Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A view from the castle ramparts

I’m writing this under siege.

Since I signed the first check July 7 to cover the framing materials for the addition to our circa 1894 cottage, I’ve had the contractor or some member of his crew dropping by every day. Or almost every day. At a specified or unspecified time.

The contractor gave us a six-week completion estimate. My husband and I, experienced in this game, scoffed and allowed for twelve. In this, the twenty-second week, our countenances grow long.

Way back in the beginning, the appearance of framing crew was exciting, despite the intermittent whine of saws and the bang of nail guns. More difficult to tune out was the post-adolescent guy who liked to sing. And giggle.

Our heavily-accented ditch-digging foundation specialist doesn’t think much of the current wave of immigrants, but he was a hard-working charmer, fit enough to qualify as a Blaze cover model. The plumber was a congenial fellow, as was the HVAC guy. The longsuffering city building inspector, who yearns to retreat to his acreage near Gadsden, was a fine man.

During this half year, the painter and his assistant/girlfriend accepted that their long-term cohabitation qualifies as a common law marriage. The trim work assistant advanced to a full-time position with the contractor. The contractor sold his rental property in Tuscaloosa and his salvaged his marriage. Maybe these happy endings signal that the work will soon be done.

I’ve hoisted several white flags, and it appears that I might be writing the final check this week. Or at least by next week.

The payoff for all this story material I've collected won’t arrive until I get the source material out of here. Then, I expect to resume a normal, regular and productive writing schedule. Or to be distracted by the holidays. I have to furnish the new room before company arrives!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Staying Focused

I started writing mostly as a lark.  I had ideas and wanted to see if I could do it--finish a book beginning to end.

I did.  I liked it.  Okay, I loved it when I was writing. 

But now I'm staring at the blank page again.  I have ideas.  Really, I have way too many ideas--a historical, a YA supernatural, the sequel to my first manuscript, a new contemporary.  I have characters floating around and keeping me up at night, but I'm not writing.

So much for National Novel Writing Month. 

I'm hoping that it's just stress.  The move has finally caught up with us.  I still haven't found a job that pays anything worthwhile.  Holiday pressure is already building.  And I miss my old life more than I ever expected to.

I just can't seem to focus.

I have the time-- five hours, three times a week without the kids--and I'm not writing a word. 

So what helps you keep focused?  What keeps you motivated to keep your fingers on the keyboard when everything else feels like too much?  What keeps your butt in the chair?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Blurting (Better than Burping) Out Blurbs in the Burbs

Couldn’t resist that title. Gets your attention doesn’t it. LOL!

Blurbs are a funny thing. The book I’m reading right now had a pretty good blurb, but so far I’ve had to push myself to keep reading after the first chapter. The author has several books with the same publisher. So we know the editor likes them, but there’s no pizzazz. The sexual tension gets lost in the plot. They’re running around trying to figure out who killed a woman but so far they have five candidates. Considering this book is a small one, that’s way too many. It actually drags down the story.

Out of curiosity, I sat down and read the blurbs on a few of my favorite books and realized, if I hadn’t liked the author so much, I probably wouldn’t have bought the book.

Blurbs can be misleading and they're so hard to do for some authors. Or is that marketing departments?

Around a year ago, I bought a book from a well-known author I had read a time or two. Nothing in the blurb or the cover indicated it was a sci-fi. I couldn't enjoy it because, first, I don't normally care to read sci-fi, and second, I felt betrayed. It took me a while before I would try another book from that author.

I remember talking to one author whose romantic suspense had a hero who was unknown and mostly unseen by the heroine for three-quarters of the book. The heroine fell in love with his voice and touch despite how afraid she was of him. The blub actually gave away his identity. The author was furious. Certainly not her fault. Thankfully the reprint corrected that. I have the reprint and love it.

Blubs are like walking a tightrope. You don't want to give out too much information but giving out too little and misleading a reader can alienate her too.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Job or a Joy?


When I first started writing fiction, it was like a game for me. There was an element of pure elation in sitting down in front of a keyboard (a typewriter, when I first started), and tapping out characters, scenes and stories that seemed to come from the very ether. I easily entered what I came to call "the zone" and stayed there, sometimes for hours, cocooned in storytelling bliss.

Then I started writing for publication. The zone was still there, and I could still enter it pretty regularly, but things like page count, hooks, chapter cliffhangers and turning points began intruding on the transportive pleasure of writing just for myself.

I soon came across a nightmare called "the synopsis." I learned about preferred fonts, double-spacing, query letters and the difference between ordinary rejections and the much-coveted "revise and resubmit" letter.

And then I sold.

The veil was lifted. I was no longer writing for the fun of it. It was now an endeavor that involved deadlines and edits, proposals and proofs. I was supposed to pitch new ideas regularly to my editor, even when I had unfinished projects already on my agenda. Editors wanted me to produce three or four books a year. More, if I could make it happen. They wanted back-to-back trilogies and, oh, by the way, the line is putting together a six-book miniseries and we'd like you to write one of the books. It would look good to the higher-ups in the company if you're seen as a team player.

Suddenly, I'm writing blog posts, trying to remember to update my Facebook status and take time to tweet my latest release. I have galley edits due in two weeks and a book due in two months. My editor wants me to come up with a new multi-book proposal ASAP to get on the 2012 schedule, and on my own, I'm working with two other authors on a Christmas 2012 anthology.

Now it's crystal clear: writing is a job. I have to work every day, plan to write when I'm not actually writing, track my receipts and expenses for tax season and figure out the best way to promote a book (or three) that will be on most book shelves a maximum of two weeks.

Yup, definitely a job.

But can it still be a joy?

Yes, it can. There are still times when I find myself transported to that beautiful place called the zone, when the story in my head plays out in vivid color like a great movie, pouring from my soul to my fingertips almost effortlessly.

But there are also plenty of times when I can't find my way anywhere near the zone. Yet the book must still be written.

That's where the job comes in. I wish I had formed better work habits earlier in my career. I managed only four books in my first four years as a published author. But I managed to navigate that steep learning curve to get to a more prolific place in my career. I persevered—as all writers do, sooner or later—because the joy in writing was still worth it.

Everything worth doing requires effort. Even something we love.

Maybe especially something we love.

So is writing still pure joy for you? Or have you also come to see it as a job? How do you keep the job part of writing from stealing your joy in the process?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Author Interview: Kieran Kramer



Please welcome Kieran Kramer, debut author of the Regency historical romance WHEN HARRY MET MOLLY. In the two weeks since its release, her book has already reached the USA Today Bestseller list, and after reading the book I understand why. I met Kieran in Orlando at RWA10, and was immediately struck by her friendly, upbeat attitude. We kept in touch, and she graciously agreed to answer a few questions for today’s post.

Here’s a quick bio:
Kieran Kramer, a former CIA employee, journalist, and English teacher, lives in the Lowcountry of SC with her family. Game show veteran, karaoke enthusiast, and general adventurer, her motto is, "Life rewards action." Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and at www.kierankramerbooks.com.

GH: Tell us a little about the Impossible Bachelors series.

KK: Four Regency gentlemen who are experts at avoiding the marriage altar wind up falling in love! The series is light, funny, sweet, sexy, and even poignant in places. My goal when writing the series was to have fun as I wrote. I dearly hope you, my readers, will have fun as you read them.

GH: I loved the premise for Molly and Harry’s story. It’s not always easy to say where our ideas come from, but was there any particular inspiration for their story that
you’d like to share? Or maybe a spark of a scene or character that got it started?

KK: I knew that I wanted to have a beauty pageant of some sort back in the Regency era. That was where the whole idea started. So how could I pull that off? I came up with the idea of a competition between mistresses, and I knew that one of them had to be a fish out of water, like Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality.

GH: Your books are chock full of fun, and that’s reflected in the titles. Did you get to choose them, or help?

KK: When I submitted my proposal to my agent and then to my editor, I had come up with some very unusual titles. I wanted them to be sassy and fun and fresh. We wound up keeping one out of
four of the originals, which was WHEN HARRY MET MOLLY. The rest we came up with together. We throw ideas back and forth and have a lot of fun. It's a great feeling when we find a title we all love!

GH: What element of writing do you feel you struggle with most, and how do you overcome it?

KK: Plotting. I spend hours and hours thinking and getting nowhere because I have too many ideas. And then I'll walk myself into corners and give up and start over the next day. The only thing that has made plotting palatable to me is Blake Snyder's book series, SAVE THE CAT. That adds a huge dimension of fun to plotting. I like it, and it helps me a lot to use his 40-scene structure storyboard.

But in the end, it's really just me and my imagination, feeling lonely, scared, and frustrated, not knowing what I'm going to do next.

GH: So I’m not the only one! I’m reading SAVE THE CAT right now and already wishing I’d picked it up a long time ago. You obviously managed to plot a winner with WHEN HARRY MET MOLLY. Did your editor request any major changes before publishing the book?

KK: Oh, sure. I had a mistress contest or two that I had to either tweak or drop because I wrote this book WAY long!

GH: Did anything surprise you about the publishing process?

KK: Definitely. I knew nothing about what went on behind the scenes. I've learned it takes a great team to publish a book, and I'm super grateful for mine at St. Martin's Press.

GH: You have such an interesting background. Former CIA agent--is agent the right word?--game show winner, journalist, bar maid in Scotland. Do you have any idea what influenced your decision to write romance, and specifically historical?

KK: Good question about the CIA. At the real CIA, no one is called a CIA agent. That's movie talk. James Bond, if he worked for the CIA, would be called a case officer. I was hired as a career trainee (CT), which was a big honor—you're basically selected for specialized training that very few people at the CIA receive. I was in the same CT class as Valerie Plame. We slogged through trenches together at the Farm and slept in the same quonset hut for a couple months. Incidentally, I can't believe she's having a movie made about her. I can't wait to see it. She was very together…very confident. I'm NEVER that girl. I'm always the one who trips over her feet or says the wrong thing. I often did that in the CIA, and you know what? I love that goofy younger version of myself. I was fully involved in everything I did there. I tried. I was adventurous. I occasionally embarrassed myself. But that's okay. I like that I'm all right with stepping out and messing up and starting over again.

Looking back on the other stuff—game show winner, journalist, bar maid (and college student) in Scotland—I don't think any of that influenced my decision to write historical romance. What influenced me most was my love of reading, my love of books.

A lot of my sense that life offers endless possibilities comes from my immersion, as a kid, in the world of story. The irony is, I applied that principle of believing in endless possiblilities to the pursuit of a career in story, specifically in writing romance novels.

GH: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

KK: Yes. Start from a strong foundation. By that, I think it's important that you know yourself and like yourself before you write a story. Why? Because if you don't believe in yourself—if you think you're unworthy in some way—what you write won't be a good story as much as it will be either a strained attempt to prove yourself to the world or an apology of some sort. The best stories are those that don't exercise your demons. The best ones are those that come from a solid Truth that you know, from a place inside you that's deep and protected from the whims of the moment, or the viccisitudes of life.

Yes, you need your brain to help you put your story's plot together, but you need your gut more than your head—and so you need to be able to trust yourself. This is essential. Trust your instincts. Embrace who you are and be excited about shining your unique light on the world. That sort of enthusiasm is interesting and attractive. That will win you an audience.

Another way to say this is, don't be your own worst enemy. If you are constantly sabotaging yourself, become aware of your patterns—work at emphasizing the positive and releasing the negative until you come to an honest acceptance of who you are. Be gentle with yourself while you try to alleviate or work around your weaknesses—and be proud of your strengths.

When you approach writing with this attitude, you can't help but write strong. Powerful words, powerful stories—whether they're humorous, dark, complex, or simple—flow from the minds of people who claim their place in the world. Imagine thinking along these lines: "I'm here, and I have no need to prove anything to anyone—I'm much more interested in noticing these cool/interesting/poignant/funny/dark things about the world that I want to share with you because I can. I want to interact, to share, to participate in life!"

Writing stories is living. It's living in the moment and living to the fullest. It means we're here right now and we're engaging, being a part of the world. So pat yourself on the back for taking that extra step forward, for daring to put pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard and writing. You're brave. You're reaching out. You're trying to connect. So many people don't even attempt that. So believe in the rightness of your purpose. Write your stories. They're important. All the stories we write connect us to each other, and there's no higher purpose than that.

Thanks so much for joining us Kieran!
---
We have a copy of WHEN HARRY MET MOLLY, and an ARC of DUKES TO THE LEFT OF ME, PRINCES TO THE RIGHT to give away, so be sure to leave a comment before Monday at midnight EST! Kieran will try to check in periodically if anyone has questions.

Look for WHEN HARRY MET MOLLY on bookshelves now, and DUKES TO THE LEFT OF ME, PRINCES TO THE RIGHT coming November 30th. To learn more, visit www.kierankramerbooks.com.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Necessary Losses

I've been at this writing game for a few years now. Not as many as some, but definitely longer than others. My level of commitment and time to this wonderful and crazy obsession has increased steadily over the years. I'm not just writing stories for myself anymore. I'm writing, revising, submitting, going to conferences, pitching, taking online classes, attending meetings, going to workshops, moderating online workshops, blogging, twittering, facebooking (is that a verb?), networking, and entering contests.

I'm spending a lot of time writing which means I've had to cut some things from my life. Here are the necessary losses I've incurred as I've grown as a writer who is actively trying to get published:

*Regular manicures and pedicures. I only get them prior to a conference and even then I cheat cause my fingernails are so short and stubby now it is a "why bother to use any other color than clear" kind of moment for me.

*Scrapbooking. I used to scrapbook once a week with a friend. I'd go to the store and buy paper and notions and plan out beautiful pages. Most of my scrapbooks have a lot of writing in them. Scrapbooking is my first foray back into writing. I still drool over paper and make cutesy things but I don't fill entire scrapbooks anymore. That's why the Mac and making albums online was invented.

*Long lunches and shopping with friends. I used to go for long walks and talks up north with a dear friend. Now? Well, I'd walk and talk still, but we also used to go for lunch once a week and explore the area together at least twice a month along with our walks. Now? Well, I'd schedule it, but it would be less frequent due to all the writing I am doing.

*Long talks on the phone. I let the phone ring till the answering machine picks up. I still have long talks with long distance friends, but I tend to use my walk time as talk time now. I multi-task. There are two or three people that I will drop all my work for if they call. They know who they are. But for the most part, I am typing on my computer.

*Uber volunteer mom duties at church and at the darling daughter's school. Now I keep it to a minimum. In fact, I stopped going to church on a regular basis just to avoid getting sucked into the volunteer vortex. I know. Selfish. But I still read my bible, pray, and love God. I just don't want to get stuck in "Martha Land" again. And those of you who read and study the bible know exactly who Martha is--she was that sister in the kitchen doing all the cooking and cleaning while her sister Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus loving Him and adoring Him. I guess I am "Mary" now. I can love and adore Him at home or when I am outside walking in His glorious world.

*Putting up with negative people. If someone isn't positive or edifying in my life, I tend to cut that person out pretty quick. I need positivity. I crave it. This business is tough enough without having a Negative Nellie whining about life or putting my dreams down. I don't have patience for that kind of stuff anymore. Course this could just be because I am getting older and pickier about my friendships. There's only so much time in the day. Why waste it with someone who isn't fun or positive?

Those are the main things that I have given up. They were necessary losses because I had to cut them in order to make room for the new growth in my life. I think the most important thing I weeded out was the impact of negative people.

So what about you? What necessary losses have you incurred to pursue your dream?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Secret Engagement

What keeps you engaged in a book?

Oh, I know the front cover might have enticed you to pick it up. Or maybe it was what you read on the back cover. Or maybe it's an "automatic buy" because you love the author's other books. But what keeps you turning the pages, staying up late at night to finish a chapter, and leaving the laundry piled beside the washing machine just so you can find out what happens next?

Recently, I recommended one of my favorite books to a co-worker who is also working on her master's degree. I was a little worried when I loaned it to her because we have very different tastes in many things. I thought there was a good chance she would not be as enthralled as I had been with this book.

I gave her the book on Friday, and on Monday she appeared at my desk with a scowl on her face. "If I fail anatomy this semester, it's going to be your fault. I cannot put that book down!" We launched into an intense discussion about how the author had sucked us in. For me, it was the perfect recipe of character, plot, and detail. For my friend, it was voice and the eloquent writing style.

How about you? What keeps you in the book?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

NAME THAT BLOG!!

Okay. I wanted to do something different this month and thought a give-away would be fun.

I'm always interested in finding new blogs and/or pages that deal with writing. So, in the comments section, let me know what some of your favorites are and why you like them (no worries - it could be simply because it's a fun read).

In exchange, I'm giving away a $10 BAMM gift card. Your comment will be numbered in the order it is posted. I will draw a number from a bowl for the winner. (Thanks in advance to my "bowl-holder" Jeanie!!!)

The contest will close at the end of the day and I will draw a winner first thing tomorrow morning. Good luck!!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Is That a Gun in Your Pocket or Are You Just Happy to See Me?

Anyone who wasn’t there for Lyn Stone and Peggy Webb’s wonderful, funny and informative speeches on Saturday missed a real treat! These two ladies are two of the best romance has to offer and I learn something new from them every time I meet them.

This time I found Peggy’s talk about “triggers” to be somewhat intriguing. While I know we would all love to be able to fall asleep and dream half a novel (I really want to hate her for that, but she is just so darned cute and funny!) not many of us have that ability. BUT, I have a sneaky suspicion we all have the ability to find what our writing “triggers” are and make good use of them. Perhaps some of you already have!

I have discovered, for instance, that if I am driving along in my car and let my mind wander to any one of the stories percolating in my head, invariably I hear this great conversation or see this great scene in my head. Fabulous, right? Not so fabulous! Ever try to write down dialogue on a McDonald’s bag with an eyebrow pencil? That poor sheriff is probably STILL scratching his head! I did buy a little mini recorder for just that reason. And as soon as I figure out how to operate it I’ll be in business. So, one of my triggers is driving in my car. Got it.

I also find that if I am busier than the devil in a high wind at work my characters INSIST on piping up with some vital bit of information that they think I just have to write down at once. Fortunately I always have a pocketful of index cards handy. The girls in the bakery are used to seeing me stop in mid-sentence, hold up a hand and scribble something down before I continue whatever it was I was doing. Trigger? Who knows! Bread baking. Kids screaming. Really BAD fashion statements. Something amid the hustle and bustle of Walmart sends me to Regency England.

Now, where it becomes more difficult is when I have no trigger at all. Nothing. Zippo. Not just no trigger – no gun, no bullets. I might as well be at an anti-NRA rally! As if I’ve been strip-searched at the Frankfurt airport by a big security guard named Helga and had everything that even LOOKS like it might have a trigger thrown in the trash and been sent merrily on my way with a nice Wiedersehn from my current WIP.

That’s where Peggy Webb’s mention of writing triggers comes in. If none of my automatic triggers works then I just have to come up with some triggers on my own. Sounds easy, right? Well let me see. I do have to have tea to write. Milo’s iced tea (sweetened, of course, are you nuts?) in warm weather and Earl Gray when the weather is colder. No tea, no write. Sometimes I need music – particularly for love scenes or scenes of great emotional conflict. Instrumental music – no words. I haven’t tried lighting candles or anything of that nature, but maybe I should.

So, what are your writing triggers? What helps you to sit in the chair and pour your heart out onto the page? What helps you to get jump started when nothing else seems to work. Let’s talk about triggers, y’all. Being Southern Belles we know all about guns and ammo. What sorts of things will help us all to bag that book contract, that agent, that contest win or the prize buck of them all – that NYT Bestseller? Ready. Aim. Fire Away!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

People Watching

Take a cruise--get material for your next manuscript.

At least that is how I will justify it when I give the information to my accountant. To my way of thinking, it should be okay to write off the expense of the trip. I spent most of the day laying by the pool people watching. Well, that doesn't account for the breaks I took to get breakfast, a snack, lunch, a snack and a couple of adult beverages but I needed to keep up my strength.

With my shades in place, I religiously maintained my vigil, keenly observing my fellow passengers as they enjoyed the trip. My husband accused me of being a slug. No, no, I assured him. I'm getting material for my next book.

I identified the newly married. They were attached at the hip to their spouse; while all the time, gazing lovingly into each other's eyes. The single set was also easy to identify. Both males and females were dressed to be noticed and consuming one after another adult beverage without a comment as to their cost. I know for a fact that all of them must still be living at home, because no one with rent or a mortgage to pay could afford the number of drinks they guzzled at $9.75 per pop.

On day two at sea I delved deeper into my research. I now began to guess the vocation of each of my fellow cruisers. One group of middle aged women had to be sorority sisters holding a reunion. An elderly man and woman appeared to be celebrating some milestone wedding anniversary. They even acted alike. One very uptight man was surely an accountant. He wore a long sleeved shirt the whole time and was never seen without his laptop.

Finally, there were the LSU fans. They were impossible to miss; walking arrogantly around in their purple and gold jerseys. I decided they were not to my liking and would never be a part of my next book as I watched the Alabama-LSU game on that sad Saturday afternoon. When it finished playing out, I headed for an adult beverage or two. The heck with what it cost--I needed consolation!

Later I would find that the group of women were not sorority sisters, but neighbors in a subdivision, the elderly man and woman were not a couple, they were siblings and the accountant was actually a pest control inspector who just loved his laptop.

I think I might need to do some additional research. Now, if only I can afford another vacation to perfect my skills.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Romance Magician Chris Bailey

Chris Bailey's writing for hire has appeared online, in numerous U.S. newspapers and in mailboxes across the U.S. and Canada. The hopeful author-to-be is circulating a completed manuscript featuring a political consultant who combats fraud on the campaign trail. And continuing to write.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Self Worth

Our self worth is tied to our successes. We don't even recognize it until we flunk a class or burn a meal. It is then that we face that wall of failure. How do we react? Anger? Depression? Sadness? Sometimes it's a combination of all. It may not even last long, just a glimmer of it sliding across our consciousness before we move on.

Think about it, every day we succeed at something. Even if it means that success is measured in getting to work on time or the socks are picked up. That is a triumph. As writers it is finishing the story, writing your pages, editing something that measures our success. Interestingly, we tend to focus on those successes in a fleeting way.

What we like to do is zero in our failures. We pick up the phone to call our friends or family to complain about what we did wrong; forgetting to call a client, losing your temper at work, or leaving your freshly made coffee in that special travel mug at home (sacrilege!). We even gather together over coffee to dwell on the rejections that arrived today or the judge in a contest that ripped the story apart.

With each negative thing our self worth, even our creativity takes a hit. Staggering we get back up, but the damage is done. The scar is there. As writers, the wounds are deep and we nurse them, even as we attack our stories to fix them and make them better, stronger. Just like that burned meal, when you remake it you remember what did not work. The next time it comes out perfectly.

The point? Keep writing.

In order to strengthen our failing self worth, we need to fortify our writing. The scars are still there, but if we allow the blows of negativity to bring us to our knees and we stop writing -- what was the point of starting in the first place?

Do you think someone like Julia Child could make the perfect French meal the first time she tried or the second, or third?

Every success comes from numerous hits to your self worth. You have to hit the bottom to appreciate what it looks like on top. It takes hard work and tenacity to get where you want to go.

Look at what you have accomplished: Have you finished a book or more? Have you plotted the next story? Determined characters? Reworked the scene? Sent out a partial? Have you taken a class to work on what you struggle with?

If you don't strive, you don't move. I'm going to move and drag my self worth along with me.

What kind of blows to your self worth have you taken recently? What are you doing to counter them?

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Romance Magician Rashda Khan

Rashda Khan is a West Texas-based food enthusiast and writer. She teaches culinary classes and writes The Family Table column for her local newspaper. She also day dreams of hunky paranormal heroes, magic and mischief and writes them down as stories. Other than that, she's raising a family of two children, two cats, two dogs and a husband.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

New Author?

I love discovering a new author. I’m especially amazed when I read a great book and discover that my new author isn’t new at all, that his/her work has been on the bookshelves for years. Then it’s time to play catch-up.

I was privileged to see Lisa Kleypas speak a few years ago, and I started reading her shortly after. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a huge fan of historical romance, partly because I don’t write it. I'm in awe of those who do. Lisa writes historical romances like no other. I’m ALWAYS captured from that first page and riveted until the last. Her descriptions are wonderful, her characters unforgettable, and she seems to easily pull me into a world I never want to leave.

Have you discovered a new author recently? Maybe one you realized is not so new?