Friday, May 29, 2009

Dreaded Chapter 13--Events Driving Me to Distraction

I wanted to write on Thursday, but didn't. Too much going on. My dear friends from VA were coming into town for a quick overnight visit. I originally thought they were coming on Friday night sooooooooo........ figured I would get things together in the afternoon after I wrote my requisite minimum hour during hectic times.

But when I woke up, I opened an email from my friend. They had left VA at 4:30AM their time. Yikes! Quickly, I gathered my wits and zoomed through the upstairs to get it ready for a family of four. Pumped up the Queen Air Mattress, and the two twins. Made the beds, cleaned the bathroom, and dusted the rest of the room (did I gripe a few days ago about my DH being underfoot? I take it all back--he totally helped me get the room together!).

Many droplets of sweat later, I took a much needed shower. Well, maybe now, I thought, I'd write. Nope. Eye Doctor called -- darling daughter's contacts in. Off we went to the eye doctor at 12PM to see if the left eye contact was correct. An hour later, we were assured she had 20/20 vision and away we went. 

Meanwhile, I get a call. The friends are about an hour away. Great. I had already promised my darling daughter she could visit with her friends till 6PM. But when was I to drop her by her friend's house? 

Mad texting occurred over the course of several achingly LONG minutes. Why do these kids not TALK on their phones? I have the answer: no minutes left to speak. Apparently texting is unlimited so we are handcuffed by the teens' loquaciousness about one day into their cell phone bill.

We are informed we have a bit of time. Off we drive to my pharmacist to get progesterone (because I have the hormone levels of a 70 year old post-menopausal woman), and then to the party store to get a bouquet of balloons to welcome my neighbor's new baby girl home. Woohoo! Apparently she has the hormone levels of a much younger woman (she's 40).

Home we go. Eat lunch. Watch BONES on DVD. Await call about the daughter drop. Daughter drop call arrives. We leave. I with grocery list in hand. Drop daughter, go to grocery store, buy dinner items, home to unload items, and start marinade just before our friends arrive.

Mad, quick, wonderful visit with friends. Wine, food, talk, play with girls, set up alarms, plan their return on the way back.

I tumbled into bed at 11PM. At 4:20AM, I hear my poor decrepit aged cat yowling at the top of her lungs. Dear Lord.  I bounce out of bed, hair in a tangled mess, and step out to hallway leading to the garage. Dear friends are loading their van, poor cat incredibly confused (heck, my GF is blond as well), and they are profusely apologetic. 

No need to apologize say I. Silly cat would wake me up anyway. Off they go. I turn out the lights and crawl back into bed with purring old cat. 

Wake up. Take darling daughter to hair appointment with computer and revision pages in tow. DD's daughter takes 3.5 hours. I write almost as long. Chapter 13 almost finished. I think it is crap, but at least this crap is moving along. As we are paying for hair (don't ask how much), DD is arranging movie ticket to see UP. I bring her home, print out the tickets, turn around, drive her to the theater, then off to the bank, and then home. Shower (finally!) and now I am too tired to write another dang word (at least a creative one in which all my plot and character problems flow with ease).

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Potholes and Grammar Gremlins

I'm edging ever so close to the finish line, but I am bogged down with grammar gremlins. I keep questioning my verb tenses. I sent off two scenes to my CP and she changed a lot of my past tense verbs from "had created" to "created" and now I am mightily self confused. I'm sure it's cause my brain hurts. Might be a sinus infection or could just be too much information.

Yup, the PRO loop has tons of grammar info floating around it about "ing" words and more. Now I am worried about all my "ing" sentences (not even going to go into detail there). Will fix in line edit.

Meanwhile, I chug on. I am finished chapter twelve's revision (for now). I am heading into the black moments and to add to my angst, I have overnight guests arriving tomorrow PM. That means I will have to park my writing cap earlier and, as I don't want to blow a gasket, I will take my time going through this crucial chapter. 

Is it a coincidence that my Black Moment chapter is CHAPTER THIRTEEN????? Yikes!

I've fiddled with the first 9 chapters a lot. Now I feel I must finish revising the rest of the book and then I'll go through the last 8 chapters again--read through and revisit via edits. I'm close to resolving some of my personal problems with the story. I hope I get them fixed (for now-to where I feel better about pitching it) soon. 

I have 5 more chapters. I'm giving myself 7 writing days to finish them. That's fair.

Oh, I want to finish sooooooooooo bad. 

But I feel the need for a bit of a slow down. My brain hurts. It needs a break. I am going to treat it to a dinner and a movie with the family today. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Man Underfoot!

I have had a wonderful weekend with my friends as they celebrate their only child's graduation from High School. Good times were had by all. Now it is time to get back in the saddle and write.

Only one problem: darling husband had to burn two weeks of vacation or lose them by May 3oth. He was fine last week. Only interrupted me a few times (hello? I am NOT on vacation--I'll never make money writing if I don't keep writing).  But now that week two has rolled around, he's becoming grumpy. 

He wants company. 

I am not giving up my writing time. Or am I? I ended up taking time off to investigate two gyms with him -- and then it was back to work after mollifying him. 

I hope that's the extent of my duties. 

Meanwhile, finished revising chapter 11 (I have no idea how). Not entirely pleased, but made a note on my pages to go back in AFTER I get to the end of the doc.

*sigh* so many problems, so little time.

And school lets out soon--company will start descending upon our household--and I'll be trading my writing cap for my hostess cap regularly.  

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Taking Time Off

This weekend one of the first friends I made in the USA is celebrating her only child's graduation from HS. Wow! We knew each other before children, before many moves, before life happened and more. For a time, we were unable to see each other due to busy lives and lack of proximity. But a recent move back to the South, has given us a new opportunity to rekindle our friendship. 

Our husbands get along beautifully and our children (my daughter and her son) have grown beyond the *ooh that baby is so annoying to me* stage to genuinely liking each other. Last night we attended his graduation party. The Weather Gods were kind and rain didn't fall on us during the outdoor event. It was a wonderful celebration of a passage into a new life.

My DH said it was like stepping into a time machine as we hadn't been able to visit them more than twice while we were in DC for the 9 years we lived in the Nation's Cap. Well, now all the friends are older, her father is slowed by stroke, nieces and nephews are ready to bolt into the world as well, and we're all a little chubbier and a whole lot more responsible than we were back in the day.

We reminisced, we sang, we danced (live band), we ate, we drank wine, we watched a montage of the grad's life. We celebrated!

My husband and I, my friend and her husband--we are transitioning into a quieter time and approaching the twilight of our lives. But our children, they are ready to embrace the very exciting beginning of their future! Their suns are at the zenith. Anything is possible--yes anything even in this day of economic turmoil, war, and looming reports of global warming. 

I am optimistic for them. For when we started out on our journeys, we were dealing with recession, inflation, wars, and looming reports of global COOLING! 

We survived. We thrived. But we are no longer cocky about why we are still standing. For in the memories we share we know of lost souls due to alcoholism & drug abuse, and of departed loved ones due to accident or disease through no fault of their own, and we know that we are the lucky ones. 

Yes we worked hard, but we have also had our own share of troubles and bad times.  But we celebrate each victory, large or small because we appreciate the sheer power of the universe in our blessings. 

And we know when we wake up each and every morning, we have the divine opportunity to choose how we live during that day. Will we strive to make our world a better place and still shoot for the moon? Will we strive to be a blessing and an encouragement to others? Will we strive to give thanks for all we have? And will we strive to be happy and optimistic and hopeful even in our darkest hours?

We may not always succeed perfectly, but it is in our striving to land in on the moon that we continue fly among the stars.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Nurturing My Writing Voice

I am in the midst of my revision for book 3. I feel like I've been dealing with these people FOREVER. But with each new revision or change, I find I like the book more and more.

Part of this is the discovery of CRAFT and learning to polish my writing. Another part is taking the Book in a Week class which helped me rediscover HOW I DEVELOP my story. My unique way of getting into my characters' heads.  And the final part of this is through reading some amazing new books published by fellow writers I respect and admire. There, sometimes, the "rules" of CRAFT  and CONTEST are blurred because the STORY is the key. 


I only read other books at night, or when I am on vacation, right before beddie-bye. If I read them during the day, I will lose precious writing time. Right now I am on a mission! I must finish the next seven chapters (THE LAST SEVEN) in revision in 7 allotted writing days. Then I get to dive into my fourth novel and play around with those wonderful people (who are starting to get very impatient with my constant dabbling with book 3).

The flow of the words in the books I read has infiltrated my own writing; not as an exact duplication, but in the idea of how my characters think, act, talk to themselves, and face the world. In that world, overused words are, well, allowed, and echoes can occur, and "ly" words exist, and "was" isn't a demon word. 

Thus my inner critic is silenced to allow my people to become who they are: internally. 

Love that feeling.

And the writing is tighter. No doubt about it. The weaving in and out of elements is more precise. I like the new flow. Will it appeal to an editor or an agent? I don't know. But I do know it appeals to the deeper part in me who enjoys reading a well-crafted romance with a fabulous hero, though flawed, and an independent heroine who's itching for a bit of subduing. 

It's like first draft writing but it's a tighter blend of writing for self, writing for the reader or critique group, and writing for the editor who might one day request it and then accept it with the codicil: more revision required.

I'm determined to move forward with this book. I want to pitch it at the conference. I am ready to try to sell the work. If no one asks for it, well I'll try elsewhere via queries. Then I will lovingly set it aside and use what I've learned by writing it in all my future novels as well as in other revisions. 

This is why I love to write. It challenges me, it changes me, and it moves me beyond preset boundaries. 

And I've learned that is quite all right to be a "delusional masochist" while pursuing this grand obsession.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Dreaded Chapter 10

First of all, this probably used to be chapter 16 or 17 cause I had 22 chapters with only 2 scenes per chapter. *laugh later please*

But I redid it all (okay for contest purposes and editor submission purposes) and now I have 17 chapters. Which means I hit chapter ten today... at scene 24 or something like that (or was it scene 26?). Arrrghhh... not happy ... I've been hitting a chapter a day in about 3 hours or less.

Not today.

I hit it in 6 HOURS! 

And guess what? The first scene took 4 hours to revise.... argh again.

But now I am done. 

My DH is getting tired of me whining about my chapter goal. He pointed out weather cloud formations today to take my mind off of it. Then when that didn't succeed, he drove me around town and showed me tornado damage. Major damage to trees and houses. I felt bad for the victims and the trees, really I did. But I wasn't totally focused.

You see I was obsessed with figuring out how many writing days I had to reach the end of this journey... praying I would not deal with a direct tornado hit in the meantime.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Good Day AV Man

Wrote today--during constant interruptions. Audio Insight was here blaring stereo for DH and he also bothered me all morning... man under foot! argh.

Now I wonder how did I write at all? 

But I did!

Chapter done!

Only 8 more to go!!!!!!

God I want to be finished so bad.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

One Po-Chapter--Two

OMG... I am working my way through the book... again... it is so hard.  But so far I have my chapters written as per my goal and I am adding to it... must keep moving forward... 

Yesterday I knocked out another chapter. The goal is one per writing day. I am itchy to finish this book. I don't want to get bogged down again. And I MUST finish it again before summer hits. I have company coming on the 30th for two days. Then I have a solid two weeks to write as my darling daughter is in summer school taking a computer applications *required state education elective* from 8AM to 4PM. Poor thing, but lucky me!

At the end of June, I have company coming for 1 week. I hope to write an hour a day while she is here. Then we're off and running to DC--aahh! My editor and agent appointments loom.

Must hone the pitch -- must hone the pitch --must finish revision for the zillionth time.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Weeds and Man Underfoot

My DH is taking TWO WEEKS OFF of work to burn through vacation days or lose them. Argh! But he's trying not to disturb me--sort of--and I do love him for supporting my insane obsession with writing romances. Well, I do love him for so many more things than that one gift. He is my first and always hero.

Now because he is my hero, I decided to help him weed the yard. Unlike my *crush* Hugh Jackman (amazingly beautiful man who could father my next child if I weren't menopausal and needing progesterone and married), my DH is not in the best of shape. Dear darling husband needs a hip replacement so I decided I couldn't let him kill himself bending over to weed the huge yard we now own (I miss my postage stamp lot in DC). Besides, weeding is EXCELLENT CREATIVE AVOIDANCE on a sunny (finally!) day. 

So weed I did. And then I colored my roots. And then I faced the "computer" and was BICHOK FOR THREE HOURS! I revised the 9th chapter and I do like it a lot better now. Oh, how much work is left????

I am heading back into the book tomorrow to revise Ch. 4. I also have another mega blood test lab (will I ever really be well again??), and I have to head to the dentist to fix a very painful temporary crown not sitting right in my mouth (oh, why did I pop that off last week when I over zealously flossed in excitement about the editor/agent appts.?). Sigh.

But I am determined to finish my goal of 5 chapters this week. Hope I manage as I must clean the bloody house (argh) and prepare for DH's 56th birthday on Wednesday (apparently I am hosting a din din here --argh again). We head out of town on Saturday. We come back on Monday. I hope to do 5 more chapters after that (ha as I have to get DD ready for a sleepover deal that same week).

But I will do it! Even if I have to write at midnight. I am determined to get closer to my goal!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Productive Saturday

Saturday morning, I worked on my MS revision and polished up the 8th chapter. Now I am ready to roll into the 9th Chapter and strengthen it. Then I will back track and work on chapters 4, 6, & 7. The goal is to complete them by the end of the week, Friday afternoon. 

I feel I got deeper POV in the love scene this time. I am pleased with the results. Of course, another read through and line edit will occur when I complete the entire revision. 

I woke up this morning with two ideas for the black moments/resolution. I plopped them into the document notes section of my Scrivener program and will address them a week from Monday or on Tuesday. 

Not a bad week for accomplishing goals: I got my two contest entries out, and I managed to get serious work done on the revision. And I have my editor/agent appointments.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Header Challenged

Yesterday I worked to perfect my Reveal Your Inner Vixen entry. I redid the entire love scene and tried desperately to make it less cliche and richer with emotional elements. Three hours of work! Thank goodness I didn't have to worry about the header being perfect throughout the documents as I could submit them in a folder via attachment. I hope I do okay in this contest. But at best, I'd like some feedback about the scene. It's a pivotal one.

I just watched a recap of a show where HQN romance was featured. Woohoo! Apparently their sales are up 32%. That's good. Recessions hit a lot of industries, but romance sells. Why? Because it transports us out of the problems we're facing and sends us to exciting locales where gorgeous men and women fall in love and live happily ever after. Who needs more angst today?Not me! I love happy endings.

I just finished my WILD & HEXY by Vicki Lewis Thompson. What a fun read. And it had a very happy ending. Yay! Now I get to read Christy Reece's first published book, RESCUE ME. I can't wait to crack the spine.

Meanwhile, now that I am done entering contests for a few months, I must revise my 3rd book and get it ready for pitching at the National Conference. I dug into the love scene a lot and need to transport that over to Scrivener (still a pet peeve, but I love the program so it's worth the extra steps of importing and exporting docs).

Goals for next week are:

*survive recital weekend in one piece
*revise every day
*shoot for 5 chapters revised by Friday, 3PM (approximately 3 scenes per chapter)
*work on web site 
*brainstorm tag  lines for web site and business card

General Goals:

*ask a published author with pseudonym about how to structure the business card
*go to HOD meeting
*go to SM meeting with Pitch session
*work on pitch
*research editor and agent backgrounds in depth
*take PRO class about Pitching starting Mid-June

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Contests and Formats and Yikes What a Day!

I finally sent off my Maggie entry today. We'll see how that goes. Not holding my breath, but the feedback is excellent. Maybe it will fare better after all the changes I made to the beginning of the MS. I hope so. 

After I sent the Maggie off to places far away and in GA, I worked on gathering my entry pieces together for REVEAL YOUR INNER VIXEN. There are all these rules for how to submit online--and it's driving me crazy. I can put all the RTF parts of the entry in a folder and send the folder as an attachment, but I can't put all the pieces of the entry on ONE document and have it turn out right in the HEADER section. There are too many different elements. Argh.

I sent an email to the contest coordinator to ask if I can submit the entry in a folder with the four documents. I hope so or I've wasted my time on this--other than the revising part of the scene. It's changing and evolving -- and I like it. Hey--I just checked my email and the contest coordinator said I can send it in a folder and just explain my "header challenged brain" to the contest person I email it to! Hallelujah!!!!

I need to put the new changes into the Scrivener Document--I revised in the Word Doc after I revised in Scrivener... argh again. That's the only thing I don't like with Scrivener. It's hard to move back and forth in the saved folders. I have to export and input all changes or do it manually.

This afternoon I went to the APPLE store for my tutorial. I really didn't have much to ask--simple fix questions. And I told the dude after half an hour I was ready to leave. I don't need weekly sessions anymore. I think I will use that time, one hour per week, to build my web page and work on my business side of writing (probably more than one hour a week). If questions come  up as I work on the web site, I'll jot them down and schedule a session. I have a year's worth of onetoone sessions paid for. One thing that jerks my chain is that I paid to have classes with the APPLE SPECIALISTS. But the past three classes have been with the next tier down because the specialists are overwhelmed. I don't mind too much, but it's the principle of the matter. I feel shuffled aside. The next time I go in, I am making my appointment on-line and I am putting in the notes box that I want a specialist to help me.

After I went to the APPLE STORE, I hit B&N and got DD her required reading book for 10th Grade Honors English. Then I drove to the Mall and fetched her Powder Puff T-shirt. After I retrieved said shirt, I high tailed it to STAPLES to get four black ink cartridges. Two for her and two for me. We run out of ink here FAST.

When I got home, I worked on the RYIV Entry, and now I am fried--nothing left to give. I'll read through the entry and edit it tomorrow morning. Thankfully, I'll be able to send it all off in a folder.

And I got three scenes revised as I prepared for this contest (only putting in 2 and a bit). Of course, the book is never done. It'll never be finished until it is sold and on the shelves! I decided that I will revise this one through for the RWA Conference. Then I'm pitching it. I'll line edit and check it over with a fine tooth comb if I get a request for a FULL. If not, I am done. I'll park it, and move on to the fourth book. I want to get that MS ready for the GH in November. 

I will pull number 3 out of park after I've got the fourth book revised and on its way out the door via the GH. I'm sending the 3rd book out to the GH again if I don't get the "call" before November.

Now the goal is speed, building back list books, and getting my business side of writing running.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Chauffeur Cap On

I had the Maggie contest entry ready to shoot out the door, but I knew I had to copy it first. And I had to get my darling daughter from school and haul her to the eye doctor to fetch her new contacts. So I decided to grab her, take her to the eye doctor and then haul her for lunch and then copy the Maggie. 

Eye doctor took over an hour--one contact perfect. The other not... I see another trip soon. Let's hope it is the last one for a while.

Off in the torrential downpour we drive to lunch. I am thinking we have oodles of time. We arrive at our lunch destination. She informs me voice auditions are at 2PM. Hmmm... I still have to buy 3 garment bags for dance recital, and copy 3 copies of Maggie for the contest before I return her. It is 1PM. Hmmmm indeed.

We wolf down lunch. We get to Bed Bath and Beyond. We buy three garment bags (recitals are not cheap--so far I've spent over $200 on costumes, over $100 on fees, $85 on extra tights, $150 on photos of beautiful daughter in dance costumes, $25 on garment bags, and $25 on makeup...  God forbid she go to competition).

After BB&B, we head to Kinko's and FedX to copy my Maggie entry. After I copied my pages, darling daughter caught a problem on page one with a comma. Argh. But TG cause I didn't have it formatted correctly. What is it about me and contest entries? I always miss something.

I head back to her school and she is in the building before 2PM. A miracle. Except on the way home I realize she does not have her Powder Puff workout clothes with her. I silently pray for rain to intervene again and make a valiant effort to work on my next contest entry: Reveal Your Inner Vixen. Well all goes well for a bit till darling husband comes home to change in to shorts for a golf game and he must tell me about where the latest tornado hit and how lucky we were--I do not care as I am reworking a love scene--for the zillionth time. Argh again. He leaves at the 4th argh with hurt feelings. I am not repentant.

3:30Pm arrives. No rain. I get text--please bring my powder puff clothes--darn it! I hop in the Escape and field a phone call about a surprise party for a friend while driving through the KISS AND RIDE LINE OF HELL to get my DD's clothes to her. I drop of clothes and learn she has been accepted into a great choir due to audition. Now the 10th Grade schedule needs tweaking again. Yay!

I am on my way home to try to work for another hour--problems with Maggie--entry form from 2008... fortunately easy to fix due to amazing and nice coordinator--bless her! Then I get text while working on next contest entry--oh my can you fetch me at 4:30 instead of 5pm?

Okay. I get drop work, drive back to school, fetch DD and learn we must go to the mall to get T-shirt for PP football game air painted with her name and number (it is like living with a low income worker--money flows out of my wallet constantly). We drive straight to the mall. We set up T-shirt air brush for $18. Then we go buy shorts for powder puff ($28) and bike shorts for voice recital so she can do a high kick and not shock grannies ($25), and we buy cool knee high socks ($7) for her game. 

We go home. DH not back from golf. I am folding towels while DD studies for amazingly tough English Honors exam which even the brainiest guy in school only got a 90% on. I prep dinner--yeah chicken marsala sans mushrooms, and baked rice pilaf. DH arrives home. We keep him quiet. We eat at some point. Studying still going on...

Tomorrow I get to go to the mall and pick up the air brushed shirt. After that I go to school and get DD from PP practice, drive to some junk food place to give her dinner, and then off to dance rehearsal. Oh, and after that, we head immediately to the voice recital rehearsal--too much going on and not enough time to do it!

Oh, I can't wait for the school year to end!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Writing Interuptus

There comes a time in every mom's life where writing takes a second seat: the school year drawing to a close. More things are happening now than ever. My DD is in two recitals, voice and dance, this upcoming weekend. Driving all over hill and dale for her to get to the venues for rehearsals and the subsequent recitals. She's also in a Powder Puff football game on Friday. And I just dropped everything to attend her awards ceremony at her school (she got an all A certificate and was disappointed she didn't get in the top 10 GPA group--well--wonder where she got that from? I understand her frustration and disappointment--but she'll bear up she always does -- learned from the queen of loss to just keep on pluggin' along).

Meanwhile, back at the writing ranch, I am preparing for the Georgia Romance Writers Maggies contest. It's printed out, and ready to copy and mail. But I have to pick up DD for a contact lens appointment at the eye doctor at 11:30AM and then lunch afterward (to share how much I know it truly sucks to be "close but no cigar" in life and bolster her spirits). Then we'll copy the Maggie entry together and I'll haul her back to school. 

I also spent time today finding a love scene for the Reveal Your Inner Vixen contest run by the Maryland Romance Writers Chapter. I will be entering that one via email so that's easier. I will prep that one up and revise it for my own revision as well as send it in by end of the week.

But meanwhile I have the chimney appointment--oops--same time as planned lunch. Well, we'll pick up lunch and eat at home and then I'll bring my DD back to school so she can sing and practice for Powder Puff. 

Thursday I have to take DD to dance and then to voice rehearsal. Friday she has voice and dance rehearsal... Saturday more of the same... Sunday more of the same...

Always something happening during the last two weeks of school and the events always break up my day causing writing interuptus.

I must learn to surrender to this madness and just let it ride.

Monday, May 11, 2009

What a Whirlwind Day-PRO Editor/Agent Sign Up

This is the first time I've ever entered into the magic sign up portal--either as a non-PRO or a PRO. But I got up, booted up the laptop and prepared to sign in.

Four hours later, I still hadn't made headway. The website was overwhelmed and lots of people experienced frustration. I had, at one point, almost cleared the gates, when the RWA website didn't recognize my password. Alas, alack, a scream or three later... then I calmed. I contacted the national offices via phone, left a message saying I wasn't sure if my PW being eaten was part of their problem, but if it was, to ignore my call. If not, help! I think I made that call at 10:30AM.

At 12:15PM, I stopped trying, the website was still experiencing problems, and I hadn't eaten or showered. I ate a yogurt, read the paper, worked my word puzzle in the comics section, and hopped into the shower. I was just out of the shower when the phone rang! RWA's national headquarters returned my call. A very nice representative walked through the pages for me and I got signed up.

And I did it all while dripping wet, wrapped in a towel, with my hair up in a turban of white. Thank God! I am so grateful to the RWA for responding to my call. I know this day had to be outrageous for them as they fielded the problems on their site and the phone calls from others.

Now I have my dream agency appointment and my dream editor appointment with HQN. Yikes! Now I have to fine tune my pitch and get moving along on the revision. 

What a day! 

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

I usually don't write much on the weekends--at most an hour a day. And this weekend I did zip as I am celebrating Mother's Day and fritzing around chasing down other things. But I did spend some time talking about writing with my two CPs in Fairfax yesterday.

My first CP called with questions about her plot and just to talk in general with me. We discussed my plan for the MS and querying it. And we discussed how to get an external Story Goal going for her women's fiction novel. I was glad I could help her brainstorm as she's been so generous in reading my queries, fixing them, and reading my BLAZE style novels (she isn't typically a category romance reader LOL). 

My second CP called to share her GH scores. Three 9s and two 5s! I get the 9s--she's fantastic--but the 5s? Weird. Any rate, she missed finaling in the GH by 1 point. I was fine with my middling scores cause I expected worse and I know this MS can be reentered in its current version. Will it final? Who knows? Maybe I'll have it on an editor's desk at that point and the question will be moot. But I understand her frustration. Here she has finaled in the Dauphne and the Sheila, but she receives two 5s alongside three 9s? That's tough to understand. I just said it's a done deal, she's a fabulous writer, and now we must move on after I sympathized. 

I wonder why I am so *shrugging shoulders* about my scores? I guess I didn't attach too much emotion into the results. I had already figured out I wouldn't final after I got my comments back from the Linda Howard Award of Excellence. I got great feedback, and I got honest feedback. My scores for that contest were high (in the 90s) and I almost finaled, but the feedback indicated to me there was a major flaw in my heroine/hero's first meeting and I needed to address that flaw. I knew then I wouldn't final in the GH so I was pretty much resigned to it. And I was happy to score anything above a 5 on the score sheet. TG I got at least two decent scores (7, 8.7). And the novel is changed now. It's fixed.

As CP number 1 says, "It's all fixable." 

Now I am preparing to sign up for my editor/agent appointments tomorrow morning (wahoo!). I am nervous and excited about it. I hope I get into the chair facing my targeted category HQN editor! I'll be online early tomorrow to sign up. 

Monday afternoon I will prep my two contest entries for the June 1 deadline and send them off on Tuesday. 

Goals for the week are basic:

*continue revision in mornings
*sign up for editor/agent appointments at RWA Conference
*prepare two contest entries: Maggies and Reveal Your Inner Vixen
*research agents
*order business cards with pseudonym, order pens with my info on it, order postcards with my info on it
*encourage my new writing buddy in her goal to finish her first draft by June 30th.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

And the GH Scores Arrived ... Du Du Dummmmm

The GH scores arrived and I opened them. I wasn't going to open them. But I did. It's like scratching a scab. You got to do it. Any rate, I didn't do nearly as bad as I thought I would. The scores were good enough to get me at the top of the bottom half and I missed the top half by .3. Not bad. There wasn't a score under 6.5 and I had a top score of 8.7 (out of 9!). I threw the scores into the MS box, patted myself on the back, and then I told myself if the POS that I sent in did that well, then the rewritten work will do even better next year! Whoot! Of course, maybe I'll never be a GH finalist or winner because I'll sell my book before next November after it gets requested by my favorite publishing house and editor at HQN

One can dream.

And the story is so much better now. The synopsis is so much better. It's all so much tighter and well-written. I know it can do better in the GH next time around. Or sell.

I met with my new writing friend at the Barnes & Noble coffee shop yesterday. We met our individual writing goals and then we set new ones. I encouraged my friend to set the GH as her goal for her MS. She has to finish this first draft, revise it and polish the first 50 pages for the GH. It's a goal. She's going for it!

I am very glad I entered the GH. I have solid work to pitch and submit. I have a good synopsis now, and I have a great query. I am ready to roll. 

I was going to query HQN, but now I am waiting until after the Editor/Agent line opens up for appointments the RWA National Conference. I have my top editors and agents highlighted (they have a handy grid on-line), and I am ready to roll. I am not sending any queries out until after the conference. If the agent and/or editor don't request my MS, then I am pitching all other agents on my list as well as the three e-houses I'd be honored to work for.

My upcoming writing goals are very simple. First I am signing up for my editor/agent appts. Then I am researching my agent list to see what their submission guidelines are. Third, I am finishing my revision and have end of June as my target for that work to be completed. Fourth, I am entering two contests: the Maggies and the Sizzle Contest with the MS. Fifth, after I complete the 3rd MS, I am beginning revision on the 4th. And finally, I am polishing my pitch for the 3rd and 4th books.

All this has to happen before July 10. The fourth will be in revision, but I will polish the first fifty pages and enter it into the GH this year. 

It's exciting to have goals and feel like I am edging up the "career ladder."

And speaking of career ladder, I have two fellow chapter writers who just came out with new books. I bought them at the bookstore yesterday and can't wait to read them.

Kira Sinclair, Afterburn

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Baby on the Market: Submitting Queries to Publishers

I've busted my tail during the past few weeks to write a decent query and synopsis for the third MS. I have had great input from my CPs in NoVA and I truly appreciate their help.

Now I am ready to, *gulp*, query again.

People have read my work, and they say I have a good voice for BLAZE. So once again, I am querying that house first in HQN. I hope I get in past the cracked door, but I know it's a long shot. 

I spent most of the morning editing my query for BLAZE--of course they require two pages single spaced and I have, 4.5 double spaced pages. Edit... edit... edit... but I think I have a passable one now. I'm pleased with my query letter-- happy to mail it. 

After finalizing what I wanted to send to BLAZE, I checked out the websites for my next print publishers and e-publishers. I printed out their guidelines for submission and stacked them in order of query. Now I have 8 houses to query. Whew.

Next I work on getting each submission ready to mail out. And I am creating a spreadsheet for the task. My baby's ready to fly out the door. In the days ahead I will revise and polish the rest of my MS. I will also ignore the GH scores sure to dampen my day when they arrive at my door. I am filing them in the BOX and will refrain from looking at them until Sept. 09.

After I send off my submissions, I am targeting a few contests I feel will generate interest in my book. 

Monday, May 4, 2009

A New Week and A New Focus

I worked on my synopsis today. And I tried to import my MS's first two chapters to Word... mmm not working easily... but managed. Do not like formating stuff at all on either program. 

Meanwhile I tightened my synopsis. And I printed out my query (queries).  Now I have a great EC book downloaded. But so much more work to do.

I shipped off the first two chapters for input in what to add for an EC submission. I got great input from the author and she encouraged me to shoot for BLAZE first. Wow... how generous. I am amazed at the kindness of other writers. I truly am.

I shipped off my synopsis to my CP in Fairfax, and she LIKED IT. Minor edits. Wow again! Thank you Kira for the craft corner -- it helped!

I am waiting to hear about the query from my other CP. A bit concerned about tense. But other than that, feel good about the whole package.

And I have my iPhone synced with my MAC as of today--yay!!!

A productive two days!!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Reader's Luncheon at the Von Braun Center

Yesterday I had the distinct pleasure of attending the Heart of Dixie's Reader's Luncheon. This our Romance Writer's of America Chapter's way of honoring readers who love romance and who support our genre. They also use this as a way to raise money to give to the literacy group in Alabama. The luncheon features food, fun raffles like getting your name in a future book, the company of published authors sitting at your table, and drawings for baskets filled with books, goodies and fun products. 

This year the luncheon was held at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Alabama and despite the dreaded swine flu hysteria, only ten people canceled. We had a full house! First we bought drawing tickets and plunked those into bags next to the baskets we hoped to win. Then we found places to sit where we could chat with published authors. Some top names at the the luncheon included Linda Howard, Beverly Barton, and Linda Winstead Jones from our very own writing chapter. And we had guest authors from the Southern Magic Writing Chapter like Laura Hayden and Jennifer Echols (YA). (For a complete list of all the authors at the luncheon, visit the Heart of Dixie Website) Finally, we were honored to have Vicki Lewis Thompson as our key note speaker and luncheon guest. 

Our president, Kimberly Lang (The Secret Mistress Arrangement), announced our mentor of the year during her speech. We were all a misty eyed when she choked up and called Linda Howard to the podium. And the grand Maven herself was teary eyed. She truly gives so much to all the aspiring authors in our chapter and I'm thrilled to be part of a group with a mission statement dedicated to helping all writers achieve their goal of publication. 

This year we've had several new authors get the call: Lynn Rae Harris, Kimberly Lang and Kira Sinclair. I hope to join their ranks in the future! They make me believe it is possible!!

I was fortunate to sit at a table with two e-published authors: Debra Glass and Pamela Hearon. Debra Glass is published through Ellora's Cave and I can't wait to download her book, Watchkeeper: Phantom Lovers. Pamela Hearon's book, His Hotness, will be released later on this year through Wild Rose Press. These authors were fun, easy to chat with and extremely generous with advice to me about their publishers. Now I know how to tailor my submission to both these e-publishers and how to put it in the best possible light for a full request. 

That's the best part of being involved in such a fabulous writing chapter (and Southern Magic is equally as wonderful!!). The generosity of its published authors. They want to see you succeed in this crazy business.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Synopsis Super Write In

I woke up with energy to burn for the first time in at least two weeks. In fact, I had forgotten what it was like to feel awake in the morning for at least two years. I just muddled through each day and did what had to be done regardless of my energy levels. 

So to have the oomph to go and tackle my dreaded synopsis was a great feeling!

First thing, take new medication. Second, I went through the MS and pulled out all my Pivotal Plot Points and noted them with extra tags. Man is it easy to zip back and forth throughout the document on Scrivener.  I also had to mark the black moments for my hero/heroine as well as my resolution. It is so quick to move and mark the various scenes with highlights in this program. I am glad I have it for all my future writing projects.

I read through my original synopsis, marked changes, and then reread my Craft Corner notes regarding how to build a good synopsis. I had a lot of work ahead of me. But I was determined to finish a good workable draft today. After I made sure I had info necessary regarding plot, I went back into Scrivener and highlighted passages I wanted to add to the synopsis to show my voice and build the story plot.

I imported my word doc into the Scrivener doc, into a separate folder, and then I cut and pasted the highlights into the doc. It was a snap to cut and move from each scene into the synopsis. No more scrolling through an entire doc, or pressing find and searching for a needle in a haystack. It's partitioned by scenes and chapters and I have the keywords noting PPPs and all the necessary plot points. Voila, I had a paper to edit.

I edited it. Cut and moved elements, tried to incorporate the GMC of my hero/heroine. And I finished. I then exported the doc over to Word and printed it. Less than five pages! Double spaced! I am sooooo happy. Now it's a matter of tweaking the echoes and fine tuning the grammar. 

I have a query letter, a synopsis, my first three chapters, and I am almost done! For Ellora's Cave I have to have a great end chapter, so I'll work on that on Monday.

By next Friday, I should be ready to query!!! Woohoo