Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Like Anita, I too bravely went out on Black Friday. Only, I went mid-day thinking it would have died down some.
It was still insane. In fact, why are the holidays so insane?
I would love for once to sit back, relax, and enjoy the holidays, but that never happens. Don't get me wrong, I love the holiday. Especially Christmas. But they are so much work! I do all the decorating, all the shopping, all the wrapping.... My hubby works and travels a lot, so it's pretty much left up to me. With four kids, all the free time he has is spent at one event or another, which is fine by me. That's where he should be.
But man....I want everything.
He always says you don't have to do so much. But I can't help it, I want all that. I just don't always want to be the one to do it. The boys cart all the boxes up, but that's about it. And my little Diva loves to help me, but she's so young it's not really a help. And I admit it, I am a perfectionist. So everything she does, I secretly go behind her anyway and fix it the way I want it :-)
I know, I am my own worst enemy.
I not only decorate, but my list for sending out Christmas cards is growing! And of course I have to do the picture card. That in and of itself is a nightmare. And the cookies....I HAVE to make cookies and decorate them with the kids. I won't even begin to describe the time and energy that takes along with the mess!!!!
All of this with a looming deadline! Tomorrow is December 1st and my book three, Trouble in the Tarot, is due on March 1st. I haven't even started it yet! Why do I keep doing this to myself? Probably because I thrive on chaos and seem to work best under pressure. Someday when the kids are gone I probably won't be able to write a word!
And just think, in a few short weeks, I'll have to take everything down and pack it away for the next year.
Last year we went to Florida to see my parents the day after Christmas. Now, that was insane. Had a blast, but trying to pack for a family of 6 on top of Christmas prep was not very merry! Never again...oh who am I kidding? If I could swing it this year, I probably would have gone again. Guess I'll have to wait until February.
Okay, back to decorating, shopping, wrapping and writing! Bring it on, people. Bring it on!
So what makes you thrive? Do you do better under pressure? What are your holidays like in your household?
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Monday, November 28, 2011
Please help me give a wonderful M & M welcome to my friend and fellow Book Cents Babe, Rochelle Staab. I met Rochelle at a conference a few years ago, and we quickly became fast friends. She's like the author you want to hate but can't. I like to tease her by saying she took one stinking class, wrote one book, finaled in the GH, got an agent and sold before you could say "helluva" author. There was a little more blood, sweat, and tears involved, but not much. Her talent quickly shot her right to the top. She's here today talking about her whirlwind month. ( I tried to warn her!)
Writing Through the Holidaze
Hi everyone! I’m so happy to be here with my friends at M&M, enjoying the post-Thanksgiving leftover afterglow, ready for the next four weeks of ho-ho-holy-cow-it’s-the-holidays.
The seasonal jollies blew into town this year like a hurricane, splattering every street, mall, lawn, and TV commercial with red, green, white, or blue (four colors I won’t be wearing between December 26 and February 1). Radio stations are chirping out nostalgic holiday songs to sing along with (until December 25 when The Little Drummer Boy will pound on my nerves). The world is filled with cheery promises of magic and good will.
I’m in! I’m decking the halls! Running up my gas bill with an oven churning out cookies and brownies! Wearing glitter to the market! It’s good! It’s happy! Pass the eggnog!
What? How’s the writing going? Um, make that spiked eggnog, please, and pass me a box of Kleenex. I, uh, need a plan. I have a red stocking filled with excuses for why I haven’t written a damn, novel-related word since October 28. Who Do, Voodoo? came out November 1 and I’ve been busy promoting. The launch was a success, but my internal editor is nagging in my ear, “Where’s the book that’s due next, sister?”
Since I’ve been making lists (gifts, groceries, decorations) for the past two weeks, I might as well make another one on how to get my draft completed. Here goes:
1. Drop a note to Santa. Easy. I can do that now: Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas is 50,000 new words by New Year’s Day. 2012. In order. I’ll help.
2. Set the timer for two hours of writing every morning before I check email or the news. Start tomorrow.
3. Get in a summery mood. My story is set in August. Baseball and bikinis anyone?
4. Write. Hah! Sounds easy, right? Inspiration, don’t fail me now.
5. Schedule small rewards that don’t involve going to the mall. Maybe a hot bubble bath for every ten pages written? A foot massage at the Chinese Massage Parlor on the corner when I reach the halfway mark?
6. Quit worrying. Think positive. Follow the plan.
I could edit the whole list down to “quit worrying and write” but I keep thinking there’s a trick to output volume I don’t know yet. You know, the Sooper Seekrit Shortcutz For Writing Under Pressure? And for the pre-published in the crowd—no slacking off for you, either. Writers write. Period. Get on the bandwagon, or in this case, the sleigh.
If you have a juicy tip for writing survival over the holidays, please leave a comment below. One lucky commenter will be chosen to win a copy of Who Do, Voodoo? (an excellent stocking stuffer, by the way!) US residents only.
A big hug and thank you to Liz Lipperman for inviting me to vent share here today. I wish you all a joyful and productive season. May all of your holiday dreams come true.
And remember—books make marvelous gifts!
Book Cents author Rochelle Staab, a former award-winning radio programmer and music industry marketing executive, blended her fascination with the supernatural and her love for mystery in Who Do, Voodoo? the first novel in her Mind for Murder Mystery series on Berkley Prime Crime. Bruja Brouhaha the second novel in the series will be released in August 2012. With the help of Santa and a good kitchen timer, she’s writing the third in the series now.
Find her at:
Friday, November 25, 2011
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Sunday, November 20, 2011
As you all know, Thanksgiving is the one day of the year dedicated to giving thanks. I don't know about you, but I consider myself especially blessed. Life has been good to me lately.
First, there is my family. Both kids and their spouses are healthy and doing well and have jobs they like. With the exception of an occasional cold and/or ear infection, all four grandkids are doing well, also. Hubby is retired but still consulting in the job he loves…one that takes him out of the house two days a week, for which I am especially grateful.
And me – – well, life is just good. I worried that my editor would hate my first book (the one she bought on proposal.) Turns out she loved it. Then I worried I would get bad reviews. Turns out I did get a few, but most of them were really good. The good news is that the bad ones didn't bother me as much as I thought they would. I've come to the realization that not everyone will like me and my writing. I'm okay with that – – at least for today.
But what I'm really grateful for is that I'm doing exactly what I love to do…and getting paid for it. How many people can say that about their job?
So I decided today I would find out what you all are grateful for. One lucky commenter will receive a free download of MORTAL DECEPTION, my Amazon book that for sure will come out this week. I've already heard from a reviewer who had so many good things to say about it, I almost blushed. I love this book, but it still surprises me that someone else loves it almost as much as I do.
Anyway, happy Thanksgiving week to everyone from all of us at Mysteries and Margaritas. Now, go comment for the free download and tell me what you will give thanks for on Thursday. If you don't win, check my website. I hope to have empty live by tomorrow.
Friday, November 18, 2011
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
We drove in on Thursday (you don't even want to know about the car ride! Talk about fun :-) and we used that day as a writer's retreat. Our room was awesome, and the window seat was more like a mini-room, so we named it the BC playpen!
Since this was our first mystery conference, we each took on an alias. I was Natasia, Barbie was Angelina, and Danielle was Svetlana. Trust me, people, we stayed in character the whole night :-)
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
Recognize him? It’s Barry Eisler, NY Times Best Seller who turned down a half a million dollar advance to self publish.
I know a lot of you out there are shaking your heads right now. Most of us will never see that kind of advance –or even make half of that in our entire writing careers. So, what could possibly have been going through his mind when he turned his nose up at the offer?
My guess would be that it's because we have choices. In today’s publishing world it’s no longer New York or bust. There are hundreds of reputable e-pubs (and some not so reputable) willing to take a chance on a manuscript that NY rejected for whatever reason. Did I say willing to take a chance--more like chomping at the bit. Thy can’t make money unless they have books, and with so many upstarts out there, chances are pretty good that we could all get a contract.
But is that always the way to go? Or is even a NY offer always the way to go?
That brings me back to the key word for today. CHOICES.
And what about self publishing. Are Barry and Joe Konrath and some of the others pioneering the way for us? Putting your work on Amazon yourself no longer carries the “failure” stigma that it used to. Hundreds of authors are jumping on that bandwagon with books that NY either doesn’t want or has no idea how to market. MORTAL DECEPTION will go up in the next few weeks (I know. I know. My saying that is getting old.) But trust me this time. I’ve got added incentive since a widely published reviewer read it and gushed. She wants to get the buzz going for the Chrismas holidays. How can I say no to that?
And as for Barry—well, he talked a good game about self publishing but in the end, he signed on the dotted line with Amazon. I can’t say I blame him. Self publishing is a lot of work. The moral of this story is that sometimes you have to make difficult choices to get ahead in this world. Same old-same old isn’t always the safest way. Will Barry’s decision be the right one? Only time will tell, and a lot of us will be watching, but I am so excited because of all the choices authors have today that I had to tell his story.
The picture is from the New England Crime Bake where he was a keynote speaker. The conference wasn’t as crazy as last year, but it was fun. I met some really interesting people there and schmoozed with the best of them. Here’s our favorite male version of a BC babe, Pete, who got an honorable mention in the Al Blanchard award this weekend. Yay, Pete! His biggest prize was being surrounded by all these adoring fans!
And then I met a really ugly guy with 2 cute chicks. More about them tomorrow, I’m sure.
And just when you think you have finally made the right choice, someone tempts you with another. An editor at the conference expressed interested in MORTAL DECEPTION. The problem is that even if she loved it and bought it, it wouldn’t be released until 2013. I’ve never been a patient woman. So, look for it in the next few weeks when it will go on sale until after Christmas.
Did I make the right decision? Tell me what you think about all these choices.
Friday, November 11, 2011
Thursday, November 10, 2011
The past several days have been crazy, with Embrace’s release and my blog tour, a birthday party Friday night with 15 eleven-year olds going full force, a football party Saturday night, a family outing on Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah National Park on Sunday, and now I have some wonderful news to add to my zany week. My agent just sold my paranormal relic hunter series to Amazon Publishing, a four book deal! No warriors this time, but lots of mystery, tension, and relics. Think Indiana Jones meets Stephanie Plum, with a National Treasure flavor thrown in for good measure. I’m really looking forward to this new series.
Embrace is doing very well. It’s on some of Amazon’s best seller lists and most importantly, I’m hearing from readers who love the book. Reviewers as well, and the wonderful thing is, almost all of them loved Awaken but think Embrace is even better. What more could an author ask for? That’s always a worry with a new series. What if the book was just a one hit wonder? So that’s a relief.
Here’s another excerpt to whet your whistle.
Cody gripped his sword and stepped lightly on the forest floor, ears tuned for any sound that didn’t belong. He sniffed, eyes searching the shadows. Something was there; he could feel it. A soft laugh whispered through the trees. He whirled. A man materialized a few yards away, watching him with red eyes. He smiled, and sharp teeth flashed in the dark. Fangs. A vampire! What the hell was it doing here? Before Cody could lift his sword, the man rushed at him like a streak, moving so fast Cody couldn’t track it.
He learned in the battle at Druan’s castle that the only sure way to kill a vampire was beheading or a direct stab through the heart. Talismans didn’t work on them. He swung his sword as the thing zoomed past, but he missed. Whirling, it came back. Just as it slammed Cody to the ground, it went solid again, with fangs an inch long, hitting Cody like a semitruck. He rolled to his feet, grabbed his fallen sword, and braced for the next attack. This time when it struck, he was ready. As he fell, he thrust his sword upward, into its heart. The creature turned to dust in mid-air, particles settling all around him.
Hisses filled the air as more creatures emerged from the trees. They stood out of sword’s reach, their fangs bared. Cody searched out where each one stood, identifying the leader, who stood a little apart from the others, his stance cockier, more sure. When one of the others came at Cody, he turned aside and drove his sword into the leader’s heart. The others hissed and looked at each other. They hadn’t expected him to take the offensive when he was so outnumbered, but he was used to fighting against the odds.
They came at him like bullets, nothing but a blur, until they slowed. He swung left and drove his sword into what he hoped was the thing’s heart, and dust rained down, covering his sword. Two of them hit him at once, flinging him in the air like a rag doll. His bones felt like they shattered, but he clung to his sword. They came at him again, and he rolled painfully to his feet, his blade catching another one in the neck. The swing wasn’t strong enough. The vampire screeched and kept going. If he could just see the bloody things. Cody ducked as another one attacked and then swung harder, finishing off the one he missed. He was tiring, but he had to kill them all before they discovered Shay.
Two were left, but they kept attacking so close together that he couldn’t strike them both. He waited for the first to attack. Using the side of a tree to spring clear, he flipped through the air, leveling his blade at what he thought was its neck. It disappeared, leaving only one.
“Come on, you bastard.”
The vampire stood fifty feet away in human form. He turned his head, looking at the path leading to the cabin, and Cody followed his gaze. Shay stood there, her face pale, eyes wide with shock.
“We’ve found you at last,” the vampire said.
Cody’s blood felt like shards of ice.
“We?” Shay asked, her voice strong. “You’re the only one left.”
The vampire grinned. “Too bad I can’t have a taste of you. The feisty ones are always better. I’ll have to settle for him.” Its fangs lengthened. “No one cares about him.”
Shay’s face darkened; her back straightened; her shoulders squared. “I care about him.”
The vampire turned and streaked toward Cody. Shay ran after the vampire, moving just as fast. She tackled it, and they both rolled into the trees, a mix of swirling colors. Cody stood rooted in place, his mouth hanging open. What the hell? Pushing away his shock, he ran after her. How was she doing that?
The vampire looked as stunned as Cody felt. It attacked again, catching Cody off guard, slamming him into a tree. Through the thick fog pushing at the edges of Cody’s brain, he registered several things at once. The vampire rushing at him, and Shay, farther away, scooping up a stick and running after the vampire. No, what she did was faster than running. She streaked after the vampire, driving the stick right into the middle of it. It went solid, its fangs elongated, red eyes wide with shock. The vampire disintegrated, but Shay kept coming, moving too fast to stop. She hit the ground and rolled, her stick driven deep into the earth, vibrating, four inches from Cody’s face.
Some of the M&M gals are leaving today for Crime Bake. I wish I was going with them, but maybe next year. I hope you all have a blast! In the meantime, I’m on my blog tour. Here’s a list of the places you can find me the rest of the month. There are giveaways at each.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Tomorrow morning I hit the road with my favorite CP's Barbie Jo Mahoney and Danielle LaBue.
Where are we headed you ask....
To the Crime Bake in Boston!
This will be our very first mystery conference ever. We've been to plenty of romance conference, but never mystery ones. I figured it's about time we met the people in our world. There will be plenty of workshops and guest speakers and even a fun banquet Saturday night.
You KNOW I'll be taking lots of pictures to share on Kari's Kave next Wednesday....
I still have so much to do today.
Get hair cut and colored.....check!
Do everyone's laundry.....check!
Run to grocery store....check!
Make homemade sauce and meatballs....check!
Lose my mind.....already there :-)
Still.....Thelma and Louisies are hitting the road come sunup...no matter what!
Anyone else going to Crime Bake?
What are you favorite mystery conferences and why?
I want to go to Malice Domestic this April. I've heard that is a great conference for people who write Cozy Mysteries. I will do that for sure if I don't win Best Amateur Sleuth of 2011. If I DO happen to win that amazing award, then I will go to the RT Convention in Chicago in April instead. I'm just still so thrilled and stunned to have even been nominated with all the awesome cozy mysteries that came out this year.
Okay, so much to do and NO time.....stay tuned for next week when I come back with all the mystery scoop and plenty of pics to share :-)
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Monday, November 7, 2011
Please help me welcome my friend and fellow author, Vicki Batman, to M & M this morning. Vicki's going to tell us about a really great project she was a part of and some lucky commenter will receive a free download of Lavender Dreams.
Boing!!! Writing Magic?
Since I write so many short stories, I'm frequently asked where the ideas come from. It's like magic!
Honestly, I do have the boing?!! moments, and the story just about writes itself.
One time, I looked at Handsome's ties and went boing!!! But that doesn't happen often.
Sometimes, I sit my butt in the chair, and say, "I'm going to write about blank." That's hard work.
I have had stories develop from journaling. I don't really journal in a memoir style. I open the doc labeled journal, type in the date, and let loose. Usually, a good rant and rave. (I'd advise Handsome not to read this.)
I have written stories based on an essay. In particular, I might have an incident I want to memorialize. I'll write the whole thing in a storytelling style, and occasionally, revisit the story to see what I've done.
This is how I came up with the idea for "Taking Flight," my short fiction piece based on fact, for the MuseIt Up Publishing's cancer anthology, Lavender Dreams. A year prior to a very dear friend's passing from cancer, we had experienced something momentous in our Jazzercise class, and I felt compelled to remember the event in the method as described above.
I'm not a plotter; mostly, a pantser. I have an idea (or a boing!!! moment), and take off from there. And I have an idea of how the story will end (after all, romance is a happily ever after). Then I layer and layer. I like Liz's term Plotter + Pantster = Plotster.
Denying the true aha! flashes would be denying pure creativity, in my opinion. For example, if I'm writing along, and a word appears in my head, that word is almost certain to be better than the one on the paper. I make the change. Or I might bedoing something, and I hear a piece of dialogue. I scribble on whatever is handy, and insert the lines in my work. Those are better too.
Does creativity come knocking on your head? What do you do when it does? Do you listen?
Here's a tiny excerpt from "Taking Flight," my short story feature in MuseIt Up Publishing's cancer anthology, Lavender Dreams.
Charley tilted her head. “Oh my God. Look at the butterflies.”
This definitely wasn’t ordinary. Forgetting about class, we raced to the door, only to be stunned by what we saw when we got there. There were hundreds, thousands, maybe even a bazillion, orange and black butterflies.
The monarchs were migrating.
In my lifetime, I’d only heard about their migration; I hadn’t seen it anywhere.
Simultaneously, Charley and I shared a “Wow.”
This was no ordinary thing.
Something compelled me to venture outside and truly experience what was happening there. To see where they traveled, what they’d do, to just watch.
I grabbed Charley's hand and whispered, "Let's go."
Vicki Batman is kicking back and letting the words flow on a new short story. Find her at: http://plottingprincesses.blogspot.com Or at: http://vickibatman.blogspot.com. Lavender Dreams is available at: http://museituppublishing.com