Saturday, January 31, 2009

What's a Writer to do on a Weekend?

I have lots of pals who write and many of them work other jobs. I don't have to wonder what most of them are doing on a weekend. No, they're not catching up on housework or finding the time to prepare that extra special family meal. They're trying to get their word count up for the week on their current WIP. Or they're working on edits, trying to find a bigger slice of time to concentrate on it rather than the minutes here and minutes there they find during the week.
I know one of them was at a booksigning near her home this weekend. (Sorry I couldn't be there, hope it was fabulous).
A mini vacation for a writer is a weekend conference where they can network, smooze with other professionals, have some fun interrupted by moments of terror when they pitch to an editor, an agent or finds one seated next to them at the bar. Good stress, but still a working weekend, not a real vacation.
Some writers use this weekend to update their blogs, their websites and other little time consuming things they've put off for the week.
Often a writer with a busy family packs her alpha smart or laptop in the Rodeo and heads off to a tournament, field hockey at Kutztown University this weekend, and sits on the sidelines huddled over the keyboard while chaos breaks all around her. Those little alpha smarts operate at all temperature extremes including 98 degree baseball games and 22 degree football games.
Tomorrow is the Super Bowl and lots of people have parties and social activities planned. This writer is thinking she'll order pizzas so she doesn't have to cook. Will I watch it? Professional sports don't hold much appeal for me after watching my sons play in college. Those college guys play for nothing and they bleed and sweat as much as those millionaires and seem to try a lot harder. They cry when they lose and are really excited when they win. Nah, I won't watch much of it. But the game is important to me because it will keep everyone else busy so I can write in peace.
So enjoy you weekend, all you writers out there. I hope you had the chance to go out on this Saturday night. Me, I'm uploading this week's toil from my alpha smart to the desk top. That's what this writer calls a great weekend.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

It's a Business

Tax time again. Not something I like to think about. Fortunately, my husband is retired, kind of, and takes care of all the meetings with the accountant and just tells me where to sign. With my writing income and my husband's part time business in addition to my teaching income, the whole process gets a little complicated. I love our tax guy. He really looks out for ways for us to save and is really up to date on what we can deduct and what we can't. The stack of paperwork astounds me. How do people ever do it on their own?
It's not only the federal that gets you. You have the state, the local and then all my kids have their own forms. They're all still in school, but my husband pays them for helping in his business so they need to file and pay those state and local taxes.
My husband and I sat down and looked at what we paid in 2008 and decided I'm working for over one fourth of the year to pay taxes and that's not counting the 6% sales tax Pennsylvania charges on almost everything. Where does it go? The country if ever further in debt and I'm paying more and more every year. Can't someone get a handle on the spending, locally, statewide and at the federal level?
Back to my writing income. It's bittersweet to finally be making some money with my books and now have to pay out for it. Sometimes I feel like I'm working a hundred hours a week between teaching and writing. Can I please keep a little more of my money?
I'm sure it's the same for everyone. How does this time of year hit you? Is it as painful for you as it is for me?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Favorite Snow Day Activity

Once again the prospect of a snow day hangs over the head of central Pennsylvania school children and their teachers. Or is it a dangling carrot? Those unexpected days off are also such a pleasant surprise and it's very tempting to sleep late, laze around and do nothing. I hate to waste the gift of a day though so I already have plans.
First I will fill the bread machine with the ingredients I have had sitting ready for almost a week. I also have plans for a new oatmeal cookie receipe I must try. Cookies with oatmeal in can't be fattening, can they? While I'm baking those, I'm going to get put together some chicken corn soup. Perfect for an icy, snowy day. Of course, all this is dependent on the electricity staying on which is not a given whenever we have an ice storm.
My daughter has brought a nice stack of wood into the garage so we can get that fireplace roaring tomorrow. A pot of hot tea and maybe our favorite version of Jane Austen in the DVD player and I'm set.
Between taking batches of cookies out of the oven, I'm going to do my daily blog visits and check in with facebook and twitter. Then while the soup simmers and the bread rises, I'm going for a 5K day on the WIP.
So I'm doing my 'snow dance' this evening and hoping for that unexpected vacation day. Be safe.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Ruthless Good coming in Print

I am so thrilled to learn my publisher, New Concepts Publishing, is releasing my latest futuristic romance in print this June. A Ruthless Good, will join the first two books in my series, The Greater Good and The Lesser Evil as print releases. Three books to have for book signings!
Now if I can only figure out what to do about that cover. It's a little too hot for many signing venues. It's too hot to have around the house when my daughter's friends visit. I have mixed feelings about this latest cover. I didn't get any chance to preview it and actually never saw it until the day my book was released in ebook. I know hot covers can be a great selling tool, but I'm afraid the cover may lead some readers to expect a higher sensuality level than the novel actually contains.
What do you think? Have you ever bought a book expecting something carnal and bold and found it to be rather mild instead? I don't want my readers to feel cheated.
But again, I'm so happy about this book coming out in print. My publisher only puts out a few books in print each month so I'm excited that mine is one of them.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Kids

I love them. I really do. All four of them were planned, three years apart and born in the spring. They're the source of my best memories, most wonderful moments and eternal pride. But, I need a few hours alone. I grew up in a large family and always wanted one of my own. My children are hard workers, intelligent, respectful, well-adjusted teenagers and young adults, but I need some MOM time. That stands for Me Only Me time. To write, to read, to watch a TV show I want to watch all by myself without their young, arrogant male POV about the story, the characters and the feasibility of the action.
This past week I've been so busy promoting, updating my website and my blog as well as working on the WIP because the characters won't be quiet in my head and I have to get it down before they stop talking to me.
And they've been invading my work space. Each one has a tale to tell, even while I'm writing this. My daughter wants me to listen to some really cool, Celtic music she found online. It's really nice. My son that is a teacher in the same high school where I teach had a tale of one of his students that made us both laugh. My twenty year old son came in to tell me about the youth basketball team he coaches and how badly they were beaten today. My son that is at Penn State for a big indoor track meet text messaged me to let me know they're safe in their hotel room and playing monopoly. Gosh, I love them.
Each child that passed through my office took a sip of my ice coffee. That's too much for any mother to take. When they were little they went to bed early and the majority of my writing took place while they slept. Now I'm waiting up all hours for them to get home from dates, typing on my alpha smart in gymnasiums and on sidelines of baseball and field hockey games. If your children are small now, don't think they're going to need you less as they get older. Even if your just the sounding board, they need their dear old moms.
Oh well, things seem a little quieter now. It took almost an hour to type this amid all the interruptions. I'm going to get back to that WIP just as soon as I order some new shin guards for my daughter. I think in about ten more years, I'll have some MOM time.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Ruthless Good Released Today!

After much frantic preparation, somehow my publisher ironed out most of the last minute details and A Ruthless Good was released today from New Concepts. Here's a little detail and a short excerpt. Try this link to see the smoking hot cover and read another excerpt.

A RUTHLESSS GOOD is out today!
A RUTHLESS GOOD is the third exciting futuristic romance in The Solonian Chronicles series. Realm warrior, Claudia Turan leads an expedition into the northern wilderness in hopes of finding the lost city of Parlania with its universities and libraries. She expects to find ruins and hopes to salvage some knowledge from the remnants. Instead she finds survivors and a warped society in the midst of revolution. Roth Celebria is the leader of a ragtag band of desperate freedom fighters. Should Claudia risk the safety of her own colony to help Roth? Or is her desire to help him more of lust than concern for the welfare of his people? Both of them learn that the battle for what is right can be merciless and one must be ruthless in the fight against evil. And sometimes sacrifices of body and soul must be made in the hope for a better tomorrow.

Read a short excerpt here and visit my website for more:
Roth struggled toward the warmth. Even if it was the fires of hell, he wanted to reach it. But something heavy weighed on him and held him back. Was he buried? Dead and under the dirt. Why couldn’t he move?
"Hell’s shithouse. They’re ruined!" a strangely accented female voice cursed. She uttered more odd phrases in an angry tone.
A woman displaying anger? A woman cursing? Beyond the fire he saw trees. Roth slowly shifted his head a little to widen his field of vision. He was outside. Not far away he heard the purr of the river.
The woman wore a man’s shirt and pants. She held a boot in her hand and glared at it with a ferocity that shocked him. And her face, beyond the fierce scowl, was unlike any he’d ever seen. Angles and dimples, evident even now with her frown, combined into a work of art. An image of a goddess. And to heighten her divine appearance, her hair hung long and loose to her waist. It was made of silver. Not the dull gray color of old age, but the silver of a deity gracing Parlania with her presence. Her brows were dark, almost black, and her face unlined in youth. Her hands as she turned the boot about were long-fingered and strong while her wrist looked fragile. But a sword lay at her side.
She glanced over at him and shocked him into a gasp. Her eyes were the same silver as her hair, a color that could not be mortal. Perhaps he was dead.
"So you’re awake."
Her voice poured over him like the warm honey produced by mountain bees. And something about it made him very aware of his nudity beneath the mountain of blankets weighing on him.
"Can you speak? Do you understand my words?" She rose with a grace to mirror a dance move and walked around the fire to kneel by his head.
Roth tried to sit up, but the world spun sickeningly when he lifted his head.
"Whoa there, stranger." She pressed him back with a strong hand.
Not that she had need of strength. His muscles were as soft clay.
"Here, roll to your back and let me put something beneath your shoulders." She picked up more blankets from beside the fire and moved around behind him. She lifted the covers from his back to add the new.
"Son of a damned Savage bitch!"
Roth closed his eyes. Somehow having this lovely goddess see his ravaged back shamed him.
He heard her take a few deep breaths before she scrambled around to where he could see her again. She pointed to her chest. "My name is Claudia."
"Roth." It hurt his throat to produce the one rough, quiet word.
"Roth." She smiled and it did a funny thing to his insides. "Mia told me I have to get you to drink something as soon as you woke up. Do you think you could sit up enough to have something?"
He got his elbow under him enough to lift his upper body a little. The lash had curled around his side on some of its strokes, so it hurt to be on his side though not as much as being on his back would.
Claudia held a warm cup to lips while her other hand steadied his head. A fragrance foreign to him rose in misty tendrils of steam from the mug. He’d expected water or tea. He pressed his lips closed.
"It’s all right. I know you Solonians never had chocolate before, but I promise you’ll like it. It’s very reviving."
Roth liked the scent already, and what harm could a drink do? He was helpless. The woman didn’t need to poison him. She could strangle him or beat him to death with a piece of wood if she wished.
It tasted better than it smelled. It slid smoothly over his tongue and teased him with an unlikely combination of sweet and bitter at the same time. He took a few more sips before his strength failed. Claudia helped him ease down to his side.
She returned the metal mug to a spot near the fire and then settled unto the ground where he could see her. Her long slim legs folded beneath her in a move made erotic by the tight pants clinging to her thighs and hips.
She stretched out and picked up her wrinkled looking boot again. "I hope you can say more than your name, Roth, after I ruined my best boots wading out into that ice flow to save you."
She had rescued him? A woman? "Thank you."
Her frown changed to that breath stopping smile . How quickly her emotions changed, and she hid none of them.
"You’re welcome. I think I’m actually thrilled to meet you. We’d almost giving up hope that you existed. You’re worth a pair of boots. Maybe."
Her every sentence confused him. Who was she?
She reached out again and picked up the sword. "But first, you should tell me what happened to your back, and why you were drowning naked in the river."
She spoke with such authority, Roth didn’t know how to answer. She was a woman yet spoke with the stern command of a senior shepherd. "What are you?"
Her quick smile flashed at him again. "What? I’m the Realm captain who’s going to decide if you live or die if you don’t answer my questions. I can only think of a few reasons a man would be whipped almost to death. Might be I should have let you drown so you better start convincing me before we throw you back in that ice bath."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I've always one of the people who like to finish one task completely before I go on to the next. Even eating, I tend to eat one thing at a time rather than a bite of this and then a bite of that. I have always read one book cover to cover before starting the next. Being an author has changed all that for me.
I remember the first time I had to set aside the manuscript I was working on to make changes in another book for an editor. It was so stressful and difficult from me to stop thinking about one set of characters and return to the lives of people I had finished with months before. Then when I finished it was nearly as challenging to go back to my WIP.
That part of the business did not come easily to me. I still don't like working on more than one book at a time, but I can do it. I know many writers who seem to easily juggle numerous projects without breaking a sweat. I'm not sure if I'll ever have that talent.
In the meantime, I have learned to read more than one book at once. There's the one I carry in my bag for timeouts during my children's sporting events. There is the one in my bedroom, the one in my desk at school and the one beside my chair in the living room. Who knows? Maybe I'll starting mixing my foods together on my plate.
Hopefully, someday I'll have to really learn to juggle. I think I could live with that kind of stress.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Little Here, Little There

When I had my first book coming out almost a year and a half ago, I felt completely overwhelmed by the challenge or promotion. I created my own website with no idea of what I was doing. I started a blog when I was sure I had nothing of importance to say other than, 'buy my book.' I didn't know how to create links, how to draw visitors to my sight or even how to write a promo for all those yahoo groups I've joined. Now my third book is coming out next week and I've learned a few things.
First of all, I can't do everything at once. I'm still an amatuer in learning all you can do with your blog and your website. I've learned I can spend hours doing promotion online and get little to no writing done. Where is the line to maintain balance? I must write so I have new material for my readers or I will lose them. I must promote so I have readers at all.
So I'm trying in 2009 to do a little promotion each day and spend most of my available hours writing. Sometimes all I do is visit my friends' blogs, tweet once on twitter and dash over to facebook. And I figured out I don't have to write a long essay with great literary merit each time I update my own blog. Sometimes I can just get things off my mind and say hello.
Now I'm back to my writing with the soundtrack of 'Lord of the Rings' playing in the background.
The fourth book in my Solonian Chronicles Series, is calling for me. Haven't come up with the title yet, but it needs to follow the others, The Greater Good, The Lesser Evil, and A Ruthless Good.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Don't Ever Give Up

All writers have those weeks, those months, those years, and this past one was mine. I'd been waiting to hear from a certain editor about a manuscript she'd asked me to make changes in more than once. She told me numerous times how much she loved the story and let me know in December she would give me a decision after the holidays. You can see where this is going. She rejected it along with an apology and a thank you for all my patience and hard work in a losing cause. Great comfort that was.
I was disappointed for a while, and perhaps a I felt a bit of righteous anger. But I've had enough rejections over the years to know what I needed to get by this. I immediately send out a query to a publisher I've been wishing I had something to fit. They responded quickly with a request for a full manuscript after ready my query and synopsis. I'm so happy I didn't waste days crying in my cups. Okay, I had a glass of wine. But only one. And tonight I'm having one in celebration.
Now about that rejection I received from that agent today, I have a whole list ready to pick the next one from. I'm not giving up.
I'll be back tomorrow or the next day with an excerpt for my next week's release, A Ruthless Good.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Hours in the Day

I know many of us feel this at one time or another, but I could really use about four more hours every day. I don't think four is being greedy. Ten would be asking too much, but with as few as four, I could bake bread each day, cook a meal from scratch, get at that durn treadmill every day and write another thousand words. As the way my day stands now, I must make tough choices of which to do. Giving up my day job eliminate any need to deny one of my pleasures, but I probably wouldn't have the money to buy the flour for the bread, or the electricity to run the treadmill or even a computer to write my novel on. So tonight, when I should have my nose in that WIP, I made the decision to visit some blogs of friends and whine a little about my lack of time.
So I'm curious, what might you do with four hours more per day?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Keeping it Rolling

I had a great weekend. No, I didn't hit the lottery or powerball. But I did hit that part in my WIP where I couldn't type fast enough to keep up with the story. My characters were hurrying from scene to scene, their emotions soaring and sinking and the bad guys put in a great performance. And I'm only taking this short break to catch up on some facebook, twitter and check in with my blog friends. I love it. If only I didn't have to go to that day job. And I like my day job, but I still would rather write full time, all the time, any time and especially during this creative times.
So this is a short stop. I have to get back to it while everything is clear. Things are pretty tense between the hero and heroine right now.
Have fun and hope you all find the 'zone' in your work this week.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Twittering away

Like many of my fellow authors, I've been spending some time on Twitter. I find some great links to articles on there and have met so many experts on site traffic, promotion and even some nearly local independent bookstores. If you haven't set up an account on Twitter, you should consider it. I get lots of hits to my website from twitter and I hope to soon get more to this blog from my friends there. Please friend me if you're already there.
I'll follow you back and have fun with the tweeting.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Well 2009 is upon us. Looking back at the start of my writing career, I certainly dreamed of being at a different spot when this year rolled around. None of my books have been made into movies. Conference chairpersons aren't calling me to beg my lectures. They don't hire special security to handle the crowds at my booksignings. I didn't even get to quit my day job!
After my first year of rejections and the big splat as I hit the wall of reality, I reset my idea of how fast success might find me. Or rather how soon I might capture the allusive little beast as it flittered mercilessly out of reach. I brushed against it now and then and am not displeased at my successes. Better even, I still believe with each book I write it will be the one I'll see someday on the big screen when some famous director gets a hold of my book and knows it will be the next 'Lord of the Rings' blockbuster.
Along with my moderate successes and my continued optimism, I've also learned enough that I might actually be able to give one of those lectures to beginning writers. One of the things I would caution new and aspiring writers about is, there is so much you don't know yet. And the world of publishing changes and grows each year. I don't think I'd even heard of an ebook when I first starting writing. Yet I've found some degree of financial reward with my books that have been published in this 'green' form.
So in 2009 I will continue to sit at the keyboard, continue to promote my sales, continue to chase that dream and most of all, continue to learn and I hope improve my craft. I wish all my friends and writing acquaintances success and hope they find inspiration and energy to keep at it. Happy writing.