Saturday, May 29, 2010

OnLine Workshop Plug -- Airing Dirty Laundry

One of my new volunteer positions with my writing chapter, RWA's Heart of Dixie, is to be their online workshop moderator. I'm getting ready to moderate the next class on June 7. AIRING DIRTY LAUNDRY (description follows). In the spirit of fun, I'm offering a PRIZE to the first person who signs up for this class and mentions that they read about it on DIGGING OUT OF DISTRACTION.

In addition to receiving a prize, this person, along with all the other class participants, will have the opportunity to send in the first few pages of their manuscripts for critique by PUBLISHED authors and TWO of these will be selected for FULL CRITIQUES!

How cool is that? Very cool.

So come on and join in the fun. I can't wait to see who signs up first!

Airing Dirty Laundry – Use Family Stories, Eavesdropping and Cable TV to Create Writing Income

Instructor: Marilyn Puett

Online Workshop Through Heart of Dixie, RWA,

June 7 – 21, 2010

Cost: $20, Deadline for Registration June 5th.

Course Description:
Airing Dirty Laundry offers information and tips on how to create a source of outside income by writing short stories for the confessions and romance magazines.  This two-week workshop is geared for writers who want extra income while waiting to sell their first book, are between royalty checks or simply want an extra income stream.

This course takes students step by step through writing a confession.  It begins with learning the market, developing hooks and compelling story lines and structuring a story properly.  By the end of the course, students should have a story ready for submission.

Additionally, participants will be given the opportunity to submit the first few pages of a story they start during the class and have the pages critiqued by published writers.  Two stories will be selected toward the end of the class to receive a full critique.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

My Cyber World

I love to blog because it is an outlet for my writing soul. But the main reason I love to blog is because I have met some very fun people and created a wonderful little Cyber World of friends. I'm not going to mention every blog in this post (too long--check out my blogs I follow or look at the sidebar on my page).
But I do want to share the few that have made me laugh out loud or taught me a thing or three about writing or technology.

First up, the Petits Fours & Hot Tamales made me LOL with their most recent post about Thongs. Then I zipped over to my good friend's blog, The Edited Life, and learned about Mind Mapping. She's always coming up with interesting topics. The other day I chuckled when I read one of my chapter mate's blogs about the Dunking Booth in Okay, Listen Here. She's new to the blogging scene, but not to writing (actually, she's two people). I always love to read my group blog, Romance Magicians. And I've added a few new friends to my Cyber World, including Jody Hedlund, Ellen Brickley (over in Ireland!), Karen Gowen, and Justine Dell.

I also read agent blogs, blogs about publishing and blogs that are just plain fun. I don't read every blog I follow every day (I'd never get any writing accomplished). But I do like to touch base with my Cyber Buddies on a regular basis. This is my coffee break time, my office chatter with other writers and my way of feeling connected to others when I'm slogging away on my computer and writing.

Writing is a solo pursuit. But it doesn't have to be lonely, especially in this day and age.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Few Good Books on My Nook: Read to Write Well

I blogged about my brand new toy, THE NOOK after Mother's Day. The timing of the gift coincided with my renewed desire to read more books, not just for analysis of my genre, but for pure pleasure. For quite some time, I had spent hours writing. I had spent hours reading blogs about writing. I had spent hours learning about writing via online courses and reading books about the craft.

I had not spent a lot of time READING. What had once been a passion for me had transformed into only work. I resolved to change that in the new year. And I've been happily reading books by Suzanne Brockmann, Nora Roberts and slews of other writers. I've read YAs for fun, Women's Fiction and pure romance.

Remember Romance? Remember when it was simply about a boy meeting a girl, falling in love, falling in love with their love, feeling sad when they reached their romantic black moment, wondering how they'd patch things up, and finally cheering for them when they reached their happily ever after?

I do. I have missed the purity of the original romances I read when I was a teenager, a young adult, a new mom and an active school parent. Sure, I like action stories. I read them. I love thrillers written by Grissom, Clancy (guess who the Dowager Feline is named after LOL), and Ludlum. I enjoy a great read with epic sweeping themes. The classics. Love them.

But I really love a great love story. Best of all, all of this renewed reading has affirmed a decision I made about my writing. I want to write about love. The relationships and the characters matter to me. The plot is secondary to my characters. Sure, I know I have to have the external plot, but it's the love story that sweeps me away as a reader.

Good to know if I'm writing love stories. Good to know if I want write great love stories.

So I've made a conscious effort to read every day, for an hour, minimum. And not just at night when I'm bone tired and falling asleep, but reading during the day when I am alert. Reading to escape. Reading for fun. Reading to get lost in a story that fills me with hope.

Okay, so here are the books I've read so far on my NOOK.

The Bride Quartet Series by Nora Roberts.
*Vision in White
*Bed of Roses
*Savor the Moment

Loved all three and can't wait for the 4th book to come out in November. They are written in classic Nora Roberts' style and yes, there's a bit of head hopping, but it's seamless. And she gets people and relationships and love and all the gunk that happens between two flawed individuals as they struggle to find their way to lasting happiness. I love her stories because they are pure romance. Period. And if I should have the pleasure of meeting her in Orlando, by accident, in an elevator or wherever, I will seriously have A FAN GIRL moment. And I am not typically a fan girl kind of person. But I do believe I would hyperventilate if I met her and she spoke to me.

I just finished a wonderful romance by Emily Griffin called Something Borrowed. It reads like a chick lit with a ton of romance. There aren't any bombs or SEALS in it. There's a friend getting married, a selfish girl at best who has a best friend, the heroine, who is learning to free herself from her self-imposed "good girl" rules. And wow, does she ever find a fabulous way to do it! Read the book cover to find out about her story.

On the docket? I've got the following books queued:

Chasing Perfect by Susan Mallery
Once a Cowboy by Linda Warren
Best Friend, Future Wife by Claire Baxter
The Next Best Thing by Kristin Higgins

I know reading for pleasure will enrich my writing. So what's on your bookshelf? Or in your E-Reader? And if you're a writer, I hope you're reading, too!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Drum Roll & Recap Roll

This week, despite all the constant interruptions and distractions, I finished my second MAGGIE contest entry and sent it to the coordinator.

WOOT!! So relieved to get the entry completed and out of my hair.

Now my goals and tasks for the week are defined:

*continue revising & polishing with the new plot line in mind
*add scenes where necessary
*pull together my partial and send of the requested materials to the agent
*query two other publishing houses with my third MS

And I have some rewards to give myself for completing my arduous task:

*get my hair cut and highlighted *highly necessary*
*schedule some pampering time this week
*meet with a good friend who is also a writer and enjoy her company

When you finish a major task, do you reward yourself with something fun? I hope so! And if do, I'd love to learn how!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Show, Tell & Do: Researching in the Real World vs. Cyberspace

I've been researching guns, shooting ranges, and more for my current WIP. Most of my research is done online. But I was fortunate enough to know a few people who had guns and a place to practice target shooting. So my family and I went to a friend's house where I took my first shooting lesson. I posted about my experiences and have incorporated them into my WIP.

Yesterday I went to an indoor shooting range located behind a Pawn and Gun Shop. This was how my Darling Hero wanted to spend his birthday. And, given my recent WIP's hero's line of work, I happily went along.

Confession: When I saw the bars on the windows and doors, I did get a little wigged out. And the location of said shooting range wasn't in a savory part of town. Yikes! But I did go in.

The front of the shooting range is a gun and ammo store. Stepping inside the store was like entering Super Testosterone Mart. Men of varying ages and sizes roamed the interior looking at the guns, ammo, shooting equipment, scopes, rifles, paper targets and antiques. The sales clerks stood behind tall glass cases that rose up to their chests. Inside the cases there were guns. Lots and lots of guns. Huge rifles, big black Uzi looking machines, hung along the walls behind the clerks.

Confession: I felt intimidated.

The Gun & Pawn shop was uber man world. This was not going out to the country to shoot in the open air at a target. This was not a place where I knew all the people and a nice cookout followed my first shooting lesson. This place smelled of man, sweat and gun metal. The sales clerks weren't like the women at the cosmetics counter at Macy's. They weren't trying to be friendly or push a gun on you. They figured if you were there, you were there with a purpose and already persuaded.

After we signed the proper paperwork and purchased our ammo, we went through a door in the back of the shop and walked down a long, windowless hallway. We were met at the end by a man, older with short cropped hair, and wearing shorts "for the first time in ten years." He asked us what kind of guns we wanted to shoot. I let DH lead the way on the choice. After all, it was his birthday present, and I know squat about guns.

Guns selected, we were asked about the targets we wanted to hit. About fifty different kinds of targets lined the wall in the hallway. There were bird targets, animal targets, people targets (in color and black silhouettes), bulls-eye targets (large and small), and zombie targets. Yes. Zombie targets. For a wild moment, I imagined having a themed birthday party at the shooting range featuring the Zombie targets.

Confession: I kind of wanted to shoot at the Zombies.

We chose a man target, small bulls eye targets and large bulls eye targets. Then our guide set us up in booths one and two. We could have shared a booth, which was good to know since my MC and his brother stand side-by-side at a shooting range in one of my scenes, but chose not to as there was plenty of space.

Confession: Every time a shot rang out, even though we had on protective gear, I jumped (inside and out).

The place was noisy, shots echoed off of the gray, concrete walls and flooring. My target hung in the distance, too far, and we brought it in closer. It zipped along a metal line and I thought it would hit me. It didn't, but man that target didn't slowly eek forward toward the booth's front, it flew. DH was happily shooting his Glock and then his Ruger revolver in the booth next to  me while I practiced with the long barreled 22.

Confession: It's hard to concentrate on lining up a site when bullet casings are flying into your space and hitting your body.

I finally figured out how to use the sight marks. I lined them up, and shot my target. Successful hits. All of the shots were clustered to the right of the bulls eye. Wow. The guy that was there helped me with my stance and my shoulder position as well as with how to adjust for things like my dominant eye vs. my dominant hand.

Turns out my left eye is dominant despite my being a rightie. Who knew? He had me put my hands together to make a little circle and then look at the target with my arms outstretched. Then I had to bring my hands slowly to my eyes, both open, while keeping the target in sight. Well, what do you know? I'm a leftie in vision. Adjustment: close RIGHT eye, slide the gun a little to the left and bang, better accuracy.

I shot four different guns. The guy was so cool. He didn't just tell me how to load the guns and the magazines. He showed me. Then he watched me do the task. Each gun had a different loading mechanism and size bullet. The hardest gun to load was the Glock. The bullets were huge (38s) and the spring action was tight. The more bullets I tried to push in, the greater the resistance. The easiest gun to load was the revolver. Flip open the barrel, load six bullets into the chamber and flip it closed and you're ready to shoot, in succession, 6 bullets.

The heaviest gun was the revolver. The lightest gun was the short barrel 22. I learned that a shorter barrel is harder to aim for a beginner. The longer barrels make it easier to line up the target. How? I shot out of both kinds of guns. And while the shorter barrel was lighter and easier to hold, the longer barrel gave me greater accuracy in my shots.

Confession: I prefer accuracy.

Darling Hubby was tickled to see me shoot. After all, he's a Texan and was shooting his Grandpop's gun when he was a boy. I have a picture of him walking next to the man. He's holding a huge gun, probably a S&W revolver. The gun barrel is inches from the ground and my DH's head doesn't even reach his Grandpop's waist. Guns are a way of life, of the culture he grew up in, and he has been badgering me to get a gun for the entire length of our marriage.

We're approaching the quarter century mark. I'm not a pushover. I've held my ground till now because I grew up in Canada. We don't carry guns there. I was afraid of having one in the house and I wasn't going to bring one into my world. They intimidated me.

Amazing how one book, one need for understanding via research, has changed my feelings about guns. I  was afraid of what I didn't know. I was intimidated by what I didn't understand. For me, personally, this has been a revelation about myself. I like shooting guns. It's fun. And it's empowering. I know it's not for everyone, but once again I've been reminded that until you experience a situation first hand, you can't know if you'll like it or not.

Now DH is very excited. He has permission to go buy his Man Toy. And I, very secretly, am excited, too. Maybe I'm not bringing home any cash as a writer, but my writing has restored a vital part of my DH's history back into his life. A positive outcome of my many hours slaving over this book.

Confession: The next time I go to the Gun & Pawn shop to shoot, I am asking for the Zombie target.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Dowager Feline Strikes a Pose

For some of you who asked, I present the Dowager Feline as she pursues her addiction and teaches us lessons in persistence.

"I look relaxed, but I am waiting for dinner."

"It may look like a laundry room to you, but to me it is the diner."

"I'm waiting... hurry up... or I'll be loud and proud."

"Now I'm ready for my Liver."

"I may look innocent, but I am feisty."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Why the Dowager Feline Would Get Published if She were Human

As many of my blog followers know, I have an aged cat named Clancy. She is 18 years old and quite feisty. She's survived three major moves across state lines. According to our new vet, she has a feisty personality. I agree. In fact, her recent health scare and subsequent healing has led to our discovering many interesting qualities about Clancy.

Before her illness, we only fed the Dowager Feline dry food. But upon the vet's orders, we switched Clancy over to wet cat food. She loves it. In fact, Clancy's become a wet cat food addict. And she's not just addicted to all wet cat food. No. She only prefers certain flavors and textures of wet cat food. And she'll stop at nothing to get exactly what she wants.

Our Dowager Feline has developed amazing powers of persistence in achieving this goal. If she were a human and a writer, I bet she'd use these powers of persistence to get published.

Here are some of the Dowager Feline's methods and how a writer might utilize them:

1) The cat food is dispensed in my laundry room. Dowager Feline is deaf, but has excellent vision. She waits by the open door, which is directly across from our bedroom, and when I get up to get a glass of water, she meows for food. A writer might use a similar technique by continuing to be close to the publication door so when it opens, she can zip her MS through it.

Focus on the prize!

2) If the Dowager Feline sees me and I don't respond right away, she thinks nothing of finding another household member to meow at, very loudly, until that person goes into the laundry room to feed her. A writer needs to remember that when one person rejects her, she should immediately target another agent/editor with her work.

Focus on casting a wide net. 

3) The Dowager Feline knows my paths within the house. She knows the main areas I spend the majority of my time and she haunts them. She also travels my path. A writer needs to know her publishers and agents. She needs to read their blogs, learn their habits, look for interviews and know what they are seeking.

Focus on understanding the writing business.

4) The Dowager Feline does not eat food she doesn't like. She stubbornly refuses to eat only a few kinds of flavors. And she employs the first three techniques till she gets what she wants. Period. A writer needs to know that she deserves what she's seeking. She should walk away from negative, distasteful commentary or critique and she should also walk away from stinky deals that ask her to lower her standards.

Focus on quality and positive feedback.

5) The Dowager Feline always comes and spends time with me after she receives what she wants and fills her belly. She is sweet and cuddly and thanks me by keeping me company and purring very loudly. A writer needs to thank the people who help her along the way to achieving her goals. 

Focus on creating a positive image.

We writers can learn a lot from the Dowager Feline, Clancy. And now, off I go to feed my current cat owner.

Monday, May 17, 2010

OnLine Workshop Plug--Join in the Fun!!

One of my new volunteer positions with my writing chapter, RWA's Heart of Dixie, is to be their online workshop moderator. I'm new at this game, but just finished my first workshop and enjoyed meeting more virtual peeps in the classroom. The class is officially finished, but soon another workshop is available for online learning. I've included the information in this blog for three reasons:

1) Participants will learn a new way to create writing income even if you're not published in full length fiction.

2) Participants will have the opportunity to send in the first few pages of their manuscripts for critique by PUBLISHED authors and TWO of these will be selected for FULL CRITIQUES! How cool is that? Very cool.

3) I am offering a PRIZE to the first person who signs up for this class and mentions that they read about it on DIGGING OUT OF DISTRACTION. The prize is an autographed copy of Kira Sinclair's book, AFTERBURN.  I have a copy. It's fantastic.

So come on and join in the fun. I can't wait to see who signs up first!

Airing Dirty Laundry – Use Family Stories, Eavesdropping and Cable TV to Create Writing Income

Instructor: Marilyn Puett

Online Workshop Through Heart of Dixie, RWA,

June 7 – 21, 2010

Cost: $20, Deadline for Registration June 5th.

Course Description:
Airing Dirty Laundry offers information and tips on how to create a source of outside income by writing short stories for the confessions and romance magazines.  This two-week workshop is geared for writers who want extra income while waiting to sell their first book, are between royalty checks or simply want an extra income stream.

This course takes students step by step through writing a confession.  It begins with learning the market, developing hooks and compelling story lines and structuring a story properly.  By the end of the course, students should have a story ready for submission.

Additionally, participants will be given the opportunity to submit the first few pages of a story they start during the class and have the pages critiqued by published writers.  Two stories will be selected toward the end of the class to receive a full critique.

Instructor Bio:

Marilyn Puett has sold over thirty stories and a half-dozen short feature articles to the confessions and romance magazines.  She has also sold to an e-zine called Chick Lit Review and an anthology titled, appropriately enough, I Confess.  She appears in both the 2008 and 2009 Bylines Writers’ Desk Calendar and her article “Short Shorts – Not Just a Fashion Statement” was featured on the Writing for Dollars website.  Marilyn is a member of Heart of Dixie RWA and serves RWA on both the local and national levels.  A founding member of The Writing Playground, a website for aspiring writers (, she lives in her empty nest in north Alabama and dotes on her granddaughter.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

When "Life Happens"

Life happens. The real world presses in on our writing work all the time. Sometimes the pressure is low. Other times, one feels as if trapped in a diver's shark cage under the sea, oxygen is low, oh, and by the way, there's a shark. Oh, and another thing, cage door lock is broken.

This week was a lot like being in that diver's cage.

Darling Father-in-Law passed away on Wednesday morning. Not unexpected. Not wanted, either. But there it is: the end of a man's life. One who never demanded anything of us, one who I loved, and one who is missed.

And surrounding the loss of a loved one are all the people, the personalities, the old pains, the unresolved issues, the layers of good and bad, the stages of grief being played out by all in varying orders. One becomes angry, the other sad, the other practical, the other helpful, the other in denial, the other accepting. And so it goes. Will go on for about a year depending on the person and the personality.

Me, I guess I already grieved a lot prior to the loss. I have accepted it. I suppose my anger stage is being used to fight the VA for my FIL's deserved benefits. Good use of it, I say. I guess that covers the practical, helpful stage of grief, too. But I know at various times this year, and in the ongoing years, I'll mourn a little again. It's normal to miss someone we loved long after we have sad our goodbyes.

But despite all the "life happening" moments this past week, I managed to write. Not as much as I would have liked, but more than expected. The writing helped me go through the whole denial thing again. being lost in my world of people and their personalities shielded me from some of the pain of losing my FIL. I challenged my feelings into my writing, and it helped.

But when the phone rang, I didn't ignore it. When my darling daughter heard the news and burst into tears, I held her in my arms till her tears subsided. I called, too. My darling hubby needed encouragement and love. My FIL's sister and his widow needed emotional support. I did, too. I also gave myself a day to do nothing other than clean the house from top to bottom. Cathartic. I tend to get practical when life happens: cleaning, ironing, organizing, busying.

I've learned that we grieve the way we live: our personalities and how we cope with life also dictates in a great way how we will cope with death.

I'm a doer, a practical sort with a desire to get things done. So I got busy.

I wrote, I story boarded, I moderated an online workshop, I tussled with my synopsis, and I prepped my MAGGIE entry for review this week. I didn't have an editor breathing down my neck who expected me to turn in my revisions by Friday. But I wrote because I gave myself a deadline, albeit self-imposed, and I will meet it.

I treat my job as a profession. And writers must work harder, even if published, to maintain that attitude. Other than my OWN death or serious illness, there are NO excuses. I must complete the task I set for myself by the intended deadline to maintain the self-discipline I need to become a successful published author. This isn't a hobby I can set aside. This is my career.

How do you treat your writing, if unpublished, when "life happens?"

Monday, May 10, 2010

Southern Romance Writers Give Back

Despite being very busy individuals, many of the Heart of Dixie members and PUBLISHED authors are doing something extra special this year. They are working alongside the Huntsville/Madison Public libraries to bring writing programs and lessons to the public FOR FREE! Now let me tell you, these ladies are already givers. Most of them are members of our local Chapter and are actively involved in the board. In addition to writing, they have families to look after and in some cases, other jobs! Yet they are taking time out of their schedules to share their experiences as writers with people who might aspire to one day become novelists. Teens and adults will benefit from this gift. So check out the links below, go visit my writing friends' websites, and if you live close to Madison or Huntsville, pop into one of the libraries and learn more about the crazy, zany world of writing!

Heart of Dixie and Huntsville Public Libraries 
Summer 2010 

MAY 16/2PM: ―Publishing 101with Kimberly Lang  (Madison Branch) 
If you’re confused, overwhelmed, or simply mystified about what it takes to get your book from 
your desk onto a bookstore shelf, then this workshop has the answers you need. Learn the basics 
of the business, including publishing models, what agents actually do, and how to protect your- 
self from scam artists. 

June 3/4PM―How I Became a Famous Teen Romance Novelist‖ with Tricia Mills (Madison 
Do you want to see your imagination in print? Is "novelist" your top career choice? Tricia 
Mills describes what it takes to get it done and issues her "Summer Writing Challenge" just for 

June 18/10AM – ―Creating Compelling Characters‖ with Rhonda Nelson and Kimberly Lang 
(Bailey Cove Branch) 
The best plot in the world will fall flat without characters your readers love (or love to hate). 
Learn how to create realistic, three-dimensional characters your readers will never forget. 

June 19/10AM – ―Conflict and Emotion: The Heart of the Story‖ with Linda Winstead Jones 
(Bailey Cove Branch) 
What drives your story? What drives your characters? Go beyond plot to the real heart of your 
June 25/10AM – ―Plotting and Pacing Your Novel‖ with Lynn Raye Harris (Bailey Cove 
How do you decide what happens in your novel? Do you have enough plot to carry you to the 
end? Is there too much going on? How do you keep the action going and your readers turning 
pages?  Learn these essential aspects of good fiction. 

June 26/10AM - "Fundamentals of Good Fiction" with Kira Sinclair. (Bailey Cove Branch) 
Do you understand POV? What about Show, Don't Tell? Do you know what a dialog tag is and 
how to use it?  Discuss these and other essential building blocks of your novel. 

August 3/4PM: Teens Strut the Write Stuff  (Madison Branch) 
Meet back up with Tricia Mills and the gang to share your experience and successes with the 
"Summer Writing Challenge." Get feedback from the group and some pointers from a profes- 

September 18/10AM:  Author Book Discussion with Peggy Webb, Debra Webb, and Lyn Stone
(Madison Branch) 
These prolific and bestselling authors have written over a hundred romance novels covering mul- 
tiple genres and subgenres, including  suspense, historical, comedy, mystery, and more. Join 
them for an informal discussion of the passion they all share: books!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

How the Nook Hooked Me

My DD and DH gave me  a Nook for Mother's Day. Me. The technologically challenged gal received a GIZMO. Don't get me wrong. I am glad I got the Nook. I wanted one. But I did not jump onto the E-reader wagon willingly. 

No. I was seduced over a long period of time. 

I resisted anything E-reader for a long time because the reason I am technologically challenged is I am impatient. I loathe taking the time to learn about new gadgets. Why don't they just turn on and WORK? Why do I have to read a manual? Yuck. Why does anything electronic need me to understand its inner workings? I don't have time to learn inner workings. Really. I'm quite busy as it is and any spare time I have should be spent reading or, if I ever get off my duff, exercising. 

The evidence of my impatience with learning technology is clear to those who know me well. Here are some facts:

*DD and DH were going to give me a special food scale from Williams Sonoma, but they decided against it because my DD said, "Mommy will NEVER read the manual."

*I bought a new iPhone. My DD had to teach me how to use it. I learn by doing and am very visual. 

*I bought a MAC and DD was very excited when I told her I signed up for the classes at the APPLE store. I went to enough classes to learn how to use the computer competently and then stopped going. 

*I told my CP about the SCRIVENER writing program. I'd been using it for about 6 months. She is writing a weekly blog about the program and knows how to use it far better than I. Now I call her up for advice about the program.

*online contests and forms baffle me. I manage to muddle through them, but I don't trust the electronic sphere.

As you can see, my desire to avoid reading a manual or learn how to understand a gadget far outweighs my desire for the gadget and all it can offer me.

And then the Nook began to sneak up on me. Oh, I was intrigued, but hey, a book in the hand is so tactile. So me. Why do I need a Nook? And the cost. Hmmm. Then my brother came here from Canada and he wanted to look at the Nook. So off we went to Barnes & Noble and we all played with the "toy." Hmmm. Interesting, thought I. I learned I can use the Nook to read my CP's MS/WIPs by converting them to a PDF file and I could comment on them on the Nook. Well, but no tracking, so not sold. And I learned I could eventually "self-publish" my own stuff should I never beat down the publishing doors or get past the gargoyles at the gates. 

Ah, a little more interested now. But nope. Not going there. Not ready. Not yet. Just focus on the writing, I said. But oh, I was enchanted by the possibilities. I circled the Nook. Wary. I used the fact that we had other expenses to stop myself from buying it. I knew the Nook was teasing me with its possibilities, but I wasn't biting. No way.

Then my brother from Canada bought the Nook--an uncharacteristically spontaneous move for him. And off we went carrying the Nook to my home. Now he was showing me by example how easy it was to use for the average Jill. I stepped a little closer to the precipice. Almost got me there, that sneaky little Nook. But I was safe from tumbling over the edge. After a few days of fiddling with it, my brother realized he couldn't use the Nook in Canada because of having a Canadian address. Shame. I thought we'd take it back. I'd be free of the Nook's charming ways.

No. He gave the Nook to my DD. She instantly became an expert, downloading books and more. Ah, the ease she had in learning how to use it. The cool factor was there. Oh, the Nook had it all. But still, I resisted getting my own Nook. No amount of bells, whistles, coolness could suck me into the Nook's vortex. I knew I'd have a long learning curve, and I am in revision mode. 

No time to .... but.... wait... what is this? My DD is sitting at the breakfast counter, eating her breakfast cereal and next to the bowl lies her Nook. Flat, straight, easy to look at... OMG! I leaned in and said, "Wow, that's a lot easier than trying to hold a paperback while shoveling a spoon of Wheaties into my mouth." 

DD looked at me, her glasses askew from sleeping in them, and said, "A lot easier than a hardback, too."

OMG, I can read with out trying to prop open a book with a plate or a cup while I am eating? The joy! The freedom! The happiness! I confess that other than dinner time, we three read during meals all the time. After all, we're busy. We don't always have time to sit and read in a chair with the sun our faces or a comfy blanket keeping us warm. Nope. But during breakfast and lunch? Oh yah. That's maximizing our time. (Some diet guru might tell us we're not eating with meaning or focus, but who cares? We're just filling a hole, right? Might as well fill our minds, too!).

So now you know why I succumbed to the lure of the Nook. No, the Nook's fancy gadgetry and instantaneous delivery of books to my world didn't snag me. But the Nook's amazing ability to lie flat next to a plate was the final yank of the fishing line that set the hook.

*Confession: DD and DH gave me the Nook on Friday so I could have two days to learn how to use it.
*Confession: DD had to help me set up my Nook. 
*Confession: I am madly in love with my Nook and have downloaded two of the four new BRIDES books written by Nora Roberts.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The National Conference, RWA & Romance Writers Rock

Last week Nashville, TN and other parts of Middle Tennessee were deluged with rains that caused the rivers and creek beds to swell with water. The water rose above the levy and flooded much of downtown Nashville and one of my favorite spots, the Opryland Hotel area. Along with Opryland Hotel, the area hosts Opryland Mills Shopping Outlet, the Grand Ole Opry and more. This is a Star Jewel in the area that draws thousands of people to it on a regular basis. Watching the area become flooded and seeing the devastation to the Opryland Hotel was heartbreaking.

I lived in Tennessee for 14 years. My daughter was born in Knoxville, TN. And I have dear friends who moved to Nashville 14 years ago when my daughter was a year old. I've sipped chardonnay in the Opryland Hotel, enjoyed lunch at one of its many fine restaurants, and I've attended concerts, shows and my friend's son's graduation last year at the Grand Old Opry. So I was super excited when I learned the National Conference would be held in Nashville.

But Mother Nature had a different plan forcing our RWA Board to look for another venue for our National Conference. Yet, in all the scrambling to save our "party," the RWA Board and the Romance Writers of America membership also focused on how to help Nashville overcome this flooding and devastation. RWA has posted links to help with Flood Relief. Other members are holding auctions on their blog sites to help raise funds for Nashville, and the RWA is donating part of the money they'll receive for the Literacy Book signing to the Nashville area despite having to relocate to Orlando for the conference.

I love my organization. Not only are they capable and smart. They are caring and giving. Being a member of the RWA has enriched my life as a writer and as a human being. We come together in small ways to help and in large ways to help as well.

So here's a big wave from Alabama to my RWA Board and the writers who belong to RWA. You all rock!

Want to help? Here are some blog sites and places you can go to to participate:

Do the Write Thing

Flood Relief

Red Cross

Do the Write Thing

Monday, May 3, 2010

Keep It Simple Silly

Before I head into the ring again to wrestle my WIP in revision into shape, I had to have a meeting with myself to determine just how nuts I'd go with my wrestling technique. I've been banging this WIP's plot hard, punching holes into the plot, taping wounds in the words and sending out 911 distress calls for medical intervention via contests, workshops, brainstorming, and CP/beta reader feedback.

The WIP lies on the desk, a pile of 250 printed out pages in a crooked, yet ordered 1-250, jumble. On top of it I've stacked the current short story sketch, two newspapers with articles about tornadoes, contest feedback with useful and constructive criticism and the original GMC charts I planned a year ago.

In front of me, on the wall above my laptop and desk, are about a dozen Post-it notes with little jottings about the book. They include tidbits about ongoing word counts, reminders about what I want to read and do for my writing, a workshop class list that I am moderating (in HOT pink), the Twelve Stages of Intimacy, a few agencies I plan to query (in BLUE -- no reason why) and my RWA membership number. I also have another workshop's lessons about achieving believable romantic resolution taped to the wall.

Surrounding my desk, on the walls and door of my closet and in my bookshelves are my 3rd Revision's story poster board with notes on it in ball point to show the new changes I plan to implement, other craft books, mounds of paper ready for the printer and my collage that I created while brainstorming the first draft of this book (over a year ago!).

In my computer, under the book's title, I have a bunch of files containing all the drafts, in WORD and SCRIVENER. I have my contest results (the ones that are helpful), my CP's comments, and my character interviews.

Sigh. The visual clutter is making my mind rebel.

Here are the results of the meeting with myself:

1) I'm not ready to straighten out this mess within my mind. Oh, I've got dozens of ideas and my story is semi plotted again. But I'm not ready to plow into the pile of papers on my desk and make it all work.

2) I will be ready to straighten out this mess by the end of the week. My butt is in the fire. I entered the MAGGIE with this story. I have to find a way to carve out 30 decent pages of writing and a new synopsis reflecting my story's evolving plot. I've got to do it by June 1.

3) I've determined that this is my final lob of the revision ball. After I enter the MAGGIE with what I put together, I will focus and keep on revising till the end of June.

4) During the first part of July, I'm pulling together my pitch for Nationals and the M&M Conference.

5) But will I continue to revise this book after July 1? Yes, but only AFTER I GET A REQUEST. If I don't get a request, what is the point? I need to take what I've learned and apply it to the next book.

6) It's time to Keep It Simple Silly. It's time to focus on what I can fix, not worry about rewriting the entire plot again, and toss the book out there to see if there is any interest in it by people who will represent me or pay me to fix it.

If I stay mired in this book, I'll be writing four books and only have one to show for it. Not going to work. Not anymore. I got to finish it to the best of my ability, but I don't have to keep reinventing the wheel. This summer I need to move on so I can write the book that MIGHT be the one that gets my foot in the door.

I'm keeping it simple so I can free myself for the next idea and the next book.