Sunday, March 30, 2008

New Awareness

I've found a really nice place with my writing, a new awareness that my stories are good. I like them. For a long time now I've been questioning my talent. It happens. Writing/reading is very subjective and when you are actively pursuing publication you get a lot of rejection. Rejection is bound to make you question your abilities.

I was on an agency blog last week that was running a competition where writers were invited to submit a portion of their work and one winner would be chosen. I'd missed my category otherwise I'd have given it a shot. Ah, well. Next time. Anyway, one person was very disappointed in the result of the Thriller/Suspense decision. I could hear the pain in the voice and I want to say I think it was a guy. He/she had said they might as well chuck the whole writing thing. I've been there and done that. I think I lasted three weeks then I starting turning up at the computer and playing. I finally figured if I was going to sit in that chair I might as well work. Rejection is very hard to take, even when it's a kind rejection, or one that offers you some good advice. Bottom line is, it's still a rejection. Everyone gave the writer all of the emotional support possible but I knew how he felt. Words wouldn't cut it. I wanted to reach through cyberspace and give him a big hug and take him out for a beer.

Anyway, with my new awareness I'm relaxing more, having fun again, playing around with ideas and really enjoying the process of outlining my current story. The setting is the Coachella Valley, so no travel required. I've written three chapters and am getting a good feel for my characters. I think this one is a winner. Well, it will be if I can just get myself down to the Police Station and get some questions answered. I need answers on horses, too. Have a couple of guys on the Polo circuit living across the street. Yesterday I asked one of them if I could pick his brain on horse stuff. He smiled. I think he felt quite pleased to be asked. Now I just have to make up my list of questions and go ring his doorbell.

Books read this month:
Blue Dahlia and Black Rose, Nora Roberts (now I have to find the third book in the trilogy, Red Lily. This is a great ghost story intertwined with fantastic gardens and a nursery business.)
Crazy in Love, Lani Diane Rich (A very sweet, smart, funny book. I like Lani's voice. Also, her setting was in some ways similar to my setting in Saving Sarah so I enjoyed that aspect.)
Fugitive Nights, Joseph Wambaugh (Can't believe I've never read him before. I love this guy's humor. It's great cop-speak, raucous, rough at times, but laugh-out-loud funny. I've ordered every book I can get hold of on his back list.)
Getting Rid of Bradley, Jennifer Crusie (adore everything she writes and this was a re-read and just as enjoyable the second time around. She has incredible turns of phrase and wit and I think I own everything on her back list. This one will be featured on Jenny's Cherry Forums bookclub this week. We get to discuss, answer questions, ask questions of the author. Yay!)
The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever, Julia Quinn (just started this one and am absolutely hooked. Ms. Quinn will be the guest speaker at LARA's workshop in May. Can't wait to learn everything she's willing to impart.)

Monday, March 17, 2008


Just got back from a trip to Los Angeles to see my kids and to attend the meeting of my romance writers chapter, LARA. It was great to be back in the city and this time it seems I didn't notice the grime, or the traffic, or the crowds. It was totally fun! Does that mean a hankering to go back there to live? Who knows. Maybe. At least it's now no longer a no way nohow situation. The desert is nice and I do enjoy it for eight months of the year. If I had a little more money I would live here and escape for the two hottest months during the summer and that would make it doable. But who can afford a two month vacation? Not this baby.

Anyway, the kids are both looking good and doing great and that always makes a mother happy. I stayed a few days with my daughter and on Saturday we decided to go to Nordstrom Rack and "take a look." Sometime later I was feeling a little tired and a lot hungry, took a look at my watch and realised we'd been shopping for three hours. I never do that, I hate shopping. But for some reason I hadn't noticed the time. We both ended up with wonderful purchases and saved a ton of money.

My daughter is losing weight and beginning a bootcamp today where they do six-mile sunrise hikes in Griffith Park and other intensive workouts that I can only think about with my wonky knees and fat ass. So she bought a ton of stuff that looked good on her but was a little tight. She then went home and took out a bunch of gift boxes, neatly folded these items and put them in the boxes, then labelled them as 5lbs, 10lbs, 15lbs and 20lbs. She stores them and when she reaches her goal she opens up her gift for that weight loss. She said it's always a terrific surprise as she can never remember what is in the boxes. What a great idea. I'm going to try it. Also she's making me weigh in when I go up in mid April. I'll lose 5lbs to her ten but that's okay. I'm older and everything is slower. I'd be thrilled with another 5lb loss.

Anyway, my daughter encouraged me to try on a jean skirt at Nordstrom Rack. I haven't worn one in years. I loved it and it made me look slimmer, so I bought it and wore it the next day to the LARA meeting. Who knew that when I sat down the slit in the front would open wide and end at "you know where?" Well, almost. Sheesh. Lucky for me I had a steno pad to take notes on and could cover the naked flesh of my chubby thighs with that.

My friend, Lynn Marshall, gave a great talk on Riveting Revisions. She's a very generous soul and shares her writing experiences to help new writers along the hard road to publication. Her sharing is deep and honest. Lynn has no qualms about exposing a faux pas or the struggles she had to get where she is today. She has six published Harlequin Mills and Boon medical romances, and just signed another contract with them. Her stories are emotionally driven and keep you turning the pages. You literally fall in love with her characters. She had a book signing after the meeting and I purchased her latest, Single Dad, Nurse Bride. I started it last night and am at chapter five. It's a feel good read. It was great to be back amongst a group of writers again, and nice to see many old friends.

I woke up to an email message from NY last Wednesday, a request to send my entire manuscript to an editor. I couldn't stop shaking. What did this mean? Oh, my! They'd read the first five chapters, liked it and requested the rest, it was as simple as that. But because I'd never been asked to submit a full manuscript by email (it's normally by regular mail) I went a little over the top on the excitement scale. I kept running around the house talking to my dog. Of course she sensed the excitement and kept cocking her head to one side as if asking, "What is it a walk? A drive in the car? Who is coming to stay? Did someone say cookie?" I finally calmed down and eventually sent off the manuscript around 1pm. Geez. I wonder what I'd do if I ever got "the call?"

Saturday, March 01, 2008

A Great Couple of Weeks!

Since I last posted I've been on a writing roll, no fooling around on blogs. It's amazing how much actual writing can be achieved in two weeks. Of course there are one or two blogs I still visit as a reward for having put in the hours, but no more trolling. Instead I'm using my extra time to work out. I've bought a Spinner (an indoor bicycle) and love using it. Once I lose 20 lbs I'm going back to swimming but for now, it's sweatin' away on the bike.

I hated being away from my writers group, so rejoined LARA. Even though it's a two and a half hour drive (when traffic flow is good) I want to stay connected. Also, I missed hearing everyone's latest news. Now I'm back up and running and on the LARA link, so all is good. Even if I only make four or five meetings a year it's better than none at all. My one writer friend in the desert moved to Arizona. I do have a friend who is about an hour's drive away and we often meet up for lunch and a chat and to commiserate on this crazy thing called writing that we both love. Without her I'd be totally out of the loop.

Life has been pretty good of late. Nothing much to report on, which is always good news.
For the newbie writer check out Bookends Literary Agency. The agents have been doing something I've quite enjoyed, several contests for the opening 100 words of your manuscript and the winner gets to submit a chapter or so for review.
They've broken the contest into subgenres and I think have just completed the Paranormal and Erotica categories. Next up is Women's Fiction. I love reading these openings, and comparing mine. Beginnings are hard to do. Nailing all of the important elements to entice someone to continue to read (while making it make sense) is truly an art form.

Not sure what is up next, maybe enter a couple of contests. Maybe not. I'm mapping out my characters for my new story. It's going well. This will be another romantic suspense. Not 100% sure on the title yet but the outline is plumping up nicely. I love this stage of writing, it's very exciting seeing the characters come to life.