Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Box Full of Stars

Mini should be home in a few minutes, so I'm taking a much needed break from the vampire story. I'm mired in edits with this thing, no kidding. My first chapter needs to be totally rewritten (because I only vaguely knew where I was going with this thing when I started it) and I have thirty days to get this story tip top. It's doable, but I really don't think it's going to be fun.

I'm also walking around with the house phone in case we get a call from Walter Reed Hospital. Hubby was on his way home from work last night and got a call from the veteran's home that his dad had been admitted to the ER. It has been effing insane, trying to get information of any kind. This is why it sucks when half your family lives across the country. It makes it impossible for us to be "right there", so we're left to sit by the phone and hope someone will let us know what's happening.

In other words, stress is my current order of business. Last night it was so tense and worrisome around the house I couldn't sleep, and when I did finally doze off on the couch while rereading Dwight Swain, I dreamed I arrived late at some kind of event that involved skydiving into a lagoon with all these sculpted pools. At least there weren't any sharks, right? ^_^

Oh here's an interesting thing, I was busy writing over the weekend, and hubby was tired of waiting on me to head off to the grocery store, so he asked for my shopping list. I gave it to him, and he saw I had "star markers" on there. He asked me, "What the heck are star markers?" And I told him, "You know, the gold foil star stickers?  Like what your teacher put on your papers back in the day?"

Yeah, he looked at me like I'd lost it. "What do you need those for?"
"For marking my pages. You know how some people get the arrow strips or highlight the pages. I like to use star stickers. They're small and don't ruin my pages."

He looked for my star stickers and came back empty handed. I thought he'd just overlooked them, but today in the store I realized they no longer carry that brand. But never fear!  I found these:

Yay! Now, I have plenty of stars to mark my pages with, but this got me to wondering... what do other people mark their pages with?

When you're reading and need to be able to find a specific paragraph, how do you mark your pages?   Highlighter, or maybe arrow stickers?  Just a book mark?  Maybe you add an X or toss up a check mark?

If you're feeling so inclined, leave a comment and let me know. Inquiring minds and all that... ^_~

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Monday Rush

I'm feeling this whole Monday vibe thing, and trying not to let it bog me down. I've taken care of bills, now I need to run to the post office, but wanted to blog first.

I've had some people ask me about Werekind Series T shirts. There are a few up at my CafePress store, Werekind Outpost. I plan to add to the collection, but for now there are shirts for Silver, Colorado, and the werekind roadhouse bar, aka the Moonlight Run. You can also get the designs on coffee mugs, and other stuff too. So, there ya go.

Today's grand plan: I'm printing out Wicked Obsession so I can start rewrites and edits. I have to read through this thing to see what I came out with - all those jumbled words.

I swear, y'all, one of these days I'm going to learn to write a clean draft. You know, like those folks who whip one out in four weeks and it's so squeaky clean they just send it right on to NY and get a two book deal and never, ever, ever have any edits. I know, I know...and then she woke up, right?  Hey, I can still dream. ;o)

So what are your plans for today?  Any good news to share?  Wrapping up projects?  Doing something fun?  Spill the beans if you're so inclined. ;o)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Book Avalanche - What I'm Reading

While I have a second cup of coffee and contemplate putting the clothes in the dryer, I thought I'd take a minute to blog about the books I'm currently reading. One I'm technically rereading, but that counts too, right?

First things first, I'm wrapping up the vampire novella today. I hung with it until about three in the morning, but I couldn't keep my eyes open to finish the job. Today I need to round out the ending, then I can stick a fork in it. And print it, too, because I prefer to edit on hard copy.

I'm giving myself a full month to whip this puppy into shape before sending it on to my publisher. I want to reread Wicked Temptation and fact check a few story details before getting down to business. No, I don't have a story bible based on my own work, so spank me already. :P Whatever I find, I can't dally over this project too long. Deadlines aside, I have a horror-romance to shape up after I get this contracted piece out of the way. And there are other projects simmering on the back burner. Whew!

But let's get back to the whole point of the post - what I'm reading. Actually, a lot of craft books lately. Just when I think I'm going to put aside the craft books for a while, I find another I need to read. A few nights ago on twitter, Jessa Slade pointed me toward a craft book that looks promising, so now I have another one coming from Amazon. I've never heard of it before, but it has some fantastic reviews, and seems like just the sort of inspiring craft book I like to get my mitts on. Yep, I'm very interested to see what it's about. It's called Story by Robert McKee. I'll post something about it once the book is here and I've had a chance to read it. Just for the sake of saying so, and to justify my addiction, you can never have too many craft books. ;o)

Other books on my immediate reading list... a couple of YA books the agent recommended to me at conference. I can see why she recommended them. If my I were to rework the one of my stories, it would fit with those books on the shelf. Kind of strange to think about it that way, but there it is. I finished the first book, and will be on book two once I whittle the stack down a bit. The hot list YA books on my stack are without a doubt, Amanda Hocking's books. I recently picked up a copy of My Blood Approves, so that's pretty high on my TBR list right now. You can find her Amazon page here with most, if not all, of her available books. She recently signed a four book, seven figure deal, people. There's stuff to be learned in all this.

Now for the two books that have me turning pages this week:

Scene and Structure by Jack M. Bickham

I've read this book before and thought, huh, what?  It's a bit wordy, but once you cut through the verbiage to the core lesson, it becomes apparent that this really is need to know stuff.

If I had to grade this one for practical use, I'd say this is probably for advanced fiction writers only. There is a lot to digest in this one, and you may find yourself reading it twice. Or as in my case, three times, before the info starts to stick.

I have been told there are other, easier to understand, books that tackle the subject of scenes and sequels (no, I'm not talking about awful franchise movies!) but I can't think of a single definitive source at the moment. Maybe Techniques of the Selling Writer?

Anyway, third time's the charm. I've had several Ah-ha! moments reading this one over the past few days.

I'm not entirely about craft books, though. Believe it or not, I do read for fun!  And for the nay sayers... NO, I am not tired of reading about vampires yet. ;o)

American Vampire by Jennifer Armintrout

I saw this title on the shelf and had to give it a look. The blurb hooked me. Secret deadly critter in the woods, locals with pitchforks demanding a sacrifice, hot American vampire. Um, yeah, I'll read that.

I read the first few pages while standing in the book aisle, and it totally cracked me up. Yeah, I had to get this one, and so far I haven't been disappointed.

That's it for now. The laundry is calling. If you managed to make it through to the bottom of this post (hehe, yeah, it turned out longer than I planned), tell me ....what books are you currently reading?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Saturday Writerly Things

There! I finally fixed the sound on my Wicked Temptation trailer. Now I can stop obsessing over it every time I go to my website to check on things. I don't know what the deal was with the last video, but I tinkered with the sound on that bugger until I was ready to fall out. I ended up having to use another song, but it's all good. This one is actually music, not a heartbeat in the background. All in all, I think it looks pretty good for a first try, and it gets the point of the book across.

I also went to Amazon and set up my author page today. If you drop by to check it out, please click the "like" button. It takes a split second to do, and costs nothing. *thumbs up* Hopefully I can catch Oldest when he's not too busy and he can help me upload my book trailer there. I'd do it myself but Old Faithful (my laptop) is slowly petering out. Bless its gigabytes. It's been a good comp, but man...its getting kinda tired and sluggish. Until I can save enough for a new machine I have to enlist the big kid for help. :*)

About actual writerly things... I'm about 2 chapters away from finishing the draft for Wicked Obsession. I should have the book knocked out sometime tomorrow. Once it's finished, I'll be rereading Wicked Temptation to check canon, then I'll spend from now until the due date revising and rewriting. 

On Friday, I sent off dark fallen angel short. It's a horror/fantasy type story so it's not with one of usual publishers. It's something I had sitting on my hard drive that suited a "for the love" submissions call, and I'm hoping it'll get picked up since I've had good feedback from beta readers. We will see. 

So that's the current state of writing affairs. I'm kinda borderline sick with whatever Mini has been carrying around for the past week, and I felt so run down earlier all I wanted to do was sleep. I didn't get the chance for a nap, so I hope I'm not zonked out before I get started. I'm going to try coming online a little later to listen to Cassie's ghost presentation on SL, and afterward, I'll likely stay up late writing. I'm so close to the end of this book, it's about time to go a few rounds with Dr. Wicked to knock it out of the park and be done with it. We will see. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Dreaming of NYC

Last night, I dreamed I was on a paved track at a park with hubby. The sky was kind of hazy gray, but the trees were all super green, the leaves full blown and lush. Although it didn't really look much like it, I thought we were at Cloud Crossing, and I was perfectly contented to be there. I was looking off to my right, at the stoop of this brick building, when my mom walked up to me out of no where, and explained by some manner of telephone tag with my aunt, that I'd won a trip for five to New York City.

I was stunned at first. Then afraid. Then excited. I turned to hubby and told him the news (why he didn't hear it when he was standing right there is beyond me, haha). He looked awfully wary, and after a minute to process the situation, he said, "Honey, I don't know..." And immediately I was disappointed and started thinking about all the arrangements that would have to be made if we were to go.

I thought, I don't even know who I'd take with me. I guess it could be me, hubby, Oldest and Mini, and...who?  I then thought, but Hubster would have to make arrangements regarding work, and someone would have to come over to feed the pooches, would we pay for everything?

Except for that last one, basically, I was thinking like hubby. In waking life, when I want to go somewhere, I make the reservations first and leave the arrangement details down to the last minute. Otherwise, I'd never be able to go anywhere!

I reminded hubby that we'd won the trip - it was already paid for. The hotel, the transportation. All the major expense. All we had to do was show up. He was still...uncertain? Or doubtful? He didn't say anything, but I could feel this, both in him and myself. However, by then, I was already thinking about when we'd make the trip, and what we'd do when we got there. I'd made up my mind, and was determined to go.

That's when I woke up. I'm not sure what it means, but if anyone comes at me with exciting plans to travel north, I'll let you know. ;0)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Summer Dreamin'

Bring on summer! Yes, ma'am, I can take the heat. Just throw the burgers and dogs on the grill, pass me a margarita, and I'll be just fine. I'm ready for Mini to be out of school for the summer, and to be able to sleep past 6:30 in the morning (although summer does not necessarily guarantee that will happen).

What else can I say? I'm just ready.
I do my best writing at night. The house is quiet, I know where everyone is, the days chores are done, and I can actually not think about what is going on in the world around me. I sent out a horror short last night, and once that was done, I settled in with the contracted project and added another thousand words. I should have this thing ready for a break down and self-edits by next week, and I'm already taking notes for the larger project that will be on my plate once I'm finished with the contracted project.

Oh my...who else has been following the news about self-pubbed wonder Amanda Hocking? She recently made a four book deal with St. Martin Press. Oh, and her self-published works have been optioned as a film? I know she writes YA, but that really doesn't have anything to do with this post. Her books are on my TBR list. All of them. Because she is apparently doing something a whole lotta right. We could all take lessons from her on building our readership.

Things are changing so fast in publishing, everyday I open my email digest from Galleycat and can't wait to see what else is new. I've been tracking the new NYT Bestsellers list for e-books. Haha, okay, so not so much tracking, but more or less skimming the list to look for names of people I know personally, or in passing. How exciting to see authors I've actually heard of making the NYT Bestsellers List!  Frikkin-A awesome! This feels like a revolution, y'all. It feels like walls are coming down.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

When Nothing Goes According To Plan

Last night, I worked on cleaning up the last two pages of a short story. I worked until I was too tired to see straight, and decided to call it a night. It was around 12:30 ish when I turned off my computer and zombie walked to the bedroom.

Mini is five, and he still climbs into bed with us, so when I go to bed, I'm used to having to pick him up and return him to his room. When I scooped him up out of bed last night he was blazing with fever. I took him on to his room and tucked him in bed, then told him to stay awake so I could run for the children's Tylenol. I gave him a dose, and watched him curl up under the covers and go back to sleep. I went on to bed, but couldn't sleep because he wasn't feeling spiffy and I was worried about it. I had all these crazy dreams that boiled down to trying to talk to people who either didn't understand me, or wasn't listening to what I was saying. I think I knew even then I was going to have to keep him home today and tell a lot of other people "no".

I hate to say no. In fact, I hate it so much, that over the years I've landed myself in some pretty interesting situations by not saying no. First things first, I had to call mom about our outing. Mini being sick trumps shopping trip. I know my mom understand that, because hey, she's my mom. And of course, Mom wasn't fazed, bless her. She said her feet were hurting anyway. I told her we would get together later in the week for lunch, and try to have that shopping trip again after I finish this book. After. She said sure. And again, she wasn't fazed.

To bad not everyone had that same reaction. One person is supremely pissed at me right now. (Sorry, honey!) And another still hasn't gotten back to me, and that's the one I'm kind of dreading. But now my plate is relatively clear, I'm able to focus on Mini, and on getting this book written.

Sometimes I think my life would be so much easier if I spent less time planning, because more often than not, nothing goes according to plan anyway.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Frenzied Writer Mom Moment

I'm having a frenzied mom moment. I have 7,000 words to go to meet my minimum word count. I have a broken arrow key on my laptop which is driving me effing crazy. My house is a mess. I need to vacuum and mop floors, and it's bugging me just a little. Okay, more than a little. The mess is making me snarly. I'm a Virgo, and I like order, dammit.

I barely wrote a word yesterday. I had to go to Ruston on an errand, and of course that turned into an full day agenda that totally tossed a wrench in my writing plans. Tomorrow my mom wants me to drive her to Minden. She has woefully said I don't have to take her if I'm too busy - but come on, folks. You know what that means. I am the ogre daughter too busy for her mother if I don't. So, of course I'm going to drive her where she wants to go - after I put Mini on the school bus, of course, because for whatever reason we have to do this thing in the middle of the week. Yes, I need a break, and I'm sure I will have a good time with mom, I always do. But I also know me, and in the back of my mind, deadlines will be niggling and tormenting me because I know I should finish this project before I have a play day. I'd have so much more fun if I didn't have something important to worry about while hanging out with her, but what's a girl to do?

As if this isn't pressure enough, people I have not seen in three months have suddenly decided I *have* to give them answers now regarding plans they made without me. When I tentatively said yes just to show up - more like, I said it's slightly possible I'd show up - they spring on me and suddenly I owe them money. Someone please tell me how that works? Apparently this is my share of the cost in their plans, that again, were made without me. It almost feels like it doesn't really matter if I show up or not, just as long as I pitch in my share of the money. If I weren't so busy and had time to really sit down and think about this, I'd probably be pissed.

In the end, I have to ask myself why is all this happening now?  Karma?  Some kind of dreaded obligation curse? Why at this point in time when I have a deadline looming?  Two months ago, when I wasn't so busy, mom was too busy to go on an outing with me. She had plans with friends. My friends didn't have time to answer my emails. (Then again, they didn't want money.) I tell ya, I am one margarita and a plane ticket away from complete revolt.

On top of all this, MiniBear's class is doing pretesting this week. Do you know what the pretesting is for?  They are cramming for the KET, aka the Kindergarten Exit Test. Yes, you read that right. They are cramming for tests in Kindergarten. Oh.My.God. So much for learning to use scissors and not eat the paste, right?  Mini brought home writing cram sheets with his homework packet yesterday. I thought the homework packet was insane enough. No wonder the little guy says he doesn't want to go back to school.

Speaking of MiniBear...and Mercury Retrograde. The little man did so well in class yesterday. We usually reward his good behavior, so when he came home wanting to play the Memory Game on my computer, I let him have at it. I needed a break to let my brain cool off anyway. I put the game on for him, and went to fall across the bed with a book. Two pages into one of the short stories in My Zombie Valentine, Mini comes to the door and says a key broke on my laptop. I'm like, huh?

I groaned a little over that, because ever since I bought this laptop - brand new, I might add, so it's not like it was used, or already had cosmetic issues - it had a very wobbly left track mouse key. It has broken three times and I've had to reset it. So, upon Mini's grand announcement, I leave my comfy spot and my book, and go to my office to access the damage. I am stunned when I see it isn't the wobbly mouse key that has broken. It's one of my arrow keys. I've never had any problems with it, either. Mini is beside himself. I tell him it's fine. I mean, it could have happened to anyone. I told him I'll deal with it, and sent him off to play in the living room. For two hours I fight with that arrow key. For the life of me, I can't fix it. Not only is it broken, I think the circuit is dead as well. *cry*

So now I'm writing on a computer with keys missing, low memory, and sluggish performance because of all the crap I have stored on it. I need to get this one to the shop for a tune up, or better yet, retire this computer and buy another. I guess if I hope to buy anything, I better start rolling pennies now.

All this, one day in the life of a writing mom. Is it any wonder we crave coffee and chocolate?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday and Tote Bag Contest Winner

Happy Monday, everyone! So did you all check out the Super Moon on Saturday? Hubby and I stepped outside to take a look at it several times over the course of the night. Meh. It was pretty and bright, but honestly didn't look that much different than usual. On the other hand, this morning the moon was still visible, and that was pretty impressive. It looked huge. I pointed it out to Mini while he was waiting for the bus and he thought it was pretty cool. ;o)

At any rate, I hope you had a relaxing weekend. I spent most of it writing and entertaining guests. Basically, I've been banging my head on my keyboard, trying to finish the rough draft for my vampire book. I'm currently about 9k from my minimum required word count. If all goes well, I should be able to have the draft finished by Wednesday.

I have a busy day ahead, both writing-wise and other things. Right now I'm waiting for Oldest to get dressed and eat breakfast so I can make a dash to Office Depot. While I have a moment to myself, I figure this is a good time to draw for my Back From Conference Contest. What do you think? Now? Later? I'm just kidding. ;o)

Names were added to the hat as posted, and if you are also following me via Google Friend Connect, I put two slips in for you instead of one. Are you ready? Here goes!  The winner of the tote bag filled with goodies is....

Congrats, SarahFay! Please email me at corazane (at) aol (dot) com with Conference Contest in the subject line. Be sure to include your mailing address so I can ship your package to you.

A big thank you to everyone who entered! For those of you who might be interested, I'll be having a few more giveaways in the weeks to come. My book shelves need a serious culling. I can't bear to throw out good books, so I'll be giving them away here on the blog. Keep checking back.

That's it for now. I need to go light a fire under Oldest's backside so we can leave. I need to be back home by ten so I can do a few timed writings. I better gather my stuff for the post office while I'm at it. Hm...I sense a to-do list is about to born. Ah well, let the Monday madness begin!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Back From Conference Contest

I had such a fabulous time at the conference in Shreveport this past weekend. The conference committee did an excellent job, and I really can't brag on them enough. They totally rock, and I'm looking forward to attending again next year.

I know quite a few people who for various reasons either can't go to conference because of distance, financial reasons, health reasons, etc. I'm not talking specifically about our local conference, but writing conferences in general. That being the case, I wanted to bring a little conference fun home to one lucky winner. I have prepared a prize, I guess it's really a prize tote bag, but why compare tiaras and party hats, right?

I've pulled together a writer's "basket" filled with fun writerly things. That's it shown on the left. If I did this right, you should be able to click on today's picture and get a larger view. Now let's take a peek at what's in there... ;o)

First off, everything comes in a cute, starry tote bag - aka, the basket. Included is a bag of Birds of Paradise scented candle chips (my favorite!) from Mary's Candles, which is a local candle shop. I have a magnetic notepad for your writing to-do lists, a calculator for tabulating your word count, various colored tabs for marking your book pages, a mini notebook, and a pre-read copy of Janet Evanovich's How I Write. That is just what is shown in the picture above.

I'm also including a copy of Susan Squires book The Hunger, which is a paranormal romance. And a new copy of Carla Capshaw's The Gladiator, which I believe recently won a Rita Award. The Gladiator is an inspirational romance. Whether or not you read inspirational, the book is an award winner. I like to branch out and see what makes books tick. I am also including chocolate, and a set of my book cards.

Now, for the rules. The first one is important: no multiple user names. It shows up on my statcounter, and it drives me crazy, so please don't do that. I want everyone to have a fair chance to win, so be aware using multiple user names will get you disqualified.

The rest is simple. To enter for a chance to win, I want you to tell me what books are on your keeper shelf. The names of your favorite books and/or the authors. Why do you love those particular books?  Leave it in the comments on this thread, and you're automatically entered. I will ship anywhere in the world, so don't let geography hold you back!

As a bonus, if you follow my blog, or are already following, via the Google Friend Connect app in the left hand sidebar of my blog, I will put your name in the hat twice. You can double your chances with the click of a button. Easy peasy.

I will leave this contest running all weekend. On Monday, March 21st, 2011, I'll draw one winner at random from those who entered and announce their name here on the blog. **

So, you want to win, right? Right? *crickets* Good luck, everyone, and happy weekend! 

**For the sake of stating it plainly for the FCC, I have purchased all these items myself. Nothing is donated, or offered as compensation for advertising. I bought it, built it, now I'm giving it away. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Clovers, Clovers Everywhere

Happy St. Patrick's Day! 

It's one of my favorite holidays today, so I hope you're wearing green! ;o) I had planned to put a green clover sticker on Mini's uniform shirt, but forgot about it during the morning rush. I hope he doesn't learn about the St. Patrick's Day school pinch-fest the hard way. Ouch! He's going to a petting zoo today, so maybe the kids will be too jazzed over that to get scrappy. We'll see. I'm sure he'll tell me all about it when he gets home. 

I'm still working on this vampire story. I have about 17k to go before it's completed. I'm shooting for about 5k words a day. I intend to have the draft completely knocked out by Monday, so I can spend the next few weeks pruning, rearranging, and editing. Right now, I'm digging into the conflict and trying to meet the minimum required word count. So far, so good.

Oh! Before I go, and completely forget to post about it... I'm running a post-conference contest tomorrow, and it will be running all weekend. The prize basket contains books, chocolates, and pretties. One lucky winner will be drawn on Monday, March 21st. Be sure to check in tomorrow to read the details and enter! 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Book News and a YouTube Surprise

Since last Friday, it has been a roller coaster ride of events for me. I wish I could explain every crazy nuance, but seriously, I'm pulling a total surf's up, just riding it out to see where it it all goes. For the next few weeks I am going to be extremely busy. I may end up absent from the blog for a several days, but I always try to avoid that if at all possible.

Whatever the case, I do have news.

If you've been waiting for a new Immortal Lovers vampire book from me - hark, and all that jazz!  Wicked Obsession - Eleni's story - now has a contract with Cobblestone Press. If everything goes according to plan, the book should be out sometime in the next few months.

I'm also repackaging At the Edge of Twilight (from In the Gloaming, which is out of print) for Smashwords. I plan to add to the book and turn it into an erotic faerie stories collection. I'll post more about that in the near future.

Yesterday, while I was chatting with Cassandra online, hubby came to my office doorway. He said he'd googled my name and found a video. I figured it must be the new Wicked Temptation book trailer he was talking about, but it wasn't. Actually, he found a youtube video with a surprise. A young woman is talking about the books she's reading, and guess who she has on her ereader! ;0) Take a peek at the video by clicking on this link. (Takes you to youtube.The video is three minutes. Keep watching, because I'm at the end.)

How awesome is that?!

You can get your own copy of Heart Spell for free at Smashwords. It's an erotic paranormal romance, spell caster story. You must be 18 or older to download it because of the graphic sexual content. (This book is on the Smashwords top 100 downloads list for free e-books, and has been for almost two years. It's not a new book by any means.) One of these days, I'd love to revisit that story world again... another spell caster story sometime down the road? Yay or nay?

That's all for now. I hope you all have a wonderful Tuesday!

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Monday After

It's the Monday after conference, and I'm sooo sleepy. The alarm went off way too early for me to function. Seriously, I ended up sleeping right through it. This isn't really all that surprising. I was up on the phone with Isabelle until nearly midnight discussing the structure, tone, and length of various YA novels.

I could have probably talked for another two hours (Oh, boy the long distance charges, right? Hahaha!) but I let her go when I realized she'd likely run from her phone the next time she saw my number on the caller ID if I didn't.

So, I woke up at 7:15, feeling tired and groggy. The alarm was going off, and I looked over to find Mini has piled up in the bed with me, and there is a Pillow Pet shoved under my arm and that's why my fingers are tingling with that whole pins and needles sensation. Lying there, I had this sudden epiphany: I had to get Mini ready for school, and that more than likely we'd already missed the bus. This launched me out of bed like a rocket. I did not want to fight the traffic lines (or find my shoes) to drive the kidlet to school.

Hoping that this might be one of those "late bus" days, I raced around grabbing shoes and socks and tugging clothes on a half-asleep five year old as fast as I could. I pretty much shoved the poor kid out the door right as the bus was pulling up out front. Being a mom, this thrilled me somehow. Yes, indeed. I had gotten my kid dressed and out the door in less than five minutes, like it's some kind of Olympic event. I saw the drive open the door for Mini, and I could have done a Rocky Balboa victory dance in the kitchen doorway, but I had bed-hair and was still wearing my mismatched pajamas. I didn't want to scar any of the kids (my own or anyone else's) for life. I can't afford my own therapy, much less anyone else's. Even so, I'm still tickled that I got Mini dressed and on the bus in four.freaking.minutes.

I'm still suffering from conference hangover. It's a bit disorienting to be back home after the flurry of activity. I now have deadlines to face, new projects and opportunities to factor in, and a host of other duties to take care of to get back into my routine. It'll happen. Sometimes it just takes a few days. That said, I had a wonderful time at conference over the weekend. Everyone was chatty and friendly, and in the spirit of connecting with other like-minded folks. How awesome is that? The lady I mentored was so sweet, and very understanding that I had to come and go because of volunteer duties. She was a real peach.

The panel and the workshops were amazing this year. The two key workshops I attended: Setting the Hook given by Claire Ashgrove, and Post-Agent: The Submissions Process Explained, given by Weronika Janczuk. If you ever have a chance to take these workshops, I recommend both. I took something like four pages of notes in Weronika's workshop. I didn't know any of that stuff. Wow.

Overall, I think this was the best Written in the Stars I've attended so far. I did take pictures using my cell phone, but as soon as I took my phone out this morning, the low battery symbol popped up. Typical, right?

I have my phone charging right now, and I'll add pics as soon as its up and running again. I have no idea who won my first chapter critique auction, so I better get in touch with Ms. Judy about that. I also have a book to review this week. You know who you are, so don't think I've forgotten you. I haven't. Your marked on my calendar. Oh! I wanted to announce a contest too. For those who didn't/won't get to go to conference this year - any conference. Here's the skinny:

This Friday, March 18th, I will post a simple contest here on the blog, so keep watching. The prize package will be a conference-style basket with a writer's essentials theme. Yes, I will post pictures. Included is a print copy of Janet Evanovich's How I Write, along with some chocolate and stationary things. Yes, I'm willing to ship worldwide. Note: entrants must be over 18. Again, I will post more about the contest on Friday. ;0)

That's it for now. I have to a long to do list, and time is slipping away. Just like a Monday, right?  I hope you have a good one!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Wicked Temptation Book Trailer

Weee! I'm off to conference today, but not without leaving someone in charge of my blog. I decided Dominic Lisandro would best run this thing while I'm away. It's hard to argue with a 600 year old vampire when he's determined. ;*)

I hope you like my new book trailer for Wicked Temptation. If you're interested in the book, you can find out more about it here:

About Wicked Temptation:

An unexpected visit forces Anya Audridov to find a way to deal with her sister’s tragic addiction to her vampire lover’s bite. Not knowing where else to turn for help, Anya calls on her own former Biter, whom she hasn’t spoken to in ten years.

Dominic Lisandro has been waiting for Anya to need him enough to call him back into her life. But his help comes with a price. He hasn't forgotten how easily she left him all those years ago. If she wants his help now, she will have to give herself over to his every desire.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Featured Book: Paige Tyler's Ghost Hunter

Please welcome guest blogger Paige Tyler, who's here to talk about her hot new book...

I'm so excited to announce I have a new book out with Ellora's Cave! It's a paranormal romance called GHOST HUNTER, and it's got a hunky hero, a kick-ass heroine and a serial killing ghost that's scary as hell! Not to mention a smokin' hot cover!

I love when I come up with an idea for a book out of the blue, which is what happened with GHOST HUNTER. When I heard my local RWA chapter set up a lecture with a team of paranormal investigators, it got me thinking right away about writing a book about a ghost hunter. Because the chapter is far from where we live, though, we didn't actually go to the lecture. I was a little bummed about that, especially since they were giving out EMF detectors. On second thought, maybe it was better we didn't go. Ghosts freak me out, so having something that can detect them probably wouldn't be a good idea.

Enough about me, back to the story behind the story. While I knew the hero was a ghost hunter named Trace, I wasn't quite sure how the heroine fit into the story, or even who she was. So, my hubby and I played around with a few ideas at our local PF Chang's (we come up with a lot of story ideas there!) We both decided that having the heroine Cassidy need the hero's help because her house was haunted or something like that didn't seem original enough, so we made her a budding romance writer who tags along with the hero and his team to do some research. Like any good story, though, it had to have some conflict, which is why Trace and Cassidy completely rub each other the wrong way right from the beginning. Actually, he thinks he's a jerk. But don't worry, Cassidy discovers underneath that rough ghost hunter exterior, Trace is just the man she's been looking for. It doesn't hurt that he's hot!

Okay, so we had our hero and heroine. Now we needed a bad guy. That's where the ghost comes in. He's not your standard, everyday ghost, though. He's a serial killer who attacked Cassidy that comes back from the grrave to continue his string of grisly murders, and she's at the top of his list. To make things even more interesting, not only can he do all the regualar ghostly stuff like walk through walls and materialize out of thin air, he can also take solid form.

I'm not going to tell you any more than that, though. Don't want to give too much away, you know. I will add that my editor at Ellora's Cave told me she got so caught up in the story, she completely forgot she was reading a submission!

Now that you know the story behind the story, I think I'll tease you with an excerpt. Enjoy!


Almost getting murdered by a serial killer gives Cassidy Kincaide a new lease on life and convinces her to go ahead and tackle that ghost-hunter novel she's always wanted to write. So, she hooks up with a gorgeous paranormal investigator named Trace McCord to do some research.

Cassidy and Trace rub each other the wrong way right from the beginning, but they have to put aside their differences when the serial killer who attacked her comes back from the grave to continue his string of grisly murders, with her at the top of his list.

Trace has to keep Cassidy close to keep her safe, and as they try to stay one step ahead of the ghost while figuring out how to stop it, he and Cassidy end up in each other’s arms. While Trace has a whole list of reasons why he shouldn’t get involved with her, he finds himself falling in love with the beautiful blonde anyway. And even though Cassidy started out thinking he was a jerk, she learns that underneath the rough ghost hunter exterior, he’s just the man she’s always been looking for. Now, all they have to do, is live long enough to be together.


Trace was only a few miles from the address Robert had given him for Cassidy when his cell phone rang. At first he wasn’t going to answer it, but some sixth sense made him change his mind. Now he was glad he had.

He was about to disconnect the call when he heard a muffled scream on the other end of the line. It was quickly followed by a loud clatter, then nothing.


No answer.

Trace felt his chest tighten. Swearing under his breath, he shoved his cell phone in the pocket of his jeans and floored the pedal on the Hummer, running a red light to get through the intersection. The other drivers honked their horns as they squealed to a stop, but he ignored them. There was no way he was going to let Cassidy die.

Five minutes later, he slid into the parking lot outside her apartment, running over an ornamental fence and a flower bed to come to a screeching halt a few feet from the front door. Jumping out of the Hummer, he ran around to the back and grabbed his duffel bag full of gear. Throwing it over his shoulder, he raced up the steps and charged through the door into the building, scaring the hell out of two women carrying laundry baskets.

“Where the hell are the stairs?” he demanded, not wanting to waste time with the elevator.

The women timidly pointed around the corner.

Trace didn’t thank them as he ran in that direction. He hit the steps hard, taking them hree at a time. Once on the fourth floor, he ran down the hall, checking the room numbers on he doors. When he came to the right one, he didn’t even bother to slow down. Instead, he icked the door in as hard as he could, reaching into his bag for his shotgun as the frame plintered and the door flew open.

He looked left and right as he entered the apartment, but there was no sign of Cassidy or el Vecchio. Trace’s blood ran cold at the scene that met his eyes. The living room looked s if a cyclone hit it. The couch and throw pillows were sliced to shreds, stuffing still floating hrough the air. The coffee table was lying on its side, as were the two end tables, and the amps that had been on them were smashed to pieces along with practically everything ele in the place. Even the walls had been slashed.

“Cassidy?” Trace called.

“In here.”

Trace followed the sound of her voice until he came to the kitchen. Cassidy was standing in the center of the room inside a wobbly drawn circle of salt, ready to throw a handful of something in his face. She sagged with relief at the sight of him, letting the stuff in her hand trickle out onto the floor. That was when he realized she was holding a big container of oregano.

“Is he gone?” she whispered.

Trace nodded. “Yeah, he’s gone. But I’m getting you the hell out of here anyway.”

He didn’t wait for an answer, but simply slung the shotgun over his shoulder by the strap, then walked into the kitchen and swung Cassidy up in his arms.

She put one of her own around his neck. “Is it safe for me to leave the circle?”

“Yes. I’ll keep you safe. Trust me.”

Apparently she must have believed him because she didn’t resist. She cuddled the container of oregano close to her body and leaned against his chest.

He frowned. “Cassidy, you did great with the salt circle. It saved your life without a doubt. But what are you doing with the oregano?”

She looked up at him with big, blue eyes. “Isn’t it what you used to get rid of ghosts?”

His mouth twitched. “That’s sage and garlic. You can ditch the spaghetti spice.”

“Oh,” was all she said. Resting her head on his shoulder, she let the container of oregano tumble to the floor, then put that arm around his neck, too.

Giving the place one more look to make sure Del Vecchio hadn’t come back, Trace carried her out of the apartment and right passed the alarmed neighbors who had come out into the hallway to see what the ruckus was all about. Trace imagined they got their money’s worth seeing a big guy with a shotgun and a duffel bag slung over his shoulder carrying a beautiful half-naked woman in his arms. He abruptly realized he probably should have taken a few minutes to let Cassidy grab some clothes. But then the lights in the hallway flickered and he decided he could get her clothes later. They were getting the hell out of there.

“Is she being kidnapped?” one elderly woman asked another in a low voice as he and Cassidy passed them.

“If she is,” said the other old woman, “then I want to want to be kidnapped next.”

Any other time, Trace would have laughed, but right now all he wanted to do was get Cassidy someplace safe. Fortunately, he knew exactly where to take her.

Watch the Trailer Here!

Get your copy of GHOST HUNTER at Ellora's Cave!


Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Don't Be Afraid

Is it really Wednesday? The Written in the Stars conference is only two days away! *runs amok*

Last night, I printed up my pitch cards and practiced reading them SassieLass. Okay, I have to admit Sass wasn't too impressed. She blinked at me a few times, huffed, and went back to sleep in that dismissive doggy way...head on paws and all that. I take that as a "no, thank you, I'll pass". Oh, well. Maybe I'll have better luck at the pitch table on Saturday. I suppose we'll find out soon enough, right?

If you haven't heard the news yet, you absolutely must check out Avon Impulse. Avon Books is venturing into e-books and POD. I'm super excited about that! I can't stop ogling their shiny new submissions page. :P Before anyone asks...Yes, I will be submitting something to them. Absolutely, without a doubt. I love their paranormal romances! I think Avon Impulse is going to be an exciting new opportunity for writers.

Speaking of opportunities, I want to talk briefly about digital publishing, e-publishing, whatever you prefer to call it. I'm still hearing people talk about it like it's a scary thing. Like e-books are going to bring about the book world apocalypse, that fewer people will get "real" contracts for "real" books, and when the end comes, the remaining authors in the world will suddenly have no choice but to fall on each other like ravenous wolves to get the last three traditional print publishing slots. I sat through a couple rounds of that conversation just yesterday.

I don't think any of that is going to happen, so please, take a deep breath. Whew! On the other hand, I do think more companies are going to follow Avon Impulse into the e-book/POD market. Why?  Because it's sustainable. And it makes a lot more sense financially to produce e-books and order a POD run than printing a truckload of pure paperbacks, paying to warehouse them, then ship them out to various stores where they'll sell only a portion of them. Even worse, the remainders are then stripped of their covers and destroyed.

E-books, of course, are completely electronic. There is nothing to ship or strip. POD (print on demand) trades are not stripped of their covers. That alone saves a tremendous amount of money. As far as print books go, as more companies embrace "green technology" and the cost of doing business continues to rise, I believe you'll see more publishers embracing POD books. I think it's going to the wave of the future, but it's nothing to be afraid of. Again, it boils down to more opportunities for writers.

For a great many people, e-books still seem new. I've come across a lot of people who are mystified, even afraid of this "new e-book thing", and they're often amazed when I tell them that e-books have been around for at least a decade. Ellora's Cave is celebrating it's 10th year in business.  And there are others.

Once I've established in a conversation that e-books aren't really all that new, I usually get questions about e-publishing like it's some mysterious cult few would dare wade into. Rest assured, no one in e-publishing has ever asked me to drink the purple kool-aid. :*) In fact, I think it's a great way for first time authors to become acclimated to the ways of the publishing world.

Earlier this year, I covered the topic of e-publishing while on an author bootcamp panel. I gave away a bare bones worksheet about the basics of e-publishing, which is now available for free on scribd. It's by no means a be-all, end-all guide on the topic, but if you're curious about e-publishing, or even afraid of it,  this little worksheet is a good place to start.

That's all for now. I have dogs scrapping by my feet, and a little boy doing a "look at me!" attention dance to my right. He's about to get the stuffins tickled out of him, but he doesn't realize it yet. ^_^ I'm off to do mommy duty. Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Busy Writin' Mama

I know it's only Tuesday, but so far this week has been a challenge. While trying to pull together last minute stuff for conference, I'm also waiting to hear back on a proposal, and I have both boys home because it's Mini's Spring Break.

Today both boys came to my office door several times while I was in the middle of writing. I fed them both breakfast, but there's nothing to snack on, and nothing to eat in the freezer.

Instead of foraging for grub they come to me, matronly bearer of edible things...and whine. (Don't get any ideas of malnourished bratlings in Casa Zane. There is no such thing.) "Mom, what's for lunch? I'm starving." Yes, dear, I can see your starvation. Give me five more minutes. Ten more minutes. One more paragraph. For goodness sake, can't Oldest make you both some Ramen noodles?

Okay, I didn't say that last one, but I sure thought it. Instead, I told both guys to go get their shoes on and we'd run to the grocery store. Thirty minutes later, I'm still in my pajamas, it's going on noon, and I'm still reading posts in this workshop I'm taking and trying to work on my high concept for this pitch.

Oh, all right, already... I give up trying to get anymore writerly things finished, and take the kids to Wally World. AKA the time-suck of doom. Oldest immediately runs off to the far corners of the store, and Mini starts in with I want a toy, I want a toy, I want a toy. Very distracting! So much so I forgot to put my thyroid prescription in at the pharmacy. By the time I buy food to get us through the week and get it all in the trunk of the car (without Oldest - where the heck is he, anyway?) I remember the pills and have to go back inside to order them. Um. I've got to find Oldest, too, unless he plans to walk home.

The cashier remembered me, and laughed when she saw me heading toward electronics. "Back already?" I point at Oldest who is lingering around, reading magazines. "I came back for that blond thing over there." She cackled and walked on. I gather both  kids, put them on a leash (I wish!) and go back to the pharmacy to wait. After ten minutes, all I can think about is the pork loin thawing in the back of my car.  I tell the guys we'll pick up the prescription tomorrow, let's get the heck out of here.

The guys squabble all the way home, until I stop on the little country road leading to our house, and ask them if they want to go live with the gypsies. I'll drive them out into the sticks myself! They grumble a little, but finally chill out enough to make the rest of the drive (all three minutes of it) in peace.

It is so good to be back home. Whew! I have my hiking boots off, and I'm settling in to print up the final version of these pitch cards. The groceries are put away, the doggies are out digging up the backyard, and hubby is home relaxing. Oh, and the kids have wandered off to their own corners of the house. (Peace!) I have told them all we're having dumplings for supper. Easy, fast, and yummy. It seems as if that's gonna suit everyone just fine. But if it's not acceptable, I told them they can feel free to Ramen noodle it if they're hungry enough. Seriously. Because mama is busy this week, and they're just going to have to deal with it.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Last Minute Details

Next weekend is the Written in the Stars conference - yay! I'm racing around, trying to do everything humanly possible to make sure I have all my pitch cards typed up, and ready to practice. Next week I'll be devoting my time to practicing reading my pitch, and getting the draft sorted out for Wicked Obsession.

I'm also attending an online workshop this week about the agent's role in digital publishing held by Literary Agent Laurie McLean of Larsen Pomada Literary Agency in San Francisco. (An FF&P hosted workshop)

I'm going to miss a few days toward the end of the workshop as I go into conference, but I'll be back on Monday to catch up on everything I've missed. Whew! I'm very interested in hearing an agent's perspective on the growing digital market and what this means for the author/agent relationship. I also plan to ask all my awkward agenting questions. :*)

This week I'll probably be kind of scarce, but I'll make up for it when I'm back. I have the lovely Paige Tyler coming in on the 10th to blog about her lately book Ghost Hunters, and I plan to have a "post-conference" recap and contest - complete with a nifty prize - once I'm back home.

That's it for now. I better get to work! I have a lot of things to clear off my plate today to prepare for the coming week, and here I am, still in my pajamas. Happy week, everyone...and keep writing! 

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Rebooting My Life

I went for a cut and color today in prep for the conference. I tried to take a pic of it with my cell but it didn't come out all that great, so I'll try again later. Anyway, I had a dark, warm brown put on, and caramel blonde highlights. In dim lighting,the dark brown looks black. Wow. My hair hasn't been that dark since my wedding.

The cut is a very choppy, flicky style like Meg Ryan in Hanging Up. I had this cut when I went to Lil Sis's wedding, so I knew what it would look like in the end, and the stylist didn't disappoint me. She did a great job.

I guess the haircut is pretty symbolic of my life and mood right now. I've been gradually cutting things that are draining me of energy and time, or things I feel have cut me to the quick. Just when I think I've pruned everything down to bare basics, and I'm settled with the idea of change, it seems another necessary cut comes up. Like today. Whoa, boy, yes. Just like today. It hasn't been easy. Not all of the changes have been happy partings either, but I guess what will be will be.

Tomorrow and all next week I'll be typing up my pitch stuff and practicing in the mirror. Very high tech, ya know? Starting tonight, I have to root through all my papers and pick the good stuff. Wish me luck! 

Thursday, March 03, 2011

All Smiles

I'm doing the happy dance! I got notice today that my RWA PAN application has been accepted. Whee! :*)

On top of that, I added a whole new layer to my story, and I'm very excited about how everything is coming together. I finally understand two tier conflict and I tell you, it really adds a new dimension to your story. I hope the readers that have patiently waited for Eleni's story like what I have created for her when this one is finished.

Next week is the Written in the Stars Conference. I'm psyched and ready to go!  Erm, okay, well I probably should go over my pitches just to make sure, and I really should note card them so they're all readable at a glance. Hm...where is my to-do list?

Tomorrow is Mini's last day before Spring Break. Oh my gosh, I got a card from the school today about Kindergarten graduation. *_* I had not thought about that at all. I'm not sure if I'm going to have to order a cap and gown or what.

Sorry such a short post, but it's getting late and I'm exhausted. Tonight I'm going to watch a workshop DVD and tinker around with my story while the house is quiet. Tres exciting, no? :*) Off to do the TV thing before I get too tired.

Nite, nite!! 

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

You Don't Say

funny pictures - What? Iz just gonna pet dem.

Interesting day, to say the least. I recently posted about my local store no longer carrying ink for my printer, right? Well, I made a dash to Office Depot today. I barely had enough money for gas, faced insane road construction, and when I made it to Ruston, I discovered Office Depot only carries remanufactured cartridges for my printer, and they were five dollars more than the Dell factory originals. WTF? I've been recycling my Dell 9 cartridges for over 2 years, and they're reselling them to me for more than I originally bought them for. Isn't that peachy?

So, it is official - my ink has gone the way of the dinosaur. I now have to start the search for a new do-it-all printer. I picked up one cartridge to get me through this book, but once it's gone... In a few days when my royalty check arrives, that's what I'm gonna have to do - pick out a new printer. This totally sucks. There is nothing wrong with Behemoth. She chugs out papers like nobody's business. It's sad I have to retire her.

After Office Depot, I walked down to Cato and picked up an outfit for conference. They were shuffling racks around, so I was pretty eager to get the heck out of there. I managed to pick up a pair of black trousers and a French-style embroidered top. I picked up a matching necklace, and I'll wear my O-ring kitten heels with it. I'll have to dig through my closet to see what else I can come up with. The main thing, I wanted something low maintenance and comfortable for setting up the bookstore that first day.

On to writerly things... so far so good with the First Draft in 30 Days system. I'm on day 16, I think. I'd have to pick up the book and check. I've been marking it as I go. I have to admit, it has helped me pull together what I think is going to be a very strong story structure-wise. So far, what I like best about it is the help it gives you in building plot sketches. I'd say, at this point, that alone is worth the price of the book. When everything is said and done, I'll give a full evaluation on it, and let y'all know what I think.

That's it for now. It's dark out, and I'm going to go do some Tai chi before I get too tired to hang with it. Happy Wednesday, everyone! :*)

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Go The Way

I managed to get my proposal sent off yesterday, and spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out with Mini while sorting notes. Last night I spent some time hanging out in Second Life with Cass, and going over my story sketching and making a list of things to address before I get all the way through the draft.

Today I spent most of the day watched The Hero's 2 Journey's by Michael Hague and Christopher Vogler. A friend sent me the 3 DVD set, and I'm wowed by the way Michael Hague breaks down the character identity into essence. This casts a whole new light on inner conflicts for me. Really, this is a great disk set. I took a ton of notes, and know I'll be using them as a check list while working on Wicked Obsession.

Next week I'll be pulling together all my stuff for conference. I imagine I'll be facing some challenges in all this since Mini will be home for Spring Break. I had no idea that was the same week as conference, but there it is. I'm going to have to take him the rounds with me, although I may have to spring for the aid of my good MahMah the day I go to the salon. I desperately need a hair cut. A flat iron just isn't doing it anymore.

And that's just the start of it. I found out yesterday that the local store will no longer be carrying my kind of print cartridges. This totally sucks because there is nothing wrong with my printer. It works like brand new. The thing is, I have to red pen my drafts on hard copy. It's just how I work. So now I need to drive to Ruston to pick up print cartridges at Office Depot, and I know this is just a temporary fix, because eventually the printer will be obsolete, so I'm just putting off the inevitable new printer purchase. *sigh* While I'm in Ruston, I also need bags of rocks - yes, really, bags of frikkin' rocks - to patch around the edges of the dog yard where the little bitches girlie dogs, keep digging out. They are so small, when they get out I worry to death they're going to get run over. I can't stand it. So, bags of rocks its gotta be.

It's going on 3pm, so I better go take care of the laundry before Mini gets home. There is a mountain of it to fold and put away. *cry* Off to tackle the socks and shirts. If you don't hear from me in three days, I've been trapped under an avalanche - call in the A-Team. (Bonus points if you get Liam Neeson. Hubba hubba!)