Scribbles and thoughts ...

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

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I did it again

I signed another contract.

This is with my 'second' publisher, Cerridwen. They want another of my Romantic Suspense novels. This one is If Not For You, and stars Max and Layla. It's one of my favorites, I have to admit. I'm tickled, um, purple, that they want it. Layla won the prestigous (to RWA people) Molly contest in 2005, winning the "Unsinkable Heroine" category. I was so pleased with that win, it kept me going through many, many rejection letters!

That's one thing I did want to mention: the rejection letters. I just got another one and it bummed me out. I could have sworn that publisher would want that book, but no, they didn't. So you know what I did? I filed the rejection letter in the circular file and fired off that submission, via email, to another publisher. So there. Then I filled in my contract details and got my contract for Max and Layla ready to send out.

Hmpff. So there. I feel better now.

Just a warning, I won't be posting again until next Tuesday, so don't mark your calendars for my deathless prose this weekend. I'll be out of town at a convention, learning how to craft murder mysteries. Can't wait to get my brain stuffed full of plot of ideas.



Sunday, January 28, 2007

Taming the paper monster ...

Well, I'm a day late but I was out of town, so ... I know, I know -- big deal, you were out of town. Can't you log in even though you're traveling?

Yes and no.

I was visiting someone who only has dial-up. I can hear the horrified gasps from the audience. Dial-up? Yep, it still exists in the world. And to be honest, while I could blog on dial-up, it is so agonizingly slow I just can't do it. So I composed this message while offline and uploaded it when I got back into town.

This made me realize how much technology has become a part of our lives. Heck, my very publishing future depends on technology. My books will be coming out a e-books -- something unhead of just 10 years ago. And now I carry 10-15 books around with me on my Palm Pilot and that's not counting the books on my other 3 ebook readers -- yep, 3 of them. I like backups. And I like to try gadgets, I admit.

I just took over as editor for my local chapter's newsletter (and web site). I produce the PDF file which is sent to members, and some members still like to have a paper copy mailed to them. The previous editor mentioned that she always keeps a paper copy in a file 'in case something happens to the electronic version'. Since I upload a copy to the group, have a copy on backup, and also have a couple of copies on my computer, I pointed out that if 'something happens to the electronic version' we have more problems than losing a newsletter -- it probably means that something catastrophic has occurred, like an electro-magnetic pulse or an equally devasting event. In which case, my chapter's newsletter is the least of my worries.

She agreed, but still thought it was a good idea to keep the paper copy.

Don't tell her, but I'm not doing it. If I need a copy, I'll print it. My goal for 2007 is to eliminate as much paper as possible in my life.

We'll see how I do ...


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Where do you find those cute pictures?

I spend almost as much time looking for my clip art as I do thinking about what to say.

I usually go to Microsoft's clipart web site and find them. But I also find them elsewhere. There's a bit of a conversion effort to use Microsoft's pictures -- they can't just be loaded into blogger (bad, bad Blogger).

That's me, looking through all the scraps of paper that constitutes my filing system during the day. I jot notes to myself, then come home and sort through them ...

I don't know why the picture is as important to me as the words, but there you are, it is. I can spend an hour or more sorting through pictures, looking for the right one. And since I post to a blog 4 times a week, that's non-trivial.

The thing is, I store them all on my computer. So even if I see one I like and don't use it, I've got it for later.


Time to do backups.


Saturday, January 20, 2007

This may be a first for my family ...

Or maybe a first in a long, long time.

I believe this week was the first time in years that we have all had a snowfall.

Why is this auspicious?

I live in Minnesota. Mom is in Iowa. Sister 1 is in Kansas City. Sister 2 is in Denver. Niece 1 is in Denver. Niece 2 is in L.A.

Yep. We all had snow (I'm not 100% sure about KC, but it was close enough for government work.)

When we got snow, a co-worker (a fellow Iowan) said, "I looked out and thought, 'oh, man, what a terrible drive we'll have.' And my son looked out and said, 'won't this be fun?' "

It's all relative, isn't it? A friend and I were talking once and she said she wanted to retire to Duluth. ?Duluth? "If you're retired, you don't have to go anywhere at a specific time. So who cares if you get snowed in?"

Following that train of thought, I'd like to retire to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, where I don't leave the cabin for a month at a pop. Imagine the writing I could get done!

It truly is all relative, isn't it? It's important to put it all in perspective ... today's snow will melt, next summer's heat wave will end, an annoying situation at work will get resolved, a plot point will be figured out.

Who cares if I get snowed in? That's going to be my new mantra, I think ...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

You'd think it was the Magna Carta

I sent out my first newsletter this week.

Man oh man, I agonized over it. I read it, I tweaked it, I moved things around, I tried borders (don't get me started on that little experiment. How could something so simple be so tough?) I read it and read it and read it.

Finally I said, 'enough. These are friends of mine, for heaven's sake. They'll get the point.'

So I hit that 'send' key and sent it into cyberspace, not without a few qualms, I will admit. I mean, let's face it -- quite a few people who are reading it are either writers or technical writers. We've often joked that you never want to have a typo around a tech writer -- BIG mistake.

The response has been positive. If there are errors, nobody is pointing them out.


Now on to another challenge -- doing the newsletter for my local RWA chapter. Believe it or not, I'm not as worried about that one, probably because I'll have more proofreaders before I post it. But there's still the fussy factor to consider. It's impossible for me to just slap text into a format and let it sit. I always have to mess with it.

Gee, I guess it must the writer in me ...

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Juggling again

Just when you think you've gotten caught up ...

I got diverted this week and now I feel like I'm behind schedule.

I'm not, of course. It's a mental schedule in my head. The problem is that I have things that have to be done at a certain time (newsletter deadlines, meetings, work commitments). I can't put those things off, but they interfere with what I have going on creatively in my life. I was in the middle of a great idea for a new book, and I wanted to get that down on paper, and this other STUFF got in the way. I still managed to snare a bit of time to get ideas down but not as much as I wanted.

At least my health is holding up. I was a bit worried for the last couple of weeks because I've had this phantom pain that really was stopping me in my tracks. But that seems to be leveling off now, and I can get back to regular life. Whatever that is.

I am hoping in another month or so to have it all organized so STUFF doesn't crop up like this and surprise me. I know I can juggle it all but I've got to figure out the right schedule so things get done when they're supposed to be done. Until then, it's a matter of juggling my TO-DO lists until I get caught up again ... and then I start it all over.

Such is life, eh?


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Should I be offended?

As many of you know, the company where I work (which will be called "The Good Place") has been acquired by another company (which will be called "The Big Guys"). We the peons were supposed to get offer letters from the Big Guys in email last Friday. If you got a letter, you still had a job. No letter, no job.

You guessed it: email glitch. Nobody got letters on Friday before 5:00 p.m. I'd left earlier, figuring philosophically, 'hey, the letter will come or not, I'll read email on Saturday'. Yep, on Saturday, there it was, sent at 9:00 pm the night before.

I skimmed it. Yada yada, sign this (confidentiality), sign that (other legal forms). Then I really looked at the letter.

I've been a tech writer for 20+ years. I've always been a salaried employee.

Not with the Big Guys. Now I'm hourly wage.

I didn't panic. I whipped out my calculator and the wage they're giving me is the same as my previous salary. But ...

When I told some tech writer friends this, they were outraged. There's a perception that hourly wage is not 'as good' as salaried.

I'm not sure if I should be offended by the Big Guys or not. Do they perceive us as less professional (and I say 'us' because all writers got this). Other professionals around me (developers, testers, etc.) are salaried, but not us.

Of course, this means I'll get overtime pay. Maybe I can use this to my advantage? We'll see. But I'm not sure if I should be offended or not. For now -- no. As long as they still give me that paycheck, I'm not going to worry. But it's a sign of things to come, I'm sure.


Saturday, January 06, 2007

A side benefit of success

An unexpected benefit of my modest success and its announcement has been that I've heard from friends I haven't heard from in a long, long time. You know who you are, out there. I hope my announcement gets forwarded on to many, many others because this has been a blast, chatting and getting caught up with people that I haven't chatted with in years. I'm surprised those email addresses still worked!

Also gratifying has been the universal happiness at my success. Everyone I've told has been genuinely interested, and happy, for my success. I told my friends at work, and they were amazed and excited. When I did my usual, "It will come out in e-book format first then ..." I didn't have to explain to them what an e-book was -- A FIRST!!! These are all high tech folks, so they jumped on it right away. {whew}.

Plus I've been making new friends on the various groups I've joined as a consequence of selling my books. The publishers all have yahoogroups that authors are expected to join, and I've met a few folks there. Plus I've had individual email exchanges with other new authors, I've joined PAN (Published Author Network, an RWA category, as it were) and have met folks there, and so on, and so on. It's like an exponential growth thingie. Amazing.

Perhaps we should all learn from this -- no, don't go out and write some books and gather 200 rejection letters until you sell them. But try to contact folks you haven't contacted in a long, long time. It's a hoot.


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Onward and upward ... or at least onward ...

I think at the turn of the year the whole Goal Thing creeps into our thinking. I, personally, don't set goals. I mean, I do, but I don't do them at the turn of the year, I do them every day. It's my To Do List. I don't have a Life Goal List, really.

This made me think, this whole Goal thing. You see, I've been feeling a bit deflated about the book publishing goal that I've met. I've sold 2 books. I've got a couple of other ones that look like they may be bought. I've met that goal ("sell book"). I think I had a Back of the Mind Goal: "Get published".

So what's next?

Oh, I know -- there's promo -- get out there and SELL that book. Make sure it gets bought. Make sure it gets noticed. Get it reviewed, get it out in print, get it shopped around. I've been reading a lot of promo info and it's, {whew} a lot of work. So that's a new challenge for me, the Promotion of the Work.

But what's my next writing goal? I've got several finished manuscripts that I want to find a home for. They aren't Pulitzer material but they're good little mysteries with some really interesting characters. They deserve to be read. And I've got my Sci Fi series, which I'd love to return to. That one has some meat on its bones and is very challenging to write.

Note that I'm not goaling (I just verbed a noun) about best seller lists, the number of copies sold, etc. That is so far out of the realm of my thinking that I'm not going there right now. Later, yeah, I might go there, but for now it's enough to say "it's bought, now I need to sell it". How well I sell it is another story.

I suspect that new goals will pop up where I least expect it as I dig more into this promo thing. But right now I have no Big Goal on the horizon ("get published"). I've hit that target. Now I'm aiming for another one ... I'm just not quite sure what it is yet.

And yes, I do sleep now and then, and I do relax.

But I've also got those little back-of-the-mind goals, chasing me around....