My friend Pat and I had a nice chat today. I made it to her place at around 11 a.m. and didn’t leave until close to 2 p.m. β€” and then only because I had to get ready for work.

We shared a lovely lunch (salad, spaghetti and chocolate chip cookies) and settled on “Li’l Slugger” … or maybe “Big Slugger.” What guy wants to consider himself “li’l” anything? πŸ˜‰

A good portion of our time was spent discussing various stories we’ve written (or are still writing) and it got me thinking about some nearly-finished manuscripts that I haven’t thought about in ages.

One is a Harlequin Presents type of story (high-powered businessman and successful author) with a twist: The two knew each other in high school, when he was an exchange student at her school. They started dating by graduation and she eventually transferred to university in London … but she up and left him with no explanation while they were in college. Now, four years later, their paths cross again when her book is being turned into a movie filmed at his hotel chain.

The other one is a sci-fi romantic comedy that I seem to recall having some very funny moments. I don’t think I’ve worked on it since moving from Indiana, so the details aren’t quite as fresh. I remember I got the Earth girl back to the planet of her hero, who’s as human as she is, just from a different galaxy, and then had no idea what direction to take it in.

I started the other one much more recently, basing it on characters in a collection of short stories my roommate and I wrote about life in high school (tentatively titledΒ  “High School Hell”). got it to a certain point β€” probably the point I abandon most projects, somewhere in “the sagging middle” β€” and stopped writing.

Anyway, before heading to work this afternoon, I dug them both out of hiding. (I was pleased to discover I knew where they were β€” one buried under a stack of magazines on the nightstand, one in a satchel I packed to save get out of the house in case of wildfire several summers ago when one threatened.)

I got sucked into the Presents, and plan to read more when I get back home. It’s pretty near the end β€” I hope, because I’m nearly out of story. It’s all hand-written, so I have no idea what the word count is.

So far, I like what I see. I may have to see about reviving it after Golden Heart season and the NaNo. (I already have my NaNo idea in place … it’s the story of Brad’s brother, Kenny.)

Of course, I still have Bethany and Cody to contend with. (Even though I still love the story, I think they’ve lost a bit of their luster … They no longer call me to work on their book. I’m probably coming to that dreaded middle again.)

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After last night’s good news on my contest final, I got more excellent news this afternoon.

One of my writer friends had asked to read “Beauty and the Ballplayer.” She’s read a couple of my other manuscripts (“Blind Date Bride” and “Operation Snag Mike Brad”).Β  She’s always busy, though, as a grandma of I don’t know how many … so I didn’t expect fast feedback.

Boy, was I surprised. She called today and said she read the whole thing in one day.

That in itself is a great sign … and she also said she loved pretty much everything about it. (Another excellent sign.)

She does, however, take issue with my poor hero, who refers to his β€” ahem β€” male part using a word that begins with “c.” I figured he’s a guy, and that’s what he’d be likely to think of it as, when he’s thinking of it (which is often). Besides, I already used my favorite name, “Mr. Happy” in Kari and Damien’s story. Two different heroes can’t have the same … er … pet name for their anatomy.

Pat steadfastly maintains Matt would not use such a crude word … so she made up a list of alternatives. We’re getting together Tuesday morning to go over them. I can’t wait.

… Ah, the life of a romance writer! Where else can you have a breakfast meeting to discuss the male anatomy?

P.S. Now that my creative juices are flowing, I’m thinking I might lobby Pat for something like “Li’l Slugger.” It’s a little more creative than the C-word β€” and it fits. Matt is a baseball player, you know. πŸ˜‰