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?