Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My Swan Song...Pun Intended

You know how every New Year's Eve there's a countdown on the radio of the top songs of the year? Well, as another year closes and a new one dawns, I decided to jump on the bandwagon. Here is the soundtrack of my year, tentatively entitled, The Soundtrack of My Year (hey, all my creativity is stored up for the manuscripts, okay?):

5. I'm Coming Out by Diana Ross- As Ms. Ross so aptly warbled it, I'm coming out; I want the world to know, got to let it show. This year I busted out of my comfort zone and attended a couple's retreat, formed two new friendships and co-chaired a luncheon. The common denominator between the three is I ripped open that protective shell I keep myself saran-wrapped in and allowed others to see that person I'm so afraid they won't understand or even like. By tearing out of that box, I discovered that not only did they accept and believe in me, but in turn helped me to believe in myself.

4. Step by Step by New Kids on the Block- Aw don't look so surprised! Could Naima Bryant really have a music list and NOT include NKOTB?? Anyhoo, this year has been a series of step. Big steps. Small steps. Leaps. Stumbles. Strides. Skips. But, every one has made me stronger, more knowledgeable, more humble and more focused. The point is whether it was soaring or stumbling, I still moved forward and that's all that counts.

3. Patience by Guns 'n Roses- My husband will no doubt find this one funny. "Patience" and "Naima" is like an oxymoron. But, if there's anything this year of highs and lows has taught me is that this race requires patience--this race towards not only publication, but fulfillment, peace, joy and success. I've learned that even though many people are entered in it, I'm running it in such a way that I'll obtain the dream at the end. In other words, I'm the tortoise. And, it's funny, but I'm pretty much okay with that.

2. (I've Had)The Time of My Life by Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes or "The Dirty Dancing Song"- Last time I checked I hadn't danced the Pechanga with Johnny Castle, but I still had a ball this year. The absolute time of my life. I helped critique a soon-to-be-published manuscript. I participated in writing workshops and learned how to get my characters naked--emotionally and physically. I completed a manuscript. I met Christina Dodd!! I've laughed until my sides ache. I danced with my husband, heard my kids tell me they love me and saw in their smiles that they meant it. I am the most blessed woman I know.

1. Never Would've Made it by Marvin Sapp- This song sums 2008 up in a perfect bow. I never would've made it this far alone. This is perhaps the hardest to write because I'm trying not to be mushy--but, oh hang it! This year I discovered a group of women who looked at me and saw what I didn't. They saw potential, leadership and talent. And, I'll always be thankful to the ladies of Southern Magic for opening my eyes when I couldn't see. I have critique partners who encourage and support me as well as help me to become the best writer possible. I have a family who has never scoffed at my dream. Instead, they've taken it on as their own and do whatever it takes to see that dream come to fruition. And, finally, I have a Father who loves me unconditionally, giving me love, joy and peace that surpasses all understanding.

Monday, December 29, 2008

New Year House Cleaning for Writers

Time to clean house...

Figuratively, because I don't want to disturb the deluxe condos the dust bunnies have created. I do plan to throw away my procrastination, whininess (I do keep a small jar of that up in the cabinet, to examine on really bad days), time wasters like spider solitaire (the death knell for writers everywhere) and negative thoughts.

What will I keep? My accomplishments. This year I have:
  • Managed to complete my first face-to-face pitch (and not totally blow it)
  • Finish a partial and send it off
  • Received a rejection (Hey this is important too!)
  • Wrote half of my book and realized it was all wrong (Plot and character flaws)
  • Replotted the darn thing
  • Started writing again.--Twice

Yes, I realize that I did a lot of back tracking (like re-plotting) when I should be moving forward. I've learned a lot this year, so I want keep the good things out in the open, dusted and shiney up on the mantel--Things like my focus, surrounding myself with supportive people, perseverence, and humor.

What have you learned this year? What will you keep, what will you throw away?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Plans Anyone?

With Christmas over and the new year just around the corner, I’ve already started my writing list for 2009. I’m finishing the synopsis for my last novel this week. In January, I will be rewriting an old book. I have two sequels after that and a fantasy. Wow, that’s a lot of writing ahead of me, but I fully intend to complete those projects, along with losing ten pounds.

What about you? Any writing plans for the new year?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas From All of Me

Subtitled: The Many Voices in My Head Wishes You A Merry Christmas!

All authors have Dissociative Identity Disorder. In other words, they hear voices in their heads and not just one or two, but many. Thankfully authors have learned to deal with the problem by letting the voices tell their stories to the outside world.

Well, some of my voices would like to wish you a Merry Christmas...

“Hi, I’m Mary from THE PREACHER’S SON. While Dusty and Mom are arguing over who gets the last piece of the apple pie I baked, I thought I would wish you a Merry Christmas. Christmas in Alabama is so much more about the true meaning than it was in Las Vegas. Sin City was more about lights and sequins. Anyway, that was then. Now...I couldn’t be happier. So Merry Christmas, everyone.”

“Hey, J.T. here. My story’s in A SHERIFF TO CALL HER OWN. While I’m sitting in my patrol car outside the Sandbox, waiting for Molly to grab her brother and toss him out on his skinny, drunken ass, I figured...” Frowning in disgust, he watched Devlin stumble out of the bar’s double doors and fall to his hands and knees. Molly walked up and shoved her brother to the ground and stood over him, shaking her finger and fussing. Times like these, J.T. was glad he was a teetotaler. “There’s my girl now. I better go and help, so have a safe Merry Christmas and a sober Happy New Year.”

“My name’s Larisa. I spilled my guts in DEADLY TEMPTATIONS or whatever Carla or an editor decides to name it one day. I’ve been taught about many religions and I guess I relate to Christianity the most. Even though there’s a lot of crap about how crosses and holy water can burn vampires. They’re just like you and me, only stronger, sexier and drink blood, and...anyway, Merry Christmas! Gotta go. Triton’s waiting to take me snow sledding tonight. I do have to say, I love making him wait, then he’ll get mad enough to flash some fang! He’s absolutely yummie when he does that.”

“I guess I’m the last one and the oldest of this bunch. I’m Tori. My tale is called THE CHAMPION. Ah, I don’t have much to say. It’s getting late and time to hunt for the perverts out there and make them pay in blood.” A little bit of fang glowed in the dark as she looked over her shoulder. “Sorry. Ah, I mean Merry Christmas! Be sure to hug those you love every day as you never know if you'll get another day with them.” Then she was gone.

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!

**Let your characters wish everyone a Merry Christmas too.**

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Little Early Merry Christmas

Sunday, December 21, 2008

That Mysterious Line

Where is it? That line that marks the end of "no news is good news" and the beginning of "no news means no thanks"?

Don't get me wrong -- I know I'm not there yet. My manuscript has only been gone a couple of months; a blink of an eye in the publishing time-space continuum. But I can't help but wonder that as more time passes without a word, my chances of getting a "yes" from the publisher and agent lessen dramatically.

Does it ever happen? Have you ever heard of a publisher buying a manuscript after having it for months with no communication with the writer?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Grandpa's Dinner

Today is my paternal grandfather's birthday. When my grandmother was alive, we would all meet at their place for dinner. Each year it was the same thing--homemade raviolis, baked chicken, peas and mushrooms in butter and a salad made with peeled tomatoes, lettuce and onions. Grandpa had a bad set of dentures that made chewing the skins on the tomatoes impossible.

There was always a relish tray on the table with black olives and two kinds of pickles. They were cut so that you knew which were the sweet ones (they were cut across rather than on the diagonal). We drank lots of wine since we were old country Italian, with even the children getting a watered down drop in their own stemmed wine glass. Of course we had cake for dessert. It wasn't just any cake, either. It was Grandma's own concoction of German chocolate cake (made from a box mix) with a frosting of whipped cream mixed with a jar of Gerber's baby stewed prunes. Okay, wait, before you say "Ewwwww", try it sometime. It is light and wonderful. It took us many years of pestering to get her to divulge what went in this special treat. Knowing made us pause for all of a second before we dove into seconds.

His birthday dinner was really a lunch. It began at eleven and usually ran all afternoon. No one complained. We sat, we talked, we laughed, and, in the way of all good Italians, we argued politics with a friendly passion. No one took offense, even when we didn't always agree with each others' point of view. We always ended a hotly fought position with, "I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree."

I miss those meals and I miss my grandparents. They're both gone now. I'd give anything for just one more meal sitting time around their table. Much of what I am, I owe to them. Happy 104th birthday, Lorenzo Carlos Alloro.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Prayer of 33-year old Wife and Mother Who Will One Day Use the Bathroom By Herself

Dear God,
Today I rolled out of bed, blinked at the clock and nearly bawled because I couldn't afford that 15 extra minutes of sleep I desperately wanted. I threw on clothes that fit a wee bit tighter than they did the last time I wore them and that cute hairstyle I sported when I left the house evolved into a frizzy afro by the time I dashed through the rain.

My supervisor was tripping. I couldn't break for lunch because of the massive amount of work on my desk and on the drive home, I ended up behind every driver who procured their license through the want-ads. My daughter's name graced the "No Playtime" board--again. And my son wants to give his girlfriend a Christmas card. His girlfriend! He's only 9! So, once I'm home, I enter the one place in the house where I can find peace and solace--the bathroom--only to discover my daughter waggling her fingers at me from under the door before she proceeds to slide everything from my lost earring to her coloring book in the room with me.

So, I ask You, God, why me? If You blessed me with the gift to write, why not work it so we're a single-income family? That way I wouldn't have to work a 9 to 5 job and could concentrate fully on writing. Or, if I have to work , why can't it be simple and hassle-free? Why can't my children be the best behaved in the class, go to bed promptly at 8 pm without any argument and not notice the opposite sex until I'm ready for it. Like when they're 30. In other words, God, if You called me a writer, why didn't You make it easier for me to be one? Why allow so many obstacles, difficult situations and people in my life?

But, wait...I guess if I didn't have the job I wouldn't know how to deal with stress, deadlines and attitudes. My skin wouldn't be as thick. If I didn't have the obstacles I wouldn't know what it is to persevere. If not for the challenging situations squeezing me, I would never discover my faults that I need to work on. Sometimes only under extreme pressure can the layers of coal be burned away to reveal the diamond underneath. If not for my children's "precocious" natures, I would never learn not to take myself so seriously. I wouldn't have laughter.

You know what, God? Never mind. I appreciate every obstacle, because it teaches me patience. And through patience and perseverance, I am discovering experience and a strength of character I never knew I possessed. And, experience gives me hope. Hope that at the end of the day I'm a better person, wife, mother and writer. Thank you, God, for every bump as well as every victory.

You're awesome...and smart. I guess that's why You're You.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Writing the Wrong Way.

I've written 35,000 words and realized I wasn't being true to myself. Ouch.

Have you done that?

I was writing away, painfully, something that I thought "editors" and "agents" and those mysterious "others" would like to read. I was not writing what I liked..but by stars I was going to finish it.

After reading Karen Beeching's blog I realized what I had done--I squashed my inner voice that was telling me "Hey you dolt, this story is not working because you are not writing it correctly!"

It took a writing partner who has been working with me for the last 10 years to tell me gently, humorously, and truthfully--"This is not you".

I agreed.

Now, before I ramble on incoherently, you may ask, what was I writing? I was writing a romance, paranormal specifically. Problem is I don't write romance...oh, I read romance, I like it in my stories, but I don't write romance focused stories. I write suspense and adventure paranormals--ok, its called fantasy. I have to have an element of creepiness along with fully developed characters. Oh, I know you can do that in Romance, but the way I was approaching it was just not me --and you could tell.

That realization took the wind out of me.

I also breathed a sigh of relief. I finally understood why I was dragging my feet, why my hero was two dimensional, and the secondary characters were not fully fleshed out. Worse, I couldn't get a handle on my heroine. She was a voice that you could not relate to (I know I couldn't) who had no reactions other than, "oh!"--boring!

Now I am starting from this point on (right at 35,001) and finishing the story but in the style that is me. I am listening to that inner voice.

Are you?

A side note: I finally have a website, it's a work in progress (especially after what I just wrote), but if you are interested here is the link: http://www.mvfreeman.com/

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Giving Yourself A Break

No, it's not what you think. Not a break from writing, but a break in feeling as though you haven't done enough for your writing. Most of my friends are writers and I talk with them frequently, either via email or on the phone. We chat about all sorts of things, but I've noticed one trend. Many of them talk about what they haven't done as opposed to what they have done. It's rarely, "I'm so proud of myself for finishing that chapter, submitting that manuscript or heck, reading a book or watching a movie." It's usually, "I didn't write, I didn't edit, I didn't submit, etc." And I say, "Give yourself a break!"

Do I concentrate more on what I haven't done than what I have done? You betcha! Therefore I'm including myself in the mix. Today, instead of my 'To Do' list, I'm going to do a 'Ta Da!' list and make myself list the things I've done for my writing this week.

Ta Da!

1) Blogged twice (good exposure)
2) Commented on three blogs (more good exposure)
3) Took an online writing course (taught by the amazingly talented Allison Brennan. Oh man, was this class great!)
4) Read some pages in Blake Snyder's Save The Cat! and Stephen King's On Writing (fantastic books!)
5) Made notes for two more books. (love those ideas that pop up out of nowhere!)
6) Spent several hours on Facebook, making friends, commenting on statuses and reading bios of other authors. (more exposure and a great way to meet authors and readers)
7) Created a new list for my links page on my website (not a lot of fun but a must)
8) Prepared an excerpt to add to my website for RESCUE ME (okay, this was fun!)
9) Fixed some dangling modifiers my copy editor suggested for RESCUE ME (I apparently have a great fondness for these!)
10)Starting signing bookplates to send to a bookseller in Australia who requested them. (I met her on Facebook!)
11)Watched several action movies to help me get a better feel for writing some action scenes. (Mission Impossible and the Bourne movies are my favorites)
12)Watched several romantic movies to help me...well, you know. (Return To Me, Princess Bride and Where The Heart Is)
13)Read several industry articles (very interesting things going on in the publishing industry right now)

There's more, but you get the picture. Yes, I am a writer and my number one priority is writing. However, instead of beating myself up for not writing the fifty pages I had hoped for, I'm going to give myself a break and think about the other positive things I did as a writer.

I know many of you have full time jobs outside of writing and I am in complete awe that you can do that and write too. So, you deserve even more credit. Now it's your turn. List all of the things that you've done for your writing this week. And after you're finished, give yourself a huge pat on the back for being the incredibly talented, energetic and multi-faceted person that you are!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Inner Voice or Hindsight?

Tuesday I was speaking to someone in the counseling profession about communication. He told me about a communication exercise that really got me thinking. While facing you friend/spouse/etc., talk to them for two minutes. At the end of that time, ask them to repeat what you said. This is not only a way to find out if someone is listening to you, but also an exercise to help improve communication in a relationship that may be having trouble.

I’m wondering how I can use this exercise to hear my inner voice better.

When I knew there was no possible way to make the GH deadline, I entered it anyway, only to end up stressed out and crushed when I didn’t quite reach it (for those who know I entered the GH, I finished the book but not the synopsis in time, and the other book not at all).

So when my inner voice is telling me x, y, and z, why am I already pondering my rebuttal of a, b, and c?

My inner voice is never wrong so I’m not sure why I don’t listen to it. Or is this just hindsight and how can one tell the difference?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

It Totally Like...You Know...Blew My Mind, Dude

I’ve blogged about songs that inspire me to write a book. Music has always been a part of my life. And there’s one song I can’t get enough of it. In particular, this one lyric just blows me away. The visual is intense. Any romance writer can understand it.

If Dreams Were Thunder
Lightning Was Desire
This Old House Would’ve Burnt
Down A Long Time Ago
By John Prine

Is your house still standing? Mine’s all ashes flying in the wind.

How about you? What lyric just blows you away every time you hear it?

In the meanwhile, listen to this version sung by Susan Tedeschi. You need to check out her CDs.


Sunday, December 07, 2008

Humbug, Anyone?

I am distracted. Even more than usual. A few weeks ago, Karen blogged about Thanksgiving and asked what we were thankful for. I wanted to answer, but I was so distracted I couldn't think straight. I mean, I know I am grateful for a lot of stuff. I just couldn't articulate it at the moment.

I still can't. I feel myself being pulled in ten thousand directions. I'm worried about my day job. I'm worried about my night job (the one that I took because I'm worried about my day job). I'm worried about my daughter overseas (riots in Greece, poisonous pork in Ireland). I'm worried about my 401K and my day-to-day finances.

And I can't find my Christmas tree. We bought a new artificial one last year, and I don't know where we put it.

There's usually a moment during all the pre-Christmas chaos that the quiet serenity of the reason for the holiday lifts me above all the madness. At that point, I am able to cope.

I'm ready for it. Right now.

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Perfect Christmas Gift

Can't figure out what to get that special someone for Christmas?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

The holidays are the easiest time of the year to describe as a writer. All of us can draw on family traditions that evoke warm feelings, fond memories and happy times spent with family and friends. Sure, holiday time can be hectic. We all try to do too much to enjoy this time of year, but I for one, think that the effort is well worth it.

This year the holiday season is going to be difficult for many families struggling with hard economic times. That doesn't mean that we must stint on those traditions that are meaningful to us. My husband and I were recently reminiscing about our earliest traditions and the talk gradually turned to the new traditions that we have adopted since we moved to Alabama. Challenged to come up with my current favorite holiday ritual, I offered without hesitation, "Standing in the freezing cold,watching the hokey holiday parade in downtown Florence, made up of every decorated fire truck in the tri-city area and waiting breathlessly for...not Santa, but the dogs and puppies from the animal shelter, being led down Court Street with bright red bows around their necks and hopeful looks in their eyes." It just doesn't get any better than this!

What's your favorite holiday ritual?

Monday, December 01, 2008

Stepping Stones

12:01 a.m. December 1st signalled the end of another NaNoWriMo. To those unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. For the month of November, writers undertake the monumental task of writing a novel in a month. Whoever said there's a fine line between genius and insanity must have had all the people who decided to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days in mind!

Call me an underachiever, but I knew when signing up that I wouldn't obtain that lofty 50,000 word goal. I just wanted to break the previous year's showing: 5,000 words. I know. That sounds so dismal! But, so true. 5,001 was my goal for the month of November. Now, if you knew my history, you'd understand why this is huge for me. This year, I experienced a bad break-up with Procrastination. We still cohabit from time to time, but I'm weaning myself off. I also had a parting of the ways with Fear, Low Self-Esteem and Doubt. Oh, we continue to mix it up every now and again, but those times are becoming fewer and farther between. And I emerge less bloody and bruised with each encounter.

I've found a new relationship--or relationships. I guess you can call me poly-amorous. I'm in love with Discipline, Faith, and most importantly, Myself. We're all taking it slow--not having known one another long--but, we're growing and learning one another. Because of my past entanglements and my present relationships, I recognize the importance of setting realistic limits and goals for myself. It's not self-defeating. It's simply saying, okay, I'm not up to this level just yet. But, I can master the place I'm at now. No child goes from crawling to running full throttle. In between is the shuffling while holding on to a table. And then the hesitant walk right before the confident stride. And then--only then--do they run. Right now I'm in between the hesitant and confident walk. And, like a child, I'm grinning over each milestone. And looking forward to running.

Reaching the goal, no matter how modest, is an achievement and a stepping stone. Because it tells me I'm evolving. I'm learning. I'm faithful. I attained 5,001 this year, so I have no doubt that next year I can conquer 10,001 .

My goal for the 2008 NaNoWriMo was 5,001 words.

But...I wrote 8,108.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Big One

Well, I did it.

I got my entry off for the Golden Heart today, and the very nice man at The UPS Store assures me it will be there by deadline on Tuesday.

I don't expect to final, but I'm still pretty proud that I got my act together enough to actually enter.

Did you enter the Golden Heart? Tell us what category (don't tell the name of your ms because some folks might be judges), and let's all send each other cyber high-fives and positive thoughts!

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Poppourri Post

Happy belated Thanksgiving! Sorry I'm a day late in posting. Yesterday was my last day to work on galleys for RESCUE ME. More on that later! Hope everyone had a wonderful day with family and friends and took the time to count your blessings.

Since I have no major blog topic today, here's a potpourri of different items:

1) So I sent my galleys off today, and me, being the obsessive/compulsive writer that I am, had great difficulty with the process. Why? Because this was my last chance to change anything. I thought I had it bad when I was submitting and would rethink and change everything seventy-two times before I sent it off. This is worse! Because I know this is it. No more chances. What's done is done...what's there is there. Oh! My! Gosh! But alas, it's gone and I can breathe an easy, breezy sigh until tomorrow, when I start back on my WIP. Yay!

2) I confessed several weeks ago that I have some major procrastination issues and that I've discovered several ways to feed this habit. This week, I found a new one. And quite honestly, it's been a valuable learning experience. I have discovered...drum roll please...People are different! How about that? Who would'a thunk it?

So how did I come across this miraculous information? Amazon, that's how. I was perusing the site, as I often do, and found several discussions going on. One topic that caught my eye was "The Worst Romance Book You've Ever Read". I clicked on, thinking I'd find a few obscure titles and it would pass the time for about five minutes or so. Oh my, was I wrong. I've spent way too much time reading people's comments. Turns out the worst book some people have read are some of my favorites! In fact, two or three are in my top ten favorite books of all time. Go figure!

3) My name was mentioned in Romantic Times Magazine. Yay! Page 10...under the New Year in Novels. My first time, and possibly my last, but what fun to see it!

4) I'm still working on my website, adding and changing things almost weekly. My covers are up. Yay! They're still not finalized, but they're close. Also, I've added a blog. If you have time and the inclination, please stop by and say hello. Feeling very lonesome over there!

5) The economy is hurting everyone, including bookstores and publishing. No big news there. But I'm going to do my little bit by buying books as presents this year. Made a little contribution today and will continue to scour bookshops till Christmas. Very challenging to find presents for non-readers in the family, but I'm determined to do as much as I can. And, what can I say, being in a bookstore just makes me happy.

So, there it is, my potpourri of little things. Feel free to respond to all of them, one of them or heck, feel free to add more.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Giving thanks...

We're only two days from Thanksgiving and I’ve been so busy writing lately I hadn’t given thought about what I might blog about today. I decided to share with everyone what I'm thankful for this year (regarding writing). Something happened two years ago, and BLAM, I stopped reading and writing. Just like that, I lost interest in both my favorite passions, and to this day, I’m not sure why. It was devastating, which sounds odd because one would think I could just pick it back up. I forced myself to read and couldn’t manage to finish a book. I started writing several times and couldn’t get past the first chapter. I truly did not know what to do to get my passion back. Even my husband was worried because I was slipping into a depression without those loves in my life.

For some reason this summer I found my interest in both again. Just like that, BLAM, there they were. I honestly never knew how much I lived for these passions, how much they drive me daily just to get out of bed, until they were gone. Cliché, I know, but there it is.

What are you thankful for?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Huh?

I usually don't comment on hot topics, but I'm a little baffled by a few things. Everyone knows how much I want to be published. I've done everything I believe is right in the way of getting published. 1) I write all the time. Completing books and sending them out to contests and editors/agents. 2) I network, going to conferences, hanging with like-minded published/unpublished authors, talking with editors and agents. 3) I read what I want to write. This will let me know what is out there and what editors are looking for (with my own personal twist). 4) I have web presence to get my name out there, includes a website, blogging, and writing articles for my local chapter's newsletter. 5) I study my craft by reading books and articles on writing and attending my local chapter's meetings.

So I expect one day soon I'll get that all important call that will be followed by being a published author. Because I'm a member of the RWA, my member status will changed to PAN (Published Authors Network).

Now for the hot topic, I was reading on another blog about some wording RWA changed on the RITA awards. They claim it boils down to ebooks vs. printed. (If you email me privately I'll give you the link, otherwise, I rather not attach it to this for now. Everyone has a right to their opinion.) I'm a firm believer there are two sides to every story and I've only heard one. Since I remember last year’s (or was that year before last) discussions on various loops and blogs about the change RWA made on PAN membership of "recognized" to "eligible", I know a lot of misinformed and blown-out-of-apportion observations were made then and I’m pretty sure they were made this time.

Several of the comments on the blog were from former members of RWA saying they had dropped out of the organization because epublished authors were being discriminated against. I’ve heard that song and dance before. I’m not a epublished author, but I read them. Does that count in knowing what I’m talking about? No? Then let me say, I’ve been discriminated against because I’m female, white or overweight. I understand what is perceived as discrimination can hurt. Everyone at one time or another, if not every day, has experienced it. But sometimes what is perceived is not always directed at you. It can appear to be but until you have the whole picture, you may be wrong.

My baffled part is if you’re satisfied with who you’re published with (epublished, POD or whatever), why does it matter if RWA recognizes you as published? I assume it’s because of the RITA. I understand how a RITA can make the difference in being acknowledged by other writers and even editors and agents, but it’s not the be all, end all if you don’t win or even final. I guess it can make your sales improve if you only have a 500 or 5000 print run. Then again I rather “win” the title of NYT best selling author. I know Linda Howard and Sherrilyn Kenyon and many other NYT best selling authors never won a RITA and may never have been a finalist. RWA doesn’t show finalists on their webpage.

But when it comes to being PAN or not being PAN, I believe the benefits are not that much different than being PRO or a general member. Sure you can’t go to some of the workshops at National. Considering I’ve only been able to afford one National conference, I don’t believe it mattered. I go to more and sometimes better workshops at local conferences. Heck, I get more editor/agent appointments at the local conference too. Sure as a PAN member, you get to be on the internet loop with other published authors. Whoopee-do.

I guess a lot of this uproar has to do with ego and what that certain person believes is fair. Everyone repeat with me, LIFE AIN’T FAIR! If it was, I would’ve been published twenty-five years ago with my first book. But thank goodness I wasn’t because it was a stinker.

For those who are PAN, besides declaring to other RWA members you’re published by an eligible publishing house and what it means to your ego (and we all have an ego and it’s okay), what does it do for you? Just curious. And those who are not published, besides the declaring and ego thing, what does it mean to you? Remember, I'm talking about the PAN part, not the published part.

Oh, if you’re wondering if I’m PRO. Yes. Why was it important for me to send in the paperwork for that? 1) I get editor/agent appointments whenever I go to National conference before general membership. 2) I got the cool little pin. 3) Self-satisfaction in knowing I’m really working toward the goal of getting published. If not for 1) and 2) number three would’ve been plenty.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Time & the Holidays

What is your plan for the Holidays?

I know it's a time of family and giving thanks and celebration. But, the big question is are you going to write? I have a friend who is going to take the Holidays off to just relax, no stress, and refrain from writing because she needs the break. Will you?

I have to confess I am planning to write. Oh, it won't be great amounts, but just bits and pieces because it is time for togetherness. But, when the togetherness gets stifling, and I've had way too many servings of pecan pie (yummm) I am going to whip out my lap top and get to work. Why? because I need to. I have to..and really I don't have any other time. --speaking of Time-if you got any to spare, I'm buying; and yes, I am still looking for that space time continuum, for some reason it is eluding me!

What is your opinion or your plans? To write or not? Tell me why?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Finding An Agent

Finally, I squelched my fear of submitting my completed ms, my baby, to agents. Imagine my happiness when one of the agents I submitted to sent a letter asking to read the full on an exclusive basis. I immediately sent the book no questions asked. I am a novice - no really - it is stamped on my forehead! Anyway, apparently exclusives are not the smartest idea. I had no idea I could not even query other agencies while this one was reading my ms on an exclusive! i still don't understand this. What's a girl to do? I should have read an agent hunting book before delving into the fray! After submitting to the agent with the exclusive read, I got another full request from another agency, also wanting an exclusive read. Is this normal or is it just me?

Another problem is that I don't know much about either agency besides the fact that they were both on RWA's updated agent list. What if the first agency actually wants to rep. me? I have no idea what to do. Should I ask them for time to think about it and send it to the next agency and try to query some more? I know this may not sound like a problem to some of you, but I have been told a bad agent is worse than no agent. I don't want to make a mistake! Now, I can add this to my list of worries. The list is LONG!!

These are good worries. At least someone has wanted to read more. Yea!!! Does anyone have any sound advice?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Yes, I'm Thankful!

Woe is me, is the often heard complaint in these hard economic times. That is especially true when your day job revolves around the real estate market. Friends are losing their jobs, finding that their companies are closing and faced with the prospect of looking for employment during the holidays when retail operations aren't hiring. Certainly that news is bleak and a cause for alarm when bills loom on the horizon, but we still aren't nearly as bad off as many in the world.

I am concerned about the lackluster economy but I have a respite when things seem too bad. I can sit down at my computer and work on my manuscript. For a few hours I become lost in my plot. I am living the lives of my characters and concentrating on their emotions. I am impervious to what is happening in the real world and have stepped into theirs, embracing the details of their existence as if it were a lifeline. I find I write best at these times. I realize that it is an escape mechanism, but unlike chocolate, there are no calories.

Somehow, when writing like this, I begin to relax and when I am finished, everything is in perspective. I realize that I am healthy, I am privileged to live in a wonderful country where women are treated equally with men, I have food to eat, family I love and friends nearby. My life isn't so bad after all! I am thankful.

Maybe that is the reason that we are challenged. It's pretty hard to remember how well off we are when we don't have anything to compare it with. So, I say to all you political pundits, preaching doom and gloom--start writing a novel. Maybe, you too, will find perspective.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Less Than One Week to Enter

****Permission to forward******

2009 Linda Howard Award of Excellence

Sponsor: Southern Magic, Inc.
Fee: $25 - $30
Postmark/Electronic deadline: Saturday, November 22, 2008
Eligibility: not published in novel-length fiction in category entered in last 5 years
Entry: First 25 pages of manuscript

Categories/Final Judges:

Contemporary Series Romance (Long & Short)
– Susan Litman, Editor, Harlequin
Single Title
– Selina McLemore, Editor, Grand Central Publishers
Historical
– Alicia Condon, Editorial Director, Dorchester
Romantic Suspense
– Megan McKeever, Associate Editor, Pocket Books
Unique Genre (Fantasy, Future, Time Travel & Paranormal)
– Melissa Singer, Editor, Tor
Romantic Sensual and Sizzling (Erotica)
– Raelene Gorlinsky, Editor, Ellora’s Cave
Inspirational
– Tina Colombo, Editor, Steeple Hill
Young Adult
– Jennifer Heddle, Editor, MTV Books

Top Prizes: First place will receive $25, a metal bookmark with name, contest and year. Second to fifth place will receive a certificate. First to fourth place will have their names printed in the RWR

For more information, rules and entry form, please visit our website at http://www.southernmagic.org/lindahowardcontest.html

Saturday, November 15, 2008

GMC. No, not the car!

Every writer, published or unpublished, adheres to the formula of GMC: Goal. Motivation. Conflict. It's like the E=MC² of a writer's world. When I started writing with the goal of becoming published, the only GMC I'd ever heard of was the van my sister and I shared during college! Even now, years later, I struggle with it. What does my character want to achieve? What drives her to keep reaching for this goal? And, finally, what internal or external pitfalls try to prevent her from attaining the goal? Whew! Who knew writing was so much more than putting words to paper!

So, that started me thinking...what is my GMC? Short term, it goes a little something like this:

Goal: To get my husband to sleep under the covers instead of on top.
Motivation: The thought of remaining warm a whole night through.
Conflict: His hot nature and my cold nature. He gets hot very easily, therefore his need to sleep on top of the covers while I wrench my arms out of socket trying to pull the bedspread up from under his dead weight.

We've been married eight years so I know from experience this will work itself out somewhere around Spring. But, my long term GMC is different. My goal is to become a published writer. My motivation is one day having a career I love instead of just a job that pays the bills. My conflict is that voice that whispers words of doubt and discouragement about not being good enough. Or being too shy. Or not being creative or smart enough to come up with idea after idea for manuscripts. It's the fear of succeeding. My conflict can keep me paralyzed, fingers hovered over the keyboard and unable to write for days at a time.

But, as in all romance novels, there's resolution. There's resolution in knowing that if I keep pushing, pressing towards that goal, the same God that imprinted the gift on my soul in the first place will provide all that I need when I need it--whether it's words, courage, the gift of gab or creativity. As long as I keep putting my hands to where I am now, perfecting and increasing what I was given, nothing in this world is impossible and unattainable.

Goal. Motivation. Conflict. It keeps the writer focused. But, the resolution keeps you hopeful.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Things I've learned This Week

I like to learn, I hate to study. Sometimes that is a combination that lends itself to some painful lessons.

Here are a few things I’ve learned in the last week or so I’d like to share:

  1. I can safely write at least 1700 words a night. This is doable. Now I have no excuses! NaNoWriMo has really helped me with this.
  2. I'm surprised to see that my story is turning out to be a single title—actually that depends on the time of day sometimes my story is not a single title because I’m convinced I’ve written too much drivel. (Today it’s drivel, tomorrow something else)
  3. Which leads me to this little truth: My inner critic never really shuts up. It can mumble at times, but it still lingers, much like a bad fungus. I know one woman who named hers Edgar. I think I’ll call mine Herman or Snot….
  4. I've also learned that there are people who can walk faster than I run. (Ok, so I trained to run a 5K. I did it, but really, there was no room for pride here. I had ten year olds and at least one seventy year old out run me).
  5. I finished the 5K….so that means…I can finish the darn book.

    What truths have you learned lately? Good or bad?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Revisions, and Edits and Galleys...Oh My!


Guess you can tell that I have some news. Major squee moment! What do you think?

The last two weeks have been extremely full. I received my first cover flats. They're still being fine tuned, but I must say that as pretty as this cover is, the actual paper cover is even better. It's gorgeous...all glossy with raised lettering and the color is so deep and vibrant. I'm completely thrilled! I'll post the other two beautiful covers soon.

Just as I was finishing up my revisions for my third book, I received my line and copy edits for my second book and galleys for my first book. Major squees and then some triple heart pounding. Wow, this is getting really real!

I sent off my revisions, then hunkered down in my office for five days and worked on my edits. I mailed them out yesterday. Whew! Then treated myself to a vanilla milk shake and a trip to the bookstore. Do I know how to celebrate or what?

Now I'm working on my galleys and that's so interesting. They're printed sideways, like a book, with pages side by side. I have a couple of weeks to get them finished up, but since this is the last opportunity for any kind of change, it's going to require very careful and numerous readings.

Also, I'm supposed to be doing NaNo but haven't even started yet. My goal is to start on the 15th. Really it is. Honest! How's everyone else doing on NaNo or their writing goals?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Deadlines

Now I’ve done it.

I entered two manuscripts in the Golden Heart this year, knowing I would have time to make significant changes to both (I had an entire month ahead of me after all).

Shortly after I sent in my Paypal and registrations for the Golden Heart, my health failed. Emergency surgery put me in bed for at least a week, unable to do anything but sleep and heal. Since then, I've looked at one of these manuscripts and realized I couldn’t save anything from it except the first chapter. Wow. Now I’m suddenly in my own self-imposed book-in-a-month race, and I’m slowly losing my mind from the stress of it.

The bad news is—I have to admit I'm a bit of a wreck, desperate for sleep and peace of mind from this constant creativity that I can’t seem to turn off. Yes, it needs to shut off so I can sleep at least four hours.

The good news is—I’ve realized I can write again. I found my voice in my last book and in rewriting this current book (I’ve done a polished 40,000 words in two weeks), the ideas come quickly, the pace stays constant, and I’ve rediscovered my love of the craft. I’m in love with this new book and I'm thoroughly enjoying the process of finishing it.

I now realize I work best with deadlines, and I have to tell you it was a shock to discover.

How do you do with deadlines? Do you focus and write better or does your creativity come to a halt?

Friday, November 07, 2008

What Is Romance?


Dictionary.com reads “a novel or other prose narrative depicting heroic or marvelous deeds, pageantry, romantic exploits, etc., usually in a historical or imaginary setting.” That was the most common definition at number one. Number four was “a baseless, made-up story, usually full of exaggeration or fanciful invention.” Encarta Dictionary said something similar. Same as Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary.

Hmmm, I believe there's a trend here. Are you feeling that the definition needs updating?

Well, American Heritage Dictionary has got it together. It reads “1.a. A love affair, b. Ardent emotional attachment or involvement between people; love...” BINGO! By George, I think they got it!

Why are these definitions so important? One, I look up words on Dictionary.com often and depend on it to get them right. Two, I overheard a reader say romance was sex. I disagree.

Sex is a by-product of romance. Most of the time. I believe there can be romance without sex. Just as you can have sex without romance. (Yuck!)

Romance is the best part of the books I love to read. The emotions, the way the man and woman become attached to each other. The need to be closer, to connect, even if it is only to hold hands. Or maybe they can’t touch, can’t be together. The hunger in their eyes, the wary glance, the need to hear a voice or brush shoulders. The gentleness in their tone when they say that special someone’s name. The tremor in their fingers when they finally touch for the first time. The way they sacrifice a part of themselves to be together.

Oooh, romance.

There’s nothing more satisfying to read.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Wow.

(Warning: Blog is not writing related.)

Regardless of who you voted for in the Presidential election, thank God you voted. 

And had the right to vote. 

Although it was remarkably historic--and I do not discount that one bit; I still get goose bumps when I listen to Barack Obama's speech--what we experienced last night in theory was the peaceful transition of power in our government. That is what I am most grateful for today.

Cue music. I'm really proud to be an American.

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Big Push

I feel like I am a runner in a marathon or a swimmer on the last lap, desperately trying to call up my inner reserves and give the last big push to win the race. I foolishly thought entering the Golden Heart would be a piece of cake. My book was finished, so I did not foresee any problems. He, he, he! What I have learned is there is a huge difference between having your book completed and having your baby exactly as you want it. I mean, I certainly don't want anyone looking at my manuscript and catching any typos, plot errors, senseless words, or heaven help me, being bored because the story did not flow. What began as a simple contest entry has turned into an editing marathon. I have been working my fanny off to get my chapters edited to perfection, so that I can send my book with pride and know if it does not place it was not because of my lack of editing! What I have learned, from this yet to be completed experience, is that you are not even closed to finish when you write the last words of your novel! Keep your fingers crossed. I am on chapter 16 with 8 left to edit. I sincerely hope I make it!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

A Love Story - Something Different

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Today's the Day!

It's our annual Readers' Luncheon.

If you've never been, let me describe what you are going to miss. There are over 100 fans converging on the Homewood Public Library to meet some of their favorite authors. Each author will host a table; giving these readers a chance to talk to them while enjoying a great luncheon.

If that isn't enough, the guest speaker is New York Times best selling author, Christina Dodd. There are also fantastic door prizes (many of which were contributed by the authors in attendance), and a book sale and signing that is open to the public.

If you are in the area, and want to try to get a ticket. Stop by a little before 11 a.m. We still have five seats available. No promises now, but you may get lucky and get a seat.

I'll give you an update of what you missed later this evening.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Things that Make You Go..."Wow"

You ever have one of those moments where you just go, "Wow, that's awesome"?

Well, I had one of those recently. A few days ago, my father and I were talking about his Bible Study class. They'd discussed John the Baptist and how he was the forebearer, pointing people towards Christ. John recognized that he must decrease so Jesus could increase. Then, Daddy said to me, it's the same for you as a writer.

So, I'm quiet, right? 'Cause he's comparing me as a writer to John the Baptist and the last time I checked no one with the initials J.C. was related to me. And I know with a certainty I'd had Special K for breakfast, not locusts. But, he repeated, you must decrease so those you write for can increase.

This talent for taking a nebulous idea, molding and shaping it into a story that engages the mind and the heart is a gift. But, unlike a birthday or Christmas present, this gift is not just for our satisfaction or success...it's for others.
We don't write only for ourselves. If we did, we would all be satisfied with hiding manuscripts under our mattresses and leaving them there. But, every writer I know desires to be published, because they want others to read their books. Why? Money? Sure, that's one reason. But many will tell you they want to bring joy, peace, and wonder to a reader's world.

In order to give this to someone else, we have to willingly sacrifice. And not just our time, but our sweat, labor and often tears. Sometimes we have to bare our souls in ways that aren't comfortable--we have to come out of hiding and show a little flesh. Imagine delving into the mind of an abused child who grows into a woman brave enough to confront the pain of her past so she can grab a future that offers healing and love. For a writer to immerse herself into the soul of that child and write about the events that shaped her is hurtful. Why would she willingly do it? Because through the story of a fictional woman who survived a tragic past, she can help heal the reader who dealt with the same issues and show her that love and wholeness is possible. We write to lighten the burden of someone else. We write to encourage,to bring laughter, to bring hope. We decrease--giving of ourselves--so others can increase and be lifted up.

So, that's my "Wow". And, thanks, Daddy, because it sure was awesome.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wrapping Up Loose Ends

It's getting close.

November 1st and the start of NaNoWriMo. I'd like to say I'm getting it all together (cue the hysterical laughing) but I am trying. First, I have a few things to wrap up that I have started on this blog.....

First One: I wrote a blog on stopping whining....and I wanted to post the results, and basically, some days are better than others. I am trying not to focus on what bothers me or how "bad" I perceive things to be. Life happens, and you have to push forward. I fall sometimes and drop into a full blown whiny mode, then I have friends that set me straight! (Thanks Guys!)

Second thing: Moving forward: Well, that's why I am doing NaNoWriMo, to push me forward. Hey anything helps.

Third thing: WRITE

Fourth thing: MEET THE BLOODY DEADLINE (that's going to be another blog!) Apparently, I am having issues with this.

OK, so perhaps I didn't have a "Huge" list of wrapping things up...but we all have them.

Now, what do you need to wrap up before you start a huge push on writing? Is is arranging child care, extra days off, or just plotting?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Alpha Male

The last minute of the video is worth waiting for...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Twilight

Thought you might be interested in this...

Friday, October 24, 2008

What Do Men Want?

Karen is having surgery today and asked me to fill in for her on the blog. We’re thinking about you, Karen, and keeping you in our prayers.

As I probably mentioned before, I enjoy Stephen King’s articles in Entertainment Weekly. His humor, intelligence, and plain ol’ horse sense always makes me think and see things from another prospective. Now, it doesn’t mean I agree with everything he says, but I usually learn something new.

Last month his article was “What a Guy Wants.” You can imagine it caught my eye. I’m all the time wanting to infuse in my book what guys want, along with how they think and react to certain situations. Well, we know what all men want...but this article had to do with reading material.

One aspect I find in all of Mr. King’s articles is his respect for women writers. He tells us the publishing industry believes the male readership is shrinking, and because of that, editors are looking for the next breakout female writer. Then he points out “seven out of 10 New York Times hardcover fiction best sellers were by women” in the last week of August. (Click Here to See.) Our own Sherrilyn was Number 3 then; the week before she’d been Number 1.

Then he went on to say women objectify men, as men do women in fiction. I agree we can do that at times. He also says men want the same thing women do when they read, “escape and entertainment.” True.

He talks about how many recent male writers have included female secondary characters who are more than sex kittens a.k.a. James Bond’s BHB (Before Halle Berry) babes.

Okay, I know you’ve been waiting for me to tell you what men want in books. As Mr. King said, “...men like to imagine going to war against an army of bad guys with a Beretta, a blowtorch, and a submachine gun (grenades hung on the belt optional).” LOL! I love men.

Ooh-rah!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

One Long Summer

I bet all of us at one time or another stared at billowy piles of clouds drifting on a sunny day and fabricated in our mind’s eye snowmen, elephants, dogs, and magnificent castles. As a child, heck, even as an adult, it is one of my favorite pastimes.

My childhood was one long summer. It’s funny but I don’t remember a lot about school but the summers I remember in clear detail. Playing in the woods, building tree-limb forts, catching lightin’ bugs, minnows and tadpoles, climbing trees, and floating in Smith Lake on a Beany and Cecil float. Cecil was my favorite sea-sick sea serpent.

We spent our summers and a lot of fall and spring weekends at that lake. I would gaze at the dark green water, imagining large man-eating catfish and waterlogged coffins--all depending on what tales old Mr. Hightower would entertain me with that day. My sister and I found Indian arrowheads by the red wagon loads. I always wondered why watermelons didn’t pop up in the yard like dandelions after we had one of our seed spitting fights.

At night, bonfires next to the lapping water were for ghost stories, singing and burning marshmallows. Lights from other homes would shoot across the moving water, giving my imagination more fuel as I speculated about the lives of the people on the other shore. Laughter was magnified by the vast openness of the water and the cicadas’ song filled the air, lulling me to sleep each night as I curled up in the top bunk with my little roll-out window open.

Ahh, with a childhood like that, how could I not be a writer?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Writus Interruptus

Last night, I was totally immersed in editing the big ol' love scene in my WIP. I was at the sweaty bodies part when the phone rang. I had been expecting a call from my husband and came sooooo close to picking up the phone and saying, in my huskiest voice, "I want you. Right now." Thank God I didn't. It was my mother-in-law.

Come on, 'fess up. What kind of interruptions have you experienced while writing "that" scene?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I'm Late and I'm Spiraling!

First, I have to say a big I'M SORRY! Yesterday was my day to post, and I totally dropped the ball. I was in Tuscaloosa all day at the Alabama football game and when I got home we celebrated my birthday. I'm so sorry, though!

I thought when I actually finished writing my book, my life would start to feel more normal again, but after the last two weeks I have come to the conclusion that perhaps my life is just crazy! I stay up until 12:30 every night making edits and checking facts, and working on my query letter and synopsis. I think I have realized that if I am really dedicated to getting published and writing this just has to be how my life is. The scary part is I love it. I am thriving on the craziness even though at moments I feel like I am in a whirlwind.

To add to everything I am trying to juggle, I recently discovered an RWA group just for historical writers and that linked me to a historical chat group which put me in touch with my new critique group, something I desperately needed. Needless to say though, I now have to read through about fifty e-mails a day and this takes time of which I have precious little. I now am trying to edit my own chapter, work on my synopsis, research potential agents, and critique and edit other people's work. But I would not change a thing.

I do wonder is it just me or do we all do this to ourselves? Do you think all great writers, painters, actors etc. find it hard not to completely emerge themselves in their craft?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Marketing Monster

How are you at marketing what you write?

When I first started writing I didn't consider marketing myself or my work. I had a romantic's view of the creative process. A talented soul (me, I hoped), would be sitting at her scarred desk (probably antique, 18th century, no doubt), toiling by fading candle light over the next great novel. Spinning this wonderful story would provide fulfillment, enrichment and great satisfaction to my creative sensibilities. I didn't once consider how it would find its way to the published realm.

Enter, Romance Magicians and reality. Now, I realize that I must work to get my manuscriptive published. Yikes!! Where did the romance go?

Recently, I went to the M & M conference. It was a great experience but I realized that I had not looked at it as a marketing opportunity. Of the three of us who went, only Carla was poised from the get go to market herself and her book. She talked to everyone she knew (and some she didn't) introducing herself to them and networking. I have to tell you that I was impressed and a bit fatigued. She never quit. Finally, it spurred me to action. I forced myself to get into the swing of things. I saw the direct result of this networking when we made contact with Gannon Carr of RomanceNovel.TV--it works. We met an interesting lady who is coming to see our chapter in action at our Reader's Luncheon.

Now, I am more aware of self promotion. I look to see how others have used it in this industry. Yesterday, I ran across a website that impressed me. Check out: www.doreenorion.com. On this website she promotes her book, Queen of the Road. It is a funny, clever website and it made me purchase the book as a birthday present for my sister. I guess her site did what it was supposed to do.

I am now a believer. Are you living up to your marketing potential?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Dear John...

These will be the hardest words I've ever had to write. Because I'm leaving you even as I can't imagine a day without you. Every step, every goal, every dream...you've walked right by my side, hand in hand. We've been friends, partners. You've comforted me when I've failed and have been the one to pat me on the back when I've succeeded in spite of insurmountable odds.

We're closer than close, you and I.

We're intimate.

But, the truth is I can't afford you any longer. You're the worst narcotic. My drug of choice. I've told myself time and time again that I'm going to give you up...and yet, I find myself drawn to you, picking you back up like a ratty knapsack even as I despair over our relationship. We've been together for so long that I can't see a you without me and a me without you--I don't know what I look like without you. But, I have to find out. See, I can't grow with you. I can't become the person I was meant to be, to accomplish the things I've dreamed of with you by my side.

You're the enemy of my destiny.

So, I'm leaving. Cutting you off. Cold turkey. I'm sure we'll have chance meetings--maybe even a relapse--but from every brush with you, I'll come away stronger and more determined to see what I can be without you.

Good bye, my friend, my Procrastination.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Don't Miss It!

RWA Southern Magic
5th Annual Romance Readers’ Luncheon


CHRISTINA DODD

November 1, 2008

Go to http://www.southernmagic.org/ for more information

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Triumph, Tragedy, & Travel

Triumph, those things that encourage, inspire, and make us feel good.
Tragedy, this makes us (0r me) appreciate the triumphs.
Travel, something that helps me see the world, and give me perspective.

So, what is my Triumph---I have been asked to write an article for a gaming magazine, it doesn't matter that I haven't even played a role playing game for over 20 years. It still makes me feel good that they think I can.

My Tragedy--I was given a glorious rejection by Nocturne. Form letter. Yay. (OK, so I am still in the sarcastic mode). I'm brushing it off, I am moving forward. Many of you have written about being positive and to just hang in there and WRITE --I am embracing those thoughts and implementing them.

Finally, Travel.
I survived, my children survived, my husband survived. Now, I need a vacation from this vacation--and no, I did not get ANY writing done. I'll just use my "ruminating" excuse. Still, it helped me appreciate home and my writing time.

So what is your Triumph, Tragedy and Travel? :)

Carla, thanks for the idea you had about when to post our blogs. This will definitely help me, because I am notoriously late or early ......

Friday, October 10, 2008

An Interesting Week

If anyone read my comment on Karen's blog, then you'll know my mind is a bit weary this week. So beware, the following blog is a bit of a ramble.

It seems weeks go by and there's relative quiet. Nothing going on but my self-imposed goals. And then, it all starts coming together.

Here's what's been going on in the last few weeks. I received final approval on my back cover copy. I'm very excited about this, not only because I can add them to my website as the 'official' blurbs, but mostly because when I read them, I think, wow, they sound like the kind of books I'd want to read. Guess that's a good thing...huh?

All three of my books are up for pre-order. Seeing my name on websites like Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Borders was a very 'squee' kind of moment. The release date for the first one is four days before my birthday. The release date for the second one is four days before my husband's birthday. I think I already know what we're getting each other for our birthdays. The third book's release date is June 23. Anybody got a birthday close to that?

Last Wednesday afternoon I received line and copy edits for my first book. I'll admit, I was scared. I'd never done this before and as I flipped through the pages, the task seemed insurmountable. Thanks to my friend, the ever wonderful, Jennifer Echols, who calmed me and told me about my dictionary with edit/proof-reader marks, I tore into it. Over the next five days, I read through my entire manuscript about six to seven times. And though I was tired and bleary-eyed, I could really see how much better the manuscript was and am happy to have had that experience.

On Tuesday, I received mock ups for my covers. It was a very surreal feeling to see my name on the cover of a book. Another BIG 'squee' moment. I loved almost everything about them. My agent and I talked with my editor and we all agreed on some changes. I've been told that new ones are on the way. Can't wait!

Today, I spent hours reviewing my new website with my web designer. Thanks to the multi-talented Carla Swafford, who has helped me tremendously in so many ways, not least by putting up my very first site, which I still love, I felt much better informed to talk about what I wanted and what I liked. It will be weeks before it will be up, but I'm excited about the look of it.

Not really sure where I'm going with this, other than to say the last few weeks have been busy, but enjoyable. Line and copy edits are coming in a couple of weeks for my second book and in the meantime, my editor has asked me to fix a few things on my third book. So, it's all coming together and even though each new event is somewhat scary and new, I'm loving every minute of it.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

That gives me an idea

Most of my book ideas develop from ordinary events. Take for instance this morning when someone began frantically knocking on my door at 7:00 am. Frantically! Our front door has a window so I quickly spotted my neighbor who needed a cat carrier for an injured cat she found this morning and planned to take to Emergency. But that got me thinking...what if I didn’t have a window on my front door? Would I open the door if someone frantically began knocking at 7:00 am? What if I heard a young girl’s voice asking for help? What if I heard an adult man’s voice asking to use the phone? Do I open the door? Do I yell through the door? Do I call the police?

One knock and my mind went into overdrive. On a good writing day, two hours after that knock I may have mapped out a book.

Where do you get your ideas? Song lyrics? Dreams?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Thinking Positive Takes Help

A little over a year ago, depressed with my writing and how long it was taking to break into publishing, I knew my attitude needed to change. What editor or agent wants to talk to a Gloomy-Gus? As I do whenever I’m trying to deal with any unknown area in life, I look for a book on the subject. So I was looking though the inspirational section of Wal-Mart and found The Secret. The book itself was beautifully designed but I purchased the CDs as I’m more apt to listen to self-help books in audio while driving to and from work. I rather read romance in my spare time when I’m not writing.

Now it was a little new age-y but the message was positive and, from everything I read and heard elsewhere, right. It basically said you can have anything you want (money, friends, health, material goods, status, etc.) if you believe you can. And you should start everyday being grateful for what you have and what you will have.

So I started applying the principles with a little revision for my faith and I realized my attitude improved. Then in June I received an unexpected rejection and my spirits fell. Now I knew my depression wasn’t no way as deep as it could’ve been if I wasn’t thinking, working on being positive. Though I do admit it was hard to stay on the path. But it wasn’t just the CDs, it was also the many friends I had in my writing group.

Friends really make the difference.

They’re the ones who email you and ask if you’re okay and tell you when you ready to talk about it, they’ll be there. They’re the ones who tell you when a line in your book is the best they'd ever read and make you believe it. They’re the ones willing to listen and join in your contest judge bashing. They’re the ones who cheer you on when you picking up your not-number-one certificate and make you feel like you’re the next Nora Roberts. They’re the ones who buy you champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries (along with cake) and stay up to two in the morning listening to oldies and talking about old boyfriends and make you feel young again!

And they’re the ones you make a pact to continue to be friends with even when we’re all highfaluting New York Times bestselling authors.

I raise my glass, filled with love and appreciation, to the very best friends I ever had in my life! This is to you, JoAnn Weatherly and Diane Richmond!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Almost-Best Thing

A few months ago, I made a 1-day-before-the-deadline decision to enter Georgia Romance Writer's Unpublished Maggie contest. To tell you the truth, I was feelin' pret-ty good about my work (should have been a red flag!) and was pret-ty confident I would final.

Of course I didn't.

But one of my best writing buddies did. And I want to tell you that when "success" (even if it's just a contest final) bypasses you and lands on a deserving friend, it is the almost-greatest feeling in the world. I was almost as nervous as she was during the day on Saturday. I almost poked myself in the eye with the mascara wand getting dolled up for the Maggie Announcement Reception. My heart almost jumped out of my chest when her category came up. I almost screamed when her name flashed up on the screen as 3rd place winner. I almost walked up there with her to accept her certificate.

Just ask Diane. She was there, too, and I daresay, was acting almost the same way.

Congratulations, Carla. You're the best in my book. No almost about it.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Writing While Traveling

This week I am going on vacation with my family.

Is it a good thing?

Sure it is. I like traveling in a car with 2 kids under the age of 11, being the navigator for my husband, Mr. Transformer himself. (He regrets the fact that we have two daughters, and we must stop every hour or two because--gee, a bottle just doesn't count as a bathroom).

Seriously, it will be nice to spend time with my family. I've been working way too long and I do need time just to be. Plus, I get to listen my kids as they sing new versions of the old songs I used to sing as a child--it's hilarious.

I brought my computer to write on when we drove, but most likely I'll be looking at the scenery (prevents that dastardly car sickness)--and lets face it, I really like seeing what's out there. Plus, It's a nice crutch. I keep thinking I will actually write--if I do great, if not, that is fine, I'll call it "ruminating".

Will I write? Not sure, but I am hoping for inspiration.

How do you write on trips? Do you take a break? Do you write more?
Do you just enjoy the journey?

I'll tell you when I get back, if I did get any writing done.

Note: I apologize if this is not on my right day, I have two dates Oct 4 or Oct 6. I am conflicted. So I decided to throw this in now. If I wrote on someone elses day...please take my place--and accept my sincerest apologies. ;)
Thanks!!!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

I'm Finished Now What?

After almost two years of writing and researching I finished my latest book last week. I felt such a sense of accomplishment and I was really proud of myself for having completed this book, which I feel is so much better than the last one. After I finished, I drank a bottle of champagne with my husband then I laid out a plan. First, I wanted to get the book edited for grammatical errors by a good friend of mine who is a grammar and history whiz. Check - I have done this. Then, I enlisted three friends who love historical romances to read the book and tell me what they think of the plot and characters. Check - I have also completed this task.

The rest of my plan had to do with me. I was going to read a hard copy of my book last week and this week and then do the edits, so I could start sending out the query by this coming Monday. I am now only 60 pages into my edits. I have put everything before my book this week and I really think I'm scared. I'm terrified to send out yet another book and get no results. I have put so much time, love, and energy into this novel. What if I have no positive responses? I thought I had developed a thick skin, but now I'm wondering if I can take another round of rejections. How am I supposed to write the next book if this one sits on the shelf with the other one? When do I say enough is enough and stop torturing myself and my family? I am going to roll up my sleeves and do the corrections and send it out, but I really can feel my heart pounding in my chest at the thought of being rejected. I can't believe I thought I had become blase about rejection! Ha - I really fooled myself!

Mea Culpa

I'm sorry! I forgot it was my day to blog. I would never have realized this except a friend reminded me and told me that it was still not too late. Unfortunately, I had shut down the computer for the night and didn't read her e-mail until this morning. Thank you Carla for reminding me. I was able to speed through breakfast, the morning goodbye with my husband, finish packing for the M & M conference, and carve out just enough time to apologize.

My husband thinks I am nuts. He snidely asked me if I thought that my fans were waiting for me with baited breath. No, it isn't that. I feel I let my fellow bloggers down. So, the next time someone can't blog--call me I will gladly step in.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Butterfly Effect

I recently read an article that said the caterpillar is the most confused creature in nature because stamped on its soul is the call to fly. I started thinking...Isn't that us as writers? To look at us is to see regular, ordinary people, but like the caterpillar, impressed on our souls is the call to be so much more than what we appear. So, if we have this calling on our lives--and we were born to do it--than why is it so hard? And frustrating? And...and impossible?

We often look at the beautiful, graceful butterfly and forget its journey. Just as we look at Sherrilyn Kenyon or Gena Showalter and forget their journeys. We forget the rejections, the criticism, the menial jobs...the preparation. For the butterfly, the cocoon is where it is hidden, shaped, molded and prepared. Many of us are in our cocoon time.

Take me, for instance. Every day I go to my job and I work and I work. But, it's just not what I want to do for the rest of my life. I want to write! I want to wake up in the morning and know that my manuscript awaits me, not a loan. And, I become so frustrated because I want that dream now. I ask, God, why show me this dream, and yet I feel no closer than I did three years ago? But, then I stop and think...If I can submit to my supervisor when she asks for something in an impossible amount of time, than I definitely can submit to an editor when she requests a laundry list of revisions, and wants them yesterday. Preparation. If I can type up Bible Study notes that are due weekly, than surely when the time comes, I will be disciplined enough to meet a deadline from a publisher. Preparation. If I can think up a new topic for a bi-weekly blog, than when a multi-book contract comes my way, I know without a doubt I am capable of fresh ideas to keep my readers satisfied and happy. Preparation.

So, when I begin to struggle with losing my drive, my sight and my hope I remember the butterfly. And, I put my hands to where I am now. I don't see my circumstances as stagnant or restricting, but lessons to be learned for the fruition of a dream. It's preparation. Just as the butterfly is molded and shaped in the cocoon, we're molded and shaped by our challenges and tests.

So, if there's anything I would like for you to take from this it is, don't despise the cocoon. Because when you come out, you will fly.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Timed Writing

45 minutes.

That’s all it takes.

What you may ask? Writing of course!

I got this idea at the Heart of Dixie meeting earlier this month. The topic being discussed was writing a 50,000 word book in a month (Don’t ask me the details, because all I came away with – is the 45 minutes—ok, so my memory is going along with all sorts of things…*sigh* but that’s another blog)

I struggle with finding time to write and I know every single writer out there has the same problem. Worse, procrastination is written into my DNA, which no amount of caffeine, threats, etc ever get rid of. BUT, I can trick it.

How?

Setting a timer for a certain amount of time (like 45 minutes), sitting my rear into a chair and typing away.

Yes, I admit, sometimes I only get a page done, but other times I get five or more pages done.

It’s not perfect (thank goodness for revisions)—but it’s WRITING. The trick is to slap down that inner critic (and trot it out only when you are at the revision phase), and write. That’s been the hardest thing, because I’ll be writing and think, “Well, that sucks, I need to change it…” but I tell myself “FINISH THE STORY FIRST”.

It’s been painful.

Try it though, 45 minutes (or even 15, 20, or 30 minutes). See what happens.

Note: It’s been proven that you should only sit at the computer for 45 minutes max, and then get up get a drink, walk around , and then return. You are more productive. (Hey—maybe I can tell my boss that….)

Keep writing everyone!!!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

So What Does This Mean?

I'm a big believer that nothing happens for a reason. That everything in the universe has a place and purpose for being here. I think that goes along with my faith that someone far greater than man is in charge of everything. Often unexplainable things happen and we strive to understand what can't be understood by mere mortals.

So where I am going with such a weighty and controversial premise? Simply this. I have a lizard living in my office. It's been here almost a week. I found it crawling around in my bathroom next to my office and tried to capture it and put it outside. It's a little faster than me...say about two zillion times faster, so needless to say it stayed. So I closed the bathroom door, thinking my brilliant husband would come home and have a brilliant idea on how to remove our new house guest. Before he could get home, little lizard slipped under the bathroom door and joined me in my office. Was I a little distracted? Yes, a bit.

I opened a window hoping it would understand that that's where it's supposed to live. Instead, a fly flew in. So I'm thinking, uh, no way am I letting a fly stay in the house. However, before I could do anything, said fly became little lizard's dinner. And what can I say? I fell in love.

Now my new friend, who by the way is named Okra because she looks like a tiny spear of okra, is my companion. My husband, who would never admit publicly, is even more tender hearted than I am, asks repeatedly on Okra's welfare. He provided turtle/lizard food and suggested I put out some water. Okra now climbs all over my desk and wall and seems to feel quite comfortable in her new home.

My dogs have seen her and aren't upset. My husband seems fascinated by her and I've gotten quite attached to her.

So getting back to my original premise that all things happen for a reason. There's got to be a reason for Okra. But why?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Coming Up For Air

When it seems everything around you is falling apart (and I mean everything), how do you find the energy or will to write?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Oh! Grow Up!

Okay, okay, okay. I know I talk too much about General Hospital on this blog. But this week’s episodes had a couple threads to do with parents and how as an adult you’re still controlled by the way they treated you in the past.

Of course, the drama is over the top sometimes and I would love to say to the grown kids, “Grow up! Take responsibility for your own actions!” Then I would like to add, “Parents are human too!"

In many romances, the hero and/or heroine have issues left over from their own childhoods. Grown men with trust issues, especially in their relationship with women, are that way because their mom cheated on their dad or left them on their own. And the women may have grown up without a dad and have daddy issues (thus dating much older men) or their dad preferred a son over the daughter, so the daughter acts like a boy.

It's a wonderful way to add depth to a character. There are many ways to play it, but the most important part is to handle it in a subtle way. Who likes a whiner? Otherwise, your reader would be shouting the same things I did at the TV.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hit Me With Your Best Shot!

To me, criticism has always equalled rejection...so I decided to become a published writer. I guess you can compare that to a person with an aversion to blood deciding to become a heart surgeon. Of course, logically, I know that rejection and criticism are not the same thing. One is debilitating and the other is...severely debilitating. Published author, Christie Craig, has been rejected over 100 times! Believe me, I've seen the cardboard box full of letters--she's not exaggerating. If I'd had that many rejection notices, you'd find me curled up in a corner somewhere doing my best Glenn Close interpretation, clicking a lamp on and off! And we won't even touch the boiled bunnies!

Growing up, writing was my "thing". It was my niche (I was the only person in my class who knew what "niche" meant, how to spell it and how use it in a sentence!). I carried that attitude and confidence with me into adulthood. So, when I decided to take writing to the next level and become published, I just knew no one could resist my perfect stories! I found a critique partner, joined RWA, entered contests and participated in workshops. And, I promptly found out my heroine was annoying, the plot contained a hole a flaming meteor could fly through and I head-jumped like I had a multiple personality disorder. And the comments were pretty hard to miss as they were written in bright, slashing red ink. I swear I thought my contest entries had hemorrhaged under the scalpel of the judges' red pens!!

Immediately, my initial reaction was disbelief, hurt and an anger that burned worse than my cooking! Didn't they understand that I was the next Nora Roberts-meets-Terry McMillan? How could they say those things?? So, I slammed down my pen--well, mouse--and...and...died. I died. My pride died. My ego flatlined. My offended feelings plunged into that slow swan dive. My righteous, angry fat lady sang. But, then...I grew. I grew up and realized that criticism--constructive criticism--doesn't equal persecution. In order to increase, in order to elevate from unpublished to published author, I had to adopt an openness and willingness to receive more experienced, objective advice. Truth be told, my sister telling me she loved my manuscript didn't help me nearly as much as the judge who told me my hero and heroine weren't likable! Painful? Oh most definitely! But, it also made me go back and examine my characters to see if there was any truth to that statement. And, it turned out, that yes, it held a grain of truth--Okay, so she nailed it on the head! Criticism is how we learn, how we better our craft and how we push beyond what we imagined ourselves capable of.

No, I'm not going to lie and say, Oh critique is so easy to take now. Lie, lie, lie! My heart still seizes up and "They just don't understand what I'm trying to do here!" wants to spill from my lips. But, after that quick moment of angst, I push up my sleeves, apply make-up to that black-eye on my feelings and get down to the business of evolving.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Deadlines and humorous research

In my last post, I questioned setting deadline sand when they were constructive or harmful. I got some great advice from you guys and tried to really consider my life and set some constructive deadlines. My goal was to write ten pages a day. I'm proud to say I have met that goal every day but one, which I purposely gave myself off for down time. I felt like my characters needed a break from me and me from them. My husband joked tonight that if I had set this goal three months ago, I could have written a novel the length of Anna Karenina by now!

As I have been working to meet my page goal, I am constantly researching so my book will be historically accurate. I write historical romances. Last week, I had a particular scene where my hero learns his new wife is in all probability the spy he has been searching for who murdered his father. Needless to say, my hero is in a rage. I use profanity VERY sparingly in my books because I usually feel there is a better way to say it, but this time my hero just had to call his wife a "bitch." I hope I haven't offended anyone by writing this here.

Anyway, I was not sure when this word took on the negative connotation it carries today, so I had to do a little research. Sure enough, in 1400 men started using this word to describe females they thought were lying, unscrupulous and deceitful. This did not surprise me. What caught me off guard was a statement found on Widipedia. According to Wikipedia, "Since the 1980s, the term "bitch" became more and more accepted and less offensive. After the word was widely used between rivals Krystle and Alexis on the drama Dynasty." This was a bit of information I never expected which sent me laughing for quite awhile. My question is this: what is the most unexpected information you have ever uncovered while researching for a book.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I've Missed You Guys

I looked at the blog today for the first time in a week. I was blown away by the creativity of the bloggers, subject matter discussed and diverse opinions found on the blogspot. It just reminds me how creative and supportive of each other that we have become.

Two common threads are woven among the blogs. Naturally we all like to write (although we all have our days when we ask ourselves why?) and we admire other writers. We know exactly how hard it is to take an idea and nurture it until the idea becomes a whole story.

I have found that most writers are also avid readers. All voracious readers I know are always on the lookout for a new author to add to their "must read" list. I'm curious to see who you would rank as your personal favorite author in each of these categories:
1. Author whose books make you cry with emotion.
2. Most suspenseful author.
3. Funniest author.
4. Most romantic author.
5. Best paranormal writer.
6. Best storyteller.
7. Author who you have read every book they've written.

Post your answers and I will tabulate them in my next blog, plus give you my favorites. Hopefully, we may all add some new authors to our "must read" lineup.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Harlequin Stories

Have you ever wished you could tell Harlequin editors what you would love to see more of in their books? You now have the opportunity. Go to www.tellharlequin.com and let them know.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Southern Magic's Contests

Check out our Website for the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence for published authors and the Linda Howard Award of Excellence for unpublished authors! They're taking entries now.

http://www.southernmagic.org/

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Dream Motivation

What gets you to write?

As Christy wrote, there are plenty of things (all important) that distract you (ok, so my Spider Solataire is not necessarily in that category). Still, work, home, etc. All interefere.

What drags you back to the page?

Amusingly enough, for me, it was a dream.

Now, I love to dream. Sometimes my best story ideas come from dreams, and one time I actually got a WHOLE story (that I wrote down). Unfortunately, I can go to bed thinking about my current story and never, ever, dream of it. I have one friend who does dream about the story she is writing which helps her. I have another who actually wakes up with the scene she needs to write. What do I get? Other stories..which really doesn't help my particular predicament, well, until last night.

As some of you know, I have managed to send off a partial to Nocturne (which does not guarantee anything) but, I am trying to finish the book. Its taken me since August to write 20 pages. Sad, but true. Last night, I was in the doldrums about it, and went to bed. A very dangerous thought surfaced: "Why bother to finish..." this is an evil thought and should be battled with all your resources. So, I went to sleep.

I had a dream that I got an email saying: Congratulations, I (Some dream editor named Amanda) am buying your book, but I know that you are still writing the book, so I am giving until November 25th to finish it. (there was more, but you know dreams).

I awoke with the date November 25th just stuck in my head. I was highly amused about the definitive date my subconscious put in there. I pretty much set up my own deadline. (Hey, it may not be a scene, but it pushed me to write!)

Will my book be bought? That would be cool, but really, I have to finish it and my subconscious gave me a swift kick in the rear. I no longer have the "Oh, why bother...." attitude.

I'm just grateful, I am going back to the thing and not letting this story also fall into the the pile of unfinished manuscripts.

So, I come back to this question: What brings you back to face the blank page?

Monday, September 08, 2008

Busy Working

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING BLOG IS NOT FULL OF GOOD ADVICE. READ FURTHER ONLY AT YOUR OWN RISK!

Every day I wake with optimism and energy, ready to tackle my current project. My head, heart and gut know where I want to go in my story. I see my characters clearly and they're talking...my gosh, these people can talk! Only problem is, they're not talking to me. So, to give them some space...obviously they're the driven type, you know the, 'Don't bother me until I'm ready to talk to you.' type, I sit around and wait patiently until they're ready to tell me their story. Can't you just hear me gently tapping my feet? See me with a patient, but encouraging smile on my face?

So what's a writer to do in the meantime? Why there are all sorts of ways a writer can stay busy and still get nothing accomplished. Believe me, I know! I feel a bit guilty sharing these things with you. Kind of like when you were in school and someone whispered that they had something to show you or give you behind the bleachers or field house. Of course, it was never good and no, I never went. I was way too scared. Suddenly, I'm one of those people!

So here goes. My busy list of things to do to keep from writing.

1. Publishers' Market Place. Since I have to pay for this service, I should get as much benefit out of it as possible. Right? You can do all sorts of wonderful searches!

2. Google your name. Amazing what you can come up with about yourself.

3. Amazon. Did you know they recommend books for you based upon your buying preference? How nice is that? They've gone to all that trouble, the least I can do is see what they think I might like to read.

4. Facebook. This is a new one for me. A week or so ago, I had 7 friends. I now have almost 200. I have become the queen 'busy' bee of invites!

5. My publisher's website. I was so excited to see they've listed me and two of my books. I even have my own ISBN! So I go to the site frequently just to see if something else has happened.

6. Review sites. I go to one or two regularly. I read the reviews and find myself wondering if I should recommend to Amazon some more recommendations for me. Maybe they don't know everything I like.

7. This blog. I visit it several times a day. To see if any one's blogged or to read comments. I kept going back to it today, wondering if the person who was supposed to blog was ever going to blog. Then I realized it was my day!

8. Set up Google alerts for your name, name of your books, or anyone and anything you might be interested in knowing more about. Amazing what kinds of stuff you get or where it will lead you.

9. Other author's websites. I want to see what's new with my favorite authors. I have to keep up with their new releases. I can't rely on Amazon to supply all of my reading choices, can I?

10. Looking at my photos online. I had head shots taken last week. The last time I had my picture take professionally was more than ten years ago. I've changed since then and have been denial until now. You know that saying, "The camera doesn't lie"? I've been going to the site two or three times a day just to see if maybe there was one that at least fibbed a bit. So far, they're all glaringly truthful!

There you have it. While I wait for my stubborn characters to reveal their story to me, these are my new vices. I know there have to be more I've not discovered, so feel free to share yours with me. And for those of you who pick up new vices because of this blog, I humbly apologize, but remember, I did warn you.