Monday, December 31, 2012

The Last of 2012

Well, it's finally here.  The end of another year.  I had a good year - it was my first complete year as a full-time writer (I quit the day job in June 2011).  I didn't accomplish everything I wanted - I'm not any more fit or skinnier - but I enjoyed my work and my family and that counts for a lot.

In 2012, I wrote 3 complete novels and turned them in to Harlequin.  I also uploaded four out of five of my former Kensington Precious Gem books.  They started earning me good money. 

I did not work out with a personal trainer this year due to finances.  I went to physical therapy on my pulled tendon and could do very little cardio other than a recumbant bicycle.  As I healed, I tried to up the workouts, but being lazy at heart, I did not.  Despite knowing what I have to do and purchasing books with workout routines, I gradually stopped working out and then even going to the gym.  I am not happy with this, and need to get back.  I've kept my weight pretty even, though 20 lbs higher than I'd like, but the muscle definition and strength I'd gained vanished. 

2012 was the first full year of having my elderly father live near me.  It was also the first full year of my husband's retirement.  Combined, this has made life interesting, to say the least.  Various health scares on both their parts were thankfully resolved. 

My mother has survived past her doctor's expectations, though she continues to fail slowly.  She passed the one year mark since being diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. 

I attended the Novelists, Inc. conference in White Plains, NY.  This was my first writing conference away from home since 2009. 

We had a white Christmas, which was lovely.

Now I look forward to next year.  I have two books remaining on my Harlequin contract, one due in April 2013 and one in September 2013.  I still have one more old Precious Gem to revise and put up for sale as an ebook.  And I have to get back to being fit, make better food choices so I can lose that 20 pounds, and continue to monitor both my husband and my health. 

Here's to a wonderful 2013!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

After Christmas

What a holiday!  Here in Texas, we had snow on Christmas Day.  Sure, it wasn't much, but we had a white Christmas which was absolutely amazing. 

I took all of last week off from writing, though I was so busy it didn't really feel like a vacation.  I cooked and shopped and wrapped and bathed dogs.  Then on Christmas Eve I visited my mother and had a meal with her.  We got home and stopped at Chili's later, where I had my traditional Christmas Eve Margarita.

And then we drove around and looked at Christmas lights.

During that night, it began to thunder and pour rain.  Then in the wee hours of the morning, it hailed.  When we got up Christmas morning, it was raining.  Gradually, that became freezing rain and sleet.

And then.... SNOW! 

Unfortunately as the temperatures continued to drop, the slush became ice and my family had to leave fairly early due to possible icy roads.  We'd planned to watch a movie with my daughter after all the festivities, but she had to head home.  My husband and I rented Men In Black 3 and truly enjoyed watching it while sitting next to a roaring fire in our fireplace.

I had a wonderful holiday this year.  Family, food, presents, and snow.  What more could one ask for?

Now I need to get back to work.  Unfortunately, I'm still exhausted.  I did begin sketching out a synopsis.  I need to fill in the blanks and begin the first chapter.  But for now, I'm taking it easy.  Drinking hot tea and looking out at the snowy landscape. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

The End of the World

So the big Mayan calendar thing is over.  Not that many people really believed in it anyway, though it was the fodder for one really stupid movie and a lot of Facebook and Twitter trash talk.  The world was supposed to end at midnight last night or something - I didn't pay all that much attention to it.

So... now we inch toward Christmas.  The big holiday.  Lots of food and family and presents and fun.  For me, everything is bought.  Everything is wrapped - except two items that I'm waiting to show up via UPS.  Yesterday I made oatmeal, chocolate chip, and molasses cookies.  And had a long lunch at an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet.  Not good for my waist, but so much fun.  I'm enjoying these few days off - five now, if I don't work today.  Wow! 

I do need to get to work on my Romantic Suspense proposal, I know.  But I just finished a very intense book and my creative well could use a bit of refilling. 

Speaking of books...   Yesterday I received the cover for my April 2013 Harlequin Nocturne The Wolf Prince.  I had told the art department I wanted someone who looked like Robert Downey, Jr.  They nailed it, except for the hair.  This is, hands down, my most favorite cover ever. 

And it inspires me.  Helps fill the well.  And makes me want to write again.  Love it!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Time Off

I did it!  With the help of the amazing Anna Adams, I finished revising and editing and polishing The Broken Wolf.  First thing yesterday morning, I clicked SEND and away it went to my editor. 

Then I went out to breakfast.   I had an omelet - chicken and mushroom and swiss cheese.  Yummo!

And the omelet came with pancakes - with strawberries and whipped cream!  (Lonnie helped me eat these, as there was NO way....)

Once breakfast was devoured, we went Christmas shopping.  Thanks to online retailers, I was pretty much finished, except for Lonnie's gift and a few small odds and ends. 

We went home halfway through to let the dogs out, and then got back to it.  Success!   

Now all the gifts are wrapped and under the tree.  Next I can turn my attention to baking - after I buy groceries, that is. 

And yes, I am going to get to work on the proposal that was due 12-15.  I hope to turn it in soon - like in a few days.  After I bake cookies. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Faith in Humanity

It's early Sunday morning.  My husband is still asleep.  I've been getting up at 6am for 7 days now because I have a book due tomorrow.  It's overdue - it actually was due 12-1 and I got an extension.  My dear friend and critique partner Anna Adams has been critiquing it and I'm doing the edits before I send it in.  It's very time consuming, and difficult to do with tears running down my cheeks.

Since Friday, I've been crying.  Since 20 tiny children were gunned down, along with five educators including a 27 year old teacher who protected her class with her life and a principal who I actually wish had been armed (odd thought, but if principals at schools were trained and allowed to carry a gun, maybe she could have took him down before he killed so many.)  My daughter is a teacher, and she was once five years old.  I know she'd give her life for her kids, just as any mother would give her life for her own.  At the thought of this happening in her school - any school - I want to shrivel up and die. 

I cannot imagine the horrible grief and pain the parents of those murdered children must be feeling.   Every time I think about it, I weep.  It's difficult to write romance when I feel so surrounded by darkness.  My writing friend Eileen Nauman said we need to try and focus on the brightness within us and send it out into the world to try and dispel the darkness.  I'm trying, oh how I'm trying, but at times the darkness seems to overwhelm me.

But we can't let it win. 

On Facebook and Twitter, I've seen discussions spiral into hatefulness.  Gun control is a hot topic.  I will say up front, we are an armed family.  My husband is getting his CHL (Concealed handgun license).  Personally, I abhor guns.  I'm afraid of them.  I don't hunt, don't shoot, but I can tell you this, I would if it meant defending a small child or anyone that I loved.  Including my dogs. 

People kill people.  Criminals will find a way to get weapons.  Just like the car is not at fault when a drunk driver kills someone, I don't feel that banning guns is the way to solve this.  Maybe stricter gun law will help, but I honestly don't think so.  I think the problem runs deeper.  What the hell is wrong with a society where a grown man feels it necessary and right to slaughter innocent children? 

I don't have the solution.  Hell, I can barely even deal with the pain.  All I know is this is usually the most joyous time of the year.  I've got to find a way to get back to that joy.  And to banish the darkness.

But right now, I've got to get back to revising the book. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

And So It Begins....

Today is the last week before I have to turn in my next Harlequin Nocturne THE BROKEN WOLF.  I turned in the Author Alterations on THE MILLIONAIRE COWBOY'S SECRET on Friday - they were unexpected and ramped up my stress level several notches.  Then I got back to writing.  I have under 10,000 words to go which is roughly 50 pages.  So if I write 10 pages a day this week, I will have the weekend to review and repair before sending it off on Monday.

I also have a proposal due for the next Harlequin Romantic Suspense.  I'm feverishly tossing around ideas while I focus on the Nocturne.  I know I want a couple who share a past, but that's about as far as I've gotten.

All other activities this week will be put on the back burner.  So.... no Christmas shopping or baking or anything.  Not until this book goes bye-bye.

I may try to pop in here once or twice this week.  If  not, I know you'll understand.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Busy, Busy, Busy

Yep, that's me.  Busy, busy, busy.  Just as I'm sure you are.  I'm working like crazy trying to get my next Nocturne THE BROKEN WOLF finished in time for the extended deadline of 12-15.  I also am contractually obligated to turn in a proposal for the next Harlequin Romantic Suspense book, so I'm letting ideas percolate. 

Plus there's Christmas - my favorite time of the year!  I love the shopping and the decorating and the wrapping and the cooking.  All of it!  Here's my tree!

Because I'm so busy (I call it deadline mania when it gets like this), I rarely leave the house.  I get up work all day and then after I make my word count, I shut down the computer, feed the dogs and make dinner, and then wrap a couple of gifts before I plunk down in front of the TV for the night.  Oh, and three times during the day I walk, so I'm still making my 10,000 steps or more a day.

I just need to get back to weights and resistance training!  With time, with time.

Gotta run.  I have a book to write.  One last picture, of my big Boxer Dog Macadoo who thinks he's a lap dop, sleeping on the recliner with his dad!  He's 70 pounds of preciousness!