Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Counting the Minutes





I'm counting the minutes to 2009. I'm so ready for 2008 to be over, I've already switched calendars.

I submitted a short story oh...what was it? Monday night? Tuesday in the wee hours of the morning? Anyway, that one is out the door, and I finished a shorty short last night. It's a fun little magazine anthology piece that I've spent a good part of the day polishing so I can send it on it's merry way tonight. Once I'm done with that one, I imagine I'll have a drink and watch the new Resident Evil movie on DVD until it's time to watch the ball drop on TV. Oh, yeah, I will definitely be staying up to ring in the New Year. 2008 - I wish I could say it's been fun. But I digress... by the end of January, I hope to have another 2 stories out the door and floating around in submission land.

I've been thinking about New Years resolutions as well as writing goals for 2009. So far I'm still compiling the list. I do know I want to lose another 20 lbs. (I've already lost 10), and I'd like to at least send a query to an agent or two. I'll think about all that tonight and post a list tomorrow. I like to keep up the tradition. :)

I hope the rest of you are as excited as I am about 2009. If I had one, I'd put on one of those ridiculous New Year's party hats and dance around the house wearing it while sipping Frangelico. I swear I would.

Happy hump day, y'all. And happy new year's eve!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Recapping 2008





Anyone else counting down the days to 2009? Every year I do a recap, what made the year memorable for me, or special, or utterly horrendous. The BIG things that effected me, so I can look back on it years from now and laugh, cry, or cringe. Whatever the effect, right? So here is my list of the memorable moments of 2008 in no particular order, the bad with the good.

1.)Nadia
2.)and Max. I still cry for them when I allow myself to think about it.
3.)Our Chancey Pup passed away.
4.)Mom and dad finally got into their new house.
5.)Summer vacation: My first dip in the Atlantic Ocean!
6.)Summer vacation: My first trip to BLGH!
7.)Oldest's first date, and paying for senior prom. AKA: that overall shocked feeling that my baby is growing up.
8.)The publishing industry crisis.
9.)Gas prices spiking to near $4.00 a gallon during a recession - Washington can call it whatever the hell they like.
10.)The neverending, neverending, never-effing-ending coverage of the 2008 PRE-presidental election. Thank the saints that shit is over! Now the media whores news anchors can get back to ambulance chasing.
11.)Joining the RWA, and attending my first local conference.
12.)The hell that is Houston traffic.

If I can think of anything else, I'll likely come back and add to the list. Those are just the things that come immediately to mind. On a scale of 1-10, my rating for 2008 has hovered somewhere around a 2 almost all year. As you can probably guess, I'm banking on 2009 to make for a much, much better year!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Rainy Evening and Email Answers

I got a package today from New Concepts Publishing. I panicked at first because I know I didn't order anything, and when I pulled four books out of the shipping package I nearly fainted. Who could've used my card to get these? Inside, with the books, there was a small note saying happy holidays, thank you, and that the books are a gift in the spirit of the season. Wow!

Also, I updated my MS Office today. I've been using the trial version of the Student/Home version, and it was about to expire. I didn't want to lose my current documents - well, I'd still have them, but wouldn't be able to modify them - so I paid for the key and unlocked the product while they still had the $50.00 off discount. The only thing is, student is meant for non-commercial use. This version doesn't have track changes or comment ability. Eventually I'll have to go get full monty, small business version, but I was wondering in the meantime....

Has anyone ever gone through actual edits using Open Office? If you have, please comment here and let me know how it differs, or send me at email at corazane(at)aol(dot)com. Please let me know if you had any issues with compatibility. Oh, and how did you handle tracking changes and leaving comments?

Over the Christmas holiday, I received a few emails asking me if I review/feature books here on my blog, or if I haven't, will I consider it. The answer is yes. I will and do review books here on my blog; however, I do have a few requirements before I'll agree to it.

1.) First, the book must be erotica, horror, or romance of some kind - any subgenre except inspirational - for me to read it. If your book contains potentially offensive, or controversial subjects, please don't bother. Think of it this way... Would you really want a person who doesn't read westerns reviewing your western book? I didn't think so. I'm fair, and snark isn't my thing, but I really don't want to slog through a story I wouldn't ordinarily read.

2.) Never fear, I do not write slam reviews. It hurts to receive them, and I damn sure won't write them. I'll leave that to "the experts" or whatever, thanks. However, I will give my honest opinion for my time spent. If I read your book and it doesn't agree with me at all - and I'm talking about to the nth degree, I won't review it on my blog. Period. That said, if I come across a book like that, I'll write you a personal review by email and you can decide what to do with it. If you wish, I will feature your book - cover and blurb - and give away a free copy to my readers, but I won't post a review. This leads me to rule 3....

3.) Whether your book is an ebook or in print, if you'd like a review, a copy to give away to the readers here on my blog is required. I don't do fly by hits. Kthanxbye. I'm actually surprised by the number of "hey, do this for me" emails that send me a blob of html to copy and paste. Just for the record: that is rude and it is SPAM. No, it doesn't hurt to email and ask, but neither does it hurt to be professional. Any more emails sent to me that are a question and coding - I'll delete it unanswered.

If you would like me to review your book, send me an email at corazane(at)aol(dot)com with REVIEW REQUEST in the subject line, and ask me if I have time to review your book. In that email, please tell me what the book is, and what genre/subgenre it falls into. More than likely, I will make time to review your book. I know how hard it is sometimes to get a review for your material, especially if you are new on the scene. I will try to help you the best I can. However do not expect a next day review. It can take me up to a week and a half to read a book, sometimes - depending on the story and what's going on in my life - it can take a little longer. That's before I get to the actual review writing!

Now that I've got that covered, the diet! Yes, I'm still on the diet, and yes I've stayed faithful throughout Christmas. I've discovered that nothing builds character quite like turning down fresh baked, santa shaped sugar cookies. But my curves are thanking me. The scale hasn't budged much but the measuring tape is! Overall I've lost 3 inches from my waist, 2 from the bust, and 2.5 inches from my hips. I'm down a jean size, and while at the parent's house at Xmas, dad even noticed the loss. *apocalypse* Most importantly, my blood glucose is at normal levels, and I haven't been having those sudden spells of exhaustion midday.

That about covers it for now. I'm counting down the days to the New Year. Bring it on! Until then... Happy Saturday! ~_^

Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day Goodness



Three guesses what Santa brought the MiniBeast this year? *lol* Here he is on Christmas morning in his pajamas, gloves, slippers, jacket and the requisite Speed Racer hat. He opened all his presents, and then we dressed him in just enough to stay warm and told him we were going "bye-bye". He raced to the front door and opened it, and let out this big gasp. "JEEEEEEP!"

I take it he likes his present. ^_^

Actually we didn't go all out crazy this year. We hit the sale and limited gifts to a certain number each. I suppose we're not the only ones who had to stretch our dollars, but the point is, we had a good holiday and the kids are happy. Oldest is thrilled with his stuff this year. We picked up an MP3 player and a digital video recorder that plugs directly into his computer. So now he can make his own videos and put them on youtube. He also seems to like the new jacket I picked out for him - a stripy, emo/scene jacket with scrolly skulls on it. It's close to 80 degrees, I'm wearing cut offs and flip flops and he'd walking through the house zipped up in that jacket.

So today is Boxing Day. Do you honestly think I'm boxing anything? Meh. :P No, I plan to leave Emo tree up until after the New Year. Once the tree is down, for the first two weeks I miss the lights.

Yay! Food is here! Hubby just walked through the door with chicken, so I'm off to go eat. But here's a video of Mini playing to round off the day.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Life in General and My Winter Newsletter

Just a quicky post to say all is well, Mini is fine - apparently no harm done by the toothpaste. Oh, and my cheesecake turned out beeeeautiful! I took it out of the oven about 2 hours ago and it's taunting me. Really it is.

Anyway, I went ahead and uploaded my Winter/ New Year Newsletter, so it's available a few days earlier than I originally posted. You can get it directly at this link: http://www.mediafire.com/?vuzhtmtjhnz OR - There is a nifty text link for it on the right hand sidebar as well. Scroll down. Yep. A little more. There it is! Ok.... Sometime tomorrow I'll be adding it to my website and the yahoo group. In the meantime, if you're getting it here, you're getting it first.

On another note, I finished my sexy sci-fi story yesterday, and I've been polishing it so I can send it to a crit partner. I've got two publishers in mind for it, and I plan to simultaneous submit on this one. I've nearly finished a second story on top of that sexy sci-fi. It's a contemporary erotica, mostly from a guy's POV. Very sexy stuff. Hotter than I thought it would be. I have a publisher in mind for it, but I'll keep that to myself until I see what comes of it.

In the meantime, I'm repolishing and old submission and I'm planning to resend that after the first of the year. After that, I've got to focus on my full length wip. I booked my hotel room for the 2009 conference, and my registration is sent. Now all I have to do is to finish writing the book I'm planning to pitch!

So that's my story and I'm sticking to it! Just in case I can't get back in here to say so....

How ever you celebrate the season, I hope you have a happy one!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Fruity Pursuit and Bernard Madoff - WTF?





The Christmas rush is officially on, and Monday has decended like The Birds. I have stuff to mail today, groceries to buy, and presents to wrap. Too, Mini greeted me this morning with a babywipe. He'd gotten into the kiddie toothpaste, which is usually kept up high and out of reach, but it got left on the counter in the bathroom and he had himself a fun time with it for sure. He smeared it all over his face and tummy, which he wanted me to wash off. I did. Then came the questions: Mini, how much of it did you eat? I sincerely think he wore more of it than he ate, but since I didn't know for sure, I called Poison Control.
So here I am at 9 am, precoffee, a toddler smeared in blue toothpaste and the guy on the phone is laughing his ass off when I tell him, "No, it's not flouride free. It's Oral B Stages brand, Disney Cars Fruity Pursuit toothpaste." (Jesus, who names this stuff!) To be safe, the guy tells me to give Mini two Tums or two glasses of milk. Or both. *sigh* I gave him two tums and a glass of milk just to make sure. For the next few hours I have to watch him for a tummy ache, nausea, vomiting. If he starts feeling rough, take him to ER. Gotcha.
As if the great toothpaste incident wasn't enough of a Monday qualifier.... I've time and again stumbled across the news at Galleycat that Random House and HarperCollins have pounced on book deals revolving around Bernard Madoff, the former NASDAQ chairman who was arrested this month over fraudulent investing practices. Basically the man was running a pyramid/ponzi scheme. [Probably one of the largest outside the national social security system, but I digress....]

What gets me is that these publishing houses have been through lots of restructuring, layoffs, firings, pay freezes, acquisition freezes, absorbing imprints, etc. etc. and then this is their strike while the iron is hot story?

I'm not saying they shouldn't do a book on Bernard Madoff, but I can't be the only person NOT interested one iota in this story. I'd be willing to bet most people have no idea who the man is, much less want to read a 400-700 page book about him. As a test, go to your teenager right now and ask her/him who Bernard Madoff is. If he/she does know, have them take a look at your investment portfolio. But if your kid is like mine and has no clue, ask him/her who Lee Iacocca is. Next, ask them about Newt Gingrich.

Do they know any of those names? Probably not, I'll wager. And they probably don't care. To make matters worse, by the time these little Madoff book gems come out in 2010, I'm sure you'll be able to effectively gather a similar deer-in-the-headlights look from just about any passer-by simply by asking, "Have you read that new book about Bernard Madoff?"

Somewhere, somehow, a book by someone either with literary talent at the very least, something commercially viable got bumped from a publishing slot for Mr. Madoff, who's story -albeit the condensed version - is already available on the internet for free.

I also cringe to think what these publishers have put forward in advances for books that I imagine will end up on a sale table just like the rest of the political, wall street inspired goodies that clutters that section of the bookstore. I brush past those books when I'm looking for "diamonds in the haystack" at BAM. You know, stuff like erotic shapeshifting dragons....
But, really, dry humor aside, I hear about this and wonder if I'm missing something, or if maybe NY just doesn't "get it" yet, even after all the cuts this year? Or is this what we have to look forward to? More Madoff, less...shapeshifting dragons. I never thought for a day that publishers would bump an "important" or award winning books for something commercial. But I thought the point of making more selective acquisition choices would mean that the focus would shift more toward books that people actually want to read?
Oy, I'll leave it to the experts to figure out. I need another cup of coffee. Happy Monday, everyone!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Holiday Baubles




Hubby is back home! He text'd me around 3 to let me know he was on the way from Texas, and I had to race around the house to wrap his presents before he got home. Heh. I'd left them in the bags next to the coatrack-chair in the dining room. Anyway, I managed to get all his stuffins taken care of, and a few of my parents' gifts as well. I'm going to have to pick a day to take Minibeast and Oldest to Mom's so I can get the rest of the boys' goodies wrapped.

I did another round of Christmas shopping today, but it was mostly for necessities - gift bags and num-nums to make a pecan cheesecake and stuff for devilled eggs. Overall it's been a slow, comfortable day.

Last night after Mini was asleep, I sneaked out of bed and worked on my wip for a few hours. I'm on the final chapter - it's a curse, I swear. I get right to the end of a wip and the process just drags and drags. Bleh. Maybe it's psychological: reluctance to let go of the characters. I don't really know, but when I went to bed last night it felt like I'd barely written a paragraph.
Now that hubby's home, I'll be able to get in a full session tonight. Hopefully I can at least get the text in it's proper place. I can always go back and tidy it up on the second round. At any rate, there isn't much left, if I can just shove the words out the door, so to speak. Wish me luck!
Happy weekend, everyone!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Winter Solstice Weekend

Today is Oldest's last day of school before the holidays. Yesterday he sent me on a quest for a gigantic bag of Doritos. (Regular nacho cheese, mom, can you do that?) Yeah, son, I think I'll manage. Heh.

I tell ya, I'm ready for the downtime. Usually I'm scrambling the week before Christmas, but there hasn't been a frantic rush this year. Not for presents, recipes, none of that. I do feel a sense of immediacy - that the season is coming down to the wire - and I'm sure it doesn't help that I'm whipping the pony, trying to rush it to finish line. Anything to get 2008 behind us. This has been a foul, horrible year. I've heard, though, that trying years like this one are "transition" years. Bridges that cross the gap between life stage and another. I've been wondering a lot lately if that's true. We will see....

I was talking with a friend earlier today about Winter Solstice coming up this Sunday. It's supposedly a time of coming out of darkness, and boy, it couldn't come at a better time! I have a candle all ready to burn in preparation. I imagine by then hubby will be on his way home from Texas, and hopefully I'll have finished this short story I'm working on. There's really not much more to go on it, but it's a matter of sitting down to "just do it". Mini is an attention hound, so I have to jump on the comp and write in short bursts while he's occupied elsewhere: playing trucks, coloring, or when he drifts by the TV and stops long enough to watch something.

It's a hectic process, and I always feel like I'm not give him enough "Mimi time" when its like this, so over the weekend, I think we'll have to do something crafty - maybe make some foam ornaments to hang on Emo Tree. Something like that. Speaking of Emo Tree.... I really should post more pics. I've totally glammed out the tree with a barf-fest of buckets of sparkly icicle tinsel, so now it's more like the glitter-slut cousin of emo now.

My *new* newsletter will go live on December 29th. It will be my post-Christmas/ New Year edition. I'll be running an exclusive contest to give away a Cora Zane T-shirt and some other goodies. Just a heads up for anyone who might be interested. I'll be posting again once the newletter is loaded and live.

Well, it's time for Mini's nap nap, so I have to jet. I hope you're all having a snazzy Thursday!

PS... I totally forgot to mention www.freyasbower.com has a swarm of sexy free reads up for grabs at their website just in time for the holidays. Don't forget to drop by and download a little something for yourself. Tis the season for reading...and for telling a friend! ~_^

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tongue Curling and Coffee

A certain, silly someone came to me yesterday to show me he'd learned how to curl his tongue. He wanted me to take a dozen pictures of it. LOL! I ended up snapping a shot of it with my cell phone. Ah, milestones....

Yesterday Oldest came home with "news" about his grades. Skating by has caught up with him at last. He's always coasting, and when his grades start looking dire he'll put in a little effort. Hubby and I have been after him about that since grade school, but you can lead a horse to water, as the saying goes. This time the last minute effort didn't pay off, and he's stuck with low grades. The big talk that followed the news had more to do with him owning up to who is truly responsible for those low grades, instead of blaming someone else for not being "fair" and giving him more chances to make up the difference. Nevermind all along he should've been doing his work. You can tell him repeatedly, but it never seems to sink in.

I was talking to hubby (who is still sick) on the phone about it this morning, and I feel sorry for Oldest because he's gonna be soooo disenchanted when he gets out into the world and has to fend for himself. Success doesn't happen without work. It's going to be a hard lesson for him, but what can you do?

I discovered just how far gone my sense of smell/taste. I haven't been able to smell anything for over a month now, but I didn't know it had affected my ability to taste. Ha! I ran around doing this and that this morning, and poured myself a cup a coffee. I left it on the counter for a few minutes while doing some such thing, came back, and took the cup with me to the computer. I sipped and sipped. Funny, but about half way through the cup, I realized the coffee didn't feel as "foamy" as usual. Well, I looked in at the coffee and realized I'm drinking it black - no heavy cream. Hm. If hubby were here he'd laugh his ass off at me, because I am YIK! in regards to coffee straight up. So therefore, it is best he doesn't know. Ever. I went back and stirred in a spoonful of heavy cream and...well, honestly, I couldn't tell the difference.

C'est la vie.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Week of Mondays

I swear, this is the week of Mondays. Hubby is on a project in Texas and now he's sick. That's had me worried becaue they're out working in the elements, then Oldest brought home news from school today that nearly made me run screaming into the wilderness. On top of this, as Mini would say: My nose is buggin'. El Sinus infection abounds. Rats!

Tomorrow I have a ton of errands to run. I should've taken care of part of it today, but it was rainy, nasty and cold. I really didn't want to get Mini out in it; he's got a cough started and I'm trying to do something about it before it turns to a full on cold.

On the writing front, my little end of the year wip is progressing. The story is running a bit longer than I would like, but for the most part it's as it should be. I imagine I'll trim it back considerably before jetting it off to a crit partner for a read through.

If you're following the publishing crisis, Editorial Ass has pointed out a MUST READ article. But it's not all doom and gloom. I actually found a positive article out there. According to www.galleycat.com, HarperStudio may very well be the pioneers who change the face of publisher/distributor relationships by no longer accepting book returns. Borders has agreed not to return HarperStudio books, but to discount the titles in store and try to sell them that way. I hope in the face of their own struggles (Borders), they're able to stay open and that thier change in policy will start a revolutionizing trend.

It's a bit late, so I better get on the writing wagon. Wherever you are, I hope you're all warm and cozy. Happy Tuesday!

Book Jazz and Caramelldansen

It's Monday, so I've officially gone through my 2 weeks induction on Atkins. I've lost a total of 9 pounds, which strangely enough, is the exact amount I lost the last time I went through induction. Maybe that means I'll have similar successful results.

Hubby left for Texas this morning, so it's me and the kidlets - and, well, my parents across parish lines. I plan to thoroughly clean the house so I won't have to kill myself on it daily. The house tends to stay less messy *cough, cough* when hubby is travelling. But I didn't tell you that! ~_^

I've got to do some shopping this week for the hubster and my parents. Santa has already picked out everything for the boys, I just need to wrap it all and tuck it into the Santa Sack in the back of my closet. The thing with shopping for hubby-he's so darn hard to shop for! My dad is just as bad. They both usually heehaw around about what they actually want when you ask them, but two days before Xmas, you're sitting down with your morning coffee and they come crawling out of the woodwork: "You know, sweet, I would kinda like a whatsawhosageezit from Santa this year." *_*

Um, couldn't you have told me three weeks ago so I could have it imported...from the bowels of Christmas gift HELL? I swear, they must think I have stuff teleported in from eBay sometimes. I usually end up getting them something they didn't ask for and probably never thought about, but by then it can't be helped. I've been pestering hubby about what he wants for Xmas since October, but he still hasn't said for sure. If he ends up with a bunch of sausage and cheese sets it's his own fault.

Books are on my own wishlist this year. There are two in particular I'm hoping Santa will bring: Acheron, by Sherrilyn Kenyon, and Dark Curse, by Christine Feehan. I saw both at Books A Million the last time I went, but I couldn't afford roughly thirty bucks each for a hardcover. (That's something to think about publishers! Go paperback faster, please! I love books, but thirty dollars is a tank of gas for my Jeep. And I have to be able to get to the bookstore to actually buy anything. Just a thought....)

So anyway, speaking of books, I read this interesting post over at Nathan Bransford last night (when I should've been writing). We all like to get a deal on books, especially with the economy the way it is now, but he really puts into perspective why we should all buy books NEW.

Happy Monday, everyone!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

So Sleepy

I stayed up entirely too late last night, and my only excuse is that I was multi-tasking. I wanted to get to a certain point in this short story I'm working on, so I'd write a few paragraphs then hit the Money Tree over at Neopets. Write again, then hit Neopets again. It's a miracle my story didn't take an odd twist into Neopia, but somehow I managed to stay on track.

I think it was just too late for me to thoroughly concentrate, but I had too much on my mind to get to sleep. Earlier in the day I'd come up with this story arc and I jotted it down in note form on an envelope by my computer, but I kept worrying I'd forget these little details I wanted to throw in there. When I get like this, it's pretty much pointless to resist it. I knew I wouldn't get any rest until I'd typed it out.

Tonight I won't be able to stay up so late, though. And I'm in the middle of reading a book that's proving really hard to put down: Robots, an anthology edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois.



The book has 9 stories in it. I've read through 4 so far, and I've loved every one of them. That's got to be some kind of record for me as far as anthologies go. I'll probably finish this one up tonight.

That's it for me. I'm going to take advantage of the quite while I can. I hope you're all having a wonderful Saturday!

Friday, December 12, 2008

RIP Bettie Page

Right out of bed this morning, Mini brings in his Talking Whiz Kid Plus into the dining room and starts quizzing me with division and subtraction. Um. Hello, sweetie, Mimi hasn't had her coffee yet. Please try again later.

So I sat down to read the news and right out the gate discovered that pinup icon Bettie Page has died. So sad. One thing can be said for sure: Her life made an impact. Google (images) Bettie Page and it's amazing what you come up with. I saw a picture of her at 80 and she still looks great. I hope I'm that put together when I'm 80, but somehow, in all my flip-flops in December and ponytail wearing glory, I kinda doubt it.

Last night I stayed at the computer until I wrote the first chapter of a short story, start to finish. Sort of a merciless bootcamp sort of writing process, but then I had the entire scene in mind and I didn't want to lose it. I got through it, read it aloud and when it sounded fair, I gave in and went to bed. I'm going to work on it a bit more this afternoon and see how far I can get. I'm thinking of making it a weekend project, but we'll see how that goes.

Yesterday, (I can't remember where I read it), I came across an article that says book sales are down this year by more than a million units. Yikes! I've glutted on books this season, and I'm not backing down yet, but I can't help wondering if the downturn is in part to the fact that everyone's tightening the purse strings, or because there haven't been a lot of "gotta have it" books recently. Has anyone else noticed that? Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series aside, I haven't heard much gust and gale over a book since Harry Potter wrapped up, and Stephen King's publishers released the final book for the Gunslinger series.

I tend to like books that are more word of mouth rather than PR driven. I trust readers far more than spiel, but word of mouth books seem so few and far between lately. I decided to try and come up with a few under appreciated gems to recommend, and the set that came immediately to mind is the Haydn of Mars series by Al Sarrantonio.





Think politics, assassinations, and a race of cat-people on a terraformed Mars. It's like Dune, only My Oldest wouldn't read Frank Herbert unless you strapped him to a chair and forced him to stare at the pages ala Clockwork Orange style. On the otherhand, he devoured all three of the Al Sorrentonio books in a matter of days. That's really saying something since he usually can't be bothered.

While I'm on the topic of books, since I do get a question or two now and again about writer's guides and how to books, here's one on my wishlist this year:



I have a lot of writing guides, but this is supposed to be the industry standard. I don't have this yet, but it's on my radar. For more suggestions on what books to pick up for writers, or what writers might like for Christmas, my bff Cass has posted an awesome list at the Midnight Moon Cafe.

Moving on from book stuff.... The Christmas holidays are coming on fast, but there's still so much to do. We've got the Emo Tree glam'd out with lots of tinsel and ornaments, and oh, MORE tinsel. Unless you're really looking, you can no longer tell the tree is black. :P I haven't bought the first gift for hubby, I need to pick up a few more for my mom and dad, and I need to sort through recipes so I'll have something to take over to mom's for Xmas dinner. Devilled eggs is a must - that's expected of me, and there is much wailing and nashing of teeth when I don't bring them. So, the eggs, and I'm planning to make a low-carb, crust free cheesecake. I thought about making somekind of miracle cauliflower dish, since it would be Atkins friendly and you can pretty make cauliflower into anything - fake mashed potatoes, pizza crust. But it's looking like I'm going to need more research on that.

Oldest is out of school as of the 19th, so I've got to kind of plan around him being home as well. I don't think he'd be too thrilled if I fed him trick cauliflower and deviled eggs. He's probably expecting sugar cookies, but wow...talk about willpower to Not.Attack.Them. He may have to save that for grammy's house. I'll have to think about it before dragging out the mixer.

That's it for me. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday! Happy weekend!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Cold Day in the Writing Cave





I stayed up until 2 AM writing and waiting for this alleged snowfall to happen. It rained, but the snow never came. Wah. I got up this morning and discovered that well, it did happen, just not in North Louisiana. The snow moved south and blanketed New Orleans and a patch of Mississippi. Bah humbug. I wanted to smack hubby with a snowball!

Whoever wrote the article says that North Louisiana gets an average of one snow per year. I wonder if that person lives here. We usually get one ice storm a year. Not snow. It's definitely not the same thing. On the otherhand, the snow, ice, missing out on making a snowman...at least we don't have to worry about power outages. Surely if it snowed here we'd be out for days. If a bird lands on the highlines we're without power. Snow? Catastrophe!

It is cold today though. I didn't want to crawl out of bed, and not just because I stayed up so darn late, either. When I did finally get up, I couldn't wait to wrap my frost bitten, ice cube fingers hands around a cup of hot coffee.

I'm slowly but surely getting the hang of Open Office, although this is only a temporary work platform for me. I plan to buy MS Office after the holidays are up. Heck, it took me long enough to learn MS Office! Although, thanks to Isabelle Santiago I now know how to make comments using Open Office. Yeah, yeah, I'm slow....
Onto publishing news.... According to GalleyCat, Marlene Stringer, formerly of the Barbara Bove Literary Agency, has left to start her own agency. It's an amicable split, and she will be taking a handful of clients with her. I'm not sure if she's accepting clients, but if you're currently on an agent hunt, it might be worth your while to search out the Stringer Literary Agency.
I told myself I wouldn't start working on a project until after Christmas. Whenver will I learn? Just when I get my thoughts organized to do one thing, my muse, aka "teh wench" pokes her head up and says, "Oh really?" So as of last night, I'm well into a sci-fi erotica shorty short, and I have no one to blame but myself. We'll see how it goes....
Happy Thursday, everyone!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cheesecake and Publishing



More rainy, messy day, and the forecast is calling for snow tomorrow. Snow!
I went and mailed off a few requested bookcards and a prize pack earlier today. So if you're looking for something in the mail from me -it's on the way. While in town, I dropped by the store and bought three books : Shifting Love, by Constance O'Day Flannery; The Hunger, by Susan Squires; and Robots, an Ace anthology edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois.
Back home, I worked on a short story for a while, and tinkered with my newsletter. Only a page left to go on that and it will be ready for uploading. I'm waiting to see if a bit of news comes in before I wrap it all up, so we'll see.

Speaking of books and writerly things.... more interesting news from the publishing industry: MacMillan US has initiated a pay freeze for employees with salaries over $50,000 through 2009. There are quite a few imprints under MacMillan, including St. Martin's Press. I've read an obscene number of their books, both romances and other genres too.

Chronicle Books has announced a layoff of less than 5% of their workforce. According to Publisher's Weekly (by way of GalleyCat for me), their backlist isn't selling and they're downsizing their adult booklist for 2010. The company's growth has been in children's books, so I imagine that's where they'll focus their effort.

It seems like children's books and YA are the place to be if you're writing for the market these days, especially since more and more adults are reading YA fiction: Harry Potter, Eragon, Twilight, etc. etc. I wonder how that factors in with children's books though. Is it that parents are buying more books for their kids, or are they being picked up by the library market? I say this because given the variety available at our local stores, there doesn't seem to be much variety.

Speaking of local stores, according to Louisiana Book News, Windows A Bookshop in Monroe is closing on December 14th. I'm very sad to hear that. They carried a wide selection of books on Louisiana and the South, but most importantly, they were an independent bookseller who carried books by local authors. For gift giving, this was the go-to place to buy signed books by local authors.

A lot of us generally think of the authors and the publishers in this kind of meltdown, and I'll admit I haven't given adequate thought to the independent booksellers. I've heard stories how it's a struggle to keep these bookstores afloat in the face of book superstores like BAM and Barnes and Noble. In the North Central Louisiana area, we've lost a lot of bookstores, both chain and independent, in the past few years. First B.C Dalton in Pecanland Mall closed. Then Fran's in Ruston. I believe , I'm not 100% sure, we also lost the Waldenbooks out of Pecanland Mall as well. Who ever heard of a mall not having a bookstore? *_* I think our nearest Waldenbooks now is in Alexandria. Locally, Books-A-Million is the only place I know of that's left standing, and the past few times I've been there, sale tables have spread from one small area of the store down the center strip all the way to the back where the magazine racks are.

I can't help wondering how far off some publishers are from streamlining into print on demand. It would certainly be more cost effective, but I don't know what it would mean exactly for getting author's books in bookstores. Then there is the whole returns and remaindering nightmare to sort through. If POD books were sold in small units to specific stores, would they put a halt to returns? What would that mean for bookstores? And if those POD's were allowed to be returned, I imagine that would be a death nell for any hopes of reprinting that title - more crunch for the author. Thinking about all that can really make your head spin.

For the sake of my own sanity, I'll just continue to write the best book I can, keep sending the stories out, and wait to see what happens. And really, that's all any of us can do. That, and buy more books!

Before I close today, on a lighter note.... Atkins! I'm down 8 pounds and after lunch today (I had roasted chicken), I treated myself to a big bowl of homemade, sugar free (and only 5 total carbs!) cheesecake pudding. Mmm...mmm! I think I'm finally getting into the swing of things with the eating habits. My two week induction phase is almost over, but I'm probably going to extend it until I've shed those first 10 pounds. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Rainy Day




What a messy, rainy day. Early this morning, I went antique shopping with hubby - who is home, waiting to find out where the heck he's being assigned. Grr. I could go into a very long rant about that, but I'll save you all from that one, and perhaps save my blood pressure in the process.

The antique shop is a new place in town that used to be a grocery store. When we first moved to this area some 17 years ago, that was the grocery store we used. It closed down sometime after Oldest was born. I think he was around 2 or so. Anyway, we've always hoped someone would come back in and open the place. Well, I guess we finally get our wish. How long they stay open remains to be seen. Mom and pop businesses don't seem to last very long these days.

It's basically in import junk shop with an attached antique section. I walked through the entire store and picked up a few little things. I didn't go through the actual antique section until the very end. They had a lot of antique toys and furniture. My first find was a foot tall iron rooster. The rooster had been glazed with color - blue, red, and yellow - but age has chipped it and it faded it in just the right places along the edges and it's just a lovely piece of old iron. I couldn't leave without it.


Sorry for the poor resolution and grainy smooges everywhere. I took the pic with my cell phone to save dragging out the Fuji and doing the SD card, etc. etc. The colors are much brighter than they appear in the pic. And isn't he just a feisty guy? ^_^ He's now hanging on the end of my upper kitchen cabinets.
Well, the guys are all off to bed, so I think I'm going to go take over the living room for a while. I ordered a copy of Disturbing Behavior and it came in a day or two ago. I haven't yet had a chance to watching and I've been itching to do just that. Until next time....
Happy Tuesday!

Monday, December 08, 2008

NOLA Stars Xmas Party Video And More

I'm so glad it's Monday, so I guess the old saying "there's a first time for everything" is true. The weekend went by at the speed of light, and I'm still recovering. Hubby laughed at me this morning on the phone. He said he'd tried to wake me up to tell me he was going to check on a job site, but I wouldn't wake up enough to make coherent sentences. He said I merely told him, "Take your cell phone in case you break down." Yep, that sounds like me! ^_^ However, I don't remember any of it.

I stayed up chatting with Isabelle Santiago until 2 AM while working on my newsletter - which is coming along nicely by the way. Isabelle, if you're reading this, are you as tired as I am this morning?

The winter newsletter issue will be up very soon, so keep a look out! I'll be giving away a Cora Zane T shirt to one lucky reader who downloads the Winter Issue. On another note - signed Werekind bookcards. I've been asked where to get them. I give them away promo bags and contests all the time. If you'd like a signed bookcard from me, all you have to do is ask me and I'll send you one. Simple as that. There are lots of ways to contact me: www.CoraZane.com, on Facebook or Myspace, here on the blog, Author's Den, and through Twitter. The bookcards are first come first served, and while supplies last. I won't be doing a reorder until after the new year.

A lot happened over the weekend. First things first, I went to the RWA NOLA Stars Chapter Christmas party in Shreveport on Saturday with Beth Cornelison, and ended up taking 2 videos and a heap of pictures. Of course, you won't find me in any of them, but that's ok. I think another member had a camera and I'm going to be searching for those as yet unseen shots. ^_^

Instead of trying to upload a bunch of pictures, I turned them into a video. I'm no movie maker, for sure, but it was a lot easier to do this that fighting with Photobucket and/or bandwidth issues. The shots are in chronological order - from arrival and chatting in the sitting room, to eating lunch in the den, the gift exchange, to the silent auction at the end.




I have two more videos to upload today. They're from the gift exchange, which had a fun twist. Each person who brought a gift drew a number. When their number was called, they were able to pick a gift from under the tree OR STEAL someone else's gift. ^_^ A person could only be stolen from 3 times, and then they reached immunity and were left with the gift they held in hand.

I traded a book with Lenora Worth at the very end of the exchange. An "outside" negotiation. Perfectly legal. ~_^ She got a copy of Stephen King's On Writing, a book that has been on my Amazon wish list for ages. She already had a copy, so we traded - the book I'd unwrapped as my gift was an autographed copy of inspiration advice for writers. Not an easy choice to make, but now I have Stephen King's book off my wishlist! Woot! I started reading it just last night. I'll post more about it once I'm finished.

When I made it back home Saturday, hubby had cooked pork chops, bless him! I was a very good girl at the Xmas party, and while I wasn't starving exactly when I got home - I had devilled eggs, chicken, and someone made this rockin' awesome cheesy broccoli dish at the party - I wasn't opposed to chowing down on chops. Hey, I'm a born and bred southern girl, what can I say? ^_^

I didn't cheat on Atkins once at the party, and even dropped a pound. I'm currently down 7 pounds from when I started on Dec. 1st. Woot! I have a mini goal this week to lose 3 pounds.

Yesterday Oldest had his first date. Oh my. It went well, and those two...dare I say it. They are like peas in a pod. It's nerve wracking to imagine it. Just seeing the way they look at each other, you know they've both got the gaga's. *_* Anyway, the kids have already made plans for the coming weekend, and it looks like I'll be driving. I sense something starting, but oh, I dare not look too deep....

Happy Monday, everyone!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Wishing and Book Winner





Sorry so late posting today, I left the house around 9 AM, made it home around 4 PM. I'm pretty exhausted. Even so, I have pictures and videos from the NOLA Stars Christmas party, and I promise I'll upload them all very soon!

Beth Cornelison kindly let me catch a ride with her to Shreveport, and the party itself was comfortable, cozy, and fun. It was everything I'd hoped for, and I met a lot of really nice people. But I don't want to spoil all the details before I can post piccies with everything...so that will come tomorrow (if I can manage it), or Monday.

I'm happy to announce I stuck to my carb free ways while partying, and even ordered carb cautiously at Starbucks this morning. OMG, but I'd forgotten just how good fresh-ground coffee smells. Ah, coffee smell.... Now that's romantic. :P

With no further ado, the winner of the copy of Jeff Rivera's Forever My Lady I blogged about earlier this week goes to...


Neoindra!



Congrats, Neoindra! You've won a copy of Forever My Lady, and a fun author promo pack filled with lots of bookmarks and goodies. To claim your prize, please contact me at
corazane(at)aol(dot)com with Forever My Lady Winner in the subject line. Oh! And don't forget to include the address where you'd like your goodies sent!

Tomorrow I plan to veg out and read a ton of books, and possibly tinker around with a story idea I had today while driving home from the meetup spot in Ruston. I have a lot of house things to do as well, but first order of business will be to sleep late!
Happy weekend wishes to all of you!



Friday, December 05, 2008

Getting Ready




Late last night I managed to finish smoothing the final chapter of my wip, and I finally sent it off to Ravenous Romance. Yay! That will probably be my last submission for the year, unless I somehow manage to crank out another short story. With the way things are going right now, I don't know if I'll have the time to even sit and plot anything. I do have two books on disk that I need to revise and submit, though, and I really should pull those out and work on them.

Today, I jumped out of bed and checked the scales. It's day 5 of Atkins induction and I've lost a total of six pounds. Woot! I made breakfast for the Minibear and myself : scrambled eggs with cheese, bacon, and pan sausage. Then I sat down and took care of the bills so I would have everything out of the way to focus on getting things ready for the NOLA Stars Chapter Christmas Party tomorrow.

Since I'm on induction, I'm going to bring Atkins friendly stuff like mini sausages and devilled eggs to the party. If I can get Mini to bed at a decent hour, I'm might even attempt a crust-free pumpkin cheese cake as well. We'll see...because sometime during all this hustle and bustle, I need to do my nails! ^_^

Oh, and while shopping for goodies today, I bought an extra pack of lithium extra strength superdy-duperdy camera batteries. No one will be safe from my lens! I'll post pictures on Facebook sometime over the weekend.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Publishing and the Unpublished

It's been a quiet day home with the Minibeast. I have my wip mapped out so I can complete it tonight and do a final read through. Just gotta wait until the sun goes down and Mini goes to bed.

Needless to say, I've had books and writing on the brain for most of the day. First thing out of bed this morning, I started off reading about the fallout going on at Haughton Mifflin Harcourt (best chronicled over at GalleyCat) through Pub Rants. Jobs are being/have been cut at HMH, and at the worst possible time of the year, if you ask me. I'm not sure what to think about this alleged on/off freeze? in acquisitions, which now seems to be just a fancy way of saying: We're about to become super selective about what we take.

Reading about that kind of thing makes me wonder about the future of publishing - and I'm talking about the nuts and bolts of the industry and acquisitions, not about the future of writers so much, because there will always be writers regardless of what publishing houses exist or the state of the book market and/or economy.

People who write, well....they write. And if they sell that's fantastic, but more often than not, when they don't they just pick up the next project and move on. Round two, try again. Then again, we've also come to an age where writers are more willing to take chances about where they publish and go with "non-traditional" publishers. It's also perfectly acceptable to epublish and/or go the POD route. I'm not in any way implying that people don't want to be traditionally print published - I certainly do - I'm only saying that there are more options now than ever for unpublished writers if NY won't take on their work.

Anyway, this morning I was reading Editorial Ass about Random House having it's own meltdown of sorts. Random House is dismantling Bantam Dell *faint* and Doubleday, and absorbing these imprints into other divisions - Knopf will be absorbing Doubleday, etc.

Ok, just for the sake of thinking out loud, here is finally something that makes me sweat a little. What does this sort of restructuring mean for the unpublished writer? Certainly, it will become much more difficult for unpublished authors to attain the NY dream with publishing houses going through a big shrink phase. And while I wholeheartedly cringe at the idea of anything happening to Bantam Dell (I've bought an insane number of their books over the years), I'm curious about Doubleday.

The only books I've ever read from Alfred A. Knopf were literary stories that stretched into the realm of commercial fiction. In fact, most of them had Anne Rice's name on the covers, and I didn't go out and buy every single one. Literary fiction is great, and I'm not in any way taking a crack at those who write it or read it. I don't question the talent or the drive behind it, and I acknowledge that it wins lots of awards, blows critics socks off, and more often than not makes for beautiful book deals. However, it also Puts.Me.To.Sleep. There, I said it. Snoozeville. Just my take on it : literary fiction is editors fiction. Critics fiction. I don't read it unless I have to.

My question with all this restructuring going on is how many slots for commercial fiction will NY publishers slash during reorganization? Because I think this is only the start of a broader domino effect. I can't imagine publishers turning away a literary gem with award winning potential or a stellar non-fiction book, for a cozy mystery or a scorching hot romance. When the dust settles, I honestly wonder what all this will means for romance, urban fantasy, horror, etc. as far as trends go?

I also wonder if slower acquisitions in NY will drive more readers as well as writers to epublishing? I know there are some people who think that will never happen, but it was the main reason I got hooked on ebooks - lack of variety. I couldn't find what I was looking for on bookstore shelves. But I digress.... It just seems to me these dips in the pond are going to cause more ripples than we realize. I suppose we'll just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Ray Bradbury and Writing

It's just me and the Mini bear today. Oldest is back to school, and Hubby left the house this morning for Lafayette to fill out his paperwork. I imagine he'll be calling me soon since it's nearly lunch time.

I've been cleaning most of the morning, doing laundry, dishes, sweeping and mopping floors. The house truly needs a thorough, top to bottom cleaning after having all the guys home. Trying to keep it up with them all home is a lesson in futility. :P

The WIP is a mere inch from completion. Nothing left but the love scenes to revise. I finished everything to that point early this morning - around 2 am. Hubby got up about that time, so I thought I better visit with him a few minutes and hit the sack. Finishing the love scenes were the first thing on my mind this morning, but of course Mini had other ideas - like Diego and breakfast. ^_^ When I finally got around to the computer, the phone rang, so I decided to hold off at least until the afternoon. There's no point in pulling my hair out. It'll be done when it's done. Besides, it never helps to rush through.

Last night, I poked through a few videos, and found this really good one featuring Ray Bradbury. I love his stuff. The first thing I ever read of his was Something Wicked This Way Comes, and then I moved on to Farenheit 451 and the Martian Chronicles. Funny really, because it's not the genre he writes that particularly grabs me so much as it is his writing voice. I have read "Wicked" and "Farenheit" at least a dozen times each over the years, and there is something magical about each. If you haven't read either of those books, do yourself a favor. I don't think a single character has hung with me the way Clarice from Farenheit 451 has. She wasn't the main character, I think really just a subconscious symbol for Montag, but there was something very striking about her. She was the first character that I stumbled on that her DIALOGUE jumped at me. You didn't know a lot about her; she was a bit like a ghost the hero, Montag, discovers. She's open yet vague, mysterious yet crystal clear. A deep thinker in a time and place where that's the worst thing you could possibly be. I think of her when I'm writing sometimes.

Anyway, here's the clip. Ray Bradbury on writing....



I hope you all have a happy hump day!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The River Flows In You

Hubby is off to work in Texas tomorrow, so at the moment he's ticklefighting a Minibeast on the couch. *lol*

I was barely out of bed this morning when my cell phone rang. It was Oldest, which scared the living crap out of me. My brain instantly switched into panic mode: what could he possibly be calling me about this early in the morning? Suspension? Fighting? Referral? None of the above? I can barely hear him, and he says, "Hi, mom, there was a gas leak at school so classes are canceled. Can you come pick me up from the fire station?" *_*

So Oldest, Mini, and Hubby are all home with me today. The guys took a drive into town earlier, Oldest wanted to go to the library, and Hubster wanted to see what movies were released today. He picked up a copy of Wanted with Angelina Jolie in it, and a copy of The Polar Express.

Onto writerly things.... (Lotsa stuff, so bear with me!)

I've been reading a lot of YA and old horror anthologies for the past two months, just to keep the mind fresh. There's a particular horror story I've been trying find a copy of for ages - it's about this woman who goes to the Amazon and takes a native for her lover. The lover, Pablo, tells her how some people along the river aren't really people, but animals in disguise; shapeshifters that come out to mate then return to the jungle, the cycle of replishment complete. It's a horror story, with a truly frightening twist at the end - not only that, but the writing is nothing short of superb. The story is Riverenos, by Trish Janeshutz, and it's part of a horror anthology called Stalkers.

I give Stalkers, or rather that story in particular, Riverenos, my absolute highest, highest recommendation. It was the very first shapeshifter novella I ever read, and it literally shaped who I am as an author today. That's powerful storytelling, and make no doubt!

I couldn't remember the name of the book, the story, or the author and it has driven me half crazy for years. I lost the book when we moved into the house we're currently living in, and I never could figure out the title so I could replace the missing copy. Well, very recently, the Amazon.com horror gurus recognized my description of it. *SQUEE!* I was so thrilled to actually know what the story was and who wrote it, that I 1.) ran right out and ordered a copy of the anthology it comes from, and 2.) did a search for the author to let her know that her story had been on my mind since I read it in 93'/94'.

Come to find out, the author still writes! She now writes suspense under the name T.J. MacGregor. If you're looking for a new author to add to your autobuy list, you should definitely check her out. Her writing style will lure you in like nothing else.

As for my own writing, I'm trying to hurry and get this one particular story out the door. I lost the majority of it when Old Silver died - I thought I'd preserved it, but it was basically a note skeleton. I've rebuilt it from those notes, and it's now only pages away from completion. I've been working on revisions for far long than I would've liked but the time restraint, and the slim work count required of it, have made it difficult to wrap up. I'm almost there, though, and I won't stop until I see this monster through to the end.

I still haven't heard back about my latest Werekind story that's floating about in submission land. I sent it out in October, I think, so when I'm finished with the current story I'm working on, I'm probably going to drag it out of my "sent" folder and ship it out elsewhere. I figure since I must sit around and wait for the fishes to bite, I might as well cast a few extra lines into the water. Know what I mean?

Last but not least, I have a book to give away. It's Forever My Lady, by Jeff Rivera. The book is an urban romance that I featured on the blog a few weeks back. Jeff has kindly donated a copy for giveaway, so I'm holding a contest and adding a fun promo pack filled with all kinds of author goodies to sweeten the deal. All you have to do for a chance to win is post in the comments on my blog between now and December 6th at noon, which is when I'll draw a name at random. If you're unable to post to blogger, you can enter by sending at email with Forever My Lady Giveaway in the subject line to corazane (at) aol.com. I'll post the names of the winners Saturday night (December 6th). Good luck to those who enter!

Oh! For aspiring writers, Holly Lisle has created a FREE video writing help series that's available for view at Blip TV. Check it out here: http://hollylisleonwriting.blip.tv/#1516084

Whew! That's all the goods for me today. I need to jump on this WIP while I have the chance. It gets kind of hectic in the late afternoon, so it's either now, or wait until after 10pm to get started. I hope you all have a Happy Tuesday!