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

Friday, March 20, 2009


From now on, all new posts will be at The Writing Spectacle II. I look forward to seeing you all there.

Thank you.

-B.E. Sanderson

An Ending and A New Beginning

The time has come for I-shrugged to bow out of my writerly existence. It's served me well these past few years, but as I was laying there thinking about my career and my future as a writer, I realized that it's not pertinent to what I am as a writer.

So, as i-shrugged.blogspot withers into nothingness, a new Writing Spectacle is born. If you enjoyed reading what I had to say here, please follow me over there for more musings, rants and daily affirmations of my sanity (or lack thereof).

Fear not, though. This blog will remain (it has to - I'm linking to it) in perpetuity - or at least until Blogger tells me I can't have it anymore. The Agent Sites post will still be there for those who need it, as well as all the other important stuff. I'm just switching locations to give myself a better - and more writerly - place to live.

I'm also going to try and give you more intelligent and useful posts than I have in the past. I'm going to try to get out there and network more. And who knows, if my readership grows, I may even try to get some guest bloggers every now and then. (Time will tell about that.)

In short, what I'm trying to do here is give myself a jumpstart. A new blog and a new attitude for the rest of the year and the years to come. Come along with me and see what the future holds.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Almost Human

Well, if that wasn't an adventure, I don't know what is. After a mistaken belief that I was over the worst of it on Tuesday, Wednesday arrived and showed me what the worst of it could be. I wouldn't wish that crud on my worst enemy. (Well, maybe... I know that in my illness induced daydreams I did consider going over to a certain person's house and licking his doorknobs. If anyone deserves this, he does.)

The only upside to laying on the couch hour after hour, trying not to wish for death, is this:

It gave me a chance to think about things. Perhaps all that thinking has shaken some things loose. Hard to tell as I'm still a little muzzy-headed. I do know that things haven't been right with the writing yet this year, so I think I need to shake things up. (If that makes any sense.)

I'll reveal all in the days to come. (Or as much of 'all' as I have figured out at this point.)

Hope all of you are well, and things are peachy-keen in your worlds. =o)

Monday, March 16, 2009

I've Got It Too*

Sorry about the silence, but whatever my family has, I got too. (Though nowhere near as bad. Yet.)

So, between taking care of them, and trying not to cough up a lung, and taking over my daughter's dish duties (without which we wouldn't have clean bowls for soup), and laying on the couch storing energy for the next task, I've been lax online.

Of course it doesn't help that I can't think of a damn thing to say that doesn't involve whining. You don't want to hear it, and I don't want to either.

Hope y'all have a great day, and here's hoping I'm somewhere near normal soon.

*Ever see Muppet Treasure Island? It's from the "Cabin Fever" production number.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Overheard on the Street

Overheard just now. Three teenage girls walking down the sidewalk. Before I can even see them I hear one talking on her cell phone...

"I miss you already... What do you mean you don't care that I miss you?... Tell me you miss me too... I'm not hanging up until you tell me you miss me... Tell me you miss me... Tell me you miss me!" (Keep in mind this started halfway up the next block and was still in progress at the other end of my block.)

Is it just me or should she have done consulting for the movie "How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days"?

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Greetings from what I am jokingly referring to as 'The Plague House'. Whatever crud is making its way across the continent has landed here.

I don't have it. Yet.

Hubby does, and dearest daughter came down with it this morning.

If you have it, you have my deepest sympathies. In honor of this situation, I am making chicken soup. (And with all the flu supplies I bought, the pharmaceutical companies should be sending me a gift basket.)

Good luck out there.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Putting Customer Service Back into the Chain Store

Yesterday when I was at Borders, I was approached by an employee with a book in her hands. Now I was in the middle of using their computer to find some of the books on my list, and at first I thought she was going to be the third person to ask me if I needed any help. Instead she started talking to me about the book in her hands. (Sorry, I don't remember the title - but it was women's fiction, and I'm just not that into it.) After I gave her my standard 'thanks but no thanks', I started thinking about what it was she was doing.

And even if it started out a little annoying, I realized it was a great idea. I thanked her for the effort (nicely, of course) and she said it was a new thing they were doing at their store - choosing books they liked and talking to patrons about them. Afterwards we got to chatting, and she brought me another book she liked - because she asked if I'd heard of it, and I had. I didn't end up buying that book either, but I did end up buying a couple more books because of her and her co-worker. They were both so helpful and friendly. Well frankly it shocked the heck out of me.

Those two gals brought customer service back to a big chain store. Usually when I hit Borders, I just want to get my books and be left alone. After ten minutes I feel typically like every employee has asked me if I needed help - in that 'I really don't want to help you, but I have to ask' way they have. These ladies were serious, and they were helpful. The other gal - not the one with the book recommendations - actually went into the back to find me two books that were in stock but hadn't been shelved yet. She and I got to talking about The Dresden Files and she recommended a similar series I'd never heard of (and plan on buying on my next go round).

If I remember correctly, Borders is having troubles right now. Last year there was talk of them going out of business, and in a way, I can see why. They don't stock nearly as much as B&N and as I said, their employees are usually annoying. It's hard to stay in business that way, but if they can just up the number of helpful, friendly employees, they might just make it through this economy.

They just need to clone those two ladies, or at least have them give pointers to everyone else.

Oh, and I do need to give a shout out to the cashier there as well. She was just a friendly and helpful, and she made my daughter's day by complimenting her on her dagger necklace.

Wouldn't it be great if people like that were the only kinds we ran into when we shopped?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Book Jamboree

I did it. I admit it. I bought too many books today - and I didn't even scratch the surface of my list.

Okay, so I'm not exactly contrite about it. I love books. If it wouldn't destroy the pristine covers, I would throw them on the floor and roll around in them. (And I like to keep my books as pristine as possible for as long as possible. I'm demented that way.)

Anyway, I loved the shopping, hated the driving, and had a nice lunch while I was in a real town with real restaurants. What I didn't love was the fact that Borders was out of several titles I wanted. If I'd driven another half-hour, I could've been to B&N and gotten them - I just know it. (Mainly because I saw some of them there on my last trip.) I'm currently working through the backlist for Lynn Viehl's StarDoc series, and while I have read the last two, I've only read the first one. Totally chaps my hide.

On the upside, I discovered a new (to me) bookstore, and found a couple books I didn't know I wanted. And it was only five minutes from Borders - toward home - so no extra driving. Yay.

So now I'm pooped, but satisfied. In my TBR stack now are:

Highlander Outlaw by Monica McCarty!! Finally. I almost screamed because I thought Borders was out. Then I realized it was shelved with the new fiction instead of the rest of the series.

The third book and the newest book from the Dresden Files. (Working through that backlist, too.)

Two books by Anton Stroud. (I don't remember who recommended him on their blog, but thank you.)

The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance

The Killer Year anthology

Just to name a few. There may be more, but the titles escape me and the bag is in with my sleeping husband.

What are you reading right now, or what are you waiting for the release date of?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Spring Ahead

It's that time again, ladies and gents. Time to turn your clock ahead one hour.

Personally, I hate this daylight savings thing. It had its purpose when the business of America was primarily agriculture. Now it's just outlived its usefulness. I mean, really, what do we need it for anymore?

This one is always worse for me than the Fall one. Something about getting up an hour early every morning and trying to go to bed an hour early kills me. I'll be dragging ass for a week or so. *shrug* Stuff happens, so I need to just get over it.

How does your body adjust to the time changes? Everything go fine for you, or are you like me? And what do you think about the idea of getting rid of the daylight savings thing all together?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Taking the Plunge

I took the plunge (as well as Kristen's advice) and joined the Romance Divas forum yesterday. After spending time both last night and today reading posts and acquainting myself with the site, I jumped in and posted. So far, so good.

Seems like a nice group of writers, and sans flaming or crabbing or general snertiness. Yay. If you haven't been there, check it out. Lots of interesting information, and camaraderie, and writerly-ness.

Considering how my last two forays into writers' forums turned out, wish me luck. Although I don't think I'll need it. I'm just going to be good and not get involved in flame wars (not that I think there will be any - the mods keep a tight rein from what I see).

Friday, March 6, 2009

Eclectic Post

First off I'd like to vent a bit about the book distributor for my area. They went belly-up and I haven't seen new books at the local stores for weeks. Weeks without new books! I'm seriously jones'n. This means that despite the fact Monica McCarty's latest hot Highlander book has hit the bestseller list, I haven't gotten a copy yet. Wah.

In happier news, I'm going to a real bookstore next week, and Borders should have a copy. It's on my shopping list along with eight other titles (so far - I may not be done writing the list yet). By this time next week, I should be happily surrounded by new reading material. It's just a shame I have to go out of town to buy books*.

As for writing, a read an interesting post this morning over at Karin Tabke's blog. She had a guest blogger by the name of Charlotte Featherstone, who wrote about staying true to yourself and to your characters. The hero of her recently published book Addicted could be considered unsympathetic (because he's an opium addict), and because of this I have no doubt she had one hell of a time getting it published. But she had to write him that way in order to remain to true to the story. Good reminder to us all, and a very positive note for those of us yet to be published. Gives me a bit of hope that maybe someday someone will want to read Caldera even though Myke's been called unsympathetic. (Which I totally don't see. I love her personality. Not that she's an addict or anything like that. She's just focused, and driven, and she doesn't suffer incompetence lightly - which can come off as bitchy sometimes.)

Another happy note: I got the last edit notes from my beta reader this morning! Yay. Her comments really made my morning. Nothing like hearing she had a tough time reading for edits when the story kept sucking her in and making her forget she was supposed to be beta reading. I'll be working on her suggestions this weekend, in addition to trying to get the synopsis written. With any luck, I'll be ready to start submitting soon. And this time maybe getting an agent.

Wouldn't that be loverly?

What are your thoughts on this fine pre-Spring day? Ever written or read a supposedly unsympathetic character that you just connected with? Any positive news to share?

*Yes, I can buy books online. I just love the bookstore experience too much.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Page by Page

You may have noticed I changed my word meter to reflect pages edited rather than chapters. The reason for this change is simple.

Nano is giving me fits.

Usually when I sit down to edit, I do it chapter by chapter. Sometimes I get more than one chapter edited in a night, but when the editing is slow, I just get one finished. With Nano, I'm lucky if I get a partial chapter done in an editing session.

Take last night for instance. I got eight pages done, and even those I'm not completely happy with. Chapter Four is the chapter where I really introduce the hero. (He's mentioned in a couple other chapters, but he doesn't make his POV debut until #4.) And I don't think I really have him down yet. I'm getting there. He's becoming a real person in my head. But I'm not there yet.

So anyway, I'm having to rewrite whole paragraphs and scenes to make Jack more alive on paper. Which is slowing me down to page by page editing. Maybe on the next round of edits, it'll all be easier again. (God, I hope so.)

How are things going in your work?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I didn't get anything done last night. Nada. Bubkis. I wish I could blame it on the dirty trick Biggest Loser played last night at the weigh-in, but that would be lame. Not that I wasn't irritated, but it wasn't to the point where I couldn't work. (I like Biggest Loser, but I'm not that addicted.)

After the show was over, I did sit down to work on editing Nano. I made it through approximately three paragraphs before I admitted to myself that I was just phoning it in.

Could be that I took an Aleve earlier in the evening, and those things make me all loopy. Could be that I twisted my knee falling off a step yesterday afternoon (only hurts when I use that tendon to stand up and sit down, though). Could be that I just wasn't in that place I need to be in to accomplish worthwhile work. Hell, it could even be hormonal. (Look out! She's gonna blow!)

In the end, I closed the file and went to bed.

I guess sometimes that's okay, but I still feel guilty about it.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Connecting with Other Writers

This morning Alison Kent has a wonderful post over at GenReality about critique groups and crit partners and such. It really got me thinking about this lonely business of writing, and whether I'm doing enough to connect with other writers. I mean I don't belong to any writing organizations, I don't network on writing forums or other such sites, and I don't go out into the world to visit trade shows or writers' groups or conferences.

In some circles, this inactivity would be the kiss of death for a writing career.

Sometimes I consider doing some of these things. I've even joined a couple online writing things. I was very active in two of these, and if you've been around this blog long enough you know how those turned out (which is to say, not well). I still belong to a couple that I haven't really been active with, but probably should (if I can even remember my passwords after all this time). I've thought about joining RWA or ITW or something like that, but I just can't seem to muster the interest necessary to fork over all that money.

Instead I blog. I visit dozens of writerly blogs every day. I communicate via comments, and on occasion email, with other people in the profession. But is that enough?

You know every time I think this through, I ask myself that question. Sure, I have a couple of awesome beta readers (Hi guys!), but that's as far as that goes. I had a crit parter I met at one of the writing communities, but she disappeared last year. (Literally. One day she just stopped replying to my emails. No reason why. No 'it's been fun, but it's over' note. Just silence.) My BRs are doing an awesome job, but listening to everything around the net, it just seems like I should be doing more.

And then I look at Lynn Viehl. I don't know how many books she's published now (seems like it was around 35 the last time I looked), but she seems to do very well sans the whole 'getting involved' portion of the biz. She doesn't attend conferences, or trade shows, or participate in writing groups. She just writes - and very well I might add.

So what's a girl to do?

I guess I just keep on keepin' on. I write, I edit, I learn from my mistakes. I read other people's blogs and learn from their mistakes. Sure I'd like to have a half dozen people I can trust to read and comment on my work - if only for the sake of validation. (And yes, even hermits like me could use a little validation once in a while.) I love to have an awesome crit partner like I used to have - someone to bounce ideas off of, and kvetch to, and sympathize with - but in the whole scheme of things, it's not necessary. Because in the end, the only person capable of writing my books is me. Connecting with other writers would be fun, but when the books ever get published, they're my responsibility.

Anyway, I still have the blogosphere and all the wonderful people I've met here. You're all helping me whether you know it or not, and I'd like to thank you all for that. Hopefully I'm helping in my own way, too.

What do you do to connect with other writers? Do you have live people you connect with, or is it all online?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Personality, or Lack Thereof

I don't know if you're familiar with the Myers-Briggs personality test, but it's an interesting way to get insight into who you are. Not that some quality introspection and a thorough knowledge of yourself can't give you that, but it's nice to have hard data - even if it only underscores what you already knew.

According to the above test - which I just took - I'm what they refer to as an ISTJ (heavy on the I and T). Which basically means I'm an introvert who relies on thinking rather than feeling. No big surprise there. Usually when I do this test, I end up as a INTJ, but these past few days I must be leaning more toward the S (Sensing) than the N (Intuitive).

A problem area with the ISTJ type is the tendency to downplay their own accomplishments for fear no one else will find them of value. This little do-ma-hicker jumped up and slapped me upside the head last night. (Don't ya hate when psychological baggage ambushes you like that?) Not a good trait to have when you're trying to get people to read your work, and even worse when you're trying to convince an agent to represent you.

Since I'm a firm believer that knowing what's wrong is half the battle, I should be back to semi-normal soon.

(And to that person who got that email last night, I'm not a complete freak - really I'm not. The ISTJ made me do it.)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Grunt Work

It's that time of year again. Tax time. Umm, yay?

Anyway, that's what I've been up to this weekend. Gotta love the fact that in order to use TurboTax this year, I had to download Firefox - because TT doesn't work with IE on this old an operating system. =op---

So now I have Firefox. Uhh... ok. I don't really care which browser I use. I don't need bells or whistles as long as it gets me where I need to go, when I need to go there. I'm still using IE for everything else (if it ain't broke, don't fix it).

As a related side rant, why the hell do people think they need to keep fixing things that aren't broken, and breaking things that work fine? That's messed up. Seriously.

Now I really have to get back to work, so maybe one of these days I can show income under Novelist. Ya know what I mean?