Monday, June 27, 2011

Two Sides to Every Coin

So I'm on vacation with my family at my in-laws.  Our first day was supposed to be a 14 hour drive.  Well, it didn't quite go down the way we had planned.  We always take my car, which is a 2008 Nissan.  It only has 27,000 miles on it because I only drive like 15 miles a day total, but we put the big miles on when we drive from Arizona to California twice a year.  So we leave at 5:00am and everything's fine.  But about 4 hours in, my husband gets pulled over by a police officer for speeding in a construction zone.  Fantastic! thankfully, he got a verbal warning.  Thank you so much!  :) Well, we continued on.  We are about eight hours in, just past Palm Springs.  My car stops shifting gears.  We pull off the I-10 to a gas station and are able to turn off and back on the car, but we are barely able to get into the next parking lot before my car loses Drive altogether.  My transmission is shot.  I call my insurance and arrange for a tow truck, which is going to tow us to the dealership 20 miles away, but in the right direction.  Once there, we are told that we will need to get one of their rental cars, at their expense thanks to the warranty.  Then we left and continued our drive for another 6 hours hoping there would be no other incident.  We were wrong.  We were driving through Los Angeles attempting to get onto the 210 to circumvent downtown, but got stuck in the diamond lane, almost side-swiped a Lexus and were pushed onto the 101 which took us through downtown traffic.  It sucked!  Our 14 hour drive turned into 16 1/2.  Once we arrived at my in-laws, we were finally able to relax.  Our horrible day turned better with just a cup of tea and good conversation. That was Saturday.

Yesterday, we had a BBQ with both sets of parents and the neighbors.  It was wonderful.  We got to meet our six month old nephew and had a great time enjoying the mid 70s wonderful weather outside. My children are hilarious to everyone, which makes me sooo happy, but I have to say today was such a demonstration of there being two sides within minutes.  I said to my son, "please go help your Mum-mum with your DSi.  He grunts at me, but then is sweet as pie to her all in one breath.  I just about came unglued.  I couldn't believe the "two-faced" ability of a six year old and then my daughter followed suit. WHATEVER! :) I guess it's the price of parenting. 

Tomorrow, my husband and I are venturing out on our first outing away from the kids for more than one night.  We are going to Las Vegas for four days and three nights.  We haven't been on a vacation since our honeymoon 12 years ago, so we are extremely excited.  I've been to Vegas many times with my mom, but my husband has never been there as an adult.  I can't wait to be his official tour guide.  He's going to love it.

Anyway, I know this isn't about writing, but I had to share about the beginning of my vacay.  I hope no one goes through the drive we did.  Well, I'm off for the night because we have to get up early.  I will post again with pictures of Sin City.

Sleep well!

PS they tried to run a diagnostic on my car, but can't figure out how to get my car out of Drive. LOL!They're going to try again tomorrow.  Wish me luck!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Coming Out of the Dark

Well, I've been too busy to blog this week as my town is on fire. 

It's been quite the ride since last Sunday.  For those of you who don't know, I live in Southern Arizona in Sierra Vista, which is the town now known world wide for being in danger thanks to the Monument Fire.  It started courtesy of a human (that's what the police say) on Sunday and has now burned over 27,000 acres of land in one of the most beautiful areas in the country.  We're known for star gazing, bird watching, and the monsoons, but wind comes with it.  The wind has been quite the problem for the over 700 firefighters, especially yesterday with the 60mph gusts. 

On Friday, a second fire started and came within a 1/2 mile of our house.  It was extremely scary as we were packing up what we thought was irreplaceable.  For the first time, we had to really think about and decide what in our house we really cared about - aside from children and animals. :)  We were packed to leave when the fire was contained, so thankfully, we didn't actually have to leave.  Thank God!
This was the view from our front yard during the Antelope Fire, which lasted 3 hours.


When the small fire was contained and put out, we went to explore.  This was what we found up the road from our house (1/2 mile away):

I couldn't believe how close it came to our home, but I'm glad that I was able to pack everything up that I wanted to discovering what it is I would grab should our town catch on fire. (Isn't that the question that always comes up?  If your house was on fire, what would you grab?)

Anyway, now that we're out of the wind, it looks like they should be able to gain a little more containment on the fire, so I feel like I can breathe again.  The fire is still like 12 miles from my house and 10,000 people are still evacuated from their homes, while another 10K give or take are on pre-evacuation, but for the first time in 8 days, I'm feeling hopeful.  I'm also missing being a writer.  I haven't done anything on the writing front for over a week, and I feel like something is missing from me.  It's got to be my writing.  So, I am making an effort to write by starting with my blog I've neglected for a week. 

Have a wonderful week everyone and stay safe...
Here are some more pics for those of you who are curious....
aerial shot of what's burned already

fire coming down the mountain

the night view

the slurry planes6/20

the Antelope fire building steam near my house 6/17
the fire from my backyard


from the actual fire....a graduate of mine sent this to me

more smoke on the mountain

Please keep in mind that these pictures are out of order, but were all taken this past week.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Writing is like...shaving your legs.

Ladies, you know who you are, thank you for tagging me in this process.  Ok, I know this metaphor is a bit far fetched, but here me out.  As a woman, we are forced to maintain a certain appearance in order to be "Beautiful".  We may not want to perform the mundane tasks we do daily or close to it like styling our hair, applying make-up, or even shaving our legs, but it is a necessity. 

Writing for me is a necessity.  In order to stay sane (beautiful), I must write daily or I become a bit grumpy.  My husband can automatically tell when I haven't written in a while because I am grouchy and irritable.  I snap quickly and resemble signs of PMS except that it's not.  It's the I haven't written syndrome. IHWS. (There's got to be a better acronym for that).  The same can be said for shaving my legs.  If I haven't shaved my legs and the hair starts to grow out, it starts just a little prickly and then moves to longer and just plain irritating and embarrassing.  Each stage represents each day I hold off getting the thoughts off my chest and into the computer.  You get the drift. 

So, my meme is writing is like...shaving my legs.  :)  It may not apply to men, but women writers, I'm sure you will relate.

Ok, so now it's my turn to tag writers.
 
Now, here are the rules (yes...I'm copying from her and pasting here...)

The goal is to come up with your own metaphor defining what "Writing is like..."

"like ice cream on a hot summer day"

or

"like a foray into an abysmal pit of loneliness"

Now it's my turn to tag three lucky bloggers to play this game with us!
My lucky writers are:
1. Trisha - because you aren't busy enough with editing and writing ;)
2. Lindsay - I haven't gotten to know you yet, but am already jealous of your recent success
3. Barbara - You're one of my newest followers and had such wonderful things to say on my blog, I wanted to share the wealth - and I love garden gnomes. :)


Good luck ladies.  It's not as easy as it may seem.  I hope you don't find mine ridiculous. :) Hee-hee

Sunday, June 12, 2011

My NEW Book Trailer


Hey everyone! Here's my new book trailer for All's Fair in Love and Texts.  It turned out amazing, and I am so proud of my friend Cameron for making it.

He's in the business of book trailers and is looking for potential clients.  If you'd like more information from him, he's extremely reasonably priced and will do whatever you want - it's your book.

His email is cameron_t@cox.net.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Being Human Sucks (sometimes)

Ok, so yesterday's blog post was emotionally driven after receiving two rejections on query letters and a rejection on a partial.  (I'm not going to hide that I get rejections).  Today, I received another rejection on a partial.  I wish I could say that the "feedback" was consistent between rejections, but it's not.  It's cryptic and not one has been clear enough for me to say, "Ahh.  I can fix that."  So, I go out on a limb and email back (politely) and ask for some clarification explaining that I only want to fix whatever is wrong.  I've tried this approach probably four or five times in the past six months (between both books' queries), and I've NEVER gotten a response.  So, I once again have no idea what's wrong with my book.  This is problematic because it hinders my improvement as a writer.  And before someone comments that I need critique partners, I've been down that road.  I love them all and take to heart every word they say, and I always make changes I agree with or can't argue my way out of.  That being said, ultimately, it's the agents who give the approval.  There's my complaint for the day.

Today, I've decided to make a "writer's wish list".

1. Of course, I wish to be published and traditionally.  There's something to be said for having someone pay ME to publish my book(s). I can remember being in high school and girls saying they were models, yet they were paying for their photo shoots.  That doesn't equate to modelling to me.  That says I'm paying someone to take my pictures.  Hell, I could have my husband take my picture and put it on the web.  That doesn't make me a model.  LOL!

2. I wish an agent would take me on and groom my writing.  I'm a good writer - grammatically and structurally.  I also have an extremely firm grasp on the elements of a story.  I teach it every day and I majored in creative writing in college.  As an English teacher, it's my job to know grammar and fluency.  I had to write a 44 essay portfolio, which is now a sample for future students, and I received a perfect score on my writing proficiency exam in college.  Am I bragging?  Yes.  Because I can write.  Does this mean I'm a stellar author for fiction? No.  So, taking me on may mean asking me to revise, but I can do that and I'm open to learn, so I make a good student as well.

3.  I wish I didn't care as much as I do.  Receiving rejections is gut wrenching.  I send out the queries and hope every time that I'll receive a request for a partial/full, and I do get those, but the rejections based on a query hurt because I feel like I wasn't even given a chance.  Even worse than that, rejections on the partials/fulls sting like hell.  I just had one request the first fifty pages after having read the first chapter.  I thought for sure it would lead to a request for a full because they'd already read the first chapter.  Instead, I got a rejection.  That SUCKED! My poor husband felt the wrath on that one.  Therefore, I wish I didn't care as much.

4. I wish someone would come to me and say "write this idea and I'll give you a grade on it."  I'm such a better student/writer when I know there will be feedback.  I'm not going to pretend that I can write the next epic novel, but if it's in my genre, I can do it or at least I'll try my damn hardest.

5.  I wish I could say to the agents whom I've grown to respect based on their websites, twitter personalities, etc. that I'd love for them to represent me.  Don't get me wrong, I can say it write now, but I know I wouldn't get a response and that would be pointless.  I know I ranted yesterday that there are some really unprofessional agents on the web, but I must also point out that there are some who are kind and considerate as well.

6. I wish it was easier to get an official critique from an agent.  I followed the auctions over the past couple of months and quite a few agents offered their critiquing services, but they all went for over $1000.  I don't know about you guys, but I don't have $1000 just sitting around.  With two kids, every spare dollar goes to them and I still consider my writing a hobby of sorts.  I can't justify spending $1000 or even $500 on a critique that may or may not even help. 

So, that's my writing wish list.  I mentioned yesterday that I pride myself on honesty and I still do.  Blogging is like therapy because I know I can say anything.  I still think about what I say because of repercussions, but this is me - take it or leave it.  I love that I've made friends online, but the odds of us all coming together in one room are slim (not saying I wouldn't meet them though), so I'm able to say what I'm thinking and hope that even one person in the blogosphere can relate. 

That's it for today.  I probably won't post tomorrow because it's Sunday and I have to clean the house after a week of play dates and chaos, and I'd like to spend some time working on my new WIP. 

Have a great weekend, everyone.  I hope to hear from you all in the comments section. :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

WIP, WIP, and more WIP

With so many hits on my blog between yesterday and today, I feel as though I should write something profound today, but the reality is that I am just your average writer.  On a phone call last night, I was reminded that we, writers, need to value ourselves, and the reminder was a needed one.  I do believe that I am a good writer, if not great.  Ok, I know what you're thinking, "She's full of herself," but no, that's not the case.  All writers need to believe they are great to push through and tell their stories.  That being said, I'm great! :)

I've started a new WIP, and have made some serious progress in only two days.  The first paragraph has been done for over a month, but life kept getting in the way and I wasn't able to write.  Yesterday, I sat down with Jane Austen and wrote 1500 words (give or take), and today I did the same.  I must say that my growth as a writer is rearing its head with this WIP.  I'm consistently writing at a higher reading level than I did with my other books.  Knowing about this tool on Word makes my life a challenge.  When I originally wrote All's Fair in Love and Texts, it came out at 2.4 reading level.  I was shocked and disgusted with myself.  When I write for school, it's always above 10.0, yet my fiction was SO low.  I took six months to raise it up to where I wanted it to be.  That was a learning experience in itself.  Keridwen started at a 4.0, but I was determined to raise that up as well.  Thankfully, it wasn't as challenging as it was with Love and Texts.  Now, with my new WIP, I'm sitting comfortably at 5.8.  This pleases me because it's easier to maintain than to change. 

I've named my new WIP already. My husband hates the name, which will ultimately eat at me until I make it something he likes as well.  His suggestions didn't sit well in my stomach, so more thought will be needed for this.  But for now, it has a name.  It makes it real and encourages me to keep going.  Somehow a story doesn't feel like a story without a name; therefore, mine is named.  I'll reveal it later once I am more certain of it.

Anyway, I'm 13 pages in with over 3000 words.  I figure that if I continue at this pace, I should be done sometime in July with the first draft.  I'd set a date, but I'm going on a two week vacation, and that doesn't allow for much writing time.  So, my goal is August 1 at the latest!

In other news, I've been editing.  I finished a WIP for a friend, and there is another book on the horizon.  Editing is such a valuable trait that I never take for granted.  I can remember being in college and having no understanding of the semicolon.  I don't think I really understood it's purpose until I edited my first novel in 2002 and semicolons were riddled throughout.  I really feel they should be used sparingly.  If used incorrectly, they make the writer appear less than masterful of the language.  If used too much, it comes off arrogant.  I do use them, but not that often. 

Well, there is my post for the day. Feel free to comment, follow, etc.  I appreciate the traffic and look forward to more.  :) Have a wonderful afternoon!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Three Hours a Day

I officially have three hours a day to myself.  OMG! This is fantastic! My kids started summer school yesterday and so far it's been great.  Now I just want the rest of this cold to GO AWAY! It's sitting in my chest making breathing a bit of a chore, and I'm tired.  That part's not fun, but I'm going to make the most of my ME time.  I made a list of things to do for the day and I'm half way through.  This blog post wasn't one of them, but there's nothing wrong with a distraction from time to time.

Once done here, I'm doing a quick clean of the house - no more than an hour, and then I write.  I'm going to write like the wind. I'm going to enjoy the feeling of the keys being punched by my fingertips forming words.  When I've written my fill for the day, I'm going to pull quotes from Love and Texts and see if they inspire me some more because my trailer guy says he wants fifteen to choose from.  YIKES! I'm not sure I can choose fifteen easily, but I'm gonna do my best.

Anyway, I don't have much more to report on, but I wanted to say something. :) Have a wonderful day everyone!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

A Clean House is a Sexy House

Well, my house is just about clean.  I'm down to a couple of bedrooms and the kitchen, which my amazing husband has volunteered to clean.  I should be done by Monday.  My cold is leaving, all that remains is an annoying extremely disgusting loose cough that wakes me up in the middle of the night, but at least my nose isn't falling off any longer.  I'm feeling better knowing that my hard work is paying off and I am beginning to feel more complete.

Quite a few people have commented on my facebook about my cleaning obsessiveness, but what they don't realize is that a clean house is in fact a sexy house.  I don't mean that to sound pervy, but the reality is my house is the one thing I can control.  If my home feels out of control, I can't truly wrap my mind around anything.  Being an aspiring author (I hate to say aspiring because I write, I'm just not published) means that I have little control over anything.  Sure I can write and control my characters making them do whatever I want, including things I would never do in real life, but once the story is written and polished, all I can do is sit and wait.  I can control who I send my queries to, but I can't force agents to request partials/fulls, and I certainly can't force them to fall in love with my story and offer representation.  I LOVE my WIPs with such a burning passion that I am absolutely floored when others don't.  Love and Texts has been seeping from my pores for almost three and a half years.  It has been rewritten, revised, polished, loved for most of that time and wants nothing more than to be on a book shelf of some place other than my house.  I'm still not falling into the temptation of self-publishing, but it does cross my mind at least once a week.  But then I remind myself that self publishing won't put it on the shelves of Target, and that's my goal.  And being a control freak, this drives me crazy.  I truly believe that being a writer means becoming obsessive compulsive and needing to find a balance that is there at times and other times, it's roller coaster hell. 

This brings me back to a clean house is a sexy house - a mantra I've had for close to ten years.  I'm a happier person when my house is clean.  It clears my clouded mind allowing me to read and edit for friends, write whatever is plaguing my mind, and check my email with a calm in my soul.  I send out queries with hope rather than "I'll just wait for the rejection."  I am able to "see" myself getting requests and offers of representation when the rest of my world is under my control.  I know this part of the roller coaster will change, but until then, I am revelling in a clean house.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Summer Cold

If that's not an oxymoron, I don't know what is.  I have the worst cold EVER.  My son asked, "Mommy, how do you have a cold?  It's hot outside?"  My feeling exactly.  So instead of staying in bed all day, I am continuing with my summer project, which is to deep clean every room in my house including closets, cabinets, walls, and base boards.  Being an A Type personality, I made a list of "rooms" needing cleaning.  I totalled 19 by the end, and I am officially down to four.  We've taken 21 bags to Goodwill and 12 to the garbage.  Who would have thought I could have so much junk in my house? 

Anyway, on to a different topic...Last night I edited 75 pages of a manuscript for one of my CPs.  I was so excited to get that much done, but when I clicked save, I didn't move it from the temporary folder it auto opened to and ... I LOST IT!  OMG! I wanted to throw my laptop across the room.  Now, I am going to start over, which is not a big deal, but I feel like I lost two hours of time.  So now, I am writing my blog, moving forward, starting edits and looking forward to four more rooms until my house is officially clean.  I figure that by Monday, I should be a much happier person than right now.