Scribbles and thoughts ...

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

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Just when you think it's all under control ...

Remember how I posted about how I know now how not to worry?


As I have whined about before, my company was consumed by MegaCorp. MegaCorp decided to combine our software with theirs and have a release of said software right now -- as in, a month after our merger. We'd planned to release this software this summer. So all of a sudden, my release dates CHANGED pretty drastically. That's why I've been nose-to-grindstone for the last 6 weeks.

But I got it done. This week I was verifying: clicking through the product, checking that I had really gotten it all documented, when I found ...

Screens I had never seen. A moment of panic ensued. WhereTheHellDidThatComeFrom? I talked to the tester on the product and she was bemused. "Hmm. I've seen that before but I don't remember where or when."

Good. That means it hasn't been tested. So I shouldn't panic too much. We went to talk to the project leader and he laughed. "Oh, no. Users won't see that. We'll hide it."

Well, we're a week away from shipping the product. COULD WE HIDE IT ALREADY AND NOT GIVE ME A HEART ATTACK?

Back to no worry mode.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

To worry or not to worry?

I think the older I get, the less I take things seriously. Or maybe I'm learning about what's important.

Let me explain. I work in a relatively high-stress job in which I have to hit deadlines and have documetation which is at least close to talking about what the product does. This is tricky sometimes because programmers tend to design on the fly and the writers are often the last to know that an interface changed or a new feature was added, etc.

When I first started in this biz, I sweated every comma. I took endless screen shots, making sure I had exactlyy the right kind of data showing in my examples, and so on.

And now? {shrug} I don't worry about that as much any more. I've discovered over the years that [1] people don't really care about documentation and [2] people are very forgiving. Oh, yeah, you get the occasional butthead who whines about things, but generally customers have a 'hey, close enough for me' attitude.

I think the use of online documentation has fostered that. When print books went away people SCREAMED. Then they found that they could do without them ... yeah, painful at first, but it was doable. Now if customers get *any* documentation that's relatively coherent, they're happy.

My attitude was reinforced last night when I was working on the monthly newsletter for my local writer's chapter (I'm the newsletter editor). The president, who reviews the newsletter, was having a meltdown because of the way I'd formatted an inclusion of extra information. I just jerked the extra info out, put it in its own little document, slapped in some other info as filler and was done in 10 minutes. It just wasn't important enough to waste sweat on, you know?

I hope this laissez-faire attitude will continue as my daily work life continues to acclimate to the New Big Company who has absorbed us. Every day is a ... challenge in some way.

But hey ... don't sweat it.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Peeking around the web ...

In my continuing quest to get my promotional possibilities organized, I've been surfing the web, checking out various review sites and blogs. Review sites are just that -- places where authors can have their books reviewed. These include places like Coffee Time Romance, Armchair Interview, Dear Author, and others.

I never knew so many existed -- I mean, there's GOBS of them. Some devoted to romance, some to mystery, some to one particular author (Nora springs to mind), and some a mixture of genres.

And the blogs -- holy moly, who would have thought? There are blogs about blogs, too -- and blogs where you can get invited to blog, and blogs where just authors blogs, and blogs where reviewers blog. It's mindblogging (excuse the pun).

And then there's .... {ominous sound} ... My Space. I have delved into this just a bit, but it's sort of scary. It seems like most of the world is on My Space and are 'friending' each other. There's also and other like spots, where people put these 'personal pages' and other people sort of subscribe to them. To be honest, I think it's sort of tedious -- I mean, why do I really care about all these people? But it's also a good way to connect (with readers, with reviewers, with others), so it's something I need to explore.

But let's face it -- I've only got a finite amount of time for this. I currently blog (either here or elsewhere) almost every day of the week. I 'chat' about once a week, sometimes twice a week. I keep my web site updated. I also work a 40-hour week outside the home. And I'm editing and writing. And let's not forget conferences, travel, and relaxation.

I have penciled in My Space for May, possibly June. No, I'm not being facetious. I have a calendar that extends into 2009 on which I am penciling in things to do ('trip to Left Coast', 'possible book signing in KC', 'dude ranch vacation with the girls'). I also have penciled in when I can write new things and when to expect edits on books releasing -- that sort of primes me to get creative, as it were.

Note that I said it's all in pencil ... I know better than to try to truly plan ahead!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

We have a title!


I've got a title for the Pig Book. Are you ready?

Candy, Corpses, and Classified Ads

I am pleased, I have to say. I contacted my other publisher and we changed my title of The Readjustment Blues to:

Brownies, Bodies, and Breaking the Code

This way my first-person mysteries all have a similar feel and title. {whew} You have no idea how long this has taken to get this title ironed out!

And more breaking news -- The Brownie Book will be out in mid-June and in print in mid-August. Lots faster than I thought it would be. So that means, this year, I'll have:

mid-June: e-book (The Brownie Book)
July 1: e-book (Your Saving Grace)
mid-August: print book (The Brownie Book)
Sept. 20: e-book (Forgiveness)
Nov. 1: e-book (The Pig Book)
Dec. 27: e-book (If Not For You)

And I may have one more print book in there, possibly from Cerridwen.

When it rains, it pours!


Friday, March 16, 2007

On the road again ...

I'll be out of town tomorrow, so figured I'd post today. Just a road trip, a nice relaxing trip out of town. After the hectic month I've had, I'm looking forward to four hours of driving on good roads and a lot of songs on my CD player.

I enjoy traveling for the most part. I used to hate flying. I don't mind the flying, but I hate the "Rush to the airport", "wait for the flight", "cram into the plane" and the whole out of control feeling.

I've since given up all that. Now I get to the airport plenty early and have my wheelie bag (see picture: mine is bright red, though). I wander around, drink a cup of coffee, watch people, pull out my ebook reader and read a bit, wander to the gate, take my Dramamine (which ensures I will doze on the plane) then get on the flight, usually ahead of others.

Why ahead of others? Because I've splurged and paid for an exit row seat. It's worth the $15 to me to have plenty of room to spread out and to get on the plane early, before the crush. Then I put in my earplugs, turn on my ebook reader, and settle down.
It's not really relaxing, but I've found that if I change my attitude about it all, it's bearable. I used to want to "get there and get on with my trip". Now I just take it one step at a time.

Sort of like getting published -- just take it one step at a time. I've been angsting (nice verb, eh?) over whether I've made the right choices on publishers. Should I have signed with A when B might have been better? Let's face it, they all offer about the same in terms of $$$, but will my books do better with publisher C or is publisher A better?

But heck, the books haven't even released yet. Let's not sweat it.
One step at a time.

Monday, March 12, 2007

A feeling of panic ...

I was without email yesterday for about 4 or 5 hours.

I know -- big deal, right?

Nope. I couldn't get into my email account at all. Now that's a feeling of panic. I couldn't access any of my old, saved mail, nor could I compose new mail.

I figured it was just temporary, but it got me to thinking ... what if, heaven forbid, something happened to my main email account?

I use that for all correspondence to my publishers, folks who receive my newsletters, friends in far-flung places.

What if all that went away? That was a HUGE motivator for me. I settled down at the computer and figured a way around it. I set up another account on Google (free account) and set it up to download the email from my other account. Of course, I had to verify from my other account that this was all okay. That was a tricky moment because I couldn't get into that account to verify the email that was sent from Google, asking if it was okay to do the downloading.

Hmm. I knew there was a way around that ... And I found it! There's a little known interface (sort of "Yahoo for Dummies") that can be used in a pinch. It's ugly but useful. So I got into Yahoo through that, verified that it was okay for Google to suck out all my email from Yahoo, and voila, I was back in business!

Of course, this morning Yahoo is up and running again. But I now have backups of everything in that account, I'd duplicated my address book in a couple of places, and I've archived my email just in case.

Moments of panic like that are what is needed to help get a person truly organized. And to make me realize how much I really depend on technology. I make backups of my writing every night, but I don't back up my email.

It is now on my Palm Pilot: "Make email backups", once a week.

Small price to pay for peace of mind ....


Saturday, March 10, 2007

It's coming ...

Can you feel it in the air?

I can. Snow is melting, skies are blue, and the temperatures are finally warming up.

Of course, spring in Minnesota is a wildly variable month, and not to be trusted. We can have blizzards alternating with shorts-weather. So I won't run out and plant any seeds just yet.

But my thoughts can start turning away from winter to spring. This was a way stressful week, so it's nice to anticipate pleasantness for a change. Why oh why did we have an acquisition during a major release/deadline? Oh, wait. We wouldn't have had these deadlines if we hadn't been acquired! Oh well. I think I got most of the functionality documented, and if I didn't -- customers love to file bugs.

Yep, a new phase is starting, not just spring, but in my life. In a few months my first book will be out, followed in September by book 2, November book 3, and December, book 4. Wow. I suspect I'll have another one out this year, too. Pretty amazing.

I'd better enjoy spring while I can. I think I'm going to be busy this year...

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Sometimes you've just got to slow down ...

I was right.

It was one of those weeks.

I won't go into details, but it's been a b*tch and it's only Tuesday. Suffice it to say I had to stop everything this weekend to deal with a crisis, one which did not resolve happily. But it resolved peacefully and that's all that can be expected, I guess.

I was just recovering from that when I landed in a mess at work. My company, as you may recall, was consumed by another bigger company. That meant a blizzard of email on top of the snow-blizzard. So when I got to the office on Monday, I had to shovel all that sh*t off my desk. Six hours later, I was working again.

By the time I got home on Monday night I felt like somebody had punched me several times with large, hard objects. I flopped into my chair and just ... stopped. I stopped and thought and allowed all the stress to ooze out of me. I stopped and just ... thought. I let memories and peace and quietness wash over me. I didn't worry about my email program, my release dates, my promotional efforts, or what I needed to accomplish.

For about an hour I sat and just remembered those who are departed, animal and human. I remembered it so vividly that I could almost hear the voices or the purrs. When I finally allowed the memories to slip away and 'came back' to this time and place, I felt as though I'd been strengthened by them and ready to face the world again.

That feeling lasted until today, of course, when I went into work and found yet more nonsense awaiting me in the form of paperwork, bureacracy, and software that doesn't quite work the way it should.

But I know that I can go to that happy place again and revisit those who are gone. That is a consoling thought. When I need them, they'll be there.

Thank you.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

It's been one of those weeks

It started with all that snow on Sunday and it just never slowed down. The Sunday blizzard lasted into Monday, and made life slow going because of icy streets, etc.

Once we got shoveled out from that storm, another one hit. This one came on Thursday and we got 16" on top of the foot or so we already had. I tried to drive in to the office, and had to turn around and go home and work from home for a few hours. Then I got to the office and the snow started coming down, so I turned around again and came back home, where I worked for Thursday and Friday. I'm lucky I can do that, believe me, I know.

The stressful thing about it is I've got these huge deadlines at work, and everything got complicated with the Big Changeover. On Thursday my company was totally acquired (that is, all the paperwork finished up) by another company. So I got a blizzard of email in addition to the blizzard of snow. All of it pointed to web sites and things to do, which of course I couldn't do because I was at home, in a snow blizzard.

It kept snowing all Thursday and into Friday, so I didn't venture out until Friday afternoon and I didn't drive to work, I just stayed in the neighborhood, sort of testing the roads, which were icy and snow-packed. So all that important paperwork is going to have to wait until Monday because I am booked solid for the weekend -- I've got a sick kitty I need to try to get to the vet, if they'll squeeze me in, a play to go to this afternoon, a meeting tomorrow, a spouse to drive to the airport ...

Thank goodness I'm caught up on my writing. I've turned in all my rewrites so I can be in composition mode, but with all this cr*p on my plate, I haven't felt like composing. I'm hoping it will quiet down by next week and life will approximate normal.

If it's not one thing, it's another ...