Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010! Bring it on!

I love New Years. OK, I love most holidays, but this one deals with reflecting on the past and looking forward to a (possible) new beginning, of making new promises and setting new goals and with renewed hope of meeting them. It's an exciting time for an unpublished writer looking forward to much success in 2010. I thought of sharing my goals and aspirations specifically but instead wanted to share the words of some best selling authors (an eclectic bunch to be sure), that have really resonated with me as I think about the coming year and what I want to accomplish. Enjoy!

"My advice is not to wait to be struck by an idea. If you're a writer, you sit down and damn well decide to have an idea. That's the way to get an idea." Andy Rooney

"Don't quit. It's very easy to quit during the first 10 years. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it's very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can't get fired if you don't write, and most of the time you don't get rewarded if you do. But don't quit."  Andre Dubus

"You have to follow your own voice. You have to be yourself when you write. In effect, you have to announce, "This is me, this is what I stand for, this is what you get when you read me. I'm doing the best I can - buy me or not - but this is who I am as a writer."" David Morrell

"A genuine creation should have character as well as be one; should have central heating, so to say, as well as exterior lighting." James Hilton

"Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts." Larry King

"A best-selling book usually follows a simple rule, 'It's a wonderful story, wonderfully told'; not, 'It's a wonderfully told story.'" Nicholas Sparks

"You have to have the three D's: drive, discipline and desire. If you're missing one of those three, you can have all the talent in the world, but it's going to be really hard to get anything done." Nora Roberts

"I don't believe one reads to escape reality. A person reads to confirm a reality he knows is there, but which he has not experienced." Lawrence Durrell

"In truth, I never consider the audience for whom I'm writing. I just write what I want to write." J. K. Rowling

"I know what women want - and that's to be flung across a man's saddle, or into the long grass by a loving husband." Barbara Cartland

Happy New Year and here's wishing everyone much health, happiness and success in 2010! Bring it on!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Worst Gift EVER

I've gotten some interesting ones over the years and this year overall I did pretty well I have to say. My husband even bought me a brand new, totally ergonomic (with a zillion adjustments) desk chair! How cool was that? Hopefully, I can put it to good use in 2010! Someone else decided to give me a box of Godiva chocolates. How could they? Now, on the surface, it sounds sweet and thoughful, not to mention delicious. Right? It is - BUT this box has 105 chocolates and is 2 pounds, 11 ounces of sugar!! It took me awhile, but I finally figured out this box has over 7,000 calories! What were they thinking? It's not like I really obsess about my weight or what I eat, but 7,000! Here's my dilemma - should I eat them as fast as I can to just get rid of them or should I spread it out, savoring them slowly and try and minimize the impact to the hips? Of course, I didn't consider throwing them out or giving them away :). What's the worst gift you've ever received?

Friday, December 25, 2009

I've been bad, very bad...

... I haven't blogged for 20 days! Will it get me on the naughty list? I sure hope so (LOL)! The holidays have been particularly hectic this year. I have international visitors, I had to put my cat down (how hard was that?) and we had a last minute trip out of town this week. It has all added together to ensure I've been incredibly unproductive this month, and I had such plans!

So, who makes New Years resolutions? I typically don't, but this year I can't help thinking about what I want to accomplish with my writing in 2010 (well plus losing the five pounds I've probably gained). I'm committing to write every day, even if it's the chapter heading at the top of a blank page (or a post on my blog ;) ) and I vow this year I WILL BE PUBLISHED! Yeah, I figured I would keep it really simple.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to everyone and best wishes for a happy, healthy and successful 2010!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I want to be a "I'll buy any book with her name on it" author...

Someone asked me the other day if I wanted to make it to the NY Times bestseller list some day. Ah, duh! Of course, that would be great, awesome, amazing and out of this world. A lofty goal to aspire to, but hey, I believe you need to have stretch goals and why not aim for what you want, no matter how 'out there' it may be? But it got me thinking - being on some list is a validation of your accomplishment for sure but I think about it more in terms of the readership I would have and I tried to think about how that could be translated to a tangible goal (cause that's the way I am). I want to build a readership who will buy my books just because they're mine, because they have my name on it, because they know what they'll get with one of my stories. What goals do others have in relation to where you want to go and what you want to accomplish with YOUR books?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Note to self - Murphy's Law!

Well, my entry in the Golden Heart 2010 is in and I am so done with it! Well, that's not exactly true. I find it hard to let go of a story once I've completed it and I like to think about what happens after that last scene. Anyway, I left it to the last minute to send it. I tried telling myself (and I told hubby) I was going to take the maximum possible time I could to ensure it was perfect. Was it perfect? NO! Of course not. It never would be because I have two BIG weaknesses - I tend to procrastinate and I'm a perfectionist. Put them together and it's a pretty big challenge because I'm never done! Plus, I usually plan for contingencies, but this time I figured, what could go wrong? Try a urinary tract infection for my daughter, a throat infection for me, a school trip for my son we had to get ready for, a busted coffee maker, holiday decorations the kids DEMANDED we do over the weekend, a hard drive that crashed, and a broken Wii remote (the biggest disaster of all!). It meant down to the wire stress, late nights and lots of hair pulling - but you know what? I love, love, love that! I love feeling the pressure of a pending deadline and am fascinated by the 'do what it takes' stuff I produce then. Yeah, I know, it's been said before. I'm sick that way.

So, it's in the mail. I'll still be a little nervous till the tracking number tells me it was delivered, but I plan to just push it to the back of my mind and forget all about it. Now, I have numerous characters in my head demanding that they be next. How to choose??

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Still freaking out and oh yeah - Happy Thanksgiving!

I tried to think of something funny or witty, something thought provoking, something inspiring, but I'm completely tapped out! I've got nuthin! I'm crazily trying to get my Golden Heart entry done and all the water from this well has gone towards that!! I'm still freaking out because of course the unthinkable happened yesterday. An unexpected catastrophe with one of the kids which meant my whole day was wiped out! This day had been reserved for me to do a complete read through to make sure the big story hung together, for me to spend on the synopsis and really tighten it up, and for me to get a level of comfort that I'm really, really going to make it! So, as I sit here I can't help but think - what do I have to be thankful for? I'm thankful for an understanding husband who won't mind (much) that I'll be up late (very late) the next few nights. I'm thankful for great kids who'll just roll their eyes when they see me hunched over the computer because Mom has to 'work' again. I'm thankful, and oh so grateful, that I'm at a place were I'm able to pursue a dream I hadn't realized until recently I'd completely sacrificed when the practicalities of life had to be put first. So ... Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Totally freaked out here!!

As I looked at my blog today that darn counter is blaring at me, warning me, mocking me. Yes, it's almost Golden Heart time. I'm still doing some final edits on the manuscript I intend to enter and still need to clean up my synopsis. Yeah, the dreaded synopsis which I know is not a strength of mine. I've put it off until the end, until I have no choice but to tackle it. Yikes!! (do people really use that word in real life?). Anyway, I keep telling myself I work best under pressure, I still have time (baring any major disasters) and of course I'll make it, but it doesn't help with the mild (OK, maybe not so mild) panic that is starting to set in and the surety that my stuff really sucks. I haven't heard much around the forums about the Golden Heart lately and probably not likely to now with the controversy around Harlequin Horizons and RWA. Will be interesting to see how it plays out!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Rejections! Who Knew?

I just discovered there are specific categories of rejections. I know, I know. There's probably a big, fat round of well duhs out there. OK, so I did know about the Form Rejection. I've seen this mentioned on numerous forums and did know it was a standard rejection letter, probably not even addressed specifically and may not even signed by a particular person. In addition, I just found out there is the Extended Form, the Encouraging Rejection, the Revision Possible Rejection, and the Revision Letter. Whew! Just when we've been through the mammoth effort of writing a book, built up the courage to send it in and had a heart attack when that envelope comes with a certain logo on it - we have to know how to interpret a freakin rejection letter! I've only had one rejection so far (based on a query). It was short, and specific to my plot but it was nice to know it wasn't actually a Form Rejection after all. Here I thought it was a standard rejection and filed it so I wouldn't have to ever look at it again. Go figure. Just when you think you're getting (somewhat) savvy in this business you come across something like this. It's obviously really fundamental, right? However, it's kind of a case of not knowing what you don't know.

Friday, November 6, 2009

What I've learned so far...

I was thinking today (substitute procrastinating when I should have been writing) about what I have learned so far on my writing journey. Sometimes it doesn't feel like it because I still learn every day, but I have learned a lot. Now, many of these things might be obvious to others and of course I don't profess to be an expert on anything, but thought I would share those that have been my ‘ah-ha’ moments so far:
  • There's a hell of a lot of competition out there! There are many wonderful writers in varying stages of their careers all vying to be successful authors in this genre. Oh, boy! There is obvious awareness of those very successful, well known authors but the ranks of the newly published and aspiring have many incredibly talented writers.
  • There are a lot of preconceived ideas about readers and writers of romance. BTW, I am not fat, ugly, unmarried or sexually deprived as one moron seemed to think was an accurate description of the women who read romance!
  • Romance writers are BIG readers of romance. I’m not sure why this didn’t occur to me before. I transitioned from reader to writer as many have and continue to read. I don’t imagine I’ll ever stop but I've been surprised to learn how prolific some of the writers out there are in terms of reading. Where do they find the time??
  • I’m not as crazy as I sometimes think. Other writers hear (their characters) voices too. Thank God for that one.
  • Writing contests are not just for winning. I’m a competitive person and will be the first to admit if I enter a competition I aim to win. I’ve found the most value I’ve gotten out of a contest is to have been ripped to shreds in regards to the feedback I’ve received. Bring it on because I am a better writer because of it.
  • Twelve months aint nothin in this industry. In fact, it’s a drop in the bucket when you’re talking about trying to get published if you take into account the publisher wait times and turnaround and the schedule to get published if you even manage to get a contract.
  • You need a tough skin. If you don't have one, get one. If you can't then you have to learn how to take feedback and criticism in a way that doesn’t send you curling into the fetus position. You’re entering a career where this will never go away.
  • Romance writers are some of the nicest people I’ve come across so far. Not nice as in ‘sugary sweet’, but nice in a ‘willing to spend their time, share their expertise and lend their support and encouragement when it’s needed’ way.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I changed the description on my blog...

It used to say 'on the way to becoming a romance writer'. It suddenly hit me today. It was a smack the forehead moment. Jeez, I already AM a romance writer. I'm just not published yet. I've written several full length manuscripts. One a publisher is interested in. The others? They might collect dust for all eternity but they served a purpose. The proved I could write a novel, a full length romance novel and it taught me a whole hell of a lot about the craft and process of writing. Between my second last manuscript and the one I am currently editing I found my 'voice'. This is that thing that everyone talks about and no-one can really explain very well. As soon as I read some of my older work it just didn't sound like me anymore. I had found the way to write that sounded distinctly like me. I found my groove and it feels so good. I know the way I write and I know my style. I hope someday I'll have readers who like it too! So, now my blog description reads 'on the way to becoming a romance author'.

Monday, November 2, 2009

My love hate relationship with .... caffeine

I've been so good for so long. In fact, at 1 time and on 3 separate occasions I've weaned myself off coffee altogether. It doesn't last for long of course. Finally accepting reality, I restricted myself to 1 cup of coffee a day for years. It was a good one though; a large premium capuccino with stiff foam and just the right sprinkling of chocolate on top. Divine! Then I started writing seriously last year. A diet soda a day snuck into the mix and I don't even really like soda. A couple of months ago it had inched to two without me really noticing it (although having to haul out the recycling bin with so many cans was a bit of a wake up call I can tell you). Today, I had a second cup of coffee after lunch! I was horrified but it was SO good. I think it's pretty safe to say I'm all the way seriously addicted again BUT I had an unbelievably productive day with my revisions. Should I really be worried?

What do you need to get you through your (writing) day?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Warning! Don't give your pumpkins alcohol!

Halloween is by far my favorite holiday. I don't think it (or me) will ever grow old. I love everything about it (well, except the additional pounds that might result).

Happy Halloween and keep your adult beverages away from your pumpkins!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Jeez, I'm biting my fingernails again!

Help! It started this week. I noticed that I started biting my fingernails again. I haven't done that since I was about 17. OK, that's not exactly true. In my late teens I made a deal with myself; I could only bite the nails on my thumbs. It worked! The nails on my fingers looked great, my thumbs not so much. In my late twenties I decided it was time to stop biting the thumb on my right hand (don't ask me why it was the right). For many years I only nibbled on the left thumb nail. I did it unconciously, when I was working or reading mostly. Then, for some reason about 4 years ago I stopped completely. I think I was just too tired, too busy or both. I'm not going to tell you how many years it took in all, but I slowly trained myself not to do it!! Now, this week I've noticed lefty looked short and a little ragged again. WTF? Now the right thumb nail looks a little worse for wear today. I'm not sure if it's stress, excitement, anxiety or what but hopefully I can get it under control before I lapse back into that very bad habit. I have enough other ones!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Where do our characters come from?

This question is really plaguing my right now because THEY WON'T GET OUT OF MY HEAD. I’m trying to write one story yet other characters keep popping in. They’re annoying, demanding and downright aggressive in trying to get my attention. They’re clamoring to be written. So where do they come from? I come up with some very interesting ones with vast and varied backgrounds and they are never based on anyone I know, no-one I have ever met and they don’t look like anyone I can relate to. To me they seem completely fictional so how are they born? They usually burst in unexpectedly with something to say, usually in some interesting scenario with their counterpart. Sometimes it’s the hero, sometimes it’s the heroine, but sparks (or heat) is usually involved. I can’t resist diving deeper and the characterizations just explode from there. I jot down what I can in my ‘idea file’ and try to get back to the task at hand. It usually placates them at least for awhile. Needless to say my idea file is about to burst and is overflowing with unwritten stories. I guess that’s a good thing, right?

If I told this to anyone else they’d probably think I was ‘crazy as a loon’ nuts and suggest I see someone. A professional. Man, is this what all writers have to deal with?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What the heck is NaNoWriMo?

OK, so I did figure it out but when I left IT consulting I figured I also left the specific but obscure acronyms behind. Boy, was I wrong! I've seen variations of this from time to time (WriMo, NaNo, OctNoWriMo) and just figured it was a social networking acronym I had yet to learn! I didn't want to be the one to ask the dumb question. Duh! NaNo sounds intriguing. A novel in a month? I've never written like that before and would love to see what I would end up with just letting the thoughts flow and not being so concerned with it not being perfect up front. I have to complete the revisions to my full requested Blaze and get that out the door and it looks so far that it will bleed ino Novemeber. If by some miracle it doesn't I'll be keen. I know some forums post a monthly writing challenge along the same lines so I guess if I miss November, I can always do it another time, but wow it would be so cool to be a part of it. Maybe next year (now that I know what it is)!!

Kudos to anyone who has done this in prior years or intends to participate this year! How awesome.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The internet should be ... BANNED

At least in my house. When I'm home. While I am trying to write! I'm the first to admit I'm a bit of an IT geek. It was my career (1 of 2) after all. Computers were for work; a tool of productivity, they were not for playing. At least that used to be my perspective. Now I find myself sitting at my desk all day trying to write and the lure of the internet becomes almost impossible to resist. Since finishing my 'day job' last year I've discovered all sorts of things out there on the net. I'm relatively new to social networking and there's so much that is interesting and so many cool site and tools and features to explore. Just check out the freakin avatar of myself I created on my blog!! Did I need that? No! But being from the IT field I can't help exploring something like that to understand how it works. I am seriously considering disconnecting my online access for set periods of time during the day or moving to a part of the house the wireless router won't reach! I can't imagine how time consuming it must be to publicize a book or to really manage an online presence for marketing purposes!

How do others cope with the lure that is the online world?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I'm struggling with ... too much sex

Who would have thought? I've stripped my book down and it really is a bit too much. I went through a recent Blaze novel last night and tried to calculate the 'amount' of sex in the thing. Kinda harder to do than I thought but it was enough to conclude that I better strip, scale back, or simplify a couple of my scenes. God forbid I bore any reader with too much sex! My scenes are hot (at least I think they are) and there are things that are revealed about the characters throughout these scenes (it's not just sex for the sake of it), but I think for a couple of them I should come up with another way to demonstrate them.

So, how do you 'de-sex' a story?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Where did summer go?

I woke this morning to crisp, chilly air and a stiff, downright cold breeze. We shivered, we complained and we realized summer really was gone. OK, so I live in Miami and it dipped into the 60s last night. Even though it is still expected to reach 80 later today it still struck home; summer is over. Yeah, yeah, I know. I probably have limited sympathy from almost everyone out there but when you've been experiencing record temperatures in the 90s for so long, it takes a body awhile to adjust.

I have hopes it will be ideal writing weather because I've hit a flat spot in my book that I need to fix. There's too much sex for one. I may have gotten just a little carried away. Or my characters did. I need to back it up some so that they can learn a little bit more about each other first, but my hero wants to get down and dirty right away. It works for him but I think I need to keep some tension going until a little later in the book. The problem is when it's cold, I think of bed, and when I think of bed... Oh, well, hoping for a productive week where I can do some rearranging to keep the tension building and the conflict ongoing through to my HEA.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sick kids, leaky roof and snakes! Oh my!

What a week! A week of frustration because my brain was bursting with things to get on the page but everything conspired against me. I guess sick kids and a leaky roof is pretty self explanatory but we have a yard that is about an acre in size and, well, ocassionally we have a snake problem. They're not venemous my hubby says, but they're SNAKES all the same!

Anyway, this week I realized something. My most productive writing time is between 12 and 3 in the afternoon. Why? I have no idea. Maybe it's the looming threat of kids home from school to disturb the peace and the realization that I better get something done or the day will be wasted. I write every evening but early afternoon seems to be the time when I come up with the best ideas. I'm sure every writer has their own most productive times. Now, I just need to use this knowledge wisely!!

Oh, and I entered my current manuscript into the Golden Heart 2010. Now I have to deliver the thing!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I set myself up for more torture!

OK, torture is probably too strong a word. Taking the feedback from the 2 recent contests (where it made sense) and comments from the one person (apart from judges) who has ever read ANY of my work (yes, it was a real, live person), I revised my manuscript slightly and (deep breath) entered it into another contest. I entered the Linda Howard Award of Excellence. I know I won't win. I would be completely and totally blown away if I even finalled because it required I entered the first 25 pages ONLY. There's something else I've realized through this contest experience; there are professional contest 'enterers' out there who customized their entry to the contest. Duh! Maybe I was niave about this, but I'm interested in a critique on the writing of my actual manuscript. I didn't want to change it to end it right at (magically) page 25 on a great hook. Mine was in the middle of a scene. I would have to have done some major rearranging. I adjusted the formatting as best I could so that it ended at a logic point, but come on. I'm out to improve my writing not collect contest acolades, but that's just me.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

To epub or not to epub?

This question has been revolving in my mind for a long time. I have a clear idea of what I want to publish and with which publishers. No surprise they're the big guys. It's tough; competition is fierce and the wait times are brutal. I have often weighed the pros and cons of going the route of an e-publisher. After all, a number of todays successful authors started out that way and some continue to publish in this fashion right along with their best selling novels via more 'traditional' means. Then there's this whole topic with RWA and publishers they consider to be 'valid' and this area gets sticky very quickly, particularly when it comes to the Golden Heart and PAN eligibility. SO, what thoughts do others have about this? Is it one or the other and what factors needs to be weighed? Can they coexist and is it a step that should be added to a complete publishing strategy? Can it hurt or hinder other opportunities?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Got a letter from Harlequn!!!!

My heart was pounding so hard I thought it was going to explode. My stomach felt like someone had reached into my abdominal cavity, grabbed my guts and twisted as hard as they could. OK, graphic I know, but accurate! A letter had arrived. From Harlequin. It looked so harmless; a plain white envelope with 'Harlequin' emblazoned across the top. I felt it. It was very thin and my heart sank. Surely if they wanted to see my full manuscript it would be more than a one pager? I took a deep breath and opened it, thinking it had to be a form rejection, sure it was nothing else. It was folded in such a way I could just open it and peer inside without taking it out. I saw the words 'I would like to see your complete manuscript....' leap off the page and what I felt after that was just indescribable. I had accomplished another milestone on this journey to publication and it felt SO good. For a brief moment all anxiety was completely gone, washed away by the validation I held in my hand that I was on the right track, that I could be an author some day. Then it returned in full force. I had to polish that manuscript and get it back in her hands, putting myself out there again, raising the stakes. In that instant the familiar anxiety returned, but tempered this time with an increased confidence, a renewed enthusiasm and a fiercer determination to be successful.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Contests? Contests!

Obviously, I have had contests on my mind a LOT lately. Before I entered the two recent contests, I figured they were a ‘nice to do’ but not essential on the path to publication. I knew they were very subjective, scores and results could vary widely and feedback could confuse, or worse, send you off in the wrong direction. I still think all that is true, but I now think contests are ESSENTIAL on the road to publication if you look at them and accept them for what they are and what they can do for you. I may be a newbie at this, but at the risk of seeming arrogant the following are the things I’ve learned that might help someone else out there:
  • Be picky with the contests you enter. Look at those run by reputable groups and assess the end judges; are they whom you would like to have your work in front of? Perhaps you can jump the slush pile!
  • Contests are a MEANS not an END. They’re one more thing you can do to improve your writing. Your ultimate goal is to get published, not win a contest.
  • It’s not about winning (OK, this one’s hard for competitive me). Sure, it would be nice to get the accolade but it’s a good way to give yourself deadlines, ensure you’re continually producing and allow you to always have ‘something out there’.
  • There is absolutely no guarantee your full will ever be requested by an editor/agent judge even if you do final or even win. There’s certainly no guarantee of a sale.
  • If you don’t have a thick skin, grow one. This industry is about people reading what you write from your heart and don’t forget about reviews! They will love it, like it, be indifferent to it or hate it. Get used to it now!
  • Contest feedback is wonderful, but if it doesn’t sound right, it’s probably not. Take what resonates and discard what doesn’t. It’s not necessarily all good for you.
  • If you try to address all the areas of the feedback, you may end up rewriting your entire content and driving yourself nuts into the bargain (I think I may now qualify). It’s not always consistent.
 Any other pearls of wisdom around contests I missed?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Authors are people too...

So far on my (relatively short) road to publication I have had the opportunity to meet and communicate electronically with, a number of published authors. A couple of them have been on the best seller lists and I have to say I have been surprised and amazed each time. These women have been incredibly responsive, very engaged, truly interested and positively encouraging. To a lowly aspiring author such as myself! I'm not sure there is another industry where the successful professionals so caringly encourage, mentor and facilitate the success of those trying to break in. It continues to astound me!

I would be interested to know if anyone else has had similar experiences?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Life sucks ... and then not so much

Well, yesterday seemed like a repeat of the previous day; waiting anxiously all morning for a call, email, any kind of SIGN and then by early afternoon resignation that I had not made it to the finals list of the second contest. I was down (and yeah cursing inside my head helped some), but kept telling myself I didn’t enter these things to win. I entered them to get some straightforward, unbiased feedback on my work from experienced authors. After all, apart from these judges NO-ONE has ever read what I write. I received the critique sheets for the second contest late last night via email. All I can say is WOW! The comments were incredible and really resonated and I got really good scores!!! There were inconsistencies across the 3 critiques (they’re people after all) and I think one of the judges really didn’t care for the ‘hotness’ level of the content, but the comments were incredible. They all indicated the writing was good!!!! One in particular really spoke to me and I think it’s really going to allow me to go back and fix some issues with the start of the novel. This was the one that actually contained the most about what was wrong and should be improved. The rest is actually easy to fix. I wish I could give that judge a big, fat hug but I guess the most awesome thing about these contests is the anonymity which is why the feedback is so valuable; it’s real and direct and doesn’t pull any punches but it’s delivered in a caring way (at least the ones that I saw). I am eagerly awaiting the score sheets from the first contest to compare notes and consolidate so I can create a game plan to incorporate the changes.

SO, yesterday I went from feeling like this:


I kinda feel like it's a new era and I'm seeing things with much more clarity!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

1 down, 1 to go (contests that is)

I figured when it rolled around to 2 pm Eastern time today with no email or phone call that I did not final in the SF Heart to Heart contest (not that I was checking every 10 minutes or anything). I received an email later in the afternoon with a summary of the finalists and my name wasn't on the list. Imagine that? I don't accept failure easily (and that's how I initially viewed this). I'm an over achiever. Always have been. Truthfully (and probably arrogantly), I thought writing would be no different. It's not that things have been easy. I've worked my ass off for everything I've accomplished, but when I set my mind on something I succeed. Writing is so different to anything else I have attempted. In many ways it's totally subjective and the time frames between key milestones can be vast and can result in having to go back to square one. Am I disappointed? YEP. Am I down? SOME. Am I discouraged? NO (OK, maybe just a little). I'm going to eagerly look forward to receiving the written feedback and look at it with an open mind. That was the primary reason I entered anyway; not to win. But, hey I'm also competitive! Tomorrow is another day with another contest announcement (gulp!). The good news? I'm not nervous about the result any longer. It is what it is.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A fresh week and some nerves to deal with...

It's a new week again (at least for me this feels like my 'Monday' coming out of a teacher work day yesterday). Monday is the day each week where I sit and develop some specific goals to achieve for the week. My somewhat analytical brain can do nothing else unless I have objectives. I have plans, big plans for the week (finish my current polish, outline a new story that keeps hammering away at me demanding my attention and read the rest of the RWR). Then my reminders pop up and it hits me. Dead and square between the eyes. This is the week where finalists will be notified for the 2 contests I entered way back in August. I originally entered them to get feedback and some (OK, low cost !) critiques of my story. I entered both my completed (targeted for Blaze) novels to the SF Heart to Heart 2009 and my most recent one to The Golden Pen 2009. Finalists will be notified tomorrow and Thursday respectively!!! Now I'm nervous because my mind has already jumped there; I'm a finalist. But when tomorrow and Thursday roll around, maybe I'm not (more like probably) and I'll have that disappointment to deal with. I need some validation to everything who keeps asking me "What are you doing these days?" I want to say I'm a writer but it sounds so lame when they invariably ask if you have any books and you have to explain you're on the journey, blah, blah, blah. I want to be able to say at least 'but I was a finalist in a writing contest' or 2 or more. Although it's almost here, the wait will be hard.

Anyone have any great stories to tell about contests? Any cool responses to pesky questions about what you do when you're an aspiring author but don't have anything published yet (that doesn't make you sound lame)??

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Out of the mouths of babes...

My eldest (7 year old) daughter called to me excitedly when she was looking at the newspaper. "Mommy, Mommy, come quick you're in the paper". Intrigued I rushed right over to see what she was talking about. There was little chance a picture of me was in the newspaper. She pointed to an add for a cosmetic surgeon advertising a new mini lower face lift procedure and gestured to a series of before and after pictures. "Where Honey?" I asked. She pointed. "There, that one". I could see the pair of pictures she was referring to. I had to ask, I just had to. I knew better but I couldn't help myself. I'd left myself wide open. It really was my own fault. "Which one?" I asked. She of course proceeded to point to the 'before' face lift picture (taken in the worst possible light, without any makeup and a sour expression). "It looks just like you."

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Have you ever discovered something so shocking, so fundamentally disturbing, so completely unexpected you just can't get it out of your mind? As I was struggling through my day yesterday I devoured a new snack my husband had brought home. It was the most addictive thing I have ever tasted. It did occur to me briefly that anything that tasted that great would have to be bad for you. I ate the entire package (which really wasn't that large). 10 oz isn't large, right? It was over the entire afternoon after all and I had a diet soda with it. My hubby when he realized was horrified. The entire packet had 1400 calories! There isn't a word I could come up with to describe my thoughts at that moment. I still can't stop thinking about it. This has got to be one of the most calorie dense foods out there. OK, so it's not really a 'food', but gosh it tasted so GOOD. Needless to say THIS has gone onto the household banned list from this point forward.

What things are on YOUR banned list?

Friday, September 25, 2009

It's a Slump Day

I've never believed in writers block and those that talk about their 'muse' seem to me to be a bit airy fairy. Just get your butt on the seat. Sure, some days are harder than others. Some days the creative juices flow freely and you struggle to get all the thoughts and ideas down before they disappear forever. Other days it's just plain hard work. Today is one of those days. I've accomplished a good word count and what I've written is OK, but each and every word was an effort to lay on the page. I'm working on the middle of a book. For me, smack dab in the middle of the book is always the toughest. The hero and heroine and are in the nitty gritty of getting to know one another (really know one another) and beginning to show signs of growing as individuals and a potential couple despite some serious hurdles about to come their way. I could be overly critical but I am always worried it will feel like it slumps in the middle and it's a filler before the slide into the Happily Ever After. I'm hoping tomorrow I will sit down refreshed with new eyes and the big picture will became crystal clear again!!

Women's roles

I think about the role of women in our society all the time and am often preoccupied by it as I construct my female characters. I've never cooked a family meal in my life and hubby and I have had the absolute role reversal since we've been married. I had a successful corporate career and grew a business, while he stayed home, looked after the house, kids and cooked for all of us. I remember my son coming home from one of his first play dates. He was astonished. He told me his friends mother actually knew how to cook! It really hit home at that point that our kids have really had a different perspective to many other families. I try to instill in all our kids, our daughters in particular, a belief that anything for them is possible, that nothing is out of their reach. I always have a giggle when I see some of those pictures from the 50s reinforcing the traditional stereotypes, so when I saw this picture I couldn't resist. I am not one for absorbing all of the funnies that abound out there and passing them on (my family know not to send any of that to me), but with this one, I couldn't resist.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I was procrastinating!

Yes, I should have been writing but I added this cool countdown to the Golden Heart contest. It looks way cooler than the effort it took to get it working but it is my constant reminder I better get my ass into gear if I want to enter. It's a bit much to count down to the second, but alas I couldn't find one that was any simpler (and every second probably really counts anyway)! I've decided I will enter the ms I wrote last year (once I revise/polish again) AND my current ms (the one I submitted to Harlequin as a partial). I figure this contest is probably the most prestigious one out there for this genre for unpublished authors and I'm going to go at it with both barrels blazing (or both manuscripts hopefully rocking the house). I can't help my over active brain imagining both being finalists and how I could bask in that glory for a long time. How cool would that be?? OK, back to reality with my butt on my seat and actually writing. I'm considering unplugging the Internet for a day (or maybe 10)!

Monday, September 21, 2009

It's a fresh week

It's the start of a new week and I'm feeling like it will be a productive one. I'm a little behind on polishing of my manuscript compared to where I wanted to be but I padded the back of the plan a little so should still be on track. I have been loitering again on the eharlequin forums. I get equally inspired and discouraged when I poke around over there. One the one hand it's great to see others striving like I am and making wonderful progress. On the other it's often discouraging to hear how long some of them have been waiting on responses to submissions to editors. This industry takes forever! I often think if I ever attain enough clout perhaps I can manage to shake some things up a bit and be an advocate for the struggling aspiring author! I guess they say you have to suffer for your art, right? I think all the wonderful ladies on the eharlequin forums more than qualify!

It's now 47 days since I submitted my partial to Harlequin Blaze (not that I'm counting or anything)!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I'm so sure...

My hubby asked the other day what I would do if I got a rejection back on the partial I sent to an editor last month. Keep writing? YES was what resounded through my mind. I've been thinking about it a lot lately and I just know deep in every cell of my body that I was meant to do this, that I am capable of doing it and that I will be successful. I just know it without question. I've never been so certain of anything in my life and I know without any doubt that this is what I want to do with my professional life moving forward. If I get a rejection? I'll be devastated because I know what I sent in was good enough. I may became a victim of our economy with publishers buying less new authors but I just know if I stick with it, I'll get there. The question will be how long will I persevere, how long can I continue to maintain the confident and positive outlook that will keep me going? That, I'm not sure of...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I had a 'me' incident...

Sometimes things happen to me. Odd things. Usually, it's just to me and in many cases no-one else really knows (unless I spill). In other cases its a full body embarrassing moment. I have thought a few times about sharing these on my blog. Sure, they'd be funny but would people really buy the books of someone they might think is well flaky at best and really dumb at worst? At the moment, no-one's reading this blog anyway, right? I figure, why not? I had one of these moments yesterday. It was a normal morning of chaos trying to get the kids off to school. I rushed in to put in my contacts. The first one went in and all hell broke lose. It stung like you wouldn't believe. It was so painful I had my eyes clenched so tight, it was difficult to pry it open enough to get the damn contact out. What could have happened? I concluded I must have had something on my hand; cleaner, bug spray something, but for the life of me I couldn't figure it out. With my eye watering and bright red, I had to wear my glasses to drop the kids off. They kept looking at me. I guess they'd never seen me wear my eyeglasses outside the house before. Anyway, early afternoon I was in the bathroom, my eye still bloodshot and honestly I wasn't seeing very well out of it when it hit me. A few weeks earlier my eldest daughter had gotten her ears pierced. We were going out of town for a few days and I needed to take a small amount of the solution they provided. YEP. You guessed it! I'd had a brilliant idea to save some space! Put some in one of my smaller old bottles of contact lens solution. The night before I'd run out of my large bottle and had found an old travel size bottle. I had soaked my contacts overnight in ear care antiseptic!!!! Guess there's a reason they tell you not to put solutions in incorrectly labelled bottles. Well, the eye is still a little sore but getting back to normal.

It's not just me, right? Others have these things happen to them. Don't they??

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A funny thing happened

It just occurred to me today that I am reading less. Substantially less! I have been reading fewer books and have been reading them a lot slower than I normally do. I usually start a book and have to consume it as quickly as possible. I wonder if its because I'm writing my own that I need to put my energies there or because I don't want to be distracted from MY story and MY characters that I can't 'dilute' them with another author? A NY Times best selling author actually mentioned that at the RWA conference this year during a key note speech and I remember thinking at the time that I could still be true to my own story even if I read someone else's at the same time. Now I'm wondering if I am self (and subconsciously) monitoring and controlling that automatically. I did look at all the great romance titles out by my favorite authors today and felt a bit of a spark but nothing that I felt like delving into immediately. Perhaps my own stories have become enough of an 'out of life' experience that the elements I usually got from reading are now coming from writing? Interesting and something I'll have to observe over time....

Monday, September 7, 2009

Someone else knows....

... that I' m writing romance. My husband mentioned it to another mother at my daughters school. Well, HE sort of knows what I'm doing but nothing about the content. I've never let him read a single word. It's funny that a lot of people will say 'Oh, yeah, I wrote a romance once...'. I've heard that alot. What does it mean exactly? I too was interesting in pursuing that career? Or, it's so easy anyone can do it even in my spare time? At first it was liberating. This successful, corporate woman knew what I was doing and that I was working on something productive. I began to discuss the specifics of my approach to being published, what I had done to be organized about it and how I have been educating myself on the business side of things (which I find so fascinating). Then not so much, especially when she said 'there's no way I could write or read anything like that now without tongue firmly in cheek'. What/why does the think I'm doing it? I can only imagine in dread. Now, I hope she doesn't tell that many people! It would be one thing to be published or know you're going to be published, it's another to discuss your pursuit without any hint that you're going to make it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Life Happens

Well, I had all these amazing intentions once the kids were all back at school of doing a shit load of writing and finally be able to sit down and just get it down. The reality? Far from that! STUFF just happens that gets in the way of devoting myself to my computer, important stuff, time sensitive stuff, kid and school related stuff and writing just seems to be the thing that can too easily be pushed aside. My son just started 4th grade and getting him into the swing of things relative to a substantially changed (and greater) homework schedule had me sitting with him till 10:00 pm last night. I already did school for God's sake! Hopefully once he settles he will get more independent. I sat down today and drafted a calendar for the rest of the month with specific goals marked because I have a draft novel I want to complete by the end of September. I think laying it out like that helped my analytical brain and breaking it into smaller specific goals by every couple of days helped. It sure looked pretty anyway! We'll see how I stick to it and how much more life can interfere with what I want, need, have to do!

BTW, looking at the calendar reminded me that it's almost a month since I sent my partial into the editor. I try not to look, I try not to count and wonder, but it's a losing battle I guess. Maybe, I start a automated counter so I don't have to wonder anymore???

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Waiting is SO hard!

Although intellectually I knew I would not have received a response as yet to my partial submission, I had fantasized of course that my envelope would be so compelling, my story and writing thereafter so gripping she would send a response requesting to read the full manuscript immediately. The waiting is so hard. I want the request to send the rest of the manuscript so bad! What if I get a letter and (for whatever reason) they don't want to see it? Should I then shelve that novel completely and start another one? I have been combing through the story polishing it as much as I can in anticipation of the request. I think I'll enter it in the Golden Heart this year regardless if I get a negative response before the entry deadline. Can't hurt, right? It may just give me the incentive I need to go on and craft another one.

With school back in full swing I had visions of all this amazing time to write, however, I found it difficult this week to get back into the routine of doing that; almost as if I was anticipating countless interruptions that never really materialized. I think I found my groove by Friday so hopefully this coming week will prove to be more productive!

Monday, August 24, 2009

What do you do?

It used to be an easy question for me when someone asked what I did for a living. I had the short answer, the elevator pitch or the really long involved answer that detailed the nuances of my prior career. It sounded impressive. It usually impressed. I stopped that career August of last year but still frequently get asked the question 'What do you do?' I literally choke. When I was at the RWA conference in DC I met many authors. Many of them were so sure, so confident. When I asked what they had published, a lot of them responded that they haven't been published yet. Some of these women had been writing for 10 years! I offered the standard words of encouragement but I was really thinking 'Gosh, I hope that's not me!'. Does that make me a bitch? What do I answer to the dreaded question? If I say I' m a writer anyone would invariably ask what I had published. I would then have to admit that I am not published and does that make me seem lame? They would ask what I write. I'm not sure I'm prepared to share with the general public that I write romance, erotic romance at that. I will often say I write women's fiction. That scares most guys off from further questions. Whatever I say ends up sounding flaky and not at all like a serious pursuit. Anyone have any words of wisdom, any cute comebacks or any specific suggestions?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I am so out there!!

Well, it's been 2 weeks and I'm already anxiously checking the mailbox each day. I got back from a hectic and exhausting 8 day trip to DisneyWorld which managed to take my mind off it. Probably very unrealistic to expect to see anything yet, but maybe the editor will read it, love it so much that she has to write immediately to request the full. Yeah, right. I also really stepped out and entered a couple of contests with the same manuscript I sent to Harlequin. I entered the SF Heart to Heart and The Golden Pen. Both seem like they would provide really great feedback as part of the judging process so I am really looking forward to that. Finalists are announced for both around the end of September so that will add to the anxiety if I haven't gotten a response back by then.

I keep thinking; Is no response better than a rejection? As long as I don't get a response, I can continue to exist in ignorance. Right?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I sent it off...

Well, since I returned from the 2009 RWA conference I have been reviewing, revising and polishing my 3 chapters and writing the dreaded synopsis. I mailed it today. There's relief, trepidation and a lot of anxiety. It was requested material so I know it won't (or shouldn't) end up on the slush pile, but have no idea how long it will take to hear a response. I flip between thinking it's 'OK' to it's 'crap'. I know within about 2 weeks, I'm going to be wanting to check the mail box every hour and am going to drive myself insane. It's hard to push myself onto the next project while I wait, but that's just what I'll do (after a few days downtime)!!

Keep your fingers (and anything else you think might be helpful) crossed for me!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

OMG, Lori Foster sent me an email!!

You all know who Lori Foster is, right? I sent an email out of the blue based on something she had posted on her site. She wrote back in 40 minutes!! I mentioned of course I was an aspiring writer and tried to ensure I sounded like I was serious (because I am Goddamn it)! I have been reading Lori Foster for a couple of years now and love her books. I saw her at the 2009 RWA conference. Although being at the conference demystified these women somewhat for me, she seemed amazing, gracious, friendly and so inspiring. To think she would take the time to respond to my response, in a timely manner and offer wonderful words of encouragement was so heartwarming. I was doing a final read through of the first 3 chapters of a manuscript requested by an editor and having many second thoughts about what a piece of shit it was when her email came back. It brought my confidence crashing back. I finished my review, printed it out and will send it off tomorrow. I included a portion of the email below:

"Don’t ever get discouraged – just remember that most successful authors were in your shoes at one point – determined and very new. LOL


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Romance as 'Respectable' Fiction?

There has been something on my mind ever since the 2009 RWA conference. I heard many authors, agents and editors talk about the acceptance level of romance as respected fiction. All indicated they thought much progress had been made for this genre to be more accepted. Many also indicated that other popular fiction areas such as Mystery and Science Fiction really faced the same issues. I've turned this around and around in my mind and I find I just can't accept that. I come from still male dominated corporate industry. If any of my colleagues had found out I read romance, my IQ in their eyes would have immediately been reduced along with my credibility as an industry professional. That would not have been the case if I had been sprung reading another popular fiction novel. I have even heard discussion about the type of women that must read that crap and I can tell you I'm not overweight, ugly, unmarried and I'm getting laid on a regular basis. I understand why literary fiction might be seen as 'superior' to popular fiction although I might not agree. I think there is still a hell of a long way to go to have romance more widely accepted as a valid genre despite how well it sells. It's going to take alot to smash the perceptions (some grounded back many years ago) around who writes and reads this type of novel and why they do so. It's also not just the men. I once put myself out there and asked a female colleague whether she read romance novels and she replied 'Oh, I don't read that stuff.' We still have a long road ahead and I hope as a published novelist I can really help with this cause. Women have been hiding what they have been reading for long enough!!

Why do you read romance?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I'm Addicted to the Internet!

Hi, my name is Kaily and I'm an addict.....

How did anyone ever survive before email, on-line shopping, social networking and syncing your entire life on your many mobile devices? I have just spent a frustrating few days with intermittent and problematic connectivity. I'm not a surfer (Internet that is), but without it I feel naked and vulnerable. I want it to be there when I need it. Once when we had no power or Internet due to a hurricane, my hubby thought I was crazy when I insisted we get the Internet taken care of FIRST. We had generator power after all, right? Well, the nice guy from the DSL provider was here this morning and promises everything is now fixed. Now perhaps I can focus knowing my lifeline to the world has been re-established.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I'm no longer a 'pitch virgin'!

A couple of weeks out now from the RWA conference held in D.C. and my thoughts keep drifting to the pitch meeting I had with an editor. It lasted for all of 10 minutes and I had to impress her enough such that she would request my manuscript. In my prior life I had delivered many presentations (sometimes to hundreds of people), I had conducted training sessions and had attended many conferences over a 15 year period, but for the pitch meeting I wasn't just nervous, but TERRIFIED. Perhaps because it meant so much to me; before, it was important of course as I considered my career seriously but it was just business. This was just too close to my heart and soul. I prepared meticulously, writing out and discarding a multitude of index cards to assist with the delivery of my 'pitch'. I believe I did OK in the meeting considering I had never ever ever told a single soul anything about what I have written. Did I say EVER? And I had to say it out loud. It probably helped that it was a stranger, a stranger that had heard a lot of strange stuff before I bet. She did ask for my first three chapters after all, but I still wonder if there was something I could have done better or what she really thought of my delivery and style. As I finish the revision of those chapters and prepare to send them off, I look back on the meeting. It could be an invaluable experience that I can file away and which could benefit me for the future pursuit of publication OR it could be an instrumental turning point in the realization of a dream!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Romance Writers of America

I just returned from a fabulous conference in Washington D.C.; the annual RWA conference. Joining RWA was one of the first things I did at the end of last year when I committed to this path. I recognized this was THE organization to belong to if I was serious about writing romance (and I intended to put my money where my mouth is). I have attended many conferences (in career 1 of 2) and was impressed with the professionalism of RWA at the event. I met many wonderful authors and aspiring authors and attended many informative and educational sessions. I even pitched to an editor who asked to see a partial manuscript so I am mad at work editing my first 3 chapters to send in! I had such a great time at the event, I wanted to thank the following specifically:
* Jayne Ann Krentz for helping me encapsulate my own core story
* Stephanie Bond for helping me realize that analytical thinkers can be romance writers too
* Angela Knight for reiterating that it has to be more than just hot sex (although I'd take it in a pinch)

I think my primary take away from the event was that there are all these really wonderful women out there who genuinely care about the books they pour their hearts and soul into and the readers that eagerly await their next work. I can only hope to be as gracious as they are.


Hi, my name is Kaily Hart and I write about unconventional heroes; knights in (not so) shiny armor and heroines who wouldn't choose to ask for help in a million years (maybe they don't even know they need help). This is my journey on the rocky road to learning my craft, finding my voice and becoming a published author (while I still manage my other life). I would love it if you joined me!