Saturday, October 31, 2009

I've Always Depended on the Kindness of Critique Partners

First of all, I am very grateful to have the most amazing writing partners and critique partners who are HONEST and who are ENCOURAGING.

I had despaired earlier this week when I had my own worse convictions about the story confirmed. I had also super freaked when my people stopped talking to me. They exited the brain cells and went to a country far far away when I considered, briefly, punting a key part of their history. 

Oh they were mad.

And only other writers can understand that truth. 

I promised these people I'd write their story, but I couldn't find a way through my tangled web of words. So I made a decision to write a different story and incorporate elements of their story in a desperate attempt to salvage my work. 

No. That was not a good idea at all.

I've never had my people leave the building. Ever. I have them following me into the shower (I remember Alex in Sweet Sensations nagging me about another love scene and I couldn't get him to stop until I helped the randy boy out). They drive with me when I am running errands and tell me stuff. They wake me up in middle of the night with something else to say.

Yes. I have other people in my head.

Till Thursday night. That was a bad night.

But I slogged away, a CP called and helped me rediscover the core of the story and then we brainstormed a brilliant way to save their story without compromising their integrity. And now they are waking me up early in the morning to get up and write it.

Good times. 

Of course, the one thing I hadn't prepared for was researching PIs and other cop stuff. Thank goodness the universe in her infinite wisdom had me sign up for a course online to cover elements about this world THIS MONTH. And my other writing chapter is posting an online workshop in the same field so I signed up for it as well.

Now that my peeps are back. I am back in action.

Feels good. Feels really good.

Friday, October 30, 2009

BIF, GMC, ABC & 1,2,3

My brain is full. And for the first time since I forced my butt in a chair to write 4.5 years ago, I have no idea where to go next with this story.

Last night, for the first time, I told my husband I wasn't sure I could pull this story off. Every time I fix X, I find another problem with A, B, C and the list goes on and on. If I change her GMC, I lose his story. If I change his GMC, I lose her story.

It's a nightmare.

My original concept was so fun and light. Now I keep finding great conflicts, but I lose the fun part. I honestly don't see a way out. DH said I needed to look at it abstractly or just write and not worry about it at all. Oddly, I believe the GMC is there. I did like that he had a history where he knew who she was, but she didn't know him at all. Now if I have her know who he is at the beginning, that takes away an element of surprise, too.

It's like knitting with four balls of yarn and hitting a snag, untangling it, and finding a totally different color at the end of the line.

So I sit here, inert. Brain dead. Wondering. Worrying. In a well of doubt.

Do I scuttle it and lose $50? Write what I originally planned and the heck with the issues facing it?  Tweak it and hope for the best in regard to the GH? Or do I rework it completely and slap the title on the entry even though it no longer suits the story for the GH? AAAAACCCCKKKKK!!!!!!!!

Yesterday I read BREAK INTO FICTION. The entire thing. Front to back. Great for the next book, and it'll help with this book, but I'm not sure how much I can save. It's like throwing a lifeline to a boat with holes and too many people inside. Someone is going to drown no matter what I do.

I brainstormed. I plotted. I bought sharpie pens. I got poster board. I made gobs of notes.

But now, today, in this moment. I got nothing. Nada. It's not a writer's block. I can write. I just don't know if what I choose to write will be the right write.

Yesterday, I reread my reasons for writing the story and the original hero/heroine cards I started with and I feel the answer is lurking in them. But where? I have my fishing line out, a hook in the water, and a minnow on the end. But no nibbles are answering my line.

So today? What to do?

I'll play around with it all a bit more. I'll fill out note cards, make my GMC charts, review my brainstorming notes, go through the BIF templates a CP sent me (thanks G!), and pray for serious AHA solution moment to show up between now and Monday.

And I'll query another agent with the third MS just feel some sense of accomplishment.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Colored Pens, Sharpies and Poster Board

I brainstormed yesterday for four hours, hashed out an inciting incident with my CP up in VA after chatting for an hour, and then drove to STAPLES (my home away from home) to buy poster board and colored pens for charting my characters.

The writing is strong, the voice is there, the work will get done. There is no avoiding this phase of the writing process. It happens to all of us. We must accept it. Perhaps, as I progress and write more, it will happen faster or I'll travel through it earlier, but I don't think I can sidestep it.

Nope. Can't. Be. Done.

Lots and lots of new ideas. Cliches pitched, unoriginal ideas punted, and a plan is evolving.

Woke up this morning to read a rejection email from an agent. No biggie. One. Of. Many. Immediately made decision to send out another query to another agency today after I brainstorm more ideas and work through the s/l problems with deeper intent.

Two books at my elbow are:

I can't wait to play with my colored pens and sharpies. I love to collage and color and this will help free my brain for the big work facing me in the days ahead.

Onward ho!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hero and Heroine Attitude Readjustment

I got my first five chapters back from my CPs (2 of them) and the questions they raised are questions I have as well. And they are biggies. I don't know if I can pull these two characters' stories off without a MAJOR overhaul of the s/l. The good news my writing voice is strong and the craft elements in general are improved. However, the s/l has a lot of weak points to it as far as the premise is concerned.

I was/am in a bit in a panic.

BUT overnight I had an epiphany of sorts. I am giving myself time to do it right, regardless of my preset deadlines. First of all, this book was written in a week. Yup. And I pitched the basic story to an agent after I had spend a month resetting the bones of the story based on what I had written and my thoughts about it at the time.

She asked for it. I offered to send a partial by the end of the year. I had thought I'd clarified the careers of the hero/heroine (don't ask, but his changed during the first draft and hers changed during the first pass through) I had believed, based on the current cast on the story, I could revise it further from that point and fine tune it by December. I also entered it into the GH because I knew that would force me to kick it into high gear and make me do the dang synopsis and get the partial ready to roll.

Upon my own self-reflection and the comments I received from the CPs, I must step back and reevaluate the story's plot line. I'm not sure if I can do this properly by November 20. Hence MY PANIC. My epiphany is that I can send the GH entry, written as best as I can, by the 20th without worry about the prospect of being a finalist with this story. The most I can hope for is to have the new plot line reflected in the story. Period.

How do I accomplish this goal? Can I even achieve a semblance of beauty by the 20th of November? I think I can if I don't stress too much about the word county or the pages after page 50. So my plan of attack is as follows:

*keep moving forward on the story scenes and writing the story as it stands so it LOOKS GOOD when they open the file. I can always change what I've written after Nov. 20. Realistically, I was truly done revising SS by January 23/09 last year. The pages after P. 50 weren't so fabulous for the GH LOL. But I continued revising it AFTER I sent it in. And we all know how that ended. I didn't final in the GH, but I did final in the MAGGIE. I had improved the story by forcing the deadlines. And I had a synopsis!

*brainstorm the front end of the story, the first meeting, and the careers of my hero/heroine. I've come some conclusions about them and while a part of me wants to toss the whole story out and start on something I KNOW is marketable, I HAVE TO TELL THEIR STORY. I have to. I love them both. This is for them, not me. It won't be easy, but I feel if I can muddle through this story and tell it for them, then my next stories will be so much stronger for the all I've learned in telling this one.

*go through my hero/heroine book and my BREAK INTO FICTION book and answer the tough questions when I am not writing their story.

*brainstorm with my CP up in Fairfax this afternoon --run some of my thoughts I have by her

*Keep moving forward--the ending of this story is very important to me. I know it reveals a lot about the characters and the beginning may reveal itself in those scenes. I'm stuck in the middle chapters right now. I might reflect the changes I need to make in those middle chapters as I move forward. The beginning scenes can incorporate the scenes.

*print out CPs' comments and pages. Reflect and note changes I agree with into the story.

*Set target to begin again--November 2. So keep moving forward till then, step back, restart my engines and go forth

*research a bit more on the careers I am considering for my characters

*try not to stress out

All of the above is easier said then done, but writing is hard. Fun, but hard.

I shall solve this conundrum and be true to my characters' stories.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Gurgle, Bubble, Toil and Trouble

Yesterday, in a fit of efficiency, I decided to streamline my life. First I planned the menu for the week, then I hit the grocery store, and I prepped all the raw veggies for the week.

All was well in my world and I was happily patting myself on the back until I tried to shove all the carrot peels down the garbage disposal. And it backed up. Big time. Darling Husband read up about the GD and said to plunge it. I got the gross plunger out, yuck, and tried desperately to dislodge the nasty clog.

Didn't work.

At this point, I decided to pretend it would drain and took DD and her friend to the pumpkin patch. It was a beautiful day. For pumpkins. Not for sinks.

I stopped in at LOWES and spoke to a very nice young man about my dilemma. He sold me a funky little key turn metal gadget that's supposed to move the GD's motor. I took it home. I convinced my DH, who really didn't want to fix it himself and would rather park in front of the TV watching the COWBOYS kick butt, to save over 200 dollars and try.

If I'm going to spend 200 dollars, I want to get a new ALPHASMART.

Well, we readied ourselves with two bath towels, a bucket, and two bowls. DH released the tube connecting the GD to the DW. OMG, the amount of water and disgusting carrot bits flowing out of there was like watching Satan's child projectile barf.

Super gross.

We quickly put the tube back. Then we tried to use the GD again.

Nope. No go. He poked around the open tube, and discovered THE CARROT PEEL CLOG. A wire hanger was transformed into a poor facsimile of an auger. DH dislodged a few more bits of carrot. But the clog refused to budge out completely.

Now DH was ready to call a plumber. I saw visions of my AS flushing down the toilet and called my neighbors... retired Air Force flyboy to the rescue! My next hero arrived with a wrench and a bucket.

He instructed DH about how to undo more of our plumbing. We did so. We got rid of the clog. Now the underbelly of our sink looked like someone with a very bad hangover had thrown up in it. But the clog was gone. Woohoo.

We turned on the power and the GD leaked! Yikes. Even I was ready to relent and call a plumber on Monday. But our next door neighbor said the plunger we used had probably dislodged the GD seal and we had hope that we could fix it again.

I took my DD's friend home and went to STAPLES to buy a poster board for her in an effort to avoid all moans about how much of the COWBOYS game DH was missing. I returned to discover all was well in our world again.

And that is how I set up my most efficient writing week.

PS: the following items should never be pushed down a Garbage Disposal--carrot peels, potato peels, egg shells and goldfish (the swimming kind, not the eating kind). You didn't read it here, but when my DD's goldfish, PING AND PONG, died, I ran them through the GD cause I didn't want to plug the toilet.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Goals and Disruptions

Goals for the week:

*continue moving forward in the WIP while I wait for my first five chapters to return.
*layer more into the synopsis for the GH
*work on the first five chapters once I receive feedback
*keep up daily blog
*read through my CP's first ten pages of her YA concept

Known Disruptions to my routine and goals include:

*dentist on Tuesday
*hospitality group for DD's HS Wednesday afternoon (really want to quit-and might)
*joint doctor on Friday with DH to learn about his hip replacement (stay tuned--good times for sure for this caregiver)
*send back ALPHASMART to the seller--getting my money back TG
*the usual ferrying of DD to all her venues

The usual unknown abyss of issues that may arise and how all that will impact my writing remains--unknown.

How to deal with the disruptions?

*bring laptop or CP feedback to the dentist/doctor and read/work while waiting.......waiting..... waiting
*be flexible about when and where I write
*even if I don't have an hour, I might have twenty minutes. Use them wisely

Time suckers to avoid at all costs:

*the phone--only calling when walking and exercising
*the forums--must not get embroiled in negative feedback loops


*ear buds are a wonderful invention. When they are in, the rest of the world is muffled
*the microwave timer set for 60-65 minute intervals
*changing location of my writing nest--if the walls start closing in on me and I get tempted to head to the forum pit, I am moving to another room or another venue like my favorite coffee shop

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Ah, my long awaited Alphasmart arrived yesterday. With great excitement I opened it and drew it out of the box only to discover the cord didn't work with my beautiful MAC book. Now that was okay, I'd just use it with my DHs HP laptop, right?


First I went to the MAC Resource store to see if they had a cable to use with my used ALPHASMART.

I think it was all they could do not to laugh when I whipped out my handy dandy used ALPHASMART.

Apparently it is an ANTIQUE!! They don't even make cables for it anymore

It was advertised as "almost like new" machine. Huh?

Well, I was miffed, but still undaunted. I came home, typed on the clunky keyboard, ever optimistic and tried to plug it into my DH's laptop. A PC.

Nope. Didn't work. Nothing connected.

I am now officially beyond miffed. I refuse to work any longer trying to use this ridiculous antique that I thought I had saved money (smart me???? not). I emailed the seller and asked how to return it and get my money back.

But now what? I had such high hopes. But I refuse to spend over $200 on a machine that might increase my productivity while I am sitting in the car at a red light cursing the traffic.

I decided it was a cheap lesson (well not so cheap for me, but cheaper than buying a new one) and I really don't need it. I'll read other MS contest entries and haul my lovely MAC out to write if I feel like it. I do prefer the long hand, fix it way anyway method for first draft ideas.

Oh well... this just teaches me not to buy a used KINDLE.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The First Five Chapters are in Critique Land

The first five chapters have had a reasonable pass through. Now I am honing them down and whittling them into shape for the GOLDEN HEART. I know this one probably won't final, but I need a partial, so here I am.

I have 68 pages. At page 49, there is a good stopping point. So I'll probably send in the first 49 pages. I sent out the entire POS to some readers/CPs to get it torn into and ripped apart. I hope to hear back from them by Monday.

Now I have to work on the dreaded synopsis. I have a pretty good format from Kira Sinclair, so I'll use that and the pitch cards I used for M&M. I should have a reasonable one to send out by the end of next week. Meanwhile, do I go forward in the MS when I complete the first draft of the synopsis?

I probably will just to get the writing rolling in the proper direction. The entire goal this year is to get faster, be more productive, and keep moving forward. I'll ready through the kit and kaboodle myself this afternoon. After a bit of a break. Then tomorrow, I'll continue writing the MS and move on till Monday.

Hopefully a few readers will have read the mess and gotten back to me by then. If they even have time. We're all so busy. If not, I must go on and finish this. I actually would love to send this off the week BEFORE we leave for TX. I honestly don't want this hanging over my head while I am getting ready to travel. And that will be quite a trip.... believe me. I haven't seen the OUTLAWS in 7 years. And with good reason.

Now I have to and I will need more wine than I need for PPP after a rejection letter. Valium might come in handy as well.

Meanwhile, a part of me wishes I had NOT entered this POS in the GH because it's going to cost me around 100 dollars to not final in the contest. It was 50 dollars just to enter. And then another 5o bucks on postage and copying. But it is a good goal. So I pay 100 dollars to make a goal.

Oh well.

The irony would be to final with both! Hahaha... as if.

I'm glad I got to this point so fast. I have to go shop for a chair with DH, and get more stuff for my DD's birthday party. I had to reschedule it due to the PIG PLAGUE ruining her party a month ago.

Any rate, I feel less stressed now that the first pass through has occurred. I have a bit of breathing space. And I have time to work on the synopsis which is highly necessary.

The train continues to move along the tracks....

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Revision Hell

I got a request for another full from an agent yesterday so I sent that out this morning with my synopsis. Woot. Now it is like a numbers game to me. Just fulfilling that mission was good. I stick to my CP's sage advice: pitch and query only completed MS when you are ready. Otherwise you'll be scrambling.

And scrambling I am with this fourth MS. OMG... how awful can this writing be and why did I pitch it a the M&M and OMG a partial is requested????

Well, I have no one to blame but myself. My only salvation is that the agent who requested it is behind and still hasn't read my full for the third MS (also requested). I figure I can be a bit late.

But I have my standards. I want this ready. And I want to start my fifth MS first draft in the new year.

I set a lot of high goals. It helps me continue my self-delusional life.

I await my ALPHA SMART to help in leading this rich life of self- delusion. I already know it is good for first draft, scene writing. Not revisions. Yeah. I like first drafts. Revisions? Well talk to me later... remember the nail gun?

At any rate, I am on my way. I am continuing to write and work toward streamlining my efficiency.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I'm a Bit Numb

I have a to-do list. I do. I do.
My list includes writing my poor derriere off (literally--that chair was not meant for hours of writing), writing some more, and, oh yeah, looking after the household.
So today my list got a little thrown off. But in a good way.
I got a full request from another agent that I queried last week.
Did I send it yet?
I wrote. My goal is 5 chapters (really awful stuff compared the prose I sent to the Maggies) and then I have to revise it revise it revise it revise it... aaahhhh.
I will send in the full tomorrow.
But this is the lesson: I have the full ready for the third MS. It has a lovely synopsis and is ready to roll.
Lesson in all this? ONLY PITCH WHAT IS READY AND WHAT YOU HAVE TO SEND. Do NOT query a book that is not ready.
My third MS is ready.
Sending it off tomorrow. No stress. At least, not unless they want the current POS I am working on LOL.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I'm Blogging on Southern Magic's Romance Magicians

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Gearing Up for Revisions

Okay, I had my rejection. I threw my Personal Pity Party. Then I had to gear up for the next mega revision.


I ran silly errands. I battled formatting challenges. I sent off queries. I cleaned the house. I made my grocery list (still have to shop). I warned my family--I am revising for 4.5 weeks and don't disturb unless you enjoy growling. I read through other people's writing. I made a plan.

I ignored my current WIP until it started hitting me between the eyes saying, REVISE ME.

I am almost ready.

This weekend, I enjoyed my family. I ran the Liz Hurley Pink Ribbon 5K (okay, I ran the last .2 mile, but I did walk the rest of it). I went and looked at houses for a home show with my daughter (she carried her COACH bag and we pretended to be quite wealthy--that bag opens a lot of doors--we got it on discount at the outlet malls LOL). I ate my favorite pizza and drank wine while hanging out with my hubby. I read through friends' writing and critiqued.

I ignored my current WIP's increasing demands to REVISE ME NOW.

"Now" is arriving very soon. Tomorrow morning I will get up, make my daughter her egg, get dressed in sweats, drive my carpool of teens to school, drive home and race to my office to revise the current WIP.

Ah, let me revise that goal. I will drive home, fiddle around doing things like making beds and ironing (creative avoidance is so glamorous, isn't it?), and then I will turn on my microwave timer and sit down to revise my WIP.

Every hour the timer will beep. I will get up, make a snack, a coffee and load the washer with clothes. Or I will get up and move the clothes to the dryer. I have figured out how to get out of cleaning the house thoroughly, but unfortunately, laundry continues to be my ongoing chore.

I am like Pavlov's dog. When I am 90 years old, I will probably hear a timer beep and get up out of my nursing home bed and hunt for the laundry room.

I will do this every day (not laundry--thank the Gods) during the week and sneak in extra time over the weekend (I have hold a bday party for my DD next Saturday, but once they are squared away, I can write--teens don't need help coloring or playing games--this is a positive of having a teenager in the house), and I will do it all again for the next 4.5 weeks.

At the end of the month, I am ordering an Alpha Smart/refurbished so I can sit in my car and write while I wait for DD to do her voice lessons, dance, go to the doctor, sit in waiting rooms (okay, this is the negative side of having teens who aren't driving yet--you become a chauffeur, often called upon at the last minute to run to this place or that place--usually for projects and shopping), and wait on my own doctor/dentist appointments to commence.

I have until the Tuesday before Thanksgiving to get this off in the mail. I am not waiting till after TG. We have to drive to TX to see my FIL--he's not doing well. I want to focus on him, being with him, and enjoying my time with him.

So this is how I work. I work hard, very hard, so that I can enjoy my time with my family and friends when I am not working.

For the next 4.5 weeks, I am busting my chops to make 50 pages golden and the rest a polished brass. Oh, crap. I just remembered.

I have to write a synopsis, too.

Get the nail gun ready.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Nails in My Eyeballs

Okay, I am hitting my to do list super hard. After all, I need to strike while the iron is hot. I am a MAGGIE finalist. I need to find an agent. Oh, and I need to get my first GOLDEN HEART entry out today.

So.... first things first....

Do I race to the office to get info about agents? Heck no. That is like doing bills for me. This is why I need an agent -- seriously-- I am allergic to business junk. But I must force myself to drive each nasty nail into my eyeball and read, research, and decide......... who who who... and then there are the inevitable guidelines..... they read like forms at the ER or Doctor's office to me. I hate them. I know. Is this wrong for me to hate them? I don't know. It's no offense to the people who require me to fulfill the guidelines or fill out doctor forms, really, it isn't. I just don't like jumping through prescribed hoops.

This is why I am highly motivated to sell my work. I would rather nail my tongue to a counter top than wear pantyhose again and say, hey yah, I'll go get the toner for you.

Any rate, I did do the work involved.

And my brain hurts.

I also got my GOLDEN HEART entry, numero uno, out today. I had serious angst about my CD holder... it had black sharpie scribbles on it... don't ask. I ended up going to STAPLES and buying a bunch of new holders just to send it out without the stupid scribbles.

Okay? It's like writing thank you notes. I am probably the only person I know who writes them out on the computer FIRST before rewriting them on paper... inevitably I mess up my handwriting or something else... don't ask about addresses. I mess them up... more envelopes have been tossed due to my negligence.

And I am a writer?

But the deed and deeds are accomplished.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Moving Past a Lovely Rejection

Dear Writer--your writing voice is very compelling, but your tone is more like romantic comedy, not a spicy read (if only I could have sent one sex scene--say I). And now the beat begins--what to do when the rejection isn't about the writing, but the tone being wrong for the line I specifically targeted?

*First, I call my CPs who encourage me to zip the puppy out and query it to at least 6 other agents--the writing is strong--let an agent find a home for it. Fish for an agent... okie doke.
*Second, plan on the GH submission for said novel. Perhaps if it finals, more interest will be generated in it
*Third, throw a personal pity party complete with 80s music and red wine
*Fourth, wake up super early and hit the office hard
*Fifth, make a plan of action for the next 6 weeks
*Sixth, throw off the mantle of disappointment and remind myself that many very successful authors have suitcases full of rejections
*Seventh, develop a plan to make my blog more exciting (stay tuned)
*Eight, make time to read a writing friend's MS
*Ninth, remind myself that I am in the water, the waves will find me and carry me to where I belong with my writing. I am NOT chasing trends. I must continue to search for the elusive, "something more."
*Tenth, make time to send notes/emails out to the wonderful GRWA people and new friends I met at the MAGGIES/M&M conference

It is time to crack my mental whip and get rolling.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ideas for the Future

It's been a lovely vacation. I'm very relaxed. In fact, I am pain free. For me, that is very unusual. But tomorrow, we head back to reality. And reality will have a lot on its plate tomorrow. First there is the inevitable packing up and driving home. Then there is the inevitable piles of laundry and getting back into the "school/work/writing" mode.

I'm looking forward to writing.

I am NOT looking forward to laundry.

Tuesday will be a laundry and a writing day. I'm pulling together my first entry for the GH. Easy enough to do as it's pretty much done and it forces me out of the house.

I am also pondering the things I plan to do with this blog when I return.


*Wacky Wednesdays: words, synonyms, writing conundrums, and more
*ask a PRO
*ask a writer
*motivational moments
*promoting newly published authors

Just tossing around ideas in my head and out to the readers (I figure there are more readers than commentators).

The main goal is promote the art of writing from a published and unpublished perspective.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Beach Stories

I'm a writer. And when a writer travels, she is always on the lookout for stories. Watch out. Don't let my blond, now curly, hair fool you. All my questions and chattiness are mere subterfuge for my greater objective: gathering stories and generating stories.

If you read yesterday's blog, you'll know that the story was not a pretty one. Someone died. And that was awful. But I hate to admit it, even out of that tragedy, my mind was already racing with ideas about the family and the family's future. How would this impact the children (besides the very obvious, real and immediate impact) in the future. The wife? Would she trust the ocean again? What kind of stories were unfolding. I can't help it. This is where my mind goes. I was walking today, very early, dodging the jelly fish washed up on the beach, and I generated a story.

Guess what I did when I got home to the hotel room? I sat down and typed out a basic idea for another series contemporary novel, or as my daughter wishes, a ST with very little sex, and an idea is becoming a story. Now, is it wrong for me to do this now? I don't know. I know that when senseless things happen, we try to make sense of them as humans. As a writer, the only way I can cope with this real tragedy is to write a story about someone who will find redemption later on in life for this very real tragedy.

This is why I write. I write to give life to reality and offer hope.

There are other stories this week. Stories that aren't as deeply painful to relate. There is the story of the family of four brothers (Nora Roberts would love this one) and the last brother is getting married. At the beach. And all the cousins are here; some poorer than others. In fact, one cousin said very enviously, bless her, "you have so much." And the mom had to say something about how we all have different things that are good. But oh, I could see her desire for their lot in her eyes. Her need. And I totally understood her craving. She didn't crave the material. She craved the sense of security it gave her cousins. She wanted it so badly, she articulated it. Oh, I have been there... as the poor cousin seeking family love. Oh, is she the one who will grow up to be the "spunky kid?" I don't know. I do know she had a fever about her. Oh, I'd like to tell her story -- as an adult. What will drive her? What are her conflicts? Will she hate the trappings of wealth later?

And the wedding? How cool is it to see a wedding on the beach? The stories grow and abound.

And then there was the dear 72 year old woman sitting next to me in an overcrowded shuttle bus on the way to a cool shopping center as well as dropping off people at their various venues of beach life. Well, she had a bottle of sand with her. I asked her why she had the bottle... and she very happily told me her story. This was her first time to the beach EVER!! Can you imagine? She'd never been to the ocean! Her joy was palpable. She had been invited to the beach with another family. They were staying bay side. She had a wonderful visit. She was so happy. And she didn't look a day over 60 (as far as I was concerned). But I thought, how many of us take this simple gift of a beach trip for granted? And here she was so enthralled with her experience. And she wasn't too old to be playful and young and a child at heart. A child would bring home shells and sand and plan a seascape. And that's exactly what she planned to do with her sand and gathered shells.

How cool!!

There are so many other stories. But this is the one I will finish with... HOPE ... if you've never been able to do anything or been thwarted from achieving your dreams. Remember my shuttle bus companion.

Start planning your seascapes now!!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Sad Beach Day

I am a beach bum this week. At least I was until about 2:30PM. I was at the beach, burning my skin, getting some rays, avoiding jelly fish, and then the unthinkable happened.

Someone drowned.

I wish it wasn't so. But it was. A RED/PURPLE flag flew today. And that meant rip tide, and nasty critters. The nasty critters were enough to keep me out of the water.

The rip tides were the rest of the story.

A man drowned.


He went in to help his sons who had been swept of in a rip tide.

He went down for 30 minutes... others rescued.... the boys are safe.

The boys no longer have a father.
The wife no longer a husband.

The ocean is an unpredictable mistress.

The ocean killed today.

And I, what do I do with that? Nothing? No. There is pain, and sadness. There is the memory of his prone body being brought to shore on a surf board by two other rescuers, heroes. And there is the memory of asking, do you need a nurse? For I had just met one today, sitting and chatting in the sun and surf. But no. They didn't.

There is the memory of his prone body, pushed into a fetal position. His wife and another nurse hovering over him. And the rescue people coming to perform CPR on him.

I thought he was okay. I went back to my turf to tell my family, "be careful."

They, we, all of us, we believed the man was okay because the rescue people were trying to "help" him. But really, he was already dead. They were only acting like he could be saved to keep the hysteria down. Later on, I learned the truth when two red flags were displayed and another family said, "a man drowned today."

I can't fathom being a rescue worker doing this kind of work.

I can fathom the pain of loss.

So to that family, my extreme sympathies and condolences...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Catching Waves

We're at the beach. My family and I are on a huge, well-deserved break. But as I was watching the waves, going into the water and catching the waves, a recent keynote address by the famous Sherrilyn Kenyon washed through my mind.

In this keynote address, poignant and oh, so very real, she said she stopped chasing trends. She wanted to be published so very badly. Heck, she'd been published. 6 books! But now she was chasing dreams, living a life she wishes on no one, and desperate. She wrote book after book, chasing trends in the writing industry. Nothing stuck. And then she wrote a Regency, with the help of her critique partners, and sent it off.

It was rejected. It was a HORRIBLE rejection.

But it managed to accomplish one thing. It put Ms. Kenyon back on the right road. She stopped chasing trends, and she started writing the books in her heart. And those are the NYT best sellers we see on the shelves today. She followed her heart, she wrote the books in her heart, and she SOLD the books. And she told each and every one of us at the M&M Conference, to stop chasing trends, never quit, and keep writing. Write the books in our hearts.

And today, I thought about that as I waited on the sandbar for waves with my daughter. It was SO tempting to chase the waves cresting just to the left or the the right. But I remembered, don't chase trends. And I translated that to "don't chase the waves." We're in the water, we're waiting, we're doing all the right things, A WAVE WILL COME and we WILL CATCH IT.

And that is what writing and pursuing publishing is for me. I am IN THE WRITING WATER. I am waiting, I am doing all the right things. I want to chase that elusive dream, follow that trend... I think it's urban fantasy... but that's not my story to tell..., and I have to hold back. I have to wait. I have to WAIT for the RIGHT WAVE to catch and surf into the beach.


Be true to your muse. You're in the writing water. You might not know it, but YOUR WAVE might be right around the corner.

Are you ready?
Will you catch it?
Will you ride it home?

I plan to be writing, submitting, waiting, writing, entering contests, and waiting. I plan to be in MY WATER. I plan to write MY STORIES.

I will catch my wave. I don't know when it will arrive.

But I plan to be ready!

Be ready and keep writing!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


I'm finally coming up for air after a weekend of learning, laughing and playing at the MOONLIGHT AND MAGNOLIAS conference in Atlanta, GA. I got an honorable mention as did my CP for the MAGGIE. And I was thrilled. To final was huge. And the feedback I received from my judges and the published authors I met at the conference validated me as a writer.

The judges loved my writing voice. They loved my writing style, and they were very helpful with suggestions about how to tweak the front end to make it even stronger for future submissions to agents and editors. I'm also reentering the new version in the GOLDEN HEART when I return from the beach.

I have a lot of work to do when I get home next Monday, but I am resting my head until then. No major attempts at revisions while I am at the beach! I'd rather give my brain a break, continue absorbing all I've learned, and come back with my racing shoes on ready to write again.

Before I leave, I'm recapping the conference--hazy memories at best. Was it really a week ago that I was getting ready to put my party shoes on?

Thursday: I arrived in Atlanta at the same time as my CP's flight. I checked into the Hilton, got concierge privileges (thanks to Diamond member DH), and then zipped to the train station to fetch CP. It was so good seeing her again. We registered for the conference, got our cool goodie bags filled with books and promo items, and slipped on our badges with the ribbon flagging the fact that we were MAGGIE FINALISTS. Woot! That flag was a conversation starter everywhere we went. People were impressed. People wished us luck. By the time the award ceremony night arrived, I felt like a winner for life, regardless of the outcome. Later that day, we ate pizza and tried to watch the movies, but we were so tired, we went to the room and crashed. Well, we talked and talked and talked and then we fell asleep.

Friday morning I was nervous. I had to see the agent I'd pitched the book to in July at the National Conference. I had seven minutes to review the fact that she'd requested the full, tell her about the MAGGIE, and pitch the next book!! I want her as an agent very much. She's well-regarded and knows category romance. And I think she'd be a delight to work with as she's always so personable whenever I see her.

The pitch session went very well. She remembered the story as soon as I told her the title. No. She had not read it. She's been traveling for her job, overseas, and is behind on her reading. I asked if I could send an email to her about the book, reminding her about its MAGGIE FINAL, and she said yes. Then I pitched my next book. She is very interested in the story. I was honest. I told her I wrote the book in a week. I am in revision. I'll have a partial and synopsis ready before the end of the year. No problem. Send it when you are ready. And believe me, I will. Whew. That part over. Then she asked me a few questions--very good for me.

The rest of the day we learned, ate, met other authors and published authors, played, talked, wrote, and planned for the following day. My CP had two pitches to prep so we huddled in the concierge lounge and worked in privacy (thanks DH!).

Saturday and my CP had two successful pitches, we were nervously awaiting the awards ceremony, and we were cramming in more learning. Every workshop I attended was beneficial to me. There were so many options, I had difficulty choosing. Then we had the keynote speaker during lunch and let me tell you, Sherrilyn Kenyon's story is poignant and inspiring. If she can forge through fourteen years of disappointment and real pain, we can do it, too. I will never give up my dream, and I will never try to chase a writing trend either. Sure, it would be wonderful to have a bevy of vampires to write about, but I can only read the wonderful books written by paranormal authors. I am not one of them.

We put on our party clothes, our fancy finery, and fun shoes and went to the awards ceremony. First we presented to the published authors. I presented the award to the author in my category. That was fun! I hope I can do it again (and final in the MAGGIES again!). I didn't trip on the stage, and I managed to keep my mouth from seizing in panic. No. I didn't win, but afterward three authors spoke to me and said I was already a winner because I finaled. I feel like a winner. I am validated as an author. I am going in the right direction. I've been writing for four years, and only became a PRO this year (due to my severe allergy to filling out forms--could have done this a lot sooner!). I've come a long way in short time. I plan to get a lot further by the end of 2009. And I know 2010 will be a banner year for me in production of new stories and my active pursuit of obtaining an agent and/or editor who will promote my work.

Sunday we were all tired, but we went to an amazing workshop run by Mary Buckham and Dianna Love. If you have a chance to learn from them, do it. The information they impart is invaluable to writers. My head is spinning with their advice and knowledge. Then it was time to load up the car with four writers' baggage and head to the airport to drop of darling CP, and two new writing friends. We almost didn't get out of the parking lot. Someone backing up out of a space nearly rammed into my front end, but my CP saw it, I braked, and then blared the horn. I think we're all pretty much space cadets after a weekend like the M&M, so my only thought was I hope her heart isn't beating as fast as mine is right now. Whew. We were off. I dropped everyone off at the busy airport. Then it was on route to home and hearth. Four hours later, I returned to my casa and to reality.

Here are my tidbit takeaways from the M&M/MAGGIE experience--if you get the chance to go, here's why you should even if you're not a MAGGIE finalist:

1) GWRA is a fabulous chapter. The people are the best around, and there is a genuine desire by all to make sure you are having a positive experience. Published authors are warm and inviting. They remember the BEFORE WE WERE PUB stage of writing. They understand the hunger. The drive. The hopes.

2) The contacts you'll make are tremendous. More happened in hallways and during luncheons than anywhere else. This is an easy conference to network in. It's a great conference to cut your teeth on before hitting the NATIONALS.

3) Before you go, enter the MAGGIES. If you final, your experience will be magical. But even if you don't, you'll get AMAZING feedback from the judges. It's a fabulous contest.

As soon as I got home, and dropped my luggage in the bedroom, I joined GWRA. I can't wait to get to know this fabulous group of people.

And now.... off to the beach!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Driving to Hotlanta for M&M

The big day has arrived and I am awake and ready to go at 4:45AM!!! Argh. I need my rest. But never mind. I'll muddle along and things will be fine. I'll rest up at the hotel after I arrive in Atlanta.

We got yucky news yesterday about Darling Hubby's dad. He had prostrate cancer, but it was contained. The military vet docs said something else would kill him before prostrate cancer would so they had a wait and see attitude. Well, his PSA numbers jumped, and the cancer has spread. If they'd taken care of it two years ago, he'd be fine today.

I am so angry for him!

He's always been a great supporter of my writing. More so than my own parents. Even my dad, who was a good man, flat out told me that it was too late for me to be a writer 7 years ago. Well, I proved him wrong. My mom, well, let's just say that anything I have attempted has been denigrated, and if I do accomplish something (like graduate Summa Cum Laude from university at the top of the Dean's List), I don't really deserve it. I no longer adhere to her opinions one way or another. About the only good thing that comes out of that kind of lousy parenting is great angst and emotion to put into my novels. I'll be churning them out till I'm 102, God willing.

But my DH's Dad is another story. He's always asking about my writing. And bless him, he can't wait to have a copy of my book on his shelf when I am published. Now I doubt he'd read a Contemporary Romance with a lot of sizzle, and I believe he would be scandalized by my sex scenes, but what a darling man for wanting to display my work. He believes it is attainable. And that makes me love him all the more.

Argh. Mad for him again.

So now this weekend takes a sad turn. But it's still going to be a great weekend. I am happy to go to Atlanta and see my friend again. I am excited about the conference and learning more about this crazy industry. And I am looking forward to the big awards night.

If I win this one, I am calling my father-in-law and sharing the good news. But even if I don't, he'll still be cheering me on.