Saturday, February 28, 2009

February 28

My lap top was moving slower and slower. I thought - oh, no. I should have this checked. But I put it off.

Last Spring, I heard about this business called PCwebdoc- (Run by a fellow writer's husband.) I heard about it on one of my writer loops. Everyone raved that all you had to do was call him and he would go into your computer via the internet and fix any virus, maleware, etc. So, I wrote down the address on my calendar - -

LAst Fall, a friend of mine had him work on her computer and raved that after three hours, her computer was lightening fast again. So I kept the address case.

Meanwhile my computer grew slower and slower. This month another friend of mine had her laptop crash so bad she tossed it down the garbage shoot. Bought a new one at the tune of $800-yikes! Now I am looking askance at my own frustratingly slow lap top...wondering if it was going to bite the dust on me after only two years... Still, I put off the lap top doc visit like I put off my own doc visit. What you don't know can't hurt you, right?

Then yesterday after two weeks of my web browser freezing randomly, the whole thing screamed. Big sign came up about log in error-I couldn't turn it off. Couldn't get anything to work. sigh... I had to take the battery out to shut it down.

Enough. I took a deep breath. Turned it back on. Went to the PCwebdoc website and made a phone call. Nice people. Happy to help. I let him into my computer and he checked it out before he did any work. He told me it did indeed need some help. (It was freaky to watch him take over my mouse pointer and go through my computers internal files. I could view everything he did on my screen.)

Three hours later, my computer was back in my hands. It runs so much faster- amazing. I skipped around the internet. So, I thought, it wasn't my service provider that was This is what DSL should be- Besides being faster I now have confidence that my lap top will live a long and healthy life and is immunized from viruses for another year. I highly recommend the service. You never have to leave home. Cool, huh?

Friday, February 27, 2009

February 27

It's Friday and I promised to update you on the great agent query. To give you all some background, I have been writing seriously for 15 years. During that time I've signed with two very different agents-neither sold a single book for me. I sold all nine books, myself. So, why still agent hunt? Because editors take you far more seriously if you have someone else pitching you. Sad but true. This particular book is a new genre for me-thriller vs. romance. So I am hoping to find representation to launch me into the genre. Note the word-hoping- if no agent has the time or inclination to represent this venture. Then I will send off queries myself. To be honest at this point I trust myself to rep me far more than I trust an agent. Both of my ex-agents were well researched- no fee charging and NY based-one was with a very big agency. One was with a boutique agency. So, I'm a little jaded. *shrug*

Here's the key- keep plugging. So far I've sent out five e-queries and received one answer..."Sorry, this is not the right project for me at this time."

Today I'm mailing out eight queries- some with five pages, some with twenty- one with fifty per their submission guidelines. I expect to hear back by June-yes, June is reasonable in this crazy business. In the meantime, I've got another book to work on. Cheers!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

February 26- All a Twitter

I caved. I am now trying out a new social media called Twitter. It's like Facebook with status updates being the main thrust. So everything is short and sweet. I'm trying to figure out how to reply to posts-called tweets. I suppose it's good for the brain to learn new things. People tell me twitter is addictive. We'll see. Right now I prefer Facebook-I enjoy reading status updates and replying. I hope that Twitter turns out to be as much fun.

Special thanks to Morgan Mandel and Howard Hopkins for their help and hints when it comes to Twitter.

In the meanwhile I have agent queries to prepare for a big mailing tomorrow. Updates on Friday. Cheers!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

February 25- Question

I'm wondering about book promotion- here's the question: How short is the memory/attention span of the consumer? Why am I asking this? I am wondering if promoting six months or even six weeks before your release date does any good. Studies show that book buying tends to be mostly an impulse buy-which means if you can get shelf space near the checkout counter you're in!

Seriously, only 20 percent (That might be a high estimate) of books are purchased on-line today. Which means if you have a small press or on-line book you need to reach the 20 percent of on-line buyers. Now there is all kinds of advice on how to reach them-as previously discussed. Tons of hand selling through blogs, social networks and groups- but there are also hundreds of authors doing the same thing-on the same spots. So-the question is-is it better to promo the book six months out(Yes, yes, I know about the studies where they have to hear the title so many times to know it-what is it up to 50 times now? ) OR is it better to network and become "friends" then remind and repeat thirty days out?

Because anecdotal info is that we might remember the title- the author- but still forget to buy-why? We become busy. We think we've bought it and it's on our to-be-read shelf. Or we've seen so much promo that our brains start to skip and delete-

Opinions? What makes you buy?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

February 24- Fat Tuesday

It's Fat Tuesday- time to party like it's 1999... oh, wait- I guess that's 2099 now.

I went to a writer's meeting last night and listened to two wonderful readings. The critique that followed was lively and thought provoking. It's good to get out of the house and be with friends.

Today, it's back to querying agents. I am reserving judgement on electronic queries. Only about 1/3 of the agents want e-mailed queries. I am leery of them, to be honest. The agents who want them make no promises- they say if you haven't heard from them in two to four weeks-send another e-mail if you don't hear after another month consider it a rejection... What? um, How do I know you even got the e-mail?

I personally prefer snail mail. I can track that it went to their building. I think a stack of queries on the desk are more likely to get attention than a single e-mail in the 500 messages a day received by an agent.

Still electronic e-mails are quicker to send out and cheaper. So, I am sending them to those who prefer electronic e-mails- meanwhile I'm compiling a list of snail mail queries to go out. I'll keep you posted on which one got the most responses.

Monday, February 23, 2009

February 23

Monday morning, 7 degrees F outside. Cold. Dark. Crunchy snow on the ground. Monday.

I have a dentist appointment today. Joy. Thank goodness it's just an cleaning/exam. Why is it that with dentist appointments-and taxes (something I sent off yesterday)- it feels like having to take a midterm exam? It's like reporting in that you are indeed taking care of yourself and living a clean life.

I certainly hope your Monday is exam-less and that there is sunshine even if it is cold.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

February 22 Chronically Creative

I spend a great deal of time making stuff up. I am pretty sure that's not "normal." But I can't imagine life any other way. If someone asks, "What are you doing today?" I don't know, so I make something up. "I'm going to the mall." They ask "What's for dinner?" I don't know, I'll go into the kitchen and make something up. In a job interview they ask what would you do in this situation. Again- I'd don't know so... I make something up. When asked, how are you going to go about marketing your book...again- I don't know. But one thing is for certain- I'll make something up.

It's what I do. Who I am. The answers are usually creative and innovative. Why? Because I don't follow "the rules" and do what everyone else does. I don't know how. I get bored. I'm in a hurry- I simply...make something up.

I have to admit this frustrates the heck out of a lot of people.*shrug* I've tried to stop. Really. I've tried to follow the herd-but then my brain thinks up something and poof... I'm making something up. It's a gift- or a curse. It's something about myself I've accepted- whether the rest of the world does or not. Call me a liar or chronically creative- doesn't matter,I'm too busy--making something up.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

February 21

I wish I had something interesting to say, but it's Saturday. I seem to run out of steam on Saturday. (Not to mention I'm hung over on cold medicine. Every time I take it at night, I feel like I can't move most of the morning. Sigh. A necessary evil for now.)

It doesn't help that there is no sun. Another snow storm is playing out outside my window and it's so dark I might as well live in a cave. Cheery beginning to the day, no? Well, coffee will help-not the weak drip kind. I'm going for the industrial double espresso kind...

See, these are the days you are glad I don't do video blogging.

Friday, February 20, 2009

February 20

TGIF- It's Mardi gras weekend. The last chance to party before Ash Wednesday and 40 days of Lenten repenting. Some people party like it's the end of the world. Some merely smile and celebrate family and ethnic traditions- one of our family traditions is Pacza- pronounced poonchki. A Lenten donut filled with various fillings. The idea was to eat up all the "treats and happy" foods so they don't rot-or tempt you during the solemn days of Lent.

No, poonchki for me this year as I am on a gluten-free diet. Sadness. But I do have gluten free pancake mix in the house. So, there will be pancakes on Fat Tuesday, another tradition. Where I went to college they used to hang pancakes in the trees for the birds on Fat Tuesday.

Other Lenten traditions include-meat-free Fridays, of course and dishes like Noleshicki (Yeah, I have no idea how to spell it so I sounded it out.) It's a crepe like pancake with cheese filling. Easy and simple for those Friday nights.

Then on Holy Thursday my mother always makes hot cross buns- a simple fruit bun with white icing in the form of a cross on the top. I couldn't wait for those-I loved the icing best-our first taste of sugar in 40 days as we usual gave up sweets for Lent. Those little buns meant that all the hardship and sacrifice of Lent would soon be over, opening the world to Easter and spring.

What, if any, are your family traditions?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

February 19

All the wild life is gone today as it is bitter, bitter cold out. The lake is all white-covered with the two inches of crunchy snow we had last night. I am back to working on my revisions. I hope to hit page 400 by the end of the day. Some days simply aren't glamorous. They are workhorse days. When the coffee is the same, the work stares back at you unblinking and even the bird chorus is gone. These workhorse days are good days to have. They are the core purpose. Your chance to make something you love better, to get lost in detail. Even though it is bitter cold out, the sky is clear and the sun sits on my shoulder...making me happy.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

February 18-the view

Today the view from my window grows more interesting. The lake is quick silver. Water patches rest in puddles on the top, but the lake itself is still frozen. How do I know this? Coyote just trotted by on top of the water. I wonder if he is hoping to snag a lazy goose. Yes, the geese are back, honking and standing one legged on the ice, drinking from the puddles. The banks of the lake are yellow/brown grass with patches of white snow where the shadows block the sun. The willow tree in the far distance stands out a bright tan while the other trees are stark brown lines and limbs.

Water drips in slow fat plops from everything as it rained only a few moments ago. Now, that rain is occasional fat white flakes of snow floating from the sky. As if it can't make up it's mind whether it is winter or spring.

No longer the quiet of mid winter, a cardinal sings...shoe,shoe,shoe, shoe.... geese honk.

I see a small sparrow at the tip of the Ash tree, a fat rounded silhouette in all the long lines of branches. The cardinal flits by a flash of red. The geese gather noisily for their morning coffee break, black vees in a silver white clouded sky.

Life returns Spring can't be far behind.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

February 17

Yesterday's big excitement-besides sending out a query and then having second thoughts and wondering if I could have added something else (time will tell)- was watching six white tailed deer wonder through the woods behind my house.They always seem to know when the big dog, George, is inside. Lovely creatures... but of course the men in the family don't think of it like that. My son says, "where's the gun? Yum! Meat for another few months." (Hunting season is over.) My husband says, "That's a lot of deer so close to the houses. They must be way over populated. It hasn't been that cold that they have to come in for food...has it?" Um, yeah, we've had the third longest snow covered ground in recorded history.

Anyway-interesting to see the differences in viewing the deer. Definitely gives you an idea of each person's point of view.

Monday, February 16, 2009

February 16-Agent query

I have done my research on agents- I googled agents. Then went to Agent Query which lists agents to find ones that are looking for thrillers. I found seven good candidates. Then I went to preditors and editors-a website that rates agents and lets you know when someone is phony or has a bad reputation. I also look for an agent to be a AAR member as this association has a set code of conduct that I appreciate.

Now I have a starting list of four- these four represent my "ideal" agent for this book. There are more but I'm going to start with my ideal. I've already written and revised the book, written and revised the synopsis, written a sell sheet. Now I will sit down and write a query letter and send a letter to each of my four candidates. Their replies can come as early as today-if they do e-mail- or in the next few weeks. Here's hoping they want to read more.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

February 15

Happy Birthday to my nephew Brandon! Hope you have fun and enjoy your cake and presents!

I'm off today to have breakfast with two fabulous writers-Carrie Lofty and Liz Powell. Fun stuff.

Pop on over to my Sunday blog - This writer's Life for a good read.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

February 14-Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's day everyone. Sending out a virtual hug and want to let you know I appreciate you and your friendship.

Snowed here last night and covered everything with a white blanket once more. I suppose it was for the best. When the last snow melted it left the world looking a bit hungover-like a room after a big party. It needed a clean up, but without Spring rains the dirt simply hung around looking shabby. After last night's snow we are back to clean white ground and black and white trees. Funny thing is some of the geese have returned. They are hanging around on top of the white frozen lake, acting as if there is still water there for them to swim in.

Friday, February 13, 2009

February 13

For this week I am a "lady who lunches." Seems I spend months in my office and then go out to lunch with friends all in one week. Perhaps it is the nice weather-all the snow is gone-it is just below freezing-more snow on the way tomorrow. Anyway, I am spending today having lunch with a good friend who is a singer/vocal coach who also happens to be a natural born book doctor and I hope soon to be agent. I love creative people. So, I'm off.

Happy Birthday to my older brother, Patrick! Hope you are feeling better.

Happy Friday the 13th everyone!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

February 12

I'm more than halfway through the revisions on my thriller. I have people tell me, "Oh, I love revisions." Yes, so do I-I love revisions when I'm writing a first draft...and I am sitting there wondering how I'm going to get the scene to form and how the book goes and whether the story is even worth all the effort-that's when I love revisions. I sigh longingly over the thought of revisions. I tell myself, "revisions are so much easier."

But when I'm doing revisions... I long for rough draft time. I sit down and sigh and think, "first drafts are so much easier..."

It's a process. If done well, both rough draft and revisions take time and during any project you have your good days and your not so good days. So, here's to enjoying the process.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

February 11-the view

Thick fog rolls in wisps across the semi-frozen lake. The lake itself liquid silver where rain and snow run-off form puddles and rivets across the ice. Patches of snow sit stark white on banks of green brown grass. The trees themselves browns and blacks at once hidden and revealed by mist. Sublimating snow rolls off the banks and over the lake like a fog machine gone wild. All is quiet. The birds have yet to return somehow knowing that this thaw, this fog, will turn to ice and bitter cold by the evening. But for now-colors of brown and green sit boldly among the blacks and silvers hinting at the season to come.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

February 10- The hula hoop

I try to exercise...really. I used to run. Yeah, one of those nuts. At one time I was running five miles a day, but I quit when my back hurt and now my knees make this funny crunchy sound. So, I walk and do yoga and look for something more fun.

Which brings me to an article I read, where a best selling author claimed she worked out by using a hula hoop. Yes, the toy. She claimed that five minutes of hula hoop burns the equivalent calories to running for an hour. Sounds incredible. I had to try it.

Bought the hula hoop and discovered:
1) I can't figure out the correct movement to keep the darn thing going.
2) My dogs like to watch and secretly giggle behind their puppy paws.
3) It does burn calories-but not from the hula motion...noooo- it burns calories from all the squats you do picking up the hoop as it falls straight to the ground.

Still with the promise of losing inches on the tummy and fast calorie burn I'll keep trying. Sooner or later I'll figure it out or my butt will look great from all the squats.

Monday, February 9, 2009

February 9-busy day

There is a lot going on today. I'm off to have lunch with my friend and fellow author Marin Thomas. Marin has a book coming out in April- part of her new cowboy series. Hop over to her website to find out more.

My older brother is going in for knee replacement surgery today. He is young to have to have this surgery but he needed it. So I have him in the back of my mind.

There is a writer's group meeting this evening as well which I plan on attending. So, I doubt there will be much revision work done. I'll save it for tomorrow. Have a great week.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

February 8

Today, more errands. The little dog goes for a groom. If it seems like I just did this-I did. But the groomer was new and did a bad job that grew out too fast. Gracie is a Bichon. If her hair is long it must be double brushed every day or it mats. I love my dog but the bigger dog, George, likes to slobber all over Gracie and well, who has that kind of time to comb out mats? So, off we go in hopes of getting a shorter cut.

Sad part is Gracie likes haircuts about like I do- We get her in the car and turn toward the groomer and she starts to shake and cry. (I can relate. All I have to do is wake up knowing I'm off to the salon and I have the same reaction.) Some dogs love the attention. Not Gracie-it's something we have in common.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

February 7

The snow is melting! Last night the weather man joyfully proclaimed we were down to 9inches of snow on the ground. He bragged that it would continue to melt through the night. He was right. This morning there are puddles forming on the lake. You can see bare patches under trees and along the fence. The deer and coyote trails have created small tracks of exposed grass and mud. The snow banks near the mail box and along the drive are now down to shoulder height.

It makes me smile and think that Spring is less than 40 days away.

Friday, February 6, 2009

February 6

I accomplished revisions on the first fifty pages of the wip yesterday. Sadly, I lost an entire page to redundant words, etc. But instead of thinking I am not a good writing, I am going to congratulate myself for being such a good reviser.

I read somewhere that haste makes waste and if you write and toss out stories without really digging deep and "finishing" them then you're wasting your time and the editor/agents time. But of course this can also go the opposite way. It would be easy to say the story is never done-and you can polish until you lose the story and/ or your voice.

If you're writing genre fiction you may also hem and haw around and lose the trend momentum for your story. What will you hear? You'll hear..."Oh, that is so over done. Don't you have anything fresh and new?"

My point being that there is a fine line between polishing and taking the finish off.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

February 5

Yesterday's adventure into the city was fun. It was very cold out and our walk to the theater from the train station took longer than it should because we passed our street the first time around-we were talking about finding a Starbucks-I pointed at one, but my daughter said "not that one." So we kept walking never looking at the street names. Needless to say at 5 degrees it was very cold I was numb from the waist down when we finally found our theater. Don't you love adventures?

Lunch was great. The musical was a whole lot of fun and worth all the discomfort. Now today I have frost bite on my face from walking in the icy air-even with a scarf. I suppose I am a hothouse flower. Next time I'll put Vaseline on my skin before I go out.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

February 4 -show time

Today I'm braving the sub zero temperatures and taking the train into town. We have tickets to a matinee of Jersey Boys. It's a musical based on Frankie Valle. I'm excited and have much to do before we go-like bundle up in so many layers I'll look like a snow man-but at least I won't have frostbite walking. Oh, I know I can always take a taxi but the theater is only five blocks from the train station and they are predicting a high of 15 degrees. I can walk that-with the right amount of cold weather gear.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

February 3-Synopsis

Today is synopsis time, which if you have been following me the past year, you know I hate to write. Why do I hate to write it? 1) I'm verbose- I've noticed that I make a long story longer-even in friendly conversation. Because I think all the details are cool. Synopsis are the very opposite of that condensing 500 pages of story down to 5 or less. 2) I've been told in rejection letters that I've lost projects based on my synopsis. In other words, my past synopsises have not properly communicated the "fun" or "cool factor" of my work, which causes every synopsis to be suspect. 3)I've taken several synopsis classes, on-line workshops, etc. and according to my test readers, all it does is make it worse. 4)The synopsis is what sells the book to the publisher's marketing people and thus help the editor justify contracting said book. I find it difficult to prepare a proper pitch without knowing what the marketing people are looking for at that moment in time. Example: I might have a runaway bride- Marketing says "eh, nothing new." What is new about it is that she's stolen a space ship and heading for Pluto... Marketing says-"We don't do Pluto stories any more since it's no longer a planet." But there's camel with a hat-"Wait!" Marketing grins. "We can work with a camel with a hat." (Thanks to Joelle for allowing me to use her camel-whether she knows it or not. :)

Hmmm, see I am verbose. My point being that's a lot of pressure... Okay, all right. I'm off to work up a first draft. Cheers!

Monday, February 2, 2009

February 2-Goals

Oh, boy, time to turn my calendar and set up all my goals for a new month. I celebrated hitting last months goals, but now it's time to look at what work I want to accomplish this month. Time marches on...sigh.

My goal this month is to take the thriller manuscript I completed last fall- and show it to agents. Completing and polishing a full manuscript and sending it out to be read and critiqued is only the first part. Next I need to make any changes my readers spoke about, reread and revise yet again. Then a synopsis must be written. When I write a full draft, I generally don't write a synopsis, I create the characters and their problems and see how they handle it. So, now I have to go back and explain the story in five pages or less.

Once I have polished the manuscript yet again, and written a selling synopsis, then it's time to create the sell sheet. After the sell sheet is written and polished, query letters can be written and sent out with what information the agent or editor requests.

So-lots of work and goals this month. Hopefully I'll have them to celebrate at the beginning of next month. What are you goals for the month? Or do you not need goals to motivate you?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

New Program

I am hosting my daily blog on blogspot now. So that you can comment if you want. I debated taking away the Sunday blog altogether, but I think the two blogs have different purposes.

The daily blog is more personal-simple ramblings of the day from my office-my room with a view. If you follow it, you know I like to practice my descriptive writing by describing the view from my window. And ramble on about my work.

While the Sunday blog is more for writing tips, marketing tips and reviews. I may change that, but for now I'm going to keep both.

So, pop over to my Sunday Blog I talk about revisions this week.