Monday, May 31, 2010
I know most people hail the beginnings of summer with parties, happy smiles, and lazy days by the pool. As a SAHM, who works with her children at home during the off school hours, I find the unending rush of summer days to be something scary to dread, not celebrate. Yes, as my husband reminds me, I no longer have to drag my carcass and everyone else’s out of bed at 6:30 every morning, but that’s actually part of the problem. I know, other mom’s probably view my attitude like I’m Scrooge at Christmas, but I can’t help it. Let’s take a closer look.
1. No alarm clocks = No schedule.
Yes, I don’t have to roll out of bed at the butt-crack of dawn during June and July, but we also have no discernable schedule for the months of summer. I know, I can hear all of you now yelling that I could create one, but seriously? If someone isn’t telling me things have to be done at a certain time, they can so easily be put off. (Remember, I live a life of prioritizing; if it ain't screaming, it doesn't make the list.) Plus, any schedule we put into practice would be overrun by the trip to Grandma’s house, visiting friends to keep the kids occupied, lack of appointments that need to be kept, RWA National Conference, and visits to local attractions (again to keep the kids occupied). So we get to the end of July and I’m trying to figure out what I actually got accomplished since school got out, besides keeping children occupied.
2. No school = Children home 24/7
I’m not saying that school is a babysitter, but frankly, if they aren’t in school then I could use a nanny. I constantly have kids underfoot while I’m trying to write, do client work, handle business phone calls, and continue to do all those things I do when the kids are usually gone. They may not be working (I consider school to be a kid’s job), but I still have to. My frustration gets out of control pretty quick when I get interrupted every 20 minutes and am now expected to stop and mediate the fights that break out every 10.
3. I’m a Loner
Not only am I an introvert, but I thrive on time by myself. The biggest adjustment for me when I had my first child wasn’t even going without sleep (though that was painful), it was never being alone. Sometimes I felt like I was smothering, and the same is true for summertime. The hubby actually bears the brunt of this problem. I manage all day long, but the minute the kids go to bed, I lock myself in the bedroom and don’t wish to see anyone until daylight. Okay, so this is an exaggeration, but it happens more often than not. Poor guy. I’m sure there are times he wonders how he managed to marry a bear that hibernates in the summertime. :)
4. Battle of the Siblings
I’m a twin, so while I do have a sister, it isn’t like most sibling relationships. Our nearest sibling, a brother, wasn’t born until we turned 18 years old. Although I know that my sister and I fought, especially as teens, it was unusual rather than the norm. But it seems like my children do nothing but fight, and it gets worse the more time they spend together. Apparently I haven’t figured out the secret to sibling management yet. My best tactic is to send them to their separate rooms so we can all have some peace and quiet for a while. Oh, and we do have “rest time” every day of the summer. I require my children to spend an hour every afternoon reading in their beds, so we can have some time out from each other. Plus, it gives me an excuse to make them read while they’re out of school. But not an hour after they’re back up, the bickering starts once more…
So no, summer is not my ideal time of the year. And this year, summer is lasting an extra week longer. Instead of going back to school the first week of August, they won’t return until the second week (I think because of budget cuts). The teenager I hired for the past few summers to keep them for one day a week so I could have a break has moved on to college, and I haven’t been able to find another. This might be a long summer indeed.
So, do you have any suggestions for this grumpy summer bear? I’d especially love any tips on handling the fighting, and keeping them occupied without having to stand over them 24/7 every day.
P.S. Check out the write-up about the Heart of Dixie Romance Readers' Luncheon over on Barbara Vey's blog.
Friday, May 28, 2010
So lately, I've opted for the (not-recommended) "Throw it at the Wall" process. After patiently spending almost two years waiting for a career path to pan out only to have it wither and die, I decided to just cast as many lines as I could and see who bites. No multiple submissions, mind you, I just have that many homeless projects to shop. As of last Friday, I had a synopsis with one editor, 4 partials with 4 other editors (all different lines or houses) and a full with another house. I also rapid fired queries out to a dozen agents as well. I figured then, by god, something would happen. I'd already braced myself for the rapid onslaught of rejections.
I sent my stuff out there and started working on a project I wanted to pitch this summer. I was having trouble working. I posted before that my day job was interfering with my ability to write. My process was screwed up, but nothing was critical.
Then I got a full request on one of the partials. Great. Sooner than I expected. The book was about 85% done, I just needed to wrap up the ending and read it over again. So I started that, putting my summer pitch aside. It was slow going. Process still isn't recovered, but I was trudging along.
Then I opted to pitch a book on an online event. Figured what the heck, right? Couldn't turn down the opportunity. Well, that turned into another full request. The book is done, but could use some work based on the feedback from the last agent that rejected it. It was a project I'd put aside, but I'd need to address it quickly. I'd start just as soon as I finished the first one and mailed it off.
Then, the same day (if you can believe it) I got an email from an editor who'd had my synopsis since November. She realized she hadn't responded and asked me to go ahead and send the full. Yay. (And crap.) This proposal had been passed around, starting as sexy contemporary, and I'd rewritten the synopsis to make it a contemporary suspense, but had waited on the revisions to see if the editor liked it. She did. So now I have to implement all the changes I'd put into the synopsis.
So now I have three full manuscripts to edit and get out the door ASAP. Then there's still the one I need to revise for my pitch appointment at Nationals. And if this is just one big cosmic joke, I'm sure I'll get a request on the partial I submitted for a book that *cough*isn'twrittenyet*cough*. Work is still hell with long, stressful days and issues that come home with me at night. I really just don't know when all this is going to happen. But it has to.
Last night DB and I went out to celebrate and I had a margarita. Just wasn't sure if I was drinking because I was excited or completely overwhelmed. I feel like the woman who's been waiting forever to get pregnant then finds out she's having triplets. When it rains, it pours. And every now and then, it hails too. Grab your umbrella, girls, I've got a truckload of work to do.
Anything like this ever happen to you? Too much good stuff at once?
PS. And for the record, I want to say I'm not complaining. I know I'd get hate mail for complaining about 3 full requests in a month. I'm overjoyed. Just completely freaked out.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Emma is a Yorkie. Tiny, small, furry bundle of yapping cuteness that you'd think wouldn't fit in at the farm. Honestly, the goose is bigger than she is. But we really had no worries about her fitting in. She'd visited with us before, spending a week with us when my parents were out of town, and she did rather well. She loves the freedom of being able to roam...a little too much.
Actually, we brought Emma home the same week that my parents went out of the country to a conference in Calgary. It was the perfect time to make the transition. Despite the fact that she and Jack were a little wary at first, she did rather well. Her favorite thing is to run around the front yard barking at Eeyore from the safety of the other side of the fence. It's kind of funny.
But three days into her stay with us she disappeared. We couldn't find her anywhere. She wasn't inside and she wasn't in the yard or the pastures. We looked for an hour, walking up and down our road calling her. Nothing. I don't know about Zilla, but I was very worried about having to tell my mom that I lost her dog just days after taking her in. It was getting dark at this point and we were about to go inside, upset over the fact that we couldn't find her, hoping that she was just enjoying an explore of the neighborhood and would be home soon. Zilla made one more run down the street on the four wheeler to see if he could find her. I was ecstatic when I saw him driving up with her in his arms. Until I saw the blood streaming down her front leg.
In the chaos of trying to inspect the wound, figure out what happened and find out where he'd found her, I discovered that she had wandered several streets over...and I'm talking country streets not city blocks. In order to get there she would have had to cross several pastures and a very busy street. However, it's interesting to note that she was in fact heading in the right direction to go home to my parent's house. Turns out a very nice couple found her, called the number on her tag which we hadn't changed yet and spoke to my mom in Calgary. They were on their way to bring her back to us when Zilla saw them on the street. The best we can figure is that she cut her leg on a piece of fencing or metal in her travels. We were worried about an animal bite but there were no puncture wounds and she's so small that if another dog had gotten her she would have been torn to pieces.
What's funny is that she's this teeny, tiny thing that thinks she's invincible. She barely reaches Jack's knee but she's right there beside him, barking her fool head off and protecting us all from any perceived threat. She barks so hard that her little feet come off the ground. It really is funny to watch.
So we have a new dog. Oh, and did I mention that we said we'd take my brother and sister-in-law's cat? They've temporarily moved and couldn't take the cat with them. It just isn't fair for Strider to stay in that big empty house with only periodic visits to refill the food and water dispensers. So the brood is growing. Again.
P.S. This blog is late because apparently Emma is photophobic (I realize that's probably not the right word but...) I wanted to put a picture of her up with the blog but every time I pulled out my camera she ran and hid. You probably can't tell but the only way I got this one was to corner her in the office and surround her with the girls so she had no where to run to. Maybe it's just me but I can see the fear in her face. Maybe she thinks it's going to steal her soul...
P.P.S. From Playground Monitor: My winner from yesterday is Beth Curtis. Looks like she has mad Google skillz like me. Please send your snail mail info to me and we'll discuss
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
My church is in the midst of a building program. We’re by no means a large church, but we’ve outgrown some of our facilities and have a plan in place to add more room. The minister said the architect told the building committee that in some mega-churches 50% of the attendees may not actually see the minister face-to-face. They might see him or her projected on a screen in another part of the church complex.
And some folks attend church in their pajamas by watching online. The minister even tempted us with a couple websites if we didn’t believe people attended church
online – www.virtualchurch.com and www.dogchurch.org, which is the Virtual Church of the Blind Chihuahua. Honest. The preacher wouldn’t lie.
Then he made a statement that really surprised me. He said if Facebook was a country, it would be the third largest country in the world after China and India.
I jotted down that factoid on my bulletin and when I got home I used my mad Google skillz to find out more. Here’s what I learned:
~ The Kingdom of Facebook has 400 million users.
~ 50% of active users log in on any given day.
~ 35 million update their status daily.
~ 3 billion photos are uploaded each month.
~ The average user spends more than 55 minutes per day on Facebook.
~ It’s available in more than 70 languages.
~ 70% of users are outside the U.S.
We are becoming an increasingly online society. I can pay my rent online, pay my bills through online banking, order all sorts of household, food and gift items through websites and chat realtime with folks on the other side of the earth.
The art of social networking (most commonly Facebook and Twitter) is being taught in writers workshops around the globe as a tool for writers to connect with their readers.
But I started wondering why non-writers used Facebook. So I did a little informal, unscientific poll and asked a randomly selected group of my Facebook friends the question “Why?” Here are their answers.
I decided to get on Facebook to see pictures of friends' grandkids. Now I keep up with friends & family in at least 10 states! I try not to get on too often 'cause I stay too long.
Yes, it’s a definite time suck. I’m one of those who looks at photos of friends’ grandkids and wonders how we all got old enough to even have grandkids.
I originally joined facebook to keep up with family and college friends. I then branched out to writers and other readers I'd met on blogs. I stay on facebook so I know what is going on with all my friends and family(only way I get updated pictures of cousins, nieces, and nephews). I also keep up with my hometown through facebook and church events through facebook.
Last year I reconnected with a group of my high school classmates. Our 40th reunion was held last fall and while I wasn’t able to attend, it was great to see how the years have treated all of us. I even had one classmate guest blog. You might remember Molly and her blog about her tea shop.
To reacquaint myself with long lost school/classmates, to keep up with family and friends.....and I think you must have a bit of voyeurism in you to read posts....
I had to laugh at this one, especially considering the friend it came from. The voyeurism comment is just like her. But it’s probably true – I know I've peeped through the Facebook windows into people’s lives.
I use Facebook as a tool to reconnect to old friends and people that I use to know in the past. It it wonderful seeing how they have changed, seeing their families and grandchildren. Also knowing what they are doing with their life. I DO NOT use FB for such "games" like Farmtown, sending hearts, hugs, bears..etc...that is silly to me and opens a door for malware on my computer. It does amaze me how some people want to tell everything that is going on in their lives, and that is a huge 'turn-off' to me....I don't want DETAILS on EVERYTHING they do LOL LOL
Hope you are doing good and you are one of the people from my past that I had always wondered about..so glad we reconnected.
I have noticed that when I go out in public..I see FACES of those I see on Facebook!
I wanted to add to my last message that I find that FB can be and IS addicting! Sometimes I find myself checking out FB when my time does NOT permit..I do it anyway. I have to 'test' myself from time to time just to see If I can stay off FB and FB usually wins! LOL
This woman and I were in Sunday School together as small children and she lived in the same neighborhood as my grandparents. We’d lost touch through the years but reconnected on Facebook. Her parents are deceased but she still lives in the home where she grew up. It’s been nice to “visit” my hometown vicariously through her.
It makes my group of friends virtually available anywhere I live and it is easy to stay in touch with lots of people on a regular basis. Also, great way to make new friends!
This one is a friend of a friend who is now a new friend. We met at a Valentine luncheon and by the next day we were Facebook friends. And she’s right – no matter where a friend might move, she’s still available through the computer. Ahem… my friend who moved to Ft. Walton Beach! Get with the program, girlfriend!
I live alone, and Facebook is my way of keeping in touch with my family and friends, to share their lives and have them share mine. I share the minutiae of my day, my triumphs and challenges, joy and disappointments, who I am. I always receive feedback and it makes me feel less isolated, more connected with the world.
This one really resonated with me. When you’re married, you sit at the dinner table and talk about your day. Even the most insignificant things are dinner table talk. But when you live alone, who do you tell about the abandoned birds nest on your patio or that your granddaughter had a dance recital or that you missed half of Dancing with the Stars because you knocked a bottle of nail polish over on the carpet?
Your Facebook friends, that’s who! The details might turn some folks off, and they are free to ignore them. But others are there to offer advice on how to clean the carpet, sympathize over the birds nest and tell you how beautiful your grandchild is.
I started a facebook page for my community service club at Hoover High School, so I could post upcoming activities and message all members (95) at the touch of a button (so easy!). From there, I have grown a community of young women at my church, a family group, and a group of old high school friends. It is fun staying in touch with them. I post status updates about once a week, not every day.
So are YOU on Facebook? Why? What’s been your most interesting Facebook experience? One lucky commenter will get a book from my stash.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
But as distracting as moving is – and regardless of the amount of stuff in the new house that still needs to be done – it’s time to hunker down and get busy on writing again.
Of course, I’ll be doing it from the luxury of my brand-new office (mine, all mine!) with my butt in a new, ergonomically-correct chair, so that doesn’t suck. Wonder how that will affect my process…?
But my wrists are very sore from stripping the kitchen floor (I don’t know what the old owners used on that floor for “polish,” but, dear dog, it’s tough to strip off), and I still have a long day at the keyboard ahead of me, so I thought I’d share some news and covers today!
First, here’s the cover for my August Modern Heat (UK), What Happens In Vegas…
I think it’s pretty. Smarty Pants can identify the exact location in “real” Las Vegas based on the landmarks, but actually, they’re on the roof of my hero’s nightclub, Blue, just a few minutes before a very important meeting of the, ahem, minds.
What Happens In Vegas… is a sequel to The Millionaire’s Misbehaving Mistress. You all might remember the hero’s little sister, Evie, who was the catalyst for that story. Well, Evie is all grown up now and off on an adventure that changes her life.
I also have the cover for my October Presents release, Boardroom Rivals, Bedroom Fireworks! And lookie at the lovely tag above my name…
Squee! Boardroom Rivals, Bedroom Fireworks is my winery book, and one I found very challenging to write for a multitude of reasons. But it forced me to grow as a writer, and I loved the characters so much in the end, that I forgave them for putting me through the wringer. Fingers crossed readers end up liking those two as much as I do.
And lastly, book six now has a title: Girls’ Guide to Flirting With Danger. This book was a hoot to write; after all, when the country’s leading expert on divorce meets up with his ex-wife – who just happens to be a marriage counselor – yeah, they’re both flirting with danger. Megan and Devin will be a Jan UK release (under the new Riva banner) and a March US release.
And now it’s time to get my fingers busy with the new couple… and I’m starting to fall in love with them too! So that’s good, and that excitement will probably keep me away from the kitchen floor project for a while…
So what are you working on today? (Hey, my kitchen floor is available if you're bored...)
PS: Angel is blogging over with the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood about perseverance and finding your way through a dry spell.
Monday, May 24, 2010
I’m taking a class this month taught by author Angela Knight on Writing the Erotic Romance. She opens the class by focusing on the hero, who he is and what readers are looking for within this genre. She says, “The engine that drives a hot erotic romance is the hero. He’s the handsome, broad-shouldered sexual athlete who seduces the reader and makes her wonder what it would be like to know his love.”
This got me to thinking about my own writing. My first book started out with my identification with the heroine, similar to my experience as a reader, where I could put myself in the heroine’s shoes as I traveled throughout the story with her. But as I worked my way through that first story, I discovered the joy of falling in love with my hero for myself. If you think that experience is fun as a reader, its is so much more immediate as a writer. My stories have been hero-focused ever since.
That’s not to say that my heroines are neglected—they are well-rounded characters who often grow into their own strength throughout my stories. My heroines are coming into their own, finding their footing, and learning to trust themselves and their instincts. But my heroes? Well, they’re just delicious. :)
The heroes are the characters that fascinate me, and I often delve into their pov because that’s what I like to read. Often dark, occasionally brooding, naughty senses of humor, and masters of their own lives, my heroes often have that one special thing the heroine needs (No, not that! Dirty minds. Okay, well, not ONLY that. :) ) My hope is that someday, someone besides myself will fall in love with my heroes too.
So let’s talk heroes today. Do you have a favorite romance novel hero? What is your favorite type (soldier, policeman, CEO, Sheikh, cowboy)? What do you least like in your heroes?
I’ll start off: I’m a sucker for the bad boy types, and my favorite heroes are any of JR Wards Black Dagger Brotherhood warriors and Linda Howard’s Gray Rouillard From After The Night. I least like them to be total assholes. I’m all for strong heroes, but he has to convince me that he has the heroine’s best interests at heart, and that he has a tender side (even if she’s the only one to ever see it).
P.S. I'm blogging tomorrow with the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood and I'd love to see you there!
Friday, May 21, 2010
Then I went out of town on business for the week. Just one week. Missed one session. When I came back to the gym the following week, I was supposed to get with her and get back on the schedule. No sign of her. The next week, no sign of her. I figured she'd get on my case and start calling me, but she didn't. I started to get suspicious, especially when some dude was sitting at her desk.
So I finally broke down and asked the Twits at the front desk if Wendy was on vacation. They immediately perked up. "Are you one of hers?" I suppose I was. They proceeded to tell me she was still here, but in two weeks, Wendy would be gone. Apparently, her boyfriend had proposed while I was away and she was transitioning off to somewhere else.
Er... ok. So now what? I had a 7 month prepaid contract with her. They said her appointments were being taken on by Dude. I'd eyeballed Dude earlier while I was on the elliptical. I was not really interested in working out with him, much less having him weigh me or take my measurements. Honestly. He's about 22, buff and looks about as bright as the barbells along the wall. He's always chewing gum. I call him 'Dude' for a reason. The Twits said everyone just loved him, but I just don't think I can do it. I know I'm judging the book by the cover, but I don't care. I wasn't comfortable with being forced on Dude. I don't like change I don't initiate.
So I said to them - "And what if I don't like that?"
No joke - the Twits just stood there, stunned. Their eyes got big as saucers as they fought for words that were apparently beyond their vocabulary. I had to elaborate that I'd signed up to work with Wendy and I wasn't certain I wanted to continue with someone I didn't know. Finally, one of the Twits wrote down the number for the corporate office and asked me to call them. I'm currently waiting to see if I can get my money back or not. If not, I'm going to double up my appointments, let Dude torture me for 3 months and be done with it.
If I am stuck with Dude, I'm sure I'll have equally interesting tales to tell. Seriously, I really need to stop traveling. Not only did Wendy leave, but my favorite morning DJ disappeared, too. He moved to a station in Birmingham. When I went to the mountains, they laid off people at work. When I went to Disney, they laid off people at work. A couple years ago when I went to NYC, my grandpa died. Not sure what it is about me traveling... FYI, I'm going to California for the 4th of July, so hold tight until I get back. :)
I'm not good with change. How about you? Am I being silly or would you start working out with Dude?
PS. And I would also like to address the rumors that I somehow murdered Wendy and buried her in my backyard. That's is soooo untrue. It's too hard to dig in my backyard. :)
Thursday, May 20, 2010
I'm not sure if anyone's noticed but my word meter on the side of the page hasn't moved in...a very long time. I've been writing, on a couple of projects actually. I just haven't been putting my progress into the word meter. I'm really not sure why, but possibly because I didn't need it this time.
Some stories I come to kicking and screaming. I don't mean that I don't want to write them, I do. But they're hard. Sometimes the words flow without effort and sometimes it's like pulling teeth to string one coherent sentence onto the page. When it's tough I need those goals to push me. I'm motivated by disappointment (not making my goal) - and possibly the fear of missing a deadline. :-)
As I'm going through these revisions I've found myself making goals for these too. They have to be back to my editor by the middle of next month (although I'm hoping to have them finished before then). I set myself a page goal each day. And at the moment I'm blowing it out of the water. I'm way ahead of schedule which is unusual for me.
I think we've had the carrot and the stick conversation before. I'm definitely motivated by the stick. But that means once I've met whatever goal I've set for myself the stick goes away for that day. I've made the finish line...why would I want to run some more?
Well, I've made myself. Actually, I had some prodding from Smarty Pants who pointed out I was wasting valuable time I could use to get ahead of the game. I did it. Reluctantly. But she was right. I have school field trips, Kindergarten Rodeo Day, the end of the year festivities, Memorial Day festivities and the beginning of summer all waiting to foul up my daily page count. Getting a head start is smart. Something I've never claimed to be. :-)
How do you set goals for yourself? Do you reward yourself when you've met your daily, weekly or monthly goal? Anyone else in the middle of revisions? Honestly, mine really aren't that bad. Although, thinking that makes me wonder if maybe I'm missing something important. :-)
P.S. Harlequin Executive Editor Marsha Zinberg is visiting today on the Blaze Author's Blog to talk about the new Harlequin Showcase program. Drop by and say hi.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Raise your hand if you've ever heard anyone snicker about trashy romance novels and refer to them as bodice rippers.
Raise your hand if you've heard anyone insinuate a romance is easier to write than another genre.
Raise your hand if you've heard anyone say a romance novel isn't a "real" book.
Hmmmm. I see quite a few hands raised, my own included.
I can assure you the novel I wrote was NOT easy to do, and the Silhouette editor who requested it considered it a real book even though she rejected it.
Trashy? Well, I don't read trash and I read romance novels so...
On my recent excursion to the Smoky Mountains I picked up a free magazine at a coffee shop. It featured "stories, poems and ideas" and included two pieces by poet laureates of North Carolina -- one present and one past. The publisher is also the editor and photographer, and she has an ad in the magazine for her editing services.
In her editorial offering, she writes, "Since the release of our first issue of ~name removed~, the most frequent question we've received has been 'What is literary versus non-literary writing?' or variations on that same question. After many discussions with my fellow scribblers and research, here is my own answer: Literary writing examines and defines human emotions, compulsions, actions, etc., the way a diamond cutter examines a rough stone before he strikes the first cut. Authors of literary works create (as in fiction) or report (as in history) the impacts of place, time period, political and social structures on their characters. All those impacts can happen inside one individual head, as in The Yellow Room by Margaret Atwood or in multiple worlds, as in Dune by Frank Herbert. OK, that last one will get me in trouble because Frank Herbert is firmly classed with science fiction authors, but, folks, his work does meet all the criteria for literary writing, so academia, suck it up and reconsider. Maybe there should be some crossover classifications to cover such pieces, but that is a subject for another time."
I dare say this publisher would scream at the top of her lungs that romance novels are NOT literary writing. But look at her definition. Isn't a romance about human emotions (and sometimes not-so-human as in the case of vampires, werewolves and zombies)? Doesn't a romance novel show compulsions and actions of the characters? The romance novels I've read may create the impact of place (I've wanted to visit Scotland ever since I read "Son of the Morning") and time period (Hello! Historical romance!!) I'm sure some have dealt with political issues, and Regency romances show the impact of social structure on the characters.
Since I'm not the argumentative type, I'm not going to write her and get into a spitting contest over this. I feel certain it would be like slamming my head against a brick wall, and I've had enough of that lately in other arenas.
So why DOES romance get such a bad rap, especially since it sells more paperback books than any other genre? What's so bad about books dealing with love and relationships?
Have you defended a romance novel lately? And what would be YOUR response to Ms. Publisher's editorial?
P.S. Remember a few weeks ago when I said I was running away with a biker gang? I won't be running away with them after all. I learned the hard way that people misrepresent themselves online. When I went to meet up with them, I found this! OMG!!
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Because the fun didn’t stop there! Oh, no, I was scheduled to give a Publishing 101 workshop at the local library Sunday afternoon!
Our local library system received the first ever RWA Library Grant to promote awareness of the genre and increase their collections of romance. Heart of Dixie is their partner in this grant, and we have a wonderful line up of workshops set up through the summer and early fall. My workshop was the kickoff, and while I was excited about doing it, it was tough putting on makeup and heels and psyching myself up for another event when all I wanted to do was sit in the recliner and recuperate.
But everything seemed to go really well. I had a good crowd, and they seemed to enjoy it. I certainly saw lots of folks taking notes, and we ran over by 45 minutes from all the questions.
I don’t claim to be an expert on anything, but I think I answered everyone’s questions – or at least gave them enough of a clue to find the correct answer – but one question did kind of throw me. One soft-spoken lady asked what I got out of the workshop. Why was I there telling them about publishing? What was in it for me?
I have to admit, I had to think about that one. Most of the attendees weren’t romance readers – and the few that were I already knew through other events like the luncheon – so if I was hoping to sell a lot of books to these folks, I’d be sadly disappointed. The best I could come up with was “Good Karma.”
Folks seemed surprised.
Publishing isn’t a zero-sum game. Your success or failure has no effect on my success or failure. Your sale doesn’t mean I lost a sale. I’m not damaging my chances of selling my next book by giving you advice on how to sell yours.
It’s one of the many things I love about RWA in general and HOD in particular. I’d probably still be stumbling around in the dark, trying to figure out how this crazy business works, and storing books on my hard drive if not for the fabulous FABULOUS people in RWA and HOD. No one is climbing to the top and pulling the ladder up behind them. How do I pay back the people who held the ladder for me? By holding the ladder for the next set of writers coming up.
If nothing else, maybe these folks won’t bad-mouth me on the internet. Maybe they’ll recommend me to someone they know who does read romance.
Good Karma. Paying it back by paying it forward. (Or there’s always the chance I just like to hear myself talk. Teaching habits die hard.)
Is there a better answer for that question? If you were in the audience, what would you have expected me to say? Or, if you’ve done something similar – given a workshop, shared your knowledge or experience – what was your motivation for doing so?
Monday, May 17, 2010
This weekend was a big one for the Playfriends. Our local RWA chapter, Heart of Dixie, hosted its 13th annual Romance Readers Luncheon. I can’t tell you how proud I am to be associated with this event, which has grown over the past few years to over 150 attendees annually and 26 author hostesses. Every year, I meet such enthusiastic romance readers and the authors are gracious and fun. There is nothing like being in a room with that many people who enjoy your same interests and enthusiasm.
Each Playfriend has a job while we’re there, because we simply can’t sit back and not do anything. :) Instigator and Problem Child hostess author tables and sign their books. I’m in charge of the raffle basket committee, and as our Chapter’s Events Coordinator, Smarty Pants has a hand in most of it from Day One. Playground Monitor often is assigned a job, but I’m most impressed by her ability to chat with attendees and never meet a stranger, which makes so many people feel at home. Inspiring for an introvert like me! The Luncheon Coordinator, Kathy Bone (who often comments here), does a spectacular job with everything, down to the smallest details. Personal, thorough service is a special gift of hers, and she makes attendees feel special from the moment they call for information.
On top of all this, I get to spend a day and a half with my fellow chapter members as we prepare for the event and wine and dine the night before (because what gathering is complete without margaritas?). They’re my favorite people in the world outside of family, and we get to talk books and writing to our hearts’ content. Fabulous!
Okay, enough with how awesome our weekend was. :) Each attendee at our luncheon receives a goodie bag with books and promotional items sent from authors all over the world. I’m often humbled by the generosity of these authors, who not only donate items but pay to ship them to us, so that our attendees can be introduced to their books. In regular Luncheon tradition, I’m going to gift one of my commenters today with a goodie bag of their own, with books and promotional items I’ve put together. All you have to do is tell me about a time you met an author who inspired you, or the name of the author you’d most like to meet!
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Instructor: Marilyn Puett (Our very own Playground Monitor!)
Online Workshop Through Heart of Dixie, RWA, www.heartofdixie.org
June 7 – 21, 2010
Cost: $20, Deadline for Registration June 5th.
Airing Dirty Laundry offers information and tips on how to create a source of outside income by writing short stories for the confessions and romance magazines. This two-week workshop is geared for writers who want extra income while waiting to sell their first book, are between royalty checks or simply want an extra income stream.
This course takes students step by step through writing a confession. It begins with learning the market, developing hooks and compelling story lines and structuring a story properly. By the end of the course, students should have a story ready for submission.
Additionally, participants will be given the opportunity to submit the first few pages of a story they start during the class and have the pages critiqued by published writers. Two stories will be selected toward the end of the class to receive a full critique.
Marilyn Puett has sold over thirty stories and a half-dozen short feature articles to the confessions and romance magazines. She has also sold to an e-zine called Chick Lit Review and an anthology titled, appropriately enough, I Confess. She appears in both the 2008 and 2009 Bylines Writers’ Desk Calendar and her article “Short Shorts – Not Just a Fashion Statement” was featured on the Writing for Dollars website. Marilyn is a member of Heart of Dixie RWA and serves RWA on both the local and national levels. A founding member of The Writing Playground, a website for aspiring writers (www.writingplayground.com), she lives in her empty nest in north Alabama and dotes on her granddaughter.
Friday, May 14, 2010
Here's what they included on their list:
- coloring (yes, grown-ups can do it, too)
- crisp cotton sheets
- soft skin
- old family recipes
- the first daffodils of spring
- sleeping in
- an exercise endorphin high
- window boxes
- a perfect cup of coffee
- a genuine compliment (giving or receiving)
- the way babies smell
- a handwritten letter
- waking up in a good mood...for no real reason
- singing in the shower
- finding a couple forgotten dollars in your pocket
- doing something nice for your neighbor
- a home cooked meal
- movie theater popcorn
- playing hookey
- a bubble bath
- an afternoon nap
- street musicians
- your favorite song
- saying thank you
- helping someone in need
- old fashioned photo booths
- fresh whipped cream
- inspiring blogs
- a glass of wine
- rainy afternoons
- the funny things kids say
- a novel you can get lost in
- finding the perfect piece of clothing...on sale
- clean laundry
- the wind in your hair
- treating the person behind you at the drive-thru
- sharing an umbrella
- the smell of lavender
- a long walk that clears your head
- a bear hug
- The Beatles
- smiling at a stranger
- eating with chopsticks (Chinese food optional)
- staying in your pj's all day
- singing along to the radio and knowing all the words
- fresh herbs
- ordering in pizza
- happy endings...even if they're fictional
- flying a kite
- root beer floats
- holding open the door...
- ...or having someone hold the door for you
- fountain soda
- white, fluffy towels
- spending an afternoon at a museum
- really great advice
- green lights all the way home
- the sound of rain hitting the windows
- sitting in a booth
- holding hands
- a great hair day with no effort
- building a fort with your kids
- when someone falls asleep with their head on your shoulder
- the perfect taco
- geraniums on a windowsill
- slow dancing
- the smell of fresh-baked bread
- cheesy, uplifting musicals
- great stories
- the smell of gasoline
- the cold side of the pillow
- love letters
- old friends...
- ...new friends
- a pull-through parking space
- a baguette -- crisp on the outside, airy on the inside
- when a dog licks your hand
- sitting at the counter at an old-fashioned diner
- using your favorite dishes
- reading your child a bedtime story
- Girl Scout Cookies
- kissing someone you love
- the smell of onions and garlic cooking
- hot chocolate
- jumping in puddles
- old photographs
- birds hopping on the sidewalk
- Ella Fitzgerald
- a spoonful of peanut butter straight from the jar
- your softest t-shirt
- a new magazine in the mail
- having exact change
- bacon and pancakes cooking on Saturday morning
What's your favorite? Got any you'd like to add? Personally, I love peanut butter, staying in my PJs all day and puppy kisses (all dogs are puppies to me). But I'm baffled by the inclusion of flossing and the smell of gasoline. Is flossing really a daily pleasure? Maybe I'm doing it wrong.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
So. Yeah. I've started on a diet. And an exercise routine. I'm cutting calories and trying to get more time in the gym. I'm attempting to use the elliptical in my bedroom for something other than a clothes hanger. I've started setting my alarm thirty minutes earlier hoping to use that first rush of energy to kick butt instead of waiting until my day is at an end and I'm already exhausted.
It isn't working very well. So far, all I've managed to do is extent my use of the sleep button on my alarm clock.
So what does torture have to do with this? I mean aside from my hours at the gym. Well, along with the constant gnawing pain of hunger I've become addicted to the Food Network. Challenge, Chopped, Dinner:Impossible, Throwdown, Chefs vs. City, Alton Brown, Chef Duff, Guy Fieri... I could continue on and probably list every show and talent on the channel. I'm starting to get worried.
I'm not a cook. When forced I can find my way around a kitchen. I have a few dishes I can make when necessary, but my idea of fending for myself is pulling through a drive-through. So this sudden fascination with watching other people cook - and cook gourmet - puzzles me. Most people watch these shows to learn something. I really think I watch them to torture myself. To see all the yummy things I really can't eat. I suppose it's a lesson in discipline and denial. If I can survive watching someone prepare creme brulee without breaking down and visiting the kitchen then surely I can avoid the brownie I really don't need the next time I'm out.
So, anyone else on a summer diet? Do you watch cooking shows? What's your favorite? Do you watch while you're hungry? Any tips to losing weight quick?
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Her fame didn't come without a price though. She had some unpleasant run-ins with the media and suffered some personal challenges related to the stress, which makes me wonder if it's probably not a good idea that so many of us don't sell the first book we write and send to a publisher. Paying your dues and working your way up seem to have perks. When success finally arrives, you're much more equipped to handle it.
Britain's Got Talent is back in gear and there's a new name to be looking for: Janey Cutler.
The BGT judges thought Susan was old, but eighty-year-old Janey could be Susan Boyle's mother. She, too, hails from Scotland. When asked why she was auditioning, she replied, "Well, I like singing, so my friend says go for it!"
And go for it she did, with a strong rendition of Edith Piaf's "No Regrets."
In case you haven't seen Janey in action, check her out. I can't embed the video because embedding has been disabled. But you can click here and see her.
Don't you just love a good dark horse? And if she makes it to the final round, don't you hope she learned a few lessons from Susan Boyle? If writing success ever comes my way, I will be the first to thank the Playfriends and all my RWA friends for the advice they've given me.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Until he finds out that John Scalzi will be at RT. My Geek goes geeky, digs through a several boxes of books until he finds just the right one, and sends it with me to Ohio with instructions to get John Scalzi’s signature. He’s serious.
But it seems John Scalzi is a pretty popular guy and RT is a big conference and I don’t want to disappoint my Geek since he just doesn’t geek out over much. I’m determined to find John Scalzi.
So, we’re at the bar Tuesday night, and I see a guy who resembles John Scalzi. Lynn and I break out the conference guide (which has a handy author photo of John Scalzi), and we compare. Remembering that few people actually look like their author photos, and we’re viewing this guy in the bar from a bit of a distance, through a crowd. We debate. We compare. We debate some more. I’d had two beers by then, so it was time to suck it up and go see.
Off I go.
I approach nicely, catch his eye, smile, and ask, “Are you John Scalzi?”
His response: “Who?”
Lovely. It’s bad enough to stalk someone, but to stalk the wrong person? ~sigh~
Turns out, my Scalzi lookalike was Scott Carpenter (aka SL Carpenter of EC and Samhain), and he’s a total sweetie and good sport. We became great friends and spent a great deal of time chatting. (Yes, in the bar.) Here we are later in the week.
If I had to stalk the wrong guy in the bar, at least I picked a fun one and it all turned out well. (And by Saturday, Scott had embellished the tale to the point where I had my breasts out as I purred at him and slid into his lap. His story, he can tell it his way.)
But what about DG’s book, you ask?
The saga continues….
Later on, Lynn goes onto Twitter, finds John Scalzi and tweets that Kimberly Lang is stalking him at RT. Surprisingly, John Scalzi responds that he will be at the booksigning. That’s all well and good, but the booksigning isn’t allowing outside books in. If I want DG’s book signed, I’ve got to find John Scalzi somewhere else. We scour the RT program for John Scalzi’s panel, arrive early, and sit in the second row. Scalzi shows up and is immediately pounced upon by yours truly, as I thrust DG’s book under his nose before he’s even fully settled in. (But without flashing my breasts in any way, thankyouverymuch.) Thankfully, he, too, was a good sport about it.
Lynn snapped the photo to prove it.
In thanks, I did attend the booksigning with three newly purchased books for Scalzi to sign. Of course, we’ve bonded by this time, John Scalzi and I, and one of the inscriptions reads: “To DG, Your wife is an awesome stalker.”
Why do I get the feeling that next year, Scalzi will come armed with a restraining order?
So it all worked out in the end. I got DG’s book signed. I picked up some new books for him – also signed. I made a new friend who I hope will come hang out at the Playground. No one got arrested for stalking. Added to the lack of injuries sustained by yours truly at RT and I consider this a success.
So, am I alone here? Anyone else ever stalked the wrong person – in a bar or elsewhere?
Monday, May 10, 2010
I recently went on a field trip with Drama Queen to our local Museum of Art. Now, our town isn’t tiny, but it isn’t huge either, and our Museum isn’t the biggest. Though under expansion, right now it only hosts 3 small galleries outside of the main room. But I’ve enjoyed every trip I made there, roaming the rooms to investigate the mixture of modern and historical paintings, sculptures, and mixed media pieces. I can’t wait for the expansion to be complete next year.
On our field trip, we toured the galleries with a docent (a tour guide) who discussed various pieces and the significance of them. This particular docent did a wonderful job tying in the art with the reason the students were there (a field trip for the school’s Poetry Club). So many of the things she said resonated with me, and I hope they did with the children there too, since they obviously have an interest in writing.
According to her speech, art is defined as “any creative avenue of learning”. I’ve finally reached the point in my development as an author that, even though I’m unpublished in book length fiction, I can actually think of myself as an author without feeling unworthy of the title. After all, I’ve written 7 novels and novellas, numerous short stories, and non-fiction articles, with a number of articles and short stories that have been published. But even though I think of myself as a author, I’ve never really thought of myself as a artist.
Authors are artists.
As authors, we paint and sculpt a world for the viewer to lose themselves in, only we use words instead of paint, metal, or other, more tangible materials. Yet the viewer steps into the world just the same. The medium is used to create mood, atmosphere, and to evoke emotions in the viewer, whether serious, fun, happy, doubtful, or sorrowful.
This was a totally new idea for me, one that I probably would have understood long before on a logical level, but that just happened to hit me on a psychological level while I was standing in the still, reverent atmosphere of a museum devoted to ART. The feeling was reminiscent of the library I so enjoyed visiting as a teenager. And why not, both are devoted to the preservation and presentation of artistic endeavors.
The docent also mentioned that often the artist tries to create a focus or theme that pulls the viewer in, because most patrons look at each piece for an average of 15 seconds, then move on. The artist wants to catch the viewer, enticing them to stay longer and discover the secret nuances of the piece before them. Writers do the same, hoping in those first couple of pages to interest the reader enough that they continue to read, curious about the secrets of the characters and the intrigue of the plot. We have a short time to draw readers in; without that hook, they might move on without ever discovering the delights to be had within the pages of the book.
So what is your favorite type of art, besides books, of course? J Any preferences? What was your favorite museum to ever visit? My rush through the Metropolitan Museum of Art with Instigator was breathlessly inspiring. I’m hoping for a more leisurely tour on my visit to New York next year.
PS. The winner of Free Book Friday is BlackRoze37! Please email SP at smartypants@writingplayground com to claim your prize within 7 days.
Saturday, May 08, 2010
Problem Child did find time to do a little work around moving and travel, so we've got a great article by her in School about speaking in public. If this is a subject that worries you, she has wonderful tips and tricks to pass along.
Two of our wonderful Mavens, Linda Howard and Linda Winstead Jones, release their first paranormal book written together, Blood Born, this month and Smarty Pants has reviewed it for School. But is there even a chance it wouldn't be awesome? Vampires, a fight to save the world, and these women's talented work. What more could we ask for?
We've started a new contest this month, so check out the contest page to learn more about the Red Hot Romance contest. Spread the word! The winner of the March/April contest was Tabatha Basham of Corpus Christi, TX... next time it may be you!
Friday, May 07, 2010
Death Angel by Linda Howard
(Whether or not its true, I'm telling the world that the heroine is named after me. Its my birthday, so it must be true.)
In Linda Howard's gifted hands, second chances, unexpected romance, and unrelenting action combine into a riveting new novel of suspense. In Death Angel, bad girls can wake up and trust their hearts, bad guys can fight for what's right . . . and dying just might be the only way to change one's life.
A striking beauty with a taste for diamonds and dangerous men, Drea Rousseau is more than content to be arm candy for Rafael Salinas, a notorious crime lord who deals with betrayal through quick and treacherous means: a bullet to the back of the head, a blade across the neck, an incendiary device beneath a car. Eager to break with Rafael, Drea makes a fateful decision and a desperate move, stealing a mountain of cash from the malicious killer. After all, an escape needs to be financed.
Though Drea runs, Salinas knows she can't hide-and he dispatches a cold-blooded assassin in hot pursuit, resulting in a tragic turn of events. Or does it?
Left for dead, Drea miraculously returns to the realm of the living a changed woman. She's no longer shallow and selfish, no longer steals or cheats or sells herself short. Both humbled and thrilled with this unexpected second chance, Drea embraces her new life. But in order to feel safe and sound-and stop nervously looking over her shoulder-she will need to take down those who marked her for death. Joining forces with the FBI, supplying vital inside information that only she can provide, Drea finds herself working with the most dangerous man she's ever known. Yet the closer they get to danger, the more intense their feelings for each other become, and the more Drea realizes that the cost of her new life may be her life itself-as well as her heart.
To win, comment today with either "Linda Howard is one of my favorite people, too!" or "Happy Birthday, SP!" Yes, I'm not above bribing people with prizes to wish me happy birthday. :)
(Oh, and I was reminded that I forgot to award last month's winner of FBF! The winner of the Jordan Dane and Gayle Wilson books is CarolM! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to claim your prize. If I don't hear from the winner in 7 days, this month's winner will get all 3 books...)
And - runner10 and Valerie are the winners of Katherine Garbera’s book, The Pirate! Email email@example.com to claim your prize.
Thursday, May 06, 2010
The list is pretty long but a couple of them stand out for me. Macgruber is being released in May. I've only seen the SNL sketch once or twice but I thought it was hilarious. I might have to drag Zilla to this one for the sheer enjoyment of watching him watch the movie. I do not think he will appreciate the humor. I also think he'll point out to me every time they employ some scientific principle that couldn't possibly exist. So much fun.
There is even a movie called Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Undead. I'm not entirely sure what it's about but I loved Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. I'm thinking maybe it's the movie version of Sense and Sensibilities and Sea Monsters. Might have to check it out for sheer intrigue.
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
I met today’s guest blogger at my very first RWA conference in Dallas in 2004. She (and Rocki St. Claire) told me how to breathe life into a dying scene. She does it well. I’m still working on how to tilt the story’s head back, pinch its nose and inflate its lungs. Please make room in the swings for Katherine Garbera.
Living the Lie
We all know that telling a lie is wrong but we all still do it anyway. I'm not talking about big lies, but the little small white lies that we tell friends, acquaintances and even sometimes ourselves. Lies have a way of just becoming accepted sometimes. And in most cases that's okay. But in some situations it can end up hurting you.
I was married for 17 years before I found out I was living a lie. Not a big lie that would hurt anyone but a lie that I had been telling myself. I had the "perfect" husband--everyone said so and that was the lie. I knew that my husband wasn't perfect and that beyond the façade of our marriage it wasn't solid. Yet at the same time I didn't want to let on to anyone that it was less than perfect.
I'd made this image of a nice family where everyone was exactly as they were supposed to be and after a while it was hard to say things aren't working out. Or my life isn't what I've been pretending.
Now this lie didn't hurt anyone...at least I don't think it did. I think that most of us are telling little lies to ourselves to keep up the façade of being happily married or happily employed or whatever other role you are pretending at. I think that most of us are living a lie of some kind or another because in our society we are judged by what we are good at and frowned on by our failures.
A perfect case to prove this is the fact that two of my neighbors stopped talking to me when I got divorced. I no longer fit in on our street or in their eyes in a neighborhood. I didn't have a husband to fill out the party partnering that happens in suburban American. Does that mean that I shouldn't have been lying to myself all those years?
I don't know.
I think this is one of those situations--the lies we all live--that is a necessary evil. I think if we are true with ourselves and admit that our lives aren't perfect and if we can somehow become okay with it then maybe we can move on...I mean me--maybe I can move on.
But letting go of perfection is hard.
This is something I've been exploring in my writing. My upcoming book from Brava THE PIRATE features heroine Daphne Bennett and she had been living the lie of a perfection marriage with the perfect children until her husband pulled the rug out from under her and let the world know that all wasn't as peachy as it had seemed.
She is facing her summer alone as her kids are going to their dad's and she needs to escape. So she volunteers with Doctors Across Waters and heads off to Somalia finding more of an adventure than she expected to.
Writing about Daphne gave me a chance to explore some of my feelings about my marriage and marriages in general. I still don't have the answers but I think that I'm getting closer to them.
What about you, are you living a lie? Do you think that we all are in some way?
I have two copies of ARCs of THE PIRATE to give away to two blog participants today.
P.S. You can find out more about Katherine and her books (she also writes for Silhouette Desire and HIS ROYAL PRIZE is a May release from Desire) at her website, http://www.katherinegarbera.com/. And OMG is the guy on her cover not H-O-T?!?!?
Tuesday, May 04, 2010
So instead, we’ll skip to the very pretty men that wander through the crowds at RT and do a special Tuesday MOANday!
Meet my choice for Mr. Romance 2010 (but the 1st runner up in the contest, alas), Franco D’Angelo:
Ladies, those are some impressive shoulders. Impressive. I think he could bench press my car. (And his calf muscles are un-freaking-real).
Franco is a pro wrestler from Texas (with his own action figure and everything!) and a total sweetheart. We hung out some – in the bar, of course! – and in addition to being a nice, funny guy, the attention was very good for my ego. Who doesn’t like the attention of a pretty man, especially when there are a lot of other women around who would like that attention? (Yes, I know they have to be nice to the attendees, but let's not burst my bubble too quickly, okay? Thanks.)
That's a mighty big belt (and bicep!):
(Let's just say it was a good thing I met him *before* I googled him because all of his wrestling pictures would make you think he was a real Beastie instead of a Sweetie.)
It’s not often that our MOANday men are someone we can honestly say we know, so here’s proof:
I feel downright petite and delicate and fragile standing next to him. I'm wearing five-inch heels -- with platforms! -- in this picture!
The "cool kids" table in the bar:
(Me, Franco, Lynn Raye Harris, Tom and Olga (the ballroom dancers who wowed us during the show), and writer Wendi Darlin. Those are the Mr. Romance trophies on the table. The winner, Jamie, had been by for a while and left his with us for safekeeping and, along with Franco's, they made a lovely centerpiece.)
I think Franco is definitely cover model material – Harlequin is welcome to put him on one of my covers anytime…
(So, yeah, RT was a lot of fun. ~g~)
Monday, May 03, 2010
I seem to prefer the historical movies he’s been in, maybe because there’s more muscles showing. :) His previous appearance in Gladiator:
He just gives the appearance of a regular bad ass, you know? I happen to like that type of hero.
So what about you? Are you a fan of Crowe and his movies? Are Rough and Tough heroes your type, or do you go more for betas?
Join us on Wednesday when author Katherine Garbera visits the Playground!
Saturday, May 01, 2010
Thursday's Free Book Giveaway:
Joseph Parker and Denise
Please email Instigator with your snail mail address to collect your prize, firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday's Joke Contest:
Please email Playground Monitor with your address to collect your prize, email@example.com
Monthly Contest Winner for March/April:
Tabatha Basham of Corpus Christi, Texas
Congratulations to all our recent winners!!!