Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
- Napoleon

Monday, December 31, 2007

Wrapping Up 2007

Another year is drawing to a close. Can't say I'm too sorry to see it go. Not that it was altogether a bad year, but I'm ready to start a new year fresh. In honor of that, I'm wiping the slate clean by listing the major events in 2007 to wrap it up in a neat bundle and pack in the warehouse with the other memories.

This was the year I turned 37 (almost typo'd 17 - wouldn't it be great to be that young again?) and celebrated my 3rd wedding anniversary. I celebrated my 13th year of life after my car accident - 14 is coming up in a couple weeks. (Actually, I completely forgot about it on the date, but I'm thinking about it now, so I thought I'd include it.)

This year I wrote two books - AWJ (#4) in the spring and R2L (#5) in the fall. I finished the final polishing Spectacle(#1) and I put my Caldera (#2) in the can - which is to say it's as finished as it's ever going to be without an editor. I began two others (Redemption and JA) which are both waiting to be finished until I can finish editing my other three unfinished books. I thought I had Blink (#3) finished, but it turns out it needed a complete rewrite in the middle - something I finished a couple days ago. I also wrote a couple short stories somewhere in the middle of all that.

This was the year I found the joys of a critique partner, and learned anew the disappointment of a writing community (that shall remain nameless). 2007 was also the year I learned to network with my fellow bloggers. I've made some interesting acquaintance that I would like to someday call friends, but that remains to be seen.

Another thing I did this year was started reading as research, and started keeping track of the books I've read. I read 70 books during 2007 (as far as I know - I still think I may have missed some at the beginning of the year). I discovered several authors that were new to me and that I will be looking for in the future. Those include, but are not limited to, Allison Brennan, Natalie M. Roberts, Jennifer Apodaca, Rick Riordan, Rachel Vincent, Diana Peterfreund, Lynn Viehl (aka S.L. Viehl) and Laura Bradford. I also re-discovered a couple authors I'd forgotten about like Orson Scott Card, Ken Follett and Nevil Shute. This year I finally made the jump and read Dan Brown, too. All in all it was a good reading year. There were only a couple books I absolutely hated (and those shall remain nameless, too).

In the submission arena, I made the jump and submitted both Spectacle and Caldera to publishers (one publisher each), submitted short stories to lit mags, and entered my first two contests. The jury's still out on one of the contests, but the other said I was near the top of the non-winning entries (or something like that... I forget the exact wording). Oh, and I submitted a poem to a lit mag, too, but it was a wash. Darn it all. Still no action on the representation front, but this year was not a big year for submitting to agents. Frankly, I was too busy writing and editing to get much submitting done. This coming year both Blink and R2L will be sitting in the slush piles of any agent who reps their genre (or even close to their genre).

On the homefront, my darling daughter started high school (if one can really call 9th grade in homeschool 'high school') this fall. Last spring, she made it to the state spelling bee. I'm very proud of her and her accomplishments. This year she also decided what she wants to be when she grows up - or at least what she wants to major in. She chose Chemistry. Right now, she's hoping to get into some kind of cosmetics or perfume industry, or she's still thinking about forensic chemistry like the guys on CSI do. She's a teen, what can I say. I don't care as long as she's happy and she's making enough money to take care of me in my dotage. ;o)

Nothing new or exciting going on with my husband. He's still working hard and supporting me in my endeavors (both emotionally and financially), and he's still the best, most wonderful man alive. =oD

This year, a niece got married, a nephew got engaged and began working toward his Masters degree, another niece completed her high-school diploma at home while caring for her toddler son and began taking college correspondence courses. Two other nephews joined 4H and a different nephew is pulling good grades in school. My last two nieces are out there somewhere, one going to college and the other getting ready for college (I think) - I wish them both well even though I haven't seen them in 14.5 years.

All in all 2007 was a good year. Now onward to 2008. Tonight I'm making a sumptuous steak dinner with sauteed mushrooms and rosemary potatoes, plus a turtle cheesecake for dessert. We'll break out the bottle of sparkling white grape juice, and toast the end of another 12 months stretch.

What big plans do you have tonight? What's happened in your year worth celebrating and what are you wrapping up to make way for 2008?

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Global Warming, My Derriere

I just finished shoveling the last batch of snow and guess what? It's snowing again. Where the hell is this global warming they keep promising me? I'm freezing my tiny-hiney off.

Yeah, yeah. I know, I know. Global warming makes it cold, too. If I wrote anything with logic that faulty, I'd be laughed out of every publishing house from here to Siberia (where I'm sure they're celebrating the impending onslaught of global warming even as I type this).

Please don't leave me little messages claiming the truth of global warming. I don't buy it any more. You trot out your experts and I'll trot out mine, and we'll see which ones have the most to gain by perpetuating the myth of massive climate change. Somebody's political limelight got some major juice out of this whole thing, lemme tell ya. (*cough, cough* Al Gore *cough, cough*)

Anyway, I try really hard not to let my personal opinions reflect on my blog. But as I sit here listening to the wind whip while my toes slowly go numb from the draft, and I contemplate how much snow I'm going to have to shovel again while my husband will be out making sure his workplace is shoveled clean, I really had to say something.

Global Warming? My Ass. Repeat after me... Cyclical climate change. The earth's been doing this hot/cold/hot/cold thing since well before our ancestors crawled out from under their rock. Am I the only one who remembers being taught in elementary school that an Ice Age was fast approaching??? Seriously. I guess that wasn't scary enough for some people, so they had to make up a new terror to keep us awake at night.


And Feh.

If global warming is the fault of 'fossil fuel'* emissions, then please, for my sake, drive your car more often. I'm getting frostbite from all the 'warming'.

*Ever wonder why no fossils are ever found in or around coal and oil??? Just because living things are made of carbon doesn't mean everything that has carbon in it was once alive. Seriously. Or maybe it does and diamonds are a fossil jewel. ;o)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Busy Busy

Thursday we got a snowstorm. Seven inches of the fluffy white stuff. Of course, that meant yesterday was devoted to digging out from under. Shovel, rest. Shovel, rest. At least now I can move my car. (Although moving my arms this morning is a bit of a trial.)

Once that was done, and I could breathe normally again, I sat down with Blink. I cranked out almost 3500 words and now I can see the end of the middle part's rewrite. I had my first-line reader look it over last night, just to make sure I hadn't spent countless hours churning out something lamer than the last try. She pronounced it good, and told me where I'd screwed up in a couple places. (If you want a really good critter at home, sometimes you really do have to breed them yourself. :wink:)

What have you been up to lately? Good things I hope. I wouldn't wish shoveling on anyone.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

An Interesting Look Back

Agent Andrew Zack has an interesting look back at the way things used to be done in the publishing world in his post: The Problem is Volume. It's a long post, but well worth a complete read-through.

I've long thought the same thing. Think about it. Back in the 40's, everything had to be banged out on a manual typewriter, and if you've never used a manual, it was slow and arduous work. (Ayn Rand wrote Atlas Shrugged - 1096 pages worth - on a manual typewriter, just to give you a glimpse of that lady's drive to write.) When I was fourteen, I began writing a book using my grandmother's manual typewriter, and hour after hour of plunking at keys that would jam and stick is no walk in the park. (I'm not as old as that sounds. Really. We were just poor and it was all I had until I got an electric typewriter for graduation.)

But I digress...

My point, and Mr. Zack's as well, is that once upon a time writing and submitting was a very difficult thing to do. Nowadays, though, it's easy. Anyone can write a book, and anyone can send it shooting along the internet waves to arrive at its destination in mere minutes. This means any given agent or editor is swamped - all the time - and your manuscript has to be that much better to float above the dreck.

In a way, it's a depressing thought. You've got a glorious piece of work to send, and when you do, you have to worry whether it'll get lost in the flotsam and jetsam of the wild waves.

In another way, though, you can take heart in the fact that you can do this writing gig at all. That you don't have to sit day after day typing away, changing sheet after sheet of paper, and discarding a whole page because you transposed the I and the E in 'receive'. (Or only slightly better - use erasable bond paper, which allowed a writer to erase mistakes and type over them, but also smeared every time you touched it. Don't get me started on white-out.) You have technology to thank for the ease of your work now.

Gotta love technology. *happy sigh*

Not that I don't, in some sick way, miss the sound of my fingers clacking out a story, and the zip of the return as it slid across the page bringing me down to the next line, or the smell of typewriter ribbons and white-out.

Have you ever used an old typewriter for writing your stories, or are you strictly from the technological age?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The After Effects

Christmas is over. (Happy Boxing Day to my UK and Aussie blog-buddies!) Now the after effects of the holiday are kicking in. Wrapping paper needed to be thrown away; opened presents needed to be moved from their various piles around the living room and tucked nicely back under the tree. Some major vacuuming needed to be done.

In short, I'm bushed.

Of course, it doesn't help that I spent the past two days stuffing myself with ham and chocolates and candies and every other tasty treat under the roof. It also didn't help that we got some drifting snow yesterday that desperately needed shoveling if I was going to make it out to the trash barrel today. After shoveling and cleaning, and various sundry errands, I collapsed on the couch and watched crap on TV for a few hours.

Oh, and I managed to crank out 1000+ words in the middle of Blink. Yay me. This is particularly helpful since my CP finished critting part one, and wants more. The 'more' I have yet to finish writing, unfortunately. That lit a fire under my patootie, let me tell you.

So yeah, I'm bushed. My hands aren't used to high output writing after so many weeks away, and they're protesting even the writing of this post. On that note, I'm going to give in to their complaining and call it a night.

I hope you all had wonderful holidays this year, and I'm looking forward to the New Year.

What are you up to these days?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to You and Yours

Monday, December 24, 2007

Individualist Carol

I'm not a religious woman. I am, however, big on the power of each individual to make his life better and brighter. We all have that power within us, if we look for it. So, in honor of that power, I give you my version of an old holiday tune. (And in case you need a disclaimer, I really mean no disrespect to the original carol. I could listen to Nat King Cole sing it all day. This is just my take on it.)

The Individualist Carol

Oh Holy Night
The stars are brightly shining
This is the night
Of my own sweet rebirth

Long lay my heart
In sin and error pining
Then life appeared
And my soul felt its worth

The thrill of hope
The weary heart rejoices
For yonder came
A new and glorious morn

Rise from your knees
And hear the singing voices

Oh night divine
O-o-oh night when I was born

Oh night divine
O-oh night, oh holy night.

What great things are you going to make of your life this year?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Holiday Wishes for You

Over at KritterCards.com, I made a holiday greeting card for everyone .

I hope you all like it. =oD

The Ten Commandments

Or rather The Ten Writing Commandments, of course. My CP and I were having an e-mail discussion about the 'rules' of writing and how some 'how to' writing books are viewed as writing bibles. Thus I give you...


The Ten Writing Commandments
(in no particular order)

10) Thou shalt not use adverbs.

9) Thou shalt not begin a story with a dream sequence.

8) Thou shalt always 'show' and never 'tell'.

7) Thou shalt not use the word 'that'.

6) Thou shalt attend writers' workshops, conferences, and book fairs at every opportunity.

5) Thou shalt not have a character describe themselves by looking at their own reflection.

4) Thou shalt have many many many people critique your work before submitting.

3) Thou shalt never use cliches.

2) Thou shalt not have unsympathetic main characters.

1) Thou shalt take these commandments seriously.

Okay, so maybe that last one should say 'shalt not'. Unlike the biblical commandments, nothing is carved into stone here. Every one of these rules has been broken, and should be broken depending on what your story needs.

Or in the words of Neil Gaiman (whose wildly popular books are selling like hotcakes, btw): "Write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I'm not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter."

What are some rules you've heard about that you've broken? Better yet, tell me about some rules bestselling novelists have broken. Those are always fun. =oD

And tell me if I missed any commandments. Who knows, this could be like Mel Brooks' History of the World Part I:

"I bring you these fifteen... (crash)... ten... Ten Commandments!"

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Nocturnal Muse Visits

I get my best ideas when I'm lying in bed trying to sleep. Somehow my brain, which has probably been too occupied throughout the day, switches over to its creative side. My mind wanders through an endless stream of possibilities. "What would happen if this occurred instead of that?" and "What if we tried to do things another way?"

This nighttime thing has been happening for a while now. It's a little bit irritating, especially since I've learned that if I don't write these ideas down, they're gone by morning. I'm sure my husband finds the whole process a little irritating, too. (More often than not, I accidentally wake him up as I leave or come back to bed.) Still, we have to do what must be done. Right?

We've both learned to accept these nighttime journeys to the office. Neither one of us wants me to lose a potentially awesome story idea because getting up is too much of a pain. So we lose a little sleep. What's lost sleep compared with a lost idea? We can sleep when we're dead.

Anyway, I've learned to use this time of night to unclog. As you all probably know by now, I've been having the squirms when it comes to the middle of Blink. Well, night before last, I lay down and let my mind wander over the possible ways to fix the section, and voila! A wonderful idea popped into my head (along with an idea for another book, but that's neither here nor there) and I got right up to write it down. Because of this, I sat down yesterday and got almost 1500 words out! Yay.

So, what kinds of things help you to unclog? Does your brain bother you when you're trying to fall asleep or is it just me? Any hints or tips for keeping the peace with regards to waking up the spouse just so you can write down an idea that may or may not be any good in the clear light of day?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Beginning to Look A Lot Like...

...Friday. Bet you thought I was going to say Christmas. Actually I'm just being a dork. I really do mean Christmas.

Here in CO, the ground is covered with white stuff, and the decorations are sparkling all over town. It really lends a bit of cheer to this little burg. Despite my earlier post on the grumpiness of the inhabitants, they seem to have leveled off - or I've grown a thicker skin to their nasty moods.

I decorated our house, so it kinda looks like the North Pole exploded in here. Went full out. The presents are all wrapped and under the tree. The cookies are baked, the fudge is made, and all that's left for me to do is Christmas dinner. We're having the traditional ham with pineapple and brown sugar, mashed potatoes, corn. Oh, and I just remembered, I have to make the turtle cheesecake on Monday for our holiday dessert.

Other than that, I'm just chilling out and trying to take a relaxing view of the holiday season. Stress-free holidays are the only way I can get through them and still remain sane at the end.

How are the holidays going for you so far? Stressin' or chillin' out?

Whatever take you have on this time of year, I hope you take a moment for yourself. And have a happy holiday.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Square Prose; Round Hole

Still talking about Blink, and if you're getting sick of reading about my trials with this book just remember, I'm getting sick of having trials with this book. (Note: I am not sick of the book. I'm only sick of having problems with the middle of it.)

I think I have to scrap my new start on that section again. I'm still mired in my own words. I deleted one problem in favor of another, and both problems have their basis in trying to force a certain set of things to happen. This morning I admitted to myself that those things just aren't going to happen. They never would; they never could - and no amount of pushing is going to make them work. It's like trying to shove a square peg into a round hole. I've been beating that damn peg for a year now, and I only just realized it doesn't fit. So what do I do???

I substitute an oval peg and start hammering away.

The peg is fine. It's my brain that's starting to take on a funny shape. The more I hammer, the worse it gets. Trust me, forced writing serves no one's purpose. It sucks, and it will continue to do so until the weaker force (i.e. the writer) breaks down.

So, here we go again on the delete and rewrite. Lucky I only wrote a few hundred words on the oval peg. Once again, I think I figured it out, and I'm sure my prose is the right shape to fit the hole now. I'll just have to wait and see how long I hammer before it either pops into the hole or I break my fist.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


I finally figured out what the problem was with Part Two of Blink! It sucked! Yay me!

Actually, since I tweaked Part One, Two was even more sucky by comparison. Thank goodness I saw how bad it stunk before I sent it out for submission. Egads.

But seriously, Part Two was giving me problems because there were such glaring inconsistencies in the story. Too many unanswered questions; too many gaps in the world-building. I mean, if there were a technologically advanced Utopic society for Mary to discover, why in the name of all that's sacred wouldn't they have eradicated the bad guys decades before the beginning of the story??? If I have to send my MC out into the wasteland, it has to be a real wasteland. There can't be a yellow-brick road leading to a magic land that's afraid of the wicked witch, so to speak. They'd kick the witch's ass. If you had the means to stop oppression, wouldn't you kick some dictatorship ass??

So I have to make Mary's life difficult again. She's up to the challenge. So am I.

Tonight I blew away almost 18K words. (Don't worry. I never completely delete anything. It's on the cutting-room floor, but the pieces are still there for posterity.) After I deleted it, I began the rebuild. I have the majority of it plotted out in a skeleton sort of way, and I've already written 445 new words.

To be honest, I've really never had to do this before. Should be an interesting learning experience. Wish me success. (After all, luck is what you make of it.)

Now, off to the quarry.

Well Traveled

I was just sitting here, thinking about all the places I've been in my life. True, I've only been out of the country once (and that was only to Canada - even though I spent the first 30 years of my life an hour from Canada) but even so, I've been all over the U.S.

On this map, each black dot represents a state I've either lived in or visited. (It's hard to see the dots for CT, NJ and MD, but tiny states call for tiny dots. And I didn't bother with AK or HI because I've never been to either state.) Out of the forty contiguous states, I've been to twenty-nine. The longest stay was Michigan, of course. I grew up there. It's hard to pinpoint the shortest stay because several of the states were driven through on the way to somewhere else. For that, I guess I'd have to say Iowa because we just drove through the corner on our way from Missouri to Nebraska.

How's this relate to writing? Well, you see, because I've been all these places, I can picture them in my head easily. Any place I've been, I can write about better than if I just read about them. (Not that one has to travel to every place one writes about, but every little bit helps.) I didn't always live in BFE, CO and I wasn't always a stay-at-home, homeschooling housewife/unpubbed novelist. I used to travel all over the place, going to sales meetings and training seminars and national trade shows. I can tell you what the sun looks like coming up over the Wasatch Mtns or setting over the Gulf of Mexico. I can weave the smell of the boardwalk in Atlantic City for you, or let you listen to the sound of Lake Superior when it's getting ready to throw a tantrum or show you what Beale Street really looks like.

The more you know, the better off your writing will be in the long run. Just because I'm stuck here in the wastelands, staring at the tumbleweeds as they pile high enough to cover some folks' windows and inhaling the stench of a hundred thousand cows, doesn't mean I'm stunted as a writer. It just means I'm taking a break from the outside world so I can write.

Of all the places I've been my favorites are probably the west side of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Cape San Blas in Florida, Rocky Mountain National Park, New York City, and Yellowstone/The Grand Tetons.

So, tell me where you've been. Any good places to visit once I venture back out in the world? I know I need to visit the west coast one of these days, and I've always wanted to get up into New England more. (The three days I spent in CT wasn't nearly enough, and it was a business trip, so not much in the way of site-seeing was done.)

Under the Weather

Some kind of creeping crud assaulted me yesterday, and I feel gross. My father always said he had the 'Michigan Squaheegees' when he wasn't feeling well and there was no obvious cause to it. Maybe it's that, but probably it's a bug of some kind. Anyway, that's why I didn't blog yesterday and today ain't lookin' too good neither.


Feel free to talk amongst yourselves.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Book Shift

Since Blink is giving me trouble, I've shifted over to editing R2L. *shrug* They both need to be tweaked and polished, and then submitted. I figure if I'm not working on one, I'd better be working on the other.

I'd hate to have to kick my own butt. ;o)

Having Problems

I'm in the middle of editing Blink - literally. The book is in three parts, and Part Two is giving me grief. I was never all that in love with that part anyway, but it's necessary. Without it, the MC doesn't learn the things she needs to learn in order to do what she has to do in Part Three. But right now it's lame. It's filler. It's weak.

Part One is excellent. Part Three promises to be excellent, too, once I finish tweaking it. Part Two is the ugly stepchild of the book. I think I need to rewrite the whole damn thing. And it's killing me to have to rewrite it. I know I'm going to have to print it out, and then attack it with the red pen. Like some odd literary leech, I need to make it bleed so it can live.

I just hate the thought of shredding it and rebuilding it from scratch. The only thing to be thankful for is as long as I stay true to the things she has to learn, it really isn't going to effect Part Three. I could write it a dozen different ways and still not have to rewrite the last part. The problem is which way to choose to get the most bang for my buck.

In the words of Winnie the Pooh: "Think. Think. Think." and "Oh, bother."

:wanders off singing: "I'm just a little black raincloud, hovering under the honey tree..."

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Peanut Butter Fudge Recipe

Just because I've gotten rave reviews on my peanut butter fudge, I thought I'd share the recipe. It's wicked easy, and pretty foolproof. Just make sure you hit the soft-ball stage (234 degrees F) - which means keeping the sugar at a rolling boil for exactly five minutes. If you don't have a candy thermometer, and you're not sure about the five minute thing, take a glass of water and drip a little of the mixture into the water when you think it's about right. The sugar drips should make a little ball(s) in the water when it's done. Too little heat will give you runny fudge, and too much will give you hard/gritty fudge. It's an art, but it's worth it.


Peanut Butter Fudge

2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 cups white sugar
4 T butter
1 cup evaporated milk
1 ½ cups peanut butter
2 t vanilla
2 cups mini-marshmallows

Butter pan (8 x 10”, or larger depending on the thickness you want. 8 x 10” pans produce thick fudge.) In a medium saucepan, combine both sugars, evaporated milk and butter. To start, place pan on medium heat until butter is melted and all ingredients have combined. Turn heat up to medium-high until mixture is at a rolling boil. Boil for approximately 5 minutes, or until the mixture reaches soft ball stage (234 degrees F). Remove from heat and immediately stir in remaining ingredients. Stir quickly but thoroughly until all ingredients are combined (taking care not to slop hot sugar mixture over the sides of the pan). Once peanut butter and marshmallows are completely melted and combined with sugar, pour into pre-buttered pan to cool.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Totally Funked Out

I don't know what the problem is, but I'm totally funked out today. Deep blue funk, not stinky funk. And I started out the day in such a good mood, too.

Maybe it's the fact that everywhere I've been today people have been in a bad mood. At the grocery store, there's a little old man who stocks the dairy section. I love him. He reminds me of my dad, and he always makes shopping there a happy event. Today someone pissed him off before I got there, and he didn't even have a smile for me. Then at the department store, I got there just in time to hear the assistant manager (think of the stereotypical 'assistant manager' type, and you'll know him) chew out the only good cashier they have in the joint. Another one of my little old joys around the town. I stepped up to the register and since there was no one behind me, I told her to take her time and relax - I'm never really in a hurry.

At the post office, the gal looks harried - and who can blame her when every moron in town is: a) walking in and having her weigh every friggin' card to make sure they don't need extra postage, b) bringing in boxes improperly packed to ship, c) spending ten minutes deliberating over which design stamp they want for their cards. (My cards all have regular stamps. I don't look at the stamps on the cards I receive. It's the card inside that's important. Right?) Or d) just being generally impatient and rude.

Maybe it's the snow. We got a whole three inches... okay, maybe four... and everyone acts like it's an imposition to have to deal with driving slower, taking more care, and allowing extra room for stopping. I'm originally from Michigan, and this snow is nothing in comparison to what I used to have to deal with. I love the ones who feel it's their god-given right to plow all their snow into the middle of the road. Those of us who drive small cars are really thankful for their conscientiousness. The city does an awesome job of keeping the roads clear, but come on, people. Let's all do our part to make this snow thing easier on everyone. K?

I've been trying to keep the Christmas spirit. Really I have. But folks around here are making it damn hard for me. It's supposed to be the time of 'good will to men'. Or to quote some show my nephew always used to reference... "Can't we all just get along?" Whatever the reason, this whole day has me totally funked out. I don't want to write. I don't want to read. I don't even want to flop on the couch and watch TV. I'd really rather just curl up in bed and stare at the dark. Feh.

To finish this post out on a brighter note: I finally got around to decorating. I put up the tree and strung garlands all over the living room. I put my grandmother's antique hand-painted ornaments in strategic locations and set out all my holiday knick-knacks. It looks like the North Pole exploded in here, but it's certainly festive.

Are you keeping the holiday spirit this year, or is the whole thing just making you crazy? What's it like where you are - funked out or happy? And what do you think is causing some people to have a massive case of the grumps?

(Update: I worked through my funk, and I'm feeling much better now. It probably doesn't hurt that I've been hermitized in my little house and away from contact with the outside world.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

To Query or Not to Query

There's been some discussion on line lately about querying at this time of year. I've heard alternating opinions.

Some agents don't want queries right now. This is the time they wrap up the year, finish up with all the queries they haven't had time to address, catch up on reading partials and fulls, so they can start the new year with a clean slate. Other agents think this is a good time to receive queries. Those agents have some end of the year downtime when they can peruse submissions.

So, what's right?

Well, I think it depends on the agent. With everything else about this business, each agent has their own set of likes and dislikes. The key is finding which agent wants what. (And you all know this isn't always clear - especially with outdated or incorrect information floating around the net.) We've all heard it time and again: This business is subjective. Even the best time to query depends on the subject of the query.

I think the best bet, if you aren't sure about a particular agent's preference, is to wait. Query those agents who say they want submissions right now, and leave everyone else until the end of January. Give them some time to get back into the swing of the new year. Let them alone to deal with closing out 2007 on their books. Be thoughtful. Maybe it'll earn you some much needed brownie points.

And since you'll be querying along with everyone else, make sure your query is the shiniest it can be. In the end, that's what sells the book - not timing, or magic, or anything else.

Now, tell me what your thoughts are on year-end querying. If I'm totally off-base here, I'll be the first to recant my advice. Trust me.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Just Keep Swimming

Before I get started today, let me remind the contest winners that I need your addresses and choices. (And once I send your prize, your address gets forgotten, so never fear about getting junk mail from me. Unless, of course, you really want some.)

And now to the real meat of today's post... Perseverance.

If you've never seen Finding Nemo, there's this fish named Dory. She's not the brightest fish in the ocean, but she's got a philosophy I like: Just keep swimming. No matter how bad things get, or how grim things look, just keep swimming. To me, this means persevere. Whatever life throws at you, just keep moving forward.

Maven Carrie has an excellent post this morning about persevering despite the subjectivity of this business. It was a real shot of positivity for me. I need to just keep at it. Sooner or later, I'll prevail if I don't stop swimming. Once I stop, I'll never win.

Ya know what I mean?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Contest Results

Drumroll please... Okay, no drumroll.

The prizes are:
1) The first four books in Lynn Viehl's Darkyn series (If Angels Burn, Private Demon, Dark Need, and Night Lost)
2) The Reincarnationist by M.J. Rose
3) Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
4) The mystery prize! An assortment of old paperbacks - winner's choice of genre: Romance, Fantasy, Mystery, Literary, or Western.

If any of the above mentioned prizes are not what the winner really wants, we can discuss available options from my book store.

Now for the winners! Just to keep things honest, I assigned all the comments a number, and used a random number generator. The following people can pick from the above list of prizes. First come, first served.

Kristen Painter
Wendy Roberts
Travis Erwin
Erica Ridley

Drop me a note at besanderson AT gmail DOT com with your choice and your mailing address. All prizes will be sent via USPS Media Mail (unless, in the case of Wendy, the postal service doesn't let me send to Canada that way, in which case I'll suck it up.)

Congratulations everyone and thank you for visiting my blog. Here's hoping the next year is filled with even more new friends. =o)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Life Happens

It's been a helluva weekend, folks. Gacked out on questionable food Saturday morning. Frozen pipes this morning. I'm waiting for the next shit storm, but I'm like that. I figure if I always expect the worst, I'm rarely disappointed, and if the best happens instead, I'm pleasantly surprised. Not that I don't always hope for the best, but since it rarely happens, my bases are covered.

I like to think of myself as a pessimistic optimist. (Or an optimistic pessimist... whichever floats my boat at the time.)

Right now, I'm feeling back to semi-normal again, and the pipes are thawed. Unfortunately, the result of all the misfortunes of the weekend is no writerly work. I really need to get back in the groove, but while you're waiting for the other shoe to drop, it's hard to get the creative juices flowing. We'll see what tonight brings. Maybe I'll be able to work tomorrow.

Keep your head down, and in the words of the immortal Red Green, keep your stick on the ice*.

(*Thanks to Wordvixen for reminding me to credit Red Green. Gotta love a guy who thinks of duct tape as the handyman's secret weapon.)

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Contest Extension

Sorry I've been lax in my contest duties today, but thanks to some questionable food at last night's party, I've been out of commission. I'll get to the drawing Monday, which means I'm extending the contest deadline to midnight Sunday.

Comment on any of the posts in the past week, and you'll be entered in the drawing for the first four books in Lynn Viehl's Darkyn series, a copy of MJ Rose's The Reincarnationist, Jodi Picoult's Nineteen Minutes or a mystery prize to be chosen by the winner from several options.

Take care, and remember... When you're eating everything you're eating this holiday season:

Watch out for the shrimp!


Friday, December 7, 2007


After the week of cookie baking, I'm bushed. I didn't get any writerly work done yesterday and today's not looking too good either.

Hope you all have a splendiferous night. I have to go get ready for a Christmas thing. Smile and wave, people. ;o)

Thursday, December 6, 2007


And I'm spent.

The past couple days, plus today, we baked eight types of cookies and made two types of fudge. Every year I forget how much work this whole thing is - especially the fudge. If you've never made fudge, you have to stir the sugar mixture continuously for five minutes while it's at a rolling boil (with hot sugar bubbles exploding at you) and then when you take it off the heat, you have to stir in all the chocolate chips and marshmallow fluff before the concoction cools. If you stir too slow, the whole thing sets and you've got a big block of partially made chocolate-marshmallow goo. And if you're unfamiliar with fluff, it's extremely sticky and hard to get off the spoon. My daughter still has fluff in her hair.

Once it's finished, though, it's a tasty set of accomplishments. Right now every available space is filled with containers of cookies, so I can look around at everything we've done. Tomorrow most of it will be gone as I make my gift baskets and distribute them to all the good boys and girls in my life (and in my general geographic area).

Now, I bet you're asking yourself what any of this has to do with writing. Well, I could say that not everything I blog about has to do with writing, but that wouldn't be true. The whole story is a wonderful analogy for writing a book.

When you're writing a book, it's a lot of hard work, but the end result is an accomplishment you can be proud of. It's also something you've put your effort into that you want to share with other people. You want people to taste your creation, to savor it as much as you do, and to shower you with the praise you've earned for your work.

This year, we had a batch of cookies that didn't turn out as planned. For some reason, the first two sheets burned, and the ones that didn't burn were bland. Sometimes we start out writing what we think is going to be awesome, only to find out somewhere along the way, something went horribly wrong. The bad batch of cookies was the first one, and I could've chucked the whole idea of the cookie baskets this year. It was a blow to my baker's ego, after all. I've made the recipe before, and they always turned out great. Instead of giving in, though, I threw the whole damn batch out and started over on a different recipe.

See the analogy?

Okay. Enough with me and my analogies. How are your holiday plans shaping up this year? Do you have any writing analogies for me?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Release News

My blog buddy Wendy Roberts announced yesterday that her book Remains of the Dead hit the shelves.

Like a huge idiot, I thought it hit the shelves on December 1st, and looked all over for it when I went shopping on Monday. D'oh! Now I'll have to wait to buy it until I can make the trip again, or order it online (which is not my preferred method for buying books - silly since I sell books online, but it's my quirk, and I'm going with it).

From Wendy's own site: "I thoroughly enjoyed Wendy Roberts' fantastic mystery. The dark suspense is lightened with witty banter and a breezy writing style that keeps the pages turning. Fun, compelling, and completely satisfying. I can't wait for the next installment." - New York Times best selling author, Allison Brennan

If Allison says it's good, I'm definitely up for it, but beyond that, I've been visiting Wendy's blog for some time now, and she's a stand-up gal. I can't wait to read it. (Of course, this means if you're reading it now, or have already finished it, I DON'T want any plot sploilers in the comments. Please.)

So, run right out and buy a copy for yourself. And if you liked it, give Wendy a shout-out on her blog or a really awesome review at Amazon. Here's wishing Wendy a boatload of sales and a spot on the bestseller's list. =oD

(And please remember this week is my Anniversary Contest. Comment for a chance to win! I still don't know what yet, but that's part of the fun. Right?)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Christmas Time is Upon Me

Sorry about not posting yesterday, but I did the huge Christmas shopping trip, and I was tuckered out. So even though I didn't post yesterday, please remember this week is the Anniversary Contest.

As I sit here listening to my Kenny Rogers/Dolly Parton Christmas CD, my first batch of cookies is in the oven and the darling daughter is prepping for the next batch. The shopping yesterday kicked me into the yuletide season full force. This year I wasn't really getting into the swing of things, I admit. My house isn't decorated at all, and I didn't want to listen to Christmas music. I just didn't feel like I gave a rip about any of it.

On the hour drive to the closest town with real stores, I heard one Christmas song on the radio and everything seemed to click. Now I'm ready to tackle this year's festivities.

Every year for the past few years, I bake cookies like a woman possessed, then I give them to friends and my husband's co-workers as gifts. Last year we did 7 types of cookies and 2 types of fudge. This year, the plan is to about the same. A few of the recipes have changed, but for the most part it's the same mix of treats: two types of 6-layer bars (one with pecans and the other with walnuts), snickerdoodles, coconut-rum drop cookies, chocolate no-bakes, oatmeal raisin, cream cheese cookies with chocolate chips, chocolate fudge and peanut-butter fudge.

Just to share in the fun, here's my 6-layer bar recipe:

6-layer bars

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter or margarine (melted)
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 12 oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 10 oz bag white chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, macadamias... whatever you like)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix together cracker crumbs and melted butter. Press mixture into the bottom of a 9"x13" ungreased cake pan. Sprinkle coconut evenly over crust. Sprinkle semi-sweet chips over coconut. Pour condensed milk evenly over chips. Sprinkle white chocolate chips over condensed milk. Sprinkle chopped nuts over the top of it all (if you want more nuts, go for it). Bake for 30 minutes or until top layer of chips looks melted. Cool completely (overnight if necessary or refrigerate for 3-4 hours), cut and serve.

I hope you're getting into the spirit of whichever holiday season you celebrate. It's just not the same if you're not into it.


Sunday, December 2, 2007

Happy Anniversary to me

It occurred to me this morning that this is a very important day in my blogosphere. One year ago today, I started this blog.

I didn't think this blogging thing would be anything special when I started it. I just wanted to have a web-presence and get my name out there (and at the time, get a few things off my chest). This blog - originally called Musings about Life - started out as a part musing, part ranting, and totally scattered blog. I blogged about my writing, my life, my homeschooling adventures and whatever other things grabbed my attention.

About a month after I started, I decided to spin off the homeschooling aspect into Home Ed Musings (my forgotten blog, which isn't listed in my profile because when I created it, I didn't know what I was doing, and since then have lost interest). A few months after that, I decided to recreate my blog into the incarnation you see today. I think I'll stick with this one.

In the past year, I've accumulated some impressive statistics. (A least I think they're impressive.) For instance, I've had 8719 visits from 67 different countries on every continent but Antarctica. Those visits came from 1754 unique visitors and they amounted to 22,570 pageviews.

Over the year, I've met quite a few wonderful people in the blogosphere. 3684 of my visits came from 119 referring sources. Without those wonderful referrals, this would've been just me sitting here talking to myself. The top three people who've sent visitors my way are: Liz Fenwick, Karin Tabke and Erica Ridley. Hopefully, I've returned the favor to some degree. My thanks to them and to all the people who have linked to my blog. I'm honored that you thought enough of my posts to offer your own readers a way to get here.

And now for the part you've all been waiting for...

In honor of this momentous occasion, I'm going to be running a contest for multiple prizes. Anyone who comments between now and Friday at midnight will be eligible to win - although you only get one entry per commenter per day. Since, as usual, I completely forgot I was going to do this, I haven't determined prizes yet. I do know that one lucky commenter will win the first four books in Lynn Viehl's Darkyn series (for commenters over 18 years of age only, please) - if they choose, of course.

Anyhoo, look for more prize information throughout the week.

So, tell me. What have you done over the past year that you're proud of?

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Chapter 3 Rewrite

As I was re-re-re-editing Blink this morning, I realized that Chapter 3 is lame.

Okay, maybe not all of chapter 3, but the most important part of the chapter - the reason for having the chapter at all - is definitely lame. So...

I printed the damn thing out, and I'll be sitting with my red pen later, trying to figure out where I went wrong and how to fix it. On the bright side, I'm glad I caught this before I tried to submit the book. If I were an agent, that sticking point would have shot the whole novel to hell for me.

Ahhh, the objectivity of distancing oneself from a manuscript. Ain't it grand?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Whatever It Takes With One Caveat

Over at Murder She Writes, Karin Tabke poses the question: How far will you go? - with regard to what you will do to reach your goals.

My short answer was 'As far as is necessary without compromising my values'. Simple answer for me, really, but I'd like to talk about it a little further here this morning.

One of my goals it to write novels. Actually, I'm doing that - every day if I can manage it. I have two in the bag, and another three in various stages of editing, plus my WIP, so I am accomplishing that goal. Sometimes I work when I would rather be watching football, or Criminal Minds or NCIS. Sometimes I don't work when I ought to, and that leads to a big ball of stinky guilt. I never work when I'm supposed to be focused on teaching. First off, it's too hard to concentrate on both of those things at the same time, and secondly, my daughter's education comes first. It has to. I can write for the rest of my life, but I only have one shot to get my daughter started off right. That's part of where the 'not compromising my values' comes in. If it's a situation where there has to be a choice between writing and my family, the family always comes first.

The second goal is to get my work published. This is a little bit harder to accomplish, since it is not entirely in my hands. (Unless I want to go the self-publishing route, which I've considered and rejected.) On this front, I'm willing to read everything available to learn what it takes to be a publlished author. I've spent countless hours perfecting my query letters and synopses and outlines. I've tweaked my manuscripts until they shine, and then I go back to tweak them some more. I'd be willing to go to conferences and trade shows, if I had the money to do that. I'll schmooze and hobnob and rub elbows. I did that for years without any adverse effects.

The only thing I'm not willing to do is compromise my work.

I know that sounds like one of those pretentious phrases one hears from time to time. It's almost become snobby in its implications. What I mean by it, though, isn't anything like that. If getting published means I have to snip the meat out of my book, I won't do it. If it means taking an editor's suggestion to change the villian in Caldera from an eco-terrorist to a 'greedy businessman' I won't do it. It would go against my principles, and it would make the work less than it ought to be. If I accepted that, I would cry every time I saw one of my own books on the shelves. If I allowed that to happen, I couldn't look at myself in the mirror.

It doesn't mean the entirety of my work is sancrosanct. If some scenes need to be edited, so be it. If some passages have to be reworded to better convey their meaning, I'm all for it. Just don't cut out the ideas that are supposed to be in there. I'd rather burn everything I've ever written and live in a cave than see that happen.

So, if I have to sit here every day for the rest of my life--typing and editing and polishing--I'm happy to do it. If I have to leave the comfort of my hermitage in order to sell my books, I'm up for that, too. I'll just be doing it on my own terms, as I think it should always be. If that means I'll never get a single thing published, so be it. I won't be happy if I never publish, but I'll at least be content in the knowledge I never lost my integrity.

Now it's your turn. How far would you go to accomplish your goals? Do you think I'm out of my mind for publicly making the statement about not compromising my values? What wouldn't you do to accomplish your goals?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

When Feeling Bad is Good

You know how sometimes you're going along, feeling good about yourself like everything in your world is just right, and you run into a gas bubble that steals your confidence right out from under you? That's a burp in your confidence. (Or maybe it's just me.)

Anyway, I hit one today. Out of the blue, it smacked me upside the head and knocked me to my knees. Like a stray bubble of methane in the ocean, it sucked the breathe right out of me and threatened to drag me under.

Suddenly, I was a hack. Everything I ever wrote or would ever write was utter crap. My characters were flat and lifeless; my prose stilted and trite; my descriptions lackluster and, dare I say it? Boring.

I was floundering fast.

When these bubbles hit me, I can't do anything right. I'm a good cook, but for some reason I couldn't roast a friggin' chicken tonight to save myself. I'm a pretty good poker player, but I lost every hand I friggin' played. I even felt like a homeschooling failure, whose only child would be consigned to the fryer at MickeyD's. For the past few hours I've felt like a complete waste.

After a dinner of not-too-bad roast chicken (that took two and a half-hours to cook :grumble:), I wandered out to the smoking foyer to freeze my buns off and inhale some nicotine inspiration. That's when it hit me. I felt totally futile and useless. I felt like an incompetent. I felt like the lowest rung on the evolutionary ladder.

In essence, I felt like my MC at the beginning of Blink - when she gets canned from her job because she's been proclaimed 'incompetent' by the powers that be.

Now, even though I felt like doo-doo, I'm still smart enough to know none of my horrible feelings about myself had any basis in fact. I'm also smart enough to know when to grab hold of an emotional moment and use it to make my writing better. I took all that negativity and thrust it upon my dear Mary. She now feels like crap, and I am feeling much better. In fact, my book is feeling much better, too - mainly because Mary needs to feel like pondscum at the beginning of the book. If she felt good at the beginning, the rest of the book wouldn't have the whole enlightenment experience for her. (She'll thank me for it someday, trust me.)

I sat down and reworked the entire first chapter. That chapter's been a bugger since I first wrote it. (It wasn't the first first chapter I wrote for Blink. The original first chapter is now Chapter 2. It works better there anyway.) Now I think I finally hit it on the head. Mary wakes up feeling futile, she goes to work feeling confused and when she gets there, they fire her and tell her she's incompetent. The whole experience for her sucks royally. It has to. It's great!

Anyhoo, I'm back on track - although I still think I need to stay away from my WIP until this shitty feeling is gone completely. (Otherwise I could end up deleting something important or writing something crappy when Jordan's life isn't crappy - irritating and frustrating maybe, but not crappy.)

Have you ever had one of those moments? How long do yours last? Mine used to last for days or weeks (and that one unfortunate span of months when I couldn't write anything I didn't think was junk), but now I get over them much faster. I think part of it is forcing myself to get over it, and get back to work. How do you get over yours?

Playing Frankenstein

Over at Manuscript Mavens, Lacey wrote a post about how she comes up with her characters. In the comments there, I told her my method, but I thought I'd expand on it here.

I play Frankenstein. :insert evil laugh here:

I take pieces from everyone I've ever met - including family, friends, and myself - add in bits of other fictional people I've encountered (from TV, movies, books, stories, etc.), stir vigorously and out pop my characters.

For instance, in Blink, one of the characters is modeled after my maternal grandfather, but since he died when I was ten, the character has his physical traits while his personality is gleaned from a combination of several older men I've known. In Redemption, the MC's fiance is modeled after one of my ex-boyfriends - except for the physical, which I just threw together. For ARJ, almost all of the minor characters are based on people I know, but I've mashed them all together to such a degree, the only person who be able to recognize who's who is me. (One case, for instance, I took a couple and switched their personalities - he's boisterous, she's shy - and even that wasn't enough, so I amplified them both until he came out a mouse and she came out pure bitch.)

It's fun to play doctor. Heh. And on the bright side, my creations won't rise up and try to destroy me.

Of course, this method doesn't give me every character nor every trait even for the ones it does give me. The rest is part of the magic of being a writer. Stuff dribbles out of my conscious and subconscious to form the entirety of a character. (Which is good, because I never want to have to use that clause at the beginning of a book - you know the one. The "Any similarity to anyone real is purely coincidental" one.)

How do you come up with fresh characters? What's cooking in your lab today?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Falling Down on the Blog

Okay, I know I've been falling down on the blog this week. Unfortunately, today is no different.

Now that the holiday is over, we're back to school full force, and between helping with math, and giving up my internet for science and English, my blog time is a little curtailed. No excuse really, especially since this morning was spent screwing off and tonight was spent watching the Republican debate on CNN. (In my defense, the afternoon was spent researching colleges for my darling daughter, so I got away with not writing there.)

Ack. I still have to write today. This might be another day off. I'll wallow in my guilt over that tomorrow (privately) if it works out that way.

Anyway, I promise things will return to normal soon.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bummer Dude

I got cut from the first line contest. Needless to say, I'm bummed out.

I went through the stages of grief while playing poker. Working out my frustrations by kicking the crap out of other poker players, works wonders, lemme tell ya.

Now I'm to the point where I can graciously wish the remaining competitors "Good Luck".

After all the falderol and balleyhoo is over, there's only one thing left to do:

Get back to work!


Monday, November 26, 2007

Taking A Night Off

I asked the boss if it was okay, and I told myself it was fine by me. I'll be back to work tomorrow. =o)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Curious Thing

On Thanksgiving, TLC ran a marathon of What Not to Wear (love Stacy and Clinton and their fashion magic). Since hubby was cooking, I watched several episodes while keeping tabs on the football games. Football, fashion and food... what a great day, but I digress.

While I was watching, I noticed something curious. The episode was them working with a woman who had a particularly tragic mullet turned braid-monster. Throughout the whole thing, the woman was attentive and flexible about the things Stacy and Clinton were telling her. (If you haven't watched the show, a lot of the women get mulish about their fashion ruts, but not this gal.) By the end of the show, the transformation was astounding. She was looking good, she was feeling confident, and she went home with a new outlook on herself.

This is where the curious part came in. At the end of the show, they always follow the newly transformed person home to catch the reactions of their families, and the reactions are (usually) very positive. This time, while the butterfly was hugging her best friends and everyone was crying over how great she looked, you could see her husband standing in the background, glaring at her. Then they interviewed the husband and he said he was happy and his wife was beautiful, but the insincerity dripped off him like spaghetti sauce off a ceiling.

Needless to say, the whole thing stuck in my mind. The only thing I can figure - because she really did look amazing - was that he was happy with his dowdy, unattractive wife and pissed she'd been changed. (He wasn't any prize himself, btw.) Her sudden transformation into attractive and confident was somehow threatening to him. And I wonder now which won - her newfound beauty and confidence, or a marriage that was based on keeping her husband comfortable at her expense.

I had a relationship like this once - only the man in question wanted me to be gorgeous, but not smart. Whenever he caught me reading, he'd get a look very similar to the aforementioned husband. I wasn't ALLOWED to do anything to improve myself, unless it was in the looks department. Many many MANY conversations were held on the subject of breast enlargement (and since you can't see me, please understand I will never need that kind of operation - I need the opposite). One Christmas he bought me an entire wardrobe from Fredericks of Hollywood. (Yes, they do make things to wear outside the house... If you're comfortable with your bits hanging out.) Another Christmas he bought me hot rollers and other beautifying gadgetry.

Neither example shows a good relationship. A spouse, boyfriend, lifemate, significant other, partner, etc. should help you improve in every way because it's good for you. They shouldn't get angry because you're becoming a better person, and they shouldn't force you into their 'concept' of you. (Of course, this cuts both ways - men shouldn't put up with this crap either. And how many comedians joke about women trying to change their men?) When I think about people wasting years of their lives in a relationship like that (and I wasted three), it just pisses me off. Hell, both of my sisters ended up in similar circumstances, which pisses me off even more.


Anyway, for me it has a happy ending. My hubby loves me for who I am. If I want to do things to improve myself, he's happy for me, but he never pushes me to. He loves me for everything I am - warts and all. (It's an expression, folks. I don't really have warts.)

So, have any of you ever been in this type of situation? Know anybody who was? How do you/they get out of it, and how much better is life now?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Chowing Down Across the Nation

Yesterday I stumbled across a really neat show on the Food Network - Diners, Drive-thrus, and Dives. This guy goes around the nation finding little out of the way spots with awesome food. One of the shows yesterday was devoted to hamburgers and I nearly drooled myself into a coma.

Anyway, I suppose you're asking yourself what this has to do with writing. Not much really. I guess the topic could be stretched to recognize the fact that writers are everywhere, they travel a lot for signings and conferences, and they always need to eat - so why not share the knowledge of the good places to eat.

In my former workaday life, I was an outside sales rep - manufacturers' rep to be specific - and aside from covering southeast Michigan (and the Upper Peninsula), I had to travel around for sales meetings with the manufacturers we represented, plus I had to go to Vegas every year for the one big trade show. (Sounds like a blast, but it was a lot of work.) Additionally, I've lived in 5 different states, and I've traveled some for personal reasons. With all that traveling and moving I ate a lot in a lot of places.

So without further ado, here is a list of some of the best foods I've eaten and their locations. (Don't shoot me if you go looking and they're not still there. I haven't been to some of these places in a while.)

In the panhandle of Florida, delicately perched over the Apalachicola River where it empties into Ochlockonee Bay is a place called Angelo's. The history of the joint says that because the counties nearby were 'dry', they built the restaurant over the water so they could serve alcohol with their meals. (The river itself, it seems, was in a 'wet' county. No pun intended, but sometimes the truth is punny.) Anyway, this place serves the best of everything seafood (okay, not everything, since the whole time I lived in FL, I couldn't get a decent plate of crab legs) and I would particularly recommend their amberjack and their scallops. Oh, heaven. If you're stuck in Tallahassee for any length of time, it's worth the drive - even if you have to rent a car to get there.

Also, in Tallahassee is a little, out of the way place called Albert's Provence. They advertise the menu as French Mediterranean. A bit pricey, but worth every penny. Nice atmosphere, great food; friendly staff.

If you're ever in the Salt Lake Valley and looking for a classy, upscale restaurant, try Tiburon in Sandy, UT. I used to live up the street, and although I couldn't afford to eat there regularly, I was treated to an awesome meal once. Looking at a dining guide just now, they say the average price on the menu is $28 a plate. I believe it. I got their New Zealand Elk and it was $38, but man oh man was it the best. Actually, everything we ate was incredible.

Also for a great meal in SLC, check out The Wasatch Grill. (Their website only shows the address for their Murray location, but they used to have a place on E 2100 S, that was tops for atmosphere and friendliness.) Anyway, anything you eat there should be great, but I loved their Teriyaki Pasta and their Chicken/Halibut plate. Oh, and their kabobs.

I lived in a suburb of Chicago briefly. It was one of those years I'd rather forget, but some of the places we ate were spectacular. For instance, Bob Chinn's Crabhouse. This place is probably the reason why I am dissatisfied with almost every other plate of crablegs I will ever order anywhere. When you get a crableg that as big around as your arm and almost as long, you can never go back. Plus, try a pitcher of MaiTais and one of their two-inch thick steaks. Of course, we always had to wait 45 minutes or longer for a table (they didn't used to take reservations for parties smaller than 6), but if you were lucky you could catch a glimpse of one of the Chicago Bears players eating there. I'm drooling again. Damn it.

Another nifty treat in the Chicagoland area is Zin Mi Japanese Steak House in the suburb of Morton Grove. It's one of those nifty little places where they seat you around one of several large cooking stations, and they cook your meal in front of you. The chefs do little tricks with their spatulas and it's great fun, but even beyond that, it's great food.

For a great meal in St. Louis, give Mike Shannon's Steak & Seafood a try. I haven't been there in fifteen years, but damn, it left an impression. The steaks were tender and tasty, the appetizers were to die for (I could live on appetizers, btw), but the high spot of the meal was the Upside Down Apple Pie. Knock you to your knees goodness with a scoop of ice cream. I'm tellin' ya.

I won't even start on Vegas - so much good food, so little time. But I do have to give a shout-out to the guys and gals at Sergio's Italian Gardens. Every year we had a rep dinner there, and every year the place was great. The food was always spectacular, the people were always fun and friendly. I really missed the last year I was in the business when the manufacturer in question changed locales for their meeting.

Lastly, I'd like to take a moment to remember my lost comrade and dinner delight... The Awesome Wet Burrito from Entre Amigos Restaurant. In researching this post today, I discovered the restaurant no longer exists, and therefore, The Awesome Wet Burrito is no more. :heartfelt sigh: You shall be missed, my friend.

Of course, there are other places where I've had awesome meals. I can't even remember the names and locations of some of the places. Like the little greek place that served the flaming cheese and the key lime cheesecake, or the little restaurant in some tiny town where the soup was so incredible you could cry.

Your turn: Tell me, where are some awesome places you've eaten?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Book Recommendations

I don't usually do this, but...

If you haven't read C.L. Wilson yet, what's keeping you? I could sing her praises, but reading is believing. Check out her website, and if you still don't think it's worth the money, well, you're the one losing out. She's already hit the bestseller's lists with both books, and I anticipate we'll be seeing a lot of this lady for years to come. I'd even go so far as to say she might end up right up there with Terry Brooks "Shannara" series.

This gal's got a flair for rich world-building, scene setting, characterisation, dialogue, intrigue... Umm, yeah. Everything. My only negative with her work is that I got so caught up in the plot, I tended to skip over some of the setting. I really do like to read every word, but sometimes things just move too fast and I want... NEED... to know what'll happen next. Seems a waste to miss each of her wonderfully written words, but stuff happens. I guess I'll just have to go back and re-read what I missed. Oh shucks.

Thanks for your work, Ms. Wilson. I and my daughter appreciate it. (Oh, and one last minor glitch. The next two books in this series don't come out until October of 2008. Damn it. Now I have to wait.)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Turkey Day

Thanksgiving is typically a North American holiday. We do it here in the States, and our northern neighbors have one of their own up in Canada. I don't think it's a completely North American concept, though. (We may have started it, but it doesn't have to end with us.)

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you may have the idea I don't quite think in the same terms as most people. This isn't an exception. I don't think of Thanksgiving as a day to sit around being grateful or thankful. I think of it as a day to celebrate man's ability to achieve. (Mr. Gary Hull of the Ayn Rand Institute explains it better than I do in his essay Thanksgiving: The Producer's Holiday - "This holiday is designed to celebrate, not faith and charity, but thought and production.")

So, in honor of this concept, let's talk about what we've produced this year, and celebrate our abilities.

It's been a banner year for me writing-wise. In a little over a year I've completed the first drafts of three manuscripts, done numerous edits on the first of those so it's almost finished-finished, finished polishing my first book, and submitted both to my first literary journals and my first contest. I think over the past year I have really grown as a writer, and I know my writing shows vast improvement over the work I was producing even a year ago. This year I also got my first Critique Partner. In this past year I started this blog, as well as my other two: my new brand-name blog Tabula Rasa and the lesser-known, almost-forgetten (even by me) Home Ed Musings. I've made a great deal of friends and acquaintances in the blogosphere, and I treasure them all. :waves: Through this making friends and networking, I joined The Novel Racers which has swelled to its maximum capacity of 40 racers.

It's been a pretty good year for me personally as well. (Only pretty good because every year a little rain has to fall, and we had a couple bum spots - like moving again.) My family's been pretty healthy, fairly happy and generally well adjusted. My daughter made the state spelling bee last spring. My husband excels at his job, as always. And the cat who topped out at 14.5 pounds looks like she's lost a little weight (thanks to the kitty stair-master - which basically means this house has two floors and her kid lives upstairs while her food lives downstairs). Over this past weekend, one of my nieces got married - the first one of the gaggle of grandkids to take the plunge. Another niece, who is a single mother, took a plunge of her own and moved out of her parent's house to live life as an independent person. My oldest nephew got engaged to a wonderful woman, bought a house and decided to take night classes to get his Masters degree. From what I hear, the family business my father started in 1983 and which is now run by my brother is doing well - selling lots and spec'ing in new products all the time. Dad would be so proud.

So, lots of productivity going on in my little world. Like I said, it's been a good year. For those things in my control, I've tried to make it good. Sometimes that's all you can do.

How has your year gone so far? What achievements would you like to celebrate?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Musical Manuscripts

Okay, here's the deal. I just finished the first draft of a book, right? Much to the amusement of my family members, I started another one. First let me defend myself by saying I never edit a manuscript right after I finish a draft. I've learned I can't be objective that close to finishing. (And to defend my family, they're amused because I said I was taking a break, but they knew I wouldn't. Hence, a new book started days after I finish one is slightly amusing.)

The new book - codename: JA1 or JA Mystery - is cute and funny and it's flowing rather nicely. I zipped out a quick 4K plus words, and I've plotted the next few scenes. I know who dunnit and why. I know who's going to be pegged for the crime and how all the pieces of evidence will point their way EXCEPT for a small few the heroine will piece together to catch the real criminal. This one will be written as a stand-alone, but has huge series potential. HUGE.

So, that's all to the musical manuscripts? Ummm, not really. You see, I still have two OTHER books in draft stages that have to be finished. Blink - a speculative fiction (or futuristic dystopia, if you will - although that's not completely accurate either), and ARJ - a mystery that leans toward romantic suspense. Blink is much farther along and really only needs some post-critique cleaning up. ARJ is only finished with the very first draft.

Today I got back to working on Blink. I feel really bad about ignoring it for so long, but in the time since I finished the last draft and sent it off to my crew (Hi, guys! :waves:), I've also written the first drafts of two other books - the aforementioned ARJ and my newly completed R2L. On the upside, Blink has been out of the brain for long enough now, I can be totally objective looking at it. Another upside is that I still love it, I just love it enough to recognize it needs work.

Tada! Musical Manuscripts. For now, I'll juggle between the WIP and Blink - until I finish editing, finish writing or slowly go insane. (I thought my husband said he was committed to me, then I realized he said he was having me committed. LOL)

What are you up to? Ever play musical manuscripts?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Round Six and Heroic Traits

I made it to Round Six! Yay! Mine is the very first comment. What can I say, I already had my lines ready to go. =oD

I also wanted to talk about heroes today. What makes a man or woman heroic?

Personally, I like my heroes to have certain qualities that I think are common to all heroic people.

- Integrity - a firm adherence to a code of (positive) moral values. I throw the word 'positive' in there because villians can have integrity, too - they're just adhering to negative values instead.

- Strength. Although a guy who can lift a car off the gal he loves is pretty nifty, I'm not just talking physical strength. He has to have strength of character. He has to believe in himself enough to not fall apart when the chips are down. Which brings me to...

- Courage. In the words of the Cowardly Lion, it's what makes the muskrat guard his musk, but it's something more. The hero has to be able to wade into the thick of battle (be it with a dragon, a gang of thugs, or his future mother-in-law), even if he's nearly scared out of his jockey-shorts. Flinching is okay, but he still has to take on the monsters to protect his values.

- Intelligence. Because without it, he'll never figure out exactly what he's supposed to do. He doesn't need to be a Rhodes scholar--hell, he doesn't even have to have graduated high school--but he does have to possess some kind of intelligence. Maybe it's book smarts. Maybe it's street smarts, but whatever it is, he has to have them to save the day.

- Sensitivity. I'm not talking about a guy who can weep on command, or who's heart is touched by the mere mention of Sonnets from the Portugese. I'm talking about a man who knows when his woman just needs to be held. Maybe they've just defeated a band of roving trolls and they're both bloodied and exhausted. She needs some quiet lovin' and frankly, so does he. They've been through hell together, and they need some soul renewing human contact. (Don't we all from time to time?)

That's all I can think of right now. Tell me what you think a good hero possesses. Are there different traits that a heroine would posses that a hero shouldn't? Talk to me, people.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Last night, I went from itching to write straight into Post Manuscript Malais Disorder (PMMD).

This condition is when you've finished a manuscript and the glow of accomplishment has worn off leaving you feeling like a useless hack who couldn't write prose if you tried. I'm convinced PMMD is responsible for those stories you hear about writers who suddenly up and destroy everything they've ever written. Last night a bonfire in the front yard sounded like it would've been the perfect place to store all my writing.

Thank goodness I could never bring myself to actually do that. Think about it? Yes. Do it? No.

PMMD is similar to an advanced case of the squirms (when you're in the middle of a project and you get to feeling like you're writing crap, so you stop writing and can't get started again - like writers' block, but squirmier). At least with the squirms you've got an unfinished project you're worried about. With PMMD, everything you've ever written is in question.

Hence, the bonfire.

I stayed away from the computer last night because I wasn't sure how bad this PMMD thing was. I sat on the couch and watched football. I finished reading Lord of the Fading Lands, and started Lady of Light and Shadows, by CL Wilson. I smoked a lot. I didn't burn or delete anything. Then I went to bed. Lucky me woke up and the PMMD was mostly gone.

If you suspect you have PMMD, get help before you do something you'll regret. (Like wiping your hard drive or having the above mentioned bonfire.) If you suspect someone you love has PMMD, use any means possible to keep them away from their manuscripts.

Warning signs for PMMD:
- Mumbles incessantly (words such as 'crap', 'hack', 'loser' and 'junk' will be liberally applied)
- Cries after reading a book, not because of the emotions invoked by the writing, but because they can't believe how much better the book was than anything they could've thought of.
- Watches the show Dirty Jobs for ideas on a new career - anything that doesn't involve writing is good.
- Any and all boxes, piles, and folders containing materials related to writing have suddenly disappeared, and the person is wandering around looking for the bottle of lighter fluid they used for last summer's barbeque.

Don't let this happen to you. The pages you save may be your own.

Fess up. Have you ever had, or known someone who's had PMMD? Are there other warnings signs the world should know about?

We can put an end to PMMD, but only if we work together.

ETA: The only known cure for PMMD is to get back to work, so I started a new project this morning. Totally not my typical work in progress. A light-hearted romp through the hard-boiled detective novel--my tongue-in-cheek homage to Erle Stanley Gardner and Mickey Spillane.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Writing Junkie

I finished my WIP Thursday night. Now I'm a bit lost. It's like I'm a writing junkie, and I'm missing my fix.

You see, working on writing almost every night for the past 6 weeks put me in a routine. Finish the book; finish the routine. Gack. That it's only been one day, and I'm already feeling the DTs, should be testament enough to how this is effecting me.

It gets dark around here and I ought to be sitting at my desk, writing. I write from after dinner until just before bed. Even after I finished R2L on Thursday, I wandered around the house until bedtime wonder what the hell to do.

Nothing seems right. TV stinks. I don't want to read. It's too dark outside to do anything constructive inside (without turning on all the lights and wondering how bad my electric bill will be).

Yesterday I spent four and a half hours playing in a free poker tournament. Finished 35th out of 3970 - and if you don't play, this really is an accomplishment, but it was meaningless to me. If I were playing in a real tournament for money, I would've walked away with some cash, but I didn't. I was just killing time (especially since playing poker for money online is illegal - which sucks royally, btw - but that's beside the point, and before you ask, there are loopholes I'm too lawful and too paranoid to use.)

My husband is encouraging me to take a break. He knows how hard I've been working, and he knows I've earned a rest. My CP tells me I've earned a rest. Hell, I said in the previous post that I've earned one. Problem is, I don't want to take one. I want to feel my fingers flying over the keys, putting a story together. I want it. I need it. I crave it. I want to see my heroes and heroines battling the villians to make their setting a better place.

I think I'll make it through the day okay. After all I have the biggest game of the years to keep my occupied, at least for a few hours. (In case you're wondering, in my world the University of Michigan versus Ohio State is the biggest game of the year. I'll be glued to the couch in my O-fficial UofM sweatshirt - that I bought at THE UofM store in Ann Arbor, btw. I've laid in snack supplies. All I need now is the beer, and I'm still debating on whether to bother.) After the game is over, though, the writing will call to me.

Tonight, I'll probably answer it. I will stick to my plan not to edit R2L for at least two weeks (okay, maybe one), so I can look at it with a fresh eye. However, Redemption is still waiting for me to write. Blink and ARJ are still waiting to be edited. How can I leave them languishing on my hard drive for any longer? I need to write.

Of course, I can stop any time I want to. I just don't want to...

"Hello. My name is B.E. and I'm a writer."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

1st Draft - FINISHED

Yep. You're seeing it right.

Tonight I finished the first draft of Right to Life (R2L). I'm still keeping the storyline to myself. It's too special to share yet.

So, as of right now, I'm not writing a damn thing - at least for a few days. I know I have this whole 'do something writerly every day' thing going on, but I earned this break. I wrote 78422 words between October 9th and November 15th. I didn't write every day, but for those days I did write, I put out, on average, 2704 words. That's a record for me.

I'll get back to doing writerly things before too long, though, so don't break out the wet-noodles for lashings yet. I still have two books I need to edit, and Redemption has been waiting over a month for me to get back to it. I just need a couple of days to decompress. I'll still be blogging, but otherwise, I think I'll take some time to do some of the things I've been putting off.

Like maybe clean the house. ;o)

Mark My Words

In twenty years, this nation is going to see a spike in the number of deaf people.

Seriously. Every town in every state I've been in has inordinate numbers of people who can't seem to listen to music unless it's cranked on high and the bass is thumping so hard it feels like their hearts are leaping out of their chests. You know the ones. They drive by and your windows rattle. They live five blocks away and you can hear their stereo over the sound of your TV.

They're all going to be stone deaf. Maybe twenty years is being lenient.

As they go deaf, their volumes will rise. Soon not just the electronic volumes either. They'll all be shouting like ninety-year-olds.

I seriously need to buy some ear plugs. See, I have this problem where I can't concentrate while other people's music is playing in the background. And it's EVERYWHERE. Recently someone in my neighborhood began allowing a band to practice on their premises. Whoever they are, they play their instruments with their amplifiers maxxed out, and they have yet to play anything that vaguely resembles music. If I'm not careful, not only my hearing but my sanity will be affected.

Maybe it already is.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


I think you're probably all familiar with the term 'denouement'. Simply put, it's a wrap-up at the end of a book. Often an epilogue or in place of an epilogue, it's generally where in a few pages or a chapter (or two, depending on how much stuff you need to wrap up), you give your readers closure.

I'm a huge fan of closure. As a reader, I want to know what happens to the characters after the climax has occurred. I want to make sure the characters are going to be all right after I close the book. After reading all those pages, I have a vested interest in knowing these things. Even if it's just to know they'll be happy for a little while.

So, as a writer, I want to give my readers the closure I desire. I like to hook on a little wrap up at the ends of my books. Do the hero and heroine get together? (Since I don't write romance, that part is usually open to interpretation after the climax.) Does the villian and his evil band of henchmen get what's coming to them? Do the horrible things that have happened during the course of the book resolve themselves in some positive way? I may do cliffhanger-esque chapter endings, but I never cliffhang the end of a book. As a reader, I hate not knowing.

Tell me. As a reader, do you need the closure of a denouement? As a writer, do you feel you have to give your readers an end they can be content with? Or would you rather just leave it open to interpretation?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

To Die For Coffee Cake

I'm writing like a mad woman on R2L right now, so I think I'll just do something a little unusual for today. Over the weekend, I made the most to-die-for coffee cake. I think you deserve to share in the sheer yummy-ness, so in lieu of cramming cake through the modem, here's the recipe.

To-Die-For Coffee Cake

1 pkg Butter Pecan cake mix (I think Betty C. makes it. Check your grocery store.)
1 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Make cake batter according to directions using the above measurements instead of the recommended measurements.

For the streusel topping (which is VERY necessary):

1/2 cup butter (cold and diced)
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
1 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans if you'd rather)
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine above ingredients using a pastry blender (or a fork if you don't have one) until the mixture is crumbly.

In a greased 9"x13" cake pan, spread about half the cake batter. Over the top of the batter, sprinkle about half of the streusel mixture. Gently place remaining batter over streusel layer. Sprinkle remainder of streusel mixture over the top. Place in preheated oven and bake for 35-40 minutes (or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean). Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Serve warm, or eat cold. Can also be reheated in microwave.

Cake lasted from Saturday morning until Monday morning with only three people in the house. What can I say, it was GOOD.


(P.S. Any cake mix will do, if you can't find the Butter Pecan. I'd go with yellow or white or even Spice. Whatever you like best.)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Round Five

I made it! I made it to Round Five of Karin Tabke's first line contest. My next line is up at comment #2.

Veterans Day

Today is Veteran's Day in America. It is the day we set aside to honor those men and women who have served in the armed forces. I'm the daughter of a veteran, and the sister of two. My husband is a veteran.

On this day I would like to take a moment to thank all of the people who have worked to keep this country safe and free. Without your efforts, America would not be the country she is.

Thank you so much.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


...love was such an easy game to play... Umm, sorry.

Anyway, I took yesterday off. Nine straight days of writing, and a day off. That's not horrible of me, right? Instead I spent yesterday reading Darkyn #3, watching college football, and just generally vegging out. Hell, I didn't even cook dinner.

Of course, now I feel guilty. I neglected the blog, the book, and my family. Thank goodness both of them can cook. (My family, that is - the blog and the book just laid there.)

The blog, I guess, isn't such a big deal. After all, my stats invariably drop on the weekends. (I guess I'm one of the few who surf then.) So writing long, in-depth and insightful posts on Saturdays is something of a waste of time. It's not like people go back over my old posts on Mondays to see what I said.

My main source of guilt is the writing. I'm close to the end of R2L. The story is almost over. I think I'll miss it when I'm done, but that really isn't any reason to keep from writing it. (It's also not a reason to throw more stuff in the book just to keep the story from ending - which I thought about, believe me.) I like my characters, but I've subjected them to enough and the time really is approaching to wrap this up and give them the HEA (happily ever after) they deserve.

I'm planning on pulling out the stops today. Stay away from football, don't start Darkyn #4, stay out of the kitchen (I forgot, yesterday I made pecan-walnut streusel coffee cake. It's just a recipe I created from combining a few other recipes, and it's to die for... But I digress, again.) - butt in chair, hands on keyboard, mug-full of coffee at elbow, and WRITE.

Now, if I can just keep my cat off my desk...

Friday, November 9, 2007


Considering I offered to encourage and spur other writers on - kind of as a refuge for those who either weren't able to do Nano, or weren't interested - I thought I'd devote Fridays to giving updates.

Right now, R2L has been in the works for a month. I started this puppy on October 9th, and I've been hard at it ever since. In that time, I've written more than 60K words (as of last night, as a matter of fact). Since I began, it's been 30 days. Out of those thirty days, I did at least some writing almost every night. I missed 7 days - five of which were due to illness. Over those days I wrote, I averaged 2615 words a day. I didn't average in those missed days. My weakest day was 1184 words, and my best day was 5488 (a Sunday, of course).

The last day off I took from writing was Halloween, so that makes 8 days in a row (9 if you count tonight, and unless something unforeseen happens, I plan on writing tonight). I'm going for a personal record. Actually, since I didn't keep records on the first two books, this is probably already a record.

Aside from R2L, I also sent out a short story to a lit magazine this morning. It wasn't a recent one, but I go through infrequent spurts where I send my stories out to one or two mags, and then wait. The story I sent out this morning was Haudego. The tagline for the story is: When Dr. Manny Kanton finds the key to eradicating selfishness, the drug he creates has side effects he never conceived of.

Also I got an update on the short I sent out to a contest last March. I didn't make it into the finals, but the letter said my story was a 'top runner-up'. Unfortunately, I think they say that to all the entrants, just to be nice. Still, it was good to hear.

So, give me the dirt on your writing accomplishments this week. Nano or not, all accomplishments count. (And that includes editing, plotting, outlining, brainstorming, writing, etc.)

P.S. I'm coming up on my one-year anniversary with this blog. Look forward to a contest on December 2nd. I'm contemplating prizes even now.

Have to celebrate, dontcha know.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Errors, Errors Everywhere

I'm not perfect. I fully admit that. All I can say is 'I try'.

Having said that however, I have to say I'm a little concerned. Read a book, and there are errors. (From both the writing and the editing side.) Read contest entries, and there are errors. In either case this is supposed to be the finest work we can put out, and still they are full of errors.

Sometimes they're just typos. Typos I can deal with. Those are mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes make it out into the real world, and there's little we can do about it. (Although I might argue, in the case of published material, someone somewhere was supposed to check the text before it hit the printer. Right?)

Sometimes they're grammatical or spelling errors. These should be rectified before the book hits the publisher, but proofing hundreds of pages of text is a daunting task. I don't mind a few in a book. Shit happens, and I can get over it. Please note, I'm not talking about intentional disobedience of the grammar rules. This is writing for Pete's sake. Sometimes the style and the story warrant a sentence fragment, or ending a sentence with a preposition, or beginning one with a conjunction. I'm talking about unintentional misuse of grammar because the person just doesn't know the rules. Yes, the education system is partly to blame, but only partly. At some point a person has to pick up a Strunk and White, or visit OWL (Purdue's Online Writing Lab) and pick up the slack. Not sure how to use a semi-colon? Go here. Not sure how to spell a word? Try here. (And if you follow that last link, and enter a misspelled word, it gives you a list of possible matches, so you can spell it right.)

Occasionally, it's nerves or excitement. As shown in my post of a couple days ago, nerves can bite you in the butt every time. So can excitement. If you're nervous about sending out your baby, chances are you can't look at it any more and see where the mistakes are at. If you're excited, it's even worse, because you're rushing to get the submission packet out and you can see the missing commas or the repeated words. If you're thinking this is happening to you, stop it. Find someone else to proof your stuff before it goes out the door, or take a couple days to relax so you can pull off those blinders.

In any case, this stuff can and should be fixed before someone slaps down $7.99 or $19.95 or $29.95 to purchase the book. They really ought to be fixed before a judge gets hold of your manuscript and shreds it - at least if you ever want a chance at winning.

When I left school, I sucked at English. Looking back on the papers I saved from middle school and high school and college, I can't understand why I was allowed to pass any of my English classes. It's almost painful to look at them now; they were so bad. My point is, I didn't settle for that. I taught myself. My spelling was atrocious, and I made a conscious effort to change. It wasn't a breeze, but it wasn't like a root canal either.

I guess all I'm saying is for the writers of the world to try. If you're trying already, ignore me, but if someone else looks over your COMPLETED work and afterwards it looks like it's bleeding red ink, then for your own sake, get thee to a grammar /spelling /proofing workshop /website /class.

It can improve not only your writing, but your marketability. Maybe afterwards your readers will be mesmerized by your story and not distracted by your errors.

And that can only help. Right?

(Please refrain from pointing out any grammatical and/or typographical errors in this post. This is a blog, not a book or an entry. I don't do much proofing here. Thank you. :grin:)