Friday, February 29, 2008
I toyed with the idea of prodding DB into eloping today, just for giggles, but I changed my mind. For one, he told me his mother would kill us. And two, yes, he mentioned only having to buy me something for our anniversary every four years. Eloping today is apparently out. Besides, he's not getting off that easily. There will be much wedding-type festivities and rejoycing when the time comes.
Aside from all that, it’s Friday, which is enough reason to celebrate all on its own. I have plenty to do other than my actual job. Looking at my Circle of 5 stuff has brought to my attention that tomorrow is March 1st. Crap. Why did this have to be the shortest month? Well, I’m just going to have to live with the fact that the soonest my book will hit the post office is Monday (and that is being generous - it needs a two more scenes and typo read over at the very least). Argh. Better to send a good book slower than a bad book quickly.
So what exactly have I been doing if not working on it or any of my other books? I’ve gotten sidetracked on an online class I’m taking. It’s been productive, but not on this specific project. It ends today, technically, since I’m up to date with all the assignments. Then I can pop a couple short stories into the mail and hope for the cash to follow. Then, I'm back to work on my other 3 projects.
Wonder if I can manage to print out my 350+ page manuscript at work without anyone noticing...? Either way, back to work for me.
So, what’s one thing you wish you only had to do once every 4 years?
BTW – Today is the last day to enter the Darkness and Light contest! Enter ASAP!
Circle of 5 Status:
1 Agent Query Still Pending, 3 Rejected (Got another agent rejection. Woo hoo. Apparently I write sucky queries. They don't even like the sound of it, much less the actual writing... )
2 Agent Partials Still Pending
1 Agent Full to be Sent out March 1st (uh, is that tomorrow? Hmm…)
1 Publisher Query Pending
2 Contest Entries Submitted to Lauries
3 Short Stories & 5 Short Features Submitted to Trues, 1 Short Story Sale!
Thursday, February 28, 2008
And a grainy image of him. DH had to chase him around the pasture to get this. He's definitely got spunk!
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
P.S. My foot improves every day. I went to the orthopedic surgeon today to have my stitches removes, only there weren't really any to remove. Everything was done internally with dissolving sutures and the outside was closed with steri-strips.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Okay, so he’s in Red Bank, New Jersey, on a business trip, I just have a sore throat and AC is on the mend now. It just sounds far more interesting when said the other way.
TANGENT: Hyperbole really is a writer’s best friend. Any story can be interesting if you tell it the right way. Isn’t that what fiction is all about? You take a grain of truth and make it a lot more interesting…
Anyway, I’m sleeping alone this week, and it’s really bugging me. The bed feels weird without DG on his side, sweating and snoring and producing large amounts of body heat. Taking my half of the bed diagonally across the middle was fun for the first fifteen minutes or so, but the novelty has worn off now.
It’s very weird. Until I met DG, I could never sleep with someone touching me. I was very territorial—definitely a “Cross The Line and You’ll Lose A Body Part” kind of sleeper. There was a time for snuggling and a time for sleeping, and there would be no confusing of the two.
At least not a second time. ~grin~
Nine hundred years of marriage has changed everything. I can actually fall asleep with him sprawled on top of me. (It’s not my favorite thing, but it’s doable. I far prefer the back-to-back snuggle to a spoon or a sprawl, but we sacrifice for those we love.)
But I’ve only compromised on the touching thing. There are still rules that must never be broken, or else DG will have an elbow in his ribcage:
Rule 1: Don’t breathe on me. EVER. My skin crawls just thinking about it.
Rule 2: Don’t block my face where I end up breathing on myself or breathing recycled air.
Rule 3: If you’re gonna sweat, do it on your side of the bed. Sweaty skin should never touch mine while I’m trying to sleep. And for the love of dog, don’t get all sweaty and then come sprawl on top of me. That’s just gross. (Sweat-slicked skin has a time and a place. See any romance novel for where. Notice how at no time does any author have a sweaty male sleeping on top of me.)
Three simple rules and we get a good night’s sleep. (Sleeping with the Amazing Child has additional rules, including Don’t Bring That Damned Weasel In Here, but breathing and sweating are non-negotiable.)
I can’t be the only one with sleep rules. What are yours?
Monday, February 25, 2008
I hate Mondays. After a weekend of (hopefully) sleeping until 8am and not having to hit the day at a full run, 6:30am comes all too soon.
There are several tasks I don't enjoy about Mondays: paying the bills and grocery shopping. They have to be done, so I do them, but I don't enjoy them.
The kids are usually cranky, because they don't want to start their week either. This week will be especially so, because the older has had strep and been out of school until today.
The hubby is usually gone most of the day, since it is one of only 2 days he gets off work, and Sunday he's at home. So he plays golf and has lunch with the guys. So I deal with cranky children and bills on my own.
I usually have to take care of doctor appointments or chiropractor appointments on Mondays.
The only good thing about Monday? I don't have to work, so I'll have more time to write today and inspiration is smiling on me at the moment. Yay!
What do you enjoy/hate about Mondays?
Friday, February 22, 2008
I didn't sign a contract for thousands of dollars or land a fancy agent, but I feel good. A little boost. A reminder that I don't suck. And oddly, instead of distracting me from writing and editing my full length books, its actually fired me up a bit. A taste of success to keep me going. I honestly needed it. Over the past few days, I've been flipping back and forth between writing shorts and editing Ghost of a Chance for an agent request and its going well. I'm getting a ton done without burning out on either project. It's keeping Lucinda motivated, which is critical at this stage.
Right now my only problem is figuring out what to work on. My primary focus is to finish editing Ghost of a Chance and get a full out to an agent by March 1st. Major priority. At the same time, before I got the request, I started working on a novella for Nocturne Bites. I'm really psyched about it and I wanted to finish it quickly and get it out ahead of the competition. That's been pushed back. And of course, my Blaze - Red-Handed, has stalled out on page sixty. At least I've got enough for a partial, but I need it done and ready to pitch by June. And then, (yes, there's more) I've been motivated and encouraged to re-work my vampire series as single title and start querying it to houses that accept unagented manuscripts. I've sent a few queries out as feelers and if one of them actually asks to see more, I'm going to be hard pressed to get it fully reworked in addition to everything else.
All I can say is "whoa." Lots to do, lots to do. What's on your to-do list?
Circle of 5 Status:
2 Agent Queries Still Pending, 2 Rejected
2 Agent Partials Still Pending
1 Agent Full to be Sent out March 1st
1 Publisher Query Pending
2 Contest Entries Submitted to Lauries
2 Short Stories & 5 Short Features Submitted to Trues, 1 Short Story Sale!
Thursday, February 21, 2008
At the moment I'm also trying to plan the next school holiday - Spring break. Only this year Easter falls at the end of it and our school gave the girls that next Monday off too. So I'm trying to decide what to do with my children for 8 days.
2 of the days they'll probably be at the office with me (or with my mom if they don't decide to go somewhere). 1 day they'll be with my in-laws. Thursday, Friday & Saturday I want to try and do something fun with them. Something fun that doesn't cost a lot of money.
There are a few big cities that are only a couple hours away. They have museums, aquariums and zoos. I know the girls would enjoy going but.... right now I just can't get excited. 4 hours of driving followed by hours of trying to keep them from breaking priceless objects just isn't my idea of fun.
The problem is I know if I don't plan something now I'll end up waiting to the last minute and then decide it's easier just to stay home. That won't be fun for anyone. Anyone have some great ideas for filling the days with a 6 and 3 yr old?
P.S. Congratulations to Rebekah our winner from yesterday's blog with Betina. Please email Playground Monitor to claim your prize within 7 days.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
When I started writing, I was enthralled by the impact of words. . . by the way they could reach into a reader and make something visceral happen. The way they could make someone laugh, cry, tremble in fear, or even get turned on sexually was magic to me.
Well, a whole lotta books later, I’m still amazed by it. And I’m at something of a turning point in my career. And I’m turning to you for help.
Which would you rather read, a sexy book or a funny book?
You see, I’ve contracted myself for two Blazes and I face the prospect of having to turn up the heat in my writing. I fully intend to do my part to keep the BLAZE line ablaze. (I’m considering it a personal as well as a writing challenge!) But there are ways to heat things up and ways to heat things up. Most of the sex I’m into these days has an element of fun or playfulness in it. . . writing wise, of course. That’s just my personal preference. And I’m wondering if there’s a way to heat up funny love scenes.
So here’s the question: Have you ever made mistakes or gotten the giggles in the middle of making love? And do you think it always wrecks the mood? Could it potentially make you feel closer to the guy—assuming that you’re already fairly close and that he’s not furious that you’re laughing during his big moment. If it does ruin the mood, would you be willing to buy that a “ruined mood” taken in stride could bring two people a lot closer together?
And here’s another question: Do you think that “bad sex” is ever appropriate or even good in a book? Can “bad” love scenes still be sexy. The only “bad love scenes” I can recall happen to be in Jenny Crusie’s books. And they’re hysterical. Not, however, wildly sexy. Anybody else you know write bad sex with a verve? (In fairness to Jenny, the couples always end up with great sex later in the book—it’s just the opener that is a disappointment for the heroine!)
What makes a love scene memorable for you? Do you like characters who talk all the way through a love scene, or do you want them to keep their traps shut?
Sigh. I think I might have to do some more research. One of the “erotic advice” books I just got has a chapter on “spreadables.” I was floored. “Philly” brand cream cheese with pineapples. . . in the BEDROOM? What the heck do you do with the crackers?
Enlighten me. What makes a book a BLAZER for you?
One lucky commenter today will win a copy of Betina's Rita-winning book THE BOOK OF TRUE DESIRES. I just read this and you're going to love it! Great hero and heroine, wonderful setting, lots of adventure and, of course, a HEA.
You can visit Betina online at her website, http://www.betinakrahn.com/ and she blogs regularly at Riding with the Top Down. They ride around in this cool convertible and have hunky guys and everything. It's a cool place to hang out.
P.S. We need to catch up with posting come contest winners, so here goes. Shari and Theresa N are our Valentine's winners, and Crystal GB is the winner for Kerrelyn Spark's book from a few weeks ago. Please contact Angel with your full name and snail mail information. All winners have 7 days to claim their prizes or forfeit the prize.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
How many of you have googled an ex or a high-school crush to see where he ended up? Come on, let’s see a show of hands...I know I’m not alone. (And aren’t you tickled to find out he’s a boring dentist in Phoenix these days? Or is that just me? Hehehe.)
Who do you Google? I’ll admit I’ve googled editors before I went to the national conference. I helped a friend google committee members before an interview. I’ve heard that most folks google a perspective mate before the first date. One girl I know googled her husband and kids on a regular basis just to see what they were up to.
So is it a good idea to google editors, potential employers or dates? Or is it stalkerish and creepy? Is googling your spouse and kids smart or a sign of distrust? If there’s a line, where is it?
And is it wrong of me to get great satisfaction from the fact my HS crush is a boring dentist with a mousy wife? Or that my ex is a big-ol’ loser these days? ~snicker~
Monday, February 18, 2008
I was deeply saddened to learn that in early February of this year, an icon in romance and mystery writing passed away. Phyllis A. Whitney died of pneumonia at the age of 104.
Among the few authors my parents would let me read as a teenager (until I began checking out more books than they could keep up with from the library!), my sister and I were allowed to read Ms. Whitney. Her books were a fascinating glimpse into the adult world of male-female relationships, imperfections, issues with parents, and women's self-image. There was always a mystery and usually an exotic or mysterious setting, taken from the author's own travels.
My favorite was Lost Island. I bet I've read this book 50 or 60 times! I'd read it again if I could get my hands on a copy. This story involves a love triangle, an isolated island, an old mansion, and one woman's struggle to fight for what she deserves. Looking back, I remember most of Whitney's heroines starting out as self-doubters, but growing in confidence, trusting in their own intelligence, and eventually fighting for their right to love. What a wonderful message for teenage and adult women!
Her books were actually racy, compared to the inspirational romance I cut my teeth on. I vividly remember several sexual scenes or contemplations in a heroine's mind of the impact of sexual incidents on relationships. Though by no means erotic, they were stimulating to my teenage mind and allowed me a glimpse of how interactions between men and women are never just about the sex act, but its impact on the players.
My sister gave me a copy of her Guide to Fiction Writing, where I found wonderful hints about compiling research. I even began, and still do, compile all my plotting and characterization notes into a notebook with dividers to keep track of everything as she suggested.
I've often read writing books by authors, but never before or since by an author I was so thoroughly enchanted by. It is a fascinating glimpse into an author's own process, both inspiring and daunting to the reader.
This quote has been in several articles about Ms. Whitney's death, and I believe it captures the overall tone of her advice to upcoming authors in this book:
“Never mind the rejections, the discouragement, the voices of ridicule (there can be those too),” she wrote in “Guide to Fiction Writing.” “Work and wait and learn, and that train will come by. If you give up, you’ll never have a chance to climb aboard.”
It reminds me of a quote I once read from Harrison Ford where he said success comes to those who stay on the bus after all the others have gotten off, or something to that effect.
Persistence. Some days, okay most days, I wonder if I have what it takes. Then I remember authors like Phyllis A. Whitney, who meant so much to me during difficult times in my life. And I want to continue so I can touch just one person the way she touched me. Phyllis Whitney published her last book when she was 94 years old.
Thank you, Ms. Whitney, for your hard work and dedication. You are well-deserving of the title AUTHOR.
What author has most impacted your reading and/or writing life?
Saturday, February 16, 2008
I can walk on the foot as long as I wear my cute little surgical shoe, but to keep the pain down, help prevent swelling and promote healing, I'm supposed to stay off it as much as possible. At least I can hobble to the bathroom and don't have to use a bedpan.
The DH has been a gem, keeping me supplied with cold drinks and meals in bed. He brings me the morning paper to read and he even sent me Valentine flowers a day early so I could enjoy them before I went under the knife. And thank goodness for the laptop with a wireless card. I am still connected to the world. I was even able to work on a proofreading job today.
Smarty Pants loaned me a stack of DVDs, I Tivo'd a bunch more movies off television and I have books galore, so I have plenty to keep me occupied. And this afternoon I even went through my files and pulled my tax records together for my accountant AKA the DH.
Heart of Dixie sent a beautiful vase of cut flowers and I can see them from the bed. They sure have brightened up the room. And thanks to everyone who has emailed to check on me. I appreciate your thoughts and prayers.
My latest pain pill is beginning to kick in good so I'd better quit before I begin to type gibberish.
Friday, February 15, 2008
Anyway, I am an animal lover. Pretty much an all-around equal opportunity animal nut. That's why there's four in my house. If I had more space and time to devote, I'd have more. Right now I'm toying with the idea of a saltwater fish tank with anenomes and sea horses, but I have no interest in cleaning it, so forget it. I don't know why I'm so into critters. I'm fascinated by everything from the creepy, like madagascar hissing cockroaches and newts, to the standards of adorable puppies and kittens, and even to the exotic like sugar gliders and wallabys. If it won't seriously hurt me, I'm all about it. My friend had a 6ft red-tailed boa constrictor named Lily who was the sweetest thing. She liked to watch TV on the couch with us. I know, weird, but I've always been this way. Where was I going with this?
Oh yeah, dogs. This week was the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Gardens. My animals are all mutts and I don't know that I'd ever pay to have one of those fancy pure bred types, but its sure interesting to see them. I always like the rowdy, scrappy ones that bark in the arena and jump up and down instead of prancing around. Suffice to say, I can't STAND it when the poodles win best in group and show over and over.
So, if you followed this year, you'll know why I'm so giddy. A 15-inch beagle named Uno won this year. A beagle! First time ever in the 132 years of the show. He bayed and barked through the whole thing, even trying to eat the microphone when they were interviewing his handler. (Both my dogs have beagle in them, so I'm a little partial. Fortunately, neither bay at inappropriate hours of the night.)
I'm going to relate this to writing now, really. It makes me happy to see Uno win. Almost as happy as I was to see the Giants win the Superbowl. You can overcome the odds and beat the poodles of the world. Underdogs can make it. It makes me think that despite (or even because of) my imperfect writing that doesn't fit neatly into any one category, I can take best in show, too. Or at least publish a book or two. I'm going to keep a space on my bookshelf for the award just in case...
What's your favorite underdog story?
Circle of 5 Status:
2 Agent Queries Still Pending, 2 Rejected
2 Agent Partials Still Pending
1 Publisher Query Pending
1 Contest Entry Submitted to Lauries
2 Short Stories & 1 Love Letter Submitted to Trues
I'm also preparing a novella to submit to Nocturne, another Trues story AND putting together a few more publisher queries!
PS. PC's winners from Tuesday's blog are nascarandbeans and Mark. Email PC at firstname.lastname@example.org with your snail mail address to claim your fabulous prize.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Before writing this post I thought I’d better brush up on my Valentine’s Day trivia. Wikipedia is a font of information! I had no idea so many countries and cultures had a celebration of love in some form or another. There are even countries that have banned those celebrations, creating a black market for themed products. Here in the US, it’s the second largest card-sending day of the year.
A lot of men argue that the day is designed for women. And I’ll be the first to admit it’s easier to buy for women – flowers and candy pretty much cover the bases. I don’t know about y’all but my DH couldn’t care less about flower and chocolate. He’s getting grape vines. It’s what he wanted. *shrugs* He’s happy so so am I.
Today, the Playfriends want to share our love with y’all. What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than to give away prizes? Not just any prizes. Books. And chocolate.
We want everyone to share their idea of romance with us. What’s your idea of a romantic date? Or maybe share an inexpensive way to show someone you love them. Tell us about the perfect gift you’ve gotten or given. Or maybe just share a romantic story from you own life. As long as it involves romance, you qualify.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
In 1917, a salesman for Chattanooga Bakery’s Mountain City Flour Mill was visiting the stores on his route in the coal mining country of Kentucky. He asked them what kind of snack they’d like and the miners told him they wanted something filling. When he asked how big the snack should be, one of the men pointed to the rising moon and said “That big.”
Thus was born the Moon Pie, a sweet confection made of chocolate covered graham crackers and marshmallow filling. They come as single deckers, double deckers, mini Moon Pies and even have a fruit-filled variety.
In 1905 in neighboring Georgia, a pharmacist named Claud Hatcher developed a drink to supply to his family’s grocery store. His first beverage was called “Royal Crown” or RC for short. By 1940, RC was available in 47 of the 48 states due to aggressive advertising and endorsements by such stars as Bob Hope and Bing Crosby.
RC was the first company to distribute soft drinks in aluminum cans and produced the first low-calorie diet cola called Diet Rite.
Whether by design or by fate, these two items have become a pair. Filling and affordable, a Moon Pie and an RC are a southern tradition. And in another pairing, they are celebrated annually on the third Saturday in June at the RC and Moon Pie Festival in Bell Buckle, Tennessee. Located in Tennessee Walking Horse country, this historic town’s population of 400-odd swells to over twenty thousand as folks pour in for an early-morning 10K race followed by the RC-Moon Pie Parade featuring the newly crowned RC-Moon Pie King and Queen. Food and craft booths abound and include such specialties as southern barbeque and fresh lemonade. There’s live entertainment with country music and bluegrass bands and local cloggers. The RC-Moon Pie Madness games commence after lunch and include the Moon Pie toss and watermelon seed spitting contest. After the games, the world’s largest Moon Pie is cut and served to the crowd.
The highlight of the day’s events is the Synchronized Wading, which parodies the synchronized swimming event in the Olympic Games. As a matter of fact, this event was inspired by the 1996 Olympic Games held in not-too-far-away Atlanta, Georgia. Viewers sit on hay bales set up on the town square and follow a scripted story, acted out in a wading pool and accompanied by music and sound effects.
This was the event that drew me and two friends to the festival in June of 2004. One drove from Louisville, Kentucky and the other from a suburb of Nashville and we met up on the crowded town square. After roaming the shops lining the square, all of which featured festival t-shirts, we treated ourselves to a snack of – you guessed it – RC’s and Moon Pies. When we passed a wagon advertising deep-fried Moon Pies, my friend Annie rolled her eyes and quipped a la Frasier Crane, “I can almost hear my left ventricle slamming shut as I speak.” Then we made our way to the square to find ourselves a choice viewing spot and waited for the synchronized wading to begin. By the end of the performance, we’d laughed til we hurt.
Bell Buckle is located about fifty-five miles southeast of Nashville and is an easy day trip from Music City. It boasts several antique shops and the Bell Buckle Café & Music Parlour, which features live music on weekends along with a menu full of down-home cooking. It is also home to the Webb School. Founded by William Webb in 1870, it is the oldest continually operating boarding school in the south.
When you’re looking for an outing suitable for the entire family, check out the RC and Moon Pie Festival and enjoy a day of sweet treats and good old-fashioned fun. It's indeed a "southern thing."
So... who's had an RC and Moon Pie? And what's the craziest/wildest/most unusual/most fun festival you've ever been to?
Photos courtesy of the Bell Buckle Chamber of Commerce
* The real reason I did this post is I'm having surgery tomorrow at 2:00 and the brain just isn't up to creating something new so I recycled this from an article I wrote a couple years ago for a southern-themed blog. Keep me in your thoughts. And I'll check in with one of the Playfriends as soon as I can.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
“We love your voice—it’s sparky, sexy, lively and contemporary and therefore perfect for the series. […] Overall, your manuscript showed huge potential and we feel you do have a voice that would suit the series.”
Now, the three pages that follow the next sentence, “However, we also have a number of revision suggestions to make to help bring out the best in this manuscript and help it reach publication standard,” are kind of daunting, but, hey, four nice adjectives about my voice go a long way toward my attitude about revisions.
I’m not adverse to revisions. In fact, I knew something needed to be done to this manuscript; I just didn’t know what. I’ve learned a lot since writing this one, and I could see some of the problems, but the solutions were still beyond me. I now have three pages of what’s not working and why, and this beautiful editor even gave me some ideas how to fix it.
I love this editor. She’s my new favorite person. I think it’s too early in our relationship for me to send her flowers and chocolate without coming across as stalkerish, but I would if I could.
Ideas are sparking. Possibilities are swirling. At the workshop on Saturday, things kept popping in my head and I’d scramble to write them down. The major difference between this revision request and the last one is that this time, I’m excited about what I think I can do with it. The idea of gutting at least a third (and possibly half) of my book doesn’t bother me at all. I think I understand what this editor is saying in her letter, and, most importantly, I think I just might be able to do it.
I don’t suck. This book isn’t right, but at least it’s not totally wrong. It’s fixable. Beautiful Editor likes my voice and thinks the book has enough potential to take the time to type out a long letter. Wow. I have a voice. This doesn’t suck at all, people.
Happy, happy, joy, joy. In celebration of my non-suckiness and my “sparky, sexy, lively and contemporary” voice, I’m giving out prizes today. I don’t know what or how many yet, but let’s just say I’m feeling good and that bodes well for the prize patrol. Say something nice about yourself or others in the comment tail to enter.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a happy Snoopy dance to do around my living room.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
1. Bob Mayer doesn't look anything like a Green Beret. And having sold over 30 books sounds like a hell of a career to me, no matter what he says.
L to R: Lynn Harris, Misty Wright, Angel, Bob, and Problem Child.
2. Hybrid cars sound like they aren't even running sometimes.
3. If you put 3 women in front of a dessert counter like this, they'll come home with a trunk full of styrofoam food containers. I even brought home cookies for my kids that were bigger than their heads!
Dessert counter @ Marietta Diner
4. Write the D*mn Book!
5. Don't give up on your dream! What you put out into the universe is what you will receive.
6. Laughter and conversation with good friends is one of life's most enjoyable experiences (and the dessert wasn't bad either).
Here's PC and I with Lynn and author Jennifer LaBrecque.
7. We can still make roundabout jokes when we miss a turn. And they're still funny. But back mountain roads aren't for everyone.
8. Antagonist is a debatable term when it comes to non-suspense romance writing.
9. The unconscious mind is a great thing. Because even if I don't see my "motif", other people will.
10. When the hell do I have time to do all the stuff he said to do?!? Obviously he doesn't have children, housekeeping, laundry, other people expecting him to feed them, a job outside of writing, parent-teacher conferences....
Hmmm.... not sure how much I learned, but I had a great time. Unfortunately, I must now return to real life and learn to write the d*mn book despite children, hubby, laundry... :)
Friday, February 08, 2008
Now that my completed manuscript is out into the world, I should be working on the next one. Alas, aside from a random book idea that popped into my head (for a new story, of course) my brain is elsewhere. I've thrown myself head first into planning my mother's 50th birthday party. We're doing a sock hop, complete with jukeboxes and poodle skirts. So what, its in October? At least it isn't as pathetic as my perpetual wedding planning (I'm not engaged) which I've also been doing the last two days. I'm sick. I like planning parties. If I could make any money at it, I'd do it for a living.
Anyway, I've gotten myself immersed in the details of this 50's sock hop. I've got the music, the invitations, the menu, the centerpieces...every detail mapped out from the retro candy station to the drive-in photo op. I won't bore you with all of it, because there's a ton of it, but just know I've taken it practically to the level of some people's weddings. Yeah, its 8 months away and just a birthday party. Whatever. Every birthday party need a 100 slide powerpoint presentation with baby pictures and 50's trivia.
Some people scrub showers when they don't want to write. Alas, I cannot be bothered to do something as productive as clean - I plan parties. I'm sick that way. So what do you do when you don't want to something you know you should (write, work, etc.)?
Circle of 5 Status:
4 Agent Queries Still Pending, 2 Rejected
1 Contest Entry Submitted to Lauries
1 Short Story Submitted to Trues
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
—or make the story be an evolution (as happens in Sugar Daddy (Lisa Kleypas), Hot Shot (Susan E Phillips), and one of my favorite series ever, The Roselynde Chronicles [Roberta Gellis]).
Today we have the distinct honor of having him guest blogging with us. He's taken time from promoting his new book to be here, so please make room on the swings for Homer Hickam.
First, thanks to Marilyn, Kimberly, Kira, Danniele, and Alexandra for letting me put in my two cents here. I'm a big admirer of them and all writers, published or not. Getting published is not an easy enterprise and pure talent sadly does not always prevail. So what does? Simply put, the ability to tell a good story combined with perseverance and a healthy dollop of luck. Recently, I had a movie producer friend (he's with Disney) send me his manuscript for a men's adventure novel. I read it and thought it was absolutely dynamite.
I sent it off with raves to my agent who has always respected my judgment. The answer came back from one of my agent's associates that, yeah, it's good but it could be better with a complete overhaul including changing the major character. Huh? This is a Disney producer who knows how to tell a good story and, what's more, he's got a track record that proves it! Yet, thanks but no thanks. Sure, I think he'll find a home for his work but this certainly reminded me how difficult it is to get represented and published even if your credentials are impeccable, you come with the highest recommendations, and your work is very good.
I started as a free-lance writer back in the early 1970's, mostly for scuba diving and travel magazines. I just pecked away, learning as I went. Eventually, I wrote TORPEDO JUNCTION, a true account of the U-boat war along the East Coast during World War II. When I finished it, I sent it off to the Naval Institute Press (Tom Clancy's first publisher), confident of its acceptance because I knew it was good. It came back several months later with a rejection form letter. I immediately sent it back with a letter requesting another look.
Astonishingly, this time they accepted it. Why? Because, luckily, this time it landed in the hands of someone who actually read it! TORPEDO JUNCTION was published in 1989 and was soon picked up by Bantam Doubleday Dell as a mass market. It's still in print and has sold probably in the neighborhood of a quarter million copies. The ability to tell a good story (honed over years), perseverance, and a big dollop of luck got my manuscript published. ROCKET BOYS, the book that made my career, required the same trio. That's just the way it is but do not be discouraged! You can learn to tell a good story (reading good ones help in this regard), perseverance is a given if you're a writer, and luck comes to those who try hard and long enough.
Now, let's turn to RED HELMET, my latest novel. After reading it, Marilyn wrote to say: "I do declare you have written a romance and not just a love story!" She then proceeded to give me the Romance Writers of America's definition of a romance which RED HELMET satisfies. I take this as high praise! Writers working in the romance genre today are some of the finest authors in the country. They work hard at their craft and pay attention to their readers. I am tickled to join their ranks!
Briefly put, RED HELMET is the story of a rich, beautiful, New York City woman who marries a West Virginia coal miner and the tumultuous romance that follows combined with a little deep mine adventure, murder and mayhem. Mickey, my Hollywood agent, called and pronounced it "Legally Blonde in a Coal Mine!" which was, to him, a big compliment. Song, the woman protagonist, is a brunette but there's some things you don't argue about with Hollywood. Mickey's going forward with it to the folks out on the Left Coast. We'll see.
Occasionally, a writer gets something really fun that just sails through the transom out of nowhere and here's the latest for me. Kathy Mattea, the big country music star, asked me to write the notes for her next album titled COAL. I did and she loved what I had to say. Now, we're going to make some appearances together to jointly promote Red Helmet and COAL which should be a lot of fun. We're even going to get together and go inside a coal mine in West Virginia later this month. More on all this can be read on my blogs and newsletters on http://www.homerhickam.com. While you're there, please take a moment to consider donating to the Homer Hickam, Sr./Red Helmet Marshall University Scholarship for the children of coal miners, and also sign a petition to create a National Miners Day.
Thanks again for letting me join you today. Please keep writing and reading. I love you guys!
P.S. Homer will be giving away an autographed copy of Red Helmet to one lucky commenter today. Good luck!
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
(She knows I have a blog, but she doesn’t read it, so it’s safe to discuss it here.)
So, I adore Jenny, and while I offered appropriate congratulations and listened to the early planning, I couldn’t say the one thing I really wanted to:
DON’T MARRY THAT SORRY BASTARD!! (That phrase isn’t exactly on Miss Manners approved responses list.)
See, I can’t stand the Sorry Bastard she’s marrying. Jenny is smart, articulate, funny, sweet, and cute as a button. She has a couple of degrees, several licenses, and is out changing the world daily. She brings home pretty big bucks and is well-respected by her colleagues. Sorry Bastard (SB) is an “artist.” A wanna-be songwriter. As far as I can tell, that involves sleeping on Jenny’s couch all day and playing PS2. He might go play with his expensive toys (you know, the keyboards and computers and things he needs to be a songwriter), but no songs seem to be forthcoming. He’ll get a part-time job occasionally, just to pay some of his bills, but he always quits because it’s not his “dream.” (I know it’s hard to break into a creative business, but there’s a reason folks tell you not to quit your day job just yet.) Jenny, on the other hand, works full-time, does all the cooking, cleaning and laundry, caters to him and still finds time to sit in the stands at his softball games. This has been the standard for about ten years. Needless to say, the grapevine speculates that Jenny finally told SB to either propose or get the hell out of her house — at 35, she’s ready for a grown-up relationship. She could do so much better than SB and all of her friends would love to see her with someone who has half her class and intelligence. I know she loves him, but seriously, we all know love isn’t everything a healthy relationship requires.
(Yes, I understand that I don’t need to like the men my friends marry. Heck, it took me about ten years to learn to tolerate Counselor Shelley’s husband. He, at least, supports her (in many ways), makes her happy, and treats her like a princess. Just ‘cause we hated each other wasn’t a good enough reason to twist my panties up. I’m not the one living with him, and I only see him a couple of times a decade. But I still have a shovel ready…just in case we need to hide the body.)
So, back to Jenny and my problem with the Sorry Bastard she’s marrying. Now is when I wish life was really like a romance novel. Oh, the things I could do if I got to write the book from here on out. Jenny’s Spunky Friend (SF) — that would be me — who kept her mouth (mostly) shut for ten years, loses it at the sight of the ring. SF hatches a plan to get the wedding canceled. After several complicated and amusing plot twists, SF manages to get Jenny to see the light and dump the Sorry Bastard. A Handsome Hunk for Jenny awaits in the wings, and HH just happens to have a French best friend, Sexy-Cutie, who falls for Spunky Friend. The four have a few more amusing adventures, a Black Moment where the girls get pedicures and drink margaritas, and then a non-sappy reconciliation scene that sends both happy couples to Happily Ever After.
Ah, the joys of fiction. Alas, Jenny wouldn’t be very happy with me if I actually tried something (and Darling Geek would probably object to me snogging Sexy-Cutie — even in the name of research).
So my choices — as I see them — are limited:
1) Smile and nod and pretend I’m really happy for Jenny and the Sorry Bastard and just steel myself for another ten years of Jenny only being moderately happy. (I could spend that time researching the best divorce lawyers in that part of the state…)
2) Take her out for drinks and explain that I think she’s making a huge mistake with this sorry bastard and risk angering her to the point she not only hates me now, but won’t feel like she can call me when the marriage goes to hell and she needs a friend. (I’m also not sure this would do much good. I know several of her good friends — I mean the kind who are bridesmaids and will be getting her the Kitchen Aid mixer — have attempted to do gentle interventions over the years and achieved nothing.)
3) Hire a hooker to drug SB and take very compromising photos that are then delivered anonymously to Jenny.
4) Break out my shovel (very handy, that shovel. First you can beat him with it, then you can dig the hole to hide the body.).
I’m open to suggestions for a better set of options. I mean, none of these are really ideal — although the one with the hooker could at least be amusing, and the one with the shovel would provide me with much personal satisfaction.
I care about Jenny very much, and I want her to be happy. If I thought that Sorry Bastard would actually work hard to make her happy, I’d support this marriage with a genuine smile on my face.
I know love is powerful and complex; that’s why I write romance. But for all the crap the genre catches, romance does show how important it is for partners to be on an equal footing of respect and responsibility. Maybe I should hand Jenny a stack of romances and hope she gets the message.
Unless y’all can come up with better suggestions, I guess I’ll just start researching those divorce attorneys and polishing my shovel.
Ever been in a similar situation? What did you do?
Sunday, February 03, 2008
What are you doing to stay warm? Have an excellent MoanDay!
Friday, February 01, 2008
I’ve also had some good news. I managed to win an agent critique of a partial, so I’ve e-mailed that out. It’s an agent I queried previously who liked my work, but wasn’t taking on more paranormal clients. I sent her Ghost of a Chance, which is paranormal, but I think it’s not your typical paranormal. Hopefully she’ll be won over by my wonderfulness and take me on anyway. Either way, I’m not holding my breath. But I was giddy. I sent her the partial within minutes of getting the email I won. I hope I didn’t look too eager...
I’ve also tried my hand at writing short stories. PM is the Queen, so when I finished, I sent it to her for her blessing. She liked it and encouraged me to send it ASAP. So I did. I have to say it would be nice to see my writing in print (and my name on a check). So, we’ll see what happens with that. I’m already working on a second story. The one thing I’m liking best right now is finishing after 15-20 pages. You get the woo-hoo feeling a lot sooner. With my books, it’s like, great, 20 pages. Only 330 to go.
I also decided to send GOAC to the Lauries. I may regret it later based on the critique sheets the judges fill out. Very detailed. If I don’t final, I may just not read them. I decided to enter into the mainstream/single title category instead of the paranormal category. I wanted the editor from Berkley to be my final judge if I made it that far. Hopefully they won’t disqualify me as being in the wrong category, but as we all know, my book is a special snowflake – a single title paranormal suspense. If you add the single title to the suspense, that outweighs the paranormal, right? Well, we’ll see.
And no, I haven’t forgotten that I need to finish Red-Handed by the summer. I’ve just hit that point where my Muse Lucinda decides to wander off. These shorter stories seem to be keeping her attention more than the longer ones - like I said, the woo-hoo comes a lot sooner. After this next story gets in the mail, we'll need to get back to the book. Like I did with the writing challenge, I’ll just let her work on whatever scene she wants until we get the basic plot finished, then go back and fill in stuff later. If things are looking bleak come April, I might have to challenge someone to another writing contest. Or Sweat with Sven. Whatever gets words on the page, you know?
Anyway, things seem to be rolling. I think I'm going to post my Circle of 5 status each week so I can be held accountable for having stuff out there. I guess it can be part of my resolution to take better care of my writing career. How about you guys? Are those resolutions still holding up or are you on the February slide back into your old habits? (And yeah, it's February...)
Circle of 5 Status:
4 Agent Queries Still Pending, 2 Rejected
1 Contest Entry Submitted to Lauries
1 Short Story Submitted to Trues