Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year 2012


Happy New Year, everyone!  It's still a few hours to midnight here in the land of La. Hubby and Mini were outside popping fireworks most of the afternoon, so they are now currently passed out on the couch. Me, I'm having a third glass of blackberry wine and celebrating the completion of my first Shivers story, The Devil's Cup. Let's hope my editor likes it!

Now that I'm done, I'm off to play for a bit. My resolution for 2012 is to not take life so seriously, to focus on family and being happy, and just enjoying life more. With any luck, this will also benefit my writing. ;o)

That's all for now. Have fun tonight, party hearty, and above all else, don't do anything I wouldn't do! <cackle>

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Almost...There...

It's been a tough day, but a productive one. I managed to rewrite the scene that went missing, and added it into the story gap where it was needed. I worked on that one all night long. No kidding. I was a couple paragraphs from having it completely transferred to my main document, when I looked up and saw hubby watching me from the doorway. He said, "My baby, up all night writing?" I told him I'd be to bed soon, that I was almost finished, and then I realized he hadn't got up in the middle of the night for a glass of water. It was four a.m and he was getting ready for work.

I was half nodding off at my computer anyway, so I went on to bed. And I tell you, once my head hit the pillows I was down for the count. I made it to bed by five a.m., and MiniBear, bless his heart, let me sleep until nine. I got up and made breakfast, then sat like a zombie in my desk chair for about twenty minutes trying to figure out what I'd already covered in the wee hours in the morning, and what still needed to be added. I worked clear through lunch. I didn't stop working until Mini came to my office door and told me he was hungry. I cooked for him, had a bite to eat for myself, asked Oldest to walk the SassiePup, and went back to work.

I managed to complete the missing scene and polish it. I also proofed and polished the chapter following that one. So, two chapters down, two more to go.

All that took me until four p.m.. That's about the time I called it a day and went out to toss around the football with Mini. We also walked SassiePup again, then went out back and sat on the swing set.

While we were out at the swing set, Mini wanted me to tell him stories about when I was a little girl. So, I told him about the time his Auntie Lisa and I were nine years old and walking to her house for a sleepover, when my much older cousin and his two friends came by on their bicycles. They were big know-it-alls, who liked to talk a lot of smack, and on that day, they pelted us with dozens of green, unripe pecans they'd collected from the neighbor's yard.

Auntie Lisa got seriously pelted hard by my teenage cousin (who didn't like her very much because she wouldn't hesitate to tell him he was full of crap when he got to spouting his 16 year old wisdom). But, instead of running off toward the house, like I did, she stopped mid-pelting, and picked up a fist full of pecans and started lobbing them at the boys. Well, my cousin got away. He got pelted, but ya know, minimal damage. His best friend (the cute one) got away, too. But his other friend, red haired "Big Tommy", who lived down on the corner, he was a little too heavy and slow, and I will never forget turning around near Lisa's hedges to see her lob a rapid fire stream of green pecans at him. The guy was trying to duck his head and ride his bike,  which was way too small for a guy his size, but instead of getting away like my cousin and his BFF,  Big Tommy took about three pecans to the back of the head, and went down hard, bike and all, into the neighbors ditch. Lemme just say, that was a deep ditch he fell in to. One minute he was riding on the street, and the next, he was gone. You couldn't see anything but a bicycle tire spinning. He popped up out of there like a weasel, and took off. It was so unexpected, and happened so fast, I didn't really catch how hilarious the whole situation was until about fifteen minutes later. By then we were in her room playing Barbies.  I thought about Tommy hitting the ditch, and totally cracked up laughing. After telling Mini the story today, I got to thinking about it, and if I remember right, Tommy never messed with us again. My cousin on the other hand... LOL ;o)

I'm exhausted. I didn't realize just how tired I am until I soaked in a hot bath and washed my hair. I stepped out of there and I could have melted into a puddle of sleepy in the bathroom floor. I put on my jammies, wrapped my hair in a towel, and snuggled with Mini on the couch. He wanted to show me this new level on Angry Birds, and within five minutes, I was zonked. I woke up a little while ago, when Mini told me he was going to bed. I gave him a hugs and a kiss, and sent him on his way.

So, now I'm up again, and first things first, I grabbed a cuppa tea and settled in to proof my crit partner's novella. I'm going to make a pass through it, and look for boo-boos. Then afterward, I want to break out the shivers story and get at least one of these two remaining chapters revised tonight. Two.More.Chapters. ZOMG, right? Two chapters left to go, and I need to pull together a short denouement and I can stick a fork in it. I outlined the denouement earlier today, so it's coming together. What a relief. It won't be much longer before I hit send...and once I do, I'm having a big glass of wine to celebrate!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Preparing For A Late Night


I'm making tea and preparing for a long night at the computer. Today, I wrapped up another chapter, cleaned up two changes to a subplot, and a short while ago I finished rewriting the scene that came up missing.

The remake of the missing scene ended up about nineteen hundred words and four pages long (single spaced). I'm now going through it and doing markup. Before going to bed tonight, I'm going to shave it down and polish it, then transfer this to the final WIP. If there is still time after that, I'm going to start the markup on the following chapter.

There are only three chapters left to work with, and I've decided to write a short denouement no more than a thousand words long. It's gonna be more like an epilogue, probably, but whatever. I think readers will want it in there, so I'm going to add it in there.

Earlier tonight I talked to my critique partner, and once she gives it a glance over, I'm winging the entire submission package off to my editor. I'm hoping she takes it, since I did write it geared to a specific line, but I do have a back up plan just in case. We'll have to wait and see what happens!

I have my new calendar ready to tack up on my bulletin board. Holy cow, I'm so ready for new beginnings. Now that I think about it, what better way to start a new year than with a submission? Cool beans. I hope it's a symbolic start to 2012! May there be many more submissions as the year progresses.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Red Ribbon Monday

First picture with my new iPod Touch 4g.
I hereby declare Christmas 2011 a success, even though it didn't truly feel like the holidays to me until I was sitting at the dinner table with the family all around me. I mean that, honestly. If not for the dinner, and my dad feeling better, it would have been just another day. The year has been such a blur, and I'm thinking that's quite possibly a coping mechanism.

I have plenty of time to work up a New Year's resolution, so I won't go into it with this post. I'd definitely thinking about it, though. A lot. The time has come to sit down and ask myself what I really want, and what I hope to get out of what I'm doing. I have some choices to make next year that are long overdue.

This coming week, I'm going to have both boys home, but I'll be working on revisions (still). It's the book that wouldn't end. I swear, I think if I didn't have conference coming up, this book would be done by now. I have three more chapters to revise, and I need to write a denouement on the end. Then earlier today, when I wrapped up another chapter to toss into the revisions stack, I peeked ahead at what I'd be working on, and noticed there's a scene missing. I remember writing it, I remember some of the phraseology I used. But, it's gone. Deleted. I don't remember when I did it, or why, but what matters is that it is gone, and I'm gonna have to rewrite it from scratch.

The missing scene comes just past the midpoint of the book, so I have to be very careful what I add in there. I've gotten much better at filling in gaps like this, though. I do a quick read through of the surrounding passages, make a few notes - listing pertinent details so the continuity is there. Afterward, I take out of fresh sheet of notebook paper, and sketch the scene. I ask myself the following questions:


  • What needs to happen in this scene? 
  • Where does the scene take place?
  • Who is affected by what happens in this scene?
  • How are they affected?  
  • Why must this scene be in the book?


I answer those question with only the important details, then fill in the gaps while writing. It makes the whole process easier to work with. With just those five sentences I can pull together a focused scene that flows with the rest of the book. It's still a chore to do it, but it's a valuable skill I've had to call on more than once. I don't know why I'm posting that now, but there it is.

I need to print up my next chapter and start with the markup, so I'm gonna close for now. Just for the sake of saying so, it would love, love, love to send this story out by the end of the year. <fingers crossed> I could happily wrap up 2011 in a shiny red bow if I could just get this one story off my desktop and into the submission pile. It's too hard to say how much work this story still needs, though, so I guess we'll have to wait and see. ;o)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Waiting For Santa


It's been quiet here for a few days. We're lucky to have my dad with us this Christmas. Mom called me in the middle of the night on Thursday and told me dad had fallen, his breathing was shallow, he was shivering, and couldn't feel his legs. An absolutely terrifying phone call. Everything was a blur beyond that. I woke Hubby and Oldest and shoved them out the door to my parents' house. Dad is a big guy, over six feet tall and about two hundred and eighty five-pounds, and she needed them to pick him up off the floor. Mom called 911, and when she told them what had happened, what he looked like, etc., they told her he was having a severe allergic reaction to his medication. They instructed her what to do, what to give him, etc., and once Hubby and Oldest got there, they managed to get him stabilized. (Hubby has had EMT training.) If everyone hadn't acted when they did, my dad might not be here today.

This morning, we gathered over at my parents' house for our annual Christmas Eve dinner, and we are all very grateful to have each other. At times, we get so busy with the flow of life, we forget how lucky we are to have our family at arm's reach. That scare with dad was a little reminder not to take it for granted. Lesson learned, universe. No more surprises like that, plzkthnx.

We had dinner with my parents, and afterward opened gifts, and chatted for a bit. Then we loaded up the boys and came home to go sleep off our full tummies. Seeing dad up and about, looking well, then eating and such...I totally crashed when I came home. It was like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I was so suddenly sleepy once we got home, there was no way I could last the evening without a nap. Hubby was like, "Aren't you gonna play with your new toy?"  The guys got me a 32G white, iPod Touch for Xmas, and they gave it to me to open over at mom's. I lurvz it. But even that had to wait while I napped.

Since then, I've set up the new iPod and iTunes and added all my music, updated my podcast subscriptions, etc. a few hours ago. Once Mini went to bed, I was able to bring in all the gifts for the guys to put under the tree. Cool beans. Now I'm sitting in my office, waiting for Santa to arrive.

Now that the day is done, I'm going to make a cup of hot cocoa, turn on some dance trax, and work on my wip for a while. Earlier today, I finished another chapter and placed it into the revised stack. So, onward we go. :o)

That's all for now. Wishing you joy and blessings of the season. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Rainy Day with KippityCat and SassiePup

Nap Naps. Let me shows you how I do it.
You lays on your back like dis.
Doh!
Then the dog jumps on the couch
with a chewy.
So clumsy. So hyper. *le sigh*
Gah...not the dog butt!
That's the worst.
Settle down will ya?
Keep yer mittens on.
Gotta get the chewy positioned
juuuust right. 

And now everybody's happy.
Let the nap naps resume.
=^.^=

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Xmas Rush

Ahh! Christmas is coming too fast! I still have shopping to do, and packages to mail. I realize they are going to end up being late, but what can you do? There's just not enough hours in the day to take care of everything.

I'm revising the next chapter in cue this morning. I've made one pass over this section already. Thankfully there wasn't that much markup, mostly stylistic changes. I'm going to transfer it to the word document shortly, read it again, and give it another pass. I'm rearranging some dialogue in this one so better safe than sorry.

That's pretty much all I've got on the table for today as far as writing goes. Ideally, I'd like to knock out two chapters, then the rest of the day I can read ahead and see what needs work. Make notes, or whatever. I'm trying not to get too far ahead of myself.

On another note, I'm about to order new book cards for a signing coming up in February. I'm going to have cards made for Wicked Obsession, Wicked Temptation, and possibly Wave Rider. I would love to have something else made up, like sachets or leis or something fun to give away at the tables, but I haven't had a chance to look at the cost of doing so.

Whatever I don't give away in February, I'll take to the NoLa conference in March...which will be here sooner than I realize, I'm sure. I was thinking about that yesterday. I still haven't made my hotel reservations. And I still need to polish my September Experiment! Sometimes I wonder if the to-do list will ever shrink. Speaking of which...I better get my shoes on and make a dash to the post office. Gotta get these boxes on Santa's sleigh while I still can!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Fill Your Brain

Welcome to Monday! I climbed out of bed this morning, and my muse met me at the coffee pot. "May I fill your brain with lots of lovely new ideas?" she asked. Why, yes. Yes you may. And she did, bless her fickle heart.

I tell you, it must be something in the stars, because inspiration is cropping up at every turn. First thing, I came up with an idea for a new story. It's very fresh and strange. It would probably fall into a YA category, so that's different too. I promptly wrote everything down and tucked it away for later, when I've finished up all my deadline stories.

Next, I went onto Facebook, and saw a picture author Lori Wilde had posted about frozen fog. I've never heard it of, but oh my gosh, just Google for frozen fog images and be awed. Someone came in later and posted that it's also called hoarfrost. That, I've heard of, but had no idea what it looked like. Gorgeous, just gorgeous.

A little later, I heard from a friend via email, and learned she is thinking about self publishing. I did a little research for her on the financials, and found this awesome website about self publishing called Self Publishing Coach. There is so much interesting information here, you can't go wrong. If you've ever thought about self publishing, this looks like a pretty good place to start.

That's just the tip top of inspiring things that have drifted my way. I've also cemented an appearance in 2012. I'll be attending the Friends of the Library event in Bossier City, February 11, so mark your calendars if you think you can attend. I'll be sitting on a panel with author Keri Ford to talk about how to read digital media, download e-books, use a Kindle, etc. Sounds like fun!

I have my revisions mapped out for today, so I better get on them. I'll be cleaning up the last scene in this particular chapter, and moving on to the next. As much as I love this story, I'm ready to kick it out the door and get back on my September Experiment. <g> Be patient, my heart! ;o)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Book Expedition

A mixed batch of erotic romances. I see an EC title
smack in the middle. There were a couple of Samhains, and
Aphrodisias as well. A good mix.
What a great day! I dragged Oldest shopping with me this morning, and we didn't get back until after dark. I now only have two more people to buy Christmas gifts for. That being the case, I'm calling this shopping trip a success.

I think we spent a little over two hours in the local Books A Million. I brought home a basket of new books, and a new tarot deck. The book haul aside, I remembered to bring my camera into the store and snap pictures of the trade paperback section, which is primarily what I read. I did go through and inspect other sections as well.

Berkley Sensations and Brava Paranormal Romances.
Not sure who published the Wicked Wonderland antho in
the middle. Will have to check on Amazon later.
I started out in the science fiction/fantasy section, and noticed there was a good mix of  ROC, Ace, Baen, and Tor titles. I kept looking for Tor Romances, but I don't think they're branded as such on the spine, because I didn't see one throughout the entire store. I know they exist, I just haven't found one yet. I also noticed a few zombie horror titles mixed in the sci/fantasy section as well. I really bemoan the loss of the general horror section in the bookstore. I would love to browse a wall of genuine horror novels, and get an idea of what's out there, but it's nearly impossible to find any horror novels in store. They're mostly mixed in with the general fiction, but the only books I was able to find this trip were two zombie books. The rest were Dark Tower Stephen Kings, and a few Dean R. Koontz.

Moving along to the romance section...our local BaM has a great mix of paperback romances. I noticed a few more witchy type paperbacks, which was interesting. I didn't stick around the paperbacks very long. Trade paperbacks tend to be more to my liking.

Again, the same as in  the Bossier store, Aphrodisia seems to have more books on the shelf than any other line. The Aphrodisias were about 50/50 single title vs. anthologies. I brought home two of the single titles.

Red Sage, Secrets volumes. And looks: a super
jazzy copy of Alison's Wonderland by the lovely
Alison Tyler.
The next most frequent line seemed to be Brava Paranormal Romances. There were nice colorful clusters of Bravas here and there. There seemed to be more series books with the Brava titles than any of the other lines. Speaking of series books...Red Sage had a nice collection on one shelf. Look at all those volumes of the Secrets anthologies. They were grouped together all nice and tidy on one shelf.

Samhain had almost as many books on the shelves as Berkley Sensation. That's different. I always looks for Samhain books when in store. I've bought a few of their trades, but always online. I like their books, I just can't seem to find what I'm looking for when I'm bookstore shopping. Most of their books I've found in store are cowboy titles. Not bad, but not really my thing. I'm more of a paranormal/futuristic romance kinda gal. ;o)
A nice clump of Samhain titles. There were more
scattered here and there. 

The last section I checked out was the category romances. It seems like this section is shrinking a little more every year. What the heck? I know they have come out with more lines in recent years. Maybe I'm thinking of online exclusive lines.

A few years ago, the category books in this particular BaM had the front facing shelves as soon as you walked into the store. A whole row all to themselves. Most if not all were Harlequins/Silhouettes. (I think Silhouette has since been absorbed completely by the Harlequin brand.) If there were any other category publishers out there now, I didn't see them in this store.

The Harlequin section. That's a lot
of tycoons and cowboys.
Anyway, I like to pick up a Harlequin Presents or a Nocturne every now and again. Many of the other lines seem to be cowboy heavy these days. I wish they would branch out a little more, especially when it comes to American heroes. I'll read cowboy book in a pinch, but typically when I see a stetson on a cover, I'll pass.

The section of Harlequins at the local BaM is much larger than the category section at the Walmart near where I live, so whenever I come over here to shop, I always come through here and look for books written by the ladies in my RWA group.

And that's pretty much all I've got. <dusts hands> I'm about to put the MiniBeast to bed, and then I'll probably tinker around with The Hidden Path tarot I just bought. A perfect ending to a lovely weekend.

Friday, December 16, 2011

I'm Vampire Scented


It's been an interesting day. The bus didn't come to pick up Mini this morning, so we figured school might have let out for the Xmas holidays. I checked the school calendar online, and it showed that the parent teacher conferences weren't until the late afternoon. We couldn't reach anyone by calling the school, the number kept giving us a fax machine-ish sound when we'd call, so Hubby drove up there, and discovered that it school was indeed going on. Not many kids showed up though. Only four kids in Mini's class. Hmm. After some thought, I'm going to guess the bus driver though I was driving Mini to school since he has missed so many days this week. I'm still not clear on that part.

At any rate, hubby picked up Mini's report card. He's on the Principal's list again this 9 weeks. He made A Honor Roll, and his GPA is at a 4.0. Way to go, little bear! I went to the store earlier and bought deli pizzas, since he missed his class pizza party. His teacher really awesome about the whole class party thing, and saved all his Xmas candy loot in his stocking, and sent it home with his report card. I admit I teased him a bit earlier, saying he made out like a bandit. ;o) We all know he earned it.

While I was in town buying pizza, I picked up a few things for my mom for Xmas. I bought her a buffet warmer, since she is always going to gatherings and such. She can use that both at home, and at her church, etc. I also bought her a bath set, and a large multi-photo frame that will look gorgeous on her living room wall. I plan to pick up a few more things for her this coming week.

I also picked up a little something for myself. I saw a boxed perfume set called Vampire, and had to have it. It came with a full bottle of perfume, and a mini sprayer that looks like a blood vial. How cool is that? I'm very picky about perfumes that are in essence body sprays, but I decided to take a chance with this one. That blood vial was just too awesome to resist. The scent isn't bad at all. It's got a sweet floral scent with a hint of citrus to it. The top notes wear off very quickly, but for fourteen dollars you can't go wrong. I'd definitely buy it again. This is the website with the advert: http://vampirefantasies.com/  It doesn't show the same box with the blood vial, so that may be a store exclusive. I have no way to know.

On the writing front, I'm revising the next chapter in the wip. This section isn't very long, so I'm worried it might be missing something. I printed up the pages and wrote a list to show what I need this chapter to convey. Hopefully everything I need is already in there. Tonight I'll be reading through it and marking changes on the pages. Wish me luck!

Tomorrow I'll be home with Mini and Oldest, kicking off the first day of the Xmas holidays. We're going to decorate the tree. Mini is a tree artiste, and Oldest likes to supervise. Yep, this should be interesting. <g>

Anyway, that's all I've got for now. I'm off to help Cassandra decorate her new mermaid house in Second Life. ;o) Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Lack of Internettiquette

internet memes - I'll Be Your Guide
Esther, my internet guardian angel.

It's Thursday already?  Seriously? This week has blown by fast! It's after midnight here in the land of La., and I thought I'd take a quick break from working on the wip to add an update. I didn't realize I haven't posted since...what?  Monday?  I didn't intend to leave it that long, but it's close to Christmas, and I've been kind of busy with family things. Mini has been sick with the flu for the past five or six days, so I've been staying in the living room tending to him, instead of hanging out in my office as usual.

I tell you, I'm so glad this Mercury retrograde thing is over. A couple of days ago, I don't know what the heck happened. It's like a major blow up in every direction. I don't know if people just loss their damn minds en masse or what. I returned home from drying clothes at my mom's, and when I came online to check my Facebook, a friend I've known for over twenty years royally showed her ass on my Facebook wall with no provocation. Up until then, I haven't spoken to her in weeks. I responded to her attack, and promptly dumped her from my friend list. If a bitch can't be nice, then we don't have anything to say to each other. That's all there is to it. It doesn't matter if I've known you twenty minutes or twenty years. Don't post on my wall criticizing me for my depressing, domestic house Frau posts, especially when you do nothing but post game updates on yours. And I'm not just saying that as tit for tat. It is what it is. No matter who you are, when it comes to my wall or my blog, play nice or you'll be sent home.

I swear not twenty minutes later, some guy leaves a snarky comment on one of the memebase pictures I posted to my wall. I didn't make the picture, I put it there because I thought it was amusing. It apparently put this one guy's panties in a twist. So, two people got dumped from my friend list in one night. This is the first time ever for me. I've only had to defriended one other person in all the years I've been on Facebook, and I did it because he was spamming my email account. So, I'm sitting there in amazement after unfriend #2, wondering what the hell has crawled up everyone's collective ass.

Apparently it's something in the water, because it's not just me getting the jump. Hubby came home yesterday evening and told me a guy had jumped his case right as he walked in the door to work. It didn't even have anything to do with him, the guy just assumed it did. Well, that got taken up with the boss, and ironed out promptly, but it put the Hubster in a bad mood for the rest of the day.

And just today I was reading a friend's wall on Facebook, and learned someone reported their page for inflammatory content (a creepy Santa picture, of all things) and had their account frozen. Apparently it took a few emails to get access to their account back. I can't figure out why the angry reporter didn't just defriend him to start with. Sheesh.

People seriously need to take a pill and calm the frick down. In more seasonal terms, put some holly in your bonnet and be merry. Can you dig it?

On a brighter note, I finished revising a very tough chapter right before I started this blog post, so yay! That's one more for the sparkly fresh stack of ready to submit pages. Only a few chapters left to go. It's coming along slowly but surely. Slowly...but surely. *_* <lol> Night, night, everyone!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Real Life Days Like This

sci fi fantasy Doctor Who - Exterminate Him First



A short post tonight since it's so late already, and I haven't had a chance to open my wip yet this evening. Mini has been home with me all day. He came down sick over the weekend with the flu. I've been keeping an eye on his fever, and sat with him in the den for a good long while today. Then I went to put a load of towels in the dryer and the machine completely died on me. I had all these wet towels, and no choice but to leave them there until hubby made it home so I could rush them over to my mom's.

Instead of worrying about it, I made a huge homemade chicken and veggie soup, thinking it would be good for Mini. He ate a tiny bit, and kept it down for several hours, so I was happy with that. Later, when hubby came home, Mini had already zonked on the couch. Oldest took out the garbage for me, and we took the wet clothes over to my parents house so I could use the dryer there.

Mom and dad weren't expecting us. We had a great visit though. Dad stood at the bar cracking pecans (and eating them - hehehe), and mom took me on a tour of all her Christmas decorations. The house looked and smelled fabulous! I have to find one of those candles she had burning in the kitchen. Vanilla frosting scented. O.M.G. Talk about heavenly!

And oh my, what a gorgeous full moon out there tonight. Did anyone else go out and look at it? It seemed really close and large. On the way home from my parents' house, I pulled over so Oldest could snap a pic of it on his cell phone. I'll have to see if he'll pass me a copy so I can post it. It was truly gorgeous out there. But anyway, we made it back home around seven. Not too shabby. I quickly put away the clothes, towels, and put fresh sheets on the bed - and the blankets that I dried at mom's. (Mini had a barf attack on my bed last night.) After that, I put a casserole in for Oldest. Cheesy potatoes and ham. I didn't even have to ask hubby if he wanted a plate. ^_^ That stuff was good. Will definitely be making that again.

Now that the house is settled, I'm about to shut down the comp for a while and work on this book some more. It's in the home stretch. I just need to kick the lead out and get this thing done!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Books and Books and Books


So I'm sitting in my jammies, drinking coffee at noon, and reading Ray Garton's book Ravenous. That's my idea of a perfect Sunday. We'll be putting up the Christmas tree soon, and afterward I'll probably jump on the treadmill for about an hour.

Yesterday, I listened to Lorraine Heath speak at the Nola Stars Christmas event at the Bossier Parish History Center. Her speech covered her personal journey as an author, and I admit I cried a little hearing her story. What a wonderful mark she has made on the writing world. I'm so glad I was able to attend.

After the guest speaker, we nibbled on sweets and chicken salad, and chatted with attending friends and writers. A few minutes before one o'clock we went down the street to the Books A Million on Airline Drive where several Nola ladies and Ms. Heath held a book signing.

I drove Beth to the book signing, and while there, I browsed the store. I noticed some interesting stuff while looking around this time. Starting with the romance section, I noticed the romance shelves are still paranormal heavy, but they've "soft focused" the covers. I assume this is to give the books a more romantic appearance. Lots of solitary hero covers, the man looking forlornly toward the reader as if to say "where is my soul mate"? There are definitely less of the ass-kicking heroine covers than there were a year ago.

Also, there were fewer Urban Fantasies shuffled into the romance section. It appears they have been moved to the actual Sci-Fi Fantasy section of the store, and blended in among those books, which seemed to mostly be comprised of DAW, ROC, Ace and Baen - in that order. When paranormal was hot, hot, hot, you'd find anything vampire or werewolf shuffled into the romance section, even YA. I wonder if this means they're trying to re-brand these books into a truer fit, since the paranormal romance genre has cooled off a bit.

Let's see...I noticed more historical romances on the shelves. That was different. The majority appeared to be regencies. And I noticed a lot of long legged heroines showing some thigh. Is this the new style clinch cover? The contemporary category shelf space has been shrinking for a few years now, but in this particular store it seemed very picked over. I take that as a good sign. Someone out there is buying those books!

I stopped by my favorite section - the trade paperbacks - and was thrilled to find a few friend's books on the shelf. I'm so evil. Like a wicked bookstore Robin Hood, I turned all my friend's books face out so people could see the covers. ;o) Most of the spines were Aphrodisia. They made up a large majority of the books in that section. Also on the trade shelves...they had a few branded as Kensington? (Isn't that Aphrodisia, though?), Berkley Heat/Sensations, a handful of Brava titles, three or four books from the Spice line at Harlequin, and a few books from Ellora's Cave and Samhain. I was surprised to find the Samhain trades in store, and read the back blurb on each book. This is the first time I've found Samhain books on the shelves in my area. Send more, please!

I spent a long time in the romance and fantasy/sci-fi sections, looking at common themes, cover comparisons, brand, and just generally looking at what made it to the store shelves. Once I'd done that, I shuffled over to the YA section to look around.

The YA section was so cluttered, it was hard to navigate. Honestly the bookstores need to arrange this section better. Many, many books were turned out so the covers faced the shoppers, but the covers are so similar, it's not effective. You step into the aisle and there is wall to wall book cover - and at first glance it's like looking at the same book over and over again. There are many dark themed covers with gritty overlays and vector swirls over brooding faces. The less common "bare torso" book like City of Bones stood out more, but it too was silvery blue with more of the swirling overlays. Lots of black, silver, purple, and dark blue book covers. I went down both sides of the aisle, and was surprised by the number of vampire and fallen angel books. I saw a lot of teens with super powers books, too. The powers could be anything. I saw books ranging from being able to move around when time is stopped, to psychic abilities, to teens special for some reason indeterminable by the blurb or the book cover. (The latter seems like a very piss poor marketing decision, in my opinion.)

With all those YA books on the shelves, the teens in store were all hanging out at the Manga section. They were standing in the aisle reading the books. I noticed them when I moved over to the writing/reference section. I'm not sure what that means, but there it is.

After all that browsing around, I went over to the signing to hang out with the rest of the writerly folk. Lorraine Heath left shortly thereafter and I took her chair. <g> It was a good day. Exhausting, but inspiring. I left Bossier brimming with new ideas. I wish I had taken pictures, of both events and the bookstore shelves, but I left my phone in the car. Yeah, yeah, I know. Stupid move. You live, you learn. ;o) Next time (next week) I'll try to snap some pictures of the books on the shelves in Monroe to better illustrate what I'm talking about.

Friday, December 09, 2011

The Friday Rush

Hurray for Friday! I wish I could say I'm in for a relaxing weekend, but things are gonna be a little different this Saturday. Oh yeah, I'm feeling it - the rush is on. I have to get my car detailed and pay up the bills, because tomorrow morning, bright and early, I'll be carpooling to the Bossier Parish History Center for the NOLAStars Christmas event.

Immediately after the speaking event and after party, I'll be attending a book signing for a few of the Nola gals at the Books A Million (I think!) around the corner. Since I'll be gone all day, everything that I don't manage to take care of today will have to wait until Monday.

In about an hour, I'm gonna go pick up the MiniBeast and take care of the weekly shopping so I don't have to do that on Sunday. I should probably buy a sweater to wear this weekend, too, so I don't go freezing my buns off while in Bossier.

Once all this is taken care of, I'm gonna try to work on the erotic horror story a bit, but I can't stay up too late tonight because I'll be leaving early, early in the morning to go pick up a writerly friend who's riding with me.

And that's the Friday buzz. I just finished another section of the wip last night, and noticed my story is gradually creeping up toward the 20k mark. Quite an expansion from a proposed 8k shorty. Hey, if it grows, I'm all for it. As long as the plot events don't get buried under any heavy exposition, it's all good! ;o)

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Writing and Text to Speech

Um, yeah, we still don't have our Christmas tree up yet. I fear by the time I actually get it set up, it'll be time to take it down again. As soon as I get a free minute to dig the tree out of storage, I'll set it up. I probably won't load it down with ornaments this year, though, since I feel like we've already missed half of the holidays.

Earlier today I did a bit of Xmas shopping - for Mini's class party. I got a notice early on in the week that he needed to send $3.00, a stocking with his name on it, and some kind of treat type thing for 21 students. I ended buying a huge bag of filler candle, and stencils. Oh, and goody bags to put it all in. That will have to do it, because I'm too busy with other things to get all crafty.

Earlier today I managed to repair everything in the wip the power outage vaporized, and I finally made it through that difficult scene that has been driving me bonkers. So that's one more for the finished and ready to send stack.

In the morning, (well, technically it is morning, it's almost 2 am),  I'm going to wrap up this next chapter and run it through my new text to speech program. I meant to post about that the other day, but I got side tracked. I recently bought and downloaded Natural Reader 10. As I said, it's a text to speech program that reads pretty much any text you want it to. I've been copy and pasting snippets of my wip for a "sound check" to see how it works out when read aloud. This is an awesome program, and is very easy to use. It does take up a lot of computer space though, so if you decide to try it out, make sure you have the hard drive space to support it. There is a free version for personal use, but the voice isn't all that great. The upgrade versions offer different voices, male and female, which are more "human" sounding, and easier to understand.

Anyway, you can find out more about Natural Reader 10 here: http://www.naturalreaders.com/free_version.htm 


Back to the writerly manuscript stuff... as it stands right as this exact moment in time, I have nothing pressing I need to take care of tomorrow, so I'll be focusing entirely on the wip. If I can get two chapters cleaned up, I'll be thrilled.

I just noticed it's now after 2, so I better go to bed. I have to get up in less than four hours to get Mini ready for school. Ho hum. I'll be so glad when the Christmas holidays start. No school. No alarm clocks! Night night, everyone. Happy dreams!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Lights Out

The power went out while I was working on my wip last night. I didn't lose much, but what I did lose was hard fought for. A perfect end to a perfectly shitty Tuesday. I sat at my desk in the dark, lighting jar candles with a box of matches from the candle hutch, cursing under my breath because I'd just managed to push my way through a very difficult scene. And, of course, since I was still typing up the last bits of it, I hadn't saved yet. Talk about something that'll make you sick to your stomach. That'll do it. Thankfully our heating doesn't depend on electricity, otherwise it might've been a completely different kind of miserable situation.

Once the candles were distributed throughout the house, I decided to go sit out the couch in the dark. Once I was in there, I don't know why, but I remembered seeing Mini's battery powered Coleman lantern on the end table by the TV earlier in the day. It's an actual camping lantern he swiped from his grandpa a few years ago so he could pretend to go camping. You know, sheet tents, and pillow floors and all that. Somehow the lantern ended up over here, and last night was truly glad for that. I found it and set it up near where I was sitting, and it surprised me with how much light it throws off.

It was bright enough to read by, so I ended up going back to my office for a notebook and pencil, and edited a chapter the old fashioned way. <g> I also wrote down a new transition for a scene that has been giving me fits. At this point, I feel like I need this one scene for GMC purposes, but at the same time, I've read it so many times trying to nail that it factor that I've come to hate it, and I'm tempted to cut the whole damn thing.

Today I've laid aside two chapters to get through. I missed so much time yesterday fiddling with the insurance company, it basically cost me a day's work. Then what little headway I made last night got cut in half due to the outage. Now I'm playing catch up. No fun. But what else can you do? Onward and upwards.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The Tuesday Scramble

Honey, I'm home! I've been gone most of the day, taking care of a screw up with our house insurance. Yesterday we received a certified letter stating that they didn't get our November payment. But, a few days ago, they sent me a bill for December showing that last month's payment had already been credited. Say what?  This snafu took hours to unravel. Even the woman at the insurance company couldn't figure out what the heck happened. So, after holding on the phone for hours, and then showing up in person to wrangle with this crap, I finally got it all straightened out. Santa, I deserve a pedicure and massage, ya hear?

So I pick Mini up from school, and he walks out of the building and bursts into tears. I asked him what happened, and after about 5 solid minutes of blubbering, he admits he got in trouble for talking too much in class.

"Are you going to do it again?" I ask.
He sniffles. "No."
Sounds good to me.
"You'll have a chance to be quiet tomorrow," I tell him. "Right now, we're going home to eat cookies."

Seriously. We went home and ate cookies. The kids have been stuck indoors for days with all this rain. What do these people expect? They're children, not robots. The only thing they're able to run right now are their mouths. Cut 'em some slack.

Finally everything has settled down. The guys are watching movies, and I'm about to crack open the wip and do some revisions. I cleaned up an entire section before bed last night, and started reworking another one. If the errand fairy would just take a hike for a few days, I might be able to get this book cleaned up before hell freezes over.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Meanwhile...Insanity

It's after three in the morning, but I figured I should probably blog before bed. I sent out the beginning of my erotic horror story to my critique partner Sunday evening so she could take a look at it. So far so good. I'm thinking this is probably my last pass over this story. I'm pretty much going chapter by chapter now and tweaking it by ear. Once I make it all the way through the book, that's that. Off to my editor it goes.

I really hope I can wrap it up this week. I think I can do it, but it's gonna be hectic. December is always a crazy month for me, and this year the crazy seems to be starting early. In a few hours, I have to go out to pay bills, and buy groceries. I also have a workshop to pop in on, a package to pick up, and around two thirty I'll be going to pick up Mini from school. Too, sometime this week, I need to put up a Christmas tree for the boys, and do some shopping. Yikes. I worry if I don't get on it soon, I'll miss out on Mini's Xmas list items. Holy crap, we haven't taken to see Santa yet either. <forehead smack> Maybe we can do that Friday night. Saturday, I'll be out of town, attending my local RWA chapter's Christmas party. Directly afterward I'll be taking a carpool buddy over to a book signing. So much to do, only one month to do it in...

Anyway, that's a few of the businessy things. This month we've got to get Oldest's stuff packed away. He'll be heading off to do his Navy thing after the first of the year. Which I can barely see how this is even possible since it seems like only a few years ago I brought him home swaddled in a hospital blanket. Wah-hah-hah. Yes. I'm getting my first taste of empty nest syndrome and it's no fun. Come January, I won't be able to see my big boy again until March, when we fly up to Chicago for his graduation. 2012 is bringing, big changes for us...

It seems like there's a lot of between now and January, but I know there isn't. And somehow during all the insanity I have to get two more projects cleaned up - most importantly the September Experiment, which is now my official pitch piece for the NOLA conference in March. But I digress...

I better call it a night and get a few Z's while I can. I have to be up at six to get Mini ready for school! Next time I come in, I'll have to blog about the new software I bought. <eyebrow wiggle> Until then, night, night everyone...and happy Monday!

Friday, December 02, 2011

The Real Friday


It's Friday, it's Friday...for real, this time, too! <slippery socks dance> Yesterday, I kept faking myself out. I woke up thinking it was Friday. I'd get excited about it only to realize I was a day off, and then I'd feel all let down. The sad thing is that I probably did that to myself about three or four times throughout the day. Yes, I'm mental like that.

funny pictures of cats with captionsI have to pick Mini up from school in about an hour, so I put the revisions down for a bit and decided to grab a bite to eat. When he gets home we'll probably go through the routine - change out of school uniform into play clothes, check the homework binder, and forage the kitchen for a snack. I haven't been grocery shopping yet, so I thought he might want to bake brownies and play some Candyland. So, that's likely what I'll be doing in about an hour.

I didn't get my blog up early enough this morning - I got tied up doing other things. Terribly sorry about that if anyone has been looking for a post. I should really make more of an effort to be time consistent. My life is very "go with the wind", though, so that can be kind of difficult. Not much has happened since I last blogged, but I'm definitely still working, sorting, writing, and all that jazz. These stretches of silence are usually when I'm involved in something intensive I can't break away from. Just an FYI.

I cleaned up a huge section this morning on the wip, and right now I'm fleshing out some dialogue in chapter three. This is also the chapter where my theme is firmly stated. This scene used to be in chapter two, but I added a new first chapter, one that steers the story in the exact direction I want it to go. So, it bumped my thematic statement into chapter three. It still fits, in my opinion, and the previous chapters all allude to the theme, so I should be okay. We'll have to wait and see what my editor thinks. As it stands, I'll be working on revisions all weekend, and catching up on the revision workshop exercises, which I'm applying direction to my manuscript as I go. Of course, at some point, I really should go dig the Christmas tree out of the storage shed and set it up for the bratlings...being that it's December and all. I should probably add that to my To-Do list while I'm thinking about it.

Before I wrap it all up for the day.... Speaking of revisions and first chapters, I came across an awesome article on the challenge of first chapters over at The Book Designer. I saw the link flash by on twitter, but for the life of me, I can't figure out who posted it. Whoever tweeted the link - thank you! If you haven't read it yet, go, go, go. It's worth a look. :o)

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Feeling December-ish

Holy cow, it's December 1st!  Only 30 more days of 2011. Can you believe it? I can't say I'm sad to see it go. This has been a very tough year for my family, and I'm ready for a fresh start. Only in the last few weeks have things started to feel more cozy and back to normal, although it's a bit difficult on hubster when these holidays hit. This will be the first Christmas without his dad, and it feels very strange knowing he won't be around to chat with. And knowing we won't receive a Christmas card from him. It's not pleasant to think about, and I'm expecting the emotional roller coaster to intensify as we near the actual holiday. One way or another, we'll make it through. We always do.


SassiePup is stretched out across my lap snoozing this morning. It's kinda cold out, so she's in a super snuggly mood. Earlier, while Mini was waiting for the bus, she desperately wanted to stand at the door and look outside, but within two minutes of standing in the doorway she was shivering to bits. Silly girl. I ended up toting her around to help keep her warm. I've tried to explain to her this behavior isn't conductive to getting revisions completed, but I don't think she cares. Go figure.


Speaking of revisions, I had an awesome, squee-worthy moment late last night. I have about a third of the story cleaned up, and when I went back and reread parts of it, I came across this one scene that gave me chills. It wasn't because the scene was super hot, or scary, or whatever, it's because I noticed a change in my own writing. This scene came across as more sophisticated than anything I've written up to this point, and that thrilled me to no end. Maybe I'm finally breaking out of this plateau and growing as a writer. Baby steps, yo. I'll take it!

I'm about to grab my Kindle and snuggle on the couch with SassiePup for a while. At least until my coffee kicks in. Then, it'a back to revisions on this story.  I've got some tough pages coming up, so I need to be bright eyed and bushy tailed to deal with it.

That's all for now. I hope your Thursday is a pleasant one. Oh, and if you're a Neopets player - don't forget: the Advent calendar opens today! ;o)