Tuesday, January 30, 2007

One of Those Days


I thought Cheyenne was over the chewing phase. Well, except for her own toys. So it was a bit of a shocker to come downstairs and find that she'd gotten in to today's mail. Do you think the IRS will believe me when I claim, "The dog ate my 1099?"

This is a sign of how my day has been going, by the way. Cheyenne promises me that tomorrow will be better. I'll be more productive and she'll be less destructive. I dunno. Would you trust this face?

Monday, January 29, 2007

Writing Wisdom -- Not Mine

You don't want to know what my house looks like just now. Really you don't.

Professionally speaking, the 'to do' list grows only I'm not currently taking the time to physically list what must be done. Which means I'm leaving it to memory, which means things will fall through the cracks, although I usually find them, which means I'll eventually tackle them. There's a odd comfort in the latter part of that run-on sentence.

Just now, day job and sporadic blog post aside, every waking (and on some nights--sleeping) moment is being dedicated to the sequel to ALL ABOUT EVIE, working title BEING EVIE, due in, um, 17 days.

The good news is I'm in the zone. The process is interesting just now. Wish I had time to discuss it. *g* Instead take a gander at these stellar writing tips provided by thriller author, Marcus Sakey. Although he calls it 'Celestial Navigation'. I like that. I also like a lot of the tips and the way he words them. Such as:


*Write about who gets hurt most. But make sure that everybody has skin in the game.
Yup. I like that a lot.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Blogger Update

Loyal blog readers,

I had to switch over to 'new' blogger. I've been dodging their notices for weeks. This morning I couldn't dodge. So I switched. And thus, those who try to comment may have to sign in differently. I don't know how this new sucker works. Apologies if you have to go to any extra effort. Please don't abandon me. ;)

That concludes the commercial message. Below is the actual program.

The Vexing, the Delightful, and a Warning

I woke up, brain sparking. Had two more ideas for things that make my head hurt. But I thought, jeesh, everyone's going to think I'm in a crummy mood if I do a Part 3. I'm not in a crummy mood, I swear. It's just the way the blog posts crumbled --or something like that--these past few days.

In an effort to balance the vexing and delightful I decided to do a post about things that make me smile. I was going to make a short list, including two blogs I visit every day for a chuckle and a lift: Ken Levine and Mary Stella. I have them, I mean read them, with my morning coffee. Although I do so with caution as sometimes sipping and laughing at the same time results in java spurting on my laptop screen or out of my nose, depending on the intensity of the snort, and that's just disgusting. But I digress.

So this morning I sip my coffee and read Ken's blog and--Ha!--how does he come up with this stuff? Then I sip more coffee, click on Mary's blog and smile thinking, that's so sweet. But then I get to the middle where she switches subjects and mentions me by way of an incident that happened to her and the subject matter of the All About Evie series (aside from a fun romance)--con artists and scams.

So now I'm back to things that make my head hurt. Only that's not quite true. I'm not vexed by this subject. I'm intrigued. My head doesn't hurt, my brain spins. When writing All About Evie I did a boatload of research on con artists and scams and that research is carrying over into book 2 and 3 (read the book blurb to learn why). By nature I am an extremely trusting person. My first inclinition is to believe what someone tells me--why would they lie? I am I learned, a grifters' perfect mark. Or at least I used to be. Now I am suspicious of everything and, not everyone, but certainly people I don't know who could have a hidden agenda. This includes telemarketers and emails from strangers.

Case in point, I received this email yesterday...


***
Dear Friend,
I'm happy to inform you about my success in getting those funds transferred under the cooperation of a new partner from japan. Presently i'm in japan for investment projects with my own share of total sum. mean while, i didn't forget your past efforts and attempts to assist me in transferring this funds despite that it failed us some how. Now contact my secretary in Benin his name is Mr Uzo Amaka on his e-mail address stated below (secrfelix_egoo22@yahoo.co.uk) Ask him to send you the total Amount of $950,000.00 u.s dollars which i kept for your compensation for all the past efforts and attempts to assist me in this matter. I appreciated your efforts at that time very much. So feel free and get in touched with my secretary Uzo Amaka and instruct her where to send the check. And send her your contact information such as below
your full name .............. home address ............... phone number ............. your sex age ............... your occupation ..................
Please do let me know immediately if you receive so that we can share the joy after all the sufferness at that time ok, In the moment, I'm very busy here because of the investment projects which me and the new partner are having at hand . Finally, remember that I have forwarded instruction to my secretary on your behalf to instruct the courier company to deliver the cashier cheque to you as soon as you send your details information without delay.
So feel free to get in touch with my secretary Uzo Amaka he will inform courier to deliver the cheque immediately to you without any delay.
Best Regards, HON WILLIAM ARINZE Esq



***

I do not know the HON William Arinze Esq. He is not my friend. In fact, he trying to dupe me. I can almost assure you that that is not his real name. The 'title' is meant to impress and add credibility. Adopting a bogus title is common in grifter land folks. On a side note, even if a title is legit, it doesn't mean that person is of noble or royal blood. Certain titles can be purchased. But I digress... again.

Because of my research, I could actually break this letter down and point out several clues as to why it is a scam. But this post is already too long. Let me just say that in this day and age, Internet Scams are HUGE. You've probably heard the term Nigerian Scam. It's just one of a few versions out there. And you may think, who falls for this stuff, but a lot of people do. People like you and me. Before I started researching scams I received an email from London saying my number had been chosen and I'd one a lottery. It was worded in a way that made me wonder, what if, because my husband and I do travel to England a lot. Did I enter a legit sweepstakes and forget? This wasn't legit though and my husband pointed out why. Later, I learned more warning signals.

Here are some basic guidelines. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If someone is promising you money or a trip or a prize and all you have to do is contact them... this is essentially a come on. They're baiting you. If you respond they'll reel you in. There's always a catch. That catch will involve you making a small investment, although you'll be promised a HUGE return. Also never, never provide someone with personal information as did my friend, the HON William Arzine Esq. Things like this can lead to identity theft. But that's another story, er scam.


Did I make your head hurt? Since I won't be blogging this weekend due to the deadline crunch, let me leave you with something delightful, or at least something that makes me smile--Cheyenne and Billie. (Known to con me out of doggie treats daily).


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Things That Make My Head Hurt - Part 2


Celebrities who don't think they're setting a bad 'self-image' example by maintaining a rail-thin figure.

I don't mean to pick on Ms. Knightly--there are dozens of other female celebs who spring to mind--but she's the one who made the news yesterday, stating she's taking a tabloid to court over anorexic allegations. I don't know if she has an eating disorder or not, but I do believe a lot of women are influenced by what celebs perceive as stylish or beautiful. Personally, I find the super-skinny trend disturbing. I'm not crazy about how mainstream plastic surgery and botox parties have become either. Whether they want to believe or not, they are sending a message and it's not a healthy one.

"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen, nor touched ... but are felt in the heart." ~~ Helen Keller

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Things That Make My Head Hurt -- Part 1

Promotion/Marketing

Speaking specifically about authors and books, I understand why an author in today's competitive market needs to self-promote. I understand about 'name recognition' and 'branding'. At the very least an author should maintain an updated website, blog, send newsletters (or submit information to industry newsletters), submit articles to industry websites and magazines, and particpate in interviews. Marketing budget permitting, one should run ads in noted print venues, purchase banners and/or author features, schedule on-line chats, hold contests and givaways.

Beyond the above basics there is a whole new world involving book trailors and podcasts and . . . the list goes on. Authors JA Konrath and MJ Rose are marketing gurus. They are also mega-energized. They routinely blog about the importance of self-promotion and offer valuable insight and advice.

I read, I absorb, I practice what is preached within my limit--time and money wise. But frankly, the more I learn, the more I feel like I'm not doing enough. The more I wish I could afford a publicist. The more I dread researching and implementing promotions because, as is, I don't have enough time for the actual 'writing'.

It must be done and I'm doing it. Picking and choosing as wisely as possible. But seriously, honestly..... it makes my head hurt.

"If the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign saying "Circus Coming to the Fairground Saturday," that's advertising. If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk it into town, that's promotion. If the elephant walks through the mayor's flower bed, that's publicity. And if you get the mayor to laugh about it, that's public relations. If the town's citizens go the circus, you show them the many entertainment booths, explain how much fun they'll have spending money at the booths, answer their questions and ultimately, they spend a lot at the circus, that's sales." -- Unknown

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Excitement Begins

There are many steps along the way from idea to manuscript to published book. ALL ABOUT EVIE is now in the ARC stage. ARC stands for advanced reading copy. This prepublication edition of the book is distributed to major book buyers and is also used to generate reviews and publicity. Click here for an extended explanation.

It means other people, aside from my critique partners and editors at HQN, are now reading my beloved story. It means book stores and libraries will start ordering copies (hopefully A LOT). It means reviewers will start offering their opinions (hopefully enthusiastic ones). Even though the book won't be on shelves for another three months, the excitement (which includes a lot of nailbiting and sporadic mini-celebrations) has begun.

Yesterday, I had my first thrill. NYT Bestselling Author, Heather Graham, read ALL ABOUT EVIE and offered a quote (known in the biz as an 'author quote') to use in whatever way I or HQN see fit. It's a marketing effort and can in some cases be a real boon. At this point, I'm just over the moon that Heather liked the book and used words like "keeper" and "wonderfully talented author". ((((squeal)))) But out of all the kind things she said, here's what I pulled to use as a promo shout-out...

"...an amazing charmer sure to dazzle and entertain!" ~~ Heather Graham, NYT Bestselling Author

Here's hoping the world will smile as kindly on my baby.

***
UPDATE:
Just learned that an article I wrote for Romancing The Blog got stepped up in the schedule. It's running today! Click here to read my thoughts on Us vs Them.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Gotta Have Heart

The other day I was thinking about what a story needs to captivate and and hold me until the very end. The answer is heart.

Whether I'm reading, writing or viewing a story I need to care about the characters and what's happening in their lives. I adore romantic comedy, but if it's a slapstick run-on with cardboard characters it's only going to bore or irritate me. If it's a drama where I'm expected to root for the down-and-out or wronged hero (or heroine) then there needs to be a scene early on that allows me to emotionally connect with that character.

Speaking strictly as a writer, I often struggle to 'connect' with my own characters early on in the process. Forward momentum is snail-slow as I feel my way through scenes. But then, magically, finally, I'll 'get' my characters. I'll understand who they are and why they are and what they're after. Knowing the characters' hearts and the heart of the story, provides me with the artistic and emotional juice to tell a story I'm not only excited about, but care about.

How funny that, the day after I pondered this heart issue, I tripped upon a blog post by author PJ Parrish regarding this same issue--heart. The post is titled Can You Pass the 69 Test? Heh. It's about pinpointing the heart of the story. Apparently you should be able to find it on page 69, no matter if it's a full page or the last three lines of a chapter. Read Parrish's post for details. I, of course, had to take the test. I went to page 69 of my WIP, clueless and curious as to what I'd find there. I was a little surprised that, since I'm writing a romantic comedy, the hero was nowhere on this page, not even in the heroine's thoughts. But then two paragraphs hit me like a ton of bricks and I instantly knew I'd passed the test. My story had heart and it was there mid-way down on page 69.

My heroine's relationship with her mother.

Yes, it's romantic fiction, and yes, there's all sorts of yummy and exciting stuff about the heroine and hero, but in order for that romance to truly build, she has to address, overcome, and resolve issues between her and her mom. Because it's part of her growth. It's what makes me care for her and root for her.

I've been so focused on pushing, pushing, pushing to make deadline I hadn't given conscious thought to the heart of this story. I'm relieved to know it's there. And knowing what it actually is helps me to focus. So thanks PJ Parrish.

After you read her post, take a look at your own manuscript or, if you're a reader, a look at a book you've recently finished. Specifically page 69. Just curious. Did you find the heart of the story?

Friday, January 19, 2007

Top Fourth Incident

Continuing with yesterday's theme...

#4 -- The long sash of my wrap-around sweater went in the toilet water when I, well, you know. Yes, I was thinking about a scene rather than paying attention to what I was doing. Yes, I changed my sweater.

Aren't you glad I shared? And my day is just beginning. *g*

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Top Three Incidents

Here are the top three incidents (all occurring over the last week) proving that I have contracted deadline fever.

#3 -- Driving to the work, only a five minute drive from home and a route I traverse four days a week, I missed my turn and didn't even realize it until I was a good six blocks past.

#2 -- I schlepped downstairs to make a pot coffee, dragged back up to boot up my computer and re-read the previous day's chapter, schlepped back down to fill my mug--only I'd neglected to add water! I'm lucky the glass pot didn't shatter due to the intense dry heat.

And #1 -- I showered, going through my bathing rituals on automatic as I brainstormed a scene. It took me a second to realize I was washing my hair a second time, only this time with face scrub.

All because I'm distracted from real life, immersed in fiction, determined to meet my deadline. It's a good thing, provided I don't blow something up. I'm still behind, but making progress, and best of all--inspired.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Speaking of Awards...

No, I didn't win one. Hard to win an award if you don't enter a competition and I'm not big on contests. Of course, I could win one if someone else nominated me--maybe--and that would be exciting because who doesn't want to be recognized for their hard work? But the reality is the odds of winning are slight...unless your Nora Roberts or Stephen King. *g* Slight because the competition is overwhelming and personal reading taste enters into judging (I don't care what anyone says) so it's all subjective.

Following me?

I could write an entire post on why I don't enter writing contests. I have in the past and have benefitted, but I've also suffered. In this case, for me, the bad outweighs the good. I just don't go there anymore. In kind, I'm not fond of judging contests either. If asked, I generally, graciously decline. With the exception of two. My local RWA chapter's contest for unpublished writers and the RWA National contest for published authors, known as the RITA. A sense of duty compells me to do so. Both contests are inundated with entries and, for several years running, there have been a lack of judges. The situation was so severe that certain entries were in danger of being returned.

I owe my local chapter from whom I've learned so much. They were there for me from the very beginning and I want to be there for other writers' beginnings as well. Regarding the RITA, these are my published peers, and many pin great hopes on this contest and how it could benefit their career. I want to be there for them, too. So, even though the judging period came during my deadline crunches, I still agreed to judge.

The box arrived from RWA National day before yesterday. It contained six books. I blinked at them thinking, when am I supposed to read these? My WIP is due into my publisher in less than a month and I am writing every available minute of my waking hours. But there they sat, these six books written by six talented authors, screaming at me to read them and to judge them fairly--no matter my personal reading taste.

So late night, I crawled into bed, a little bleary eyed but still alert, with the first of these six books. Two pages in I thought, if they're all as good as this it will be a pleasure, and then I thought how absurd that work of this caliber is competing against like work of this caliber. How can you possibly deem ONE the best of the best? Just one of my pesky problems with contests. But I digress. On a good note, I have not read any of these six authors before, so I am being introduced to new (in my eyes) talent. On another good note, the book I'm currently reading is wondrous and inspiring. I look forward to squeezing in a few more pages tonight.

So what's your take on contests?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Forgotten People


After writing for several hours yesterday, I finally gave myself permission to stop. At that point I'd already been toast for about two hours. I curled up on the couch, flipped on the TV and caught the last half of the Golden Globe Awards. The shallow me likes to ogle the gowns and hairstyles.

There were lots of beautiful people and several entertaining acceptance speeches (Hugh Laurie from "House M.D." took the cake). I especially got a kick out of seeing so many veteran actors, many up for awards.

Meryl Streep, who I adore, won for 'Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy' for her role in The Devil Wears Prada. She looked stunning and she was funny and gracious when listing all of the cast, crew, producers, and I believe she mentioned the screenwriter. But I was disappointed that she failed to acknowledge Lauren Weisberger, the author who wrote the novel on which the movie was based. If she did, I missed it.

Now I didn't see the movie, nor did I read the book, but I can safely say if not for the book there wouldn't have been a movie. As Ms. Streep left the stage, I imagined Ms. Weisberger sitting in her living room, blinking at the screen and mumbling, "Your welcome." After selling the movie rights, even if they changed her words or modified scenes or added characters, still the story was her brain child. I wish she would have been mentioned in Ms. Streep's speech.

In kind, I was watching a Tribute to M*A*S*H on TV Land last week. I didn't have time to watch the whole thing, but I saw a good portion. The actors were lovely as they told stories about favorite scenes over the years, but through it all I kept wondering when the writers were going to be interveiwed. The people who provided those words, those scenes. I wanted to hear their take on one of my all time fave series. In this post, sitcom writer Ken Levine tells you exactly what happened to those writers. (He was one of them.) I read it and sighed, thinking, figures.

Probably because I'm a writer, I'm more sensitive to writers not being given due credit. Probably a lot of people are more interested in a celebrity's anecdotes than a writer's. So I get it, but I don't have to like it. To all of the forgotten people, anyone who has ever been left out an acceptance speech, or tribute, or credit listing, I just want to say... Thank you.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Lucky Me... Mostly

To those of you who check in daily, apologies for being away so long. Blogging wasn't in the cards these past few days. I attempted two brief posts on Friday, but they both sounded whiney, so I deleted them. So juggling the day job and meeting writing deadlines is especially tough just now. So, what? I'm lucky to have a day job I like. Lucky to be under contract with two publishing companies. Lucky to have a husband who, instead of asking when I was going to attack the scary multitudes of dust bunnies and leaning tower of laundry, conquered those chores himself.

Lucky, lucky, lucky.

Well, except that while updating my page at MySpace this morning and checking out the page of someone who wanted to be my friend (Yes, I screen. God forbid I befriend some radical hate group), I contracted a virus. Well, not me, but my laptop. Luckily, my virus scan caught and deleted it but grrrr. Okay. Letting that go.

I'm leaving you now to get more bean juice and to attack the source of my anxiety, a pesky thing that goes by the initials WIP. I'm not sure when I'll be back, but I promise you it won't be to whine. *g*

"Whine to some of your pals--or your family if you need it. Then stop feeling sorry for yourself and sit down and do the job. Wear your pajamas and think about the poor bastards on the interstate sitting in traffic." ~~Nora Roberts (Writers on Writing, August 2006 Romance Writers Report)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

36 Days

Blogger was down for a good part of yesterday, so probably many of you couldn't sign in to post a crazy fact about yourself. Yeah. That was it. *g* But the two that are there are great! Thanks, Feyrhi and Anna!

Pulled a writing marathon yesterday, twelve hours, and for that I have to show six new pages. It may not sound like much but they're six pages that work. I think. And they move the story forward. Definitely. So it's all good.

In my current coming-to-terms mindset, I did a reality check yesterday. On a shiny new 2007 calendar, I pinpointed my February deadline and, working backward, I marked in red the number of days left. There are, as of today, 36 days left. Then I whipped out the calculator and determined the number of pages, new pages, I'd have to write each day to make deadline. That would be five (5). That's if I write the next 36 days with no break. If I miss a day, or fudge a page count, well, you do the math.

I've never resorted to numbering a calender like that. I'm not that organized. Nor disciplined. However, I've never been this behind this far into the game either. So I had to do something to head off the train wreck ahead. Train wreck being me as I screech toward deadline week no where near on schedule. Trust me, messy.

I tacked that calendar on the wall right next to my inspiration bulletin board, directly above my laptop. Glancing up and seeing those red numbers helps. It keeps my whimsical mind on track. Whatever works, right? At least I hope this works. I'll let you know in 36 days.

What about you? Any new tricks in your bag to maintain focus? To increase productivity?

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Crazy You

Yesterday, I listed 5 Crazy Things About Me. I'm in for another day long writing marathon so I'm desperate for the occasional distraction. Here's how you can help. List at 1 Crazy Thing About You. (2 if you're feeling ambitious) I won't tell anyone. Honest. *g*

Monday, January 8, 2007

Crazy Me











My social life these days is pretty much limited to what little visiting I do via emails and blogs. Getting me to break away from my writing for lunch or a movie is a rarity. However, there are some events that, if all humanly possible, I cannot miss. Like the annual holiday get together with the performers that I worked with at Tropicana Casino for a seven year stretch. (Some of them worked together for even longer) We were all part of a full-time strolling program and it was one of the most memorable times of my life. Here I forged lifelife friendships with some amazing people. This was more than, hmm, twelve year ago? Many, like me, have moved on to other professions (entertainment manager, PR manager, yoga instructor, school ciricullum specialists, to name a few), but we are all artistic maniacs at heart. No one gets us like we get each other. Even though most of us only see each other once a year, it's like we were never apart. Some things, gratefully, never change. My entire body aches from a night long marathon of belly laughs. Pictured here is just a few of the gang--jugglers, magicians, stilt walkers, clowns, dancers, musicians, actresses. Click pic to enlarge. There were some hilarious moments--one including my husband--that need to remain private. And thank goodness no one had a tape recorder. But man, hilarious! I love you all!!


******

In other news... I have been tagged! Thanks to Lara I will now reveal to you 5 Crazy Things About Me whether you wanted to know them or not. If not 'crazy' then at least quirky. Yeah. That would be me.


#1 -- When I was young (6-9 yrs old), whenever visiting a female cousin (same age), I used to talk with a British accent and we'd fool her friends into thinking I was her cousin from England. I have no idea why we did this. And I marvel that I even knew how to speak with a British accent. Must've watched Mary Poppins one too many times.


#2 -- Another quirky kid moment. I used to look a lot like a young Sally Field and I very much identified with her cheery, perky self. A fan of her TV show, 'The Flying Nun', I used to believe heart and soul that if I had one of those 'hats', I, too, could take a running leap of of our roof top and fly. Probably good I never found one of those hats.


#3 --I once performed as a back up singer for Joe Frazier. Yes, the boxer. Yes, he could sing. Sort of. We (the three backup singers) were called 'The Knock-Outs'.

#4--I shot myself in the finger. Senior year in high school. I was the back stage manager for a production of 'Annie Get Your Gun'. I mishandled a prop gun and it went off, backstage, in the middle of a live performance. Upclose, trust me, blanks hurt. But I suppressed my cry of pain. We were, after all, 'on' and I was, even then, a professional. Although I'm sure the audience wondered about the phantom BANG! *g*

#5--I threw up in a London tube station. On my honeymoon, no less. Food poisoning. Sick as a dog. But it was my first time in London and I was determined not to miss a day of sightseeing. Steve and I squeezed into a crowded tube (subway) car and I made it one stop before I broke out into that sweat. We got off, the train whizzed away, but I couldn't even make it to a trash can. I spewed, projectile-style, on the tracks--hot pink Pepto Bismal. Steve still laughs about it to this day. Heh. I live to amuse.

I'll leave with that visual that I'm sure you could have lived without and tag Mary Stella, Anna Lucia, and Scott Oden. And now back to my writing...

Friday, January 5, 2007

Coming To Terms

Galley for ALL ABOUT EVIE... in the mail. Line edits for ROMANCING THE WEST... still in the works. Progress on deadline book... on hold until line edits are turned in (hopefully tomorrow). Progress on revising the new proposal... on hold until major progress is made on deadline book. Status of CREATIVELY SPEAKING (my new interview program at MySpace)... on hold until deadline book is turned in.

Last night, after putting in a day of work-work, and then a full night of writing-work (my routine for the past week), I had to make a mental check list of where I stood with all of my deadlines--contracted and self-imposed. I had to prioritize because, as much as I hate to admit it, I'm not Superman. The good news is, everything will get done because I am--snapping my spiffy pink cape--Super-determined.

Meanwhile, I'm taking the weekend off from blogging because, well, see the above. See you Monday!

" The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person's determination." ~~ Tommy Lasorda

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Stop and Smell the Dried Ink

Yesterday's post centered on the galley of ALL ABOUT EVIE (coming May 2007). I pushed hard to finish that process as quickly as possible--though this does not mean to imply I did a rush job--so that I could return my time and attention to BEING EVIE (working title), the sequel, due into HQN mid-February.

Yesterday afternoon, I received line edits for ROMANCING THE WEST (coming July 2007) from my other publisher, Medallion Press. Yes, I am blessed. I have two publishers. Although this means I have double deadlines. No, I'm not complaining.

My first thought was, OMG, I'm still finishing up the galley on AAE and I only have a week to complete the line edits on RTW. My second thought--after skimming the line edits for RTW--was OMG, thank God, the line edits are pretty light. If I push hard, I can tackle this in two days.
So... after returning home from work at the library, I dug in. I finished the galley for ALL ABOUT EVIE and then dug into the line edits for ROMANCING THE WEST. I worried that I might have a bit of trouble adjusting quickly from contemporary 1st person to historical western 3rd person, but I did not. The first few pages of RTW sucked me in and teleporated me back to the American wild west and a set of characters that I adore. I've been away from that story for so long, I'd forgotten how much I loved it. In fact, I'd forgotten much of what I had written! It was almost like reading the story for the first time. I can't tell you how relieved I am that, although I was working, I was able to read for enjoyment. My joy doubled upon receiving a late evening email from my editor, Helen Rosburg, and learning how much she loved the story.

Last night instead of tossing and turning with insomnia, worrying about the book that's due in February and the revised proposal that I've been promising my agent for over a month, I slept soundly. Go figure. So unlike me. Sure, some of it was probably due to exhaustion, but I think mostly it was do to contentment. I'm terribly proud and excited about ALL ABOUT EVIE and ROMANCING THE WEST, two very different books, both coming out this year. I hope they'll win readers' hearts as they won mine.

For the workaholics out there (like me), as you're pressing forward, always strive to take a moment to look back on what you've accomplished. Let that sense of pride propel you forward. You know the old saying about 'roses'. In the case of writers.... Stop and smell the dried ink.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Stuff Happens

I've spent the past two days reading the galley for ALL ABOUT EVIE. For those unaware a 'galley' is... the pre-publication copy sent to the author by the publisher for final proofreading or to reviewers for pre-publication reviews.

This is the last time I'll see a copy of this story before it goes to print. Since I turned in the original manuscript, it's been through heavy revisions, line edits, copy edits, and now production. Changes, big and small, made along the way. In the process, some typos were made (who changed "bitters" to "mitters"? LOL). Some--although read by me, my critique partners, my editor, and a copy editor--were never caught from the original draft (I had typed "shimmed" when it should've been "shimmied")

This is my chance to catch and correct any typos, including the random extra space between a period and a quotation mark. This is it folks. Talk about pressure. Because you know I'll miss something. Something that a reader will catch and wonder--how could they let that slip by? Now, more than ever, I understand "how". And now, more than ever, I understand why author Stuart Woods has a note to his readers in all of his books asking them not to contact him about typos. Basically, stuff happens. That note always cracks me up.

Anyway, I am doing my best to make sure ALL ABOUT EVIE is as error-free as possible. It means reading with an eagle eye. Fierce concentration because, at this point, I have read this story dozens of times and it's soooo easy for the eye to skim over something like shimmed.

My editor and all those at HQN have done a fabulous job in helping me make this story the very best it can be. The fact that I can still laugh at some parts after reading it a bazillion times makes me happy. *g* I do hope readers enjoy Evie's adventures as much as I do.

Tonight I'll look over the galley one more time, then it's out the door. If, in the end, you find a typo... sorry. I don't know what to say except, stuff happens. *g*

What, if any, typos stick out in your head from any former reads? Just Curious.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Surviving New Years Eve

December 31, 2006

9:30 am -- After attending to the morning pet rituals (any one who has dogs knows how this goes), checking email, rereading last written chapter of WIP and sending off the first third of the WIP to critique partners, posting a short blog message for the new year (one word says it all), updating MySpace (adding friend requests, approving messages, and replying) ... I jumped in the shower allowing myself thirty mintues longer than my normal one hour that it usually takes me to get ready for a gig.

11:15am -- Unfortunately, I was PMSing (any woman who suffers from this can sympathize. Any man with a significant other who suffers from this can imagine my mood). I didn't like any of the five outfits I tried on, hated the hair piece I normally love and which normally saves me time. So in a frenzy I finally settled on the very first ensemble I tried on, hoping I looked classy and somewhat sexy, and hoping I didn't look as fat as I felt (did I mention the PMS?). I yanked out the hairpiece which meant I had to re-style my own hair which meant I had to forgo applying false eyelashes which meant I didn't feel properly glammed for a NYE gig. Should've taken them with me and applied later, but forgot. Grr. Ten minutes behind schedule, I blew out the door.

11:30am -- I arrive at the Taj Mahal casino, amazingly, on time. However, I have had nothing to eat thus far and only one cup of coffee. Anyone who knows me, knows I'm suffering caffiene withdrawl at this point. This on top of the female thing. Cranky and depressed, I grab an overpriced coffee and croissant as I whiz past a food vendor and down to the promotion area. I get all of the details for this particular sweepstakes and mentally prepare, forcing myself into happy mode for a twelve-hour emcee gig.

12:00pm -- I make the first announcement. From here on, I'll announce the sweepstakes details and a winner every thirty minutes up untill midnight. In between announcements, I stand in the bustling atrium smiling and answering patron questions that range from, "Where's the bathroom?" to "How do I get to the boardwalk?" Two most frequently asked questions: "Is there a Starbucks in this casino?" and "How do I get get in this sweepstakes?" Except early on in the day, it wasn't bustling so much. In fact, it was sort of boring. I stood there, trying not to look as cranky and depressed as I felt and reflected on current characters and stories that I'm working on.

2:00pm -- I think to myself, "Only ten hours to go."

3:35pm -- Feeling weak. Race up to that food stand, scarf down an overpriced hotdog and soft pretzel, zip back down the escalator, race-walk to the bathroom then back to promotions where I pick up the name of the next winner and return to the atrium to answer more questions and deliver the 4pm annoucement.

6:00pm -- Half way through shift. It's bustling now. To all of the patrons who smiled at me, told me I looked pretty, and wished me a Happy New Year--bless you. To all of the patrons who bitched at me about how much money they spend in this casino and how they never win any of the sweepstakes and that for all the time and money they spend in this joint they weren't even invited to the NYE party--take up knitting or reading or fishing or television (as opposed to gambling), I beg you. (Read: Get a life.)

7:35pm -- An obsessive-compulsive man who looks as if he could be homeless visits me for the fourth time in four hours. I genuinely feel for him and have smiled and nodded and responded as kindly as possible over and over. Only now, I'm really tired and at a loss as to how to respond to a three sentence story that I have now heard thirty times. Plus, he's standing right in front of me, in my personal space, rocking side-to-side looking at me intently with hooded eyes, and I'm starting to get creeped out. I'd motion for a security guard but they're busy policing all of the children parents have dragged along to the casino which I don't understand since there is nothing for the children to do in this casino. But I digress.

7:40pm -- Obsessive-compulsive man is joined by cranky local woman who is convinced the sweepstakes is rigged. They stand in front of me, side-by-side, each ranting their personal sagas... at the same time... for ten minutes straight. Must. Escape. I excuse myself to collect the name of the 8pm winner, suck on my tenth Halls cough drop, and remind myself that this gig pays really well. I'm thankful, really, I am.

8:05pm -- Dragging now. Race up to food court for a cup of coffee with a double shot of espresso.

8:35pm -- I should have assumed I'd be responsible for some sort of countdown hoopla--it's NYE after all--but there was nothing in my contract, nor in the script they'd given me, only details regarding the sweepstakes. Thus I was taken off guard when approached at this point by a PTB and asked to create excitement just before midnight and to lead patrons hanging out in the atrium in a countdown. Mind you this would be at the end of my 12 hour day and I was already pretty burnt. "No problem," I assured the casino executive as I flashed a big smile and thought... Need. More. Coffee.

9:00pm -- Super bustling now. Lots of young people arriving. I find myself blinking at the hoardes of twenty-something females in their mega high heels and super short skirts pondering their lack of clothing and wondering when I'd turned into my mother. *g*

9:30pm-11:45pm -- A blur.

11:55pm -- The TV monitors kick over to Dick Clark's Celebration and I morph into Hoopla-Girl. Not sure where I channeled her from, but she did a pretty good job of whipping the surrounding patrons into a proper noisy NYE state. Countdown. Happy New Year! People kiss and hug and I feel a little depressed because my husband is working in another casino just now at the opposite end of town. And I'm not keen on hugging a drunk stranger. Suddenly, out of the blue, my entertainment agent (who is also a longtime friend) breaks through the crowd and nears me with a big smile. He and his wife (also a friend) must've been in the exclusive NYE party. He hugs me and says, "We couldn't let NYE pass by with you out here all alone." Cue tears. Me, not him.

12:05am -- I announce the last winner of the sweepstakes, grab my bag and wish the promotions gang (really nice, really hard working people who dealt with their own crap that day) a happy new year. Exhausted and hoarse, I make my way to my car, calling my husband to wish him Happy New Year only to learn he's dealing with his own set of NYE problems and won't be home until after 2am. *sigh*

12:40am -- Let the dogs out, check my email, have one more phone conversation with Steve and collapse in bed.

January 1, 2007

This morning I have no voice and my knees hurt terribly, but I have regained my sense of humor. I relayed my day to Steve in great detail and we laughed several times. At some point yesterday, when I was at my most stressed, I knew that I'd look back on most of it and laugh. Still, yesterday was tough on several levels. Standing in that atrium, my past (more animated)entertainment life clashing with the current more sedate me, I did a lot of reflecting.

The old me, the performer me versus the older me, the writing me. A very public life versus a more solitary life. This moment I'm looking at the galleys for ALL ABOUT EVIE that I have to complete this week, the book proposal I'm trying to revise by mid-month, and the looming February deadline for my WIP and thinking I have never been so happy to be overwhelmed with my writing career. I am thankful for every chaotic minute and look forward to the hectic new year.

Counting my blessing and all of you are among them. Wishing you a peacful, joyous new year brimming with inspiration!

What about you? What did you do yesterday? Any reflections or resolutions?