Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Restless Waiting

Today is house cleaning and packing day. Right now I'm waiting for the blankets and sheets to finish washing so I can toss them in the dryer. Once that's done, there won't be anything left except dishes hubby and I use between now and in the morning. After I get the beds made, I'm going to flop and maybe drag out the wip and work on revisions. It's been kind of hit and miss with writing these past two or three days. There's been so much to do, and it's on such short notice. And I still feel like I'm going to forget something.

In a little while, I have to get Mini's stuff together to take to Mom's. SassiePup is already over there, along with her bed, her furry squeaky toy, and her kibbles. And oh jeez, she's not a happy girl. Poor thing. Her morning started out with a bath. Just dreadful! Then she had to go on a ride in the car - another of her big dislikes. As you can probably imagine, she was quite upset we had to leave at my Mom's house. Think big brown sad puppy eyes. Wah. We're hoping she'll be in better spirits when we take Mini over there after school. I'm pretty sure she's not going to let little man out of her sight once he gets there.

Anyway, I better get off my bum and do something productive. I feel all too slacker-ish sitting in front of the computer when I guess I could be packing or calling or...well, something. Restless much, right? :o) I hope you all have fabulous week. I'll get back to blogging once I'm hope again. Take care! ~ CZ

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Relief : Love : Travel : Graduation

It's almost two in the morning, so it looks like I've officially survived Monday. I'm emotionally and physically exhausted, but I'm still so wired from anxiety and anticipation, I can't rest. It occurred to me a couple of days ago that we were approaching Oldest's graduation date, and yet, we'd heard nothing. We were very worried, so I started googling to find out when we could expect to hear from him. I read on one of the Navy Moms websites that several parents didn't get the graduation call until they were well on their way to the graduation ceremony. Talk about an expensive way to find out whether or not your kid is graduating!

Hubby and I discussed it, and went ahead with our flight arrangements. We reserved a rental car, and arranged to stay with friends at least one night while we're there. To help with costs, we're also flying out through Jackson, Ms instead of Dallas. Still, that's going to be several hours in the car, so in the "morning", after I get Mini on the school bus, I gotta drop a contract in the mail and take my car to get the oil changed. Hubby and I will be leaving Thursday very, very early in the morning. Everything we've pulled together at this point is very haphazard and last minute. We're definitely winging it. And here I thought I'd stop doing this kind of crazy mess once I hit thirty. {Glances around to make sure no one is looking...}

From now until Thursday, I'm going to be busy, but I hope I have a few minutes to write before we head out. I still need to get my proposal package together, and wrap up that novella. Time is getting away from me. It's for a worthy cause, of course. My kids come first, but I feel guilty not having everything together and ready to be sent off. Gotta get with it - the clock is ticking!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Saturday: Info Stuff For Writers

Hubby brought home flowers today!
I think I'll keep him. ;*)
Happy Saturday! A quick update for the weekend. Harlequin is doing a fast draft from March 14th - April 23rd. One entry per person. Submit during the fast draft and you'll hear back within one month. Awesomeness. If you're looking to write for Harlequin, this is a fantastic opportunity. Here's the link:

Also, I updated my website with a free downloadable file on the For Writers page. It is a .pdf file with a bundle of three character sheets for creating paranormal characters: general paranormal, vampire, and werewolf. Filling out these sheets won't build complex characters for you, but they are great for printing and using in your story bible so you won't forget little details about your characters. I still haven't uploaded them in my Scribd account yet, but will do that soon. In the meantime, they are exclusive to my website.

Friday, March 23, 2012

New Sale & Busy Times

Le sigh. I've missed two days blogging, but I guess I shouldn't be upset about that. I've been very busy. I'm taking a class, and I'm also helping organize my local RWA chapter's annual writing contest.

Outside of all that, I have three writing projects I'm trying to wrap up, and I need to pull together the rest of my submission packages for the editors who made requests at conference.

In the next two weeks or so, Oldest should be sending me his graduation information, which means we'll be making arrangements and packing up for the flight to Chicago. Jeez, where has the month gone? There simply aren't enough hours in the day.

Yesterday, I sold another project, a short erotica piece. Once I have all the info and the green light to talk about it, I'll add it to my website. I'm sure I'll be posting about it here on the blog, too.

As for other writerly things...I'm still waiting to hear on three novellas that I submitted late last year and at the beginning of 2012. If I don't hear on two of those stories soon, I'm pulling them and self-publishing them. I should have nudged by now, or went ahead and pulled them, or hell, sent them out to other publishers. After all, time is money. I could be earning off the stories right now if I'd published them myself.

That's something I've started to take more into consideration these days, what with all the self-publishing platforms out there. I still like the convenience of having a publisher, but at the same time, I can't afford to wait almost six months just to get a yes. That's not even how long before it goes from a yes to edits. Then it has to go from edits to release date. In this market, who can afford to wait that long? In fact, I'm torn. Even if I don't pull them, I may just start sending those novellas out to other publishers to see what happens. What can it hurt?

Tomorrow, I have a lot to do, lots of out of the house errands, plus studying, organizing, and emailing. Somewhere in there, I hope to get a couple of pages either written or revised. Wish me luck on that.

That's all for now. I'll post again when I have free time and something to say. Until then, happy weekend, y'all!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring Cleaning : More Than Dustbunnies

It's a gorgeous day out there! I just took SassiePup for a walk and when we trotted out the front door, the first thing I saw was a black and yellow butterfly the size of my fist. It fluttered around in the bushes a second then drifted away toward the berry brambles. I didn't get a snap of the butterfly, but I did get one of our azaleas. Our bushes are loaded with flowers this year.

Early this morning, I did some spring cleaning. Today is actually the first day of the astrological new year. The sun has shifted into Aries (my rising sign), and it's also a new moon tonight. A perfect day for new beginnings...and for clearing out certain aspects of our life so we can move forward with a clean slate.

A few hours ago, hubby and I still had boxes in our bedroom full of his dad's things. Stuff we brought back with  us from Washington D.C. when we went to clean out his room at the soldier's home. We haven't looked at any of it since we returned from the trip. It's been sitting in front of my bookshelves since August of last year. I've been stepping and sweeping around the boxes for months, up until this morning, when I had this sudden revelation that it was time to pack it all away for good.

I de-boxed and sorted through everything. I put dad-in-law's CDs on our hallway shelf, and sorted old papers from cards and photographs. I put everything not so important in plastic zipper baggies and repacked it with the big stuff, like dad-in-law's old file folders and Bible notes - there were many - into a plastic storage tub. Honestly, I'm glad I went ahead and did it. I don't think hubby could've handled packing his dad's things away a second time. But in order to fit the bin in the closet, I had to clean out the closet completely and rearrange everything to fit.

Hubby and I use that closet for clothes and storage, and I didn't realize how messy it had gotten toward the very back until today. I took all the folded blankets, and any loose clothing on the shelves and put it in the wash. Then I went and stripped our bed of sheets and blankets, and tossed that in the washer, too. I reorganized the clothes, folded and draped some on hangers, and the last thing I did was put that silver bin away full of dad-in-law's things. It felt very final when I was finished. On the other hand, I don't think our room has had such a thorough cleaning in years.

At the very back of the closet, I'd found a box of old paperback books, and I took my time sorting through all those. I don't know why I kept half of them. All the old Harlequins I put in a giveaway box for the charity bin down the street, and I moved all the rare horror novels onto the book shelves. There weren't many, maybe five. All out of print. I dusted everything down after that, and whatever was left, it's going to be recycled. Our bedroom now looks like a completely different place, free of sad memories and clutter. Truth be told, I'm perfectly satisfied with that.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Busy Tuesday

I was out of the writing zone most of the day yesterday. I took Mini to the doctor for what I thought was going to be a routine check up. I thought they'd see he's all croupy and coughing and write him a prescription for something to break up all the congestion because, hey, Mucinex just ain't cutting it. I also thought it would be an in and out the door kind of deal. Um...

About an hour after arriving at the doctor's office, we ended up at the hospital lab. There is nothing like holding a screaming six year old who is terrified of needles while they draw blood for a CBC. No fun. That was not what I got out of bed for yesterday. Just saying.

Mini's gonna be okay. They released him to go back to school this morning, but I gotta go pick up his prescriptions when the pharmacy opens. Too, we have major storms headed this way, at least that's what I've been told. I haven't checked the weather yet. But, I'm expecting hubby to drive all the way to work, and have to turn around and come back home.

I did very little revising yesterday, so I'm going to try to get more completed on the collection today. I want to get that book on Smashwords and out of my hair, asap. Surprisingly enough, late last night, I got quite a bit done on the requested chapters. I'm very pleased with that. I still have to write a query and two proposals to send with it, and I'm still revising the novella. So, I guess I have quite a few writerly things to keep me busy.

That's all for now. I need to send out a few emails, and toss the laundry in the dryer, before I settle in to write. It's shaping up to be a busy day. Happy Tuesday, y'all. <3

Monday, March 19, 2012

Heart Spell : 20,000 Copies

Holy cow, is it Monday already?  It feels like I lost a day somehow. Then again, a lot of stuff has happened over the weekend. Mini came home sick from Grammy's house on Sunday, and I managed to pull a muscle in my shoulder - which reminds me, getting older is no fun.

My erotica collection is almost ready to go up on Smashwords. Yay! The book still needs a few tweaks, and I haven't tackled formatting it for the meatgrinder yet, but that's on the agenda this week. The book is a lot less messy than I thought it would be, so I'm glad for that. When it goes live, it will be listed for .99 cents, which isn't bad for eight to ten short stories. I haven't counted them all, yet.

A few new book covers arrived over the weekend. The covers are for releases that will be out later this year through my Grrl X self publishing label.

The next book on my list to put on Smashwords is a two book collection that contains my fairy/oak man story At the Edge of Twilight.  You can click the link for an excerpt. I know there are people waiting for me to release this book.  It won't be much longer now, I promise.

More about Smashwords...I noticed this morning that Heart Spell has passed the 20,000 downloads mark, which is pretty cool. Heart Spell is a free Valentine's Day story from several years ago, back when the Midnight Moon Cafe was an active blog. Before Smashwords came along, my blog mates and I posted our free reads on a website we had through Bravenet. We received tens of thousands of downloads in the first few months, which was pretty exciting at the time. Of course, shortly thereafter, all our free books were pirated and they're still being pirated to this day. That never really made sense to me, pirating a free book, but who am I to second guess it? Anyway, if you do want a copy of Heart Spell, it's available for free. My writing has evolved a lot from when that story was written, but it's still good for what it is. There are several legit {and not legit places} to get it. I highly, highly, highly recommend getting a copy through Smashwords since it's safe for your computer and/or mobile device.

I have writing and revising to do today, errands to run, and I need to haul Mini to the doctor. Speaking of Mini, he's howling for breakfast. Bacon and toast it is. I hope you all have a snazzy Monday!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Shamrocks and Post-It Notes

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  I celebrate my Irish-Native American-German muttblood daily, but I do have a special place in my heart for shamrock day. When growing up, it was the one day of the year I was actually proud to have freckles. Don't forget to wear green so you don't get pinched! *peench, peench* ;o)

My special plans today consist of bumming around the house and tapping away on the wip when the mood takes me. Early this morning I compiled many of my short erotica stories into one volume for an upcoming collection I'm releasing through Smashwords. The cover art is ready, but I still have a few stories left to hunt down, compile, and proofread. There's really not that much left to do on it, and it'll be ready to release into the wild soon. Hopefully before Hubby and I have to take off for Oldest's graduation.

I panicked a bit yesterday while going through my files looking for some of the stories I'd set aside for the volume. I somehow lost an entire erotic fiction file I'd saved on this computer. Talk about a moment of distress. I wanted to cry. Or barf. Maybe both. I managed to hunt them down eventually, but that's one experience I don't want to go through ever again - losing a whole batch of stories. Yikes.

Today, I hope to make progress on the revisions for that novella I finished recently. It seems like every time I sit down to work on it, something comes up. I need to get that sucker as tidy as I can make it and kick it out the door. There are a couple other projects I need to tackle before the end of April. Anyway, I have my notebook, pens, highlighters, and Post-It notes at hand. All I need to do is grab my manuscript pages, and I'll be ready to give it a go.

That's all for now. I hope you all have a happy sparkly lucky green beer kinda day!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday : Kicking Off My Flip Flops

Mercury retrograde is kicking my tail. I'm running behind on everything. Wednesday, my plans were blown out of the water early on. Nothing went right. Thursday morning, I woke up from a bizarre dream of some guy literally "hitting on me" on the bus. I managed to fight back in the dream, but woke up with a pounding migraine, so that pretty much explains the guy punching me in the head when I kept telling him "no". It was after noon before I managed to tamp down the headache. Definitely no fun, although my mom - I talked to her on the phone for about an hour  - thought the dreams were quite entertaining. Needless to say, after two days of frustration and pain, I'm ready for the weekend!

I'm neck deep in projects right now, but I think I've managed to arrange my schedule so I can handle everything on time. I'm currently revising the story I finished a few days ago. That's my weekend project. On my to-do list after that, I need to do one more editing pass on a novella length story I'm supposed to release through Grrl X next month. I have the temporary cover in place, but I still haven't cover shopped for it yet. That's kinda coming down to the wire. I really should take care of the cover issue soon.

Going through my old wip files earlier this evening, I came across a contemporary erotic romance that I finished a few years ago. It's technically polished and ready for submission, and I can't remember what stopped me from sending it in. I read through parts of it earlier, and it's not bad at all. I may actually want to expand on it when I get a few spare minutes. It's not far off from being short novel length. Interesting.

Tomorrow, hubby and I are doing taxes. Oh so fun. Not. But he's taking the day off so we can do this while Mini is in school. I also need to get the oil changed in my car. So, Friday is shaping up to be a day full of domestic errands.

Speaking of Friday, it's already after midnight. Crap. Time goes by so fast!

It's bedtime for me. I need to wrap up a few things before I go on to bed. Oh, another thing on my list for I'm buying a bottle of wine, and when the day is done, madame is breaking out the stemware and kicking off her flip flops. Ahoy, Friday!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Day By Day : One Word At A Time

It's after 11pm. Yikes. We're still adjusting to the time change. I don't think Mini has gone to bed on time once since we rolled the clocks forward. Too, I've been staying up much later than I'm used to, and I've got to scale it back, because I'm not getting enough sleep. I need at least four hours to function the next day. Any less than that, it triggers my bitch factor, like, fierce.

I took a long nap today to try and get a few extra zzz's, but I dreamed all kinds of crazy stuff, so when I woke up, I didn't really feel all that rested. The goal tonight is to make it to bed before 1a.m. I'll be thrilled if I can hit it somewhere around the 12:30 mark.

Anyway, I finished the novella I started before conference. It's roughly 16k. I printed it earlier today, and have been reading through it, making notes, etc. I can see right away it needs more dialogue, and more internal conflict. I like the characters, though, and while the scenario is simple, it makes for a good romantic setup without being cliche.

I started to add some historical detail to it, and ended up not going that route. I'd have to do way more research than I have time for. Some of the costuming, etc, I wrote into the draft wasn't very accurate, so I cut it out and reworked those scenes. At any rate, this story is probably gonna expand once I start revising. As long as it stays below the 25k mark, I'll be okay with it.

I have a lot of work on my plate this year. I want to wrap up all my outlying series books, and I still need to get my requested chapters out of the way. I'm still nitpicking over them, but I'm trying to be patient with myself, and with how I write. I always want to push my chapters and proposals out the door quickly, but I'm not doing that this time. I would rather tweak them a little longer than I'd hoped and send them off feeling more confident about it, than rush them out the door and wish I could change something, or worry that the material is not as good as I could've made it. So, until then, I'll keep plugging away.

Tomorrow I'm taking a drive to visit a friend in the hospital. Hubby and I have been worried about her. She just lost a kidney to stage 2 renal cell carcinoma. So, I'm taking her some flowers, and gonna pop in her hospital room to see how she's doing. I haven't seen her in a while, but she was one of the gals I was closest to in high school. To give it some perspective, she baby sat for my Oldest bratling a time or two, and changed a few of his diapers. Oldest will be 21 in August. So me and gal pal have known each other a long time.

So there you have it...everything I've been up to, plus the grand plan for tomorrow. I probably won't get any writing/revising done until late tomorrow evening, but I'm okay with that. One day/one word at a time.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sunday: Rest and Writing

Arrg, I'm sooo feeling the time change today. It was very hard to get out of bed this morning, but I was lured by the need for tea...and by a story epiphany I needed to write down.

Hubby woke me up the first time around five a.m. I'd fallen asleep on the couch watching 28 Days Later, and the hubster was up early to take part in an online game thing in Guild Wars, which is his thing. I gave the man a kiss and staggered on to bed, which I then had all to myself. Well, sort of. KippyCat and SassiePup were in there, so when I snuggled under the covers, they curled up with me and kept me all toasty warm.

I woke up again at ten, and had to drag myself out of bed. Of course, I probably wouldn't be so tired if I hadn't stayed up 1:30 in the morning, but I had a word flow going and didn't want to stop until it dried up. I ended up writing a total of 5200 words yesterday, which I'm very happy with.

I hope to get in another 2k in today. I wrote down several index cards full of scene notes while drinking my morning cup of tea, but I'm not going to start writing everything in full on the wip until later in the afternoon.

That's all I've got for now. I'm about to curl up on the couch with my Kindle and read for a bit. I still have quite a lengthy TBR stack I'm trying to whittle down. Happy Sunday, everyone!

Friday, March 09, 2012

Writing : Plotting : Proposing

Sorry so few blog posts this week. I haven't had a lot to say. I'm writing one story, plotting a second, and trying to pull together a few submission/proposal packages on a third - the third being a project I promised to send out fairly quickly.  I'm also currently enrolled in two writing workshops, and lately it's been a challenge to keep up with them. Busy, busy.

I have chapters to write, and I'm prepared to spend most of the weekend at my desk. It's a pain in the rump sorting through all this right now, but once I have everything finished and sent off to its corner of the planet, I will be free!  Free to do what, I don't know yet. Probably get myself neck deep in writing stories again, because I just can't seem to help myself. But I digress...

I need to wrap it up and make a dash to the store. The wind is fierce outside. Howling, and rattling tree limbs and all that. I hate driving when the wind is blowing this hard, because it batters the car around on the road. But what ya gonna do? Anyway, best to get it done before the rains starts again, right? Last night we had a major storm blow through and it knocked out the lights for hours. Yuck.The forecast is calling for more of it, so better take off while I can. TGIFriday, y'all. Happy weekend!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Settling In

I think I've finally settled in again after conference. For the past two days, I've been struggling to get enough sleep. It seems like every time I'd try to catch a cat nap someone the phone would ring, or like yesterday, a guy selling steaks knocked on the door. When I opened the door to talk to him, he took one look at me and said, "Were you asleep?" Um, actually, yes.

I kicked Mini out of our bed and made him sleep in his own room last night, bless his little heart. Mommy was too tired to give up any snoring space. I slept hard. I don't remember dreaming or anything. I woke up when the alarm clock went off, and felt like a zombie when I shuffled around the house getting Mini ready for school. Thank goodness for coffee, or I'd be laid out like a slug right now.

So now that I'm a little more alert, I figured I'd catch up on writing, and blogging, and assignments for the workshops I'm taking. Especially while both the house phone and my cell phone are charging. My phone rang non-stop both Sunday and Monday, so now...quiet. Ah, blissful quiet. Heh.

Anyway, I updated my website yesterday, added some reviews to the book page, deleted a page or two, and prepared a space to offer some writerly type downloads. I haven't managed to get any sheets uploaded yet, but I'm working on it. I need to test it out first and do a couple other odds and ends. I do have a short resource list up, as well as a recommend book list. I'm gonna be adding more to that later, but I have some basic books listed. Every book I've listed, I've personally bought, read, and placed on my keeper shelf.

It's after 11, and I have writing to do. Also, my coffee cup is empty, so that's all for now. I hope you're all having a Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Home From Conference

I'm back home from the Written in the Stars conference, tired but inspired. We had an awesome workshop track this year, and an impressive line up of speakers, agents, and editors. The Nola Stars conference coordinators outdid themselves.

My favorite workshop/event was Lori Wilde's editor chat session. Lori Wilde is a NYT best selling author of 60-something books, and Entangled Publishing's editor for the new Indulgence line. There were enough of us in attendance to fill one of the large, round dining tables, so we all pulled up chairs and had a very down-to-earth business chat about Entangled Publishing, and writing contemporary category romance. I was very impressed with the information that came from that session.

I didn't have anything to pitch to Lori, unfortunately. I had signed up for the conference way back in November, before she had been added to the list of attending editors, but I learned a lot about the company and like I was an impressive session.

At the award's dinner, I received a certificate of achievement for my sale last year, and a Rising Star Award trophy for selling my first full length novel, Wicked Obsession. That's the trophy and certificate in the picture. Ooh, shiny! ;*)

I was already emotional from the awards ceremony, when Ms. Sally Hamer gave a speech in memory of Ms. Katie Sue Morgan, one of our members who passed away recently. I cried a bit at the dinner, and again on the drive home - it was very sad not getting to see Ms. Sue. She was such a sweet lady. From the moment I joined Nola Stars...what's it been, three years now? Four?...she made me feel welcome. To me Ms. Sue always seemed like the ambassador of the Nola Stars group. I kept expecting to turn a corner in the hotel and see her there. Make no doubt, her presence was definitely missed.

I did pitch this year. I got two partial requests from editors during the pitch sessions, and received some valuable advice from the agent I pitched to. Then, at the evening book signing, I won Vannetta Chapman's lovely Amish basket from the raffle drawings.

Vannetta Chapman is such an interesting person. I sat at her table during the awards luncheon, and she entertained us all with stories about her pets. ^_^

You can't tell from the picture above, but the basket I won at the raffle has signed books, a photograph, a thimble, Amish coasters, and a gorgeous hand-stitched table runner in it. I can't tell y'all how badly I needed that table runner! I'm still using the snowman table runner I put out at Christmas this past year. I haven't had anything to replace it with. So, yes, indeed, down the with snowmen. I will be putting out that new table runner asap.

Now that I'm back home, I have to get the laundry done, and prepare to get Mini off to school tomorrow. I'm also attending a new writing craft workshop starting tomorrow at Savvy Authors, so I'm going to need to get my head on straight before tackling a new class.

I think I'm going to have a nap before I get too involved with anything I need to do around the house. So, that's all for the moment. I hope you've all had a great weekend!

Friday, March 02, 2012

While You Were Out

I've been a bad blogger this week. Terribly sorry about that. I'm leaving for Shreveport in an hour and a half, and will be back by Sunday afternoon. I'm off to hang out with friends and attend a few writing workshops at the Written in the Stars conference. I'll share pictures, news, and war stories when I make it back home. ;o) Happy weekend, everyone!