Thursday, January 31, 2008

Writing life

This writing business has a real plus that I don't see mentioned a lot. Writers support each other with incredible generosity. I don't know any serious writers who aren't enthusiastic readers.

One of the thing which worries me about writing romance is how unthrilled I am with some of the best sellers in the genre. While I can admire great craft and talent their story choices leave me indifferent. My romance favorites are still striving for mainstream recognition. Another worry is the standard advice, which runs 'write what you love to read'. That doesn't work for me for a couple of reasons.

Number one, I have favorites in virtually every genre. And no, I do not think I should write everything.

Number two, I admire most those with talents I don't possess.

I deliberately do not read romantic suspense or erotica when I'm writing. My TBR shelves are heavily weighted with historical romances, light contemporary romance, non-romance titles, classics, and all time favorites slated for rereading. There are some erotic, and a few romantic suspense, titles but even combined they are the smallest selection.

I write erotic, I write mystery, I write suspense, and I write dark. I've been fortunate enough to connect with a publisher willing to take a chance on one of my stories and even luckier to find readers devouring the first Dangerous book.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Writing life

Earlier today I got an email from a publisher. The note was encouraging and pleasant. Paraphrasing slightly here's the gist.

Dear Author,

We received your story proposal and it shows real promise. We're definitely interested and will be in touch. Unfortunately, we are a little behind, but you'll definitely hear from us within the next year or so.

Best wishes for your writing success,

Your Editor

All of which is no help at all when I think about what to work on next.

As the day went on I surfed over to the New Concept loop. There was a housekeeping letter to all authors explaining policy and procedure issues. Amidst the answers to a host of newbie questions was this little tidbit--the publishing schedule for 2008 is nearly full.

That single phrase made me want to wail, "already?" But wait, maybe nearly full really means except for this book from Evanne, which we haven't had a chance to read but we know we're going to love it.

I need to get out more.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Real life

Louie brought in a rat the other night. This doesn't qualify as news around here. Louie, a handsome marmalade cat, has always been a keen sportsman. I find the bodies of wee hummingbirds and sweet song singers much more distressing than those of mangled rodents. The biggest thing he's drug home to date was a baby possum--but that's another story.

Back to the latest rat escapade. Unfortunately, the most recent prize was not dead. Not even seriously injured. It's chilly outside and Louie might well have decided a spot of indoor sport was just the thing. He doesn't talk much about his motivations--more a man of action.

I have no idea when he brought in the rat. Ignorance really is bliss in these cases. However, ignorance left, and so did any semblance of bliss, a few nights ago when I wandered out to the kitchen after dark to get a drink of water. I flipped on the light and startled the marauding rat on his way across the cooktop. He scrambled for the back of the fridge. I tore down the hall, setting a new indoor speed record at chez Lorraine, snatched Louie from his happy nap time and tossed him onto the range (it was completely cold) where the fat bottom and creepy hairless tail could still be seen as the rat struggled to wedge himself behind the fridge. Louie refused to even look at the vermin, yawning and protesting about the discomfort of the glass cooktop. The rat disappeared and I let Louie down with stern words about his slipshod methods of dealing with invaders.

Louie stalked off, clearly offended, flinging a snide "whatever" over his right shoulder. This was in the form of a meow, but I knew what he meant. Katie, the over-grown puppy, arrived fresh from her after dinner nap bounced up and down a few times and sniffed meaningfully at the bottom of the fridge, whining softly. Hard to tell, but I think she wanted the rat to come out for a nice game of chase. The rat declined. For all intents, the refrigerator is immovable. Eventually, we all went to bed and forgot about the rat.

The following morning the rat was crouched on top of the microwave having a bit of breakfast he'd salvaged from the garbage disposal. Again, I raced down the hall and yanked Louie from his slumbers and dumped his fat butt rudely on the kitchen counter. This time he spotted the rat, who promptly disappeared behind the microwave. Hastily, I moved the coffee pot to the sink and pulled the microwave away from the wall to give Louie room to work.

The cat loomed toward the cowering rodent, powerful rear haunches bunched, tail twitching, making Kung-fu sounds deep in his throat. The rat, obviously sensing impending doom, leapt to the top of the microwave and then launched himself across the kitchen. Touching down lightly on the dining room table before executing another amazing jump and vanishing behind the stereo cabinet. Louie streaked past me, screeched to halt, and then huddled down in stakeout position.

Of course, the commotion woke the puppy. She trotted out, and then butted Louie playfully with her nose. He made grumbling sounds that translated "go away kid, you're bothering me." But since this is what he always says, she doesn't pay attention, continuing to nudge him. The cat gave up on his sentry duties and meandered over to his dishes for a bite of breakfast.

That was the last rat sighting. This morning two pictures, out of the dozen on the fireplace mantle, lay on the tiles--glass shards everywhere. Evidence the rat moved south and was likely lurking behind a bookcase.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Writing life

Dangerous Surrender continues to climb the best selling erotica list at Fictionwise. This morning it's number fifteen and number three on the best rated list. Woo hoo! A huge thank you to my readers!

I'm between writing projects at the moment, so now is the perfect time to comment on what stories you'd like to see in the future. I promise to listen.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Writing life

Still on the Fictionwise Erotica best seller list (number 22 this morning) and one of the top rated books (number two) Yea! Yes, it is shallow and silly but I'm thrilled--it's my first book!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Writing life

It's official, I'm completely shallow and obsessed with my sales. I check Fictionwise before I check my bank balance. Sad. But I'm number twenty one on the erotica best sellers list! Yes, yes I understand this is small potatoes and that most of the mass market titles don't do especially well as e-books. But still. It means people are buying and presumably reading Dangerous Surrender and that's a huge thrill.

Having honest-to-god readers enjoy my stories is the dream. More than getting paid for writing, more than any award, more than the sales numbers. Those other things are just sign posts that people are reading the book.

Once in awhile someone asks me about how to get published (it's a common dream folks). I'm honored but I feel inadequate to answer their questions. There are agent and industry blogs that have lots of worthwhile advice. However, I suspect no two writers tread the same path to publication. I spent time thinking about what result I wanted from my writing and what I was willing to invest (in terms of time and money) to achieve that result.

The goal I finally articulated is both wildly ambitious and modest. I want to write stories that touch people. I want to entertain and empower and enlighten along the way because I think that is how to achieve that lofty end result.

In a week I'm going cold turkey--giving up the Internet for eleven days. Maybe I'll get a grip on reality and be well-behaved after the break with the cyber world. More likely I'll transfer my obsessive behavior to something else.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Writing life

I don't know why I bother making plans. Because I never stick to them. Just the other day, I promised myself no new writing projects this year. There's already plenty to do. And it's not as if I have a great excuse--like an editor saying I love this--can you do another one like it?

What has happened is I'm between projects--I could work on one of the WIP manuscripts. But it takes time to get into a story world, does me anyway. I only have a week. What I can do in a week is plot a story, create the first layer of the characters who tell that story, craft a setting that serves both the plot and the characters. And this is one of my favorite things to do....

So weak-willed, for the minute I've talked myself out of playing with a shiny new story. If I get my chores done I can tinker with one of the already started projects. At least I'll get my writing fix.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Writing life

Dangerous Surrender is available at Fictionwise. Just in case you're feeling the need for instant gratification. That is the great thing about ebooks and emusic--you want it? Click and it's yours!

For the more patient readers it is scheduled to be released in print in May! Exciting stuff.

Meanwhile, I'm back to pretending to be patient while I wait to hear back on my five submissions (one from last year, sigh) including the full for Dangerous Rescue, book two in the Dangerous series. Keeping my fingers crossed more or less permanently.

I entered two contests and am considering a third. Yes, I do count those as submissions. Aside from the disturbing trend in editorial requirements which I'm not ranting about today, contests generally announce results much faster than the traditional submission process. Gotta love the fast answer.

So while I'm admiring Dangerous Surrender's ranking at Fictionwise (twenty five on the erotica best sellers this morning), reading contest requirements, and updating my submission tracker with the fourth entry this year I'm not getting any writing done.

I'm considering the RWA national convention this year--it's in San Francisco. I'd love to go but the travel budget is already depleted--I have until June, maybe royalty income will kick in before then. Lovely thought.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Writing life

In a little bit I will finish up my second cup of coffee and the Instant Seduction contest entry. For me a contest entry is a writing exercise. Will it turn into a real book? Possibly someday or it might become a novella. I will probably find another small writing assignment to play with until February. Or perhaps I will simply wallow in books and practice French for the next two weeks.

Surfing about, I noticed a disturbing romance publishing trend, an Alpha male hero requirement. Personally, I have no problem with Alpha heroes. I wouldn't be a Presents fan if I did. But, and it is an important but, I do not want to read only one kind of story over and over and over again. Heck, I don't even stick to a genre. I read thrillers, mysteries, literary fiction, poetry, classics, humor, and lots of nonfiction. And what's more, I don't think I'm alone in my broad range of printed entertainment. One of the things writers have in common is their love of reading.

Back to the Alpha trend I find disturbing. Making a certain personality type an editorial story requirement seems counterproductive. Publishing is a business. Businesses want to succeed. Success is based on whole host of complicated factors but it starts with giving the customer what they want. Easy-peasy right? Set up a focus group, do polls, pay attention to which items in your product line move the best. All good, sensible, and proven marketing strategies. And if the publisher lives by them alone they guarantee mediocrity and eventual failure. Because it is the exception that makes the breakout best seller. It is the rule breaker that sets the world on fire and brings commercial success to its backers. Was Harry Potter on the list of proven track record stories? No. Some wild-eyed publisher took a chance.

After a steady production of nothing other than say Alpha vampire heroes for a year or so I can predict a decline in book sales with total confidence. Said decline followed by the amazing sensational success of a new renegade romance story featuring a laid back blonde beach bum hero or an equally unlikely protagonist.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Geeky writer-ness

Yesterday, I didn't write. A non-writing day is a novelty for me. But I'm resting my over-worked head for a few days before finishing up the Instant Seduction entry. So what did I do with all those hours I usually write?

Read. What else? It is cold and wet outside. I'm re-reading Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott. If you've never read it, you're missing a wonderful book. It's about writing and life and is wise and funny.

I also read a few chapters of friend's first draft and loved that too. He put the links to his first chapters on the web.

Then to round out my reading I opened up Linda Winfree's What Mattered Most

I'm not done with the book yet. However, I am hooked. To the extent that I hesitate buying another of her titles, what if it's not as good?

When I googled myself, yeah I know but it's good clean geeky fun, I found Dangerous Surrender is now available at Fictionwise.

It's classified as an erotica, I've decided I'm okay with that designation. It is however, an erotic suspense, there is violence in addition to sex and graphic language.

Friday, January 18, 2008


I've been polishing and submitting for a couple of weeks now--not done either. I have the current project to wrap up tonight, and then the entry for Harlequin's Instant Seduction contest.

Yeah, I do know it's likely a pointless exercise. But I do not regard writing good stories as a waste of time whether or not they find instant favor with a particular editor on any given day. Besides, this is the third time I've entered a Harlequin contest, maybe I've learned something!

Anyway, my mind is crumbling from trying to hold too many different story strands in too short a period of time.

I find myself sitting and staring blankly as happens when I'm in overload mode. I ponder the time difference between Seattle and Paris. Going, I think I lose eight hours and returning I gain the same amount of time. Sometimes I can't think of single word of French other times French is only the language in my head--not a lot of help if you're trying to write in English.

Then I wonder about other things, like why so many of my favorite writers are in Texas. Not all of course, waving to my California friends, and there are some lovely writers right here in the Pacific Northwest. But there is something about Texas . . . .

Back to inserting just a tiny bit more of my heroine's past into the current story.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Packing problems

So I'm going to France and Germany next month and I'm worried about a couple of conflicting problems--lifting my bag and having enough good books. Yes, I did succumb to the lure of ipod and a few audio titles--all marvelously light weight. But what if the battery goes or I simply get tired of having those ear bud things in all the time?

I figure two print books (paperback of course) are the ideal solution. But which two? The ideal choice is thoroughly entertaining but not a keeper. This rules out anything from the re-read shelves and gives me carte blanche to purchase a couple of new books. However, it is no help narrowing down the titles.

Any recommendations?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Writng and Real Life

One of the things that continually surprises me is how quickly time disappears when I’m not writing. Hush! I can hear all those virtual gasps. It’s true--I do take a day off now and then. In fact, the balance between work and play is something I’m trying to fine tune.

In an effort to become a more reasonable person, an important goal for the self-employed, when I thought about this year’s writing goals I tried for moderation. This was the first time the goal setting process included estimates for research, revision, polishing, and plotting. It’s not that I haven’t done all of those things--I’ve just never allow any time for them. This year I did.

The downside is no new projects for me this year. And it’s only January!

The good news is: five projects will be ready to market this year. There’ll be time for those all important editorial revisions, in depth research, polishing, and my personal favorite--plotting. To say nothing of the soul enriching benefits of a reasonably clean house, mowed yard, healthy meals, dog walks, and reading time.

I’ll keep you posted on how well my new reasonable life plan works.

Just for fun I looked up last year's goals.

Current year's goals

1) Study characterization to add depth to the story's cast
2) Three submissions
3) In roads in the TBR shelves

Seemed like a lot at the time!

Here's how it went:

1) Study characterization--you betcha (but studying is never done)
2) Six submissions--(one sale, one still pending, some great feedback)
3) Made serious progress with the TBR shelves (I'm allowed to buy new books)

Saturday, January 12, 2008


A friend asked about where a particular book of mine was set. The question made me think about settings. I love choosing a setting, researching the area, and picking the details that enrich the story. In fact, setting can be a distraction for me. There's a fine line between enough to keep the reader grounded and an enhanced mood for the tale and my getting lost in an unrealized story world.

There's always a story running in my head. That's what got me into the writing business. But there's a world of difference between the stories in my mind and the ones on paper. For one thing, and you're just going to have to trust me on this, the tales inside are brilliant. Truly, the characters are vivid, lovable, so real that you ache for them. The plots are flawless. The dialogue sings. And the settings? Perfect, authentic, moody--like the best movie you've ever seen. Getting this perfection on paper? Impossible. Never gonna happen. All I aim for is to get closer.

Part of the problem is translating the lavish feast of all the senses that exists in my imagination into words. The rest of the problem is me and my blind spots, weaknesses, and less than masterful command of storytelling tools. Topped off by the frustration caused by the gap between the vision and the book one paper.

Storytelling is part magic, sometimes the incantations work better than others. But once hooked on the practice, the writer must continue.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Got goals setting covered. Now for what I do need, a balance between work and play. Why? Because without balance even passion becomes dissipated.

I need time for: reading good books, listening to music, playing with the puppy, exercising, socializing, creating beauty, laughing, cleaning, organizing, and obsessing to my nerdy little heart's content. Quite literally.

Having a single track mind, I've found that I can only live in one story world at a time. In short, I'm not capable of creating a new story, plotting another, and revising a third. Bummer. I thought that would be a real efficient use of time. Maybe it would, for for a more compartmentalized brain, but not for me.

Reality is a good thing to connect with now and then. With all this in mind, I'm still aiming for six submissions again this year. Some of them are ready to go (two), some are darn close (two), and some aren't (two) but hey its only January. If I got ahead of the game, one more (novella) would be great.

Now comes the really ambitious part, I'd like to have three releases this year. I'm not in charge of releases. All I can do is write the best stories I'm capable of and submit them. There are lots of writers and few publishers--logistics alone disctate most manuscripts must be rejected.

Better get busy on my end. Two of those submissions are happening this month!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Goal Setting

Over the weekend I went to a goal setting workshop. Now this is like an alcoholic joining a wine tasting. There's nothing I need less than a discussion about formulating and achieving goals. But just like a man with nineteen watches doesn't need a twentieth watch, it is a good bet if he has that many watches then he lusts after at least one more. Thus it is with me attending a goal setting workshop.

Here's are the items that resonated with me:

Writing your goals down makes them more likely to be achieved. Check.

Connecting with your passion(s) keeps you motivated. Check

Luck is when opportunity meets preparation. Check

Don't ask why--ask how. Check

Use your fears to expand your boundaries. Check

Use envy to learn about your desires. Check

The class was intended for writers, but the same principles apply to any kind of achievement.


I was thinking about football and that I really don't care to watch it. Why? Because I like to participate more than I like to watch. There's no chance of that happening with professional football. Perhaps, if I worked for an owner or was related to one of the players then I'd have enough invested to make the outcome interesting.

There are always exceptions to my rules. I've been working on a story involving voyeurism and exhibitionism and rule breaking. In my limited experience, men like watching--a strip tease for example. While women enjoying performing more than watching.

But I'm only one person. I'd to love your thoughts on watching versus performing. Do you have a preference? Are both exciting? Neither?
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