Scribbles and thoughts ...

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

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Where did I lose a week?

Can't believe I've forgotten to update my blog lately. I used to be so good at that ::chagrin::

I can blame holiday overload. At this time of year, the ugly "shall we travel?" question always arises. I live in the Midwest and the weather is ALWAYS a factor. This year we waffled on the travel question for days until we finally decided that no, we can't travel at Christmas. We had to wait until after Christmas. Which meant I ended up re-doing some work plans, which means I had to re-do some home plans...ripple effect. Regardless: we managed to get to Iowa for Christmas with my Mom, albeit belatedly.

I confess, too, that my current WIP is keeping me engrossed & I do lose track of time. I'm *this close* to being done with Part 1 of Book 1 and it's going very well. I anticipate 2 more parts to Book 1, then I'll move immediately to Book 2. I hope to spend this year working on that 5 book series and knowing I have a year of writing "grace" is a blessing. I'll be submitting 3 more books to my mystery editor for 2011 publishing, and if they're accepted that gives me 2 years of grace.

Fingers crossed.

I'm pleased with how 2009 has gone but have hopes that 2010 will be a bit better in book sales. Every year it does improve, but I've been slacking on the promotion & I must get back on track with that. That's my one and only resolution, really.

So here's hoping I'll remember to update my blog on a regular basis in the upcoming year. Okay. Resolution #2.

Have a happy & safe holiday!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Through the eyes of a kitten

All things are possible toys to a kitten. The crinkly paper flowers come wrapped in. The flowers. The leaves. The vase.

Yes, we've had a couple of accidents already this morning. I'm going to lunch with friends, so bought a hostess gift (flowers) along with my potluck offering (fruit). Within 10 minutes of turning my back, the grapes had become soccer balls and the flowers were spilled on the floor. No vase breakage, thank goodness. The Paw of Destruction (a.k.a. Pandora the kitten) just looked at me like I was insane to yell at her. "Toys! Shiny, noisy toys! And small round objects just MADE for play!"

I believe that animals do know right from wrong in the sense that they know what displeases us humans. But kittens don't care yet what pleases or displeases us. Unlike puppies, who are social, kittens really don't care what their humans. The only time it matters is when what the humans wants coincide with what the kitten wants. Then it's important.

I'm reminded of this while I write, too (yes, you knew this would come around to writing, didn't you?) I've been making good progress on my current W.I.P. but lately I got a bit bogged down. I was trying to move the characters around on the stage, making sure they got to Point A by a certain time in the plot. It just didn't feel right. They felt wooden, recalcitrant, like they were resisting. Sort of like a kitten when ...

Yep. I was trying to impose my idea of what was correct behavior on the characters I created. And what I thought was right (for the plot) was totally out of character for the character.

Scrap that chapter (oh, I'll save it for later cannibalism) and back to the drawing board. Like kittens, I have to let my characters grow and develop. Maybe at some point our ideas will intersect.

Until then...oops. I hear a noise. I think I may need to clean up some more flower spillage.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


It's all a matter of attitude, isn't it?

I was thinking about that as I drove snowy roads to and from the gym this morning. A month ago I would have said "These roads SUCK. Man, can't they clear 'em off?"

Today I thought, "Not too bad. Only a few icy spots. Reminder: start braking early at stop signs."

I think I have my "winter driving skills" back. I know I won't see dry pavement for 4 months at best, and am now adapting.

So much in life is a matter of perspective. I think the tough thing is to figure out when to adapt, when to bitch about it or when to get worried.

The same is true in writing: when you're working on a book and it just isn't working out: when do you cut & run and when do you continue plugging away? My current WIP is going along great, so that's not a problem, but I've had books where I wasn't sure: keep or toss? Continue or move on to something else?

It's the same for so much in life ...balance. Balance is all....

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Snow day

We got about 8" of snow last night and we're in a blizzard right now, so I am snug at home in front of my fire, working remotely. Telecommuting has to be one of the greatest inventions of the 21st century.

Hard to believe there's a Global Warming Conference going on somewhere in the world. The wind is howling, the snow is drifting, and my back is a bit achy from shoveling. I've been thinking a lot about how humans affect the world because I'm working on a new book series, sort of a "Life Without People" kind of thing. What would happen if...

I think I come up with all my story ideas that way. People ask, "How did you come up with the idea to murder a woman in the middle of a big book signing." Well, I did it by saying, "What would happen if a well known author dropped over dead at a book signing. How was the murder done? Who did it? Why?" And off I go...

Maybe we need to do the same thing for climate change. "What would happen if...everyone set their thermostats lower. Everybody ate 100 fewer calories a day. Everybody..."

Indeed. What would happen if?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

20-somethings, 30-somethings

Help me out. My newest WIP has a heroine in her 30s and I'm not 30 ::grin:: I stay pretty current on music, but am not really versed on what she might listen to on her IPod.

Please email me ( the following if you would:

Title & artist of:

10 romantic songs
10 rock-n-roll high-energy get-up-and-move songs
10 quiet, contemplative, relaxing songs

It can be pop, rock, top 10, obscure ... I need your opinions on what she might download to her IPod.


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Twitter, Facebook, MySpace...oh my

I'm so engrossed in my latest book project that I've lost track of just about everything else. This is the way it should be. I should enjoy my writing so much that everything else falls by the wayside.

This means I'm not being very 'social' right now on the social networking sites. I've set myself a goal of updating my 'status' every day, but sometimes it's hard to remember to do it. Luckily I have it all set up so when I go to Twitter & update, the posts go to other sites. Sneaky, but useful.

It's going to be very challenging in January when I kick off a new year of books. I haven't been doing much promo lately because I don't have anything new out. But next year ... 5 books again.

For now, though, I'm just going to enjoy myself... and my new characters!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

This vacation stuff is great

I'm getting so much's amazing what a few days away from the office can do for my "To Do" stack. Plus I'm getting a ton of writing done. You know, when you're working on a book with characters who are front & center in your head, it's really, really easy. I look forward to sitting down and resent time away from my keyboard.

Hmm. Time like now, blogging when I could be writing.


Saturday, November 21, 2009


Kerfuffle has become one of my favorite words lately because it just sums up the nonsense swirling around RWA, Harlequin, Harlequin Ho (their "Horizon" brand) and publishing in general.

Brief summary: Harlequin decided to create a vanity 'arm' (HarHo), RWA & other professional writing organizations slapped 'em for it, Har is now whining and authors are in angst.

I think this fuss has perhaps finally driven home some of the realities of the marketplace -- publishing is a losing business. Publishing can't continue under the old consignment model. It's a lose-lose for all involved. Har came up with a new model for one of its branches, one that will probably make money hand over fist. Gee, I wonder if they'll do whatever they have to do to keep it and satisfy the professional groups?

I agree with RWA that authors should be making money. I disagree about the 'an advance means you're a professional' but I am glad they took a stand on this. It proved they are willing to follow their own rules, something that frankly, I wasn't sure they'd do.

What does this mean for authors? Not sure yet. How abour readers? They probably won't notice -- HarHo books will not be shelved, so unless they're sought out, they can't be found.

I think the most profound impact will be on the hidebound organizations such as MWA, SFWA, and RWA. This has to make them rethink some of their core values because I firmly believe other publishing houses are going to take this route at some point.

Interesting times ahead....

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Already looking at the holidays

My To Do list is growing for the holidays ....

Funny how I spend holidays from the office keeping busy like crazy at home! But I so seldom get uninterrupted time that I stack up a lot to do on those rare days off. The fun thing about this 'To Do' is it all has to do with the current books I'm working on, and I"m really, really into the story, so it should be a good time. But of course there are other things, mainly having to do with getting ready for winter. This stretch of good weather just can't last!

I'm lucky that my Real Job is chugging along nicely. I have deadlines, but they're all doable and so far I haven't had any major surprises. Next year, though -- well, that might be a different story since we'll have a major deadline then. But I'll think about that in 2010!

For now, though, I'm just going to keep making lists....

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Belated blogging again

I'm working at home lately because I have a cold & thus the structure of my days has gone awry. Funny how having a schedule like that keeps everything on track.

It's just a cold/cough thing, but it's a wearisome. I always work longer hours when I work at home, so I've been logged in pretty continuously since Monday night. We're on a deadline, etc., etc., and I want to make sure I do my part.

I got disheartening news from the agent I pitched to that they don't want my stuff. It wasn't because of the writing but they didn't think I had strong enough sales from my previous books. I pointed out that all of my books are sold "by hand" (i.e., through my own efforts) but apparently that wasn't good enough. Oh well. It was an accident that I pitched to this agent anyway, and I'm starting to wonder how viable a career in print publishing will be in a few years. So ... whatever!

I'm returning to what I used to love to do: writing because I want to write. Yes, I always write books I want to write, but I'm returning to a series that I'm not sure will be publishable. I've come full circle, I guess. And you know what? I'm having a blast! This will be one of the biggest challenges of my writing career, so it's hard, but it's also a lot of fun. I'll post regularly about how it's going.

And that's the news from the Cold Front!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Belated blogging

I'm visiting my Mom in Iowa, so lost track of time & completely forgot about blogging!

It's funny: whenever I pack to come here, I always put in a bunch of "to do" things: magazines to read, stories to edit, story ideas to flesh out...I never quite get to 'em all. I do get a lot done, but it seems like I spend a lot of time running around, doing this & that. I did get a lot done last night, but it seems like there's only a few hours here & there to get stuff done.

What is it about packing? I always overpack, whether it's clothing or tasks. I must be a far more optimistic person than I knew!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Boy, was I a lousy writer!

I'm going back to look at some of my old work because I want to salvage the characters and use them in a new book.

Boy, have I learned a lot! My work was ... enthusiastic, but man, I was wordy! Why use one really precise word when a dozen other words will do?

I think this sort of look-back is very, very useful. I'm even prouder of what I've accomplished now that I look back at where I was 5 years ago.

Now if I can just grit my teeth & keep skimming....

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A mysteriously leisure day

I am caught up.

I hesitate to say that, but I think I am. Oh, I have chores I COULD do. I've been meaning to canvass the local bookstores & drop off promo info & info about me. But I'm thinking it's better to mail that instead. Or maybe I'm just being lazy. Ditto for libraries: promo drop-off/chat with head librarian, but... maybe mailing instead?

Other than that, my calendar is clear. Gardening is as done as it's going to be done. My WIP is written & I'm in review on it. Office has been weeded out & tidied. Christmas presents are being delivered from catalog shopping. I even balanced my checkbook (well, kind of. I forced a balance, but hey -- a balance is a balance, right?)

Leisure... what a concept! I'm going to go out & do a bit of shopping, then come home and take a nap. I'm going to ENJOY this day!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Uses for nasty work

Our landscaper is no longer in the business, so Hubby & I are doing our garden chores ourselves this year. It's been about 3 years since we had to do the fall clean-up, and I can tell you right now, we didn't pay our landscaper NEARLY enough for the amount of work he did. This is truly back-breaking work, but we're taking it in chunks, so it's going along okay.

As I was tussling with dead plants in the yard, I crafted a chapter in my WIP. I've been tussling with it, too, trying to work out how to get the hero there in time for the heroine to save his butt. And lo & behold, while tearing out some thistles (VERY carefully since I am allergic to them and my hands swell up like puff fishes if I touch one), I had :: eureka!!::

Isn't it great when you're doing something icky & something good comes of it?

(This picture is just a reminder to me of why I'm doing all the tussling)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Back to normal, kinda

I'm slowly but surely getting back to normal. I went to the gym today for the first time in a week and discovered I gained 2 pounds -- not bad when I consider my erratic diet for most of the week. I'll whip those 2 pounds off my body soon.

I'm caught up at the Paycheck Job and am almost done with my WIP. It's gone very fast but this was mainly a rewrite, not a 'write', so I expected it to be quick. I got info out to the agent who's interested in my work (whew) and my Icky To Do list is whittled down to 3 things for the weekend ("Icky To Do" are things I continually procastinate about until I can no longer postpone).

We're off to a musical play this afternoon, then dinner, then hopefully more writing tonight & tomorrow. I would love to wrap up this WIP this week and let it sit on the back burner as I consider another book that's popped into my head. I think it's doable. Let's face it -- all things are doable when you're home among familiar things. There really is No Place Like Home.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

On the road...

I'm leaving town in a few minutes to go to see my Mom, who's in the hospital. It's pneumonia and she's 90, so this is a non-trivial illness.

I've been getting my affairs in order (so to speak) so I can stay with her as long as needed. Got ample clothing packed, bags of Stuff to work on, 2 computers, chargers ... it looks like a trek across the country not a 4-hour jaunt to a civilized place (yes, Iowa is civilized, no matter what those Left Coasters think!)

Along with all of this are deadlines at the Paycheck Job. I have an exceptional boss, and she's told me just 'go, do whatever you need to do, check in when you.' Thank you, Lord, for good bosses. That being said, I still put in a few extra hours to wrap up some things so others on my project won't be behind the 8-ball because I'm gone.

I've had 5 books release this year, and I'm trying to be a good soldier and do promo for those. Tricky when you're juggling so much else, but I dip in now and then and promo. Not enough, but it'll have to do.

And I had edits for a book which were, thankfully, amazingly light. Done in an hour and out the door. I have a request from an agent for more info about me, my marketing strategy, my books, my sell-through -- all good and all stuff I can put together while sitting in the hospital room with the drone of machines beeping nearby.

As I did all these chores this week, I thought about the old Need vs. Want vs. Should triangle we often find ourselves trapped in. As I did things, I thought, "I should do this, then that'll be finished and I can get on the road" or "I need to get that done so..." or "I want to check that, if I do...."

I finally realized that when Need, Want, and Should all come together it's the right thing to do.

I need to be with Mom. I want to be with her. And I should be with her.

So I'm on the road again...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

a fading away

I have a group of 7 friends we call The Ladies Who Lunch (although we usually dine these days). We've known each other since the early 90s and used to work together. Through layoffs, etc., we now are at all different companies.

For years we've gotten together frequently to stay in touch with each other. It used to be lunch once a week. Then it was dinner twice a month. Lately it's been randomly, whenever we can get together. I feel as though I'm losing touch with them but there's nothing to be done about it -- we all have hectic schedules & getting together is hard. We do stay in touch, somewhat, via email, but not as closely as my other mainly-email-friends (out of towners like Kelly & Cai and Ardath).

It's hard to see friendships fade like this. It's still strong: I could still call on any of them for a favor and it would be done, pronto. But it's fraying around the edges. I have the terrible feeling this is one of those things I'll look back on and say "I wish we had tried just a bit harder to stay in touch more" or something like that. Or maybe not. Maybe it's strong enough to handle the lack of presence.

Only time will tell, I guess. ::sigh::

Saturday, October 10, 2009

I'm dreaming of a white Halloween

I'm not sure if this will work, but I'll put a link right here of my garden and how it looks before and after snow.

Yep. Snow. We got about 1/4" of snow last night. And man, was it cold today! Since I've lost weight I'm really susceptible to cold, and I could NOT get warm today until I got to my office and turned on the fireplace. Of course, it was a bit overcast & gloomy, too, which didn't help.

Winter is a great time for me because I get a ton of writing done. But first, I've got to get ready for winter -- yard work, get the coats dry-cleaned, dig out the mittens ...

And make a pot of chili. Yep. That's definitely right there at the top of the list.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

What a difference a story makes!

I'm working on my current WIP and I can't help but compare it to the last one I just finished.

I wrote that one in the summertime and it felt like pulling teeth to get it on the page. I knew the characters well (this was the 3rd book with them), but the plot felt choppy to me & I wasn't sure it was going to work. I had to do a lot of backtracking and layering in the clues to make it all work out.

This current WIP is totally different. I'm still doing backtracking, but I'm doing it to layer in character details. I'm basing the book on an old draft, so I'm cutting a lot but I feel a real connection to the characters. What's the difference? This one is a 3rd-person book and the other, earlier one, was a 1st-person book. I'm having fun doing 2 points of view.

NOTE TO SELF: intersperse the occasional 3rd-person book in among your other ones. It's a lot of fun!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Funny how that works

I didn't get as much writing done while I was on vacation, but I did the story and the characters seated firmly in my brain. That's really important: sometimes when I start a book, I just have a general feeling for the people & the plot. Then I go back and layer in the details.

But the best books are the ones where the characters are always there, in the back of my brain, and that's what happened while I was out of town. I had ample free time to just muse about them, imagine them in different situations, and get them firmly in my head.

So now it's just a matter of writing down their story!

Oh, and yes: the kitties missed us. Opie is very needy and won't let me out of his sight (he's on my lap now), and Pandora is even being affectionate. And Houdini followed me around yesterday until he was sure we were home for real. Then he lapsed back into his usual unconcern. Mia has bounced around from place A to place B, always coming back to check that we're still here.

So nice to be missed.....

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hello from the Canadian border

On vacation this week! Whooee! Yesterday was windy, rainy, and raw, but a bad day on the lake is better than a good day at work any time. Today promises to be partly cloudy and cool but hey -- I'm 50 miles from the Canadian border and it's almost October. OF COURSE it's cool.

There's a good thing/bad thing this year at the resort where we stay. And it's why you're reading this blog. They have WiFi now in all the cabins.

Good thing: I can stay caught up on email, especially since I get no satellite service here and thus can't read email on my Blackberry. Bad thing: I get to read email. When we came on vacation in years past it truly was a 'get away from it all' event because there's no phone in the cabin, no TV (one channel from Canada), and no Internet.

Now we have WiFi, we have satellite TV, and I can use the phone with my phone card.

Sigh. Progress, I guess. And yes, I could just not use the WiFi. But I much prefer to stay caught up on email. I get 200-300 emails a day and if I can just keep it under control I don't come home to a queue of 900 messages (yes, that's happened to me).

So I'll get caught up on my mail, eat a cookie, drink my coffee, and look at the loons out on the lake. Yes. Life is good.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

My Saturday event

I attended a Michael Hauge screenwriter's workshop (8-5, almost non-stop, which is why I didn't post yesterday). His talk also applied to novel writing. He said one thing that struck me as very useful. There are 4 types of characters to have in a novel or movie:

1. hero
2. nemesis
3. reflection
4. romantic interest

I didn't glean a ton of nifty stuff from 1, 2, or 4 (a few salient points), but my Ah Ha moment came with the Reflection. This is the sidekick, the buddy. This is the person who points out to the hero how he/she can achieve their happiness. He's the one who shows the hero a glimmer of what the future MIGHT be.

I've always had 'sidekicks' but I never thought of them in this sense before. Because of that "ah Ha" moment, I've redefined a minor character in my current WIP and I think the book is stronger because of it.

I was so energized when I came out of that workshop -- the best way to feel for a day-long event, right? I took pages of notes and now look forward to putting them all to use.

Off to write!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mystery solved

I figured out why my blog post never showed up. Grr. It should have worked but it didn't.

Famous little words: "It should have ..." It should have rained, it should have been okay, it should have hurt his feeling (or not hurt his feelings), etc. Words like "it should have" are more about our perception of what we would like rather than an understanding of reality.

Perhaps this is one reason why most religions annoy the crap out of me. There's an implied 'you should' in almost every tenet of faith and I really dislike someone else telling me what I should do, especially when those people claim to be channeling a deity or speaking for a deity.

The leaders are (let's face it) just human and why should I believe them? I mean, look what happens when people blindly follow leadership like that: 'drink the Kool-Aid and all will be well' or 'kill those people because they're different than us'. All religions are cults of some kind. Many are less objectionable than others, but most demand a change of personality and surrender by their followers. Is this a good thing?

The rare times I hear a religious discussion I take a step back and look at the "you should" objectively. Is it a reasonable request or idea or concern? Is it realistic? Or is it just a control mechanism clothed in the voice of the deity (you have only to look at some of the larger church organizations and some their policies to see what I mean).

I've been pondering this lately because I'm getting ready to embark on rewrites to my 'end of the world' books in which I pit the few remaining religious people ('few' because they were wiped out by a plague) against those who have no time for organized religion (literally 'no time' -- time is running out for the human race). So I've been reading a lot about religions and how the leaders manage their followers (most religions are run like a business, which I find fascinating). I suspect ponderings like this will continue until I actually start to put words on paper. Then, hopefully, it'll be full steam ahead because my characters will take over the writing.

Until then I'll let the ideas simmer in the back of my brain while I work on other writing. But I'm hoping, someday soon, to dig deeply into those books. I've found I really like the world I created there...

Sunday, September 20, 2009


I sent a blog post yesterday from my phone but apparently it never got here. Odd.

I was out of town with my buddies at a gambling weekend, brainstorming books. I'll give more of an update on Tuesday, but suffice it to say, I lost $60 (surprising -- I normally at least break even) and I had a blast.

More later. For now, I'm going to investigate why my post never got here. Hmm.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

There are just some days ...

I had one of those "things just don't go right" days at work today. It just grated on my nerves to be there. First of all, we've been battling a leaky ceiling (not sure what's in there to leak, but something is), so I heard drip--drip--drip for about six hours.

Then I was worried about my kitty, Pandora. She went in for the Big Surgery and while I was sure she'd be fine, I worried. And worried. And am still worried because she's not home -- she's with the vet overnight because *he's* worried about her.

Then I was trying to use a piece of software which was designed by idiots and ... Okay, I won't go into more details but suffice it to say I asked for help from my group. I was pointed to the Help System on the software, which I had already read. That's why I asked for help: I couldn't find what I was looking for. Grr. What I've been doing lately is writing my own documentation about how to do things because the info we have to use is so cumbersome. This will become a new chapter. Grr.

Then I went shopping at noon to look for a rug (long story) and didn't fnd what I wanted. Plus it's hot today. It's mid-September. It's not supposed to be hot. I don't like hot.

I went back & forth to the vet 4 times in 2 hours, and I'm SO relieved Pandora is home with the vet tonight -- he'll keep a good eye on her. But I am still worried....

Let's hope tomorrow is better. If not, you may see an eruption just south of the Twin Cities...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The 3D experience

Went to a press screening of "Cloudy, With a Chance of Meatballs" today. Imax & 3D. Whoa. BIG meatballs, falling from the sky.

It was a fun little film about an inventor whose inventions never quite worked right (hence the meatballs falling from the sky and the spaghetti that overwhelms the town). There was a scene with the inventor's taciturn father, who couldn't artiuclate that he was proud of his son. The inventor-son puts a monkey translator on the father (trust me, it works) and the father's thoughts were all laid clear -- how proud he was, how he loved his son, etc.

It was a VERY touching moment in the movie & one that made me realize that we often don't express ourselves to our loved ones very articulately. I plan to use that in an upcoming book (the CCR, or Cross-Country Romp book I'm crafting right now). It's an excellent way to show a character's personality.

It only goes to show ... there are plot points everywhere! You've just gotta look!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

well, Hooray!

Life is getting back to normal!

After a week of phone calls & hassle, Mom has email again. Thank you, WebTV! I can't tell you how relieved I am to know it's (1) arrived and (2) has been installed and (3) is working!

Let's see, what else has been on my plate lately? I've had a lot of deadlines the Paycheck Job, but most are under control now. I've gotten the handouts, etc., ready for the class I'm co-teaching this fall. I finished the third book in the Deadly Landscaping series. I got a request from an agent for the Oz book, so I'm prepping that. And I'm getting ready to start the Ghost Story, which features some Oz characters.

And it's a holiday weekend! I love long weekends -- I am already getting SO much done. I'm going some promo for 2 books that released (see the sidebar) in between writing and editing. I'll be promoing those books for the next month, so I won't blast you with the information now, you'll see it at some point ::smile::

For now, though, just a bit of time out on the porch, enjoying the balmy weather. Then back to the Oz book for a bit more editing.

Did I mention I love long weekends?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

once again ...

no time to blog.

Still troubleshooting Mom's computer. Finishing a WIP. Kitty to the vet today for his surgery so I'm trying to watch him. Chat tonight. Work.

Maybe Saturday?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

no time to blog

Trying to troubleshoot Mom's computer problems, 250 miles away. No time to blog!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

True to form ...

This always happens when I work on a book. I poke and pick at the first 10 chapters or so. I work out the characters, I type some here and there then all of a sudden ... BAM... I know how the book should work, I know who dunnit, I know how it's going to end, and I can't wait to get to the keyboard.

That's what's been going on today. I've been writing like a fiend, going back and forth, working out plot points, laying in clues, and mapping out the next 5 chapters or so. The way I'm going, I'll have this wrapped up in a week, easy.


I never know when I start a book if it will be like pulling teeth to write it, or will it flow off my fingers? This one is FINALLY flowing...hooray!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Deep thoughts for a Tuesday

Actually, not so deep but thoughtful, anyway. Why do some things annoy the crap out of us? I know I should be able to ignore some behaviors by other people but I just can't sometimes.

I work in a cube environment and there are people around me who (1) have loud phone voices; (2) have 'loud' perfume; or (3) have 'loud' food (smelly)

What is it with them? We're all sharing a space here! Come on, give me a break! {there. I feel a bit better}

Another annoyance: some people talk way too much and some don't talk at all. Case in point: I know someone who talks constantly. Constantly. She reads road signs when we drive, she laughs at nothing, she continually speaks. I know she doesn't even hear herself so I don't really mind, but I do wish she'd listen now and again. But she's too busy speaking ....

And on the opposite spectrum: my DH, who NEVER acknowledges if he's heard something I've said. How many times have I added, "Are you listening?" and I get an offended look in return.

I should be able to just adapt to these people. They're in my life, they're relatives, and they ain't going to change. But I still end up grinding my teeth sometimes when I'm with them.

I wish I could be like a well trained little lab rat & just ADAPT to my little rat maze!

Hmm. Do I smell cheese?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Hanging out in Nashville

I'm on the road again, this time in Nashville at a conference.

So far ... I'm not sure if it'll be good. I've only been to one workshop and I was impressed with it, but it seems like the conference isn't that well organized. We'll see how it goes today.

Weather? Hot and humid (duh. Tennessee in summer). I had dinner last night with an old friend from MN who is now living here, so that was good to see her and get caught up. We went to a little bar and had macaroni and cheese & shepherd's pie. Unusual and yummy.

Today: workshops, then we're on our own for dinner (that came as a surprise). We have a rental car, though, so we'll drive out and see what looks interesting. Then back on the road tomorrow to head for home.

I was scheduled to go to one more con this year, but I think I'm going to cancel it. I don't think I'm getting what I need from these conferences, so I'm going to rethink my priorities. Always a good thing.

I'll fill you in on details on Tuesday when I'm back. Until then, stay cool!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

work work work

I'm having one of those weeks where everything is ganging up on me at one time.

I've got a boatload of work to get done in the Paycheck Job. I'm trying to wrap up what I can on the project I'm doing so I can get my work out for review.

I'm trying to get my class notes organized for teaching this fall. This is an artificial deadline but if I can get it off my desk and onto my co-teacher, then it's her problem for a while.

I'm making good progress on one book but am stalled on the other. I'm hoping when I get stalled on the first book I'll be able to go to the other one and make progress on it.

I need to consider what to take on my weekend trip. That means packing. That means laundry.

A friend is leaving town and 2 others are having birthday. I have a Must Attend dinner tomorrow night.

Yep. It's piling up. Now watch: next week I'll be twiddling my thumbs.

Oh, wait. No. It's me. I never twiddle!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

A day of To Do

From the minute I woke up until now, I've been working on my To Do List.

1. write answers to blog questions for blog interview next week
2. prep excerpts for upcoming promo
3. attend "Blackberry How To" session at local store
4. attend writer's meeting
5. nap (okay, not on my To Do list, but done!)
6. prep answers for my candidacy for national office (RWA, not politics)
7. promo recent print release
8. arrange promo for upcoming release
9. work on class notes for upcoming class I'm teaching
10. prep birthday gifts for upcoming parties
11. prep going-away gifts (see previous blog)

Do you see "work on novel" there? yikes, it's been a couple of days since was able to get any writing done! At this rate, it'll be Thanksgiving before I finish the 3 books I want to have done.

I know, I know -- it's MY deadline. But yes, it is MY deadline and I'd like to hit it. So I'm officially changing it slightly:

3 books done by Halloween.

Start your engines!!!!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


Last year a friend of mine started working with me in my Day Job. I thought she was okay with the job -- maybe not HAPPY, but okay with it.

Nope. She just quit.

There was a bit of a tempest in a teapot -- you know how it goes, something happens, it gets blown out of proportion, people over-react and if everybody would just pause & think, things would get back to normal.

But she decided to quit, put all her furniture in storage, and take off on an extended drive to ... she's not sure where. She'll take off next week or the week after at the latest. I would normally applaud such a free spirit, but I'm not sure she's really thinking this through to its logical conclusion. She & I have talked about it and she's sure it's the right thing to do.

While a part of me thinks this sounds like a blast, another part -- the majority of me, really -- thinks it's just not a good idea. In my youth, this would be doable, but I'm not young & carefree anymore. I have obligations and responsibilities, things (people, cats) I can't walk away from. It amazes me that she can do it, and so easily (relatively speaking, of course).

I will be interested to see what shakes out in the coming months. I can only wish her well and tell her to gather stories to share with me -- I may need a plot or two in the future!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Out of town

Not much news - spent night in ODD hotel (very moderne) and walked around my old college haunts which have changed like crazy.

Now at home and relaxing before a round of socializing with friends then on the road tomorrow. More posts later or check me on Facebook or Twitter. :)

Sent from the Berry gadget

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Diva of Lists

I'm a chronic list-maker. I make lists of things to do, mainly, but sometimes it's other things: things to pack, things to finish, things to remember.

I just made a list of things to pack for an upcoming trip. My husband looked at it and said, "You know what you're going to take. Why write it down?"

I pointed out that by making the list, I realized I was probaby overpacking for a 3 day trip. Seeing the items on the list made that clear to me.

"Why not just pack then realize you've got too much?"

I explained that packing is a headache and should be done once or twice at the most.

He just smiled and said, "Whatever."

Yep. Venus. Mars. We're from there.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The convergence of blogs

This is one of those weekend where I am scheduled to blog in 4 places in addition to the 2 I normally blog at on the weekends.

Can you say ... 'duplicate'? I think some cutting and pasting will be done. I like to save my originality for my writing, if you know what I mean. Luckily I have little else planned for the weekend. Cirque du Soleil later this afternoon, a gathering of friends tomorrow. So I'm hoping I'll get snippets of inspiration throughout the weekend as I focus on my writing.

Speaking of which ... it's going very well. I had one of those 'well, duh' moments earlier this week and I went back to look at what I'd written, tore it up, and now have a fresh new start. I'm much, much more energized about the story. I want to keep that momentum going, so this blog is ending now so I can get back to work!

Beautiful summer day, windows open, birds singing, and writing ahead of me ... yep, Life is Good.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The happy of non-travel

A lot of my writing friends are at the RWA National Conference this week. I've gone to 4 or 5 of these, and have to say: I am SO glad I'm not there.

It's noisy. It's busy. It's exhausting. It's one thing after another. A lot of people come home feeling energized. I always felt drained when I got back. I think I'll try it again in a few years, but I'm not in a rush to do it soon.

A large part of my ambivalent feelings is how I'm treated there. I'm not a 'real' published author to them even though I have 11 books out and contracts for 9 more. Yep, because I publish with a small press, I'm not considered career-minded. Don't bother telling me why that's silly: we all know why.

So I'm happily not traveling this week and while I wish I could be with my friends who are out in D.C., I'm busy making progress on my latest novel, which I believe I'll see published in 2012 -- that's how far out I have contracts. Maybe someday I'll be considered published by Those Who Think They Know. For now, I know I am.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A good fit

I bop around on various social network sites: MySpace, Facebook, Goodreads, etc. I dutifully check them once a week or so to update my 'status' and I check if I get an email that tells me someone has posted a note to me.

I think of these as obligatory promo spots where I hang out briefly but none of them have really been a hit with me. They're all places that are intriguing, but I don't much care.

Twitter, though ....

I know -- Twitter? My life in 140 characters (or less)? It's taken me a few weeks, but I'm finding myself more and more fascinated by it. I have a fairly small amount of 'friends' (I hate calling them 'followers'), and I follow most of them in return. It's a very, very interesting way of interacting with total strangers. I only see a tiny slice of their life (unlike Facebook or MySpace, where I can easily see a 'history'). And I see such a wide variety of people, interests, ideas, thoughts. I get directed to interesting blogs and web sites, and it's very easy to 'turn off' and ignore.

Yep. It might be my niche. It suits me so well: I have a short attention span, I like to work fast (no matter what I do), and I like a wide variety of people/places/things.

Check with me in a month and see if the bloom is off the vine yet ::grin::

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The ... ho-hum days of summer?

I'm in a group blog with some other authors, and we're supposed to take turns blogging every day about a topic I hand out on Sunday. Lately I've been the only one blogging. One or another of them blogs randomly, but it's mainly me blogging about my topic.

I don't mind, really. I can blog at the drop of the hat any time. But then something else made me notice this irregularity: I often dine with a group of ladies. We've dined on Wednesday, every other week, for years now. But lately it's getting hard to get people together. We're starting to become random diners. I'm hosting a party at my house later this month, and it'll be the first time we've gotten together in 2 or 3 months.

Now that's weird. What are the odds that 2 groups of friends are starting to drift? That made me think ... I wonder if it's a summer thing. In the summer, people tend to not stick to schedules. Things are busier, life is more flexible, kids are out of school, life is a bit more spontaneous. Do you think that's it?

I'll be curious to see what happens this fall when life gets back to 'normal'. Until then, I'll keep blogging & use those free dining days to meet with other friends. There's *always* someone to get caught up with!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

How I spend my holiday

I have a 4-day vacation right now. We got yesterday off at work as a holiday and I'm taking Monday off. How am I spending it?

Well, I'm getting caught up on some things: prepping for a class I'm teaching in the fall, organizing notes, weeding through files. Yesterday I went to the Mall of America and walked and gawked, something I do 3x a year or so. It's right in my backyard but I seldom get there, so it's always amusing when I go. I finished page-proofs on a book releasing next year and started my newsletter for July.

Today I'm going to the local casino to drop $20 in a slot machine. I love playing slots and I never go to the casino near me. I thought, hey, that might be amusing. I'll go in an hour or so since mornings are absolutely the best time to go to a casino. There aren't many people up and around at 6 in the morning. I'll play for a couple of hours then hit the stores early, come back and write. I'm working on my ghost story now and I figured out a way to incorporate Facebook into it. I'm anxious to get going on it.

Tomorrow -- nothing planned. I may go to a nearby town and do a bit of antique shopping and hit a couple of tiny gift stores. We may do some grilling or maybe go out to eat. I may just write all day. Not sure yet.

On Monday I'm going to Northfield, a nearby town which is about 30 miles away. It's a nice shopping experience with unique stores, and it's a very, very cute town -- very small town. And I'll write, of course.

The main theme of the weekend: relax. This is the only weekend in a month and a half where I don't have events planned, some of which involve traveling. So I'm going to take advantage of being in town and just hang out and relax before the craziness begins.

I hope you have as much fun as I plan to have!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Attitude is paramount

As you know, I've been on a weight-loss journey since February 1 and have currently lost 35 pounds. I'd love to love 6 more, but if I don't, I'm happy.

It's been an interesting experience and I'm amazed that all the cliches apply:
  • it's not about dieting, it's about changing your attitude toward food
  • it's not about rearranging your life to exercise, it's about fitting exercise into your life
  • it's not about the goal, it's about the process
I still eat what I want but I don't eat as much, nor do I eat it as often. Yep, I have fast food now and again, but it's very seldom. Yes, I added more fruit & veggies to my diet, but it was a gradual process. I still love my little treats here & there. That's where the 100-calorie snack packs come into play -- lifesavers!

In terms of exercise, I fit in my walking throughout the course of the day. I usually try to get in a half-hour sometime of walking, either at the mall or outside, but if I can't, I know I can get in 7000 steps a day easily by just taking the 'long' way: walk a few extra steps here & there. The pedometer is key to this, of course.

But more than anything, it's been about my attitude. It all boils down to this: I was sick of thinking about my weight. It was worth it to me to 'give up' some things in order to lose the weight.

The same thing happened when I quit smoking: I was sick of thinking about quitting. I just quit. And you know what? I do the same thing with my writing: I procrastinate, I dither, I think about tweaking this plot point or that. And at some point, I just sit down and WRITE THE DAMN BOOK.

I was speaking with friends yesterday about weight loss and I said, "You've got to find what works for you -- my way isn't the right way for everyone. But it works for me." Know yourself and find what works. Then just do it. That applies to diet, exercise, health, life, love, writing, and work. You can certainly look to others for examples, but in the end, it's up to you to figure it out. Once you do ... it all starts to fall into place.

So excuse me. Enough procrastinating. I need to do some writing.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

As predicted ...

Yep, I'm pain-free now after those 2 cortisone shots. I was struggling Monday-Wednesday, but Wednesday night was my first pain-free sleeping in months.

Of course, I still don't sleep a lot -- I have 2 kittens in the house, one of whom believes my pillow is her spot and she PURRS to let me know it. And another cat, Mr. Houdini, who sleeps pressed against my legs as protection against the Tiny Evils who torment him. But all in all, it's great to feel flexible & good again. And more good news: my Mia cat, Diva kitty, does not have cancer but some bizarre growth (the vet said he's never seen anything like it in 24 years of vetting) which may come back but if it does and it doesn't bother her, we can ignore.

Life Is Good.

Today I'm off to a play ("Singin' in the Rain", so apt because it's raining, FINALLY, we needed rain so bad), then to a town festival with balloon rides, brauts, and polka dancing in the park. The weather is supposed to clear in time for it, so I say, Bring it on! Summer! Enjoy!

My diet resumes tomorrow....

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Big Owie

I had 2 shots of cortisone in my hips yesterday and man, oh man, does it hurt today. I can barely move without pain. Advil, here I come.

I know in a week or so I'll be pain-free. I haven't been pain-free since May, so I'm looking forward to it. I have chronic bursitis in both hips and some nights, I have to sleep in a chair because between the arthritis in my back and the bursitis in my hips ...

Of course, it could be SO much worse that it doesn't bear thinking about. I was at the hospital today having a mammogram (my philosophy is: get the icky things done in threes then you're done with them for months. The third icky thing I did today was take my cat, kicking & struggling, to the vet for a surgical procedure). While at the hospital I saw some REALLY sick people. And the squishing wasn't as bad as it's been in the past. Everything is digital now, so it goes faster and it's not as painful.

All in all: good. Now I'm settling in to work at home and will try to move very little (those of you who know me: all laugh together at the notion). And if I'm lucky, I'll carve out some time to WRITE.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A fun event not sanctioned by RWA

I had a book signing today in a flower shop.

I grew up in a small town with no bookstore so the flower shop stocks my books. Because I'm with a small press (I don't call them an e-pub) I'm able to work with my publisher to get the books in unusual locations like gift shops, etc.

I sold a few dozen books, had press interviews with local papers and had a great time.

If I followed RWA guidelines I'd be poorer financially and in terms of experience. Thank heavens I started ignoring them years ago!

Sent from the Berry gadget

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

An odd sort of happiness

I got a promotion yesterday at work. Our company recently implemented a new system of categorizing writers, and I was promoted to the higher level -- and this caused a bit of upset with a couple of my co-workers. I don't want to go into the details in a public forum, but suffice it to say it's made me pause and wonder: "did I deserve it?"

I'm not trying for false modesty here. I honestly was just doing what I felt was the best job I could. In some instances, I went beyond what was normally expected but the opportunity presented itself and I jumped in. Those kinds of opportunities haven't presented themselves to others or they didn't feel as comfortable jumping in. And of course, I had the chance to fail by doing so but I didn't. So far, I'm succeeding.

On the whole, yes, I think I deserved it. I understand why people are peeved (and let me put this in perspective: the majority of my co-workers gave me hearty and sincere congratulations). But it put a bit of a damper on my day -- just a bit. Of course, I still have to meet my deadlines, carry my workload, get the projects done on time. I'm just pausing for one day for a bit of back-patting.

::pat:: ::pat::

Yep. It feels good.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Once again, an AWOL blogger

I got wrapped up in Saturday and forgot to blog until late last night. Oops!

It was a bookend kind of day: I had a writing meeting in the morning and a party in the late afternoon. In between I did something I haven't done for a long time: I relaxed. I played with the Terrible Twosome (the kittens), I napped, I read the stack of printouts I put on my "this might be interesting pile" and I just sat & thought: about my 3 books in progress, about the garden and how it looks (pretty freakin' awesome, I have to admit), about life in general.

It's good to have those 'don't worry about it' days. I don't do them often but when I do, I savor them. Today it's back to being on-task: shopping, promo, writing, prepping for classes this fall. I feel energized and ready to get at it.

Savor those days while you may!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Green thumb day

There were a couple of empty spots in my garden that were just begging for plants, so I finally went to the local landscape center and got some plants. After 45 minutes of intensive work, they're in and my back is killing me.

When did gardening become hard work? I exercise regularly but man, that 1/2 hour of digging and planting almost did me in. This is why I pay someone to come out twice a year and prep my garden for me. I forgot how hard he works, but this was a great reminder.

I'm making excellent progress on my 2-books-at-once, but it's slower than I would like. I've got so many other things interrupting me. I would love to have an evening when I can just write, but it just isn't happening any time soon. I'm hoping July will give me some creative time.

Until then, I'll peck away at it and enjoy those plants which will be blooming soon. And maybe take my laptop out on the porch and enjoy the summer up close. It's a fleeting time here in Minnesota and meant to be savored.....

Sunday, June 07, 2009

AWOL blogger

I had a double-whammy this weekend: my 11th book released and I was away from home, at a conference.

I've gotten a bit more laid-back about book releases and don't do frantic promo on the day it comes out and for every day thereafter. I'll be posting excerpts, etc., for the next few weeks for it and the other books in this series and will also be excerpting my other books at the same time. Hey, I can re-promo those for years if I want!

The conference was good but was tiring. I think I'll be cutting back on the romance conferences from here on in. The mystery conferences are very energizing, but romance conferences ... it's hard to describe, but they're different. I just have mystery conferences for the rest of the year, so that'll be fun.

Now back to 'home work': taking care of the kitties, getting edits done for my editor, prepping a synopsis for a new book. The routine never ends!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

So you want to be a rock star ....

One of the fascinating things about my publishing experiences has been to watch as other authors I know get published. I was one of the first in my 'group' (critique partners and assorted friends) to be published. Many, many others have been published since my first book came out in 2007. Now, 10 books later, I have a different perspective on publishing than I did. And what's interesting to me is to watch as others undergo sea changes, too, as their publishing journeys continue.

I recently wrote an article for my local RWA chapter about how I manage to hold down a full-time job, have time for family and also write 4-5 books a year. I gave the obvious advice: "just sit down and write", "be disciplined", "learn your craft so you're not constantly rewriting"... An important point was "learn your voice." Once I figured out the type of writing I was good at (1st person mystery), writing became easy.

One other bit, though, was "define success for yourself." I promised myself to stay in publishing as long as I had fun doing it. If this became a real 'job' then I'd quit. Who needs that? I already have a full-time job that's tolerable but not particularly enjoyable. If my writing becomes annoying, then why do it? It's not lucrative (I make money at it, sure, but I'm not rolling in dough). I used to say that I want to be the Nora Roberts of ebook publishing: have 3-4 books a year, build a name for myself, and continue to write into the sunset.

I'm seeing friends now who are struggling to define what success means to them. Does it mean having your book on a certain shelf at Border's? Is it to get a New York contract? Is it to snag that particular agent and get them interested in your work? I think every author has to define this for himself/herself. You could use the "New York Times best seller list" but we know that's crap -- it's just a certain amount of data reported at a certain point in time. You could use $$ earned versus $$ spent, but I'm not sure if that's valid -- I'd spend a certain amount of money on conferences and workshops whether I was published or not.

Maybe it's a certain inner satisfaction to know that your stories are being read and appreciated. I love getting mail from people, commenting on my books. But even if I don't get mail, I'm still happy the books are out there.

In the long run, I keep coming back to my formula for success:

Do I enjoy doing it?
+ Can I fit it into my current lifestyle?
- Do I need to do uncomfortable things to succeed (some promotion, for example)
+ Is it relatively easy for me to do?
I'm successful at what I'm doing

So far, so good .....

Saturday, May 30, 2009

So close ....

I promised myself that when I lost 30 pounds I could have a hot fudge sundae.

I'm at 29.4 pounds lost.

Don't get me wrong: I'm happy to have lost so much weight since the first of the year. I feel like I'm retraining my thinking and my body to follow eating habits like those I used to have: eat when hungry, don't overeat, exercise regularly -- all those common sense things that kept my weight constant for years. Until I quit smoking, that is. Then everything went goofy and I started gaining.

Well, I'm losing now. I do 2 weigh-ins a week, one on Wednesday and the 'official' one on Saturday. I work out at the gym on Wed., Sat., and Sunday so those are my days to check weight. On Wednesday, at my preliminary weigh-in, I was 2 pounds lighter than I am today. I'll lay you odds I'll be at least a half-pound lighter tomorrow when I weigh myself. You see, on Friday evening I meet a friend after dinner for coffee and a cookie (and lots of talking), and I think that always pads me a bit for my Saturday weigh-in.

It's tempting to forego that cookie or use Sunday as my 'official' day, but I won't. I've tried to be scrupulously honest throughout this process, and I'm not going to fudge (excuse the expression) now. I'll earn that hot fudge sundae honorably.

It's going to taste soooooooo good when I get it!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Okay, here they are!

We still don't have firm names for them. I'm leaning toward Lara (for the stripey girl) and Kirby (for orange boy), but am not quite sold on those names yet. For now they're, "get out of that!" or "watch out!" or "who's that?"

How about MacGyver for him (because he always manages to get himself out of tough spots) and Dora (the Explorer) for her?

Time will tell!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

More tomorrow

We've got new 8-week old kittens in the house. Pictures tomorrow (if they ever stop chasing our adult cats long enough for me to grab a picture!)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The joys of airports

I had 3 hours to kill at the Denver airport (long story). So I walked all the terminals: A, B & C. I also people-watched and made notes as I did so, garnering several good possible characters for a book.

I also saw a plot unfold: I eavesdropped on an arguing couple. They were in one row of seats in the waiting area and I saw behind them. They were low-voiced, but I caught the gist of the argument. It was a doozy and I didn't envy them the opportunity to sit next to each other on a long flight first to Florida then from there to Europe. It was going to be a long, long trip.

When life hands you long waits in strange airports, gather your plots while you can. I now have an idea for a murder on a plane and people who have all kinds of motive. Why do these mystery plots keep falling in my lap? I'm jotting down the ideas so I don't lose them as I work on my other 2 books, which are going surprisingly good. I have 2 full weeks in town and I hope to make considerable progress before my next trip (a road trip this time).

But who knows? An airport mystery might be in my near future....

Saturday, May 16, 2009

On the road again

I'm in Denver with family again. Totally surprised my niece who didn't know I was coming to her bridal shower.

Back on Monday to the regular routine ... Kind of ...

Sent from the Berry gadget

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ready, set, walk!

I'm on a 'step' program, where I count my steps every day. I try to get 10K in, and most days I do it and more.

Yesterday I did 13K steps. 13K. And I was sitting in a training room most of the day. The secret? I went for a long walk before my day officially started, so I was at 8K by 8:30 a.m. The rest of the day was just walking to the elevator, mingling with people, walking to the restaurant for lunch.

It's amazing how these tiny things add up. It's like writing a book: a scene at a time, a thought at a time, a chapter at a time. While walking yesterday morning (very early, just at dawn) I had a great idea for the 2nd book I'm working on. It is now going to called not "the 2nd book" but The Ghost Story, like the first book is called The Nail Gun Murder. I had a great idea for TGS that works in a book I always wanted to write (a ghost story) + a mystery (the first draft of this book) + an inheritance (an old book I wanted to rewrite). I'll moosh them all together into this new thing.

Of course, I have to do it, not just talk about it. But I think it's doable. I see a thread of daylight outside. Off to walk again before another day of sitting in training. Let's see what other ideas I can come up with!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Juggling, juggling, juggling

It's amazing but the busier I am, the more creative I am. Today I was at the gym, working out, and my mind was buzzing with my latest book. I had my digital recorder with me, so I managed to 'finish' chapter 2 AND set up a big red herring for the murder.

Hubby and I were at a play this afternoon (Legally Blonde: truly funny play, especially seeing it with a man who just Doesn't Get It sometimes) and I had a great idea for a scene later in the book. At intermission I jotted some notes on my I-thing to keep the idea fresh.

Next week I'm in training all week for work: 9-5 of probably annoyingly boring stuff. I plan to take some notepads with me so I can jot ideas as the class progresses. I always find that a change of scenery really gets my brain moving. I have a day tomorrow when I can write (just a few morning errands to run) and I hope to really kick-start Chapter 3 and beyond in one book, and get the plot blocked out in the other. I'll be traveling again next weekend so will have limited writing time. But I think that's when I do my best writing, when I'm forced into a time crunch and have little time to agonize over words.

For now, though, I'm going to go back and transcribe my notes and see where it takes me. This murder is taking a twist I didn't plan on. We'll see where it goes!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

This is a test

.. Sort of.

I got a new gadget so I think I can blog from afar. I'm in IA, getting ready to go with Mom to the doctor.

My Deep Thought for the day? Good health can make your life SO much happier and chronic bad health is miserable. My daily exercise vow is renewed!

Making good progress on 2 books and will be on the road again tomorrow, so can plot as I drive. More on that later ....
Sent from the Berry gadget

Saturday, May 02, 2009

A day of cultural oddities

I have a busy day scheduled today. At 9:00 I'm picking up a dear friend who is also a movie reviewer. She and I are going to see the new Star Trek film. Wendy called me as soon as she got tickets because she knows I'm such a Trekkie. I'm looking forward to it, I've heard the FX are fantastic and I've read a bit of the plot, and it sounds intriguing and convoluted -- my kind of Sci Fi.

We should be out of there by noon, so I'll drop Wendy off at her house, swing by and get the Spouse and he & I will go to St. Paul for a play (we have season tix at one of the two major playhouses in town). It's Grey Garden, which I know very little about. I believe it's about two eccentric old ladies but that's about it.

We'll be in St. Paul until about 4:30 then we'll head back home where the VFW is having their annual Fish Fry -- an event not to be missed. So we'll go from swanky theater matrons to the more down-to-earth atmosphere of the outdoor beer garden, downtown near my home.

Of course, before I start all this I have to run a few errands (thank goodness some stores open at 8:00). Then it's off for a day of Klingons & popcorn, high society & wine, then home boys and beer.

Looking forward to it!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Two books in my head

While driving south to visit Mom, I started thinking about one of the books I drafted a long time ago. It was more of a women's fiction book than a mystery, sort of a rambling 'starting over after divorce' kind of book.

I started thinking what it would take to re-task it into a mystery. That occupied me for most of the drive down to Iowa (4 hours). I sort of mulled it over while I was there and on the way back I got out my digital tape recorder and taped a few ideas.

So now I'll have 2 books going at once. Actually, neither is really 'going' right now. I'm still in the mulling it over stage. But I think I'll try to do both at one time. If I can, that will wrap up the mysteries I planned to write for this year, so I have incentive. My goal is to finish both by the end of summer. Stay tuned for a progress check!

Friday, April 24, 2009

... and gone again, gone again

I'm on the road on Saturday, so figured I'd post early. I'm off to visit my Mom in rainy Iowa and also to meet some high school buddies for coffee. Should make for an interesting trip.

I'm happy to get away right now. Work has been stressful lately. The work itself isn't bad but the office politics is a bit weird right now. Our small company was bought by a Mega Company a few years ago, and while we've all adjusted, it's not a happy place a lot of the time. This is one of those times. I keep repeating to myself: 'it's a job. It's a salary. It's just a few more years until retirement.' That helps, sometimes.

The good thing is, I have a fantastic boss who is willing to do what she can to make life better for us all. So I will knuckle down like a good little soldier and do my part. I may not grin, but I'll bear it.

So it's good to get away right now. In fact, the more I can get away, the better {wink}. I have the sort of job where I really don't have to be in the office to get it done, and I may take advantage of that in the future. For now, though ... it's spring, things are greening up, and I can get away from it all for a couple of days. I'll pop a CD into the changer and sing along with Eric Clapton as I drive to Iowa. And keep reminding myself .... it's just a job. It's a salary. It's just a few more years ....

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Home again, home again ....

I've been to California several times, but usually it was northern CA, in Silicon Valley. This was my first time in L.A. I've been to San Diego but never as far north as L.A.

Traffic. Oh.My.God. Traffic. I couldn't believe it. We were in bumper-to-bumper traffic almost the entire time we were there. It was 2 in the afternoon, and it was like rush hour. I don't know how people stand it. My niece's husband said that he just checks the GPS before leaving the house to figure out the best route. And he usually changes routes in mid-trip.

But all in all, it was a good time. My sisters and I had a good time hanging out with the younger kids, and they had a good time hearing us talk about 'the old days'. The baby shower went off with just a few tiny hitches (nothing major), and a lot of gifts were given. My niece is Great With Child, probably basketball-sized, and she's not due for another seven weeks or so.

It was fun to get away, but my it was nice to get home! The plane flight, long though it was, went faster with my Itouch to keep me company. I watched a movie and read a couple of books all on my little gadget -- such a deal -- how did I travel without it before?

So back to writing, back to promotion, back to work. Until the next trip this weekend.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Family times sneak up on you

I'll be out of town this weekend, visiting family on the Left Coast. I haven't been that way since my SGI days, when I used to go to Silicon Valley for the occasional dog and pony show.

I'm not looking forward to the plane flight: 4 hours in a crowded tube with 200 strangers, but I hope the Dramamine kicks in quickly and I doze off. I've got plenty of reading matter: a rough draft of the Oz book, my netbook, my Itouch loaded with books, a magazine. I'm taking carry-on (at least that's the plan), so it should be a relatively straightforward event.

As it turns out, I'm out of town every month (at least once a month) for the next year. Yep, a year. I've got something planned every month through next April. About half are road trips but half are flying. I took a look at my vacation time at work and, yikes, I may run out in October. I'll have to either work a bit of overtime or maybe take a day here and there without pay. Not a problem, but a surprise since I usually have an abundance of time off.

Our company was bought out, though, by a Left Coast company and they're pretty stingy with time off. I'm not complaining, really -- I've got a job and in this economy, that's a biggie. And I can miss a day or two of pay here and there. So I'll go ahead, use up the time, and enjoy myself. After all, it's what vacation is for, right?

So I'll post again next Tuesday and let you know how the trip goes. Then it's off again next weekend (road trip this time), so posting will be erratic again. Enjoy the spring and look forward to summer! I surely am.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Whooee ... another one in print

Coming soon, to a printer near you: yep, If Not For You is on the spring print list with my publisher. I suspect it's because it won the Eppie, but I don't care why, I'm just glad that Max & Layla will soon be in print!

I'll keep you posted on the details as they become available.

In other news: I'm off to a book signing today. My local writer's group is having me speak and sign books. So I need to get organized for that event. And then a weekend of writing & getting caught up before I leave town next week. Oh, and golf -- gotta watch the Master's tournament both days, too.

Spring is here!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

As you can see..

A new book!

This one is out today in download, out in print in a few months. This is my Giggling Pig book: a lot of the action takes place at the Giggling Pig cafe and that's where one of the major mysteries in the book is solved ... kind of.

Death on the ice, now that we're going into spring. What timing, eh?

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Whooee .... the Oz book is done!

Mad happy dancing.

I've finished the first draft of the Oz book. This one was problematic, let me tell you. I tried to stay true to the stories, which means:
  1. I read a LOT of Oz books (I read 14 or so. There's 30 or more, I think).
  2. ALL of my characters are prototyped on characters from the Oz books (I kept a 'cast list' to keep track of who's who) and
  3. I tried to keep elements from the movie running throughout the book, so people who haven't read the Oz books will still have a frame of reference.

{whew}. Done. Good first draft DONE. Four months of hard work interrupted now and again by:
  • edits to Human Touch, releasing in August
  • edits to Temperance, releasing ... this year? I hope
  • edits to Living Proof, releasing next year
  • edits to Nowhere to Run, releasing next week
  • edits to Homicides, Hostages, and Hot Rod Restorations, releasing in January, 2010
  • edits to PhDs, Pornography, and Premeditated Murder, releasing in May, 2010
I plan to rest on my laurels for a week or so then I'm moving on to the next book to write.. But first I want to update my web site, finish judging a contest, and get promo lined up for Nowhere to Run.

Happy happy draft done!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Lions, lambs, sleet, rain & happy!

A good review can make my day. Check this out:

Here's a person who read the book and GOT what I was trying to convey about love, trust, and second chances. And this for a book that released last year! Ha! If anyone published with a traditional publisher can get a review for a year-old book, I'd like to meet them. I seriously doubt that'll ever happen.

This e-publishing stuff is great -- books will always be out there, waiting for new readers to find 'em.

Oh, the lion/lamb thing? It's the last day of March, going out like a lion. I had rain, snow, sleet, ice, and wind, all on a 12-mile commute this morning. Depending on your zip code, the Twin Cities will get dumped on with snow, or rained, or iced.

Springtime in Minnesota.

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Bunnys are not just for kids, you know

I just finished coloring my hard-boiled eggs. I do this a lot. I get a Paz kit and dunk the eggs and put on stickers. Sometimes I get creative with the wax pencil but usually I stick with basic colors, often three and four on an egg.

A friend at work saw me peeling one of these beauties and she said, "You don't have kids. Why do you do the eggs?" My response was, hey, I eat a hard-boiled egg every day, why not have them colored? I do these year-round, at random times. I buy a few extra Paz kits and tuck them in the back of the pantry and sometime in August or November or February I'll see it, pull it out, and make colored eggs.

I have the same philosophy with Christmas lights. I often will leave up a string of lights around a window somewhere and turn them on in August. I think it adds a nice touch to a summer night, reminding us of winter and helping us appreciate the warmth.

I do the same thing with writing (you wondered how this would apply to my writing, didn't you?) If I'm going to go the trouble of doing something (color eggs, put up Christmas lights, write and publish a novel) then I'm going to enjoy it as much as I can. These things take effort and time, and as I blogged about elsewhere (see my Mavens post here) I don't have a lot of time to spend on my writing. So I like to make it all count. I don't work on books I know won't sell, and I don't work on stories with plot lines that make me sweat. I'm in this to enjoy myself as well as make a name as an author. If I can't do both ... well, then I'll need to re-evaluate.

So make those Easter eggs and flip on the Christmas lights. Life is tenuous and to be enjoyed!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Reflecting ... as in puddles ?

I've been thinking about an acquaintance of mine who set a goal for herself to be a single-title author within 5 years of selling her first category book ('category' = Harlequin and it's slightly lower on the food chain than a single-title book).

She's writing because she wants to but also as a career. Hence her need to achieve a certain milestone by a certain date. I don't really have such milestones, and I wonder sometimes if I should. Is my lack of milestones laziness on my part or am I truly okay with where I am?

I was pondering this today as I drove home from work in the rain (not snow, thank heavens!) Should I be aspiring to the "Big Time"? Should I go after a contract with a bigger publisher? I periodically consider this idea, but today I wondered if I was actually being lazy or avoiding failure by not striving. I started to visualize it ... waiting 18 months to 2 years for a release; hoping my books sell so I can get another contract; seeing my book on a bookshelf at Barnes & Noble ...

I could visualize it. I'm just not sure it's worth it. I'm enjoying myself immensely right now and I'm not sure I need that validation. Or let me put it this way: if someone comes and offers it to me, I'd be interested. But I'm not sure I want to dread checking the mailbox again ('another rejection letter? Who's it from this time?')

So for now, I'll continue as is. I have a series that I plan to pitch to a bigger publisher and as soon as it's ready, I'll gird my loins for that battle again. I like to revisit this idea now and again, sort of poke it and prod it and think about it. I don't think I'm ready to start setting goals again. For now, I'm just going to enjoy the ride ....

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Weeding out and finding out

Yep. It must be spring. Spring cleaning has arrived!

I got a new gadget (those who know me know that I am the Gadget Gidget). I got the Itouch a month or more ago, but it really didn't have a good calendar/todo application. I got a calendar with it, but it was so-so. I bought a ToDo application (these things are dangerously cheap, like $1 or $10 or some ridiculously low price). Then I bought another one because the first one didn't do quite what I wanted. Then I bought another calendar ....

Well, I bought a calendar/todo yesterday that I THINK will do what I want. So I busily sorted through the old calendar, ToDo 1, ToDo2, and the ToDo and Calendar on my old Palm (which had been my default gadget of choice for years).

As I did I found a lot of old memories. A concert, a pet's death, a surgery -- all events of importance. I have new categories on the new calendar, so I had to figure out how to categorize them. Before I just used 'anniversary' as a generic catch-all for 'milestones'. But this time I decided to really sort them. It was fun, really, to go back and look at all those Events.

It made me realize how happy I am that my main publisher releases ebooks and print books on the same day. I used to have to do double promo for a book release: once when it came out in download and another promo 6 months later for print. What a pain! Now I have to do that for my 'second' publisher (the one that I release with once a year). My 'main' publisher (the one I release with 3 times a year) has simultaneous releases. And my third publisher ... well, that print schedule is on a whim, I think.

Setting up a new calendar also made me realize that I need to get busy for the next release -- it's not that far away (April 7). Between now and then I need to organized for that, finish the Oz book, do edits for 2 more books for next year, promo my Eppie winner ...

I'd better get that ToDo list out and start updating!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It must be spring ...

... I've got a new crop of books, waiting for editing!

It seems like they all gang up on me at once. Why is that? I finished final galley proofs on a book releasing next year and I no sooner turned that in to my editor, than another editor wanted to get started on edits for the 2nd book in my paranormal series.

I said, 'sure, we can get started' when I got final edits in on the 3rd book in my OTHER paranormal series. And I'm also trying to write the Oz book!

Oh well. This means I'll have lots of releases coming up next year -- hopefully not all at one time! I'll dig in for a few days, do a flurry of editing and when I emerge, I'll dig in and finish the Oz book. I've got so many ideas for new books, I can't wait to get started.

Yep. It feels like spring.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Civic duty accomplished

Well, I called in for the last time on Thursday to check my jury status. I was relieved when I found that I wasn't needed for Friday. It was a bit of a hassle to check in twice a day to see if I was needed, but overall, not a problem. The Jury Lady made a nice little speech about how pleased they were 'we in the pool' had done our civic duty and how that made democracy work ... etc.

I am not ashamed to admit that I teared up a bit at this. Yeah, it's BS in a way, but it's also true. We take our society for granted so much of the time. But a 'jury of your peers', and 'involvement in the legal system' is one of our rights and a privilege. I'm sure I would have whined if I'd been stuck in a courtroom listening to the legal system drone on, but still -- we're damn lucky to have the chance.

As a woman, I feel especially lucky to be in America. I read the BBC news online, and there are always stories of atrocities against women: circumcision, rapes, forcible marriage, child slavery ... of course women aren't the only ones who suffer, any vulnerable creature does (animals, children, women, the mentally handicapped). Human inhumanity is amazing as is the amazing power of humanity when it's focused on good.

So take a minute today to thank heaven that you live in a free society (I realize 'free' is a relative term to a lot of people). You have options, you don't have to be ashamed of who you are, you are allowed the opportunity to learn and grow. Most of us have food, shelter, warmth, and safety. Just pause and consider that and thank Whoever.

And if you get the call for jury duty, don't whine (too much)...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A win ... and a thought

I won an Eppie this past weekend. This isn't like an Oscar or anything, but it does represent a milestone for me. The Eppie is an award handed out by the electronic publishing community. When I started my publishing journey, there were a few select competitions in which I wanted to make a good showing. The Molly is one (and I won that one), the Eppies was one, and there's a couple of others that I've entered (and am now entered in). We'll see how I do there.

You know and I know that an award's value is only as good as the competition. If no one enters, then a first place doesn't mean foo. I have no idea how good the competition was, but I'm not going to worry about that. It's the same in any contest.

My win has awakened a bit of a discussion among some friends about the value of the organization giving the award versus RWA (another organization that has excluded most electronically published people from competing in their contests). I've mostly given up on RWA ever recognizing that I'm a legitimate author. I use my membership with them as a means of promotion -- having a membership gives me access to various loops where I can tout my books. I don't expect to learn much more from RWA or get any help from them with my career.

My friends disagree. They think EPIC (the organization handing out the Eppies) is valueless whereas RWA has value. Now this all boils down to what you think, I know. Do I get a lot out of EPIC? No, I don't, but they are the only group in town that welcomes -- WELCOMES -- electronically published people. As such, I feel I have to support them rather than RWA, which looks down on electronically published people.

It's interesting how my perception of value has changed since I started attending smaller mystery conferences. Smaller presses are welcomed at most of those conferences and e-authors are considered as good as others there (there'll always be the Big Guns like Vince Flynn, etc., but in general there's more Little Guys than Big).

So my journey in publishing continues and my ideas and values change ... I'm enjoying the journey immensely and wonder sometimes where I'll end up. I'm rather content where I am, but I suspect there might be more adventures around a corner somewhere ...

Looking forward to it!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Luck... works in strange ways

Why, you ask, luck?

Because I'm on jury duty this week and next. My stint ends on March 13. This means I'm eligible to be chosen for a jury during that two week time. Lucky? On March 16, the start of the next 2-week stint, the Trial of the County starts. This was a nasty murder that happened last year in my little piece of bucolic Minnesota suburbia. Actually, my town isn't a suburb. It's a real town that was gobbled by the encroaching city.

But I digress...

It's a murder trial involving young people (late teens, early 20s) and one lured another to a not-so-remote spot here in town and killed her. I am striving not to sound as though I've made my mind up ahead of time, but I've read a lot about this case and the evidence is pretty conclusive. The defense arguments will be what make the difference (diminished mental capacity and so on). I've read up on it. After all, I write murder mysteries and this was a murder right here in my back yard (about 2 miles from my back yard, actually), although it was a relatively straightforward one, not convoluted the way I plot them.

But I digress ....

If I was in the jury pool for the next session, I probably would have been called to be examined for the jury. They're going to go through every person on their list to get a jury that hasn't read about this case or formed an opinion of it (see previous note). And while it might be interesting to be involved in a murder case, I think I can do without the crime scene pictures. I've seen someone get beaten (read my book, Your Saving Grace. Yes, that happened while I was standing at the bar. The guy lived, but ....)

But I digress ....

So you see, there is such a thing as luck in the world. I was whining about being on call for jury duty (you know -- you've got to call in twice a day and if Called [so to speak], you have to drop what you're doing and go). When I read about jury selection starting on March 16 for that trial, I realized ... there is luck in the world.

Here's wishing good luck to that jury pool.

funny pictures of cats with captions

more animals

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Would you trade this for that?

(First of all: an update: we came out okay on taxes. A nice return to us since I've lost money on writing. So yes -- lemons=lemonade).

As you may remember, I was ghastly ill a few weeks ago with food poisoning or stomach flu (you choose). It laid me out for a few days, but hey, I lost weight, so it's not all terrible.

My spouse is now wrestling with a cold, his third one this winter. When he gets a cold, it knocks him out -- exhaustion, chills, miserable sniffling, and all over achy. At first I thought it was a guy thing (you know: husband lies on couch moaning about pain while wife continues doing all the work even as she sniffles and coughs).

After years of this, though, I've come to the conclusion that most of his moaning is really justified. A 'cold' just zaps him out. I get a cold, I take a pill, and I get on with my life. The only annoyance is that I have to carry tissues with me. He gets a cold, he's on the couch for a week.

So which would you rather have: the occasional (maybe once every 5 years) bout of stomach flu (food poisoning) or a cold three times a year that zaps you out?

While I don't enjoy lying on the bathroom floor, I'm starting to think it's preferable to losing a week of my life lying on the couch....

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

When life hands you lemons ...

I was supposed to go in to have taxes done on Thursday, but we're due for more snow and I didn't want to hassle rush hour traffic after-taxes in a snowstorm, so ... I will meet my tax guy in one hour! Yikes!

Needless to say, I'm rushing around a bit. I had already put things together ... somewhat so now I sorted things out and hopefully I have all I need. I doubt that is true, though -- it seems like every year I forget one vital piece of info that I have to call in. Then I need to go in, pick up the forms, we sign them, I take them back.

But the lemonade part of it, you ask?

His office is near the best bakery in town, home of yummy homemade quiche, delectable desserts, and excellent bread.

Oh, sigh. I need to go the accountant's office again. Well, I may as well swing by the bakery on my way ....

Keep your fingers crossed that we come out okay!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Did I speak too soon?

Yep, it snowed. Just enough to make the roads slippery -- and to cover all the yucky gray snow with a fresh coating of powder. But now the sun is out and everything looks so clean and fresh.

Fresh starts -- I've made a fresh start, too, on the Oz book. I was picking away at it, not focusing on it much, but in the last day or two it's really started to come together for me. The hardest part of writing for me is letting the characters in my head, letting them take over my life. Once I do that, the book goes fast, but letting them in -- that takes time.

So now I'm off and running in Oz. I'm having fun again!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Looking ahead to ...

... growing season!

Yep, I placed my order with Seeds of Change. Oh, that catalog ... I always go through it in January, when the snow is deep and the temperatures are so bitterly cold. Then I let it sit for a month. I've learned not to order anything in January. My eyes are too big for my stomach, so to speak.

I pulled out the catalog last Sunday, sat in front of the fireplace, and daydreamed of bobbing sunflowers, drowsing in the sun ... freckled violets in the shade near Jack in the Pulpits ... gourds climbing over my fence and drying in the hot September sun ... French breakfast radishes, so crisp and sweet in a sandwich ... blue borage (the only blue in the garden, really) poking up among my hydrangea ...

Oh, I love online ordering! I sent off my credit card number and started clearing a space in the laundry room. I already have the grow lights out because I was trying to force some tulips to grow. The little poops faded out on me so I will unpot them and use the pots for my gourds and radishes. Everything else can wait until the soil warms and they go right into the garden. Okay, I may get antsy and plant a few more inside ....

Yep. There is light at the end of the tunnel. We'll have a few more snowstorms, and some more bone-chilling cold. But my laundry room will be a little bit of spring come early!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Conference Report

Love is Murder was held last weekend and a good time was had by all. This conference was particularly interesting because another conference was at the hotel at the same time, and it was “Re-Enactor Fest.” So we had a few hundred people sharing the hotel with us who were dressed as: soldiers (Roman soldiers, WWII soldiers, British soldiers — you name it, we had it), Southern belles (complete with hoop skirts), Henry VIII, pioneers, Native American Indian scouts, movie stars ...

The variety was endless, and I got SO many plot ideas! I also had a chance to inspect muskets, blunderbusses and swords up close (so useful for my time travel books) as well as see just how hot and not-nice some of the clothing of the period was. The consensus of the enactors was that the shoes were the hardest to create accurately and comfortably.

So all in all -- a good time! I garnered a few new fans, sat on two panels that went well, and got a lot of ideas for upcoming books.