More than a place--it's a writer's muse.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bearing Gifts to the Muse

Okay, loves! Look who's back in the saddle! And I'm bringing Godiva Chocolatinis all around.

I don't know about you guys, but my muse is pissed. Yeah, she's been a little angry by being put off for holiday duties. I was thinking about this last night--being denied writing time. The words back up and it's like having an impacted colon. And it digressed into fart jokes, but I was amused and felt better. But seriously.

My immediate family is very supportive of my process. It's the extended family that seems to not get it. Which is surprising because there are creative types among them. No respect for my creative space. For the most part, I'm not a diva writer. Yes, a Text Diva for life, but I'm not fussy. I've adapted to handle interruptions, small imps that like to call me mama and demand food, and life in general. But disrespecting my creative space ignites a full blown hissy fit the likes of which even Van Gogh could not imagine and I'm not even dancing with the Green Fairy.

For me, it's a violation and as overdramatic as it sounds, I feel like I must exorcise all of their banal energy before it's my space again. I'm settling in now for a long winter's scribble.

What about you? Is your writing space sacred? What do you do to make it sacred?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I Love Romance Writers

Dorchester made another cut yesterday in the America’s Next Best Celler Contest, and two Divas are still standing. I’m thrilled and a little stunned that CONFESSIONS OF THE WORLD’S OLDEST SHOTGUN BRIDE is in the final four. I’m also thrilled, but not the least bit stunned, that HOW TO LOSE A DEMON IN 10 DAYS by the fabulous Saranna DeWylde is right there too. And I’m awed by the generosity of spirit displayed by my fellow contestants.

Throughout the contest, everyone has been so supportive of each other, even though technically we were in competition. Authors voted for and commented on each other’s stories, gave advice on effective techniques of vote tarting, friended and followed each other on Facebook and Twitter, and invited each other to guest blog. After the finalists were announced, semifinalists who didn’t move on beta read for finalists who were preparing their full manuscripts for submission to Dorchester. Even though a huge prize is on the line, there's been very little nastiness.

This same spirit of wanting to be of service to each other is evident throughout Romance Writers of America and its local chapters. Published romance authors – even NYT bestsellers – routinely give their time to help and educate their unpublished sisters. No one acts as if publishing is a zero sum game, where one person’s success can only come at someone else's expense. Perhaps this is because romance writers are nearly all women, and women are socialized to be cooperative rather than competitive? Whatever the reason, Romance writers don’t let the cutthroat nature of the publishing industry turn us against each other.

And so, I raise my chocolate martini glass to the community of romance writers. Like Rodney Dangerfield, we don’t get no respect, but we’re good people. It’s an honor to be one of you.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Writing with the bedroom light on.

It's cold. I'm tired. I'm stressed. How can I write a romantic scene while trying to pry a 3 year old off my lap and serve a 1 1/2 year old his third serving of hummus and crackers? I can't. Even my Darling Hubby has stopped asking if he can help me "research". My purple prose has gone black and it has brought me here to wonder:

What the hell happened to me?

I have these cartons full of my writings from when I was a kid. My influences are sadly obvious; most of the romance novels I read (and therefore mimicked) were the classic bodice rippers of the 1980's. Remember those? Women were subjugated to all sorts of un-PC situations, often raped, abused, mistreated--and the heroines were okay with that. I know better now. I know a lot of stuff better now (see description of toddlers above). This is the crux of my problem: Do I know too much?

Jennifer Hart wrote earlier this week that authors should write what they know, and I agree, but I find that when it comes to romantic moments in my heroines' lives, all of this knowledge may have hurt my ability to fantasize. When I was much younger, writing romantic scenes based on only what I could imagine it would be like to kiss someone, I had a sense of the truly romantic. My imagination was boundless because I didn't know any limits.

Yeah, I know my limits now. I demand more from my characters. I demand more than a sweet innocent first kiss, or a hero who forces the heroine around the book. I demand my hero to rise in my heroine's esteem, usually as she is trying to save the world or her own life. It's not about flowers and candy and jewelry. It's about making realistic connection and believable situations that my characters grow in.

I have become high maintenance. Don't tell my Darling Hubby.
I know, I know. I haven't really lost my ability to fantasize. I still do. I still love to write about the first kiss, the first physical meeting of the two lovers. I have a feeling that a good (full) night's sleep and 25 minutes of uninterrupted time with my own lover (clothing optional) will help my fantasy writing ability come back full force. In the mean time, I guess I'll just write some snarky fighting scenes.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Staying Power of Vampires: Playing Devil's Advocate

Disclaimer: The following is not in any way to suggest you stray from your particular religious flock, but rather to point out an odd correlation between a fall in church attendance and a rise in vampire popularity. Just think about it. Life's one big "What if..." ;-)

As a writer of werewolves, I think I'm legally required to be "Team Jacob." And frankly, having seen New Moon (and Jacob's ahh-mazing abs on display several times) I must say "Good show" ;-). Anyhow, as much as I prefer a heartbeat to the stone cold nothing of a vampire's chest, I have to admit I think vamps will be around for a while. And it goes beyond their pesky immortality--or maybe not so much if we think about it.

Let's look at our current culture and the relatively recent surge in vampire lovin'.

Being mere mortals one of the things that has always fascinated our species is the concept of immortality. We've fought wars (remember hearing about those crusades?) in hopes of getting pardoned for our sins and gaining admission to that great and relatively exclusive clubhouse in the sky. We've confessed our most unsavory thoughts and deeds and tried to follow the laws set by men who supposedly had them delivered by God (I wasn't around back then, so who am I to judge?). We've hurt ourselves and others all in the name of getting a ticket to heaven.

Today less people worldwide are attending church and other religious institutions and it seems more are being more vocal against organized religion. Without the message of how to attain immortality through godly behavior is it any wonder we're even more fascinated with the paranormal "alternatives." ;-)

I mean, come on. You can play by all the rules that religious dogma suggests (and there are gobs of them if you've ever bothered to read the books of the big 3) or you can dream of being bitten by a hot (well, actually cold ;-) vampire, suck some of their blood and shazam! Immortality.

Which is sexier? The heat of blood pumping (I dare say at a faster rate) as a vamp takes a bite and embraces the warmth that is no longer naturally theirs (and then gives a "mere mortal" a taste of vampy goodness) or remembering you aren't even supposed to have lusty thoughts because that's committing adultery according to dogma, too?

No wonder more folks tote copies of vampire novels around than Bible study stuff.

And, while we're being frank, the romance angle of vamps in fiction still has room for exploration. Yes, vamps (being immortal and around for a long time) have "been around the block" a time or two. They've probably seen and done stuff and become callous. So the trick for authors may be for the romantic lead to find the button on the vamp character that truly makes an experience seem new to them. If you'd lived forever and started to become bored and jaded with life, what would it take to excite you again?

So, although there are readers wanting to put an end to vampire popularity (the complaints I've seen!) writers may have a bigger stake ;-) in their success even now. Unless everyone suddenly gets religion and steps onto *that* highway to heaven with greater interest than we're currently seeing. I mean, the end of the world does come in 2012, right? ;-)

Simply Shannon ;-)

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Un-blog Post

Perhaps 'tis the season to be jolly, but I have to confess, I'm in a funk.

Short of congratulating the five amazing finalists in the Dorchester Next Best Celler contest(two of whom are DIVAS!!!!), I have no blog topic today. So, I'm going to do what hard pressed women have been doing since the dawn of time. I'm going to fake it until I make it. ;)

The holidays are upon us, and I don't know about you, but the more I throw myself into celebrating, the lower my daily wordcount falls. I think my high school math teacher referred to this concept as an "inverse correlation." Or not, considering I probably skipped that day, which means my notes were borrowed from the studly but not so intellectually endowed second-string quarterback. Translation? God only knows how accurate that term really is.

But for the purpose of today's blog, it works. Holidays are play time. This holiday, moreso, as it may be the last one for a while when my entire family is together. So my word count is tanking hard and fast. That makes January payback time.

But this year, I can't afford to spend the month of January oiling my rusty hinges. In spite of my dropping out of the Next Best Celler contest to deal with some epic family struggles, I do still have a manuscript due to my (patient) publisher and a personal goal to get Muse Struck into Dorchester before they forget that they have ever so graciously invited me to send it in to them when it's done. ;)

Muse Struck was the manuscript that autism built, my fun way of pushing awareness into areas of readership that might not have been introduced to autism otherwise. The project simply can't die. Every hope I have for my sons' futures is tied up in that manuscript.

So, with that said, I'm falling to our writer readers to help me figure out how to move through a bittersweet holiday season with enough focus to keep the pages piling up, even if it's just a paragraph at a time.

So dear readers, have at it. How do you pile up the pages when the gun's aimed at your skull?

On an aside, did you ever wish you could say you knew a best seller way back when? Now you can. When you're done putting me on the straight and narrow, check out fellow textnovelist and Next Best Celler semi-finalist, Jennifer Hart's fun, fresh and sassy interview at Wild Child Publishing as she talkes about her new release, River Rats.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Which of these things is not like the others?

I’m not like the other Textnovel Divas. These girls are fast… fast writers, anyway. Just for instance, Shannon finished 13 to Life in five weeks, and Saranna DeWylde recently wrote 10,000 words in a single day to finish How to Lose a Demon in 10 Days.

10,000 words has sometimes been my annual total.

The thing is, to quote a poster one of my critique partners gave me, “Writers write; everyone else makes excuses.” Yes, it was a hint - and I took it in the spirit in which it was intended. She loves me and wants to see me increase my productivity so I can reach my writing goals. I want the same thing. Towards that end, I’m a big fan of Club 100.

Club 100 is the brainchild of romance writer Beth Pattillo. It involves a simple challenge: Write at least 100 words a day for 100 days. Each person sets their own rules about how many days they want to write – some write every day, while others allow themselves weekends off, or a “floating” day off once a week. Similarly, some writers only count words on their fiction works in progress, while others count “business” writing like query letters, or even blogs. In other words, everyone gets to set whatever rules work best for them.

Club 100 members have a yahoo loop where we post our progress and give each other encouragement. When someone hits 100 days, besides praise and adoration from the group, they get a cyber tiara. For my first tiara, earned last December 22, I chose diamonds. Unfortunately, I haven’t put together another 100 day string since, but when I do, my next tiara will be emeralds – to match my eyes. Many of us find that once we sit down to write 100 words, we fly right past that target and write a lot more. Others often write close to the minimum – but even at only 100 words a day, the words pile up quickly and manuscripts get finished.

To read more about Club 100, check out Fellow tortoises who’d like to join can send an e-mail to The more the merrier - we’d love to have you!

On another note… today will be a big day for me. I’m waiting to hear whether Confessions of the World’s Oldest Shotgun Bride has made the top 5 in the Dorchester Publishing Co./ America’s Next Best Celler contest, and whether the potential buyers have accepted my counteroffer to buy my home in Virginia.

If both answers are no, I’ll have to drown my sorrows in several chocolate martinis.

Of course, if both answers are yes, I’ll have celebrate with several chocolate martinis. And a split verdict will also require a chocolate martini or two or several.

Meantime, a chocolate martini salute to fellow Divas and finalists Saranna DeWylde and Courtney Sheets. If I can’t win, I hope one of you does. Cheers!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Here I am, standing around naked in cyberspace again.

After six months of the complete cyber insanity that was the Next Best Celler contest, I took a little hiatus. I didn't update any of my stories on textnovel, I didn't haunt twitter or facebook like I had. I reconnected with my husband, my kids, and my friends in the most traditional of ways. I met them face to face.

As all of you fellow writers know, that got old, fast.

So, to further my writing career, I sat my butt down and made myself an honest to goodness author website ( It's quite bare bones at the minute, but heck, so is my writing career.

I also finished my first short story, BACK ROADS, and with the help of the marvelous and clever Saranna DeWylde (who also happens to be one freaking awesome editor), I polished it up and began a search for a home. BACK ROADS isn't a romance. It isn't even paranormal. It is Dark Horror--horror that is driven by the craziness of the human psyche.

I may have made a mistake. It isn't a story from the genre I'm interested in working it, paranormal romance. however, this is my thought: It may be a good way to cut my teeth in the business. I can find my way around, get to know the path. Also, if it gets rejected, I won't be totally crushed.

Yeah. That is a biggie.

So, what do you think of my choice to get into the action using a work that isn't what I usually write? Know this, as well, I am not completely sure if I don't want to write horror. It's kinda sick, but it comes easy to me. This may be the path I was destined to take. That's the glory at being so new at this: I have room to move. I could always combine genres, which is my plan for HUNTER'S MOON--a horror romance.

Wish me luck. I submitted BACK ROADS to a publisher of ebooks and audio broadcasts. Again, I'm just testing the waters, so a small independent publisher was my aim, but not necessarily of print books. Unfortunately, I have to wait for either an acceptance or a decline, which could take as much as 6 months. 6 months that it has to sit on a shelf until someone tells me otherwise. Lesson 1 in publishing: You can't show everyone your goods.

So, like Shannon has told us about the publishing world, things happen slowly, but while I'm waiting, waiting, waiting, I'm gonna get everything out of this experience I can.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Things Learned From a Conference Call Between Publishing Folks

Today I had a conference call with people who are far more important than myself. I'm going to share a little bit of the content from that 40-something minute call with you because some day it may serve you well (I truly hope you have a chance to put the info to practice for your own book eventually).

First, a few facts:

1.) My agent arranged the call. He got the conference number, code, arranged the date and time to suit people's schedules.

2.) On the line with us were my agent (to lead the discussion--I'd provided talking points I wanted to make sure we hit), my agent's assistant (to be in the loop so she can help with immediate and upcoming project needs), my SMP editor (who knows the ins-and-outs of my book, my deal and whom I adore), a fantabulous marketing guru who I met at RWA (and I adore--enthusiasm tempered with brilliance), an awesome gal from publicity (who I've never met nor spoken with previously but whom I'm certain I shall grow to adore ;-).

3.) My son (in kindergarten) was scheduled to get off the bus 15 minutes into the call. His room was prepped with a healthy snack and his computer was on so I lost minimal time and focus. *twitch*

4.) The goal was to find out what is on SMP's agenda for my debut novel (a YA paranormal--werewolves), 13 TO LIFE (already available for pre-order but releasing June 22, 2010).

What I learned (and what was reinforced):

1.) Being a Goodreads author is important (I'm there, thanks to the encouragement of a fabulous blogger--CARLA!!!--who encouraged me to do it).

2.) Being on LibraryThing is encouraged (it's on the to-do list).

3.) Deep content for a website with direct relationship to the book series or title in the URL is definitely desirable (which works since I have a guy working on that).

4.) Tweeting and Blogging is a key to what they want me to do consistently right now. They mentioned booksignings *used* to be big but now the focus is online.

5.) They won't be horribly critical about numbers for my first--very first--novel (I believe them, but publishing is very much about money and I understand that so I'll be critical anyhow ;-)

6.) They want to be in the loop about nearly everything I plan (really).

7.) They don't want to push things too hard right now because they like to do a big push very close to the book's release date.

8.) They want to help coordinate book signings because then they can email a reminder to the store so they have enough copies on hand.

9.) They want me to write a brief prequel story they can give to just their mailing list (and they even had a specific direction they suggested--but pointed out it's up to me<-- I heart them!).

10.) They'll provide a little signage for signings.

11.) They're not so sure BEA's all it once was.

12.) They'll be sending out a gob of galleys to the trades, Facebook, Goodreads, LibraryThing and later (Feb/March for June release) to teen magazines for reviews.

13.) They'd like me to compile a list of any bloggers or folks in the biz I know personally and they'll decide if they should get a galley or a copy of the book later for review purposes.

14.) I should hold on to my galleys (which should be coming soon---SQUEEE!).

15.) I think if I combined my age and the age of my agent we'd STILL top the combined ages of our three wonderful (and very wise) gurus in NYC. :-) Perhaps it's the level of enthusiasm they bring to their job--whatever it is, I hope it keeps them young (they are truly terrific)!

What I Hope YOU Learned from This:

1.) MY PUBLISHER ROCKS! (and maybe they'll be your publisher eventually, too--seriously consider them)
2.) To actively think of things outside of your novel that can be used as teasers later (that backstory can be a rich resource for prequels, sideline stories and creative web content!).
3.) To not be afraid to talk to your publisher about their marketing goals and plans--it's a team effort and everyone has something invested in your book's success.
4.) To consider how and where you're building your platform/presence.
5.) To have a healthy snack and entertainment available for kids when they just happen to be coming home during an important call. ;-)

Take care and keep writing!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Revising a Dream--Why I can't be America's Next Best Celler

The funny thing about life is that it changes.

Nothing is given, especially not good health. Just when things are rolling along fine, the world spins and turns over, often in the space of a single heartbeat. Sometimes those changes are good. Other times, not so much. Often, there's no way to tell whether the changes that have rocked our worlds are positive ones until the dust settles.

Let's just say some major dust is settling in mine and my family's lives right now.

My oldest son has severe autism, and I'm truly ok with that, as long as he's a healthy, happy human being. But right now he's not happy or healthy. Not anymore. David developed regressive catatonia last fall, losing his abilty to speak, read, write and interact with others. When he inexplicably snapped out of it, he seemed fine, at first. Turns out, he brought something new into the mix--schizophrenia. My formerly, placid, laughing, albeit severely impacted child, turned into a screaming, headbanging, often hallucinating teenager who was determined to exorcise whatever inner torment drove him to such fits with his own fists. During his episodes he's gone through doors, windows, walls, and anyone who dares to stand in his way.

We thought for a few brief weeks that we were over the worst of it. We thought wrong. He adapts to medication regimes in three week cycles. Then his world goes to hell again. His strength during his rages is superhuman. No, this isn't an exaggeration. We're averaging a concussion a month. He can't go on like this. Neither can we.

As his mom, I can't stand by and watch him throw himself through a window. Not intervening to protect him is not an option. But those interventions usually wind up with my getting hurt. Sometimes badly. So we've made a tough choice, to do everything in our power to increase our son's level of care to 24/7 in hopes this level of intensive consistency will help calm his misery so that he can make it through the hell that has become his puberty alive.

Getting him there will occupy ever spare moment of my time over the next month--and then some. This will be a hard and heartbreaking transition for all of us.

I'm not sure this is the right choice for my son, but I do know that for now, it is the only one we haven't tried. I'm going into this phase of his life armed with a lot of hope. I have to believe on the other side of these frenetic teenage years I'll see my handsome, laughing boy again. That is the image I'm holding in my mind as I wipe the egg from my face and apologize to my readers, fans, Stan Soper of textnovel and Alicia Condon of Dorchester Publishing for this unexpected, last minute decision to withdraw my manuscript, Muse Struck, from America's Next Best Celler contest.

All of these changes, combined with a prior obligation to deliver the last manuscript in the Three Kinds of Wicked series to my current publisher will prohibit me from continuing on as a contestant. I simply can't in good faith give this contest the energy, enthusiasm, and promotion it deserves while throwing my child and a publisher who has been so very good to me under the bus.

I'm pretty sure the editors at Dorchester wouldn't want me to. They're pretty amazing people. :)

Please trust me when I say that there's nothing else I can do. Thank you. For all the vote tarting fun, the laughter, the comraderie, the editing suggestions and the support. Mostly, for the friendships and contacts that will last forever. For that, I've already won this contest a thousand times over. That is plenty enough to sustain me through the difficult days ahead.

I wish each and every one of you the very best of luck. Any one of you will do Dorchester proud.


The Sanibel Divas © 2007 Template feito por Templates para Você