Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Resolutions

It's New Year's Eve - time for 2007 resolutions. I've thought a bit about mine and since I can't stand failure, I haven't exactly made them impossible. But they'll definitely require some work:

1. Make two new book sales. (It has to happen folks, two books a year is the only way a full-time career will be born)
2. Improve diet and add some exercise. (Technically, this is self-defense, since I need more writing time and fattening foods make me sleep more)
3. Take time each week to work on organization until my household is an efficient machine and I don't search for hours for items I know I have before rushing out to buy them and finding them two days later
4. Work at being more fun and less serious. (This one's a long shot, but what the hell)

So what about you? Are you willing to take the challenge and put your resolutions in print for all the world to see? December 31, 2007, I'll pull them from archives and see how we all did.


Friday, December 29, 2006

The White Light Dawns

I had that moment this morning - that moment that I'm always waiting for whenever I'm writing a rough draft. It's that exact time when my mystery plot is finally revealed to me, the writer, and all of a sudden the sky clear's and bright light shines down from the heavens. Unfortunately, historically, this only happens when I'm approaching the end of my rough draft. So I spend most of my rough draft writing time wandering around in a fog of red herrings and plotting based on who I think the bad guy is at the time.

Then that moment happens and changes everything. Suddenly, I have a plot that won't make people weep with agony. I have a plot that might even measure up to the first book. I have a plot that I would be happy to read - and I'm no easy reader to please. Happy days!

Now all I have to do is go back and thread the clues and add in scenes throughout the first 210 pages. That's all - no big deal, right?

So do you have those moments while writing? Are you a panster at all? Or do you have a notebook full of notes and a plastic container of index cards before you sit down to write? And if you work the last way, how much does your finished product vary from your original notes?

I'm only lacking the climax of the mystery then the culmination of the H/h relationship to wrap up this story in rough form. Then it's on to layering in description (something I tend to skimp on in the rough draft), adding the humor that everyone wants and layering in my new mystery plot.

What a great way to bring in the New Year!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

C'mon Weekend

Well, it's official - I have a cold. Went through that whole sweating to death while sleeping thing last night. Now, I'm hot natured, but the house was only 55 degrees and I had a regular cotton sheet and blanket and was only wearing a thin cotton shirt and undies - not exactly winter wear. The good news is, I work for a web-based software company, so my work doesn't have to fall behind if I'm out. I only need an internet connection and I'm good to go.

I got a new review on Rumble yesterday and was supremely pleased with it. It's from AAR (All About Romance) and they are tough, tough, tough! They rarely give A's and I am overjoyed at getting a B+. Check out the review on their website.

In other news, I am finally hitting max stride on UNLUCKY and am really working the kinks into the mystery part of the story. It takes actually writing before I can come up with all the little twists and clues that make it worth reading and hopefully I have made it work again. Of course, all that thinking while writing means major rewriting once the rough draft is complete, but hey, layering in emotion or description is so much easier than creating the characters and creating a mystery plot that works.

Has anyone made resolutions for 2007? If so, I'm going to do an official resolution post on New Year's Eve. You're all invited to post here. Next year, I'll pull up the list and we'll check in with what we accomplished. No pressure. :)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Movie Review Wednesday

So I'm a little late and it's not exactly movie review Monday, but hey, there was a holiday. Also, today is doctor day when I get all my annual/quarterly visits satisfied so I apologize for late blogging today but I was busy being naked at the doctor's office.

I actually saw two movies over the weekend, but I'm only going to talk about one right now:

Little Miss Sunshine

Rented it and LOVED IT! Now several of my writer friends kept saying this was such a great movie and raved over it, but I was cautious about seeing it. Mainly because it seemed a little too literary, artsy for my taste. Not that I don't like a good artsy/literary type film, but only if the point they're making is right out there in front. If it's buried too deep in clever dialogue and meaningful looks then it's just too much effort for me. I watch movies to escape - period.

LMS did not disappoint. There is simply nothing more entertaining than a screenplay that takes a totally disfunctional family and makes them funny. All brands of humor were covered here - silly, clever, sad and gallows. It is the first movie I can remember in forever that made me laugh out loud - WAY more than once. I might have even passed ten out loud laughs.

The script was fantastic, the characters each so unique and so perfect for the plot. I loved every minute of it and think everyone should rush out and rent it if you haven't already seen it.

My Rating: Two Thumbs Up and At Least Ten Laughs

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Back in the Saddle

Well, it's Tuesday morning and aside from fighting either a sinus infection or a cold, I'm officially back in the saddle. Managed to drag myself out of the warm bed around 5:30 this morning and head out to the cafe to write. I actually got 6.5 pages done - whoohoo!

And I'm definitely back on my sarcastic humor (thank God - I was starting to miss me). So the church men were meeting today. If you don't know about the church men, read my earlier blog. And today they were discussing all the gaps in the Bible, things like unfinished plotlines, character ARCs that abruptly end - that sort of thing (but not exactly in those words). So one guy says "For instance, what do you think Joseph was thinking when they were in the stable?"

To which my immediate thought is "he was probably thinking - if this baby looks like the blacksmith, all bets are off."

It's good to be back!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

For your holiday enjoyment - fun with animals.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Home At Last!!!!!!!

Sorry to leave you guys hanging, but I ran out of battery on my laptop and believe me when I say there wasn't an available plug in the airport. Hell, there wasn't an available two foot of space in the airport. But after five gate changes (which took me around the terminal and right back to the gate I started with) and eleven time changes, I finally boarded my 3:50 flight at 8:00 after a mere 11.5 hours in the airport. It put us to Dallas at midnight. Then the games began.

Apparently, in their infinite wisdom, American Airlines just decided to put any baggage to Dallas on any plane to Dallas. So it took another two hours to locate and recover my bag in another terminal. Then I had to get the shuttle to my car and drive home. I got in bed with Whataburger at 3:00 am. I don't remember another time when I was this tired. I was literally numb, I was so tired of dealing with the whole mess.

But the important thing is that I'm home! And I'm safe! And even more important - I have access to all the comfort foods I want!

Thanks for hanging in there with me and for all the prayers, crossed fingers and good vibes everyone sent my way. I'm sure it made a difference and now I'll get to celebrate Christmas at home with my family, the way it should be.

Merry Christmas and God Bless you all!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Flying Out of Winter Wonderland (Hopefully)

Well, today's the official day that I'm supposed to leave Denver. I hope all the crossed fingers, prayers and well-wishes have made it to God and American Airlines.

The weather here is much better. The blizzard stopped mid-morning yesterday and although it continued to snow until late afternoon, there was no wind and the snow was light compared to before. I went out right after lunch and dug out my rental car. I figured it would save me some time this morning plus I wanted to make sure it would start. It took my about 2 hours to get all the snow far enough away to be able to back out. I am soooooooo not in any shape to shovel for two hours. And don't forget the altitude. The altitude is killing me.

After I dried off my clothes with the blow dryer I was going to rest for a while but then I looked out the window and saw a bunch of people walking up the main road. I decided I had to have better food, so I put on my clothes again and went in search of anything non-healthy. There was a regular grocery store about a half-mile up the road. I got a chicken pot pie, chicken wings and some cheese and crackers. Oh, and God forbid - I'd finished my last book (horrors) so I picked up two more. The real shame of that one is my hotel is right next to a Starbucks and a B&N both of which have been closed. (sigh) So after buying groceries, I began the trek back to the hotel. Did I mention it was uphill on the way back? Did I mention the altitude?

Needless to say, when I got back to the room I heated up chicken wings, had some real food then collapsed in bed and took a nap.

The news coming from the airport is that they will open at noon today. I know they are low on clear runways and have no idea what that will do to the flights scheduled out, but I am still showing an "on time" status for mine so far. I have to leave early for the airport because of road conditions so keep all the good vibes coming that I get there and still have a flight to board. Especially since I have to check out of the hotel. (yikes)

I'll update you during the day if I can and if there's anything to say. I'm really hoping to update you tonight from Dallas!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Let It Snow, Let It Snow......

Still here in Denver - in the same hotel - in the same room - wishing I were anywhere else. The situation has only gotten worse, with the Gov declaring a state of emergency and calling in the National Gaurd. I figure for a place that used to lots of snow, that's probably not a good sign. Here's the latest news story, if you're interested.

Do you ever notice how being couped up is completely paralyzing if you have no other options? I mean, if I had taken a writer's weekend and locked myself in a hotel room to work that would be fine, but being held hostage in one by Mother Nature isn't ranking high on my list of favorite things. I don't know how my Alaskan friends do it (or Canada, for that matter)

The blizzard is due to run through noon today then light snow until 5:00 pm. I hope to God they get everything cleared enough for flights to leave Friday because apparently there's another blizzard on the way for Saturday. Looks like Friday might be the only window of opportunity to get out.

In addition to the couped up issue (and the fact that I've watched more television in the past day than in the past year - and I'm really not into television), there are a couple of other problems.

One - there is no way to get my car out of the parking lot and even if I could, it wouldn't go anywhere. It's not exactly made for this weather, which leads to problem Two.

Two - this is not a hotel with a restaurant. They have a mini-store in the lobby, so I snagged some microwave dinners as soon as I checked back in yesterday. I'm glad I did since they're all gone now. Of course, I know that this big butt is not going to live on a couple of Lean Cuisine until Friday so I ask about where I might walk to buy groceries. I am told there is a grocery store across the street, so I go walking across the street in the blizzard in search of food, feeling like a bad horror movie heroine. Now, I did not exactly pack for a blizzard - hell, I don't even own blizzard clothes. What would I do with them in Texas. So "walking" is a bit of a stretch for how I actually got across the street in my tennis shoes, thin sweats and jacket. The snow was already too deep to tell where the road was, so I of course, plunged off a curb. I didn't fall, but my knee and my shoulder are feeling it. Then I get to the grocery store and decide that I have done something to offend God - the only food supply happens to be an organic health food grocery store. I bought organic peanut butter and a loaf of bread and wonder why I bothered to go out in that mess. I'd almost rather starve. The most fattening thing I could find was Power Bars and I bought three. Back at the room, I start feeling hot and think "Oh God, you do not have time to get sick." I go into the bathroom and realize, I'm windburn! It looks like I've been sunning by my pool all day.

Three - (and this is probably more information than you ever wanted) I only brought one spare pair of underwear. Looks like I'm going home commando on Friday.

This afternoon I get to dig my car out of the parking lot in the hopes that I get to go to the airport tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The One Thing I Never Intended to Do in Denver

OFFICIAL UPDATE: I am officially stranded in Denver. All flights today and tomorrow are cancelled. I was smart enough to stay on top of the situation and call as soon as I saw my flight cancelled this morning, so I was able to get a seat on Friday late afternoon. So if all goes well, I'll still be home for Christmas.

This is the most snow I have ever seen in my life. I mean, I've seen in already on the ground, but I've never seen this much coming out of the sky. I went to train my class (what there was of it) this morning and we ended early since the second wave of students didn't come to work. It was just as well since I barely made it back to the hotel. The rental car is not exactly equipped for this kind of driving, so I kind of slid sideways into the hotel parking lot (it was the only way in without stalling) then the car got stuck and I couldn't move it another inch. So I left it all sideway hanging out in part of the entry way to the hotel. Then I got to drag my luggage across the parking lot and back inside.

Damn it - I didn't even bring boots!

I'm in Denver training this week and scheduled to fly out tonight. Of course, those of you who watch the weather channel already know where this post is going, so I'm only going to ask once - who sent the blizzard?

The one thing I never intended to do in Denver was STAY. I kind of have a family of my own and Christmas is this weekend. Depending on which news cast you're listening to, they're calling for 9-15 inches of snow. Keep your fingers crossed that I get home before Christmas, especially since I'm sure all the flights are already full with holiday travelers.

Do the airlines schedule additional flights if they have to cancel? Or do they just do that fake apology and leave you stranded? I'm thinking it's probably the latter, but I'd love, just once, to be pleasantly surprised by something.

Even worse, I have to check out of the hotel this morning and hope if my flight gets cancelled that I can find a room again for tonight. So for all you out there that talk about the "romantic" life of business travel, please take note. There is no romantic side of business travel. And for those of you who think it's so cool that I get to "see" all these different places, I have one thing to say: The inside of a Hampton Inn pretty much looks the same everywhere.

The reality is, it's a job. I don't travel then do nothing all day - I train classes. Once class is over I have as much time as any other job before it gets dark and is too late to do anything. And these days it's dark right after I leave class. Not to mention that I just worked all day and I have to work again tomorrow. Spending all night pursuing tourist pursuits is not a good way to excel at your job and my obligation is to the clients who are paying me to be there, not to my own interest in seeing the sights.

The up side is that one day I hope to have enough points (and enough vacation time) to actually take a real vacation again - for free! But for now, I'll just enjoy the snowfall in Denver. You don't get to see this very often in Texas, and as I'm here anyway, I figure I might as well enjoy it.

So how's the weather where you are?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

That First Sale

My friend, Diana, turned me on to a survey that Science Fiction author, Tobias Buckell, ran on his blog asking writers how many books they wrote before they sold. It's interesting information, so check it out.

The books written until sold is a question not unlike how many years did you write before publication in that it's still all essentially bullshit. It's fun to know and interesting to play around with if you're a numbers geek like me, but the reality is that everyone's writing path is different and you can't compare yourself to another writer.

Someone might say - It took me a year to sell. Okay, and they might also be independently wealthy or otherwise not employed and don't need to be and have unlimited writing time. It doesn't necessarily mean they're a prodigy. Someone else might say - It took me ten years to sell. Guess what? It doesn't mean they're a slow learner. What if they simply had five small kids at home and were attending college part time to finish a degree?

So time isn't a good measurable factor because everyone has a different quantity and quality of time.

So lets look at number of books written before sale. Should be a better indicator, right? Wrong. Again, it depends on the author. I have two different friends who sold their first books, but they both worked on them for years. I have other friends who have written five to ten books before selling. And something else books to sale doesn't take into account is finding your genre and voice.

When I first sat down to write, I wanted to write a mystery series. My first book was the first of that series. I wrote it in six weeks, edited for about two months and managed to get an AAR recognized agent. Ultimately, the book didn't sell. Funny enough, the comment I received from one agent actually said "this book reads more like Bridget Jones Diary than a mystery." But at the time, the chick lit mystery had not been born. Of course, now I've missed that chick lit train completely, but what the hey. While the first book was out for submission I DID NOT STOP WRITING. That is a very important sentence - DO NOT STOP WRITING JUST BECAUSE YOU HAVE SOMETHING ON SUBMISSION!

In addition to mystery, I was an avid romance reader, so I decided to try my hand at a romance - sort of. It still ended up having embezzlement, kidnapping and at least one dead body, but it was definitely more romance than anything. Again, no sale but I garnered some good comments from editors about my voice that were encouraging. So on to book three. I definitely wanted to write single title, but I'd also been a long-time fan of Harlequin Intrigue and figured, hey, I should write two a year - one single title one category. So the Intrigue was written, queried, full requested, full sent, full rejected. Strike Three!

I was supposed to be out, right? So sorry but book four was where I decided to go where no man had gone before. I loved mystery, I loved romance and I couldn't think of a better blend than the two. So I sat down to write RUMBLE ON THE BAYOU with every intention that it be a true blended hybrid - the two genres so important to the story that the removal of either would cause the story to collapse. Now, I knew from the onset that RUMBLE would not be an easy sell. It didn't "fit." And that's exactly what happened at a couple of houses. Editors liked it, but I don't think they were exactly sure what to do with it.

Enter Dorchester Publishing! The one house that definitely knows what to do with something different - they create a new genre and launch a line of books to fill it. Trendsetting is a Dorchester favorite and many great new authors and genres have come from the chances they're willing to take on "out-of-the-box" writing. And I couldn't be more thrilled. The beginning of a new genre is definitely where you want to be as a writer and I got my manuscript in the door at the right time.

Some time/novels written is about learning craft. Some is about finding voice. Some is just about hitting the market at the right time since everything about book publishing is cylical. So while all the statistics are interesting to read, please remember that everyone has their own route to publication and yours is still the right one for you.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Giving Writers a Helping Hand

Good morning from the DFW International Airport. I'm on my way to snowy Denver where I get to have yummy dinner with my fabulous agent tonight.

Today, I thought I'd talk a little bit about how anyone, writer or reader, can help out authors. My fellow Dorchester author and great writer, Rowena Cherry, has compiled a list of 50 ways to help your author friends. It offers some great ideas on how to help writers without spending any cash.

For the record, no one expects you to do all of those. Quite frankly, no one expects you to do ANY of those. But if you're so inclined, we are most appreciative.

For instance, last week on my blog, Sassy Sistah blogged in with stock information for a Barnes & Noble in NC. That is the kind of information that authors love and can't get for themselves. After all, it's hard to cover ever bookstore in the nation - not to mention Walmart, grocery stores, drug stores, etc. Anyway, you get the idea. It's a simple thing to do and it will only take you a minute to drop an author an email to let them know where you saw the book, how many copies the store had and what the placement was, but it will make the author's day.

Thanks so much to all of you who have already done some of the things on the list. You are helping make me a career and that's priceless!

Friday, December 15, 2006

New Blog Look

So did you notice - I got a new blog look! I updated to beta blogger and it allowed me all sorts of fun color changing. So you know I had to hit the turquoise right away. :)

Now that the color coding part of the blog is covered, let's move on to Friday blog business:

My friend, Jaye, sometimes blogs interesting snips of conversation that she hears in public places. I haven’t tried it before, but this morning after I’d finished my pages and received my breakfast, I decided to open my ears and see what my fellow cafĂ© dwellers were talking about. Here’s my top comments of the morning:

“She was talking so loud that I turned around in my seat and gave her the answer to her question and she says ‘are you listening in on my call’ and I said ‘the pilots are listening in on your call.’”

“She went and invited my kids to the house on Saturday. I’m already having dinner with them on Sunday. I don’t want to see them that often.”

“I’d like to have three million in the bank before I retire but I’d have to keep working to do it.”

And the grand prize winner:

“He’s been in jail on a drunk-driving conviction. He gets out of Friday and we’re having a party for him. I have to rent the margarita machine.”

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Late & Behind and Out of Time

No time for a long post today - I have class. As opposed to the other days when I have no class. (Think Rodney Dangerfield and say it again)

So I'm cheating and posting another weird picture. Does anyone find this as disturbing as I do?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Crimes of Fashion

I got this pic by email yesterday and decided I had to share. For any of you writing "crimes of fashion" books, this outfit has GOT to make it into a storyline.

I give you - The Safe Sex Dress

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Dooney & Bourke Contest Winner

I know some of you have probably been wondering if I was actually going to give the purse away or if I'd decided to keep it myself. I'm giving it away - I promise.

I had to get all the entries loaded into my newsletter system, then get an impartial group of my co-workers to draw numbers for a winner, then notify the winner and wait for response. But it's now official:

Dee Dailey of Clarksville, TN is the Dooney & Bourke contest winner!!!!!

Here's a picture of Dee with her brand new grandbaby.

Congrats, Dee and I hope you enjoy your purse and your autographed copies of RUMBLE ON THE BAYOU!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Movie Review Monday

I know, I'm posting a little early (as it's supposed to by Monday movie review and it's not quite Monday), but I write in the mornings and the Cowboys are about to play the Saints, and well, everyone will be fine. I promise.

Movied Seen: Apocalypto

This is one of those movies that I don't know where to go with the review. I wanted to like it. It was grandiose in setting and time period but ultimately, the scope of the story was so small and irrelevent given everything else that was about to happen in that time period, that I found myself literally experiencing a "Deja Vu." Essentially - same problem as the other movie - the focus was on one man and his wife, child and unborn child. Hey, at least he knew them (unlike Deja Vu, where the woman was a total stranger), but it still seemed like a whole lot of buildup for one rescue.

The setting was great. The costumes were brilliant, and for anyone that doesn't know what kind of barbarians some of the Mayans were could watch the movie for a very graphic description - head chopping and all. But ultimately, I just found myself wondering when it was going to be over.

Maybe I'm just not "deep" enough to appreciate the movie. Maybe Mel Gibson inserted some hidden message about humanity and our future that I failed to see. The only "bigger picture" thought I got from it was something I already knew - if you are weak within, you are ripe for the picking.

If anyone else sees this movie and can explain why it's getting great reviews, this clueless girl would love to have it broken down.

My rating: Utterly Forgetable

Update: Blogger reel fanatic (i hope I got that right) - if you're reading this today, please drop in and share your expertise.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Dispelling Writing Myths

Since my book has released, I have had questions/comments from many people - both writers and readers - talking about myths that seem to persist in the writing profession. So for the next few weeks, I will include one myth and then cover the grim reality.

Myth #1 – Writers make a lot of money.

This sentence would more correctly read – a few writers make a lot of money. I once heard a statistic that stated that 5% of all the writers in the world made 95% of all the money paid to writers. So writers who are well established, Nora, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Grisham, etc, probably aren’t worrying about the winter gas bill, but everyone else is stretching the all-mighty dollar to capacity if writing is their full-time job. And for those who are just inside the published door, we’re trying to get to the point of working one full-time job only, instead of two. Because, the reality is I have to work a job in order to afford to write – marketing is not a cheap thing and having good equipment (computer, monitor, printer, etc) is a requirement for me anyway.

So why don’t writers make money, well I’m an accountant, so let’s talk numbers. Let’s consider a debut author’s first contract. I’ll be very general/standard in my example. A typical contract for a romance book will contain an advance of $500-5000. (remember, this is typical we’re talking about). This advance is just that – an advance against royalties. So essentially, the advance is not the biggest issue when selling books. The two most important items are percentage and sell-through. A typical contract will state a royalty percentage to an author of 2%-8% (for paperbacks – a little more usually for hardcover). That’s percent of the sales price, excluding things like bookclub where the price may be deeply discounted.

Print run is the next step in talking money. Typical print runs for debut novels are all over the board depending on timing, push behind the book, publisher, etc, but mostly I hear of debut print runs of 25-50k.

Sell-through is the percentage of print run that you actual gain sales on. So if your print run is 50k and your sell-through is 50%, you sold 25k copies of your book. Sell-through is also estimated at different amounts by different publishers, but a safe estimate is 50%. 60% is strong and 70% will usually have people cheering. If you go to another print run, ask for accolades.

So let’s take a typical debut romance with an advance of $3k, percentage of 5%, a list price of $5.99 and a print run of 40k. Let’s say your sell-through is strong at 60%. Here’s the way that breaks down to author payment:

$5.99 X 5% = .30 (what the author makes off each book sold)

24,000 (copies sold) X .30 (royalty) = $7,200 This is the total earn-out of the book

But the author got $3k up front so take the $7,200 less the $3,000 advance and that leaves you with a royalty payment of $4,200.

Take off 15% of that for agent fees and the author will receive a royalty check for $3,570.

So including advance & royalty check, this author would receive $6,120 for their effort. I’m not even going to get into paying self-employment taxes and federal, etc.

Now let’s consider the time factor. Let’s just say the author is a fairly fast writer and wrote the book in six months working 25 hrs/week in addition to a full-time job. Beyond the six months writing time, she spent an additional 100 hours on revisions (between cp’s, agent and editor) and 20 hours on line edits. Another 10 for going over galleys with a fine-tooth comb. Then an additional 150 hours on marketing related items. So that’s a total of 930 hours spent on this project (and believe, my estimate of time spent is REALLY low). That means the author made $6.58/hr for all that hard work.

So when published authors tell you they are not doing this for the money and if money were the issue, they’d get a job at Walmart – they’re not exaggerating. Making money as an author is definitely possible, but it’s a long-term career goal. You have to build a readership and the only way to do that is to consistently write and release great books.

Just getting to the point of quitting your day job is a huge accomplishment – retiring to Tahiti is the stuff legends are made of.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Reversing Society

Question Number 2 for the week:

Why do people insist on backing into parking spaces?

This morning (like so many others), I had to wait in the parking lot while someone backed their pickup truck in a space between two other cars. Mind you, the people who insist on doing this are never good enough drivers to accomplish it in one try. They weave back and forth and generally hold up the rest of the world from our deadlines and other important matters - in my case getting to coffee and my wip.

So why back into the space? I've heard all the arguments and quite frankly, they're silly. The first is "It's easier to pull out forward when you're leaving." Okay, so let's assess this for a moment. You can take twenty times to back into a space, wedging your SUV in between two other parked cars, OR at the end of the day, you can back into a wide/long exit lane ONCE and drive away. Not buying it, folks.

Then some make the argument that they can leave faster if they're pulling out forward. Okay, while I'll agree that it is certainly faster if you rip forward out of a space rather than backing up then leaving, what exactly do you need that extra three seconds for?????

Now if you're robbing a bank, I totally understand. But the rest of us, you're just going to save that 3 seconds of backup time only to get to the line for the security card exit a little sooner.

If you insist on backing in your car, I guess I'll have to get over it. But let's stop with the stupid reasons already and call it what it is - an OCD.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Death of a Forest

What the heck is the deal with the length of store receipts these days?

If I were the mother of a family of eighteen and I left the ranch to visit the grocery store once a month, I could see a receipt a mile long, but c'mon. There are times I literally buy one item - no warranty, no guarantees, just something like a package of gum, and the receipts is the length of my forearm.

Of course, because I am one of those people who HATES people who hold up lines to store their change, receipts, etc, I grab my bag of purchases and purse and start walking towards the exit while trying to fold the receipt up and stuff it in my wallet. It's an exercise akin to trying to stuff a parachute into a shoe. In fact, the thought crossed my mind that if I taped them end to end, they'd make a handy garnish to my Christmas tree and one heck of a roll of toilet paper.

So this is my vendor plea - Please, PLEASE go back to a simple receipt. I want only what I need on my receipt - store name, date, time, items purchases, sales tax, total. Please leave off any of the following: "Thank you for visiting," "please shop again," Contests, Surveys, the date of your next sale, the date of your last sale, a list of your board of directors, or locations of your store in Indonesia or Panama.

If receipts continue to grow, I will have to get a bigger wallet. If I have to get a bigger wallet, I'll have to get a bigger purse. At the rate we're going, pretty soon we'll all be pulling carryon luggage to haul around our receipts.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Friday, Beautiful Friday!

Dallas has officially survived the cold front. Unfortunately, it did not include hail. There was a little icing of roads but not near to the extent I was hoping for. Oh well, better luck next front.

Today is Friday and I am happy for so many reasons. One, it's the end of the work week - yea! I trained a class this week and had one of those weeks where I bored myself so I was certain I had bored everyone else. Apparently that wasn't the case as several of the students told me how much they enjoyed it. Or maybe it was just the candy I bribed them with around 2:00 every afternoon.

Second reason to be happy it's Friday - this is writer's weekend! And I haven't had a writer's weekend in forever. That means tonight I will meet with my cp, Cari (Cindy is out of town) and we'll stay at the hotel that will host the DARA (Dallas Area Romance Authors) Christmas breakfast and meeting tomorrow. We'll have dinner and drink, discuss our wips, drink, talk about technique, drink, work out plot problems, etc, drink. Anyway you get the idea.

And in addition to the DARA breakfast tomorrow, I'm getting my hair done - double yea! It's probably a bit overdue and I'm going to try a new color so we'll see how that turns out. Now if I could just fit in a manicure and pedicure, the weekend might be perfect.

So what are your plans?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Very Temporary Writer's Block

So I've actually had a bit of a bout with writer's block and it's not pretty. It's real and it's scary. But the other morning I had a very temporary (like ten minutes) bout with writer's block and I thought I would share.

Those of you who know me know I'm a morning writer. And I don't write at home, I write over breakfast. In fact, for ten years I ate breakfast at the same Owens restaurant anywhere from 5-7 times a week. RUMBLE was written in Owens and some of you may remember the anguish I felt when coporate sold all their restaurants and literally came in one day and closed them without notice - to customers OR employees. (And a big middle finger up to Bob Evans Corporation for that act, BTW)

Well, hubby and I moved in March to a new area of town so I had to find a new breakfast joint. I tried several but finally found one to my liking. It's the perfect diner sort of setting. Vinyl boths, metal chairs and tables that wobble. Worn carpet and a bunch of blue-collar workers, farmers, retirees, etc. It looks like a typical small-town diner except for the size and the fact that the waitresses take orders with wireless pda's - an irony that just amused the hell out of me given the outward appearance of the joint.

So I was at my breakfast spot on Tuesday, and typing away on my latest draft. There was a large group of retired gentlemen having some sort of meeting in a bunch of arranged tables close to my booth, but I had them screened out so I didn't know what they were doing. Then I got to this particularly steamy section of the work. It was the second kiss scene. The first kiss was one of those eye-opener experiences. The second kiss was one of those body responding on fire experiences.

So I'm in the hero's pov and just about to explain which of his parts are on fire when a gentlemen from the meeting group stands up and starts to pray. Apparently this is a religious meeting.

Normally, I can screen out anything except people speaking directly to me or kids (can't stand screaming kids), but there is just something so inherently wrong about writing about a stiffy while someone is praying not less than two foot from where you're sitting. It took me about ten minutes after the amen to recover my composure and continue.

And that, my friends, is my story of temporary writer's block.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Drvie by blogging

Sorry guys, another short post today. I am training today, working through lunch and doing some private training after class, so no rest for the weary.

Really cool item - gave RUMBLE an incredible review. Check it out.

The weather report has been updated now - we are supposed to have severe thunderstorms with the possibility of hail starting this afternoon and 1-2 inches of snow and ice overnight. Essentially, Dallas will be shut down for a day or two.

But that hail thing is looking real promising............remember, my husband is a body shop manager. We pray for hail.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Traffic Woes

I want to go ahead and apologize ahead of time for the length and content of this blog. I promise I was going to do better, but traffic sucked this morning and I have class starting in fourteen minutes and software that didn't clone. (sigh)

It is misting here in Dallas. That means no one can drive except at 2 miles per hour and with a wreck conveniently located at every red light. The cops, in their eternal quest to make our lives easier, are not moving these drivable cars into parking lots - nooooooooooo they're standing in the middle of the road along with the wreckees discussing it like they're having a coffee break. And hell, maybe they are. Anyway, long-story-short - it took me 5o minutes to commute 10 miles.

And hey, it's only going to get better. Thursday we're supposed to get sleet - SLEET! And the temperature will be down in the 20's. If you think Texans can't drive in water, you ought to see what they do on ice. Now, I happen to be able to drive on both AND have an all-wheel drive vehicle, but I'm not the problem. The question is, do I want to put my perfectly capable vehicle, with perfectly capable driver out on the road with all those OTHER people? Probably not.

I'll update you on Thursday/Friday whenever the bad weather comes and let you know how we're surviving here.

On the plus side - my husband is a body shop manager and sleet is wonderful for business. Not as good as hail, but we'll take it.

AND I wrote five pages this morning so the rain didn't effect my mind.

That's all for now - I'm off to class.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Monday Movie Review

Had a great four-day - still need another. But at least I got a lot accomplished. Things such as:

1. Unpacked approx 10 boxes in the spare room (yes, we moved in March - what's your point)
2. Cleaned hot tub so I could sit in it last night.
3. Wrote pages.
4. Ate entirely too much on Thanksgiving.
5. Despite my better judgement (and comments to the contrary), went shopping on Friday and got new Christmas tree and decorations. Decorated living room. Cat thinks tree is his new hiding place. Cat weighs 20+ pounds. You do the math.

I also got to see a movie this weekend, so today is Movie Review Monday. The movie was Deja Vu, starring Denzel.

I hoped for something good on this movie - the premise was interesting - the FBI has a device where they can look back in time and see everything live as it happens. They're using the machine to help solve crimes - mostly on a large scale like terrorist activities. They have been able to send back a piece of paper, but nothing live. Of course, the plot goes so that Denzel wants to go back and save this woman so he's the first human to go.

I think there are two main problems I had with this movie:

First off, there was never any big "whoa motherfucker" moment from Denzel. I mean, if someone told me I was looking into the past - live - I think I might at least let out a "damn!" He took this like it was completely normal, no questions, no concerns.

Second, his focus was solely on saving this one woman. So you have a machine that powerful and you limit your scope of action to one human being? And a human being he'd never met before. It wasn't like he was going to save his lover or anything.

So yet again, I feel this was an interesting idea, not brought to fruition. Bummer.

My rating: Save your eight bucks - this one is a rental.

Friday, November 24, 2006

The First Day After Thanksgiving.......

and the turkey gave to me - heartburn.

Or maybe it wasn't the turkey. Maybe it was the chicken dressing, lima beans, cajun rice, sweet potato casserole, fruit salad or baked beans. I'm certain it wasn't the four-layer pie. :)

So I'm up fairly early, even though I was going to try to sleep late - late being 7:30 or so. I have the day off today - whoohoo! Am I shopping - hell no!

My husband wanted to buy a dvd a couple of nights ago and I was like "I've already told you I will not go to Best Buy until 2007." Last weekend, when the PlayStation 3 released, there was a line around the building - with tents! People actually slept there all night to get a game. Hell, most people won't sleep somewhere all night to get a job, but apparently the new PlayStation is uber-important.

I found my first bad review of RUMBLE the other day, but it was from an individual and apparently not important as it hasn't circulated anywhere else. What tickled me about it was her problem with the book. She apparently didn't like when my heroine refused to ride in the hero's car and commented that no one drove a Honda Accord except someone with a stick up his ass. Then she goes on to call it a foreign piece of crap.

So this is the reason I hacked someone off?????? My heroine said "Jesus Christ on a stick!" some chapters before that one and THAT didn't hack her off, but God forbid we insult a Honda Accord?

I know my good blog readers don't have to be reminded of this, but IT'S FICTION. My characters says what small-town deep-south Louisiana people might say. The statements or comments of my characters in no way reflect my views on society, God or foreign cars. In fact, I drive an Infiniti and the exact opposite of the statement my heroine made is the reality for me - I don't drive American cars.

It scares me sometimes that certain people are loose in the world. How angry and uptight they must always be if such irrelevant things bother them so.

So for this Thanksgiving, I think I've finally decided on the one thing I'm most thankful for -

I'm most thankful that I don't give a shit what anyone else thinks.

Trust me, it's a peace of mind you can't come to any other way.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Movie Review

Hi guys! Sorry for the no-blog start to the week but I had class Mon/Tues and I had enough time to either write pages or blog - writing pages won. No class today and I'm just itching for all the good food I'll be eating tomorrow. So today I have time to blog and I'm going to do movie reviews because I actually managed to see two movies last weekend.

First up: Borat
Review: I'm not going to waste anyone's time. The cliff note version - silly, stupid, unfunny men humor. And really, REALLY gross scenes with ugly, out-of-shape men naked. No woman wants to see that but unattractive, out-of-shape actors always seem to want to show us their flaws. Ick.

Second up: Casino Royale

I was really scared about this movie. I'm a huge Bond fan - have the dvd's, love the character and the stories. So anytime there's a "new" Bond, I'm nervous. But let me put your fears to rest by saying - I loved this movie! The plot was great - gone was the "cheese factor" (as my lovely editor, Leah said) of the previous Bond films. There's a bit of fun with technology, as always, but not to the Get Smart extent we've seen in the past. The storyline was good, the writing was excellent, I absolutely loved the dialogue.

Soooooooo, only one item remained - what did I think of Daniel Craig as the new Bond?

One word - Perfect!

And that's the one thing I never expected to say. God forbid, I hack off some people here, but I like him so much better than Brosnon (and we're not even going to talk about Dalton). I like him better than Sean Connery - jury's still out on whether he'll beat Roger Moore.

I had huge doubts when I say pictures. I thought he wasn't good looking enough. He lacked the polish of Brosnon. I didn't know that I would warm to him. But I did.

Craig brought back to Bond what I think has been missing for some time - all facets of the man himself. Craig played the polished parts well. He wears fancy clothes and orders martinis with the best of them. His delivery of the clever, funny lines that Bond is famous for was right on target. Best of all, he has a rugged manliness to him - that hard side of Bond that enables him to be a killer when necessary - and he played all facets fabulously!

And the looks? Well, let's just say that this man has charisma oozing out of him. If you're unsure if Daniel Craig is sexy before you see this movie, I don't think you'll have any doubt when you leave.

So that gives Casino Royale two thumbs up and a hot flash from me!

Friday, November 17, 2006


Of course, it's going to be a very looooonnnnnnggggggg Friday - but hey, it's still here! I have a breakfast meeting this morning, finish seven company software migrations today, then drive back to Philly and catch a flight home. Yea! I should arrive in Dallas around 9:30. So my day started at 6:00 and will end about 10:30 (have to pick up baggage and drive home after landing). And that's if everything goes well, so cross your fingers that American Airlines doesn't lose their minds again and anything of the sort. If you have the time, you could also throw in an extra crossed appendage that my first class upgrade gets approved. :)

No weigh in today - I'm kinda not at home with my scale. And the pages were sorta dismal this week too, although I did get another chapter edited and out for review. Yeah! In fact, now that I'm thinking about it, I don't know if I'll be weighing in next week either since mom will be cooking every manner of good fattening food for Thanksgiving and I will be doing my absolute best to cut down on leftovers. It's my family duty, after all. :)

What's everyone else doing for the holidays? If you work, do you have Friday off? I do and plan to write my arse off.

By the way, I haven't forgotten the Madlibs, but two of you refuse to follow up on my blog and give me the missing information. I want you to know (Tammy & Colleen) I have your private emails (and in one case your phone number) and I WILL collect.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Not Quite Friday

It's not quite Friday, but I'm counting the hours. I'm ready for my own bed and more selection in shoes - you know, the really important things in life. And not that I'm one to complain (hehe), but I'm not exactly having the time of my life here in King of Prussia. Oh sure, it's got a huge mall (like there's no shopping in Dallas, so what the heck good does that do), but it's got other weird issues also. We can start with limited ability to turn left. There are these huge cement block thingies in the middle of the street that prevent you from making left turns into mostly everywhere you need to go. I have to drive about half a mile past my hotel before I can turn left, then guess what - there are no U-turns allowed anytime you've just spent a half mile or more passing cement bunkers. So I have to turn into a residential neighborhood which at the entry has a No U-turn sign posted. Which mean I have to journey into the neighborhood, scope out an empty driveway and turn there. To get to the job site, I have to do the exact same thing but in the opposite direction. Plus, there are rarely any right turns on red allowed here and traffic is horrible so it can take 20-30 minutes just to move a couple of miles.

The service has been less than desirable also. Last night I looked forever to find a breakfast place. I was really looking for this morning, but had worked myself into really wanting some breakfast for supper. but when I asked about a breakfast spot at the front desk of the hotel, I got these blank stares and headshakes. Are you kidding me? A town that doesn't have an IHOP, Denny's, Waffle House, anything????? I thought I remembered seeing "cafe" on a building on the way to the job site, so I headed that direction and pulled into the parking lot. I have apparently found the only cafe in the country that not only doesn't serve breakfast, it doesn't have coffee. Frustrated, I asked the girl at the "cafe" if there was any place in this town that served breakfast. She sent me to a deli, which oddly enough, did serve breakfast. The waitress, however, thought one cup of coffee was enough for a breakfast meal and an hour of working on my rough draft. She looked most annoyed when I asked for a refill. But not near as annoyed as the cashier when I asked for my reciept?????

Isn't Philadelphia supposed to be the city of brotherly love? If so, I ain't feeling it.

They're probably all angry because there's no place to eat breakfast.

In other news, our training facility lost their internet connection yesterday. Of course, I'm in the middle of doing seven software conversion on a WEB BASED software package. See any problems there? Lucky for me, I explained the seriousness of the situation and they rerouted us to a new provider. We only lost an hour and a half, but what are the friggin' odds? This is a test case that we're trying with this client - to do both the training and migration to the new software in the same week with the trainer leading the migration effort. So far, my flight was cancelled and the internet has gone out. I seem to keep having to dig out of holes.

But to end on a good note, my great friend and incredibly talented writer, Wendy Roberts, has just accepted a three-book deal from Penguin!!!!!! Her new series is entitled DOING FOR THE DEAD and features a forensic cleaner as the heroine. You should definitely check it out - well, as soon as they're available. Yeah Wendy!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I'm an Idiot

Okay, so I'm an idiot, but I'm claiming travel stress for my lapse in reading skills. I forgot two requirements for the Madlibs, so I need everyone who played yesterday to give me another noun and an adjective. Colleen, you missed an adjective (I think) somewhere, so I need two adjectives and a noun from you. You'd think this wouldn't be so hard for a writer, but there you go. :)

So yesterday class went well but at New Horizons (where we're doing the training), they have a great podium and projector for the trainer, but no stool. Huh? So my big butt had to stand all day - in dress shoes. Thank God I lost that four pounds.

Of course, my left foot, which is the one I damaged in a motorcycle wreck a couple of years ago is angry, angry, angry. In fact, my first three toes are literally still asleep. They had nerve damage from the wreck and I guess standing all day in high heeled boots set it off again. Do you know how uncomfortable it is to have your toes asleep all the time? I think today I'm wearing dress clothes and tennis shoes. Everyone will have to live with my disasterous wardrobe because my toes are not going to take another day of high heels supporting big booty.

I'm working on my next book and was just thinking how much I'd love to not have a day job as it interferred with my writing (but kinda provides me with food and rent money) and low and behold, I received an email that will change everything. Here's what it had to say:




TEL: +31 62 252 5068
FAX: +31 84 723 1270

So you see, apparently my money problems are solved. I mean, after all, this has to be legit, right? They drew my name from five hundred billion email addresses on the web and sent me an email in ALL CAPS. That's certainly professional.

I'll check back in after I've claimed my prize. Or maybe not. Maybe then I'll be too rich to want to blog.

Of course, if this doesn't work out, there's always those stock tips that I get every day - all day.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Monday Madness

So sorry I left you all hangin' today, but it's been a heck of a beginning for this week. For starters, I was supposed to be in King of Prussia (outside of Philadelphia) yesterday for training starting today at 9:00 am. However, American Airlines had other ideas. They cancelled my flight on Sunday and even though I had a 10:00 AM flight, they apparently couldn't see fit to cough up another plane to replace their screw up. Also, every other flight that day was full - on American and every carrier they have an "exchange" relationship with. So this morning I had to wake up at the crack of dawn, head to the airport and hope that I would have a seat.

After much security waiting, check in waiting, ticket issue waiting and god knows how much bitching, I finally landed a flight. I arrived in Philly somewhere around noon in the middle of a monsoon. Hertz had lost my reservation, so I got to stand in line there. Then I got to walk across the parking lot (in the monsoon) pulling two bags. Finally made it to my vehicle and proceeded out of the parking lot and onto the Interstate where it took me almost an hour to drive 22 miles. Traffic is horrible. I'm going to assume it's the rain, although taxes in this town have to be outrageous as I passed no fewer than ten cops on a twenty-mile stretch of road.

I grabbed a burger on the way to training as I had not eaten all day and finally arrived (frizzy hair, damp sweater and all) to class at 2:00 pm. Hey, a whole two hours of training day left. Great.

I could go on and on about the horrors of business travel - getting stuck with the middle seat, etc, but I won't bore you any more than I already have. So without further ado - let's have Madlib Monday. I know it's a little late, but hey, it's still technically Monday. So here's the list:

Name of Friend
Name of Friend (Female)
Nonsense Word
Verb Ending in "ing"
Same Person (Female)
Prestigious Award

So let's see what you make of this?

Friday, November 10, 2006


Well, it’s Friday and because of the recent “New Year’s” resolutions on my blog, I’m reporting on my progress.

Pounds lost this week – 4
Pages Written this week – 18

NOTE: I actually began my “healthy living” mode on Monday, because, well, you never EVER start a diet on the weekend. That’s against the rules.

I am short on pages written from where I originally planned to be but a strange and horrible thing has happened to my writing method – I can no longer “pants.” ARGH!!!!! This is a horrible, painful development. I used to be able to sit down and rip off about 5 pages/hour day after day, finishing a rough draft in a matter of months. But now, I can’t force my mind to move forward until it’s absolutely satisfied with what was written before.

This sucks on so many levels. One, because I really LIKED being a pantster. I LIKED rushing through a rough draft feeling that burst of adrenaline that came with each chapter ending. Of course, on the other hand, it has advantages – I used to edit twice as long as it took to write the rough draft. I’m definitely not going to be doing that now. But this new way of thinking was killing me and at the beginning of the week, I really struggled with getting a handle on my writing method.

Fortunately, by Wednesday, I hit on the method that swings both ways (so to speak). I rough draft one chapter, then edit the hell out of it until it’s perfect. So I’m roughing 15 pages or so then editing for submission to my CP’s. This way, when I’m done with the rough draft, I should be 80% done with the story. I think I’m going to like this, but the jury’s still out. Of course, it TOTALLY messes up my Nano participation, but what are you going to do?

In other news, RUMBLE got a great review from Romance Reader at Heart. Here’s what they had to say:

"It always impresses me to find an author who can write a debut novel that is out of the park the first time around. This is what keeps me coming back for more when I am looking for a good book to read. RUMBLE ON THE BAYOU is phenomenal, keeping me completely entertained from start to finish.

When Deputy Dorie Berenger finds a high alligator with a finger in its mouth, in the pool of the town drunk, she knows that she is in trouble. She knows that as soon as those fancy-schmancy city cops know what she has found, they will be sending in an arrogant, big shot, know-it-all to try to take over her case, and she is just not having it. She may be small and she may look like a beauty queen, but she has a big ol' gun and she knows how to use it.

Dorie is beautiful, has a great sense of humor and knows how to throw a mean left hook. All the people in Gaitor Bait love her and respect her. They know what she is capable of, and would never think to step in her way when she is doing her job. Unfortunately, the one person in this world that Dorie doesn't want in her town has come and set up camp, determined to catch his man and foil Dorie's every attempt to run her own investigation.

Richard Starke is absolutely, without a doubt, the biggest macho-man, big-headed, arrogant son-of-a-pup that Gaitor Bait has ever come across. He walks into town with an enormous chip on his shoulder and a "don't-mess-with-me" attitude, thinking that he is going to walk in and out of this little "hick" town with his man and never have to deal with the resident sheriff's department. Well, one little meeting with a fiery blonde fishing in her skivvies is all it takes for him to realize that this might not be such an easy job to undertake.

Richard and Dorie have outstanding chemistry. Watching the two of them spat and argue and generally hate each other one minute, and then having them set the pages on fire like a pair of lusty, horny toads, is the stuff that all romances should be made of! It is great reading and kept me glued to this book. RUMBLE ON THE BAYOU is a feel good, hysterical, great romp of a read, and I recommend it to romance readers of all genres." - Kristal Gorman

And now that we’re on the subject of reviews, I have a request. If you have read RUMBLE and liked it, please post a review on Amazon or B&N or if you’re feeling like cutting and pasting, both would be uber-great! I don’t know that it makes a huge difference, but it certainly can’t hurt.

Thanks everyone and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Hardest Question in the World

I'll give you a hint - it's not "how do we stop global warming" or "how do we solve world hunger." Nope the hardest question in the world is the one I keep getting since I received an offer on RUMBLE. That question is "how do I get a book published."

What? You think there's a harder question? You think I'm being narrow-minded and shallow to think that's the hardest thing to answer? Well, maybe, but it's the hardest thing that I get asked to answer. No one's hit me up on that global warming thing yet and until they do, I'll just cover the publishing question.

So here's the problem with that question - there's no easy answer. No secret handshake, no one person you have to know, etc. I've met so many writers that think there's some sort of 12-step program to selling a book. It goes something like this:

1. Write a book.
2. Make sure your margins are 1 inch.
3. Conduct a poll and find that most people are going with TNR 12 and not Courier New.
4. Make sure you have exactly 25 lines per page.
5. Turn off widows and orphans.
6. Agonize over the title because that's the most important thing.
7. Limit each scene to one pov.
8. Bind the manuscript with rubber bands and put in a Tyvek envelope.
9. Send to your dream agent.
10. Sign contract with dream agent.
11. Go to auction with book.
12. Sit back and collect millions in royalties and have Paul Walker as a cabana boy (okay, so that's my personal dream, but hey)

Uh, yeah - that's it. Heck that wasn't hard after all. Of course, it's better fiction than RUMBLE, but hey, I'm a writer.

The reason the question is so hard to answer is because it's like trying to shoot a moving target. Very few things in publishing remain the same moment to moment. One genre fades into obivion as another rushes in on a freight train. A formerly "taboo" item becomes the hottest new trend. And the list of changes go on and on.

So if I were to really write a 12-step program for publishing, I think my list would go something like this:

1. Come up with a high concept idea (note: if you do not know what high concept is, find out)
2. Write your butt off
3. Join a writer's organization and learn the industry
4. Write your butt off
5. Study technique like there's no tomorrow. Never, EVER assume you are done learning.
6. Write your butt off.
7. Find critique partners who aren't going to be polite and kiss your butt and let them rip your baby apart
8. Edit your butt off.
9. Submit to agentS (plural) until you find a good match.
10. Sign with good agent - hopefully one that provides line edits.
11. Edit your butt off - send perfect book to agent for submission.
12. Pray long and hard that you have luck and timing in the market.

There's no secret to getting a book published. It boils down simply to hard work, lots of learning and hitting the right editor at the right time. If there was another way, believe me, we'd all use it.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Splitting the Sheets

First Reese and Ryan, now Britney and K-Fed head to divorce court. The first I find rather sad since they looked so cute together and I absolutely love her in movies. But the second - c'mon people. Is this really shocking?

Everyone trying to publish a book knows there's certain unwritten "rules" about what sells and doesn't sell. The three big taboo items are actors/musicians, athletes and politicians. Now, I'm not saying no one has done these topics before and sold. Rachel Gibson has made a fortune off of hockey and even Harlequin jumped on the sports bandwagon by creating a whole NASCAR subgenre in their line-up. Ally Carter managed to write a great high concept story with a hero that was an actor in Cheating at Solataire (and the followup, Learning to Play Gin), proving anything is possible in publishing if done well.

But is it any wonder why these people don't make good characters? Look at their lifestyles. No one is going to buy a politician in love because no one believes they tell the truth. Now, a politician telling someone they love them for political position or gain - whole other story. But not a story of romance.

Actors make terrible heros/heroines for romances because their marraiges so rarely work out. Some of them ( ie Brit & K) are so miserably doomed from the beginning. And then the stupid heroine thing comes into play, too. I mean, c'mon Brit - if you were going to buy a husband, couldn't you have passed on the "used" model and gone for a better looking new one?????

And maybe all of Hollywood should consider hiring some aspiring writers to pen their press statements. I'm sure we'd come up with something more creative than ".....they remain committed to their family and ask that you respect their privacy and the safety of their children."


1. No one's ever respected their privacy and that's about to get worse not better.

2. If they were committed to their family, they wouldn't be divorcing. Obviously someone (if not both) lost that lovin' feeling. The only thing actors tend to remain committed to is their careers.

Let's face it - there are probably accountants, scientists, data processors, pubic health workers and all other manor of professionals behaving badly. The difference is, it doesn't make the evening news. High profile people are hard to immortalize in a romance because all their dirty laundry is regularly aired.

So what's the hardest profession you've tried to write?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Why Everyone Should Read Ally Carter

It's release Tuesday and I've got a great recommendation for you. Not that my recommendation is all that fabulous when the book in question got a cover quote from Carly Phillips - and Carly offered to do it after reading Ally's first book - it was not solicited!

The book is LEARNING TO PLAY GIN which is the followup to CHEATING AT SOLATAIRE.

There are a number of reasons you should read books by Ally Carter, but the most important reason is that she is my friend and an all-around great gal. Okay, so maybe that's not the most important reason. So let's just cover the list:

1. She's funny. Ally has a great wit and captures the hilarity that is apt to happen at the worst moments of life.

2. She's smart. Oh sure, Gin (and Solataire) are wonderful reads and not hard on the mind - unless you want them to be. Ally's writing style is deceptively simple and on a surface level everything seems straight forward, but heroine Julie James has a way of looking at things that will make you think harder about your own life choices.

3. She's incredibly accurate with writing small-town situations and down-to-earth people. But then, that one was easy. Ally's an original farmgirl and comes by it honest. Even today, she uses her degree to help ranchers run their business the best they can.

4. Did I mention she's my friend?

Here's a little teaser from LEARNING TO PLAY GIN. This is an email from Julia's (heroine) mom to her:

From: James Family Farm
To: OK Lady
Subject: Just checking on you

Nothing new here today. Daddy kind of hurt his leg, but the vet was here and said it was nothing, so he's not going to the doctor.

We're so lucky to have such a good vet nearby.



Now, how can that not make you smile??????? This is so typical, so real. And her heroine is a woman we'd all want to be. Julia is smart, successful, actually has hips and has all the same insecurities we all do when faced with deciding if this man is "the one." You'll cheer for her and agonize for her, but most of all, you'll love her.

If you haven't read anything by Ally Carter yet, now is the time to start. I promise, you won't regret it!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

I Couldn't Help Myself

So normally I wouldn't post jokes circling the internet, but darn it, this one could appear in one of my books. Too funny.

Special Forces!

The Pentagon announced today the formation of a new 500-man elite fighting unit called the United States Redneck Special Forces.

These Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma,Tennessee and Texas boys will be dropped off into Iraq and have been given only the following facts about terrorists:

1. The season opened today.
2. There is no limit.
3. They taste just like chicken.
4. They don't like beer, pickups, country music or Jesus.
5. They are DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE for the death of Dale Earnhardt.

The Pentagon expects the problem in Iraq to be over by Friday.

I was laughing hard enough when it said they didn't like Jesus, but the Dale Earnhardt line clenched it.

Friday, November 03, 2006

A New Me

Okay, I've turned over a new leaf - I swear. There is going to be a new Jana or an old dead one. So here's the things I've decided to do:

1. I changed my work schedule from 7:30-4:00 to 8:30-5:30. Of course, when I'm on the road, this is different, but this is for in-town office hours. I am an early riser and hoped that the getting home a couple of hours before my husband would allow me writing time in the afternoon. Unfortunately, I have decided that I am not a good afternoon writer. I tend to be too tired and too distracted by the time I get home and then accomplish nothing. My writing time has always been in the morning but at the old job I didn't have to be at work until 10:00. So I'm back to morning writing time. AND I'm back to writing at a diner. I wrote RUMBLE at a diner and that's the environment I enjoy - lots and lots of available coffee.

So, I got up this morning, got ready for work, headed out to the diner and got in an hour's writing time before shoveling in breakfast. And the best part - I got four pages written!!!! Now, it might not sound like much, but since I'd only managed one Monday-Thursday (and it wasn't even that good), four is huge! Plus, bear in mind that I haven't been writing regularly in over a year and only semi-regularly this summer (while writing proposal). So I'm a bit rusty, but I think I'll be fine.

2. I am changing my diet. Damn it, I am tired of being tired - and fat - shopping is far less fun when you can't wear anything or they don't make anything cute in your size. So since everything in life needs a goal, here is my goal. I am pretty sure I will be attending the RT Convention next April. By then I want to be 50 pounds lighter. And don't get started on losing weight fast - I have plenty to loose and that's no where near the max of 3.5 pounds/week. Of course, by RWA National, I want to be invisible. :)

So there it is - I know, it's only two items, but they're big items (especially #2). I mean, I could go on to say "I'm going to exercise" or "I'm going to remove my makeup before bedtime" but I don't want to sound crazy.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Energy Foods

I have a problem - I don't want to stay awake. Now, I know a lot of it is simply because I'm rushing here and there, doing five billion things and I probably need a break. But a break is not in the foreseable future, so we're not even going to discuss it.

The biggest problem I've had lately is wanting to fall asleep after lunch. Granted, I'm usually bored after lunch too. If I'm not training a class then I'm either in class or running a manual on a class. Running manuals is as exciting as watching grass grow. And I'll let you in on a little secret - trainers are some of the worst students - at least I am. I hate being in class even though it is a necessary evil. I was the girl that skipped most of college class in favor of playing pool. Hey, I won a pool tournament and still graduated with excellent grades so what did it hurt?

So lately, about an hour after lunch I am ready to crash. I have found that a Starbucks Venti-NonFat-Seven Pump-Four Shot-Vanilla Latte seems to pick me up a bit, but heck four shots of espresso in one drink ought to have me thinking I could fly.

So am I eating the wrong food for lunch? Wait a minute, don't answer that. Of course, I'm eating the wrong food for lunch. But what in the world does one eat for energy? And before you healthy people start spouting out your advice, here is a list of requirements for my food:

1. It has to be something I don't have to prepare. Either I buy it at a restaurant or it microwaves in a box. I do not have time to prepare food. Period. And if I'm traveling, it has to come from a restaurant.

2. It cannot consist primarily of vegetables (so salad is out). I do not like vegetables. Only a tiny bit of lettuce and broccolli (and only if it's little) will be eaten. Vegetables cooked into food are all right but only if chopped in small pieces and disguised with sauce.

3. It must last a minimum of 4.5 to 5 hours. I know when you're eating "right" you are supposed to eat more often. That's great, but I don't think my students would appreciate it if I stopped class to gnaw on a chicken breast. So the meal has to take me from lunch all the way to supper.

4. Whatever I eat cannot require tons of water for digestion. See #3. I cannot drink 40 gallons of water a day. I am teaching class. We break once in the morning and once in the afternoon. I know from experience that if I drink the requisite amount of water a day, I make a trip to the ladies a minimum of once an hour. Not do-able.

5. It has to have flavor. If it didn't, I'd simply buy SlimFast shakes and drink my meals all day. (Salt is a requirement - I'm from Louisiana - we have our standards)

6. It cannot smell funny. When I am at corporate, I eat at my desk so that I can work on my writing through lunch. My desk consists of a 10x10 cubicle with four foot walls in a huge area with about 60 other people. They would not appreciate it if I nuked tuna and waltzed through the department with it.

Did I make it hard enough?????? Well, let me also add that I don't eat sour cream, cottage cheese, mayanaise or musturd. I can also only tolerate so much fruit daily (and only certain kinds) because I have an ulcer and fruit is too acidic.

Ready - set - go! Plan me a diet - please!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Movie in Review

So after my "big" trip home to Louisiana, I arrived back home on Sunday not wanting to do a darn thing that required energy. Well, it took a little energy to put on decent clothes and go to the movie, but I'm glad we did. We saw The Prestige. It was pretty darn good for me and excellent for most other movie goers. Why the difference, you say. Well, I have this rather annoying habit of figuring out the twists and turns of plots before the writer intended me to. I can't help it - I write psuedo mysteries, for God's sake. I'm always looking for misdirection. So about half-way through I'd figured out the two main plot twists, but it didn't stop me from loving the movie. My husband, who is a huge movie buff and no slouch himself, didn't "get" the two main twists until I pointed them out so that's why I say it was pretty darn good for me and will be excellent for most other watchers.

The plot centers around two magicians (pre-1900) and the competition they get into (over personal reasons) to find the best trick and outdo each other. Sounds simple, but trust me, this movie had it all - liars, secrets, twists, plot turns, death, love - everything that makes a great movie. The acting was superb, but then who doesn't love Hugh Jackman and Christina Bale? Not to mention that neither are hard on the eyes. And let's not forget the huge talent of Sir Michael Caine.

It's not The Usual Suspects, but it's damn good!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Why I Don't Have to Make Up Characters

So people who've read my book always say "you have the funniest characters. How do you make them up?" Simple answer, I don't. Check out this photo of my cousin Leslie and her husband, Charles. Could be a Maylene Thibodeaux in the making???

I warned Leslie that if she sent photos, they became my property and might wind up on my blog. I guess I'll be nice enough to tell you they're dressed for a Halloween party.

At least, I'm pretty sure they are...........

Monday, October 30, 2006

Louisiana Revisited

Good morning, everyone! I'm back in Dallas and happy to say, back in my own bed. My back may never be the same. Here's a brief look at my fast trip to Louisiana.

Thursday evening - drove to my parent's house in Mineola. It's about an hour and 45 minute drive. It rained bugs on the way. Why does it always rain bugs in the country????

Friday morning - got up bright and early, had breakfast with parents and we all headed out to Louisiana. Mom and I in my car - dad in his truck. He wanted to buy shrimp while we were down south, hence the need for two vehicles.

Friday 1:00 - drove 4 1/2 hours to arrive in Lousiana. Hotel room is not ready, so we decide to pay a visit to my aunt and uncle. Just when we are thinking about grabbing some lunch, my uncle (who is 75) decides it would be a fine idea to ride a bicycle and walk a dog - at the same time. Do I even have to tell you where this one is going?????? You got it - straight to the emergency room. One broken nose later, uncle was back home, me and the parents had eaten the last dregs of the Mr. Gatti's buffet and mom and I were on our way for errands. Visited Sulphur library (town I grew up in) and I donated a couple of copies of Rumble. Went by Wal-Mart - they were sold out of Rumble (Yeah!) Went to Lake Charles to mall and signed the one copy of Rumble they had in stock - had sold the rest (Yeah again!). Went by another Walmart, found four copies left out of ten, my mom bought two. She keeps remembering people she needs to send book to.

Friday night - met my best friend from elementary through college and her husband for dinner and catching up. Essentially, the same people who were snotty when we were in school are now snotty adults with snotty kids. The people who were raising hell when we were kids are still raising hell, but now without the benefits of being minors.

Saturday morning - had breakfast, met family to pick up local newspapers from when they ran feature about me and book, got ready and headed to booksigning. According to what other authors tell me about sales at booksignings, I had a pretty good event (sold 23 copies), but Good God, do you have any idea how boring it is to sit there while strangers try to figure out how to walk by your table and avoid eye contact??????

Finish booksigning and load up car, eat lunch, change into sweats and get on the road again. Arrive Mineola about 8:00 pm. Spend night with parents so I don't have to drive in dark with raining bugs. Leave early next morning and head home to Dallas where I collapse in my chair/ottoman. Made sure I did nothing - I mean absolutely nothing that remotely related to writing for the rest of the day. :)

Friday, October 27, 2006

Traveling Friday

Short post today - As soon as the coffee sets in and I change into something other than my pajamas, I am on my way back home to Louisiana for a booksigning. I'll fill you in on Monday as to how it went.

Everyone have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Suicidal Bunnies

For those of you who read this blog regularly, you know I moved to a new neighborhood earlier this year. The neighborhood is very nice and quiet and circles around part of this enormous park - trust me on the enormous part. I walked my dog there one morning soon after moving, got lost, and finally found my way back to my house an hour and a half later. Now when you live so close to a heavily wooded area, there are all kinds of critters around. But here's the interesting thing - I don't ever see rabbits in the park, only in the neighborhood. My next door neighbors tell me one lives in their back yard.

I wondered about that for a while until my other neighbors told me coyotes live in the park. Well, that explains it. The rabbits moved to the subarbs to escape the coyotes.

So there is this one rabbit who likes to hang out at the house at the end of my alley. Every morning, I exit the alley, turn onto the street and start looking for this rabbit. Why? Because he's suicidal. I swear this rabbit sits in that yard until my car turns out of the alley, he carefully times my speed and distance, then dashed into the street just when I would splat him if I hadn't been watching for him in the first place. Hence, the name Suicidal Bunnies.

So why in the world is this relevant to anything? I'm going to tell you. I just finished judging a contest where several of the entries were obviously written by Suicidal Bunnies. It was the ST/Maintstream catagory yet not one entry was high concept. Most lacked the basics of grammer (but some of the misplaced modifiers made for VERY interesting sentences). One had a length of 70k and one had a synopsis written in past tense.

I'm not trying to be hard on people, but the things I've listed above are necessary knowledge if you're wanting to pursue a ST career. Which begs the question: Writing is hard. Why would anyone take the time to write at all without bothering to learn the "rules" of writing?

I've heard all the excuses - I don't have the time to learn the industry (fine, but the industry will never be bothered with you, I promise), I live in a small town and don't have access to a writer's group (there are tons of writer's groups on the internet not to mention everything you ever wanted to know about the industry), I don't want to have critique partners, someone might steal my idea (reality check - if someone steals an idea that low concept and poorly written, they are not going to sell it either).

So why do people insist on running out in the street in front of cars? I've got an idea about the bunny. I think faced with a life of battling either soccer moms, their kids and yappy dogs or the big, bad coyotes in the park, he's decided it would be much easier to pass on to a better place. I'm just honking up his plan with my defensive driving.

So what about the contest contenders? Are they too, trying to commit suicide rather than face the coyotes in New York? Is a low score on a contest entry that wasn't researched or well planned, their "out" for saying I gave it a try and it didn't work for me. Or does society have a rash of American Idol contestants - you know the ones. The people who are so horrible and actually think they can sing - without any training, without any practice, without bothering to learn.

Storytelling is in the bones, but everyone had to learn technique - Nora, Jenny, etc - none were immune to writing a grammatically correct manuscipt that was the right word length and had a concept with conflict strong enough to carry a 100k novel.

So aspiring writers - PLEASE take the time to learn the craft. And here's a little hint: you should never stop learning. Also, remember that learning the craft takes time - years of time. Do not insult the very people you love to read by thinking you can sit down and rip off a saleble novel in six weeks when it took them years to achieve their success.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Posting Bail

If anyone out there knows how to post bail, I'd appreciate an email. You see, I'm afraid that one day I'm going to need the knowledge to bail out certain members of my family. Read this email I received from a reader and you'll understand why - and probably have a good laugh:

"I just wanted to let you know how much I liked your book. I was a Wal Mart one day looking for a new book and a man walked up and ask me what kind of books I liked to read, then he started telling me his daughter just wrote her first book and showed me where it was and gave me a bookmark, I would have never even picked it up because of the cover(I don't know why but I wouldn't have] anyway please tell him thank you . I really look forward to another book from you. "

So I guess you've gotten the gist of it - my dad has been out hardselling my book in the local (and sometimes unlocal) Walmarts. He's also done it at B&N and he's not alone. My husband and brother have done the same thing.

Not that I'm complaining - heck they're gaining me readers and people who even like the book enough to write and tell me about it (and thank my dad, no less). But one of these days, I'm certain one of them will talk to the wrong woman and she's going to file a harassment charge.

That's where the posting bail part comes in.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Best of the Best

When I finally decided to come to life again on Sunday, Another 48 Hours was showing on one of the cable channels and I caught myself watching it again. Which then go me to thinking about how much I love Eddie Murphy, but not so much now, as Eddie Murphy then. Which then led me to thinking that for everyone I really like (singers, actors, etc) there is that one thing they did which I always think of as their "best."

So for Eddie, it's 48 Hours. Sorry, Eddie, I know you did the movie when you were like, 21 and you're much older now, but there's something about that movie that caught me and always will. It's the combination of the classy criminal versus the sorta white-trash policeman. The combo of Eddie and Nick Nolte was perfect. It MADE the movie great. Sure, Beverly Hills Cop was a great movie, but it still wasn't 48 Hours.

An actor who reminds me a lot of early Eddie Murphy is Will Smith. Now, granted, he's the much more polished version of Eddie, but it's the expressions on their faces when faced with the indignencies of the situations they're in that creates the same emotion in me - usually laughter. They both do it so well and no one else has ever done it like them. At least not according to me. Take Eddie in The Golden Child, all hacked off that he's been called to save humanity - facing death at almost every turn but still ripping out lines like "now, someone turn on the mother-f'ing lights." (If you remember the movie, you'll get it) Then take Will Smith in Independence Day when he's dragging the alien body in his parachute across the desert and yells "What is that smell?" and starts kicking the thing again. These men are funny. They are both able to convince me that given extraordinary situations, even faced with death, they still have the ability to make a joke. And they pull it off. Now that's comedic talent.

Then there's the books. I was a huge Stephen King fan from junior high through college, but there is one SK book that always stands out among King fans and that's The Stand. Now, my understanding is that SK finds it a bit depressing that people think his best book was written like 20 years ago, but c'mon, I bet if Tolkien was still alive he wouldn't be bitching about The Lord of the Rings.

Which then, of course, begs the question for every writer - how do I find that best of the best in me? Or (god forbid) what if I already wrote it and everything else will pale in comparison. I'm sure M. Night Shamalyn and Quinten Tarentino thought they were going to have glowing and illustrious careers after The Sixth Sense and Pulp Fiction, but has anything else they've done even come close to living up to those two works?

So who's your best of the best - actor or writer - and why.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Weekend CliffNotes

The weekend was great and I'm exhausted. Everyone seemed to have a good time at the book launch party. I sold fifty books and signed about 80 altogether, so that's a few people reading Rumble, which is great news. Also, several of the attendees told me it is sold out in some of the places they went looking, so that is good news also. The food was good (thank God, because cheap certainly didn't enter into the equation), and the room was very nice. My mom and I did the table decorations with a Mardi Gras color theme for the whole Louisiana effect. It turned out quite nice.

The literacy signing on Sunday seemed to go well. I don't know how much money was raised, but the attendees seemed to enjoy the event. Again, the food was great, the speakers entertaining and most left with some books in hand. Hopefully, it was a good enough turnout for the event to continue.

I went home after the literacy signing, ate pizza and fell asleep in my chair. I had a million things I needed to do, but didn't get a darn one done.

I think I've washed the same load of laundry five times now. One of these days, I'm going to remember to hang it up or put it in the dryer. (sigh)

But it's a new week and I have three days of opportunity to get it done as I leave Thursday evening for Louisiana for a book signing (Saturday) back in my hometown.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Busy Weekend Ahead

So it's Friday and normally I would be shouting Yeah! even though I haven't had a true weekend off since, well, since I don't know when. But this weekend is even busier than usual.

Tomorrow morning I have to wake up bright and early, take care of all errands, then head out with my mom, dad and hubby to start decorating a room at a local convention centre for my book launch party. The party starts at 7:30, but we don't know how much decor the room will take, so we have to start early in case we need to buy more. It's a two-stage decorating process. I'm really looking forward to the party as I will get to see some relatives I haven't seen in forever and all my friends will be there to celebrate the launch. Altogether, I'm figuring on about a hundred people. At least, I hope it's only a hundred as that's what I catered for :)

Then Sunday, I do my first official booksigning event. It's called Buns & Roses and it's a tea and booksigning with the proceeds going to charity. Check out the website. A bunch of great authors will be there and I'm really excited about doing something like this. Even though I will NOT be wearing a hat.

When all that excitement is over, I have a mere three days to get myself together to go out of town the following Thursday night to stay with my parents, then head out the next day to Louisiana, where I'll be doing a booksigning in Lake Charles (nearest town with a bookstore to my hometown of Carlyss). It will be at the Books-A-Million starting at noon, so come out and join me if you're in the area.

And of course, at some point and time in this whirlwind, I kinda need to write my next book - you know, the one I accepted a contract on. But don't worry, Leah (my awesome editor who lurks on my blog), UNLUCKY will be on time and fabulous. I'm telling myself that at least fifty tmes a day. :)

Have a great weekend, all!!!!
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