Friday, July 30, 2010

Conference Cameo

Boone Brux took this photo of me sipping at my too-full dirty martini. Classic conference photo, really....

I'll blog soon, with photos, but for now I'm interviewed today at Jamie Dee's Variety Pages.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Our Story Thus Far

Was it only this morning I swore to take more photos this year?

Well, I promptly left the camera in the hotel room. But I have it in my pile for tomorrow.

But today went great. At the Albuquerque Sunport, it turned out that five other gals from LERA were on my same flight to Orlando, including Gabi Stevens and Belle Sloan. Then someone called my name in the Orlando airport and it was Patti Osbeck, from the Phoenix Desert Rose chapter. Apparently all desert Southwest flights get in at the same time.

Allison got in ahead of me and immediately hit the pool bar and cabana. I unpacked and went to look for her. I ran into Darynda Jones, also of LERA, and Bria Quinlan, formerly of LERA and defected back to Boston. Michelle Miles grabbed me and introduced me to a couple of her Yellow Rose pals, while I drank my richly-deserved dirty martini.

Then Cynthia Eden and Jenn Dorough, fab FFP Secretary, came walking by, along with their chapter pal, Lee. They invited me to go eat dinner. (Okay, I glommed on, as I was resolved to make sure I actually ate something, rather than sitting and drinking martinis all night.) We snagged Allison from her socializing and ended up on the Boardwalk eating dinner in the hot, humid night with Toni Blake, Nikki Enlow and Samhain's Managing Editor Lindsey Faber.

I might or might not have had a second dirty martini.

I wish I'd taken pics, but Cindy did take videos for her vlog, which includes me talking while Nikki Enlow makes Shiva hands behind me. I'll probably link to it when she posts it....

At any rate, for this, my third RWA convention, I feel I've discovered the secret: have people recognize you, so you don't have to worry about recognizing them. This is a great boon to me.

So, if you see me, come up and say hi!

That Time of Year

This year, I'm resolved to take more photos.

All of my pictures from last year are from other people's cameras. (And no, we have no idea what Jeri Smith-Ready is doing in this picture. My theory is vampire dog, but you never know....) But then I was crazy busy/stressed last year. Hopefully this year will involve less of me running around like a manic person.

Tonight, the lovely and serene Cynthia Eden will host a pajama party, I believe. That ought to make for good photo opportunities.

Stay tuned - I'm off to Orlando. Save me now...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Go-to-Meetin' Clothes

Isabel is ready to go to the RWA conference!

Now if only I was...

Actually, it's not that bad. My plane doesn't leave until about 12:30 tomorrow, so I don't have to leave the house until 10 am. I'm mostly packed - including feline companion - and everything else is stacked up. We got back from Denver early enough yesterday for me to finish all the laundry and get organized on FFP's big party at the convention - something that actually took hours and hours of work. And I finished my costume. I don't like to do these things too far ahead of time...

People keep asking me if I'm excited to go. I should just lie and say "yes!" like they want me to. Truth is, I kind of dread going. Once I get there, I'm fine. I'll see lots of friends and it will be a non-stop whirl of fun. I'll have a great time; I know that. There's just a big part of me who'd like to curl up in the suitcase, too, and stay in the den.

It's funny having just come from my high school reunion. The turn-out was quite small and many people I would have liked to see didn't show. But it was funny to hear some of the stories and have people ask me didn't I remember that party? No, because I was almost never at the parties. I always thought it was because I wasn't invited, but I think now it was more that I was usually so happy to have "my nose in a book," as my mother would say, that I rarely got up the gumption to go socialize. When I did, I had fun.

Just like convention.

Odd, at this stage in life, to recognize this pattern in myself. It helped, oddly enough, to take the Meyers-Briggs personality test and discover that I test as an introvert. I've always thought of myself as a basically social person and I'm socially confident in general. But my little introvert heart is happier tucked in where it's quiet and people don't ask me questions.

(No, I won't start mumbling to Precious. Much.)

Fortunately, fence-sitter me, I just barely score into the introvert category, so I can dig up some extrovertedness if necessary. The thought just sounds draining at the moment. Once I get there, the excitement will pump me up.

So - am I excited? No. But I will be.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Just Do It!

I'm off to my high school reunion today - Trailblazers leading the way!

But I'm over at Elizabeth Flora Ross's The Writer Revived blog today. Come check it out!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Back In My Day...

I read a fair number of blogs about writing, reading and the publishing industry.

No surprise there.

If you read a lot of these blogs, you'll notice that there are certain themes people like to return to. One of the favorite ones is how unlikely you are to make money as a writer. I wanted to add the phrase "especially lately." It's true that the economic downturn has people focused on money and lack thereof, but I've been hearing this lecture since I started writing back in the late 90s.

Exhibit A: I generally like this guy's blog, but what he's saying about keeping the day job is pretty standard. You might make some money, but not enough to live on, is the message. At the same time, the big news last week was that Janet Evanovitch, author of the wildly successful Stephanie Plum series, now up to 16 books, asked for $50 million for her next four books. Well, her agent, who is also her son, asked for it. Same thing? I was shocked by this number until an editor on Twitter told me Evanovitch got $40 million for the previous four.

Still, she says, that's a raise of $2.5 million per book, which is asking a lot in this economy.

So, I'm going to leave alone the concept that someone who's already received $40 million could then want another $50 million. This is a world I don't live in. I understand this gets to be like movie stars, where prestige rests on the price tag. I just keep thinking that once I buy the beach house in the Caribbean, what would I do with the rest of the money?

But that's neither here nor there.

I'm wondering where the middle is?

There must be something besides "you won't make enough to live on" and "I need $12.5 million per book." The zone gets fuzzy because everyone thinks they need a different amount of money to live on, but still...

For most writers, the goal is to make enough money to ditch the day job and write full time. This seems like a reasonable ambition. After all, nobody practices law on the side while working as a checker at the grocery store. Nobody tells you when you go into environmental consulting that you should really plan on just enjoying it as a hobby that supplements your real income.

I'm beginning to suspect this is a bit of a "stay away" gambit. Well-meaning, perhaps, but I think a lot of these writers are seeing their pool glutted. Especially the ones who aren't making enough money to live on. I've never heard Nora Roberts or Janet Evanovitch give this cautionary tale. In fact, I once heard Anne Rice announce that she was getting something like $1 million for her next book (I know - Janet was giggling) and that if she could do it, anyone could.

The upshot is: I'm tired of this particular saw and I don't intend to listen anymore.

Our finances are good. I pay attention to where my money comes from and where it goes. We have no appreciable debt beyond our mortgage, which is solid because we bought at the bottom of the market. I know what I need to live on and what's gravy. I think that's just being financially savvy. We should all know where we stand and what we need. From there it's perfectly reasonable to set income goals from our writing.

It's not magic; it's just being smart.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Prince of a Man

Today is David's Birthday.

And with today, we complete the cycle that first brought us to Santa Fe. A year ago today, David turned 50 and we drove down to Santa Fe to commence our house hunt. A year from tomorrow will be the first time we saw this house. David turning 50 also marked the beginning of his early retirement, which freed him to return to school to start this second career.

Finally I can connect the cycle of how the garden looked this time last year (better than it does now, I think. alas).

In my family, birthdays are special, but I feel like David often gets a bit skunked on his. Sometimes we've done fun things, like the year we went to Las Vegas for a few days and saw three nights of Cirque du Soleil, and drank margaritas by the pool during the day. Or the year we drove around Wyoming during his birthday week and played tourist.

But last year I was scrambling for gifts because I'd been on non-stop travel. It should have been a special party for his 50th, like we did for his 40th. I'd hoped we'd go out to dinner on some great patio in Santa Fe, but it was pouring rain when we arrived and we just didn't feel like going back out in it. We ended up ordering dining delivery from Maria's Kitchen. We stayed in, drank the expensive tequila I'd gotten him and listened to the rain.

We both remember that evening with nostalgia, though there wasn't much to it. Tonight we have reservations for the patio at Luminaria, which people say makes you feel like you're in the Caribbean. He has class all day and an exam this afternoon. Hopefully we can do cocktails and presents on the patio before we go to dinner.

Another low-key birthday for David. But maybe that's okay.

Next year, though, I'm thinking we should go back to Las Vegas for the weekend.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hope Is a Thing of Dorkiness

We're heading into good sunset season again.

Once again I'm reminded how lucky I am to be able to witness this from our front porch. Last night was a hot night, unusual for us. At about 10:30 I went and sat on the patio. Heat lightning flickered around the valley and the moon swam silver through black clouds. It felt lovely and peaceful.

I might be refilling the well for a while here. I feel considerably less depleted today, however.

I also managed to finish a big chunk of a project for the day job yesterday, so that made a huge difference.

And I sent The Body Gift off to the agent. No, not *my* agent, but my potential agent. The one I'd really like to work with. She's responsive, positive, really good at what she does and she likes me. When she finally rejected Obsidian, she asked me to "please, please query again." She's the one who called The Body Gift a stellar idea (stellar/sterling - I got mixed up. forgive me). I'd emailed her last week to find out her reading schedule and see if there was a good time to read it. She wanted me to send it right away, so she can read it before National (eep).

So I sent it yesterday morning. With a little "Here it is!" And I sat there and stared at my screen, sifting through all the things I wanted to add. Wanting to pour all my hopefulness and excitement onto this little email, which adds or changes nothing. And she knows how I feel anyway. Every agent knows how writers feel when we send our manuscripts.

Finally I typed, "I know this is silly to say, but I really hope you love it."

I know - I'm a dork.

But she replied later in the day, saying "Me too!"

Which is sweet of her. And it reminds me, should remind all of us of something that we forget. The agents really want to love our stuff. Every time they read our pages, they are also full of hope. Hope and anticipation that this will be something they can love and champion and hopefully sell for enough money that their 15% will buy more than a week's worth of groceries.

We take turns waiting on each other. They wait while we write. We wait while they read. Each of us hoping the other will come through.

Hope feels like such a silly thing, where cynicism feels so wise and mature.

But hope is what keeps us going.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fragments of Something

I'm calling it "Fragments."

Yes, I finally did something with the pot Alex shattered. I planted some little heat-tolerant plants around it, too - they're just difficult to see in the photograph. All in all, I think it looks pretty decent. And I planted the roses, too.

I thought about calling it "Fragments of a Dream," but that seemed, well, spectacularly melodramatic, especially since there aren't any shattered dreams around here. So I decided to leave the title of my found art as just "Fragments" - that way the viewer can fill in his or her own thing that's disassembled.

I went through The Body Gift, too, and made everything match up (I think, I hope, I pray). Sent it to three of my Critique Partners and one, who hasn't seen any of it, has declared herself in love already. Big sigh of relief there. The agent I'd love to sign with said to send it so she could read it before the National convention, so I'm going to have to trust in the story and send her off soon.

Yeah, okay, I'm nervous.

And depleted.

My well is bone dry. I think I'll even take this week off from writing and not even look at any wordcounts. Plus, this will be a busy time. David's birthday is Wednesday. We go up to Denver for my high school reunion on Friday. Then next Tuesday, I head to the RWA National Convention.

Somehow my Julys always seem to end up really busy. Here's hoping for a lazy August!

Friday, July 16, 2010


So: it's officially done.

The Body Gift was completed at lunchtime yesterday, bouncing into the world at 102,242 words, 460 pages.

Some of that is baby fat, of course, and will be shed in these first few days of polishing and tightening.

For the first couple of hours, I felt exhilarated, still riding the rush of the climactic scene, which turned out to be really exciting, even though I knew what would happen. Then I crashed. I felt bereft and lonely.

It was as if this huge bubble of a thing that had filled me up, with particular intensity these last few weeks, had suddenly departed. It's still there, but it's more like a hot air balloon tethered to me, rather than all that heat and color being in my heart.

This is a better analogy than the baby one. Victoria Dahl, a very fun romance author a great Twitter presence, has been on a rampage lately that books are not babies. She has a good point, that authors get themselves into trouble when they treat books like babies and not a commodity or a piece of art.

Still, this postpartum depression is real. Though dictionaries tend to define "postpartum" as "occurring after birth," the Latin word "partus" means a bearing, a bringing forth. Which fits this scenario.

As the evening wore on, I felt better. Little bursts of relief that it's done followed by intense paranoia that everyone will hate it. I get to go through now and make a few rules reconcile that I changed along the way, make sure all the correct seeds are in place. Then I'll cut my balloon free and see if anyone shoots it down.

Meanwhile, I need to tend the garden. It's doing okay, but not as well as last year, which is pretty much because I suck. Not at gardening in general - the irony is I once created a garden from scratch that was on our (admittedly small town) garden tour. Now I have these flowers I bought when my folks were coming for 4th of July weekend that I thought I'd plant to supplement the garden. But apparently I can't remember that days have passed since I watered them. They're looking quite scraggy now from drying out and I feel guilty because they were really gorgeous when I bought them. It's like I got a puppy from the pound and tied it up out back and forgot about it.

What? You know I have an overactive imagination!

At any rate, it's time for me to move back into the world instead of seeing the world of The Body Gift everywhere I look.

Move away from wordcount and into pages edited.

And get those roses planted already!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My Psycho Eye Doctor

At last, you all get to hear the long, sad, sorry tale of my psycho eye doc.

No, really - she has major issues.

And me? I'm an angel. But I'm feeling a titch ranty on the subject, so: fair warning. Pretend we're having martinis over lunch while I regale you with this story.

As we all sadly know, one of the most difficult aspects of moving to a new place is finding new service providers. I was due for my annual eye exam sometime around February, but I put it off because I just didn't want to deal with finding a new eye doc, too. Then, sometime around the end of May, I lost a contact lens. Just one, but it forced the issue.

I asked around, got a recommendation, made an appointment - then discovered that doc wasn't in my network. Canceled the appointment, checked my insurance network to find five eye docs in Santa Fe, all looking equally anonymous. I picked the only woman in the group, for the sake of solidarity and having no other criteria.

I have come to sorely regret that decision.

She works only on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. No, I don't know why. I call to make an appointment and leave a voice mail. A woman calls me back saying "This is Dr. Psycho's office. I understand you'd like to make an appointment." Yes, please, I say, because I lost a contact lens.

"What kind of lenses do you wear - hard or soft?"

"Semi-soft, oxygen permeable lenses."

Pause. "All lenses are oxygen permeable. Are they hard or soft?"

"Semi-soft," I say.

Pause. "What brand are they?"

Brand? "I've never seen a brand associated with my lenses."

"There's not a name on the peel-pack?"

"I don't know what a peel-pack is."

"So you don't know what brand they are or if they're hard or soft."

By this time, I'm thinking this is the dumbest, most passive-aggressive receptionist I've ever dealt with. "Look," I say, "I started out wearing hard lenses, then eventually moved to oxygen-permeable semi-soft lenses."

"Well, let's just make you an appointment and we'll see."

At last! So we make an appointment for June 5. Please note this is nearly six weeks ago.

Ten minutes later, my phone rings. Dr. Psycho's office again. She launches into this thing about how she really needs to know what kind of lenses I'm wearing now. Slowly it dawns on me that I've been talking to Dr. Psycho herself all this time.

(Yes - I'm slow on the uptake. Turns out she has no receptionist, no staff. Does everything herself in this little stark and empty office. But I digress.)

So, she concludes, what she really needs are the records from my previous eye doc. This is a simple solution so I agree. Done, request to my very efficient previous eye doc (how I miss him!) sent.

I go in on June 5. I really am trying to be open-minded. We got off on the wrong foot on the phone. Clearly our personalities don't sync. All I want is a replacement lens, because I'm wearing one lens from 2009 and an older one from, say, 2007. When I tell her this is what I'm doing on the phone, she laughs and laughs and laughs. In kind of a creepy way.

(geez - we already blew through the first martini. time to order another round?)

She does my exam. At this point I should mention that I've been wearing glasses since I was nine and contact lenses since I was ten. I've been through a lot of eye exams. Which is better: this one? or this one? Sometimes the choice isn't a clear one. This one might look darker but this one might look crisper. When I say there's a minor difference or none, she becomes impatient and insists I choose. She dilates my eyes, saying she'll use just a small amount because light-irised people like us don't need much. She puts in so much, fluid is dripping down my cheek. I regret putting on eye makeup.

She promises me loaner lenses and talks me into trying soft lenses from, yes, a peel-pack. She teaches me how to put them in and is shocked that I can do it quickly. I've been putting in contact lenses for over 30 years, I remind her. She explains the process again and tells me how difficult it is.

I agree to try the soft lenses for a few days, since I'm open-minded like that. Even though I'm pretty sure every eye doc I've ever had says soft-lenses aren't for me because of my astigmatism. That's not so true Dr. Psycho says. She's all focused on my age and thinks I'm resistant to getting bifocals. I haven't needed them yet, I tell her. You might need reading glasses she says. Before I lost this lens, I could see perfectly, I say. Yes, but you're getting to the age where you need reading glasses, she says.

I sigh.

I tell her that my previous eye doc set up my lenses so that the center is for near-reading and the edges are for distance and it's worked great. She shakes her head at me. She says no, no they weren't - she's seen the chart. In fact, she's quite convinced my previous lenses were a mistake.

But I could see really well. This does not matter. I might need to think about reading glasses.

I don't like the soft lenses. Comfortable, sure, but I can't see very well. She asks me to read with them on and I say I can't see the text in my lap. She frowns at me like I'm lying. I remind her that she dilated my eyes, so I won't be able to focus well until they get back to normal. She laughs and says, oh right! she forgot!! and forgive her, because it's just been such a busy morning.

I know it's too late to make this short, but I'll try.

I don't like the soft lenses, so I call in and she orders the "hard" lenses for me, reminding me of the additional expense. She's all about expense and discounts. I received a 10% discount on my visit. I don't know why. I just want to be able to see. I go back to wearing my 2009/2007 lenses, which is a bit disconcerting because my eyes don't quite work together right, but at least I can pretty much see.

On June 16, I go in. She gives me the new lenses in a case on which she's sharpie marked a big R & L for which lens is which, even though the case is embossed with the letters already. She makes a point of saying she's sure those are in the correct order.

I cannot see. She runs me through the tests and I can't see a thing. I'm nearly in tears. She's impatient with me saying I can't see. I ask her if she's sure they're in the right order, because it looks a lot like when I inadvertently switch them. She thinks I just need to adapt because those previous lenses were such a mistake. I say I can't drive home like this, so no way. Fine, she'll order me new lenses. I ask if she wants to examine me with the 2009 lens in, which she never has, and she says no and launches into this explanation of why they were such a mistake, showing me the chart, which I can't read because, duh, I can't see.

At this point, I begin to actively hate her.

I stick with it. Just get through this. Small problems compared to, say, working in an Apple factory in China.

I call my previous eye doc for a sanity check. Dr. Everett King in Laramie, Wyoming. A prince of a man and a fine doc, if you happen to be in that neighborhood. He looks at my chart, looks at her determination of my prescription and thinks she's partly confused because my eyesight has improved considerably. Ironic, since one of the bad effects of the evil mistake lenses was to be to worsen my eyesight. But the lovely Dr. King offers to order me replacement lenses and ship them to me if I can't get ones that work from her.

I feel like someone has handed me a bouquet of roses.

(Let's order dessert, okay?)

On June 23, I go back in. She tells me this time the right lens is marked with a dot. Clearly so I can't screw it up again. She tests me. The lenses are adequate. I can't see quite as well at all vision lengths, but I can see well enough. I'm out of there.

She wants to schedule me for a follow-up in one week. I say no, that would be the 4th appointment and I've been there enough times. She insists and I give in. July 10 - farther out than she likes, but I have family coming July 4 weekend and I don't want to take more work time for this. She calls on July 3, saying I missed my appointment. I say no, it's for next week. She says no, she had me down for July 3. I apologize.

My family, who hear the call in the car, ask what's up and I tell them my eye doc is psycho. Why are you going back, they ask?

Really good question.

(Don't worry - this is almost over. I'll pick up the tab.)

So I leave her a message saying thanks for everything, but I'm not coming back in. The lenses are fine. I don't mention I'm never coming back again, but I'm sure it's implied.

She leaves me a nearly rabid voice mail in return, telling me it's imperative that I come in.

I ignore it. But I save it, just in case I need it for, oh, say, a restraining order.

She sends me a freaking CERTIFIED LETTER.

When I see who it's from, I nearly refuse it. Then I figure, she wants it for her liability. Fine. I accept. We should be done now.


I'll let you all know if she contacts me again, at which point I'll have to tell her to cease and desist.

So, let's talk about you - what's going on in your life??

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Yesterday was a fun day. Release day is kind of like a birthday, where everyone is nice to you all day long.

Here's my celebratory martini at the end of the day with my Twitter pals.

I toasted, then took it out on the patio to enjoy. It was a warm evening. Hot, in fact. Like mid-90s hot.

I know to most of you in the East and South, that's not so bad. But for us at 6,300 feet, it's unusually warm. After the sun set, we watched Daybreakers and by bed time it was still 85 in the house and I realized I didn't feel good, I had been so warm for so long. So we did something we've never done before.

We turned on the air conditioning.

I know, I know - this is not a big deal for 99% of you out there. But David and I both grew up in the West, at fairly high altitudes, where air conditioning is not that necessary. In fact, none of the previous three homes we've shared even had air conditioning.

Plus, I generally don't like air conditioning. I like fresh air, natural breezes and bird song. I don't like cold air blowing on me so much. I resist having the ceiling fans on, even, for that reason.

So, we turned on the air conditioning and closed the windows. Let me tell you: that cool air filling the house was a sweet benediction. We're lucky to have an energy/space efficient house, so the cooling was palpable. I immediately felt tons better, which just confirmed that I'd really gotten overheated.

I know air conditioning is a luxury. People lived for thousands of years without it, but they also got sick and died young. I know people bemoan the loss of the evening porch society, when everyone sat outside to cool in the evenings. Now they're sealed inside, with their tvs and their interwebs.

But is sure is nice to have when you want it!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Release Me

According to the Blogging Handbook for Writers, since today is release day for Petals & Thorns, I must blog about that and only that.

Which means I have to save the story of my psycho eye doctor for tomorrow.

Some of us were getting a bit punchy on Twitter yesterday, reviewing the "rules" for how to behave on release day.

1. Must blog about it. @nwfoodie cited the Blogging Writer By-Laws, paragraph 291, sub paragraph J, section Z.

2. I should "SQUEE" on twitter every thirty minutes, the equivalent of squealing in excitement.

3. Tweet OMG! every hour, on the hour. (For Oh My God! if you don't know.)

4. Use ALL CAPS for the ENTIRE DAY. Preferably with the phrase BUY MY BOOK!

5. Generally drive everybody nuts.

Okay, maybe somewhere in the middle of that is some truth. I've actually unfollowed people who were this bad. I kid you not.

So far, though, today is really fun. Lots of Twitter friends are wishing me Happy Release Day and announcing how they just bought it. I've decided not to mention it on Facebook, since I have clients on there and this one goes beyond the pale. Now I get to be nervous, wondering how everyone will like it...

Thus, with no further dithering. Here's the official Loose Id plot summary. (Look! I'm on the home page! SQUEE!)

In exchange for her father’s life, Amarantha agrees to marry the dreadful Beast and be his wife for seven days. Though the Beast cannot take Amarantha’s virginity unless she begs him to, he can and does take her in every other way. From the moment they are alone together, the Beast relentlessly strips Amarantha of all her resistance.

If Amarantha can resist her cloaked and terrifying husband, she gains his entire fortune and will be allowed to return to her family and a normal life. But the Beast seduces her at every turn, exposing, binding, tormenting, and pleasuring Amarantha until she no longer knows her own deepest desires.

Increasingly desperate to break the curse that chains his humanity, the Beast drives Amarantha past every boundary. But her desire for a normal life may jeopardize the love that will save them both.

Yes, it's Super Sexy. Don't feel like you have to read it if this kind of thing is past your own boundaries. In fact, Loose Id includes a little Reader's Warning on there, just so you know what you're getting into.

However, should you wish to read, I know a little secret: I don't see it on the site, but Loose Id's Editor-in-Chief, Treva Harte, recently posted that all July customers at Loose Id will be entered in a drawing to win an iPad.


Monday, July 12, 2010

The Body Gift

I worked on the novel all weekend.

And it was good.

All day Saturday we sat under the grape arbor. I wrote, David worked on a project for his herb class and Isabel hunted a packrat through the grape vines.

All day, she hunted this rat. At one point, it came crashing through the leaves, hit the ground and dashed over to the massive climbing hydrangea to hide. That was a dramatic moment though. For the most part, her project was as quiet as ours: lots of stalking. The occasional creeping over the vines and wires, pink jellybean toes wrapping for purchase.

She sat in the sun on the adobe wall for so long she had to retreat to our shade and lie there, panting.

And I'm nearly done. I think I have about 25 pages to go. It's been slow-writing as I tie in each plot thread. Much like the beginning of the book, the ending has seemed to require that I immerse. I only wrote about 4,000 words over the weekend, but I was in it for hours all day Saturday and Sunday. When I started back in February, I did the same thing: low wordcount, lots of noodling.

I'm excited to see it come together like this, seeing moments from early in the story bear fruit.

I've decided on a working title: The Body Gift. The ending is confirming that choice, with all kinds of resonance. Of course, I don't delude myself that the title will make it all the way through publication, but I'm happy with it for pitching and querying.

But now: to finish.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Sunsets and Priorities

A sunset photo seems appropriate to end our week. The end, at least, for those of us still working the day jobs.

I feel like the day job ate my brain this week. I'm happy to have this project to work on, and it's interesting, but it's taken a lot of thought and decision-making.

There's that saying "No one pays you to think." Except they actually do. Not always an easy thing to deliver.

So my wordcounts have gone down as the week progressed:

Monday 1808
Tuesday 1647
Wednesday 1503
Thursday 526

Yeah - worked late Wednesday getting something done before a Thursday morning meeting. It shows.

And yes, I hear you all out there telling me to ease back the pressure on myself. I've passed 91K now. My original goal was 90K, but the story has become longer than I thought. It will probably take another 10K or so to finish the story and I'm trying not to rush it.

Actually - it occurs to me writing this that I'm worried the end isn't moving fast enough when the worst thing for me as a reader is a rushed ending. That may be key.

At any rate, I'll work on it this weekend, I think. I had planned to go to the LERA meeting tomorrow and go shopping for clothes for the National convention after, but I've decided to stay home. It's easy to put focus on things like outfits for pitch sessions and costumes for the Steampunk Ball, but the most important thing is this novel I'd like to sell.

Meanwhile my childhood home is officially on the market. If you click on the panoramic link, you can see the tour. (Hey - it's a Friday. What else are you going to do?) My mom and her David have done an amazing job of getting the house ready. It's a lovely house, too, if you know anyone looking in Denver. I walked to elementary school out those back doors and through the park.

The worst thing that ever happened to me was when Chris Rieber stole my tap shoe and dropped it through the ice in the creek.

May the next people to live in that house love it as much as we have all these years.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Follow Me, Up and Down, All the Way, All Around

4th of July was the perfect day, complete with an outdoor pancake breakfast, a parade, margarita snowcones and lots of enjoying life.

We even got a mini-parade in preview, as the parade horses came by our house on the way.

(No, I don't know why I didn't get a better picture than this.)

Here's the beginning of the parade itself, which consisted of ten different emergency vehicles, all very shiny. Sometimes I think our rural area parades serve that purpose, to show off our protective equipment. Not unlike having the army march past, I suppose. All those shiny trucks allow us to have homeowner's insurance and therefore mortgages and therefore homes to live in out here.

All hail the mighty firetruck! Honk! Honk!

My cousin emailed me yesterday with an interesting question about my blog.

(Hi Janie! I will write you back, as well.)

She said:

Can you teach me something please. Why would one sign into a blog? Why do you have members? I read your blog but you would not know it, though I love it. Am I supposed to sign in?

I thought it was worth answering here, because lots of people ask this question, actually. First off, if you don't know what she means, if you look on the right hand side, there's a list of my "Followers." In truth, those fine people follow the blog, not me. Though the idea of a little tribe of followers is appealing. Like that movie (no, I don't remember which one) where the guy hired the band to follow him around and play his theme music.

The first answer is, no, you don't have to sign in. You don't have to "follow." Some bloggers get het up to get people to sign up as followers. They run contests - "all you have to do is follow this blog and comment on this post" - or send messages out on twitter, etc., saying "follow my blog!"

I don't do this.

I love to see new followers, but I find trolling for them kind of distasteful. I believe you all should be free to come and go as you wish. I'm putting this out there. You owe me nothing.

The reason people want followers is to demonstrate a "platform." Theoretically at some point you could show an agent or editor that you have umpty-billion followers and they'd extrapolate that all those people will buy your book. Never mind that you bribed them all to sign up in the first place.

There are two main reasons one would sign on to follow a blog: to show support and for ease of reading.

I follow blogs I like to let the person know that they have my support. Among bloggers, this is common courtesy and people will usually reciprocate follows, though it's far from required.

The other big reason for me is ease of reading. Because I have a Blogger account, I have what they call a dashboard. It pops up and shows me who has posted recently on the blogs I follow. This is a wonderful feature for me. Any of you can set up a blogspot account ( and use the dashboard. You wouldn't have to create a blog to do it. There are other programs that do this, too, (Google Chrome, maybe?), but I'm not familiar with them. This saves you clicking through all the blogs you like to see if someone has posted recently.

And I do kind of know that you lurkers are out there. I have a counter that follows metrics of visitors to the blog. I can see which days see a lot of visits. It's easy to get obsessed with the metrics, though, so I don't look often.

A lot of you comment to me - on Facebook, Twitter, blog comments, via email or in person. All of those conversations mean a great deal to me.

Once I figure out my theme music, I'll hold auditions.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Swarms and Sobriety

Saturday night over the weekend turned out to be so gorgeous that we scrapped our plans to eat at the delicious-but-no-ambiance Mariscos la Playa and instead drove out to Rancho de Chimayo, to enjoy their lovely patio.

On the way back, they had all highway traffic funneled through a sobriety checkpoint.

My mom and Dave were horrified, because they'd asked my David to drive. We debated whether he should admit to the margarita with dinner. The cops didn't ask, though.

They had cops of every brand on site, including the Tesuque reservation police. Cranes shone down bright spotlights on the stopped traffic in both directions. Our interrogators were downright cheerful, however. Clearly they'd been carefully trained. One cop on David asked to see his license, where we were coming from and oh, was dinner at Chimayo good? Meanwhile another cop talked to me in the passenger seat and my folks in back. She asked if we were having a fun and safe night, even as she shone the flashlight around our feet.

They sent us on with cheery goodbyes. It was kind of surreal.

When we got back to the house, the rains had brought out a swarm of beetles. We had to leap over them to enter the house. Turning off the porch light slowed their frantic activity, but all night we heard them, banging against the screens, like little zombie insects frantic to get in and eat our brainz...

In the morning they were gone. Though I still see one toddling along here and there. A lost remnant of the zombie beetle tribe.

I'll break 90K on Sterling today and I'll be done within the week. This also feels surreal.

I'm pleased to report that my crew has finally arrived at the Midsummer Festival. I'm oddly not enjoying this part so much, because things have gotten very bad. I know it'll get better soon and there will be some triumph to mitigate the disaster, but right now it's very bad for my heroine. And I feel quite close to her.

It's also hard to believe we'll wrap up our time together so soon. I'm tempted to drag it out, even. I know there will be revisions and polishing. Then, perhaps, the sequel. Or another story altogether. I woke up this morning wondering what I'd be writing next. It's probably good that I'm thinking about it, but I also can't quite envision it yet. Which is likely also a good sign.

And then I'll send it to the agent who called it a stellar concept with a cheery goodbye and wait.

Just another step on the road.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Best Laid Plans

In A Fish Called Wanda, Kevin Kline plays the unforgettable character of a thief who is both obsessive and stupid. He smells his own armpits for reassurance of his masculinity; he asks why a family names their daughter, Portia, after a car.

But my favorite line is when, vibrating with angst, he clenches his fists and yells out "Disappointed!"

Yes, after our bad start to Friday and the highly unusual rain storm Thursday night, my folks arrived to a gorgeous afternoon. We prepared everything for our elegant tailgate dinner at the Santa Fe Opera.

And ANOTHER torrential rainstorm came in.

We ended up picnicking indoors. Here you can see a break in the rain, but one cell after another came through, pounding us with unbelievable amounts of water.

We made it to the opera, which is largely covered now. But it continued to storm the whole night. Madame Butterfly sang of too much brightness and springtime, even as violent lightning cracked, thunder undercutting her arias, and blowing rain drenched her from the side. At one point a whirlwind took up the flower petals she'd scattered to welcome her husband's return.

When we left, we had to wade through ankle-deep water in our fancy shoes to get to the car.

But it was still a fun night. Just disappointing not to get to enjoy the evening as planned. The next three evenings were clear, still and gorgeous.

So it goes.

The good news is, Teddy is doing better. The vet says it's kidney disease, which is not surprising in the geriatric kitty. He wants to manage it with decreased protein, which I'm not convinced works for obligate carnivores like cats. We'll see. Meanwhile we're trying some alternative remedies and she's feeling much more like her old self.

I didn't write much over the weekend, but I did relax. Which was good for me.

Now I'm back to it. We'll all settle back into our routine for the next few weeks. Less partying, more producing.

Let the rain fall as it will.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Rainy Days and Sick Days

I'm the kind of person who sees this as an omen.

Even as I know how irrational that is.

These are the shattered remnants of the big ceramic rain catchment that was one of the first things I bought when we moved here. With birthday money.

We had this rain last night, courtesy of Hurricane Alex, who's been demoted to a tropical depression. Torrential rain. I was in the kitchen, making a secret, special, surprise treat for our elegant tailgate dinner at the Santa Fe Opera tonight, when I heard this clatter.

We couldn't figure out what it was, until David checked outside. I think the soil became so saturated that, with overflow pouring over the side, the big vase listed to one side and, like the Titanic, sank onto the patio and shattered.

You can see how one piece of it still rests on the branch I had in there so that critters who climb in for water can climb back out again.

(This does not work for beetles, however, who gleefully drown themselves. I don't know why.)

So, I try not to read in too much. But Teddy is sick today. She was sick yesterday and I thought maybe it was just a bug. But she's still not well today, so I have a call in to the vet. Right now she's sleeping in the sun, which makes her warm and happy.

I have a feeling it might be diabetes.

Teddy will be 15 in October, so I think I should get some more years with her.

Hopefully we can work that out.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Blood and Roses

Finally a cover for Petals and Thorns!

This is my little erotic take on Beauty and the Beast coming out with Loose Id on July 13. The link only takes you to a placeholder right now. I almost waited to post the cover until people can at least pre-order and then I thought, hey, I can't not post the cover as soon as I get it.

I think they did a great job. I love that you can see the Beast's claws and that the artist, Cris Griffin, took my suggestion of a bloody rose. It works out especially well because Robin of Robin Ludwig Design made me business cards with a very similar image (ah, the consistent world of stock photography). She also adapted it for me to make a third "doorway" on my website for the erotica stuff.

Yeah, yeah, yeah - I'll get that up any day now, here.

And if any of you are wanting a high resolution image of the cover, I'll put it there. Blood and roses. Flowers seem to be a big part of my life lately. I'm not sure what that's about.

Full bloom days.
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