Monday, February 25, 2013

Seriously, 2013?

I believe that when we last spoke I was still getting used to being back at my old job and not finding any time to write.  Now I'm two months into the old job and well... things kind of suck.  We joke around in our office about this job being cursed.  It seems like everyone who comes into the job has car trouble and gets sick within the first few months.  I already went through the job curse the first time I did this job and I never even left the agency or the program so I thought for sure I'd be just fine.  I thought wrong.

Less than a week into being back on the job I was on my way home from a visit on a snowy Sunday night and went into the ditch.  I had $5,000 in damage to my car and had to pay out of pocket for a rental car while it was being fixed (for 16 freaking days!) because my insurance doesn't cover rentals.  While I had the rental, I hit a pothole on the highway and got a flat tire.  So then I had to get a different rental (which actually turned out okay because the 2nd car was way cooler... LOL  Word to the wise, pay for the extra insurance when you're renting a car.  It blows, but covers you when you get a flat and lose the hubcap on the highway.)  All the money I'd looked forward to by switching jobs was therefore blown on car repairs and rentals.

February rolled around and I thought, "Okay... let's start things over." The universe said, "Screw you, Kel!"  I got a case that was straight out of an episode of Hoarders, literally.  I then worked every single weekend, and by the third week of the month, I'd come down with hives because my allergies were going bezerk.  So for the past week I've been all itchy and had scary old woman wrinkly skin from the hives on my face, and I've been drugged up on a new allergy medication.  Yesterday was the first day I woke up without any sign of hives on my face.  Oh and that car accident from January resulted in a $150 ticket that arrived in February despite my attempt to fight the ticket.  So I get to be completely broke at the end of this month too. Yay!

March is just around the corner and although the case that caused my hives is over, I've already got a new one that is seriously the case with the highest risk I've ever had, so I'm all Anxiety Girl over it and totally stressed out.

So yeah,  2013 is kind of sucking so far and I'd really like a break!  How's the year treating you so far?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Can We Be Done Now?

It's official.

I'm totally over winter.


So, I'm posting pictures of some my favorite summer places just to remind me that I won't always be cold. I'm going to sit here and pretend that the snow and ice and crappy roads are a thing of the past. You're welcome to join me. Here, have a glass of iced tea.

And also, if you'd like to add anything, here's my Open Letter to February. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Finally....finished...and more from Carissa

    Thank you for the good wishes on the release of book three in the trilogy. Most of you were part of an emailing I had sent out last fall asking if I was just crazy (ok, more than normal) or if things were just not right with our situation. The advice was more than welcomed and with That Bites, that chapter is finished and I can walk away...or so I thought.
     Legally there is nothing binding-which is good, however, I now have a major distrust of publishing houses that I have recently discovered as I started to make a list of possible places to submit my WIP. If it followed the same genre as the others--I would know exactly where I would send it to. This one is a walk down a new path. I'm writing a kids book and have no clue who to trust, where to query and part of me is screaming "just self publish it." While the other parts are saying, "No, give it a chance."
      In my perfect world, it would be out in July as a birthday gift for the oldest 2 of the grand darlins, who have been the driving force for me doing this project. Now I just have to find the map to get to that place. Added to that is that I came to realize my surly I-hate-winter attitude and the not so nice things I have yelled at the weathermen on TV are all contributed to the fact that I really do not want to be here. We landed in Michigan after Katrina, we lost a house, a business, a business partner and we ran to Texas, where Rita found us. We had brought my son a box of clothes- (for some reason it didn't compute that winter in Marquette, was vastly different than a Gulf Coast winter and waiting until Christmas break would probably result in frostbite.) when the last hurricane hit. We fell into a family hunt camp for a few months before finding a place...writing became my salvation during those first few months, and if I had not landed here I have no doubt that I would not have gone back to school, or met some great people, or finally written the books I always knew I wanted to...but, I am missing out on things my girlies do- Tala had the lead in a play and I couldn't be there, my daughter had a major health scare, I wasn't there, I returned the favor and scared her- she couldn't get to me...when we were in Orlando last spring for graduation it became clear that I needed to be back there.
      Once I said the words out loud the story, which had been at a slow down, (instead of writing it straight through, I had started writing scenes and have maybe a dozen that I really like, but will have to mesh in) suddenly started pouring out again. It's obviously not going to be a fast move, and where we are now is a great hunt camp area so I hope to be up in the fall- which I love and can see you all then.
    I am also looking for suggestions- for places to submit said kids book, (its sort of potter-ish, but with witches, fairies, sprytes, and dragon like critters for ages 8-13 most likely) And then seeing as how I am getting no real publicity on the trilogy through the publisher- what has been the most effective means of attracting new readers/buyers for y'all?
Check out my facebook page- Beastly Beauty (which I hope to be my next release) for updates on specials and new projects:

Monday, February 18, 2013

Who's really running the Show?

Hello Everyone! I hope all is well with you. I’m Lisa Orchard the author of the Young Adult Mystery/Thriller Series, “The Super Spies”.  I must say I’ve been very happy with my new series. The first two books made it to the Amazon Bestseller’s list in January and that was a great start to a New Year.

I had arrived! I made it! I’m in control of my destiny. I thought this way for the first week of January as I worked and slaved to finish the third novel in the Super Spies series. Then it slowly dawned on me…who was really in charge…

My cat. That’s right, my cat Lilly. She was a stray that wandered into our garage one cold November evening. My husband told me she was there. “She must have smelled the chicken I was grilling,” he said with a nonchalant shrug.

I wandered down the stairs to get a look at her. She ambled out from under the car…all big eyes and tiny meow.  A little Tiger kitty.

“We can’t leave her in the garage!” I exclaimed horrified. I picked her up and rushed her into the house where we promptly fed her and doted on her.

We had to keep her segregated from the other cats because they weren't as excited about a kitten as the rest of the family.  So, Lilly, I promptly named her, has her own room. She gets to hang out with the rest of the family in our bonus room. We bought her a kitty condo along with her own litter box and food dishes. The other cats can no longer come in the bonus room unless they can get along with Lilly. One cat has been able to do that and the other one sits outside our makeshift gate stalking her. Angry that she’s left out. I don’t blame her, I’d be angry too, but she’s got to learn to get along with Lilly, this is non-negotiable.

Lilly has become part of the family. The boys rush home from school to play with her. She’s that cute. Even then…I didn’t realize that she’d taken over our lives.

It wasn’t until after Christmas break when the boys went back to school and I wanted to work that I realized who was really running the show. I’d sit down at my computer…ready to pound away at the keys when Lilly would jump up on my desk and demand attention.

I’d stroke her soft, little ears and then put her down on the floor. She’d wander away only to return minutes later, demanding more attention. She’d sit in front of the monitor and give me that plaintive meow that she has. I would pet her and again put her down on the floor. This would go on until, exasperated, I’d give up and move to the couch. She’d follow me with that soft step that cats have and climb on my lap.

Where I’d pet her until she felt she’d had enough and would move to the other end of the couch where she would clean herself and give me smug looks. Then…and only then…could I work.  This has been the morning routine ever since the boys started school.  

I realize now that I’m not in charge. Lilly is running the show. When we’re watching TV and she wants attention, she’ll sit in front of it, blocking everyone’s view until someone moves her…and she gets the attention she wants.

Isn’t she smart? Getting everyone to work around her and operate their lives according to her terms. We didn’t even know we’d been manipulated. Wow!  I need to take lessons from my cat. J

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Is there such a thing as too many cookbooks?

I've been wondering that as I work on mixing together my own cookbook, requested by family and friends to be put together. I have plenty of tasters available for testing updated recipes, and have lined up several folks to test out the recipes and proof the final book.

Reaching into my own cookbook drawer this morning, I was thinking perhaps there is such a thing as too many cookbooks. I still have one from my 7th grade home ec class that has traveled through my many moves (19 so far) and from the West Coast to the MidWest. My grandmother's recipe card box made the last 3 moves as well. I don't use all the recipes from all those spots, I have my favorites, many of which will make it into my own cookbook, but still I wonder, how many is too many?

Amazon is full of newbie writers putting cookbooks up in hopes of getting noticed, I'm sure Barnes and Noble and many other sites have the same plethora of books. Mine isn't intended for the traditional route of an agent and a New York publishing outfit, which makes me curious if anyone besides my friends and family who've requested it will ever stumble across it and purchase it. It certainly won't be pricey, it will be the bare minimum that Amazon requires to also make it eligible for their CreateSpace Print-On-Demand offering, as my mother want's a physical copy so she can get it autographed.

I set a goal of June for myself, I'm already beginning to worry if I'll make it by then. I have lots to bake for a photo shoot, a cover to get done - with the help of my photographer - and editing and proofing galore. The one thing I don't worry about is having enough honest taste testers around.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

What you think about after you submit a manuscript

by Joselyn Vaughn

This post is going up on Valentine's Day and being a romance writer, I should be offering you all kinds of tips for making this a fabulously romantic day for you and your special someone. The problem is I'm not terribly romantic and I recently submitted by sixth manuscript.

I've had five manuscripts published, so you'd think that submitting another one wouldn't be that nerve-wracking. I'd be able to send it in and tackle the next idea.

But after I clicked send, I started to wonder. Should I have beefed up the heroine's feelings of inadequacy? Should the villain have a deeper motivation? Should I have explained more clearly how he committed his nefarious deeds?

Part of me says these aren't a problem. After the manuscript is accepted, an editor would look at these questions and decide what needs to be beefed up or altered. I should stop worrying.

Then the doubts answer. What if the publisher hates it? What if they want the villain to do all his lines in mime? Could I even write that? What if they quality isn't up to my previous books? The publisher likes the story, but I need to rewrite the entire thing.

Then more worries. What if they like the book, but they look at my past sales and decide I'm no longer worth the risk? They can't afford to spend money on editing, cover art, and promotion that they aren't recooping.

The worries spiral. Maybe I shouldn't be writing at all. Is there something I could do that would be more profitable (dollar-wise, at least.) I could actually learn to cook.

I  thought some of these doubts and worries would go away after the second or third manuscript, but they keep cropping up. They must be just part of the joys of being a writer.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Doing Things Differently

By Suzanne Graham

With my next two works in progress, I've asked for help from a co-author. The first project is a M/M shapeshifter story that I've had on my virtual desk for a few years now. I got off to a solid five chapter start and sort of fizzled out. I knew where the story needed to go, but I was lacking something to get me there.

So, I decided to bring in an expert at M/M storytelling for her input. She's also a fabulous world-builder, which happened to be one of the areas that my work was sadly inadequate. Unfortunately, we are both busy with other projects right now to devote to our combined effort, but I look forward to March when we will both have more time to work together.

My second joint adventure is a dystopia novel for the New Reality series with Resplendence Publishing. Each month a different author has been asked to write an erotic romance set in a dystopian world. I received a June release date, and I was sure I would be able to finish my current projects and jump into Faith's Revenge in time. Then I realized it was going to be really tight to meet all my current obligations. My choice was to either cancel my participation or call in another writer to co-author the book with me. Fortunately, I'd developed a friendship this fall with a new writer, and he agreed to jump on board with this project.

I'm really excited about these two projects and doing them differently than my previous books. Writing is a solitary business, and I've greatly enjoyed having another writer to bounce ideas off of, to share frustrations with, and to celebrate little victories with much laughter.

Thank you to my two co-authors! (More details coming soon!)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Letting the book be done...

By W.S. Gager
Please excuse a little bit of blatant self-promotion but my fourth book in the Mitch Malone Mystery Series was released on Friday and I’m still in the mad dash of updating and promoting. A Case of Volatile Deeds even has a hint of romance in the mystery whodunit.

But that isn’t what I want to talk about today. Getting this book out took forever. Most of my books take a year from starting to being released. This one took two years. Granted I had an injury and surgery on my shoulder during that time but for some reason, it took forever for me to let this one go. I just didn't like it and keep rewriting.

I am happy with it now but it wasn’t until the final edits that I could see my angst disappear. What was it about this book? I am not sure but I have a couple of theories and want to know if you ever feel that way. First, I kept adding in plot threads and deleting others. By the end I couldn’t remember what I’d left and what I’d nixed.  It took a lot more editing to make sure the threads were continuous for the ones I left in and no sign of the ones I nixed to confuse readers.

At one point I thought I was done and sent it out to a couple of trusted readers and my critic group. One bit of feedback was they did not like the reason for one of the deaths. Really? I looked at it and had to go back to the major editing mode.  I guess it all worked out. Early reviews (see below) are good.

Did you ever have a book that you weren’t happy with? What did you do?

A Case of Volatile Deeds Blurb: Mitch Malone finally scores a weekend dinner with a cute receptionist, but true to his reporter instincts, an explosion in a high rise office building makes him stand up his date as he runs for an exclusive. Mitch learns that much of what he knows about his date and her work aren’t what they seem. His world continues to twist when the police captain asks for his help and a city hall informant is found floating in the river. Mitch must keep his head down or a cute dog with a knack for finding dead bodies will be sniffing out his corpse.

Mitch finds himself in a battle to the finish not knowing which are the good guys and which are the bad guys (and gals). Just when he figures out one mysterious thread from the tapestry unraveling before him, two more pop up, and the plot twists and turns in surprise after surprise. A don’t—put-it-down-until-the-last-page thriller destined to be on more than one “Best of 2013” lists.”

--Les Edgerton, author of Just Like That, The Bitch, The Rapist and writing books like Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them Go.

“A Case of Volatile Deeds by W.S. Gager takes twists and turns at every corner, always keeping you wondering. Mitch Malone is a reporter with a heart and a man of integrity, most of the time. This adventure takes him from cops to FBI agents and on to City Hall. Can Mitch find all the answers to a convoluted and deadly scenario? Trust me, you’ll want to follow this path with him.”
--Marja McGraw, Author of The Bogey Man Mysteries

Get a copy today from Amazon

Monday, February 4, 2013

Storyboarding in Scrivener

by Andrea Dickinson

I've heard wonderful stories from authors who use storyboarding and post-it notes to plot their books, and as a way to join my left and right brain, this sounds fabulous. What could be better than combining the visual of colored notes with an outlined story? But I'd never tried it before.

I've tried traditional plotting to the point where I knew exactly every GMC in every scene before I started writing...I didn't enjoy writing this way. And I've tried writing without any plan at all...I got stalled after the first third of the story. So, I know I fall somewhere in the middle between pansters and plotters, which I like to refer to as a plantser.

With my current WIP, I started using the notecards on the corkboard view of the outline in Scrivener. Each card represents a chapter and has brief notes about what might happen in those scenes. I can also color the cards to show the major turning points in the story.

This was working out great, giving me an idea of what direction I should be heading without losing the chance to discovery where my characters might decide to go on a whim. Then I reached the dreaded middle of my WIP, and I stalled. I checked the outline. Yep, I had stuff planned, but it felt forced. It wasn't flowing.

As I went to bed Friday night, I realized I had to rearrange the chapters. I had a significant event happening too early in the story. Time to go back to the corkboard. After an hour or so of creating new cards, rearranging the existing ones, and deleting dud ones, I had a better flow to my story...and it had been fun!

If you haven't given Scrivener a look, check out their 30-day free trial. The program has loads of great features for pulling together all your material for your book.

Philadelphia Storm, City Hearts book two, coming May 1!

now available as print or ebook!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Wise Woman Says...

Image credit: anastasiiaku / 123RF Stock Photo

By Patricia Kiyono

Now that we're a month into the new year, the novelty of resolutions has died down for most of us. If you're like me, you may not have bothered to make any. I did make some promises to myself. And I have some things I would like to do, like write, finish, and publish some more books! So since the Chinese New Year begins this month I thought I'd take a look and see what the teachings of my ancestors would say about that. This is the year of the water snake, which means that this is a "good time to take on new things, educate yourself and open up new doorways. Travel to new places and unlock hidden secrets from within yourself…the most unexpected and creative ideas will be rewarded." (Read the full article)
I couldn't find any predictions pertaining specifically to writers, but I found this statement in a Huffington Post article by Debra Duneier, Master Feng Shui Practitioner: The year of the snake can be a prosperity year if you stay on budget and use your talents with conscious intention. And If you are having negative thoughts, stress, fear or doubt move them aside because the year of the snake will provide what you need. That sounds like encouragement. Of course, if you use your talents with conscious intention, that is a good step toward prosperity no matter what the year! (Read her article)
Anyway, I suppose I can use this as a reminder: if I don't put forth the effort, I'm not going to see results. If I don't make the conscious decision to sit down and write, the stories are not going to be told, and the books will not appear. So I'm going to end this now and start working on my next book. It's going to be great. And I have the added incentive of Winter Nano! I'm going to write 32K in four weeks. Look for the details by clicking on the GRRWG Challenges tab above or ask any of the GRRWG veterans. Good luck!