiesz, Pocket Books
• Historical - Tessa Woodward, Avon Books
• Romantic Suspense - Lauren Plude, Grand Central Publishing
• Paranormal - Meredith Giordan, Berkley Publishing Group
• Erotic Romance – Meghan Conrad, Ellora's Cave
• Young Adult - Natashya Wilson, Harlequin Teen
• Inspirational - Melissa Endlich, Steeple Hill

• Trained judges, who judge in the genre they write. No MARA members are allowed to enter our own contest.

• Overall winner receive $50 and a commemorative plaque

• Did we say FEEDBACK?

Here’s what some past entrants have said about our contest:

"I attribute my first sale to this contest." - Laura Abbot

"I had no idea when I entered the MARA Contest how it would change my life. Not only did I win the contemporary catagory and the best overall, but the judging editor requested the entire manuscript and I went on to become a published author! I can't recommend this contest enough." -Donna Delaney

And 2000 RITA® winner for Best First Book (The Maiden and the Unicorn), Isolde Martyn thanked MARA and the Fiction From the Heartland Contest in her acceptance speech

So be sure to polish up your entry and get it in today! Deadline Sept 10th, 2010.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I've been Poelled...

So, I haven’t posted in an age, but in my defense, life has been a whirlwind these past few weeks. So many things to share, but I’ll have to do it in spurts because I am very quickly making some tweaks to my manuscript so that my new, fantastic, lovely, hilariously funny and uber-enthusiastic super agent, Barbara Poelle, can get it out on submission.

Next on the—

What’s that, you say?

Oh, yes! I DID say agent. And I am thrilled, Thrilled, THRILLED about her. It’s a long and wonderful story, one of those, that looking back, seems like it was meant to be, but the very short version goes something like this:

Author (that’s me) has her eye on Super Agent (that’s Barbara) for a long time. Author sees that Super Agent is judging a historical romance contest (that’s the Hearts Through History’s Romance Through the Ages Contest) and decides to enter, in hopes of getting first three chapters of manuscript in front of her.

In the meantime, Super Agent and another Awesome Agent (that’s Holly Root) donate an afternoon tea with them to “Do the Write Thing for Nashville” to support flood relief for that area after the devastating May floods. Calculating Author thinks… “Hmm…I can support Nashville AND put myself in front of Super Agent, who will have read 3 chapters of my work if I final in that contest I entered, and at best, make an impression, and at worst, be able to at least ask her why she hated my writing.” Author bids, bids, bids and wins! Of course, she also queries both Super Agent AND Awesome Agent, because Author is no dummy and Awesome Agent is…well…awesome.

Author finals in the contest, and the manuscript is off to Super Agent. Author also finals in the Golden Heart and the Daphne, which doesn’t hurt, all of which are set to announce at the RWA Convention in Orlando, FL.

RWA arrives. Author WINS historical romance contest (Yay!), Super Agent comes to awards ceremony herself to announce the winners and then FLOORS Author by offering representation publicly in front of a room full of people, declaring her willingness to “get into a monkey knife fight” to represent Author. Author’s jaw drops, but she can’t stay to play, because she has to dash upstairs, where she also wins the historical category of the Daphne (at which point, she sees Super Agent standing in the back of the room, jumping up and down with applause. Author’s heart melts a little).

The next day, still stunned Author (and friend, Gretchen Jones) have lunch with Super Agent and Awesome Agent, who both deign to wear Fez’s blinged out with “I (heart) Nashville and Heather Snow” on them, and Author doesn’t have to ask Super Agent why she hated her writing, because Super Agent LOVES her writing. Yay!

(Gretchen proceeds to take picture evidence of this Fez wearing madness, which is exhibited below)

Author receives several more tempting (and wonderful) offers of representation over the next week, and is grateful and humbled by each and every one. Author runs off to New York to meet other Lovely Agents, to make certain she makes the right decision for her career. Author is torn, because she loves each agent and thinks they are all lovely. Then Author goes home and secludes herself for three days, clearing her head, listing her pros and cons, and checking her gut and her references and comes to a decision.

On Tuesday, Author calls Super Agent. Super Agent doesn’t answer. Author then decides, what the heck…Super Agent is young, hip and addicted to her iPhone (as is Author) and decides to officially accept offer of representation by text. She texts:

“Well, I’ve been Poelled. Here’s hoping you haven’t been Snowed into thinking I’m a better writer than I am, oh agent mine, because now you’re stuck with me. Call me when you can.”

And much celebration ensued.

All hilarity aside, I am very excited to be represented by the talented, tenacious and absolutely wonderful Barbara Poelle of the Irene Goodman Agency. Here’s hoping we have many happy, successful and lucrative years together…

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"Sweet Enemy" is featured in the Chemical and Engineering News

I know I said I wouldn't update my blog while on vacation/conference, but I had to share that I and Sweet Enemy were featured yesterday in the Chemical and Engineering News!

For those who might not know, the heroine of my first novel Sweet Enemy is a Regency era lady chemist, a fact which was picked up by the American Chemical Society from the wire when a story was run in the Kansas City Star last month, and they thought it might be interesting to do a story on a chemist turned historical romance novelist.

You can find the article here.

Big thanks to Carmen Drahl, who wrote the story and was a delight to be interviewed by.

As for how things are going in Orlando, totally fabulous! I've found a shady spot under the waterfall and the grotto pool (but I'm still wearing 100 sunscreen on the face and 50 on the body!), and am relaxing while gearing up for the exciting conference ahead!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I’m going to DisneyWorld!!! (and I didn’t even have to win the Superbowl)

Well, I’m off at the end of the week to the RWA ® National Conference in Orlando (which will be held next Thursday through Saturday to culminate in the Rita/Golden Heart awards on Saturday night). I’ll be traveling with my friend and fellow writer, Katy Madison, for a little pre-vacation, conference and then some Harry Potter world Sunday at Universal…woohoo!

My goals for the week:

1. DON’T get sunburned at the parks or at the pool. I’m a red-headed, pale skinned woman who is wearing a strapless dress to the Golden Heart Awards. I do NOT want freaky awful tan/burn lines on my shoulders!

2. Try to find time to relax. It’s not often I get away by myself. While I love the husband and the boy, it will be nice to have a little time for me. I’m going to do my best not to fill every moment and just have a breather or two along the way.

3. Catch up with some friends. That might be hard with 3,000 attendees and a schedule that is packed to the brim this year between the Golden Heart, Daphne, & Hearts through History contests, along with other events I’m committed to (and TOTALLY looking forward to). But I hope to get to spend time with some lovely people I don’t see that often (you know who you are, so find me if I can’t find you!)

4. Enjoy some time with my MARA and MRW friends who are also attending. It’s so lovely to have chapter-mates who will be in Orlando, too.

5. Be a good networker and make new friends. Not my strongest suit, but I will do better this year. I will! Hey, I still have at least one friend I met at my first RWA conference in 2007. (Michelle Marcos, I love you!) And I met some fabulous new friends at this year's Chicago North Spring Fling who are actually still talking to me, so there's hope for me yet :)

6. Enjoy the moment. I am thrilled and honored to be a first-time Golden Heart finalist this year, and I hope to soak in every bit that I can and bond in person with the other incredible finalists I’ve been getting to know on-line.

Heather’s Historical Hodgepodge won’t be updated for a couple of weeks. I’ll be gone next Tuesday, then I’ll be travelling to retrieve the boy from Nanny and Poppy’s house (who are so graciously spoiling…er, caring for their grandson while I am away).

See you on August 10th (unless, by some crazy fluke I actually win the Golden Heart…then I will have to post something!).

Either way, I promise pictures!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Dastardly Doings of Lord Derek Dammit…


Lord Derek Dammit is a bad bad boy…but can you blame him? Despite his noble birth, from the time he was stitched and stuffed, people have been smacking him about, taking out their frustrations by grabbing poor Derek by the legs and whacking him against any hard surface they find, screaming “Dammit Dammit Dammit!”

It’s no wonder why, after a life-time of such abuse, Lord Derek was rotten to the core. He escaped his familial home and fled to London, taking out his own frustrations against anyone he came across. But one day, he went too far…

Charged with impersonating the Queen’s guard (not to mention improper pinching of the Queen’s guard’s arse), Lord Derek was exiled from the British Isles and decided to start anew in the Colonies. He made his way west, causing trouble everywhere he went until he landed on the beautiful island of Hawaii.

There, Lord Derek Dammit’s life changed forever, as life often does when one meets his true love.

Her name was Darla—the most refreshing, unconventional chit Lord Derek Dammit had ever encountered. Cupid’s arrow quite knocked Derek off of his feet. While he hid his noble birth from her, three blissful days were spent by Darla’s side strolling along the famed black sand beaches of the Big Island and making love at sunset at the southernmost point of the northern hemisphere.

But while his time with Darla was the closest thing to happiness he’d ever known, Lord Derek’s demons wouldn’t let him be. A life-time of anger and fear roiled within him, keeping him from being able to truly experience the peace and pleasure love offered. His growing closeness with Darla terrified the normally tough, cold Dammit Doll. So one night, after Darla had slipped off into oblivious and sated slumber, Lord Derek left her a brusque note:

Been fun, babe, but I’ve got to move on. There are more beaches and more cotton stuffing to explore…

And he left, like the bad boy that he was.

Moments after he’d walked away, Lord Derek knew he’d made a mistake. Yet he also knew that if he stayed, he would make Darla miserable. No Dammit Doll would be able put up with his mercurial moods and his bad boy ways for long…he would only ruin her life, turn her into a bitter, brittle shell of the Dammit Doll she was. So he stayed away.

But the days that followed were torture for Derek. He heard tales of Darla’s devastation, stood hidden at the airport window and watched as she flew away, back to the states. He couldn’t stand the pain, and turned to hard drink, going on a week-long destructive bender all over the island.

But one day, he went too far…

Charged with destruction of a sacred tombstone in the Hawaiian Catholic Cemetery, Lord Derek was transported from the Hawaiian Islands to Alcatraz Island.

During his time in the clink, Lord Derek realized he had much to lament in his life, but his biggest regret was letting Darla go. He had to win her back, tell her the truth about his identity and beg her forgiveness and her hand in marriage. It took much doing, but he learned that Darla would be at the Romance Writers of America national conference in Orlando, at the Moonlight Madness Bizarre.

He made plans to surprise her there and to do his best to convince her that what she’s read in all of those romance novels is true: that a reformed rake of a Dammit Doll makes the best kind of husband…

Come to the Mid-America Romance Author’s booth to see if Lord Derek Dammit was able to win back the love of his Darling Dammit Darla…

For the next installment of the Dammit Doll story, visit award-winning author Carla Cassidy’s blog at this coming Friday, July 16.

Or to read Dammit Darla’s side of the story, visit author Jackie Bannon’s blog at

(This post is a fun and farcical advertisement to entice you to visit the Moonlight Madness Bizarre at the Romance Writers of America conference in Orlando on Thursday, July 29 from 8 p.m. to Midnight where my chapter, Mid-America Romance Authors will be selling a delightful array of whackable Dammit Dolls for writers, complete with different verses aimed at expressing the unique frustrations of the publishing business—each ending with “Dammit Dammit Dammit”, of course. Please come by and see us if you will be in Orlando, or stop by the MARA site.)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Double RITA nominee Elisabeth Naughton


Romantic Suspense author, Elisabeth Naughton, whose book Stolen Fury is up for 2...count them, 2 Romance Writers of America's RITA ® awards this year in the Romantic Suspense category AND the Best First Book category, has graciously hosted Golden Heart finalists her blog for the past few weeks (and for the next few weeks to come).

And today is my day! Please stop by if you get the chance.

Elisabeth Naughton's Blog

After this hectic spate of lovely and much appreciated publicity, Heather's Historical Hodgepodge should be returning to Tuesday posts.

In other news, the American Chemical Society saw the Kansas City Star article last week, and called me. After a couple of lovely interviews about this chemist turned romance writer, they will be running an article in the Chemical and Engineering News towards the end of July. Interesting times :)

I won't be posting next week, as I will be out of internet range until after the 4th of July. See you on the 6th!

Have a great holiday.

Monday, June 7, 2010

A Case of the Mondays...

A Case of the Mondays…

I’m writing my blog post on Monday this week because I was featured in my local newspaper, the Kansas City Star, in their FYI section in a little piece they call “A Case of the Mondays.”

Each week, they choose a local person to showcase. They do a short interview, then create random questions, which you answer in a one-liner sort of format, with the final question relating to Mondays.

I am very honored to have been chosen as June 7th’s case. (I tried to tell them I wasn’t that cool, but they decided to run it anyway).

So, if you live in the KC area, it’s on the cover of today’s FYI section. If you don’t, I’m posting a link to the online version which has the text and a picture, but is missing the cute pink fluffy mule slippers and Hydrogen clip-art.

I thought it would be fun to also give you my unofficial answers to be compared to what actually made it into the story, so those are below the link.
Have a great week!

A Case of the Mondays - Heather Snow (this link will take you to the actual article. My unvarnished answers are below)

Last movie I wanted to bail on but didn’t: “The Cell”. If I hadn’t been trapped in the middle of the very top row, I’d have been out of there.

My favorite element from the periodic table:
I’m going to have to go with hydrogen. It’s the most abundant and simplest of elements, it has the potential to power the world cleanly and most importantly—when it oxidizes, it becomes water. I am a total waterbaby!

My biggest fear if I win a 2010 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award: My right brain says it fears that everyone will expect me to wear those fluffy pink mules with the kitten heels when I write. I’ve got a two-year-old to chase. This mama has got to wear sensible shoes!
My left brain says it fears I would win the Golden Heart but never get published.

When my right brain and left brain do battle, which one wins?
Left, every time. Which can be creatively challenging, but I love a challenge.

Latte or coffee, black?
I’m a tea with milk and sugar (and scones with clotted cream) kind of girl.

Best name ever for a historical romance character:
Geoffrey Alisdair Wentworth, Earl of Stratford, of course, the hero from my novel “Sweet Enemy”. But if I can’t choose one of my own characters, people seem to love dark names like “Devlin” or “Lucien” or “Deverill”. I prefer Ambrose, but really, anything sounds good with a title attached to it.

“Gone with the Wind” or “The Notebook”? Will I lose my romance writer tiara if I say neither? Give me Cary Grant and Irene Dunne in “The Awful Truth” any day, even if it wasn’t adapted from a book.

I knew I was officially a mom when… I started to really view other humans as the precious gifts that we are. My son taught me that.

Plot device I pledge never to employ:
Heroine wakes up only to realize that it was all just a dream while declaring the butler did it which, of course, he did.

Mondays don’t scare me because…
I’ve got one of the toughest critique groups in town and they meet on Tuesdays. Tuesdays are terrifying!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

It's not a holiday weekend unless...

…someone ends up in the emergency room. In 1987, my fourth of July holiday weekend was spent in the hospital recovering from a snake bite. No kidding. A young copperhead got my foot as I walked up the path from the lake, which proceeded to spread venom quickly through my body and necessitated a three day hospital stay. Yay!

Flash forward to Memorial Day 2010. Another holiday spent at the very same lake with family and good friends. It was a nice weekend—incredible weather, dinner from the grill, a little guitar on the patio after the kids went to bed and yes, a few hours in the good old emergency room with my dear husband.

And how, do you ask, did this holiday weekend injury occur? Surely something more cool than a snake bite. Water skiing? Wake boarding? Extreme golfing? Nope. Freak mower accident. The funny part of this story is that my husband claims he brought it on himself because as he was mowing along in his shorts, he was thinking how silly his parents were for riding him as a kid to always wear jeans while mowing. He even arrogantly thought to himself “I’ve been mowing for 25 years and nothing’s ever happened” when a rock kicked up and put a deep puncture wound in his leg.

So listen up, kids…your parents harp at you to wear protective clothing for a reason. Mock them at your peril! A rock may not jump up to bite you for 25 years, but when it does…irrigation and stitches for you, my friend. Not to mention hours sitting next to a guy in a camo-hat with a bloody knee bandage regaling you with his story of how he took on a gang of “punk kids on them souped-up golf carts”. But that’s another story…

I still think I beat my hubby in the cool lake holiday weekend injury department. Do you have any vacation injury stories to share?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

So Far, So Good

Well, week one of querying has met with success. No rejections so far (yes, I know it’s early…many of these agents won’t even get to my query/proposal packets for several weeks yet and then I fully expect the big R’s to come rolling in), a few requests for partials and one for a full. Exciting times.

Writing time this week has been shared between playing with the boy, doctor’s visits, family photos and bidding out the exterior paint of our house (plus the requisite driving around until hubby and I found paint colors we both approve of. Bye-bye suburban beige, hello awesome darkness!).

And a new milestone has been reached in the raising of the boy. Yesterday at the gym’s childcare center, he turned around to me and instead of the crying, screaming melodrama that usually accompanies Mommy dropping him off, he simply waved “bye-bye” and ran off to play. I stood there dumbfounded, not sure what to do since I didn’t have to slink out of the door when he wasn’t looking like a thief with the crown jewels. Then, the little stinker wouldn’t sleep in his crib last night. Had to be in the big boy bed, all night long. Welcome, my little two year old man.

Oh, and beginning today at Elisabeth Naughton’s blog, a former Golden Heart ® finalist and current double RITA ® finalist for her book Stolen Fury, she will be spotlighting current Golden Heart Finalists every Tuesday and Thursday. I’m scheduled to guest blog there on June 24th, but you should definitely check out the other GH Finalists. They are a talented group of writers from whom I’ll bet you’ll be hearing a lot in the years to come.

Have a lovely week!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Querying like a Madwoman!

Not a lot of time to blog today…I’m finally kicking my story out of the door, turning it loose into the big bad world of publishing. Today, I started querying my “A” list, those agents that I might seriously consider selling the boy to if they would agree rep me. Okay, not really. I love the boy. (I might sell the husband, though…Just kidding honey!)

This is quite the interesting process. I, being the left brain thinker, have my spread sheet of course, in which I’ve broken up agents into A,B and C lists, dutifully copied all of my research into, and made columns for query dates and responses. I’ve listed beside each one why I think they would be an incredible agent for me, as well as clients of theirs whose careers I would like to emulate.

But how time consuming this process is, as well! Personally individualizing each query letter, checking and double checking submission guidelines and adjusting the length of story, synopsis, query, etc., to fit each person. Some want 10 pages, some want 5, some want 50, some want three chapters. Some want a 1 page synopsis,a 2 page synopsis, a 10 page synopsis. Yikes! I’ve told and retold this story at least a dozen times just today.

I even had to run out to the store to purchase self-seal #10 envelopes for SASE’s because an agent preferred not to have to lick them (which I totally get. They taste awful).

So my big plan is to send off the snail-mail queries/packets this week, e-mails next week. Then I’ll tackle the B list.

Boy, I hope I find an agent soon, so I can get back to writing!

How do you approach your agent/editor query process?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

When It Rains, It Pours

The blog has sort of a double meaning today. My heart goes out to all of those in the mid-east states who are suffering with torrential rains and unprecedented flooding, and I pray for all those who are displaced and grieving the loss of homes, jobs or loved ones. I sincerely hope recovery is swift.

Many of us in the romance writing world have been particularly glued to the news because our annual national convention was slated to be held at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville at the end of July. I am very saddened that this no longer seems possible for many reasons, not the least of which because of the financial resources that will now be leaving the Nashville area when they need it most. I know we were all hoping that the Gaylord would be able to assess the damage and say, “Hey, we’ll be ready for you in July!” Sadly, that is not the case.

Regardless of where the RWA® board ultimately finds for us to move to, I know many of our hearts will be in Nashville this year.

As to the double meaning of this blog, I am experiencing a pouring down of wonderful news. I learned today that Sweet Enemy is a finalist in the Kiss of Death Chapter’s Daphne contest in the historical category. I am astounded and gratified (and a little bit embarrassed) at this recent rash of contest success and am very excited about the final judge, who is an agent I would be thrilled to work with. I hope she loves Sweet Enemy as much as I do.

Wishing you all a wonderful week...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sometimes Even When You Win, You Lose…

Back safely from an incredible trip to Chicago for the Chicago North’s Spring Fling writer’s conference. This was my first time at Spring Fling and I must say that it was a phenomenal regional conference. The headliners, Cherry Adair and Julia Quinn, were both gracious and quite hilarious, the workshops I attended were very well done, and there were a wide array of editors/agents present. In other words, the conference was top notch. It’s put on every two years, so I would recommend planning to go in spring 2012. It is well worth it.

I can’t say enough about the people I got to know. Lydia Dare, Amy De Trempe, Samantha Grace and Erin Kelly, you girls rock! More about them individually to come, as they are historical authors not to be missed, but until then, you can check out their blog at Lady Scribes.

I got the chance to meet three other Golden Heart ® finalists, Rochelle Staab, Cat Schield and Erica O’Rourke and I must say, they are completely lovely and I am honored to be in the same GH class with them.

Erica O'Rourke, Rochelle Staab, Cat Schield and Me.

And I also met authors Sarah M. Anderson , Pamela Cayne and Ann Curtis as well as caught up with friend and awesome Regency author, Cheryl Ann Smith and Nancy J. Parra, Joelle Charbonneau and Jenna Peterson. All in all, a great time!

So now, to address the title of this blog. I am thrilled to have won the Historical Category of the Fire and Ice contest. It’s such an honor and I am grateful that the judges thought well enough of my manuscript to send it to the final round, and that the final round judge found it worthy of winning the category. But one of the things I enter contests for is to get my work in front of a particular editor or agent in hopes that they will request the full manuscript, and in that I lost. I also learned a hard lesson about the business of writing this weekend. During my editor appointment , the editor who judged my entry told me she very much enjoyed Sweet Enemy and that I had a wonderful voice and she’d love to see anything else I have, but that they’d recently published a particular book (by an author I really like, so I couldn’t even make a voodoo doll of her because she’s just too darned nice) with a similar premise to mine and therefore she couldn’t request it. The editor had some other lovely things to say about my writing, and she was very gracious and kind.

My pubbed friends assure me that editors don’t often say the things she did just to be nice and that sometimes it all just comes down to rotten timing. Perhaps so, but I am still disappointed.

Rejection and perseverance are both part of the game, so I am moving forward in the agent hunt in hopes of finding a house that loves Sweet Enemy. And I’m buying a fun gold gilded frame for my Fire and Ice certificate and maybe taking myself out for a nice glass of wine with my winnings!

In other news, I found out that Sweet Enemy is a finalist in the Georgian/Regency/Victorian category of Hearts Through History’s Romancing the Ages contest, with the final judge being an agent I’d really like to have. So I’ll set me sights on that and keep writing.

See you next week!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Off to Chicago for some Fire and Ice...

Busy week this week in the Snow household, with each of us coming and going different directions. My husband just returned from an extended business trip, my son has been away visiting first my parents and then my hubby’s while I finish up rewrites (thank you, awesome family!) and now I am leaving to go to Chicago for four days just when his grandparents will be bringing him home. I’ll miss seeing my son by hours…

But life is exciting, too. I popped in during Lent to tell you all of the Golden Heart® final, but another fabulous thing happened while I was away. Sweet Enemy is also a finalist in Chicago North’s “Fire and Ice” contest . So I and a good friend, historical author Keri Smith, will be going to their Spring Fling Conference and awards dinner this weekend, where Julia Quinn and Cherry Adair are headlining and where I will also be pitching the manuscript to an editor I’d really love to write for. All that, and I get to meet four other Golden Heart finalists who will be in attendance, catch up with my friend and fellow author, Nancy J. Parra, as well as meet many other incredibly awesome and talented writers. If you’re interested, details can be found here.

Chicago Spring Fling

Maybe I’ll have super news to share next Tuesday…and if not, at least I’ll be holding my boy in my arms again by then.

Have an awesome week!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Doing My Part to Promote Literacy

My son is two. Since before he was born, I’ve been reading brainy baby books, trying to figure out how I am going to instill a love of reading and learning in his darling little mind. From the day I brought him home from the hospital, I read and read to him. I made him look at books when his little attention span could be measured in microseconds. I dragged him to the library for Mother Goose storytime when all he wanted to do was run around and yank books off of the shelves yelling “Yah!!!” like a Backyardigan Viking. I strapped him in his high chair and made him turn pages, naming what he saw, for ten minutes at a time. I followed the advice of Moose A. Moose on Noggin who says , “Read with your child for 20 minutes a day and promote a lifetime love of reading.” Yet he couldn't be bothered. I despaired that I was a writer raising the little boy who hated books.

So, much to my delight and joy, the boy has finally turned the corner. Books have become his new favorite past time. We read and read and read all day long, over and over and over again. I can recite the lines of Dr. Suess’s “The Foot Book” and Sandra Boyton’s “Moo, Baa La La La” and “But Not the Hippopotamus,” just to name a couple. Yay, Mom! I should be thrilled…

But have you ever tried to read Dr. Suess twenty times before your child goes to bed, get that rhythm and rhyme into your head and then try to write a sex scene?

He likes to do it on a train
He likes to do it in the rain
He likes to do it in a boat
He likes to do it with a goat?

Oh no, it’s not pretty…


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Houston..we have reacquisition of signal in 5…4…3…2…1

Lent is over, and I am stepping from my self-induced unnecessary internet fast blinking into the sun like a baby owl with horn-rimmed glasses.

The night before Ash Wednesday, I was glued to my iPhone right up until midnight. Remember the movie, Apollo 13? As the clock turned over, I sat my phone face down in the dark and I swear it was being in that scene where they’ve turned off everything they could to conserve power, they’re freezing in the little module, looking at the earth through the window and wondering how they’re going to survive. Then the lights go out. Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but man…it was quite surreal.

Forty days later, I realize it wasn’t so bad. Yes, I missed out on a lot of news. Luckily friends let me know when something big was going on. I know I missed wonderful things going on in my blogging friends’ lives and careers. Yet, it went by fast and I feel more at peace, less rushed. I did watch the Oscars this year, (Sandra looked so beautiful! Bad, bad Jesse James), had a lot of fun with my family and even got some writing done.

I wasn’t perfect, by any means. You’d be amazed the things I suddenly classified as “necessary” so I could look them up on the web. And I did break for March 25, or what we in the romance-writing-world call “Rita and Golden Heart Day”. More about that later, but the short version is that I was one of the lucky to get a call that day and now my manuscript has moved onto the final round, to be looked at by 3 acquiring editors!

Due to my Golden Heart ® final, I will be slower to get back around to see everyone on their blogs. I had no expectation that Sweet Enemy would do so well, and therefore had slacked a bit on the rewrites— so I am having to write like a mad woman to get it whipped into shape in case the editors come calling! But I’ll stop in and say hi as I find the time.

Leave me the high notes in the comments section…I’d love to hear what you’ve all been up to!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Golden Heart

I'm breaking my Lenten Internet Fast and making an unprecedented Thursday post to say....


Sweet Enemy is a 2010 finalist in the Regency Historical category.

For those of you who may not know, the Romance Writer's of America's Golden Heart ® is the most prestigious contest out there for unpublished romance authors, with about 1200 entrants per year. Find out more at:

RWA Golden Heart Finalists 2010

I'm still in the clouds here, so I don't have much to say yet. I just wanted shout it to the blogosphere!

My congratulations to all of the other finalists, particularly my Critique Partner, Leigh Stites, writing as Elisabeth Burke, for her final, The Healer, in the Historical Category.

And I wanted to express my sincerest gratitude to my awesome critique groups, without whom, this wouldn't have been possible: Katy Madison, Keri Smith, Leigh Stites, Fran Abram, Gretchen Jones and Stacey Long.

And thanks to the supportive writers in my local chapters who read my entry and helped me polish it up...MARA and rock!!!

I'll be back after Easter with more, but I couldn't resist stopping in! I'm sure God will forgive me :)


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sayonara until Spring

Today is Fat Tuesday…biggest party day of Mardi-Gras, a sort of last hurrah before the more subdued season of Lent starts on Ash Wednesday. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of Lent, a basic quick explanation is a Christian tradition of symbolic sacrifice, lasting 40 days until Easter. The idea is that you take something you really like and you choose to forgo it, and whenever you normally would do/eat/want that specific thing, you turn to God instead and increase your reliance on Him. For example, if I gave up chocolate, every time I would reach for that treat, I would remember God and instead, spend a moment with Him, hopefully drawing myself closer to Him in the process. If you’re not big on giving things up, you could also add a discipline, i.e. 10 minutes of Bible Study a day or something.

In the past, I’ve given up many things…candy, soda, even television –which I did for many years. The upside of turning off the tube? I recovered my time to get things done and spend focusing on my life and spirituality. I caught up on things and was really able to slow down and make peace with my life. The downside? I missed the Oscars every darned year…they always fall during Lent!!!

After much internal debate, I decided that this year for Lent, I will be giving up all unnecessary internet usage. Yikes! I know…sounds scary, right? I may be crazy, and I may never do this again, but this year it just feels like the right thing to do. This includes my blog, and the blogs that I so love to read (as well as Facebook and Twitter and all of the news and gossip sites I spend so much time visiting).

I hate that I will miss all of you, and I’m half afraid I will emerge from this Lenten Season completely behind the times, disconnected and totally uniformed, as I get the majority of my news and much of my enjoyment from the web. On the other hand, surfing all of the great sites I’ve discovered has become a terrible time suck which has been encroaching on my ability to reach my goals and the time I devote to my personal priorities.

In all honesty, giving up the internet this year has selfish implications as well as spiritual ones. Yes, I hope to recover time to devote to my relationship with God. I am certain the extra time spent focusing on my family will reap happy rewards as well. But I will also be selfishly taking a lump of the time I save to write.

With an RWA contest final, I got a request from an editor that I’m very excited about. I also have an appointment with an editor from a different house in April, and therefore I must have the book I’m working on complete and polished by then so I can pitch it with confidence. Since I’ve started spending time blogging and reading blogs and tweeting and facebooking, my writing has dropped off. I have limited time and energy as my son approaches two and demands more from me. I have to spend what I have left writing.

So, I must put Heather’s Historical Hodgepodge officially on Hiatus. I hope all of you that have such wonderful blogs will forgive me for not coming by to see you for a while. I hope those of you who read my blog will keep me on your dashboard/Google reader and will give me a chance when I come back after Easter. And I wish you all a pleasant and fruitful end of the winter season, and hope to see you again in the spring.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Taste of Mardi-Gras and a Wee apology

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Before we get into this week’s post, I must apologize…I missed my first ever blog last week. I know, I know. You were heartbroken. ;) Alas, circumstances conspired against me…a perfect storm of events that kept Heather’s Historical Hodgepodge from being updated.

First, my husband and I have no family in town, so if we want to go somewhere, we must first drive our son the four to six hours to either my mother’s or my husband’s…which inevitably means we must drive back and get the boy when we arrive home. Which I did, on Monday. Still, I should have been home on Tuesday in time to blog EXCEPT I caught the plague in New Orleans and was too sick to drive home from Mom’s. Which was nice in a way, because she was there to help me with the boy whilst I was feverish and semi-coherent. I would have just blogged from her house EXCEPT she lives in the sticks, where they’ve never heard of high-speed internet and the little local phone company has a monopoly so you can’t even get NetZero and the only dial-up plan they offer is so blasted expensive it’s completely not worth it. Normally, in that circumstance, I would have just blogged from my I-Phone, right? Right, EXCEPT Mom is so far out in the boonies, that not only could I not get 3G, I couldn’t get phone signal at all. Nor am I cool enough to have a guest blogger on reserve for just such an occasion. Therefore, no Tuesday post. So Sorry.

Anyway, I’m back, somewhat healthy and ready to go.

New Orleans…what a fun town.

If you’ve never been, and you are a history lover, I totally recommend going. New Orleans, the French Quarter in particular, practically oozes history (among other things!). There are homes, architecture and buildings older than most in our country . There are plantation homes you can tour just outside the city that are breathtaking and antique stores that will have you drooling. (One I went into this past weekend was selling King George IV’s secretary—the furniture, not the person, of course). There are ghosts (I say figurative, some say literal) of times past lurking around every corner and it is unlike anywhere else you’ll ever be. You should go, at least once.

I’ve been there several times before and one of these days, I'll take you on a historical blog tour of the city. Sadly, most of the trips were in the days before digital cameras so I'll have to dig out my old pics and scan them to share some of my lovely finds with you. But this is the first time I’ve gone without an agenda, without a list of things I wanted to see and do. This trip, my entire goal was just to Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler. No laptop, no worries. (Of course, I did pack chapters to edit at the last minute because I couldn’t resist, but you’ll be happy to know I didn’t touch them.)

So here are just a couple of my pics. Next week, I’ll get caught up and become a good blogger again.

The courtyard of the hotel we stayed in, The Place d’Armes, just off Jackson Square in the quarter, behind the St. Louis Cathedral. Quaint, historical, reputedly one of the more haunted hotels in New Orleans if you believe in that stuff, and just out the way enough to be perfect yet on the same street as a fabulous restaurant, Muriel’s (home of the delectable shrimp and goat cheese crepes), and the Café Du Monde. Midnight beignets, anyone?

The Saint Louis Cathedral at dusk. I have better pictures of it during the day, but I just loved the color of the sky that night.

Alas, it was dark, cold and rainy half of the time we were there this trip, which may have contributed to my catching the plague. Still, cold and rainy in New Orleans is much more fun than some places.

But that didn’t stop me from participating in one of the first Mardi Gras parades of the season. This is me in my get-up. I’ll leave the rest of my outfit to the imagination. After all, what happens in NOLA stays in NOLA.

See you next Tuesday…Fat Tuesday, btw. Maybe I should have saved my Mardi Gras post for then…

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

NOLA, Here I come! (Or Smelling the Blasted Roses)

I’m traveling this week, so I just wanted to put up a quick note thanking everyone for your nice comments about my resolutions post. To that end, I’m going to list a few great sites I’ve discovered to help me along that path. So if you struggle with any of the same issues I do, feel free to look around!

Healthy Writer Blog
I just discovered this site, and it’s great…other writers struggling to stay healthy in our sometimes stressful, often sedentary profession. Stop by, you’ll enjoy it!

Success stories always keep me motivated, so here are a couple of sites with real people’s weight loss success stories:
Top 50 Incredibly Inspiring Weight Loss Blogs
The Weigh We Were
WW 100 Board

And in my quest to cut down on processed foods, I’ve read a couple of really good books this past month that I recommend.
YOU on a Diet
The French Don't Diet Plan
Both books do a wonderful job explaining why processed food is so bad for us and gives pointers on why and how to remove it from your life.

To that end, here’s a nice cookbook to help with that.
Cooking the Real Age Way
Anything by Rachael Ray or Mark Bittman tends to use healthy, natural ingredients that taste great, too.

I also purchased all of the supplies I needed this week to start making my family’s bread and crackers at home. (Before you think I’m crazy, check out the two books I referenced above. Really opened my eyes to the dangers of processed foods, diet foods, high fructose corn syrup, etc. I was amazed to see several unhealthy ingredients/chemicals in my favorite commercially produced breads and crackers once I knew what to look for).

My friend and fellow writer, Laura P, posted a great recipe for homemade whole wheat crackers over at her blog.
The Land of Moo (easy whole wheat cracker recipe)
I’ll keep you posted how that goes!

If you’re looking for some wonderful ideas of how to cut back on TV time for your kids (or yourself), here’s a great resource:
Instead of TV

And last, but not least…smelling the blasted roses. I have decided that I am leaving my laptop at home this week as I travel to New Orleans for a fun few days with my husband and a few of our friends (sans kiddos…woohoo!) It was actually a tough decision—which shows you how mental we writers are! I am not going to feel guilty about not writing, I am taking a few books (Dream Man by my friend Nancy J. Parra is already loaded onto my I-Phone), and I’m going to live it up in the Big Easy.

(I won’t tell them how hard I rooted for Favre)

Next week, we’ll work on the “Writing Every Day” Resolution. I’m getting there…

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Writing was fairly non-existent this week, as I spent the time playing catch up on all of the big life issues we humans seem driven to tackle at the beginning of each year. I’m also a bit of procrastinator (which is why our Christmas cards haven’t gone out yet and are morphing into New Year’s Cards).

So it’s only natural that my New Year’s Resolutions come at the middle of the month instead of the beginning. (Keep in mind, this is better than years past, where resolutions might be made over a green beer on St. Patty’s Day! I get better with age).

I vacillated whether or not to put such a personal post out into the blogosphere, but in the end, I decided that hey—we are all human. We struggle, whether we tell each other we do, or whether we pretend to the world that we don’t. So here are some of my struggles. Don’t worry, I don’t plan to turn Heather’s Historical Hodgepodge into a journal to air my issues. But since it is still January and technically a New Year, I’m allowed. :)

This year, making resolutions was a little harder than some. You see, my birthday is in December and I am now officially closer to 40 than I am 30 and I’m starting to feel the sand slipping a bit. There’s a little more pressure to conquer the personal goals that have always seemed to conquer me. There are the memories of failures past, taunting me…you’ve failed for 35 years, what makes you think this year will be any different? You’re set in your ways…can’t teach an old dog…blah blah blah.

Therefore, instead of writing, I spent the last week making plans. Plans to succeed. What will it take to get healthier so that I can be there for my son when he’s my age and hopefully beyond? How am I going to use my time effectively so that I can be the mother I want to be AND the wife I want to be AND be a successful writer AND get in better shape AND eat/live healthier AND set the life examples I want my son to emulate? How am I going to live in the moment and enjoy life as it comes rather than feeling like I’m on the downhill slide? How am I going to live without fear and guilt, and instead with joy?

I really looked at what has caused me to fail in the past: my expectations of myself, my emotional triggers, my perspective, how I lose control of my days and my time reacting instead of being proactive, how I start so well only to revert back to form. I also had a stern talk with myself: I don’t have to be perfect to succeed, but I do have to plan to succeed. Some days, I’m not going to win them all…that’s no reason to get down or give up. I can be patient and still be persistent. I have to live one day at a time.

Now, here I am, better late than never. It's January 19 and I’m resolved:

I will eliminate most processed foods and make exercise more of a priority (and drink more water, darn it).

I will cut back on my son’s TV time. Yes, it’s just Noggin and yes, everyone’s doing it. But I feel it’s important he not get into the habit.

I will make writing a priority every day…even if only for 30 minutes. Every. Day. (and no, my blog posts do not count). I will get said writing done before checking e-mail, reading blogs, etc.

I will do better at scheduling my days and be more realistic so that at the end, I feel I’ve accomplished something, even if it was only being the best mom I could that day.

I will put more focus on my spirituality.

I will stop and smell the blasted roses.

What are YOU resolved to do in 2010?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

When the Thames Frozeth Over...(the Frost Fairs of London)

When the Thames Frozeth Over… (the Frost Fairs of London)

This week temperatures have reached -11° F here in my part of the Midwest, and more snow has been dumped on our city than we’ve seen in twenty years. Snow drifts of several feet sent my poor husband out in his waders just to gather the mail (thanks dear) and the frigid temperatures kept my toddler and I in the house for the most part…much to his temper-tantrum throwing chagrin. Hey, I understand. That white fluffy stuff that tempts him through the windows is fun to play in, but his less-than-two-year-old mind can’t comprehend the concept of frostbite yet.

All of this chilliness reminded me that the period I write in (Georgian/Regency/Victorian) was considered part of the “Little Ice Age” that spanned from the 14th Century through the 19th. Winters were harsh, extreme even (making me reevaluate for a moment my dream of living in those drafty old manor houses with little more than fireplaces to keep me warm. Brrrrr…..)

Winters were so cold that at various times during those years, the Thames froze over --sometimes for days, sometimes for months.

All of this thought of frigid temperatures, ice and England also brought to mind the Frost Fairs. So I decided it would be fun to do a blog about them. Most of you might already know of what I write, but for those that don’t, it should be a fun discovery!

Frost Fairs were Carnivals on the Ice, springing up whenever conditions allowed. When the Thames froze solid, revelers would stage quite the affair: sledding, skating across the ice on skeets, all manner of races (sleds, horse and carriage, horse racing and even donkeys! Can you imagine those poor beasts slipping and sliding about? ), bull-baiting as well as your more typical carnival fare such as stilt walkers, musicians, singers, puppet plays, traveling theatres, booths galore selling anything you could imagine and of course, drinking and eating.

Frost Fairs would also see nobility and even royalty mixing with commoners (Charles II and Elizabeth I were known to practice their target shooting on the frozen Thames), much like I imagine Vauxhall must have done.

Some years, the frost would last two to three months! The Thames became a great street on which shops were built, similar to the old London Bridge. I suppose people had to make the money lost when shipping on the Thames came to a frozen halt. Entrepreneurs abounded…one industrious printer made up souvenir cards for the 1683-84 Frost Fair, printing them right there at the fair and selling them for sixpense (King Charles II reputedly even purchased one himself) and made 10 times a laborers weekly wage PER DAY.

The last Frost Fair was held during the Regency period, starting on February 1st of 1814 and lasting a mere 4 days. On February 5, a sudden shifting of the mass of ice left booths floating away and several people in need of rescue.

A sad end, I think, to the great tradition for the Thames never froze again. Warming climate, the replacement of the London Bridge with a bridge with wider arches and the embankment of the Thames (decreasing its width and therefore allowing for more rapid flow) all contributed to the end of the Frost Fairs.

How I would love to have seen it, though. What events of old do you wish you could have seen with your own eyes?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tagged by the Lovely Linda Kage

Tagged by the Lovely Linda Kage

A couple of weeks ago, I learned that I had been tagged by Linda Kage over at her blog "Hand over the chocolate and no one gets hurt". to answer some questions about myself and my writing. Apparently, she’d been tagged by another blogger and was told to pass it on to three other blogs.

My first instinct was to kick her, but I can’t because a) she’s very pregnant and b) she’s a lovely person whom I like a lot. So, after much grumbling to myself, I sat down to answer these questions which I will then, I mean...give three other writers the opportunity to keep the game going on.

For my victims, I shall be choosing three very interesting and varied blogs:

Gretchen Jones because she’s totally cool, very funny and she recently mentioned a trebuchet in one of her posts. How awesome is that? (hopefully she won’t aim it at me when she finds out what I’ve done).

Judy Ridgley over at her blog, Writers Riding Horses. It’s a super blog full of tidbits about writing horsemanship correctly. It particularly rocks if you write historical. Ever wanted to know what it feels like to ride side-saddle, or how to handle a coach and four? Check out Judy’s blog.

Simone Ogilvie over at The Romantic Query Letter and Happily Ever After who writes a beautiful blog chock full of history, art, music and prose who promised to share more of herself on her blog in 2010. Well, Simone, here’s a great way to start.

Hopefully these three wonderful women will still be talking to me tomorrow.

And here, for my first post of 2010...more than you've ever wanted to know about Heather Snow.

1. What’s the last thing you wrote? What’s the first thing you wrote that you still have?

Hey, that’s two questions in one. Not fair!

Sadly, the last thing I wrote was a blog post! I am stuck...stuck...stuck on my current WIP.

The first actual completed story I ever wrote that I still have was a novella fairy tale (written with my then best friend) as an assignment for our HS gifted class. It was a fun story, full or heroes and heroines, gods named so originally after the Seasons and dwarves named Peterbilt and Kenworth (which are actually the names of semi-truck manufacturers. What can I say? We lived in a small town off of an interstate with tons of billboards. You never know where inspiration will strike!)

2. Write poetry?

Not so much. I have written a poem or two in my life. Here’s one~once you read it you will know why I don’t write it!

The Butterfly

In this life, if truth be told
Just caterpillars are we
We’re plain, we’re small
We inch, we crawl
As we all try desperately to be...


We wrap ourselves in cocoons of silk
Or of wit or charm or flair
Or of food or drinking
Of drugs or ‘higher thinking’
We hardly even care

As long as it makes us feel...


But it never does, and in the end
All we can hope to see
Is that we were already beautiful
Just as God made us to be

But don’t forget, amongst your regrets
His love is the key
He shows us with the butterfly
One day, the caterpillar will still fly free

3. Angsty poetry?
Not really. I’m a chemistry major, remember? I don’t do angst.

4. Favorite genre of writing?
Romance, primarily historical. I love the fairy-tale aspect of historicals and I’m a sucker for the happy ending. I used to read more horror than romance, and actually wrote some horror/suspense but as I got older, it got too dark for me. After spending time working in the prison system on a volunteer basis, I realized that I wanted happy endings. Lots of happy endings. So I went back to romance.

5. Most annoying character you’ve ever created?
I wrote a character named “Maddy” in a serial killer suspense novel. She was the cutesy new wife of my kidnapped heroine’s filthy-rich father. She sort of existed as a foil for the secondary love-story between my heroine’s divorced parents who were brought back together by their daughter’s disappearance. She also was a red-herring, but in the end, she was too annoying to live! I axed her because I just couldn’t stand her anymore. And by axed, I mean cut, not killed. Although that could have been fun, too!

6. Best plot you’ve ever created?
I LOVE the plot in my current WIP, which interweaves history, lost Egyptian treasure, and science. I also love a parallel universe young adult story. Neither are published yet, so you’ll have to wait to know why I love them so much!

7. Coolest plot twist you’ve ever created?
I’m with Linda Kage, here...I’m not ready to tell because I don’t want to give it away!

8. How often do you get writer’s block?
More than I’d like, for sure! I think with more discipline I could break through it faster, but I allow myself to get distracted by all of the other pressing things of life. The more days I go without writing, the harder it is to get back into the flow. I know this! So why do I still do it? A question for the ages...

9. Write fan fiction?
I’m not really a writer who writes for the fun of it. I write with the intention of getting published. I am pretty career minded, so writing fan fiction and posting it online just never really appealed to me. That being said, I did write a “Quantum Leap” novel once, with the intent to sell. I LOVED QL, and bought all of the spin-off books back in the day. I became on-line pals with one of the authors who encouraged me to write one, so I did and actually submitted it. However, by the time I did, the line was closing. I got a lovely rejection letter telling me they’d be happy to look at any future projects, but I never really got into any other world.

Oh wait, I did actually write a story with Cary Grant in it for a CG website once...I guess that’s fan fiction. Mmmm.......Cary Grant.

10. Do you type or write by hand?
Type. Only. I can do plotting by hand, but when I’m actually writing, I have to have a computer in front of me.

11. Do you save everything you write?
I still have the fairy-tale, the serial-killer suspense, some other short stories, the young adult, the QL novel and two versions of my current WIP.......I’m guessing yes, then. However, I did make myself throw away all of my college papers last time we moved!

Although I must say, lugging all of those papers around for years actually did pay off for me once. When I went back to college for my chemistry degree, I noticed an ‘incomplete’ on my transcript for an undergrad creative fiction class that I knew I’d gotten an A in. Luckily, the current professor (who was a grad student when he’d taught me 8-9 years earlier) vaguely remembered me. He told me he remembered I was a good student, but I’d have to rewrite the papers for him to give me a grade. I dug through the boxes and found all of my old papers, as well as the daily journal he’d insisted we keep—which he'd graded and effusively commented in. I dropped them off at his office and had my A in a few days!

Just don’t tell the hoarders this story.

12. Do you ever go back to an idea after you’ve abandoned it?
Yes. I’m forever trying to see if I can make it work.

13. What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever written?
I still haven’t written my favorite yet.

14. What’s everyone else’s favorite story that you’ve written?
My family and friends wish I’d go back to the kidnapping/serial killer story.

15. Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?
Romance, yes. Angsty teen, no. Hey, maybe that’s what’s wrong with my young adult parallel universe story...not enough angst.

16. What’s your favorite setting for your characters?
I’m an Anglophile...put me in historical England and I’m thrilled. Heck, put me in current day England and I’m still thrilled.

17. How many writing projects are you working on right now?
I’m a person who has to focus and see something through or I won’t ever reach the end (proven positive by the many unfinished projects hiding in the closet). So, I’m only working on one—unless you count the blog, which sadly I’ve been writing more on than anything else of late.

I hesitate to even let myself start plotting the next for fear that I’ll lose interest in the hard work of revising the one I’m on.

18. Have you ever won an award for your writing?
In high school, I won a haiku contest...I wish I could find it! It was called “The Tie” and basically had a tie morphing into a noose. It was cool because Southwest Missouri State University picked it up and turned it into an interpretive dance, so somewhere I have a dusty old VHS of a lovely ballet dancer dancing around with a tie around her neck which she hangs herself with as an announcer reads my haiku. Where IS that tape????

I’ve finaled in two RWA chapter contests...I took 3rd place in the SpacecoasT Authors of Romance’s “Launching a Star” contest and I’m still waiting to find out my placement in the RWI’s “Where the Magic Begins” Contest.

19. What are your five favorite words?
I couldn’t pick 5 favorite if I thought about it for months. I love words, love language, especially the nuances. I particularly dig clever wordsmiths who can twist language, no matter the medium—like Cole Porter does with his lyrics. He rocks.

Right now, however, my 5 favorite words are in toddlerese: gall (ball), gog (dog), git (kitty), gink (binky) and Mommy. That little man melts my heart with his silver tongue.

20. What character have you created that is most like yourself?
Each of my characters has something of me in them. It’s how I connect. Maybe, as I become a more skilled writer, I’ll be able to write a heroine completely unlike me. I guess the heroine who is most like me is Liliana Claremont, from Sweet Enemy. She’s a chemist who has based her whole life on cold science rather than deal with her feelings of abandonment from her father (although he was murdered, so he didn’t abandon her by choice, but hey—feelings aren’t always rational). She keeps her emotions strictly under control, which I tend to do...and you know I love chemistry!

21. Where do you get ideas for your characters?

I tend to start with a plot idea, then decide what kind of character would fit well into that scenario. My current WIP’s original plot came from a traveling exhibit about Napoleon’s expedition into Egypt. I started playing “What if?” and my story came to life. From that, I had a heroine who had a specific occupation and I had to create a hero who would be a good counterpoint to who would throw a lot of conflict her way, yet in the end would be the absolute perfect partner for her. That was a little harder to flesh out.

22. Do you ever write based on your dreams?
No, though sometimes if I go to bed worried about how to solve a certain situation, I’ll wake with the answer. I won’t see it in my dreams (which I rarely remember), but apparently my subconscious mind will be chewing it over while I sleep.

23. Do you favor happy endings?
Yes. I see enough unhappy endings in real life.

24. Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
Yes! Yes! Yes! (and yes, that was an over-usage of exclamation points).

25. Does music help you write?
Typically I need silence. I can put on music without lyrics to get me in a mood to write, but once I’m actually writing, the music goes off.

26. Quote something you’ve written. Whatever pops into your head.

From my current WIP. This has been cut, but I’d love to find a place to add it back in.

For an instant, the pain of losing his father sliced through him like a blade, stealing his breath as memories he’d long since locked away assaulted his senses. Closing his eyes, he could see his father’s laughing face transformed into the stiff countenance of death, his normally robust coloring turned pale and cold. Geoffrey could hear his mother’s sobs echoing through the halls at night. He could smell the cloying flowers, could taste the salt from old tears and unbidden, the backs of his eyes burned with fresh moisture that he viciously blinked away.

Well, there you have it. See you next week for a MUCH shorter post!