Monday, July 31, 2006

GOALS VS. PLANS

Yesterday I had a phone conversation with someone who is wishing to be able to do something later this year. I told her she can either wish, or she can make plans. Sure, I talk big on the phone, but when I look at my own life it becomes a different story. So I decided now is as good a time as any to reassess the goals I made at the beginning of the year. In doing so I’ve come to realize that goals are lofty, idealistic, and too often unrealistic, in contrast to making plans. (By the way, I have made progress with some of my original resolutions!)

That’s why I’m revising my intentions, and instead of talking about my goals, I’m making a list of plans to get me through the rest of the year. I have 2 big ones, not including the plans for my family, which I won’t include here for the sake of brevity.

*finish my book and start hunting for an agent. (I’m picturing myself in a safari hat, holding an elephant gun, telling all of you, “Look, I just bagged myself an agent…..THIS BIG!” Oh, I so can’t wait to write that post!) I PLAN to have my book’s major revisions completed by the end of August, and then use September to polish.

*lose 10 more pounds. Unfortunately, my fat is extremely loyal, and likes to stick around, it also has a great sense of direction, so LOSING it is a slow process. I believe 10 pounds is realistic, because that’s only 2 pounds per month, or .5 per week.

Many of you are attending the ACFW conference in September, and have plans designed with that in mind. Though I’m not able to attend, I’m PLANNING to attend next year. I’d love to hear what your PLANS are for the rest of the year, writing or otherwise.

Friday, July 28, 2006

After a nice request from Sue, I'd like to re-post the interview I did with her back in July. Her book Never Ceese hit the CFBA tour last week.

A FEW MOMENTS WITH SUE DENT……

Tired of the same-old, same-old? Then it’s time to try something new, like Never Ceese, by Sue Dent. It’s a story about an unlikely alliance between a vampire and a werewolf on a quest to have their curses lifted—and decide for themselves where to spend eternity. Today, I’m pleased to have Sue join me.

ME: Hi Sue, first of all, I have to say you have a fantastic imagination! What was your inspiration for Never Ceese?

SD: I guess my main inspiration was a desire to create a vampire/werewolf fantasy that my friends could read without compromising their beliefs as a Christian. This genre so typically does this and I just wanted to make sure everyone knew it didn't have to.

ME: I think it’s great that you’ve given readers a fresh choice without having to violate their beliefs. Which writers have influenced your work the most?

SD: I mention John Grisham a lot when asked this question but this is mainly because he is who I've been reading a lot of lately. I read tons of Sci/Fi when I was younger, Roger Zelazny, Philip Jose Farmer anything I could get my hands on. I love Grisham's style though and I'd have to say, I go to his books a lot when I get stuck.

ME: Please take us through your typical day of writing, and your writing process.

SD: Are you sure your blog is big enough? Summer schedule is way different than the one I had when my two children were in school. When they're in school, I just set down and start writing from where I left off. Now, however, with one book published, I spend much time promoting. I do leave my sequel pulled up all day long and go to it often. I can't get nearly as much done with the kids home for summer but I try to write a little everyday. The second book is coming much more quickly to me and I have an ending so that's helpful. But typically, I write anytime I have nothing else to do. Sometimes I write even when there is something else to do thus explaining the mountains of laundry and dishes. I'm presently considering hiring someone to do laundry as I've found it doesn't do itself.

ME: When you say “you have an ending,” it makes me wonder if usually you don’t. Can I assume you are a pantser when it comes to plotting?

SD: Oh, definitely, yes, especially when it comes to plotting. The original theory I had was hmmm . . . I shall try to write a story about an uptight vampire! I had a good idea where I was going with it . . . sort of! But yes pantser all the way! That's what makes it fun. When I'm finished, however, I get my flowchart out, mark all the ends and make sure only the ones I want hanging are hanging. And as many ends as I tend to have, doing this is a good thing!

ME: How much of your story do you know before you start to write, and then how long does it take you to complete your book once you start?

SD: Okay, I'll try not to make this sound too kooky! There are absolutely sooooo many stories in my head. My mind is my playground. A story that might not look so interesting one day, comes to the forefront the next. I eventually just settle on one and go from there. Never Ceese took me roughly six months to write, with kids in school, and then my editor and I passed it back and forth for like three months. That entire time period before I contacted the editor was such an odd existence for me, I hid what I was trying to do from everyone. I felt like I was wasting my time because I had no idea what to do once I actually had something I thought could be edited. How to become a published author. Gosh, could anything be more confusing? Everyone knows what to do to become a vet, an engineer, a teacher, an accountant but just ask someone how to become a published author. Good Grief!!!

ME: Do you have any advice for other writers who choose to self-publish?

SD: Well, first and foremost, just pay attention. There are a lot of blogs out there, tons of information regarding POD's and self-publishing. Lots of warnings that should be heeded. Tons of people who can help you understand the difference in a POD and self-publishing. Initially, I self-published. I bought my block of ten ISBN's from Bowker (POD's supply you with one if you go with them but it's not yours. It's one of ten that belong to them and has that POD's name associated with it) I used one of my ten and now have nine ISBN's left that I will probably never use. Why? Because I now have a publisher, Journey Stone Creations and they use their own ISBN's. I did my own cover so that was no problem, had my MS professionally edited (most important thing a writer can do.) and I found an on-line printer, Fidlar Doubleday. I did my book set-up in MS word, sent it as the required PDF to my printer along with the cover and BAM! I was published. The next step is where the POD's and others claim they shine; getting your book out there. But guess what folks, they can't do anything you can't do yourself. Truth is, to get out there like you need to get out there, you need distributors. The only people who can offer this service are traditional publishers. Therefore, in my mind, for a writer to be successful in sales, they have to find a publisher. POD's are not a publisher. Booksellers know the difference.

ME: Like most moms, I'm sure you keep a hectic schedule. Tell us how you balance your writing with your other responsibilities.

SD: The balance changes a little when your writing starts looking like an actual income. I have a thirteen-year old who tends to stay busy with her own life and a seven-year old who likes to run mine! I'm upstairs on my computer a lot. I have a laptop so that when Reece wants to go outside, I go with him. He loves the fact that I write and actually told his friends at school once, when I went to eat lunch with him, that his mom makes books about vampires and werewolves. He then quickly says to their wide-eyed expressions, "but they're not real, they're fantasy." My schedule is as hectic as I make it. Fortunately, it wasn't that hectic to begin with. Things are beginning to spiral though!!

ME: A person's library says a lot about who they are, and I love to peek at what people are reading. What's in your TBR pile right now?

SD: Well, apparently Mr. Grisham has a new book coming out this Fall! He messed me up though because he usually put one out every year around my birthday. This time I've had to wait for like a year! My other TBR books are on a first grade level as when I do find time to read it is mostly to my son who, while having an IQ of 127, struggles with reading. Thank goodness it hasn't discouraged him though. He absolutely loves to read despite his having to try harder to learn.

On a side note, the greatest challenge in my life to date, has been making a vampire/werewolf fantasy fit into the Christian fiction market. I am extremely grateful and overwhelmed with the reviews Never Ceese has garnished so far. God is good!

ME: Thanks for the interview Sue, and I wish you the very best with your new book, and with the sequel, Forever Richard.

Never Ceese is available now! Click here.
**Warning: this book contains some mild language.

Now let me tell you all what reading this book has done for me: it’s challenged me to stretch the boundaries of my creativity with my own writing. I’m challenged to keep my stories from becoming stale and predictable. Sue’s book fills a niche for Christians looking for a fantasy escape. Perhaps readers are more ready for something new than ever before!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

THERE’S A PLACE FOR US, SOMEWHERE A PLACE….

It’s about time for me to clean up my writing stuff for the day. I am a nomad in my home, so it’s a good thing my hubby let me get a laptop. Notebooks, pens, papers, random books—all scattered thither and yon through my kitchen and living room for writing purposes.

Someday I’ll have my own office, with a tidy desk facing a window with a view. Not too good a view, though, or I won’t get any writing done. I’ll have a bulletin board with my calendar/timeline posted, and maybe even index cards to keep track of my main plot and subplots, if my stories ever grow to be that complicated. One more thing: a mammoth-sized bookcase, with books Dewey-decimaled, nah, alphabetized for easy access. But for now, I’m content being scattered at home, because I AM at home with all the little munchkies I love.

What would your ideal writing space look like?

Monday, July 24, 2006

TRUE CONFESSION, AND WHY I STOPPED

I confess, guilty as charged. Last week I put a book down, permanently. Due to a thread on the ACFW forum regarding “Who doesn’t like historicals, and why” I picked one up. Not a traditional historical, but Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, dealing with a woman who time travels back to 18th Century Scotland, because hey, time travel is cool. Everyone who has read this series raves about it, and I picked it up at the library with much enthusiasm. (True confession #2, yes I visited the library, even though I have my big TBR pile at home!)

What a great story! Gabaldon writes vividly, and skillfully draws the reader into the story. So why did I put it down? Let me tell you, I wrestled with doing so, but in the end, here’s what it came down to:

*Too much sex! As a Christian I couldn’t subject myself to peeking into someone else’s love life over and over and over again. I just didn't want to know them that well. Overkill. Garbage in, garbage out. Remember my post a while back on “where do you draw the line?” That’s where I draw the literary line.

*Too long. While the story was wonderful, and the details brought this world alive, I found I’m not a patient enough reader to endure to the end. The many characters and historical content made for a complex and multi-layered story……that I didn’t have time to read. I devoted one week of reading time and only got halfway through. (What does this say about my reading ability???) I kept thinking about how many other good books I could have read in that amount of time, and how reading the entire series would take me at least 6+ weeks. Maybe someday when I have more time to read I can get into these kinds of rich stories.

What I discovered is that historicals can be a wonderful read, and I won’t NOT pick up a book just because it’s a (an?) historical. But, at the beginning of the year, I told myself I would set down a book when I needed to, not read to the end just because I always have. Yet I struggled with taking the bookmark out and closing it for good (dumb, I know.)And I regret not knowing how it all ends....so if any of you can fill me in:)

Now, my question to you is, what makes you put down a book?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

3 things MEME

It seems that I’ve been tagged by Delia, so here you have it: everything you never—I mean ever—wanted to know about me, lol. By the way, if you’ve never done a meme list, they’re pretty fun. I had to sit and think about these questions, and it was way harder than I thought.

3 things that scare me
1. seeing babies not in carseats
2. spiders, especially big hairy ones
3. my husband’s driving (I’m such a nag in the car!)

3 people who make me laugh
1. my oldest daughter
2. Lucy
3. my former co-workers (we’ve been kicked out of many a restaurant)

3 things I love
1. God
2. My family
3. books/writing/funny movies

3 things I hate
1. Being tired
2. Not getting to eat everything I want
3. Gaining weight despite #2

3 things I don't understand
1. How people can be happy without Jesus
2. Why my neighbors are so noisy (it’s my own character flaw, I know!)
3. Why people don’t wear seatbelts

3 things on my desk
1. scads of paper and Post-Its
2. giant coffee mug
3. an outdated mail weigher thingy

3 things I'm doing right now
1. waiting for my husband
2. typing
3. drinking coffee, of course

3 things I want to do before I die
1. Die? I’m holding out for the Rapture.
2. See my kids grow up
3. be published!!!!

3 things I can do
1. multi-task
2. play the clarinet; dorky, I know
3. I’m great at changing diapers

3 ways to describe my personality
1. hurried
2. harried
3. humorous

3 things I can't do
1. run a 10K
2. knit stuff, though I want to
3. keep our floors clean

3 things I think you should listen to
1. Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony
2. my baby girl sing in Italian:)
3. yourself when you’re angry…I’m speaking to myself!

3 things I think you should never listen to
1. the enemy
2. fingernails on chalkboard
3. the voice of discouragement

3 favorite foods
1. prime rib
2. fry bread and beans
3. Chili’s boneless buffalo wings slathered in bleu cheese

3 things I'd like to learn
1. How to write a book that sells
2. I’d say patience, but then I might have to face a trial
3. How to make my babies nap at the same time

3 beverages I drink regularly
1. Diet COKE
2. Coffee
3. Water

3 shows I watched as a kid
1. I Love Lucy
2. Gilligan’s Island
3. The Bionic Woman (I even got to name my little sis after her!)

So, who should be tagged next? Any takers? Please, jump in, because I’d love to read these for all y’all!

Monday, July 17, 2006

A NEW REVIEW AND A FUNNY STORY

Happy Monday! Today, Camy Tang gave me the opportunity to be a guest poster on the FAB FOUR BOOK PICKS. Thank you Camy! Come see my review of Consider Lily, by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt, and while you’re there check out book reviews by Camy Tang, Pamela James, Heather Diane Tipton, and Cheryl Wyatt.

On a completely unrelated note, some of you may know I cut 8 inches off my hair last Friday. It was a traumatic experience, hence the reason I never cut it. I told my stylist when I left that I’d see her in ’08, LOL. I was going to post a before and after picture, but sadly, they turned out badly. So I thought I’d tell you a story about another time my before and after photos didn’t turn out so well….

When I was in high school, I hosted a Mary Kay party for my friends. Our consultant wanted to do “before and after” photos, and the top ten makeovers in town would get to be in a fashion show. I really, REALLY, wanted to be in this fashion show, and I was determined to do anything to win. Being the brilliant mind that I am (not), I told my friends, “It’s not about the ‘after’ shot, it’s all about how ugly you can make yourself in the ‘before’ shot.”

As the consultant set up for the photos, I tangled my hair, making it uneven and flat (and you know flat hair in the 80’s was bad!), and took off my existing make-up. When she snapped the shot, I half-closed one eye and let my mouth dangle open without a smile, just to ensure my place in the top ten. After we had our makeovers, the consultant took the “after” shot which turned out OK, probably the same as everyone else’s. And what do you know, my devious plan worked!

The night of the fashion show, my nerves were raw. The crowd hummed, while the other girls and I waited in the wing. Let me be honest with you, for that one moment, I thought I was hot stuff. The catwalk music started to play, and one by one the girls strutted their stuff. Then it was my turn….

Heart pounding, I stepped to the edge of the stage. As I looked to the head of the runway before stepping out, there it was, as big as life….a floor to ceiling screen flashing my BEFORE and AFTER pictures. There I was, a half-cocked eye and gnarled hair, on a screen as tall as me. My mouth probably still hung open like it did in my “before” shot when I walked out to face the crowd, with my ugliest of ugly pictures as a backdrop. Needless to say, I wasn’t hot stuff anymore.

The moral of the story: never never never, under any circumstance, take a “before” shot that’s not fit to be seen by the public. That, my dear friends, is why you see no pictures today.

Friday, July 14, 2006

WHERE DO YOU DRAW THE LINE???

It’s that time again. The weekend is upon us, the time when I lay down my writing and hang out with the fam. I love hanging out with the fam, the only drawback being motivation to write again on Monday, but that’s a previous post.

Anyway, here’s the situation. We rent movies, sometimes as many as 3 or 4, and yes we’re running out of movies to watch since my husband dislikes watching movies more than once. And I dislike “unclean” movies, which rules out a ton of new releases. Here’s where I draw the line: people with no clothes on (a-hem, clears throat and blushes) and foul language. Those are the two things in a movie a cannot tolerate, though I realize most movies will have some naughty words. (Have you ever had to turn off a movie, or walk out of a theater? Me too!)

Where do you draw the line? Am I too lax? Please leave your suggestions for movies for me to rent this weekend. We’re not picky about categories. (But kids movies don’t count! I already know that most of them are clean!)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006



HEY, LOOK AT ME, I'M A BLOGGING CHICK!

If you're a chick, and you blog, you should join. Click on the link in my sidebar, and follow the directions from there. There are a lot of cool chicks already there, so if you're not, you should be!

On a completely unrelated note, it's happening to me again. My TBR pile is out of control, and I love it! It's not often that it happens, but I have so much fun when my "library" is well stocked. I must be butter, 'cause I'm on a roll. (My daughter SO hates it when I say that!) Last week I read Night Light, by Terri Blackstock, Consider Lily, by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt, and The Lock, by Steve Alten. They were all fantastic! Here's a look at my TBR:



Please disregard the dead plant in the background, I know I do.

Now, tell me what's in your TBR pile, and if I need to add it to mine:)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

3 REASONS I NEED SELF-CONTROL

Going a little off topic today. Something is weighing on my heart, “weighing” being the operative word. Daily, I struggle with self-control in regards to eating. It’s no secret, I LOVE food, especially food that’s rich and greasy, and has no nutritional value whatsoever. God’s been dealing with me on this issue, and while I’d like to say I’ve made progress, that statement would only contain the smallest grain of truth.

It’s my heartfelt desire to honor Him with this earthly temple. Needing encouragement and prayer, I turn to you all. I also decided to list a few reasons to push ahead; things to look forward to.

1. I look forward to the day I don’t have to hide in family pictures. You know how they hide pregnant women on TV? That’s like me. It’s all about angles and well-placed children.

2. I look forward to the day I can stop trying to suck in my double chin when I smile.

3. I look forward to the day I can feel good about shopping for clothes at a real clothing store, instead of sifting through the tables at Sam’s Club.

Do any of you have this problem? What’s worked for you? I’m partial to fad diets that include ice cream and Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Friday, July 07, 2006

I’LL TELL YOU MINE, IF YOU TELL ME YOURS....

First stories, that is.

I’ve been writing off and on my whole life, starting one particular summer I spent at Grandma’s. She let me take over her den, and set up a card table and typewriter (yes, I’m that old!) I loved hiding out and writing my novels...at least I had every intention of making them full novels. Unfortunately, they went by the wayside. Here’s my cheesy list:

Signal of the Jewel: Norman Prescott, an elderly man and avid golfer, uncovers a criminal operation in his sleepy retirement community, Perry Hills. (Ambitious for a 6th-grader, don’t you think?)

The Two of Us: The exciting life of high school twins, one good, one evil. (It bore a striking resemblance to the Sweet Valley High series. I also wrote part of my story with the same storyline as a Double Trouble episode, and when my friends read it and called me out on it, I adamantly denied it. Hey, I was 12.)

Death on Penthouse Avenue: A group of friends in the city must cope with the murder of one of their own. (I tried to collaborate on this one with my friend, and we got to page 80. I based the characters on people in our 7th-grade English class, and I made them all sign a release.)

Until last year, I’d never gotten past page 80 or so, that’s how I know I’ve made progress. I also trunked a two other novels I began as an adult that just didn’t make the cut.

I've shown you my humble beginnings. I know, I know, I'm still in the humble beginnings phase, but that's OK. Now you must tell me how you got started.

Thursday, July 06, 2006



OH, I CAN'T WAIT TO READ THIS! I adore Brandilyn's books, even though I have to sleep with the light on if my hubby's not home!

Here is something really different. But really cool.

Author (and blogger) Brandilyn Collins has written a novel that comes out in August called Violet Dawn. It is part of a new series she has started called the Kanner Lake Series. She sent out Advance Reader Copies to those who requested them and asked them to choose a character that they liked. Then she asked the readers to send her a make believe post from the character for a make believe blog by the 'Kanner Lake' make believe residents. This is going to be an actual blog, called...Scenes and Beans, full of ficticious bloggers written by real bloggers who liked Violet Dawn. Confusing? Well, it begins today, July 5th! Go check it out by pressing the button for Scenes and Beans!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

HANS AND FRANZ, WHERE ARE YOU???

Last week we left town twice, then my husband had a three day weekend. This week we had the 4th of July. I’m a creature of habit, and when my routine is disrupted it’s hard for me to recover from the chaos. All of the recent chaos has destroyed my motivation to write. Without writing I just feel blah….

I’ve thought of the usual stuff that helps jumpstart creativity and motivation: read a good book, watch a movie, or enjoy taking a break. Therein lies the problem; once I start doing those things, that’s all I want to do. At this moment, I’d rather read, or visit other blogs, or zone out on the tube, but those things aren’t going to get my booK fixed up all pretty.

Remember Hans and Franz from Saturday Night Live? Their famous line was, “We’re here to pump (insert clap) you up!” And that’s what I need right now. Dear Friends, please tell me what you do to get motivated, and pump (insert clap) me up.

Monday, July 03, 2006

LUCY IS THE REAL DEAL!!!

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. Lucy is my all-time fav, and the one performer I wish I could have met.




Now, here's a note from Camy Tang, THE person you want to crit your manuscript:

The Story Sensei Summer Sale - A writers' summer event!
From now until July 15th, I will be holding a fabulous contest for my Story Sensei critique service.

I will draw the names of TWO lucky winners! They will each receive:

A free synopsis critique – up to 10 pages single-spaced, a $40 value!

AND

A coupon for 25% OFF any manuscript critique – whether full or partial manuscript, any number of words. For a 100,000 word manuscript, that's a savings of $250!

In addition, EVERYONE WHO ENTERS will receive a 10% OFF coupon for any service, whether synopsis, query letter, or manuscript critique (full or partial). For a 100,000 word manuscript, that's a savings of $100, just for entering.

Go to my Story Sensei blog and post a comment to enter the contest!http://storysensei.blogspot.com/

Thanks!
Camy


As soon as I'm done posting, I'm heading over to enter, too!!!
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