Saturday, June 30, 2007

RWA National Conference?

Anyone here going? I’d love to say hi!

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Friday, June 29, 2007

How do you Train?

Before my post today, I want to apologize. I have no idea how blogging is going to be this summer. I have such an irregular schedule in the summer. We’ll see!

I’m really disappointed that I wasn’t able to blog about Brett Battles' The Cleaner this week! I want to tell you all about it, and rave even more than my ravings in February. I loved it!

And now, The Cleaner is out! It’s sitting all pretty and shiny in Borders, right smack in the middle of the front table. YAY! If you like Alias and Barry Eisler, you’ll enjoy The Cleaner!

The other day, Allison Brennan blogged about Short Stories at Murder She Writes. (Awesome blog, if you don’t already read it.)

She mentioned that Stephen King once said that we were on the verge of losing the art of the short story. I believe that trend is reversing, with all the short story publications I’ve seen in the last year and a half, as well as with the Amazon Shorts program. (One of the more brilliant things they’ve ever done!)

Ray Bradbury states that one of the biggest challenges with fledgling writers make for themselves is that they sit down and write a novel first-off. As he says, if you haven’t had a lot of practice and you’ve spent a year on a novel, chances are, you’ve spent a year to produce crap.

(You can hear him say it in his video about short stories. Did you know he has a website? And a pretty awesome one at that! Check out the videos from interviews!)

On the other hand, he says, if you’ve spent a year writing one short story a week, at the end of the year you’ll have fifty-two short stories. Chances are that a good percentage of those will be decent stuff.

Writing a novel, for me, is like a marathon. When you’re training for a marathon, you start out running one mile. Then you build yourself up, until you’re running more miles. You start entering 5K races, then 10K races. After a year or so, you go for that marathon ... but maybe you walk a bit of it.

Of course, others start out with long runs and walks. Everyone’s different.

I suspect there’s as many methods to train for a novel as there are to train for a marathon. Me? Well, I’ve done a ton of short stories and novellas, and my novellas, lately, have become parts of a full novel. My last five novellas were really two novels in parts, LOL. That’s not how novellas are supposed to be written, though, but at least it gives me a little confidence going into the novel.

We just gotta keep growing and striving to improve, I guess.

So how do you train for a novel?

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Beginnings

How’s the writing going for you? (I know, you just told me a few days ago, but it was so nice to hear others going through the same processes, that I’m asking again. It makes me feel like I’m not writing alone!)

I threw away my plot a week ago, when I mistakenly discussed it with DH. Yesterday, I decided to unthrow it away, after thinking about it again. It’s the story that I need to tell. I hope I can pull it off!

I’m starting to enjoy the slower pace of summer. I wish I could carry that pace all year long! So yesterday I was studying beginnings, while letting the story take shape in my head. Of the thrillers I studied, the beginnings I liked best had these five elements:

1) Immediate Danger: The action and suspense started right away, with danger motivating the characters to do something.

2) Vividness: The language is colorful and the verbs are strong and active.

3) Atmosphere: Close to #2, but it’s not just the verbs and vividness. The atmosphere of the book is set right away, whether it’s dark, noir, hard, funny, etc.

4) Starts the End: I don’t know how else to explain it, but the best beginnings ’start the end.’ They foreshadow and hook into the plot that will drive the whole book. For example, if someone is kidnapped, then we know the whole book is going to be about the rescue. The question is how, and who will get killed in the process? The beginning starts with a situation that the rest of the book tries to fix.

5) Shows Character: The best writers manage to draw the main characters completely and instantly, in one or two sentences. Stephen King is best at this; we instantly know who his characters are and what they’re like on the first page. Of course, the author fleshes out the character more and more over the course of the novel, but we get a strong first impression.

All the beginnings I liked had these five elements within the first page or two. Amazing! That’s a lot to ask for in a couple pages! I have a feeling this first chapter is going to take me a couple weeks to write, but then it should be much easier going. I hope!

Read more...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Dangers of the Secret

//static.flickr.com/1241/631400623_090f790850_mYou know me, I’m addicted to self-help books.

In theory, I agree with quite a bit of The Secret, but the criticism has merit.

Some medical professionals suggest it could even lead to a blame-the-victim mentality and actually be dangerous to those suffering from serious illness or mental disorders.

That’s my number one hatred of the whole "mind over matter" philosophy. There are just some things you can’t will away, and you can make yourself crazy trying.

I know from experience.

You can’t just will away every illness. Positive thinking is great and all that, but just think how guilty a sick person feels, how inadequate and how much of a failure they feel when they can’t will away their illness.

It can get worse.

Psychotherapist and lifestyle coach Stacy Kaiser said that after reading "The Secret," several patients have worried that it was their fault they were abused, or laid off from their jobs.

Or:

For example, the book dismisses conditions such as a genetic predisposition to being overweight or a slow thyroid as "disguises for thinking ’fat thoughts.’ " And during times in which massive number of lives were lost, the book says, the "frequency of their thoughts matched the frequency of the event."

Or even:

But she was especially upset about a portion of Byrne’s DVD in which a woman claims her breast cancer was cured without radiation or chemotherapy; the woman watched funny movies and had faith that she had already been healed.

I do believe in the power of positive thinking, and I do believe there is some merit in the law of attraction. Maybe some people are able to cure themselves with a special, mental talent.

I just believe we should be a little more careful about claiming The Secret to be the ultimate answer. And we definitely should be careful not to imply that if you can’t cure yourself or bad things have happened in life, you’re not doing it--whatever it may be--correctly.

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Warning: Rant

Kid talk has become a sore spot for me. It’s not people’s fault, it’s mine alone. I read a post on a loop that just hit that sore spot.

Some mothers just go on and on about how kids are the best thing that ever happened to them and they’re a new person, and then they graciously say that it’s okay for those who don’t want kids to not have them.

They very kindly say that it would be worse for a parent to have kids when they didn’t want them, than to have no kids.

Well, gee. Thanks.

You know, sometimes it’s not much of a choice. You can’t just push a button and order up a kid, for crying out loud. There are TONS of people who would love to have kids, but can’t, for various reasons.

And what if it was a choice? The assumption of that statement is that if you choose not to have kids, you’re protecting the unborn kids from your would-be bad parenting.

You know, people that choose to NOT have kids (or are unable to have kids) would not be bad parents, if they had them. There are a ton of factors that go into such a decision. A whole lot of them would probably make just-as-good parents as most others. They’d be good, bad, and in-between, just like everyone else.

I really hate that assumption.

I have hereby decreed to myself that I will never talk about having or not having kids in those terms. If I’m lucky enough to have them, I will never say that they made me a whole new person, and that I’m such a better person for it, or that they completely gave my life meaning.

I’m sure it would be true, but I don’t need to rub it in anyone’s sore spot. You never know if the person you’re talking to is aching to have kids, but due to whatever circumstances, can’t.

And then they act as if their life is so much busier than yours, so much more important. Like you have TONS of time on your hands, considering you don’t have kids.

Yeah, right. Let’s see you run three businesses and tell me that your life is busier than mine. You, at least, get rewarding smiles and hugs and love from your kids. That makes it a hell of a lot more worthwhile than unstable paychecks and people who never pay at all.

On the other hand, I DO love to hold babies, look at the pictures of people’s kids, etc. I don’t mind at all hearing the endless discussion of diapers and bowel movements and baby food slopping everywhere.

*sigh* I’m sure I’ll get used to the best-thing-ever-happened-to-me talk, at some point. Maybe I’ll learn to joke about it, and say things like "Kids? Ick! Who wants the mess?" Maybe I’ll learn to shrug. Maybe I’ll learn just not to care.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Lazy, lazy, lazy days ...

I have nothing to talk about. I have spent three blissful days doing nothing at all productive. I haven’t even been thinking. Just relaxing. Not even reading, or imagining, or ... anything.

I’ve just been sitting on the lawn, watching the insects play in the grass, the bees flit from clover to clover. Did you ever notice just how much life exists in our lawn?

Sadly, a trek across a lawn must kill countless life! It moves, it bristles with life!

I’ve also been watching a bunch of Star Trek, which is always fun.

Lazy days end tomorrow, unfortunately.

Well, with nothing to say, I’m going to go sit in the sun for a couple minutes, then dig up my old VHS’s of DS9. They’re releasing them on TV too slowly!

Have you had a good weekend? What do you do when you do nothing?

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

One Winner and Thirteen Useless Facts

perfectly plum imgThanks to random.org, Commenter #3--Susan Helene Gottfried--won the contest! And she even guessed correctly: my essay in the Perfectly Plum Anthology is "Disaster to Diva: Why Lula Should Be the Next Self-Help Goddess."

Thanks for participating in my very first contest! You guys are the coolest!

About this week’s Thursday Thirteen: I won’t be home tomorrow evening, so I’ll be popping by y’all’s blogs Thursday night. I’m sorry I’ll be so late, but I’ll make sure not to miss you guys!

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Thirteen Facts from The Book of Useless Information
By Noel Botham and The Useless Information Society:

  1. According to a British law passed in 1845, attempting to commit suicide was a capital offense. Offenders could be hanged for trying.
  2. In Cleveland, Ohio, it’s illegal to catch mice without a hunting license.
  3. George Washington grew marijuana in his garden.
  4. The main library at Indiana University sinnks more than an inch every year because when it was built, engineers failed to take into account the wight of all the books that would occupy the building.
  5. A jiffy is an actual unit of time: one-hundredth of a second. Thus the saying, "I will be there in a jiffy!"
  6. The queen (or more precisely the Royal Household) owns all the swans in England. The post of Royal Swanskeeper is a post that has been around since 1215, and he and his staff are responsible for keeping accurate statistics about the number and whereabouts of the royal swans.
  7. Eleanor Roosevelt at three chocolate-covered garlic balls for most of her adult life.
  8. Here’s the recipe.
  9. Charlie Chaplin once won third prize in a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest.
  10. More than one hundred descendants of Johann Sebastian Bach have been cathedral organists.
  11. King Kong was Adolf Hitler’s favorite movie.
  12. In Indiana, it is illegal to ride public transportation for at least thirty minutes after eating garlic.
  13. Umm ... I forgot to write down a thirteenth one. So do you have a useless fact to add?

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

How's the Writing?

Well, I’m on vacation this week. That means I’m all day at Borders, writing (working!). Who works on their vacation??

That means I owe y’all an apology. By the time I get home, I try to do the blogging thing, but then I get sleepy. So, I’m sorry, but this week I’m going to be Little Miss Flaky. I promise to be back to normal next week!

Did y’all hear that Stephen King is publishing a novella in July’s Esquire? I have the feeling everyone but me heard, but I thought I’d pass it on, just in case.

Today’s writing day wasn’t so productive. My computer took 23 minutes to boot up. No kidding. It was horrible--the past few days, it takes the screen a minute to make each word I type show up. So I did a disk clean up, which took an hour, a defrag, which took at least four hours, and an error check, which took another three or so hours. I’m off by a little: I sat down at 11:00, and the computer didn’t finish its cleaning until 8:30 or so.

Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum Novels)I was real broken up about it, too, especially seeing as how Janet Evanovich’s new book is out, Lean Mean Thirteen.

Ohmigod ... Ranger. And Lula with Tank! And I laughed so hard, you wouldn’t believe. I did that "bark of laughter" thing at least four times, when the whole cafe stopped talking and turned to look at me.

Good book. Definitely worth a drop-everything-and-run-to-the-store.

I guess it was more of a vacation day than I thought. Let’s hope your writing is going better than mine, today! Speaking of which ... how is your writing going?

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Squeal for Star Trek!

I’m a Trekkie, I admit it. I’ve watched every single episode, save the latest Enterprise series. (Never caught on with me. I keep meaning to watch the re-runs, but ...)

I’ve already gotten excited that J.J. Abrams is going to direct the 11th movie, but look at what Orci (one of the writers) said in an interview at SciFi Wire:

Is the Trek movie being eyed as the kickoff of a possible TV series? "I’m sure CBS is thinking about that," he said. "That’s not [something] we’re thinking about. We’re just thinking about the movie. Certainly, I don’t know how they could not think about that."

Okay, it sounds like a long shot, but ... it’s shot, isn’t it? Isn’t that just the coolest? I would LOVE for there to be another series as good as DS9, TOS, Next Gen, or Voyager. Or better than, would suit me just fine.

Are you a Trekkie, too?

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

How Was Your Weekend?

Not that kind of quickie!

I’ve been gone all weekend; sorry for no posts! Tomorrow I’ll do the random.org thing and see who won, and start posting again, too.

What were you up to, this weekend?

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Friday, June 15, 2007

MWA, Sisters in Crime anyone?

Hey ... is anyone in MWA? Do they have local chapters like RWA? What are they like?

And what is Sisters in Crime like?

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Being Naughty ... and Tinkling

I used an exclamation mark yesterday! Aside from punctuating dialogue once in awhile, I have never used an exclamation point in my prose (my blog, yes ... but that doesn’t count). I know what a terrible thing that is to do, but it had to be an exclamation point, this time.

I feel so naughty. :-)

***

Remember that little poem we all learned when we were little?

If you sprinkle
while you tinkle,
please be neat
and wipe the seat.

Our society seems to be having trouble with that basic courtesy, lately. Maybe I should petition my Senator to make having that poem on the back of stall doors a new state law. It’s driving me crazy! It’s icky! I wish people would just wipe the seat, already!

So what’s your pet peeve of the day?

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Thursday Thirteen Contest

perfectly plum imgAnyone want a free book? A fun and funny book of essays on the life, loves, and other disasters of Stephanie Plum? The unauthorized essays based on Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series?

All you have to do is guess which essay I wrote (hint #1, hint #2), and I’ll enter you into a drawing! You can even win if you guess wrong! And even if you cheat and look it up.

(I get to have a con-test, I get to have a con-test ... hip, hip, hooray! (hee-hee))

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Thirteen Essays in the Perfectly Plum anthology:

  1. Could Stephanie Plum Really Get Car Insurance?
  2. The Gun in the Cookie Jar
  3. Ranger as ... Hairy Godmother?
  4. From Disaster to Diva: Why Lula Should Be the Next Self-Help Goddess
  5. Destiny: Disaster!
  6. Life on the Hamster Wheel
  7. The Bad Boy Next Door
  8. The Fast and the Furry-ous
  9. Why Can’t You Be More Like Your Sister?
  10. The N in New Jersey Stands for Noir
  11. Exploding the Myth of the Jersey Girl
  12. I Love Stephie
  13. Eeny, Meeney, Miney, Mo

Read more...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

BIAM, 14Fast, BIAW ...but THREE days???

You’ve heard of Book In A Month, Fast Draft in 14 Days, and maybe even Book In A Week.

But have you heard of the 3-Day Novel Contest???

Yes, they really mean writing a novel in only THREE days!

Wow!

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Plum Naked in a Bookstore

So I was wandering a new Borders, and I stumbled upon the anthology that has an essay of mine in it! It's OUT! Ohmigawd, I can't tell you how excited I was to see it!

Really, I can't.

It's too embarrassing.

It's just a little essay, so I don't have to act all cool and professional yet, right? I can be silly, and you won't mind? (I'm pretty sure you guys already think I'm half off my rocker, anyway.)

A little essay is nothing in the grand scheme of the publishing world. So it's absolutely ridiculous and childish that--after I got home and found my two free copies--I carried the book around with me, clutched to my chest, all night long. Last night, it sat on my book stand while I slept. Right now, it's sitting on the side of my desk. I even brought it to the ballgame.

The back cover has my REAL NAME on it, only TWO LINES away from THE JA Konrath!!! Yikes! And the last page of my essay has my REAL NAME mini-bio on it!

I've had several authors tell me that there is no difference between publishing under your real name and publishing under a pseudonym.

So. Not. True.

Completely not true. Not a shred of truth to that statement. Not even a nanospeck of truth! I've sold over half a million words. But these are the first 4,000 under my real name. I don't ever remember being this silly and foolish about anything else I've ever published!

And yet, I feel baby-butt naked. Embarrassed. I begged DH not to tell anyone. BEGGED him. I really meant it, too.

I was looking at it on the shelf in the cool, new Borders, grinning at it, and an employee came and asked if I needed any help.

I ran away!!!

Eegawds! (Don't tell anyone, please!)

I got this gig on a stroke of luck. Right time, right place, all that. Saw the little opening, jumped through it with both feet and enthusiasmed the editor into a 'yes.'

Speaking of the editor, she is AWESOME--Leah Wilson. Best editor I've ever had, by far.

Oh, the book? Perfectly Plum. Don't buy it to read me. (Please don't tell me if you read it! Unless you really liked it ...)

Buy it because it's a WHOLE BOOK of essays about STEPHANIE PLUM. And because, well, you know, JA Konrath has an essay in it. And a ton of other super and amazing authors contributed, too!

I've been a huge fan of the Stephanie Plum books, ever since I fell in heat with Ranger. Major drool. Is it really a contest?? Morelli vs. Ranger? I'm a Ranger girl, through and through. I want the Ranger t-shirt!

And someday, I want to grow up and be Lula.

PS: In between now and when I sell a novel, will someone please give me the manual on how to be a cool author?

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A Dose of Inspiration

I picked up a Billion-Dollar Kiss, by Jeffrey Stepakoff, and was intrigued. It’s a memoir of a TV writer and his adventures on Dawson’s Creek, among many other shows.

Interesting lesson in the middle of his book:

I saw similarities among the most talented. Obviously, they all have good skills, a mastery--or, at least, an intuitive understanding--of craft. But with hard work and commitment that can be picked up. There’s something else, too. The best way I can explain it is that they have a sensitivity to the world around them, a sort of sixth sense. They pay attention to the little things that others miss. Every outing to the bank, mall, or post office is a chance to people-watch. They listen for subtext instead of just what someone is simply stating. They watch body language, what someone is wearing, how someone is behaving. They always look for the inside joke. They examine and consider how everything tastes and smells, to the point where even a simple lunch from Baja Fresh is subjected to extended critical analysis. Everything is turned over, reflected upon. They look for connections in the chance. Meaning in the random. Metaphors in everything. Their interactions with the world become a process of looking for secrets and clues that will unlock the Great Truths, so that these things can be examined and written about for the ever-approaching next episode.

He later says:

I watched that combination of talent, passion, and luck, which could not be bought, repeatedly find a way no matter what kinds of curves and constraints the business threw at it.

So we need to have passion. Note to self: work on passion.

And, courtesy of DailyLit:

THE GOAL
By Emily Dickinson

Each life converges to some centre
Expressed or still;
Exists in every human nature
A goal,

Admitted scarcely to itself, it may be,
Too fair
For credibility’s temerity
To dare.

Adored with caution, as a brittle heaven,
To reach
Were hopeless as the rainbow’s raiment
To touch,

Yet persevered toward, surer for the distance;
How high
Unto the saints’ slow diligence
The sky!

Ungained, it may be, by a life’s low venture,
But then,
Eternity enables the endeavoring
Again.

Read more...

Monday, June 11, 2007

RWA Members: Make your voice heard! (PAN, PRO, etc.)

If you haven’t noticed, I have a tendency to make my opinion known, LOL. But I think you should, too. If you’re an RWA member, but not on the rwaorg list, please consider joining and letting the board members know your feelings. You can also contact Nic (@nicoleburnham.com) and Trish (@trishmilburn.com), to let them know your thoughts.

They are very open and attentive to all opinions, so it would be a shame for people to grumble after the fact and feel alienated, rather than speak up now.

My idea?

Well, y’all know my first idea is to let members judge for themselves what workshops they need, and do away with this casting system.

I’m told that’s not going to happen.

So my second favorite idea? Why only one criterion? Why not emulate MWA (since so many are mentioning them as an example) and have several criteria for membership?

For example:

  1. Past membership in PAN.
  2. Published by an RWA-approved publisher.
  3. $X for a novel.
  4. $X for a novella.
  5. $X in a year.
  6. Any other ideas?

Perhaps you disagree with me, but whatever your opinion, please voice it. I would like to see the organization get through this without alienating members and hurting feelings. Your opinion does count! (At least, I hope it does!)

Read more...

Sunday, June 10, 2007

What About Loyalty?

Mark Terry’s post reminded me of the Simon & Schuster contract thing. All this talk about negotiating and publishers and agents and authors leaves me ... thoughtful.

What happened to loyalty?

I feel indebted to my publisher, and I feel like it’s part of my job not just to promote my books, but to promote my publishers. If they need something that I can easily provide, I figure it’s in my best interest to help. It’s in my best interest for them to succeed, so that they can continue to pay me.

Y’all know I’m a peon, published by a tiny-pub. I like it, especially since I’m learning that they sometimes pay more than some big pubs. (I don’t make that much; I’m just saying that some big pubs only give out $1,000 - $2,000 advances for over 80,000 words!)

But I’ve always felt very loyal to my employers. Essentially, they feed and house me. I’ve always felt that it’s part of my job to promote my employers. Just the same, it’s in their best interest to take care of their employees.

It’s not just in the publishing world, that there’s not much talk of loyalty. In corporate America, it’s the same way. You can see the evidence in the massive lay-offs, etc.

I’m just saying.

When I write, I don’t just feel the pressure of my bills, of my family, of my readers. I also feel that I need to make money for my publisher. If I had an agent, you can believe that I would be sitting on my manuscript, worrying about whether or not it would pay for my agent’s daughter’s ballet shoes.

Insane? Maybe. True? Yep.

No matter which way you turn the problem, publishers, authors, and readers all need each other. We all need to take some responsibility for each other’s successes, because we are all an important part of each other’s success.

Why does it seem that American society has forgotten to factor loyalty into their profit margin?

Read more...

Friday, June 08, 2007

Oprah, Her Book Club, and Women Authors

I’m way behind the times, but did you read at M.J. Rose’s blog that most of Oprah’s Book Club picks have been written by MEN? 12 out of the last 14, she says, and the last 8 in the last two years have been ALL written by men.

Okay, nothing wrong with men. I’d say a HUGE portion of my favorite writers are men, particularly since there are limited women writing spy fiction.

But.

I feel a little let down by Oprah. She’s a huge role model, a huge force in the publishing industry, and woman of huge influence. I’ve always had a great deal of respect for her.

And now I feel a little ... disappointed. A small part of me wonders why. Is it that men are better writers? (Of course not!) But if they aren’t, then why would the poster woman for female-roaring find so few female authors that moved her? Or is this a problem in the publishing industry at large, and the filtering-down effects are that’s what her choices were? Or maybe it’s a coincidence?

David Montgomery recently asked Do statistics matter?, when discussing the recent Sisters in Crime analysis of the gender gap in reviews. They work out to roughly average (56.23% male and 43.77% female), which strikes me as probably fair.

The statistics are good to be aware of, in case one has an unaware gender bias. It does exist. Remember my post asking Men Write Better Than Women? However, I don’t believe gender should be the first criteria for reviewing or for book clubs.

But Oprah? 12 out of 14 books?

Read more...

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Thirteen Curses of Blogging and Writing

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1. If you say you are prolific, your WIP will come to a screeching halt.
2. If you mention you hardly ever cut more than 100 words in your work, then you will soon need to chop off three or four thousand words.
3. If you say you never have trouble finishing a story/novella/novel, then you will be pulling teeth to finish your current story/novella/novel.
4. If you say the first half of your manuscript always flies, the next first half you write will be like flying through mud.
5. If you say you never go off on "wrong" or "false" tangents that you need to delete, you will soon go off on a delete-worthy tangent.
6. If you say you’re inspired by deadlines, they will soon freak you out and slow your writing down.
7. If you say you only write for money, the universe will conspire to make you write something with absolutely no promise of money whatsoever.
8. If you say that you never run out of ideas for blogging, you won’t have any blog ideas for at least a week.
9. If you say that it’s easy for you to blog every day, you will soon find that you are struggling to find the time to blog.
10. If you say that it’s easy to keep up with all your favorite blogs with your fancy-shmancy reader, you will soon find yourself inexplicably behind.
11. If you say you can’t wait to read a book, the universe will conspire to keep you from finishing that book for AGES ...
12. If you say you never get behind in reading, you will soon have a TBR pile of at least a hundred books that you’re DYING to read.
13. In general, if you post about ANYTHING on your blog, you will soon be forced to eat your words.

Read more...

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Five Minute Vacation

I stumbled across a great quote the other day, from Mark Twain:

Life does not consist mainly of facts and happenings.
It consists mainly of the storm of thoughts
that is forever blowing through one’s head.

Isn’t that the truth? If one can get those thoughts to shut up for a moment, then our stress level goes way down.

In my readings about yoga, I’ve stumbled across the story of a guru who used to go to sleep with a spoon in his hand, poised above a plate. When he would fall asleep, the spoon would fall from his hand, clatter on the plate, and wake him up.

He said that’s all the sleep he needed.

While that may seem ridiculous and impossible, there is a truth in that story. To refresh and rejuvenate ourselves, we really only need that one moment of pure relaxation.

Like a few months ago, when I was so burned out I thought I’d need days of laying in bed to recuperate. Turned out, I only needed to put my niece in my arms, and the whole world fell away. Just a few minutes with her, and I was completely recovered and ready to jump into the world again.

Same with the other day. The dearest and I went fishing. I kayaked across the lake, hooked up to his boat, stuck my feet in the water, and enjoyed the breeze for a moment. We had ten minutes of pure bliss: warm day, clouds blocking the harsh sun, soft breeze on our skin.

And quiet--the pretty. musical quiet of trees rustling, geese squawking, fish jumping, and the waves lapping against our boats.

Then, of course, since it was our first day off in a month, a deluge of rain slammed down on us, completely soaking me in my kayak and nearly sinking his fishing boat.

Despite the problems we had loading the boat back on the trailer (guidepost breaking, me falling into the water, me swimming to find guidepost on the bottom, him getting all impatient because it’s hard for me to back up the trailer!), it was a great morning.

You would’ve thought I’d gone on a ten-day vacation, I was so relaxed.

Mostly it’d been work, but for those ten minutes, I got the same benefit of ten days of vacation.

So why go through all the trouble? How can we train our minds to go into that relaxed, vacation state where the world falls away? Where we refresh and renew? If we only need five or ten minutes of it, why can’t we train our minds to snap into that state once a day? Wouldn’t we be better off for it?

One of these days, I’m going to learn how to meditate. Do you visit that "vacation" state every day? How do you do it?

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The L.U.R.V.E. Train

lurve train animationDear People Magazine,

Every November, you come out with your "Sexiest Man Alive" issue; every spring, you print your list of the "World’s Most Beautiful People."

But in 2007 -- for the last two hundred years -- the sexiest man and the most beautiful person has been ... a vampire.

George? Pffft. Brad? Come on! Jude? ...no.

Why isn’t it that Colin Ames-Beaumont hasn’t graced your cover? Is it simply because his picture cannot be taken? (He’s so beautiful a blank cover with just his name on it would make your readers drool.) Because he usually only comes out at night? (How is that different than Johnny Depp?) Because you think he hasn’t bared his assets for a Hollywood camera?

Are you afraid of his tainted blood? You shouldn’t be: one look will not send you to the Chaos realm, surrounded by flying dragons and the screams of the damned. Only Colin sees that realm when he looks into a mirror -- it will not trouble you. Is it the woman he’s falling in love with? Geeks need love, too, People Magazine -- a fact you have long overlooked (but that is another campaign to be won.)

Is it the fear that if you met him in a dark alley, the words "Oh my God you’re so beautiful!" would hardly be past your lips before he had you up against the wall for some hot sexing that you wouldn’t remember the next day?

No; none of those things are true impediments to being called "the sexiest" or "the most beautiful". I think the problem is that you’ve been stuck on one pesky little word in the "Sexiest Man" title: Alive.

But there are those of us -- readers and authors, geeks and norms -- who know that Undead can be just as sexy as Living. And we’ve got hundreds of paranormal romances to prove it.

So I’m beginning my campaign to get a vampire on the cover of your magazine. To no longer be forced to stare longingly at men who can’t read my mind. Men who can’t use a sword. Men who can’t wear satin-lined capes and look good doing it. I’m calling for all readers, living and undead, to fight for vampire equality.

And I’m nominating Colin Ames-Beaumont to the be first representative of the "Sexiest Man Alive (and Undead)" for 2007. What separates him from other vampire romance heroes, you wonder? He’s strong, as they are. He sucks blood, as they do. He’s got out-of-control sexual appeal, as they do. But there is one thing, People Magazine, that makes Colin stand out from the rest of the vampire heroes.

Colin ... is blond.

But do not take my word for it; judge for yourself. And because he is cursed, unable to see his reflection or to have any pictures taken, the only proof I can offer is in Demon Moon. The book cover cannot do him justice -- you must look inside. Want a peek? The first four chapters are here. Or you can buy it at Amazon (it is available June 5 in stores everywhere).

Sincerely,
Meljean Brook

Living and Undead Readers for Vampire Equality

Join the L.U.R.V.E. Train - Because vampires are beautiful people, too.

(Want to join the L.U.R.V.E. Train? Nominate your own vampire, win books and Amazon gift certificates? Climb aboard here.)

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A Laugh, Magic, and RWA

Wanna laugh your ass off? Then go to Paul Guyot’s post on his blog at Crimespace. He posted the funniest damn story, involving Barry Eisler, Joe Konrath, Laura Lippman, Robert Gregory Browne, and many others.

I haven’t laughed that much in awhile.

I don’t have much to blog about, so I’m going to answer a few comments here. A few days ago, Stewart casually asked (as if it were a simple question like, do you like bananas?):

"Do you believe in magic? Crowley defined magick as the imposition of one’s will on nature. Interesting, that. But do you believe in tapping something metaphysical and somehow bending it or drawing from it to bring about a benefit or wrong? It’s amazing how many people I know who would answer to the affirmative, or answer to the negative, but with a tone of uncertainty."

I believe in the power of belief, more than anything. I don’t believe in Crowley’s definition of magic, but I do believe in magic. I do believe in tapping into an energy in the universe, like one would use the winds when sailing. I also believe in consequences of doing that. And finally, I believe in destiny, and that life is easier when you sail with the winds of destiny, and not against them. Oh, I forgot. I also believe in luck, bigtime.

So what about you (plural, not just Stewart, LOL)? Do you believe in magic? Do you believe in destiny?

In my PAN vs. PRO vs. WTF post, Lori G. Armstrong said:

The irony? I also write pure hot romance under a different name, Lorelei James. And my publishing house, Samhain, recently received RWA recognition, so I could apply for PAN under my pen name...

But like another person commented, if I do apply for PAN, they’ll probably change the damn rules and I’ll get kicked out again. I don’t need this aggravation for an organization who does nothing for me, besides make me feel like a loser because I’m not in their little "club." Give me MWA. I’ll spend my $90 elsewhere. And I know a ton of other writers who aren’t renewing dues to RWA for the same reasons I just listed.

Lori, thanks for the great comment! I totally hear you! It wasn’t until after I joined RWA, after having written and been selling for nearly four years, that I learned I wasn’t a "real writer." My local org is sweet, and they don’t make that distinction, but the National org?

That’s why it says "kinda-writer" up there on the right. How sad is that?

I just don’t see that the benefits of PAN/PRO (a pin?) are worth all the drama, hurt feelings, and anger that’s swirling around right now. It’s a professional organization, not a school. A ’leveling’ system isn’t inspiring in that setting; it’s more annoying. It seems cliquish

So, Lori, et al ... are you telling me that for all the money I’m spending on the National conference, there are workshops I can’t go to because I don’t have this stupid pin? Which ones?

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Rollover Addiction

I’ve been working on my website. It’s a ton of work!

I suspect I’d have it done by now, except time just seems to disappear when I work on the website, partly due to the fact that I seem to be obsessed with rolling over the navigation and links, and watching them change colors.

When I can’t figure something out, I do that for minutes upon minutes.

Quirk #23, I guess.

Do you have a weird, stupid, time-sucking addiction? If so, what is it?

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