writing

Big News!!!

on June 12, 2012

Very excited to report I have accepted an offer of representation from Nalini Akolekar of Spencerhill Associates. That’s right, I HAVE AN AGENT!!
I’ve been singing these words in a horribly off-key opera voice since the deal became official, much to my child’s dismay.  I also demonstrated the Kermit flail for her benefit. She claims to be scarred for life.
Too bad. Because I HAVE AN AGENT!
*sigh*
This is never going to get old.
I was worried about finding an agent with whom I could relate and feel comfortable, but the writing gods listened to my prayers and sent me the perfect-for-me person. 2012 is seriously turning out to be my year.
Onward charge!

Why I Write Romance

on June 8, 2012

As you might know, I blog with a raucous group or writing pirates over on the Romance Writers Revenge, and last week the Gunner of the group asked us what we’re trying to accomplish when we sit down to write.
My first thought was that I want to tell a happy story that entertains the reader. Which is true. But then I thought again and realized the real reason I write Romance.
I’m trying to create the story I wish were reality.
We hear about wallflowers all the time. I don’t really qualify as I’m outgoing and love to mingle at a party. But as far as romance goes, I’ve spent most of my life invisible. Yes, I’ve had relationships, but as far as numbers go, it’s low.
I’ve spent most of my life wanting to be the pretty one who catches a guy’s eye across a crowded room. Or bumps into Mr. Right with a shopping cart and falls into a real life fairy tale. (Minus the singing animals. No singing chipmunks necessary.)
Well, these things have never happened and at my advanced age, I’m not about to hold my breath. But in my books, I can make these things happen. For the heroines anyway. It’s not just about the shy girl getting the hot guy. It’s about those moments. The first kiss at the end of the pier with nothing but moonlight and stars filling the sky. The slow dance with no music playing. The tuck of a wayward curl behind an ear.
That moment when you know it’s real and it’s not going away. The ones that set butterflies swirling, take our breath away, and shift our lives into something better. Something amazing.
That’s why I write Romance. Probably not the best reason, but I’ve always been too honest for my own good. If I can’t have the reality, I’ll write my own version on the page and share it with other women who might feel the same way I do.

DONE!

on March 23, 2012

It feels SO GOOD to write that word. Wrapped up revisions last night and now the MS is in the hands of beta readers, who will help me make it even better. Last night was a sweep of euphoria. Today is a smack of reality.
I’ve heard this from others so I’m guessing it’s a writer’s brain (or artist’s brain) thing. I’m very proud of this story and have confidence this one could take me places. But that’s not stopping the voices in my head that are less than positive.
You know the ones.
“This thing is rough at best. I don’t know what you’re so excited about.”
“Readers aren’t going to like these characters at all.”
“You call this sexual tension??”
The litany goes on, but it will not win today. I’m feeling good and looking forward to starting the next story. As well as getting this MS out the door to Dream Agent, who has waited long enough!

A Watershed Moment – Literally

on January 23, 2012

I had a good feeling about 2012. In December I was more than happy to say goodbye to 2011 and felt nothing but good vibes for the new year. Half a month in  and those good vibes are fleeting.

Not that I’m giving up on 2012 already. I refuse to fall into that negative thinking trap. But I am being tested in a most aquatic way. Let me ‘splain.

Almost 2 weeks ago I decided to bring home a puppy. A tiny, floppy-eared Yorkie-Poo that is too adorable for words and more affectionate than any animal I’ve ever met. However, puppies are amazingly like new babies, something I’d forgotten. So my focus has been pulled from revisions to constant puppy-potty watch.

But I am nothing if not determined. I devised a plan to print out the MS and attack with a red pen, inserting the changes on the computer every chapter or so. Bought the red pen, printed the pages, then woke Thursday morning to my water heater spewing water into my living room.

Sigh.

Nothing was broken, but the draining faucet was somehow turned on during the night. The plumber is skeptical. I have assured him my child would not get up in the middle of the night, turn on this faucet, and go back to bed. The only thing I can think is that one of the cats rubbed across it and the great flooding was on.

I’m happy to not have to replace a major appliance in my house, but there’s this issue of waterlogged carpet and nowhere to move the furniture (which is fine, thank goodness.) I called the insurance company but deductibles are a sticky thing, ya know? Anyway, I’m treading this problem on my own and my back is screaming from all the heavy lifting, tugging, and general stress.

But I am determined! Red penned about five pages while watching football yesterday. Fans are blowing, dehumidifier is sucking moisture out of the air (my living room was turning into a rain forrest!), and the pooch is locked in my bedroom for the day. We’ll see if I have a bedroom left when I get home.

Or a carpet. Or a stitch of sanity. Is it any wonder I had to color the gray hair last night? (And yes, these pics are my living room. Though the furniture is moved to the dry concrete and the carpet is pulled back further now.)

Going Zen or Fighting the Freak Out

on January 13, 2012

Seven weeks ago I submitted a short story to a publisher. I checked and double checked (and triple checked) to make sure I followed their submission guidelines exactly. According to those guidelines, their response time is six weeks.

See the math there?

So it’s a week past and three things are running through my brain.

1. Did they even get the submission???  Many agents/editors/publishers provide an auto-response when a submission has been received. If I were smart, I’d have saved this email. If they indeed sent one. Which I don’t know because my brain is a sieve and if they did send one, I didn’t save it. So I don’t know. But I’m trying to ignore this avenue.

2. Did they already reject me??? My spam folder is filled with 20-40 emails every morning and though I glance through all the “sent from” and “subject” lines before deleting, I can’t help but wonder if I might have missed this one. What if I was tired on a Tuesday and didn’t pay enough attention? What if they emailed for more information and I missed that too?? (I hadn’t thought of that until just now. Gah!) As you can imagine, I’m also trying to ignore this path to nowhere.

3. Perhaps they have an abundance of submissions and we did just have three holidays in a row so they’re probably just behind. (No explanation points required.) Now, this one makes the most sense. It’s logical and practical and, best of all, in no way evokes panic. Because I am a rational person (yes, writers can be rational) I am going to grab this particular wave and ride it smoothly along until the publisher gets around to responding.

I am choosing to be zen about this. Getting published requires determination, perseverance, skill, and talent. And a little luck. But perhaps most of all it requires patience. I can be patient. Sure I can.

Just ignore the twitch.

Letter To Me

on January 8, 2012

Dear Me,

So the brain went on sabbatical back around Thanksgiving. Party planning, holiday shopping, cleaning in preparation for a family visit. All of it sucked the cells right out of our head. But this isn’t the first time distractions have won a battle or two. The goal is to make sure they don’t win the war.

Time to get back in the game. The Christmas decorations are back under the stairs. The laundry is “almost” caught up. (Okay, that’s a lie. We’re not even close. Deal with it.) And best of all, we wrote a mini-mystery for submission to Woman’s World magazine.

Seven hundred words isn’t much, but it’s something. That story plus this blog means we have momentum. A tiny ripple that can turn into a wave. Don’t let it die.

Starting this week, we will be writing every night. Or editing rather. No excuses except maybe sickness. And that’s still a maybe.

This year is going to be a good one. Progress will be made. Substantial progress. If we type it, then we have to make it happen. No one can stand in our way but us. Now get the hell out of the way.

Sincerely,

Me

Where Did I Put Those Brain Cells?

on December 14, 2011

In recent years, I’ve learned that I actually do have limitations. For a multi-tasker/control freak, this was NOT an easy lesson to learn. I don’t believe this has always been the case since I had no problem keeping a multitude of balls, knives, and flaming batons in the air back in my younger days.

In my twenties, I could do anything. In my thirties I realized I’d done nothing in my twenties compared to what would be demanded of me in my third decade. Now that I’m turning forty (in two weeks – let’s not rush it) I’m afraid it’s all downhill from here.

In September, I finished my second full length manuscript. To do it, I had to block out everything else. No television. No reading. No free time. I’d say no social life but I don’t have one of those anyway. Then I had to prepare said manuscript for entrance in the Golden Heart contest. Again, I focused in and got it done.

Then the holidays kicked in. And the planning of my company holiday party cranked into high gear. But I still wanted to write a short story and it would be under 15K; I could turn it out in December and go back to revisions come January 1.

The problem is, my brain has not reacted well to this round of multi-tasking. In fact, she’s gone on strike. There is no focus. No retention of information. I’m not even sure she’s still in my head. It’s entirely possible she’s sunning herself on a sandy beach somewhere knocking back pina coladas and working her feminine wiles on some young cabana boy.

Which would mean my brain has been holding out on me for years, but since I can’t focus, I doubt I’ll remember to confront her about this.

The party has come and gone and I’m *this* close to being ready for Christmas. The house is decorated and the presents I do have are wrapped. I believe my brain is finally coming back. This morning I managed to cross four major items off my to-do list and still make it to the office by noon.

This is a good sign. Because it would seem when my brain goes on strike, it’s the writing (and blogging) that takes the hit. And that’s something I can’t afford to ignore. I’m tempted to add that Ginko stuff to my daily routine, but you know the old saying. I doubt I’d remember to take it!

Anyone ever tried focusing techniques that work? Would yoga offer benefits in this area? Meditation CDs? Maybe playing the sound of a waterfall in the background? I’ll try anything (except eating vegetables.)

Exploring Self-Pub Options

on November 16, 2011

I like writing shorts. I’ve submitted several 800 word stories to Woman’s World magazine and been fortunate enough to have one printed. (September 2010 – find the unedited version on the Short Stories page.) I’ve oft lamented that I’m not one of those mesmerizing writers with the gift for fluid, beautiful prose. My prose is more functional than fluid.

But functional comes in handy when you need to tell a story with less than 15K words. Some writers I know cringe at the thought, but not me. Why am I babbling about short stories? I’ll tell you.

A writer friend put a bug in my ear tonight. Why not put some short stories out there for the world? Not just on my blog, but self-published them.

I do not have a black & white opinion on self-publishing vs. traditional publishing. I embrace all the options and think every writer should get to choose for themselves which road to take. Not my place to judge either way. But let’s face it, the majority of successful self-published authors right now are those who made their name and established a base readership through traditional routes. Yes, there are the exceptions, but not many. Even one or two books traditionally published can give you a better chance.

Though I still intend to pursue traditional publishing for my novels, this short story self-publishing idea has merit. There’s just one problem.

Self-publishing scares the geewillukkers out of me.

The technical aspect makes me want to run and hide. I know my way around a computer and am pretty confident in my ability to learn just about anything. But I have to be SHOWN how to do things and unless I sit down with some formatting guru, I’m not sure how I’d figure this stuff out.

Doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try. Maybe. This idea literally came along moments ago so much more thought and investigation is needed. One pro for this endeavor is something I read an agent blog this summer. She said something like self-published work is the new query. Paraphrasing, of course. Couldn’t hurt to send a query with the bonus line “…and I’ve sold 3000 copies of my short stories on Smashwords.”

Anyone have any input on this? Tried self-pubbing short stories? Success? Not much? Would you do it? Am I the only writer feeling like she’s crossing this publishing pond one lily pad at a time and the dang pads keep moving or disappearing all together??

Now I KNOW I Can Do It

on November 1, 2011

Not long ago I figured out my average monthly word count is 15K words. At that rate, a rough draft would take five to six months to write, which isn’t good when you think of the months of revision to follow. I lamented on an earlier blog I would have to pick up the pace if I intended to make a go of this writing thing, though at the time had no idea if I could do it.

With the Golden Heart entry date looming, the word count on my Work In Progress (WIP) on September 1 was not looking good. I could see the precipice, but the hill was steep, covered by a Slip-n-Slide and littered with thorny cacti. What was a writer to do?

Step it up, of course.

In September I wrote twenty-seven thousand words. Now, that is no NaNo number (that being 50K in a month) but for me, a number to celebrate. I will make the Golden Heart deadline, provided writing the synopsis and re-writing the first 50 pages doesn’t kill me.

But more importantly, I now KNOW I can do this. I can hit a deadline. I can turn out words. I can build a story and trust the characters (and myself) to get it on the page. Revising it is another story. Or rather, another blog.

Have you stepped up to a challenge (like NaNo?) Surprised yourself? Got any tricks for synopsis writing? Participating in NaNoWriMo again this year?

The Ever Evolving Writer

on October 28, 2011

In 2006, I fell into this little group of Eloisa James fans via her bulletin board. They were called the Bon Bons and it was like an instant family. In the fall of that year, many of us Bon Bons partook in a little writing contest called Avon FanLit.

WritingAt the time, though I’d toyed with the idea for years, I did not see publication on my horizon. I played along, writing for fun, knowing nothing about motivation, story structure or a million other elements that go into writing a novel. Though a story idea came to me, I still told myself (and others) that I was just writing to see if I could do it. No lofty goals for me.

Less than a year later, I joined Romance Writers of America. Admittedly, because “everyone was doing it.” And I thought I was immune to peer pressure. (This is the same reason I joined Facebook all those years ago and look how that’s turned out.)

Golden-gate-bridgeBy 2008, I wanted to be published but was busy working on a college degree, being a mom, and wearing 473 other hats. I kept studying the craft, but little writing happened. Still, I attended my first RWA Nationals that summer. Again, because everyone was doing it. (What am I, thirteen?) Regardless of why I went, I think the bug took hold in that fine city of San Francisco.

In 2009, I wrapped up that college degree and set out to conquer my first MS. The learning curve was steep but I found my process, applied what I’d learned, figured out more crap I needed to learn, and met a self-imposed deadline with that MS, which I finished (rough draft) by June 2010.

Today that book is under the bed, but for all its flaws, I’ll always love it for being my first. In 2011, my horizon has shifted once again. Along this journey, I never intended for writing to take the place of the day job. The reality is, I’m a one income household with a new home and a preteen sporting shiny new braces. The steady paycheck and benefits are a must.

Dreaming-about-booksBut knowing the reality doesn’t stop me from dreaming. If you’d told me in 2005 I’d buy a house in 2010, I’d have laughed in your face. If you’d told me in 2007 I’d plan a chapter conference in 2009 while coaching a softball team and wrapping up a degree, I’d have suggested you cut back on the hooch.

And if you’d told me in 2009 that I’d long for the day I could be a full-time writer spending my days with words instead of spreadsheets, I’d never have believed it. But I believe it now. Not that it’ll happen, but that I long for it. And that’s enough. For now.