Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Oh Mon Dieu!

So, I'm working the aftercare program at school (glorified babysitting). One day, the other ladies and I sat around talking about the clubs we're offering the students. I noticed that we have foreign language club listed, but we don't have an actual teacher for this. The ladies and I start talking about the languages we took in high school and college and how we hardly remember much of them. Without a true gift for languages, the five years of French I took have virtually disappeared from my brain. We continued talking and thought maybe we could set it up so the kids learned simple information in a few different languages. I casually mentioned that I've been trying to pick up my study of French for some years now but just haven't actually gone and done it. End of discussion. End of workday. I happily went home to interview my hero and watch TV.

Well, somehow the boss of the aftercare program must've thought I seriously wanted to TEACH FRENCH. The next day when we were talking about the club again, she informed me that I would only have to teach 2 weeks in a row (one hour a week) and it would be every few weeks. I guess there was some kind of look on my face akin to horror because someone added, "It'll be easy. We just have to download lesson plans." We can just teach them colors, numbers, simple phrases, they reassured me.

Are they nuts? Have either of them ever had to prepare lessons? Where would I find the time to download lesson plans and make fun lessons for an after school club? Didn't I have enough to do with my 3 Language Arts classes, 1 Science class, 3 sets of Big Buddies to organize, a test taking class to prepare, a book fair to organize and award winning manuscripts to write? Oh yeah, I did want to try and have a life this school year too.

But after a while, I started thinking about this. I've been wanting to pick up my study of French for years. Plus, it'll look good on my resume, especially since I hope to someday be working with English Language Learners on a regular basis. The kids that will be in the club will most likely be excited and that will inspire me. So, I guess it won't be so bad after all. A bientot!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

What's In A Name?

A lot. I've decided that Under Cover of Darkness isn't right. I liked it originally, but now it just doesn't sit well. I feel like it's too long and it's not dramatic enough. So, as I'm resurrecting the current book of my heart, I'll search for a new name.

Today was productive. The villain revealed some exciting information to me that will change the whole direction and feel of the book. I've started brainstorming (with the help of my Kiss of Death chaptermates) the hero's motives. It's awesome. I can't remember getting into this much detail of a character's backstory. This was probably part of the problem with my in-between manuscripts. I already feel like I know more about my hero than I ever did while writing the 317 pages that made up the story until last night. Since I'd been targeting Bombshell (heroine driven stories), I already know a lot about my heroine. Still, I look forward to uncovering more of her personality and motives.

A happy birthday goes out to my best friend, Nancy, and to another friend, Emily McKay! I hope you both had a chance to have some fun and spend some time with people who love you.

Friday, August 26, 2005

And Away We Go!

I searched through the manuscript, found the things that I loved and that my characters insisted I keep. Then I cut the rest. 55 pages. Gone. (Okay, only in another scrap file.) What a relief it was getting rid of those pages! It literally felt like a weight was being lifted off my shoulders. Seriously, and I know this is going to sound ridiculous, my heart even felt lighter! When I got finished cutting, I was surprised that I still had 266 pages. I can definitely work with that. It's been gutted and the result is the bones of a story that I can once again love and, most importantly, enjoy writing.

Rejection #34

Yes, it's true. After 4 months I received a rejection from an agent for UCOD. And quite honestly, I could care less. The book's not done anyway. I've got a buttload of revisions to do. And the manner of the rejection made me wonder why I'd want to do business with these people in the first place. I sent a SASE envelope and a slip of paper for them to send me when it was received at the office. (For some strange reason I've never done the postcard thing.) They mailed my rejection back in that. What about my partial???? I did not say they could recycle the manuscript pages. I sent a bigger envelope for returning that too. THEN, on the actual letter, it says "Dear Author" with my name written above author and nobody bothered to sign it. Hey, they could've had someone from the cleaning crew sign it with the agent's name. How would I know the difference? But they could've at least had someone, anyone sign it.

The good news? In my quest to write at least one line a day, yesterday I actually wrote 13 lines! A few of them were even worth keeping. I also started going through UCOD again and accepted the fact that I have some heavy duty revisions to do. But, I decided to take it one chapter at a time. During this plotting and planning, I ended up writing to a few people about my dilemma concerning single title vs category. Those who responded said basically the same thing: write the book the way it needs to be written, the way I need it to be written.

I'd thought that Bombshell was exactly where I wanted to be. I realize now, it isn't. I love Bombshell books and can't imagine a month without them, but I'm not a Bombshell writer. As much as I want to be, I can't be. Last year, I thought I wrote heroine driven stories with little romance. After soul searching and struggling to find my place, I realize that I like a little more romance than the Bombshells I've read include. I have plots that span over 3 and 4 books with the characters wandering through revolving doors. I want darker characters and grittier suspense scenes. In short, I want to go back to single title.

When REBEL HART won the Wisconsin Fab Five contest in 2003, it was a single title story. When the editor requested the full, it became a category. Because that editor kept encouraging me, I kept writing categories. The bottom line, they sucked. You know it's bad when you can't even remember the title or what the heroines of those in between books look like. I've been desperate to keep in contact with that editor because she has been such a help, but that connection won't mean a thing if I'm not writing the books the way they need to be told. As a good friend pointed out, I haven't had a spark of enthusiasm for my characters and my writing since REBEL HART. Yes, I've loved the heroes and some of the scenes of those in between books, but the magic has been missing.

When I got home from work today, my plan was to watch two movies with the actor that inspired my REBEL HART and UCOD heroes and then work on the book all weekend. For the first time last night, I got really excited about my story. I'm brainstorming specifics and I'm prepared to cut scenes that I absolutely love if they dont fit the story. After I finished dinner and started hunting for the movies, I actually stopped myself. I wanted to get right to work. I WANTED to get back to my manuscript. That feeling has been missing for so long, I almost cried when it returned. So, now I'm off to wave the wand and see what magical feats I can accomplish tonight.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Yay! I'm On My Way!

Sorta. Since Michelle dared me to try and write one sentence a day, I knew I just had to rise to that challenge. And today I wrote the first new material in over a month. Granted it was only 5 lines, but after I scribbled that down while watching TV I went back to plotting, planning and trying to plug plot holes in my current WIP. Oh, and the plotting I did? On book #4, 3 couples away from my current couple. Don't matta! I know that I'll get back into even more of this writing business when I get home from work tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

No, Not Yet

Tuesday night has come and almost gone and still I've written nothing. I've edited nothing. I've read nothing (except websites and mail). I'd like to blame it on my sadness over the death of Brock Peters, the actor who played Tom Robinson in the movie version of To Kill A Mockingbird (which is my all-time favorite book, I think). But, alas! I am in control of my own actions and I just chose not to work on my manuscripts. Again. For the 29th day in a row.

Perhaps tomorrow....

Monday, August 22, 2005


Okay, not even Rocky could get me motivated to get back to work. I want to get back to my story. I really, really, REALLY do. I just can't. This isn't some depression or block setting in either. It's just real life getting in the way. I'm working the aftercare program a few days a week from the time school gets out until 6. Basically, it's glorified babysitting. By the time I get home, clear out my e-mails and have a quick bite to eat I'm exhausted!

But tonight I started looking at contests again. (You know, instead of actually revising.) I did get a little crazy and decide to enter 4 in the next few months, but then reality bit me on the butt and asked who was paying for all these entries? Plus I've planned to go to the Austin RWA workshop in October with Eloisa James, Julie Kenner, Samantha Saxon, Kit Frazier and a couple of other people I can't remember right now. There's another chunk of precious teacher salary.

So, I decided to skip the September contest and enter 2 manuscripts in an October contest because the final judge for my category is someone I have good vibes about and who's in a house I would LOVE to be a part of. (Not that I know this person or anything about her, but still....) So the plan is this. I'll slowly get back into the writing while I polish up my October entries. Starting tomorrow night...

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Gonna Fly?

Got my Rocky soundtrack in the CD player. I'm listening to all the training songs from the movies. I figured this would inspire me to get back to work.

I'd wanted to spend a good chunk of my weekend on the WIP UCOD, but it hasn't happened yet. A bunch of errands, an oil change, swimming and cooking out with my step-brother's family and a few too many drinks....

Of course, today it was time to grade my first two sets of papers while I watched The Sand Pebbles. I love Steve McQueen movies! And then I got sidetracked by reading blogs and sending e-mails. Oh, but I did a good thing. I critiqued for Deb. Now if I could only get back to work on my own...

Oh, I went to the bookstore yesterday and ordered class sets of two books. I gave the guy the name of the first book (Crash by Spinelli) and then I said, "And There's a Boy in the Girls' Bathroom." The guy stopped typing and stared at me like I had five heads. I continued with, "It's by the same guy who wrote Holes."

"Oh!" he says. "I thought you were talking about our bathroom."

I don't really have much else to say today. I guess I'm just looking for a way to procrastinate. Of course, I could get started on UCOD. But, then is dinnertime...

As for writing, maybe later. I can just hit "Pause" on the Rocky soundtrack and listen to the inspirational chords later...

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Early Mornings Suck!

Two days I've been back in the classroom and I hate mornings. My body still believes it can stay up late and then that alarm screeches from across the room at the ungodly hour of 6 a.m. I just want to rip it out of the wall and hurl it across the room.

Other than that, I'm having a great start to the new school year. I love my homeroom class, and all three of my classes are filled with bright kids with so much potential. Of course, I'm still dealing with the whole middle school attitude thing, but I'm not worried.

No writing done (sorry to Nancy, Deb & Nic who keep asking for UCOD) since I got back from Nationals. No idea when I'll get back to it. I want to. Really, I do, but the paying job must come first. After all, what good will I be to my characters if I don't have the energy & strength to sit with my butt in the chair & type because I didn't eat enough? (Okay, that actually wouldn't happen, but you get the point.) Maybe this weekend...

I started reading a new book. Tess Mallory's Highland Fling. I bought it when she came to my Austin RWA chapter meeting a long time ago. Well, she came again this last meeting and I was about to buy another book of hers when I remembered I still hadn't opened this one. So, I came home and started it. And I really like it so far. I'm only reading a chapter or two a night since I don't get home until late and I'm exhausted when I do get in. And of course on the drive home today I got ANOTHER book idea! Although, for the life of me I can't remember it now. I just remember thinking that I had to put it on the back burner since I have 2 in the works, another being plotted and another I'm planning to look over and start submitting to agents. And then, there's the whole school thing.....

Monday, August 08, 2005

And The Beat Goes On...

Yippee! I just found out I won a drawing of a rare Suz Brockmann book! Apparently, everyone who went to the dinner with Suzanne Brockmann during Nationals and who ordered a copy of her new book was automatically entered into a drawing for Ladies' Man. I'd forgotten all about it until I got online tonight and found an e-mail telling me I'd won!

In other news...
I haven't written a THING since returning from Reno. Not because I've been down or feeling miserable over my latest rejection (after all, I'm only on rejection #33 in 6 years). Instead, I've been reading. I finished my 28th (EXPLOSIVE ALLIANCE by Catherine Mann), 29th (MIDNIGHT HERO by Diana Duncan) and 30th books of the year. THE NEXT ACCIDENT by Lisa Gardner was number 30. It was so intense that I decided I want to read a Scottish historical next just to calm my nerves!

Anyway, one of my critique partners hinted again about getting my current manuscript. She'll have to wait. They'll all have to wait. After spending all my free time reading last week, I now can't write because I'm back at work and the first month is always the most intense for me.

Today was the first day of staff development for some of us. I had a hard time getting up with the alarm this morning. Actually, I got up to reset it for a half hour later...twice. But, all in all it was a good day and I'm now getting excited about going back to school. I'm plotting and planning lessons and books to read. If you have any good kids' books you think every kid should read, please share titles with me! I'm all for introducing new titles to my classes or even just giving them some reading suggestions. I teach 5th, 6th & 7th. I picked up one book during my summer that I thought would be GREAT! I figured they'd all get a kick out of it. The title had something to do with not meaning to kill the English teacher. Then I started thumbing through it and thought twice about it...

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A New Day

Okay, so I was a little bit overdramatic last night. I'm so much better today. Yes, I'm still upset about the rejection, but not nearly as upset as I thought I'd be. I guess I'm on my way to developing that thick skin required for this crazy business. As I told my critique partners, my "I'll show them!" attitude did surface today.

So, I'm throwing myself back into the fray. Working on the UCOD rewrites, sorting out details and incorporating the editors comments into my writing. Making it the best book I can at this point in my career. I've given myself a deadline to finish the complete manuscript by September 1. That is more than enough time. I probably won't do much on the new one, RESISTANCE, until I'm back into the swing of school.

Speaking of school, are parents really that excited about kicking their kids out of the house and back into the halls of learning? Well, I wish people would keep their excitement to themselves! As a teacher, I don't think I'm really ready to go back yet! My summer isn't over. I still have precious, valuable time. So much to do, so many books to read, so many plots to plan.

Actually, I'm kind of easing myself back into the school thing. I went to work today, caught up with a few people, thought about going into my classroom. Didn't do it. Maybe tomorrow. Technically we don't have to be back until next Monday, but every year I end up spending a good chunk of time at the school the week before we have to be back. I just know for tonight I'm planning to read a 6th grade book and start thinking about activities and lessons. I have a buttload of kids' books to read, but of course all I want to read are the 101-thousand books I picked up at Nationals!

Monday, August 01, 2005

The Wait is Over

Silhouette rejection. After 10 months, I get a nice paragraph about all the manuscript's shortcomings. The worst thing about it? I thought for sure that I'd get a request for more material, but it just says "best of luck in your publishing endeavors." Back to square one in the middle of nowhere without a roadmap. Excuse me while I go be miserable and contemplate never writing again.

Home At Last!

Well, here I am sitting back in front of my own computer in Austin. I got back late last night from Reno. The RWA National Conference was great. I went to a few good workshops, hauled away a LOT of books, had just a few drinks and met lots of people. It was cool to meet the people I'd been e-mailing or blogging over the last few months. My all time favorite book of last year won a Rita and I was so excited! It was a Bombshell (big surprise there, right?). A.K.A. Goddess by Evelyn Vaughn. I got my picture taken with my all time favorite author, Suzanne Brockmann. Three pictures actually since in two of them I closed my eyes. BUT the third one came out great! (Yes, Nancy, I got a copy for you too!) I got to meet Julie Garwood, Jill Shalvis, Allison Brennan, Laura Iding who has been a HUGE help for me figuring out all the medical issues in my manuscripts. I know I'm leaving a bunch of things out, but my brain is still fried. I sat with Julie Kenner on the first leg of my flight back to Austin. That was pretty neat because we never seem to get much time to talk. Jenna Black, a woman who just sold a paranormal to Tor, sat on my other side. Then in Las Vegas I volunteered to give up my seat and take a later flight. I got a nice chunk of travel voucher change for it. How cool is that?

When I got in last night, I found a message from my neighbor. She picked up a package for me that was left outside the front door. Immediately my mind flew to a rejection. (No, I'm not a pessimist, but I'm not expecting any other packages.) I only hope that it's from the agent I sent a partial to instead of the editor who has had my other manuscript for over 10 months. (I never thought the day would come that I hoped for a rejection!) Of course the neighbor is at work and I can't get the package for a few more hours!

In related news, I wrote 202 pages during my summer break. (I've still got one more OFFICIAL week off before going back to gear up for the new school year.) I've done a lot of plotting and planning. Because I've incorporated characters from 3 different books, I've been trying to figure out the specifics of jobs, settings, logistics, etc. A fellow Austin RWA member has offered to help me get my military "stuff" down right, which has just made my life ten times easier! (Thanks, Gail!) I'm looking forward to getting back to UCOD and hammering out the final draft within the month (much to the relief of my critique partners who keep reminding me that I left them hanging).

I'm still lost somewhere between category and single title. Since Bombshell is the closest category line closest to single title, the line is even more blurry (blurrier??) for me. I do feel very strongly though, especially after some of the workshops that I need to consider that I have a single title voice. I've said time and again that if I get a rejection from Silhouette on SURVIVAL 101 that I will switch the focus of that mauscript to single title. It's already close to the word count and I had actually adjusted it to make it more Bombshelly. (I love that word!)

Now, I just have to wait and see what my package is that my neighbor has...