Scribbles and thoughts ...

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

Saturday, November 29, 2008

All over but the emailing ...

I've been tweeking my next 2 submissions and you know, I could nickel and dime myself all day. It's good that I'm working on the 2 books simultaneously, because they're related -- one follows the other in the series.

What I'm doing now is the gruntwork: I've got my list of faux pas that I regularly commit and I'm slogging through both ms, checking for those gotchas (too many ellipses, too many dashes, too my 'ly' words ... you get the idea).

This is the unglamorous side of writing, the cleanup. Just like doing the dishes is the unglamorous side of the Thanksgiving feast. They are both tasks to do and the reward is being able to say "DONE!"

I'm almost there. I'm going to do one more review tonight then they are emailed off to my editor. I'm going to take a few days off and just do some promo stuff, relax, read a magazine, then start the next book. I'm already looking forward to it ....

Almost DONE!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A day late ...

... but not a dollar short -- I typed "The End" last night to my latest WIP.

This book gave me Fits with a capital "F". I couldn't get into the plot, I wasn't involved with the characters, yada yada yada. I finally realized that I was trying to make it Character A's book and it was really Character B's book. So I went back, changed a few things, beefed up Character A's role but made it Character B's book. Once I did that, it went a lot better.

So now I can truly relax over this holiday. I have to do a ton of promo which I let slack while I was writing and I have to cook and get the house decorated for Christmas, but hey, those things are easy compared to struggling with a book that doesn't want to be written!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Urge to blog ... not

I keep a checklist of Book Things to Do. It lists things like where I can post promo items on what day, where I should check/read a blog, where I should blog.

I've been lax lately on the blog thing because blogging is a bit like a black hole. You toss something out there and you're not sure if anyone hears. If a blog falls in a forest and no one is around, does it make a noise?

I regularly do guest blogs for other authors where they give me a topic and I give them a reply. They post it on their blog and voila, it appears. The other day I did a guest blog with another Cerridwen writer and I mentioned some other authors I like to read (ebook authors, all). I didn't tell the authors I was going to mention them, I just did.

Every author sent me an email and thanked me. Their Google alert (an automatic thingie you can set up to track web mentions) had picked up my mention of them.

I like to think that my mention was also picked up by some other readers who may not have been familiar with me or those authors. I want to spread the word, so to speak.

So I guess blogging is worth it. It's like a net that's cast out there. We're not quite sure what we'll catch, but odds are, it'll catch something.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

No matter how many books I have ....

I still get a kick when I get the email from my publisher that my final files are ready and they email them to me, or when I get that box of author copies and hold the most recent book in my hands.

Right now I'm holding Autographs, Abductions & A-List Authors, which just arrived today. I really like that cover, maybe the best of all of my books (although Candy is great, too).

I hope I always have fun when I get the print copy of a book and when a book releases. I also got final files for Endurance, which releases in 10 days, and I proofed the final galley for Brilliant Disguise, which is in print this Thursday...

Hmm. Christmas is early, perhaps? At least for me, it is!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Life lessons from a car purchase

Hooray! I got a new car. I picked it up last night.

My 'old' car wasn't old -- it was just 2 years old. But I wasn't comfortable driving it. I had all-wheel drive before I bought it, and I really missed it. And here in the snowy North, AWD is very, very useful.

So I bit the bullet and talked the Spousal Unit into a new purchase. I forced him to test drive with me so we can be sure he fits (he had a problem with the old car which he neglected to mention until the purchase was done. Oops).

I agonized over the color choices -- should I get the green/gray with the off-white interior? Or the dark gray/silver with the black interior? I loved the green/gray color but I was worried about the dirt in the off-white interior. I thought about it, I paced, I read reviews, I looked at Scotchgard (c) products, I debated ...

I got the gray one. It was $1000 less and the interior sold me. As I drove it home through blowing snow I was so happy. It handles like a dream, it's quick, it's responsive, it's quiet, it's everything I wanted. I realized that the exterior is largely irrelevant. I don't see the exterior that much. I see the interior. And while I loved the look of the ivory/beige interior, I know in a year I'd be worried about that coffee stain, that scuff mark, or the spill in the rear hatch.

Life lesson? It's what's inside that counts -- the engine and the interior. Both cars were identical except for color (and price). Don't be swayed by fancy looks (or fancy book covers) and take a chance on what's inside. It's almost always the best choice.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Slugging it through to the finish

I'm a bit stuck on my current WIP. By 'stuck', I mean I've been working on it for about a month and don't feel like I'm making really good forward progress. This book has been hard to write. The words aren't flying off my fingers for this one, like they did for the previous book in the series. I suppose it's because it's a political thriller type of book and not one of my lighter mysteries, but it's tough.

That said, I've only been at it a month. I've set an artificial deadline of Thanksgiving for me to have it done, which means I've got about 2 weeks to go. I figure I need about 5 more chapters to wrap it up, so that should be doable.

Will it be any good? I think it will be, but I never know until I finish. That's what's so hard about this writing game -- you work and work, and you really don't know if it was worth the effort until you finish it, set it aside for a while, then pick it up again and evaluate it. Even then I'm never really sure -- I wait for my editor or my critique partner to tell me, 'yeah, it's good'.

So all I can do is keep slugging away and get that plot wrapped up. Then I'll let it sit for a couple of months and come back to it and decide .... keeper or not?

We'll see.....

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Ah winter ....

As I write this, the snow is flying outside -- not much but enough to make me appreciate the fire in the fireplace, that's for sure.

On a gloomy day like this, I often snuggle in to write, but today I'm going to venture out to car shop. The frugal part of me balks at this activity, but the practical side of me says I should. My current car isn't that old, but I feel I need an all-wheel drive car in the snowy North. I had one a few years back but traded 'up' for a front-wheel drive car.

Big mistake. I've sweated through three winters, worrying about my commute. So I've decided to learn my lesson, take the trade-in, and get a car that will get me through my winters. I'm somewhat consoled by the fact the trade-in will be good (already got an estimate) so I'm not going to be out of pocket too much.

So here's what I've learned from this experience:

1. Don't be swayed by what dealers tell you. No, a FWD car isn't the same as an AWD car and no, I won't get accustomed to a FWD car easily.

2. Go with your gut instinct. Do you love the car? Does it feel right? Does it fit you?

3. Take the spouse with you to test drive it and DEMAND that he tell you how it feels to him. I took the Spouse with me to test drive the last car, but he didn't give me his opinion until AFTER I've bought it -- too late to inform that 'gee, it's not very comfortable for me in the passenger seat.' Since I do most of the driving in the family in my car, this was an ISSUE. Sigh. This time he has to come with me to give it a try.

4. Be prepared to walk away. The sales people will try to do their jobs -- put you in a car that might be outside your $$ comfort zone. Walk away if needed. Explain gently but firmly that you want to spend $X.XX and really no more. Smile, be polite, and leave if needed. I did that yesterday. I drove the car, loved it, said I'd think about it. I'll call 'em back today and dicker over the phone ('do you have an older model one? I'd really like to shave some money off the price.')

5. Give them contact info that won't interfere with your life. I gave them my cell phone # (I seldom turn on my phone) and my 'spare' email address. Messages can merrily pile up and I won't care.

So wish me luck -- I'm off to shop!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

No waiting!

I was all prepared to stand in line to do my civic duty, but I breezed in, got my ballot and went to the booth and voted -- in and out in 15 minutes! They had about twice as many booths as usual, so perhaps that explained it, or the time of day (2:30 in the afternoon).

Now it's on to the next phase -- the results!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Change change change

By this time next week we Americans will have a new Prez. No matter who is chosen, HUGE tasks await him. I view the upcoming decade as similar to the early 60s, when Kennedy was elected. We have a lot of potential for the future. If America can re-discover its roots, I think we can be a true world leader again (and not just because we have more money and more guns).

I'm excited and scared. I'm scared because I'm not sure either candidate is up to the task. I think one has the vision but our government is so cluttered and bloated with rules, regulations, and 'the way things work'. That might interfere with the vision.

I think 'career politician' should be an oxymoron -- no one should make a career out of politics. Maybe 'career public servant', yes, but politician? We've got way too many of them in Washington.

Anyway ... it's coming to a close. On Tuesday I get to vote (yes, I'm in a swing state and yes, there is no early voting). I anticipate long lines at the polls, so I have my Kindle charged and ready to keep me company while I wait.

And one excellent thing about this election cycle -- it's given me endless fodder for plots! I've been crafting a 5-book 'alternate America' series for a while (dabbling at it, really, for years). This election and the politics I've followed have given me lots of ideas on how to work on that plot. In those books, the world changes (change, again) because of an epidemic and a new government has to be formed. All I have to do is look at the way things are today and I can get some good ideas about what not to do.

So you see -- it all comes back to writing in the end, doesn't it?

Americans: Get out and vote on Tuesday! No matter who you vote for, change is coming. Let's be part of it!