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.