Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Quick Treat

I woke up to find a message from my editor. The Australia time difference is killer, even more now that we've both gone on Daylight Savings Time -- in opposite directions. She's springing forward while I'm falling backward.

But I got an early Halloween treat -- an ISBN and a release date for "What's in a Name?"

Thursday, October 26, 2006

On Rejections, Feedback, and Moving Forward

What I'm reading: Kiss of Darkness by Heather Graham
What I'm working on: Finding the compelling hook

I got one of those "good" rejection letters yesterday. The kind where the agent (who had requested the full manuscript) says "Your writing is terfific" and then there's that BUT. In this case, it was that the story wasn't complicated or layered enough for single title. She also went on to say that all I need is that one thing that's truly different or compelling, and the other nice words -- "Please do keep me in mind for future works."

Time to reevaluate both Rescued Hearts and Dalton's book. How do I find the right "hook?" One of the final round contest judges, an editor, thought the plot for Rescued Hearts was too complex. However, I don't know what genre filter she was using when she read it. It appears too complicated for category, but not complex enough for single title. Maybe. All I can do is try to adjust, move on, and hope it's a fit for someone.

Meanwhile, I have a family deal in Pittsburgh this weekend. I've got a hard copy of as much of Dalton as I've written printed to keep me busy on the plane. I'll be looking for hooks and things compelling.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Quick Bit of News

Rescued Hearts, my Pollyanna meets Delta Force novel won first place in Romantic Suspense in the Indiana Golden Opportunity Contest! It now goes to another editor with the first place finishers in the various categories for a "best of the best" judging.

Good news/bad news/no news? The editor who will be doing that judging is the same one who requested the partial at the Emerald City Conference. I'm not sure if that's good, not good, or won't make a difference. She's going to be judging contest pages I submitted several months ago, and the partial I sent her has already been tweaked with improvements. I don't know whether to point this out now, or simply sit back and let nature run its course.

And, about an hour ago, I got the final results for the Jasmine where my manuscript finished second in its category. This means I'm done with contests--at least the typical RWA contests which are limited to unpublished authors. I think I'm ready to move on, although I'll be looking at all the feedback from all the judges in all the contests to decide what to do with the novel.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

On Catching My Breath - at last!

What I've been reading: Lots of RWA and Emerald City freebies. The Redemption of Matthew Quinn by Katheen O'Brien; Finding Home by Marie Ferrarella;Every Waking Moment by Brenda Novak; Invisible Recruit by Mary Buckham; The Secret Pearl by Mary Balogh

What I'm working on: blurbs, dedications and excerpts

Finally a moment to catch my breath. I got my final line edits done well within the deadline, and the editor is happy with them. It's a whole new 'game' - you see comments from FLE and you're sure the reader must have missed something that's plain as day--or is it? Those people get paid to pick nits, and it's a matter of taking a deep breath and accepting that a reader probably won't be reading quite as carefully, so if things are slipping by (like your hero's hair color), then maybe you'd better elaborate, mention it more often, even if you can point to references on three separate pages in the first chapter, and make sure it's as clear to a reader as it is to the image you carry in your head. I know the Pregnant Pigs are laughing and saying, "I told you so!" when they remember how many sessions I drove them nuts trying to figure out whether I was writing it wrong or they were reading it wrong. A little of both, most of the time.

I took "exception" with only one comment, which dealt with the hero's condom stash. If he brought protection with him to the heroine's apartment, but later, they were back at his, it seemed reasonable for him to reach into his nightstand drawer, not his wallet. Guys don't really bring their ENTIRE supply with them on dates, do they?

I adjusted the scene--double difficult since it was in his POV, so he knew darn well where he kept his condoms. My editor seemed satisfied with the compromise, and I learned that it's more important to look at things from directions I never thought existed. Being "right" doesn't matter, like a scene in the hospital where the hero hands the heroine a cell phone and tells her to call her mother. Whether or not cell phones are "allowed" (and the hero was a cop, so nobody was going to confiscate it) wasn't the point. In the scene, we never saw the heroine actually make the call, so I think I got around that one, too. When I was in the hospital, I used my cell phone and nobody cared, although I was in a "regular" room, not the ER or ICU.

With Sarah on her way, I got up the next morning to find Kelli & Blake in my inbox waiting for their first round edits, with a 'within a week, please' message from the editor. Also a note to find more creative words than "damn." I need to expand my profanity horizons, but to be truthful, I think "damn" pops off the fingertips as often as "just". It's my newest search and destroy word.

My contest-winning entry for Wild Rose needed PR blurbs, info sheets and excerpts. Had to deal with those, too.

But now, I think I can take the evening off, and start fresh tomorrow. Will it be with Colleen & Graham, who need advice from the Orange County Sheriff's Department, or Dalton & Miri, who have been stuck in chapter 13 (better than chapter 11, right?) far too long.

Monday, October 16, 2006

On Writing, Reading and Men

As promised – the ‘guy’ thing.

The stipulation of the Wild Rose Press contest was that a garden had to play a central role somehow. I posted about how I dealt with writing the story on my website (www.terryodell.com) at “Behind the Scenes” but this is a little bit more for you.

I slaved over the research, because it's set in a real place in LA, and I haven't been there in decades, although it was a very special childhood place, and he couldn't remember a lot about it either. I found maps and diagrams of the rose garden at Exposition Park, but the museum wasn't well represented on the internet, so I emailed their 'info' address with questions. The PR lady at the natural history museum nearly set the cops after me, I think when I tried to find out if a visitor would have his backpack checked, and what the menu was in the cafeteria, and what the diorama hall looked like now (and I think this was for 3 paragraphs in the story, but I'm anal!) She finally said she had told me everything the legal department would allow.

Since I was afraid to bug her any more, my husband gave me a colleague's name who worked near there and he took pictures for me. After much angst, I finished the story. Someone a contest was scarier than just submitting it, because with a submission, it only has to come “close” and they’ll work with you to fix it. For a contest, it’s a one-shot deal. I had my husband proofread it, because he’s got a good eye for glitches that I don’t see after numerous editing trips through the manuscript.

When I told my husband that my garden story won, he said (of course) congrats. He didn’t sound all that excited (but unless I get a three-book deal with a six figure advance, I don’t think he ever will). I asked if he remembered reading it. He said he wasn't sure--so I reminded him of all the problems with the museum, and he still wasn't sure. So I said, 'it's the one where they had sex on the couch," and he goes -- "Oh, yeah -- and they went for walks in the garden and there was the dog, and she made lasagna......yeah, I remember that one."

Saturday, October 14, 2006

On Deadlines

Wow! I've heard plenty of authors say, "I'm on deadline" and wondered why they couldn't squeeze out time for emails, or chapter meetings, or whatever. This morning (and I got up early because I forgot to finish something for my "real" job last night) I find the final line edits for Finding Sarah in my email inbox. There's a 72 hour turnaround time, and because my editor is in Australia, I've lost a good number of those hours already. Should be interesting, and I've got the coffee on.

Quick note--my short story "Second Chance Rose" won first place in Wild Rose Press's grand opening contest and will be part of a print anthology coming out in early 2007. I was going to post a cute story about my husband's reaction but I have to start reading those FLEs. Check back after Monday, and maybe I'll get it up here by then. And more about what the final copy editor had to say about Sarah and Randy.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Back from the Emerald City

After a jam-packed weekend in Seattle (or Bellevue, if you want to be technical) for the Emerald City Conference, I'm playing catch-up.

My contest entry, Rescued Hearts, won second place in the Emerald City Opener in the Romantic Suspense division. First would have (of course) been nice, but I'm proud of my finish on a new novel, and it was so much more exciting to be at the awards ceremony instead of getting a phone call or an email. The conference organizers did a great job. If I'd won the Suzanne Brockmann critique, it would have been perfect. But I did come away with an official ATF t-shirt. And a request for a partial from a Berkley editor.

Lots of workshops, lots of new craft tips, marketing tips, and wonderful networking. I have to admit I flaunted my new cover for Finding Sarah shamelesslly. I ate way too much, of course--and they had fantastic desserts at both lunch AND dinner.

Feel free to ask questions.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Some Good News

Yesterday, I got the cover art for Finding Sarah. I'm more than pleased. Since the title sounds very 'chick lit' or 'category' I asked the art department to try to make a cover that played up the mystery/suspense angle of the story. I think they succeeded, don't you?

There's a link to a larger image at my website from the Coming Soon page.

And after spending the weekend proofreading and making last-minute touches to my third book, What's In a Name?, I sent it off to my editor. She said she'd get back to me next week. Imagine my surprise when the next day, I had a contract offer in my inbox.

A cover and a contract on another book--such a nice reward for a day of fasting. Once I get back from Seattle, I'll knuckle down and dig into the research I need to make my second book, which is a spin-off from Finding Sarah, accurate with respect to our local sheriff's department. Note to self--stick with making up towns and cities! Much less hassle.

Have to start getting organized for Seattle. Time to stop thinking about Sarah, about Colleen & Graham, or Kelli & Blake, or Miri & Dalton and reconnect with Frankie & Ryan so I can pitch.

I'll be back Monday night, and hope to update by Wednesday.

Monday, October 02, 2006

On Promotion

What I'm reading: Always Mine by Sophia Johnson; A Visible Darkness by Jonathon King

What I'm working on: Reviewing Rescued Hearts for pitching at the Emerald City; Chapter 13 of book 5

Saturday was my first organized "promotional" venture. A Yahoo group scheduled all Wild Rose Press authors to participate in their group, answering questions, offering excerpts and donating prizes. Of course, this was the day Yahoo Groups went off line, so it was more like talking to yourself and waiting for the eventual surge of messages once the floodgates were opened.

Overall, I'm curious to see whether sales at Wild Rose showed a significant increase, although I'm sure many people were simply frustrated when messages didn't go through so they left.

On Thursday, I leave for Seattle and the Emerald City conference. Rescued Hearts is a finalist in their contest, and I'll be there in person for the award ceremony, but it's also another opportunity to network and pick up more pointers on the craft as well as the business side of writing.

I have a new contest on my website. Answer a simple question and be entered in a drawing for an autographed copy of any one of my Wild Rose Press short stories.