Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Mid December

Only a couple of weeks until Christmas. It's so hard to believe the year is fast coming to a close. I looked back over my goals for 2006 and couldn't believe the progress I've made in my writing. I achieved every goal I set, and then some. Next year however, is my cut off.

In my five year goal plan, I wrote that if I didn't have a book contract by my birthday in 2007 I'd have to seriously re-assess my direction. I've been slogging away 24/7 trying to make what I love doing into a career, and that's a lot of sacrifice, and a lot of energy put into something that isn't paying off. So, essentially I have one year left to prove myself. If I'm not successful in getting published I won't stop writing my stories but won't make them my entire life either. I'll call writing a hobby and put energy into other things, like giving back to the universe with volunteer work, or taking a part time job. I'll socialize, and travel more. Heck, maybe I'll even start dating. Whatever I do decide, I'm sure my life will be richer for it. Irony is, maybe then I'll sell. Heh.

I stepped down as President of my local writing chapter yesterday. It was a wonderful experience and I learned so much about RWA, LARA, and myself. I also achieved what I set out to do within the rapidly growing group. I know that the incoming President will do an excellent job and I wish her well. I'll stay on the Board but in the Past President position which is more of a consulting role.

My manuscript, Gone Tropical, came third in Where the Magic Begins contest, and I'm extremely proud of that. I don't have my scores yet but this was my first attempt at Romantic Suspense/Adventure and I'm thrilled with the results. The agent who is reading my full manuscript sent a message that she is taking it on vacation with her. Wow! I might have some feedback from her in the early new year. I'm staying positive, thinking all good thoughts about my little story, but if she doesn't take me on as a client, she might offer some feedback and that would be helpful.

Hope you all have a warm and wonderful holiday season!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Post Turkey Day!

Well, for those on the other side of the pond, yesterday was Thanksgiving day! A day spent with family and loved ones, eating way too much, giving thanks, watching football, and groaning with a stomach ache for hours afterward. *grin* Not me this time.

My son and daughter were not with me this year and I had a quiet, pleasant, and very comfortable day. I cleaned my office in the morning, then in the afternoon the dog and I went to the park. We took a long walk in the crisp afternoon air. Yes, even in the desert the temperature drops by 3 pm. I love the long desert shadows at this time of year. We sat on a bench near the man-made waterfall, watched the Koi swim lazily around, and the sun slip over the top of the Santa Rosa's. I even tapped into my muse. My current story is set down here. It's shaping up nicely, but has a long way to go.

Because it was still early, we then drove out to Palm Desert and cruised along El Paseo, which is the designer shopping area. The store fronts were lit up and the street was almost empty. Only a handful of restaurants were open. It's amazing what you can discover in these moments of calm (when you're not watching traffic and avoiding tourists ambling haphazardly across the streets.) Being fairly new to this community, I found stores and restaurants I never knew existed. Now that could be a good thing, or a bad thing. *grin*

Today, I'm getting another contest entry ready, it's for my Doctor/Nurse story which involves strange near death experiences. I've found a publishing house that is interested in medical stories and they're running a contest. I figured why not get it out and dust it off. Plus I need to do the big entry for the Golden Heart contest run by Romance Writers of America. I'm entering Gone Tropical in that one.

I did further revisions on GT and the agent very kindly allowed me to submit a fresh copy of the manuscript to her. I should know her answer in a couple of months. GT is also a finalist in a contest to be announced in December. So it's all good. I can be patient. You learn patience in this game, you have to or you go crazy.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Contest win!

I was notified today that Beyond the Shadows placed first in the Gothic Romance, Haunted Hearts contest in the contemporary category. I'm so thrilled. What a nice finish to an amazingingly busy year. Gone Tropical is a finalist in a contest and placements will be announced December 9th and I'm entering it in the Golden Heart contest this year. Nephele Tempest of the Knight Agency has asked to see the entire manuscript. She had read the first three chapters after the RWA National in Atlanta, and enjoyed those. I'd love to work with her.

Today I took my Roadrunners to a thank you lunch at the La Quinta Resort restaurant, Twenty Six. We had a great time and discussed my next book, the title, Behind the Gates. It's a murder/mystery cold case, with of course a hunky hero, a determined heroine, and a wonderful romance. Won't tell you any more yet because it is in the very early stages, and it may change direction as stories often do.

I made a very difficult decision this month and that was to step down from the office of President at my local writing chapter of RWA. I've loved the position and the opportunity to serve. I had so many dreams for the chapter but life got in the way. If I could possibly have done it, I would have run for another term. However, I need to take care of myself and my family first. My mother had a bad illness in September and although she has recovered quite well, it hit me hard that she is over eighty and no longer has the same bounce-back we've all come to expect of her. I knew I needed to travel back to Australia a couple of times next year and stay in closer contact. That would have been hard to do with the obligations required of the President. I'll stay on the board as Past President and will continue to volunteer wherever I can.
I know others will step up and make changes and improvements and do their bit to keep everything running smoothly. There's nothing like new blood.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Finalist in another contest

Wow! I arrived home from Los Angeles, after a very busy chapter meeting and critique session and then a doctor's appointment on the Monday and felt totally brain dead, and dreading fronting up to the computer. The first email I opened changed all of that.

It said, Congratulations, in red, in all caps.

My heart took wings and flew around in my chest and then I settled down and read some more. It said, "You're romantic suspense, Gone Tropical, is a finalist in the Where The Heart Begins contest." I was so excited I sent off an email to my critique partners and some friends and family. I never noticed the attachment.

My critique partner Janet Maarschalk had given a talk the day before on entering contests. She's a whiz at these things, I'm quite a novice when it comes to contests. Anyway, Janet has had some great experiences and many wins and placements over the years and noticed the attachment. I then went back, read the entire email and saw my first round critiques were attached. :0

Shauna Summers from Random House will judge the finalist entries. I could kick myself, because this isn't the real beginning of my story. I'd entered the contest because I was unsure if the story would hold up as a suspense. I was looking for feedback from a rough draft. Don't ever do that. Always send your best work. Sigh. Now I've missed a golden opportunity. Since that time, I've written a new higher energy beginning with more suspense and showing insight into the villian. Dang. Oh well, hopefully the agent who is reviewing the full manuscript will appreciate the new changes and can convince Shauna to take another look. ; )

I'm still happy, still doing the Snoopy dance. I now have a contest placement for both of my current manuscripts. Yay me!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Post birthday week

Well, the birthday week has come and gone and there was much celebrating in the desert. : )
I had a writer friend from the mountains come down here to the valley to get me out of my computer chair and that was good.

Her timing was perfect, I'd just put the completed manuscript in the mail to the agent. Even though the last half is a bit rough (still to be revised a third time) I was happy that the story was finished and in reasonable condition. I have two of my roadrunners notes on the manuscript back already. All are wonderful suggestions that make really good sense to me. Just minor issues e.g. where a sentence or two of dialogue can give more clarity to a secondary character's relationship to the heroine. Or, in another case, information on a secondary character could be trimmed because it wasn't necessary to the ongoing plot. One reader wanted more of a fight in a scene between the hero and the bad guy. In my version the fight was over too quickly ... guess that shows you that I don't like physical violence, even though he had to protect the heroine. : )
Everyone liked my sex scenes. Good. I hate writing those.

My friend stayed for four days and we did a lot of talking about life and relationships and of course, writing. I barely got the housework done before my kids came (well, they're no longer kids) and the celebrations continued.

A friend from La Quinta and my son and daughter and I went out to dinner at the Hog's Breath Inn. That afternoon my daughter had taken me shopping in Old Town. She bought me a bracelet to match my energy muse necklace, which I love. It has energy stones and an ancient Chinese coin in the center. My son gave me back a nice sum of money he'd borrowed a few months earlier and I'd already written it off. What a nice surprise. He's turning into quite a mensch. That for the non-Jewish is a gentleman. My kids are fabulous people. I love them not just because they're part of me, I actually enjoy being with them and find them to be strong, intelligent, thoughtful, and VERY entertaining. Now on the latter, their senses of humor are often a little over the top but heck, they keep me young and on my toes.

Nothing much to report on this week other than the desert is a dust bowl as they do the yearly ritual of "scalping the grasses." They churn up the grass, cutting it to a sixteenth of an inch of its root, disturbing the sandy soil beneath, and blowing dust and pollens for miles. And I'm not just talking about here in the development which I live in, but everywhere in the valley. The beautiful green manicured grass of every development and country club (and there are many) do the same thing at approximately the same time. It takes a week to ten days to do our development. Then they re-seed.

Having had to visit the Doctor with asthma caused by these irritants I asked why? Back in smog-ridden L.A. I didn't have asthma. And we didn't scalp our grass. We just tossed down steer manure and then threw down seed. In the spring it grew back nice and healthy. The Doctor said, it's because the people who return every winter during "the season" pay big bucks to play the golf courses and they want everything green and pretty. They can't wait for spring. Okay. So, no complaints then. This is definitely a seasonal town and our tourists bring income to the area, even if it means I have to get out of town for days on end so I can breathe. ;)

I'm taking time off from writing for a couple of weeks. I have outlines for a couple of stories but am going to give more thought to my decision on whether to go the same route as the last, another Romantic Adventure, or go back to Contemporary Gothic. I do need to write darker. I know that and I'm trying, so this time I'll have to push beyond my own boundaries and limitations. Should be interesting.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Before we know it, October will be here. This is my favorite month in the States as well as in Australia. I was born in October but in the spring, and my Mum said she was sitting in her hospital room in Tasmania looking out at the new born lambs frolicking in the fields while she nursed me. I love the month because in either hemisphere it's always just about perfect as far as beauty and temperature are concerned. Even though the California desert doesn't have a dramatic change of seasons, as far as foliage goes, it has its own special way of indicating winter is only a couple of months away. We call them cool nights and wonderful cool mornings.
Excellent walking weather.

I've finally written the end on my story, Gone Tropical. It was such a fun write that I felt I'd been left behind while my hero anfd heroine sailed off somewhere on a wonderful cruise, or took a vacation, or attended some big event and just forgot all about me. And I was the one who created them. How selfish can these kids get? : )

I've put the story out to my Beta readers, Gail, Gayle, and Laura. I call them my Roadrunners after the birds that frequent our neighborhood. This is the first time I've used the Roadrunners and they are excited to do this for me --I'm both nervous and excited. These women are avid readers and we walk the lake with our dogs and talk and share info on the latest books we've read, in addition to which stores are having a fab sale, what new restaurant has opened, or what is playing at the movies or the theater.

I do have a wonderful critique group, the Four Fabulous Fictionists, Janet, Gina, Trish and yours truly. We've been together for quite a few years now and also have a couple of honorary members, D'Anne and Thieme. These ladies are amazing for looking at my story from a writer's perspective, keeping me on track, correcting errors and flying finger typos, bolstering me when the going gets tough, and generally just being good friends.

The Roadrunners will do straight reads and comment on tone, where I could have expanded my story or plot, if I goofed up on tying up a thread, or if I've gotten too mushy or not mushy enough. I think it will be helpful to get the pure reader perspective and I'm looking forward to their comments.

Nothing more to report on, other than the germ of a new story has started to form. Several threads started around the lake a couple of weeks ago, and yesterday I had an almost complete plot line. I'm going to sit down and play with the ideas, if it takes off, the story will be set here in the desert and will be a contemporary Gothic with a legend that dates back to the early settlement of the Coachella Valley.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Almost September

This has been a very interesting and fruitful month. One which has had many missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that is my life fall nicely into place, and while there may still be a piece or two under the couch cushions, I'm happy with the overall picture.

RWA National was great, but as I said in the last post, very exhausting. On the positive side, I'm becoming more comfortable pitching my work and taking rejection. It's all a process and a growth and necessary in this weird choice of career. I'm getting better at not taking everything so seriously, or getting my feelings hurt.

I topped off my American conference by leaving for the Australian National conference in Brisbane, one week later. It was well worth it. The Aussie's are a fabulous group. I truly felt welcomed and not because I was born in the country (I left for the States when I was 23 years old and never returned, except for frequent visits with family.) The women were very generous with their time, their energy, and their expertise. I never felt lonely or alone. I participated in everything and enjoyed the workshops, the events, and the camaraderie. Author, Debbie Macomber and her longtime agent, Paula Eykelhof, were both amazing and completely available for casual conversation. Such lovely ladies. Every class I took, I must say I learned something new, and isn't that what it's all about? Would I go back? You betcha!

I got to meet and hang out with Allison, one of Jenny Crusie and Bob Mayer's CherryBombs. We're a secret society. Not! : ) Actually, we met on the blog, an incredibly oddball community that has become entirely too addictive. I like to think of it as a reward to be taken after each long session of writing. Sort of like, okay, now that I've worked, I'll treat myself to ... no, not chocolate, not a cocktail ... a nice little rambling chat on the blog, a discussion, a disagreement, a joke shared. And if all else fails, or it's a quiet night, a little teasing of Bob and Jenny. They take it all with a grain of salt and just keep egging us on with their posts.

Anyway, after I left Allison and her cute hubby in Brisbane, I took off to Cairns in Northern Queensland and met up with some of my family who are all, barring one couple, from New South Wales. My mother, older sister, younger sister, younger brother and their spouses, all arrived and we rented a house in Palm Cove. It was spacious, nicely appointed, had a salt water pool, and was a few minutes walk to the beach and the shops and restaurants.

We had two four-wheel drive autos and took off each day on explorations for my book. What fun! We took an aerial tramway up to the Atherton Tablelands, took a train ride back, walked tropical rainforests, swam in lagoons, visited Cooktown, Mungumby Lodge (which my fictional lodge is modelled after) visited waterfalls, boated up the Daintree River to look at crocodiles, saw all kinds of snakes and birds and other wildlife. My brother is ex-army, a Sargeant who served in 'Nam. He's in my book and called Sarge. He said he'd only agree if he could have great sex. I told him he was happily married to a woman who still lusted after his hunky bod. I also assured him he definitely was the only one getting any action because the hero and heroine were at loggerheads. He thought that was cool, but he doesn't know romance and how many great scenes those two have to get through before the happily ever after. : ) Or, that I had to put his charming wife into a leg cast.

Some of the wildlife was actually in the city of Cairns, mostly lying on the beachfront called the lagoon. Cute girls in bikinis, buff guys in not much of anything, and lots of open air restaurants teeming with people. Excellent people watching. I also got to visit the Police Station in Cairns, and make some young cops day, or at least give him something to talk about at lunch. He was highly amused at my questions of under-cover drug trafficking, extradition of criminals to the U.S. What authorities would be involved and what procedure would need to be observed. At one point he looked at me rather quizzically then figured, nah, she's just what she says she is, a middle-aged romance writer. I did have a chuckle though when I first introduced myself.
I said, "I'm a romance author writing a story set in this area. It's a romantic suspense."
He grinned, in true hero fashion, and quirked one sandy-colored eyebrow, "Well, you've got the right place, lots of that going on up here."

When I got home I had a delightful surprise. My witch story, Beyond the Shadows, finaled in a contest called the Haunted Hearts. The category I entered was contemporary gothic. I'd wrestled with this story for some time, not being sure what it was. It didn't fit any sub-genre of romance that I knew. Then I ran across something one day on Gothic romance and remembered it was what I had loved to read as a pre-teen and teenager. I spoke with Melissa, one of my part-time critique partners and she got all excited. She said I was indeed writing contemporary Gothic. I figured I had nothing to lose, but everything to gain. Even if they hated it, I'd get feedback, and I so wanted feedback. So I entered the contest.

Happily, that little baby is now off to St. Martin's Press for final judging by an editor who I could never get my work in front of, because I don't have an agent. I'm thrilled to have finaled and honestly don't care if I place first or third. I'm just happy to have my work validated.
But winning would be really, really nice. :0
And, come to think of it, being asked to submit a full manuscript would be awesome.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

I can't believe it's August already ...

... what happened to July?

Oh yeah, I went to RWA National, in Atlanta. And I worked like a dog in advance to get my manuscript ready. Good news, I did get a request from an Agent and another from an Editor. This is my first shot at writing Romantic Suspense, so fingers and toes are crossed. They both know the manuscript isn't quite completed. I was honest about that. I'll submit the first three chapters then take off to Australia where my story is set and will take my laptop with me. I'm visiting the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef and will feed some of the setting, texture, adventure, through the mid to last chapters. By the time I get home the story will need one more fine tuning and it will be good to go. This one will be my golden Heart entry for 2007.

National was good, I worked like crazy. My best buddies were on different tracks this year so most of the evenings they were off doing the private parties and having fun. *Sigh* It was a bit odd at first. I did get to meet several of the Cherry Bombs though, and that was cool. We'd been blogging all year on the Jenny Crusie/Bob Mayer blog, and were total strangers, so it was fun to put names and faces together.

I attended the President's Retreat, the PRO Retreat, the Annual General Meeting, worked the Literacy evening boxing up books and the following night making money for our chapter at the Moonlight Madness Bazaar. There really wasn't much time for socializing. The ladies in my chapter are amazing and it's such a pleasure to work with them.

The Awards Ceremony on Saturday night was fabulous. I personally think it was the best ever. The amazing Nora Roberts was the M.C. and RWA President Gayle Wilson did a fabulous roast of author Susan Elizabeth Phillips. What a fun night.

And now I'm off to do it all again at RWAust. It will be fun to meet up with Aussie writers in Brisbane. Will report back on my adventure in the tropics next month. Have a great summer!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Temperature rising but temper is calm

With the current temperatures being in the 108 to 110 degree Fahrenheit range there is not much to do but stay inside. A writer's dream, right? Yes and no. If the muse hits it's wonderful, one can certainly accomplish a ton of work. If the muse is being contrary or evasive, then no, you find every possible excuse or reason to not plant your behind firmly in the chair. There are books crying out to be read, bills to pay, the house to clean, a television to watch, phone calls to make, emails and blogs to play on. Not to mention the new treadmill in the corner begging to get some action. Okay, I'll do that later, I promise.

Good for me, my muse is dancing around the edges of my mind, urging me on, whispering in my ear. It's a delight. She's been missing for some time so I'm happy to see her back again. I woke up this morning at four thirty rearing to go to the computer, but figured that was dumb. I'd gone to bed around eleven after having several glasses of merlot. I haven't been drinking much alcohol since my recent stomach ailments so I must have zonked out. Must have slept like a log for five hours, definitely a welcome treat. I'm a light sleeper and usually awaken several times a night.

So, I stayed in bed until I couldn't stand it any longer and got up around six a.m. I've been pretty much writing ever since and I loooooove how this book is shaping up. I haven't been this excited about my writing since my second book. I remember going off to a hotel and writing twenty-four seven for three days and getting that sucker finished and off to the editor. I had incredible back ache afterward but it was such an exciting weekend. That's how this one has been.

When you're in the zone there is nothing better. Nothing. Not a single solitary thing.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Having Fun Again

So I had another rejection and this one explained more of the reasons why. It seems my voice lacks spark. Well, likely so, my life has lacked spark of late. : ) It's funny how life, our moods, our illnesses can get in the way and muddy up the works. I knew there was something wrong with my stories but couldn't figure it out. They just seemed flat, kind of like my affect. Hah!

Guess that's what you get from living in a computer chair rather than getting out and embracing life. So I'm doing that now. Embracing life. I'm socializing more, I'm swimming daily, walking my dog and chatting with neighbors, I even bought a treadmill so I can take off some of the pounds that I've wanted to get rid of for years. My dog, Nikki, was getting chubby, too. The Vet put her on the Eukanuba diet and I told Nik if she lost ten pounds I'd lose twenty. That was last October. Well, Nik took off her ten pounds and I think I lost two. Guess I'll have to start chowing down on kibble or walk faster. (grin)

I'm finally writing again and believe it or not, I'm having fun. This story is unfolding faster than I can type it. I started to outline, started to block out my story scenes, but kept getting drawn back to the computer with the actual story. So I gave up and just started typing. I've gone back to being this weird seat-of-the-pants type writer who listens to the voices in her head and just lets the story unfold however it wants to. Of course, I'll go back in later and make sure I've covered all of the basic elements of story telling, maybe vamp up certain aspects of it, but for now I'm having fun. Later on I'll put it before the critical eyes of my critique group but first I'll write my story the best way I know how, by just doing it.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Good news

Well my life has taken a nice turn for the better. My doctor did an endoscopy and took a look at my stomach, seems I have gastritis and have inflammed the stomach lining. An easy fix. I'm already feeling better since starting on Protonix a month or so ago. I'll just continue on that for a couple of months and it will repair the damage. I'd already begun to change my eating habits so am half-way home. (grin) I asked the specialist what might cause this and one of the things he mentioned twigged my memory, food allergies.

The irony is, as a kid I had a huge allergy to citrus and thought I'd overcome it. Apparently not. We'd moved from the Snowy Mountains when I was about twelve years old, to the Hunter Valley. When in the Snowy we never had totally fresh fruits and veges because they had to be trucked in, the Hunter is good farming country, everything grow's like crazy. Being a little piglet, I apparently overdid it on fresh citrus and got sick. I'd swell up in the lips, feet, hands and my whole body would be covered in hives. They'd send me home from school and Mum would cover my poor little body in Calamine lotion, in a few days I'd be fine again. It took quite a bit of investigation to find the culprit.

Anyway, last year I moved from Los Angeles to my new home in the California desert and acquired a nice little citrus grove. The grapefruit are pink and absolutely delicious. The lemons are huge and sweet. The limes perfect. The oranges and tangeolas are to die for. In January my New Year's resolution was to lose 25 lbs. And how was I doing that? By eating two grapefruit a day, putting lemon slices in my water jug, eating oranges, heh heh. The things we do to our bodies thinking we're doing the healthy thing ....

So, I'm good to go now and trying to figure out the best time to visit Australia and research that romantic adventure story I've been hankering to write. I've fine tuned the other two manuscripts and I'll submit those over the next couple of weeks, then I'll begin outlining this new one. I'm really excited that my energy level is back and I'm sleeping better, not in pain anymore AND my enthusiasm for writing has returned. For everyone who has told me not to write an Australian story, I say, "I don't care. I'm doing it anyway. It's what makes me happy. If it doesn't sell I really don't care. I'm writing it because that's where my heart lies."

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Successful event

The event for LARA on May 6th was wonderful. The ladies in this chapter are quite simply, amazing. Everyone pitched in and helped out even if they hadn't officially volunteered to do so. Jodi Gottlieb, Deanne Avner and Trish Cerrone worked their butts off as coordinators of the workshop. It was a super day.
Shelley Bradley taught us how to write sexier scenes and Susan McCarty talked about what editors are looking for in submissions. The two balanced each other beautifully with me being the "ham in the sandwich" or otherwise known as the M.C. (a rather spacey M.C. if you ask me.) I've been having gall bladder attacks and have to have a scan this week. From the sounds of things they will have to remove that sucker and toss it in the trash. Good riddance.
Anyway back to the event, I had a doozy of an attack the evening before and got about two hours of sleep, I was functioning on automatic pilot all day Saturday. Fortunately in one of my twenty-nine careers (previously mentioned) I did a stint in development and fundraising which meant putting on special events. Trish was in Hong Kong so most of the luncheon fell to me. I think I pulled it off but how I'm not sure. I tried to make it fun after the intense morning of "learning how to write hot sex scenes." Probably just made a fool of myself. Oh well, too bad, the harm is already done so no sense stewing over it. (grin)
I had an appointment yesterday with a psychic who channels spirit guides. This is the second time I've met with him and he was spot-on in the last session. This time I told him I might have to have surgery. He told me he could see a sac containing green goop. I burst out laughing and said, "Yep, that would be my gall bladder." Anyway, he assures me all will be fine and this will be a major turning point for me, no more feeling poorly and my energy will be back. Yay! Can't wait. So far 2006 has been a bumpy ride. And he also told me I need to take the trip I've been contemplating and I have to write the story. He was talking about my trip to Australia and described scenes for the book that could only be the tropics. So, I guess I leave the Hannukah story for someone else and focus on my tropical adventure. My hero is sooooo happy. He's been bugging me to tell his story.
Now back to work, I'm putting the spit and polish on my manuscript, The Good Luck Penny, just in case I get a request from Lucienne Diver for a more in depth look. Plus I'll pitch it to an editor at the National convention in July. Haven't heard back from Anna Genoese but it's still early. Perhaps I'll get an appointment with her at National. I can continue to dream, this is my blog. (grin)
As soon as I'm finished polishing this manuscript I'm going to outline my adventure story and possibly take the trip home in the early fall. No more wimpy ghosts and friendly witches, all characters will be firmly anchored in this world ... well, at least this world as we know it.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Post conference

The Desert Rose conference was superb. So well run. Such friendly people. I absolutely loved Deb Dixon's workshop and although I've used her book for years, came away from it with a much greater understanding of GMC. For those non-writers that means the goals, motivations and conflicts for your characters. Deb is an amazing teacher and keeps the snooze factor low, that's saying something considering it was early morning and we'd all just started on our second cup of coffee. : )
The other workshop that was well presented, fun, and gave me food for thought, was Jenny Crusie and Bob Mayer's Genesis of the Novel. I owe Bob so much for pushing me in the general direction of better writing. Not quite "there" yet, but getting close. I took his workshop on Hilton Head Island last year and that was a major turning point for me. This talk was interesting not so much from the collaboration viewpoint(they wrote Don't Look Down together) because I could never collaborate on a book, but I liked the discussion on character. Writing in layers, and as Jenny suggested, write big, start big. She repeated the words, wonderful, fascinating, different and suggested we use those in respect to our hero and heroine. What makes them wonderful, fascinating and different? What makes the story wonderful, fascinating, different?
The whole drive home through the desert I thought of panoramas and began another story in my head. A big sweeping saga full of wonderful, fascinating, and different characters, but that will never be written. : )
I had an appointment with Lucienne Diver, an agent from Spectrum Literary Agency in New York. We'd met a few years back and she'd requested but rejected my work at that point. I know why. My stories were heavy with exposition and I couldn't (as the author) get out of my own way. Maybe she'll see the improvement. I currently have the story she requested, The Good Luck Penny, with Anna Genoese at Tor Books. It would be a lovely tidy little package working with the two of them. Sigh. I can only dream. Anyway, I mailed the submission today, so here's hoping.
There were some wonderful people at the conference, Ruth Perkins, Peggy Prince, Maureen McGowan, Jenny (whose last name I've forgotten but she is one of Jenny Crusie's Cherries) and Mia Zachary. We had some good times. Mia and I even talked about hooking up in Australia one of these years. We probably won't ever do it but it was fun to think about.
I'm writing a few more pages to add to my website. Articles I've written for the LARA Confidential (our chapter newsletter) and some of the talks I've given, so if you're a newbie writer looking for tips, please check back. They should be posted in the next two weeks. I have to concentrate now on the special event for LARA which is coming up fast, May 6th to be exact. Yikes, one week. Got to go print up the programs.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Getting ready for conference

I love going to writer's conferences but hate packing, hate leaving the dog, and hate all of the preparation everything takes.
I clean the house so the lady who housesits doesn't think I'm a slob, then I prepare everything for my dog, then for myself and by then I'm exhausted and wish I'd just planned on missing this one. Then I go to conference get footsore and weary, my poor old brain gets over stimulated and I come home to a house that needs re-cleaning, a demanding dog, a pile of laundry, dry cleaning to put in, mail to attend to, banking and marketing. And, to top it all off, preparing something to submit to the agent or editor who has requested to see my work.
This time I convinced myself my manuscripts would be in perfect shape before leaving. Yet I know they aren't. If I get a request I'll be charged-up with adrenaline, I'll sit at the computer for days on end fine tuning and tweaking before submitting my work. It's how I work, so I might as well admit and deal. I'm better under pressure.
I think of vacations in terms of conferences and I think of conferences as the impetus to get the manuscript either finished or in pretty good shape. Whatever happened to just buying a few good books and heading off for a lazy time at the beach? Or hopping on a plane and going gambling and partying in Las Vegas? My life ... it's all about writing. Sigh.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

I'm a Cherry Bomb

Well, I'm proud to say I'm a Cherry Bomb. A member of a truly cool blog. : ) It's official, we got the official wave of the wand from the blog queen, Jenny Crusie, and a giant raspberry from her collaborator, Bob Mayer, this morning. They have a blog on www.crusiemayer.com called the dueling blog. It's great. They alternate posts in the "he said, she said" mode.
Go visit. You get a look at the inside of collaborating on the writing of a novel, in addition to viewpoints from both sexes. Plus some excellent writing tips and an idea of what a book tour consists of, and always a shot of humor. And you get to listen to their spats. Not that they have that many in the public venue. They really quite like each others differences.
They're about to begin a major book tour for their first collaboration, Don't Look Down, which sounds like it will be a blast. Won't attempt to explain it here, go to their website. You'll enjoy it. Honest. The book release date is April 4th, 2006. I have my books on order and some people started picking theirs up today. I couldn't wait so drove in to the Palm Desert B&N, but no, they are sticklers for doing things right. : ) I have to go back on Tuesday.
But you know, it's interesting how things play out in life, it was kind of quiet in the store and the clerks and I started talking and laughing about the book. One thing led to another and I gave them my business card and told them I was the President of the Los Angeles Romance Authors. I told them I was organizing a bookfair in June in L.A. and had lined up some super authors. Next thing I know I'm talking with the CRM and we're planning on doing a similar event in the desert. We'll meet again in a couple of weeks and confirm a date. I love spontaneous things like that.
So, let's see what else is new. I'm sending off a submission to Anna Louise Genoese at Tor Books, on Monday. Wish me luck. I also have an idea for her request for a mystical Hannukah book. It's been rolling around in my head for two days. Ever since I read her blog where she said she's looking for something along that line. I think I'll write it anyway, even if she rejects the idea. I've got lots of Bubbie and Zada stories. My story is a bit chick-lit though and I'm not sure she'll like that, still it keeps getting bigger and bigger and is pushing the romantic adventure story to the back burners. Who knows. Maybe I'll write them both this year. If that's so I'd better get cracking, guess I'd better start now.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Recovering from rejection

Okay, I know, I said I like rejections. So, I was being facetious. I got a stinger a couple of weeks ago for my witch story. While they did say nice things they also said it was too long for the line. It was pretty tightly woven and hard to extract a subplot. But "no worries" they gave me excellent feedback and asked me to submit anything else that might suit them. Unfortunately, everything I have is soft paranormal and about 90,000 words. I'll just clean it up and try elsewhere. It hasn't been offered to anyone but this house, so who knows? One man's meat is another man's poison, right?
You have to be tough or crazy to remain in this business. Have a tough hide, like lizard skin. Speaking of lizards, I've been getting a hankering to visit Lizard Island in the Great Barrier Reef.
I'm writing a story without paranormal elements, yay, at least I will once I finish this WIP which has near death experiences, and then will concentrate on a pure romantic adventure. The setting will be dual countries of Australia and the USA. An American H/H on an adventure that takes them to the Australian tropics, think rainforest, islands, turquoise waters, white sandy beaches, hot sweaty bodies ...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Yeah. I'm alive!

This is a good day. My new website goes live and I'm now a blogger! Yeah me! And, I just got back from the P.O. where I braved it and sent a submission of The Legend of Crying Girl Creek, to SuperRomance. Heck they can only say no. And didn't I say I love rejections? They build character, right? I've registered for RWA National conference. Lookout Atlanta! Somewhere in this crazy year, I need to go to Australia to visit my family and do some research. Wish their RWA national convention wasn't so close to ours, it's in August, and much as I'd love to go at that time, I can't do back-to-back National conferences. I'm tired just thinking about it.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The New Robena

I began 2006 with the idea of reinventing myself and kick-starting my American career as a published author. I’ve been published with poetry and short stories, and twice entered into partnership publishing in Australia with two women’s fiction novels. But that’s another whole story. Anyway, I decided to write under a pseudonym and chose my maiden name because:

(a) it feels like me
(b) it sounds like me
(c) it’s easy to spell and
(d) there’s no longer a husband.

My married name was a pain, nobody ever got it right. Then I decided as an author to use my given name rather than an abbreviation. People complained that they could never find my website. Who but an author or a Scotsman would know how to spell Robena? All of that aside, it has been a busy first quarter of the year, nothing exciting like a book contract or an agent signing me, but then again, if I actually got my work out there ….
So here I sit with this absolutely wonderful new website, designed by my friend and fellow LARA member, Sandra Kleinschmitt. I’m excited about using my maiden name, I’ve organized my office, bought a laptop and gone wireless, ordered new business cards that reflect my new name, and I find I’ve got not much of anything to tell you. So I’m going to backtrack to the 1st of the year, to the moment that I took this concept and turned it into a reality.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

More Time To Write

Second meeting as President of LARA. Still a lot of work but it’s starting to feel more comfortable. I miss my critique group. I’m writing again. The Good Luck Penny is taking shape. It’s a hospital setting, ICU with near death experiences, but with a twist. We’ll see if I can get it done to pitch at the Desert Rose. There’s another story hovering and I’ve written down the outline and told my pushy hero he has to wait his turn. The story excites me though. Hmmmm? Or maybe it’s the hero? Secondary characters are beginning to emerge. It won’t be a paranormal it’s more of a romance/mystery. It has an American hero and heroine on an adventure in the tropics of Australia. Shhh. that’s all I’m saying at this point but I love the title, which I’m not disclosing yet. I’m busy working on arranging a bookfair with B&N and have a stellar line up of authors to follow our June 11th meeting, book signers will be: Susan Mallery, Mollie Mole’, Brenda Scott Royce, Christie Ridgway, Elda Minger, Jane Thompson, Charlotte Maclay, and Leigh Court.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Busy Schedule

Have begun re-writing The Legend of Crying Girl Creek using the tips from the Squires team. It’s beginning to get a dull shine. Maybe in a few weeks it will be gleaming? I have to produce an article each month for the LARA Confidential, our chapter newsletter. They’re fun to write. This month I’m also submitting a regular article. It’s kind of weird subject matter and depends on certain authors filling out a questionnaire. People hate those. Will have to wait and see how many respond, and maybe scratch the whole idea. Wrote a short story for Woman’s World magazine, it’s really silly and not at all my normal writer’s voice, but I had such fun writing it. They’ll send it back with a capital R written in red. I love rejections!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Learning A Lot

Loving this class with the Squires team. Even though I write those fluffy paranormals with witches and ghosts (friendly ones of course) I don’t feel as intimidated as I’d imagined I would. Everyone on the loop is great even if they do write weird and dark paranormal stuff. We get to share our work, get fabulous feedback and writing tips, and it has saved my butt as far as writing goes. If it wasn’t for these evening classes and the assignments, I’d have come to a screeching halt.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Planning A Party

Bogged down with LARA happenings (all of my own doing of course.) I decided this is our 20th anniversary and we’ve never celebrated a birthday before. The committees are up and running and I have fingers in so many pies I’m not writing enough on my current novel. I had even stepped away from my critique group, the Four Fabulous Fictionists (and various past and honorary members) for a time out. I love fundraising and development, especially special events so got caught up in the initial frenzy of organizing with my buddies, Jodi, Deanne, and Trish. I mean who doesn’t like a party? Ours is scheduled for May 6th, a luncheon after the half-day workshop and non-members are not only welcome they will be greeted with open arms.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

President and Squires Class

Held my first Board and General Meeting of LARA, as the incoming President. LARA is the Los Angeles Romance Authors, a local chapter of Romance Writers of America. It’s a great group and one I’m very proud to be involved with. I started an amazing online class with Susan and Harry Squires, on writing about the supernatural. It runs over several weeks, two classes a week and there is homework, lots of it. Have I bitten off more than I can chew? Registered for the Desert Rose conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, it will be held at the end of April, a nice spring treat.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Writing Update

Mailed the requested full manuscript, Wicca of Orange, to Canada to Harlequin’s SuperRomance line. Had received a request from Paula Eykelhof and Laura Hyde, at Reno, RWA Nationals, and sent off the three chapters and synopsis in late September. They were very timely and requested the full manuscript on December 28th. Emailed the editor who had not responded to my questions on the status of The Legend of Crying Girl Creek, which had gathered almost a year’s dust, or been tossed out, or lost, and withdrew it. It will find it a home elsewhere. I began the first re-write of The Good Luck Penny.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year

Recovered from a New Year’s Eve party, which I hosted for thirty-five people at my new desert home. Karaoke and champagne? Oy. Maybe the champagne was behind this idea of reinventing Roben?