Tuesday, February 27, 2007
LET THE FUN BEGIN
Denise and I are at the same crossroad. We're just about to turn in our newest book to our editors. And while the revisions when they come will be way fun, now begins a fabulous process---figuring out what to write next.
We'll get together to brainstorm something soon. This will of course mean DeBrand truffles, coffee, poking fun at Di and lots of laughter. Ahhh! We get to toss every idea onto the table, no matter how outlandish. I call dibs right now on the big comfy chair in Denise's living room by the fireplace (under the giant moosehead, and no don't ask.)
Have I mentioned I love my life? I mean, what's not to like--swilling coffee by the gallons (I buy wonderful coffee from Phoenix at a roaster called Echo Espresso-- www.echoespresso.com), eating chocolate, and best of all--figuring out how best to kill someone in the most fun (for me!) way.
I know I'm twisted. I accept and embrace my quirks. I was talking about the way we infuse our characters with dimensions with some other authors, and I realized WE are the same way. On the outside people think I'm so friendly, outgoing and well, sweet. I know, I know, crazy when the other side of me thinks about murder and mayhem. It's that internal conflict we all deal with.
So what's your internal conflict? Strictly for research purposes of course. But beware. You never know when it might show up in a book. . .
No names attached of course. LOL
posted at 8:39 AM
It's deadline week. There's little time for email, internet surfing, or extra things like laundry and dinner. Kevin asks why I can't hire out some of the work after the first draft is done.
I look at him like he's crazy, because this is my favorite part of the job. The first draft is done. All the scenes are there. The characters are fleshed out, the plot makes sense, and the setting is well-drawn. The HARD PART is done!
But now . . . now I get to perform liposuction! No, not on my thighs (sadly), but on my sentences. I get to suck out every last word that's not pulling its weight (cheaper, easier, and less painful than real liposuction). Can I make this ten-word sentence a seven-word sentence? Yes, I can! Can I lose this prepositional phrase without changing the sentence's meaning? Yes, I can! Every sentence is a challenge, every deleted word a thrill! I'm as excited to be alive as Colleen. Oh, happy day!
Sadly, the favorite part of my job lasts only four days, but my story is 1600 words shorter and 100 times tighter. I feel great satisfaction and a wonder of accomplishment. Hire this part out? Rob myself of the challenge and thrill? Not for all the truffles in the world, baby.
posted at 3:45 AM
Monday, February 26, 2007
Writing can be a lonely business, so authors love to hear from readers! It's always nice to know someone other than my mother is reading my books! Christy Clark is not only a reader but she has also become my friend. She is a fabulous knitter http://www.christybelle.typepad.com/
and decided to use that gift to share with me. So when my book Hot Tropics & Cold Feet
released in January, she sent me BEAUTIFUL warm socks that she knitted herself!! She had the yarn custom-dyed by Scout http://www.scoutsswag.com/
and the yarn is called Hot Tropics! How cool is that?
I wanted to commit my blog to Christy today for her kindness and warm socks!!! My toes thank you.
What’s not to love about this job?
posted at 8:10 AM
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
SOME DAYS IT DOESN'T PAY TO BE A WRITER
Right now I'm putting the finishing touches on Lone Star Sanctuary
. My crit buddies love it, I think I'm secure in my self confidence. Then it happens. I get a manuscript to read from James Scott Bell. I started calling him Jimbo years ago and now everyone does, but he's a great friend and a super guy.
Until I read his manuscript. Then I hate him and decide our friendship is at an end. I want to close my MacBook and slink off into the sunset. Why on earth did I ever think I could write? His dialogue is fabulous, his characterization is superb. The plot is riveting, and I can't put the book down.
That's when it sucks to be a writer. When you see how far you really have to go. Sigh. Jimbo, if you're reading this, the ruin of my career is squarely at your feet, big guy. I think you owe me DeBrand mocha truffles for the trauma.
posted at 9:01 AM
FLYING THE UNFRIENDLY SKIES
Is it just me or has air travel become less efficient and more frustrating?
Most of us have had a travel nightmare, but it became obvious on my recent trip to Kauai that things have gotten worse. We had twelve-hour travel itineraries with two connections each direction--A total of 6 planes, for the math impaired (me). A long trip, by anyone's standards.
But what we got was 1 flight diverted to another city (3 hour delay), 2 technical problems, 1 switch of airplanes (2 hour delay), 1 malfunctioning coffee maker (45 minute delay), 2 timed-out pilots (3 hour delay), 4 paperwork delays, and a partridge in a pear tree.
It was enough to test the most patient traveler, and I assure you, that's not me. Our trip to the islands, from first take-off to final landing, took 24 hours. One flight went from 6 hours to 10--all of it spent sitting on the plane. When the pilot announced (once again) that we were stuck on the tarmac because they had paper work, I wanted to tell him I could fold the paperwork into an airplane and get it to the islands faster than they were getting us there.
Seriously. We encountered more inept employees (flight attendants notwithstanding) than I'd want working at my local deli much less the airline who puts my body at 35,000 feet. Somebody please tell me this is not the new norm.
posted at 3:48 AM
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Do you ever wonder what’s in a dream? I mean, when you have a nightmare, is it because of the pepperoni pizza you ate the night before or the Stephen King movie you watched before bed--or is it something deeper?
Wish I had the answer. I only know that I clobbered my husband the other night, and I don’t even know what I was dreaming. Maybe that whole getting nothing for Valentine’s thing is catching up with us, I don’t know.
There’s the night I waved my hands wildly in the air and insisted that I didn’t want to dance. Or the time he screamed and said (through sleeptalk) that there was a shadow at the end of our bed. He continued sleeping. I pulled the covers over my head and stared at the blanket threads the rest of the night.
There are happy dreams too. The kind that takes place in a field of daisies and Doris Day shows up. Then there’s the one where I won a fifteen minute shopping spree at DeBrand’s Chocolates.
So what kind of dreams do you have? And what do you think, is there anything to it besides the pepperoni pizza?
posted at 7:17 AM
Monday, February 19, 2007
Thomas Hardy is my favorite author. He's a little anti-church, but he doesn't say anything that didn't happen because religion took precedence over the Gospel. I'm reading his biography now and sadly, a lot of the horrible sequences in his books were too close to his real life. The church damaged Thomas Hardy and it lives on in his literature.
As a Christian, I'm shocked what people do in the "name of religion". How we've forgotten that it isn't our place to judge, it's our place to spread His Word. The other day Oprah had this book on called "The Secret". The gist of it is that we are all matters of energy (um, thank you Poppy in Calm, Cool & Adjusted!) and that we attract the type of energy we are.
Let's say your church is a ball of energy. Is it attracting with love and acceptance? Or pushing away with rules and judgment?
Don't get me wrong, I'm not the soft, cushy type. I'm much more Saint Paul than Saint Peter, but Jesus healed on the Sabbath because He cared more about humanity than the rules. I don't think anyone was ever won over to the Gospel by rules, ya think?
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
"I wonder if we can get a spa membership at home." These words roll off Kevin's lips in disturbingly natural fashion.
We're in Kauai and just received a full service treatment at the resort's spa. It's a fabulous spa. Massages, whirlpool, outdoor showers, and every kind of pampering lotion/shampoo/conditioner you can think of. It's every girl's dream. I guess that's the problem with Kevin's comment. It's every girl's dream.
Sure, I know guys like massages too. But do I really want my man asking me to feel how soft and silky his skin is? Uh, no. I don't even want his skin to be soft and silky. If anyone around here's gonna feel smooth and smell pretty, it's going to be me. Yeah, I know men in the city get manicures. But Kevin's a man, and I like it that way. So sue me.
All I know is when we get back to Indiana, I'm telling him the spa's for women only. And if he tries to bring any of those lotions home with him, I'm chucking my razor and dabbing gasoline behind my earlobes.
posted at 10:25 PM
My husband has always been a romantic, but, well, things have changed. It’s not his fault. We’ve just both grown--practical. We don’t like to shell out the big bucks for cards the way we used to. The fact of the matter is I’d rather use that money on a mocha latte. So now when there’s a special day, we simply go to the store together, look through the cards and pull out the one we WOULD buy if we were so inclined, and then show it to each other. After enjoying a moment of warm fuzzies, hubby grabs my hand, and we happily head over to the coffee shop.
Besides, he shows me every day that he loves me in the little things. Things like getting my coffee for me in the morning, filling the gas tank in my car, and replacing empty toilet paper rolls. You’ve just got to admire that in a man.
Today, however, due to a blizzard, we’re stuck in the house. That means no card shopping at the store. The good news is hubby is snowed in too. We’ll search the net for an appropriate e-card--or pull out an old one we've kept but neither can remember--and have another warm fuzzy moment. Did I mention that he occasionally pulls out the romantic music and while flames flicker in the fireplace, he dances me around the family room? In my book, that’s better than a card.
So if your significant other doesn’t get you what you’d hoped for today, just remember, it’s the daily stuff that matters.
But just for the record, if he forgets the DeBrand Truffles, the man is history.
posted at 9:00 AM
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Do you ever wish you made a better use of your time? When I was just out of college, I worked at an advertising agency. Now ad agencies are like law firms and you have billable hours, meaning hours that can be directly attributed to clients and recouped. I remember accounting for minutes when I worked at the agency: 10 a.m. to 10:10 a.m. Spoke with client, addressed an envelope to meet their request.
I was thinking, I should work like that. Just for a day because it would be really telling. Yesterday I was doing laundry, my kids were yapping at me and my mind was on my new book. I'd been reading the first pages of books at the bookstore after church (bad habit, but it saves me cash $$) and I turned around and walked into the wall instead of the closet.
OH MY GOSH, THAT IS IT!! That is why my heroine can't succeed, she's got her head in the clouds with too many things going on around her. So I went to my computer, ripped out the beginning and started again. So I figure here's my time spent, vs. billable hours. Charged to the agency (ie., can't be recouped):
Browsing bookstore, reading first pages -- 1 hour.
Church, fellowship and character study - 2.5 hours.
Doing laundry, pondering what's wrong with the book -- 2 hours
Playing around on email pretending I'm working (only fooling self) -- 2 hours
Walking into the wall (5 seconds)
New beginning for book -- charged to client -- 5 minutes.
All I can say is there's a reason the ad agency life didn't work for me. Keeping track of my time is just depressing!
Monday, February 12, 2007
Okay, I admit I'm a weirdo. I HATE normal snow but I love it when we get so much that everything stops and we get snowed in. That hasn't happened for a long time, but there's a big snowstorm approaching that could bring us as much as a foot of snow and severe blowing and drifting.
We went to the store yesterday and spent $160 on groceries. You'd think we were stocking up for weeks of seclusion. My Wii has been helping me lose weight, but if the snow lasts, all the good it's done may be gone.
I think this all harks back to when I was a kid and getting snowed in happened several times every winter. I have three younger brothers and we'd be all snug in the house with me and my mother making enough fudge to give us a sugar high for a month. So I made sure I had stuff to make fudge if it happens and we get snowed in.
Now why this would make me happy, I have no idea. For one thing, I rarely leave the house except for church through the week. I'm holed up in my chair writing away, especially with this deadline. But you'd think I was preparing for a nuclear winter. LOL
You know what's REALLY unfair? Denise is walking the golden sands of Kauai today. But just this once, I'll take the snow.
posted at 8:04 AM
Friday, February 09, 2007
Today we welcome one of our favorite new writers (she's been writing well for years, but her first publication is up this year!) Welcome to Robin Carroll:
Let me paint you a scene.....a writer slaving over her words, sitting alone in front of a computer. She feels like she's been there forever. Sure, she's been writing for publication for years, but a contract has been elusive. She screams, she cries, she kicks the couch in her office. Frustration claws against her heart. Why continue doing this? No one will ever buy any of these manuscripts. Doubts pull against her, weakening what is left of her sanity. She's taken workshops, sat at the knee of wonderful writers, soaking in all that she could. The craft books pile up on her desk, all read and lessons gleamed from each. Our author has entered contests, finaled and placed. She's got an agent who enthusiastically believes in her work, is out there pounding the publishing pavement with manuscripts in hand, but our discouraged author is so down hearted.
Now the phone rings. Caller id reflects it's super agent. Our author answers the phone--this isn't anything out of the ordinary as her agent keeps in touch with her on a regular basis. They chat for a few minutes about life in general. And then the agent says the magic words....
"You have a contract offer from Steeple Hill."
Yes, that author is me. Yes, that is where I was in my life when I got "the call". After my agent delivered that most beautiful line of all to an aspiring author, I blocked out most of what else she said. My heart pounded, adrenaline rose higher than when I was in active labor. She had to repeat the terms a couple of times before it sunk in. I was going to be published! I was going to live my dream!
I hung up the phone, jumping and screaming. Scared my children! LOL Called my husband who hollered out in his office "My wife's gonna be published!" I hung up with him and called my friend and mentor, Colleen. She screamed and squealed and even over the phone lines, I could feel her hugging me in excitement! She gave me 15 minutes to call my buds before she announced on the loop. Thank goodness for 3-way calling ability!
On the heels of excitement came a whole slew of things I'd never considered--contracts, art fact sheets, revision letter, and line edits. Of which, I just mailed back today! :) Professional PR photos, bios, marketing strategies....writing a sequel! Of which, I just mailed to my agent last week! But oh, the joy of living the dream!
BAYOU JUSTICE will release this October, by Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. It's a story about the secrets of a family's past, which lead to a modern day murder. This story is so special in my heart for various reasons....the setting is south Louisiana, cajun country. Having lived there, I can honestly say the cajun people are a breed unto themselves, and you'll never find such a fun, outgoing, and hospitable group of folks anywhere else in the world. I love the bayous of Louisiana...even the musty, damp smell. Another reason this book is so special is the heroine's name is taken from one of my daughters' names. Writing the book was like going home for me.
Thanks, Colleen, Kristin, DiAnn and Denise for letting me blog! Each of you ladies are an inspiration to me, not only in writing, but also in friendship and love. Y'all ROCK!
Thursday, February 08, 2007
I haven’t been cold since 1999. Until now.
Okay, you have to understand that I am totally illiterate when it comes to running things in our home. I don’t know, but I think when they passed out the technology gene, I was at the coffee shop. Anyway, somehow I missed it. Now, my husband, on the other hand, has the Midas touch when it comes to technology. If he so much as sneezes, the surround sound comes on. Shoot, if he claps his hands, he could light up the neighborhood. He’s just that kind of guy. I can’t run the stereo, the TV, the DVD player or the VCR. Forget the telephone, the cell phone, the lights. And the furnace? No clue.
He installed a new thermostat. One that he programs. Uh-huh. He set it to 62 at night, which is fine, we have lots of warm blankets. But yesterday, he leaves for work and about an hour into my morning, I realize I’m cold. Now you have to understand something here. These days, I’m NEVER cold. I stand in a snow bank and it melts. So when I’m cold, there’s something severely wrong. As in, call 911.
So, I wrap my blanket around me, grab my coffee mug and slug my way over to the thermostat to investigate. You got it. It’s still programmed at 62.
My husband teaches in the mornings, and I can’t reach him by phone. I figure I could be an ice sculpture by lunch.
It’s in these moments, I grope for a bit of creativity. Unfortunately, that part of my brain is frozen. Nothing is coming to me. In fact, I’m still standing in front of the thermostat and my feet won’t move. Doggone it, I wish I’d brought some chocolate.
While I ponder my predicament, he calls me about another matter, and I’m able to find out how to turn up the temperature and all is well. He tries to tell me it’s because our furnace repair guy wiped out the programming. But you know what I think? I think he’s getting back at me for freezing him out during my hot flashes. You suspense writers out there, if you hear that I’ve frozen to death, look into it, will you?
As for the rest of you, I hope you're staying warm.
posted at 7:27 AM
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
"Unwritten Law of Seniority"
AKA: Grampa's Little Girl
I grew up in a family where the senior member of the family pays. If we go out to dinner and Mom & Dad are there, they pay. If Grandpa comes, he pays. Oh sure, we all fight about it, but in the end, we bow to seniority and the eldest "wins" the bill. So imagine my surprise when that didn't happen in my husband's family. Where they would fight over NOT paying the bill. Honestly, it was like they were from Mars. This was a black & white issue for me. "It's DAD's bill. He's the oldest," I'd protest.
"My parents grew up in the Depression," my husband would answer as if this was an excuse.
"My Grandpa was a homesteader and World War II Vet, don't tell me your parents grew up in the Depression. When I was in high school, Grandpa would meet me at Burger King for lunch, did I ever have to pay? No. Would I ask my kids to pay for a Happy Meal?"
There were places this got weird, even for me. In my mind, the unwritten law of seniority was involved in underwear. A child should not have to pay for underwear and maybe I took this a little far. To this day, I cannot pay for slips. How often do I get in a dress? And no one ever sees the thing, so who cares, right? I kid you not, my mom bought me one in the fourth grade, and I still have it. Oh sure, it was bigger then, but it's a nice snug fit now. And don't worry, I have upgraded on the rest of the unmentionables, but there's something about slips. My SIL gave me a maternity slip when I was pregnant with my first child (he's 12 now) so I'm good to go. I now have a short slip and a long slip.
As you can see, we both have our quirks, but I still say, the senior family member pays for dinner. Anything else, as Mammy would say about her red shimmy, "It just ain't fittin'. It just ain't fittin." Kristin
I LOVE MY DOCTOR
Migraines have been the plague of my life for forty years. I'm on a quest to put an end to them. I'm the most proactive patient you will ever see in your life. Some doctors would be intimidated by a middle-aged woman coming in waving a sheaf of papers or a new book. LOL Not my doctor.
When I told him about the heart PFO/Migraine connection, he ordered a bubble contrast study (I have one by the way.) Every prophylactic medication I've heard about he's let me try. I went to see him yesterday and he ordered tests to get me started on a new natural hormone therapy. He told me that after I gave him the book on thyroid disease, he's put a bunch of his patients on Armour thyroid to stunning results. When you find a doctor like that, you keep him.
My newest thing is all the studies coming out on vitamin D and appalling deficiency in our world. Turns out there's a migraine link too! My goal is in sight and I'm going to win this battle. If you have migraines, the first thing I'd tell you to do is take DHEA and fish oil. I've seen some fabulous results since I added that to my daily list of supplements.
Just call me Dr. Colleen. :-)
posted at 11:52 AM
Monday, February 05, 2007
It all started with T-ball games, basketball leagues, and day trips to college and pro football games. Well, actually, it started when I married a sports nut and had three boys--what did I expect?
It started this year during college football. First it was a desire to sit and watch the Notre Dame games with my family. Then I had a little twinge of excitement early in the pro football season when I found out we had Colts tickets. Before I knew it, it happened to me. I'm sitting at the game jumping up and screaming, doing the wave, eating peanuts. I have become one of them.
So last night, when our beloved Colts (and Peyton Manning and Tony Dungy) went all the way and won the Super Bowl . . . well, let's just say it's a beautiful day and leave it at that. Hey, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
posted at 7:55 AM
Thursday, February 01, 2007
There are just some friends who are like no others. Ones who don't care if you floss your teeth in front of them. They don't mind if you take off your shoes. Snoring doesn't bother them. They've seen you without your makeup and with your hair looking like a tornado just blew through. Ones who come to your hotel room, hang out, brainstorm your next book so it doesn't totally stink.
Diann and I just shared a room at Advance with our sweet friend Cara Putman, and then Denise joined us the next day. Di and I were signing books. There had been a teensy glitch where our signing time didn't get put into the paper for attendees so no one knew we were signing. Our friends, Mel and Cheryl Hodde (writing team of Hannah Alexander), Cara and Denise were going around telling people to come to our booth. We had a steady stream all hour long because of friends like that.
I looked up from the table where I was signing, and my eyes welled up. Those are the friends you want to hang onto forever. And I plan to! Do you have friends like that?
posted at 8:38 AM