Tuesday, March 31, 2009

March 31

It's the last day of March- and for us it seemed to be lion, lamb, lion... we have rain on our snow today. With talk of more snow to come. I'm not surprised. Last year we had snow in May- and I find I've become more tolerant of the white stuff since I'm not driving in it. I do worry for the Magnolia buds-wonder if they have frozen. It would be a shame to miss them this year.

Question for today- do you read more in certain seasons? Summer beach books, winter cozy by the fire books? Or are you a constant book in every room kind of reader?

Monday, March 30, 2009

March 30

I've been asked when I thought I would hear from the editor of the book I just sent in. That question always makes me smile. I still haven't heard anything from a full book request I sent in last May to Dorechester. Some editors can take up to three years to look at a book. I usually bug them at the year mark and the 18th month mark then write the book off as rejected at the 2 year mark.

But the most recent publisher is Harlequin. They are very good at timely rejections. I know that they like to get things off their desk before the big Romance Writers of America conference in mid July. So, I will most likely hear the end of June or early July. Quick in terms of the publishing business.

Meanwhile I do have another book to write-the second partial I sent off in January and I'm playing with revisions on the book I wrote last Spring-this book is out to 8 different editors. Sure it's great if you don't have to write on spec (without a contract) but when attempting to move into larger markets or new publishers it's not always possible.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

March 29

Woke up to seven inches of snow. It looks like a beautiful postcard, everything in shades of black and white or sepia tone. The sky is one color of silver white, while the snow that coats everything is a brighter white. Dark brown, snow-covered branches wave, snow-covered ground gives way to deep silver rippled lake. Geese float across the water, bobbing in and out for food. The red-wing black bird is singing away as if it were sunny and warm. Meanwhile the snow keeps falling straight down, too heavy to even float in the air.

I found a camera. This is not the exact view from my window as the window is higher up. This is the view from my deck, but it's pretty close.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

March 28

This morning the lake is a series of steel gray, sparkling ripples. The geese are gone or better yet have yet to arrive for their morning rounds. Only the pair of mallard ducks hang out on the shore. I saw a fat bright red cardinal in the French pussy willow tree. His call fills the strangely empty air. It's cold. The wind blows strong and hard, stirring up more ripples. Bare tree branches shake and clank. The sky is pure white with a few puffy grey clouds and the sun is a lemon yellow streaming weakly through. The weather man is calling for rain and snow starting this afternoon. Perhaps the geese will stay away, hunkered down in their fields where the ground is warm.

Friday, March 27, 2009

March 27

We all survived George's big day out. He came back slightly stoned, drooling from the Novocaine and with five medications. He's still not talking to me-sigh. Gracie, who was dismayed when George was gone for hours, hasn't left my side. Oh, the drama. Pets are a lot of fun- and work- and as I found out yesterday sometimes they are their own soap opera.

TGIF everyone!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

March 26

Happy birthday to my friend Debbie who turns 50 today! It's a big birthday and I hope you make the most of it- may this be your best decade ever.

Today I have to take our big dog George to the vet to get his tooth pulled. It's trauma all the way around-because we have to leave him and he doesn't know and can't understand why he doesn't get water of breakfast. Poor baby.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

March 25

My happy goal for the day is to read my friend Carolyn Brown's latest book from Avalon, "Pushin' Up Daisies." I can't wait to see what fun she has in store for us.

If you have never read her, look for her at your local library or on-line. Carolyn writes fun, fast paced stories of love and women's lives. She has multiple books out-historical and contemporary from Avalon books and has a series of three women's fiction books due out in September, November and January from Sourcebooks. Look for them in bookstores and Walmart.

I hope you get the chance to read a good book today!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

March 24

I believe we are a race of story tellers. Our history-stories, our religions -stories, our current events-stories, gossip-stories. No wonder so many people tell me- Oh, I have a great idea for a book. I'll write it one day. It's sure to be a best seller. *smile*

But writing a book is hard work. First you tell the story-then you make it a book. You have to learn about the rules of books- point of view, grammar, sentence structure, action, dialogue, adding all the five senses so that the reader is grounded. Once you do that you send it out to have someone read to see what you missed-and then you write it again. Next you have to sell it to an agent and an editor-who most likely have ideas of their own to add-so you write it again. Then you have to sell it to booksellers and readers. Once you've done all that- everyone wants to know- when you'll do it again... what took so long... you know, they have this great idea-sure to be a best seller, if you write it for them, they'll give you a cut of the cash...maybe 20 percent-it was their idea after all...

Monday, March 23, 2009

March 23

I want to begin by saying happy belated Birthday to my mother-in-law Marlene. I was so excited to put the puzzle up on the blog that I forgot what else I wanted to say. So- Happy birthday! I hope you had a great day and have a super week.

Cold rain here today- obstructing the view. Which is good as I am re-writing the first chapter of the book I wrote last Spring. I also intend to put out more agent queries. And, I was right, nearly all the mailed queries have gotten responses-while the e-mail queries sit in never-never land. To me it's worth the price of a stamp just to hear back.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

March 22 Cool puzzle

I stole this cool idea from my friend Linda Kage.

Here is my book cover as a puzzle. Click on it and have a few moments of fun putting it together.

Click to Mix and Solve

March 21

I'm judging a contest. So far I've completed two out of five entries. But I am in a quandary. This contest has a score sheet and I put the numbers down as I felt after reading the work. Unfortunately upon adding things up- the better writer got the lower score. This baffles me and worries me and makes me wonder if I should revisit my scoring...did I subconsciously score the better writer harder? The first entry-with the higher score- is written pretty average for a beginning novelist. The story idea works, but the characters are still sketchy and the writing needs some work. The other one had characters who are unheroic and to stupid to live, dialogue is stilted, and there are huge plot holes but the actual writing is better- more junior level then sophomore. hmmm

I guess I will leave it for now-read the last three entries and then see how my scoring stacks up. I am usually a middle of the road kind of judge- not too hard and at the same time I don't give out perfects unless its earned. But I do worry when I lean toward the hard side. Someone paid good money to learn something about their work-not to be ripped apart. So my hope is to always help them learn. Wish me luck.

Friday, March 20, 2009

March 20

Happy Spring everyone!

Today is the first day of spring. The magnolia tree is producing big fat buds in preparation for the April/May blooming season. I hope the snow stays away. The French pussy willow is still waiting for a warmer day to burst forth-but that could be any day now.

The big dog, George, is in full spring moult-ugh- dog hair everywhere. He has a triple coat and leaves piles of hair in his wake. Think of Pig Pen from the cartoon Peanuts. Thank goodness that only lasts about a month.

This Spring- may your sunshine be bright and your allergies light. Cheers!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

March 19

The truth about the book business is that it is slow. Sometimes maddeningly slow from an author's point of view. But I try to understand. Editors and agents get hundreds of submissions a day and we all know how some days you get behind due to meetings, conferences, etc. It can set you back. Imagine reading hundreds of story bits a day-on top of the 50 page partials and the up to 500 page full manuscripts you've requested. Now, after that you have to read your current authors' works, edit revisions, meet with editors if you're an agent, if you are an editor you need to keep track of your editorial schedule, your production schedule, marketing, business updates... etc.

So, while we authors wait and twiddle our thumbs- these people work through mountains of stuff. My solution is always to write another book-which only adds to their mountain. Hmmmm maybe it's time to get a hobby for the down times. Suggestions?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

March 18

It's been a while since I described the view from my window.

The snow is gone. The lake shows no signs of the thick ice that covered it just two weeks ago. Today it is a smooth plate of dark silver, reflecting the black tree branches and the hazy white light of the low sun. Right now there are fifteen geese swimming in the center. But soon they will be joined by five times that many. A pair of Mallard ducks stick to the edge, searching for a good place to build a nest. The French pussy willow's white buds grow fatter everyday. But the grass along the banks is still yellow brown. The trees still bare. They know that it is only March and that we had snow as late as May last year. Still the air is full of bird song- honking geese, quaking duck, twittering sparrow, call of the robin. The air smells of warming earth and new beginnings.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

March 17

Happy St. Patrick's Day! My mother tells me that we are part Scots-Irish. What that means is my red-headed Grandmother's Scottish ancestors moved from Scotland to Ireland to terrorize the locals before they came to America- Canada and the US. And so I can claim a bit of the Emerald Isle in my blood.

I am an American mutt- which means if I look hard enough I may find a little bit of every kind of peoples in my blood. I think that's the greatest gift of all- don't you?

Monday, March 16, 2009

March 16

I mailed the book off yesterday-which means it will go out this morning and it is out of my hands.

I checked my thriller e-mail and found that I have yet another "Not right for us at this time" response to the thriller query. So, I'm working out whether the query is not right, or the book idea is not right or this is a bad time to be looking for an agent or am I looking at the wrong agencies? I've heard other people getting requests from agents- but they are writing a different genre and querying different agents. Hmmm. I will try a rewrite on the query letter and send out a few more- (FYI stats- of the 14 queries out on the thriller- 8 have replied- all have the exact same wording..."Not right for this agency at this time.")

It could be a timing issue. In the romance genre Spring and Fall are the best times to query-as Summer is eaten up by vacations and conferences and Winter is eaten up by the holidays. Do you know if this is true for all genres?

It's a puzzle. Cheers!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

March 15

We are half way through March already- wow, time flies. I am a bit better today. Going to have breakfast with two fabulous writers.

Here's a question-do you, as writers, stress over the perfection of the story before you put it in the mail? Do you have to read and reread every page? Or do you merely send it out once it's printed? Is it a struggle with fear and doubt and editor gremlins? Or do you simply mail it off confident you have done your best and it's up to the editor now? Inquiring minds want to know...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

March 14

It's Saturday and while warm sunshine streams through my window there is ice on the deck. I know this because the little dog-Gracie Boo Boo- would not go down the steps and I went out to encourage her with bare feet. It's cold out there. :)

I got seven pages from the end of my book yesterday when I did something to my back-maybe it was all the sitting-maybe it was the fact that I started stair stepping last week along with my usual walking and yoga- who knows but I am breathing in and out today. And my daughter pried my pain curled fingers off the lap top and told me to just let it go... seven pages from the end. sigh. But I can't sit. I'm standing as I type this and can't do that very long either-crazy.

Long story short will do the last seven pages in stages this weekend and will mail the book out on Monday. Can you say obsessive compulsive? ;)

Friday, March 13, 2009

March 13

The second Friday the 13th in a row. It's going to be one of those years- ;)

Today's chore is to seek out and destroy repetitive words in the book-then print out-do a final read and prepare to mail book out to editor tomorrow. It's a fast read and sexy fun-real kick butt heroine. I hope the editor agrees.

Enjoy your Friday the 13th everyone- hug a black cat-walk under a ladder-hand a horseshoe upside down.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

March 12

I am thinking long and hard about my memberships to "professional" associations. One in particular just upped there dues to ridiculous levels. I get very little out of it-and yet I have been a member since 1994. Crazy. Each year I watch more and more ridiculous rules put into place. There is always infighting and argument over who is a "real" author or not. My personal status has gone from- not real to sorta real-to real-yay!- but then back to sorta real- and now not real again. Nine books sold people- not vanity press. Still they argue.

The point of professional organizations is to 1) keep you updated on the profession through important information updates 2) help you meet and mingle with other professionals in your field. 3) advocate for your profession.

Now, I belong to a couple of such groups- so the updated info is redundant. The meet and mingle has gone away as well with the advent of social networks. Finally, in the 15 years I've been a member I haven't once needed an advocate. What about the newsletter? *shrug* I haven't read it in years. It always makes me feel bad about myself. What about the conference? 1) Non-members can attend. 2) The costs have risen well above the benefits. 3) I would rather take a cruise and lay in the sun for vacation. 4) Local conferences are better for promotion and editor/agent meets and greets and you don't have to be a member for those either.

Put down in black and white- the only reason I still belong to this organization is habit and a strange sense of loyalty to my friends who belong. Is that the right reason to spend hundreds of dollars a year? thoughts?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

March 11

Do you Twitter? I am still trying to figure it out... It feels a bit like walking into the middle of conversations-and then you're gone- no threads...but then I think I simply haven't figured out how to follow threads...just found the spot where people reply to your postings and I've been on twitter for a couple of weeks!

Something interesting that caught my eye were a bunch of agents/editors who twittered about queries and if they were successful or not- and what made them so...

Some interesting blogs popped up on this subject and I've been thinking-perhaps I'll make April query letter month on my Sunday blog-take four weeks to discuss query letters and what works, what doesn't... is there any interest in this? Let me know.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

March 10

The day after... the rough draft of the book is done. Today is my day off. It's soggy out-rain and fog. Sump pump goes on and off keeping the basement dry. I can hear geese flying in and off the lake. Some ice still floats on top of the water. I saw a muskrat dive under it. How do they stay warm? Robins, red wing black birds, finch, sparrows are all twitter-patted. Singing and fighting for territory rights. Good news-the French pussy willow tree has fat white buds on it. The birch tree has round red buds. My nose itches.

Time for allergy meds, lazing on the couch catching up on books and movies. Tomorrow...revisions. The circle of a writer's life.

Monday, March 9, 2009

March 9

Sunshine today. The store had tulips on sale so I bought some. They are looking lovely on my desk adding color to the muddy spring we are having. Today, I finish the rough draft-yea!There is also a chapter meeting for my local RWA. It will be nice to get out and see people. Cheers!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

March 8 Spring Forward kills

I'm sure everyone is going to blog about the time change today. Weird but I got up at my "usual" time-even with the change. Somewhere in the back of my mind I must have been thinking about the loss of an hour of time today. I know from experience that the day will zip by...until I get used to the change.

My question is-why if we only have 3 months of "standard times"-we even change at all? The whole reason for Daylight Savings time was to create a day with more light in it-so that people would get out and shop. Yep. It was all about stimulating commerce--and it works. Which is why they keep putting the time change farther and farther back and starting earlier and earlier.

But studies have shown a spike in heart attacks and death due to changing the clocks. It's imagined that the loss of an hour of sleep can kill you. It's a stresser in an already stressed world. So- take a nap today people. I want you around tomorrow. Cheers!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

March 7

Rain today-if it were November it would be a gloomy precursor to winter-but it's March so we are hopeful for Spring. The scene, though, is exactly the same. Rain, bleak empty branches, dead yellow brown grass. Oddly the lake is still froze with ice along the edges.

My great writing experiment is moving along. I am mentally and physically wiped. Will blog on that on my Sunday blog as I'm thinking I won't be this ambitious again for a long time.

Did I mention I got galley's for Dream Man Thursday. I need to finish those as well and send them to my editor. Busy, busy, busy...

Friday, March 6, 2009

March 6 - why I write

I finished my pages yesterday. The sun was out. There was a brisk wind, but the air had warmed, melted most of the snow. Puddles formed on the ice covered lake and I thought. Let's go outside. You see the dog yard hadn't been properly mucked out since it froze in December. Oh, we've tried to keep on top of it-so to speak-but with weeks of snow and ice most of it was frozen to the ground. I tried chopping it out once-but gave up and went in.

Now-now it was thawed. So, I pulled on a pair of old jeans, a jacket, gloves and rubber coated boats and headed out. Yay sunshine. I start raking. Nice. Ripe smell. Glad I didn't eat lunch. After an hour I was sweaty, covered in...well... muck, had raked 13 piles into 8 plastic grocery bags-which then went into one giant 30 gallon bag. That I managed to drag-that sucker must have weighed close to 100 pounds... yeah- to the side of the house.

Meanwhile the dogs laid on the dry deck sunning themselves and laughing behind their paws. Don't get too close, they said. You stink.

Lessons learned:

1) Poo really does roll down hill.
2) If you're going to muck-stand up hill.
3) Don't expect those who create the muck to help you clean it up.
4) Mucking is a chore best not to procrastinate about.

As for me, it was a nice reminder why I'm a writer- and not a rancher, dairy farmer, zoo keeper, pig wrangler or dog walker. Cheers!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

March 5

I imagine I am quite boring these days- what with talk of endless word count and pages. If it helps I only have four more days after today. Then the book will be written and it will be time to start revisions. That thought keeps me going...

Thank you all for your encouragement. It really helps.

It's supposed to be warm today- but the lake is still iced over. The trees still dark branches against an overcast sky. The only encouragement that Spring is near is the sound of bird song-which has been missing for six weeks. Robins, geese, crows, cardinals and I heard a woodpecker...

There is life outside my window.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

March 4

Love this date- It's so active. I was told that yesterday's date was a square root day- 03/03/09- and there won't be another until 04/04/16. Funny how people think of dates.

So far the great race to finish the book is on. My fingers grow numb. My bum is even numb-er. But the story is going. By the end of today I will have written 100 pages in 5 days. Only 100 pages to go after that...

Sure, it's daunting and a teeny tiny voice in my head screams nooo, you can't dooo it. But I sit down and write-one page at a time.

I do panic sometimes. Like last night as I was trying to sleep...I thought about that second proposal I sent out in January-for a single title Regency set historical... if I get a request for a full on that- I'll have 300 pages to write. Maybe when I'm done with this book, I should start in on that... I don't want to make a habit out of the 20 page a day rush... It really is a little too much.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

March 3

I have written 60 pages in the last three days. I had no idea typing could make your hands hurt. Yes, I have the ergonomic keyboard...hmmm. Today I hope to hit the halfway point on word count- word count for Harlequin Intrigue is 55-60,000 words. So it is just over half the size of a single title book.

The good news is -it's a fun story and I'm having a good time. But I find when I'm getting tired, my characters get tired-so I'm taking more breaks to keep the energy up. Coffee helps, too.

Monday, March 2, 2009

March 2

I am on a self imposed deadline. (See yesterday's post.) So, for the next ten days or so, I will be blogging later. I may only lurk on blog posts, etc. Please don't take it personal as I will try to keep up. But deadline first. That's what this biz is all about. Right?

We have snow and sunshine today. So there is warmth over my shoulder. Sparkling air out the window. Puppies sleeping in the sunbeams at my feet. A comfortable place to be while I write my brains out. Hope you find a comfortable place to be today, too.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

March 1- announcement

Yea!- new month. Spring officially begins this month. I have some news. Remember the proposal I sent out in January? (I sent out two. This is the first one- a proposed Intrigue for Harlequin.) I received a letter in yesterday's mail asking for a full...

A full- no revisions. Um, what? I read it again. Yes. They liked the proposal and want to read the full. Please send.

Only, um, the full is not written. The last two times I've sent something to H/S-they sent me revisions letters. I revised-resent- got a call from the editor and talked about what they wanted. She was disturbed to note that I had written the full-because then they couldn't revise without a lot of work. And eventually, they did reject the revised proposal. So this time- I merely wrote the proposal...and of course they want...THE FULL.

Usually this is not good. People take so long to write a full that the editor forgets and the writer gets discouraged. But I'm in the habit of writing- a lot...on deadline. So, deadline is set for March 15th- to have book complete, revised and on it's way. Which means less blogging and social networking, but hey- it really is all about the story telling. Right? Gotta go. Cheers!