Thursday, May 31, 2012

Gotta Go Through It, Gotta Get With It

Oh stressful week, so very stressful. I'm sad to see the month of May ending, but I'm hoping June will be a much happier month for me. I'm finally free from classes, and now I'm down to two writing workshops. I have some lessons in each to catch up on, but that's all leisurely study. No pressure there, although I will say that these last two workshops I've been taking are heavy duty informative. Really good stuff. I've picked up a lot from both workshops, and I think both are going to make a big difference in my writing in the long run. I certainly hope so.

As for writerly things, I threw out my first three chapters of my fantasy romance. That was disappointing, but I could see the beginning wasn't working. I've started rewriting the beginning...again. This is, what? The second or third time? Third time's the charm, maybe?  Before, there was just too much setup. It was taking way too long to get the hero and heroine on the page together, but when I'd cut the setup down, I lost too much of the heroine's motivation. I was getting frustrated with the characters, so set the whole story aside for a few days. It wasn't doing me any good to struggle through it, so I let it go.

Then yesterday, I was tickle fighting with Mini when, out of the blue, an idea came to me about how to fix the beginning of the story. I ran to my office and jotted down a solid page of notes. I've been toying with the notes and adding in some new ideas since then, and so far I like what I've come up with. It allows me to get the hero and the heroine together in the second scene of the book, in the first chapter, and her reason for being there is still intact. That's a major plus.

Anyway, I know I haven't talked much about writing lately. Mostly I've been reading or studying. I've been too busy with other things too really keep up with my usual writing schedule. Too, it's like I've had zero energy to get things done. I can't even explain it, I've just felt very drained lately, like, post school year hangover, or something. Anyway, I still try to post the interesting stuff when it happens, but with it being the summer, things are kind of quiet right now. The writing is going slowly.

One more thing before I go...Happy Birthday to my mom! I'm bringing her a card and a cookie cake after sun up...several hours from now, ha ha. It's almost two a.m., so it's gonna be a while. When I do finally make my way over there, I want to make a day of it and do something fun for her. I'm sure Mini will have fun hanging out with his gram and grampa for a few hours, too.

Anyway, that's all for now. I hope you all have a lovely Thursday!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Breaking all the Rules :: Not Always a Good Thing

I'm feeling kind of zombie-like after I finally finished reading a certain romance novel. It has taken me days to slog my way through a book less than 190 pages long, which is very unusual for me. But the last few chapters of this novel were the definition of tedious.

I won't go into fine details about the book, nor will I reveal who wrote the book or what the title is, but I will share what I learned from reading it. First, let me say I've been reading one line of books to get a feel for what the publisher is looking for, and while I can now comfortably pick out what's what on the page, I am not an expert. On the other hand, I am a reader, and I know what I like and what I don't. This is what didn't work for me with this book:

  1. The hero and heroine spent most of the book away from each other. Just when the situation would get interesting between the hero and heroine, one of the characters would walk out of the scene. The first time it happened, it was understandable. Every time after that (and there were many instances of this), I did not like it. The characters didn't start spending any quality time with one another until after the first half of the book. By then, I was struggling to slog my way through the story. For the love of Pete, give the characters a reason to maintain close proximity, even if it's as simple as locking them in a broom closet together. 
  2. Most of the important scenes happened between the heroine and her friends. This killed the tension in the book, and made the heroine look like she was begging attention from everyone but the main person she should have been wanting attention from - the hero. 
  3. The heroine talks to everyone but the hero. If she wasn't at a friend's house, she was on the phone with some other unimportant character. I can recall one meaningful conversation the heroine had with the hero. That's it. One. Everything important she had to say, she said it to a secondary character, so by the time the book built to the dark moment, I didn't feel any sparks. How could the heroine be upset about not having a strong relationship with the hero when she spent 90% of the book across town yakking it up with someone else?
  4. The hero walked away from the heroine in almost every scene. Yes. I do mean that. In almost every scene the hero took part in, he walked out. Whenever he appeared on the page, I began to anticipate when he was going to walk out of the room. Why the heroine put up with it beyond the first time, I have no idea, but this goes back to reason #1 this book didn't work for me. 
  5. The heroine's best friend had more scene time than the hero. I understand the sounding board role, but it shouldn't dominate the book. A romance is about the relationship between the hero and the heroine. 
  6. The story conclusion didn't reinforce the romantic commitment. The story started out focused on the hero and heroine's inability to commit. The couple is linked together by an unexpected pregnancy. Sure babies are cute and heartwarming in fiction, but you would think the ending of this particular story would reinforce the new found commitment between the hero and heroine, and not necessarily focus on the infant. The story ends with the focus on the infant...and the hero and heroine are in separate rooms. 

The book had some strong emotional scenes, but it was difficult to appreciate them when the characters kept avoiding each other. About midway through this book, I put it down and started reading something else. I forced myself to pick this book up again and finish it so I could mark it off my list and get it off my desk. Honestly, though, as tedious as this book was to read, I learned a lot from it.

When I finally looked back over my list of what wasn't working in this story, I realized almost all of the no-no's listed above are covered in the publisher's guidelines, and are reiterated in their podcasts. I guess this goes to show the importance of reading many books in a line to get a feel for what the publisher wants, because you're bound to come across a story like this that really stands out as "against the grain". If you were to read only this book, and then you submitted a similarly structured novel to the publisher, I'm pretty sure it would be rejected, especially if you're a first time author. I think the author's name had a lot to do with why they published this book, because compared to the rest of the line, this one breaks all the rules.

Anyway, that's just my two bits. I have to make a dash to the store and the post office. When I get home, I'm going to curl up on the couch with Mini, a cup of tea, and maybe start reading a new book. I have a stack of books on the corner of my desk to weed through, so I'm going to try my best to resist buying any new books while I'm in town. Easier said than done, heh. I'll post again when I have something interesting to say. I'm off for now. Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Bizarre Dreams :: A Castle, An Old Friend, And a Dolphin

Happy Memorial Day to all the soldiers past and present. Thank you for your service and your sacrifice. I can't help but think about Oldest, who is getting in his school training. He's an aerographer's mate. I thought it was nerve wracking when Hubby was in the's just as nerve wracking when it's one of your children. I have been very anxious, cry-ey, and nervy for the past few days. I think it is partly due to the holiday, and partly due to the pressure on me right now.

Last night I dreamed I was in this dark building that looked like an abandoned mall, although there were people there standing around and talking. It was like they were there because they were familiar with the building and wanted to see the place one more time, in this final phase. I looked straight ahead, and right at the bend of the corner, I saw a construction worker removing these glossy black tiles from the wall - basically dismantling the place piece by piece. I looked down, and beneath my feet, there was this patterned carpet that I remember being in the movie theater at Pecanland Mall in Monroe before they remodeled the place 15 years ago. I walked down the corridor, and when I turned to the right, there was a long, dark ramp leading up to a square of light - the outside. Right in front of me was a very old friend. We've known each other since we were little kids, and she was talking to this blonde woman that looked like a cross between Dee Wallace and my Aunt Karen. They appeared to be having a serious conversation.

The theater bathrooms were to my left, and were dark, with the outer floor tiles ripped away to reveal bare cement. Beside me there was this pile of black and cobalt blue tiles the construction worker had ripped up. I called to my old friend, and suggested we take some of these tiles and build something with them. I mean, they were perfect. Used, but not broken or chipped or anything. It would be a shame to throw them away.

The construction worker, who was ripping out and throwing away the tiles, said I couldn't take them, that would be stealing. I tried to tell him my friend was four months pregnant, and we could use them, but it didn't seem to matter. At that point, my friend glanced over her shoulder at me, then turned away and started walking up the long ramp up to the outside doors - the square of light. Not knowing what else to do, I followed her.

The ramp was steeper, and much longer than it appeared to be. While my friend didn't seem to have any trouble climbing it, I struggled to keep going - I kept slipping. The angle of the ramp was almost impossibly steep the closer it got to the outside doorway. Nevertheless, I kept going, and finally I made it outside to this port cochere with Grecian columns. There were gently rolling hills leading down to the rose gardens.

Once again, I spotted my old friend. Again, she was talking to the blonde woman. Only the blonde woman acknowledged me when I approached. She looked at me, but said nothing. They continued to talk, and I realized that my friend had no intention of acknowledging me at all, so I turned around and started to walk away. That's when the dream went black and I felt like I was being pulled through a tunnel.

When I came out on the other side of the tunnel, I was standing on a sandy beach dune area. There was dune grass, and a sea breeze, but I couldn't hear the water or see the ocean. I turned around and saw a castle in questionable condition. I knew I had inherited the place. It was a very small structure, more like a keep or a single column tower, and although I couldn't get inside, it appeared to be stripped down to nothing more than old stone with a roof on top.

The foundation was raised up, almost like a country house on cinder blocks, only the foundation was stone. I didn't think it had been built that way on purpose. It appeared to me as though, over the centuries, erosion had washed away a lot of the soil. Behind the castle there were "moors", at least that is how I processed it in the dream. When I walked back behind the castle, there was a dune, then a sharp, eight to ten foot drop off leading down to what looked like moss covered sand, only the sand moved like ripples in pond water when the wind blew toward the castle.

I was terrified of the water and the drop off, and thought surely with time the castle would plunge into the ocean since no care had been taken to create a sea wall or a break to stop the soil erosion. I moved away from the edge of the dune, and walked back around to the front of the structure - the land had a very small foot print - and I could see what I thought of as "coves" beneath the castle foundation.

There was an open, arch doorway I could see inside of, but there were no stairs to actually enter the castle, and I couldn't figure out any other way to get inside, so I went down into the coves. Inside were all these dome-shaped niched out areas with primitive murals and drawings on the walls. Even though this was my private land, there were other people down there exploring. It was all brightly lit, and beneath the crude murals (that were very weathered with age) the walls looked like white limestone.

I ventured to the heart of the coves, then watched an academic tour group passing through one of the larger chamber areas. A minute or so later, I turned and looked around and began looking for a way out. I didn't feel safe there - I worried the castle would come crumbling down on us at any minute. Then this blonde woman appeared, and it was the same woman I'd seen my friend talking to at the demolition of the mall. She looked slightly like my Aunt Karen, and she told me I had nothing to worry about. The castle was sturdy; it wouldn't collapse. It had stood here for over a hundred years. As soon as she said it, she either walked away or vanished. I looked over to my right and there was a large naturally formed "port hole" like area in the cove where I stood. Through the port hole, this dolphin was watching me. Almost as soon as I noticed it, the dolphin slipped away into the water deep below the castle.

That's about the point I woke up. A very bizarre dream, and I only know partly what it means. I recognize the friend walking away part. An old friend who posted nothing but sarcastic messages on my Facebook wall even after I asked her privately not to do that was offended when I removed her from my friend list. I hated to remove her, but what gives someone the idea that sort of thing is okay? Neither she nor her sister has spoken to me since, although I explained why I had to remove her from my list, and she admitted she "had a mouth on her". It's sad things had to end up that way. Then again, she is not the only person I've had issues with lately. Another friend and I parted ways also a few weeks back. In the past, I have helped her whenever she needed me, and then suddenly no word from her. When I did manage to talk to her again, there was a very strange, almost weirdly competitive vibe to the conversation. That made me very uncomfortable because I am not a competitive type person. I'm far too high strung for that. She hesitated to tell me what I found out later was common information, which hurt twice as much because I realize now she just didn't want to share it with me for the sake of keeping me in the dark. And then, when we parted ways, she said she was busy, but she went on to say when/if I finish school and become an editor at a publishing house somewhere, I can contact her and get her a contract. Basically, I'll happily use you, Cora, but I don't want to be friends. Talk about a shock. I have since wondered if she was hormonally out of her fucking mind that day, or what. If that's the case, though, it's mass hysteria. She isn't the only person who has come at me with that exact same conversation over the past two months. Sometimes I wonder, do I have doormat tattooed on my forehead and I'm just not aware of it?  I swear, it's been unreal.  

Anyway, I'm sure the castle represents something important in the dream. A castle/keep is basically built for defense. It's purpose is to withstand an attack, and I've had attacks coming from all sides lately. Things just now feel like they're starting to settle down into a normal routine again, and I'm trying to maintain that as best as I can.

Today I did nothing but homey things...I baked cookies with Mini, and helped him thoroughly clean his room. That included sorting through his toy boxes and throwing out all the junk and broken stuff. I cleaned house, then made a homemade tetrazzini for supper. I didn't get around to vacuuming or putting the boy in the bath until after ten p.m., but all that matters is that it was a good day spent surrounded by folks I love.

Tomorrow, back to the grind...but, for now, I'm calling it a night. I hope you all had a great Memorial Day.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday Fun: A Birthday Party, An Exam, and Zombies

Happy birthday to my little bear! He turned seven today. We took him to Chuck E. Cheese for a party and gaming. He had a blast, and ran us all ragged, including my parents. They dropped by and played a few games with him, ate pizza and birthday cake, and sat through the floor show with us. Good times!

After Chuck E. Cheese, we drove Mini to Toys R Us to spend his birthday money. He bought a build-it car kit, a large Sonic the Hedgehog magazine/comic, and a set of Sonic action figures. Very cute.

When we made it back home, I flopped into a chair first thing, and kicked off my shoes. SassiePup had a lot to say to us for leaving her home alone. Poor beast. {g} I puttered around the house a bit, then when the house was settled, I wandered back to my office and checked my email. I found this wonderful 5 star review for Wave Rider waiting for me in my inbox. Coolness!

I eventually found my way over to the online La Tech classroom.  Today was the final for my copyediting class.  I scored a 97%. Not perfect, but scored as "Excellent". I'll take it! And for my trouble, I get a certificate of completion. What's more, I now know for certain I can handle doing extended coursework at home. This course was six weeks. Very do-able. I'll keep that in mind when I enroll at Delta.

That's all for now. It's been such a great day, I hate to see it end. Lots of laughs and smiles and happiness. Le sigh. Now that everyone is snoozing, I think I'll snuggle on the couch with a blanket and a cup of tea and watch horror movies. What can I's Zombie Week on the Chiller channel. ^_^ I hope you all have a happy weekend!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Romance Wednesday : Honorable Intentions by Catherine Mann

Is it really after eleven a.m.? It feels like it should be 8 or 9. I woke up as hubby was getting ready for work, but later went back to bed. I have a sore throat and I'm all stuffy. Boo hoo. Do not want. Once I make my way through this assignment I'm going to hit the couch and read until I fall asleep. I'm currently reading...Undone by her Tender Touch. It's by Maya Banks. I took it with me to Biloxi, but didn't have time to read it.

Right now I have laundry going, and I just finished reading over my study guides for the copyediting exam on Friday. I resisted the temptation to go pick through everyone's pinnings over at Pinterest. Then I got to thinking about Mini's birthday party on Friday, and how the heck can there be only nine days left of May?  Nine?  Seriously? Time, slow down already! The days seem to be flying by. I hope that's not going to the pattern for the entire summer.

So, laugh if you will, but I have been studying for the ACT. Yes, I am, and everything it implies. I have aced most of the practice tests. Most. How would I fair on the math portion? Let's just say they'd send me home crying at this point. I have a math refresher coming up, and I need to find out if I have to go to a different parish to get a copy of my immunization records. I have a feeling this is just a start of the insanity sure to come from degree seeking. There are a billion other things to do before I turn in my registration over at Delta. Stress, stress...can you feel my stress?

But on to other things...happier books!  While grocery shopping yesterday, I bought two new books: Sara Orwig's Relentless Pursuit, and Tessa Radley's One Dance with the Sheikh. Both are Harlequin Desire line titles. I read the blurb for Relentless Pursuit on the Harlequin website, and actually wrote that one on my shopping list. The cover initially drew me in, but the story seems to have an intriguing stack of tropes. I'm curious to checked out the character conflicts.

Speaking of tropes and conflicts...I finally have a better understanding of the internal, personal conflicts and how they affect a growing relationship between the hero and heroine in a romance. I'm now able to read through a book and pick out the key elements of the romance. Very exciting stuff, because I've noticed it not only applies to category romances, but single titles as well. Finally, some of this weekend edumacation stuff is sinking in. {g}

Back onto the subject of books, I recently read Honorable Intentions by Catherine Mann. The story takes place in New Orleans, Louisiana, so of course, I had to buy this one. Too, the author mentions that the hero is stationed in Bossier City, at Barksdale AFB. Very familiar territory for me.

Here's the blurb from the Harlequin site:
Major Hank Renshaw knows almost everything there is to know about Gabrielle Ballard. Except for what it's like to touch her. Because Gabrielle is his best friend's fiancée. Or she was. Until his buddy died in battle—right after making Hank promise to find her…

So now Hank's in New Orleans. In Gabrielle's apartment. Watching her nurse her infant son. It's not honor that draws him to her. It's not duty that makes him stay. It's need he's feeling, plain and simple—the desire to take the woman he's always wanted and finally make her his own.

I liked this book. Even though the hero is from a wealthy and politically prominent family, he's still a down-to-earth kind of guy, and he's presented in a very believable way, despite being a billionaire in a small city. Billionaires don't always work in that kind of setting, but in this case, it all feels very natural to have Hank Renshaw living in New Orleans and operating out of Bossier, even though the cities are hundreds of miles apart.

Hank came to New Orleans to find Gabrielle. He was determined to tell her what her husband (his best friend) said while he lay dying on the battlefield. Hank has no idea until his arrival that Gabrielle has an infant son. The husband/best friend was killed before she told him she was pregnant. This complicates the romance, but Hank has always loved Gabrielle, and he makes the decision that his friend would want him to watch out for the child. Too, he wants the child to have a father-figure in his life.

Both Gabrielle and Hank have a lot of guilt issues to work through, and at first Gabrielle resists Hank's help, even though she desperately needs it. Her infant son needs an operation, and although she refuses to admit it, she needs someone to lean on for support. Of course, they work out their differences - this is a romance, after all, but I won't spoil the ending for any potential readers. I'll simply say the story had a satisfying and believable resolution. Honorable Intentions hits all the romance marks. It's definitely worth a read.

Anyway, that's all I've got for now. I need to check on Mini, and make lunch. I'll post again when I have something interesting to say. *eyebrow wiggle* I hope you have a fabulous Wednesday!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday Blues: Back From Biloxi

Ho hum. I guess I'm due a case of the Monday blues. We had a lovely weekend in Biloxi, and I'm sad it had to end. It was good to see Oldest. He joined us at the hotel on Saturday, and we sat around chatting a while before we went out to explore the area.

We took Oldest shopping at the mall and later went to the beach. Mini wanted to go swimming, so we bought a pair of trunks for him and turned him loose. We let him play until his nose started getting a bit pink from the sun, then we piled up in the car and went out to eat lunch.

Around 2 we went back toward the hotel. We had already checked out, but Oldest wanted to catch a cab back to the AFB since he knew the fare would be about $10.00. I gave him all the remaining cash I had on hand to cover his ride back and any extras, then we hugged and said goodbye, and it was over all the soon.

On the ride back to Louisiana, I think hubby began to acknowledge that our little family has changed. Oldest is a grownup now, and it shows. He has always been an independent kid, but I think this was kind of strange for Hubby to accept. They don't stay little forever.

This coming weekend, Hubby should have his sparkle back. He gets a four day weekend because of Memorial Day. And Friday is Mini's birthday, so there will be plenty of daddy-son time. We're taking Mini to Chuck E. Cheese for a party, then we'll drop by Toys R Us. I'm sure Mini would love to pick out a Sonic the Hedgehog DVD.

On the agenda for today...I have a workshop to check in on, and at some point I need to vacuum my car. There is sand everywhere, Sassie left white dog hair stuck all over the passenger's seat. I picked her up from Mom and Dad's on Sunday afternoon.

That's all for now. Here's hoping this week treats us all kindly with that Venus retrograde energy swirling out there. By the way, did you check out the eclipse last night? I only saw pictures, but holy cow!  Great stuff!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Book for the Beach

It's about 6:30 a.m. here in the land of La. I'm up early doing Friday assignments so I won't have to think about it when we head out to Biloxi in a few hours. I certainly don't want to have to tackle classwork when I come back. Whew. I have to say, a short vacation couldn't have come at a better time.

My book for the beach: Undone By Her Tender Touch by Maya Banks. *eyebrow wiggle*

I hope you all have a fabulous Friday, and a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

When Thursday Goes Splat

What a day. That pretty much sums it up. Everything went wrong today. If I touched it, I broke it. Seriously, there were several times throughout the day I wanted to crawl into bed and hide under the covers. But I didn't, because what good would it do?

Never mind that the drunk crazy lady is out on bond and back at her house down the street until trial. Never mind that Donna Summer, my disco goddess icon has died. Add to that the fact I have test stress and I found out I can't take my 099 math courses online, I have to actually show up for class. What is this, the Dark Ages? Screw you Algebra, you harlot whore of Satan. And, yes, I am absolutely whining. I have earned the right. Today just thoroughly sucked.

On the upside, tomorrow Hubby, Mini, and I will be taking off to the resort in Biloxi. We're going to see Oldest, bake our buns on the beach, then drive back home Saturday evening. I'll have to catch up on all Friday's assignments Sunday, because after the week I've had, there's no way I'm taking assignments with me.

I'm being summoned, so that's all for now. But first, to make up for a bad day...I give you a reason to laugh!  Go to youtube and check out the video of Gilbert Gottfried reading 50 Shades of Gray. Hilarious!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The First Day of Summer Vacation

Where to start? So much has happened over the past few days. Mini is officially out for the summer. I went to the elementary awards ceremony on Monday, and was thrilled for my little bear. He received a medal and two certificate awards for A honor roll, and Dibels reading skills. His teacher mentioned during the ceremony that Mini reads at 113 wpm, which is the highest reading level out of his class. Also, he blew the doors off the state exam. I didn't know until the ceremony that the average score expected on the test is 150 for students Mini's grade level and age. He scored 318, which was more than double the average. Way to go, my boy!

To be honest, when hubby and I got his test scores in, we just looked to make sure all the little boxes were colored in green, indicating that he had passed that competency module, then we tossed the test aside. I don't want him to feel test pressure at that age. It never helped me in any way, shape, or form to stress over a test. If Mini's passing, that's all we care about. So, finding out that he scored that well on the test was a very nice surprise. Of course, I had to call the grandparents to let them know. They were very happy for Mini. I think grandma is preparing a surprise for him the next time he comes over.

After the awards ceremony, I chatted with Mini's teacher and a few parents, then we left for home. I told Mini we'd make a dash to the store, and grab a bite to eat at the Panda before coming back home. I quickly figured up the bills, had Mini put them in the mail box, then we took off. As we were pulling out of the driveway, the sheriff's car drove past. I didn't think anything of it - we have cop that lives maybe three house down?  Anyway, as we drove past the drunken crazy lady's house, there were a ton of cars out there. A few trucks. Two more sheriff's vehicles - a car and truck - were out there, too. I slowed down as I drove past, because I didn't what was going on. I figured something had happened, of course. However, it's not usual to see the cops over there, so honestly, I didn't really think anything of it.

Mini and I ran errands. The Panda was closed - which was weird - so we bought popcorn chicken and tater wedges for lunch and brought them home. I spent the rest of the day cleaning, doing mom stuff, and I printed and read over the lessons in two workshops I'm currently taking. After hubby came home, our neighbor across the street came over on his lawn tractors, and told us the hubbub with the neighbors' down the street was because the DCL shot her husband in the chest with a shotgun last night. She was arrested for murder, and I can only guess that all the cars and activity was part of the crime scene investigation.

We were surprised by the news, but deep down, not really. They had their problems, and while we didn't want that down here on our property, we didn't want to see anyone hurt.  It's very sad how it all turned out for them.

Today, I slept in an hour late, and when I got up, I set about cleaning the house so I could find something to keep Mini busy. I helped him re-organize his art kit, and gave him a huge shipping box out of my office so he could color the box and make a "car" out of it. I gave him some wooden blocks to paint, and he had fun with that. He also cut up paper shapes and taped them on his hot wheels cars, while I went over my notes and did some classwork. I have about four weeks left on both the college classes and the workshops I'm taking. So, it's going to be interesting, keeping him busy.

I also cleaned out my office today. OMG, the junk in here. I am such a pack rat. Half of this stuff I don't even remember where it came from. Anyway, I threw away two large garbage bags of stuff, and packed up other junk to store in the shed. I have a few more boxes and bins to sort through. Two of the bins are books I never read. I put those bins on the shelf, and as soon as I pick through the lot, I'm giving the rest of the books away. There are so many, it would cost a fortune to ship them, so I should probably put them in a box and set them out at the library.

That's pretty much what's going on here. I'm cleaning things out for summer, taking classes and workshops, and jotting a few words on paper every chance I get. Oh, and I managed to secure the line up for the Suzannah contest this year. We have an awesome panel of final judges. I promise to post more about that later.

That's all for now. Mini is waiting on me to get the sheets out of the dryer. We're going to Febreeze mattresses, and remake the beds. Great summer fun, you know? {lol} Happy Tuesday, everyone.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all you mommies out there, and peace to those who are missing their mom today.

The guys and I will be heading over to my mom's in a few hours. We received Oldest's Navy graduation video in by FedX a few days ago. My parents weren't able to fly to Chicago with us for the graduation, and they've been looking forward to the DVD. I'm going to drop by the store and buy lunch on the way over there, so it's going to be a cozy kind of hang-out day for us.

So, it's been a few days since I've blogged. What's going on with me? A lot of stuff. I've been very busy. Aside from studying, I've been working on the annual contest for my RWA chapter. I'm super excited about the line up of editors and agents we have on board to judge. I'll be posting about that more when it gets closer to contest time.

Let's see... what else is going on?  Well, I've been cleaning up a short story for a class workshop I'm taking, and I've been writing when I get a few free minutes. Right now, my main focus outside of studying for my certification test, is the fantasy romance. I'm trying to pull my sample chapters together so I can go ahead and send them out to the editor who requested them. My current goal is to have those chapters off my desk by the end of the month. Wish me luck!

Anyway it's almost 1 a.m., so I better wrap up and call it a night. It's going to be a fun, but busy day tomorrow.  When we're back home from celebrating I'll probably be tired, and ready to flop on the couch and watch a horror movie marathon. Make mine zombies. ;o) Have a great Sunday, everyone!

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Much To Do :: So Few Hours

Wow, anyone else welcome in the Taurus energy today? I've been feeling the flow, that's for sure. It's been a busy day, but everything is happening at a much slower pace than usual. The bus was late both arriving to pick Mini up this morning, and dropping him off after school.

My lessons went pretty much the same way. I was slow to get started, and haven't finished my assignments yet. I'm still working on the lessons from Monday and Tuesday for one class, and I need to read through the coursework and assignments that were posted in the college forum this afternoon. Oh, and I still need to type up that report I promised my writing group. My to-do list seems to get longer every time I look at it.

I have until Friday to catch up on everything, which means I need to finish as much of it as I can tonight. Tomorrow is Dad's birthday, and that takes precedence over everything else. I still need to go shopping for a card and some wrapping paper for the man. While I'm there, I should probably go ahead and pick up mom's gift for Mother's Day, too.

After hubby is off work Thursday evening, we're going to my parents' house for a small party. Nothing stuffy or formal, just cake and gifts, and chatting on the porch. Good times. I don't want to be thinking about assignments when I'm over there. So, I've been staying up late working on projects and such. Anyway, there's a lot to do in a short amount of time this week, and I'm definitely feeling the pinch.

On the writing front, I'm currently working on three projects. That's craziness, I know. I'm already busy, so add multiple projects to that. Brilliant, right? I'm currently reworking a story that was previously published in an anthology. I just managed to straighten out all the formatting issues with the main story last night. What a total pain in the ass. It only took me three days to fix that one. Yeah, okay. I'm seriously considering paying a friend to format the final document for me, to save myself the headache.

I'm also working on the fantasy romance novel. It's the project I most want to see finished, so of course, that one is coming along slowly. Very. Slowly. Can you feel my agony? This story is killing me. I imagine my characters are a little bit like this:

Trust me, the idea of killing the cast has crossed my mind. But I think the issue lies in the motivation. The characters aren't acting on the page because my heroine isn't properly motivated. I've rewritten the beginning of that book at least three times, and the last time I did it, I stripped away the original setup so the story would more closely match what I had in mind when I first came up with the idea. I like it much better now, but I need to get my heroine fired up about...something. Anything. She has a goal; she just needs a reason to hit the bricks. 

The elaborate setup I packed on that story was truly more trouble than it was worth. The heroine had a lot of motivation to kick off her journey, yes, but it was taking her twenty pages just to get going. So, I've snipped and rewritten and scaled back and...hey! I think just came up with a simple motivation fix. I need to put one of the heroine's loved ones in jeopardy. She's very family oriented, so that would work. Hmm. I think maybe one of her relatives is about to get arrested? *_* {scribbling down notes} 

Anyhoo...I wanted to point this out: if your characters refuse to talk to you, or they lie there lifelessly on the page, check the motivation aspect of their GMC chart. It probably needs tweaking.

The third story on my list is a completed draft I wrote not too long ago targeting Nocturne Cravings. I set it to the side, and haven't picked it up only a couple of days ago. I'm using it now as a study/editing piece in a month-long workshop I'm taking over at FF&P. Hopefully by the time the month is up, that one will be ready for submission somewhere. Whether or not I send it to Harlequin depends on what the heat level looks like when I'm finished with it. So we'll see.

On the completed and submitted side of things, I have a couple of short stories contracted that haven't been  released yet. Two are going to be in trade paper format, which I'm excited about. I'll post about those stories when I hear more information, and right now, I don't know when that will be.

Anyway, that's what's what here in the land of La. They guys just came in, and the oven time just went off, so I think I'm going to grab a bite to eat. Bye bye for now. I hope you've all had a lovely Wednesday!

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Cora's Picks :: The Witch Thief by Lori Devoti

In the past week, the Ace of Cups has come up as my daily card twice, so I'm going to make that card my picture for today. I believe the card shown is from the standard Rider Waite deck.

This morning was quite productive. I woke up a little early and couldn't get back to sleep, so I got up and wrote for a while before I had to get Mini off to school. We have eight days left of the school year, y'all. Woot! I'm counting 'em. Oh, you better believe it.

Anyway, I got about 1k words off that first stretch of writing; then, I wrote a little on a different project before switching over to revisions. Overall, I've put about 2k words down on paper today, and I've cleaned up two scenes. I'm happy with that.

Now, I have to move on to a class assignment, which is what I'll be doing probably for the rest of the afternoon. I'll be free for the rest of the day when I'm finished, though, so there's some incentive.

Time for a subject change... It's been a while, but I have another "Cora's Picks" book to chat about. I recently read a Harlequin Nocturne - The Witch Thief by Lori Devoti.

Her books always seem to grab me for some reason. Even if I don't realize I'm buying a Lori Devoti book, I'm always drawn to them on the shelf. I'll later get home and that's when I realize I've bought another one of her books, which is exactly what happened when I bought The Witch Thief.

First, let me say that The Witch Thief is a lovers reunited story, which is my very favorite romance trope. I will buy a lovers reunited story in almost any sub-genre of romance. I love the idea of making a relationship work the second time around.

This book focuses on dragon shapeshifters, which is kinda cool; and there are also dwarves in this book. So, we kind of have a slipstream novel going on here, a combo of romance/fantasy/paranormal.

I won't give away too much about the finer points of the book, but I will say that I really liked this one. It took some warming up to the heroine, but she fit the story, she was a consistent character, and that works for me.  The basics setup of the book is this: the heroine steals an "enchanted" cup from the dragon's treasure chamber, and that results in a whole lot of havoc.

Why did I like this book so much?  Because this is the very first Nocturne I've read where I honestly didn't know how it was going to end. There were lots of turning points and reversals in the second half of the book. It was very well done. I do wish there had been more of a denouement, because the story ends a little abruptly, albeit on a high note. (I wanted to spend more time with the characters!) This makes me wonder if we'll be seeing these characters again in a future Nocturne - maybe a cameo appearance. At any rate, this is my latest pick. The Witch Thief is a wonderful romance story that will keep you guessing to the very end. I highly recommend it!

You can buy a copy of The Witch Thief here:

That's all for now. I have to get back to work. I have probably an hour or so before Mini gets home. Lots to do, so little time. Ain't that just the way. ;o) Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Monday, May 07, 2012

The Business of Being Busy

Happy Monday, everyone! I'm having a lovely day so far, and I hope you are too.

Let's see. What's going on with me... Well, things are coming together for the contest I'm organizing for my RWA chapter. My LA Tech class is going very well, and I'm slowly but surely making progress with my fantasy romance novel. I think I've finally worked out all the snags with the beginning scenes, and I'm about ready to move forward with it.

Also, I've started reformatting one of the stories that is going to appear in Twilight's Edge, which I'll be releasing (hopefully) in June through GrrlX Publishing.

When I pulled the leading story from the old anthology it was in, the copy and paste saved all the old margins and styles, and Word wouldn't let me ditch them. I went rounds with it, and finally, I had to strip all the formatting out of the document and start from scratch. I purposely put XX's where the new paragraphs and page breaks needed to be, so now I have to back through this huge, single block of text that is probably forty pages long, and manually recreate the paragraphs and returns. Talk about a big ol' pain in the booty!

Another thing I noticed when reading through this story, which was very well received when it came out in 2007 or 2008, it is not up to my current standard of writing. This really surprised me (and excited me a little), because I didn't realize my writing had matured that much. With this novella, I could see obvious mistakes I had made, even though the book had been edited.

I'm going to thoroughly revise this story before I release the collection. It's still a very good story, and I don't intend to change the content much beyond what it was, but I see ways to clean it up and make the writing stronger. So, I'm going to do that. When this new collection comes out, it will have a revised, expanded version of At the Edge of Twilight in there.

On top of everything else, I'm currently involved in a five week workshop on strengthening the emotional arc of your story. I'm using a novella I wrote a few weeks ago as my dissection piece. I have no idea how this is going to turn out, but I hope by the end of the class, I have a story that is ready for submission - or at least, close to it. We'll see.

Mini's bus will be here any minute, so I'm going to close for now. It's going to be a busy week for me, and we're talking about taking that Biloxi trip again this weekend. Too, Dad's birthday and Mother's Day is this week. If nothing else, it should be interesting. ;o)

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Super Full Moon Ice Cream Day

Did you see the Super Full Moon last night? I stepped outside to look at it three times. The first time was around 9:30 and the moon was back behind some trees across the road, so I couldn't really see it. I came back in and did tarot readings until about 10:30. I went back out again at 10:40 and had a clear view. The moon was lovely. Big and bright. Not as big as photos I've seen online, but bigger than usual. I tried to take a few pictures of the, but the moon came out as a white dot on a black background. Heh.

The last time I went out was right at the peak point - 11:33-11:35. Honestly, it didn't look much different than it had a 10:40, but I cast a quick spell anyway, and went back inside before I lost another pint of blood to the mosquitoes. Overall, I'm very glad I went out to see it, and would definitely do it again.

After I came back inside for the last time, I did a bit of writing. I keep going back to the beginning of my fantasy romance because it just doesn't feel right. It's too complicated, and takes too long to get the story started. So, for days I've been waffling over what to do with it. I read something recently, I can't remember where, that if you're struggling like this, take your manuscript and toss it in the trash. Now ask yourself if there was one thing you could salvage from that manuscript, what would you save?

Well, I knew right away what that would be - the core of the story and the main characters. So, that's what I saved, which basically cut the beginning and ending off my story. Boo hoo hoo... I hate cutting words, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Now I'm going back and rethinking my GMC, trying to keep the story as core focused as possible - not as easy as it sounds. In the long run though, the core story is the story I want to tell versus the story I was likely to get, if I'd stayed on track with the original beginning. I'm glad I did something about it before I got too far along in the story.

Anyway, I'm about to find a pair of shoes and drive to the store. I've been craving a vanilla malt, and when I tweeted about wanting one a couple of days ago, hubby saw the suggestion and agreed that a vanilla malt wouldn't be unwelcome in his tummy either. LOL So, that's the order of the day. I'm going to buy some ice cream, malt, milk, and some stuff to blend up for a homemade Blizzard for MiniBeast. Yum.

That's all for now. Before I go...a video in memory of Adam Yauch, MCA of the Beastie Boys, who passed away recently. So very sad. Beasties were a huge, huge, huge part of my teen years, and my very first band crush.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Where Does The Time Go?

Ah, a quickie post for this evening... I'm behind on blogging, sorry about that. I've been very busy with writing, class assignments and workshops, plus the freelance stuff I'm doing on the side. And that's not including the everyday home life stuff! Busy, busy...

Summer is coming up fast, and I'm totally not prepared. Mini has one full week left, then a partial week of half days. After that, the boy is out for summer vacation. I'm trying to take care of all the small projects so I can focus on only one thing while he's home. It will be much easier to manage, if my attention isn't scattered in fifty different directions.

Anyway, I ran errands today, and it seemed like everywhere I went: bank, store, etc., there was a mile long waiting line. Good heavens, I thought I'd never get back home! When I did finally make it back home, I lugged in groceries while SassiePup bounced around the dining room, reminding me she needed to be walked.

I managed to get everything settled, and by then I needed a nap - I'm totally not kidding. I tried to read on the couch, fell asleep, and then hubby scared the bejeezus out of me when he came home early. I jumped off the couch out of a dead sleep when he walked through the door. For some reason, I thought I'd overslept and missed Mini's bus. I know, that doesn't sound like a reason to panic, but the one time I didn't greet Mini at the door the exact moment he arrived off the bus, he ended up bawling through the door like no one was home. {Yes, I am scarred forever!} Anyway, it was hubby. And he thought my wake up was damn hilarious. :P
After that rude wake up call, I was too anxious to try napping again. I ended up back at my desk going over notes and writing until the bus actually arrived.

Holy cow. It's 9 pm. Where does the time go? I'm about to put Mini in the bath and start the laundry. I've got a novella out on my desk for later. I'm going to start revising it once Mini is tucked in bed and snoozing. And that's pretty much it. My day. My plans. I tell ya, I'm so glad the weekend is almost here!

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

May Day :: Twilight's Edge

Happy May Day, everyone! Can you believe we are already five months into the year? Great gravy, 2012 is going by fast.

Oi, I am so tired today. It's a wonder I managed to crawl out of bed. If left to my own devices I'd probably still be sacked out, but KippyCat woke me up a little while ago with his loud, frantic meowing. The way he was carrying on, you'd think the house was on fire or something like that. It turned out his food dish was empty. Yeah, it was that critical. So, I got up and fed Sir Kips, and by the time I'd settled in at my computer, it was almost 10 a.m.

I have a ton of stuff to do today, but first things first: caffeine. I can tell already I'm not going to make it through the day without it. LOL

Mini has only eight full days of school left. The final week, the schedule goes to half days, and that's not even going to be a full week of school. So very soon, I'm going to have the little man home with me during the day. I'm trying to wrap up as many loose ends, and take care of little projects to get them out of the way for when he's home. My writing schedule will definitely have to shift to accommodate the kidlet.

Twilight's Edge
click to enlarge
The next book on my release list for GrrlX is Twilight's Edge: a collection of erotic fairy tales. The original novella I put in place to lead this title was previously published as At the Edge of Twilight. It's an oak man story, and I really wasn't sure what to do with it after I got my rights back for it. It was part of a fairy anthology to start with, so I decided to revise it and pair it with another novella.  

Once I get this book up, all the out of print stories in my backlist (at least I think that's all of them; I need more coffee!) will be taken care of. I'll be able to move forward with all new material, including the latest Werekind story on the agenda for this summer.

Speaking of books... This morning, I read on Facebook that the Ultimate Angels anthology is in the second round of formatting. Hopefully it won't be much longer now on that one. My story Prince of Thorns is included in that anthology. I can hardly wait to see it in print. :o)

I guess I should get to work. I have proofreading and writing to do. During the month of May, it's my goal to focus on the fantasy romance, and get it written. This will be fun, I'm sure, especially while I'm in the middle of taking classes. But, we all must soldier on. {wink} Happy Tuesday, everyone!