Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

One of my favorite horror storytellers is Stephen King. And my all time favorite of his is... It.

Keeping with the spirit of the day, share your all time favorite scary story.

Friday, October 28, 2011

I'm So Fat Even My Writing Needs a Diet !!

I recently received notes and a request from an agent as a result of a contest. YAY, right? Absolutely. And while the agent said lots of nice things about my voice, my characters and the story; she also said something that sent this bona fide adjective junkie in search of the nearest thesaurus like a cop looking for the closest Krispy Kreme! My descriptions were “evocative, perfect” and there were WAY TOO MANY OF THEM! Eeeek! Telling me my writing is too descriptive is like telling me chocolate is too sweet. Oh the humanity!

She said my baby is too fat. SOB!

I, of course, immediately sought the opinion of someone I trust implicitly. To my horror this person said “Yep. The kid’s a porker. You need to trim that fat. Can I get you an axe?”

What’s a fat writer to do? That is my question, dear readers. My wonderful story needs a diet and NOW! Anyone have any tips, clues, fen fen for manuscripts?

And do you think descriptions are different for different genres? I write Regency set historicals. I don’t want to write dress-up historicals – thinly veiled contemporaries in Regency drag. But I don’t want my stories to be bogged down beneath avalanches of adjectives. How do you decide how much is too much?

“The road to hell is paved with adjectives.”

Stephen King

Great, now my poor baby has to face two of the greatest fears a Southern woman can endure – Being fat and Going to hell. I can just hear my mama now.

I need an intervention. I need some guidance. I need a really big butcher knife to take to this manuscript! This is all too much for me. Talk amongst yourselves while I go in search of a Krispy Kreme!

Thursday, October 27, 2011


On November 5th, 2011 is the Southern Magic Romance Readers Luncheon.  Among the authors attending is Christie Craig, a versatile writer who not only writes fun adult contemporary romances, she also writes Y.A. paranormal under the name C.C. Hunter.  When I had the opportunity to interview her for this blog, I jumped at it. Please join me in welcoming her to Romance Magicians. You will find her a delightful, sharp, and  an inspiring woman.
                                                                             M.V. Freeman
What made you want to write YA?
Well, my story is a little different than most. I wasn’t writing or planning on writing a YA. One could call it luck, but I think it’s more about synchronicity. I had finaled in a contest years before and gotten my book in front of Rose Hilliard at St. Martin’s Press. She liked it but didn’t make an offer. Later, when I got an agent, we sent Rose a proposal for a humorous paranormal romance. Rose loved it and took it to the committee to buy. But it didn’t make the cut. However, she loved my voice. She kept an eye on my career as I started to publish. Then, when they were looking for writers for their new YA program, she contacted my agent and asked if I would be interested in trying my hand at writing a YA. I almost said no, because I didn’t have a clue if my voice would work in the YA market. When I shared my concerns with Rose, she said the reason she’d thought of me for this was because of my voice. She said I was a smarta$$ and teens liked that. Who would have guessed that being a smarta$$ would have gotten me somewhere in life? Especially when my mama told me it wouldn’t. LOL.

What difficulties did you face writing YA as opposed to your adult books?
Well, anytime you write in another genre, you need to be familiar with it. And because I wasn’t, I had to learn it and learn it quick. I read about a dozen YA books in a week. I analyzed what common elements they all shared. And what made them unique. Then I compared my notes to what I was writing, and figured out how YA books differed from Romance books. The one thing Rose Hilliard told me was to make sure not to change my voice. She didn’t want me to talk down to the readers. So I had to keep the voice, but I had to take some serious trips down memory lane to recall all the things that were important to me when I was sixteen. Because writing a YA meant I was going to have to get into the character of a sixteen year old girl.

Can you describe the series?
When Rose came to me, she had a two-word pitch. Paranormal camp. But for me, a story doesn’t come alive until I have my characters and the internal issues that my characters will face. I came up with a story about a sixteen year girl struggling to figure out who she is, only to discover that she doesn’t know what she is. Imagine being sixteen and told you weren’t human. Especially when you didn’t even know that non-humans existed. So the story’s theme is one of an identity crisis. It’s something I think teens and, heck, women of all ages face as we move from one stage of our lives to the other. Of course, there are also other threads running through the story, like friendship and romance. The title of the series is Shadow Falls, and Awake at Dawn is the second book in the series just released Oct. 11th.

What is your writing process? i.e. Do you write a set number of hours, pages? Do you write a rough first draft? Clean? Do you revise?
I work anywhere from eight to twelve hours a day. It’s not uncommon for that to be seven days a week. However, if I’m not on a deadline, I will take off early on the weekends so I can spend extra time with my family. Writing for two publishers and doing some self-publishing requires a lot of work. But since I love my work, it doesn’t feel so bad. I wish I could be so organized that could set out and write a certain amount of pages a day. But I never know how many will come out of me. I’ve written as many as 40 pages in a day, and as little as three. It all depends on how well the story is flowing and if the characters are talking to me. I’m dyslexic, and my first drafts are always riddled with mistakes, spelling errors, typos, and missing words. However, my first drafts are usually pretty clean when it comes to characters and plot. I will sometimes go back and up the conflict in a scene if I realize I didn’t bring it out enough. And I have been in the early stages of a book and came up with some plot twist and decided I needed to go back in and foreshadow it.

I usually reread and polish yesterday’s pages in the morning before I start the new pages for the day. Even then, I have lot of typos and nothing I write goes to the publisher without being read by my faithful critique group.

For the writers: Are you plotter, pantser, or both?
I am a true blue pantser. However, the business side of writing often tries to push me into being a plotter by insisting on little things called synopses and such. How dare they, huh? LOL. So now I will write a synopsis, but my editors know that things will probably change. I recently had another published friend ask to see my YA synopsis because she was attempting to write a YA. I sent it to her and after she read it she called me laughing. She couldn’t believe that at the end of the synopsis I wrote. I do not know who the villain is who lives inside the camp, but it will be the least likely person the reader will suspect. My friend asked me, did you really send that to your editor? I did. And honestly, my editor likes it like that. I haven’t even decided which guy my heroine will end up with at the end of the series. I mean…you know teenagers, my heroine might just change their mind. LOL. However, Rose says she likes me not knowing because then even the readers can’t figure it out.

What inspires you? (Music, movies, people?)
All of the above. I can honestly say that I think life inspires me. Which is why it’s important to find time for a life. It’s easy to submerse yourself in nothing but your work, but to do that is dangerous. When you stop living, you become susceptible to facing a lack of creativity. Even though I work too much, I still make time to walk, to chat with friends, to spend romantic evenings with my husband, to babysit my granddaughter, and to make sure I have plenty of time for laughter. Laughter, family, friends, and career, that’s the recipe for my life. Well, throw in some wine and chocolate and you’ll have it right.

What comes after this current YA book? Another YA or Adult?
The last book I completed was Blame it on Texas, the second book in my Hotter in Texas series, which is a humorous romantic suspense trilogy I’m doing for Grand Central/Forever as Christie Craig. It will release Sept. 2012. I’m about to start the fourth book in my YA series. It’s not even titled yet and I have a feeling I’ll be hearing from my editor this week about getting her some suggestions for the new title. The next book to release will be Taken at Dusk, April 2012, which is the third book in the Shadow Falls series.                                                            

How fast do you write? For example does it take you a year from start to finish? or months?
I write three and a half books a year. Hence, the eight to twelve hours a day. LOL. It’s a tough schedule but as I said, I do love what I do. Most of the time I can finish a book in two months—but then there’s the editing I do after I get all the critiques back from my group. And as most people know, being a writer involves more than just writing. I have to work on copy edits, promotions, emails, blogs, research, and staying on top of the market by reading. So I generally give myself three months to write a book.

Thank you so much for having me here today. I love talking about writing. And I can’t wait to see everyone in November!

Christie Craig.
AKA C.C. Hunter

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Queen of Excuses

Last month, Southern Magic hosted an all-day workshop featuring experts in crime scene investigation, law enforcement, methods used by private investigators, and criminal defense and prosecution. A virtual smorgasbord for hungry suspense writers. No questions were deemed unworthy and answers poured forth based in fact and enriched by individual experiences. No names were revealed in order to protect the innocent/guilty, of course. I took copious notes, came out of lurkdom with a few questions myself, and enjoyed a fabulous lunch. All in all, a pretty great day.

Last Saturday, a kickoff was held for the upcoming NaNoWriMo or National November Writing Month, during which the brave/determined and the not-so-brave/but still determined will write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Enough said.

After getting off work tonight, I drove to two different bookstores in order to find several of my favorite authors' new releases on their release days. (At some future date I'll stop my endless internal debate over Kindle vs Nook and just buy one!) Of course while there, I had to purchase the highly recommended No Plot, No Problem so that I'll know how to write a novel in 30 days. (See paragraph above.)

November 5 is our much-anticipated Readers' Luncheon. Drum roll, please.

"Okay, what's your point, Marie," you ask. Well, it's simple. We've been generously supplied with the information, the encouragement, the pep-talks/threats (whichever you prefer), to help us accomplish our goals. And let's not forget the overwhelming support of our published fellow magicians. For those of us who tend to procrastinate, no more excuses.

Game on.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Editors make you look great

As I sit at my computer my mind wanders back to my editing. I'm close to finishing my edits and I realize just how valuable my publisher's assigned editor is. My fears of, will my novel be dissected and fed back to me turned around, not recognizable as the story I wrote. No. The story is still fully recognizable.

What she changed were phrases or sentences that better converyed to the reader what I actually meant for a particular scene. The changing of just one word does make a difference in the emotions of a scene. This being done without altering the intent of the scene.

Did I make errors in spelling, and grammer. Yes I did. The old cliche (can't see the forest for the trees) is very true. We are inside our story and can't see the small details. This is because we have had this story in our heads for a long time. A fresh set of eyes see what our minds gloss over.

Once I'm actually published I will send my editor a thank you e-mail. She deserves it, because without her my novel would sink to the bottom of the sea with my shame.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Upcoming Events for Lovers of Books

Our annual Readers Luncheon is November 5.  Not only do we have the fantastic Victoria Dahl as our keynote speaker and the always amazing Jennifer Echols as the welcome speaker, but we also have a killer list of authors who will be hosting tables.  This is a great event, and Birmingham is fortunate to have it.

However, it isn't the only great Birmingham event for readers.  The first weekend in February, mystery fans delight in Murder in the Magic City - a one day readers convention at the Homewood Library featuring mystery writers discussing their books and love of writing.

Hot on the heels of Murder in the Magic City is Southern Voices hosted by the Hoover Library.  Southern Voices is a four-day conference exploring Southern culture as reflected in contemporary arts.  The Saturday programming features Southern authors who share their stories.  This event sells out within days of tickets going on sale.

Shortly after Southern Voices, the Heart of Dixie RWA chapter holds its annual Readers Luncheon.  This event always pleases by bringing together the best romance writers in the area.

If you are a reader, you couldn't be in a better location.  Get your calendar out so you can make sure you don't miss these outstanding events.  Did I leave any out?  What other opportunities are near by for readers?

Don't forget to buy your tickets to our Readers Luncheon by November 1.  They are $35 and can be purchased through the Southern Magic website.  Authors in attendance include:

Fred ArceneauxChristie Craig
Margaret Fenton Delores Fossen Lexi George
Debby Giusti
Debra Glass
Lynn Raye Harris
 Laura Hayden
Patti C. Henry
Suzanne Johnson
Debbie Kaufman

Kimberly Lang
J.F. Lewis
Kathleen Long
Janice Lynn

Rosemary Clement-Moore
Lacie Nation
Christy Reece
Naima Simone
Arabella Stokes
Sandy Sullivan
Carla Swafford
Chandra Sparks Taylor
T.K. Thorne
Peggy Webb
Shannon West

Barbara Westbrook

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Vicious Cycle

My sister is a fashionista.

I am a rebel.

I hate to shop. I do not want to be a puppet of the clothing industry.

I could declare myself antisocial. Which reminds me of my mother.

I am a rebel.

I do not want to lock my doors, close the curtains, and eat a bowl of cereal for supper at 6 p.m.

Plus, I’ve been invited to go somewhere. Somewhere nice, with nice people. The Romance Readers Luncheon at the Harbert Center in downtown Birmingham Nov. 5. I can’t miss keynote speaker Victoria Dahl, or welcome speaker Jennifer Echols, Southern Magic’s very own Young Adult author. Or the other two dozen or so role-model authors who will be there.

The thing is, the classic outfit I bought ten years ago with the aid of a personal shopper--the knit sweater set and skirt I could wear anywhere, forever, is clearly dated. In order to participate in life, instead of just writing about it, this fangirl has to go shopping.

It’s not quite true that I never shop. I flip through the catalogs that overflow my mailbox. My chest of drawers boasts a complete wardrobe of swimsuits. I browse the pro shop at every country club where I play tennis. My closet is lined with tennis skirts and tops, some of them inappropriately ruffled for my age. And when I’m looking for a bargain on some staple item like laundry detergent, I swing through the athletic wear department at Wal-Mart. I own an astounding variety of white tank tops and black yoga pants.

However, when it comes to non-athletic events, dread overshadows anticipation. I not only have to give up writing time, I have to shop for something suitable to wear. The longer I stay away from the stores, the more deep-rooted my phobia becomes.

In my dream world, the one in which I’m a successful author with a staff a retinue an entourage, one of my adoring and beloved minions delivers the perfect ensemble, fresh and ready to wear, whenever I need to greet the public.

MINION! Where are you? I need to write, but I’m stressed about what to wear!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Emotional Rollercoaster of A Debut Author

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."
~ A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.

Let me start with a few highs:

My debut novella, THE DJINN'S DILEMMA, from Harlequin Nocturne comes out Nov. 1.WooHoo! Almost there!

And I love the cover.

The artist totally captured my story about a djinn-assassin,Rukh,who hunts in the shadows and then falls desperately in love with his human target. The only way to save Sarah is to find out who wants her dead and stop them before someone else finishes the job.

Also, the lightning is an integral part of the story! LOVE it!

I have read and written since childhood, and always wanted to be an author (okay, sometimes I wanted to be author/vet or lawyer or rockstar), so this first step in publication is a dream come true. I should be super excited...and a part of me is, but another part of me scared out of my mind. Eeeep! My story is coming out Nov. 1. Eeeeep!

Fear #1: I'm clueless about what to do beyond writing the story. Here's my sad tale: I didn't realize my novella is available for pre-order until a kind friend told me. Yikes! In this day and age, an author has to do so much more than just the write the story and I don't know what to do and if I'm doing enough.

Fear #2: No one (besides family, friends, editor & agent) is going to like my story.

Now, I have laughed out loud and cried as I wrote the story, and edited it and re-read it over and over to be sure I hadn't imagined it. I know The Djinn's Dilemma is a good story. But the fear niggles.

It hasn't helped that when I mention the story is paranormal erotic romance, I get the oddest reactions.

One man asked if I'd let my 6-year-old read the book. Um, no. I don't write for that age group, I write for adults.

Of course, I get THE LOOK, followed by "Oh, you write dirty books." In fact, one lady took it upon herself to shout it out at a party. Yeah, I was the center of attention.

The first time it happened, I was stunned. Now I respond, "No, I write sexy books. And yes, The Djinn's Dilemma has amazing sex between two consenting and committed adults who are racing against time & bad guys to stay alive."

Several wise author friends, who are further along the publication road, shared some wonderful advice:

1. Don't worry about things you can't control.

2. Don't obsess over sales #s on Amazon and other sites.

3. Don't read reviews & DO NOT answer reviews.

And they all gave me one big DO:


Any other do's and don'ts I should keep in mind?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Interview with Harlequin Intrigue Author Delores Fossen

My friend and fellow Intrigue author, Delores Fossen, will be attending this year's Southern Magic Readers' Luncheon. So I thought I'd do a short Q & A with Delores to introduce her to some of you who may not know her.

Q: How did you sell your first book to Harlequin Intrigue? Had you sold anything else before then?

Delores: I consider myself very lucky and blessed with my first Intrigue sale. I submitted a partial to Senior Editor Denise Zaza, and six days later she called to buy the book. Six days before that I'd sold a western romance to another New York publisher so needless to say, it was one of the best times of my life. Two "calls" in one week! I broke my bed jumping up and down in celebration, and it's possible that people on other continents heard me whoop for joy.

Q: What's the oddest bit of research you've ever had to do?

Delores: For one of my Intrigues, I had my heroine running through the Texas Hill Country. I have some land (very rural) in Bulverde, Texas. Actually, it's a three acre hill, and I decided to run up it to time how long it would take my heroine to escape the gunmen after her. I weighed myself down with all the things my heroine was supposed to be carrying. Little did I know that on the other side on the hill was a herd of my neighbor's longhorns that had broken fence and moseyed onto my land. Well, they didn't mosey when I screamed at the top of my lungs, and I caused a mini stampede.

Q: What non-writing experiences in your life have most prepared you to be a writer?

Delores: I've had a variety of careers--an Air Force officer, special ed teacher, rehab counselor and at times I was a stay-at-home mom to my four children. I also lived in England for eight years and have traveled all over the world. My family used to tell me I did those things because I couldn't make up my mind about what I wanted to do or see. There's some truth in that, but now I pull from all those experiences and travels. I'm always on the hunt for a new adventure to give me even more material for my books and because I still love doing new things.

Q: Do you have a favorite series you've written, and if so, what makes it special to you?

Delores: My upcoming series, THE LAWMEN OF SILVER CREEK RANCH, is my favorite (so far). It's about a family of six brothers who are all cowboy cops. There's some dysfunction, an old murder to solve, lots of danger and plenty of romance. I do know a little about the in's and out's of a big family because I have six sisters. (Yes, six!) The first book of the series, GRAYSON, comes out in November.

Q: Are you a plotter, a pantser or somewhere in between?

Delores: I call myself a plotting pantser. I write the first three chapters by the seat of my pants and then stop and plot so I can do a detailed synopsis. I hate doing the synopsis, but without it I'm sure I'd have plot holes the size of Texas.

Q: What's on tap for you, book-wise, in 2012?

Delores: My new 6-book Intrigue series, The Lawmen of Silver Creek Ranch, will continue in 2012 with NATE in January, KADE is July, GAGE in August and MASON in September. In January, I also have a novella, "Cold Heat" in the ICE LAKE anthology with fellow authors and friends, BJ Daniels and Julie Miller. Finally, in December, CHRISTMAS RESCUE AT MUSTANG RIDGE (working title) hits the shelves.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

One Week And Counting

Some mornings I have to pull up Amazon or Barnes and Noble to see if it was a dream. I'm always surprised and delighted to find out it's true. I do have a book coming out a week from today. On my blog, I started the celebration by showing pictures of who best represents the characters in my book. So I thought I would share one of them here.

Vin Diesel is who I imagine as a secondary character, Jack, who appears in Circle of Desire (coming out 10/18) and again in Circle of Danger that comes out next year. I'm hoping all goes well and his story is the fourth book (keeping fingers crossed that Avon Impulse will want more from me). My editor already asked that I make the third book (they haven't bought yet) a certain other secondary character (Rex) she really liked. She has good taste by the way.

I usually have an actor in mind when I write my books. Helps me fill in physical traits (Jack has a shaved head, tats and piercings), though the character traits are from my imagination.

Then be on the look out for my blog tour that will start with an interview on Christine Glover's blog, Digging Out of Distraction.  I do know during the tour, I will be giving away two $25 gift cards. [10/17 Note:This was changed on 10/15 to 1 $25 Amazon card and 3 $10 B&N cards - one per winner] One from Amazon (provided by Avon Impulse) and another one from Barnes and Noble (provided by me). I may have some more surprises, so be on the look out on my blog and website.

OCT. 17 -- Among The Muses
OCT. 18 --
Readers Girls

OCT. 19 --
Black Velvet Seductions
OCT. 20 --
Heart of the Dragon's Den
OCT. 21 -- I Just Wanna Sit Here and Read

Special requested dates:
OCT. 16 -- Christine Glover's

OCT. 24 -- Patricia Preston's Blog
OCT. 25 -- Christy Reece's Blog
NOV. 11 -- Mary Freeman's Blog - Blame It On The Muse

Don't let me hang out there by myself. PLEASE. And if you would like me to be a guest on your blog, just click on my website link above and email me (you will find it under CONTACT ME). Blogspot said spammers are bad about picking up email addresses off posts. But links must not have the problem. 

So what is the question I would like to see answered in the comments? What actor have you imagined as the hero in one or more of your books?

P.S. Paula and I switched blog days.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Seconds, anyone?

There is a thing that happens to writers after they get published. I won’t call it a phenomenon, because I’ve heard too many writers say they’ve met this beastie face to face. I’m talking about ‘sophomore book syndrome.’

Since most writers have written several books by the time they get published, the term is misleading. It refers to the second book after publication, and it is very real.

I know, because it happened to me.

There are a number of things, I think, responsible for this dreaded affliction. When you’re writing the book that FINALLY gets published, you’re not under a deadline. It’s your passion, your joy, your frustrating and exhilarating obsession, but you’re on your own time. The only pressure to perform, to create, is the pressure you put on yourself and the insistence of the voices in your head.

After you get The Call and you’re under contract, you’re on THEIR time. And, if you’re like me, you have a day job, a family, a messy house, flowerbeds full of weeds, piles of laundry to wash, dry, fold and put away, groceries to buy and meals to cook—teenagers, for some reason, insist on being fed—church obligations, social obligations. The list goes on and on.

Don't get me wrong, there’s nothing like The Call. For the first few weeks, you walk around in a daze, grinning like a jackass eating briars, thrilled and humbled by your good fortune. You pinch yourself until you’re black and blue, because your dream is coming true.

Then you realize you have to do it again, and that’s when it starts.

What if it was a fluke? What if you can’t do it again? What if your publisher HATES book two? This is my personal favorite and the anti muse that screamed loudest in my head, because I knew going in that book two would be different from book one.

What if the readers hate it and it sucks so bad the publisher yanks your contract, brands you with a big LOSER stamp, and tosses you back in the slush pile?

My publisher has been very generous with me time-wise. I cannot play the ‘I didn’t have time’ card. But, I am a slow writer, and that added to my anxiety.

I made my deadline, thank goodness, but I landed myself in the hospital in the process. Wore myself slap out with worry and pressure, and self doubt.

So, how do you avoid sophomore book syndrome? You don’t. It’s like a cold. Some writers will get it and some lucky ones won’t. And it doesn’t necessarily end with the second book. It can strike at any time, whether it be your second book or your twenty-second.

If you do succumb, take deep breaths. Every time a negative thought creeps into your head, push it away and replace it with something positive. You CAN write. You WON’T fail. The book WILL be good.

Avoid, whenever possible, negative people and situations. They will drain you and shut you down. If you can’t write at home, go somewhere else. Retreat to your local library or your church, or the nearest Starbucks. Hide out in your office on the weekend or hang out at a friend’s house while they're on vacation. With their permission, of course. Otherwise, it's called breaking and entering.

Be good to yourself. Surround yourself with creative friends, especially other writers. Put on your shoes and take a walk. Exercise will clear your head, energize you, and lower your soaring cortisol levels. Read a good book or go see a movie. It will get your creative juices flowing and refuel your muse.

Give yourself permission to let some things slide, like the dust bunnies or the overflowing closet. You are allowed to be selfish, if only a few hours of the day. Bach had 20 children and two wives. How much would he have accomplished if he’d had to change all those diapers?

Reacquaint yourself with your crockpot, and explain to the spouse and kids that the dishwasher is not a portal to another dimension. They can unload it without danger of being sucked into an abyss.

Really. My husband lived in terror until I explained this to him.

Write, write, write. Keep moving forward. Even if you’re certain that every word is crap, get something on paper. You can’t revise an empty page.

Most of all, try to remember the joy and the creative urge that lead you to write in the first place. There’s a reason you’re a writer. You’ve got a story to tell.

So tell it.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Fear and Self-Loathing in Writersville

Multiple choice:
         A. Writing is the perfect occupation for someone who’s shy or introverted or insecure because she can hide behind her words.
        B. Writing is the worst-possible occupation for someone who’s shy or introverted or insecure because, if she hopes to be successful, she has to open herself up to strangers, maybe even in public.
        C. All of the above.

Yeah, we all know C is correct, the ying and yang of authordom.

For a long time, the release of my first book coming in April 2012 was a remote, nebulous thing. People even stopped asking when it would come out because a 24-month lag time between contract and release is too long a time to comprehend in this digital day and age.

A year passed between final revisions and copyedits. Cover blurbs from other authors who were kind enough to read the manuscript trickled in. Publisher catalog copy went through. Then, a couple of months ago, things started to pick up. Final page proofs. A cover. Library of Congress info to approve. An honest-to-God hold-it-in-my-hands ARC. Even early revisions and catalog copy on book two.

Still, it felt nebulous. The ARCs of Royal Street still haven’t gone out. No one has reviewed it except a couple of beta readers—plus a woman in Australia who couldn’t possibly have seen it yet rated it one star on Goodreads (she has since been removed, along with her offensive star).

Then one day, oh-em-gee. I had a freakin’ publicist. A few bookstores as far as Portland and Los Angeles had requested author events based on the catalog (are they insane?). I said, “Cool!” then stuck my head in the sand up to my shoulders, hoping to sniff up enough sand to suffocate me and end my growing panic.

See, I hide behind my words. Need a blog? I’m your girl. Want to chat by IM or email? I’m there. Teach an online course? No problemo.

Need me to stand in front of a group of people larger than two and actually string words together? Perform like a literate, entertaining author? God forbid, read something I've written? Not so much.

I’m not really shy, but I have that rather-die-than-do-public-speaking disease, and I’m extremely insecure. I don’t know—maybe that is shyness.

What can I say? Why would anyone care? All the old ghosts rise up to tell me I’m too old—closer to rage against the dying of the light than rage against the machine. I’m too round. My voice is too shaky. I have a hillbilly-goes-to-New-Orleans accent. I hate flying (can I drive to the west coast?), and have arthritic feet that don't like to walk much less run through airports. What if people realize I’m really just faking it—that I’m a journalist, not a novelist, and therefore have misrepresented myself? This whole novel thing is a fluke.

Suddenly, it all seems more scary than exciting. It seems not-so-nebulous anymore. It seems real.

Okay, I’ve worked myself into a lather. Going to peace out now. I figure I have five or six more months to develop a backbone and thicken my skin. Or hire someone to pretend to be me. Or snort a lungful of sand.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Good Ol' Paper

Last week, I started thinking about a book I wrote about 10 years ago. It's one of my favorite stories. It has a timeless premise, and I wondered if I could rewrite and update it. I knew the document wasn't on my new laptop, so I first checked my external hard drive that served as backup from my last computer.

Uh-oh. No file folder for the story, no documents, no nothing. And then I realized that 10 years ago was also 6 computers ago. After some serious searching, I found my "backup" floppy disks from 2001. I'm sure I could probably go to an antique store and buy something that would allow me to read these disks, but who wants to spend money on something so outdated?

The search made me pause to think about the rapid changes we've seen in storage techology. I have saved documents on (truly) floppy disks, rigid floppy disks, Sytec drives (whatever those were!), CDs, DVDs, external hard drives, and flash drives. And now cyber technology has given us the unseen cloud for storage. Where does it go from here?

Fortunately, I have two printed drafts of the book. And since I'm doing major rewriting anyway, I don't mind re-keying it. Sometimes old school is the best school.

Saturday, October 01, 2011


As many of you know, November is National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo. For those who don't know, writers participating in NaNoWriMo attempt to write 50,000 words of a novel in a single month.

As a parent of three with a full time day job outside the home, not to mention how busy November tends to be with holiday drama and school activities, this doesn't seem very practical for the everyday writer. So, I'm curious if any of you have attempted this feat? Was it a success and motivate you more or did it actually block your productivity?