Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Aug 31

Before I became a writer I would read up to six or eight books a week. Now, most of that time goes to writing my own books, so the number of books I have to be read is very high. Because I'm a writer, people give me books all the time and tell me that I need to read them. Then I have so many talented friends that I have a whole stacks of books that I purchased to support them and because I love their work and want to read more. Then there are my old favorites like Nora Robert's In Death series-which I am far behind on and Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books that I am embarrassingly behind on. Then there are the new thriller, horror, YA and scifi authors I was introduced to in my Master's program and after reading one want to read more of their work. If I could I would add about five more hours to the day and get caught up.
What about you? How big is your to-be-read pile?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Aug 30

One writer friend of mine was recently told by a person she just met that they didn't like her because she was a fiction writer and as such she was a natural born liar. This person didn't like liars. There is truth in the fact that as fiction writers we make stuff up for a living, but integrity is important in the messages of our work. If you are without integrity is shows in the writing.
Do we as fictions writers- and you don't have to be a fiction writer to do this- stretch the truth a bit? Sure. For us it's not about the accuracy of the details but the impact the story has on our lives and the lives of our audience. Does this make us liars. I don't think so. I happen to know for a fact that I'm a terrible liar. It shows on my face and in my voice-there is no hiding a lie for me. But I can spin a whopper of a tail out of the smallest detail. If you find that offensive, then I think we are better off parting ways.
So what are your thoughts on the subject? Is it absolute truth for you and your life, or do you love to spin a tale or two?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Aug 29

Fall is always a season of change. Kids go to school. Schedules move from summer activities to fall back-to-school--parent teacher meetings, sports gear up, band practice. How is a writer supposed to keep going as if nothing has changed? Some writers plan their deadlines around changes in seasons and holidays. I know a writer who wrote all her books in the fall and winter and took summers off. Others write year round while most of us write when we can. It comes down to this: if you don't plan ahead then your writing will suffer. Publishers count on winter holidays as slow times and summers being slow times and schedule accordingly. They know that people are prone to take vacations and attend conferences and it is difficult to get board meetings where everyone is available to get behind the new list and discuss who they want to buy. Publishers plan accordingly. As writers- we have lives and family and work and if we are lucky conferences. The very best thing you can do for yourself-especially if you are not yet published, is to create work deadlines that give you specific times off or at the very least account for changes in family and season. Self-imposed deadlines are the best way to get in the habit of writing like a professional. If you are in the habit of working around life then when you publish you will be better able to roll with the times.
Do you set your own deadlines?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Aug 26

Let's talk about writer's block. You hear about it all the time. The movies portray it as a writer sitting in front of a blank sheet of paper or a blinking cursor for hours even days with nothing to say. In the old days they would type a word or two- then get disgusted and tear the paper out of the typewriter and crumple it up and toss it on the floor. I like this image. There are days when I would like to do more than mildly delete- I would love to tear the page from the computer and crumple it and throw it at the wall.
That said, I don't believe in writer's block. What it is is fear. The person writing is suddenly afraid to open the door to the story- why? Lot's of reasons- fear of failure, fear that they aren't really any good at this, fear that this is the best thing they'll ever write that it will hit the NYT list and they will suddenly be in the limelight with nothing else to say. Or fear of humiliation that people will point at laugh at them for having the audacity to be a writer. The fear of humiliation or being caught as a fraud happens even after you have several books published.
How do you stop this? Put your bum in chair and write. Give yourself permission to suck. No one but you will read the first draft. The great part about writing is that it's not done until you say it's done. A lot of people will see it before it goes public. Stories are fluid and until the book is in print it can change. So relax and give yourself permission to write. Cheers~

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Aug 25

The view from my window is hot and swampy. The trees are deep green in shadow and bright in the spots where the sun hits. The sky is that brilliant blue that makes you squint with a handful of small puffy clouds. The air is thick with the scent of muddy water and mosquitoes. The plants are overrun with Japanese beetles. The sine wave rhythm of the cicada buzz creates a lazy feel. Heat rises from the damp earth and radiates back toward the sun. The lake banks are over flowing, swallowing trees and creating swamps.
Still hints of autumn are all around. There are trees with yellow and orange leaves peaking out among the green, found along the edges. The Canada geese can be seen flying in a vee formation toward the south. Small birds are flocking up. They all know that the slow lazy heat will soon be gone and Fall will arrive with it's warm days, cool nights and the scents of warm straw and dead leaves in the air.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Aug 24

I know you want to know why I'm late to my blog today~ I sneaked (did you know they say there is no such word as snuck? It's bad form so I sneaked) out to see a movie. I was amazed at the number of people at a Wednesday matinee. I think they had a senior citizen special.
I went to see "The Help." This is a movie based on a novel about a girl who interviews the black maids in Jackson Mississippi at the start of the civil rights movement. It is funny how the white girls are all suppose to go to college to get their MRS degree. Everyone is disappointed that the heroine got an actual Journalism degree and wanted to work-not get married. Her idea for a book is simple. Tell the story from the point of view of the maids. It was Jim Crow laws and the "country club set" are horrified that their maids use their bathrooms. A couple go so far as to have special bathrooms built in garages for the maids. What the heroine proposes to do can get these maids put in jail or worse--killed. It takes courage and fortitude but these women speak up and she writes their stories. The consequences are not pretty, but fairly told.
I wanted to see this movie because as a child of immigrants, my grandmother left school after 8th grade and went to work first cleaning hospitals then cleaning houses- she cooked, she cleaned, she raised other people's kids. I went for a ride with her through her town a few weeks ago and she pointed and said, "I cleaned that big house for forty years." She has told me in the past that one thing she knows- she knows her place. The difference between my Grandmother and these black women is that she is white and didn't have to battle Jim Crow laws. That doesn't mean she doesn't know what it's like to be "The Help."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Aug 23

It's raining here. I put little dog's sweater on her and took her for a walk. She protested the whole way~ her feet were getting wet! Such is the life of a pampered pooch. They actually make doggie out houses so they can poo in the rain and snow and stay dry. Um, yeah, I'm not going that far. She's a dog, a cute dog, but a dog. My daughter has me watching The Dog Whisperer- that guy would shake his head at the idea of a doggie outhouse. I like him. He says dogs are 100 percent predictable if you know what you're looking for and that it is the owner who needs to be trained. He thinks people need to get over the stories they tell themselves about their dogs feelings and become calm and assertive pack leaders. He tells women that this kind of calm and assertive behavior will help them in their work and their life.
It reminds me of that wonderful old movie If a Man Answers, where the young wife tries to save her marriage by using dog training techniques on her new husband.
Have you seen it? It's big fun. Remember always to be calm and assertive my friends. Cheers~

Monday, August 22, 2011

Aug 22

Happy, happy birthday to my Mom who turns 75 today! Hope your day is special~

Went to the movies this weekend and saw "Captain America." I loved it. It had some fun newsreel like scenes. The Computer generate image of the actor as a 90 pound weakling were awesome. Seriously looks like the same guy. I loved the character, Steve. He might be small and weak but he never gave up and he always stood up to bullies-even if they beat him up. One of my favorite actors is in this movie- Stanley Tucci. He plays the scientist who came up with the formula to create a "better soldier." It is all good fun.
Complaints: it ran a little two long at two hours and 5 min. and some of the military details made me squirm. To me it's a little disrespectful not to get these details right. It took me less than an hour to find them on-line. What details am I talking about? 1) you don't wear your hat inside. 2) Women have to have their hair up off their collar. Small I know but it pulled me from the story. I mentioned this on my facebook page and had two guys argue that women could have long hair in the 1940's and they showed me pics-some were Hollywood stills (if they can't bother to get it right now, why would they get it right then?) and some gave the appearance of on the collar but weren't. So I asked my sister a 20-year-retired Navy Chief if she knew what the regs (regulations) were in 1943 and she was able to send them showing that off the coat collar was standard. I also got some great links from my Romvets group. (A group of veterans and active duty who write mostly romance.) Here are some awesome links: US Reenactors-women at war and this great look into the basic training handbook from 1943. Check out page 5 of the handbook. Fun reading.
What complaints do you have in movies you love?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Aug 19

I love to bake. It's a creative outlet with immediate results. But I've found over the years that there are certain things that fail every time. Pie crust and yeast breads have never turned out for me. My guess is that I over work them. My mother's forte is pie crust. My grandmother makes bread to die for-it has a taste no one can duplicate. My daughter is good at yeast breads. Seriously, if they can do it, then I can do it. I simply have to practice more. So I am equipping myself with an artisan bread cookbook-this one contains gluten free recipes so I can make bread that I can eat-and a baking stone and a danish dough hook. I'm going to practice, practice, practice until it looks like the cookbook pictures and tastes as good as it looks. Trust me-this is going to take weeks, perhaps months and a lot of eating stuff that isn't quite right. But it's fun to try and something to distract me when the writing gets nuts.
What hobbies are you trying this year?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Aug 18

This morning I sent a book off to my agent. I hope she likes it and can sell it. I'm waiting for revisions on a proposal for a second mystery series. When you write, you write years ahead of yourself. Sometimes I'll write a book that is spot on for the current market and sometimes I'll write one that sits for a few years until the market swings to that type of story. I recently read a blog where the writer spoke about readers wanting to read a new book now and not understanding that what can take them hours to read can take months and sometimes years to produce. So there is always lag time of one kind or another. The good news for readers is that it is a way of keeping the quality of the content. Trust me, you don't want to read anyone's first draft. lol. In the end, for the reader a good book is worth the wait.
Writers, how long does it take you to write a book? As a reader, what do you hate most about the wait?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

This morning I got up to find that the chipmunk has discovered my back deck and the mother load of grapes. He was checking out my potted tomatoes when I first saw him. Then he went on to enjoy the grapes. After battling him last year to prevent his burrowing under my front stoop, I don't know what to do about this new turn of events. I can't put down the "stay away" crystals on the deck because little dog uses it. She likes to smell the chipmunk but doesn't keep it away. It's times like this that I miss big dog. He would have a blast guarding the grapes. He was a good hunter and always made sure there were no rodents in my yard.
Any suggestions on how to save the grapes without harming the dog? I'm putting on my camo face. It's war chipmunk!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Aug 16

Summer isn't officially over for another three weeks-Labor Day weekend in the States. But it's over for many kids already returning to college and to school. I go into the stores and see the parents stocking up on the school supplies on the list for their child's grade. In our current economy there are many parents who can't pay for supplies. There are kids who will feel bad- or less than everyone else because they don't have the 24 pack of crayons. They only have the 12 pack. Even worse are the teachers who point out to the kids that their parents didn't buy exactly what was on the list. It's hard enough when kids wear hand-me-downs, and only get one meal a day-the free school lunch. Or worse, they're living in cars or shelters or hotel rooms.
Let's band together to help these kids out. There are some great organizations near you that take donations of school supplies. If you can spare a dollar or two, please pick up a school supply list and purchase one or two items on it. Let's help all our kids feel as if school is a place they can fit in, and forget their parents worries, and their hunger-at least for a few hours. Cheers~

Monday, August 15, 2011

Aug 15

They say that no good deed goes unpunished. I am here to say that what I thought was a nice thing turned out to be confusing and apparently misleading. Funny how writers and professional communicators can still send the wrong message.
What am I talking about? I'm talking about my Goodreads giveaway. When it was over and Goodreads picked the two winners, Lauren and Emma. I immediately announced it here, and on Facebook and on Twitter and everywhere where I had talked about the contest. Then I saw that Goodreads allows me to see the first name and Goodreads link to all who entered. So I thought I would send each of the 1559 people a personal thank you note for taking the time to enter. I got to about 25 when I got an e-mail back that went something like this: So did I win? Then I thought about the others I had connected with who said they were looking forward to reading The Counterfeit Bride and now I'm concerned all 25 thought they were winners because I sent them a thank you. Yes, I now know that I should have said the winners were announced and congrats to Emma and Lauren and then said Thank you for your entry. Lesson learned.
Here is my apology to everyone I contacted who may feel misled. It was not my intention. I'm terribly sorry.
Has this ever happened to you?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Aug 12

Happy Friday everyone~ The view from my window is sparkly green as the sunlight hits the leaves on the trees. The windows are open and fresh air is blowing in. It smells like warm gentle summer. The scent of fresh tomatoes and zucchini, oregano, beans and peas from the garden. The lake has lazy waves. There is a hum of cicadas that starts out low then grows louder and louder then back to soft mimicking the waves. I can hear crickets and bird song. All is steeped in the soft sweet heat of summer. Perfect for lemonade, a good book and a easy hammock.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Aug 11

The internet is playing havoc lately. First it was my blog list, next I could not log onto Facebook. This morning it took a while to be able to get into my e-mail. It's awful how much I rely on these things to communicate with family and friends, and to market my books, etc. I really count on the internet for my news both local and abroad. It's quicker and less skewed than the television news. So it hurts when things go wacky.
I'm told Google+ is the culprit as every other web service is trying to update quickly to compete. Blogger is changing, Facebook is updating, e-mail services are updating. Sigh.
I suppose all the constant change is good. It keeps the mind sharp. But then it may also steer some people away and back to old fashioned things like phone calls, snail mail and newspaper.
What do you think? Do you keep up with every new change or do you long for the "good-ole-days?"

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Aug 10

The Goodreads contest is over. A big THANK YOU to everyone who entered. There were 1559 entries and two winners. The winners are: Lauren from Lacy, WA and Emma from Cincinnati, OH. Congrats! The books will be in the mail by this weekend.

Thanks to Judy Croome and Joelle Charbonneau for suggesting the contest.

Okay- I just checked my list of blogs I follow and it's gone! What is going on? I follow a lot of blogs and I use my blog list to read you all. Now Blogger says I don't follow anyone. Does anyone have an idea what happened? Will it come back on its own or do I have to go searching? Gah! I don't have the time. sigh. Isn't technology grand.

Hope your day is wonderful. Cheers~

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Aug 9

Today, I'm in between writing and editing and I look up to see that my office is totally trashed- again. Don't get me wrong, I vacuum and dust it every week. But when I am in the throws of writing or editing things tend to pile up. I work around the piles gloriously able to ignore them. When I'm done, I look up and see that things are falling. Piles are mixing when they shouldn't. Then I know it's time to suck it up and start sorting and filing and boxing and wondering how the heck I never noticed that I had guns and knives falling out of my closet. (Okay, don't be scared. My office closet is a catchall for the house. I think I was digging for boxes and dumped misc. things out. Thus the son's hunting stuff ended up on the floor.)
Everyone has their own level of organization that needs to go on when they write. I usually start out spotless and the more I get into the work the worse my office gets. I dig through books for names and leave them open because I may need it again. I have research books and several style guides and dictionaries- my feet are on a pile of research books right now.
What is your level of comfort when you write/read?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Aug 8

I started today off writing July 8- sigh. Do you ever do that? I mean wow what year is it? lol. Time flies, especially when your brain is hip deep in a book- either writing or editing. You're in your character's time and if I didn't have family around I wouldn't really know night from day. I've read that some writers will even not eat. Hmmm- I can't go that far. I'm an eater. That is obvious by my facebook posts about baking things. This weekend I made Zimtkucken for the first time. It is a yeast based cinnamon coffee cake. I can't eat it because it is made with flour- but everyone else can. The house smelled like a bakery. I posted the recipe in the notes section of my FB page.
Another tip for the time challenged: since it's not good to sit too long, I set the kitchen timer for 60 minutes. My office is upstairs but I can hear it. I have to get up and go downstairs to turn it off. Then I get water as well. This helps stretch my muscles and keep me hydrated.
Does time fly for you? If so, do you have any tips to combat it?

Friday, August 5, 2011

August 5

Sorry to have missed you yesterday. I made a road trip to see my Grandmother. She'll be 92 in October. Sadly, I only make the trip once a year, but I do write her. Late last night when I was tired, I got two notices from friends that my FB account had been hacked. I have no idea how they knew- they told me to check my pictures- but I didn't see anything different. Still I changed my password. I'm super careful and don't play games, use linked apps, click on strange links or keep it open. Sigh. I am wondering if FB does the hacking since as best I can tell only a few people were effected. I say this because FB has been bugging me to "up my security" by giving them my cell phone and allowing them to send me text messages. I say no.
Do let me know if you get any thing weird from me.
I heard back from Awesome agent- the new proposal is passed step one and on to step two. I'll let you all know how it's going.
Have a safe and happy weekend~ Cheers!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

August 3

As of this afternoon 644 people have entered the Goodreads Giveaway for The Counterfeit Bride. That is awesome. You people rock!
At the end of the month I'm going to take Judy Croome's advice and place a book as a giveaway on Library Thing as well.
For my blogger friends- I know that I took quite a few months off from commenting on a regular basis due to school work, but now that I've been back at it I am disappointed to see so many bloggers who don't follow back. (Unlike you wonderful people who are so kind a patient with me.) There seems to be a line somewhere where they say- I'm popular and I no longer care about reading what you have to say. I wonder is this because of the different types of bloggers out there?Or do you think that the time of following blogs has settled into- these are the people I follow and that's enough for me?
Or is blogging so 2007?
What has been your experience?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

August 2

Today I turned in the proposal - first three chapters and synopsis-of a new mystery series I'm developing to my agent. I'm a bit nervous as she is an awesome agent and this is only the second work I've sent her so we are still in the "new" stage. I want her to "love" it. I want her to be able to sell it. I don't want to look like the first series was a fluke and I'm not really that good of a writer. Yes, I know- ten published books with many starred reviews and still I worry every book is not good enough. Silly, but there you have the mind of a writer. I know big name authors who feel the same. Many of us are secret Sally-Field-at-the-Oscars, "You like me. You really like me." Poor Sally, people make fun of that moment, but I'm here to tell you they make fun of it because we've all felt that way with one thing or another. Thankfully, she said it so we don't have too.
I'll keep you posted on the progress of the new series. Meanwhile, I'll be editing a couple of books and sending them off as well. After all, you never know what is going to sell next. Cheers~

Monday, August 1, 2011

August 1

All right my friends- the Goodreads contest is on for the next ten days you can enter to win one of two hard cover copies of THE COUNTERFEIT BRIDE. These books are priced at $24 each so it's a good deal.

It's new month with new goals. There is a group of writers on Facebook that is set up to do a writing push this month. It's a good idea. Now is not the time to query. Now is the time to write, write, write.

If you're a reader, this is a great time to ask your librarian to order your favorite books. Budgets vary but it doesn't hurt to ask.

Now the big question- what are you reading? This week I'm reading "Murder on Lexington Avenue," By Victoria Thompson. Cheers~