Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A truly big birthday surprise!

Yesterday was my birthday and my sweetie, Patrick Burns, not only threw me an amazing birthday party, complete with champagne toast and an awesome cake, he popped the BIG question! And, of course, I said "yes!"

I had no idea it was coming...especially when he handed me a glass of champagne and there was something shiny and pretty in the bottom of the bubbles.

And take a look at my gorgeous ring. I seriously cried when I saw it. It's so delicate and special. It's a filigree white gold ring with a diamond...vintage 1928-ish. Sooooo pretty.

My mother asked me if I was on Cloud 9...I think it's more like Cloud 99!

I think 2011 is definitely going to be the best year ever!

Marley = )

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Ringing in the New Year

New Year's Eve is one of the most promise-filled days of the year. It's the ringing out of the old year, taking stock of everything that happened (the good and the bad), and welcoming in the new. It's a clean slate, a fresh start, and a we all (at least temporarily) believe that we can make the coming year as perfect and productive as we always hope.

2010 New Year Dawn

This New Year's Eve I will be ringing in 2011 with my parents at the Pollard Theatre's annual New Year's Eve gala in Guthrie, Oklahoma. The gala is held in the old train depot and there are plenty of sweet treats, a cash bar, and a fabulous live band. There is dancing and singing and the artistic director announces the new theatre season.

All in all it's a pretty fun event, but since I don't know anyone very well except my parents, it can drag a little. Last year, to pass the time until midnight, I downloaded a screenwriting app and got in trouble (with the aforementioned artistic director) for trying to write a script instead of dancing. Maybe this year I can sneak in a little writing.

How will you be ringing in the New Year? Partying with friends, cuddled up on the couch with family, or some other fun tradition? And if that's not your dream New Year's Eve plan, then tell me what is. Or tell me about your favorite New Year's Eve ever.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A California Christmas

My sweetie and I are on the road this Christmas, calling Southern California "home" for the holidays. It's hard to be traveling over the holidays, which includes Christmas, my birthday, and New Year's Eve, but so many people have opened their homes and hearts to us that it's overwhelming.

Our friends Kathy and Malcolm let us stay with them for a couple of weeks while our RV was getting regular maintenance. They made us feel right at home, letting us take over their dining room table with our computers and cameras. Their pets, Speedy (the dog), Precious and Scooter Boy (the two cats) treated us like we were part of the family. And, the UPS guy was even starting to recognize me from all the packages he delivered for us!

My sweetie's kidlets are with us for Christmas. They're 11 and 9 (almost 12 and 10) and they are thrilled to be in California. On the agenda is a touristy bus tour of Hollywood and the stars' homes, Grauman's Chinese Theatre, La Brea tar pits, and maybe a drive up to Big Bear, weather permitting.

Speaking of...I have NEVER seen this much rain in my life. And I've been in several tornados, two hurricanes, and a flood. I'm told this is the "Pineapple Express" weather system from Hawaii that brings such dumps of rain. Let's just say that the RV is squeaky clean from all of nature's washing.

People wonder what we'll do Christmas day...well, no worries...we have a small tree that we're going to decorate with the kidlets, stockings for them, and we'll await Santa's visit Friday night just like everyone else. Our friend Kathy has invited us to her parents' house in Escondido for Christmas dinner, which we're really looking forward to.

All in all, not you're usual Christmas. No snow or cold weather clothes. But we're together and we're blessed with wonderful friends and family.

What are you doing this holiday season?

Marley = )

P.S. Prayer request goes out for my missing fur-niece, Leeny, who escaped from my sister's house in Florida yesterday. Please pray that she returns home safely in time for Christmas.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Treasured Christmas Present

As I am busy wrapping presents for friends and family, my mind has drifted back to the Christmas of my 16th year, and the shocking gift that lay inside a seemingly hollow box sitting under the tree with a tag that simply said, "For Tina."

Like many kids, my brother and I had been present-detectives, spending hours in the days before Christmas around the tree, examining the wrapped packages for clues. Lifting, weighing, shaking, name it. But this one present was completely baffling since it appeared to have no weight...not to mention, no "From."

Now...time-out for some backstory. In the months that led up to that Christmas, I had had my driver's permit. The lessons with my parents had not gone well--to the point I dented a bumper--so I'd finally been enrolled in a driving school. Even that did not go well. I flunked my road test. My parents had resumed the lessons, and a week or so befor Christmas, my mother had taken me for another road test. I figured odds were good I'd flunked again, but as was the standard then, it would be several weeks until I got my results by mail.

So, back to Christmas and present-opening. I grabbed the baffling present first. And indeed, there was nothing inside. But a piece of paper. And written, in my mother's handwriting was, "You passed your road test." My gaze flew to hers, and she was smiling and nodding. Apparently, after the test, the DMV examiner had whispered to my mother, "Tell her on Christmas that she passed."

Do you love this guy or what??? Letting the news that I'd finally earned my license become a treasured Christmas AND family memory. He certainly knew how to spread the holiday spirit!

And so here I am, all these years later, still behind the wheel, and with a pretty squeaky clean driving record to boot. (Okay, there was that ticket for making a left where it was prohibited once, but the sign was brand new!)

Anyway, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this story...or any treasured Christmas presents for your life!


Tina Ferraro
Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress
How to Hook a Hottie
The ABC's of Kissing Boys

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Busy Busy Busy!

Have you ever noticed that "Busy" is defined differently by different folks? What makes my day "busy" isn't exactly the same type of day that makes, let's say, my grandma, busy. "Busy" can mean you're simply not bored, that you have something to do. Busy might mean you have so many things clogging your "to do" list, there aren't enough hours in the day to finish them all (and do a decent job at it).

I have a neighbor (a mom with a part-time sales job) and the way she tells it, she's the busiest person in the known universe. Then there's the 20 year-old medical student who spends her entire day going to classes, waiting tables to pay the rent, and studying. Which equals about 4 hours of sleep when she's not too stressed about an upcoming exam. And then of course there are all the bigwig career types who are contantly on their Blackberries.

I think the busiest I've ever been in my life was when my revision on "Lifted" was due. I sold that book on a proposal and my editor didn't like what I'd turned in. More to the point, the marketing dept. wanted something more issue driven (rather than character driven). I had to write (not revise, but actually come up with new material) 20 hours solid for 4 days in a row. Thank goodness, my mother was able to fly in and take care of my family (and me) so I could do this. My brain has never hurt so badly. My body, either. I barely took bathroom breaks, let alone showers. I lived on Diet Coke and whatever food my mom slipped into my office when I wasn't paying attention. I might have doubted my ability to be an author. I might have doubted the possibility of what I had to do. I might've broken down in fitful tears. However, I didn't have time!

But guess what? I made my deadline. And what's more, I loved how my book turned out. Though it was one of the biggest challenges of my life, this is what I remember most: my family and how they helped me through it.

During this season, which many people say is their busiest of the year, we oftentimes get so wrapped up in doling out gifts; we forget the best gifts of all. A kind word, lending an ear, a hug, an unexpected favor. These things don't cost a dime, yet can mean the world to someone you care about. It's taking time out of your busy (however you define "busy") day to make someone feel special. Priceless!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Holiday Hours

As the holidays approach, it seems like the To Do lists keep getting longer and longer. There are gifts to buy, treats to make, presents to wrap and ship, trees to decorate, dinners to plan, travel to arrange, guests to welcome... Well, it goes on and on.

Just Chillin' by prenetic

In deference to the busy holiday season, the Buzz Blog will be switching over to a more relaxed schedule. There will still be posts (um, occasionally) whenever the mood strikes one of us, but not the regular weekly schedule we've been on. So kick back with us for a couple weeks and check back in January when we return to full force.

Hugs and happy holidays,

Monday, December 13, 2010

How Many Books Have You Read This Year?

I can actually answer the title question with certainty. As of today, I have read 32 books cover-to-cover in 2010.

Which is not as high as in past years--especially the years immediately prior to selling my first novel, where I averaged 52. And not even as high as 2009 (44 books) or 2008 (36).

I know all this because for most of my adult life, I have kept a reading log, divided by month and year, listing title and author, as well as occasional notes about the genre or my thoughts.

While it started as a fun little hobby, this list has gone on to mean many things to me. First off, it encourages me to read when “real life” gets in the way. I not only try to make time for more books, but the idea of “adding another tally” to that month’s total has encouraged me to finish books that I’d been otherwise tempted to put down.

This log has made my vacation reading even more fun as I try to break personal bests of how many books I can read in, say, a two-week period.

And it serves to keep my reading memory intact. Like say I am vaguely reminded of a young adult novel I read about working on the railroad and want to recommend it...and I’m thinking, yeah, and I met the author at the SCBWI book signing, but what’s the title and her name again? I go to my list, and there it is: When the Whistle Blows by Fran Cannon Slayton.

Or say I’m wondering if I’d read the latest Stephanie Plum novel, or if I’ve devoured everything by Carolyn Mackler...I have a ready list in which to compare.

So before I close to go finish the book I am currently reading (as I say, my list is pitifully low this year!), I’m going to ask our Buzz Girl readers. Anyone else keep a reading log? And if so, how’s it working for you?


Tina Ferraro
Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress
How to Hook a Hottie
The ABC’s of Kissing Boys

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Holiday Season Tips

I consider myself a good tipper. I've worked as a waitress and a bartender and I know how physically demanding those jobs can be. And let's face it, the general public is about as well-behaved as a toddler on a sugar binge a good portion of the time. So if I get good service, I always leave at least 20%.

I am always perplexed with holiday tipping though. I never quite know what is enough and I panic that I'm leaving someone out. Last year, I tipped the garbage guy only to realize that there were actually two people collecting our trash each week. I never seem to remember my newspaper lady even though I always think how bad it must suck to be out at five in the morning in the freezing cold. Then you've got the mail people and all the teachers at the school. And the hairdressers. It's enough to drive a girl straight to a dish of chocolate Santas.

But I want each and every one of these people to know that I appreciate them and everything they do to make my life run smoother. I started with the newspaper lady who never leaves a tip envelope. I enclosed the tip with my bill so she would be sure to get it this year. I'll be leaving two envelopes for the garbage guys this year. The mail ladies are getting Starbucks gift cards and glowing letters to their supervisors for jobs well done throughout the year. That just leaves the teachers who all love any kind of homemade craft/gift card combo. Oh wait, I almost forgot the hairdresser. :)

Whew, now that wasn't so bad. Who do you leave holiday tips/gifts for and what do you usually give them?



Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Holiday Movies I Can't Miss

I love Christmas movies, cartoons, specials. Can't get enough of them. And every year, even though I've seen the same things over and over again, I still crave the seasonal viewing of my beloved holiday favorites.

Here are my faves...

Of course, I adore "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer," who doesn't? But one of my favorite, less shown, Rankin-Bass production is called "Nestor the Long-Earred Christmas Donkey." Nestor was born with abnormally long ears and was taunted by the other animals in the stable until he was banished. Through hardship and loss, Nestor triumphs and grows and is in the right place at the right time when a poor carpenter, Joseph, and his pregnant wife, Mary, need a donkey for her to ride to Bethlehem.

Most people will cite "It's a Wonderful Life" or "Miracle on 34th Street" as their favorite movies, but my two favorites are a little more obscure.

First, there's "Christmas in Connecticut." Barbara Stanwyck stars as a Martha Stewart-ish magazine feature writer who talks about her farm in Connecticut and cooking. However, her being the perfect housewife is all a lie. Now, she must try to cover her deception when her boss and a returning WWII hero invite themselves to her home for a traditional family Christmas. I can't say enough how much I adore this movie.

And my other movie that I have to watch not just on Christmas, but seriously...any holiday. It's called "Holiday Inn" and it stars Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire and it's just a barrel of fun from beginning to end. Crosby and Astaire are performance partners who have always fallen for the same girl. Crosby's character decides to hang up his crooning and buy a farm in Connecticut. When it turns out to be boring, he decides to open it up every holiday for dinner, dancing, and music. Once again, they compete for the love of the same lady. You'll recognize the origin of such traditional Irving Berlin hits as "White Christmas," and "Easter Parade." If you've never seen this movie, it's a must.

So...what are you favorite holiday picks? What movie, special, or cartoon can you not go through the holidays not seeing?

Marley = )

CHRISTMAS MIRACLES, available this holiday as an ebook download!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The Secret to Writing Success

Last month, along with thousands and thousands of other writers of all levels, I competed in the National Novel Writing Month challenge. And let me tell you, it was a challenge. Despite having three published books, two more written and ready to go, and four other as-yet-unpublished manuscripts under my belt, getting through that 50,000 word first draft was a serious feat of willpower.

Writing hurtz my brains.

As I was busy pounding out words (most of them in the last four days of the month) I was reminded of just how much persistence it takes to make it in the writing world. There are so many ways and reasons to give up along the way. It takes too much time. It's such a longshot. It's changing to ebooks so I might as well self-publish. It's too hard.

Writing Be Hard

You know what, it doesn't get better once you're published. Instead of worrying about getting an agent and a contract, you're worried about keeping them. You're worried about your sales numbers and whether your editor will want another book in the series, another book from you period. You're worried that, even if your editor buys more books, that the sales numbers aren't high enough. You're not getting enough promotion/high enough print run/good distribution. And these are just the ones I've reached at my level. There will be more, different ones as I (hopefully) move up the publishing food chain.

The list of worries goes on and on. And the sad thing is that there is virtually nothing you can do about most of them. That's a hard pill to swallow, especially for someone with the drive, determination and persistence to actually become a published author. You want to believe that if you push the right buttons, buy the right advertising, give away the right goodies, that things will get better or easier. News flash: they won't.

There are doubts and worries and fears at every single level of publishing. From the unpublished (will I ever get a contract?) to the debut (will anybody like my book?) to the veteran (will my next book do better than my last?) to the bestseller (will I make the list again?). Those authors who make it to the top level, who stick it out for long-term careers in publishing, have two major traits in common that help them achieve that success.


One, persistence. The drive to keep going and going despite whatever obstacles (rejections, life crises, bad reviews, lost contracts) fly into the way. Success in any field, whether it's acting or engineering or writing, is probably 90% persistence. So just keep going.

Protect the Work

Two, in the immortal words of Susan Elizabeth Phillips, protect the work. When it comes down to it, the one and only aspect of this crazy career that the author can ever hope to control (unless, I suppose, you're Nora Roberts or Stephen King) is the writing. All of the press and promotion in the world won't do squat if the book is a piece of garbage. Hone your craft, put your soul on the pages, and, as Ally Carter says, leave nothing for the swim back.

That's the formula for writing success. To survive this career you have to put your head down, push through every obstacle in your path, and write the best book you can. Everything else is distraction.


Monday, December 06, 2010

Cartoon Profile Pictures

Those of our readers on Facebook may have noticed many of their friends changing their profile pictures to cartoon characters this past week. I will admit I did not understand why for a few days, until I saw this status heading:

Change your FB profile picture to a cartoon from your childhood. The goal? To not see a human face on FB until Monday, December 6th. Join the fight against child abuse!

Well, how could I not participate in that? So I reached back to my early days and thought of a short-lived cartoon (that might have already have been old, I really don't know) called Top Cat.

Which had featured a cat (of course) with humor and attitude. And a ridiculously catchy theme song, to boot.

So tell us. Did you change your profile picture to a cartoon? And if so, what cartoon character did you choose?


Tina Ferraro

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Guys' and Girls' Nights Out

Guys' Night Out: Last night my husband, two oldest boys, and a bunch of dudes went to a Wild Sheep banquet. It happens once a year and they really look forward to it. Before they left, I asked my husband who he'd call first if he were to win a sheep hunt (an expensive and rare prize he said he'd rather win than a new car, to put it in perspective) and of course since I was the one asking, he said me. I can't really explain it, but I had this feeling that he would win. Around 11 last night, the phone rang and sure enough, he won the hunt! (And yes, he called me, his lucky charm, first!) I stayed up till well past midnight because I knew there'd be hooting and hollering as soon as they got home, and sure enough, there was. Even though I'm not a hunter and I think hunters are, well, weird, I can appreciate how excited he is and I am so happy for him.

Girls' Night Out: I don't know about you, but I LOVE Girls' Night Out (GNO)! Some I've been a part of include: Going to see a chick flick and dinner, dinner at a Wings place on Karaoke night, going to a local film festival in a park, having wine and snacks at a local gift shop after hours, and this week we're going to dinner and then a little shopping in a nearby city. I love hanging out and reconnecting with my girlfriends, and for GNO we always encourage people to invite their friends so we can meet new people.
Do you ever have Girls' or Guys' Nights Out? If so, what do you like to do?

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Hollywood Premiere!

So, I'm in SoCal and tonight, I'm going to my first Hollywood premiere party! it's not for the GHOST HUNTRESS...yet...but it's for my friend's show that she's on called STORAGE WARS on A&E...check it out...

Hope you'll tune in. My friend, Kathy, is on the 10th episode.

I have a storage unit and I've seen people at the lot gathering around for the auctions. It's really a free-for-all. I had no idea that there were professionals who went to scope things out and turn a profit. Totally fascinating. I bet this new show will have people paying the tab on their storage locker! (I think mine's up for renewal in March. LOL!!)

Do you have a storage unit? Would you ever go storage diving to find a wealthy jewel?

Marley = )

Ghosts don't hang up their sheets after Halloween!
GHOST HUNTRESS series - The Awakening, The Guidance,
The Reason, The Counseling - available now