Sunday, July 25, 2010

Lazy Sunday

Everyone around here has been on a chocolate binge the past couple of days and we even ran out of chocolate syrup! I was trying to physic myself up to make good-old fashion fudge, but I've recently misplaced my "my recipes" book, which I've had since before I got married. My favorite fudge recipe is in it!

Well my kids always complain I have ingredients, not food in the pantry - so I was able to scrounge up the stuff to make the easy - fantasy fudge and before long we'll see if it hits the spot. My bet is they devour it. And to all my twitter friends - I'd glady send you some, oh you know... you're always welcome here =)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

About Last Night

The official release date for About Last Night is 8/16/2010 - it was originally set for early September, but there were some changes in the publisher's schedule and it got bumped up... But - if you really want to read it now - it's selling @ Amazon here.

I found out by accident. I saw it was up for pre-order and I tweeted that it was up. Then a friend told me she thought she missed the release and that she'd downloaded it to her Kindle app, so I checked and yup... Amazon has the release date as 7/19!

I guess I need to move it from the Coming Soon page to Booklist page - but I think I'll wait until it's official.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Good old days...

Last Friday a local radio station hosted a reunion of a morning radio show that was popular in this area when I was a teen. From the moment I heard the announcement I worked my schedule around being able to listen to the three hour broadcast. I loved the 80s (no I do not want to revisit the 80s), and I still love 80s music, but I'm not one to look for special stations that devotes play time to one type of music. I like to listen the local staple channel...I love the morning show, like the mid-day run of music and can deal with the evening drive show - I don't change the channel unless I am forced too!

I loved every second of the reunion broadcast. I can't explain it, but it made me happy. I started a manuscript about a year go featuring two morning show hosts, it's still on the back burner, but I do work on it along with the others. I've been in *thinking* mode on it for awhile, but I'm looking forward to diving back in soon.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

WRITING 411: What I learned about writing from day job

This originally appeared in the Heartbeat Newsletter in the spring of 2009.

I am a Real Estate Appraiser by day, and a romance writer all the time. I never considered the fact that the two had anything in common until recently. Someone recently made a comment about having a light bulb moment while judging a contest.

About that time I was doing what is known as a “Review Appraisal”. They are not my favorite things in the world, just like I know judging writing contest isn’t a favorite for many of us. But sometimes it’s doing things that take us a little out of our comfort zone that we need to do most. Let me say that again ~ sometimes it is what takes us out of our comfort zone that we need the most.

Why? Am I into self-torture? No! Let me try to explain. What I have discovered both by judging contest and by doing review appraisals is ~ sometimes it is so much easier to see a flaw in someone’s work. It’s easy to pick out things we might be guilty of in our own work.

I truly believe it is next to impossible to see and recognize certain things in our own writing… at times. I’ll be the first to raise my hand and say ~ I know what it’s supposed to say. I know what it’s supposed to accomplish. I know why the scene is here and what it is supposed to do for the plot or pace. Do I see what I actually wrote? What it failed to accomplish? That I used the word ‘said’ or ‘that’ twenty times? In a word ~ No. Not easily, anyway.

But give me a contest entry that tells and fails to show? Wham, I’m all over it. Used ‘that’ twelve times in two pages? Got that too. Sharp change of pace/or scene? I’m giving them hell (well in my head I am). And the list could go on.
But let me read the same three pages I wrote twenty times - can I ‘see’ or ‘hear’ (if I am reading out loud) where I’m telling and not showing? No! I can’t. It’s hard for me to catch. But at times I can see flaws in my writing much more clearly after judging a contest or doing a critique.

As most are aware I recently signed a contract on a novella. What you might not know is… it’s something I wrote in 2002 (2nd manuscript I ever finished). I pulled it out last year, cut a few things, generally did a quick polish and entered it in a contest, where it was a finalist. After ten months, they passed. Not because of the writing, because the hero wasn’t Alpha enough. I wasn’t surprised – I knew he wasn’t ‘all alpha’. I’d made up my mind on which ePublisher I wanted to target with several novellas I have completed. So when I got confirmation the publisher was passing, I attached the file to an email and submitted. I didn’t read the manuscript I figured it must be in okay shape if it had been one of four to final out of hundreds.

Once I got offer, the editor asked me to send in the latest version before it goes to the first round of copy edits. Well um, what they had was the only version. So I asked if I could have two weeks.

In the meantime the publisher sent me the house style guide and getting started instructions. As I went over the novella, I did the formatting, etc. But what shocked me the most - the over-used words & general need to tighten. I’m a little shocked at the contest final and the contract. But am thankful for both.
Which brings me to… What hat am I wearing?

This where Appraising and Writing turn similar for me. Doing a Review Appraisal is a whole like editing my writing. A few things they have in common…Watch what you say and how you say it ~ In appraising there are words we don’t use and there are words we do use. Appear is a word we like. The storage shed can appear to be approximately 12x12. NOT, The storage shed is 12x12. In writing there are certain words considered to be ‘junk’ words (and boy do I love them!). So I keep a list and look out for my junk words.

Was the best _______ used? In appraising it has to do with data/comparables/etc. In writing it has to do with everything. If you’ve judged a contest think of the things you look for while reading the entries and keep it in mind as you go over your own writing. Try to look at your work from a distance, try to become detached. This is what I do when I do “review appraisals” and no w I can see it is what I need to do when “editing”.

Disclosure? In appraising it’s a big deal. In writing think of things like– did I get my point across? Did I show enough emotion? Did this move the plot forward?
Know your market! In Appraising it’s a must. I could not pick and go to New Orleans and do the same job I do in the six or seven surrounding Parishes I work in daily. I don’t know the Greater New Orleans market. I do know the market for the Greater Baton Rouge area. In writing we have all heard KNOW YOUR MARKET! It’s imperative to know where your writing fits. You must know what genre(s) you are writing and what publishers accept those genres and/or what agents to query.

And the list could go on, but I’m wrapping it up.

Keeping this in mind, I plan to read my work wearing a different hat from now on. And in a way it’s a lot like what I do in my day job. I step away from each appraisal and go back over it before it goes out. Distance is the key. In our rushed society we sometimes don’t have the time to give ourselves the distance we might need.

In closing, I say put when you sit down to work on your manuscript, know which hat you need to pull out. Wear your creative writing hat when you open your file to write. Wear your editor/judge hat when you edit. And I wish you the best no matter which hat you choose.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Side Projects...and such

I've been a little distracted with life lately, so I've not completed my current WIP. However, I'm working on a short story for the fun of it... this is my favorite snippet from today:

“I’ve asked the pastry chef to join us for dessert,” he announced as the waiter cleared the table.
“I guess you can do that since you own the place.”
His mouth curved in a cocky grin. “Figured me out?”
“Your picture and a write up from the Times-Picayune hold center stage on the way to the ladies room.”
A sexy rumble of laughter filled the air. “Nice to know I hold a position of importance.”

Monday, July 19, 2010

Excerpt - About Last Night & Contest

About Last Night releases in less than a month. If you'd like to enter to win a copy, just leave a comment below and I'll draw for a winner tomorrow.Here's an excerpt:

“Tell me what happened or I’ll tell Jake his little sister called me in the middle of the night to bail her ass out of jail.”
“That’d go over great.” She turned away, stared out the window.
“I thought you and Josh broke up a long time ago?”
“We did.”
“Care to tell me why you were arrested for breaking into his apartment?”
“I knew he was out of town. He had something of mine. How was I supposed to know he changed the alarm code?” She shrugged.
“What was so important you’d risk getting arrested?”
“Something he took and refused to return.”
“What was so damned important?”
“My locket.” She reached for the door handle.
Tanner grabbed her arm. Tears welled in her eyes. “The locket…”
“Yes, the insignificant locket you gave me for my twenty-first birthday.”
Misty jerked her arm out of his grip and made an ordeal of buckling her seatbelt. She leaned her head back and closed her eyes. “Can we just leave?”
As the miles rolled by, Misty’s head gently rocked against the headrest. He thought about what she’d said. She still had the locket, or at least Josh the loser did. He’d seen her wear it at McNeil family gatherings but never thought it meant anything to her. It had been a peace offering of sorts, not that he’d ever told her. He felt as if he owed her something after one insanely hot night they’d spent together. He wanted to talk to her. But then she showed up at her birthday party with a lanky grad student wrapped around her. He changed his mind about talking. Ancient history.
An hour later he pulled off Frontage Road and rolled to a stop in front of the dreary two-story where she rented an apartment. She was home, and tomorrow he’d see what he could do about the mess she’d landed in.
“Misty, wake up.” Nothing. She didn’t budge.
“Misty,” he said, louder this time. Tanner walked around the car and opened the door. Her legs fell, causing her to stir.
“Misty, you’re home.”
She lifted her head and when her deep blue eyes met his, a longing jolted through him. Whoa. “Tanner?” she whispered. “Where are we?”
“You’re home, my little jailbird.”
She groaned and pushed herself upright and out of the car. “Look, I…”
“I know. Don’t tell Jake. Got it.”
“I, uh. Yeah, don’t tell Jake.” She started up the steps.
“You know I’d do anything I can for you?”
“Of course,” she said, fumbling in the black sack.
“I’ll see about the charges tomorrow.”
“Don’t bother. I didn’t even accomplish what I went there for.”
“So what?” he barked. “You planning another break-in?” Ridiculous. His pants were getting too tight watching Misty fiddle in the damned sack. Her rumpled cat burglar look set him on fire. He needed to put some fear in her and get the hell away. Lack of sleep equaled insane ideas.
“Of course not.” She rolled her eyes upward. Damn, even that turned him on.
“Just checking. You know those are serious charges?”
“Yes. I know. My brother’s a cop.” Her mouth curled in a half-hearted smile.
“I’d better get out of here. You have your keys?”
She nodded, unlocking the door. He started around the car.
He stopped, turned. Not a good idea. She looked like something from his fantasies. He needed a date. Hell, he needed a life. Lusting after Misty McNeil was not an option. “Yeah?”
“Not a problem, sweetheart. You know I’ve always thought of you as a kid sister.”
“Yeah, I know,” she said and slammed the door.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

WRITING 411: Why I love edits

Since I write artilces about writing for my local chapter (because I'm currently President and they make me =) and occassionally do the same for other blogs, I thought I'd made WRITING 411 post regular here too. This one was originally posted Friday, May 7, 2010, on the LPI blog.

I’ll freely admit I stalk my inbox for edits. If my wonderful, lovely, talented editor Mary teases me and says she is working on edits for me – I will literally check my inbox every hour until they show up. It may seem odd, but I’m going to try and explain.

As a pantser I’m a great first draft-er. I write about 50-60 pages, to get to know my characters, then I’ll do what I call “Stop and Plot”. Then I’ll finish the first draft. I have a great critique partner who’ll read the entire thing at this point (warts and all). Then I’ll go back and work out any plotting issues. It works for me.

Except I’m ready to move on at that point. I have zero desire to edit. I’ll let it sit and sit and sit. I’ve got a couple of manuscripts at this point right now.
In the past three months I’ve taken two self-editing / polishing classes. Both offered great information. A few things were explained in ways that really clicked for me. Still, I’ve not been in the mood to dig into edits for any of the stories I have that need editing desperately.

Until… edits landed in my inbox for my next release with Lyrical. Once I started the round of edits, my brain started firing on all its editing cylinders. Now I want to edit anything and everything thing. I have no idea why this works, but after writing for this long, I’ve learned to go with what works right now. And when I get edits – it sets me into to full blown edit mode.

I read the notes and comments and suggestions and do what needs to be done in the manuscript I’m working on, and then I’ll immediately jump into the next one and do the same. It’s like my brain shifts to edit mode as soon as I open a fresh “edits” file. It’ whacky and wonderful all at the same time! I guess my point is -- learn what works for you. If you’re like me and have a hard time digging into edit, try this next time you get edits in – or if you’re not to the point of getting edits – try next time you get a critique (because I know you’ve found that wonderful critique partner – or I hope you have!). I’m crawling back into the editing cave while it lasts!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Independence Day Blog Hop - Winners

My contest winner via was #9, which is "s7anna". I've emailed for your choice.

The full list is below or you can see it here

Announcing the WINNERS!

Susan Romito
Choice of backlist by Olivia Brynn
Intimate Strangers by Gem Sivad
Midnight's Ghost by Sara Brooks

Loretta Canton
$5 MBaM gift certificate from Hailey Edwards
Winner's choice of backlist by Trina M. Lee
Star Spangled Kiss, (Kissin Cops 2) by Christa Page

Carolyn Overholser
Scent of the Roses by PG Forte
The Virtuous Vampire by Monette Michaels
Winner's choice of backlist by Juniper Bell

Maria Durst
Winner's choice of backlist by Tina Holland
Copy of First Heat by Jocelyn Modo
An autographed copy of The Cowboy Way from Tori Richards

Anna Shah Hoque
Ex Appeal by Cari Quinn
Witch Hunter by Lyn Armstrong
Felicia's Fling by Jolie Cain

Yadira Alonzo
Winner's choice of backlist by Dee Carney
Winner's choice by Tina Donahue
Rhythm of Love by J. Hali Steele

Sacred Secrets by Roxy Harte
Winner's choice of backlist by Elise Logan
One Wilde Night by Rhonda Leah

The Omegas by Annie Nicholas
The Bargain by Desiree Holt
A package of goodies from Nina's Prize Closet.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Independence Day Blog Hop

Just one stop along the way... you can start the tour by clicking here . Once you start, the link will take you to each stop. If you get distracted you can pick up where you left off by clicking the link again. Remember to go all the way to the end. Lots of prizes up for grabs.

Leave a comment - say hi or tell me what your plans are for the 4th for a chance to win one of my currently available novellas or if you don't mind waiting - you could choose an ARC of my August release. (All are novellas in digital format).