Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Nationals

It's almost time for the National Conference in San Francisco and I am not going to be there. I made the decision to concentrate on a couple of regional conferences. I think that was a wise choice for me but I must admit that I am jealous of the attendees for they will be able to see one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

True, I am prejudiced; after all this is my birthplace. Who wouldn't want to ride a cable car up and down the steep hills of the city overlooking the bay, walk through China town, eat at Fisherman's Wharf or shop at Gumps near Union Square?

Many people attending the conference will be struck by how different this city is from the South. Part of that difference revolves around the homeless population. Street people abound--and many of them are two steps off center. On a recent trip back I found myself noticing the types of people I passed when out for a morning walk. There were the business folks and average citizens--dressed for success and hurrying to work, the immigrants--many dressed in their native dress, and finally the street people--dressed anyway they pleased. Street People often wear an odd assortment of clothes, jewelry, tattoos and piercings and their hair styles range from the futuristic to the bizarre. Some are well-groomed. Most are not.

I hope that everyone attending the conference will look kindly at these poor souls. Many of them would have been living in an insane asylum a hundred years ago. For the most part they are harmless. They add flavor to a gorgeous city and I sometimes miss their presence.

So, while you are dining at Scoma's,on the Wharf, sipping tea in Golden Gate Park, or driving down Lombard Street, reserve your judgment about these people. They are as much as part of the city as any of the sights; besides that, they make great material for the books we write.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

As a Man Thinks...

Proverbs 23:7 states "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he..."
Up until about a year ago, my favorite proverb was "Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing"...to which my husband would promptly counter with "Better to live on the roof than share the house with a nagging wife." He's such a kidder! At least, he'd better be...

But, earlier this year, Proverbs 23:7 struck a chord in me and it hasn't stopped singing since. Plainly put, it says that whatever a man believes himself to be, he is. So small, so simple...so profound. Think of it this way...have you ever met someone who at first glance is, umm, aesthetically-challenged? But, if you were to ask them, they would emphatically tell you that they are the finest thing walking and are just super fabulous. They have such confidence and belief in themselves that soon you begin to see what they do. You begin to believe that, yes, they are just about the cutest thing you've ever laid eyes on!

It's the same thing with being an unpublished writer. Or, rather, soon-to-be-published author. I am already a writer, but I believe in my heart that it is only a matter of time before I am a published writer. The amount of time? I don't know. It could be a tomorrow, next month, next year or even ten years from now. But, I am still soon-to-be-published. And while I wait for it to come to pass, I walk in that belief, preparing myself for when it eventually happens. I ready myself by setting deadlines and adhering to them; creating bookcovers for those as-of-yet published novels; meeting with and learning from other writers about technique, craftsmanship, business and promotion. One published author even said that while she waited for that call, she had her publicity shots taken in advance, so when it came, she would have the photos ready! It's a mindset, an attitude and a conviction that cannot be shaken no matter what the circumstances may look like.

"As a man thinks in his heart, so is he..." Some people would call this positive thinking. Some would label it optimism. Me, I simply call it what it is.

Faith.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Semi-Colon Addiction

I'm at war with semi-colons.

I use them instead of periods or commas. Heck, I use them just because (and that it's easy to type them).

I didn't realize it was an issue until I started getting my partial corrected and ready to send out. I realized, I had a love affair, no..an addiction to the dratted semi-colon.

I think in twelve pages I used about twenty. I am not kidding.

I also found out, I liked the word "was" way too much.

What is wrong with me? I thought I could write coherently, but apparently when I am in the throes of trying to get it all on paper, I just forget all sorts of rules.

*sigh*

That's why there is editing, more editing, peer review....and another edit or two.

It is quite humbling.

What do you wrestle with? What bothers you the most when you write? Is it commas? Semi-colons? Is it mostly grammar? Story? or a mix of both?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Why I Love RWA

I'm running short on time today. I leave Sunday for San Francisco and have a 'to do' list almost as long as I am. Fortunately I'm kind of short, but I still have bunches to get done.

Since I'm headed to conference, it occurred to me that I don't give enough thought to what RWA has done for me. I love this organization and owe so much to its members. Here are just a few reasons:

1. I've met some of the most giving and supportive people through RWA. I love Southern Magic and look forward to the meetings each month, not just to learn something new, but to see our members and hear how they're doing.

2. Before RWA, I had no clue how to format a manuscript, much less what POV, TSTL and the multitude of other acronyms that contest judges and writers everywhere seemed to know.

3. I've met superstars of romantic fiction, many of whom are my favorite authors of all time. Never in a million years would I have dreamed to have done this on my own.

4. I've met many of tomorrow's superstars. Someday, I'll be able to say, "I knew them when..."

5. I've made life-long friends through RWA. Some I see several times a month, others once a year and then others only through email and phone calls, but I treasure each friend I've made.

6. And last but not least! If not for RWA, I would not be a published author!

How about you? What do you love about RWA?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Been Vacationing!
















Sorry, I missed my turn. Been on vacation where there wasn't Wi Fi. It was hard but I survived. LOL! Check out some of my pictures.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Knowing It Ahead of Time

Last week, as I was standing in the grocery line, a little book on the rack caught my eye: Complete Idiot's Guide to Psychic Awareness. I have been toying with the idea of creating a psychic heroine, but I've never delved into the subject. So--being the impulse buyer that I am--I bought it. I figured $2.95 was not too much to invest.

This woman's premise is that we all have psychic abilities; that some people have simply honed their skills to a finer degree. To a certain extent, she has a point because everyone has had the experience of knowing who is on the phone before you answer it (without the aid of caller id) and other similar situations.

But can a person train herself to have bigger and better psychic abilities? It will be interesting to see what she has to say.

What are your favorite books with psychic characters?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday, July 18 Finding the time

I have spent a good ten years of my life in the working world searching for what kind of work would thrill me, entice me, inspire me, make me not look at the clock and wonder when the day would be over and make me say I love my work. When I finally found this holy grail of a job I also became pregnant with my first child. I love to write. I thrive when I write. It's like breathing. It feels natural as if I was born to do it. When I am writing I can loose myself and the time completely.

Now that I have found what I love to do, I feel I simply don't have the time. I finished my first book while pregnant and in the early months of child number one. Then I never had the time to try and get it published. One day an idea for a second book hit me and I could not turn away. I am half way through book number two, but I also have child number two.

I try to write a little here and there, but it is simply not enough. I need time, the most precious of commodities. When I do take the time away from my kids I feel guilt and accomplishment. This book could be the one that finally garners THE CALL. How can I give that up and where oh where can I find the time to complete it? Sometimes I wonder if I'm lacking motivatin. Perhaps if I had more motivation I would stay up until midnight every night and live on five hours of sleep. I have tried this, but I am no party to be around without my eight hours of sleep!

My question is this: how do each of you find the time to write in your busy lives?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Reading

Yesterday I took our grandson to Nashville to fly home to California. We had a great visit but I found myself becoming increasingly upset during his time here because he struggles to read and now has an aversion to it. How could a would be author have a grandchild who not only dislikes reading, but actually does poorly at it?

He is no dummy. Give him a video game or other electronic device and he excels. Math doesn't daunt him either; but put a written paragraph in front of him and he chokes. His stumbling progress is painful to him and anyone listening to his recitation.

I found myself torn between the desire to be a doting grandparent and a reading teacher. He's already been held behind a year in school due to this problem. Now he is older, taller and still struggling. He's had all the tests. They say that he has trouble concentrating on what he reads. Because he reads haltingly, he becomes easily bored and gives up. His teacher recommended that he go to summer school but his parents gave in to his wishes to have the summer off.

Here is where I had to learn to curb my tongue. Didn't they understand the importance of reading? What were they thinking? Who cares what he wants? He needs to read! Thankfully I was able to able to broach this gently with them. In the meantime our little non-reader was kept busy all day long doing fun things he liked, while all the time reading as he went along. I became a liar, but for a good cause. He now has returned to California thinking that his "old" Grandma in Alabama has trouble seeing so he had to help her read. My ego was a little bruised, but I will survive. I know that I sent him home a little better reader and he had the satisfaction of thinking that he really helped me as he read me cookie recipes, the signs on the way to the swimming pool and the paper to decide which movie we would go see.

I fear that in the long run reading will not win over Nintendo DS, but we both had a good time and maybe I helped him just a little bit.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Love is a Many Splendoured Thing

His name was Eugene Dudley.

He was an urbane, older twelve to my shy, awkward nine and he was my first crush. At nine, I lived for the moment he would just glance in my direction. I'd go home and feverishly fill page after page of my diary with the story of how our eyes met across a crowded room--er, gym--during a particularly fierce game of kickball. And when that ball sailed through the air in my direction...well, of course that was his passive-aggressive way of declaring his undying love for me. After all, he could've kicked it in Tammy Taylor's direction. But, he didn't. He chose me! Me! Sigh.

Twenty-four years ago, love could make me soar to the highest rafters of that YWCA gymnasium. And it could also make me sink to the lowest depths of the ruthlessly bleached locker rooms. And that pre-teen isn't much different from the thirty-plus woman of today. Only instead of a brace-filled smile, it's the boisterous laugh and rock-hard calves of my husband that has me completely enamored.

Love. The heart-pounding joy of looking into that certain person's eyes and knowing, you are the one who will make me a better me. The exciting wrench of lust tempered by something tender and sweet. The fear of vulnerability and opening yourself to someone who now has the power to hurt as well as protect you. The anguish of gritty eyes and sleepless nights after that first fight. The delight and wonder of having your best friend and lover rolled into one special person...and knowing beyond all doubt that they belong to you.

Love transcends age, race, religion sex and even time. It's the giddy feeling that keeps you on the phone past one o'clock in the morning just listening to each other breathe. It's the habit you sometimes wish you could kick. It's the same precious, perfect gift that makes a nine year-old girl swoon over a connection of souls just before she's beaned in the head with a flying kickball that has a thirty-three year old woman drooling over a pair of legs that looks just as good today as they did ten years ago...and thirty years from now.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A word by any other name....

I love words, the sound, the look, and meaning. It is what colors our writing and makes the reader feel what we are feeling.

I have read books where I can literally feel, taste, and see the story. I watch as the scene plays out before me and I barely register I am reading. That is the power of words.

I have a pastime (OK, when I'm bored, procrastinating...you know) where I write down my favorite words like "Puerile" or "Malicious"; to me those are delicious words. I used to have a friend that would send me emails and all we would do would list words we enjoyed.

So, share with me some of your favorite words and to make it more interesting tell me your favorite color word or words.

Here are a few of mine:
  • Scarlet
  • Obsidian
  • Indigo

Thursday, July 10, 2008

What's On Your Cover?

When I wrote my first book, I had in my mind exactly what the cover should be. The story was set in a small fictional town in south Alabama. A lake surrounded by weeping willows would be in the background. My heroine would be seated under one of the willows, staring pensively in the distance. Summer wildflowers would cover the ground and birds and butterflies would be fluttering around. Actually that sounds kind of boring now, but at that time, it sounded perfect.

In later books, I never gave the covers a thought. I was too concerned with finishing the darn things to think about what should go on the covers if I ever sold them.

Recently my editor asked me if I had any suggestions or ideas for my covers. I was thrilled to be asked. Ballantine always does a fantastic job, so whatever they choose, I know I'll be happy with, but to be asked was a treat. Problem was, I still had trouble coming up with ideas. I went to the bookstore and perused for hours. Some covers appealed to me, many didn't. I really couldn't define what worked and what didn't. I did send some suggestions, but I'm glad experts are working on this and not me. I just couldn't make up my mind.

How about you? Do you know what the cover of your current manuscript should be? Describe it for us!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Lists, Lists and More Lists

If you know me, you know I love lists! And I love movies! So when I came across the list of The 50 Greatest Sex Scenes plus an ultimate list of America's 10 Greatest Films in 10 Genres, I couldn't resist.

As usual, some of them I would agree and some I don't but figured you would like to check them out yourself.

Let me know what you think.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Is it done yet?

Years ago (and I mean, YEARS ago), I was a painter. I majored in expressionist painting in college. Actually got a real, live degree in it. And people would look at my abstract explosions of color on canvas (well, they'd usually stare with skepticism!), and I often got this question: How do you know when you're finished? My answer? You just know.

When I started writing, I thought a lot about that question. And I haven't been able to transfer that certainty -- that conviction -- about finishing the work to my writing. When do I know my manuscript is finished? One NYT bestselling author answered a similar question with "You know you're finished with the book when you hit your deadline."

But I don't have a real deadline on my WIP. And yesterday, I found myself thinking about completely rewriting the last half of the book. Which, of course, will completely destroy my careful plans for sending the ms to the publisher by the end of the month.

And now I wonder if it's an avoidance tactic. Am I simply trying to delay the rejection?

Who knows. But I do know this.

I'm not finished yet.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Independence Day

Today we are in Chattanooga, TN with our ten year old grandson who is visiting from California.

On this, the Independence Day of our nation, I am also reminded of other types of independence. These are not as momentous as our separation from England, but they are none the less major milestones in our personal lives.

Since we haven't seen our grandson for 4 years, I was surprised to see how much he has grown in that time. At six he was a little boy, eager to be held, cuddled and hold my hand. Now, he may pretend that he doesn't know us when he is out in public. Today, on our boat ride down the Tennessee River Gorge, he took a seat on the opposit side of the boat. I started to insist that he sit with us but realized that he was showing his independence in a safe environment where we could still keep him in sight. So, I reluctantly let him have his space.

Tonight, I am struggling to stay awake long enough to complete this blog. We got up at the crack of dawn, with him already in overdrive. Each place that we visited was explored at the speed of lightning, barely slowing down for a bathroom break. We were not even out the door of one place before he was asking about the next. He is a good boy. Not demanding or hard to handle, but excited to explore each new thing as quickly as possible.

Which brings to mind the last type of independence. The independence that we, as grandparents, have from the day to day responsibility and care of these young people. I say thank goodness for Independence Day.