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

Monday, March 31, 2008

Release News

One of the members of the Good Girls Kill for the Money Club, Diana Killian, just announced the release of the first book in her Mantra for Murder series: Corpse Pose. It's not officially out until tomorrow, but it's already been spotted on shelves.

When yoga combines with murder, inner peace may not be the easiest thing to achieve. ;o)

Go get 'em, Diana!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

ACK!

I knew this was going to happen, but just not this way. Sooner or later, if I wait long enough, the writing bug comes back and I'm salivating to get to work. In the past, I long to get back to writing my WIP. I miss the characters. I miss seeing what they're going to do.

I'm at that point now. The only problem is, it's not my WIP I'm drooling over. It's a story idea I had last year that recently popped back into my head. I went to bed last night and the damn thing wriggled itself into my near unconscious mind. The premise, the beginning, the general outline... all there. It was good stuff, but breaking my bedtime rule, I went to sleep instead of getting up to write it all down. This time I actually hoped I'd forget it. I wasn't ready to write it anyway. I'm in the middle of another book, damn it. I need to finish what I've already started.

I woke up with it in my head. Damn pushy story.

It's zippy. It's thrilling. I love the characters already and I haven't even named them yet.

But I can't write it yet. I can't. I still have my other book to finish, and it's a very marketable story, with bigtime series potential. The almost-forgotten WIP could be my BIG BREAK. And suddenly, I don't care.

Crap.

I don't want to set my WIP aside, but I know I'm probably going to. When you think about it, it's still going to be there after I finish this new idea. They're ALL still going to be there.

Whether I get back to them or not... We'll have to wait and see what the future brings. Right now, this sucker can't wait.

*sigh*

Ever have a damn pushy story idea? Have you ever stopped in the middle of one story to write another? If so, do you ever go back to the first story?

BTW, a big thanks to Allison Brennan, who unconsciously reminded me of this story idea and is most likely the reason why it's pestering me now. (Not sarcasm - I really do thank her.) If you haven't read her books, what are you waiting for? Seriously. Get out there and get reading.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Information Updated

I spent a large chunk of the day doing agent research and now I'm passing some of that work onto my fellow pre-published authors. (Which basically means I updated my old post: Agent Sites, Blogs, Etc.)

Have fun. I'm going to go collapse somewhere. ;o)

Friday, March 28, 2008

WYSIWYG Person

If you aren't familiar with the term WYSIWYG, it's a computer acronym that stands for 'What you see is what you get'. When I first heard this term years ago, it struck me that I am a WYSIWYG person.

With me, what you see is really what you get. I don't do artifice well. I have a tough time even in real life hiding my thoughts, feelings, opinions... which is part of the reason why most of the people in this burg don't know me other than in passing. It's also the reason why I don't play poker in person - everyone would know my hand's strength the minute I looked at it. But I digress...

This morning as I was reading my blogroll, the issue of writers having a website/online presence came up again, and I was reminded of the web presence I present to the world. (Or more specifically potential agents.) I would hope that anyone reading this blog likes me and likes what I have to say, but realistically, not everyone will. *shrug* C'est la vie.

For one thing, I know that the URL for this blog isn't for everyone. Atlas Shrugged was the inspiration for my i-shrugged, and that book is the kind you either love or you hate. I use the phrase because that's basically what I did. I worked in the corporate world, using my writing talents for everyone but myself. Then I shrugged. (If you haven't read the book, it's basically a euphemism for walking away from your job and working for your own benefit.) Now I write for myself, and while I haven't seen any financial benefits from it yet, I've gained so much personally, it's been worth it.

I also know my opinions here might not sit well with certain people. This is part of the reason why I don't often talk about politics, current events, celebrities, etc. (The other part is I don't really want this to be that type of blog, but that's not germane to the point of this post.)

The point is, I realize this blog might not be doing the best at forwarding my career. I know this, and I accept it. I can't be what I'm not. I'm an opinionated poker-playing, crocheting, cussing, smoking, home-schooling, slightly brain-damaged and mostly good-natured, ex-Michigander housewife who writes prolifically and whose writing entertains as well as niggles at the thought process. Similar to Atlas Shrugged, those who know me either really like me or really dislike me - depending on their own philosophies of life.

I can live with that.

Or in the words of Popeye: "I am what I am" - a WYSIWYG person. I can only hope that someday I find a WYSIWYG agent to represent me.

Now you tell me your thoughts on the subject. If you were an agent, would this blog turn you off? Would you even care? And btw, how's your poker face?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

New Releases

Just a quick note to tell you about a couple new and notable books that have hit the shelves recently.

Roxanne St. Claire's latest Bullet Catchers book First You Run hit the shelves on the 25th. I found a copy at my local grocery store (thank goodness, because I won't be near a bookstore for a couple weeks).

Rachel Vincent's second installment of her Werecat books, Rogue, has a release date of April 1st, but from all reports, it's on the shelves now. This one will have to wait until I get to a real town with real stores, but I can't wait to read it.

If you know of any other recent releases, feel free to leave a link in the comment section. I'm always happy to support my fellow writers. =oD

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Lost Ideas

As I was laying in bed last night trying to sleep, I came up with the perfect post for today. I had it all mapped out and half-written. And then I fell asleep.

Now it's gone. Toast. Lost to the circadian rhythms and the land of Nod.

This isn't the first time it's happened to me either, and not just with blog posts. I've lost awesome book ideas that way. For some reason, ideas seem to come to me as I'm falling asleep, and by morning, they're gone. All that's left is the memory that I was onto something.

Once when I was living in Michigan, I was driving to my next appointment and while at a stoplight, I looked into the eyes of the man across the intersection. In that instant, I felt a shock go through me like I was looking into my future. He was just an average guy - kind of good looking but not supermodel or even star quality. It was just something that felt important. Then the light turned green and he drove away. I admit I didn't move until the car behind me honked. I made a u-turn and went in search of his white pick-up - although in retrospect, it was just stupid to think I could find him, and even if I did, he was probably all wrong for me. (And it's all moot, since I found Mr. Perfect years later in an entirely different state.) But the point is, that feeling is about the same one I get when I wake up the morning after a great story idea that's now gone. Like I missed something important.

For the most part, I've learned my lesson. When an idea strikes me, I weigh how great it is and if I don't think it's worth losing, I get my butt out of bed to write it down. If it's not that great, I go to sleep. (With the guy thing... Well, let's just say I didn't let my husband get away.)

Hopefully, the really awesome blog idea will come back. If not, there's always another one out there somewhere. We'll just have to wait and see.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Grunt Work

We all have what I call 'grunt work'. It's the stuff behind the writing that we'd all rather not do, but that's really necessary for keeping yourself sane. I'm talking about paperwork, and filing, and receipts, and taxes... The list goes on. It's secretarial stuff for which we all wish we had the funds to pay someone else to do. (Actually, someone else used to pay me to do this stuff for them, but that was in my before-writing life.)

Today, for me, it's database work. I have piles of agent information from at least two books ago that I've never entered into my database. (I've been too busy writing, but that's no excuse.) Plus, I am embarking on the search for an agent with RTL, and now I have all that to enter. I'll never keep it straight in my head. The whos, the whats, the whens get jumbled up in there if I don't keep it organized.

So, since I'm off work, I'm tackling the piles.

What I use to keep all of this organized is an antiquated DOS-based contact management program. It doesn't have the bells and whistles of its newer versions, but it works for me. It's very simple, straightforward and almost idiot-proof. As long as the information is entered, and entered correctly, that is. If I want to see who those few agents are who got Blink before I got distracted with writing RTL, all I would have to do is pull up the file and I could see who got what when. Right now, however, that information is in a pile on the floor next to me. Ack.

Tell me, what do you use to keep yourself organized? Do you keep on top of it, or are you like me with piles of files scattered around you in disarray until you get fed up with it?

Monday, March 24, 2008

My World

Okay, I admit it. I'm one of those people who can't NOT work. I haven't been writing or editing, because I am taking a sabbatical (damn it), and my brain needs time away from the books for a while. (Five books, four years... Plus rewrites, edits, queries, short stories, etc... I think I've earned a little break, eh?) But I can't just sit around watching TV and/or reading.

So, I'm crocheting.

You may notice a new meter over there to the side. It's my blanket-meter. Depending on the width, I can get about a strip done a day before my hands cramp. It's going to be a big blanket, and soooo warm - just in time for summer. =o\

I guess it's just as well I'm taking a break right now. Yesterday I sliced the middle finger of my left hand open (it's now stuck in the 'flipping off' position) and I'm typing sans the finger that usually does all the most used letters. (i.e. E R T S) No worries - it doesn't require stitches, it's just a PITA. Good thing I'm right-handed or the crocheting would suck, too.

I expect that soon even the crocheting won't be enough to keep me from going stir-crazy and the sabbatical will end. I'm already thinking about my stories while I crochet so and end to the blahs can't be far off.

So, how are things in your world?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Bunny Day!

In honor of Bunny Day, here's a picture that totally cracks me up.

*Image deleted to prevent any potential copyright issues*


see more crazy cat pics

Hope you have a great day.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Sabbatical of Sorts

I finally broke down and admitted that I'm not in the frame of mind to write right now. So I gave myself permission to take a sabbatical from my work. Not that I'm taking a sabbatical from everything writerly, mind you. I just started sending out submission materials for RTL. I'm not stopping that. I will also be here on the blog, and visiting other writerly blogs, and networking with people around the net.

If this year is anything like last year, I should be raring to go again soon. Think of it as a vacation. Normal working people get vacations sometimes, right? (Except when I was a normal working person, I never took mine... so I feel guilty about taking one now.) I need this time away. My well is parched, my muse is off lollygagging, and the ol' brain is a wee bit on the thin side right now. I need Spring to send it's warm fingers through the earth; I need to see the crocuses and hyacinths poking through the ground. I need my dormant writing to awaken in the warmth of the year. (Actually, I need it to reawaken right now, but I can't seem to force it to do anything. It's like a teenager being told to clean her room. Ack.)

Like I said, I'll still be here - just don't expect to see the progress meters move any time soon. (Unless I put in a progress meter for the blanket I'm crocheting. That's about the only thing I'm achieving these days.)

How're things in your world? Working hard, or hardly working?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Woohoo!

I can't give the particulars, but suffice it to say, my daughter placed 3rd at the state level in a national essay contest.

The nut doesn't fall far from the tree, eh? ;o)

As far as I know, she doesn't actually win anything, but she finished ahead of almost 900 other kids in Colorado. I'll get the details when we receive her O-fficial letter next week. We may even get to go to the awards ceremony. Plus, it'll look great on her college applications. Yay.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Check, Recheck, Double-check, Fail

To quote Robert Burns: "The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley." (You know the translation there, folks.)

I sent my query letter out on Monday. I admit, it was a longshot, but the agent in question says she'll look at works that aren't on her preferred genre list, if they grab her. So I took a shot.

Mine didn't grab her.

She was very nice about it. She's trying to keep her focus on her main genres right now... yada yada yada... It was a form letter, which is just fine with me. However, as a PS at the bottom of the letter, she was extremely helpful by pointing out a gaff I made in my query letter. I misspelled a name I used as a reference point. Specifically I spelled the Roe in 'Roe vs Wade' as ROWE.

ACK!

and arrgghh.

Good thing I only sent one letter out with that on it, but one was enough. I don't think that one mistake was enough to kick me to the reject pile, but it couldn't have helped. (Which sucks because I think this particular agent and I could've been awesome together.)

Truth be told, I honestly thought it was Rowe. I was absolutely positive it was Rowe, which made me absolutely positive I didn't need to verify my spelling. I had several people look the letter over, and all of them must have thought it was right because no one said anything about it. (Including my very detail-oriented husband - I don't know who feels worse about screwing that up, me or him.)

If you were one of the many people who looked it over and missed it, don't feel bad. I googled Rowe vs Wade and came up with +20K hits. A whole bunch of people are in the same boat. (And now if someone else googles the phrase, this'll make one more hit.)

I guess the point I'm trying to make is you can check and recheck and double-check. You can have a dozen eyes look at your stuff. And you can still fail to catch it. Until the one pair of eyes that matters catches it and kicks it back to you.

If that one agent is somehow reading this post, thank you. You've done me a very great service by pointing that bone-head play out. (And she didn't even point out how stupid it was. Like I said, she was very nice - even though she didn't have to be.) Now I can move forward sans misspelling, and hopefully not booby-trap myself into a rejection.

Live and learn. (And if you can learn from my mistake, that'll make two of us.) ;o)

Now, I'm off to do some agent research and see if I can get this puppy sold.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Passing of a Giant

In case you hadn't heard, Arthur C. Clarke passed away at the age of 90. Read about it here.

"Science-fiction writer, inventor and futurist Arthur C. Clarke has died, leaving fans bereft at the loss of his brilliance and creativity."

His work contributed a great deal to our lives and our culture. He will be missed.

When Routines Go Awry

I can't believe I forgot to post yesterday. Actually, though, when I think about it, I'm not surprised. Yesterday was almost a total wash.

You see, we have a routine. Yesterday (and probably for the rest of this week) the routine went awry and it totally blew any thought of the blog away. It happens every year at this time, which means not only a total piffle in the writing department, but a burp in the school year for my daughter. The cause of this wrinkle?

The CSAPs. It's short for Colorado Student Assessment Program, and even though my daughter is homeschooled, she takes them to meet with the state's homeschooling laws. (Kids have to be assessed every other year by law, and this is easiest for us.) But more about that another time.

Needless to say, I take her down to get the test over the course of four days (three this week, one next). She does the thing, and then walks to the library where I'll be able to pick her up without either of us having to sit around waiting. (Me waiting by the phone for her call to be picked up, or her waiting in the office for me to get there.) I could work during this time, but then I'd probably get wrapped up in writing and forget, which would lead to the eventual call: "Mo-om? My time on the computers is up. Are you ever coming to get me?" So, I don't even try to get any writing done.

Yesterday she had one test. Today she has two - back to back with a twenty minute break. Tomorrow is the most fun of all - three tests with lunch in the middle. Ack. Then we get the weekend and another two tests next week. Talk about dumping a whole boatload of distractions in the middle of a week. The only thing either of us got done yesterday was some heavy duty crocheting. (Home Ec for her, and non-brain taxing activity for me.)

Sorry this is a rambling post, but that's what I mean about what happens to me when my routine gets derailed. I never thought of myself as an orderly person with regard to time (especially since I quit working outside the house), and then this happened. Thinking about it this morning, I realize I need my routines more than I thought I did.

After next week and the end of the CSAPs, we'll have to get back into the swing of things. That's the hardest part of all.

What about you? Are you a slave to your routines? When they get derailed, do you crash along with them, or can you pick right up where you left off?

On a side note: I'm to the point where I completely hate my hair, so I'm getting a totally new 'do this afternoon. I don't know if I've said this before, but I rarely get the same cut twice. Something about a new hairstyle perks me right up. It's never anything weird, but just something different. If it turns out right, maybe you'll see a new pic on the blog, and please don't hesitate to tell me if you think it looks like my head went through a blender. ;o)

Update: They screwed me again. Someone messed up the schedule and there are three tests today instead of two. Arrgghh. Is it really any wonder I homeschool?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Thanks!

Thanks to those who gave me help on my blurb today. The few snags I had were resolved quite nicely, and I took the leap. I sent the query off before I lost my nerve and found another delaying tactic. I'm the first to admit it: querying is a scary thing. I'm nervous as hell, but I think this one will really fly. I love this book. I love the query. Here's to hoping the agent loves it, too.

I only sent one query out today. I'm going to give this one a few days, because I like the agent so much. If she doesn't love the concept and the first three pages of RTL, then I'll wade into the pool, but for now, I'm content to let just one simmer.

Now, I really do have to get back to that mystery series. I wish I could talk about it here, but since I'm planning on it going under a pseudonym, it's probably not a wise idea. It's like butter, though. =o)

Ummm... help?

I could use a little help this morning. I've been wracking my brains working on my query letter, and I think I have it down, but I'm still a little unsure about the blurb. So... If any of my regular visitors have a minute and would like to look over my blurb for me, leave a comment and I'll e-mail you a copy. (If your e-mail isn't listed on your blog, feel free to e-mail me directly instead.)

In exchange, you'll have my gratitude and just to sweeten the pot, I could throw in some reciprocal help and/or a free book for your troubles. Come on. You know you wanna see it.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sincerity vs Sucking Up

Everybody likes compliments, but nobody likes a brown-noser.

There's a fine line between Sincerity and Sucking Up, but if you think about it, it's only on the part of the person receiving the compliments. The person giving the compliment generally knows exactly where that line is, and it's a wide one. So what do you do when you are trying to give a sincere compliment and the perception is that you're a brown-noser?

Let's step back for a second. Agents like to hear good things about themselves (who doesn't?) in your query letter. It shows you've done your research and that you're paying attention. Additionally, these good things have to be specific to the agent you're addressing, so obviously 'love you, love your blog/website/articles' isn't going to cut it.

On the other hand, agents don't like to hear things that obviously aren't true. For example, agent Colleen Lindsay of FinePrint Literary Management recently pointed out a gaff in a query she received: "Your years of experience in YA book sales make me feel that you are the perfect agent for me", which is unfortunate since she's a new agent and hasn't got years of sales under her belt yet (watch her, though - she's going to bust it out). She gives the sender the benefit of the doubt by assuming this person used copy/paste for sending out multiple e-mails without checking their facts. I think she's probably right, but to me, this is a case of blatant sucking-up.

So, where's the line?

I think the line lays between making a sincere effort to let the other person know you appreciate them and spewing out things you don't really believe (but that you're sure the other person wants to hear). Like telling an acquaintance how much you love her new haircut when in reality, you think it makes her look like her head went through a blender.

My mother always told me "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." Wise words. I'd add a corollary to that: If you don't mean what you're going to say, don't say it.

If I compliment you on something, you can be certain I mean it. If I include a compliment in my query letter, it's sincere. I really do think a certain agent is kick-ass (although I wouldn't put it quite that way in my letter to her), and I'd like to buy her a drink (also something not meant for query letter copy), and I really do believe that a partnership between us will bring us both lots of money with minimal drama (I hate drama, and so, apparently, does she). I occasionally leave compliments in the comments of people's blogs (yes, Allison Brennan rocks and I worship the desk she writes on, I wish I had half of Karin Tabke's chutzpah and a quarter of Kristen Painter's style), and I mean what I say. I don't suck-up.

What's all this mean? Mean what you say and say what you mean, and try not to gush when you're talking (writing a query) to someone who makes you want to squeal with glee at the thought you're having contact with them. I think that last part is the real issue with me. Sometimes I get to feeling like there are so few competent people left in the world, I gush over them when I find them. (Like the story of the incredibly competent gas station attendent and how I freaked her out when I told how much I appreciated her ability. What can I say, she was so good at her job, I still remember her a decade later.)

How do you handle compliments? Do you give them? Do you accept them well, or do they embarass you?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Philosophy on Flag Burning

This morning I was playing a little poker, minding my own business, when someone was seated next to me with an offensive image as his icon. The picture was of someone burning an American flag. I admit that at first, I was thoroughly pissed-off. (Maybe that was his intent - to put the US players on tilt about something besides poker.)

Then I remembered something my father always said. The US flag is supposed to be burned if it's touched the ground or has otherwise been defiled in some way. My father's take on the whole flag-burning thing was that any time someone who hates America touches the flag, it's been defiled, and so burning it is the only appropriate thing to do. People who burn the American flag are doing the flag a favor because it's no good after they touched it anyway.

God, I love my dad.

Like the asshole from Germany (not picking on Germans, btw... the site gives you the player's location - and his user name was in German anyway), people who burn the flag do so to piss people off. The more we can accept my father's philosophy about flag-burning--the less we let it piss us off when it happens--the less America-haters will do it.

Burn away, you raging morons. You're doing us a favor.

Or if we're lucky... to quote an anonymous jokester:

American Flag ...$25
Gasoline....$2
Cigarette Lighter...$2.50
Catching yourself on fire because you are a terrorist jerk...Priceless

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Stalking the Feeder

My desk is directly in front of a window, and about ten feet outside that window is my bird feeder. I love birds. We get mostly sparrows and finches and juncos here, and they're fun to watch while I'm working.

Just behind the feeder is my neighbor's fence and then her lilac bushes. Now, the town I live in has an inordinate number of loose cats. This means my bird feeder is also a cat feeder. (If the cats are quick enough and the birds are slow enough, that is. Don't worry. They never are.) The cats are also fun to watch while I'm working.

Most of the cats just sit under the lilac bushes watching the birds. (There's a little black and white out there right now.) The birds wait at the top of the bushes until the cat(s) get bored, and then they go back to eating. Sometimes the juncos - spunky little things that they are - will hop down and eat on my side of the fence while the cats are watching from the neighbor's side. (Again, don't worry. The fence's holes are too small for a cat to get through and by the time the cat climbs the fence, the junco is outta there.)

Of the dozen or so cats that stalk my feeder, one cat in particular sticks out from the rest. I call her Shrubby-Kitty. She doesn't lay under the bushes to wait. She climbs into the bushes and acts like a lump of leaves. (And since she's a cream and blue tortie, she does a passable job of blending in.) I've never seen her catch a bird, but I admire her effort. She doesn't just wait at the bottom hoping for the one bird that will come close enough to pounce on. She makes the extra effort to get what she wants.

This is a lot like people, you know. It seems like most people just lay in wait, hoping to pounce on their goals if by some chance those goals come near enough. One in a dozen doesn't wait. They climb into the bushes (which don't look like the most comfortable things in the world to sit in, btw). They make the extra effort to attain their goals.

Think about how many people out there want to write a book, but never do. Think about how many others write a book, but never make the effort to learn about the query process, and so never get published. True, every once in a while, one of them does get published without any extra effort. (Just like I'm sure every once in a while, the cats under the bush get a bird.) But the person with the better shot is the one who works for it.

Just like Shrubby-Kitty. As much as I love birds, if I ever see her catch one, I'm sure I'll applaud. She's worked too hard for too long not to succeed.

So, tell me. Are you stalking the feeder, or are you climbing into the bushes to go after your prize?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

End of Winter Slap... errr Slump

Or maybe it's the 'end of book slump'. Either way for the past few years it always seems to hit me around about this time. I get to where I don't feel like writing. I don't feel like editing. Hell, I barely feel like reading. (And blogging? Fugetaboutit.)

Right now I've got RTL almost in the can. I'm about this close. (You'll just have to imagine me holding my fingers about a micron apart.) I'm just waiting on my CP to give me her thoughts on the rest of the book and on the synopsis. I even think I've got a pretty nifty query ready to go. But I'm dead in the water.

I've got some great ideas on how to finish my WIP. They're all written down so I don't forget them, and I'm ready to move ahead on it. Except I can't seem to get motivated to do so.

Writers write. Professional writers write every day (or at least most every day - they're not machines). Not writing makes me feel like a hack. But I can't seem to get back into the swing on it lately. How professional is it when this malaise hits me every damn year?

Seriously. What happens if I finally get a contract and deadlines and stuff, only the timeframe encompasses this part of the year? "Ahem, sorry Random House, but February and March are bad months for me. Can you hold production until I get my head out of my ass?" Ya, right.

I think I just need to slap myself around. Maybe all I need a good ol' fashioned kick in the hiney. Trust me. Just thinking about presuming to put off a publisher because I'm not feeling like writing :insert whine here: is nearly enough to send me scrambling for my notes. "You need to write whether you feel like it or not, ya big baby. Now drop and give me 1500 words!" (The voice in my head sounds like a cross between that overzealous Marine ghost in The Frighteners and the barbarians in The Thief and the Cobbler. What can I say?)

Anyway, I don't know if I'm cured this year or not. Sometimes just putting it into words shakes it loose, but I know it'll be back again next year. End of winter seems to do this to me. I guess I just need to remind myself next year to give myself an end of winter slap to cure the end of winter slump.

Tell me: Do you notice a pattern to your writing throughout the year? Other than this slumpy thing, I seem to be very productive from September to December. Do you have more productive and less productive times of year, or am I just weird?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Over at TR

I posted a story beginning to Tabula Rasa this morning. It actually started out as the beginning of the book I call 'Blink', but since then Blink morphed in a different direction. Now I'm thinking of taking the premise behind what I posted at TR just now and writing it into its own book. (I've redacted the title for that reason.)

Head on over and tell me what you think.

Have you ever begun a story only to have it shift into another story? Do you have a lost beginning somewhere that could work into a new book of its own?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Not Dead

Any day you can walk away from is a good day. Right? I'm not dead. Nothing happened to make me even close to dead. I'm just bleh.

I haven't had anything worth saying for the past few days, so I haven't tried blogging. Unless of course want more pretty pictures. I have lots of those, but this isn't really a blog about photos. I have more recipes, too, but again... This isn't about that.

So, I'll let y'all get back to your regularly scheduled lives, and I should be brilliant again soon.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Pretty Picture

I may or may not have mentioned, I've always been a bit of a shutter-bug. I had planned on posting some beach pictures from my stint in Florida, but it seems like they didn't make it back onto the hard drive after the big crash in 2006. I took this shot at Arches National Park on Easter Sunday 2003. I can't remember what the rock formation is called. I just thought it was pretty, and the shot turned out great.

Enjoy.



(Is it just me, or does that rock formation look like a a bunch of people staring off into the distance?)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Gettin' 'er Done

:ppbbffttll: Google is messin' with me this morning. So if you got here and saw a post title with no post, I apologize.

Anyway...

Sorry I didn't post yesterday, but I was actually gettin' 'er done for a change. Last night, I hit my stride with the synopsis and finished the rough draft. Then I sat here and typed the thing in. The whole process took me about three and a half hours, totally screwed my beauty sleep, and as a result I'm draggin' butt this morning, but it's done.

Oh, it completely sucks. I admit that. But it's DONE. As I've said before, you can fix suckage, but not if you never get it onto the paper. So, for me, this is a huge milestone. Yay me. Seven pages handwritten turned into about four pages typed (single spaced with extra bits added in because I missed some good stuff).

Now comes the fixing. This shouldn't be as hard. I know it won't end up as long - which is good - and I'll get rid of the suckage - which is better. Since this is the last piece of my query materials, maybe if I keep my head down and keeping gettin' 'er done, I'll be able to send this puppy out next week. More Yay.

So, how are things in your world this week?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Triple Chocolate Bundt Cake

Okay, I know this isn't a 'recipe blog', but I just couldn't resist passing this one along. A friend of mine is going in for surgery this week, and I thought I'd make her some baked goods to cheer her up for before the big event. So today, I made what I'll just call a Triple Chocolate Bundt Cake. It's super easy, and if the batter is any indication, it's super good, too. (I've never made this before, so my friend will have to be the guinea pig here.)

Triple Chocolate Bundt Cake

Cake:
1 box of chocolate cake mix (I used Dutch Chocolate cake, but use whatever you like best)
1 cup chocolate chips

Make cake according to directions on box. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour into Bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes (mine took almost 45, but that's the altitude here) or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let it cool for about 10 minutes in the pan, and then turn it onto a plate for the rest of the cooling process.

While the cake is cooling, make the following:

Glaze:
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup chocolate chips
splash of vanilla

Put the condensed milk and the chips into a medium saucepan on low heat. Stir constantly until the chips are melted completely and the milk is well-combined. Don't let it boil or it will scald and take nasty. When the mixture is smooth, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Let cool just a little - should be cool enough to stick your finger in and taste it with out burning yourself. Dribbling liberally over the cake, but be careful - mine ran over the edges of the plate and we were forced to lick the counter afterwards. (It was a trial, but someone had to do it. :wink:) Let cool completely, slice and serve. Perhaps with a big scoop of ice cream. If there's any glaze left (and trust me, there was), it looks like it'll be awesome over the brownies we made a couple days ago... with ice cream, of course.

Bon Apetit.

Oh, and be careful turning the cake out of the pan. Mine lost a chunk off one side and we had to do a little cosmetic surgery so it would look okay for my friend. It's still a little off, but this isn't Top Chef, so I think it'll be okay.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Unstuck (Kinda, Sorta, Maybe)

Part of the problem with writing a synopsis is trying to jam a whole book into 2-3 pages. Hitting on the important parts without sounding like a grocery list; infusing your voice into a sequence of events so the damn thing isn't dry as a Colorado riverbed. It's damn hard.

But that wasn't my problem yesterday. Or rather, it was but not like it usually is.

Yesterday morning and all day Saturday I was agonizing over every sentence and worrying over every word. I forgot to give myself permission to suck. This time it was all coming from the fact that I have found what I think it the perfect agent for this book, and I am so freaked out about making the synopsis perfect, I can't even write the damn thing. Every sucky word was killing my ability to just get the thing on paper. Once you get the thing out, you can fix it. If you never get it out, you're truly screwed.

I was truly screwed.

In the end, I tricked myself. I told myself I was just going to sit down and compile the events of the book so I could use that to write the synopsis. I sat on the couch with a notepad beside me, and I wrote stuff down as it occurred to me. Commercials, slow spots in a show.... Any time I could think of a good way to describe the next event, I wrote it down. Guess what? I now have a good beginning to my synopsis, and I did it without even trying. Sure, it needs rewording. I knew it would. But it's there, and this time, that was the hardest part.

Except now that I admitted my trick publicly, my subconscious may try to torpedo my progress. *shrug* I'll deal with that when the time comes.

How are things in your world today? Ever had to do an end-around on yourself?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Stuck

I went to bed last night thinking about my synopsis. I spent about 90 minutes working on it after dinner. Sitting here at the computer seemed to be causing writerly constipation, so I grabbed a notebook and worked on it while sitting on the couch. Nope. I'd write a paragraph and cross it out. Pages and pages of crossed off paragraphs later, I gave up and went to bed. Which is why I lay there thinking about it for too long, and woke up thinking about it too early.

I am officially stuck. RTL flowed out of my fingers--a waterfall of inspiration. Its synopsis is a dry riverbed. And I'm choking on the dust.

During this hardcopy work last night, I did manage to rewrite the first paragraph of my WIP (now known as Pseudonymous Mystery) and get some plotting done so I can fix the problems with it, so it's not like my writing is totally jammed. It's just this blasted synopsis. It's bad enough now that I actually thought about offering money to my CP just to get her to write it for me. (And I never ask anyone do my work for me.) It's 'beat my head against a wall' frustration I'm talking about here.

So now I'm up at an ungodly hour (thanks in part to my furry gray alarm clock), and the blockage is still there. Gah.

Screw it. I'm going back to bed. Maybe when I wake up I'll be refreshed--bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and raring to go.

Heh. That'll be the day.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Cheap and Quick Dinner

If I haven't mentioned it before, I'm something of a foodie. I love cooking. I love making new things for my family to try. I enjoy watching cooking shows and chefs (especially Anthony Bourdain - if you haven't read Kitchen Confidential, give it a whirl).

Sometimes this means I try throwing things together and it doesn't work, but most of the time I manage to come up with some truly yummy meals. Last night was one of the latter.

Yesterday I forgot to defrost anything for dinner, and I really did not want hotdogs. So, I grabbed what we had around the house and threw the following together. It was inexpensive, but tasted expensive (which is perfect for budget-gal me).

Portobello Salmon Pasta

1/2 cup margarine (or butter, if you prefer)
1 1/2 cups diced baby portobello mushrooms
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried diced onion
1 packet boneless skinless pink salmon
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (unseasoned)
1 12 oz pkg angelhair pasta
Parmesan and mozzarella to taste

In a medium saucepan, heat butter until it starts to sizzle. Add mushrooms. Saute 1-2 minutes or until mushrooms begin to lose their raw look. Add basil and onion. Saute another 1-2 minutes until onion softens. Add in salmon - breaking it apart until it incorporates with the other ingredients. Saute another 1-2 minutes. Add in tomatoes. Allow entire mixture to simmer uncovered while you make your pasta according to the directions on the box. Drain pasta and either place it back in the pan (if you're like me and don't want to wash extra things) or in a large bowl. Dump the salmon mixture over the pasta, and toss together. Garnish with parmesan and/or mozzarella cheese. Serve with garlic toast.

The entire meal cost me about $5, and it made enough for probably 5 or 6 people (considering there are three of us, we all had seconds, and we still have leftovers enough for lunch). It probably helped that the 'bellos were on sale this week. I picked up 2 pints for $3, and only used a half pint to make this. You can probably use more expensive salmon than what comes in those packets, but if you're trying to stick to a budget, why bother? (Unless it's on sale, of course.)

I'm all about the sales. I get positively giddy when I can scoop up a bargain. (Don't even get me started on the really cute shoes I picked up for $3.50.)

Anyway, if you try the recipe, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.