Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Curse Those Evil Influences!!!

My friend Deb- for sending me information on "just one more contest" after I'd just told her I had to stop entering for a while.

My blog friend Eve- for sending me the Jill Shalvis book ROOM SERVICE. I can't put it down. I started it today and in 2 1/2 hours I'd read a 100 pages, even while cooking and eating dinner.

And while I'm at it, curse Jill Shalvis for writing such a wonderfully fun book that I can't put down. (And forget about me getting back to my own WIP tonight!) I haven't read one of hers in a while and I'm reminded of all the things I love about her writing.

More later. Gotta get back to Jacob and Em.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Time's A - Wastin'!

Yup, I'm over here sending e-mails, clearing e-mails, and blog-hopping when the handwritten pages of my WIP that I wrote this morning are staring me in the face. Taunting me, messing with my head. Never mind about new business card designs for both writing names. Never mind about the book just bought at Barnes & Noble (Debra Webb's NEXT, "Never Happened"). Never mind about stupid TV shows (except for Rescue Me at 10) or the manuscripts that will follow FP. Those handwritten pages are demanding to be entered into the world of make-believe. I must run with my muse while she's so excited!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

England, Agents, Improvements, Oh My!

England- My team won today. It was a nail-biter for me, a new fan to soccer, but it was awesome!! Hooray team! I can't wait until the next game!

Agents- On one of my writing loops last week there was a lot of information about a certain agent, and not good things. Turned out, this is one of the agents I have queried. And one who has requested a partial. Hhmmm. I'm the type of person who likes to judge other by how they treat me. I'll just have to wait and see.

In the meantime, I sent off another requested partial! Yay! So now I have 8 submissions out there on 2 different manuscripts ranging from queries and partials to contest entries. My goal is to someday get up to 12, but I'm not quite in a position to get there yet. Soon, though.

Improvements- In preparing my partial for the latest agent, I was forced to go over my synopsis for UCOD. Wow! I can't believe how much I've grown as a writer in the last 6 months. Yes, UCOD is still an awesome manuscript and worthy of selling, but my GMC stuff (notice the technical term 'stuff' here?)is unfolding and revealing the characters in a way I've never been able to do before. I'm able to cut chunks and rewrite better scenes. It's easier to notice what's not working and what's specifically wrong. (Then again, it could be because UCOD was such a taxing, emotional manuscript to write.)

FP is definitely a better, more cohesive manuscript than my last one and I can't wait to write a killer query for that and start sending it out more. One of these days someone is going to LOVE my writing and my stories and I will get a contract! I do believe, I do believe! :)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Is There A Twelve-Step Program For Soccer?

My name is Chris and I'm a World Cup addict.

I've spent countless hours watching game after game. I have wasted computer time looking up information on my favorite teams when I should have been working on my manuscript. Even as I cheered for obscure teams from countries I barely recognized, the guilt ate away at me. My characters continue to cry out for attention and yet I still sit in front of the TV glued to ESPN. And the worst offense so far? I sit here this morning watching USA vs. Ghana when all week I'd planned to devote this whole day to my manuscript.

I know my excuses are just that. Excuses. It's exciting. I want to learn more about the game. The enthusiasm of the fans is infectious. A lot of these players are hot! It's only 2 (or 4) hours out of my day. I have to watch! My favorite team is facing elimination/ favored to win/ needs my support from the couch!

I know I'm an addict. I accept that I need help to overcome this...

Oh wait. The second half is about to start!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Contests, Inspiration and Plenty O' Writing Time

My friend finished 2nd in the historical category and I finished 2nd in the Romantic Suspense category of the Happily Ever After Contest. YAY! It's very freaky for us, but pretty cool to have a friend in the EXACT same boat! Last year we both won our respective categories in the Merritt Contest. We're both getting requests for partials and fulls and I'm pretty confident that both our "calls" are just around the corner.

The manuscript that just got 2nd is one that I've had in contests for over a year now. I don't usually enter a lot of contests, but I have with this one because it took me so long to write it and it took a lot out of me emotionally. I love that story, but now I've decided to retire it from the contest arena. It won 2 contests and came in 2nd and I've got it still in 2 more contests that will announce within the next 2 months, but after that I'll focus that energy on queries for it and preparing the current WIP (FP) for queries and contests.

I started reading The English Wife by Doreen Roberts last night. I finished it this afternoon. WONDERFUL book! Although, I'm not sure if it's truly the story or my love for all things British. Either way I would recommend this NEXT novel. And at the back of the book I found a couple of the July books that I can't wait to read. I've only read 3 NEXT novels, but I LOVED 2 of them. I'm actually starting to think that I might be able to target this line at some point too! Anyway, The English Wife made me want to get back to my own WIP.

Speaking of Fractured Paradise, I get a whole day to work on it tomorrow! The family is going on 3 different excursions. I was invited to all, but I'm tired. I love the kids, but I love my "me" time and my writing time and I haven't had a lot of that in the last week. So, I get to play with my manuscript for the whole day!

Unless of course I watch the USA World Cup game. But that'll only be a couple of hours....

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Still Waiting...

Well, my friend heard about her placement for the Happily Ever After contest. I have not. I guess when I stop thinking about it I'll get some word.

Have you ever read abook that you really didn't like that much but you felt obligated to finish since you'd already put so much time into it? Well, that's what happened to me recently. I finished a book today about two sisters in Scotland in the 1800s and I was so excited when I finished. I will not be picking up the next one in the series. There was way too much apologizing and asking for forgiveness. WAY TOO MUCH. I didn't like any of the main characters and if I ever had to put up the with the guy, I would've killed him, I'm sure. Wimpy, wishy-washy, whiny. That pretty much covers everyone but the servants (I liked them) and the baby.

Usually if I don't like a story by page 50, maybe 75, I'll stop reading it and pass it on to someone who might actually like it. With this one, it started getting really interesting around 75-100 so I thought I was safe and that I'd eventually love it. Well, I was probably more than halfway through it when I realized I didn't really care about the characters.

However, all that said, I liked the author's use of metaphors and she did a great job with descriptions. So, I did learn a few things from this reading. I also realized that I truly like to feel transported, as if I was in the room with the main characters. The author made me feel like an outsider always cleaning off the window so I could see inside.

So, I go back to my own book hopefully in the next day or so, where I can transport my readers into a wonderful contemporary Scottish story. Of course, that'll be when I'm not reading a new book, (a NEXT about a woman whose husband of 27 years just died and she finds out from their lawyer that he had a cottage in England since just after their wedding. Oh yeah, and there's a woman living in said cottage rent free. Hhhmmm.) or when I'm not watching my nephews, or when I'm not thinking about the Happily Ever After placement...

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Waiting Impatiently

Well, I was going to wait to post until I knew the results of the Happily Ever After contest, but they have not called, e-mailed or posted anything yet. So, my friend Deb and I just sit around and wait. And try to find other things to do to keep us busy in our respective homes.

I haven't worked much on my own manuscript lately simply because I was helping my CP finish up hers. And I had a bunch of other things to do as well. I'm hoping to get a few pages in this weekend, but starting next week I should be able to put some serious time into finishing my manuscript. YAY!

However, I have HUGELY been enjoying my summer vacation! Makes me wish I could win the lottery and never have to work again. But then, I guess I'd actually have to play the lottery, huh?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Stepping Back To See The Big Picture

Well, I've come to the conclusion that I really don't know when FP will be done and I'm so okay with that.

I watched the final MOTG again with the intention of going to bed when it was over. That didn't happen. As usual, it inspired me to just do a little work last night. Which turned out to be more than a little.

As I finished typing in the last of my handwritten pages for FP, I realized that my hero and heroine still have so much more to tell me. I was typing a scene dealing with her emotions and I realized how much they reflect his emotions as well. Wow! I hadn't seen that before and I've been working on this book since January 16th (the start of the 100 words/100 days). For the first time, I'm understanding that my characters have layer upon layer of personality. And you know what? I'm having SOOOOOO much fun! (Oh yeah, it's now looking more like a long contemporary. I'm at 220 pages and I haven't written a full love scene yet and huge chunks of other parts are still unfinished.)

Then I thought, why am I going to try and rush this? I don't have any new couple breathing down my neck to have their story told next. I don't even know if I'd "stay in Scotland" or go back to suspense. I don't have a contract deadline. So, I'm going to take my time and set my goal of finishing it for when I come back to Austin. I know in my heart that that's enough time.

I think I was putting pressure on myself because I used to write 2 manuscripts a year and I thought originally that this would be a 6 month manuscript for sure since it was going to be a short contemporary. But you know what? I then reminded myself that NONE OF THOSE OTHER ONES SOLD! So what if this takes me 8 months? If I get it just right, this just might be THE ONE....

Monday, June 12, 2006

Good People

There are truly some good people in the world and I'm so glad that many of them are in my world. Some of the main ones for me lately:

Karen Rose. Can I just say I really love her? Yes, you already know that. But, I sent her an e-mail to tell her how much I loved her book and she's been e-mailing me a couple of times reminding me not to give up. How cool is that?

My friend Deb. She's working with me on revisions, keeping me positive and sharing her own masterpieces with me. She is an inspiration without even realizing it.

Monarch of the Glen. Yes, I watched the series finale. Again. I actually cried this time. And it just fills my heart with how much that show inspires me to be the best writer I can be and to write my Scottish stories with no frills, cliches or worn out plot devices. Just to write stories from my heart so that if I (for some strange reason) never get published, I'll still never regret a SINGLE moment spent on writing a piece of fiction.

My blog friend Eve who, out of the blue, has offered to send me a book that I've been wanting to read for months. Just out of the kindness of her heart.

And my blog friend Michelle who reminded me today why I joined my chosen profession and how thankful I should be to be able to make a positive difference in children's lives.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Say It With Me Now


No, I'm not that bad today. Well, maybe. I've been working on my contemporary for most of the last 24 hours. Yes, I did manage to sleep for about 7 hours last night and I even ate today, but other than that I've been writing. I added 11 pages to FP last night and this morning and I've probably added another 11 or so pages today. So, I'm definitely making headway and I love where it's taking me.

But the best part?

I'm conscious of my efforts to make my book better. I've mentioned this before, but most of my RS manuscripts are plot heavy. I started this WIP so that I could concentrate on the characters, their emotions and the developing romance. Watching as I'm trying to put those things in the spotlight has been very challenging but such an awesome experience too! Sounds corny, I know, but there's really no way to describe it exactly.

I gave myself the deadline of next Tuesday to have the draft ready to go to my CP. I still feel there's so much more to do with this WIP, but I cannot wait to get to it. So why have I been surfing the net, sending e-mails and flipping the channels on the remote?

My own opinion is that I don't want to leave these characters behind. As long as their story is unfinished, I can still live in their world. But, I don't want to be that cruel to them. (Yes, I am still talking about FICTIONAL characters!) I owe it to them, my waiting CP, my best friend who reads EVERYTHING I write, and to myself to finish this book. I owe it to myself to give it the ending it deserves. And I owe it to myself to finish so I can explore the world of my next set of characters.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A Pleasant Surprise

Last week I printed out a copy of UCOD for a friend at work. She called me today to say that she finished it in 4 days (which is big for her) and she loved it! She's one of the few people who has read several of my stories so she's able to see my growth. Hearing her praise just made my day! It makes me think that I am on the right track with my romantic suspenses.

Night Owl

I am truly a night owl. Went to bed at 4:30 yesterday morning (you know, after reading Karen Rose) and here it is after 1. BUT I have to get up and go into work tomorrow. (Today?) Gotta clean out my classroom, reorganize the organized chaos.

My all-time favorite work schedule was when I worked on the rim of the Grand Canyon just after college. I worked 2 or 3 p.m. until 10 or 11 p.m., hung out in the bar till closing, went to a party until 3 or 4 a.m. and then went home to bed. Ahhh, the good ol' days!

Back to my organized chaos. You know what I'd rather be doing though, right? Yes, I watched a show tonight that inspired my current WIP and after it ended I just melted and started scribbling notes about my manuscript to make it better. (Monarch of the Glen, if anyone wants to know-about life in a Scottish Highland village in modern times.) I can play around with it tomorrow night (tonight?) but I won't get to really work on it until Wednesday (tomorrow?).

Oh, it's going to be so awesome and I even came up with the other possible characters for the next couple of contemporaries I'm going to write! Cuz let's face it, everyone in this business says write what you love and I get this dreamy, heart-melting, misty-eyed feeling taking over me whenever I write about, read about, think about or talk about Scotland.

Notice I didn't say short contemporaries. That's because with all my notes from last night (a few hours ago), I'm not sure if this will be a short or long. Guess I'll just have to wait and see!

Another thing came to me while I was jotting down my notes. I think I'm officially in my 2nd draft. I have the basic plot points already written and now the stuff I'm thinking about is adding to the romance and to the internal conflicts. So, I'm further along than I thought!

But, I really, really should get to bed since I've got to set the alarm for...less than seven hours from now. At least now I can hear it!

Monday, June 05, 2006

I Can Hear!

Okay, so it's not 100%, but I was able to turn down the sound on the CD player and the TV this morning! Sometimes I can hear out of both ears, sometimes it's one and then it's the other. I don't care. After a week and 3 days inside of silence, I'll take what I can get.

Karen Rose

If you like romantic suspense and you can get your hands on one of her books, do it. Without waiting. Not one single minute. I was going to read 100, 150 pages today of Have You Seen Her? and then finish it up tomorrow. Didn't happen. I couldn't put it down. It's a great story with real characters and an "I just have to read one more chapter" suspense. It's been a long time since any book had me up until 4 in the morning. Seriously, pick up one of her books. You won't be disappointed!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Gettin' Closer!

No, not to hearing like a normal person. Although I do have episodes of my hearing going in and out. And I hear lots of noises going on within my ears. Or is that inside my head?

I rearranged FP all afternoon and I'm remembering why I love this story. I cut out 22 pages, but I think I can have my rough draft done as early as tomorrow and then I can start my revisions! I really want it to be finished, but I don't want to rush it.

That activity of physically cutting up the story and moving the parts around really helped. I was amazed. A few times I had one scene in my hand and tried it in several different spots. I just might try that with plotting the next book!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Huh? What'd You Say?

That's right. Still can't hear. I stopped watching TV because I got tired of turning up the volume.

Phone guy came today. He knocked, but I didn't hear him. Luckily I was going outside to put the laundry in the dryer when I ran into him. He told me all was fixed. I checked and told him he was wrong. BUT he came into the office, played around with the phone cords inside and out, and managed to fix it! Yay! I think I was going into Internet withdrawal!

I know I love FP. I'm positive. I just don't remember why. So, I printed my WIP today (while watching the phone guy play with the cords). Now I'm cutting up said WIP into scenes so I can physically move them around in hopes of reorganizing my, manuscript. (Got this idea from my staff development of the last 2 days!) So, the kitchen table has become the beginning of the manuscript, the coffee table is the middle of the manuscript, and the kitchen counter is the ending. I think moving scenes around and seeing where they fit best will help me over this hurdle so I can finish the rough draft. I hope.