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.