Sunday, June 29, 2008

Dear Diary,

I just spent an hour constructing a blog article about Publishing Myths. It's the topic of discussion this week at Babes in Bookland and today's my day to post. Click here to read. For a real eye-opener, also read what the other myths busted by Babes. Gads!

*****************
WRITING: Fleshed out the first three chaps of my WIP with new background info
RECREATION: Started reading the second book in Stephanie Bond's Body Movers series. Great premise. Snappy writing.
EXERCISE: Uh.....
DIET: Staying true to Weight Watchers. Have never eaten so many vegetables in my life!
MOOD: Hyper
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else." --Gloria Steinem, b. 1934American writer

Friday, June 27, 2008

Dear Diary,

A few months ago Barbara Vey (of Publisher Weekly blog fame) told me about Google Alerts. I immediately signed up. Talk about a handy device. Now anytime someone writes something about me and/or my books on the Internet, I get an email providing me with the link. It's especially helpful at a time like this when I'm awaiting reviews on a new book. This week alone I got an alert about a review for The Fall of Rome and an alert for an interview I did awhile back with Ambrose Musiyiwa. Thank you, Barbara!

**********
WRITING: Lots of research and freewriting over the last few days that resulted in the story idea for a proposal I need to turn in. Blurb written. Synopsis partially written.
RECREATION: Zip
EXERCISE: 30 minute power walk one day. Zip for two other days. Need to get back to a daily routine. I seem less motivated when I'm obsessing on a story. I'd rather write than exercise!
DIET: The weekend with my in-laws and that family picnic hurt a little, but even so this week I managed to lose another pound! That's 8 pounds lost total in three weeks. Progress!
MOOD: Good, but tired.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "There is only one thing worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about." - Oscar Wilde

Monday, June 23, 2008

Dear Diary,

I'm in one of those crazy-busy-unsettled periods. I'm promoting my July release--The Fall of Rome, starting a new manuscript--Out of the Ordinary, and awaiting revisions on Evie Ever After. I've also been asked to come up with a proposal for the book that would follow Out of the Ordinary. Oh, and my agent would like to talk about two other projects I've had on the back burner. It's all good. Exciting, even. But my mind is musing and zinging in several different directions. The end result is a kid with ants in her pants. I keep hopping from one thing to another, unable to focus on any one thing long enough to make substantial progress.

The madness must stop.

This past weekend I gave myself permission to play. Friday night I went to see Stevie Nicks in concert. Lucky me, it was a smallish venue and I sat in the fifteenth row, center stage. Unlucky me, every time she launched into one of her hits everyone stood and the two guys in front of me were at least 6'4". I'm 5'2". Grrrr. How does standing make the music sound better? I don't get it. In those instances, I couldn't see squat. Regardless, I had a great time. Stevie was fabulous, magical. The band was awesome. I got to see a rock icon of my youth. In recent years I've also seen Pat Benatar and Cyndi Lauper--two other longtime faves. Now if I could only see Journey WITH Steve Perry. One can dream.

On Saturday we drove up to Long Island to see Steve's parents and his brother and his fiance. We so rarely get the chance/time to visit. It was wonderful, as always, to see them and--bonus--there was a family picnic on Sunday so we got to see tons of beloved cousins and uncles and aunts who we hardly ever see. We chatted and laughed-a lot. Steve played Bocce Ball. I participated in the 'egg toss'--my first. My partner and I didn't win, but we last pretty long and at least I never dropped the egg, although it did break when I caught it on our eliminating toss. According to Steve, I don't quite have my cradle and follow-through technique down. Something to keep in mind if I ever find myself in another egg toss contest although I can't imagine where/when that would be. We also participated in a scavenger hunt with a twist. Our team didn't win but I swear we should have. We were creative and awesome, if I do say so myself. Oh, and there was LOTS of food. Enough to feed a small nation. Sticking to my Weight Watchers plan was a challenge. Thank goodness I had a lot of banked points.

Last night, while watching the new version of the game show PASSWORD with my in-laws and brother and almost sister-in-law, I felt that click. The click that told me I was ready to get down to business. I knew that when I returned home, I'd be in the mindset to prioritize and organize and tackle all of my projects. Apparently a play weekend was exactly what I needed to kick-start my work schedule!

I'm home now and, yup, I'm ready. I'm done musing and pondering and ready to fly into the mist. Which means I probably won't be scribbling in you daily for awhile Dear Diary. Although I'll keep jotting down my goal list. Amazing how writing it down helps to keep me on track and motivated.

Back to PASSWORD, I'd forgotten how much I love that game. I couldn't help shouting out clues and they were good ones! Although no doubt I'd choke if I was actually on the show.

*********
WRITING: Jotted background notes for OOTO and its sequel
RECREATION: A concert and a weekend with family
EXERCISE: I squeezed in a walk around the neighborhood and ran around like a loon for the scavenger hunt, but other than that--zip. Bleh.
DIET: Uh... Over the weekend, I didn't count points like I should have, but I did watch my portions. Back on track today.
MOOD: Motivated
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "If the artist does not fling himself, without reflecting, into his work, as Curtis flung himself into the yawning gulf, as the soldier flings himself into the enemy's trenches, and if, once in this crater, he does not work like a miner on whom the walls of his gallery have fallen in; if he contemplates difficulties instead of overcoming them one by one...he is simply looking on at the suicide of his own talent." - Honore de Balzac

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Dear Diary,

So far I've written three books about Evie Parish, a performer turned 'Chameleon' (a member of a government sanctioned team that thwarts nefarious con-artists). Two of the books have been released. The third will hit stores, Spring 2009.

Evie has two men in her life. A bad boy and a good boy. She's sleeping with the bad boy. She's tempted by the good boy. She's fallen head over heels for the bad boy--even though she fears he'll break her heart. Her gut says her heart would be safe with the good boy, but the bad boy holds it in his hands and, hey, maybe he won't break it. Maybe he'll prove himself the right, if not the safe, choice.

Or not.

I've heard from a number of readers who are rooting for bad boy. I've heard from a number of readers who are rooting for good boy. I understand both sides. I confess even I wasn't sure who was right for Evie in the beginning. I admire and like both of these men, but then I know things the readers don't. Things they'll learn in the third book. Even so... tough call. Evie's call.

It makes me ponder the differences in each of us. What attracts us to the bad boy/girl? The good boy/girl? Surely there are those who follow their head and those who follow their heart. I can imagine scenarios where both provide a HEA. I can also imagine scenarios where both prove disastrous.

No matter who wins Evie heart, some readers will be disappointed. Or, if I've done my work right, maybe not. Maybe everyone will be content. Hopefully. I'm just thrilled that readers care enough to voice their opinion.

**************
WRITING: Over the last two days I wrote a blog post and two pages on my WIP, plus added info to my WIP Notebook.
RECREATION: You're kidding, right? No, wait! This morning I had breakfast with a friend I hadn't seen in months. That counts!
EXERCISE: I'm up to 15 min. on the bike, 35 ab crunches, 25 butt crunches, thigh exercises and various weight exercises for my arms.
DIET: Week Two (2) of Weight Watchers. Today was weigh in. I lost TWO POUNDS! Not as good as the first week, but still a loss. That brings my total to seven (7) pounds lost in two weeks. Pressing on....
MOOD: Scattered
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Whatever is done from love lways occurs beyond good and evil." Fredrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Dear Diary,

Last night I had a radio interview with Paul Ohlson, host of MPR Radio, a blog talk radio show sponsored by Medallion Press. My husband had advised me before hand not to try to be funny and not to giggle. I didn’t try to be funny but I think something funny popped out a couple of times. I didn’t giggle but I did laugh.

I also rambled when Paul asked me to tell him about my three historical westerns. Although Paul kindly swears I did not ramble.

I feel like such a goober.

Steve also advised me to be myself. Which I was.

Goober.

Brave person that I am, I will alert everyone when the show airs.

In other news, reviews for The Fall of Rome are starting to roll in. So far, so good. Although in truth, I care more about pleasing my readers than reviewers. In an effort to spread some joy and maybe to promote a little buzz, I’m giving away four copies of The Fall of Rome. You can read an excerpt here. The official release date is July 1, but I have some author’s copies to share. The first four to express interest will recieve a copy.



**********************
WRITING: One new page of my WIP
RECREATION: Zip
EXERCISE: Stationary bike, sit ups, butt crunches, arm weights (30 minutes)
DIET: I cheated! I ate four baked tortilla chips! I’m still within my WW points but I sucumbed to a craving! Arrrrgh!
MOOD: Chipper (despite the tortilla chip debacle)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Dear Diary,

I've been blindsided by some shocking news. My good friend (and fellow writer), Arianna Hart, recently learned her six-year old daughter, Shannon, has been diagnosed with leukemia. I'm still reeling. I can't imagine how Ari and her family are feeling, let alone that little girl. Thankfully Shannon, like Ari, is spunky and strong and the doctors are very optimistic. Still, the road to recovery will be long and challenging. Ari asked a few of her friends to reach out for special prayers. "We'll take any and all prayers, good wishes, and positive vibes we can."

I'm reaching out to my friends in blogosphere, asking that you think positive healing thoughts for Shannon. If you'd like to leave Ari or Shannon a supportive message, I'll be sure to pass it on.

Peace and joy, Beth

******
WRITING: I wrote two blog posts plus added more content to my WIP notebook.
RECREATION: Watched In Bruges starring Colin Farrell and Brendon Gleeson. Violent, but a fascinating character sturdy. Thumbs up.
EXERCISE: Does shelving tons of books count?
DIET: Still on track with WW! Made a delicious spring vegetable soup from scratch. 0 points!
MOOD: Sad, but fervently optimistic
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "The strongest and sweetest songs yet remain to be sung." --Walt Whitman (1855-1892)
BLATANT PROMO: Catch my Sunday post on 'gadgets' at Babes In Bookland.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Dear Diary,

Who took my wings?

Last night I stopped tweaking the first three chapters of my newest tale. I pushed forward. I thought it would be a breeze. This is a fresh story, a stand alone. It's not sequel, so I don't have to worry about anything I wrote previously. The last two books that I wrote, The Fall of Rome (July 2008) and Evie Ever After (Spring 2009) were extremely challenging, mostly because each was the third in a trilogy. Lots of recurring characters and pre-existing threads.

Not so with this book. Everything, everyone is new. I do have a synopsis, but pretty much the sky is the limit. Spinning this tale should be cake, right?

Wrong!

I don't know these people! Well, I have a pretty good fix on the hero and heroine, but I don't know their friends and family. Where they hang out, what their houses look like, the layout of the town. I don't know their quirks or their beliefs. I've never been a big fan of character charts, choosing instead to fly by the seat of my pants. Wheeeee! But I've been writing so many connected books--hence knowing most personal details--that I think I've forgotten how to fly. Nooooo!

Regardless of this handicap, I did write three new pages. However, I also decided I need some extra fuel. On a whim and the advice of some dear writer friends, I recently purchased the WIP Notebook created by Jeannie Ruesch. You can read about it and purchase it here. Available in hardcopy or as a downloadable e-document, it's a fantastic writer's tool at a very reasonable price. I'm only a little way into it and I'm revved.

Hey, I think I see my wings! Eat my dust writer's anxiety and watch me soar!

********************
WRITING: Wrote three new pages on my WIP. Started dissecting my characters and story with my WIP notebook.
RECREATION: Started reading 'THE ANGEL' by Carla Neggers. This new-to-me author is rockin' my socks.
EXERCISE: Stationary bike, sit-ups, arm weights, butt crunches (30 min)
DIET: I want an OREO!!! But I'm being good. Very good.
MOOD: Pensive
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Knowing a lot... is a springboard to creativity." --Charlie Rose

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Dear Diary,

I LOST FIVE POUNDS!!!

This morning marked day seven of my Weight Watchers plan. I weighed in. My eyes boinged. I LOST FIVE POUNDS! Woo-hoo!!! I don't expect to lose that much every week, but what a way to start. Color me happy.

I have a phone interview today to promote the July release of The Fall of Rome with the host of Medallion Press's Blog Radio. In fact, the interview is in--uh--thirty minutes. Note to self: Don't giggle and don't try to be funny. Just be you.

**********
WRITING: Tweaked the first three chapters of the new WIP. Brainstormed a new story, possible mystery genre.
RECREATION: All work, no play.
DIET: I lost five pounds!!
MOOD: Inspired
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance." --Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Dear Diary,

Crap. I can already feel the strain of trying to do something recreational/social and exercising while still setting aside sufficient time for writing on a day when work at the library. This isn't a cop out, I swear. There just aren't enough hours in the day. Unless I sleep less. Obviously, I won't be able to watch a movie to TV every night. Maybe every two. As for getting together with friends. I've already fallen behind on that, too. 'Getting a life' is definitely a work in progress.'

Speaking of WIPs, tonight I'm digging in earnestly on my next manuscript! No TV! So let it be written, so let it be done.

*****
WRITING: Two days of nothing. The madness must stop.
RECREATION: Watched an old episode of 'Spenser For Hire' with Steve. The show was dated, but Robert Urich sure was cute.
EXERCISE: Loser! And not in a good way. One of those days when I couldn't/didn't squeeze it in.
DIET: The one thing I did right yesterday. Still on track.
MOOD: Anxious
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "One cannot manage too many affairs: like pumpkins in the water, one pops up while you try to hold down the other." ~~Chinese Proverb

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dear Diary,

Yesterday was Steve's birthday. Let's just say my record for being the world's worst gift giver is still in tact. Doubly frustrating because he is the world's best gift giver. *sigh* We did, however, have a fabulous dinner at an eclectic restaurant. And because I've been extra good on the Weight Watchers plan this week, I was able to order a yummy meal. Although I have to admit I really wanted a pasta dish. Instead I went for salmon and grilled green beans. I'm being so conscientious. I swear, if I haven't lost weight by day 7, I'll be so bummed.

Every time I turn around these day Ashlee Simpson is being featured in some magazine or Internet blurb. I googled her name to remind myself why she's newsworthy. Or rather why she's a 'celebrity'. Looks like she's a recording artist. Oh, and she has a famous sister. I have to say, although she could be very sweet, like Nicole Richie and Tori Spelling.... I don't get it. And don't get me started on Paris Hilton. Is it me? Have I turned into un-hip fuddy duddy?

Don't answer that.

************
WRITING: Zip. But I did read the first eight chapters of The Fall of Rome in prep of a radio interview this Thursday. It seems like it's been 5 years since I wrote that story, instead of 9 months!
RECREATION: Read more of 'Tempting'. Listened to seventies R&B music and danced while cleaning house.
EXERCISE: Stationary bike, sit-ups, arm weights, butt crunches (25 min)
DIET: Still on track with the Weight Watchers plan. Yay, me!
MOOD: Restless
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "In order to be known and admired, they must have great virtues, or perhaps great vices." ~~La Bruyere (1645-1696)
BLATANT PROMO: I'm the Spotlight author (read the interview!) at Love Western Romances.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Dear Diary,

I'm tired of not having a life, so I'm getting one. That means making time in my day for recreation or a social engagement no matter how crazy busy I am. All work and no play has made me one boring and frazzled person. All work and no exercise has made me overweight and sluggish.

I'm a work-a-holic. An anal, insecure work-o-holic. An anal, insecure work-a-holic who hates to exercise and loves to eat whatever I'm craving. My poor exercise and diet habits didn't seem to matter when I was in my twenties and thirties. At least they didn't effect my stamina and weight. Now I'm in my forties and, dang it, it matters. What the heck happened to my metabolism? I don't want to be stick skinny, but I don't want flabby arms, hippo hips and writer's butt either.

Bottom line, in addition to getting a life, I need to alter some daily habits. Three days ago I started a Weight Watchers plan. I'm not only watching what I eat, I'm writing it down. Crazy, but it helps to keep me on track. I'm also exercising. Hate it, but I'm doing it. Maybe I need to write that down, too.

In the past week, I've seen three movies, met and dined with three seperate friends and read two books. Next week I'm starting on my next deadline book and I can already feel myself shrinking away from recreation to commit anally and totally to that book. Hmm. Maybe I need to write down how I'm filling my creative well, too. Maybe it will help to alter my lifestyle if I list the things I want to be aware of or accountable for. It's worth a shot anyway. And while I'm at it I'll list a motivational quote as a perk-me up. I can do this. Go, Beth, go.

*********
Writing: A Diary entry and one blog post on 'Unlikely Heroes'. Read the 1st three chaps of my new WIP--mulling the characters, thinking ahead.
Recreation: Reading Susan Mallery's 'Tempting' (enjoying!). Watched DVD-No Reservations (loved it!)
Exercise: Stationary bike, sit-ups, arm weights, butt crunches (25 min)
Diet: Day three of WW. Haven't slipped yet!
Mood: Focused. Determined.
Quote of the Day: "Never underestimate your power to change yourself; never overestimate your power to change other." ~~H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
Blatant Promo: Today I blogged at Babes in Bookland!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Line Between Now and Then

This is a line. A line between now and then. Then is everything in the archives, meaning everything written before now--6/7/08. Then is scattered with rambling blog entries. Now is scattered with 'Dear Diary' entries. The difference is slight, but there. The new entries--random thoughts--also include a list. A list of things I'd like to be held accountable for. Work issues as well as lifestyle changes.

If you are inspired to post 'like' lifestyle changes, please do! Okay. Ready? Here we go...........

Friday, June 6, 2008

Blogging for the Health of It

Attention loyal blog readers and drive-bys! This is going to be my last blog post in this particular format. Over the weekend, I’ll be switching templates and the way I approach my posts. Not a huge change, but one that appeals to me and will hopefully please you. I’ll be blogging in a ‘Dear Diary’ vein and I’ll be following each entry with a consistent list of life goals/lifestyle changes. Basically, after more than a year of not having one, I’m getting one. A life, that is. At least I’m going to try. The list will keep me accountable so be sure to drop by and follow my progress. Over the weeks/months there’ll either be a metamorphosis or a train wreck. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be inspired to chime in with your own ‘reports’ to the goals/changes on my list. A support group of sorts. Or not.

Speaking of blogs, I promised to post some thoughts about blogging. As I said before I think the best blogs, at least the ones I return to regularly, entertain, educate, and/or inspire. I’m not an expert on blogging by any means. Otherwise I’d have a much larger readership. So instead of rambling on about what I think does and doesn’t work, I’m going to provide a link to an article with some basic, but very important tips. Click here for Top 5 Tips to Creating an Effective Blog. On that same page you'll find links to dozens of other articles on blogging. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Change

If you were in my blogroll before, but aren't now, don't worry--you'll be back. When I changed templates, I lost all of my links. It's just a matter of inputting them once again and I will, hopefully over the weekend. I'll also be changing templates--again. Although this one is bright and cheery, I'm not loving it and besides, I think I came up with the new angle for this blog and that will entail a new template so... more changes to come.

Regarding blogs, in the comments of the previous post, I promised to share my thoughts on 'effective blogging' within the next couple of days. If that's a topic of interest for you, check back!

I saw the new Indiana Jones movie. I wish I could say I loved it. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it. I mean it's Indiana! But I also had problems with it. On the upside, if they pursue the series starring Indy's son, Mutt Williams, I'm there! What a great character!

What 'character' in a movie or book recently bowled you over?




Monday, June 2, 2008

This and That

I'm amazed at how much of my life fell through the cracks while I was on this last deadline. Domestic stuff. Social stuff. It's only been a week and I haven't really caught up with friends, but I have gotten a boatload of housework done--not that I'm close to being finished. I've also tackled a few promotional ventures--not that feel like talking about those.


Sunday, I treated myself to a day off the island. I shopped--for myself and for the house--and went to a movie. One of my co-workers at the library was amazed that I'd go to a movie alone. Personally, I love losing myself in a sparsely attended matinee. After months of not seeing a movie in a theater, I picked a winner! IRONMAN.

Loved it. Intelligent, humorous, intense and exciting. Yes!


Tonight I'm joining my movie buddy, Vincent, to see the new Indiana Jones movie. I can't wait!


I've been researching blogs. What makes them effective and such. I read an interesting article in Newsweek. I reviewed my notes from a prominant publishing individual. I know I'm not making the best of this blog. Who cares about my daily life? Seriously. Especially since my daily life is pretty boring.

The best blogs educate, entertain or inspire. That takes energy, creativity, and time. ECT. The three things that I need to channel into my novels. I'm trying to think of a unique spin for this blog, something that wouldn't tax my ECT. Until I do, all I have to offer is the occasional peek into my daily life. *yawn* The only alternative is to give up blogging, which a lot of people seem to be doing.

If you happen to think of something 'unique' or some direction you'd like me to take with this blog, please do let me know. If you don't want to post publicly, you can email me privately at beth@bethciotta.com

Meanwhile, have a great day and if you haven't seen IRONMAN, do!

Sunday, June 1, 2008