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

Friday, February 29, 2008

To Pseudonym or Not

Once again, I'm the host for the Novel Racers Friday morning coffee break. Problem is I screwed up and forgot about it. Another problem is, the blog is on British time and so my morning post ended up logging in at after 2pm.

Anyway, the blog is about my pseudonym troubles. Feel free to chime in there, or to come back here and give me your thoughts.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Channeling Paretsky

If you look over there on the right, you may think I'm not doing anything. For the most part, you're right. I haven't been writing new words, and I'm taking a break from editing (long enough to get back comments from my CP and BRs). In short, I haven't been doing anything I can quantify here on the blog, and it makes me look lazy.

I am lazy, but that's beside the point. I made a promise to do something writerly for at least an hour every day. I have been keeping that promise. Yesterday I worked on my synopsis for RTL in the morning, and worked on some character sketches for C&D - because I hit a snag and I need to rework the whole damn thing.

You see, I realized I was channeling Sara Paretsky and my Jordan was beginning to seem a whole lot like Paretsky's VI. Oh, the horror.


Don't get me wrong. I love the way Paretsky writes. I love her books. I love VI. But I would sooner rip off my own eyelids and lay in the sun than borrow any of her stuff. (I could do worse than mirroring her success, but I don't want to get it by riding on her coattails.)

Case in point: Jordan is a no-nonsense, tough broad. She doesn't take shit from anyone, even though she'll happily give it without thinking twice.

Case in point: Jordan has an off-again thing with the hot macho bi-racial cop. (It would be on-again if her hormones have any say about it, which they don't.) I think VI's hot macho cop was black, but close enough to make me shudder.

Case in point (and this is the one that made me stop writing and restart): Jordan's mother came from a wealthy family who disapproved of her marriage, and who now disapprove of Jordan's life.

I think I need to go back and re-read all the Paretsky novels, so I can consciously pick out everything similar in my book and re-write it. Lord knows, the stuff didn't get in there consciously. Mortified doesn't begin to describe it.

I can only be thankful I caught it before I finished and tried to get this thing published. :shudder:

Yes, I realize there are only so many things you can do with a detective series of this nature, but I refuse to be one of those hangers-on. And sure, those are really the only similarities. Our writing styles are different. I'm trying to go for the whole MikeHammer-esque feel with a large helping of humor thrown in.

So it's back to the drawing board, and it's back to researching other authors to make sure I'm not unconsciously borrowing from anyone else. Ack! I never had this problem with my dystopias.

Have you ever caught yourself beginning to sound like someone else?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

More Cat-titude

Devil Kitty says: "Don't even think about moving me."


Cat-titude... Devil Kitty haz it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Synopsis Time Again

It's time again for the oh-so necessary evil - the synopsis. (I heard that collective groan.)

Once again, I will be assembling the bones of my story to build a bridge between the book and the agent. Hey, you gotta get from here to there somehow or other. Now that I have the blurb, and the hook, and the general guts of my query letter, I need to finish this last piece of submission materials so I can get RTL in front of the right people.

I know I said I wasn't going to post the gist of the story online, and after a great deal of thought, I'm still not, but maybe the hook will be okay. (As in, won't get me a string of hatemail. I hate hatemail.)

HOOK: When the Right to Life is decided by the government, neither rights nor life are safe.

Anyway, I'd really like to tell y'all about it, but the whole potential of snotty comments leaves me cold. That's part of the reason why I don't discuss 'issues' here on my blog. (I know if this book ever gets published, I won't have any choice, but for now, I do - so I won't.)

So, as I sit here basking in my accomplishments of yesterday and dreading the work ahead, what's on your plate?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Yay Me!

I finished the red-ink line edits for RTL! I also put together a blurb I think is really snazzy. Nothing like a bit of accomplishment to make your day.


Now I think I'll treat myself with the rest of the night off.

Tomorrow I'll start on the synopsis. :shudder:

Dipping into the Well

I don't know about the rest of you, but from time to time the well of my spirit needs to be refreshed. I get tired of life - not living exactly, but of everything else. The news all stinks, mankind seems like it's sliding into about two weeks before the fall of Rome, and all I want to do is crawl into a hole. Hermit life begins to look attractive.

It's times like these I have to dip into the well of the achievements of others. Sometimes I go to Quent Cordair Fine Art and check out the romantic realism there. I love Bryan Larsen. He's a hell of a guy (yes, I met him - he has (had?) a gallery he shared with artist Damon Denys, who I also love, in Salt Lake City and they used to host art parties there from time to time) and a spectacular artist. I would love for him to do my cover art, but that's a story for another time. Sometimes I stop at various other online galleries or listen to classical music (Rachmaninov anyone?) or look at pictures of grand architecture. I need to see something inspiring.

Sometimes that doesn't work.

In those cases, the only thing that fills my empty aching spirit is to read. Not just any book, but the one - Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.

I first read AS as a freshman in high school. It showed me a world where people were more focused on achievement than popularity. Intelligence and integrity were more important than clothes and jewelry. I would've given anything to be Dagny Taggart instead of Eddie Willers. (Somedays, I still would.)

Oddly enough, the book was on a list of the top 100 books everyone should read. I don't think the teacher who gave out the list ever bothered reading the books on it. He sure as hell never read AS. He liked to bounce kids' heads off the lockers for sport. But as much as the guy was an ass, he did me a huge favor by giving me that list. I started at the top and read my way down. It was in alphabetical order, and the first few books were almost painful to read. (I still have the list around here somewhere. If I find it, I'll share it.) When I reached AS, it was like someone flipped a light switch and my dim world got brighter.

It still does.

I used to read the book at least once a year. 1168 pages of greatness and beauty defeating ugliness and depravity. Heroic men and women who ultimately win out over the basest evils. *happy sigh* I've read it at least a dozen times since then, and every time I see something I missed. And every time I come away feeling renewed. Oh sure, I cry when Eddie gets left behind. Eddie is the every man. I cry at the beginning when Dagny and Hank are battling to save the world from itself. I was crying last night and I'm only in the first 200 pages. I still love it. Sometimes you have to go through the pain to get to the prize at the end. (Sort of like writing, but I digress.)

Aside from what the book does for me personally, it is a wonderful piece of research material professionally. In her writings, Rand doesn't screw around. Everything in it is there for a reason. If I could achieve half her writing quality, I'd die happy. It also helps to know it took Rand 8 years to get published, and if she had to wait that long, I really shouldn't feel bad if it takes me twice as long.

Anyway, I know AS is not for everyone. I'm not advocating everyone should read it. I'm just saying what it does for me. In fact, I've had firsthand experience with people who hated the book, and weren't afraid to say so. (If you're one of those, please don't leave a comment. Negativity isn't welcome here.) I've also had people try to debate the book and its ideas with me. I'm done debating. I'm just enjoying and letting the words wash me clean again. Sometimes I just have to.

So, how do you dip into the well?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

In the Mines

Not literally. 'In the Mines' is just a phrase I like to use for time when I'm working at something I don't really like but will help me get where I want to go.

This weekend I've been working on my query letter. I spent a large portion of time yesterday working on the meat of the letter - the hook, the blurb, etc. I wrote and I deleted and I wrote and I deleted all morning until I thought I had something. I sent that something off to my CP. She did what a good CP does; she told me it was flat. Hear that big sucking sound? That was my query.

Anyway, I walked away from the thing after that. She was so right, but I couldn't see exactly where the problem was, which meant I couldn't see how to fix it. After a couple hours, the hook came up and hit me in the back of the head like a grandmother after hearing a naughty word. Ka-Thwap! I typed it into the letter, sent the line off to my CP, and from the reaction, I nailed it. Still couldn't fix the blurb though. By comparison to my new hook, my blurb sounded even worse.

I flopped on the couch with a book (which I may talk about tomorrow). I read a little, watched a little TV, and generally chilled out. Late last night, the grandmother attacked me again. Ka-Thwap! I re-read my query, hit enter enough times to shoot the crap to the bottom of the page (where I couldn't see it) and started from scratch. Voila! I really like what I ended up with last night.

Anyway, this whole thing brings to mind something I read on the BookEnds blog recently. And somewhere - I don't remember if it was in the post or the comments and I don't feel like looking right now - someone made a comment like 'if you can write a book, you should be able to write a query' or something like that. In a way, this is true. Writers write. Anyone who can write a book should be able to write anything else. But if you follow this line of thinking, fiction writers should be able to write non-fiction and vice versa. A novelist could also be an essayist. A poet could also be a humorist. After all, it's just writing. Right?

Unfortunately, each type of writing is a totally different animal from the others. Queries included. Each type of writing requires the mastery of a skill to be really good. Yep, queries too. Most of us book writers (at least the unpubbed ones) haven't mastered the skill (or there wouldn't be a bazillion posts on how to do it, and people wouldn't still be asking everyone they know how to do it right). I'm no exception. I keep learning and trying and gaining experience with every letter I write, but it sure as hell ain't like writing a book. I know how those work. Queries for me are like trying to write haiku. I know the mechanics of it, but I haven't mastered the skill yet. In other words, I can write haiku, but it sucks bigtime.

You turn: What are your thoughts on the issue?

BTW, the offer is still open . I'll be looking for a few good readers shortly, if anyone wants to beta read RTL. I won't provide details about RTL on the blog, so if you're interested, drop me an e-mail or leave a comment so I can e-mail you.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Hosting Coffee at the Novel Racers

Today I'm the host for the Friday morning Coffee Break at the Novel Racers. It's a recycled post from last year - an essay I wrote called 'Reflections of one writer'. If you've already read the essay, you can still come on over and read the comments from the other racers.

I'll be back here later today or tomorrow.

Have a great day everyone! =o)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

When Have You Edited Enough?

I'm in the throws of editing again. Cut and Dried is still there; it's just waiting for a few days. But as I sit here tonight doing line edits and checking my own red marks against my CP's, the thought occurs to me that I could continue to edit this book until my eyes bleed. Lord knows Spectacle has gone through no less than 8 edits (maybe 10). True, that was my first novel, and I really didn't have the best idea of the novel writing process, but that's beside the point.

When has a book been edited enough? How do you know when you've reached that point? There will always be a word here or there that could be tweaked. The English language has so many different ways of saying the same thing, it could drive a gal insane.

I think I'm reaching the point where I can no longer edit RTL without cutting the heart out of it. I'll complete the process of entering the hardcopy edits, but no more. I realized tonight I'm in danger of editing this book to death. And why?

Because I am scared shitless of submitting it. I'm afraid of the possibility of rejection. Let's face it folks, this has been a long hard road. Four books have gone by and I haven't published a damn thing. Note: I only really submitted for two of the five, I sent five submissions out for Blink before I paused to work on RTL, and AWJ never made it past the first draft, so I'm really not as much of a loser as I feel like. (And before I get nasty letters accusing me of calling other writers losers because they haven't published, please understand I'm talking about me and my neuroses here. We'll discuss your neuroses at another time.) The sum total of my rejections for those two books is a little more than a hundred, I think*. This is my fifth book but the third I'll submit, and while the old adage is 'third time's the charm' would work for RTL, I'm not much of a believer in charms.

This sucker will have to stand on its own.

Tonight I made the decision. When this round of edits is complete, this book is getting submitted. I'll polish my submission materials, close my eyes, and jump out into space. I was going to say 'and hope it's good enough' but hope won't get me anywhere and 'good enough' isn't good enough for publication any more.

I'm guessing no more than two weeks. I whipped through the red ink edits for five chapters tonight. At that rate, I should be through the 34 chapters in a week. Add in any CP or BR suggestions, and that might push it back a little, but not much. Waiting for CP and BR comments is only more of my delaying tactics. I know me too well, damn me. No more delays. No more excuses. I have to accept the fact this baby is ready to leave the nest. I'll try not to worry about it crashing. (But I probably will worry.)

Have you ever used editing as a delay to keep from submitting? When is enough enough? And how's your WIP coming along? Anyone got any good news for me this week?

*I don't really know how many the number is because my computer crashed and I lost all my submission data from September '04 - September '06.

Into or In To

A curious malady has cropped up recently, and it's effecting both writers in print and writers whose words end up on television. The word 'into' is being substituted for the two-words 'in to'.

Now some of you may be wondering what the hell is the problem. You may even be thinking they're interchangeable. They didn't used to be, but with the way English has a tendency to morph, I really don't know anymore. Judge for yourself.

Into - a preposition "used as a function word to indicate entry, introduction, insertion, superposition, or inclusion"

While 'in to' usually means going 'in' somewhere 'to' do something.

For instance:

John went into the house. OR John went in to go to bed.

In more than one book lately and on the news tickers of several different TV channels, I've seen 'into' used in place of 'in to'. I don't know if the writers understand how it changes the meaning of their sentences or whether it's just a typo.

I know I'm being a stickler for detail, but when you think about how language is standardized to make it easier for people to communicate with one another, being a stickler is very important. In the olden days, English wasn't standardized, and it left literate people having to slog through every page just to discern what the writer was trying to say. We've gone beyond that. Haven't we? Or are we sliding back toward the days when English was just all higgledy-piggledy?

Or to put it another way, are we dropping into the days of old, or are we just stopping in to get a spot of tea?

(Lame last bit, I know, but it's early yet.)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

My Blog, My Opinions, My Rules

The time has come again for me to post my little set of rules for this blog.

First, it's mine. Everything on this blog, with the exception of the comments, comes out of my head. These are my opinions. I don't apologize for them and I don't make excuses. You may or may not agree with me, but every reader here needs to remember that everyone is entitled to their opinions. This is my forum for mine. If you have opinions you'd like to see on a blog somewhere, put up your own. Don't leave snerty comments on mine. Remember, this blog is not a democracy. It's more like a monarchy and I am the Queen B. ;o)

Second, with regards to comments: I don't mind dissenting opinions if they are put forth in a rational and well thought out manner. I've been known to post them when they come across. Hell, if your argument is rational enough, I may even change my mind. Stranger things have happened. Telling me to get a life or chill out or loosen up, however, is not a rational argument. These types of comments get the attention they deserve - which is to say, a quick trip to the circular file. If you have something you'd like to refute, pick up a copy of A Rulebook for Arguments, look at all the logical fallacies therein, and if anything in your refutation falls into any of those categories, don't bother leaving a comment.

Third, I promise to try and keep to these rules myself. I know I do occasionally rant, but even then I try my damnest to not be nasty. I don't single people out by name (except in cases where other more well-known blogs have pointed out something obvious - like with Cassie Edwards and her plagiarism). I don't call people names unless it's in a very general way. I don't get personal. I ask that you do the same while you're here. (One caveat to this rule, though. If I, for some reason, stray from these rules that is my perogative. If you disagree, see rule #1.)

Fourth, while those comments I allow to post often follow my own opinions, they are not mine. If you disagree with something said in the comments, take it up with the commenter. I won't allow flame wars in my comments.

Having said all that, let me welcome you to read and enjoy my blog. If you find you can't enjoy it, there are plenty of other places for you to play. Find one of them and have fun. Life's too short not to enjoy the things you do. I enjoy blogging. I enjoy the many wonderful people I've met through this endeavor, and I look forward to meeting many more.

Wherever you are, have a wonderful day and in the words of Red Green "Keep your stick on the ice."

Monday, February 18, 2008

Time Stops Here

If you've got a moment, stop by Tabula Rasa and read one of my shorts: Time Stops Here.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

I Stink at Genres

Here I am again, back around to trying to define the genre of my book(s). I stink at this.

It's not that I don't know where I would shelve my books. I just don't know where any given agent/publisher/editor would shelve my books. Of course, it doesn't help when I get conflicting information (like with Spectacle where I was fairly certain it was literary, but someone else told me it wasn't literary but instead a thriller, and a third person - an agent to be exact - told me it wasn't thrilling enough to be a thriller.) So you see my quandry.

Now I'm looking at RTL and trying to figure out which hole to shove this decidedly un-square peg into. (Is their a trapezoidal hole on the board somewhere that I'm missing?)

RTL is set in the near-future. Exactly when is never nailed down, but I've written it in such a way that it could be twenty years from now or, if you think of it in an alternate history way, it could be now. It has some dark elements - both with regard to the characters (especially the villians) and with regard to the setting (since most of the story takes place at night). Does that make it, to use a phrase borrowed from agent Janet Reid, near-future noir?

Or since RTL is set in the future, could it be SF? I've heard that the quickest way to be sure a book is SF is to ask yourself 'if you took out the science elements, would the book still stand?' If so, it's not SF. Since there are very few science elements in RTL, I guess it would stand without them, but the future element is absolutely necessary, and that is a SF device. Arrgghh.

On the other hand, RTL deals with an issue very close to many of the women in the world, which could make it women's fiction. Couldn't it?

And finally, being set in a dystopic future and speculating about the events that could happen should something else happen now, it could be considered speculative or even dystopic fiction.

Near-future speculative dystopic women's science fiction noir???

You see my problem.

On the bright side, having multiple genres to choose from gives me a wide range of agents to query. Which genre I put in the query letter could possibly change depending on the agent. Or I could be shooting myself in the foot by sending it out as a SF to an SF agent and get a stern letter telling me that in no way is this SF. (Like I got when I sent Spectacle out as a thriller.)

Am I the only one who has this problem?

I can't wait to finish JA: Cut and Dried. At least that one has a firm genre: mystery. Of course, it crosses sub-genres, but I won't obsess too much over that. After all, a cute hard-boiled detective mystery shouldn't be too much of a stretch. Right?

Friday, February 15, 2008


I won the grand prize at the Manuscript Mavens CYOA contest! Woohoo!

When I get my t-shirt, I'll try to remember to take a picture and post it, so everyone can see me modeling it with pride. If you don't have the Mavens on your blogroll, I highly recommend it. Those gals are sharp, and they're tons of fun to be around.

Yay, Mavens!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Following Directions

If you haven't noticed, BookEnds Literary Agency is having a contest (open until tomorrow morning). This rules are simple: 100 words (or less depending on where your sentence ends) from a mystery book. Please note how simple these guidelines are.

100 words. My entry ended up being 99 (per MS Word - not including title). I'm lucky my first paragraph fit the 100 word requirement. If you look at the entries though, it seems like a few people decided to fudge. (Nerd and snot that I am, I checked the word counts by coping them and then pasting them into Word. And don't worry if you're a contestant - they're all deleted now.) Really folks, don't you think BookEnds is doing the same thing to see who's following the rules? It's not rocket science for christsakes.

Mystery. I'll say it slow for you in case you have trouble with big words. MYS-TER-Y. You know where something bad happens and someone has to figure out who did it. Not romance. Not thriller. Not paranormal. Mystery. It says right on the blog what they're looking for. Follow the rules. Again, not brain surgery. Simple stuff.

So, why is it so hard for people to follow simple rules? Are they really that thick? Or is it simply that they don't feel the rules apply to them? Maybe they're so awesome, they think they'll be able to skate by.

I've read about this kind of slippage on different agent sites when it comes to queries. Now while it may be true not every rule is set in stone. Some agents even say they'll let a few things slip if the writing is good enough, but when the guidelines are fairly simple, it would behoove the writer to follow them. At least I would think so, but then again, I'm pretty big on following the rules - especially when my career is depending on it.

Tell me, what do you think BookEnds should do the rule fudgers? Be kind, or be strict? Personally, I think they should be booted and if they screw up again, they can't submit to the rest of these new contests with BookEnds. But that's me. After all, I'm female and I was born in the year of the dog. ;o)

BTW, my entry is for the first in my JA Mystery series - Cut and Dried. Hop on over and, while rooting for me is probably considered rude, think happy thoughts for me to win.

Fear and Excitement

As I approach the end of editing on RTL, I'm a mass of mixed emotions. The most prevalent of these are fear and excitement. Basically the two of them are warring for top emotion, and together they're making me a smidge queasy.

Most of the fear, I think, stems from the fact that RTL is so close to me. (Not in a 'this is my life' sort of way, but more like 'this is my favorite child'.) I love all my books, but this one is special. I read it and feel a visceral reaction to my own words. (Which is difficult in most cases because I know what's going to happen next, so even the tense parts aren't really so tense for me.) So, this causes a whole anxiety attack about what happens if the people I submit to don't feel the same way. Just the thought makes me freak out to the point where I feel like I don't want to submit it to anyone. It's also making me obsess over the submission materials, and I'm a couple weeks away from being ready to send out queries.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the excitement, of course. This is the fifth novel I've written all the way to 'The End'. Five books in four years (or thereabouts). According to my CP, this is my best book yet. (And she loved the other ones she's read, so that's saying something.) I can't wait to finish polishing it and shoot it out into the world. I have a feeling this will be the one to launch my career, and it feels like it's been so long in coming it would never get here. Like I said, I love this book. It makes me cry, it makes me laugh, it makes me worry about the characters and whether they're going to make it - and I already know they will. I believe the agents I've picked will think so, too - once they read it.

I just have to get them to read it, which goes back to the whole obsessing over submission materials again.

Don't get me wrong. At this point, I'm obsessing over every word choice and comma in the manuscript as I hardcopy edit it. My pages are splattered with red ink, and the book is beginning to shine like the top of the Chrysler Building. (Pretty night picture, but not quite what I mean. If you didn't know it, the Chrysler Building's top is metal and polished, and it shines in the sunlight. I just couldn't find a good picture of that, so this'll have to do. But I digress...)

I should be done with this puppy soon. Then I'll fix it and send it out to beta readers. (If you're interested in being a beta reader, please let me know. I can always use an extra set of eyes.) Depending on how long my beta readers take, I could be ready to submit by the end of April. That means six more weeks of the pendulum of emotions.

Do any of you experience this? How do you handle it?

PS. Happy Valentine's Day. May you get all the lovin' you can handle today and every day. =oD

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

In My Head but Not on Paper

The finish line is in sight on the hard-copy edits for RTL. My characters are scrambling to win, the bad guys are preparing to do something dirty, and the tension is building to an almost unbearable pitch. Who'll win? Who'll lose? How many more people have to die? Ack!

Aside from finding the story is still as good as I thought it was when I first wrote it, I'm also finding places where I know in my head what's going on, but didn't write it so the reader knows what's going on. For instance, I have a whole scene where one character talks to the heroine about decision made in a conversation that never happened. At least not in print. The conversation happened in my head. I just never wrote it down and now I have to. I mean, it's not like the readers can climb into my head and see the story. Right? Right. So I have to fill in some places and fix a few things for clarity's sake.

Also, I'm still finding chunks of dialogue where I know who's talking, but it's not clear to the reader. (And I know this is true because after several weeks of not touching this manuscript, I'm having a tough time figuring out who's talking.) Especially when it's an ensemble cast having a conversation. I've got five people in the room, and they're all contributing to the dialogue, but who's saying what is a mystery. Ack. In some cases I can easily tell who's talking by their speech patterns, but sometimes it ain't so easy. Which means I need to fix it.

In a few spots, I can see the scene in my head with such perfect clarity I feel like I could step through and walk down the street or sit in the living room myself. But what I see with my mind's eye isn't coming across in print. (Some scenes I nailed, but some got left behind in favor of the action.)

So, soon the redinking process will end and I'll be back to the keyboard--tweaking and expanding in some places, tightening in others. When I'm done, it's onward to submission. I'm excited and nauseous all at once. (More about the fear/excitement of submitting tomorrow - if I remember.)

Now it's your turn. Do you have times when it's all in your head, but it didn't make it onto the paper? Or is it just me?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


This past Saturday the writing world lost one of its most wonderful and prolific members. Phyllis A. Whitney died at the age of 104.

You may not be familiar with her work, but she had a profound effect on me. I first found her in 1986 and at one point or another have owned most of her works. According to her bibliography, she finished her life with 77 books in print - mostly romance and romantic suspense with a few historicals thrown in for good measure.

While her books were never 'important' in the literary sense or thought-provoking, her words enriched the world around us. She transported her readers to many locales rich with history and intrigue. She gave them heroines who, while still soft and feminine, knew when to step up and fight. She gave them heroes to drool over who used their minds to solve their problems. Never in my recollection did she ever make any of her MCs too stupid to live.

I revisited one of her books last year, and while it didn't hold the same wonder for me as when I was a teen, it was still a beautiful novel to escape into for a day.

She will be missed.

Monday, February 11, 2008

One Nerve

Have you ever had one of those days where it feels like you only have one nerve - and everyone is on it?

Believe it or not, I'm in a relatively good mood. People just irritate me today. For instance, I went to the post office to mail a package. I don't usually have to stand in line at my post office because the town's so small, but sure enough there were three people in front of me. Of the three, two of them didn't speak English and our postal gal doesn't speak Spanish, so it's always fun. The first of the two immigrants threw his envelopes on the counter along with his money and expected the postal gal to not only get him stamps but put them on the envelopes, count his money and give him change. He didn't say anything, but from the way he was standing, his meaning was clear. The second was a lady with a bazillion money orders to buy, plus stamps. (If you don't live in an area with a high illegal immigrant populous, they use money orders because you have to have ID to get a bank account.) She didn't understand when the amount was given, and I swear she stood there for five minutes staring at the little screen trying to figure out how much money to pay. Ummm, ya.

And then I get to the grocery store, and not one but three different cars were parked stupid. Good thing I have a little car and can squeeze in between people who don't know how to park. Then I come out and the original three idiots have been replaced by two more. I had to suck in my boobs just to climb into my car. I'm not one of those flatsy dolls, people. Come on.

Plus, while I'm in the grocery store another couple of non-English speaking ladies with their gaggle of unruly children had taken over the store. Every aisle I turned down, there they were, with their kids running up and down, knocking things over and/or screaming at the top of their lungs. I shop in the mornings because usually it's quiet and relaxing. Not today. Ack.

So, needless to say, I was in a grouchy mood when my husband came home for lunch. I hate being in a bad mood when he comes home. He works too damn hard to come into a house of turmoil. So I faked it.

Now I'm just sitting here trying to chill out.

Usually I'm a pleasant enough person, but I can only stretch so far before I snap - and that elasticity is getting tighter by the year. I thought for sure I wouldn't be crotchety for at least another 20 years. Good thing I rarely have to leave my house.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Bored? Not for Long

Thanks to Kristin over at Kristophrenia, I am roaring with laughter this morning. If you're bored, you won't be for long...

LOL Cat Bible

"Oh hai. In teh beginnin Ceiling Cat maded teh skiez An da Urfs, but he did not eated dem."

Check out Genesis 2. I'm ROFLMAO.

Six Un-Meme-rable Things

I've been tagged again. The wonderful and talented Kristen Painter got me this time.

Here are the rules:
1. Link back to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Share six unimportant things about yourself.
4. Tag six random people at the end of your blog entry. (*I never follow this rule, so tag yourself if you want to.)
5. Let the tagged people know by leaving a comment on their blogs.


1. Like Kristen, I was wildly unpopular as a child. Of course, it didn't help that I grew up in the country and most of the other kids were 'townies'.
2. Unlike Kristen, my best friend growing up was my dog. My four siblings were a bit older than me and off doing their own things. If it hadn't been for the dog, I would've been rather lonely. He was a great dog.
3. I used to be terrified of moths. (If you know what the name of that phobia is, let me know.) It took me years to get over the phobia, and to this day if one of the creepy little buggers sneaks up on me , I'll scream like a little girl.
4. My very first paying job was picking up garbage. My house was in front of a landfill and every time it would get really windy, the horse farm across the street would complain about the papers in their pasture. The landfill's owner paid me to walk the field picking up. I think I got a dollar a bag. I may have been ten. (I really don't remember it all that well.)
5. I've always wanted to learn to play the piano. I've been told I have the reach for it. When I stretch my fingers out all the way, my thumb and pinkie almost make a straight line. I suppose it helps that...
6. I have loose joints. Over the years, it's made for a lot of hyperextended knees, sprained ankles and fingers, etc. This is the reason I can never roller skate or ice skate.

Tada! Six more unimportant things about me that you never wanted to know. If you decide to play along, leave a comment and let me know so I can go read yours.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Self-Doubt Day

Most days I'm chock full o' self confidence. Today ain't one of those days.

It's not my writing this time. I've been reading RTL and I know it's good. (That ain't hubris, folks. If you read it, you'd see it, too.) Nope. Today I'm fairly certain my queries suck. How I can write 5 books and they all shine, but I can't write a damn query to save myself, I'll never know.

It kills me to think that because of a one-page letter, my books aren't seeing the inside of a publisher. One page is all we get. One page. Think about it long enough and you obsess over every syllable of that one page until your eyes bleed. 300+ pages riding on the quality of a single piece of correspondence. Ack.

You know, I never had this problem when I was in sales. The sale of a million parts was riding on my pitch, and I never flinched. Sometimes I didn't get the sale, but more often I did. You know those heated pizza bags Dominoes uses? I spec'd in the cordsets for those. (Since I left that job, a new cordset was spec'd in, but that's neither here nor there.) Every friggin' pizza bag in America was plugged in using my cords. =op I had the best product at the best price, and it was obvious to the customer. Of course, then I didn't have to write a blurb telling him about the product. I just handed him a sample, and he could see the quality of it.

Is a blurb really a sample of our product? If all you get is one paragraph (provided the agent in question doesn't allow sample pages), how the hell is that indicative of the brilliance of a 300+ page manuscript? Aarrgghh.

I know. I know. The industry has to have some easy way to judge. Reading each and every book before making a decision is too damn time-consuming. But just because my query sucks, doesn't mean my book sucks. No wonder these shyster query services hook so many unsuspecting authors. If your writing future is riding on that one page, who wouldn't want professional help? (And no, I won't ever use one of those services. I'm frustrated, not masochistic.)

And then, there's the whole saga of wondering what it was about your query letter that turned the agent off. Was it the personalized part? Was it the blurb? Were you too obseqious or not enough? Did your personality shine through or did you come off cold? Did you remember to thank them, or was it one of those agents who hates to be thanked? Is the information you got off the web accurate, so you didn't send agent Q (who only represents fantasy) a query for your romance?

It really is maddening.

Anyway, I suppose I ought to get back to driving myself nuts with the... eighth, ninth, tenth... version of my blurb for RTL. I'll get over this huge bag of squishy wet stinky self-doubt eventually. Or I'll fake it and hope for the best.

(I'd ask you to wish me luck, but my luck has been so bad lately--pocket Aces beat by pocket Twos bad--I'd rather not have any.)

Friday, February 8, 2008

Hop on Over

Because I forgot to mention it... I posted a children's story over at Tabula Rasa the other day. Hop on over and check it out. ;o)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Tee Hee

Just a little giggle for the day:


All the stupid criminals you could ever want to laugh at.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Sundry Stuff

Over the weekend, I printed off the manuscript for RTL. 309 pages worth. I do it chapter by chapter, so it's not really all that difficult, but it's time-consuming. And after a while, the printer rhythm gets stuck in your head like some warped song. Bweep, bweep, zeep. After a while, even my husband was singing it.

Now some of you may wonder what in the heck I'm wasting all that paper and ink for, escpecially when it's 2008 and lord knows you can always edit on the screen. *shrug* Every once in a while, I have to see the work in print. Aside from the joy of holding a completed book in my hands, I need to step away from the screen to gain some objectivity about the story. For some reason, I catch my typos better, I'm better able to see the way the story fits together (and where it doesn't), and I gain the perspective of just another reader rather than the author.

Anyway, I promised myself I was just going to read through the book. No red pen. No jotted notes. Just read. Needless to say, I broke my promise on the first page. On the screen, it flows so well. In print, it was falling flat. I tried not to touch it, but after fighting the good fight to keep my promise, I got up and retrieved my red pen. I'm glad I did. I fixed some easy tweaks, and I can read without obsessing on the typos I'm missing.

Do you ever print your books? Why or why not?

On a completely different note, I received a rejection yesterday from the only big-name publisher I've ever submitted to. To be frank, I thought they forgot about me. Their lead-time said 4-6 months, and this was month 7. I even wondered if I put the right address on my SASE because I sent the submission right in the middle of our last move. Nope. Based on the nice note hand-written at the end of the letter, I'm guessing the delay was because they were arguing over whether to accept Caldera or not. I guess the No votes won. The note did not say anything of the sort, but it conveyed a sincere regret that they couldn't accept the book. *sigh* I'm taking the positives where I can find them (even if it's entirely possible I'm only fooling myself).

BTW, Caldera is on hold until further notice. As are every other book until I can get RTL ready to go. Like I've said before, I really have a feeling about RTL, and I think it could really launch my career. Once that's done, I fully expect my other books will be pulled into the jet stream along with it. (And if they aren't, well, that's okay, too. I still love them all.)

Now, to get started on my day. Have a great one, everybody!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Helping Writers in Need

This morning I read about a tragic loss a writer couple sustained recently. James and Livia Reasoner lost almost everything in a house fire - many of their pets, their home, their library, their research materials, their WIPs (which were on the computers they lost) - and the rally call has been made asking anyone to help in any way they can. I'll be putting together a small shipment of books to send.

The thought of such a thing sends me into shudders of terror. I'm backing everything to Google today (most everything is there already, except for the recent edits and my WIP). If you don't have an internet site to back your data up to, get a gmail account. You have to be invited, but I have several invitations left, so if I know you from either your stopping here or my stopping by your blog, ask me for one. (I can only make this offer to people I at least know online, so if I don't know you, sorry.)

The other night we went to bed and as we lay there trying to fall asleep, all I could smell was smoke. We got up walked around the house, felt the walls, looked for tell-tale signs, and nothing. Turns out it was the neighbor's fireplace. Love the smell of woodsmoke, but for a few minutes there, I was thinking of ways to get my stuff out of the house before it went up. Pictures of me carting armfuls of books out of the house, while trying to get my computer unplugged and safely out to the car, while finding the cat, while grabbing my photoalbums... It was a nightmare. I'm so sorry the Reasoners had to go through it for real.

If there's anything you can do to help these fellow writers, please step up and try. If they get more books than they know what to do with, they can always sell them and buy the books they want.

Monday, February 4, 2008

New Words

Well, since I finished the second draft of RTL, I figured I'd better get back to my JA mystery. I spent my writerly time Saturday re-reading the first 17K words. I did it to get back into the swing of the story, but it was great reading the book like I wasn't the writer. I cracked myself up.

Last night after the totally awesome Super Bowl, I sat down with my book - tentatively known as Cut and Dried - and nothing. I couldn't figure out where I was going. I couldn't pull a smart comment out of my ear to save myself. I just couldn't get Jordan (the MC) to breathe for me. I scoured my hard drive for the copious notes I knew I jotted about this book, and they are nowhere to be found. (I must've thought I wrote them down. Either that or I dreamed I did it, because nothing was there. I could have a sheet of hardcopy notes floating around here somewhere, but after so many weeks, I wouldn't have the faintest idea where I hid them.)

I almost walked away.

Instead, I said 'screw it' and started writing. From the previous scene, I had a general idea what the next scene had to be comprised of, and I ran with it. Before I knew it, I'd written 1700 words and it was over an hour later. I'm back on track and the new words are flowing. I have the next scene or two jotted down for today's work, and I'm zoomin'.


And don't think I've forgotten about my prep work for submitting RTL either. It's just on hold until I get my CP's comments and do my next visual run-through. I'm still prepping, mind you; I'm just not submitting yet. My blurb sounds awesome if I do say so myself, and I'm really hopeful about this book.

(Which means if my batting average is anything like before, I'm going to totally crash, but I'll deal with that if it comes. I can't give up hope. Without it, what's the point?)

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Giants Win!

To quote a famous sports caster...

The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!

Okay, so that was baseball, and this is football, but the sentiment is the same. Against all odds, Eli Manning and the NY Giants won Super Bowl XLII. I didn't think it would happen, but I couldn't be happier. =oD

Saturday, February 2, 2008

An Important Day

You may think this is just another day, but it's not. Sure, it's Groundhog Day, but that's really not important. It's a day of personal significance, too, but still not anything to jump around about. No. I'm talking about something that has had a significant impact on many people (more than you think, although not as many as I'd like).

On this day in 1905, Ayn Rand was born. Through her fiction and her non-fiction, she has touched many lives. Through her philosophy of Objectivism, she has touched many minds. In a NY Times survey, Atlas Shrugged was second only to the bible as the most influential book in people's lives.

I first read Atlas Shrugged in 1984, and have since read it no less than a dozen times. Every time, I find something new, and every reading, I finish feeling refreshed and revived--with new purpose and a rewakened desire to forge ahead. I read The Fountainhead a couple years later, followed by We The Living and Anthem. With the exception of We The Living, her books have traditionally been a yearly staple for me. (WTL touches me too deeply to read too often. Once every ten years is as often as I can read it.) In 2000, I began reading her nonfiction works. For The New Intellectual was my first foray into those books, and it lead me to several others of her NF. I haven't read them all, but I've read the most important ones, so the others can wait. (And shame on me for not finishing The Art of Fiction, which is probably her most important book to me, considering my chosen profession. Truth be told, I have a tough time reading books on writing, but that's a post for another day.)

She's been gone now for almost 24 years. She passed away before I even knew she existed, and that fact saddens me. I would have loved to meet the woman. Now I can only hope that someday I meet the heir of her intellectual estate. *shrug* Some things we can't change. I would've liked to meet Thomas Jefferson or Aristotle, too, but that's like wishing for the moon. At least with Ms. Rand, she was alive during my lifetime. I just missed her.

So, take a moment today to think about Ayn Rand, and I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from her writings:

"The essence of life is the achievement of joy, not the escape from pain."

Are you achieving joy today?

Friday, February 1, 2008

Fun With the Mavens

Once again, the Manuscript Mavens are having a Choose Your Own Adventure® contest. Head on over and join the fun. There'll be loads of prizes, and if you didn't participate back in October, trust me, it's tons of fun.