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.