Friday, December 31, 2010

Auld Lang Syne

The end of another year has come to a close -- and the question is -- am I sorry to see it go?

No.

Now most of us on the blogs this morning are talking about what we did last year. I've never been a look-behind-me kind of gal. Whenever I left a job I never went back to hang out with friends. Whenever I broke up with a guy, I never thought about going back to him. Moved out of a house, never went back to the old neighborhood. Once it's done, it's over.

Same thing with the old year. It's done, it's over, it's past, it's behind me. (Well, technically at 12:01 a.m. E.S.T.)

So why would I want to look back at it? Okay, okay, I'll admit it, I did look. I'm very proud of all the accomplishments I've achieved. The biggest being I built a fence. Yeah, not about the writing, the queries, the requests -- it's all about the fence.

You see, that fence represented my new life here in North Carolina. Now mind you, I've been here 3 years. However, the first year I spent in bed. (Bad bad accident, nothing to be done about it, had to suffer through it). I promised my old dog I would build a fence so she could have the whole yard to roam around in. I started it, but didn't finish it until this year. And when I finished it, my old dog was so sick, she couldn't enjoy it and I had to put her down. (See now why I don't look back.)

That fence was my symbol, my lifeline, my guiding light. When that fence was complete, I felt my life would have come full circle. Both ends would be closed. The old life, my old life, would be outside the circle. Monster Baby (and the dogs) and I would live quietly within the circle. Like a great big mandala keeping out the bad stuff. And we have.

Believe me it hasn't been easy, but we've gotten to the end of the year. And that's that. It's over.

So what am I going to do now? Look forward. What else is there to do? I can't beat myself up over all the things I didn't do, accomplish, achieve. Serves no earthly purpose. So I'll look forward.

And that my dear ones, is what I wish for you this brand new year -- look forward. Don't look back. Sure, review it if it makes you feel better, but don't dwell on what you didn't do, look back on what you did. You may surprise yourself at all you've accomplished without even meaning to.

Happy New Year! May you all find joy, love, and lots of happiness!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

To Resolute or Not

With the new year fast approaching, we all somehow decide we need to make resolutions to carry us through the coming year. Lose weight, quit smoking, be nicer to people, write more, cook less...whatever they are, we always think about making them.

Now, I for one, make them sporadically. Not every year, but years I feel like I've been less than. Last year I had seven. Did I keep them? No, not one. Do I feel bad? No, I do not. Yeah, I'm a little disappointed but you know what -- who cares.

Most of us make unreasonable demands that we can't do, they just sound good on paper. One of my simpler resolutions last year was to write 500 words a day. Sounds easy-peasy right? Yeah, not so much. It was in the 90's and above for most of the summer here and I didn't write a word for most of it. (no air conditioning)

Some of us will take any excuse to fail. (see above paragraph) "It's too hot. It's too hard. I can't do it. It won't work. It hurts. I don't have the time. The kids, the husband, the dog..." the list of excuses is endless.

Does that mean we're failures? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Read those words carefully, my dear ones. You are NOT a failure. To me, it just means we've put that part of our lives on hold until we get a better grip on our reality.

Who in God's name can lose weight with all the leftover turkey and pie and ham and cookies hanging around the house after the holidays? Who can be nicer to people when Mother Nature is making life miserable for everyone? Who can write 500 words a day, every day, when a family member is in the hospital, your son's hamster dies, or the washing machine explodes?

My resolution then is NOT to make resolutions. They hurt. They take you out of your comfort zone. They really don't have any benefit unless you keep them. And most of us don't. So what's the point?

My solution -- Kindness. Just the one word, not too hard to decipher, easily attainable, and works miracles.

Instead of making all these crazy resolutions you know you won't keep (or think you might die trying) just be kind. To people you know and people you don't. To animals and the earth and old people and children. To your mother-in-law and the bitch in the office. To the old lady in the grocery store parking lot having trouble with her bags. To the man in the post office with all those packages. Hold a door for someone. Give the lady in the check-out line in front of you the 17 cents she owes because she can't find it in her change purse. Feed the birds your stale bread instead of throwing it away. Recycle, reduce, reuse as much as you can in this throw-away society. Mother Earth is the only home we have and if we're not kind to her, we're going to be up shit's creek without a paddle.

Kindness my friends is the only resolution I think we need to make. If everyone were just a little kinder to every one else, don't you think the world would be a little more shiny? A nicer place to live?

Pay It Forward.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Holiday Hangover

Good Monday Morning everyone. I hope you are not suffering from the apocolyptic snowfall. Stay warm, stay home. Unless, of course, you work for the DPW.

I hope you all had an enjoyable holiday. It snowed here on Christmas Day. Which was an 'event'. (Truth be told, anything weather related is an event.) The day was nice. Monster Baby is growing up to be a wonderful child. I thought for sure she was going to grouse about not getting what she really wanted (a remote controlled dog) but she was really sweet Christmas night when I asked if she had a good day.

"Oh, it was great."

"Did you get everything you wanted?"

"Yes."

"Are you sure there's nothing more you want?"

"No, Mommy, I got everything I wanted."

"What was your favorite present?"

"The dump truck." (Tonka T.S.4000 series - not a true dump truck but called a Haul-Pak in Nevada which are monumentally huge)

(Me, totally surprised, thought for sure it would be the Barbies) "Why is that your favorite?"

"Because I can help you out in the yard when you move all the dirt again."

Did I raise a great kid or what?

On another note -- Did anyone else rewrite their notes from Santa? I have always written a thank you note from Santa for the milk and cookies (helps to remind MB of writing thank you notes for her gifts). Anyway, I read the first draft and found a typo. Wrote a second draft and realized I used the word 'good' three times. Third draft the Sharpie laid a big fat black spot on the bottom of the page. Finally, four drafts later, I had the perfect letter from Santa.

Question -- Is there anyone out there as anal as I am?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Holidays Everyone!

Monster Baby and I would like to wish each and every one of you the most wonderful of weekends. May it be filled with laughter and love and here's to Santa giving you everything on your list....okay, maybe just the one 'big' present will do.





Happy Happy Holidays.

xoxoxoxo

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday Mishmash and an Award

Good morning. I have to report, Christmas shopping went exceedingly well. There was no traffic, I was in and out of the stores well within the half hour each I had allotted myself. I spent less than I anticipated, and got everything on my list. I was on time for the holiday festivities at Monster Baby's school, and the day went relatively well. I even bought a Christmas tree. I know, that's big for me. Three feet tall and fake, it sits on the dining room table with MB's hand-made-from-school ornaments. It's beautiful.

I must say, the research is going well. Really well, as a matter of fact. I found the plot line for the last of my 'men' for the Regency series. Well, the inkling of a plotline -- spy, natch. I have a sailor, a horseman, and a politician. Now I have a spy. Who I might even put in America. Right before the war. Intrigue, gotta love it.

I received an award last week, both from Donna and Rula. Thank you ladies. It means a lot. If you don't know either of these Fair Dinkum women, stroll through their blogs, you won't be disappointed.



Now, Fair Dinkum was an award created by L'Aussie, Denise, who lives down under. She posed the question on her blog, "What does Fair Dinkum mean to you" and was met with all kinds of answers. I've personally always thought that phrase, geared specifically more to men, than women. But as always, mine is a subjective opinion. (Kind of like in French, le and la, masculine and feminine.)

Anyhoo -- the term fair dinkum is a compliment. A high one. Which got me thinking about the highest compliment I've ever received.

When my friend Mary Rose needed to enclose her porch, we had to hang sheetrock. We needed a man. I could do most of the work but we needed some brawn. She called her friend John, who drove over 300 miles to help. He was a big, bad, bear of a man, who barely spoke to me as we worked. "Hold this, nail that, get out of the way," kind of thing. We worked all day, John and I, hanging sheetrock, finally finishing with the ceiling. (Which the board gave way and hit me on top of the head while I was standing on the ladder. I saw stars.)

After John left, Mary Rose told me that John had been very impressed with my effort. "She works like a man," he said. And I thought that was pretty cool. (If you knew John, you would think this high praise indeed.)

So my Fair Dinkum Award is passed on to the men who I think are Fair Dinkum enough to hang sheetrock with...

DL Hammonds @ Cruising Altitude.
Roland Yeomans @ Writing in the Crosshairs
Matthew Rush @ The QQQE
Terry Towery @ A Writer of Wrongs
Stephen Tremp @ Breakthrough Blogs
R. Mac Wheeler
Ted Cross
Alex Cavanaugh
Butch Edgerton>
Elliot Grace
Al Russell


Happy Wednesday everyone, I hope you have a Fair Dinkum day!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Last Minute Lucy

Good Monday morning everyone. As usual, I am late -- as in a day late and a dollar short -- for my Christmas shopping. I am doing mine today. Actually, I'm doing pretty well this year, most forays into Christmas shopping usually start on Christmas Eve, so I'm gaining this year.

Ran into a road block the size of Houston over the weekend on my WIP. I'm in the middle of my Regency, why I decided to write them I'll never know. I had some naggly details last week I had to do a timeline for and thought I fixed them. Guess what? Not in a bazillion years.

It seems my MC, Ellis, could not be where he was supposed to be because he had to sit in Parliament. This was crucial to the plot. Guess what? The Lords did not sit in Parliament the whole of 1816! Not once.

Soooo...what did I do, you may ask? Give Ellis somewhere else to be? Allow the plot to unfold without that information? Throw that scene out and write another?

Nooooo....I decided to change the whole timeline for the book. Actually all the books in the series. Because even though all the books can be read as stand-alone, they are also interconnected in small ways, hence the timeline. Prince George, as Regent or not, is crucial to all the plots. (Hence the name Regency. Don't you just love that word -- hence.)

So, instead of setting the books in and around 1816 as I originally wanted, I've changed them to 1811. Some of you may say, well, that's not so bad, which, it's not. But it is. Sort of. I thought I wouldn't have to do any more research into the Napoleonic Wars, (kind of hate old Boney at this point), but I'm finding I need to look into Admiral Nelson's action at Trafalgar. Ugh! I hate researching war, it's so ugly. But there it is.

Question -- Have any of you ever faced this task -- Finding out your research was way off and now you have to do something drastic? What did you do?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday's at the Piedmont Grille

On the Menu today -- Copious amounts of hot chocolate, with a side of introspection.






Can I just say, it's freezing here. And I'm sure there are a lot of you who want to throw something at me right now. Duh! The whole freaking country is COLD. And most of you have snow. I pray the electric doesn't go out. And if it has, I'm sorry. I'll pray they get it turned back on very quickly.

I used to love snow days home from school when I was little. (Of course, living here, any kind of anomoly in the atmosphere is call for a 'weather day'.) We would stay in our pj's all day, watch PBS (because there were only 5 channels when I was a kid). My mother would make cocoa with marshmallows. My brothers and I built forts with blankets in their room because they had bunkbeds. Laying on the floor and coloring would be big as well. Or reading my 'horse' books.

When we moved to our first house, we all had snowsuits and would play with our friends down the street. We built colossal snowmen, (to the top of the porch once). Not to mention all manner of igloo and snow fort for snowball fights. We'd come home soaking wringing wet, legs sticking to our pants, mittens just sopping.
I can still hear my mother's voice,

"It's a wonder you haven't caught your death of cold."

(Looks funny to see it written out that way. I want to fix it even though it's true and factual dialogue.)

Then my mother would change our clothes, we'd have lunch and go right back out again until it was dark. Because we lived on a dead end street, the plows would stack it all at the end so we had a ready made hill for sledding. Talk about sweet.

We did have snow here, two weeks ago. Monster Baby and I went out and made a snowman. (Pretty good one too, for an old lady.) Living here however, proved a disappointment. Our man melted within 6 hours.

I mean really, if it's going to snow, let it snow at least six inches. And let it hang out for awhile. I don't mind being home if there's a reason for it. Today's reason was ice, and yes, there is nothing worse than black ice. But there's nothing to look at. Everything is brown. And ucky. And everytime I look out my window I see I still have to pick up that pile of leaves.

If there were snow here, it wouldn't look so bad. And maybe I wouldn't feel so bad. I just feel so blah. I don't even care it's Christmas next week. Maybe if there were snow, I would want to go outside and play. Or sled. Or hell, even shovel the driveway.

Now I know most of you want to kill me, you've been freezing and shoveling for hours. I have to do it here too when it sticks. And I have to do my parents' house as well, so I get double duty. And I hate when it turns to slush and mush and it looks ugly and dirty. I want it to go away again.

But when it falls, or late at night when it's quiet, and everything is just so wonderlandy, don't you just love it? Somehow snow makes everything okay. It spreads itself out like a blanket of goodness. It makes you want to believe in Santa Claus again. Even if it's only for just a little while.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Where Does It End?

Last Monday I posted a snippet from Grahame Greene --

A story has no beginning or end;
arbitrarily one chooses that moment of
experience from which to look back
or from which to look ahead.

The End of the Affair 1951

We had a discussion on where we begin a story. Roland had a fabulous counter-question after reading my post -- where do we end the story?


Do we linger too long, milking the afterglow of the story. Or do we end too abruptly once the crisis is averted or overcome?

Many teachers of creative writing stress not to begin writing until you have the ending clearly in mind

so that you can head to it with skillful foreshadowing and firm precision, not meandering until the end just comes to you.

I think that approach also helps you to know when to begin.

If you know the ending with its transformation of the main character, then you know where to start your story ...

and you get a sense of how to bring your protagonist to his destination.



So my question to you -- Do you know the ending before your beginning? Or Do you let it just come to you?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

You HAVE to read this

I followed my nose yesterday afternoon and found this guy, J.M. Tohline, and he wrote this unbelievable post on the BIGGEST MISTAKES WRITERS MAKE WHEN THEY QUERY.

You need to read this whether you've queried before or not. He polled 100 agents and got their responses to what makes and breaks a query letter.

Go here now.

And then, when you're done there, go to his follow up post at the end. It's definitely worth the read.

That is all.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christine's Holiday Blogfest

I know I'm not much for blogfests but since I saw Christine's invitation, I knew I had to participate. It's also a little longer than the requisite 250 words but...

In my latest WIP, a Regency romance, the main characters do share a Christmas together. Unexpectedly. Here goes. Hope you like it.

********

Sorry the author has removed this excerpt.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday's at the Piedmont Grille

On Today's Menu -- custard pie with whipped cream, real Quaker Oats, chocolate chip cookies, BLT's, home-made chicken soup -- comfort food for sure.

Good morning my darlings. Sorry I haven't been around all week. I received my answer from the full request Tuesday night. Rejection. Form rejection.

I needed to cry for a few days and wallow in some really crazy indulgent self-pity. And I did. It wasn't pretty. (A stranger in the supermarket even stopped me and asked if I was all right.) But Terry held my hand and talked me down. (Thanks Ter-Ber) Helped me to get a grip. And I did. But I'm still a little shaky.

See, it was my very first ever, full request. Off a query mind you. So I was little overwhelmed because that's almost never done. And, she's one of the top ten literary agents, so I was a little scared. However, I guess now, all I know how to do is write a really great query. (The agent even said so. It's what she said after that threw me into the pit of despair.)

Nevertheless, I remain, a writer. Nothing to be done about it.

Not to be maudlin, as it is the weekend, so I'll leave you with this.

Monster Baby got a game for her birthday. Instead of numbered dice, they have pictures of the characters on the dice.

I set up the game, we played a non-count round to get the feel for it. The cowboy is a free character so for every one you get, he counts toward whichever characters you need.

I almost died laughing when, on the first roll,
Monster Baby yelled,
(wait for it)

"I got a cowboy!"

Have a great weekend everyone!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Where do you start your story?


A story has no beginning or end;

arbitarily one chooses that moment of experience

from which to look back or

from which to look ahead.



Grahame Greene
The End of the Affair 1951

Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday's at the Piedmont Grille

On Today's Menu -- Grilled Pastrami on rye with mustard and just a smidge of horseradish. And soup. I don't care what kind, as long as it's hot so I can wrap my hands around the bowl.

First I'd like to give a big shout out Welcome and Thank You to my new friends. (Not followers, I am not a cult.) Leigh, Carolyn, Melissa, PK, Tracy, Jennifer, Amie, Debra Ann, Hanny, Theresa, Bryan, Amy, Brenda, The Happy Whisk, Kimber, Melissa, Emy, Len, Perri and Ann. I have coffee and something to gnosh on in the dining room so feel free to grab a cup and hang out. We get a little crazy from time to time but it's all good.

Monster Baby's birthday party went well. Her favorite gift -- the fly swatter. Who knew? She said, "Oh Mommy this is what I've wanted for so long." Even the Silly Bands were pushed aside for the swatter. Crazy kid, but what did I expect with me being a crazy mother.

Any-hoo, I've been working on the premise of the second book in my Regency series. (Now that REMEMBERING YOU is out to query I decided I needed to work on something new.) Not that this story is new, but I've totally revamped the plot and think it's stronger.

I even wrote an outline. Something I do not usually do. And I didn't write it in my pants either, this is a true story outline, with chapter headings and scenes and chapter breaks and everything. (Hey Sarah, I even broke out my index cards.)

This is what the first index card looks like (Now don't steal my ideas lol)

Chapter One
Scene one Violet's POV

Violet saves Jane. Violet meets Ellis. Lady Rose > up to the carriage. On the way home in the carriage.

Pgs. 1 - 8

So what does this outline mean? What does the four days I spent working on this bring to the table?

Well, it means I won't be head-hopping anymore. Now that I know which scenes belong to who(m) [I can never get that right] I won't have to go on such a long search and destroy mission later. It also means I can write whatever scenes I want, whenever I want, and then insert them later. It means I won't get lost when the characters start screaming at me pulling me in 15 different directions. Now I can tell them, "We can't go there, we have to follow the outline." (Something I really wish I had done with Genna and Pete.)

Now the question is (for me) do I really think having an outline will help me write this book any faster? (Not fast in the sense I can bang it out in a NaNo month but fast in the sense that the words will flow.) The answer is -- I don't know.

The question for you is -- do you think having an outline (instead of being a panster) allows the work to progress at a faster pace? Does having an outline REALLY help you stay on track? (Or are your characters like mine and balk at having things so laid out for them?)

Have a great weekend everyone!!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Another Quickie

Well, for those of you who are interested, Monster Baby did NOT get an electric pencil sharpener. Who knew they would be $29.99? Yeah, that's what I said.

And she didn't get her movie either, both Target and Wal-mart were sold out. (It was obviously not my day to shop yesterday.) So I got her a fly swatter instead. (There's a story behind it.) And a new game for her Leap Frog. ($5- marked down from $25-, score one for Mommy.) And some Silly Bands. And a new lunch box. Puppa and Yo-Yo are getting her new boots and a remote controlled dog. (So much for the real ones.)

So that's the birthday. I get to go to school today at lunch time and eat cardboard pizza. How much fun is that???

Just one little piece of writing business for you -- and it's not for or from me --

Shannon is hosting another Anonymous Critique over at her blog today and would appreciate if you would stop by. The last one (she said) went very well, and she'd like to keep it up. So if you have a few minutes, that would be swell.

See you at the Grille tomorrow. I hope. If the birthday party doesn't kill me tonight.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Birthday Weather

Good Morning everyone. Another short and sweet post today.

I hope and pray that everyone is okay with that stupid storm that ran through the whole east coast last night. I've been up since midnight waiting for the tornadoes our lovely weather caster threatened us with at dinner last night. I even found my old hurricane (NOAA) radio and turned it on.

Nothing happened. Just lots of rain, thankfully. But my lack of sleep is killing me. I just hope you are all safe and sound.

I won't be around for the next few days. It's Monster Baby's birthday tomorrow so I need to do some shopping. Wait til the last minute much? You will probably think this is mean but I'm getting her an electric pencil sharpener. Why, you may ask? Because she has so many pencils and has so much trouble with the little hand-held sharpeners I think she'll get a kick out of it. My warped sense of Mommy humor. I suppose she'll also get another Barbie, a few books and maybe a movie -- she's wanted The Incredibles forever, so I'm on the hunt.

And if you can, make a big splash for our lovely Talli who's HATING GAME comes out on Amazon today.

Have fun. I'll see you Friday.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NaNoQuerMo

Just a quick post today.

Congrats to all those who have finished with their NaNo projects. I've heard fun was had by all.

As it is the last day of the official NaNo, it is also the last day of NaNoQuerMo.

My stats --

13 queries out

1 rejection

1 full request

Which, as you know, sent me into hyperspace for about two weeks. Still no word on anything else. (Which is why I only sent out 10 more...I know these won't come back until after the holidays and I'm perfectly fine with that.) So there you have the official NaNoQuerMo stats.

Anyone else want to share?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Hugh Grant

Good Monday Morning everyone. I hope your weekends were filled with lots of leftovers and lazy laying about.



Anyway, this morning's post is about Hugh Grant. I was never a Hugh Grant fan. Oh yeah, sure I liked him, he was kinda like Keannu Reeves that way, he was cute, but meh, not really for me. Don't get me wrong, I ADORED him in Sense & Sensibility (even Monster Baby loves him as Edward) but Notting Hill, Bridget Jones Diary, Four Weddings..., nah, Hugh just wasn't...IT.

UNTIL I saw him in Music & Lyrics with Drew Barrymore. (I'm a few years late but older movies are like my TBR pile only these are TBS --To Be Seen)

Now I don't know if I loved him in this because he was finally playing a character I could relate to -- he's older, cynical and just a little jaded -- OR if it was because he could sing. (If you haven't seen the movie yet, do find it and watch. I don't think you'll be disappointed but this post isn't about that.)

It's about doing something you've never done before. Hugh Grant sings. Who 'da thunk it. Don't get me wrong, he's not a very good singer, not like Michael Buble by any sort of the imagination, but he does have a very lovely voice.

I Wiki'd him and read the article and it said that Hugh Grant had never sung before. (This article also said he doesn't have CD's for music and he doesn't listen to any but I don't know how that could be -- doesn't everybody listen to music at some point or other???)

ANY-HOO, I also watched the director's notes and Hugh talks about how he had to LEARN how to sing, and play the piano for this role. (Being in the theatre in another life, yes, you do have to learn how to sing for performances and how to read music and such) however, I found it extraordinarily amazing that Mr. Grant did so. He doesn't seem like the sort of movie star who would do that.

But he did. And it was pretty good.

And so my darlings, all of this leads me to ask -- is there something you've learned to become better at what you do? As writers we're always learning (or at least supposed to be learning) how to be better at our craft...what was something you've learned that you hadn't known before?

(I'll say that I learned how to blog. You all know about my crazy technological fears, so I think blogging was something I overcame to become a better writer. Meeting all of you has certainly helped my craft. Oh, and comma's. I learned about comma's.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankful

Monster Baby has been practicing what she's going to say at the dinner table tomorrow -- what she's thankful for. The quick list -- Mommy, Puppa & Yo-Yo, Spotty, Fluffy, Henry, her toys and her new school.

My short list -- my daughter (The Biggest Monster Baby in the world whom I love with all my heart), my parents (of course), my writing (without which I would die) and

YOU!

Yes, that's right. YOU. ALL OF YOU. Each and every single pixilated face in my followers list and then some.

If it hadn't been for the blogging community, I wouldn't be where I am today in my writing. This blogosphere is the find of the century as far as I'm concerned, better than any book, any manual, any course I could have ever taken at college.

YOU are always so giving with advice and good cheer and commiseration, it's hard to even think of one person in the real world who gives me as much as all of you do. YOU make me laugh and cry, and think about my stories and what real writing is. YOU are the BEST colleagues I could have ever asked for and what I have been given is a gift -- a true gift -- of which I am profoundly thankful.

Please drive safely, don't eat too much, and be thankful for what you have. There is always somebody else who has less than you.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Technologically Challenged

I asked my daughter last week what she wanted for Christmas. She said a remote controlled dog. (Which I thought was insane, we have two perfectly good "real" dogs she can play with.) I said I would discusss it with Santa.

I asked her again, the other night, what she wanted. She said, (are you ready for this) "... a phone that has pictures, and movies, and songs. You know, the kind the kind that has the best games."

Logical Mommy replied, "I don't even have a phone like that. Why do you want that?"

And she said, "Phone games are smarter. I can beat all the levels on my game-girl and my computer (both by LeapFrog). I want to be challenged."

I almost dropped what I was holding.

I hate computer games. (Remember how old I am for a second here. Some of you may not know what I'm talking about.) I never played Pac-Man. Don't really know who Pong was... or was it Kong. I never desired to hang with Super Mario. I cried when they took the pinball machine out of the club I was working in and replaced it with some race car driver machine that all the guys loved.

I typed my stories for YEARS on a Smith-Corona. My big thrill was when they came out with the eraser tape dispenser. I balked at getting a computer. I got a word processer instead. (This was when computers were expensive, they were practically brand new to the modern era.)

Give me a man tool, for inside or out. I can understand that. Give me a recipe. Give me laundry, a weed-wacker, or any other physical task and I'm on it. Ask me to do anything other than write my stories with my brain -- forget it. You should see my checkbook. (But that's really math and that's a whole other post.)

I am Technologically Challenged.

I am scared to death to start a Face Book account. Dont' even talk to me about Twitter. I have no idea what a hash tag is...(but if I had to guess, I'd say it has something to do with potatoes) and quite frankly, I don't want to.

Thinking of starting a web-site has me sick to my stomach. I write in different genres with different pen names...does that mean I need three different web-sites? Oh. My. God. What have I gotten myself into?

As a writer, when I'm doing my physical tasks (and there are many at my house), that's when I do my best writing. If I'm lucky, it makes it to the page. I've been noticing lately, I'm using pen and paper. I don't know why.

Perhaps because when I started writing, way back when (when the dinosaurs were alive) I used pen and paper. It has been somewhat of an awakening. Does it make a difference in my writing? I have noticed, what goes down on the page is longer, more verbose, purple, if you will. When I transfer it to .doc, it becomes less.

Is modern technology wiping out my need for the more elegant language of times past? Sometimes I like to let the words on the page linger for a second, give me another way of looking at something, the -ly's, the adverbs.

I've watched our world transform in the last 40 years from Leave it to Beaver to The Jetsons. It's a scary thing to me. I guess I've been reincarnated in the wrong era or something.

I've been thinking for quite some time about getting Monster Baby her own, real computer. (I won't let her use mine. She crashed my last one and lost 60k of the orginal MASQUERADE ms.) My cousin Tommy is a... (see, I don't even know what he is but I call him a computer genius)...computer genius and made me my computer from spare parts. His kids have had their own computers since they were born. (Both of them are now on the "Fast Track Elevated Learning Program" at their school. Got this info from my cousin, his mother, yesterday.) Tommy can download all kinds of games and things for Monster Baby so she can be "challenged". Which might not be a bad thing.

When she's older, I can watch over her shoulder while she opens my FaceBook and Twitter accounts for me.

How do you feel about modern technology?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pumpkin Pie and the Cousins

Good Monday morning everyone. I hope all is going well this fine day. This will not be a post related in any way, shape, or form to writing. Just so you know.

I'm recuperating. From what you may ask -- well, I'll tell you.

My cousins are coming in this afternoon for the holiday week. I was supposed to make the pumpkin pies over the weekend. (From real pumpkins -- how much fun...)

Buuuuttttt.....my mother got it in her head to rip up the hallway rug Thursday night. 3 feet wide, 20 feet long. She's not supposed to be doing heavy physical labor. My father is a mess. Guess who had to help.

Fast track to Friday afternoon, where we spent almost 2 hours finding a rug to lay down in the hallway so the cousins wouldn't have to look at the subfloor. I told my mother we could paint the subfloor brown, so you wouldn't really notice it under the new rug. That was the plan. Simple Easy Quick. Right?

Saturday morning my father said he would go get the paint. (He felt a little better.) He came back with cheap laminate to lay down on the subfloor. Huh? Okay, I'll go with it. How hard can it be? Problem is, they have door frames. So we had to cut grooves in the laminate. Which, for most normal people, wouldn't have been that much of a problem. My father (who is a master caprenter and can't do anything without a ruler, level and square) took almost 3 hours to cut grooves in the laminate. Guess who had to do the rest?

I have been on my hands and knees for two days (because even though most normal people can lay a laminate floor in 4 hours, my father was looking over my shoulder.) I had to pull up the staples from the carpet, fill in holes with wood filler, sand those, vaccuum twice with the shop vac (that I had to drag upstairs from the basement) and then I had to cut the bottom of the door frames off so the laminate would fit UNDER the door frames. How much fun was that? Sawdust, grit, my mother bitching about the shop vac making more dust, how was she supposed to cook.) Then my father sat and dictated how I should lay the laminate, carefully, perfectly, because we couldn't afford any mistakes. (He'd made so many mistakes cutting the door frames he didn't think there would be enough to finish the floor and was damned if he'd go back and buy more. He forgot I could get down on my hands and knees to cut the door frames, so he was thinking maybe they should put in a real floor now. Argh!)

Needless to say, I didn't make the pies.

Do you do stuff like this? Have you ever taken on a DIY project that was supposed to be simple and it turns into Godzilla meets This Old House?

*** I did get to make the pumpkin pies this morning -- although, I dropped the mixing bowl into the other already poured pie, and it erupted like Mt. Vesuvius. All OVER the kitchen counter, the cabinet on the other side, the canisters and ALL the utensils in the pitcher. Down the counter cabinets and onto the floor. Luckily the dogs were in the house and they ate that. My cousins are arriving at ten.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday's at the Piedmont Grille

On the menu today – Thanksgiving

Today I thought, I would share with you some helpful hints I’ve picked up over the course of my years as a chef to help you deal with cooking the bird next Thursday. Seems the least I could do considering I haven’t had a contest yet.

Anyway, for those of you cooking this year, here are some quick tips –

If your bird is frozen when you buy it, take it out on Monday to defrost. Still in plastic wrapper, put it in the kitchen sink when you get up in the morning. Put it back in the fridge Monday night before you go to bed. Leave it in the fridge until you are ready to cook. (Unless you live somewhere its 70 degrees, then only leave it out until lunchtime.)

Wash your turkey inside out. I know it’s a pain, the guts and juice splatter all over the place, and you drop it twice on the floor, never fails, but you have to rinse it out. And pat it dry, especially inside the bottom. Don’t leave water pooling in the guts.

I cook my stuffing the day before (sometimes two depending on what else I have to cook) and keep it cold until I stuff the turkey. NEVER stuff a cold turkey with hot dressing. (I could explain about the salmonella and possible botulism but I don’t want to take up too much of your time.)

Loose Measurements –

Pinch – two fingers or half teaspoon
A Little Bit – three fingers or full teaspoon
A Sprinkle – product around the circumference of the bowl or quarter cup
Handful – 4 ounces or half cup

Remember your pets. DO NOT give them fat, cooked, or not, skin, raw or cooked, or gravy. Too much fat content can mess with their billirubins and cause them to go into liver failure. (We lost a dog because of this one year and it was not fun. He got into someone’s trash and ate a coffee can full of leftover grease and turkey fat.) NO BONES for either dog or cat; they splinter and could lodge anywhere.

If its’ cold enough, I use my car as a temporary fridge. Especially the day after Thanksgiving. (I did go shopping one year with pies and half of a dessert tray under my hatchback. Needless to say, that year, I spent too much money because I had ready food.)

Remember why you’ve come together. I always forget when my mother is bitching about my father who’s watching the game too loud and Monster Baby already dirty before my aunt and uncle and cousins get there. You know, the family crap. It’s what keeps you going back, year after year, even if the bird is too dry and Uncle Vic is still kind of icky. Love the ones you’re with. Or at least fake it. Especially when your sister-in-law shows up with her sparkly new whatever.

My biggest suggestion, and I know I shouldn’t even bother with this because I know, as writers, you already do this – Make a list of what you need to do. Prioritize. Make a menu. This will help you focus. Make a time chart for the oven, what needs to go in at what time so everything is hot on the table. Make a list of things to do if guests (children, husbands should ask – Do you want me to do something?) By the end of Thanksgiving Day, I generally have about six pages of written notes. (I have a scrapbook full of stuff, someday I’m gonna write a real book…)

If you have any questions about thanksgiving recipes, or cooking, or even kitchen utensils, please feel free to ask me in the comments. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Muse


Tara asked me yesterday if my newly found muse was hot. Yeah, I would say so.


Strictly speaking, I would never go out with him, he's got that whole bad boy thing going on and as much as it pains me to admit it, I don't know what I'd do with him.
BUT to just gaze upon, while he rests his feet on the back of my couch while he dictates his next S.N.I. Yeah, I guess I could put up with him. Besides, he's wicked funny and loves to get my goat. Cad.




Isn't he just the cutest li'l thing.


He reminds me of Peter Pan, with the whole lost boy image, flying here, there and everywhere just to get into trouble. But damn, he does have some good ideas. And he does look good in a kilt. (Sorry, no pictures to be found.)






Wednesday, November 17, 2010

S.N.I.

Or as we like to call them -- Shiny New Idea.

My muse, as you know, finally introduced himself to me about a month ago. He gave me a Shiny New Idea right before I started querying. I could have killed him.

But, I went with the flow and wrote about 6k to a story I started last year but knew I had to rewrite. So I did. And it was good.

So, I was cruising along, writing some stuff, getting the house in order for next week, not really pushing myself the way I usually do (haven't felt all that swell the last few days).

And then, the little bounder smacked me upside the head again, with not one, not two, but three shiny new ideas. I've been scribbling notes furiously. I have notebooks and pens scattered all over the house, in the car, in the bathroom. I can't get back to the original idea because the new ones have taken over my brain.

I have people in my head all the time as it is. Why do I feel like Patty Duke in that movie?

What do you do when you get more than one idea at a time? Do you write them down? Do you pick the best one and flesh that out? Do you take notes for the others? What's your strategy when the muse smacks you with multiples?

Monday, November 15, 2010

It's a Long Way

Good Monday morning, gentle readers. I hope you all had an enjoyable weekend.

I was sitting, thinking, and a song popped into my head.

"It's a long way, to the top, if you want to rock and roll." AC/DC

Yes. Yes it is.

Without ALL the blather -- As with every war, it's the small victories that add up. The small challenges that somehow make us realize we are winning. Same with writing. Challenges -- Victories. So how do you measure your victories to the top? Nailing a scene. Pulling together a troublesome chapter? Finishing the first draft? Writing a query?

When do you reward yourself? And with what?

****I'll go first. I rewarded myself with a bag of caramel popcorn for finishing the short story for NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND. And when I finally finished the last 4 scenes of REMEMBERING YOU I took myself for a drive around the outskirts of town to look at the foliage.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday's at the Piedmont Grille

On the menu today -- Beef stew with dumplings. (It's so fall-y here, stew is just the thing.)

Well sports fans, after last week's query mania I have run the gamut of emotions from over the top to down at the bottom again. Gotta love that query process.

I wonder if those of us who are 40-something and older, have the same emotional range that younger writers have. OR is it higher? We have seen so much more of life. We have been in "the world". As "mature" writers do we throw in the towel more often than our younger counterparts? Or do we have the *ahem* maturity and patience to keep going that young people don't?

I've spoken to three writers who are, for the most part, my age and we are all having almost the same reaction to the query process. We are all querying our second books. We second guess our brilliance and our voices and our stories. It sucks. In any other given situation we are confident and strong and know who we are and what we stand for. In the query process we have been reduced to babbling 4 year olds who cry and whine and revert to the deepest levels of self-doubt and reduced ego.

I think, perhaps, as writers now, in this day and age, we (the older writers) are just trying to gain our place in immortality, and the more rejections we garner, the easier it is to think we will never gain that goal. We have, what, twenty years left to write? (As opposed to the 20 or 30 year olds.) To make some kind of impression on the world with our work. And the longer it takes for that to happen, the more we find ourselves withering away inside, where it counts.

Is our level of maturity, going to help or hinder our writing abilities? Is our age going to make or break us?

Writing is hard work. We all know that. But is it harder when you're "mature"? I know I couldn't have written either of the books I finished when I was 20, or even 30for that matter. I don't want to be known as a one-hit-wonder, I don't think any of us does.

So my question to you, dear readers is this -- Do you think you'll be doing this writing thing for awhile, or are you just trying it out to see? Are you in it for the long haul?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Write What You Know

Now we've all heard this before -- write what you know. (There's also -- Write What you Love -- but that's another blogpost.)

In REMEMBERING YOU, I didn't have to go far for Genna's career. I was a chef. Actually, I started out as a lavastoviglie (dishwasher) and ended up executive kitchen manager at a small inn/banquet facility in Rhode Island. I also had several other hundred jobs in the restaurant field over the course of my career. I have done everything in a restaurant except hostess. (Don't know why.)

So it wasn't much of a stretch when it came to carving out Genna's career arc and her story-line. People in the restaurant industry burn out quickly. Late nights, alcohol, long hours. It might be easy, fast money but the toll on a body and mind is great. Which is why there's such a big turnover in the industry. But once you find a great "house" you stay there for as long as you can. Sometimes you never leave and that was how I sort of felt about the inn. (I ended up being there for eleven years.)

For Genna, her main conflict was whether or not to stay at her job or come home to her family. When I worked, I missed several major holidays a year, not to mention lesser ones. Weekends, nights, days, mornings, were all eaten up by the job. No vacations, barely time off, it's a price you pay to be the best. Sure I made a boat load of money, and had excellent health coverage, but I didn't see my family for about 15 years. True story. I was focused on my career.

So coming up with Genna's storyline wasn't that much of a stretch. I was faced with a similar situation. I had the option of remaining in the head chef's position or leaving to start my own business. Which was a major decision at the time -- do I stay with the money, or keep my sanity? I decided to keep my sanity.

I knew it would come in handy someday. Now I'm writing about it.

Tell me -- Do you write what you know? Have you put one of your situations in a book (or perhaps stolen someone else's)?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Whew!

Good Monday morning, everyone. I absolutely cannot thank you enough for your generous support and kind, kind words from last Friday's post. I have been in such a tizzy (between real life and writing life) I'm kind of at that mushy stage right now. Where my brain doesn't work and everything is wobbly.

I sent out the ms. to the agent who requested. Let me tell you how long it took my finger to finally hit the send button.... I've never been so scared in my life. What if she hates it and I wait how many months to find out? But then, what if she loves it and wants to represent me?

What am I going to do if all my dreams come true?

Well, I'll tell you what I'm going to do today, right now. I'm going to clean my filthy pig-sty of a house. You cannot even imagine it. I know, neither could my mother when she stopped over. (Oh the joy of being 8 years old again -- When are you going to clean this room?)

Which of course got me to wondering how many of you let things go when you're writing. Is it just me, or do we all have those -- It can wait til tomorrow -- moments when we're in the "zone". Of course now, I have somewhat of a small excuse, I didn't have hot water for a few days so the laundry is piled sky high. However I did manage to get the dishes done. But vacuuming has fallen to the way side and I think even the dust bunnies are in revolt.

Is it just me? Please tell me no. Please tell me I'm not the only one who lets the housework slide. Also, please tell me not to feel so damn guilty.

And if you want to leave an anonymous comment, you're more than welcome. I won't tell if your house is dirty.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday's at the Piedmont Grille

On the menu today -- HOLY CRAP BATMAN! IT HAPPENED!!!

I sent out 3, just 3 queries to my top dream agents on Tuesday. I received one automated rejection on Wednesday. Also on Wednesday --

I GOT A FULL REQUEST!!!!

Off a query! In less than a day! I told you I would pee my pants and I did. Okay, sorry to be so gross but that's what you get from jumping up and down and screaming for twenty minutes. I scared Monster Baby. She thought I was on fire.

I'm shaking as I type this. I cannot tell you how excited I am. I cannot believe it. I cannot get the thoughts of sugar plums dancing out of my head. I'm a mess. It's a good thing you can't see me. It's a good thing you can't hear me. I've been going back and forth -- what if she loves it -- what if she hates it? Oh. My. God.

I don't know how I'm going to live with myself until she gets back to me. I don't know how you're all going to put up with me. I guess I just won't blog. Yeah, no, that won't happen.

But seriously, here's a question -- Because she's my dream agent, and I don't know how long it will take her to get back to me -- do you think I should keep sending out to other agents? I don't really want to. But I feel like I should. I'd hate to waste 3 months waiting to send out, especially if she rejects it. She knows it's a multiple submission and she didn't ask for an exclusive so I guess I could.

What would you do?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

well, just... well

It's been an interesting week thus far. My hypochondriac father has decided he's dying. He FINALLY quit smoking after 50 years and a bout with lung cancer 5 years ago. He doesn't understand the reason he feels so awful is the nicotine withdrawals. He's been to every doctor in his HMO over the course of the last two weeks and he swears they don't care about his predicament. There is nothing wrong with him. Every x-ray, cat scan, MRI and every other damn test they've done on him has come back negative. They've been telling him for months he has to get out and WALK. That's all he has to do, and he refuses. Oh, the curmudgeon is driving us all over the edge.

My hot water heater blew up last Friday morning. I finally had it fixed on Monday, however, I still had no hot water as of yesterday morning. Justin, the little plumber, showed up at noon on his lunch hour to play with the reset button and the breaker panel yesterday and YAY, I could finally take a shower and do the dishes. Good thing too, I had one plate and cup left clean for Monster Baby. (Bet you thought I was going to say I stank. We did shower at my folk's house.)

I'm still picking up from the tornado. More than likely, I'll still be picking up next spring. I also finished filling in the massive hole in my backyard. YAY! Hopefully, next summer I'll be able to ride the lawn mower straight down the backyard instead of riding around in circles.

I've also sent out the first 3 of my queries for NaNoQuerMo. I'll tell you what, now I know why I've been stalling. It's scary stuff man. To think after all this time, I might have a shot at landing an agent. (Not that I'm conceited or anything, it'll only take one rejection to bring me right back down to earth...) But I like my book. I like my story. A lot of people do. If an agent does and requests, I think I'll probably pee my pants. This query go-round has so much more at stake than it did last year with MASQUERADE. This is the big time, probably my last shot before I have to find a real job. Like my brother used to say, "This ain't no behbee's game."

I decided to bring all my agent "stuff" with me yesterday when I sat in the pick-up line for Monster Baby and got myself a manageable list of agents. When I got back home, I went online and looked up all the agents and their web-sites. I then made another list for those who rep women's fiction and historical romance. Then, I wrote the list in order of who I want to be my one and only agent extraordinaire.

Which, I think, any of the three I've queried so far would be terrific. I know I shouldn't have queried the top three first but, I like to shoot the moon. Hey, you never know right?

Why does the telephone always ring right when I'm in the middle of a big scene? Not that I answer the phone between the hours of 8am and 1pm but I have to listen to the machine to see if it's my parents. Why do the dogs bark at someone or something in the yard right when I'm thinking of the most fantastic line I've ever composed and I have to get up and see what or who it is? Why does my stomach growl when I've finally figured out the best way to end a scene but haven't written it down yet and by the time I get back with my PB&J my mind is a blank?

Could someone please tell me why I'm a writer? Wasn't life easier when I was a chef?

Monday, November 1, 2010

NaNo -- A New Twist

Happy NaNo everyone. Although I'm not participating this year, (after much deliberation and forethought, I realized even though I have a great story and a lot of the backstory already tackled, it's just too much pressure) I found another idea.

It's not my idea. It's from Tracy at Forever Endeavor. It's called NaNoQUERMo. National Novel Query Month. Isn't that awesome just covered in sauce?

30 days. 30 Queries out to Agents. I can't believe how easy this sounds.

I've been waiting to query, it seems like forever, and I keep putting if off. If not now, when? I had high hopes of getting the query out by October 1 but it didn't happen. Real life happens, tornadoes happen, hot water heaters blowing up happens, father's getting sick happens... if I let real life keep getting in my way, then querying will never happen.

So I'm biting the bullet and going for it. Anyone else for NaNoQUERMo? I know a bunch of us are in the same boat -- ready to query. Will you join me and Tracy in the high seas of rejections, the rough waters of anticipation, the swell of partial/full requests? What have you got to lose?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday's at the Piedmont Grille

On Today's Menu -- Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Tomato Soup

Just wanted to let you all know, yes, it was decreed on last night's local news an EF1 tornado dropped down in my neck of the woods Wednesday night. From where it touched down to my house is about a half mile as the crow flies. Because I'm so smaht (and watch strange tv shows) I figured out the tornado didn't touch the ground when it hit my house, it stayed aloft but still, whirled through the trees and hit the corner of my house and split itself in two -- to run along the side of the house and do damage that way and to throw spears into the ground in the front yard. Some of the sticks in the front yard were buried, point down into the ground 4 inches. Scary stuff man. I worked about 5 hours in the yard yesterday. Scared a bunch of people when I whipped out the ax. Of course, I looked like I just escaped Bedlam -- work boots, hiking socks, grubby dirty shorts, and a tank top with bleach stains. Let's not forget the crazy hair-do. However, it is Halloween.

I've been working on revisions. Argh! 'Nuff said.

I've also decided I'm not going to do NaNo. Too much pressure. Even though I've outlined the new story and wrote about 6k in backstory, I just don't have the presence of mind to sign up. I know me. I won't be able to do it, then feel guilty about it, then try and get 10k a day done to stop feeling guilty, ruin Thanksgiving and beat myself up that I couldn't finish. It's a nice dream but not for me. But Good Luck to those of you who do.

Thanks to all my new followers/friends. I appreciate each and every one of you and although I probably haven't followed you back or commented yet, please note, I'm not a snob and I'm not snubbing you, it's the writing. The writing comes first.

And to all my old friends -- sorry I haven't been around much, I'm in revisions and trying to finish up the short story for the anthology. I'm sure you all know how it goes. Something has to give and unfortunately it's always blogging -- much as I'd like it to be showering. Or cooking. Or dealing with school vacations in October. Since when do kids get a break for Halloween???

Anyway, Happy Halloween. Happy NaNo. Have a great weekend. Hopefully I'll have revisions done by next week and I'll be able to play on the blogs again.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Sound of A Train -- PSA

You know how they say, when you hear the sound of a train in the middle of a storm, it's a tornado. Well, guess what, I heard my first train last night.

We're fine, the house is fine, the animals are fine. But man oh man you, should see my yard. Major tree damage in the back yard. All the wood (decking wood 20 lbs. each, fence posts (the big ones), and 2x6's 12ft. long (must weigh 30 lbs.) I had on the deck is on the ground. (And the only reason I'm telling you this, is that it takes two people to move each piece of wood.) I have all kinds of branches in my front yard. I don't have trees in my front yard...don't ask me how they got there.

I am lucky, I know. I have no idea if it was a tornado but man, they were some heavy duty winds. The tree at my neighbor's was split completely in half (poor tree). And I'm no expert, but no one else on the street has any visible damage (that I can see from my upstairs windows) so my theory is, the tornado (or whatever it was) got the neighbor's tree, hopped the fence, swirled across the back of my house and bounced around in my yard before it went somewhere else.

Now I don't know if you've ever been in a tornado. (I pray to God that you never are.) But what I want to tell you here is, the sound of the train... it's true. Only I blew it off. Because it didn't sound like one. Subconciously I said to myself, that's the sound of a train. But then I said, no, it can't be.

(Because yesterday when I picked up Monster Baby from school a train came by and we all heard it. The kids went crazy when the conductor blew his whistle.)

It's not a full blown train sound. More like the subtle nuance of a train sound. Which gave me pause thinking it wasn't really a tornado (which it might not have been) but I threw Monster Baby and the only dog in the house into the bathroom. Listen to your subconscious people. If you think it sounds like the slightest sound from a train, take heed.

I heard a live rattlesnake rattle its tail one day. It's a sound I'll never forget.
I don't know what the hell rumbled through my yard last night, but I'll never forget that sound.

I hope everyone is okay. Tara, Lois, Becky, if you can, drop me a line to let me know you're okay. If you need anything.

In other news, I'm still in revisions, still working on the Notes from Underground short story, and gearing up to query and NaNo in November.

But first and foremost, I wanted to tell you about the train sound. Don't take it lightly, don't blow it off (like I did). I've lived through hurricanes but you know when they're coming. I guess I lived through a tornado but was too stupid to realize it. DON'T BE ME. HEED THE TRAIN.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Another Small Funny & Congratulations

Congratulations to Alex J. Cavanaugh and his release of CassaStar today!
Woo-hoo!

Congratulations to Theresa Milstein on getting a long-term permanant sub job! Woo-hoo! We'll miss you.

And Monster Baby asked me last night if knew what nocturnal meant.

I asked her where she learned that word.

She, of course, said, "School. Do you know what it means?"

I replied, "Yes, I know what it means. Do you?"

Very proudly she stood up from the kitchen table and said,

"Nocturnal means that animals can't turn around."

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday's at the Piedmont Grille

On Today's Menu -- Funny.

I'm supposed to be in revisions. I have found out two things about myself during this process.

I have a muse. Who decided, just as I finished cleaning my office and desk to work on said revisions, wacked me upside the head with Ellis' story.

Chrystal clear in my head, words sprang forth on the new word doc. I'm in 5k. I, who never outlines, outlined in my pants. Twice. I'm not supposed to tell you, this is my secret NaNo project.

I'm also not supposed to tell you about the muse. He thinks, you think, I've already lost my mind for talking to my characters. He fears for my sanity if I tell you about him. He's brand new and shiny, right out of the box. I've never met him before this weekend. He's very nice. Handsome. Dresses a little too grundge for me, but the kilt and work boots looked very nice.

He's brilliant. Utterly brilliant. Has a mind like a steel trap. He presented Ellis to me in such a way, I was, quite literally, taken aback. I had to write it down. I had to write the story down.

And in so doing, pushed off revisions. Has this ever happened to you?

All set and ready to go on one project and then, BLAM, out of nowhere comes this freaking magic and you say to yourself, "let me just get a pen and jot that down." One word becomes three, then five, now 5000.

I'm like, wtf. I've got to get the revisions started and finished. But Ellis, man, Ellis is a character that's been stewing for awhile. He's got angst. Oh my God, this poor man. Tortured. He's going to be such a pleasure to write.

The second thing I found out about myself -- I can amuse myself with a pen. Please, get your mind out of the gutter. I shall share my hilarity.

I mentioned in a letter to a friend I had found the Obi-Wan of crit partners.
He was a master beta.

I didn't, of course, mean it it to come out that way, but you gotta admit, that's funny.

Do any of you have an good one-liners?

Have a great weekend. Get some writing done.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Conversation with my Inner Editor

Good Morning everyone, I told you it wouldn't be long before I missed you all. I've been working steadily on revisions, taking in all the feedback received from my dear beta/critters. It's truly overwhelming to believe I've forgotten everything I learned in 6th grade about sentence structure.

Anyway, as I was in the throes the other night, I found myself arguing with -- myself. Here is the conversation.

Writer Me: Hey, that first act was pretty good.

Editor Me: Are you nuts? Four out of six people were "horrified". Don't you know any other words? How about frightened, or scared, or even slightly surprised?

Writer Me: Hey, it's a shitty first draft. I'll change it when I get to it.

Editor Me: Well, what about all those 'as's'? No other word up your sleeve for that either?

Writer Me: It's how I think. I write like I think. Whatever spills from the brain gets written on the page.

Editor Me: Well, that certainly explains a lot.

Writer Me: Hey, I beg to differ. And who was the one who said my settings were "bucolic" and "picturesque" to quote from Dear Richard.

Editor Me: And they were. Which surprised me. I didn't think you had it in you. You're such a dialogue whore.

Writer Me: I do what I know best. I like dialogue. It gets to the heart and soul of the character.

Editor Me: Well, you could use a lot of help with your POV's. They're disgraceful. And you call yourself a writer.

Writer Me: Yes, I am a W-R-I-T-E-R. I'm not published yet, I'm allowed to make a few mistakes.

Editor Me: A FEW mistakes, did you see that red pen slashing through the first scene from the lovely critter?

Writer Me: I saw it. What about it?

Editor Me: Well, obviously you need to go back to grade school to learn the basics of English grammar and composition.

Writer Me: Oh yeah, and where the hell were you when I was writing this in the first place? You just come out of hiding to point to all my mistakes?

Editor Me: Don't be ridiculous, you know where I was. You know I was there right behind you egging you on when you were struggling. You know I stood by your side when the shit hit the fan and Genna didn't want to meet Pete. You know I passed you the Kleenex when you wrote the scene when Sally had his heart attack. I'm always with you, that's the trouble. When you write your shitty first drafts you don't want to listen to me. That's why it's going to take you four years to revise this.

Writer Me: Oh shut up and get me the pretzels. I've got to work on Act Two.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Deep Into the Abyss

Well my darlings, I believe it's time for me to take a short break and dive into the revisional abyss. (is that even a word?)

All of my series for REMEMBERING YOU are done, I've bored you all with my query, I have nothing else to procrastinate over and now I think it's time I went deep, deep into the heart of the unknown. Revisions.

I sorta' kinda' like revisions. Why you may ask, well I'll tell you.

The book is already written. The shitty first draft is already down. I don't have to think about it anymore. (Truthfully, I still have those last 4 scenes to write but I'm not thinking about them.) So really, all I have to do is go back in and make it all better. I know, easier said than done but... I've already taken a stab at act one, and it wasn't so bad. Well, not yet anyway.

So, with that said, I'm diving in. I don't know when I'll be back. Well, you know me, I can't stay away, but I figured I would just give you the head's up, let you know what's going on. Write on everyone!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Happy Blogoversary

I just want to say Thank you so much to all the Ladies (and Alex) who stopped by yesterday. I so appreciate your own battles and stories and comments. I know we all know someone who has passed from the disease so please please please, eat right, exercise, quit smoking, get your mammograms, do self-check (or have hubs do it). IT's so important to be able to say in this lifetime -- "We found a cure." Every little bit helps.

Anyway, yesterday was also my blogoversary. Yup, one whole year. 278 posts, 211 followers. Still can't believe it. You guys totally rock and I love each and every one of you.

Anniversaries make me think. Kind of like New Year's without the resolutions. How did I do over the last year? Would I have done anything differently? How do I think I'm going to do next year?

Well, I have over two hundred friends; not one gained nefariously or that I had to pay off. I wrote two books and two short stories. I QUERIED. I wrote an article for the Guide to Literary Agents. I built a fence and filled a hole. (Someday Sarah I will put up pictures.)

And I've met all of you. Each of you so different and unique yet all of us the same -- we are writers. Some published, some not, some doing this for fun and relaxation, some of us egotistical and maniacal and opinionated on what we write and when we're going to be published *cough cough*. (meaning ME)

And then I look to next year and wonder if the career arc I wrote up the other night will hold up. I wonder if I'll be able to get a short story in Glimmer Train. I wonder if I'll be able to finish NaNo this year. I wonder if my angel agent will swoop down and scoop me up.

Mostly I don't think it matters much what happens as long as I continue to write and I have you. Without you, (and I mean this most sincerely) I wouldn't be where I am today.

So Happy Anniversary to all of you!!!! Thanks for coming by.

Monday, October 4, 2010

October Is...

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Please please please get your mammograms Ladies.

Since September 20 I have been waiting to have an unltrasound on my left breast. The mammogram showed a "mass". (Well, there was a technical term for it but it has left my brain.)

I finally went this morning to get the ultrasound. I am cancer free. The "mass" was -- they don't know what it was. An anomoly.

For the last 14 days I have been a wreck, wondering, worrying, waiting. I wrote out my will, I planned my career arc, I wrote a short story, I worked on revisions, I worked in the yard. I did everything I could to put this out of my mind.

But it remained, stuck, until this morning and after the ultrasound, they did another mammogram to make extra sure. There was nothing.

So, I'm cancer free. Yay. But it lingers, in the back of my mind. If not now, when? My father had lung cancer (5 years cancer free knock on wood) my mother has a melanoma they're treating. My aunt had her lymph nodes removed. It scares the shit out of me that I may eventually get the disease. I don't know whether to want it now when Monster Baby is young and I'll get over it, or wait until later, when she is older when it will be harder to fight. Truthfully I don't want it at all.

So get your mammograms ladies. Please. If you don't do it for yourself, do it for your kids. The earlier they catch it, the better off you'll be.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Final Query

My sincerest heartfelt thanks go out to Rick here because he commented on my struggles and I got up the nerve to email him (because we are friends from another dimension) and he just basically wrote my query the way HE thought it should have been written. I took his template and tweaked it and here it is. And sometimes that's just all it takes.

This is my final query and what I will be sending out shortly.

When Genna goes home to Rhode Island to spend a long-awaited vacation, she finds that her family is falling apart and she has only twenty-one days to put them back together.

Her new promotion as Executive Chef at the posh Littlefield Country Club in Delaware is a dream job. It’s more than the pay and benefits, she has the chance to achieve what she’s always wanted – her own kitchen – and Genna can’t wait to get started when she returns after her Fourth of July holiday.

However, her vacation is far from relaxing. Two men are vying for her attention, an ex-fiancé who wants to fix the mistakes of the past, and an old school chum who finds her irresistible…and inspires mutual feelings in Genna. Her aunt is also clearly showing signs of mental illness. The family is in denial; her cousins are unable to cope with their mother’s changing behavior and her beloved uncle, dealing with all the stress, has a heart attack.

Genna steps in to keep his diner open and the family together while he recuperates and she questions what’s more important – breaking the glass ceiling or her family. The clock runs out and Genna finds she is needed at her new job, she is needed by her family, and she is needed by lovers old and new. Now Genna must search her soul to find out what she needs.



My Hook -- We know who (Genna), where (Rhode Island), what is happening (vacation and her family falling apart) and what she faces (twenty-one days to put them back together). I liked that "21 days" line from the last query and so stuck it in here. Truthfully I still liked my "hell in a handbasket" line better but I couldn't justify it.

First Paragraph -- This is the set-up for the main conflict Genna faces. Her job or her family.

Second Paragraph -- This is what happens to Genna on her vacation. These are all the external and internal conflicts without the fat. Two men, her aunt, her cousins and her uncle. Oh my. Notice I didn't use any names. Also notice I didn't use Alzheimer's. I don't know why I changed that, but it seems to flow better, also makes you ask the question -- which mental illness, could it be alzheimer's, could it be dementia, could it be she's just crazy?

Final Paragraph -- And this is what Genna does when all that stuff happens to her. She keeps the diner open and the family together. And yes, I do have the one cliche -- break the glass ceiling -- because it says so much to what she's feeling and what she's been through to get there. It's not ambiguous. We also have a question but in the form of a sentence (Thanks Rick!) And hopefully this will do the trick in allowing the agent to ask "Oh, what does Genna do about all this, I need to know."

Did you notice I used conflict in both my first and second paragraphs?
Did you notice I combined the
motivation and goal in the last paragraph?
With only 250 words (more or less -- this version is 238) to lure an agent to request, sometimes you must combine the four -- Hook Conflict Motivation Goal -- to get the killer query.


I also want to say this. Don't ever be afraid to ask for help. The Slushpile is great to get you going but ultimately what you want with the final draft is to get one or two people to look at it, preferably someone who doesn't know anything about your book. They'll have an unbiased opinion, (like Rick did for me) and just basically tell the story they think needs to be told.

So there we go, an anatomy lesson in my query process. I hope this has helped you, at least a little bit.

Next week, I'll do a post about the rest of the letter, the author bio -- as an answer to a question in the comments.

Any questions, comments, let me know what you think. If you were an agent would you want to read this book?






Thursday, September 30, 2010

Query Number Three

You can read the entire context of my queries and the feedback at The Public Query Slushpile. (Under the heading Women's Fiction is the easiest way to find it.) Thanks again to Rick Daley and the amazing amount of work he does.

Here we go.


If Genna had thought going home would be hell, she would have brought along her hand basket.

Returning home to Bristol, Rhode Island for the annual Fourth of July parade for the first time in ten years, Genna is more than excited to share the great news about her fantastic promotion as executive kitchen manager at a swanky country club in Delaware. However, she isn’t home five minutes before trouble starts when she runs into her ex-fiancé. Although everyone says he’s no good, Genna can’t see through her memories clearly enough to discern if they’re right.

Genna’s problems escalate as she discovers her aunt may have Alzheimer’s and no one in the family wants to deal with it. Angie is hysterical over a bad pap smear and a broken marriage. Robby completely shuts down when he finds out his plaid and pearl wearing girlfriend is pregnant. To put the icing on the cake, her beloved uncle has a heart attack.

Genna finds keeping her uncle’s diner open during the busiest time of the year is more than just hard work, it is in her blood and she questions if she should give up her new job in Delaware to stay in Bristol. And when little Petie DiCampo appears, all grown up and looking like a calendar boy, she wonders if he could be the man to finally break down the walls she’s built around herself since the night her parents were killed by a drunk driver when she was a kid.

In twenty-one days, Genna figures out all the answers to her family’s problems before she heads back to Delaware. She also decides living without love is not in her future, the problem is, which man will she choose?



The Hook - Again with the hand basket line which I really really liked, however, as one person pointed out to me, even though it might be a great hook, it doesn't make any sense as you don't carry a hand basket to hell, you're already in the hand basket. As in, "I'm going to hell in a hand basket." And what did we learn about cliches?

Paragraph Two -- Details, details details. This is the feedback the last query brought so here I decided to show some of the details. Why she was going home, where she was going, what happens when she gets there. Although this is quite possibly too many details. To me, now as I read it, it seems a little stiff. Notice I got rid of the cliches and romance roots here.

Paragraph Three -- Who are all these people? Why do we care about them? Do we really need to know ALL the events of the story. No, No, and NO. This is all extraneous. Especially their names. Distracting.

Paragraph Four -- This is the meat of the story right here -- when Genna keeps the diner open and she realized maybe her dream job isn't all that. She QUESTIONS what's more important. This is her conflict. And as for Pete, another name to add to the growing pile of confusion. And now I've also thrown in the part about her parents which was never in any of the other queries. Sure it's important but it's not what's driving the story. (Well, it is but only in a minimalist kind of way.)

Final Paragraph -- I've ended the query with one decision made for Genna but then turn around and ask a question. And what did we learn about asking questions at the end of a query? In the words of Mater -- "To not to."

Any Questions? Hope you'll come back for the final installment tomorrow where we can discuss how I trimmed the fat and hopefully will have the query to entice an agent.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Query Number Two

Thanks again to Rick over at The Public Query Slushpile.

Okay, here we go.

If Genna thought returning home after a long absence would be hell, she would have brought along her hand-basket. Wanting to celebrate the good news about her fabulous job offer, Genna realizes it’s time to relinquish her past demons and go home.

Not even there five minutes, it comes back to haunt her in the form of her ex-fiancé and her unresolved feelings for him. What he did a decade ago still twists her heart and when he asks for forgiveness, Genna decides to let the past go and move on. However, when Genna’s cousin reveals long buried secrets about her ex- Genna wonders if she made a mistake. “People don’t change” Angie says, but Genna has seen it happen in more than one person since returning. Including herself.

Unexpectedly, she discovers a promising new love in the arms of a man she once despised. Her family is pushing her into this new relationship but as she wrestles with her feelings, she makes the unbelievable mistake of sleeping with her ex-. Keeping the two men from finding out about each other proves to be impossible as they both show up for a date on the same night.

Moreover, her new promotion grows cold as she faces a family member’s health crisis no one saw coming. She wonders if she should skip the advancement and remain where she never wanted to leave or go and live the life she always thought she wanted. Genna, torn between two worlds, her decision to remain is the only one possible. However, which love will capture her heart, old or new?



My hook; see, now here, I thought I was being clever with the hell in a handbasket line but it didn't work out that way. Everyone said it just didn't work - AT ALL. And besides it's a cliche. And what did we learn about cliches?

Second paragraph -- still going back to the romance roots. "haunt her" "twists her heart" "long buried secrets".
And here, I've taken a quote from her cousin Angie, which is relevant to the story, but the agent will ask, who the hell is Angie and why is she in this query? It doesn't make sense.

I thought the third paragraph was pretty good, pitting the two men against each other and then the little teaser "as they both show up for the same date". I thought it was slightly amusing but it didn't really fly after I finished writing so much of the book.

The last paragraph -- I like the wording in this but as I continued to write the book and Genna's atitude and that of her family changed about her future, it didn't work as well as I liked. And never NEVER EVER end a query with a question that doesn't have the answer. An agent wants to know what happens and if the query isn't strong enough to begin with, ending with a question won't make her want to request pages.

Any questions? Hope you'll stop by tomorrow for Query Number Three.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Query Number One

Well, here we go. First I want to say, thank you to Rick Daley and his amazing blog, The Public Query Slushpile. It's where I do all my query try-outs. There is just such amazing feedback there and everyone is so polite and learned. It's a great place so if you're getting ready to write the dreaded query, please go there and try it out. You won't be sorry.

Now, onto my first attempt. As you will see, this query really says nothing.

Ten years is a long time to live in a self-imposed exile and when Genna’s longing for the familiar turn into nightmares about her future, she realizes it’s time to go home.

Once there, the past comes back to haunt her in the form of her ex-fiancé and his dead wife. Genna’s unresolved feelings for him and what he did a decade ago only twist her heart and lead her down a perilous path. He wants her back and Genna wonders if it’s only for her money.

Coming home has also brought her aunt’s Alzheimer’s to light, something the family refuses to face. Her cousin is falling apart under the strain of a too perfect marriage and her best friend is ignoring her. Genna also finds herself encumbered with an inheritance that threatens to destroy her relationship with her uncle.

What’s a girl to do?

Genna needs to makes some tough decisions regarding her future; does she give up the job of a lifetime and come home to work for peanuts or does she go back and live the same lonely life she’s had for the last decade? And will trying to get over her broken heart lead her to find comfort in the arms of a man she once despised? With the help of the only person who has ever put her first, Genna makes the decisions that will change her life forever.


Ambiguous was the resounding response I'd gotten from the Slushpile on this. I was trying to fit in ALL the components that make up Genna's story without "telling" anything about her. You have to "tell" not "show" in a query.

The first sentence, my hook, I thought was pretty good. The second paragraph, although it tells part of the story, my flair for the dramatic was overdone. "Haunt her" "twist her heart" "perilous path". Yeah, reads more like a romance which is what my last book was. Sometimes it's hard to let go of what you've learned.

Third paragraph is about everyone else, and though this is important, as it does pertain to Genna, it's not tight enough. Too much information.

The question -- "What's a girl to do?" not right. It doesn't make any sense. The agent doesn't want to ask the question, she wants the answer.

And the ending paragraph -- ugh, too many questions. Don't ask questions, give the answers. Tell us what Genna will do. And too many cliches. "work for peanuts" "broken heart" "find comfort in the arms of a man" "change her life forever" This screams ROMANCE NOVEL.
Like I said, sometimes it's hard to change formats in your brain.

I wanted to showcase the women's fiction aspect of this book but it's just way overblown and swinging back toward my romance roots. I needed to scale back, cut out the cliches and questions and just tell the story.

Any questions? I hope you'll come back tomorrow for Query Number Two.

Monday, September 27, 2010

It's Query Week

Good Monday morning everyone. I hope your weekends went well. And as for the adage, "Be careful what you wish for..." As I was complaining on Friday about the blasted heat, a low pressure system moved in Saturday night and now it's rainy and c-c-cold.

And no, I'm not finished with the ms. yet, but well on my way. 89K and counting. Yes, I'm over my orginal word count but I did some editing Saturday night on the first act and already I've killed off several cheap scenes. I haven't yet figured out how much of the word count I'm missing. I'm hoping when all is said and done, I'll end up back at my orginal 87k.

Any-hoo, what I've decided to do this week was post the various forms of my query for REMEMBERING YOU. Kind of like before, middle and after. I thought it might help some of you see what kind of process I go through and maybe help you along the way.

There are four main things you need for a really great query;

Hook -- This is the first sentence of the query which summarizes what the book is about. Sometimes called a logline or an 'elevator pitch'.

Conflict -- This is what the protagonist (main character/s) must go through to reach the goal. I like to use both internal and external conflicts in my queries.

Motivation -- This is what drives the main character to the goal.

Goal -- And this is what the main character gets.

Now I'm not going to dive too deeply into why I did what I did, changed what I wrote, my thought processes on each and every version -- sometimes too much information can overload the system so I've noted what I thought was important and what wasn't.

I hope you'll stop by.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

It's Query Week in the Piedmont

I wanted to let you know I've just finished writing my posts for this week. It's all about my query process, how I wrote it, re-wrote it, tweaked it, and I think, finally nailed it.



I hope you'll stop by, I've got the whole week mapped out so you won't have to wait in between days for the next installment.



And this is by no means a comprehensive guide but perhaps a template for you to use when you get into the trenches yourselves. There are many ways to write a query, I'm just going to show you what I did and hopefully, you'll be able to grab the gist.



Write on! See you tomorrow.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday's at the Piedmont Grille

What's on the menu -- Grilled cheese sandwiches.

Because that's how I feel. Hot and melty. It's still 90 degrees here in Carolina and I am sick of it. Doesn't this place know the first day of fall was two days ago. Doesn't the Piedmont realize even though leaves are falling from my trees in the backyard (at an alarming rate) it's supposed to be sweater weather! Ugh!

First, let me apologize for not getting to any of your amazing entries for any of the blogfests today. I am hard at work still trying to finish up REMEMBERING YOU. I will try very hard to drop by over the weekend.

And no, I am still not done. Genna and Pete had a fight this morning which threw me for a loop. I knew things weren't going to go well but now, well, it seems Pete has shared a little more of his past than I ever knew, or imagined and Genna, although trying to be kind, is actually being kind of a bitch. However I have succeeded in 2362 more words.

I have to do errands this afternoon so will not be able to get to it again until possibly tomorrow morning while Monster Baby still sleeps. Then again, I may just sleep in tomorrow as well. This getting up at 5:30 because I have to is for the birds. I could do it when it was because I wanted to, but now forced, it does not bode well.

Please have a magical weekend and I will hopefully be able to say I'm finished on Monday. Next week I'll share my query, and we can poke holes in it. Write on!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Quick Update

Sorry to barge in on all your lovely Wednesday goings on but I just had to share.

No, I'm not done, but I did just finish rewriting the ending, actually the final act. You see, I wrote the ending about a month ago and it was good. But then, I had a vision the other night about how it could be so much more. I let it stew for a couple days and then when I got home from my morning walk this morning, it all came out in a big fantastic bubbling rush.

So my ending is in place and if I do say so myself, it's bloody brilliant. Just what I wanted it to be.

I still have probably more than five but less than 10 scenes to write in act four. (I'm writing a five act) Hopefully tomorrow I'll be closer but I won't be finished for Friday, unless I get some fabulous alone time. Yeah, that's not going to happen.

I also had a clue as to why I'm seemingly unable to finish writing this story. Because as stupid as this sounds, I don't want to say good-bye to them. I've fallen in love with all my characters and their lives and if I finish writing it, well, then I have to say good-bye and I don't want to. Is that weird?

Everyone who knows me in real life says I'm too sentimental and I've never denied it but - here's a question -- When you're done with your book, do you feel SAD when you finally write THE END? - or are you just relieved?

Monday, September 20, 2010

ARGH!!!

Good Monday morning everyone. I just thought I should tell you that my best laid plans went awry, then completely ran amok.

Monster Baby has been fighting something for the last week and on Friday finally got real sick and well, you know how that goes. And of course she only showed symptoms AFTER the doctor's office closed...

Nevertheless, I did get a chance to work on the ms. but found, to my detriment I had to pull two scenes. They just weren't working. (Fill in expletives here.) In between changing the movie selections, finding the missing stegosaurus and providing sustenance and fluids for the Monster Baby, I wrote 3000 more words. (Which if I hadn't had to pull those scenes, my word count would be so much more. More expletives here.) So the sidebar count is 83,090. We are at the rehearsal dinner, tomorrow is the wedding and then the sad good-bye for Genna. And then I will be done. Please, Dear God Almighty in Heaven, let me be done with the first draft.

I also worked on my query (which has been in revisions for weeks) and with Rick's help have finally nailed it. I'll try and post it soon for your comments.

Real life is stepping in as well this week, a LOT (more expletives) so I have no idea when I'll be able to get back to it but by all that's holy, I'm going to try my very best to be able to post on Friday at the Grille I am finished. Truthfully, I'm sick of talking about it. (Yeah, I know, so just shut up about it already.) I just want it to be over. And I promise, pretty soon it will be.

And I swear to you right now, I will not mention one word about my synopsis struggles.

So I'll see you when I see you. Write on everyone!!!