Monday, August 31, 2009

Cleaning House, Office and Mind

I am allergic to clutter. Not just paper and cups and dishes and clothes strewn about the house. No, I am allergic to mental clutter. So before I start a project I have to perform a "clean sweep." And that's what today was all about. I cleaned and organized my life, my in-box (well it's always full when it comes to family stuff), and I organized my writing office. FUN.

I have yet to rid myself of LOVE BUILDS A CHANCE. My first MS. I did toss the contest entries (thanks to those very kind judges five years ago who ignored all my super glaring writing mistakes other than to point out how to improve them... and gave me encouraging words!), but there's a part of me that still believes there's a HQN Super Romance in that ms... I just need the housing industry to pick up again LOL.

I loved going through all my recent lessons and workshops; organizing them and putting them in my binders (did I mention I am "slightly OCD?"), and tossing unnecessary papers. I know, it's not every one's orgasmic experience, but I love getting all my little ducks in a row. And then my brain starts to relax again. Oh, what a thrill to wrap rubber bands around old manuscripts and tuck them away. I get shivery putting holes in my papers and popping them into my binders. And don't even get me started about PLEDGE. I love DUSTING. Okay, I love ironing, too. I know--weird. But there is something cool about ironing out wrinkles and making everything crisp.

I like a crisp, wrinkle-free start.

And that means I have to RID MYSELF OF MENTAL CLUTTER. Seriously--mental clutter is my greatest enemy. First the outside, manageable clutter. That's EASY. But mental blechiness requires serious sweeping.

That means no more negative waves--only positive waves. I've been dealing with some negativity regarding my neighborhood--blah--I've done all I can as an 8 on the Enneagram Personality Index and now it IS UP TO THE UNIVERSE. And I have listened to wise people, helped others in worse plights than me, and NOW it IS UP TO THE UNIVERSE. If I say it, I own it.

I also try to focus on positive people and energy.

That means not discussing the negativity. That means hanging out with people who want to write and be positive, and that means only initiating positive comments when presented by the negative.

Oh, goodie, I am good at being self-delusional!

Now I can write again... and you know, the most amazing cool thing happened when I released and de-cluttered my mind of the negativity.

Stay tuned for more about that...

I am like a serial romance thriller soap opera...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Chilling Out with a Squeeze of Lemonade

The wonderful Lemonade Award on my blog was given to my friend, Hawk, by Kelly Moran –
Kelly Moran. The Lemonade Award is a “Feel Good” award that shows a great attitude or gratitude.

The rules are:
1) Put lemonade award on blog or post.
2) Nominate no less than 10 that show a great attitude or gratitude.
3) Link your nominees within your post
4) Let nominees know they received this award by commenting on their blog
5) Share the love and link to the person from whom you received the award

Here are my nominees...

1) My roomie at the conference: Tina -- she rocks!
2) The gracious and elegant Lynn Rae Harris--
3) My writing friend and accountability buddy, Betty--

I know I don't have ten, but that's because a lot of the blogs I read are group blogs... and not sure if I can post them.

But if I could, I would!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

New Project Thrills

I had a bit of a downer last week with real world junk invading my brain. To turn off the nastiness and get my head back into the game, I avoided all negativity from others involved. Instead, I listened to the JR Ward & Jessica Andersen Chat from the RWA 2009 NATIONAL CONFERENCE. Man, are those ladies awesome and real. They balance each other beautifully. And I bow to JR Ward's writing schedule. I am probably a blend of the two. I believe in a little downtime and R&R. I need it. My characters need me to take a break -- I'm a little OCD (okay a lot--hence the lists--I am a control freak), and my family in real life needs me to take breaks as well. So I won't write 365 days a year, but I do write a lot!

What I love about these ladies is they know what it's like to sit where I am sitting. I'm not published, but I write and I hope one day with skill and a whole lot of good energy and luck I will be published. They believe every person writing is an author. Publishing is the icing. And they can't explain why the stars aligned for them and not for others. They only appreciate the coolness of it and hope the good news continues. I'd say by putting out all their great karma and sharing their insights with us, they will draw that good karma again and again.

After that inspiring chat, I was pumped. Yesterday I got up super early and played around with my fifth story. I inputted all my new ideas and thoughts about the heroine and hero derived from the FROM THOUGHT TO PLOT Workshop into my wonderful Scrivener program--I love my MAC!! I love playing around with the new characters and fleshing them out. My newest hero and heroine are strong individually, but they need each other to soften the edges and restore balance to their lives. As I worked on each of them, I began to understand them even better. They already made me weep for them and for the love they have for each other. Once again, two lost souls find each other and will discover home.

But it won't be an easy journey! They'll bump. They'll fight each other. They'll misjudge each other. And they'll challenge each other to grow.

Oh, but the journey will be a fun ride as well. I can already envision many of the scenes where laughter occurs. I love the idea of a carefree man bringing joy back into my heroine's life. And they'll definitely have some good rocking sex. She's a pro golfer... I see some great ideas for naughty times on the greens. Delicious shivers already making me feel sinfully gleeful!

Today I'll fool around with them a little more, get a deeper feeling for where the story has to go and how it might play out. Then tomorrow I'll dive back into the fourth book and begin revising. I want to have it ready for MOONLIGHT AND MAGNOLIAS. Well, ready enough hehe. I'm excited about the new career I'm giving my hero (his third thus far)--cause I get to interview hunky retired marines and green berets. And my heroine's got a job with a twist. She's the shock jock on radio--but the biggest shock is she's celibate by choice. It'll take a special man to kick down her guard and bring her home. *Grin*

Life is good. Things are looking up and I am ready to tackle my next revision.

Friday, August 28, 2009

To-do Lists and Moving On to the Next Project

The to-do list is shrinking--wahoo!

*box up books for my adopted mom in Australia DONE
*mail boxed books DONE
*meet a friend and reconnect cause I miss her sunny disposition: We talked and trying to reschedule
*organize a trip to Asheville with a friend. CALLING TODAY

*letter to newspaper watchdog group regarding our HOA being held hostage by our subdivision's developer
*phone calls regarding the situation
*emails to some people regarding the situation/planning ahead

*read through MS and look for white spaces and odd typos SKIPPED IT -- can't face the pages for the zillionth time
*read through and edit synopsis again DONE
*letter for submissions DONE
*put together submissions for the people who requested DONE
*send away and poof, gone... DONE
*write a quick and dirty story without worrying about structure for fifth MS TODAY
*print out the LHAofE grid WILL DO TODAY
*deliver more HOD Workshop flyers. WILL DO TODAY

I received my scores for another contest today--I averaged 103/120 -- 5th in line. Two judges scored me in the 100s and one gave me a 62/120! Ha ha ha...good thing I've had more positive feedback about my sex scenes in the past--but it was an excellent exercise and the other two judges did give me major kudos for the sex scene (published author and award winning unpublished author). It was a contest about sexual tension, and I sent in an actual sex scene. Next year, I'll send in a tension scene if I am not published. Oh well, I know the writing is solid and it is for the book that finaled in the MAGGIES, so I am not feeling too bruised about the bottom dweller score. I looked at the other sets of scores and the comments were about the same--so I guess I'll focus on the positive aspects and punt the negative ones.

I don't want to fix the book again unless someone pays me to do it, or any agent asks me to do it to help her pitch it to a certain publisher. Starting today, it's all new stuff. FINALLY MOVING ON and I CAN'T WAIT!! I am glad I have something new to focus on as I wait for the publishers and agent to read my material and get back to me with their comments.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Looming To-Do List

Sometimes I make longer lists than I can handle. For instance, this week, I had a pretty ambitious writing list and home list. The writing list hardly has any check marks next to it. It was pretty grand in its scope. I'm looking at it going, hmmm, I must have used my home list to distract me from facing the writing tasks I'd given myself to-do. But there were many things on the home list that I had to complete as they'd been pushed to the back burner for a long time because I was busy editing and writing.

I also have had a major distraction that required my attention: the community I live in is battling an unscrupulous developer. We are in the throes of separation from this developer, and he's not making it easy for us. I've used every tool at my disposal to help fight this man, but it's taking a hammer to my well-laid writing plans.

So, what half of what I've accomplished isn't even on the list!

The list so far is whittled down quite significantly on the home life side--

*organize medical billing/hospital bills/INSURANCE info DONE
*chase down accurate info re: the above line--the joy never ends DONE
*go to school for open house DONE
*the usual everyday chores of laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning and ironing (yes, I iron--don't mock me--I like it) DONE -- THOUGH EVERY DAY CHORES ARE NEVER REALLY DONE.
*plan a menu for the week DONE
*birthday and wedding cards out (and they are late)
*box up books for my adopted mom in Australia
*mail boxed books
*meet a friend and reconnect cause I miss her sunny disposition NOPE--She canceled due to a conflict.
*organize a trip to Asheville with a friend. NOPE--she emailed to say she had no time to talk due to a daylong fight with HP repair people.

Extra Accomplishments:
*several emails and phone calls regarding unscrupulous developer (excellent fodder for future stories--as a writer I can play God and do horrible things to a character based on this vile man)
*phone calls listening to my wonderful friend vent about the yucky situation preventing our meeting
*coordinating a neighborhood party and getting info about the person who wants to work with me
*talking to my two best friends long distance while cleaning toilets, dusting and ironing (that always makes the cleaning time fly by)

But now the writing to-do list looms. On the plus side, I haven't totally been a writing slacker because I've been there for my writing friends. And I believe my brain just needed a break, so it could mull over some plot and story problems plaguing me in regard to the 4th book. One of my writing friends helped me sort through part of the plot issues so I am almost good to go.

Here's what's left on the writing list.

*read through MS and look for white spaces and odd typos
*read through and edit synopsis again
*letter for submissions
*put together submissions for the people who requested
*send away and poof, done
*write a quick and dirty story without worrying about structure for fifth MS
*put together a list of questions for the SFO Green Beret & send DONE
*print out the LHAofE grid
*deliver more HOD Workshop flyers. NOPE-was tying that into my trip to see my friend and that was canceled.

I did do the following:
*critiqued a contest entry for a friend
*figured out how to tackle and complete a writing project for another friend

A pretty big list remains. Technically, I have until Sunday to finish it (haha). I may have bitten off more than I can chew, but that's okay. I know that I will manage to accomplish most of what is on the list. Anything that is easy, like printing off the grid. And anything related to my submission will be ticked off by Friday night.

I tend to work well when I have a little fire planted under my behind.

So stay tuned and make me accountable for accomplishing the following things by Friday night:

*read through MS and look for white spaces and odd typos
*read through and edit synopsis again
*letter for submissions
*put together submissions for the people who requested
*send away and poof, done

Stay tuned and make me accountable for accomplishing the following by Sunday night:

*write a quick and dirty story without worrying about structure for fifth MS

Stay tuned and make me accountable for accomplishing the following by September 1st:

*deliver more HOD Workshop flyers

We'll see how burned my behind is by Sunday night--

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Life Distractions and Why?

I have a week with distractions. Some of them are not so bad, some are okay, some are downright nasty, and some are fun.

Okay, not so bad: ironing.

Okay distractions: calls to deal with stuff....

Downright Nasty? HOA stuff, people calling to interrupt thoughts, and overall blah stuff.

Fun: reading other people's work and critiquing.... fun-- coming up with solutions for plot problems .... fun-- getting submissions ready for mailing FUN....

Monday, August 24, 2009

This Week's Personal To-Do List

*read through MS and look for white spaces and odd typos
*read through and edit synopsis again
*letter for submissions
*put together submissions for the people who requested
*send away and poof, done
*write a quick and dirty story without worrying about structure for fifth MS
*put together a list of questions for the SFO Green Beret & send
*print out the LHAofE grid
*deliver more HOD Workshop flyers

*organize medical billing/hospital bills/INSURANCE info
*chase down accurate info re: the above line--the joy never ends
*go to school for open house
*the usual everyday chores of laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning and ironing (yes, I iron--don't mock me--I like it)
*plan a menu for the week
*birthday and wedding cards out (and they are late)
*box up books for my adopted mom in Australia
*mail boxed books
*meet a friend and reconnect cause I miss her sunny disposition
*organize a trip to Asheville

I think there's more--stay tuned.

And hours later, some of the to-do's are checked off... woot!

Saturday, August 22, 2009


I am a very lucky writer... why?
Because I belong to some amazing writing groups, and I have had the most amazing (yeah, I know it is an echo) writing classes as a result!

I am so happy because I got to participate in Southern Magic's Workshop: FROM THOUGHT TO PLOT. This was part of a larger workshop that Diane Love and Mary Buckham have for writers based on the book, Break into Fiction and is a part of that longer workshop.

These writers, Mary and Diane, were so incredibly generous in their lessons, their time, their insight, their down-to-earth REALNESS... I can't thank them enough for all they gave our workshop and ME.

Blessed. I am blessed. I belong to two super writing chapters as part of RWA. Today I started the work on my 5th MS... and all I had when I arrived was an index card, notes I'd scribbled at a bar when celebrating a first draft completion (I celebrate every small victory), and a thought.

From THOUGHT TO PLOT... it worked! And on September 26, Heart of Dixie has another workshop to build on this knowledge:

Writers' CPR: Jumpstart the Heart of Your Manuscript

It is when published authors, editors, and agents in the industry spend time with us that I am humbled by their gifts...

And to add even more punch to the sundae of super thought: I spent time with my writing friends, YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE, and we have a plan for making it through the next few months!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Whittling Down the List

Six words done--SIX!!! ONLY SIX!
Fourteen words to go (shoot me now--or bring me chocolate)


I am in editing purgatory.

When I am released, don't be surprised if you see a lady with a laptop riding a fireworks storm to the stars.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A List of the Third Manuscript's Frequently Used Words

I am combing through the MS with a nit comb, and attempting to remove or replace all the repetitive words and phrases. I spent the majority of Tuesday working on eliminating the word "it."

"It" was NOT fun.

I am also desperately trying to add about 500 words to the MS (the irony does not escape me). Editing "it" out of the MS did not help. Nope. Not one bit.

Did anyone every notice that "edit" ends in "it?" This is how ugly the process feels at the moment.

However, I managed to toss most of the dastardly "it" words into the editing garbage pail. Now I'm onto other words:

The List (Drum Roll Please)

*taste (the book is about a cake decorator -- I'm in trouble!)
*lick(ed) (yes, there is sex)
*press(ed)--okay -- there is a lot of sex
*drew/draw/drawing/drawing near (argh)
*lift(ed) -- okay--really fun sex with super great locations
*bolt (I love my frequently used words to rhyme
*tousled (hey, why not have tousled hair?)
*walk(ed)--who lopes?
*ran (usually a character' fingers and hands are involved)
*soft (why????)
*hit (as in "hit the hay" or "hit the road"--I don't write about mean boys)

I am in editing purgatory.

This is why I am not blogging every day.

This is why laundry, dishes, exhibiting interest in my darling daughter's chemistry homework, and cleaning my cat's ears are wonderful activities to pursue in the act of creative avoidance.

The microwave timer is working on overtime hours.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Edit, Spit, and Polish

Okay, for those of you who are great at editing commas, either I did it properly in the title or I did not. My long-suffering CP has a gift at all things grammar. She sent me my hard copy MS and it arrived yesterday. Everywhere I am supposed to have a comma, there isn't one. Well, not quite, but close enough. And everywhere I shouldn't have a comma, I should not.

Okay, it's not that bad. I do know how to insert commas in dialogue, but I am a always confusing the "if two clauses can be read alone, separate them. If not, don't. Argh.

I spent the better part of 5 hours fixing commas. Oh, and fixing sex scenes. Hands don't detach and touch body parts by themselves. Gross. By fixing issues like that I added a few words, struggled with some words, and I subtracted some words.

Now I have to go in and add more words. The irony is not lost on me. I hate cutting words. Yet, here I am agonizing over adding words so I can at least restore the MS to 55,000 to 60,000 words. It had more than that at one time.

I guess it's a good thing I am not writing a single title romance. And it's another good thing that publishers what to save money on paper and printing. Whew.

At least the story is sound. She loves how I fixed the plotting problems. And that's where the writing is important to me. It's in the story and the voice it's written in that is vital for me because those are the elements I want to sell to the agents/editors.

Commas are easy to find and fix. And I am a workhorse, so I will take my lumps and fix them when asked. However, I may whine.

Meanwhile, back at the creative ranch I am eager to come up with a boatload of questions for the Green Beret who came to speak to our romance chapter. What an awesome dude! He was totally jazzed about all his adventures, and he was very Tim the Tool Man enthusiastic for all the bells, whistles and toys he used.

Very cool.

I can't wait to learn more.

But I have to wait till I get the MS sent off. My reward for all this editing will be having fun with the revision of the fourth book. Woot!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Today's Post is on Romance Magicians

Monday, August 10, 2009

School Sets Me Free!

My DD is officially back to school and I am so excited for her! She's a sophomore and ready to meet her new year with confidence.

And so am I. I usually start the weekend before the school year starts by organizing my life/goals/household. Did that. I have my writing and home schedule ready to roll, all my goals posted for each month, commitments posted, deadlines posted, and blank spaces for new curve balls filling in the vastness. I look at it daily, revise it regularly, and utilize it as a road map for my sanity.

It's a road map that can change, had detours on occasion, and doesn't always have check marks next to the goals. But for the most part, it does keep me on track. And I am ready to roll now.

Today I haven't planned any writing other than light edits. I still await my second CP's comments on the MS and I am not rushing. I also want to visit with a friend today because she just popped her only daughter onto the bus for her first day of Kindergarten. I remember that day all too well. It's weird. It's quiet. And it's an emotional roller coaster. I didn't have anyone to help me fill in that time. And ever since, I've been the first to arrange a lunch or coffee with moms who are in that position for the first time.

Besides, I don't like to leap into the void my DD leaves behind. I like to wade into the open waters of time and immerse myself slowly into my new rhythm. I know the days will fill up all to quickly and I don't want to rush into that pattern.

But I am free. Free to clean the stove top, change the sheets, catch up on paperwork, putz around without anybody distracting me, and read through all my blogs I follow.

And I am enjoying every minute of it.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Write Break

I've been in a holding pattern for a week now. Waiting for my CP to get the final edits back to me is torture. But that's okay. If I hadn't waited, I'd have sent off my requests without the wonderful line "2009 Maggie Finalist!" AaAAAh.

And I need a few days to clear the decks, so I can totally focus next week when school starts on Monday. All I have planned is a coffee with my friend who has her only daughter starting Kindergarten. I remember that day! Now I have a sophomore!!

As much as breaks, especially ones given to me by forces I have no control over, are a pain, they do give me time to mull and daydream and let my right side kick in before I hit the keyboard again.

Now my in-box is empty, my house is semi-clean, there are groceries in the house, and my right brain is in go mode.

4 More Sleeps and I am back!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

My Father's Daughter

I am a bit emotional about the Maggies and the whole editor/agent appointments and how cool everything is for me.


Well it's an incredible high, no doubt. But for me it is a revisit of past haunts and memories. The emotional highs are punctuated with memories that bring tears.

Tears. Or tears that rip my soul? Apart? Not. But the truth is I don't have the perfect life background. In fact, I tried to write a nice mommy in my second and third books and I got a "flat heroine."

Hey, it was fiction. I had a fantasy. But can I write a girl from a nice background with uber supportive parents? No. May I? No!!! I may not.

The good news is once I heard from my critique partner "what a mean mother" and all along I thought "she was rather nice." I knew. I knew I could not write that fantasy.

Write what you know? Yes. And I do write stories with a whole lot of sass with a pinch of sad.

But I am not capable of writing a girl from a "normal" home. Didn't have that....

So why the father's daughter? Because my dad was an intellectual. He introduced me to John Steinbeck, Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and more. He introduced me to great Canadian and British writers like Graham Greene and Robertson Davies. He taught me to read history and appreciate the stories. He was interested in those things and I, in my quest for his approval and the love of a parent, read and absorbed the books he recommended.

But there was another entity: my mother. Her jealousy, her mental weirdness, her inability to celebrate me and nurture me led me down a path that didn't reflect my father's influence. I spent much of my early life scrapping for recognition and scrambling for sustenance.

I was on my own at 16. Long story and the details don't matter. But it was easier than living with her and absorbing her negative poison. But in order to feed myself, I also quit high school so I could work full time. It wasn't long before I escaped the horrid northern Canadian mining town I'd lived in for nine nasty years.

I got my GED on my own (well I did have a PhD student in Physics help me with the math part) . I got my college education thanks to my husband paying the bill. I graduated Summa cum Laude at the top of my class, but I'd already parked my dreams of becoming a writer or a foreign journalist eons years earlier.

Fast forward.

I got lucky and God intervened (for me this is a truism). I worked, I gave birth to a beautiful daughter, I became a SAHM, and I built my life. It was a good, happy time.

But I still wanted to know my dad and have him back in my life. So as an adult, I accepted my mother and her poison and welcomed them into my life. I wanted my history, my good parts of my past restored to me and I yearned for my Darling Daughter to know him, to have my husband know him and to extend the conversation my father and I started when I was a child.

Then daddy got sick. And a month before he died in 2002 he said to me, regret in his eyes, "I'm sorry but it is too late for you to be a writer."

And he meant it kindly. He said it cause he needed absolution and needed closure before he passed away. I gave it to him. I loved him--and at the time I agreed. Heck, life was good and I was glad to be where I was. My life was (and is) GREAT! And I told him I was okay. And I meant it.

But now, here I am 5 years later with 4 books under my belt, two requests, a Maggie finalist, and I have hope to one day be published. But this is the greater victory, I AM A WRITER. It is not too late.

And that is when my tears flow, because even though in my heart I believe he knows I am a writer, I really wish I could I share these amazing moments with him.

I did it! Me! A high school dropout on her own at 16 years of age grew up to become what I always wanted to be. A writer. Nothing can take that accomplishment from me.

Monday, August 3, 2009

An Ordinary Extraordinary Day

I woke up this morning with the usual to-do list scrambling around my head. I admit, I've neglected the in-box of papers and letters for a while. Heck, forms might need filling out and bills might need paying. Who needs that aggravation? But I had it on my list and I was going to hit it--today.

Why? Because I must be patient and wait for my final edits from my wonderful CP who is on vacation.

I am not good at waiting and would have sent off the entire kit a week ago.

Good think I listened to my inner gut and sat on my hands.

I walked with my neighbor, read the paper, showered, and the phone rang. I rarely answer the phone if I am dripping wet and only in my skivvies, but I heard GRWA announced by my DH's nifty announcer and I figured I should answer it just in case I had a problem with an editor/agent appointment for the Moonlight and Magnolia's Conference.

So padded to the kitchen in skivvies.

Answered phone.

"It's Kim from GRWA"--"Yes?" I asked.... "You are a finalist in the Maggies," she answers...

I am no longer concerned about waking my teen or the fact that I am wearing only a bra and panties... which I believe I say to Kim. She has her toddler at home so she understands completely.

I blather on incoherently, ask some questions, have no idea what to expect, and then we say goodbye.

I was in shock. I was over the moon, a cliche jumping around in her skivvies till my DD joined me out in the family room, sleepy-eyed and mumbling about some beautiful boy she'd been dreaming about, and then reality hit.

Despite the incredible high, laundry awaits and so does ironing.

This is the glamor life of an unpublished writer.

But what is now rolling through my brain is the idea that had I submitted the requests a few days ago, I wouldn't have known to include this amazing news.... and it is very wonderful news to share.