Tuesday, November 29, 2005

And Yet More Techno Gadget Issues!!!

Freakin' printer won't print! Says I'm out of ink. Funny, it was doing just fine SECONDS before it stopped working! (With an ink cartridge that's only been in there for a couple of weeks and I assure you, I haven't printed THAT many pages!) Oh, to be a best-selling author so I could have an assistant who could deal with all this technical crap, handle my website and basically fix my computer problems when I just innocently look up and say "Oops!"

Monday, November 28, 2005

Remember To Breathe

I've been feeling very overwhelmed lately and I've just decided to take a breath. SOOOO many things are happening around me, with me and yet I keep adding more. I've got an exam to study for, a Christmas party, a stampin' party, a book I'm reading, a book I want to be writing, progress reports to organize, essays to grade, other tests to grade and send notes home about...and all this is within the next 5 days!

My book is going to have to wait. Surprisingly, that's okay with my hero and heroine. They know that I intend to do their story justice and so they're willing to wait and let me get a little settled before I dive back into their story.

Then tonight, I got a call about that ESL volunteer job. They want me for the Monday night class for the next 2 weeks and then for next semester! I jumped at the chance, but that's just something else I've added to my pile. Of course I want to do a great job and I want to keep working hard for my day job. But there never seems to be enough hours in the day!

THEN, I found out one of my nephews had some medical issues today. He's fine, but my heart twisted inside my chest as I listened to the story. Once I talked to him and got him to laugh a bit, I felt a lot better. But then I remembered life is too short. Yes, I want to do a whole bunch of stuff, help others out, keep people happy around me, but you know what? I'm much too young to have a heart attack or stroke from stress!

So, earlier tonight, as I was making my to-do list, I decided just to stop. Instead of worrying about work, exams and ESL, I asked myself what I WANTED to do tonight. So, I'm reading Lisa Gardner. Tomorrow I can make a new list. I'm getting my priorities back in order and I'm going to be selfish for a little while.

The moral? Take care of yourselves.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

More Proof That Computers and I Don't Belong Together

I just reported some spam. No, not the actual spam in my e-mail account. I reported my 7th grade play and all my spelling lists for the next 3 weeks as spam. I knew I should've just printed them out at work!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Not Enough Time

Here it is, minutes from Sunday morning and I'm running out of time! 24 hours in a day just isn't enough for me to do all that I want! And 5 days away from my day job just isn't long enough either.

As for my Thanksgiving break, it has been glorious. I avoided the crowds of Black Friday and stayed home to watch the pitiful display of Texas Longhorn football. Yes, they won, but they played like crap. I rented 3 movies- Fever Pitch (which I loved since I grew up in RI and totally understood all the Red Sox passion), Miss Congeniality 2, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner and day. I read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in 2 days. I thought about going to see the movie, but my manuscript SCREAMED to me! So, I've been typing and plotting and planning (oh my!) for a HUGE chunk of yesterday and today. Tomorrow I have a bunch of school work to do. I'm also forcing myself to get up early with the alarm so that I can break my cycle of going to bed at 2 or 3 in the morning and sleeping until 9 or 10. Wouldn't look good for me to show up to work at 9 when school starts at 7:50!

And now I only have 3 work weeks before Christmas break. 3 hectic, stressful, busy weeks. How on earth can I get everything done when all I want to do is work on my new book??? Okay, enough chatting. I'm going back to my typing so I can get a few more pages done before I go to bed. Oh, hell. Who am I kidding? At the rate I'm going, I'll probably be up for another couple of hours. This new couple is so ready to be front and center. They cannot WAIT to get together and they seem to want me to have their rough draft done by the start of the new year. Don't know if that will happen, but I can definitely see it as a possibility. I've already started scoping out January and February contests to enter with this new one. My own goal is to have it done completely by spring break. However, Jacey laughs at me and Ryan just shakes his head. They apparently have a different time-table than I do.

OH!! Speaking of creative differences with the writer, the hero of book #3 took quite a bit of my time today to explain that the plot I so lovingly started crafting for him is most definitely NOT what happens. Since I learned with this last manuscript that I must allow my characters to tell their story, I just obediently took notes from him and put aside my own plot plans. The heroine remains the same. The hero says at least I got that right.

Okay, now really. I'm going back to my manuscript.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Hounded But Happy

HOUNDED by my new hero and heroine to jump right into their story. They figure I've already handwritten 200 pages of a rough draft, so what's the big deal? Why do I need some time off in between books? Hounded also by the hero and heroine of the 3rd story to make sure I have good scenes for them in this 2nd story too. Even the heroine of the 4th story is dropping perfect one liners into my head for her. The only silent one is the brooding, tormented hero of the 5th book. The reluctant hero. I'm sure I'll soon start hounding him for little nuggets of information since he plays a minor role in book 2. (Although he is hinting that the heroine for his story isn't going to work out and that I should just leave him alone. I can sense that the woman I thought would be perfect for him isn't quite right. But there ain't no way I'm leaving him alone!)

HAPPY because I wouldn't want it any other way. Happy also because I now have 5 WHOLE DAYS to spend however I want! I intend to read, write, type, watch some movies, watch a little football and maybe do a little work for school.

Monday, November 21, 2005

A Sacrifice For My Craft

Okay. I've been subbing at this place and teaching ESL classes for the last couple of weeks. I would love to work on a regular basis for them next semester. It's volunteer and at night so it wouldn't interfere with my day job. Today I get an e-mail asking if I want to be the regular instructor next semester for the Tuesday class.

Why did I know this would happen?

My local RWA chapter meets on Tuesday nights. I could easily miss the meetings for 4 or 5 months, but it's 4 or 5 months. I thought about it for a little while, but I just can't give up my meetings. Writing is my non-paying second job. This is the attitude I have toward it and I feel if I take the other volunteer position then I'll be taking away from my writing. (Or at least th chance to mingle with other writers and hear some great speakers.)

Now, granted I am very interested in teaching ESL and I've wanted to find an outlet for this part of me for quite some time, but my writing and my push toward publication are still, ultimately, my top priority. I could sit here all night and debate with myself about it. And next semester when I'm stuck subbing again, I might be kicking myself. But as much as that decision pains me (and the writing of the response e-mail), I have to follow my heart and my heart is always with my characters and their stories.

Of course, things could go another way. They may come back and say how about a different class on a different night? Perhaps it's really not as dramatic as I'm making it out to be.

On the writing front, I mailed off my GH entry today! Yay! I am OFFICIALLY and TOTALLY done with UCOD! For now, while I freak out with all the grading I have to do even with a break starting tomorrow afternoon, I'm reading The Other Daughter by Lisa Gardner. Then, on Wednesday I'm renting the 3rd Harry Potter movie. Then Wednesday, Thursday (and Friday maybe) I'm reading Goblet of Fire. And THEN I'm going to see the movie. I figure I'll start working on the next manuscript, RESISTING RYAN, sometime over the break as well. Who knows? Maybe I'll go watch the movie that inspired my latest hero!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Golden Heart Moments

As I type this, I am printing out my synopses for the GH. I printed the partials and burned the CD last night. I thought I'd get this entry in the mail today, but I had a hard time cutting my synopsis down to size. But now it's done. I'm so relieved. Of course, I found a very, very minor issue with the manuscript that I needed to correct as well. So minor that I don't think anyone but me would notice and be affected, but still I needed to fix it for my own peace of mind.

So, the work is done. The entry will be mailed Monday after work. I am now COMPLETELY done with UCOD. I'm moving it to my "Finished manuscripts" folder.

Now comes the time to assist my CP with finishing her GH entry. It shouldn't be that hard. After all, she's brilliant! Except, I can't open the document she sent me today because she left it password protected.

So, I'm thinking of starting right in with the next book. Or I could read. Or I could watch TV. Or surf the Internet. Or pay Go Daddy for my domain name. Or make some dinner.

School is going well. I had a day off this last week so I could go to a conference for English Language Learners. What a wonderful experience! I had an awesome time. And then, I got called to substitute teach an adult class of ESL students. Of course I said yes. It turned out to be me and 4 women. I was much more comfortable and confident than the week before and I had so much fun! We studied a bit for their final exam and then we had the youngest woman show us how to do some dance. I agreed to this only if she agreed to explain everything in English. It was so much fun and once again I came out of that class with the feeling that this is what I'm truly meant to do (well, besides writing, of course!). What an awesome feeling to be in a classroom with students who actually want to learn and who don't give me attitude!

Of course, I still love my 5th, 6th and 7th graders too. They continue to amaze me everyday. I get upset or angry about something and then one of them says or does something to make me proud. I truly feel I've got the best of all worlds.

Monday, November 14, 2005

So Long, Farewell...

Today I dropped UNDER COVER OF DARKNESS in the mail to the editor. Almost 18 months after it was first started. 15 months after it was first requested. 2 months after it was last requested. It's been a wild and emotional day, but I'm so proud of my work.

First, my printer has issues. I changed cartridges on Friday only to find that it wouldn't print AT ALL then. I e-mailed tech support. I read the manual. I followed the manual instructions. I followed the tech support instructions. I waited a day. I followed a few of my own instructions. (And heard some really bad noises.) There was absolutely no way I'd be able to print the manuscript unless I went to a copy place.

BUT THEN...My brilliant CP stepped up and offered to print my baby, the query, and the synopsis AND THEN she offered to meet me during lunch today so that I could still make my self-imposed deadline. How wonderful is she?

SO, my printer is still not printing. A computer guru from work is giving me more advice. I still have my GH entry to print.

But my baby has flown the coop.

I usually love printing a manuscript out, taking my time to put the package together, whether a partial or complete, and allowing the pride in my work to dominate my world for those few hours. Without my printer, I was deprived of that yesterday and I think I miss the closure of that experience. Yes, Grace and Ethan will be around in at least the next 2 stories, but my time to say goodbye to them as a main couple was cut short. Still, they needed to go. I needed them to go.

I learned a lot about myself over the last 17 months and I know I've grown tremendously as a writer in that time. Regardless of the outcome of the trip to the editor, the chapter contests, and the GH, I will always love this story and I will always be thankful for the chance and ability to share it.

Monday, November 07, 2005

...And The Hero

Ryan: Hey! What about me? I expect equal time here.

Chris: (grins) Sorry, Ryan. You know I love you.

Ryan: Yeah, well. I just want to make sure you'll be listening to me too. Just because I'm not crazy like T (sorry, T) obnoxious like Shiner (sorry, Shiner), or stubborn like Ethan...

Ethan: Wait a minute! I'm not stubborn.

Jacey: Stay out of this, Ethan. Ryan, what makes you think you're not stubborn?

Ryan: Come on, this is me we're talking about. (Turns to me) Chris, tell her.

Chris: Actually...

Ryan: Women! (rolls his eyes) I'm outta here. (Turns back to me) I'll talk to you later about this.

Jacey: (Blocks the doorway, arms folded across her chest) And what about me?

Ryan: (His gaze roams up and down her body) I haven't decided what I'm going to do to you yet.

Jacey: Don't you mean with me?

Ryan: (A hint of raw hunger dances in his eyes) Not necessarily.

Meet The Heroine of My Next Book

Chris: Jacey, I've been rereading the 200 pages I wrote for you over the summer and there's a huge problem.

Jacey(glaring at me from across the room): What?

Chris: The plot is too close to Grace's. I don't know how much of that 200 pages will still make sense.

Jacey: As long as Ryan and I get all the love scenes you've created for us. (Stalking toward me) And I do mean ALL the love scenes.

Chris: (Rolling my eyes)

Jacey: Hey, don't roll your eyes at me!

Chris: But there's more to your story than just sex.

Jacey: I know, but don't stress so much about it, Keach! Just let us tell you our story in our own time.

Chris: (Now glaring) I don't want to wait for over a year and a half like I did for Grace and Ethan's story.

Jacey: Oh, there's no way in hell I'll wait that long. Don't you worry. If you sit back, relax and let Ryan and me do all the work, we'll have this done quicker than a Curt Schilling fastball.

Chris: Okay, and in layman's terms how long will that be?

Jacey: A couple of months. 4 tops. I guarantee it. BUT of course, that's if you'll quit your bitching and just listen to us.

Chris: Bitching? What are you talking about?

Jacey: You know exactly what I mean. We can't help you if you don't shut up.

Chris: Okay, okay. I promise to write the story you dictate to me instead of what I think I want to happen.

Jacey: (Plops her elbow on the desk and rests her chin in her palm) Good girl. (With a twinkle in her eye and a mischievous grin, she adds): Now, back to these love scenes...

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Woohoo! Break Out the Cyber Champagne!

I FINISHED!!!! I literally spent all weekend revising, but I'm done. I've sent UNDER COVER OF DARKNESS off to my critique partner for a final read. I'm hoping I fixed everything she alluded to in her last e-mails, and that if she picks up anything new to fix this time around that it only takes a few short minutes. This puppy is in the mail to the editor on Saturday. The weight of finishing this novel is off my shoulders.

When I thought I'd finished back in June, I still had a terrible weight on my shoulders. I knew it wasn't right, wasn't the best it could be. This time, I have no doubts. My story is complete. My characters are content. My debt to my fallen friend (the woman this book is dedicated to) is fulfilled.

I'd been saying to my critique partner that typing "THE END" to this book didn't have the same feel as any other. I felt a lot more subdued. I'm proud of this manuscript and I truly feel it is my best work to date, but I don't have that "shout from the rooftops" feeling. I think part of that is the fact that it took me so long to write it and it took soooo much out of me. Also, I was so sure my last manuscript was going to be "the one" that I think I'm more cautious now. I feel like I've matured a hell of a lot as a writer through this manuscript.

But you know what? In the end, it's still a MAJOR accomplishment and I'm so very excited about this book. Between the GH, the other 2 contests and the editor's request, I hope to be sharing lots of good news with you in the future about this one.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

I just love my 6th graders! (For now. I'm sure if I give them time I'll want to strangle most of them again shortly!!) We had our Crash production tonight and it went so well. The skit was about 11 minutes long, they had a lot of good laughs and the few parents that came to the PTO meeting enjoyed it. I have to say, I was extremely disappointed with the turnout of parents and families. Most of the people there had a kid in 6th grade. That was it. Maybe a handful of parents with kids in other classes came. Very disheartening, but the class went and performed like troopers! We get to do it all again for the whole school tomorrow morning.

On the writing front, I mailed my GH entry form. First time ever!!! There's no turning back now, I guess! I also mailed out 2 contest entries. All three are for UCOD. I'm thinking of entering the one that got rejected by Bombshell in a few more contests and making it the single title story it was always meant to be. But, that's a ways off.

Over the last couple of days I've been critiquing for my CP Deb and I'm floored again by her talent! I literally read for hours and lost track of time! And now, I have to wait for the ending! How cruel is that?

Then, while I was reading her work, my characters (all of them, mind you!) started chiming in with little details of their stories. You know, the next 4 after UCOD. It's going to be quite a challenge but so much fun putting that series together. Now, I just hope someone buys them! To that end, I'm going to work on my synopsis tonight a little. Then this weekend my plan is to completely finish the revisions to UCOD so that I can send it back to my CP for a final read. I'm so excited about working on it and making the awesome story even better!

I've also started to seriously think about putting a website together. I am SOOOOOO not technical, but I figure it can't hurt to start now before I'm published. I'm going to reserve my domain. (See, I don't even know if I'm using the terminology right!) One step at a time. Maybe I'll ask for money for Christmas so that I can hire someone to take care of all the technical details for me. I just think I'm at the point in my writing career that warrants a website. I'm not published, but I feel so close. Hell, it still may be another few years before "The Call" comes through, but why wait?

Any thoughts, comments or suggestions on this topic are more than welcome. Well, I'm off to play with my synopsis and have a cup of tea. I'll update over the weekend with the details of my revision process, whether it's heaven or hell.