Scribbles and thoughts ...

These are ramblings from J L Wilson, published author of romantic suspense, mystery, and paranormal -time travel fiction....

Saturday, December 30, 2006

It's 99% out

I've announced it to the world.

Well, almost the world. I've sent an email blast out to far-flung family and friends. I still have to contact local newspapers, hometown newspapers, etc. I figure I'll do that as I get closer to my release dates, which are {drumroll} ...

June 28 for Your Saving Grace and November 1 for Every Rose Has Its Thorn {insert new title here}.

I've met one person so far (thank you, Karen), who has expressed knowledge of e-pubbed books and their advantages. I'm hoping other techie friends will hop on the bandwagon. I really believe it is the wave of the future, although a part of me still wants that hard-back book in my hands. Can't take the English major out of the girl, I guess. And many family and friends are of the older generation, who wouldn't consider downloading a book. I'm hoping my nieces and their friends will swamp the web sites on release day for downloads.

In the meantime, I'm finishing up another rewrite, waiting to hear on 3 books sitting on my editors' desks, and getting organized to be VP of Communications for my local RWA chapter. Oh, yeah, and working full-time.

If only I could get by on less than 6 hours of sleep ...

Happy 2007! Onward !!!


P.S. Feel free to comment. That's what it's here for.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The secret is out ... mostly

Yep, I told 'em.

Everyone was amazed, happy and a bit perplexed when I said that the books would be coming out in e-format. I can see there's a lot of education ahead of me (what is it? where do I get it? how do I read it? why would I want it? when is it going to be a Real Book). They were reassured when I said the books would be in print later, but you and I both know that the real release is the E-release -- that's the biggie, at least for me.

But it was fun to tell folks and see their reaction.

Now it's on to the Business stuff: I started making lists a month or so ago of who to contact, when. And this week I want to send email to those people I don't see often, but who I think would be interested (old college friends, ex-co-workers, etc.)

The juggernaut begins. I'm looking forward to it, but I also wish I could just hole up and write. I've got a great idea for a new book about a woman stuck in an airport during a blizzard and there's a killer loose, stuck there, too. It's sort of Die Hard meets Home Alone. Throw in a cowboy who's stuck there, too, and it could get really fun.

You read it here first ... now if I can just carve out some time to write it!


Saturday, December 23, 2006

The secret is almost out ...

Yes, it's getting close.

You see, I haven't told all my family and friends that I've signed a publishing contract.

My mom knows. She's been kept in the loop all the way.

I told my closest friends at Thanksgiving. See reaction in the picture. They were all thrilled. And I told my boss the other day. She was equally thrilled, especially after I assured her I wasn't quitting my day job. I plan to tell my co-workers in January, when everybody is back in the office, and I'm going to send out an email at the first of the year, letting far-flung friends and family know. And I just did a big Christmas mailing (see "Tussles with Technology", previously) where I announced my upcoming publications. I waited to mail them until this morning, so the word wouldn't leak out to my siblings. This is the first year my Christmas cards will be late, and I can honestly say I planned it that way!

But the rest of my immediate family is scattered around the country and to be honest, I wanted to see their reactions. So I planned to have the big unveiling tomorrow night, in Iowa. I printed copies of my synopses and my sisters were going to open them in Iowa. My nieces, out in California, would open theirs at the same time. Sort of a simulcast.

Well, Mother Nature may have put a whammy on that. Yep, there was a blizzard in Denver, so my Denver niece won't be going to California. I'm not sure if my Denver sister can meet up with my Kansas City sister, to drive to Iowa. So we may have multiple mobile phones open to Denver and California. And the niece in Denver won't have her 'package' because I'd mailed it to California, hoping she'd be there with California Girl. And my Denver sister's package is in my spare room, waiting to be driven to Iowa tomorrow.

Oh well. It'll still be a big surprise, although perhaps not quite as well-orchestrated as I'd planned. It's family -- they'll love it, no matter what.

You know, it's got the makings of a good plot. But instead of a Big Secret being revealed, maybe it's a clue. And the killer gets socked in at Denver airport during a blizzard, and only using wireless mobile technology can the heroine ...

Hmm. It has potential.

Have a great holiday, everybody.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Wouldn't you know????

I had just finished Tussling with Technology (see previous blog post) and printed all my Christmas cards, the insert-letter that describes my books, little postcard-thingie that describes my books and web site. All, of course, with the book titles in BOLD and RED and EASY TO SEE.


They want to change the title. The Pig Book will no longer be The Pig Book, er, "Every Rose Has Its Thorn."

I'm not sure what it will be, but it won't be "Rose". I can understand why the Powers Who Be want to change the title. They want something more indicative of the plot. I suggested "Candy, Corpses, and Classified Ads". I think that's kinda catchy. We'll see if it flies.

Well, I'm mailing the cards as is. I can always update folks later as to the new title. I mean, I've got time -- it won't come out until November.

But seriously, I had just sealed the last envelope and stamped the last stamp when I got the email from my editor.



P.S. For those keeping track, I'm going to be posting on Tuesday and Saturday now. I post to my other blog on Wednesday & Sunday, so I figured I'd spread it all out a bit.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Yes, there can be too much technology

Actually, it might have been user error.

I was trying to get envelopes to print. Not regular envelopes, of course, but a custom size.

Agony, trial & error, agony. They printed fine on one printer, but that was the one with the gunky cartridge. I could not get them to print on the cheapo but serviceable printer.

Okay. Fine. After mucho trial and error, I chose another envelope size that was close. {whew}. Done.

Nope. When I loaded the envelopes, they went in wonky and came out crinkled.


I even RTFM (read the f*cking manual). Could not get it to work. I think it was one of those arcane gotchas that was buried in fine print somewhere.

I took the coward's way out. I printed mailing labels. [Cue sound of angels singing]

It worked.

I have made peace with my devices again and we are once again friends.

Until the next time.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Can one have too much technology?

I didn't stage this picture, honest.

I don't know if you can see it, but there's (counting 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) ... okay, there's a desktop computer, 2 laptops (one masquerading as a desktop), a handheld, 2 e-readers, and 2 PDAs in this picture. I was multi-tasking: uploading info from one device to another, logging in to check email, downloading from one computer to the other.

This isn't all the computers in my house. There's 3 downstairs, there's one out for repair and there's one lurking in the charging bay. Then there's the digital camera, the Ipod, the Rio, and the memory sticks.

Isn't it amazing how technology has changed in the last ten years? I got my first PC in 1984. An Apple //C. It's was about the size of that NEC MobilePro800 in the picture there. That was 22 years ago -- only 22 years and look at the changes technology has wrought.

The really amazing thing to me is that I use almost all of these devices for (1) communication and (2) writing. I have few games, fewer pictures, no media stuff. I occasionally download a book-on-Rio or some music, but generally speaking these are glorified typewriters and mailers. I haven't made that Big Leap into truly high tech where it's truly a part of my life.

Where will we be 20 years from now?

You heard it here first: CHI (Computer Human Interface). I'm waiting for the day I can download my brain into a machine and vice versa.

Now that will be interesting.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The ideas are flying out of my brain

I've had a good week -- got a lot accomplished. One more rewrite done and sent off, final edits finished on another book, and I got a great idea on how to rework another one. I'm starting to feel that maybe I'll get the hang of this writing thing sooner rather than later.

I still can't shake the feeling that I need to do more, more, more. I've never been an over-achiever in any other part of my life, so why am I starting now?

Or am I over-achieving or just finally figuring out what I can do and what I'm comfortable doing? I know a lot of folks who AGONIZE over their writing. They pick at every word, they sweat every plot point, they drag themselves to the keyboard and feel as though blood is being pulled out them when they write. Sending a book out for review or submitting it to an agent or editor is traumatic.

I don't agonize at all. I ENJOY this. I look forward to sitting down and wrestling with a plot point. When my editor (I still love saying that: 'my editor') tells me, 'this scene needs work because {insert reason}', I feel a momentary sense of huffiness ("what does she mean, 'it needs work'?") then I look at it, settle down, and figure out a way to fix it.

Should I really be having this much fun?

... pause ...

Hell, yeah. [smiley face here]

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Yes, that's me -- writing, writing, writing

That's how it feels, sometimes. I've been nose to grindstone for the last month or so, if not here at home, then at work.

Don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying it. I'm learning a lot from the 'official' editing process, which is so different from the critiques, contest comments, and other feedback I've gotten on my books. This kind of feedback is from someone who knows nothing about this story and comes into it cold, looks at it, evaluates it carefully and then says, 'Hmm, this has to be fixed', or 'Hmm, this really worked.' It's an exhausting process but I feel like I'm learning, I feel like I'm asking myself the questions I need to ask before I call a work done.

It's funny, because I went through the same thing as I learned the ropes to be a tech writer. It took me a long time before I realized that there is no one perfect way to accomplish the research and writing of a technical manual (and some of the stuff I've written has been way technical, believe me. I mean, it truly was Rocket Science). Everybody has their own way of doing it, and we all have to conform, at least 90% of the time, to a uniform style. That means that creativity is somewhat limited but the creativity comes through when you actually sit down to write about that piece of software or that piece of functionality.

Which is harder to do -- craft a mystery novel or craft a technical document?

It's equal, I'd say. Or, rather, they're almost the same. A technical document is a mystery when I first start writing it. I don't understand the software, I don't know why it works the way it does and even worse, I don't know why it's important to my audience. A lot of the times it just flat out doesn't make sense.

Then I start poking and digging and using it, and the lightbulb goes off. THEN I can really start writing.

The same is true with a novel.

How lucky am I that elements of my life complement each other?

I know, I know. See my other blog (Mavens). We've been counting blessings this week.

It's all good.


Saturday, December 02, 2006

Getting Organized

I know. Anybody who knows me is asking, "What? You weren't organized before?"

Well, now I'm getting REALLY organized. I've spent a bit of time this week getting files in the right place (physically and electronically), making lists, checking them twice (no, wait, wrong attribution) -- you get the idea.

I discovered that since I am juggling books from two publishing companies, I need to juggle styles, as well. That's not even counting the style I have to follow as a technical writer, which is a whole different ball game.

So for one company I have to have 2 spaces between sentences and double spacing for text. For the other company, it's 1 space between sentences, 1.5 spacing, etc. This may not sound like a concern to you, but believe me, it's a headache when you're working on edits. I don't understand the 2-space rule, which I thought had gone out with typewriters, but hey, it works for them. And the other stuff can be accomplished if I fuss with templates and stylesheets.

What I find perplexing is the other style issues -- word usage, cover art forms, punctuation rules, comma and semi-colon rules. Company A and Company B are DIFFERENT. I am going to have to insert a new brain when I work on each manuscript, swapping back and forth.

I've been a writer all my life (okay, since I was four years old or whenever I first picked up a crayon[TM]. {Trademarks are another confusing issue for me, so I figured I'd better put that TM in there}).

As one example, I never realized there was such a gulf between the use of the comma. I am a sparse comma user, inserting it only when I think it assists comprehension. I never really learned grammar rules (cover your ears Mrs. Bundy, my English teacher from grade school). I don't know a clause from a phrase. Well, I do, but I don't think about it. I put a comma into a sentence when I think it's needed, not when it follows a rule.

I have found that is Not Right according to one of my publishers. I must follow RULES for them. Okay, I can manage. I'll dig those rules out of the dark recesses of my brain and dust 'em off for use when needed. But the other company does NOT use those rules. They want the 'commas aid comprehension, use 'em sparingly' philosophy.

And that's only ONE example of differences. I'm finding I have to keep lists handy full of items like "remember to do this when you're working on Book A but don't do it on Book B". Sort of a Right Brain/Left Brain thing.

All part of the learning process I guess. All part of Getting Organized.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Yes, I'm busy

It's getting crazy ...

I know, I asked for this, right? Yikes, but I'm busy.

I'm doing a rewrite (almost done, yea!) I just got edits from my editor for my book coming out next year. I need to get going on promotions. I need to sign on to some loops and introduce myself and figure out what I *should* be doing for promotions.

Oh, yeah. I'm V.P. of my local RWA chapter next year.

And I'm working -- out company is the middle of being took over, so things are lulling right now (everybody waiting for the hammer to drop), but still ... I've got a 40/hr/wk job. And because we're being took over, I want to touch base with doctor, tax guy, etc., because all of that stuff (medical plans, insurance, retirement) will be changing soon.

Then add in the holidays: going to a play on Saturday (a chance to relax and laugh, yea!), an open house next week (should be fascinating, it's at a wild animal preserve, I will blog about it, I'm sure), local RWA party (at which I will play Vanna White to a friend's Pat Sajak as we auction off various items for fund-raising), then there's Christmas (my shopping is mostly done, yea!).

Hey. I had a lot of 'yea' in this blog.

I guess it ain't all that bad. {smile}


Saturday, November 25, 2006

And more news!!!

Sorry I haven't posted lately. I've been busy and what time I don't spend writing, I spend sleeping -- which ain't much. Between Thanksgiving, work, and other obligations, it's been crazy, especially since ...

I have more news to share -- Closing Time, which is now renamed Your Saving Grace, will be published by Cerridwen Press!!

Yes indeedy, I will be a multi-published author in 2007. I'm not exactly sure on my release date, but it'll be earlier than the Pig Book. The book will come out in E-format first (downloadable) then will hopefully be available as print later (i.e., within a few months, I hope). Bear with me, I'm still new to this publishing game.

I just filled out my first Cover Art sheet (I was probably WAY too wordy on what I wanted, but there are certain things I just don't like on a cover, and I figured I may as well shoot the moon and discuss everything and anything I like and dislike).

Next I'll move on to edits. Those shouldn't be too bad because my editor and I have been talking about changes as we go along, so the manuscript is pretty clean right now.

I'm also working on rewrites to one of my reincarnation stories. I'm anxious to get that wrapped up ASAP so I can move on to the whole publishing, promotion, and pitching thing for my books.

I'm glad to be with these two publishers (Cerridwen and Triskelion). Both are solid leaders in the E-industry, Triskelion has a good print base, both have authors working for them who I respect and read, and both are well organized and welcoming to new authors. So I feel like I've landed in a good place.

Now if my work life will settle down, I'll feel better. The company where I work has been acquired by a Biggie from California, and I may be 'selected for redundancy' as they so quaintly phrase 'lay offs'. I won't know for a few more weeks yet. This could be a good thing or a bad one -- more time to write, but loss of steady income and medical benefits. I'm not panicking yet. I won't panic until I get the pink slip (if I do get it).

Until then, I'm busy ...

I'm going to try to post to this blog on Wednesday and Saturday, so stay tuned for the continuing saga of As The Author Learns [about the publishing industry].


Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Okay, not really SOON, but coming next year at this time.

(are you ready)


Officially titled:

Every Rose Has Its Thorns

Yep, it's real, folks. I'll have a book published next year, one starring Melvin the pig, J.T. McCord and Molly Lawford. It's set in Tangle Butte, Minnesota, a fictional small town based on a real small town that shall remain nameless.

I'm so excited I'm just about unable to sit still. Note I said 'just about'. I can sit still long enough to post this. My publisher is Triskelion Publishing, an e-pub outfit. I'm hoping I'll get a print deal out of this -- not sure if I will. I'd love to see my book sitting on a shelf.

No, I take that back. I'd love to see it FLYING off the shelves. Which it will if stocked in certain parts of the Twin Cities, Minnesota, several bookstores in Iowa, a few in Kansas City, some in L.A., a few in Denver and surroundings, and in the University of Pittsburgh area in Oakland (Pittsburgh). I've got friends and/or relatives in those spots and they've guaranteed me a run on the store.

More will be coming about the book, the process, and the impending publication. Ike Bernstein, the editor of the Tangle Butte Daily Tribune, will be posting to this blog shortly, interviewing the main characters of that and my other books. So stay tuned for Ike's pithy prose and incisive questions, like,

"Molly, why the hell do you love M&Ms so much and why do you sort them into different colors and keep them in an artist's tray on your desk?"

See -- deathless prose. You'll love it, I promise.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Thinking of a happy place ....

I'm still blogging and slogging. I was on vacation for a week (see picture of what my sunsets looked like), and got embroiled in various publishing things, but I'm back, at least for a while.

"Publishing Things" = See, I was offered a publishing contract.

YIPPEE. Happy dance!

But there's been a glitch with the contract -- I sent it, they didn't get it, I've been in limbo. So I sort of announced it but I can't REALLY announce it or shout about my release date or shout about my book or do promo because it's not REAL yet.


Add to this the fact that I've had car troubles. Had an 8-year-old car, started having troubles (that damn Check Engine light -- I'll blog about that someday when I can laugh about it). Well, the Spousal Unit needs a new car (he's using my 12-year-old car as his, which still runs like a top, but it's bound to die someday). So we figured I'd pass off the Eight-Year-Old to him, let him fix it a bit, and use it. So I bought a new car.

Yep. New car had a glitch. Had to be towed to the dealership with 300 miles on it to be fixed.

Double sigh.

My tarot cards say that things are Getting Better and Count Your Blessings.

It's tough sometimes, though.

Think Happy Places. Remember Happy Places.

See picture above.

That's where I came in.


Monday, September 25, 2006

Hey, I may be wrapping up this blog just as it begins. Some friends and I are going to start our own Blog, and that way I divide up the Blogging duties (such as they are).

So stay tuned ... or not ... whatever strikes your fancy.


Sunday, September 17, 2006

Boy, am I pooped today. We went to the Eric Clapton concert last night. This is the second time in this century that I've seen Eric. Maybe I'm getting jaded, but it didn't seem to have as much energy as previous concerts. Or maybe it's me -- at least we were able to get out of the parking lot before one in the morning, unlike last time when we went to see Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (now *there* was a concert! yikes, those guys can still rock it after all these years!) Anyway, we sat and waited to get out of the parking lot for about an hour (no exaggeration)...

Last night was memorable because of the exploding glass. We were sitting there in our seats and Eric had just launched into Pretending. It was a tad too loud, but hey, good way to kick off a concert. Then WHAM BOOM something exploded above us. Glass shards came showering down. Luckily it was tempered glass, so the odds of injury were small, but it was still startling. I had glass pieces about 1/4" big in my hair, my clothes ...

I was luckily holding my booze at the time, so no glass got into my plastic cup. That would have been a travesty since it took me almost thirty minutes standing in line to get that #*(@ mediocre drink. By the time I got to the head of the line, I made it a double. It was vastly overpriced but they've got you over a barrel, as it were.

So there we are, rocking with Eric and glass comes down. Then throughout the next two songs we got to see Our Security Guys at work. Someone notified them that a floodlight had blown above us (or *something* blew). A bunch of rather overweight guards came to our section, peered up at the lights, then the emergency crews came and mimed to us 'Anybody hurt? Anybody need first aid?' (I say 'mimed' since Eric was still playing full blast). Then the poor cleaning guy had to come and sweep up all the glass off the steps, since folks were trying to walk up and down the steps, crunching on glass all the way.

We had a front row seat to all this since we were seated mid-way in the section, in the aisle (section 109 of the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, in case you care to look it up).

Well, the whole thing gave me a great idea. Look for "Murder at the Rock Concert" sometime soon. See, our heroine is scanning the crowds with her binoculars and sees something suspicious -- what looks like two men fighting in the rafters, up near the lighting booth. Suddenly the light above her is shattered. She alerts Security, trying to get them to go up and look. By the time she makes anyone believe her, the murderer ....

Okay, that's enough. You get the idea 8)


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

I've been thinking about Women's Fiction lately. You know what I'm talking about -- books about women, their friends, how they overcome obstacles, the kind of junk that happens to women in their lives.

I used to think I wanted to write Women's Fiction. I don't think I do any more. Why?

Because I've been there.

I was skimming a book that talked about a woman blindsided by a cheating husband.

Hmm. Been there.

I skimmed one about three friends who go off and experience a wild weekend.

Yep. Been there (years ago).

I was skimming one about a woman who was struggling with cancer and other health issues.

Yep. Had a friend who struggled, I can relate to that.

You get the drift. Here's the conclusion I've come to -- I don't want to rehash what's happened in my life. And I'm at a certain age where I've experienced quite a bit (heck, just look at the plots of some of my books).

I want FICTION. I want to relax. I want to smile and relate to characters and just hang out with them. I don't want to re-experience all the angst of my life. That's probably why I like writing paranormals and my 'cozy/sexy mysteries' (I should call those the XYZ mysteries since I manage to work in 3 of the least-used letters in the English language when describing them).

Anyway -- I want FICTION.

Calgon, take me away.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Pig Book (also known as Every Rose Has Its Thorn) is doing well on the contest circuit. I feel like it's one of my strongest books, but it's the second one I did in first person voice, so maybe that's why. I felt quite comfortable writing it, and it only took me four weeks to get the draft done, then another couple of weeks to tighten it up. I didn't agonize over it and the words just kind of flowed out.

Then I did One Night of Sin ("Murder at the State Fair") in which a woman's ex-husband is murdered in front of her at the grandstand at the Minnesota State Fair. The idea for that one came to me when we were at the Fair, attending a B-52s concert. The area in front of us was pitch dark and I commented, "Man, somebody could kill somebody down there and nobody would know it."

Voila. Idea.

I had a bit more trouble with the next one (The Brownie Book, also known as The Readjustment Blues). The initial idea was easy: the heroine brings brownies to the company potluck, and somebody dies from poisioning. Then I had to re-think the premise after brainstorming it with my CP (thanks, Kathy!) So I re-tasked it a bit so the brownies were ....

Oops, can't give away the plot. Anyway, the pacing on that one was a off, I thought, and I had to work on it some more. It may need some more work even as we speak, although it did well on the contest circuit.

I've had so much fun with the first-person books I may go back and take a couple of my third-person books and re-do them. I think there's two at least that could be done that way very effectively.

Hmm. So why am I posting here when I could be doing that?

You're right ...


Friday, September 08, 2006

Hey, my first entry in this odd new world. I decided I'd better at least reserve my name here. And if I'm going to set up a blog, I should put something in there, so, like all things, it took on a life of its own. And for those who know me, you know I can't resist technology in all its forms, so -- here I am.

I'm not sure if I'll stay here but we'll give it a shot. Between this and my web site, it's a lot of overhead when I'd rather be writing. But I'll give try it -- at least for now. Seems like every time I turn around, somebody's blogging something.

That sounds sort of ... harsh, doesn't it?

Maybe, at some point, it'll get interesting. Although I doubt I'll garner the audience of Ms. Snark, the Evil Editor, or any others in the Pub World. For those who don't know me, I'm what is euphemistically known as 'pre-published' -- my manuscripts are still languishing in the Slush Pile. I have hopes, though ... oh, yes, I have hopes.

And yes, I do have a Real Name to match those initials. I just don't use it much. Not that it's a bad name. It's just ... not who I am when I write.

Hope that makes sense. If not, well, too bad. I'm signing off for the night.