Friday, March 30, 2007

No Yo

Good writing is a kind of skating which carries off the performer where he would not go. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I'm almost 12,000 words into my latest WIP. I originally planned for it to be a 50,000 word novel, but don't know that the storyline will support it. Currently I'm aiming for at least 20,000 words with the hopes that it will grow to be more. Problem is, I'm not loving it.

Seems to me that I'm having heroine problems. Again. I had heroine problems on my NaNoWriMo book this year, too. In my current WIP, I have two sisters. The hero is supposed to fall for the older one, Emily. Due to a variety of issues, everyone (including Emily) expects him to get involved with the younger one, Casey.

The thing is, I really like Casey for him. And, what's worse, I can really see Emily and the hero's business partner getting together. But if that happens, there would be no conflict ergo no book.

So I keep throwing Emily and the hero together, keep writing that they have unwanted and inappropriate feelings for one another, but it's not working for me. If I was Randy Jackson, I'd say that it didn't have "yo".

And, I'm not sure what to do about it.

*sigh*

What do you do when your characters don't behave or your basic plot doesn't seem to work?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Booking it Where?

It's time to book it, once again.




Location, Location, Location, Part 2

Booking Through Thursday

Where do you do most of your reading? Your favorite spot? (Show a picture, if you want to!)

(And yes, I understand that these might not be the same thing--your favorite spot could be the beach, but you do most of your reading at home . . . in which case, tell me about both!)


I read anywhere, and everywhere. I've been known to stir a pot on the stove with one hand and read with the other. I read when I eat, read before bed, read while watching TV... the only time I can't read is when I'm writing.

Now, that said... ideally? Something like this (though not so modern):



Comfy chair, lots of light, flowers... I'd add some plants and a huge bookcase. Oh yeah.

But I don't need that to read. Reading, for me, is a bit like breathing.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Head on Over...

Allie has her weekly Writer's Wednesday post up -- it's all about dealing with rejection (and haven't we all?). Even better, she's having a drawing for an Amazon gift certificate and all you have to do is comment!

What are you waiting for? Head on over!

Memories...

Each has his past shut in him like the leaves of a book known to him by heart and his friends can only read the title. ~ Virginia Woolf

My dad died in 1991 and left me, among other things, a box of photographs. There were hundreds, and many of them were over in Germany during WWII. He never talked about his service, ever, and so a big chunk of his life was lost to me. I didn't know where the pictures were taken, when or with whom. Faces of men I didn't know joined his with a background of black and white buildings.

Some of the pictures were of his childhood, and again the back of the photos were unmarked. I took these to my aunt (his sister) to see if she could remember any of the people with him, or the places they were taken. She imagined she knew a few, but couldn't be certain.

My father really never talked about his past, either. I knew how he got the scar on his arm because I asked, but beyond that? Nothing.

After he died, I discovered he'd been married before he married my mom. To a German girl he met during the war. There were letters to him included in the memories of the past.

Lately, I've been toying with a story idea for The Wild Rose Press's vintage rose line. These stories take place between 1920 - 1970, most of the ones already published take place during WWII. I wanted to do something different and so planned one for the fifties, during the "forgotten war" - Korea.

Conveniently, this is when my mother lived. In fact, she was a young adult, just out of high school in 1950 and so is the perfect age for the heroine. We've talked about the past over the last few days, and it's terribly interesting.

It's the little things that matter, the tiny details that fascinate me -- the kind of details that we take for granted in our day-to-day life because they just "are". Even now, though I'm not (quite) a senior citizen, things are amazingly different than they were when I was in high school.

I want to remember those details. I want my mom to remember hers. I wish my dad (who was seven years older than mom -- a world of difference in the history of the forties) had shared more of his.

That generation, the greatest generation, is dying off. I wish I'd thought to talk to my father more about the past, but I was young and didn't think of it. I wish I'd talked to my grandmother more. But I've learned. Poor mom... I'll be talking your ear off. I want to know so much that I could walk through the early fifties in my mind like I'd been there myself.

And I want my daughter to know what growing up in the seventies and eighties was like for me before I forget the small things.

A couple years ago, I was in the emergency room waiting area and picked up a magazine. It was old -- from the eighties! How on earth it ended up there, I have no idea. I had a blast flipping through it, but I kept thinking something was missing. It finally occurred to me that none of the advertisements had Internet addresses listed. I hadn't realized how much I'd gotten used to that until it was gone.

The little details.

Are you writing them down?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Froggy Blog(gy)

“It's not easy being green.” - Kermit The Frog

(Edited to add: Judy mentioned she can only see one of these pictures... anyone else having trouble?)

I don't know how it started... one day I'm innocently giving a Home and Garden party in my house. My neighbor leans over, points at her catalog and says, "Isn't he cute?" and it was all over for me.

Because he was cute. And he started my latest obsession.

Who is he? He is my original frog, the frog that started it all -- we call him Fred (or Bill, if you ask my DD):



And, yes, that is what my back garden looked like yesterday when I took the picture -- so all of you southerners just hush. Did you notice the toad house next to Fred? We encourage real frogs and toads to live with us as well. Someone will undoubtedly move in to that little house once it warms up.

Now, everywhere I go, now, I go on search and buy missions. Do they have any frogs?

I have my desk frog (how could you look at his face and not smile?):



My plant hanger frogs:




A discount frog (we couldn't resist him... he was on sale for a buck at the grocery store):



My front garden frog (yeah, I know, there's "brownery" there -- they're grape hyacinths and will green up if it ever stops snowing, but at least no snow out front -- and I just noticed that froggy is getting faded, so I may have to bring him in):



My mom's frogs that I covet:

King Frog:



Funny Frog:



And last, but not least, the latest addition to the frog family, added yesterday after a trip to AC Moore -- Welcome Frog (don't you love his bug eyes?):



Besides books, what do you collect?

Monday, March 26, 2007

I'm Positive

“It takes but one positive thought when given a chance to survive and thrive to overpower an entire army of negative thoughts.” - Robert H. Schuller

I'm a little like Tom Cruise's character in Cocktail (much as it pains me to say that I am like Tom Cruise in any way): I always have some sort of non-fiction self-help type book on the nightstand. Mostly they're about health and nutrition, but not always. Currently on my nightstand? "How and When to Tell Your Kids About Sex" and "The Courage To Be Rich" by Suze Orman.

I'm not talking about the sex one. You're not my kids and you probably already know the basics. BUT, I had a bit of an epiphany while reading my nightly chapter in Suze's book. She (like most of the known world) talks about the power of positive thinking. I sat there and read and thought, blah, blah, blah, nothing new here.

Then she wrote: Do you want that to be true?

It was as if someone whacked me over my head. It's not just the power of positive thinking, but also the power of negative. Sure we can take moments through the day and think positively (you know, things like "I will win the Powerball tonight"), but we can also influence our life by the other times when we throw negative things out there.

Her point was to follow up any and all thoughts about yourself (she was speaking about your finances, but I took the idea and ran with it) with the thought, "Do you want that to be true?"

"I just can't write today." Do you want that to be true?

"I feel blah." Do you want that to be true?

"We're broke and I can't afford to enter that contest." Do you want that to be true?

"This is a stupid story." Do you want that to be true?

"I'm too tired to exercise." Do you want that to be true?

"I don't have the time to write." Do you want that to be true?

Well, you get the point. So, today I'm going to do that and see how often I'm negative about all different aspects of my life. I'm not typically and happy, positive person, so this will be a challenge. Because after I ask Do you want that to be true?, I need to change it so that it becomes something I DO want to be true.

Last night, I dreamed about the new Battlestar Galactica -- this is an odd thing because I don't even watch it. But I dreamed that something had happened to Adama and he'd come back in the form of a woman (but still had his own voice) and that the same thing had happened to Starbuck (edited to explain: I meant that the sex reversal thing happened and the female Starbuck became a man). This was probably my own wishful thinking: that whole "buck" thing that means MALE being applied to a woman... anyway, I'd read something at Tori's blog about 'the five cylons' and I'm sorry to say that the cat woke me up just as I was finding out who they were.

Weird.

Do you remember your dreams?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The White Stuff and Movie Meme

“Movies are immortal art - the first new art since Greek drama” - Eric Johnston

After a lovely day of playing on our (still rather brown from winter hibernation) lawn and having a barbacue (it was 50 degrees, of course we bbq'd), it SNOWED. Yup. There is once again white stuff ALL OVER MY YARD. Grrr...

I know. It'll melt quickly, probably on Monday when it's in the high 40's. But that's not the point. The point is: I'm sick and tired of snow. I. Hate. Snow. There is never a good time for snow. Ever. But especially after the first day of spring.

Remember the picture of my DD reading in hammock in the sunshine? Here's a picture of that same hammock now:



Ok. All done.

Just for fun, I snagged this one from Stacy over at Exceedingly Mundane.

Movie Meme

1. Name a movie you have seen more than 10 times.

Um.. lots. Undercover Blues, Xanadu, Somewhere in Time, Star Wars, Princess Bride, Ever After, While You Were Sleeping, and a ton of musicals: Singing in the Rain, Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, The King and I… okay, I'll stop now.

2. Name a movie you’ve seen multiple times in the theater.

Xanadu (yes, really… I was like thirteen, what do you expect?), Somewhere in Time (it was playing with Xanadu, back when theaters had double features), Titanic, It Could Happen to You.

3. Name an actor who would make you more inclined to see a movie.

This is the first one I couldn't respond to immediately. In fact, I'm going to go away and come back to it, because I honestly can't think of anyone off the top of my head. Am I weird?

Okay, I came back to it and still can't give a good answer. Sometimes I'll see a preview and think, "Huh. Sandra Bullock's in that. I usually like her movies... Well, except Forces of Nature and that one where she plays a drunk in rehab... maybe I'll go. Nah... I'll wait 'til I can TiVo it."

I'm just not a movie star or movie freak. Except Dirk Benedict. If they offered the old Battlestar Galactica shows on the big screen, I'd be there with bells on.

4. Name an actor who would make you less likely to see a movie.

Adam Sandler. The only moderately redeeming movie he was ever in (IMHO) was The Wedding Singer. I hate, Hate, HATE his version of "comedy". Oddly, my DH loves all AS movies, espeically Happy Gilmore. Ugh.


5. Name a movie you can and do quote from.

The Empire Strikes Back (in fact, I quoted from this one on my blog just a couple days ago), Mary Poppins, The Wizard of Oz, Undercover Blues, The Princess Bride, Better Off Dead… Okay, I'll stop (again).

6. Name a movie musical in which you know all of the lyrics to all of the songs.

Dear heavens -- I was in drama class in school. Um, okay ALL the lyrics, not just some. That should narrow it down...Pirates of Penzance, Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, The Wizard of Oz and nearly every Disney movie made before 1995.

7. Name a movie you have been known to sing along with.

All of the above, along with other classics like Oklahoma, My Fair Lady, The King and I, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers… stopping again…

8. Name a movie you would recommend everyone see.

Undercover Blues. Funniest. Movie. EVER.

9. Name a movie you own.

You're joking, right? Far too many to list. Most of the ones I've talked about already (yes, even Xanadu) and many more. All the LOTR and Star Wars movies, of course, plus a dozen romantic ones like Ever After, While You Were Sleeping, etc., along with some good "guy" movies like Air Force One and Armageddon and The Saint.

10. Name an actor who launched his/her entertainment career in another medium but who has surprised you with his/her acting chops.

Truthfully, this one took me a while. I finally settled on Trisha Yearwood in JAG. Honestly, I couldn't really think of anyone else.

11. Have you ever seen a movie in a drive-in? If so, what?

Yep. Again -- so many, I can't remember them all. Mary Poppins was the first, when I was little, and Jurassic Park was the last. There was the coolest drive in by our house when I was in high school. We went a lot -- it was cheap and we could bring our own food!

12. Ever made out in a movie?

Nope. I always seemed to go with huge groups of people -- they charged by the carload. And the indoor ones? Why would you do that? Eww. Just eww...

13. Name a movie you keep meaning to see but you just haven’t gotten around to yet.

Um… would you believe that I can't? I never remember them until I actually see them in front of my face. I'm really not a big movie freak.

14. Ever walked out of a movie?

No, but I would have walked out on The Gods Must Be Crazy… that was absolutely the WORST MOVIE EVER MADE. Gah. But I was there with someone who wouldn't leave.

15. Name a movie that made you cry in the theater.

Almost anything. I have very sympathetic tear ducts. I cry at Hallmark commercials, and every time I see Charlotte die in the original Charlotte's Web. Most recently, DD and I watched the video Monsters, Inc. and I cried when Boo went home. Really.

16. Popcorn?

Of course!!

17. How often do you go to the movies (as opposed to renting them or watching them at home)?

Almost never. Maybe twice a year? Unless you count the summer free kids movies that are all very old, but the DD loves to see them on the big screen.

18. What’s the last movie you saw in the theater?

Everyone's Hero - No, I don't get out much :-)

19. What’s your favorite/preferred genre of movie?

Comedy or Romance -- or better, romantic comedy!

20. What’s the first movie you remember seeing in the theater?

Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

21. What movie do you wish you had never seen?

The Gods Must Be Crazy and Scream

22. What is the weirdest movie you enjoyed?

I don't enjoy weird movies, and thus, I don't watch them. Ever. Except for The Gods Must Be Crazy, but I've already covered that and I didn't enjoy it. At. All.

23. What is the scariest movie you’ve seen?

Scream - it put me off horror movies forever. I haven't watched one since and I used to love them.

24. What is the funniest movie you’ve seen?

Undercover Blues
Anyone else want to play?

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Slogging Through the Quicksand

“A talented writer can write women, men, dogs, pigs. They can write old people, young people. Does a writer have to be insane to write the part of someone insane? I know he has to be insane to want to be a writer, but that isn't the point.” - Dirk Benedict

That quote cracked me up, so I had to use it. Good old, Dirk.

Yesterday, I managed to write more words than I have in a couple of weeks. It started out the same: dragging those words out from the quicksand of my mind (this same quicksand regularly eats memories as well -- you know the ones, where you go into another room and then can't remember why you're there... or you go to the grocery store to pick up one thing that you really need, and then forget what it is? Yeah... those memories.) when I realized I needed to do something to get past the hump.

The odd thing is that I know where I am going with this story/novel (I'm not sure if it'll make it to novel length at this point, we'll have to see), I know what I need to happen and how the characters will get there. Do you suppose that I'm bored? Typically, when I write I know point A and point Z, but not much of the in betweens. I have some ideas of potential scenes, but it's still a lot of fun to see how the characters will get to the end I have planned. No so much with this one. I took the time to plan it out quite a bit and this way of writing isn't working for me.

Yesterday, I did the prompt in our writing group. It was nearly 800 words long and part of my WIP. It was fun to write, though it certainly needs A LOT of polishing. Writing it was fresh and new. It was a scene I hadn't planned, and since it had certain parameters to meet that had nothing to do with the plot, it helped me think outside the box a little.

My writing friends probably looked at it and found nothing extraordinary about what I posted. But it was truly extraordinary to me.

As an aside, why do I cringe every time I write the word "was"? Sometimes it's necessary, isn't it?

We had lovely weather yesterday, and the snow from our big storm last week has almost melted. The daffodil greens are about two inches high and visible again. Other green growing things are beginning to show their heads. It's very exciting! I'd be out gardening already, except ... now it's "mud season". Ugh. Everything is liquid. Slop, slop.

Still, the DD appreciated the sunshine yesterday (it was in the FIFTIES! - yeah, I know... you folks down south or on the west coast, just hush and let me bask in my own relative warmth). Here's how she spent her afternoon:

Friday, March 23, 2007

I Forgot the Free Stuff!

I forgot to tell you about a few contests I've found:

Win a $5 amazon.com gift certificate from Melissa McClone!

Win a free book from Karen!

Win your choice of her books/stories from Terry Odell!

The Quills are giving away one autographed book from each of them!

Nora Roberts is giving away NR calendars and magnets at her site!

And lastly, the Evil Allie posted one fun timewaster on this blog post.

Go forth and enter!

"Magic" Cover and the Writing Blues

"A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people." - Thomas Mann

I got my latest cover:



I have to admit to not being terribly enamored of it -- it took me a while to figure out what the picture portrayed. And, since I know the story, that was a bit disconcerting. I've decided that the picture is of a beach volleyball game (something that features in the story) - that little black dot in the center is the ball, the streak across the middle is someone diving for the ball and the other silhouettes are the other players.

Still, it's always nice to see my name on something! AND I haven't even started the edits on it, and the covers already done, so someone is really on the ball.

Writing has been a struggle the past few days. It's as though I have to pull every word from some odd mix of half-set epoxy. I write, because I must, but it's not coming easy. That's terribly frustrating.

It's not because I don't like what I'm working on -- I do. I like both the new WIP and the novel I'm editing. It's not because I can't find the time -- though time does seem like a more precious commodity lately. It's not even that I don't want to write. I do! But, wow is it ever a chore.

I suppose that's just the way it is sometimes. If writing was easy, everyone would do it.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Booking it Short

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” - Joseph Addison



Booking Through Thursday

Keeping it Short


Short Stories? Or full-length novels?

Both. But I'm picky when it comes to short stories (actually I'm picky when it comes to novels, too). I like short stories that aren't weird and actually have an ending I can understand. It seems to me that most short stories are written to be full of symbolism -- to point where they're completely impossible for me to understand. OTOH, I have a couple of collections I enjoy -- Anne McCaffrey's "Get Off The Unicorn" being one. These are simply short stories, mostly set in Pern (but not always) that have a (*gasp*) beginning, middle and an end! Shocking, I know. I also enjoyed, but do not own, a collection of short stuff by Stephen King. Also, Nora writes her "In Death" characters in short story collections now and then -- BUT I've found that I don't typically enjoy the other stories in those collections.

Mostly, I read novels simply because the variety of short stories -- the kind that I enjoy -- is quite limited.

And, what's your favorite source for short stories? (You know, if you read them.)

I listed a couple of them, above. BUT, thanks to The Wild Rose Press, I can now get good romance short stories whenever I want them - and at all different lengths. I have quite a collection on my hard drive and love to go back and revisit them when I need a fix. There are also a few other online eZines I enjoy. I read through all of Flash Me's stuff this quarter and enjoyed a few of them immensely (I have to admit to finding a few in the symbolically un-understandable category, but that must be me, since there are so many very popular magazines and book publishers that prefer those kinds). Anyone else care to share where they get their short story fix? I'd love to find more!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A Sea Goat at the Backyard Zoo

“If we wait until our lives are free from sorrow or difficulty, then we wait forever. And miss the entire point.” - Dirk Benedict

The funny (ironic, not ha-ha) thing about Dirk Benedict is that, despite having been portrayed as quite shallow in his most popular roles (Starbuck, back when Starbuck was a man and Templeton "Faceman" Peck in the A-Team) he's pretty darn deep. I've read his books and a lot of other stuff he's written. I'm impressed.

Anyway... moving away from my obvious adulation of the man...

The last few days have been odd in several ways (and I thought I couldn't write poetry). So, I thought I'd check out my horoscope and see if can tell me why.

From Yahoo:

Quickie:
Put aside all the cutting-edge technology in your life and get back to basics today.
LOL! My "cutting-edge technology"? Too funny. While I do admit to having TiVo, that's the closest thing to "cutting edge" I own. I don't have text messaging on my decidedly antiquated phone (I also don't have a camera phone). I don't own an iPod. My computer is ancient, and the monitor even older. Even my car has 250,000 miles on it (but still runs like a charm thanks to Toyota and my DH).

Okay, so I'll pull out a notepad and write with a pen. How's that?

From AskOracle:

Slow progress on the more enjoyable aspects of your life can ease the pressure of work today. If you have been sincerely applying yourself on the job, you'll finally be able to reap the benefits by taking some time off. Don't try to talk yourself out of it. Just say "no" to the extra chores; they'll wait until tomorrow.
Woo Hoo! No vacuuming today!

Seriously, I have been seriously applying myself to my writing the past couple of days, and finally have that whole switch from first to third person thing accomplished. I think. I'll have to go over it one last time to see if I missed anything. I was horrified yesterday when I printed the "done" version out and found many, many "I", "me", "us", "myself" words that I'd completely overlooked. Usually in the middle of a sentence I'd fixed so it would read something like:

She walked down the street, tugging at my earlobe while she...

It would have been funny if I hadn't been so annoyed.

And last, but certainly not least, Humorscope:

More trouble with that annoying "bluebird of happiness" today. With any luck, the cat will get it.
Finally! One that actually makes sense.

You know, I really like using Humorscope as a writing prompt. In fact, the last piece I wrote using one, "Life in the Details" was recently rejected by an editor. I guess she didn't appreciate the warped sense of humor that was displayed in this piece. Now I just need to find another market and send it back out, because I really like it. Who wouldn't like a story about a toilet plunger? Come on.

Once again, my backyard is wildlife central. Monday, while the squirrels were happily feeding on the bird feeder (there were three or four of them), a shadow appeared on the ground. They scattered just as a huge, beautiful red-tailed hawk appeared and landed on the lowest branch of the tree.

The funny thing was that on the front of the tree and about a foot over his head was a red squirrel, and behind the tree and about six inches away from the hawk was another one. They held as still as a rock and I could almost hear their thoughts, "You don't see me, I'm not here." Do you suppose squirrels have The Force? Because the hawk up and flew away without lunch.

So, this year we've seen a fox and a hawk at the "all-you-can-eat" buffet out back. A bat on my deck. A huge herd of deer. We also have a bear and a fisher cat that I'm sure we'll have the privilege of seeing at some point (especially if I forget to bring my feeders in at night in the summer). It's kind of cool having our own private zoo.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

First or Third?

I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read and all the friends I want to see. ~ John Burroughs

No, the quote has nothing to do about what I'm blogging about today. I just really liked it!

Now, moving on...

I received a request from one of the editors at The Wild Rose Press regarding a submission I'd made. She asked me if I'd be willing to change the POV from first to third to see what it sounded like. She thinks (and I don't disagree) that the story sounds very much like a "true confession" story in first person.

I don't usually write in first person, but have found that when I write more humorous stories they're usually in first. I wonder why that is?

In any case, I'm seldom wedded to the POV, and told her I'd go ahead and do it. I sent her a Christmas story last week (yup, Christmas) that I'd originally written in first person (yes, it's meant to be funnier than my others), but didn't like it that way and changed to third. I think third ended up being much stronger. I hope that's true with the one I'm working on now, as well.

It's been a grueling task. For those beginning writers who think that the difference between first and third is simply "I" or "she", think again.

My heroine talks in her head constantly, with comments that just don't translate well to third person. Then there's the whole "her" problem. Before, I could write something like:

I went to her apartment and brought her the whoopie pies I'd bought at the corner store, the ones she'd asked for."

No question there: "I" is the heroine/narrator, and "she/her" is the friend. But in third person, it's just not that easy.

She went to her apartment....

Nope, now the "her" refers back to the "she" and that's not whose apartment it is. Okay, let's try again.

Patrice went to her...

Still wrong.

Patrice went to Cathy's apartment and brought her the whoopie pies she'd...

Well, crap. That won't work. Now the last "she" refers to "Cathy" and it should mean "Patrice". At this point, I realize that I have to restructure the entire sentence and hunker down, ready to shift it all around.

The worst part is that this happened A LOT.

I've been working on the story for two days and am still only halfway through -- it's a 4300 word story, I didn't think it would take this long.

I'm telling you, it's been quite an eye opening experience.

What about you? Do you prefer first person or third when you write? Do you notice a difference to your voice when you use one over the other? What about when you read? Do you have a preference?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Monday, Monday

“Sometimes it pays to stay in bed in Monday, rather than spending the rest of the week debugging Monday's code” - Dan Salomon

It was a crazy weekend here at the homestead. DH decided that he had to paint his office, which is next to mine in the mushroom pit. Thankfully, I was able to abort his attempt to paint mine as well (I absolutely didn't feel like tearing down this place -- too many things on the wall and in the book case to move them). Despite keeping his grubby paintbrush from my walls, his task still resulted in loss of internet access for the entire day on Saturday, and part of the day on Sunday, thus leaving me a little discombobulated.

I have no idea what to post today, so I am, once again, relying on memes. Oh... except for this nifty resource for research: Ask a Librarian.

Meme One: Question of the Day

How many keys are on your key chain right now? Do you know what each one of them opens?

Actually, I probably have more store key tags on my ring than keys! Why is it that everyone (including my library and the YMCA) have a key tag anymore. Sheesh.

Okay, back to the question: keys. I have many, and yes I know what they are all used for. Had you asked this question a couple of weeks ago, I would have said no, but I took two unknown keys off and tossed them in the junk drawer where they will undoubtedly stay until we move out of this house. Maybe then I will be absolutely certain that they aren't somehow important.

The keys on my ring are: four vehicle keys (I have one, DH has two -- one just for commuting, and a truck to pull the boat in the summer, one is my mom's car), and two house keys (because DH changed the front door lock, but not the back door lock). Not very exciting, is it?

Meme Two: Monday's a Bitch

Last Week

Looking back on this past week what was...

1.The best meal you had?

Honestly, the one I enjoyed the most was probably the lunch buffet at Pizza Hut: a HUGE salad and then all the veggie lovers pizza on thin crust that I can eat (we go about once a week, and the waitress gets the kitchen to cook up our fave pizza). No, I don't have expensive or exotic tastes when it comes to food. In fact, my peanut butter and jelly sandwich with blackberry jelly probably comes in a close second.

2.The highlight for you?

Thursday was SEVENTY SIX DEGREES! It was fantastic. I opened all the windows, scooped up all the doggy poop, cleaned out my gardens... and then...

3.The lowlight?

It SNOWED EIGHTEEN INCHES ON FRIDAY NIGHT. GAH! We're buried once again. This really stinks.

4.Your latest night?

No laughing please. I stayed up until about 9:30 on Friday night. I know, I know, I'm a crazy woman.

5.Did you see any movies last week? If so, how would you rate them on a scale of 1-10?

No movies in the theater. I did finally watch Nora Robert's "Carolina Moon" that I had on TiVo, and am happy to say that I finally found one of her four movies that I enjoyed. They did a good job with that one. It made sense, not too much was omitted, and the characters were finally pretty well cast (though I didn't LOVE Wade, I could live with him).

Meme Three: The Monday Melee

The Monday Melee

1. The Misanthropic: Name something (about humanity) you absolutely hate.

People who torment animals. DH was telling me about some kids that were doing donuts on their jetskis around a herd of deer swimming between the islands on Lake Winnepausakee last year. He said the deer were freaked out. Someone on the island yelled at the kids and they stopped, but really: what was the point? If those stupid kids had been downtown late at night and a bunch of guys with baseball bats started circling them, how would they feel?

2. The Meretricious: Expose something or someone that’s phony, fraudulent or bogus.

This one is tough. I have an potential get-together with old "friends" coming up next month, a couple we knew from Colorado that are now in Maine. I never liked the wife, though DH was great friends with the husband (who was an okay guy). The wife is two-faced and deep down unkind. I'm not looking forward to being stuck with her for hours on end... still, DH would like to see the husband, so I suppose I must.

3. The Malcontent: Name something you’re unhappy with.

The fact that I keep getting bogged down in editing my novels. At this rate, I'll never have one published. GRRRR...

4. The Meritorious: Give someone credit for something and name it if you can.

My ninth grade English teacher, Miss Grong, for forcing us to learn all the helping verbs, in order. I never could understand why the had to be "in order" on the test or they were wrong. I do now. They are permanently impressed in my brain, and I now have no excuse to write in passive voice. (Is, am, are, was, were, be, being, been, has, have, had, do, does, did, shall, will, should, would, may, might, can, could)

5. The Mirror: See something good about yourself and name it.

I'm kind to animals and children (though I have to be honest and say that I typically prefer animals to children). That's a good thing, right?

6. The Make-Believe: Name something you wish for.

To finally, FINALLY, get one of my novels published.
And there you have it, all the questions about me that you were afraid to ask.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Rejection and Feedback

“Negative feedback is better that none. I would rather have a man hate me than overlook me. As long as he hates me I make a difference.” - Sparky Hugh Prathe

A member of my writing group received a note back on a submission recently. IMHO, the short romance she submitted was one of the strongest she'd written but it was rejected... and quickly, too. But she wasn't just sent a form letter, she had one line of feedback regarding whether a couple would share one dinner between them. What?

Some time ago, I submitted to the same place. When I got my rejection, there was feedback saying that waiters don't wear hats at restaurants. And another, from the same place simply said that "something" was wrong with the story.

Wha--?

Seriously, folks, the first two comments are regarding things easily fixed, and the last might as well not have been included at all. It's nice to know that there is actually a real live person reading your stuff, but clearly the dinner and the hat were not the reasons these stories were rejected, since removing or fixing those problems is quite simple and wouldn't change the story in any integral way.

But it got me to thinking: Do I do that?

When I'm reading for feedback, do I get hung up on something silly that I just can't get past? Something that would be easily changed or that someone else wouldn't find odd? My entire group read through my friend's story, and none of us had an issue with the dinner.

I plan on paying closer attention to what little things I like or don't like when I read. I want to know if something small like that can put me completely off of a story... I'm curious if my reaction is strong.

I had my (now ex) brother-in-law, who is a screenwriter in LA, call me regarding a script he was in the middle of and ask me something I actually knew a lot about and he didn't. He said, can this thing happen? I said, nope... they wouldn't do that. He said, I can't write the story unless they do. I told him he'd have to do what he needed to do, and that most people wouldn't know the difference. So he did, and did it wrong, and the movie was a huge hit, so apparently no one cared.

So... for you: do the little things matter to the point that a story can be off-putting? Do you get hung up on the details? Or do you just shrug and keep on moving forward?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Too Much White Stuff

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.
--- Cecil Frances Alexander

Well.... it snowed. A lot. My dog, my very large dog, went outside to do her business and the snow was up to her belly. Now it's icing, just to make things fun for clearing the driveway this morning. Happy Spring!

We had an unexpected visitor yesterday. This place is wildlife central, I swear. Only a few weeks ago, we had a raccoon run down the road, up our driveway, our walkway and front steps and put his little paws on the storm door (we had the inside door open). He looked at us through the glass as if saying, "Please, sir, may I have some more?"

Yesterday, the birds were going crazy at the feeders as if they knew the storm was coming. So, when I saw something small and dark hit the sliding glass door and then plop into several inches of snow, I figured it was one of these:



That's a dark eyed junco (and is the kind of bird my darling dog took out a couple weeks back). There are dozens of them at my feeder.

I jumped up and opened the door to make sure the little guy was okay. He was, but he wasn't a junco. He was one of these:



Yup, a little brown bat. Poor guy. My husband flipped out: "He's going to get in the house!" and wanted to slam the door shut. Like it was Dracula or something... sheesh.

The critter was stuck in the snow and couldn't get out. I'm not leaving anything to freeze. I got my gloves and a dishtowel and picked him up. Last I knew, he was in a tiny little area under our deck that was sheltered from the wind and snow. I hope he's okay...

In other news, if you're a pet owner, have you seen this: 60 Million Containers of Pet Food recalled. The recall info from the manufacturer is here.

What else? Oh yeah... writing. I wrote another 1300 words or so yesterday. That was good.

I also discovered something -- I write almost all of my intimacy scenes from the man's POV. From first kisses to much more, the reader sees it from the hero's eyes. There are one or two exceptions to this, but I'd say that's how I write it 95% of the time.

Seems weird. I wonder why. Bet a shrink would have a field day with it...

What about you? How do you write those scenes?

Friday, March 16, 2007

I'm a Rambling (wo)Man

“I rambled all the time. I was just like that, like a rollin' stone.” - Muddy Waters

There are days...

I just read a quote on a blog that said, in part, "...and there will be even more of a problem like the whole Prohibition deal back in the 50's." THE FIFTIES??? Dear God.

I've just discovered the big downside to homeschooling. My daughter is getting insistent about knowing where babies come from ("But how do they get into the mommy's uterus?"). And I can't just have someone else teach her. I suppose that should be an "upside", right? At least I know what she's learning?? *sigh*

It's supposed to snow like crazy here tonight and tomorrow. What's up with that? Tease us with 75 degree weather one day, then ... WHAM!! That's really not nice.

I wrote 3000 words over the past two days on my new "secret" project. I discovered that I like writing backward and forward at the same time. Yesterday I wrote the next two scenes at the beginning and then wrote my epilogue. The cool thing is that writing the end helped me name the story (for now): "A Family Melody". I wrote a scene in the middle, too. In case you're wondering, Sally had her baby. A boy. They're healthy and hale. Of course, the boy has four legs... looks just like his mama. He doesn't have a name yet. Anyone have a suggestion?

Charity shares the Rules for Visiting Hades. You just need to Flash Your Cash and get a copy of the anthology to find out the secret. See her blog post for details.

Feel like winning some stuff? A couple Wild Rose Press authors are having contests:

Brandy Jordan is having a spa goodies giveaway.

Terry O'Dell is having a "choose your own prize" giveaway -- the winner can pick any one of her Wild Rose stories.

And in case you wondered:

You Are Italian Food

Comforting yet overwhelming.
People love you, but sometimes you're just too much.


And I can breath easy and cancel that life insurance policy because:

You Will Die at Age 94

Congratulations! You take good care of yourself.
You're poised to live a long, healthy life.


Happy Friday!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Booking it Through Writing

"Writing is like prostitution. First you do it for the love of it, then you do it for a few friends, and finally you do it for money." - Moliere


Booking Through Thursday

Speaking of writing in books, what about writing the entire thing? Do you write? Aspire to write? Dream about writing?

If you've read my blog at all, or even if you've just read the top of it, you'll know the answer to this question! Yes, I write. Yes, I write books. Yes, I dream about writing. No, I can't ever seem to get away from it, even when I try. Something will happen (like two days ago, when I was driving down the road and there were these piles of dirt spaced about fifteen feet apart on the shoulder -- and just the perfect size to be graves... you think my brain didn't start working on that for a story?) and I automatically start "what-iffing".

If you do write, do you do it for yourself, or because you hope to be published? (Or because you ARE published?)

I am published, but not at novel length. Being published at novel length is definitely in my short term plans. Now, I just have to hope that those pesky editors fall in line!


And from Charity and Gay:


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Now I've Sung My ABCs

"Dreams are at once fruit & outcry against an atrophy of the senses." - Jim Morrison

In the hope that I will have more time to write this morning by doing a couple memes, I swiped these from Allie's post yesterday (don't forget to check her post today -- it's "Writer Wednesday" at her place):

You Are A Fun Friend

You're the one who keeps your group laughing
And you've always got an idea for something fun to do
The party's not complete without you
And you wouldn't miss it for the world


This is not really right, IMHO... But, hey, no one claimed these quizzes were scientific, right?

And next, it's time for: A, B, C, D, E, F . . .

Play along now!

A - Age: Just turned 40... Yikes!

B - Band listening to right now: None. I don't listen to music when I write. But I have this urge to listen to some old Styx music because I heard "Too Much Time on my Hands" at a store yesterday.

C - Career future: Best-selling author, of course

D - Dad's name: Manuel Joseph

E - Easiest person to talk to: My mom

F - Favorite song: Too many to choose from, and it really depends on the day.

G - Gummy Bears or Gummy Worms: Neither... give me sour patch kids any day.

H - Hometown: Sacramento, CA.

I - Instruments: I used to play the flute.

J - Job: Too many to list: Accountant, housekeeper, chef, errand-runner, chauffeur, teacher... okay, did you guess it? I'm a stay-at-home mom!

K - Kids: One with two legs, and two with four legs. (Does that sound oddly like the riddle of the sphinx?)

L - Longest car ride ever: Colorado to New Hampshire. Twice. Both times when I was pregnant - Once when I was 4 months and once when I was 7 1/2 months! What was I thinking (aside from "where's the nearest bathroom?")??

M - Mom's name: Janellen

N - Number of people you slept with: Last night, right? 1 people, 2 furballs.

P - Phobia[s]: Heights

Q - Quote: Too many to choose from,though I do like two from "The Empire Strikes Back" -- "Do, or do not. There is no try." and when Yoda brings the fighter out of the swamp using the force Luke exclaims, "I don't believe it!" Yoda replies, "That is why you fail."

R - Reason to smile: My daughter.

S - Song you sang last: "We Go Together" from Grease. I woke up with it in my head, and I have no idea why...

T - Time you wake up: 4:00 a.m. -- usually without an alarm, but the time change has me messed up.

U - Unknown fact about me: When I was younger, I lived for a couple years with no electricity, running water or telephone -- we had an outhouse, lived in a tent for awhile, and I was as happy as I've ever been.

V - Vegetable you hate: Lima beans. Ugh. Actually, I think that's a legume officially, but they sell the canned ones in the veggie aisle, so it counts, right?

W - Worst habit: Picking my nose. No, seriously... I suppose it would be ... huh... I have too many to choose from (not including nose picking, I promise).

X - X-rays you've had: I broke my wrist when I fell off my pony in fourth grade. As an aside: Why are four and fourth spelled with the "u" and forty isn't? This is something that has plagued me my whole adult life.

Y - Yummy food: I'm torn between extra, extra dark chocolate anything and pizza.

Z - Zodiac sign: Capricorn.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Discouraging Word

“The most essential factor is persistence - the determination never to allow your energy or enthusiasm to be dampened by the discouragement that must inevitably come.” - James Whitcomb

“Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragement, and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak” - Thomas Carlyle


Discouragement should be a four letter word.

Have you ever noticed how it feeds on itself? How much easier it is to believe the bad stuff?

This weekend, my DH was shocked to learn I wasn't making a six figure income off of my Wild Rose Press stories, and wondered why I bother working so much at my writing. See, the thing is, I take a lot of time to do my writing. I get up early to have some quiet time by myself -- and to do that, I go to bed early. DH is a night owl and with his horrible work hours, we don't see each other much during the week.

I'm quite happy with being paid for my short stuff at all. AND I've learned so much from the editors there... stuff I could have paid a fortune for at some class online. They've not only made my writing stronger, they've paid me to do it. He doesn't understand one simple thing: they are short stories. I'm not going to earn $10,000 off of each one. But his comments really slammed me right back down to earth after being so excited about the release of Tickle Fights and Barbecues.

I've been struggling with my writing all weekend. Every word I put down it the hardest word I've ever written. Last Wednesday, I set a goal of writing at least 1,000 words a day. I've written about 2,000 since then. Yes, I have written. That's just a manifestation of the sheer stubbornness that I was blessed with a birth.

The ironic thing is that my SIL read my latest story this weekend -- the first of any of my writing she's seen -- and told me she was impressed. That she didn't want the story to end. That I have real talent.

Why can't the good stuff matter more?

Fact is, I'll keep on writing because that's what I do. But I hate this rock in my gut that I've carried with me the past few days. It shadows everything because my writing is important to me.

Today, I'm giving myself a pep talk ("this is the best day of my life", "I love what I do, and the words flow from my mind to the page") and writing again. I need to not let the negativity get me down (not an easy thing to do) and keep looking forward and upward, not behind me.

And, more importantly, I'm going to write. Because that's what I do. That's who I am.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Springtime and Coffee Time

"No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden." - Thomas Jefferson

Gah! Where did the time go? I woke up late this morning (of course)... didn't crawl out of bed until 4:45 a.m. The only good thing is that more than likely the DD will also sleep in, so I'll still have time to do my writing this morning.

I didn't get a lot of writing done this weekend. We had a heat wave out here -- it was in the HIGH FORTIES! Woo! We had a barbecue on our deck to celebrate, and DD and my SIL took a bike ride through the neighborhood. I took the dogs on a nice walk.

I always wonder, though, why 48 degrees is so warm in the winter and so blasted cold in the summer?

Regardless, the snow is melting, my front gardens are clear and the daffodils are poking through the dirt. Yeah, yeah... I know you folks in California and down south are already planting your veggie gardens (don't rub it in), but I'll get my small spring thrills where I can. I love to garden and I can't wait until "mud season" is done and I can get out there and get my hands dirty. I have lots of plans about what annuals to put in, what perennials to move around ... ah, my heart pounds with anticipation.

Okay... on to other news, yanno, about writing and stuff.

Yesterday, I mentioned that I'd been checking out the reviews sites that review The Wild Rose Press stories. I've enjoyed several of them so much that I thought I'd share them one at a time.

Today, I'm talking about Coffee Time Romance.

Their tagline is "Bringing You Honest Book Reviews since 2004". The thing is -- they're so much more! They have reviews, yes, and many of them. The thing that got me over there the first time is that they review The Wild Rose Press short stories... not just books. Wonderful!

They are also offering a contest this month: Every day in February and March, we will be giving books, prizes and gift certificates away all over Coffee Time Romance. You can find us giving away prizes in the following areas...in our forums/boards, both of our Yahoo groups, Tuesday night Chats, and through our navigation tool bar...oh my! So when you see Karen and KarenneLyn together its time to win!!

And they have several free online reads linked to the site.

There's a reader community, message boards, author interviews... Wow! So much, I can't cover it all here. But, take a look around. I think you'll be impressed by the content and professionalism.

They also offer a bookstore with several offerings. Tickle Fights and Barbecues isn't up yet, but my first story is. It's a great place to shop several different ePresses at the same time.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Reviews and Rain

"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms; the great devotions; and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt

I've been worried about reviews lately. I actually went out to some reviews sites and requested them. Don't know if they'll do it, but GAH! it's made me sick to my stomach. I try to remember that it's all relative. There are many widely acclaimed novels out there that I thought were absolute garbage. And much panned as worthless that I enjoyed. Still, having someone take jabs at your baby is never easy. But when you put your work out there, you're asking for it and have to develop a thick skin. More about reviews at the end of this post. For now, a bit of rambling...

It warmed up here yesterday... I think it was in the high forties! Woo! Of course, I spent a few hours at my SIL's house using her washing machine since mine is broken. First the dryer went a few weeks back and DH, ever handy (I think I'll keep him around) fixed it. Now the washer. UGH. Still, it could be worse!

It rained (RAINED!) last night, so much of the snow in our yard is melted. I'm thrilled. I am so ready for spring (well, except for the black flies... New Hampshire really knows how to rain on my parade). I often wonder how the first folks over here ever survived. It's beautiful here, but harsh. Hot summers, cold winters, short growing season, and lots of bugs that love to eat your blood and your crops. The folks back then must have been incredibly hardy. Last year, every crop in my garden failed except the tomatoes, and even those didn't do so well.

Yup, I'm rambling a bit. I took the day off of writing yesterday. DH was home, my BIL was here, DD was bored and clingy and the weather was good. I took a walk (the dogs were thrilled).

Today, though, I'm hoping to get back to work on my latest (and greatest?) piece.

Here's the question for the day -- swiped from one of the ladies in my writing group. I haven't answered her yet because I've been pondering this something fierce, but decided to let y'all help as well:

How would you handle it if a writing buddy asked you to write a review and, after reading the book, you thought maybe 3/5 stars at best being generous, but every other review was a 5 star one? Would you:

a. Write an honest review, but send it to her first to ask if she wanted you to publish it or not.

b. Get real. We all have read glowing reviews about books where we couldn’t find the merit. IT’S ALL A GAME. You’ll want her to write you a glowing review someday. Get with the program.

c. Find an excuse—the kids have the flu, my mom’s going to have bypass surgery and I really can’t write anything right now. Did I mention my husband’s being transferred to Japan?

d. Don’t say anything. Nada. If you can’t say anything really nice, better to say nothing and hope she doesn’t notice.
Comments?

Saturday, March 10, 2007

This and That

Tell a man there are 300 billion stars in the universe and he'll believe you. Tell him a bench has wet paint on it and he'll have to touch it to be sure. ~ Murphy's Law

The quote has nothing to do about anything. I just liked it :-)

I'm delighted to say that my story, Tickle Fights and Barbecues is ranked number one is sales in its line. Thanks to all of you! Incidentally, The Wild Rose Press has a nifty option now where you can purchase an item and have it sent to another email address as a gift! So, feel free to buy yet more copies of either of my stories and send them to everyone you love.

I'm still waiting for some reviews (I have to admit to being a bit nervous, because yesterday I actually went to a few reviews sites and solicited reviews... *gulp*. OTOH, I did find some great places to read reviews and have added them to the list of links on my blog. Take a look!

My DD is on her way to becoming a famous poet. Yesterday, I assigned her the task of writing a poem about a pet. She chose to write about all three critters in the house:

Bailey is a very good dog,
And never goes into a bog.
Bonnie likes to run,
And have a lot of fun.
Breann only likes to hiss,
And never ever likes a kiss.
And, really, she pretty much boiled down their characters into those lines perfectly.

I'm hard at work at a secret project that I'm not sharing with anyone. It's in response to a call for submissions at The Wild Rose Press and I have a lot of work to do. I'm challenging myself to a NaNo like endeavor and hope to have a decent manuscript first draft finished in a few weeks (maybe the end of March?). I have a friend who has offered (well, okay, I hit her up... but she said yes, so it's sort of an offer, right?) to look at it and I hope to have it listed among my submissions for April (maybe May). Fingers crossed (and any other appropriate body parts).

It's freezing here, I think my downstairs heat has decided to NOT work, my washing machine is kaput (this, after my dryer died a few weeks ago, but DH managed to fix it). I've been working on positive affirmations lately to buck up my mood, but somehow, "This is the best day of my life" doesn't quite ring true. Still, I'm trying!

Any big plans for the weekend?

Friday, March 09, 2007

Tickle Fights and Barbecues is Available!



Since her return to her childhood home following the deaths of her parents, Tina Springfield has been alone, with nothing but her prize-winning roses for company. Though she longs for friendship and romance, her innate shyness and her awkward work schedule have kept her from meeting anyone -- including her new neighbors. But when a little boy's baseball threatens her rose bushes, everything changes, and Tina discovers that small sacrifices can make a big difference in life.
You can click on the cover to purchase. Remember there's a place for reviews at The Wild Rose Press website after you purchase, read and love this story :-)

Thanks! And I hope you enjoy it.

Promotion and Purple Prose

Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out. - Robert Collier

Let's see... first off, Tickle Fights and Barbecues isn't available yet, but I'll certainly keep you posted! Next, my most recently contracted story, "Magic", is up on the "coming soon" page!

Now, on to the real reason for my blog this morning. Yesterday, I decided to hit all of the author's pages at The Wild Rose Press. I only made it through about half of them, but one thing I did notice? Only about half of the ones I hit had dedicated websites or blogs. Of those, several had blogs listed that hadn't been updated since sometime last year and a few had websites on Tripod or other free servers that look rather unprofessional.

Color me shocked.

I don't understand how the folks who had neither (not even old or unprofessional ones) are able to promote their work effectively. I recently read an article (thanks to Sara Freeze, one Wild Rose author who DOES update her blog regularly) on Dear Author called "What Every Author’s Website Should Contain" and it was very interesting.

What about you? When you find an author you enjoy, do you look for a website or blog? Do you think having (or not having) a site or blog impacts a newer author's ability to self-promote?

==================================

So, I started another romance yesterday. Different line this time. Gah. I don't understand how these things are getting published.

Let's have some rules and how they got around them:

"Show, don't tell" -- this doesn't count when it's done in dialogue, like having the best friend say something like, "But Sally, you've always been free-spirited and independent."

"Don't have a bunch of backstory at the beginning" - this doesn't count when it's part of the heroine's dialogue, even if she's talking to her best friend who already knows the whole story. Something like, "Remember, Mary, when I got involved with my boss who promised to leave his wife, but then reconciled and forced me to resign?" to which Mary will reply, "Yes, Sally, but you always bounce back, and you have that fantastic college education and wonderful contacts, so surely you'll have a job again soon so you won't be stuck here in this tiny town that you always swore you'd leave."

The worse thing was how incredibly turned on she was by the hero from the moment she saw him. I'm surprised she didn't rip open her shirt and say, "Take me now!". Of course, she mentions that it's been a "whole month" since the last time she had sex, so she's horny. And he would have taken her up on her offer, because shortly after their meeting, he's thinking about the fact that he's totally into meaningless relationships that are only sexual in nature.

All this in the first chapter.

No, I'm not going to be able to read any further.

I read an article yesterday that explained why many authors are submitting their work to non-RWA approved presses like Samhain and The Wild Rose Press. No, it's not that they're giving up on the big leagues. Most of the authors they interviewed state that it's because what they've written won't be pigeonholed.

Thank heavens. At least I didn't pay for that novel. The one I mentioned a couple of days ago is one I purchased. What a waste of money.

I know, I know, I shouldn't complain. They got published at novel length and I'm not but... sheesh...

How's your day?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Booking Through Lending

“Never lend books, for no one ever returns them; the only books I have in my library are books that other folks have lent to me” - Anatole France

First, two public service announcements: Tomorrow is the big day -- Tickle Fights and Barbecues will be released! Woo!

Also, The Wild Rose Press is having this nifty contest to celebrate their upcoming Celtic Brooch series: When you buy any of the Legacy Of The Celtic Brooch series, follow the special instructions inside the book, and you will be entered in a drawing for a chance to win a Celtic Brooch!

You could make it really easy and buy them both at the same time :-)

Now, let's get back to ...


Booking Through Thursday

Do you lend your books to other people? If so, any restrictions?

I have very few books, all things considered, because of limited space. So the books I keep for my own library are precious to me. That said, I have been known to loan them out, but I get very anxious -- like a parent whose child is at their first sleepover. If I loan you a book, I trust you, so I don't add restrictions, but I have little faith in people and fully expect that no one treates their books with as much respect as I do.

Now, GIVING? I absolutely give books away. That's the fun part. In fact, I have three or four romances looking for a home right now. Anyone want one?

Do you borrow books from other people? (Friends or family--I'm not talking about the public library)

Very seldom. Mostly because I don't know very many people who read and live nearby. My best friend lives in Monterey... I used to borrow books from her, but it's a little difficult anymore :-)

And, most importantly--do the books you lend/borrow get returned to their rightful owners??

Of course! In fact, if I start reading a borrowed book and I'm enjoying it, I get so worried about doing something to it or losing it, that I've been known to go out and buy my own copy and then I return the borrowed one.

Gee, in review, I sound a bit neurotic.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Calling All Writers

Allie is posting something new on her blog: Writers' Wednesdays!!

Each Wednesday, on her blog, she'll post a brief article on a “How To” aspect of the writing (and publishing) process.

If you have a topic you’d like to see addressed in one of the “How To” blogs, let her know! Or if you’d like to write one of the Writers’ Wednesday posts, contact her to be a guest blogger.

Allie, I think it's a great idea!

Grab Dreams by the Throat

"I resolved to take fate by the throat and shake a living out of her." - Louisa May Alcott

I started reading a book yesterday called "Inside Every Woman" by Vickie Milazzo. Its subtitle is: Using the 10 strengths you didn't know you had to get the career and life you want now.

Honestly, I'm a little like Tom Cruise's character in Cocktail. I typically have some kind of self-help non-fiction book hanging around (though usually they're about natural health care).

I'm only through the prologue and chapter one thus far, though, and I'm enjoying it -- though she doesn't say a lot that I haven't heard before, it's always good to have it reinforced. For instance (I'm mostly paraphrasing here):

GO FOR IT OR REJECT IT - Don't leave your dream hanging as a reminder of what you don't have the time, courage or enthusiasm to do.
This is a good point. I am frustrated by folks who want to do something -- like write and publish a novel for instance -- who say they don't have the time. Fact is, there's always time to do something you want. Bet they make time for TV, or eating out, or going to a movie or whatever. If you don't have passion or enthusiasm for a dream, you won't do it. Period.

SUCESS BREEDS SUCCESS - Basically the better you get, the more you achieve toward your dream, the more likely you are to get the whole tamale.
I got to thinking about this last night, and decided I'd rather get published slowly, in small bites. Kind of like how I am doing it. For instance, "The Historian" was sold with much fanfare, a high advance and (I imagine) higher expectations. Aside from the fact that I was bored out of my mind by the novel, how does an author follow that up? When you've reached the top of the mountain, where do you go?

Here's a direct quote:

"If you're not passionate about an idea, you won't do what it takes to carry it out, because pursuing that idea would be way too hard without passion."
What do you think? True?

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As an aside, I sold another story to The Wild Rose Press. This one is called "Magic". I'm mailing off the contract today. Yay!

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I re-discovered a huge romance pet peeve: when the hero kisses the heroine to shut her up. Ugh. This happens in the books all the time. Please. I talk like a crazy person, and no guy ever has kissed me to shut me up. Given me a "look", maybe or said, "Do you talk all the time?" but kiss me? Yeah. Right. Blech...

Any pet peeves from your fiction reading you'd like to share?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Inconsistencies and Idiots

“I am deeply concerned by these inconsistencies. ... I intend for the committee to get to the bottom of this.” - Dan Burton

If only there was a committee for this.

I got quite a bit done yesterday. I now have the first 22,000 words of Camilla's story edited. I started the next part and, as I read through it, I realized something. She didn't have her truck and needed a ride from Jed. But... but... she had it before.

What had happened? I looked back and this is what I found:

* Chapter one: It's involved in a fender bender, goes to the shop.
* Chapter three: Mysteriously, Camilla has it back in order to drive to work.
* Chapter five: Now it's missing and she needs a ride from Matthew.
* Chapter six: It's back.
* Chapter seven: Nope, gone again -- she needs a ride from Jed.
I've made some plot changes, including the beginning, which resulted in the first truck incident. And then somehow the rest just sort of happened. I didn't realize it until I read the first part from beginning to end. See what happens when you take chunks of it over large periods of time? You forget the little details.

In any case, I'll be spending today trying to figure out how to fix this problem because there are places she MUST have her vehicle and places that she simply can't, or it changes some big things.

Oh, the joy.

In other news, I picked up some books last week from a particular publishing line because it seemed like it was a line fairly appropriate for me. One was the last book in a series, so I set it aside for now. The one I picked up next and am desperately trying to read (it's going to skew my reading totals for the month because I'm having to force myself through it and it's taking a lot of time) is just plain awful.

The heroine is obnoxious and nasty to the hero, and yet he trails after her like a puppy (though he's actually a very powerful millionaire). He bought something from her father that had been in the family for generations, and she wants it back. She shows up, unannounced, at his office, asks to buy it back but says she won't have the money for at least a month because dear old dad spent it. After two paragraphs (during which we see how much the hero really wants this thing - it's he dream AND he worries about his competitors seeing him as a wimp) he says "sure".

What?

The book has an implausible plot, idiotic characters (why, oh why is this handsome millionaire attracted to this angry and snide woman? And why is the woman so nasty to a man who is, essentially, giving her exactly what she wants?) and the writing is stiff. AND, this author has several books in print.

I mentioned to my mom that I was thinking of giving a try to write for this line and she said, "You write better than that."

Ironic, isn't it?

Monday, March 05, 2007

Banned in China?

Brenda Coulter wrote about it on her blog. She writes inspirational romance, and apparently her website has been banned in China. She even gives a link to see if your site is banned. Mine isn't, nor is my blog. Clearly, I have work to do.

It's Instinctive

“Telling us to obey instinct is like telling us to obey "people." People say different things: so do instincts. Our instincts are at war.... Each instinct, if you listen to it, will claim to be gratified at the expense of the rest....” - C.S. Lewis

“To destroy is still the strongest instinct in nature” - Max Beerbohm


My dog, Bailey, is possibly the sweetest, kindest, gentlest dog in the entire world, and I'm not just saying that because I'm biased. I could easily find fifty people who would tell you the same thing. I never worried leaving her alone with my daughter as a baby; I've never had a thought about her biting anybody or even snarling. I can recall once, when she was about a year old, our neighbors very young daughter walked into my house, up to my dog and took the pig's ear that Bailey was gnawing on right out of her mouth. The dog didn't so much as growl, just looked up at me with pitiful eyes as if to say, "Would you please get that back?"

Just look at that face:



My sweet, kind, loving dog killed a bird yesterday.

Sadly, she was outside with my daughter who got to see the whole thing. Apparently the little thing couldn't fly very well (I suspect his wings were wet from the rain/snow thing we had for about five minutes) and CHOMP! It was a goner. I was especially upset because it was at the bird feeder. I have a real issue with inviting someone to dinner and then killing them -- it's why I fight every year with DH about baiting the deer in our backyard. It's just wrong.

It also goes to show that no dog is entirely tame.

And it got me to thinking about characters. Yes, I can work anything into a post about writing. But, seriously… think about your characters. Do they have a trait that they've tried desperately to overcome? Temper? Alcoholism? Depression? Do they manage to keep it under wraps most of the time? Don't we all?

But when you strip it all away and get right back down to a moment when they (or we) act on instinct, what happens? That's right -- we kill a bird (so to speak).

I have a temper. Mostly, I keep it well under control. I've never hit my daughter or my dog… BUT...

But several years ago, a good friend was involved in an abusive relationship. I managed to talk her into leaving and she moved in with me temporarily. The first night she was there, along with a close guy friend of ours, her ex lurked outside the window. I saw him, and that was it… I was after my bird. I didn't even think. I just took off after him because, damn it, no one hurts someone I care about and gets away with it. I chased him down, cornered him and proceeded to whale on him, yelling something about the fact he was too afraid to beat up on a woman who wasn't scared of him (in retrospect, it's a good thing he was). My guy friend had to pull me off.

Instinct is a funny thing. I surprised a lot of people that night, including myself.

Do your characters surprise you that way?

Tonight, I gave my dog a bit of people food. My husband looked at her and shook a finger. "Pizza, yes," he said firmly. "Birds, no."

I'm sure she'll remember that. Until the next time.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Randomness... a Meme

I'm doing last weeks "randomness" because she doesn't have this weeks up yet... and because it's interesting. I think I'm going to use these questions on my characters. In fact, I may use many "randomness" questions on them. They're good, off the wall ways to see what characters are like.


randomness...feed your mind and your blog

week of Feb25: Would your rather....

1. ...eat a live cockroach (the big hissing ones) or eat a stick of butter?

No question: a stick of butter. Aside from the fact that I love butter, and as a child used to eat it with a spoon, the thought of putting anything alive that crunches in my mouth is enough to make me vomit. I can't even step on crunchy bugs (not that I step on bugs much -- I'm a live and let live kinda gal with the possible exception of Japanese Beetles, UGH). I used to watch Fear Factor, and all I could think was: $50,000 isn't enough to make me do ANY of that. Ever.

2. ...go bungee jumping or sky diving?

Neither? I'm terrified of heights. Not a tiny bit afraid, absolutely terrified. I don't even like to climb a step ladder. I supposed if I had to choose, I'd go bungee jumping. At least you're a little closer to the ground...

3. ...eat a lime or a lemon?

Another easy one: Lemon. I used to eat them like oranges as a kid. Yum.

4. ...be stranded on a deserted island alone or be stranded on a deserted island with someone you hate?

Alone. I love, Love, LOVE to be alone. I'm never alone anymore and I'm pretty sure I'm slowly losing my sanity. I vant to be alone. Alone! Alone!

5. ...be able to read minds or be able to become invisible?

Become invisible. I don't think I really want to know what's going on in people's minds. Besides, look at the TV show Heroes. Who has more fun? Matt or Invisible Guy (whose name escapes me)?

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Sharing My Work?

I think it's bad to talk about one's present work, for it spoils something at the root of the creative act. It discharges the tension. ~ Norman Mailer

I've discovered something about myself: sharing my work in pieces for critique destroys the creativity process.

I've been posting bits of a novel I'm revising, as I revise it, in my writing group. The folks in there are wonderful and they've given me some great advice.

But.

I can't seem to move forward any more. I thought this problem was restricted to my first drafts. So, I stopped sharing the first draft of things until the entire novel was done. But, it appears that this is true of all my writing. I have to wonder, then, just what the answer is.

Perhaps revising and then sharing the entire novel with a trusted writing friend would be the answer? That's an awful lot to ask. I've done that once, and received great advice (thanks, D!) that I'm still working through.

Maybe just posting bits that I'm struggling with?

Honestly, I don't know what the answer is. But I've come to the conclusion that, for now, I need to revise in private as well or it will never get done. Once this first revision is completed and I'm comfortable with how the story reads (I'm making some big changes, and that may be part of the problem -- it almost feels like writing a first draft all over again!), I can share it in pieces again.

All I know is this: what I'm doing now isn't working for me. And that is terribly frustrating.

What do you do when you're editing? Do you share your work in pieces, or do you have one or two writing friends to whom you give the entire novel?

Friday, March 02, 2007

Free Association Friday

“The last stroke of midnight dies.
All day in the one chair
From dream to dream and rhyme to rhyme I have ranged
In rambling talk with an image of air:
Vague memories, nothing but memories.”
- William Butler Yeats


I was going to do another meme because this week has been rough and my brain just does not want to work (for instance, it took me three tries to write the word "work"... it kept coming out "wrok").

Instead, I think I'll simply ramble a bit. Feel free to tune out now if you'd like.

First off, I'll just say: America is utterly tone deaf. Yes, I'm talking about American Idol. Seriously, what were people thinking when they voted for the guys???? They sent home two of the better guys and left some of the lamest ones there. It's clear that the women have the advantage this year -- there are some amazing vocal chords in the female side!! -- but still, it's like people don't want the guys to have a chance. If I could stay up late enough to actually watch the show, I'd add my vote, but when the show is two hours (or ninety minutes, like this week), I can't keep my eyes open.

OTOH, American Idol is so amazingly padded with commercials, that I'm kind of glad I TiVo it. I'm fairly certain that there are more commercials than show.

And, I liked Kelly Pickler last year, and her song "Red High Heels" was cute... but what was up with her hair last night? Not the length, the style... Ugh. It was awful.

It's snowing here (no, I can't think of a logical segue, sorry). My DH is gone for the next two days at the "snodeo". This leaves me with the job of cleaning up our driveway. Oh. Joy. Thankfully, he did fix the snowblower last night before he left, so I won't have to shovel but they're expecting anywhere from 12 - 15 inches with this storm, so it's still going to be a chore. Can't. Wait.

Poor DD doesn't get snow days because she's homeschooled. In fact, we're more likely to take off on a nice day than a yucky one. I got a chuckle from this post at the Debutante Ball yesterday, when Deb Mia wrote this:

Six-Year Old Daughter: “Do I have to do my math? Math is boring. So is English. Do we have to do homeschool today?”

Me (still bent over the computer, blogging or grogging or whatever it is I do): “Nah. Go watch some TV. And take your baby brother. And get both of you a snack. And get me one too, while you’re at it.”
I have so had those days.

Tonight DD and I are planning a girls movie night. I'll paint her nails (and toe nails, of course) and we'll pop popcorn and watch a movie of her choice (I think it's going to be "An American Tail", but that may change). She's so excited because we don't typically do things at night. Normally, we're waiting for Daddy to get home. He has a low tolerance for animated classics (unless they're the Pink Panther, in which case he'll sit and belly laugh).

As far as writing goes, I have finally figured out what I want to do with a problem that's been bothering me in the WIP I'm editing right now. I just have to fix the scene to change Lucia's motivation for what she does. It's HARD, because that scene (as it is) lives in my mind and I need to get past that.

In any case, I'm going to sign off now. I've bored y'all enough and the shallow well of my mind is dry. Have a happy Friday!