Archive for February, 2011

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011
Time Changes Everything

No, this is not going to be a philosophical entry, so you don’t have to run away. The title of this entry is actually based on an article that I just read in the Romance Writer’s Report magazine. The whole issue was dedicated to maintaining your health, while juggling a writing career. In one of the articles, the author mentioned looking at things like weight loss through the lens of a year. She said, “Give yourself a year, when faced with losing weight/making a healthy lifestyle change.” (I’m paraphrasing because I’m too lazy to look up the exact quote.) I found this interesting for a number of reasons. One, I’ve been playing the lose weight game for the past 15 years, and frankly losing the battle. Two, because I never thought about weight loss in terms of years before. Weeks, months, days, yes. Years, no. There’s something about giving yourself a year that shifts your thoughts when it comes to losing weight. It’s almost as if it takes the pressure off. I still need to lose weight. That hasn’t changed. But I’m not as ‘hurried’ about it, when I think in terms of it taking a year. Some might think that giving yourself a year would allow you to put off dieting until the last minute. (Kind of like waiting until a month before your book deadline to start writing.) I suppose that could be true, if I was actually dieting, but I’m not–thank the gods.

Remember that post a while back about using smaller plates? Well, it seems to be working. I am slowly but surely taking control of my portions. The only way I’ve been able to do that is by not worrying about what types of foods I eat. The same thing goes with exercise. I wouldn’t exercise if I was doing it for weight loss. For some reason, I have a mental block that sabotages me consistently when I approach it that way. What I have found that works is thinking about exercise in terms of feeling better mentally. Mental clarity if you will. It seems to motivate me more than weight loss. Everyone has something that motivates them. That just happens to be mine. I lost four pounds last week in the process. I’m sure some of it was water weight, but I’m guessing some of it was actual weight loss. The best thing about it was that I wasn’t even trying. Nor was I thinking about it. I simply ate on my smaller plates (ie or had smaller portions on the medium plates) and worked out five days a week for thirty minutes a day. Do I like working out now? No, but like I said, I do enjoy mental clarity and as long as I continue to think about it that way, I’ll keep working out. My goal is to eventually work my way up to six days a week, for an hour a day. That will take a while, but if I give myself a year to get there, I have plenty of time to reach my goals.

Like in writing, there are no magic bullets to achieve good health. If there were, I would’ve taken one long ago. You have to put in the work. Novels aren’t going to write themselves and you aren’t magically going to drop ten/twenty/thirty/a hundred pounds. I’ve found a way that working for me. Is it perfect? No. I still have an unnatural love of bacon. Will it work for everyone? No, but doing nothing won’t get you where you want to be either. That’s why I’ve decided to take the articles’ advice and give myself a year. I figure I’m worth it. You are, too.

Are you doing anything to maintain your health? What do you do? If you aren’t doing anything, what might you do today? Give yourself a year and see.

Monday, February 7th, 2011
Kindleboards and Sales

I finally took the leap yesterday and ventured onto the Kindleboards. I haven’t gone through them all, but I did do a quick scan. Thus far, it’s kind of a mixed bag. As you would expect, there are some nice folks on there and several promo hounds. I’ve never been particularly good at promotion. (My career shows for it.) I think it has to do with my personality. I’m one of those people who do NOT like to be bothered when I’m shopping. If I have a question, I will find the shop employee and ask. I don’t mind someone asking if they can help me, but once I say no, I want them to leave me alone. I have walked out of stores because of too aggressive sales people. I refuse to buy from people who bug me.

I think that’s why I have so much trouble doing promo stuff. I ‘feel’ like that pain-in-the-ass sales person who won’t leave me alone, when I try to promo my books. I managed to leave a couple of comments on the Kindleboards. I even tried to start conversations, but I could tell I was holding back. I’m not sure how to ‘fix’ that. Obviously, I’d like to get the word out that I’m re-releasing my backlist, but how do you do that without being the ‘look at me, look at me’ person that everyone hates?

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011
When Writers Evolve

Sounds kind of like when ‘Vacations Attack’. LOL! You had to be here. In my head. To get the funny. Anyhow, this entry is going to be about Marjorie Liu. I don’t personally know Marjorie. We are not friends–though I’d be honored to call her friend. I have had the opportunity to chat with her at an RWA conference years ago. Not only is she gorgeous, she is a very nice person. She’s also been kind enough to answer random emails from me over the years. (Note: I said she was a very nice person. I wasn’t lying.)

I first heard of Marjorie when Tiger Eye came out. Blogs lit up about the book. I bought it immediately, but I’m embarrassed to admit that it’s still in my TBR pile–like so many other books I’ve gotten over the years. (Deadlines are my friend and my enemy.) I have read various paranormal romance novellas by Marjorie, and her book, The Iron Hunt. The reason I’m bringing her up is because she is one of the few writers that I’ve followed over the years that has made a HUGE writing leap. By that I mean, her writing skills have jumped to the next level. She has gone from a very good romance writer to something more. Her prose took a big jump forward in The Iron Hunt. It became poetic, almost lyrical and it was truly noticeable if you were in any way familiar with her writing. Now I don’t know if this occurred because she’s been specifically working on her prose or if it’s due to her expansion into graphic novels or her wide area of interests, etc., but whatever she’s done, it shows in the work. (And yes, I’m aware that the previous sentence is convoluted.)

I’m not the most observant person. In fact, I go through life pretty oblivious to most things. It’s not a trait that I’m proud of, but I am consistent. Snort. That’s why I find Marjorie’s writing transformation so interesting. It was so obvious that even ‘I’ noticed that it had occurred. Those of you who’ve been following my blog know that I’ve been working on my writing skills. Particularly over the last year. I know I haven’t made any leaps yet. I’m more of a baby step person. (ie waddle, waddle, fall down, cry, then eventually pull myself back up again) I hope that changes this year as I incorporate the things that I’ve learned from the Odyssey workshop and the Screenwriter’s Weekend into my own writing. It’s why I find Marjorie’s transformation so inspiring. (I realize I have a lot further to go than Marjorie. I’m in no way comparing our writing. She was leaps and bounds ahead of me from the start.) We are all on our own journey. I just think it’s important to recognize and commend those writers who’ve worked their butts off to evolve and succeeded.

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011
How Did That Happen?

Today I’ve been watching the word count for Atlantean’s Quest: The Arrival rise and rise. I’m still only halfway through the book (long story, let’s just say I thought of something I wanted to add and I had to go back to the beginning to do it…sigh). So far I’ve added over 3000 words to the manuscript. By the time I’m finished, I will have added 8000 to the final count, bringing the book up to 60K or thereabouts. That’s almost forty extra pages. And that’s before I put in an excerpt from Exodus in the back. I don’t know why I’m so surprised, since I do this for just about every book I write. I guess it’s odd because I’m not substantially changing the story. I’m just adding to it. Normally when I edit I make HUGE cuts and HUGE additions. It’s rare that it’s one-sided. I’m still enjoying the story. It’s just as silly and fun as I remember. Reading through it though makes me realize how much I’ve changed as a writer. For one thing, I write much darker stories these days. I kind of like playing in the gruesome. I also apparently didn’t have a problem with description when I started writing. I hope that by going through this manuscript and Rose’s Rapture that I actually get back some of the ‘habits’ I had when I first started in the publishing business. I could use some all of the description skills I could get.

On a completely different note, for some reason today I’ve been thinking about writing a thriller. I’m a HUGE fan of Matthew Reilly. I know his books are big, over-the-top action adventures, but they are addictive. (Much like James Rollins.) I started thinking about what it would be like to write something in that vein. It would be just as fast paced, but a tad darker. I don’t really have a story idea yet, but I can tell that the juices are flowing and something is churning in the back of my mind. Eventually it will come out and play. When it does, I’ll be there. 🙂

Do you have an idea that is in its infancy stage, but you know there’s something there? Something that’s eventually going to take shape–at least enough for you to get your hands on it and begin to mold? (Yeah, I know this last question isn’t really a question. Just go with it.)

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011
Cafe Du Monde Coffee and a Cigarette

No, I don’t actually smoke, but I am drinking Cafe Du Monde coffee this morning. I must say the chicory is quite tasty. Someday I’ll make it to the real cafe, so I can drink coffee on the sidewalk patio. I probably won’t stay much longer than that since I haven’t had the best experiences in New Orleans when I visited in the past. (And this was before Katrina.) You know what they say about first impressions and all. Anyway, it got me thinking. I haven’t been back to New Orleans since I left the airline, which I officially resigned from nine years ago today. You cannot believe how mind-blowing it is to me to realize that it’s been that long. It doesn’t seem possible. That sonic boom was the sound of time going by. 🙁 For the longest time being a flight attendant was my ‘identity’. There are still times when I fly that I have to force myself to stay in my seat when I see things the other flight attendants missed. Fortunately that is becoming less frequent. I’m finally beginning to identify with being a writer.

Which is good since this date also marks the beginning of my writing career. It took me nine months from this date to sell my first book. Nine months from quitting the airline to becoming a professional writer. I was talking to dh last night about writing and publishing. It still pains me to see the industry in such upheaval. Of course I can’t do anything about the publishing industry. What I can do is continue to work on my craft. I realized last night that I feel competent in certain areas of writing, particularly shorter work, but I need to up my game in the single title category. There’s only one way to get better/more consistent at writing single titles. You can take classes like I’ve taken to work on certain skills, but ultimately you have to write more. That’s right, there is no magic bullet. I know you’re shocked. Take a moment to soak it in. Okay, now let’s continue. You just have to write more single titles if you want to get better/more consistent at them. In the past that would mean having a drawer of unsellable work, but not anymore. With epublishing, you can write books that don’t fit neatly into categories. If an agent/publisher isn’t interested, then you can get it edited and release it on your own. Having that safety net takes some getting used to. Not everything will be salvageable. I have a single title in my drawer now that I started reworking and gave up on. Maybe someday I’ll be able to look at it with fresh eyes, but that’s not going to happen any day soon. That’s just the way it goes. The key to being a decent writer (other than lots and lots of practice and lots and lots of reading) is to be able to recognize the difference between publishable work and crap. Sounds easy, right? Not so much. Writers tend to fall into two categories: The ones who believe most of what they write is crap. And the ones who believe every word they write is gold. If you haven’t had the misfortune to meet one of the writers who believes every word they write is gold, then consider yourself lucky. I’ve had a few encounters and barely escaped with my life. *ggg

Is there anything that you need to work on that will require repetition to get better? (It doesn’t have to pertain to writing.) Have you set a goal or is it still in the thought process? My goal writing plan this year is to edit the YA, write a middle grade, write an adult urban fantasy (based on my character in Blood Lite 2), and write my urban fantasy romance. That’s two single titles and a short/mid-length story. As soon as I finish editing/formatting the Arrival and Rose’s Rapture, I’m diving into the urban fantasy romance. I need to flesh the plot out. I know the basics, but I need to figure out the exact series ARC. (Yes, it’s a series, but each book will be able to stand alone.) Actually, thinking about, my urban fantasy will also be a series of stand alone books. You have no idea how exciting that is after doing a three book story ARC. I won’t be attempting that again for a while. Learned my lesson the hard way.