Wednesday, May 28, 2008


I saw the orthopod yesterday (that's medical language for an orthopedic physician) and got the post MRI news. I tore the medial meniscus and am tentatively scheduled for an Arthroscopy next Thursday. The orthopod had better be good at exorcism because I want that ghost out of my knee ASAP. I questioned doing physiotherapy vs. surgery but he thought I'd given the knee several months to heal on its own and it wasn't happening. I do trust him and I know several people who have had far worse situations that he has handled with expertise. Also, he thinks I'm young. Hah. Okay so he had me at, "We should do this now while you're young and in good shape." I looooove this guy.

I saw the news on Tiger Woods yesterday. He had similar surgery on April 15th and has just cancelled a big golf tournament because his knee is still swelling. Yikes! The orthopod told me I'd recover fairly quickly, a couple of weeks of physio and I'd be fine. I'm wondering if I should cancel RWA National for this year. Maybe I'll rethink everything in late June. Woods is about a quarter my age (just kidding) but heck he's a kid and an athlete, what hope do I have? I'm an old couch potato. Or at least a chip-eating massage-recliner person.

Anyway, on the positive side, while I'm recovering and spending half of my day at physio I'll also have a lot of time to write. I had a request on Sunday from an agent for a proposal of a manuscript that had finalled in a contest. Yay! So I put together the required package and dug out the biography from way back when. It was horrible. So stiff and formal. I decided on a narrative style bio and sent everything off today. Hope she doesn't think I'm a loony tune. I'm still working on the manuscript. It's shaping up nicely and by the time she makes her decision, of whether or not she'd like to see the complete manuscript, I feel confident it will be ready to ship out.

So who says the universe doesn't have a master plan, huh? Force me to stay home and quit playing and I'll finish a manuscript. Not that I'd advise anyone to smash up their knee to get time to finish a story. There are other more comfortable ways. Just sayin'.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Weird happenings.

Okay, so I've got ghosts in the plumbing of one toilet, a ghost in my computer, and a ghost in my right knee. They've all been rumbling and clanking around and causing all kinds of damage for weeks now. Remember, I'm a cheapskate and a Ms. Fix-it (it's the old nurse in me) so pay someone to come take care of the problems? Hell, no, that would be too easy, I'll just keep playing around until I totally wreck all three things.

I quizzed a neighbor who used to be a plumber. He gave some sensible advice. I tried it and for a few days the echo in the pipes everytime I flushed went away. THEY'RE BACK! So my answer, don't use it. Use another one instead, so how come I keep going into that one and not remember what I'd decided until the moment I flush? Sigh. I can see a plumber's fee in my future.

Couldn't figure out why I'd lost the wireless aspect to my laptop. Couldn't use it outside or in the living room. Desktop computer was slow. On Sunday I figured, being Mothers Day I'd send a reminder to my chapter mates about registering for the RWA National conference Agent and Editor appointments to be held Monday morning. At 0600 hours in California. Yikes! Those appointments go swiftly so I also gave pointers to the newbies on how to print up and highlight their wishlist of the top five people interested in the genre they write. I advised they keep it beside their computer because once they'd get to the RWA site they'd find some agent/editors would fill up fast and they might panic and end up with someone who didn't want what they wrote. Sound advice right?

Monday I overslept. Just reached out and turned off the offending alarm. I got to the computer around 0730 cup of coffee in hand, still feeling it would be okay. The RWA computer crashed. I was getting a "This site is not configured" report. Finally called to the office after wasting an hour of trying to refresh the page. They said it would be up again by the afternoon but to check back every hour or so. I did. Still the same message. Finally at almost closing time, I called again. They said maybe delete cookies. I did that, still nothing. I called back and found out the site had only crashed for half an hour around seven in the morning. Now I saw the humor in all of this. I'd been raised to be polite, to never push or be aggressive. But hell, I'm a grown woman now, you'd think I could get past those childish things. Old Ms. Polite here sat on her hands until almost five o'clock.

Today I paid for someone to come and look at both desktop and laptop. He was brilliant. We cleaned everything up and exorcized the ghosts. We found there is only one position my desk can be in to get that DSL/Wireless working properly. I had moved the office around about two months ago, reversing the position of the desk to where it faced the mountains. How weird is that? As soon as we put the desk back underneath the window everything worked. Ghosts I tell you.

The knee went out a couple of months ago. My dog ran into it at top speed. So, I was good and eventually saw an Orthopedic Doctor. He threatened me with an MRI and possible Arthroscopy. I hadn't met my deductible : ) so decided I could fix it myself. I began my own physiotherapy in the pool. Some days it's good other days it gets all hot and cranky. I've seen the Chiropractor and had ultrasound treatments. He's ordered a Cho-Strap to support the patella but, yeah, it's back ordered and won't be here for another week. I've iced the knee down after every time I walk the dog. I'm using the Spinner bike to strengthen the muscles and tendons. Yet still the knee ghost lives on. Now I know it's a ghost because it keeps moving. One day it's sore at the front, the next day the inner aspect. Sometimes it feels swollen behind the knee. Vaccuuming is out of the question. I'm living on Aleve.

Today, in the wake of one success, I decided I've had enough.
Tomorrow I call the plumber and the Ortho guy.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Work and Workshops.

This has been a very busy week for me.

I recieved an honorable mention for a blog contest. Yay! My entry was in the Romantic Suspense category, and I was thrilled. I've won and placed in other writing contests but for some reason this meant so much more. Maybe because it was being judged by agents who are well known in the industry for being straight shooters? Who knows? Anyway, I love those people, the SS's of the world. Why candy-coat something? This business is hard enough to break into without someone leading you on that your work is good when it totally sucks. I'm all for "just give me the facts, ma'am." I can deal with that. Tell me the truth and I'll learn how to correct, how to make it better.

Anyway, the very next day, after riding the crest of the wave that somebody "got" my work, I had a rejection from the editor in NY for another manuscript. Sigh. I was tossed back onto the hard sandy beach. I'd held out hopes for this one because they'd read the first 100 pages and then asked for the full manuscript. But, truth be told, I knew my chances were slim to none. After coming home from conference, I'd rushed the ending just in case they asked for the complete manuscript. Not a good idea. Never a good idea. The editor had liked my style saying it was easy-to-read, liked my characters, but thought overall, the writing just wasn't strong enough to make this a big book.

I scratched my head. Big book? Hell, I didn't want a big book, just give me a foot in the door with a little book and I'll work my way up. Grin. So I emailed a multi-pubbed author who I've met on several occasions (and won't name here because I don't think she wants to be flooded with critique requests) and asked her, "How does one go about making their writing stronger? What is it voice, word choice, changing the weird way I string my sentences together? Should I take college courses, go to a retreat?" She said, send me a chapter and I'll critique it.

I shook in my boots, literally, except I think I was in P.J.'s at the time and the boots were slippers. Anyway, she critiqued the chapter and wrote back something very interesting: I was strangling my voice. My characters were dying on the page. I wasn't letting them breathe and I wasn't letting my true voice shine through. She told me to stop manipulating the characters to do what I wanted them to do, and to trust myself, and to stay in the story now. Forget the past. Forget the history. Then she gave me examples and showed me how--by deleting sections where I'd info dumped or thought I was threading through valuable information that the reader needed to know--my story would become more interesting.

What I saw was an entirely different story. A vibrant story that made me want to turn the pages. Pages of my own story. Can you believe that? Ha ha. And she'd done this without harshness and without the sugar-coating. I got it. I understood her words and her directions immediately. I saw from her example what my work could become. This morning I got up and using my author friends editing advice, reworked the manuscript. Yay! I cannot believe the difference. I owe her at least seventy-five dinners, I think. But on the other hand I'm pissed because she kept talking about letting things breathe and I got this bug in my ear of the lyrics to Faith Hill's song, Breathe. Yeah, I picked up the CD, Faith Hill The Hits, at Circuit City and I played it all day. No wonder the dog stayed outside.

I went to the LARA annual workshop, in Los Angeles, yesterday. The guest speaker was multi-pubbed, NY times best seller of Regency novels, Julia Quinn. What a sweet and funny lady. Her humor is infectious and she doesn't take herself terribly seriously. She spoke about dialogue and quirky punctuation, but the best thing was she opened her entire day to questions. None of this saving until the end and then forgetting what it was you intended to ask. Of course that meant for an unwieldy format with many digressions, but it was the thing I personally liked best about the day. You have to be a really good writer, know your craft inside out and upside down to be able to be thrown off track like that and switch hats and come up with the right and meaningful answers. Anyone can stand in front of an audience and give a dry lecture. But to be open like that, and vulnerable to whatever is thrown your way, that takes an expert.

So all in all, a busy week, a rollercoaster of emotion, but I'm still here, kicking, fighting back and forging ahead. It's not all bad.