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!