Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

The end of another month!  Wow. 

So this morning, with the writer's conference tomorrow, I decide to try on my dress slacks.  I've recently lost weight and I have about 10 pairs of slacks in 3 different sizes.  I am right in the middle of those sizes right now and I'd actually purchased one new pair of slacks in my new size, plus had an almost new pair in a different color.

Except when I tried them on, they were both too long.  Waaaay too long, even with 4 inch heels.  So,with one day to go, I started calling around to Alterations places.  Now, there's one about four miles away that I've used for years (over 20) and a new one opened up right around the corner from my neighborhood.  In the interest of saving time, I called the new one and explained my problem.  The lady that answered the phone said (in a stern voice) "One week minimum.  No exceptions."

All right, then.  So I called the other alteration place.  The man that answered the phone doesn't know my voice and I didn't identify myself as a long time customer.  I asked him the same question.  His response "No problem.  Bring them in."

So I rushed over there, tried them on with the heels, and they pinned.  I can pick them up at noon tomorrow.
Talk about a lifesaver!

My purpose in mentioning this incident is this - good customer service can earn loyal customers.  I will never again try another alteration place and the new one lost a potential long term customer. 

What, you may ask, does that have to do with writing?  It all boils down to the same, basic principal.  How you treat people will color their perception of you for a long, long time.  There has recently been an author who had a melt down at a bad review (and it wasn't all that bad, actually) and started calling the reviewer names and telling him to F-off.  More than once.  Of course the thing went viral and when the reviewer finally stopped allowing comments, there were over 300!  Everyone knows this woman's name and I can guarantee, if she ever wants to publish with a traditional publisher, she's going to have to submit under an assumed name. 

So remember this - act professionally no matter what.  Bad review, editor rejection, author critique.  People have long memories and you'd be surprised how many people know each other in this business. 

Just sayin'

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

March 30, 2011 Wednesday

I am attending a writing conference this weekend.  I'm really looking forward to it for a lot of reasons.  My agent will be in town and is taking all of her authors to dinner (there are several in the area.)  Allison Brennan, a NYT Bestselling suspense author and someone I know online fron Ninc (Novelists, Inc.) is speaking.  Several of the workshops sound fascinating.  And I'm staying at the hotel, by myself, so I can really be part of the conference. 

Friday night is a booksigning.  I chose not to sign since my last book was out in January and my next isn't until June.  But that means I get to walk around the booksigning and talk to other authors and buy some cool books.  Though honestly, my TBR stack is huge - both on my Kindle and on my bookcase!

I made my word count yesterday, actually got 1100 words, but I'm getting down to the last four chapters and I need to do some re-plotting before I start wrapping everyhting up. 

I also had a fabulous workout last night at the gym.  Have I mentioned how much I love my trainer ?

In a few minutes, I 've got to shut things down and head into the day job.  I'm so tired of that job - I'm ready, ready, ready, to put on my full time writer's hat.  And, since I gave notice a month ago and my last day is supposed to be April 29th, I've only got one more month to slog through.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Vacations and Other Assorted Musings

My husband and I haven't taken a vacation together since 2006, when we took a cruise to Alaska.  That's 5 long years.   We planned to take a vacation in 2007, but first a key employee quit our business, then another, and then came the economic downturn (ie; crash).  So no vacations.  We couldn't take time away, at least not at the same time. 

Sure, we've had some long weekend trips to Vegas or camping, but no real week long vacation.  So the first thing I want to do once he retires and I become a full time author, is take a vacation.  Even if it's just a week camping at the lake.  During this vacation, I want to read all the books I have been dying to get to on my Kindle.  I want to fish.  I want to sleep as late as I want and nap if I want to.  I want to ride my bike and ride my scooter and walk the dogs. 

I can say from experience that this sort of thing will not only refresh me, but will bring my creative muse alive, brimming with ideas.  Then I'll do some proposals and send them to my agent so we can go back to contract with Harlequin.  I also want to do a synopsis and 3 chapters of a single title.  I've got to figure out a writing schedule so I can select realistic dealines. 

That's the (hopefully near) future.  Now to the present.

I wrote 2,225 words yesterday.  At the day job, which I pretty much ignored other than taking a few customer calls and adding a couple vehicles or drivers.  I was beat.  But when I got home, Lonnie and I walked two miles with the dogs.  Then we ate a healthy dinner and he watched TV and I read.  I'm reading Kristin Hannah's Night Road.  She is one of those authors I always buy in hardcover and read immediately.

I didn't sleep well last night, so I'm tired and achy and sort of cranky this morning.  And I have a personal training session tonight.  So I've got to find some mojo before then.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday March 27, 2011

 Last night I went to Billy Bob's to see REO Speedwagon. Hi-Infidelity was one of my favorite all time records and back in 1981-1982 the song "Time for Me to Fly" was my anthem and helped me get the courage to get out of an abusive marriage.

It was a fun night.  My first time ever to go see a show at Billy Bob's.

I drank a lot of Bud Light.  Sang along, and had a great time.  From the looks of it, most of the other people attending the concert were about my age.
Reliving music from the past. 

The sound was remarkable and the band still sounded sharp. 

All in all, it was a good time.  I'm glad I went.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Frinally Friday - March 25, 2011

It's Friday, the sun is shining, and I'm in a great mood. 

SPOILER ALERT - if you DVR American Idol and haven't watched it yet, read no further.

American Idol last night was fantastic - without a doubt, the best results show I've ever seen, and I've been watching the show for the full 10 years.  Stevie Wonder made a surprise appearance, the cast celebrated Steven Tyler's 63rd birthday, Jennifer Hudson sang and brought me to tears, my perennial fav Sugarland sang, and the judges believed in Casey Abrams so much, they saved him.  Without putting him through the often humilating "sing for your life" thing.  They stopped him mid-song and Randy told him "We know who you are.  We know your talent.  You're staying."

He cried.  I cried.  And then J-Lo told him to make sure and quit the fancy jumping around and get back to the music.  Steven Tyler told him to listen to J-Lo.  I hope he does, because he is one talented boy. 

On the writing front, I made my word count again yesterday.  I'm on Chapter 11 now, I believe.  The story is going well, and I still like it a lot.

On the exercise front, my trainer called me and said he was 'sick' and was going home.  (I later learned that a bunch of the trainers and the manager had gone out drinking the night before to celebrate one of their birthdays).  I didn't mind, cuz I love my trainer and all, but I went to the gym and made my own workout.  I worked my butt off!! Yes, I did.

Skip this part if your eyes glaze over at exercise talk.  After my 10 minute elliptical warm up, I first went to the three leg machines.  I did 3 supersets, with 15 reps of each.  After that, I went and did crunches (15) on the slanted board, arm pulls (40 lbs), and bench dips.  3 supersets, 15 reps.  Then I did 15 squats on the upside down bosu ball, holding 12.5 lb weights, then 15 hammer curls, and 15 shoulder presses.  Again 3 supersets.  Finally, I kicked off the half-hour with 10 on the ab machine (where you swing your legs up - not sure what it's called), 3 times.  Of course I did my 20 minute cardio following, with 10 on the treadmill and 10 on the recumbant bike.

I'm sore this morning, but elated.  I had a great workout - on my own.  Of course, I'll be back with my trainer on Tuesday, but it's good to know I can do this too!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Under deadline.  As published authors, if we're under contract with a publisher, we are constantly under deadline.  Most of us don't stress out about this too much, until one day we wake up, glance at the calendar, and realize we'd better get crackin' if we want to have any hope of making that deadline.

Some of us - I'm one - sit down and calculate how many days are left until deadline and the minimum number of words we have to write per day.  Since I still currently have the day job, I usually only write the bare minimum.  Other writers take off work, lock themselves in a room or rent a hotel, and go on non-stop writing jags for an entire week or weekend. 

For me, the level of stress is directly proportunate to how well the book is going.  If the story is going along at an awesome pace, I'm happy and mostly carefree.  Book will get done, I'll look for whatever concerns might be lurking int he back of my brain as I write (is the hero alpha enough?  Is the heroine too passive or too agressive?  You get the idea!)  And I'll fix it all nice and neat before I email it in to my editor.

I have one month, one week, and a couple of days until this Pack book is due.  I'm on chapter 10 of 15 or so, and well over half my required word count.  I'll be fine.  For whatever reason, this story is flowing smoothly.  When I miss a day or two (like this past weekend), it's easy to make it up and write double the daily words.  I like that.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tuesday March 22, 2011

Finally, a writing related post! 

I had a fabulous writing day yesterday.  I wrote a little over 2000 words, despite numerous interruptions from an employee who can ramble on about anything and everything.  I sort of even like what I wrote (yay!) and I'm over halfway through this book with a month and a week left until deadline.  The people are interesting to me, their romance is hot, and the danger is also fun. 

I also walked two miles with my dogs and husband.  It was a nice, if a bit warm day, but windy, which saved it as far as I'm concerned.  Tonight is personal training night and Glee, which I love.  Also 'V' which I like.

Another 1000 words to get done today and it's almost time to go into the day job.  Wish me luck!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday 3-21-11

Mondays have a way of creeping up on a person, don't they?  I am listening to Katy Perry and trying to get going.  Upbeat music helps.

This weekend was super busy, but there are two things I did not do.  I didn't write.  And I didn't work out.
Normally, this makes me crabby, but I got my hair done - awesome highlights and lowlights and cut - and got a pedicure.  I also got groceries, went out to eat Mexican (and had two giant margaritas!), and saw The Adjustment Bureau.  I did 7 loads of laundry, put down two new room size rugs, cleaned the downstairs, and cleaned and rearranged on top of my kitchen cabinets.  We also took all the plants out of the greenhouse, since it appears Spring is finally here!

So I've got catching up to do.  The 1000 words I was supposed to write over the weekend will have to get made up during the week.  The weight I gained (yes, I gained a pound.) will have to come off.

Life goes on. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

3-18-11 The Day After

As I mentioned yesterday, we went to Beef O'Brady's for the annual St Patrick's Day celebration.  I wore my green shirt and the beads I got in New Orleans the last time I was there.

The place was packed full of festive people.  They even set up a tent in the parking lot with a live band. 
 It was fun because all the wait staff (and they'd brought in like thirty extra people to help) were dressed up.  Some dyed their hair green or wore green wigs.

This guy looked sort of like a tall leprechan! (sorry about the photo quality - it was my cell phone camera)  I'm thinking I need to start bringing my real camera with me.

We had the traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner.

After we ate, we went out to the tent to check out the music.  People were dancing and there was even a guy wearing a kilt.

All in all, we had a good time.   AND - I didn't gain any weight!  And even better, I have a workout scheduled with my trainer this afternoon.  Back on track, my friends.  Back on track.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I adore this holiday.  Of course, I'm Irish, I enjoy beer, and love the color green.  What's not to like?

This week has been, so far, a good writing week.  This entire month, I have made my word count goals almost every single day and when I didn't, I made it up the following day.

On the workout front, not so much.  I walked 2 miles with my Boxer on Monday, and went to the gym on Tuesday for a training session.  I was tired and for some reason, not at all enthused about working out.  Though I did what my trainer asked me to do, I did it half-heartedly and without gusto.  At the end of the session, he told me he wasn't going to tell me good job, because I'd made it clear that I didn't want to do much.  He was right and I felt like crap. 

So Wednesday rolls around.  My weird and newfound aversion to the gym (for some reason) continued.  I decided to take another two mile, brisk walk rather than go to the gym and do cardio.  I got home and my husband had other plans.  To be fair, I didn't argue, but we went to a local sports bar and ate and drank.  So this morning I gained a pound. 

Now not a big deal, you might say.  But I was hovering right on the edge of losing another pound and really wanted to lose two.  Though my head and my desire were at war - you can't lose weight if you don't eat right and exercise, bottom line.  And tonight, we have family plans to celebrate St. Patrick's Day that involve corned beef and cabbage and green beer and another, different sports bar called Beef O'Brady's.  So I'd cancelled my workout with my trainer.

And then on Friday we ALWAYS eat out.  This is a guaranteed recipe for weight disaster!  (Yes, I'm dramatic.  Sue me!)  So I finally texted my trainer and he's going to check the schedule for Friday afternoon.  I have to work out.  Have to.  Since I have a 2 hour hair appt on Saturday, that will be difficult, but I plan to try to get to the gym at least one day on the weekend.  Because I really want to lose weight on Monday weigh day.

It's kind of like writing. (Hey, I had to segue back to writing somehow!).  I will do whatever I have to do to make my word goals. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Just a reminder that my bestselling Fae romance Powerful Magic ebook version is on sale for 99 cents until the end of the month! Spring Break sale. Kindle AND Nook! Wahoo!

Nook -

Kindle -

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My June Harlequin Romantic Suspense!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Monday, March 14, 2011

Wow, this Monday hit with a double whammy.  When that alarm went off at 5am (previously known as 4am), I felt like I hadn't slept.  At all.  Worse, it was dark outside when hubby left for the office at 7am.  Still.  And it's chilly and cloudy and the wind is blowing - the kind of day when it's better to roll over in bed, pull up the covers, and go back to sleep.

As if.

So here I am, back to work on the book, aware I have to be at the office for the day job soon.  I had a great, if vigorous, workout on Saturday with my trainer, ate clean for the most part, and the scale this morning showed a good result - one more pound dropped.  Yay!

I didn't have a good writing weekend this time.  Too much going on and I barely got a chance to sit down with my story.  So I have to make up the words this week. 

Wish me luck!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thursday March 10, 2011

I'm writing.  Writing at home, writing at the day job, writing in my head.  I'm working on my current Pack book that's due May 1st (working title The Wolf Princess).  My word goal is 1000 words a day, every day but with Sundays off.  So far, it's going very well. 

This is not always the case.  Sometimes books are difficult, the characters want to go their own way, make their own paths.  This book, which has unique challenges, is different.  Not easy, per se, but smooth.  At least it feels that way as I'm writing it.  Maybe the unique challenge of a blind hero is enough to keep me on my toes, I don't know. 

Possibly the seamlessness is due to the fact that I haven't gone back and endlessly re-read what I've written.  When I do that, I agonize over word choice and scene choice and end up starting over and starting over and starting over, and... you get the point.  I once started a book over 8 times!  I hope to finish up with enough time left over to go back and fix anything that needs fixing.  If I keep writing according to plan, this will happen. 

This book will be my 34th published work.  Yikes!  My 24th for Harlequin, once it actually gets published.  I have my 22nd coming out in June (CEO's Secret Baby), and the 23rd in January 2012 (Wolf Whisperer).  I go back to contract after I turn this book in and am looking forward to writing more Romantic Suspense and Nocturnes.  But it never gets any easier!

I used to think once I got published, I would suddenly know the secret to writing.  I sold my first book in 1997 and in the 14 years since then, any such secret hasn't revealed itself to me, magically or otherwise.  Instead, I have learned that writing is a lot of hard work and dedication.  And often fun, when you don't let the demons of self-doubt side-track you.

Now I'd better get back to it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Things that make me happy can be simple things, like shoes with sparkly toes.

Or roses from my rose bush in the back yard, as well as store bought roses.

My dog with a ball in his mouth

And the lake - oh, I'm missing the lake place.

I miss my kayak too.

We also have a red-tailed hawk that frequents our backyard.  It's sad, because when you find a bird like that in the suburbs, it's because they've lost their natural habitat.  But the hawk is beautiful and I love watching it fly.

I'm tired today, so that's why all the pictures and little dialogue.  My personal trainer worked my butt off last night, but isn't that the point?  I've been writing on my book that's due May 1st and am about halfway through my word count.

And it's Ash Wednesday which made me feel sad.  If I was a good Catholic, I'd have gone to Mass and gotten the ashes and I'd be fasting today.  I haven't done so since I was a child. 

Tonight I'll go to the gym and do cardio, then hubby and I will grab at bite to eat, probably at Chili's or something.  But first, I've got to finish the word count for today.  Back at it!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tuesday, Marcy 8, 2011

I'm running a Spring Break sale right now on the ebook version of my formerly bestselling Fae romance.  99 cents from now until the end of the month!

Here it is for the Nook:

And for Kindle:

So grab it while it's cheap!  To this day, it's one of my favorite books that I've written!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunday Night, 2-6-2011

I've been surfing on ITunes and found out that Aaron Lewis, the lead singer of Staind, has a country music album out.  I love Staind, love Aaron's voice, so I of course downloaded it and I'm listening to that right now while sipping on a Bud Light. 

I had a nice weekend.  First time ever, I went to the gym on both Saturday and Sunday.  An hour Saturday, half an hour today. I'm hoping for good weight results, since I ate clean and healthy (salmon on the grill tonight, sliced yellow squash, onion, mushrooms, carrots, and broccoli tonight for dinner).  I weigh every Monday and write it down (I have been doing this since 1996) and I'm determined to lose weight.  By the time my big birthday comes in early May, I *will* be at my goal weight.  Determined.   

I wrote on Saturday, took the day off today.  Nice weather for early March.  I'm sort of loving life.  I read some more of the hangliding book, read some more on the healthy eating book, did a bunch of laundry and minimal housework.  Sat outside in the sun and watched the birds in the backyard. 

Then tomorrow it will be Monday.  Back to the day job (I keep reminding myself, short timer, short timer!).

I'm missing the lake and the country and our "redneck resort".  But the book is going well and that's often enough to make me happy. 

Talk to you later!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Friday, March 4th, 2011

I'm glad it's Friday.  I'm tired and the writing - the most vital part of my day - comes slower when hampered by fatigue.  Just like when I'm working out, by the time I get to the third repetition of a set, I'm not able to go all out, full steam ahead. 

However, I was talking to the manager of the gym last week and learned he's a hang glider aficionado.  Immediately, I began thinking of how I could use this in a book and asked him if he'd mind if I periodically asked him questions.  He said ok, but I think the poor man was a little shocked at my questions - I was trying to get into the mindset of a hang glider, as in what makes them want to do this and what do you get out of it.  Finally, he just brought me a book to read and I have that now.  It's on the mechanics of hang gliding, and sort of interesting, even though the idea of soaring like that both repels and fascinates me.  As with everything else (like surfing) the people that do it make it look effortless, but there is a lot of knowledge and training and preparation involved.  And I've only just begun to skim the book.

So look for that soon - maybe a hang gliding shapeshifter?  Or special ops guy.  Who knows. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wednesday March 2, 2011

Today is one of those random days.  It's my daughter's birthday - and well do I remember this day oh-so-many years ago!  Happy Birthday, Steph!

In addition to looking forward to the not so distant future when I'll be writing full time, I've set a goal.  I *will* be at my target weight by May 1st.  No matter what I have to do - even give up beer (gasp!).  I've lost 5 pounds since my wonderful trainer came back to the gym (3 weeks) and this will continue.  I will turn fat into lean muscle, I will eat right, and will take care of my body.  Done deal.  I'm reading a book by Tosca Reno currently - she's over 50 and looks amazing.  It speaks to all of this - eating clean, working out, and having a new outlook on life.   I can't remember the title - it's downstairs on my Kindle and I don't feel like running down there and looking it up.  But it's good and motivating.  Kind of like one of those sales seminars I used to have to go to where the speaker gets you all pumped up so you can SELL, SELL, SELL!!!  Only this gets you pumped up to TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!

I've also been having a lot of conversations in my head.  No, wait - don't go get the straight jacket.  Lot's of writers do this.  Character conversations, imaginary scenes and situations.  I've had entire dialogues internally while working out on cardio - that is a really good thinking time for me.  On one of the writer email loops that I'm on, several writers have developed a treadmill desk - where they write while walking VERY slowly (like 1.5 mph) and manage to log several miles this way.  I'm considering it - not to replace my existing workouts, but in addition to them.  I know I've always got to do the resistance training as well as cardio, and getting your heart rate up also burns calories. 

Finally, I've been brooding over Charlie Sheen.  My hubby is fascinated by this guy and I'm way past annoyed.  If I have to listen to one more crazy, delusional, egotistical rant, I may just explode.  Talk about calling bad Karma to oneself... 'Nuff said.

Off to write - I've been doing 1000 words a day, which is a comfortable pace for me.  I won't have any problem making my May 1st book deadline, which coincidentally coincides with my weight deadline!