Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Rollin' the Rock

Second book hell. Or Hades for those of you with gentler sensitivities. First books are always fun to write. I steam right through them, creating worlds and plot and characters like a playful god. Luckily this is my third series so I know the books after #1 get progressively harder. The first time this happened I was sure I couldn't ever write another book. Now I know it's just a b*tch to get into the new book and then it gets better. Even one of my most favorite authors (Ilona Andrews) occasionally blogs about this sorta thing.

Since the first book in my Y.A. series didn't exactly follow the synopsis (do they ever?) I have a new starting point for the second tome. I always get hung up on first and last scenes because if I can see those, then the middle just happens. I don't know the last scene of this book yet, though for some queer reason I do for Book #3 (of course). So I've spent the last couple of days typing out, then rejecting opening scenes. The husband recommended an action scene, but at this point in the story there isn't much action since lots of seriously bad stuff happened at the end of Book #1. Still, I'll keep that suggestion in mind because most of the time the guy's right. As of this afternoon I think I've got something, but it's certainly not set in Jello at this point. Most of my first scenes are rewritten no less than ten to fifteen times so I have a lot more to burn through.

So for you writers out there (yes, this is an interactive blog) how do you get yourself psyched/into the next book in a series? Is there some special way you get into the zone, besides imaging what it would be like to live without the electricity bill being paid? Any special tricks, suggestions? Come on, don't be shy. You know you want to tell us.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

What Might Have Been

Lost in the swirl of news about the health care legislation, etc., is this tidbit in the New York Times. It's for all those who thought some of us were a mite too paranoid about Mr. Bush & Company.

Bush Weighed Using Military in Arrests

No surprise, the Dark Lord was in favor of this. It doesn't matter the political leanings of the people in D.C., you still gotta keep an eye on them. Which reminds me, I really should get up to speed on the health care debate.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

In Limbo and Liking It

It was an excellent week. I submitted the unpublished Maggie Contest entries on time (I was a judge) and sent off a series proposal to my excellent agent. I even got my luggage unpacked. And now I'm in the transitory stage when the manuscript is out being cheerfully savaged edited and so I really can't touch it until it returns. When my beta teen reader/editor sends back The Book With No Name (I'm working on that) I'll be digging in for a rewrite. Then it goes out to my other betas, both teen and adult, for their input. This lull has left me with time on my hands. It's true -- idle hands are the devil's tools so I signed up for Facebook.

I can hear some of you muttering, "Where have you been, girl?" Actively avoiding time suckers, to be honest. However, since my Y.A. book will be of interest to teens (at least that's the cunning plan), I was advised that I should put my toes into the Facebook waters. OMF woodchucks! Just where does FB get those people who want to befriend me? Or more precisely, how do they know I'm buddies with X or Y or Z? Creepy, it is. I didn't realize there would be a wall where my new friends' comments would instantly appear no matter what they're chirping about. That was precisely the reason I have ignored the other Evil called Twitter. I swear that Lucifer is gleefully rubbing his hands together, infinitely pleased he has lured people into the latest time waster. Rather than saving whales, righting wrongs or any of the other noble pursuits, we are happily tweeting and FB'ing our time away into the grave.

By now you've probably pegged me for a fledgling curmudgeon. That's righteous. I'm actually quite social. At least my friends tell me I am when I buy them lots of booze. That being said, I don't think I want to know that my new FB friend, who I have NEVER met, ate a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast. Not unless they ate that breakfast at Buckingham Palace with HRH and the hunky Prince William. Then I want to know. With pictures. Of William. And the corgis cuz they're cool.

Still, FB and MySpace and all the other places are a means to connect with other humans who eat bagels or have corgis or lust after young princes, so maybe this will have some value. The jury is still out. Tweeting probably. And there's a story idea for you writers out there. Court decisions made by Tweeters.

Technology. Not always a good thing. I'm just sayin'...

Friday, July 24, 2009

I Was Promised Pie. And A Cemetery.

My trip to D.C. and the Romance Writers conference was grand. I just forgot to pack my digital camera. Nothing against iPhones, they're bloody brilliant, but they don't take great pictures indoors, like during parties. So there are a minimum of cool pix to post. But I digress.

I sailed into D.C. on Tuesday the 14th. I had a hangover. This was entirely my own fault. Why I chose to drink to excess the night before I was leaving town is unfathomable. I know better than that, however while I was rereading one of Ilona Andrews’ most excellent novels, I augmented my fluid intake with wine, schnapps and vodka. That made me one unhappy critter the next morning. Much water and Advil later, I still felt awful (as I so richly deserved). I checked into my B&B (Woodley Park Guest House - these guys get a FIVE STAR rating from me) and then met my great author buddy, Jean Marie Ward. Spider lives in the D.C. area so we set off for a walking tour of Adams/Morgan, including a delightful dinner at a Creole restaurant. She was easy on me, knowing that I FLC (felt like crap) and that my right knee can be finicky at times. Since this is a lady who can trot along at an incredible speed in heels, she was very kind.

By Wednesday I was human again. We started off at ten in the morning and I didn't get home until near eleven that night. Since I was packing the portable cane, I didn't need it once. And for some odd reason, the walking eased up the knee beautifully. We toured Lafayette Square, the
Renwick Gallery, visited Black Aggie, the Freer and the Sackler Galleries, and the Library of Congress. As to the latter, this is where our books go when they get copyrighted. I didn't visit my tomes but we did take in the magnificent architecture. Built in the late 19th century, the place has all the Victorian excesses I love. Guilded everything. I could easily see some of the influence from the 1893 Columbian Exposition. We visited Thomas Jefferson's library collection (lord, did that guy love to read) and in between all our trudging we indulged in some of the most marvelous food imaginable. The Eastern Market is home to Monmartre, a French restaurant with some excellent delicacies. The gazpacho was unreal. For dinner we ate at RT's, a Creole restaurant and a long time favorite of my hostess. Then we did the Alexandria ghost tour which ended in a very old and cool cemetery.

But what about the the baked goods, you ask?Jean Marie took me home to meet her hubby,
Greg (a cartoonist in his own right) and to indulge in homemade berry pie. Okay, I was spoiled. Big time. She's coming to Atlanta for Dragon*Con and I'm going to have to hustle to match her incredible hospitality. I think we'll start with the cemetery, move onto the pub and then settle in for some Jonesy Port. Yeah, that's the plan. No pie. I'm not that good at making crusts.

The rest of the conference was a blur. Thursday I attended a few panels and then the Prism Awards ceremony. I took Third Place, while
Colby Hodge won the Prism for Time Travel. Colby (aka Cindy) and I found out we share the same agent, the truly amazing Meredith Bernstein. Another writer friend of mine won the Prism for Light Paranormal. Jeri Smith-Ready has been nominated for the award a couple times before, so it was awesome to see her win her very own pyramid for WICKED GAME. Very cool.

I slipped into the Kiss of Death (Daphne Awards) but the room was so crowded I retired to the bar with Jean Marie where we chatting about writing and politics while I enjoyed a modest amount of single malt (remembering my indiscretion earlier in the week).

Friday was more panels and then one of the moments I'd been waiting for: the St. Martin's Press cocktail party. I got to catch up with my dear friend P.C. Cast, whose
House of Night
vampire series is kicking serious butt. I think she has seven million books in print now. OMG. She and Meredith introduced me to the movers and shakers at St. Martin's. It was good to meet the folks I'll be working with. Alas, my editor wasn't there so I'll have to save that meeting for down the line. But gee, that means I just might have to fly to NYC. Darn, that would be such a penance (not).

After that party, we moved onto the Harlequin bash, which is always a blow out. P.C.'s dad (Dick) held his own with the ladies. Lord, can that man dance! I did a little dancing, but not much as the knee was bitching up a storm if I moved wrong and since it’s healing I really didn’t want to piss it off further. Jean Marie and I called it an early night about ten as we took the Metro to our respective homes. Kennedy Center was just getting out so the Metro was packed. I blended right in. For some reason I was starved, so I stopped at the McDonald's down the street from the B&B. Mind you, it's now eleven at night and I'm dressed to the nines. No one batted an eye. (And to those concerned about my safety, I’d already stripped off my costume jewelry before leaving the party and I pack a LOT of attitude).

Saturday (more panels) including one with agents Denise Marcil and Meredith Bernstein entitled The Secrets of Authors with Long Careers and How They Sustain Creativity and Success. They conducted interviews with successful authors who've stayed the course and listed out a series of traits these authors possess. Very interesting information. A few authors in the audience shared horror stories (they were truly horrific) about the uglier side of publishing. As this was a PAN workshop (part of the Published Authors Network) there were no editors present so candor was rampant. That’s a good thing. You need to know where the bodies are buried.

Though Meredith and I really wanted to go to a particularly well-recommended restaurant, they had a forty-five minute wait. We chose an Indian buffet instead and spent most of the time deep in conversation. The relationship between an agent and a client is much like a Victorian marriage at first – arranged because it suits both partners’ career and financial goals. It’s what happens after that “marriage” that counts. This was the first time I really got a chance to chat with Meredith and we made the most of it. She’s fun, intelligent, and very savvy. I sincerely respect that. In return, she respects my opinion and together we can make sound decisions as to my career. A partnership. That’s the way it should be.

I returned home to find my house clean and that my dearest spouse (sincere brownie points for this) had cleaned out the refrigerator. Wow. I should go away more often. Now that I’m over the trip lag, I’m working on projects that I’ve ignored while finishing the second draft of the manuscript. Next convention: Dragon*Con. And it's not that far away, folks!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Shifting Gears

Today is the transition day between family and profession as I wash clothes, pack and get ready to head for Washington, D.C. tomorrow. But more on that later. This last weekend it was all about family as the husband and I flew to Iowa to celebrate his mom's 90th birthday. She had been quite ill earlier in the year and we weren't particularly sure she'd make this milestone, but she did. And in great shape. Her health has improved greatly and she was in high spirits. Once we convinced her that tooling around in a wheelchair made it easier on all of us, we schlepped her around for food and some sightseeing. On Sunday my husband's uncle (Mel) and his wife (Wanda) drove down to the Quad Cities and we shared a lunch of KFC and a gorgeous birthday cake with the mum-in-law. I know there are wives out there who can't stand their m-i-l. I adore mine. Probably because she's a lot like me, which is scary. So the weekend was very good on many levels and I'm glad she was around to share it.

Today I'm gearing up for the Romance Writers annual convention (which moves cities every year). This year it's in D.C. and that means I get to hang with my writing buddy and occasional roomie, Jean Marie Ward
. We're going to spend some time wandering around the big city since the last time (my birthday last November) I was quite ill with a cold. This time I'm in fine shape so there will be considerable walking. I'm packing my Tevas. Mrs. Ward is a consummate hiker, even in heels, and she knows the city intimately. There'll be some research stuff, some good food and lots of fun. The conference starts (for me) on Thursday and goes through Saturday. Lots of panels caught my eye. I need to meet with my fabulous agent and the Prism Award ceremony is Thurs. evening. (MADMAN'S DANCE is up for one of those little beauties in the time travel category.) After that is the Death by Chocolate Party hosted by the Kiss of Death Chapter of RWA. One of the highlights of my trip: my first official St. Martin's Press publisher party is Friday evening. I admit, there has been some fussing around as to what to wear since the Powers That Be will be in residence. Over the course of the convention I'm hoping to catch up with a lot of author buddies and have a grand time. It's back home on Sunday. I'll try to do a recap on Monday once I sort out the brain.

The fact that I've not been doing so many conventions this year has made me majorly productive (the first draft of the first book in the Demon Trappers Series is already done) and I'm not so wasted. So it's all good. More later. Have a great week. I know I will.