Scribbles and thoughts ...

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

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Be like a bird ...

It's snowing and blowing outside. I just had a moderately stressful drive home from work, I'm thinking about packing for a trip, I have edits due to my editor, I'm working on a WIP, I have deadlines at work ...

And I look outside of my window and see birds noshing on the suet cake hanging outside. The wind is buffeting them around but they're hanging on, swooping and diving. They've got their priorities straight, don't they? Deal with the important stuff first (seeds and water), and worry about the weather some other time.

That's my New Year's resolution: be like a bird. Really think about priorities and don't let Stuff pile up. It's only Stuff, after all. It'll get done. Figure out what's really important and do that.

Yep. It's my Bird Year.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

An odd yet lovely Christmas

Nope, I didn't get to Iowa for the holidays. The roads looked iffy (according to the Iowa Dept. of Transporation web site) and some sort of mixed precip was predicted, so the Spouse and I decided to stay home as did my other sister. So my mother had a relatively quiet Christmas with another of my sisters, her boyfriend, her daughter, and her son-in-law and their dog -- think what it would have been like if 3 more of us arrived!

It all worked out for the best, I think. For the first time in memory I was home on Christmas. I went shopping on Christmas Eve (I don't recommend it), I fixed a Christmas mini-feast, and I worked on the day after Christmas (so I can take off next week, perhaps, weather permitting). It was all very, very relaxing for us and I'm sure it was good for those who got to Iowa -- this gave them a chance to hang out with Mom and get caught up.

Now back to those New Year's resolutions...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Snow day today!

I'm working at home today because we had some snow. I could probably get to the office, but I brought all my office gear home with me (notebooks, laptop, etc.). I'm working at home tomorrow morning, so that means I'd have to schlep everything back to the office, work there, then come home and set up at home again.

Nope. I'm taking a snow day! I've gotten a ton of work done already and it's barely 7 in the morning. I like working at home because I tend to put in focused hours of work, unlike at the office where I'm distracted by people, etc. So this will be good, I can get a chunk of work done while the snow swirls outside.

I'll be traveling this week, so keep your fingers crossed for me that no major Weather Events derail me & the Spouse. I'm starting to think Christmas should be moved to July -- or maybe we need to move to Australia where it's summer now! I'm sure those people stuck in airports out on the West Coast would agree with me.

Have a warm and toasty holiday wherever you are. I'll report back in on Saturday!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

And so ends my second year ...

I'm finishing up my second year as a published author, and am taking a moment to look back and reflect.

Things I have learned:

1. There is no secret handshake. Publication is a matter of talent, hard work, and luck, just like everybody said. You need talent to write the book, hard work to finish it, and luck to find the right publisher.

2. Promotion is a never-ending story. Because I am published electronically, I can always promote a book. My back list never dies. This is a good thing and a bad thing. Good because it never dies. Bad because I can always do promotion.

3. Some people will love your work and some will go 'hunh? How did you get published?' or words to that effect. It's largely irrelevant. You are published, you are talented, and you are good at what you do. Some people just don't get it.

4. To some publishers, you are expendable. It is not a concern of theirs if you are happy, have good sales, or like your editor. On the other hand, some publishers truly care about you, your happiness as an author, your sales, and your relationship with your editors. Nurture those publishers.

5. Make sure to have fun along the way. Don't take this so seriously. Enjoy the writing, enjoy the process, enjoy the whole schmiel. Be serious about your writing, but also enjoy it. When it becomes like work, take a break. You're in this to make money, yes, but you should also enjoy doing it.

Enough deep thoughts. I need to gird my loins (metaphorically speaking) to head out into the snow and meet friends for lunch. Then I plan to come back, get the fireplace going, and write with a mug of cocoa near at hand. I have stories to tell!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Oh the weather outside is ....

The weather is the news this week -- snow, ice, bitterly cold temperatures. We didn't get above 0 (yes, zero) for a day or two and now the wind is whipping up, so even though we'll be above zero, it'll still feel below zero.

I like a few days like this. I've always said the best thing about shoveling the driveway is the hot chocolate or coffee waiting for me when I'm done. This nasty weather really makes me appreciate a warm fireplace and a good furnace. I like winter, too, because no one expects you to be out and about in such awful weather. A few diehards go out cross-country skiing or snowboarding, but usually people just huddle inside. In the summertime when it's annoyingly hot people still are out doing sports and I always feel vaguely guilty that I'm not out gardening or walking or doing something in the heat.

Of course, by March it's getting old. By that time there's no place left to put the snow I've shoveled and my shoulders are groaning because I can't toss the shoveled snow high enough to get over the piles at the side of the drive. But I won't think that far ahead. I'm only going to look to January, when it will still be a novelty to have winter coats and boots as part of daily attire and when I still think a fresh coat of snow is pretty.

Okay, time to go out and shovel now. Then back inside for some hot cocoa. Yum!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A world of ridiculous

It's gotten to the point that when I open a web site (I no longer open newspapers, I open a web site for a newspaper) I'm not shocked by what I see.

Selling a Senate seat? No surprise (it is, after all, Chicago).

Mother killed her child? No surprise. The mother was a teenager when the kid was born: no, she should never have had children in the first place. This happens deplorably often but don't get me started on people who insist chastity is the answer.

Car companies begging for money? This one had me flummoxed for a while. You want money because you made bad decisions and oops, they've come home to roost? You make a crappy product and nobody will buy it and your workers are overpaid and you want more money? Then I realized that the auto cars saw bankers and Wall Street execs get rewarded for just that, so they figured they could get some, too.

Cholera outbreaks overseas in a country that has a flourishing economy. Oh, wait -- the country's leader is diverting money that should go to infrastructure and preventing people from having to drink from streams that also serve as sewers.

I used to read 'end of the world' books: The Stand, War Day, Alas Babylon. The news headlines today are eerily like some of the ones ficionalized in those books. It's hard to maintain perspective, much less have any hope for the future when we are constantly bombarded by news like this.

And yet I am hopeful. I can't speak for the rest of the world, but Americans are really at our best when our backs are against the wall. That's when new innovations are discovered, new methods are put in place, new leaders emerge, and new ideas take off.

I am cautiously optimistic about 2009 but I think our country is ready for a major shakeup and change. It remains to be seen if it can be done or if we've become so entrenched in the Old Ways that we can't change. But I think we will.

If we don't, then I'll have some great ideas for plots for my next books ....

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

5 (count them, 5) books to promo

This is like a conjunction of moon and stars. I've got 5 books to promo this month.

Endurance, which just released in download. This is a paranormal time travel reincarnation love story starring a telepathic dog, a skeptical man, and a spunky, funny heroine.

Brilliant Disguise, which came out in download in August and is in print now. This is my "FBI vs. small-town gossips" book, which has gotten a lot of good reviews.

Autographs, Abductions & A-List Authors, which came out in download in June and is now in print. This is a first-person POV mystery starring Bea Emerson, newly published author, who attends a writer's conference and gets embroiled in a mystery.

Candy, Corpses and Classified Ads (the Pig Book), which came out in February this year and in print in August. It's up for an Eppie award, to be presented next March. The PB is about a woman whose ex-husband gets killed off and the woman's ex-lover is the cop invesigating the murder.

If Not For You, a romantic suspense book that came out in download last December. This is also up for an Eppie award. It stars an uptight businessman and an ex-hippy who get caught up in corporate shenanigans.

This is why I'm so glad my publisher, Wild Rose Press, now releases print and download books at the same time. No more of this double promo stuff -- it will make my life SO much easier!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

This is what writing should feel like ...

I'm working on the Oz book -- another 1st person mystery set in Kansas after a tornado. I'm writing a few pages a day, somewhat effortlessly. The story is flowing off my fingertips and into the keyboard.

This is the way I like to write. On my previous WIP it was a struggle. I just never felt like I connected well with the characters. I think I crafted a good book, but it was just that -- a craft exercise, a placing of words on the page without that visceral connection to the plot or the setting throughout the book. I did feel that in spots, but in other spots I had to analyze what I was writing and deliberately think, "Now, what's needed here? Should Dru get lost or should I have her meet with Cal and his group?"

In the book I'm writing now, the characters are dictating the story and it's such a relief! With stories like this, I can write my draft, let it sit, then come back and review it later. I don't feel I need to tweak it and prod it and massage it. My character has determined the scope of the story and I'm just telling it. I do nudge things in certain directions, of course, but overall the feeling of the story is all done by the time the first draft is done.

I think this is my niche. Many folks think first-person mysteries are tough to write, but I find them refreshing and invigorating. Yep. My niche. I'm here.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The sign of an empty mind ....

I'm in between books again. Just finished edits on two and sent them to an editor for consideration, and not quite ready to start the next one.

As I was driving to work today, I realized I didn't 'have to' think about a book. Usually when I'm deep into writing, I'll use spare 'duh' moments (when I don't need 100% attention on the task at hand) waiting in line, TV watching and yes, sometimes, driving, to think about my book. I'll say 'where am I? Oh, yeah. Dru has gone into that room and what needs to be said next?' And I'll allow my mind to wander at will on the plot. I'll jot down ideas when I can and when I sit down to write, I'll have a good sense of what I want to accomplish.

It feels sometimes like I'm renting out 'brain cycles' to my book and letting it take me over for a time. I'm really noticing it now when I don't have anything percolating in the front of my brain. There's one spot in my commute when I can sort of relax (all the merging of cars is done and it's just a straight shot to the office). Today I got there and thought: 'hmm. No plot to think about. What an odd feeling.'

I suspect this will last about 3 or 4 days then I'll be back into it. I'm already making notes about ideas. Until then ... an empty mind. Another interesting side effect of writing....