Thursday, August 31, 2006

RT Top Pick!!!!!!

Just got the news yesterday - Rumble on the Bayou got a 4 1/2 star review from Romantic Times and is an October Top Pick!!!!!! Check out their website, they have it as a featured book (1 of 4) on their home page!

I don't even know where to begin on how exciting this is. A Top Pick from RT is better than winning the lottery. Or as my friend Ally Carter said once about something great in her life - it's like God promising you'll always look good in a bikini. I loved that quote and stored it in the back of my mind to use one day. (thanks Ally!)

So I am beside myself with happiness and probably am not even going to have a coherant blog but I really don't care.

TOP PICK!!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Interesting Laws

I just spent the last two days training a client in Indianapolis, Indiana - home of big trucks with the number "3" on them (kind of reminded me of Louisiana). When I was purchasing a soft drink at the front desk of the hotel, I noticed a sign giving the laws for selling alcohol (since they sell alcohol at the front desk of the hotel).

There was something I found very interesting - you are not allowed to sell alcohol in Indiana on election day.

Now, if you didn't sell alcohol on election day in Louisiana, probably no one would turn out to vote if for no other reason than protesting the lack of beer availability.

So it begs the question - what is the intent behind the law?

Don't even remind me that we're talking about politicians and none of them have the sense God gave a goose - we all know that already. But really?

Is it because we don't want to offend the high moral character of those running for office by selling a mind-altering substance on their big day?

Nah, that can't be it.

Is it because lawmakers truly believe people make a different/better/more rational decision about voting when they're sober?

Surely not.

So, any ideas?????????

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Career I Wish I Had Chosen

So those of you who read this blog regularly know that I took a new job with a lot of travel. Which sounds like great reading time, but let's face it, one can only read a book for so many hours while jolting around through space. So I swiped my husband's portable dvd player and have started watching movies on the plane. My selection for my travel viewing pleasure - The X Files, starting with Season 1.

I watched X Files when it was on tv but faded away after DD left. It just wasn't the same. So I decided now that everything is over, I needed to finish what I started. But since there's that whole alien conspiracy thread that ran through every season, I decided I needed to go back and watch from the beginning so that I could get everything straight in my mind. So Season 1 it is.

And that's when I decided that if I had it to do all over again - that's the job I would want. I'd major in biology or physics or some of applicable science, join the FBI and investigate paranormal activity. Would that be cool or what?

Of course, I am allowing for the fact that I could have quite possibly gone out on my first case, created quite a messy dry-cleaning tab and retired in less than 24 hours. But you never know. Heck, I've done all manner of extreme sports. Would chasing an alien spacecraft wearing a business suit and dress shoes really be that out of the question?

Friday, August 25, 2006

Tired of Complaining.......BUT

I know you're probably all tired of hearing me complain about by traveling woes, but I can't help it. I have another couple of complaints. I think the problem is that I'm a anal-retentive organized and highly efficient person and the one thing I can't stand wasting is time and energy because I don't have enough of either to waste.

So I returned from San Diego today and here's my couple of problems.

1. My flight left at 6:15am and the airline instructed me to be at the airport by 4:15. So I was in line (like a good girl following orders) at 4:!5 on the dot. Only problem is - the security gate didn't open until 4:45. Huh? I could have spent that thirty minutes having a good breakfast at Denny's instead of paying $5.47 for a small yogurt and apple juice at the airport.

2. If you are going to make a restroom stall only 4 foot long, and I am required by federal law to keep my bag in my possession at all times, you need to do one of two thing: make the bottom of the door high enough to close OVER a pull on bag or reverse the hinges on the door so that it opens out. Seriously, if you men out there ever wonder why it takes so long in the ladies room at the airport, it's because we're all doing Yoga trying to get in the stall with our luggage. And there's nothing like using the bathroom with your legs propped up on your bag.

3. If you are going to fly, please come out from under your rock and learn that YOU CANNOT BRING YOUR STARBUCKS COFFEE ON THE PLANE. That's right, you four idiot businessmen who flew from San Diego to Dallas this morning. Even if you bought it at the airport. Even if you're wearing dress socks and have a pocket protector. Ever if (fill in the blanks). NO LIQUIDS ON THE PLANE. The lady at the counter literally said this three times over the PA, then had to tell four different men to unload their coffee. Then they proceeded to complain. Get over yourself. National security is not about one person's convenience and even if it was - it wouldn't be you. You're not important enough.

Okay, enough ranting. I'm off to bed. I leave for Indy on Sunday and have to take care of that clean underwear thing all over again. (sigh)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Writing Funny

I get this comment sometimes from other writers - "I love your humor in your writing. I wish I could write funny."

Let me be the first one to set the record straight - NO, you don't!

Humor is hard, much harder to me than writing anything else. Why? Well, because humor is what's effected the most by life. If you're upset, depressed, sad, stressed, or just plain worn out, it's damned hard to be funny. The problem is, a book contract is not going to wait for you to have a Pollyanna sort of day - or six month frame to complete it. If you're out of funny, there's no well where you can go to draw more. You can't force humor either. It's just something that's there or not there. And when it's not there, your writing life is miserable.

Another problem is when you're on deadline, trying to produce humor and can't, you put pressure on yourself and get frustrated and guess what - it makes it even harder to write humor.

There are times when I wish I had taken up writing horror. I could always summon up a reason to kill ten people in a campground and carve them into individual parts. Having ten people be funny in a camp ground?????? A lot harder.

So when you read a funny book, when you see a funny tv show or movie, be aware that at some point and time that writer experienced a perfect balance in their life or the funny couldn't happen. And never wish writing funny on yourself - I haven't read a good horror book in years. That genre is just waiting for talent.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The California I Was Expecting to See

Okay, so I admit it - I'm no world traveler. Heck I'm not even much of a US traveler, but apparently that is all changing. And those of you who read this regularly know I took a new job as a corporate trainer and am traveling to different cities around the country running my mouth about software. Well, a couple of weeks ago I was in San Mateo and it was pretty, but I still didn't feel like I was in California. I'll go ahead and admit, it's stupid to expect a Baywatch experience, but that's the California I know from tv - just call me silly.

Well, I'm in San Diego this week and darn it if it isn't the California I know from video. Check out these photos. Look at this street - palm trees lining every side.

And here's an official lifeguard and EMT station on the beach. Baywatch, eat your heart out. This is too cool!

Here's one of those official boardwalks like you see on tv. Tons of people walking, in all states of dress, people riding bicycles, or using inline skates or skateboarding.

See this building to the left? This clinches it - I'm definitely in California. The signs came out too small to read, but you tell me where else you can go into an oceanside building and buy all required swim/surfwear, sign up for surfing lessons and get a body piercing?

This is a really pretty place and if it weren't for the earthquakes (which I haven't gotten to experience, darn it), the mudslides, the fires and the fact that for the price I paid for my house in Dallas, I could probably buy a cardbox box here - I'd be on the next moving truck out.

Monday, August 21, 2006


I've been promising a post on the book everyone has got to read and here it is.

The book is by debut author, Colleen Gleason and will release January 2, 2007 by NAL. It's called The Rest Falls Away, but could be more accurately named The Rest Fade Away because that's what is going to happen to every book you've read before this one. Check out this blurb:

Beneath the glitter of dazzling 19th century London society lurks a bloodthirsty evil.....

Vampires have always lived among them, quietly attacking unsuspecting debutantes and dandified lords as well as hackney drivers and Bond Street miliners. If not for the vampire slayer of the Gardella family, these immortal creatures would have long taken over the world.

In every generation, a Gardella is called to accept the family legacy, and this time, Victoria Gardella Grantworth is chosen, on the eve of her debut, to carry the stake.

But as she moves between the crush of ballrooms and dangerous, moonlit streets, Victoria's heart is torn between London's most eligible bachelor, the Marquess of Rockley, and her enigmatic ally, Sebastian Vioget.

And when she comes face to face with the most powerful vampire in history, Victoria must ultimately make the choice between duty and love.

Do you need to know any more???? C'mon, a debutate called by duty to fight vampires - in 19th century England when women had very few freedoms and darn sure couldn't wear comfortable pants for fighting?

I can't even begin to say enough about this book. And for those of you who don't know me, let me remind you all that I do not read historicals. I am history deficient.

This book is so good it makes me want to learn. I agonized over Victoria's choices and the perils of her duty right along with her. Each time I was forced to put the manuscript down and take care of my life, I worried about the characters while I was gone and found myself wondering at odd moments what was going to happen.

The writing is brilliant and concept fabulous. The characters are so well-developed you feel them like they're standing in the same room with you.

As I sit here, I am certain of one thing - Colleen Gleason is the next big name to break out in writing. I'd stake my next contract on it.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Too Hot to Live

Well, I'm packing again - this time I'm heading to San Diego. Haven't ever been there before but people say it's beautiful. I think anywhere with an ocean is beautiful, so I'm fully prepared to agree upon arrival. Was assessing that whole clean underwear thing on my way home from work on Friday (since the last three pair of clean had traveled to Denver) and was sorely tempted to just head to the mall and buy new instead of doing laundry. Traveling is very tiring, not to mention the job it involves and the whole writing a new book while trying to market another. Then there's life in general, which tends to interfere with doing what one damned well pleases. So anyone, I was faced with the struggle all women go through at some time or another - laundry or new purchase.

Now let me tell you, most women go for the new purchase. After all, it's the double threat - you get to shop AND you get out of domestic duties. So I left my desk at 5:00 intending to just buy new underwear to pack for San Diego. Until I walked out the door.

People, there is something seriously wrong when it is so damned hot I'd rather do laundry than shop. But I know my house is cool - not so much with the mall. And there's that whole parking and walking thing. So anyway - I headed home and threw on a load of laundry.

So I will not be sporting new undies in San Diego but I won't be going commando either. I will be in California until Friday, so Monday I will do my blog on the book you absolutely have to read. Are you interested????? Am I teasing you??????

Good. See you Monday.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Everything Update

Sorry, I've not been regular this week. Hmmmmm, that statement sounds like something coffee could cure. I mean not regular blogging. Something the whole traveling thing throws me off schedule. I'm feeling lazy today and not all that clever, so I'm going to use this blog to catch up on news.

First of all - the proposal is out to my editor. YEA! Now everyone cross their fingers and hold their breath until she responds with a million dollar offer (see previous blog on the realities of writing). I've got to get that Paul Walker cabana boy before someone else snatches him.

Second - I got my grand prize in for the super contest I'm going to run when Rumble releases. It's a fabulous Dooney & Bourke Bayou Collection Alligator Bag! Does that get your blood running on a Thursday morning? I'll post a picture on my website and my blog as soon as I have time to make it reasonable size and get some info for how to win. I'll also be running contests for other prizes - good but not that good.

Three - The Bombshell line is closing up shop and it's leaving a friend of mine out in the cold. Kelly Parra has been through heck and beyond with her book and it finally sold to Bombshell. This is her debut novel and now it's been shelved again. I don't even have the words to express how sorry I am for her and all the other Bombshell authors. Which leads me to update number three. Kelly was smart enough to branch out and has a second sale with a YA novel, so all her eggs were not in one basket. I'm sure she's devastated by the Bombshell situation, but think how much worse it would be for her if she hadn't branched out and established herself in another genre. Sooooooo, it's time to fish or cut bait and I've decided to fish. Look out CP's. As soon as I can muster it up, you're going to receive what I think is going to be my second genre - and it's going to be nothing like what I write now.

Not that I'm teasing the rest of you or anything. I promise to update you more on my new selection when I've pinned it down and think it can work. It has to go through fire and flame first with the CP's.

Four - I recently read a good friend's book that will debut in January and it was beyond words fabulous! I was going to talk about it here, but have decided it deserves its own blog, so maybe tomorrow I'll tell you about the best book I've read in years.

Well, breakfast is here and I've got a class to train. Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Author/Agent Relationship

There was a bit of a foul up in scheduling at my job, so after juggling with airlines, hotels, etc., I am hailing to you today from sunny Denver. Thank God I dropped my dry cleaning off last week. We're not going to discuss the clean underwear situation.......

Topic of the day - the author/agent relationship

Since I am in Denver, home of my fabulous agent, Kristin Nelson, I was thinking about agents and the industry and remembered a few conversations I've had with people over their relationship with their agents and with some unagented about their expectations.

I'm going to start this discussion off by saying - I'm completely and totally spoiled. I have the absolute best agent in the business.

No, it can't be so, some of you scream. My agent is fabulous too and yours can't be better than mine.

Yes, she can............for me.

Every agent has a different way of interacting with their clients. Some like to hang out and have drinks and chit chat about business and stuff of personal interest; with some it is strictly business. Some agents like to give editorial input; some take the product and market it without so much as a comment.

Which is better? It depends on you.

I was talking once about doing revisions for Kristin, when another pubbed author at DARA said "you do revisions for your agent?" She was a bit incredulous at the fact then went on to say "I don't want any opinion from my agent on my work. I just want her to sell it." Okay, I can respect that. She's certainly not the only author I've heard that from and probably won't be the last, but it's just not something I agree with at all.

Sometimes I think the issue of editorial input from an agent is a trust issue. Of course, your agent wants you to succeed - then they succeed, but do they really have the knowledge to guide you in tightening your manuscript to perfection. Maybe, maybe not. I know Kristin's track record and I say absolutely she's gives the best critique's I've ever gotten, and my cp's are no slouches. But Kristin comes from a different perspective. She knows intimately every aspect of her business - what is selling hot, what just sold two different time, etc. And believe you me, she can wring the best story out of you until you're passed out on the floor, gasping for air.

I LOVE Kristin's editorial input. She makes me look like a genius! :) When my editor, Leah, called me after I accepted the offer from Dorchester, she said something to the effect of "I was so excited about buying this book for two reasons - one, it's fantastic and two, it needs no work."

A debut novel that didn't need revisions - it went straight to line edits. And I'm not Kristin's only client who has experienced that luxury. Also, Kristin's reputation is great among editors. They love to receive submissions from her because they know how hard she is and that the quality will be there.

Editorial input is a decision that's completely up to you. As a new author, I highly recommend gaining the expertise of someone who knows far more than you do about what sells. So when you're getting your query letters ready, do some asking around. Find out how involved certain agents like to be with their clients and their client's work, then decide what fits best for you.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Quote of the Day

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls, and looks like work." - Thomas Edison

Anyone who has even ventured a foot into the world of writing has heard some of the misconceptions about writers and writing. Hollywood does everything it can to glamorize writing as a profession and the uninformed masses don't know the difference.

Oh, but one can dream, right? If I had the Hollywood version, my book would have sold last September for millions of dollars, film producers would have been lined up around the block to make my masterpiece into a film, my publisher would have launched a book tour in 40 cities/5 different countries (of course, all of this would happen in a matter of week, because in fantasy land, it only takes a couple of weeks to get a book from purchased to printed). Best of all, I would have retired with my vast fortune to a private island in the south Pacific where my personal cabana boy (who bears a huge resemblance to Paul Walker) would serve me frosted drinks and chocolate covered strawberries while I lay on my beach and penned my next work of art. (In the fantasy, I get to be thin and my boobs are back up where they were before I turned 34 - but that's neither here nor there.

What a dream! What a joke!

If that were the real story of writing, RWA would have to hold National in the Grand Canyon - it would be the only place large enough to house all those who would want to attend.

The reality of writing is that it's work. It's a lot of work! It's a lot of repetitious, tiring, thankless, mind-bending work.

Some of my friends are the fortunate kind of writers - they actually enjoy the writing process itself. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people. I fall under the "I don't enjoy writing, I enjoy having written" rule. I don't know who said it, but they were a genius.

Writing to me is like ripping open my heart, soul and mind and forcing them together, then yanking them apart, then making it all come together in the end. It is the hardest thing I've ever done and it continues to be book after book. Because the reality is, the better you become, the harder you have to work to outdo what you just did. And that's what your audience demands.

So why do it, you ask? A valid question, I suppose, for those who don't understand. But for other writers, you already know the answer - because there's no other choice.

You see, the most perfect moment in the world for me is not when I'm sweating bullets over a rough draft, searching desperately for that funny line that keeps escaping me. The moment of perfection is when I'm done with that rough draft and go back for that first read-through. Then a single line of text - maybe a description, maybe a line of dialogue - makes me smile, or laugh or tugs at my heart bringing tears to my eyes. And that's when I realize that for just a moment, my mind connected with brilliance and got just a sliver of it down on the page.

Why wouldn't I want all the heartache of writing, when I have all that joy awaiting me at the end?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Question of Bladder Control

Well, I finally arrived back in Dallas yesterday. I was going to blog then but quite frankly, I ran out of time. Too many things to do, never enough hours in the day. Given the proclivity lately for American Airlines to screw things up, I decided to go ahead and leave for the airport supper early. My flight was at 8:30 am but I figured I could arrive with the chickens and just eat breakfast at the airport - NOT! There was ONE woman working the electronic ticket baggage check. Now granted, she was very efficient and very nice, but ONE WOMAN FOR EVERYONE! C'mon American Airlines - can we think about cutting the executive salaries and hire a few more line personell? NOTE TO BLOGGERS: This situation occurred before the most recent developments in England.

So it took an hour and a half to check in, only to find out that the ticket computer was broken and had lost my seat assignment - which sucks because I had reserved a prime window seat a couple of weeks ago. So I had to proceed to the gate and wait in line again for a new seat assignment. They gave me one two minutes before time to board. No breakfast - just yogurt and a Diet Coke (sigh). And the seat they gave me - horrors! Very last row - aisle seat.

This is so far back in the plane that there's not even a window. And the only natural light available is from across the aisle in the beverage cart area. Which would be fine, except that I was also right next to the bathroom so the entire flight people stayed huddled in the beverage area waiting for an available restroom, and subsequently blocking all the sunlight. Even worse, that means they were standing directly above me, jostling my shoulder and staring down as I tried (so desperately) to get a chapter of my new book written before arrival.

What I don't understand is why people cannot make it a mere 3.5 hours without having to pee. C'mon. I held it for six hours total before I got home - the rest of the world can't do a measly 3.5? Okay, so I'll give the pregnant woman a pass, but she only peed once. There was a man (obviously NOT pregnant) that peed FOUR TIMES! What the hell had he been drinking? Even worse, he strongly favored actor Chris Elliot who totally gives me the creeps.

So needless to say, hardly any writing got done after the bathroom vultures converged on my private space. I finally gave up and tried to sleep. Didn't really make that one work either, but eventually I arrived home and went off to deal with more writing business - like renting a post office box.

Which leads me to my next new bit of information. I decided to use a newsletter service to handle the email address management for my newsletter mailing list. I don't want to waste time subscribing and unsubscribing people, so I chose a service that would do that for me, plus provided pretty templates to use and charged by the number of newsletter sent and not by the month - since I don't plan on sending a newsletter every month. Well, I go to set up a test newsletter using the template I've chosen and realize it has my mailing address at the bottom. Huh? I don't think so. So I click to delete and find out that apparently new anti-spam legislation requires marketing newsletters to provide an address for the business.

Hence the requirement of a post office box.

Just an FYI for those of you on the verge - plan to rent a PO box.

Am working on finishing up my proposal tonight so must jet. News on the proposal as soon as I have some.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

San Mateo - Last Rites

It's my last day in San Mateo - a whole day anyway. My flight leaves tomorrow morning for Dallas. If there is a God (and he doesn't feel like having a sense of humor again tomorrow), the flight will leave AND arrive on time. I hope so anyway. I've got a huge laundry list of things to do (not to mention the actual laundry). It seems that being away from home makes one remember all the things one did not do before departing. Oh well, tomorrow is another day.

So training went well today. Thank God. Yesterday was like a refrigerator. No one was openly rude or hostile, but I think that might have been easier to deal with. Openly hostile means there's passion in there somewhere. Blankly apathetic is a much harder nut to crack. So today was more interesting and a lot more fun. It reminded me of why I wanted to train to begin with and I felt a renewed spirit for my career choice change.

Got out a little early and hurried back to the hotel to ditch the power suit. Put on camo carpenter pants and a white t-shirt with a gold-studded skull and crossbones on it (my new current favorite outfit) and headed out for a little marketing trip. It seems that San Mateo is home to the largest independent mystery bookstore in the country. I emailed last week and scheduled for a little visit.

Had a nice visit with the manager/buyer and presented her with a cover flat and an ARC. She seemed excited and said the book sounded very fun. She gave me her card and said they were open to all sorts of promo items and they definitely included them with customers purchases. It was a nice visit and I was glad to have the opportunity to meet someone I would never have met if I were still behind a desk crunching numbers. Score number 2 for the Professional Trainer position.

On the way back to the hotel, I had a bit of an adventure - but then without an adventure, it just wouldn't be my life. I missed the exit for my hotel and wouldn't you know it was the last exit before San Francisco Bay. So I got to cross the entire bay. Not quite as long as the Atchafalya basin but not exactly a stone's throw either. So I drove and drove and drove and finally reached land again. Made a u-turn to re-enter the highway and drove and drove, then reached a toll booth. Huh? I know there wasn't a toll booth on the way over. Well, apparently, they're going to get you either coming or going. In this case, my missed exit adventure cost me $3.00 in tolls and God knows how much in gas (I haven't seen the news lately).

Finally reached the right side of the bay and headed out for supper. Had nice supper, headed back to room and packed up everything possible so I can leave for airport tomorrow at the chicken's hour of 6:30am.

And as soon as I post this blog, I am climbing in bed with my book, my Alphasmart (I'm working Kristin, I swear), a Diet Coke and a York Peppermint Patti - which only has 3 fat grams.

Goodnight and more tomorrow from the wasteland of heat - you gotta love Texas.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Out of Town/Out of my Mind

So this week is my first official training. I would love to tell you that flowers rained from heaven and birds sang the hallelujah course as I entered California, but that wasn't quite the case. Let me give you a breakdown of my past 30 or so hours.

Got to airport just before 3:00pm to check in for a 4:00 pm flight. Flight was delayed an hour due to mechanical problems. Flight was delayed another hour. Flight was delayed another hour. Four drops of rain fell on DFW airport and the air traffic controllers slowed all incoming traffic - which still didn't affect me because my plane was still broken in San Antonio. Finally received fixed plane (we hoped, anyway) and were loaded up at 8:00pm, a mere four hours later. Then proceeded to sit on runway in Dallas for another 30 minutes. Made 3 plus hour flight to San Franciso where we circled for 30 minutes before being allowed to land. It was now midnight, my time, and five hours past scheduled arrival.

Then the airline (read, AA), proceeded to "misplace" our luggage at the terminal??? Huh? It's midnight. There's only one f'ing plane there. Where could the luggage go? Forty minutes later, they found the luggage.

I found my bag and proceeded to make the ten minute walk to the train, that takes you on a ten minute ride to the car rental places. Waited to rent car, then walked the length of a football field to find it in garage. Attempted to leave airport and get on highway. Mind you, it's dark and I can't see crap at night. And it's not like I've ever been here before, so there's no basis for rememberance. Finally find highway after circling terminal twice and head for San Mateo. Find exit fine, but have trouble in business district where hotel is located. Business districts are dead at night so they don't pay for street lights. In their infinite wisdom, someone in San Mateo decided to post the street signs directly above the green light at traffic stops, so if the light was green, you couldn't read the sign at all. But since it was the business district and I was the only fool out that late (or early, depending on how you want to look at it), I just stopped right underneath the lights until they turned red and I could make out the sign.

Finally found hotel, checked in. It was now 1:30 am my time and I hadn't eaten in about twelve hours. Of course, it was waaaaayyyyy too late for room service so the front desk clerk gave me directions to local fast food, which would be the only thing open at that ungodly hour. The directions weren't exactly accurate and I got completely turned around and it took me an hour to find my way back to my hotel. I did pass a Taco Bell while I was lost, so at least I arrived back with tacos.

Finally ate around 2:30am my time and went to bed a little after 3:00 (1:00am PST). Had to leave for training at 8:15.

Training was a challenge, but it was my first rodeo and I'm sure it will get easier. Left client with full intention to relieve stress, so drove the approximate 12 miles to the Pacific coast so I could stick my foot in the water.

This is the view from my hotel room. Notice the mountains in the background - I'm definitely not in Texas.

This is the view of the Pacific ocean at Half Moon Bay, California. Very pretty and serene. I sat on a picnic bench for about half an hour just listening to the sound of the ocean. I really miss living near a huge body of water.

I will post some more picture tomorrow, as Blogger has suddenly decided to have an attitude about photos right when I was almost finished. But I refuse to let it spoil my improved mood.

Update: Blogger came back up so here are the other two pics.

This is another shot of the beach at Half Moon Bay. It's a cute little tourist town and you can see the beach is long and clean. I walked down the coastline and back about thirty minutes - in sand - so I figure I got my exercise for the day. God, I'm out of shape - I used to RUN in sand when I was younger.

This is a shot of me officially sticking my foot in the Pacific Ocean. You can't see it, but the foot has an excellent pedicure and is sporting OPI You Must Be a Kabuka Queen nail polish. The next wave was a doozy and soaked me up to my hiney. So glad I'm driving a rental car!

So this was the perfect ending to the not-so-perfect day.

Tonight, I'm ordering filet mignon from room service and eating it in bed.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Writer's Butt

I got this joke from a co-worker and felt it relevant to my topic today, so I wanted to share:

Ed was in trouble. He forgot his wedding anniversary. His wife was really MAD!!! She told him "Tomorrow morning, I expect to find a gift in the driveway that goes from 0 to 200 in 6 seconds AND IT BETTER BE THERE!" The next morning Ed got up early and left for work. When his wife woke up, she looked out the window and sure enough there was a small box gift-wrapped in the middle of the driveway. Confused, the wife put on her robe and ran out to the driveway, and brought the box back in the house. She opened it and found a brand new bathroom scale.

Funeral services for Ed have been scheduled for Friday.

Now, while I'll admit, this is funny, it hits a sore spot with me and that's "writer's butt." I already have the day job working against me (sitting at a desk all day) and I went and picked a second career where I could spend more time sitting at a desk all day. My fingers could probably go to the sign language Olympics, but the rest of me - not so good.

And this is the dilema - I could change my diet, but would that be enough to stop the spread or even reduce it? I know I should be exercising and it holds all those wonderful added benefits for health and weight loss, but what if you really don't have the time to fit it in often enough for it to matter. And before you fanatics out there get started on me, I REALLY don't have the time. I spend approximately 19 hours a day taking care of the "have-to's." By the time I fall into bed at night, the measly five hours I get is never enough and one day I will crash and burn.

The day job time spent goes without saying - must pay bills and we all know that's not going to happen from writing - probably not in this century anyway. My next book must be written or I can't sell it and my career will end before it begins. My debut release (out in October) must be marketed or it won't sell well and (see above) my career will end before it begins. Paying bills are a have to - and even though my husband definitely pulls his weight around the house, it still takes both of us to take care of things that come up - car repairs, furniture delivery, broken air conditioners, etc.

I farm out everything I can - I don't clean the house. I don't mow the lawn. We pay people to take care of those things so we don't have to spend the time doing them. I dry-clean almost all of my clothes, so I'm not spending time ironing. I watch exactly two shows on television (and let's face it, everyone has to have SOME down time or they will explode), and I record them so I can skip commercials and save time spent actually watching.

Is my life always this hectic - well, lately, yes. And it's been that way since December of last year. Just when I think things are going to slow down enough for me to pee with the door closed, something else needs my time and attention - ALL have to's.

Does anyone else have this problem? And if you do, I'd love to know how you handle it. Is dieting enough for the times you're literally too busy to exercise? And if you don't have time to exercise, you don't have time to cook either - so what are you eating that's quick and easy and doesn't take hardly any time to prepare.

There has to be a solution - before writer's butt takes over the world.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Bayou Country

Holli, one of my fabulous new friends from National, asked on my blog yesterday exactly what a bayou looks like. The fact is, they all look a bit different. The word bayou originated from the Louisiana French word "bayuk" which means small stream. So essentially, any offshoot of another larger body of water (lake, ocean, river, etc.) is a bayou.

Depending on where you are in Louisiana, the bayous and the surrounding areas look very different. This first picture is one of a bayou in the Atchafalaya basin. Notice the dense foilage and cypress trees. Some areas of this type of bayou are so thick with trees and such that standing in the middle of it, you can't see a sliver of sunlight.

The picture above is the second kind of bayou surroundings, called a marsh. This picture was taken in Cameron, where my parent's camp was located. There are some trees, but very few and they are spotty at best across the marsh land. Mostly, the marsh is tall weedy type grasses with low-lying water areas. You can see for miles across the marsh. These are also often referred to as coastal wetlands and all sorts of conservation efforts are always underway to keep them from disappearing.

To the left, you'll see the king of the bayou - the alligator. Alligators are fierce-looking creatures and it's not a wasted look. When I was a kid, however, alligators behaved more like snakes in that if they heard you coming, they ran away. The recent attacks in Florida make me wonder what's going on. My guess is that man is encroaching too much on the alligator's territory and the alligators are fighting back. Plus with the increase of residential and commerical centers so close to waterways, the food supply is diminished. I guess the alligator think - "no more fish.........then I'll just snag a jogger." The only alligator attack I was ever aware of growing up was a mother protecting a nest of eggs.

This "little" guy to the right is a nutria. They are rodents that inhabit the wetlands and make trails through the marsh that are destroying the wetlands by allowing water to rush further into the grassy areas. This guy will weigh 20 pounds when fully grown - larger than your average housecat.

So this concludes the Louisiana Bayou Tour, featuring your host, Jana DeLeon.

Thanks for asking the question, Holli. I may bore the heck out of readers, but I had a fun time putting this together!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Glorious Website

My new website is officially launched! Check it out.

Of course, I have 50 billion additional things to add and adjust and so forth, but isn't it pretty?

The graphic is totally custom and was designed by JustTwoGirls. They did a fabulous job of bringing my mental picture to the big screen and I couldn't be happier. Plus, I get to control the content all I like and you know how us writers are usually control freaks. :)

A website is a key requirement for any writer. The interent is your availability access point to thousands of readers that would never otherwise get to meet or see you. If you don't want to spend the money and time on a website before you sell, I totally understand. I did a down-and-dirty easy website with some information on me and my writing before the sale. There are also some free hosting services out there, and a lot provide templates so you don't even have to know html to get by.

If you don't want to go the website route before sale, then you definitely ought to blog. What does it take - like fifteen minutes out of your day? But the benefits can be enormous. And it takes a huge amount of time to bring your blog readership up. You need to visit and post to other blogs to bring traffic to yours. You need other bloggers to post a link to your blog on their blog. It's a somewhat involved process and it can't be achieved overnight. So get started early. You may think you have nothing to say, but I know that's not true. Everyone has something to say a couple of times a week. Start small and simple.

When the big sale comes, get hopping on your website right away. Custom designs do not happen overnight. They require constant tweaking and adjusting until you're happy with the graphic and it actually works in the site. So don't delay. And while your web designers are pounding away on the site, you should be writing your content - at least the basics - your book info, bio, etc. You need to be ready to load as soon as the site is available. Mostly because it's amazing how much time you can spend changing the font, then the size of the font, then changing it back.................

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

What I've Learned About Promotion

So I attended every workshop I could on promotions at National and I've discovered a recurring theme - no one knows what works. And no one knows the best way to market your work personally.

Well, hell. And I thought some big secret was going to be revealed once I had reached the lofty heights of PAN (published author network, for those not in-the-know) and gained entrance into the PAN only workshops. Now, I didn't really think they had the answers. I don't think anyone does. But I have pinned down a couple of things.

If you are trying to get your order numbers up, you need to start about six months in advance of release. Don't bother at three months prior to your release, except for independents, who will order anytime. About a month prior to your release, you have two groups to begin targeting heavy - booksellers and readers. You re-target the booksellers in order to get them excited about your work so that they might hand-sell it to their customers. The reason for targeting readers probably doesn't need any explanation.

The big question is - what is the best way to target these groups?

The answer - who the hell knows.

You might spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars printing up media only to have it tossed immediately in the trash. How will you ever know? The answer, you won't. There's really no way to gauge what works and what doesn't. So the fact of the matter is, you have to do what you think the best thing is for you and your work, within the confines of your budget.

And that's it - the reality of how to market your book summed up in one sentence. (sigh)

Guess it's off to the budget to figure out what trash can item I want to spend my money on.
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