Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Despite Technology, things move forward

What I'm reading: Rumpole and the Reign of Terror by John Mortimer

What I'm writing: chapter 24

A brief note from my editor saying that Starting Over has an ISBN and a release date made my morning. Good to know that after all the trials and tribs with formatting, things got repaired and into the queue for Final Line Edits

I received my bookmarks for Finding Sarah. My first "professional" promotion. I gave one to an instructor at the Y who looked at it, then me. "What is this?" she asked. "My book," I said. Wide-eyes, open mouth. "You wrote a book! I knew you did that writer thing, but I didn't know you actually WROTE something."

Of course, then you have to deal with the 'no, I can't autograph a copy of the novel, but if you want to buy the short stories, you can print them and I'll be happy to sign one for you.'

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sharing a Positive Moment

What I'm reading: Much Ado in the Moonlight, by Lynn Kurland

What I'm writing: Chapter 23.

Reviews are scary. Getting that email first thing on a Sunday morning that says, "A Review for 'Words' has been posted..." sends the adrenaline flowing.

I was more than delighted when my shaking fingers clicked the link and I saw this:

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

On Trials and Tribs of Technology

What I'm reading: The Horsemaster's Daughter by Susan Wiggs; More GH entries

What I'm writing: Chapter 22 again (finally! after a week of edits)

After sending my final edits for Starting Over to my editor, I thought I'd be ready to get back to Miri and Dalton. I can't shift character heads back and forth, so those two had to wait while I dealt with tightening Colleen & Graham. However, I got a message from my editor yesterday morning that after she made the revisions, the manuscript insisted on being in italics! She couldn't figure out why, and sent it back to me. Only problem was, on my end, it looked fine. I resaved it and emailed it back, and sent a copy to my husband at his office. He saw it 'normal', but the editor still had the italics.

Of course all of the frustrations and anxiety are compounded by the fact that there's a 16 hour time difference between my place and my editor. And, on top of it, my email system was being cranky, refusing to connect to the outgoing server, although I could receive messages just fine. Since my husband's office was losing connections as well, it was probably a 'real' problem.

The decision was made for my husband to forward the manuscript to the publisher and hope that it looked OK when she opened it. This morning, she responded to him and the editor -- all italics on her end, but she managed to figure out why. There was a box checked in the AutoCorrect that shouldn't have been. However, I think I'm now going to have to go back and reinsert all the italics that are supposed to be there. Strange, because I rarely go in there--my biggest problem is remembering to change from straight to curly quotes when I submit to Cerridwen. If anyone knows how to get those settings to be document specific instead of global, I'd be ever so grateful.

But--at least during that hour of optimism between sending the file and going to bed, I managed to start writing again. Not my daily goal by a longshot, but it felt good to be back in the creative mode instead of frustrated editor.

Then, this morning, one of my email programs opened to tell me it had some problems but saved the files in question to a 'recovered' folder. Turns out that folder had 937 emails in it--every single thing I'd done since Dec. 13th, both sent and received. So I get to put them all back into the right folders. Eventually!

And after all that, someone used my credit card number to charge a plane ticket. Not a big, expensive one, but it's still such a pain to have to deal with all that entails. On the other hand, technology did let me find out almost immediately, since I didn't have to wait for a paper statement.

On the bright side, apparently my last round of edits survived the formatting wars and are now off to the final line edting folks.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

A Brief Break for Parental Pride

As I mentioned yesterday, our daughter came to town to take part in her first half-marathon race. I'm delighted to report she came in first in her age group. Also very puzzled at where she gets the drive and energy for athletics. A chemist in a family of biologists, an athlete in a family with a couch potato tendency, we sometimes wonder at the myriad combinations of those DNA building blocks.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Whirlwind Excitement

What I'm reading: Death do us Part, edited by Harlan Coben

What I'm working on: edits for Starting Over

"Romancing the Geek" should be on sale now at The Wild Rose Press. It was a whirlwind week. This morning, I got my first round edits for Starting Over and spent much of the day dealing with Cerridwen Press' requisite trademark searches. There's also the matter of dealing with blurb, dedication and excerpt as well as the actual edits.

Busy weekend - on top of everything else, my daughter's in tow to run a half marathon tomorrow and I'll be away for a couple of days. I wonder if those "goals" should have "acceptable and unavoidable delays" built in. I know I haven't made my word count for two days on my manuscript, but I guess working on edits and writing blurbs and dedications works, too.

Monday, January 15, 2007

On Progress

What I'm reading: Galleys for Romancing the Geek; Plum Lovin' by Janet Evanovich; GH entries, crit group manuscripts.

What I'm writing: Chapter 22. Miss Snark's Crapometer (catching up)

Romancing the Geek is turned in. Here's a quick blurb:

Stephanie's lifelong dream is to design toys—sweet, cuddly toys. Instead, she's hired as a glorified typist. And not even with the rest of the marketing department, but way downstairs in the only available office, which she has to share with Brad, who's a total geek. A geek who's happy programming computer games full of explosions.

They agree to ignore each other while Stephanie waits for a desk to open upstairs. But when Brad has girlfriend troubles—like he can't get Lianne, the cocktail waitress to notice him—he swallows his pride and asks Stephanie if she'll teach him how to talk to women. She agrees, but he's having trouble passing her exams.

More about my Wild Rose titles here:

With my edits done and in production, I've got time to post the next (and last) five of Roxanne St. Clair's Goal Keeping Tips. I've been pretty good about staying goal-oriented so far—but it's only January 15th! However, since keeping my blog current is one of my goals, I'm actually moving forward as I write this.

Here are the tips:
11. Don't think of writing as a chore – think of it as a treat (it beats exercise)

12. When you want to quit, write ONE MORE PAGE

13. Give yourself a "revision day" – no fresh writing one day a week/month—just play with WIP.

14. Pick a craft topic and become an expert

15. Visualize one "dream" goal every night before going to sleep.

If anyone wants the word doc with all the tips, send me an email via my website, or add a comment (but be sure to leave me an email address so I can send them to you.)

Saturday, January 13, 2007

More Goal Tips

While I'm finishing the edits for Romancing the Geek, I'll post the next 5 Goal Keeping Tips from Roxanne St. Claire

6. Call your goal buddy once a week and do a report

7. Write slow and steady instead of fast and furious (2 pages a day is 10 pages a week or easily a book in a year, with editing and time for submission)

8. Get a goal calendar--dry erase four months, write your page goals and check them every week.

9. Don' let the sun go down on a rejection -- the day one comes in, get another submission out.

10. Pick your conferences and contests early in the year and ENTER them as soon as possible -- don't wait until the last minute.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

On my Jack Kerouac connection

What I'm reading: Thunderstruck by Roxanne St. Claire.

What I'm writing: Chapter 21. Edits and blurb for Romancing the Geek.

This is a drive-by posting. Last night I got the contract offer for Romancing the Geek and a note that said they wanted the final edits done by Sunday. Of course the first edits weren't sent until this morning, and they need those today.

But--why Jack Kerouac? If you look at my Jan 5th entry, you'll see that one of my writing partners, Darlyn Finch, is the current writer in residence at the Jack Kerouac house. She emailed her writing newsletter subscribers late last night (well past my bedtime) about the official date and time for the party, and that more information was on my website. Well, since that was the first I'd seen the final plans, guess what? It wasn't.

Is now. :-) But I've had a rather hectic day so far.

Sorry --- Roxanne St. Claires' next 5 goal tips will have to wait until my next entry. My goal includes a minimum word count each day, and it's past two in the afternoon, I haven't done a lick of the job I get paid for yet, and my count to this point is zero.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

More on Goals

What I'm reading: Long Time Coming, by Sandra Brown; Thunderstruck by Roxanne St. Claire

What I'm working on: Scoring GH entries. Chapter 20.

Have you got your goals identified? I find them highly motivating. When I'd otherwise be floundering, or procrastinating, I can look at my notebook and pick something that achieves one of my goals and feel like I've "done good." Things I might put off until I was "in the mood" now become satisfying because I feel like it's moving me forward, not just something I ought to do when I get around to it.

Yesterday I joined another RWA chapter (there are 3 in reasonablly proximity, and I've been meaning to hook up with at least one other for over a year.) I wrote almost double my word count minimum, and filed receipts from the previous weekend's chapter events. Nothing horribly exciting (except maybe the chapter breakthrough!) but they were GOALS and I can check them off.

A few more tidbits to share. At the meeting, Roxanne St Claire handed out a Goals Tip Sheet. You know, like those handy hints to keep you on your diet, or help you manage your budget. I'll post some here over the next few entries.

1. Write every goal on paper and make sure it is MEASURABLE

2. Post your goals where you will see them every day

3. Don't go to bed until you've written a word minimum (250-500)

4. Keep a daily track of words/pages produced

5. Do one thing every day, first thing in the morning that's on your goal list.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

On the Reality of Goals

What I'm reading: Summer by the Sea, by Susan Wiigs.

What I'm writing: Chapter 20. Goals for the year.

After yesterday's workshop on Goal Setting by Roxanne St. Claire, I'm crawling around feeling like a total slacker. It's not that she's the self-proclaimed Goddess of Goals—I have no aspirations to outdo her for the title. Heck, I have no aspirations of even coming in tenth. But she did make us examine how we were fooling ourselves with broad, generic dream-goals.

A goal is an objective, which has to be broken down into quantifiable and measurable units. With time limits, too. These are not things like, "Make the NY Times Best Seller List." Goals are attainable via means under your control, not someone else's. So, although I do have a real goal at the top of my list—"write at least 500 'new' words a day", there are a whole lot more vague things I need to sit down and plan out.

And you have to write them down. According to Roxanne, in a notebook, where you can look at them and see if you've accomplished anything.

Rather than 'improve my craft' I have to decide HOW I'm going to attack that. Read more examples of good writing? How many books a month? What about craft books. How many of those? Submitting to agents? That needs to be broken down into bite-sized chunks, too. For example:

Research the agent listings on the web and find 15 agents who represent what I write.

Draft a query letter.

Specialize the letter for each agency.

Mail the first 5 query letters no later than (set a date)!

Make sure I have 5 active queries at all times.

Those are goals that can be achieved.

Friday, January 05, 2007

More on Promotion

What I'm reading: Home Before Dark by Susan Wiggs

What I'm writing: Reweaving plot threads - Chapter 19, almost to 20.

First - visit my website. I'm running a contest for January and the prize is a copy of a prologue I wrote for Finding Sarah. Of course, in my typical roundabout way of doing things, I wrote it well AFTER I wrote the book--after the first revision, as I recall. I couldn't quite let go of her, and had to know what she had to give up in order to accept Randy.

My die-hard critique group, the Pregnant Pigs, wants to celebrate the release of the book. I love their enthusiasm for all milestones. One member is a writer in residence at the Kerouac House . I am so humbled by her talent and dedication, and to think she'd host a get-together for a simple electronically published romance at a place that reeks of TALENT--it's something else.

Cerridwen Press has a monthly newsletter, and each month they feature authors with current releases. I got a list of "interview" questions and really sweated over some of them. I have this honesty streak, except when I write fiction (maybe that's got a lot to do with why I write fiction).

These were the questions:

What is Finding Sarah about?

What inspired you to write it?

What do you think readers will enjoy most about it?

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve ever done?

Who’s the most dashing man who ever lived?

Who do you admire most and why?

Tell us about your first love.

If you could be someone else for a month, who would you be and why?

You'll be able to see my answers in the February newsletter either by subscribing (it's free) or viewing it on their website.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

On Lookng Forward

What I'm reading: The Perfect Fake, by Barbara Parker; The Rome Affair by Laura Caldwell

What I'm writing: Chapter 19; final edits for Second Chance Rose

It's hard to believe it's 2007. I can remember ringing in the year 2000--it can't have been seven years ago! I don't make resolutions anymore (except for my husband), but I do think about goals. This year, it's time to add writing-related goals to my list. Attainable ones, for starters. Write 500 words a day, minimum. Keep submitting. That's pretty much what it boils down to. Write better stuff than you did the day before. Keep learning new stuff. And now, there's the 'self promotion' angle, too. In light of that, I signed up for an on-line class on how to deal with taxes as a writer. After all, I did get a couple of royalty checks and one of the contests I entered came with a cash prize.

Yesterday's "Free for All" with Cerridwen readers & authors was great fun--too much fun, as I spent nearly all day on line. Didn't get much done with Dalton & Miri, but since they've finally taken the next step in their relationship, I can get back to working on things like the major plot developments.

The editor who's working on Second Chance Rose with me sent back my manuscript. She had one sentence she thought needed to be clearer. However, being a compulsive tweaker, I had to go back over every word and I found a lot more places where a word could be stronger, a transition could be cleaner, and a pronoun would work just as well as the proper noun. Now it's a matter of deciding when my changes aren't making things better, only different, and I can send it back to her. There's no firm release date yet, but it's going to be part of a print anthology. My first non-electronic publication, even if I have to share it with a bunch of other authors.