Thursday, September 28, 2006

Motivated Hamster



A couple of days ago, I overheard my husband talking on the phone with his brother. He was updating him on the 'writing' side of my life. "She's just finishing up revisions. Then it starts all over again." Meaning as soon as I mailed in this book, I'd start writing the next. He was right. I knew this, but his take on the process made me feel like a hamster on one of those exercise wheels. Sort of going and going with no rest in sight. If I hop off, the wheel will continue to spin and I'll be forever trying to catch up or, horrors, standing in the wood shavings, immobile, as the wheel that is my career peters out.

I have read and heard many times that given the competetive market, a new or even midlist author needs to write two books a year to really launch or secure (as secure as one can be in the arts) a career. I've been doing just that since 2003. Writing two novel-length books a year. I'm contracted (thank God!) to continue that pace through 2008. For me, it's a frantic, admittedly stressful pace, but I am hoping that it will eventually pay off. I'm hoping that the longer I do it, the easier it will become. I'm hoping I'll learn how to balance a social and professional life. Between working a day gig and writing, I've pretty much forgotten what a feels like to relax. If I do break away, there's always that anxious feeling of falling behind on work related projects.

At his blog, author J.A. Konrath offers constant insight and advice for other writers. A recent post Time to Make Time (9/20) drove home the knowledge that I am not alone in my struggle to keep up. Konrath wrote:

...I've heard about writers who have things called "day jobs" and "families" and apparently these can take up a lot of time. So can "vacations" and "leisure" and "sleep."

But how can you fit any of that in when you're:

*Writing your next book
*Revising your previous book
*Answering email
*Updating your website
*Doing your blog
*Touring
*Going to conferences and conventions
*Visiting libraries
*Dropping in bookstores
*Sending out your newsletter
*Doing interviews
*Establishing a web presence
*Networking
*Schmoozing

Well, the answer is: you can't.


Oddly, I felt a little better reading that. I'm not alone and, hey, hello, I'm human. Konrath then offered a few tips on how to handle, well, being overwhelmed. I need to go back and read them again . . . over and over.

My point (yes, I do have one) is for any writer who is as driven as me and decides to write multiple projects a year. If you think you can write a book in four months, allow for six months in the contract. If you need six months to write it ask for eight. Why? Because all of those things Konrath listed above will come into play and eat up writing time. Per recent contracts, I allowed myself six months to write one book. Reasonable, I thought. Except it's yet to work out that way. When all was said and done (or not done) I ended up with a window of 4-5 months to write a story begining to end. As of today I am finally free of revsisions on a previous book and find myself left with exactly 4.5 months to write the next one.

Well, at least I'm consistent. And I know I can do it, because I have done it. Still, there's no stopping. No resting between projects. Not just now. I'm not complaining. I'm living my dream. I'm a little winded, but not beaten. Forget the Energizer Bunny. I'm the Motivated Hamster.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

My Almost Reward



I finished the revisions! I'm brain-dead, but I'm done. Still have to print out the manuscript, but I'm done. As this project was a mega-challenge, I think I deserve a special reward. I choose this car. It's on E-Bay. All I have to do is place a bid.

But wait! Someone beat me to it! Well, drat. Out-bid by a three-year-old. As the car went for $17,000, I'm thinking he must have one big piggy bank. *sigh* Fine. I'll just settle for a bag of Oreos. Oh, and a glass of cold milk. Yay, me.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Blog By

This is a Blog By. Zipping off to participate in a workshop for the library. A workshop I forgot about until late last night. Yikes! Then I have to finish up and print out my revised manuscript. TOMORROW is D-Day. Due Day. Then I have to revise a synopsis for the next book, also due this week. And then . . .

Yeah. It's one of those weeks. So much to do, so little time. I'll try to check in later today with a more reading-worthy post. Just now... gotta run.

Cheers
Beth-the-Blur

Monday, September 25, 2006

Make Believe Monday - A Fun Q&A

American Title II finalist, Debra Parmley invited me to be her guest for Make Believe Monday. Click here to read our fun exchange. Thanks for having me, Debra!

Fourteen Years Ago Today



And they lived happily ever after...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Will the real Beth Ciotta please stand up?

If you never saw the old game show To Tell The Truth? you won't get the reference in the above title. Doesn't matter. The point is, I'm complicated. Or rather, you can't judge an author by a book's content.

People who knew me before they read one of my books often comment on how shocked they were by certain graphic language or scenes. Not shocked as in repelled, but shocked as in--it's so not like me.

One girlfriend commented on a creative 'car sex' scene... "I was fanning myself thinking, I can't believe Beth wrote this!" Another emailed me to applaud my... "...prolific use of the 'F' word. I didn't know you had it in you. I'm impressed." In my defense, I heavily researched these particular male characters and, realistically, they, unlike me, would not say, fudge or flipping.

You see, in real life, I'm a bit of a modern-day Doris Day. Thing is, my characters although they come from me, are not me.

One of my favorite authors, Robert B. Parker, wrote about this very issue over at his Amazon blog. "In the years when I was trying (sort of) to teach fiction writing (unsuccessfully) a student asked if it was okay to write about life. I said, "as opposed to what?" Of course you write about life. Yours, quite often. But it is life filtered through the imagination and exists rather remote from the one being actually lived . . . does that make any sense?" It does to me! Click here and read more.

Have you ever met an author and been surprised by a personality that didn't quite gel with what you expected? I guess the same goes for actors. What we see on the screen isn't a true refection of who they are.

Artists. Such a complicated lot. Don't you love us? *g*

Winners and An Update

Popping in to announce randomly chosen winners from my 'What's His Story' Post. Thanks to everyone who contributed. Your creativity is inspiring! High tech person that I am (*snort*), I pulled three names out of a hat (Of which I own several, but never wear. Don't ask.). And the winners are.... Cynthia, Kristen and Charlene. If you'd like one of my books just email me at beth@bethciotta.com with the title of the book of your choice and a mailing address. You can check out the selection here.

In other news... still working on revisions.
Good news... I'm in the homestretch.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Reviews, Advice, and Acts of Courage

Ken Levine is reviewing television's new season in a series of posts. Because of my current deadline, I've been unable to watch the premieres. Nice to know I haven't missed that much.

J. A. Konrath's last two posts, The Five Habits of Highly Neurotic Authors and Time to Make Time were of particular interest to me. I read thinking, "I am not alone!"

Scott Oden exibits wisdom, courage, and grace. A true artist. My admiration for this man, this amazingly gifted writer, just doubled.

Meanwhile I am crunching on revisions that are due in a few short days. Due to day job and dream job, I won't be around much this weekend. Meanwhile YOU can still share a story in the post below. You'll not only make my weekend, you'll be eligable to win one of my books. Winner randomly chosen and announced on Sunday!

So what have you seen around blogosphere? Any 'must reads' to suggest?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

What's His Story? (aka Win a Story!)

So I'm working at the library yesterday, and I look up from the circulation desk and see this man at the copy machine--directly in front of us.

First I notice the back of his black T-shirt which reads: I Already Hate You

Okay.

Then I noticed his right arm was fully tattooed, colorful swirly patterns--red, orange, green, blue--from upper arm to wrist.

Interesting.

My co-worker thought he might be having trouble with the machine so she swung around front to offer assistance and when he angled to speak with her, I noticed his face was tattooed in those same brightly colored, swirly patterns. Co-worker noticed too, obviously. When she returned behind the desk we acknowledged each other with subtly raised brows, a silent, "Wow." I mean we're talking a fully tattooed face. All over. Like a tribal mask. I've never seen anything like it and I've seen a lot of brow-raising things.

First I thought, "Jeez." Then I thought, "Ouch." I mean that had to hurt, right? Then I thought, "It's very well done, arty, kind of sexy." (That tribal thing.) But then, "You're going to have to look at that in the mirror for THE REST OF YOUR LIFE." Me, I like to change up my make-up and hair color (as you know) now and then. Stuck with one dramatic look all the time? No, thank you.

Anyhoo, I told myself not to stare. Human art or no, it's rude to stare. So I averted my gaze and, in the process, noticed the rip in his jeans. The really big rip in the seat of his faded, baggy denims that revealed his right butt cheek! Thank God he was wearing underwear. White briefs. But still, you know, I really didn't need to see that. My co-worker saw too. Another united quirk of the brow. What the heck? I mean who walks around with thier underwear showing? And I'm not talking about the way the kids wear their pants low on their hips revealing the the top quarter of thier 'shorts'. I'm talking the entire right rear section and if he moved just so you could probably see more. No! I did not see more! Didn't want to. Thank you very much.

From the description, you may be thinking that said man had to be in his teens or twenties. He looked, in fact, to be in his early fifties. I'm not sure what I expected when he came up to the desk to pay for his copies. I mean his T-shirt did say: I Already Hate You. Turns out he was extremely nice. Soft-spoken and polite.

When he walked away I couldn't help wondering, what's his story?

What do you think? Who is this guy? What makes him tick? Tell me his story and become eligble to win your choice of any one of my published books! Check out the selection here. Already have my books? Play anyway. Holidays are around the corner. Books make great gifts and stocking stuffers. Come on everyone. Flex your imagination and share. What's his story?

P.S. Even if you don't want a book, share a story and make my day! *g*

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Save or Bury?

Yesterday was a marathon writing day. As was the day before. Today it'll be broken up a bit by a four hour work day at the library. I need that break. I'm so deep into revisions, so focused on key elements and specific scenes, that, as of 11:30 last night, I lost my sense of pacing for the overall story. I'm second-guessing myself anyway.

The thing about revisions--it's a domino effect. Every change you make touches previously written passages. Sometimes it grazes them, no harm done. Sometimes it knocks them off kilter, surgery required. Sometimes it topples them and you're staring at ruins, wondering how can I save this? Or should I bury this and let something new arise from dust?

That's where I left off last night. Reviewing a scene that now, because of heavy revisions to previous chapters, struck me as a pile of ruins. Because I kicked up the action in two aspects earlier on, this scene now reads like dead weight. I'm in the homestretch, I can't afford to bog pacing. On the other hand, there was some key info in that scene. Maybe it wasn't dead weight, so much as I was dead weight--meaning BURNT.

To make matters worse, the scene after that involved a character that I was asked to cut. There's only been mention of him twice earlier in the story. So twice I'd simply deleted a line or two--no big deal. But in this scene, the character was present and very much involved. Cutting him out completely in this instance was going to require a lot of work. Thus I stared at the entire chapter wondering, do I perform surgery and save it? Or do I bury it?

I stepped away from the computer, decided to sleep on it. As of this morning I'm still not sure. Axing that character is merely a pain-in-the-butt. I just have to do it. PACING is my bigger concern. A major concern. Unfortunately, this may require my backtracking and reading the story in its revised form from the beginning.

Ever read an interview where the author said that by the time he/she turned in revisions, they were numb to the story? This is how that happens.

Maybe some more coffee would help. *g*

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A Dose of Inspiration

Today author HelenKay Dimon posted a story about where she and a few fellow writer/friends were two years ago... and where they are now. By hopping around blogosphere, I was aware of most of these ladies triumphs. I applauded the sales as they trickled in, thrilled to see a writer's dream come true. I guess I didn't realize how the sales had accumulated. To see each author listed with multiple sales to mutiple houses... and all within a two year span? Wow. It's darn amazing.

Of course, these multiple sales would not have happened if not for the writers' dedication to craft, determination to succeed, and perseverance in the field. If you don't know this already--Psst. Here's a scoop. Pursuing a career in publishing ain't for wimps.

Five Things I've Learned on My Journey
1. Develop a thick skin
2. Hone your craft
3. Network
4. Set goals

and the big one...

5. Never give up

"Success is the good fortune that comes from aspiration, desperation, perspiration and inspiration." ~~Evan Esar

Monday, September 18, 2006

Cosmo Saves The Day

I'm in the nail-biting faze of revisions for ALL ABOUT EVIE. Must. Finish. This. Week. I don't have a creative thought to spare, so forget an inspiring or original post. Which means either no post or.... a quiz!

Found this one at Cosmo. Can't go wrong a Cosmo quiz. This one determines your secret-power. Click here, answer a few questions and discover your secret power. My results were pretty true to my personality right down to my own 'Just do it' motto. There were a few misses, but overall my 'profile' was pretty close. I'll include a snippet of what it said about me. I'll also highlight a few of the dream jobs, I have actually already tackled! Be sure to take the test and let us know the results. Here's mine!

YOU'RE A FREE SPIRIT
Secret Strength: open-mindedness

Words to describe you: unconventional, daring, adaptable, optimistic
Power profile: Some might call you a rebel, but you prefer "nonconformist." You'd rather follow your whims than follow the dress code, and when Nike came out with that "Just Do It" campaign, you thought they were pitching your personal motto. If the world didn't have people with "it's so crazy it just might work!" ideas like you do, there's no way we'd have cell phones, planes, or Napster. (Thanks!) But since spontaneity is your way of life, you tend to be a tad disorganized (just a tad!). Still, you're a charmer who everyone loves being around and who's known for turning even the most boring situation into a total blast.

Dream Jobs: Computer-game designer, fashion editor, novelist, actor, stockbroker, entrepreneur, celebrity publicist, international news reporter, personal trainer, makeup artist, musician, interior designer, master chef.

PS: I can tell you right now the computer-game designer, stockbroker, and master chef gigs... Ha! Those are so not in my stars. *g*

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Power of the Promo Shot

Yesterday, I posted about the catchy opening on author Barry Eisler's web site. I also posted his headshot. Although we did talk about that blurb and the premise of his books, that photo caused quite the stir.

All hubba-hubba references aside, that's a magnificent promotional headshot. His expression, the five-o-clock shadow, the dark attire--all help to convey the tone of his novels. If you scan his website, you'll see plenty of candid shots of Eisler smiling, clean-shaven, and wearing glasses. He looks like he has a great sense of humor. He looks like a nice guy. If he copped that look for his promotional headshot, he'd be setting the reader up for a different tone. Perhaps they'd be expecting a cozy mystery as opposed to an edgy thriller. Instead, for promotional purposes he opted for a dark and dangerous look, a perfect tie-in to his books.

Perception. Something to keep in mind, writers, when you invest in that professional headshot. Your clothes, your pose, your expression. Are you accurately setting the reader up for the tone of your work? Note Nora Roberts who also writes as J.D. Robb. She uses a softer photo (softer make-up, hair, light-colored suit) to promote her 'Roberts' romances. A tougher, sexier look (heavier make-up, darker clothing) for her edgier 'Robb' series. When you look at the author photo on the book jacket, she's setting the reader up for the tone of the book.

Performers run into a similar challenge. Often an agent, buyer, casting director will see the performer's headshot before they ever see their work. The headshot/bodyshot sets a tone, and if that tone is light, the actor might get passed over, never even considered for a darker role. The actor may well possess the chops, but the buyer has already been influenced by that headshot.

Actor Bruno Amato, recently ran into that problem. Although he auditions and lands roles for several various shows such HOUSE, ZOEY 101, and VERONICA MARS, he found he wasn't being considered for detective roles. Perhaps the casting director took one look at his headshot and thought, "Naw, not this guy. He looks too nice." Thus a trip to his photographer for new headshots, shots that conveyed a more serious tone. Hard-boiled dectective as opposed highschool football coach. Hop over to Bruno's blog and check out his latest post. He provided a link to a contact sheet that features several different poses from that 'detective' photo shoot. Note his attire. But also note how different expressions convey different mood and tone.

Are you a performer? An author? Take another look at your promotional headshot. What is it saying to the buyer? Are you accurately promoting the tone of your work?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Hooked, Sold


"Welcome to the official website of author Barry Eisler and assassin John Rain. If you like edge-of-your seat action, exotic locations, realistic spycraft, steamy sex, and a killer with a conscience who is "the stuff great characters are made of" (Entertainment Weekly), you've come to the right place..."

That, my friends, is the first thing you see when you click on Mr. Eisler's website. Well, that and the hubba-hubba headshot of said author. That one paragraph had me race-walking over to the adult fiction shelf to snatch up 'John Rain' novel. (Yes, I was scanning author websites--and blogs--during downtime at the library last night) Eisler is a new-to-me author. I'll let you know what I think after I tackle the read.

The point is that kick-butt opening paragraph reminded me of the power of stellar PR and/or boffo sales-pitch. As a result, I'll be giving careful thought to my 'welcome' paragraph when redesigning my website. Of course, there are countless male authors who write edge-of-your-seat action. In the eyes of this reader/author, what element of that pitch set Eisler apart?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Human Factor

As you know, I don't get out much. I've been concentrating on my day job and my writing deadlines. Meanwhile, my social life is deadsville. I actually handle being a hermit quite well. Chatting here and blog hopping a bit keeps me from talking to myself or imaginary people (not counting my characters, of course.) However, lately I wrestled with an odd feeling that finally pegged as lonliness. I blogged about that a bit last week. The need for human contact.

I'm still on a tight deadline for revisions to a book AND a synopsis for another book, but I convinced myself that getting out and actually interacting would energize me and somehow make those revisions easier. I picked up the phone--twice!--and chatted with two entertainer girlfriends. We're trying to coordinate a breakfast date next week. I've emailed with another dear friend (Hi, Shelly!) and we're trying to coordinate a get-together, too. I emailed my movie buddy, Vincent. We're shooting to see ALL THE KINGS MEN at the end of this month.

I also contacted an author friend, Terri Brisbin (who writes for Harlequin Historicals). She lives about 90 minutes from me. Last night we met midway for dinner. We talked shop for three hours!! I think the waiter was ready to toss us out. LOL I can't tell you how fabulous it was to meet with a fellow writer and talk face-to-face. We vented, we gossiped, we shared ideas, and talked about current and future writing projects. There's nothing worse than trying to talk shop with someone not in the biz and watching their eyes glaze over. Last night, I'm quite sure Terri and I looked like sparkley-eyed, grinning idiots because... we got each other! And suddenly... my revisions, my tight deadlines, my sales-ranking, none of that seemed overwhelming or daunting. Because I was getting feedback from someone facing the very same things.

I used to get this kind of feedback and connection when I attended my monthly local RWA chapter meetings. It was only one day a month, but it was three concentrated hours of mixing with thirty or fifty fellow writers. It was a much needed fix and got me through for several years. Unfortunately, since taking the job at the library, I haven't been able to attend the NJRW meetings. Direct 'date' conflict, plus the meeting is two hours away, one way. It's just been impossible. Except for a wonderful brunch and chat with Roni Denholtz last winter, and rooming with Mary Stella at the RT Convention last spring, I've been out of physical touch with my fellow NJ writers for more than a year. Last night reminded me of why I need that fix. I'm hoping I can at least meet up with Terri once in awhile. I'm planning on it.

Meanwhile, I also scheduled a weekend writers retreat with my former writing partner, best bud, Cyndi Valero. We did this last year and had a BLAST! Two days of brainstorming on each other's stories. She lives three hours away, but again we're meeting midway. We already booked a room. I can't wait!

If you're a work-a-holic like me, or just overwhelmed with life in general, make it a priority to connect with someone who 'gets you'. Someone who is passionate about your work or your hobby, whatever it is that drives you and/or brings you joy. Not an email, not a phone call. An in-person meeting. Make a date. Do it. Today. A two hour meeting of the souls and minds will engergize you for weeks.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Librarians Are Hot



Yesterday while driving to another branch of our county library to get re-badged (I lost mine. Typical!), I passed a marquee that said: ENTERTAINERS WANTED! APPLY INSIDE!

I'm pretty sure they meant EXOTIC DANCERS WANTED as the place was a strip club. Although they are performing and the audience is certainly entertained, so it's not like it was false advertising. Regardless, even though I am an unempolyed entertainer, I did not stop and apply.

A few minutes later, I whizzed passed another marquee. SEEKING PERFORMERS! AUDITION INSIDE! Yup. Another strip club.

Later, while at the library, awaiting the badging process, I skimmed a local enertainment guide to Atlantic City. No less than three casinos have incoming revues featuring Chippendale-like dancers.

Huh. There may not be an over abundance of work for lounge singers in this town, but there seem to be mulitudes of opportunities for themed dancers willing to bare some skin.

Hmm. Maybe I could work up a sexy librarian act. (If any of my sisters are reading this, no, of course I'm not serious.) Although, I do feel a story idea coming on. *g* Seriously.

Never thought of a librarian as fantasy material? click here and learn why librarians (and libraries) are hot!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Signs of Abnormality

I have a horrific memory. It's actually kind of scary how much of my past is a blank slate. I am always amazed when people give detailed acounts of numerous things that happened to them in their childhood or even two to five years ago. And don't even ask me when something happened, as in a date or year. I have NO concept of time.

That said, I do have a few memories. Splotchy, vivid images of the craziest things. They're almost like out of body experiences rather than memories, because I see myself. Like I'm watching me in a movie. I know. I'm weird. I was born this way.

Thinking back, I do believe there were early signs that I am not entirely normal. (Although who's to say what normal is?) One of these vivid 'memories' involves me swinging on a swing in our backyard singing Petulia Clark's 'Downtown'. Considering where we lived at that time (my family moved a lot!) I couldn't have been more than five. Shouldn't I have been singing nursery ryhmes or something? I also remember being on that same swing and thinking, "Someday I'm going to be on Johnny Carson." Not Romper Room or the Mickey Mouse Club, but The Tonight Show. Jeez.

Another vivid memory involves me, yet again, on a swing. Only this time it was on a school playground during recess. Considering where we lived at that time, I was maybe seven. The song of choice: Born Free. I can remember the sensation of swinging as high as I could, the elation, and singing "Born Free! As free as the wind blows. As free as the grass grows. Born free to follow our heart!" And so on, at the top of my lungs, from beginning to end. Yes, I knew all of the words.

I told my husband that once and he laughed so hard he had tears in his eyes. To this day, if we hear 'Born Free' or if the movie is mentioned, he smiles. He says that image of me as a little girl on a swing, singing 'Born Free' cracks him up. "What kid sings 'Born Free'?" he asks.

Um, well, me. I'm telling you, it was a sign of things to come. *G*

What's one of your earliest memories, a sign that perhaps you were maybe a little, er, different?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Breaking Blog Rule #1 (or was it #3?)


According to the rules of 'being a good Blogger', you're not supposed to post if you don't have something interesting or helpful to say. But then that would mean two days since my last post and since I usually blog daily I worried that you'd think what gives? Or that--shudder--you'd give up on me, never to return! So here I am. But without anything interesting to say. Bad blogger.

Yesterday I worked a full day at the library then I came home and spent all evening toiling over revisions on ALL ABOUT EVIE.

I could post about how we rearranged an entire section of the library to make more room for the growing collection of audio books. How incredibly popular audio books are in my area and how I mused on a future where people only 'listened' to books. Nah. I mean, that'll never happen. Right?

I could talk about the challenges of reworking two essential devices in a story. Nope. My time would be better spent 'just doing it.'

Or I could talk about today's post over at Romancing the Blog. A post about why one reader finds women over 40 unappealing as romantic heorines. Oh, yeah. That revved my engine. But it got me on my ageism soap box and I'm not going there today. It's a beautiful Sunday morning. Cool breeze. Sunny skies. I have all day to attack those challenging revisions and I'm in a pretty chipper mood. I'm steering clear of thoughts or places that drag me down or work me up.

Hmm. I could talk about my morning ritual which starts with canine alarm clock--CHEYENNE--licking my face at 7:30 am alerting me that she needs to go outside, followed by BILLIE nudging my hand and whining, "Me, too!" And then SADIE (the cat)standing on my chest and licking my nose with her sandpaper tongue, urging me to "Get up!" because she's starving. And how I always wind up in the backyard at 7:45am in my PJs and Steve's sneakers (don't ask) cleaning up dog poop.

Naw. Like I said, nothing interesting to say. Bad Blogger. *g*

Friday, September 8, 2006

Beth Gets Hip (Sort of)

Yesterday, my quest to know whether any one refers to tongue-kissing as Frenching anymore continued at the library. Taylor, Denise, and I were working the circulation desk. Denise is around my age, but has teenage kids. Taylor is a senior in high school. Taylor also frequents this blog. He informed Denise and I that kids today call it 'making out'. A woman standing within earshot who was browsing the 'new book' section, piped in, "They also call it 'hooking up'. I know. I'm a teacher." Taylor said, "Er, that could refer to a few things." *cough* I can imagine.

Anyhow the teacher trailed off and the three of us became immersed in an interesting conversation about today's slang. Out of the three of us I am definitely the least in tune. "If you ever want to know what a current slang word means," Denise said, "go to the Urban Dictionary." So I did. Wow.

The first word I zoned in on: Down Low or D-lo. Instead of saying, "This is a secret," they say, "Keep it on the down low." (or d-lo)

B Donka Donk. That one caught my eye just beacause it sounds humorous. It means "...a girl with a kickin' booty." Which, I learned as I read more, is kind of a Jennifer Lopez (or J-lo) kind of tush. Hey. I sort of have one of those. So if I hear someone say "Beth's gotta B Donka Donk," should I be flattered or insulted? I'm not sure. I guess I prefer that to: "Beth's gotta big butt." At least B Donka Donk makes me smile.

Those were just two of many slang words listed at Urban Dictionary. If you ever hear a phrase you don't recognize, you might want to check it out there. It's probably especially helpful for parents with teenagers. Although, be warned, some of the phrases and their meanings are very graphic. Maybe you don't want to know that your kid's ... um... sexually active.

My thanks to Taylor (T-Lo) for the education and chuckles. Please hop over to his new blog Life or Something Like It and welcome him to blogosphere!

Thursday, September 7, 2006

When Life Throws you a Curve ...

... you can stand there dazed, angry, or upset, asking, why me (us)? Or you can take a swing, using a different technique, still hoping for that home run in the field of dreams.

Life doesn't always go as we mapped it out. Sometimes we have to take a detour. But backroads are usually more intersting than super highways, don't you think? It may take longer to get where we're going, but the journey will be colorful and ripe with adventures. It's all in the attitude.

"Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future." ~~John F. Kennedy

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Dinosaur Slang

After doing a cold read on some chapters for me last week, one of my significantly younger sisters (waving to Barb) asked: "So, your heroine is hip, right? She's not a geek, right?"

Me: "No, she's not a geek. Why?"
Sis: "No one says 'Frenching' anymore."

I was genuinely shocked.

Me: "Really? Then what do they call it?"
Sis: "Kissing."
Me: "No, I mean when there's tongue involved."
Sis: "Kissing. It's just called kissing. No one calls it Frenching."
Me: "I do. Maybe it's a generation thing."
Sis: "I have friends your age. They don't say Frenching."
Me: (grasping at straws) "Maybe it's a regional and generation thing."
Sis: (unconvinced) "Maybe."

I'll be the first to admit, I'm not up on the latest hip slang or what's considered dinosaur slang. I still say 'cool' which is probably 'uncool.' My heroine is close to my age so she can be a wee bit out of step, but I don't want her to come off like a total goober geek. So I substituted kissing for Frenching which read just fine. It's just that for moi, Frenching conjurs a slightly different visual. No big whoop, but I gotta know...

Be honest. Does anyone else out there think of open-mouthed kissing with tongue as 'Frenching'? Or am I a *gasp* living in the stone age? :)

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Planning Ahead - The Internet Promotions

Back to my survey regarding my promotional effort next year. So far your input on My Website and My Blog have been tremendously helpful. Hopefully others have benefitted from your generous insight as well.

Today's topic: Internet websites that promote to the reader in general. Great sites such as Romance Designs, Road To Romance, Romance Junkies, Novel Spot, Fresh Fiction, Writers Space, and so on.

#1 Do you frequent sites like these? If so, approximately how many?

#2 Has an animated banner ever caused you to click through to that author's website?

#3 Have the excerpts or contests offered ever prompted you to purchase that author's book?

Those are my three big questions. Please feel free to offer any other observances! Looking forward to your thoughts.

Monday, September 4, 2006

A Day to Celebrate Positive Energy and Potential

I just read that although some people regard Labor Day as the saddest day of the year--the end of the summer, the start of school. Others look at it as the start of all things new--new season, new clothes, new ideas. Some people treat Labor Day similar to New Year's Eve by making resolutions.

I came across a quote this morning that inspired me to stop allowing this ageism thing in entertainment to effect my self-esteem.

"Remember no one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
--Eleanor Roosevelt


How can a simple observance be so dang powerful?

As of today I resolve to laugh off those who fail to see the beauty in life experienced individuals. Their loss. What's your Labor Day resolution?

Sunday, September 3, 2006

I Did It For The Money

You may have noticed that I didn't post yesterday. Or not. Maybe you were off doing fun weekend things. Good for you for getting out and about. Even though I've been feeling like a recluse lately and knew that I could obliterate a funky, nagging bout of lonliness simply by leaving my house and mixing with humanity, the last thing I wanted to do yesterday was an eleven hour emcee gig front-of-house. Front-of-house meaning in the public eye.

My regular emcee gig at Trump Marina Casino is back of house. No one ever sees me. I'm behind the scenes, the 'voice' that announces a winner every ten minutes for six hours. Aside from trying not to butcher the occasional tough name (The 12-letter last name with only one vowel was particulary challenging) it's a cake gig.

Yesterday's gig was at Trump Taj Mahal. I've only emceed there once before. A Slot Tourney last summer. Taj normally employs more modelesque emcees. I only get the call when their regular emcees are unavailable. Given the ageism thing I've been experiencing lately, I really wasn't keen on putting myself in a position where ones physical appearence possibly carries more weight than ones talent. Plus eleven hours is a long time to be 'on'. But then my agent told me what the gig paid. As I have yet to win the lottery or a Stephen King-like contract, I caved.

Even though I suffered pre-gig anxiety and took twice as long as I normally take regarding make-up, hair, and wardrobe, I'm glad I buckled and accepted the job.
The special events and marketing people I dealt with were very kind. I was treated with respect, friendliness, and given more than ample break time. I think it helps that, no matter how I'm feeling on the inside, I approach these jobs and the people in charge with an easy confidence. I've done a billion of these events and I know the general scoop. There isn't much that rattles me. One of my most valuable skills is (are?) my people skills. I can be nice to the nastiest people. *g* Happy to say, I didn't have to deal with any nasty patrons yesterday. Just a few who couldn't comprehend the sweepstakes rules and thus I had to keep repeating myself. Those conversations generally digressed into a 'Who's On First' like exchange. Amusing more than frustrating.

To give you a visual, I was positioned in the main concourse. I stood in front of two spiffy cars that they're giving away today. When the tech first handed me the wireless mic and I glanced over my shoulder at those cars, I flashed back on that CHEERS episode where Rebecca hawks some product at a car trade show. *snicker* At least I was giving away cash, $100,000 total by day's end.

Anyhoo, the extremely packed poker room was directly behind me. Hotel check-in was across the way. The casino floor was to my right. To my left, escalators that lead up to the second floor and also to the self-park garage. To my left and right were entrances to the Arena where 'Shakira' performed to a sold out house. The Taj was PACKED yesterday and I was in a prime position for people watching. I saw and heard it all, let me tell you.

* Strangest gadget: I saw at least two dozen people walking around with a device hooked over their ear. I think it's a phone of sorts. I'm so out of touch. But all I could think was that they looked like characters from Star Trek.

* Most eye-popping outfit: A woman attending the Shakira concert wearing black lace pants with black underwear and a black lace tied-off crop top. I'm pretty sure she wasn't wearing a bra. At least she had the body for it.

* Most eye-rolling conversation between me and a patron:
Patron: "Who won the five o'clock drawing?"
Me: "No one yet. It's only twenty of five."
Patron: "Yes, but who won at five o'clock?"

* Most amusing conversation between me and a security guard:
Guard: "So what do you do when you're not doing this?"
Me: "I write. I'm a published author."
Guard: "Oh, yeah? So what do you write? (smirk) Romance novels?"
Me (smiling): "Actually, yes."
Guard (embarrassed): "Oh, man. My bad. Didn't mean to offend."
Me: "You didn't offend me."
Guard: "I guess being a writer, you have to have thick skin."
Well, yeah. But really, the stigma that goes with 'romance novels' is so cliched. I'm pretty over it. And clearly, he didn't mean harm. In fact we went on to have an interesting conversation about how he (as a single man) viewed women and the dating scene. "One thing I've learned," he said, "Is that you don't let a woman know what you really like. She'll only use it to manipulate you." That floored me. I told him he's been dating the wrong women. We're not all like that. Jeez.

*Most welcome surprise: My friend Krissy (a former fellow 'Chili Chick' was performing in the lounge so I got to hear and visit a bit with her. Then later my entertainment agent and his wife Lori (also a friend, singer, and former 'Chili Chick') dropped in to hear Krissy's band. It was the first time I'd seen both of these friends in quite some time. Major bonus and a reminder that I need to get out more and connect with friends in person!

Okay. I've rambled long enough. Just wanted to give you a peek into a day on an entertainment job. I did it for the money but was rewarded with eleven hours of enjoyable interaction. If you have any questions, fire away! Otherwise have a great weekend!

Friday, September 1, 2006

Planning Ahead - The Website

Those of you who weighed in with your two cents yesterday regarding 'The Blog', THANK YOU! If you didn't comment and would like to, feel free. I'm reading and taking into consideration everything that comes in.

Today I'd like to get your feedback on websites. Authors' websites. I've been surfing the Net and there are some great ones out there. To get the 'look' I really want, I'd have to hire a professional web designer or bone up more on my own goober skills. Considering my current budget, sharpening goober skills it is. A man checked out some really interesting looking books on web design yesterday at the library. Duh. Why didn't I think of that?

Anyhoo, I'm in the process of doing a complete website overhaul. Here's how you can help. Share with us one or two of your favorite author websites, and tell us what you like most about it. I learn best by example. *g* Plus, I'm sure there are others like me who'd like to get an idea of what's hot and what's not. Let's swap faves. I'll start.

I like a lot of websites, but I'll just pick two that recently caught my eye.

Sandra Brown
What I like:

*The colors. The blue and white really pop.
*The picture of Sandra on the opening page. Actually, I love all of her pictures. Reminds me that I HAVE to get new photos done professionally, and soon.
*The 'Book' page. She broke down her list into sub-genres. If an author writes in several sub-genres, but a reader only likes one of those, they should be able to see what's what.
*The overall look. Which is basically pretty simple. To me it's visually appealing, easy to navigate, and covers the basics.

Linda Lael Miller
What I like:
*The colors. Airy, bright. Easy on the eye.
*The theme. The banner at the top represents both her historical westerns and contemporary romantic suspense. Two simple images combined. Awesome.
*The overall look. Not a lot of bells and whistles here. Just basic info on her books and a peek into her busy life. Her blog is a welcome addition as it is 'personal'.

Okay. Those are two faves of mine. You're up!