Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Telling Nightmare

So last night the panic really set in. Four days left to finish this book, possible I can squeeze in a few hours on the fifth day. It's going to be tight. Real tight. And aside from worrying about finishing on time there's the niggling concern--is it any good? I'm convinced no matter how many novels I write that concern will never go away. I think most writers suffer from the same anxiety. Speaking of anxiety...

Last night my subconscience reverted to my previous longtime profession as an entertainer. Specifically earlier days when I was on the road with a band. The details are bright and fresh in my head, but I have a book to finish so here's a summery only.

All the other band members were dressed and ready for the night's performance. "Do you know what time it is?" one of them says to me. I look at my watch. "Oh, my, God!" We had to leave the hotel NOW to make the performance on time. I rummage through my suitcase, find a costume and throw it on. I grab a bag, race out the door, and jump in the van. We arrive at the club and I realize I forgot to do my hair (which looks like a rats nest) or to apply makeup (you don't want to see me without makeup).

The band leader tells me I have five minutes. I root through my bag... I forgot my makeup and my curling iron! I race around asking cocktail waitresses if they have any eyeliner or lipstick that I can borrow even though I know you're not supposed to wear someone else's makeup. Someone coughs up an eye pencil, but it breaks. I run to the gift shop in hopes of lipstick but they have nada. Time's ticking. Times out. I run to the stage. The band is waiting. They look at their watches, at me. "We're late and the club owner's pissed." What can I do? I jump on stage, hair a mess, sans makeup--unpolished as it were--and start dancing.

Dream open for interpretation, folks. I'm thinking it's a no-brainer. *g*

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Out and About, Over and Out

While getting at least three sips of java into my system before diving into my deadline book, I got out and about blogosphere. I see that I am not the only one who has a book due in seven days. Sending a shout of support in Jaci Burton's direction. "You can do it!" Her state of mind sounds similar to mine. Ah, well. What doesn't kill us... right?

And one of the reasons we keep chugging away is so that we can enjoy more moments like this. Hop over and congratulate Lara Adrian on her new sales. That woman is on a roll. Go Lara!

Not that I need another diversion (thanks, Lara), but have you checked out Anne Frasier's blog? The posts are great. But can I just say her avitar cracks me up! So wrong, but so funny.

Okay. I'm midway though that cup of java now. A voice (maybe Jaci's) is shouting in my head. S-e-v-e-n days. Noted. No more dallying. Over and out. Opening the WIP.... now.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Key to Success -- Heart

Over at Living the Romantic Comedy, Billy Mernit examines the supposed death of romantic comedy. It's an excellent essay, and though it's focused on Rom-com movies, I think it translates to books as well. Hop over and read The Heart of the Matter. Here's a teaser. An observation that injected me with enough inspiration to fuel me through the rest of the week, maybe more. *g*

"...this is the point of both why the genre does seem to flail, and why it always perseveres. You have to mean it. You have to believe in the transformative powers of true love, and be invested in finding out how love can affect people. You have to be posing a question in the writing of your romantic comedy (e.g. Nora Ephron's "can a man and a woman ever really be friends?") that you passionately desire an answer to, a story that says "what does this man and this woman becoming a couple mean?" You have to, in short, be writing the story that only you can write -- not the story you think They want, or that looks like the one that's making money this weekend." -- Billy Mernit, author of 'Writing the Romantic Comedy'

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Heart of my Obsession

For those who stop by this blog regularly, thank you for your continued support. Thank you for not giving up on me even when I go a few days without blogging. Like this past week for instance. Blame it on lack of time and energy. Blame it on a lack of something interesting to say because all of my brain juice is going into the deadline book.

I won't bore you with my manic work schedule. Lots of published authors, writers writing under contract, work day jobs. I'm not unique. Some of them even have children to care for. I can't imagine. I'm lucky I have a husband who cooks for himself and doesn't mind that the house is a semi-disaster zone. It allows me to spend an insane amount of time holed up in my writing room. Last Saturday through Tuesday (my days off from the library) I wrote 12-14 hours a day. The days I do have to 'work', I write before and after. Yesterday, I doubled--library then an emcee gig. But I still managed to produce some pages while on the gig.

You'd think, given all of the hours devoted to writing, that I'd be done with this current book by now. I'm not. But the good news is, I'm getting there. I remember reading on another author's blog, an NYT Bestseller, that she devotes two hours every day to writing. Given that she had three releases scheduled six months apart, I'm thinking, seeing she only writes (on the average) two hours a day, she is one freaking fast writer! I thought about a couple of other writers I know who produce a novel in one month. Granted they are 'outline' writers who spend months before brainstorming and stewing, plotting and outlining. Still... Wow.

I am not a fast writer. I'm not a fast typist either--self-taught. Detailed outlines stifle my creativity. I have to get in there and do it. Live with the characters. Trust my instints and allow the story to develop naturally--through them. This takes time. Due to tight deadlines and the day job, time is limited. Since I'm not a fast writer this means pulling long hours. This means I get a little intense and obsessive and other things in life fall through the cracks.

I keep telling myself there's got to be a better way and at some point I'll figure it out. Meanwhile the only thing I can do is press forward as is. At least there is progress. There is growth. In the writing itself. In my career. As Nora Roberts often says--and I love this--it's not the right way, it's my way. This is why you won't see me blogging or teaching a workshop on craft. There is no method to my madness.

I can imagine some of you shaking your head, thinking, if you're not a fast writer, why did you commit to tight deadlines? Good question. Answer: It was a business decision. I have a dream, a goal, and I won't rest until I achieve it. Also, immersing myself in these stories doesn't exactly make me miserable. *g* I love what I do. I love the art of storytelling.

I write because I am driven to do so. Because it brings me joy. Because it challenges my mind. I write because it is the ultimate rush when a reader tells me that I touched them in some way. Making a positive difference in someone's life. That is the heart of my obsession.

So tell me, friends. What's at the heart of your obsession?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Brrrrr

Here in Brigantine, NJ it is currently 21 degrees, although with wind chill and whatnot, the Weather Channel reports it feels like 4 degrees.

I've been sitting at my desk all morning cold nose to the grindstone, working frantically on the deadline book. I'm bundled in sweats, slippers and two blankets and still I'm chilled to the bone. Yes, the heat is on, but this is a big house with old windows.

In a couple of hours I'll have to shower and ready for work. I'll have to go outside where it's FOUR degrees to travel to the library. Brrrr. Well, at least we don't have twelve inches of snow like a lot of northern states. Counting my blesssings on that score, but man, it's COLD.

So... what's it like in your neck of the woods today?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Romance Novel TV

Awhile back I was contacted by a new TV production company and asked if I'd be available for an interview. This Internet-based company would focus specifically on romance novels. Unique, eh? They had already scheduled quite a few other NJ authors for an interview. The date was set and the location was almost three hours north of me. As bad luck would have it, that day I was contracted for a job that I could not get out of. Imagine my disappointment. I mean, what an opportunity to promote my books, right? They assured me that they would keep me in mind for a future interview. I sure hope they do. I just got a sneak peek at the Romance Novel TV which launches.... Valentines Day, February 14. Be sure to check it out and show your support!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Agent, Editors, and The Big Apple--Oh, my! (Part 3)

Now that I’ve reached part three of my Big Apple tale, I realize I can’t reveal all that much because nothing was settled and I’m superstitious. Hopefully, I’ll be able to share specifics very soon. (I think I heard a few people just groan. Sorry for the tease.)

I can tell you that the lunch meeting went fabulously well. As I said yesterday Keyren and Tara were a joy. Funny, down-to-earth, and very appreciative and supportive of ALL ABOUT EVIE. It would seem that everyone at HQN has read it and they’re all behind the series in a big way. I felt flattered and excited and, quite honestly, in shock.

Stepping outside myself, I’m amazed at the depth of my insecurity. I channeled Sally Field sporadically throughout the meal, they like me! Me, in this instance, being my work. Gads. I can’t say that I obsessively worry over whether my publisher likes a story after I turn it in, but it is a just-beneath-the-skin concern. Mostly, I think I shove down the angst and hope for the best. Optimism, creative visualization and all that. Plus, the day after I’ve turned in one project, I’m already immersed in the next. No downtime. No time to dwell on paralyzing ‘what ifs’ like what if they hate it?

Where was I? Oh, yes. They like me! So, yes, they were interested in hearing about my ideas for future stories. Remember when I said I stink at pitches? It’s true. I had three. They looked great on paper and I thought about memorizing them, but when I recited them that way aloud, they sounded stiff. Better to relay them naturally, except I have trouble articulating a tale that is so clearly in my head. Ask me what my story’s about and you’ll get a ramble. Thank goodness Amy (my super duper agent) was there. She inserted key things about the stories that I failed to mention. “Oh, yeah,” I’d say. Duh. Earth to Beth.

The good news is, regardless of my clumsy pitching (something I really need to work on), I did catch their interest. Here’s where my superstitions come into play. I’m afraid to tell you specifics for fear of jinxing myself so…. Stay tuned. I know. I know. *groan*

I’m inspired to explore several themes such as artistic insecurity, the perfect pitch, the benefits of being yourself (well, unless you’re naturally a jerk), but I am on deadline folks and the day is ticking away. Of course, as thrilled as I am to know how much HQN likes ALL ABOUT EVIE, I feel pressured (self-induced) to produce something equally magical with book two (aka the WIP). Instead of buckling under that pressure, I’m channeling it as motivation. I may be insecure, but my passion is stronger than my fear.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Agent, Editors, and The Big Apple--Oh, my! (Part 2)

Continuing on with yesterday’s tale (scroll down and read Part 1 first if you need to catch up) …

Jazzed on Starbuck’s coffee and my excitement about meeting up with my agent and editor, I entered the Woolworth building ten minutes ahead of schedule. The building itself is magnificent. Hard not to gawk at the interior with its vaulted ceilings and Gothic-style ornamentation. Marble and bronze everywhere. Humorous gargoyles here and there. It’s really something to behold. No wonder tour groups kept flowing through the revolving doors. Except security ushered them directly out. Security is tight. No more tourists. A 9/11 issue. Even I had to explain why I was there. “I have a meeting with Harlequin.” Ah, yes. That felt good. *g*

Amy, my super-duper, super-chic agent arrived and my enthusiasm doubled. She has a great energy, plus she used to work as an editor at MIRA so she’s knows a lot of people at Harlequin. Her confidence and comfort helped to put me at ease.
We zipped up the tiny gothic elevator and emerged on the Harlequin floor. The reception area is contemporary chic with huge posters on the walls celebrating certain Harlequin releases. Very cool. Hey. I wonder if they revolve those? I’m going to imagine that they do, and that someday soon an Evie poster will be hanging there. How great would that be?

But I digress.

People were hard at work in their offices. I know because everyone’s door was open and I was curious, so of course I peeked! Amy did indeed know a lot of people, and while she chatted with a past co-worker at MIRA, I got acquainted with Keyren Gerlach (my new editor since Abby Zidle moved over to Pocket), and her co-workers. All I’m going to say is, their workspaces have a lot of personality! Keyren had pictures of her adorable black cat on display. A cat lover! Oh, and there was this cardboard cutout of ‘Viggo’… I instantly knew we were a great match. Plus, she’s really sweet and funny and she likes to perform (singing, acting). Did I say a great match? How about awesome! I’m counting my lucky stars because it means we probably operate on a similar wavelength, which means she’ll ‘feel’ my stories, my characters somewhat like I do. I look forward to her thoughts on book two. I’m sure her edits will help to make the story really shine!

Next we hopped over to the office of HQN editor Tara Parsons, another delightful soul, and after a short, informal chat, Amy, Keyren, Tara and I left the offices and walked down Broadway toward a restaurant they’d chosen for lunch.

I’m going to pause here and finish up my tale tomorrow. But I want to say that the energy in the Harlequin offices was of the most positive nature. The atmosphere, the people. And everyone is so nice. Then again, I’ve attended several workshops and panels over the years spotlighting Harlequin and I’ve always been impressed with what I thought was a positive vibe, a team vibe. They live, breathe and love books… and are very supportive of the people who write them.

Tomorrow: my food adventure, my goober pitches, and the surprising response.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Agent, Editors, and The Big Apple--Oh, my! (Part 1)

Head spinning. Head spinning. But, oh, (insert them music from Flash Dance) what a feeling!

Woke up at 6am yesterday to catch an 8am bus to New York City. Wondered how many layers I could get away with without looking like Ralphie's little brother in Christmas Story. The reason for my trip? A lunch meeting with my agent, Amy Moore-Benson, and my new HQN editor, Keyren Gerlach, as well as HQN editor Tara Parsons. I wanted to look professional, but it was freeeeezing!

Before boarding the bus, I purchased Tropicana Orange-ade and Strawberry Pop Tarts from the vending machine. Breakfast of champions. *g* The journey (one way) takes two and a half hours so I took along one of the books I'm reading for the RITA contest. A lovely way to pass the time.

After arriving I took a cab from Port Authority to the Harlequin offices--a 15-20 ride, depending on traffic. Have you ever ridden in an NYC taxi? Imagine a heart-pounding, nailbiting thrill ride at a theme park. Same difference.

I arrived mega early so I slipped into a nearby Starbucks and ordered a large coffee--strong and black--mid-morning beverage of the nervous author. While sitting at a corner table, bundled in layers of clothing, sipping my java, and marveling that I was in NEW YORK CITY for a PUBLISHING BUSINESS MEETING, I looked over the pitches that I had written for two new series plus a stand alone book and thought, I can't believe this is my life. Then I thought, I'm going to get tongue tied when I try to talk about these story ideas because I stink at pitching. Followed by the thought, I hope they don't think I'm a goober and don't order anything for lunch that'll stick between your teeth.

Before leaving Starbucks I took a calming breath and thought, hey, maybe they like goobers. Suddenly, I felt more energized than nervous. Although it could have been the mambo cup of bean juice.

Stay tuned for the rest of my NYC adventure....

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Moments That Make You Go...Gee

Indulge my geekdom, please. I recently joined a site devoted to HQN authors and as of last night, I'm official. Go here to see me alongside some of the other talented souls who write for HQN.

I have to say that it feels a bit surreal. Thirteen years ago I was gobbling up every romance I could get my hands on and dabbling with my own story (which morphed into Lasso the Moon). I stunk at the craft, but I was motivated and I had a dream. So I studied and practiced, wrote and submit, weathered rejection... and today I'm writing for not one, but two publishing companies.

Most days I'm so overwhelmed with keeping my head above water on the creative and business end, I forget how much I've accomplished and where I am. Seeing my picture and information on the HQN Author site reminded me... Oh, yeah. Gee. I'm living my dream.

"The harder you work, the luckier you get." ~~McAlexander

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Busted

No, you're not seeing things. Or rather, not not seeing things. Yesterday there was an excerpt posted here for ALL ABOUT EVIE. So if you think you saw it. You did. If you're wondering where it is, I deleted it. I learned late in the day that I need to fill out a form for Harlequin's legal department before I can post an excerpt anywhere. Oops. So... as soon as I fill out the proper paperwork, I'll post the excerpt to my website and make an announcement here for anyone who didn't get a chance to read it during its short unapproved appearance.

It's just funny because yesterday Anna (whose comment got deleted along with the excerpt) mentioned that she noticed a lot of 'me' in Evie. I confess some of the things that happen to her happened to me, some happened to my friends, and other incidents (and qualities) are figments of my batty imagination. But yesterday's snafu made me think of the story I'm writing now (book 2 in the Evie series). Evie has this scene where she talks about, well... I'll just post it below.
***

You know those people who constantly break rules and never get caught? I’m not one of them.

Escaping that pub after pulling that short con had to be a fluke. The one time I played hooky in high school . . . busted. The one time I ignored the no-right-turn-on-red sign . . . busted. So naturally the one time I attempted to have sex in a museum’s broom closet had to end badly. Naturally, the door creaked open.

Busted.

***
I'm telling you right now, in real life, my life, I only did two out of the four things that Evie mentions above. I'm just saying. I'm one of those people who always gets caught. Although in the 'excerpt' incident I wasn't aware I was doing anything wrong. Swear. Oh, and the above is not an excerpt. It's a WIP. *g*

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Soul Mates

The mailman brought a nifty surprise yesterday. The Harlequin Romance Report 2007. A nifty catalogue filled with all kinds of global statistics and surveys pertaining to, you guessed it, romance. For instance...

* More than two-thirds of both men (68%) and women (69%) agree that everyone has a soul mate. While we may agree to disagree on whether or not the term "soul mate" is out, most men and women do believe in the concept of true love and finding that special person they can connect with.

I found that encouraging, although I do wish the percentage had been higher. What about you? Do you believe in soul mates? For the record (surprise, suprise), I do. *g*

Friday, February 2, 2007

What I've Been Up To

Working. Writing.

Aside from that I do have some promos simmering for ALL ABOUT EVIE. Very cool. More about those soon.

Meeting with my agent and two HQN editors in NYC next week. Very exciting. More about that later.

Meanwhile... Working. Writing. Deadline in 13 days.

Have a great weekend. my friends!