Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Sweet, Sweet Week

Where to start. The past seven days have been a whirlwind for me. On Monday, I was still fuming about the pirates stealing my three futuristic romances. I won't use all the words to describe them I've used in conversation when I discovered it. I did very little writing last weekend. Anger is not an emotion that lends itself to creativity. At least not for me.
But Tuesday morning I woke up at 4:30 in the morning and knew the path I needed my plot to take as I navigated my characters through their dark moment. And I still remembered it when I woke up again an hour later.
That was the start of a lot of good things. Checking my fantasy publisher, Medallion Press, in a moment of procrastination, I discovered my book cover had finally been put up on their website along with a blurb. It's so beautiful as you can see from the picture alongside this post. The blurb isn't the one I wrote and I wouldn't call it entirely accurate, but it's there. Here's the link if you'd like to read it.

Later that same night, I discovered the book cover for my newest futuristic romanc release, A Ruthless Good, is on a list over at Goodreads for the hottest erotica cover. Now remember I was a bit distraught because my book isn't erotica and feared it would turn away my ususal readers or mislead new readers. But I'm not silly enough to cry about free publicity. Please go vote if you will.

As if the good fates hadn't smiled on me enough, the very next day I received an offer of a contract for a fantasy romance from The Wild Rose Press. I've heard so many wonderful things about this publisher, I can't wait to have my book in their lineup. To Tame a Tiger is the novel I had tied up in that bankruptcy mess with Triskelion even though they never published it. I was so afraid it would never see the light of a readers book light.
Continuing on my quest to make this one of the best weeks of my writing career, this morning I finished the first draft of my fourth book in The Solonian Chronicles, the futuristic romance series I have with New Concepts Publishing. This book is the last in the series that started with The Greater Good, The Lesser Evil and A Ruthless Good. I haven't titled this one yet and will tell you more about it later when and if I get a contract.
So I've met my writing goals for Febuary, snagged that new contract and had the joy of seeing that fantasy book up before the world. Everything is flowing.
Until last night. Did I tell you I think I destroyed my website?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Edge of Season

My writing has lagged a little this week. It's that odd time of year when winter is holding on with sharp, biting cold claws while spring wears away at it with added minutes of daylight and the increased warmth in the afternoon sun. I'm anxious to be outside, cleaning out my flowerbeds, trimming back my raspberry bushes before they get completely out of control and raking up the last of the old brown leaves that escaped last fall.
I usually do my promotional work when I first get home from school and then do my writing after dinner. But now when I get home, the longer daylight hours call to me. One day I cleaned out the garage instead of promo. Another day I washed my car and cleaned windows I haven't touched since last fall.
Things may get worse before they get better. The first day of spring sports practice is only a week away. My daughter plays softball and my son runs track so I'll be busy being taxi to and from practice as well as being number one fan. And in two short weeks, daylight savings time begins. How will I stay at it when it's light out even longer?
Do the seasons distract you? What is your best writing season or are you steady throughout the year? I know the holiday season slows most people down, but what about other times of year? You would think as a school teacher and having my summer months off, I would get a lot of writing done during June, July and August, but the opposite is true. I love the outdoors and near rain or cold to keep me at my keyboard. My alpha smart helps because I can take it outside and to sporting events and get some writing done. Am I the only one distracted by the great outdoors?
It's dark and cold now, so I'm going back to my WIP. I have to get it done before that time change.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Real Pirates Aren't Cool

First you might think of the bandits preying on ships of all sorts off the cost of Africa, but they're not the ones I'm speaking about. Though I admit, I don't understand why those ships don't mount some guns on their vessels. Those pirates are usually in some really small speed boats. It's not like they're in armored battle ships.
But back to my point. Yesterday I discovered all three of my books from NCP were available for download from a pirate site. Those SOBs were giving my books away right beside free downloads of The Dark Night and every other movie recently released on DVD. And considering A Ruthless Good has only been for sale for a few weeks, it was fast and evil work.
I've sympathized with other authors when their books appeared on pirate sites, but mine have never been there before. At least I didn't catch it if they were. It's so infuriating. I couldn't sleep last night for my fuming and today I took it out on my poor students at school.
Finally one of my colleagues pointed out the upside. If my books haven't been on a pirate site before and they are now, should I be complimented that I'm finally popular enough to make it worth their while to steal from me? Is that really reaching for the silver lining?
I think the more popular ebooks become, the more widespread the pirating of novels will become. Just as it's impossible to protect the illegal sales of video and music, I don't believe there's any technological answer to protection for authors. In the end, we can only trust the honesty of our customers to purchase our books through honest means.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Favorite Drink While Writing

I like coffee with my writing when it's light out. Any coffee will do but lately I've had to turn to heavily disguised ice coffee. After over thirty years of coffee abuse, my stomach has said 'no more' to that lovely, aromatic black fluid. I've tried every brand of java that promises mild on your stomach to no avail. So I'm stuck with the stuff watered down with cream and sugars. Sign....
After dark and into the wee hours, I change my drinks to wine or my very favorite, Disaronno amaretto on the rocks. I fine, caramel like sipping liqueur from Italy. Ahh...
So what do you have sitting on the corner of your writing desk. Something to pump you up with caffeine or mellow you out with alcohol?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Attack of The Winter Bugs

I'm not talking about insects. I'm talking about those colds, the flu, the sinus infections, and even mono at our house this winter. I don't think we've had a day in our lovely home in the last two months when everyone was healthy. As the lead management in the Gourley house, that has been a lot of stress and sleepless nights for me. Add exhaustion and stress and what do you get? An impaired immune system. That's right. After weeks of taking care of the rest of the gang, it caught up to me this week. What does that mean for my writing? One thousand words yesterday and nada today.
It's tough to concentrate on helping my hero and heroine escape their enemies when my chest hurts more than their injuries possibly can. What do I care if their hungry and thirsty when I can barely swallow? Do I care if they're going to have to swim across a wide, dangerous and cold river when I'm having chills and aches myself? Do I care how tired they are from lack of sleep when my coughing has kept me awake for the last three nights?
I'm trying to care, but I'm not sure I can wake up the creative juices today. Now that I'm done with my pity party, I thought I would post an excerpt to my latest release, A Ruthless Good. Perhaps that will help me get back to the next book in this series, The Solonian Chronicles. The fourth book is the last in this particular series. No worries though. Others are in the grand design.
Excerpt from A Ruthless Good

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."

Monday, February 9, 2009

Do, Did, Done

No, I'm not lecturing on proper use of verbs and their tenses. I'm thinking about the stack on my desk. Yes, I procrastinated a little last Friday and cleaned up my two desks. Yes, my writing mess spread like fog rolling down off a mountain in springtime and I needed to get another desk. Now I have two, set at angles to each other. I keep one relatively clear with space for my alphasmart, my laptop, my day planner, my notebook bible of my current WIP, and a small stack of things I need to do. Today. Soon. In the next few days. Never mind what the other desk holds. I feel good when I can see any of the wood surface.
So, let's get back to that little pile of things that call for attention sooner rather than later. A few are handwritten notes of blogs or websites I want to visit. A few are notes from the recent CPRW meeting(my local chapter of RWA). Some of those are notes within notes. I should have taken care of at least one of these last night. Sigh...
Another little stack are things I've run off hard copies of or clipped from a writer's publication.(You really can't save all those publications) Some of these clippings are promotional opportunites or perhaps market news of what editor switched to what house.
Though they don't belong in the urgent pile, there are also a few notes or clipped advertisements for books I want to read. Some are new authors so I have to keep it right in front of me or I will forget.
I put this stack right in the middle of my desk. I have to push it aside to center my laptop. It covers my coaster where I set my cup of tea. Seriously, it is in the way. So I should get to it, but I'm going to finish this post first. Then I'm going to write that next scene in my WIP because I know exactly what needs to happen. And then if it's not too late, I'm going to take care of at least two things on that stack.
How do you keep your urgent file in front of you? I used to make lists, but now I just keep all my little scraps. And if you're one of those people who don't put things off, go ahead and rub it in.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Crash and Die by Dell

I'm working my way up to a computer decision. Like many people I can navigate my way around my computer and do the things I need to do. But any little complication soon leaves me flaying about for answers. I do most of my writing work on my laptop. No one used my laptop except me. Until a few months ago. My daughter is taking all honors classes so she does a lot of research on the net as well as designing power point presentations and other things for school. Before she and my sons always did their work on our Dell desktop. It's a great computer and I remember how thrilled I was when we first bought it.
Here's the problem. It's going on four years old and its soooo slow. I've tried all the gadget things to speed it up. All those clean up utilities that come with my Norton Security package, but still I can only pep it so much. The fragmentation is often near the crash and die mark. So I went to the computer guru at work and asked her for some advice. She told me, but I'm scared to do it.
She described my computer as being like a house. When you first move into a house, you organize everything into its place. As the years go by, you build clutter, things don't get put where they belong, pieces of things are lost and basically you have chaos and have lost your nice neat house. So how to you fix it? She told me to start all over. Take everything out of the house and reinstall with the disk that came with my computer. Yikes!
But what about what's on there? I have to save it else where or lose it. Yikes again. All my pictures, my documents, everything. It's rather frightening. What if I do it and I can a fast computer again but I destroy forever something I really need?
So I'm brooding over the pros and cons of speeding up that computer. It stop my daughter from guilting me into letting her use my laptop because it takes her so long to do assignments on the desktop. It will clear out all the junk my boys left behind on that machine before they got their own computers for college. But it might clear out some of my important junk. Hmm. Has anyone else every done that? I'm afraid, very afraid.
I think I'll go write and leave the decision for another day. I'm working on book four, the final book, in The Solonian Chronicles. This book is Brady's and Cara's story. Can his love heal her soul? Maybe, but it hasn't yet and the book is over half written.
Give me some advice about the darn computer.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Top Ten Favorite Ways to Procrastinate

We all do it, but I think writers have a special gift and flare for procrastination. Here are my top ten favorites.

10. Update blog and visit all my friends' blogs and comment. Tell yourself it's all about networking.

9. Check Fictionwise and other booksellers to see if you received any new ratings.

8. Google your name or the name of your book just in case there's a surprise review out there somewhere.

7. Bake some cookies because your children are 'starving.'

6. Run out to the coffeeshop and get a four dollar ice coffee because theirs is so much better than your own ice coffee.

5. Reply to every post on the twenty-five yahoo groups you belong to.

4. Run a quick security scan on your computer because you really shouldn't let those things go.

3. Just a quick check in with facebook or twitter because it's all about the networking, baby.

2. File rejection letters by date and then decide to do them alphabetically.

And the number one favorite way for me to procrastinate is:

1. Rearrange my workspace including but not limited to: moving my desk, vaccumming the corners where it was sitting, dusting EVERYTHING, throwing out all those saved emails with possible contacts on, logging expenses and earnings, putting receipts in the tax folder, make a written list of all the things I need to do for promo, another list for all the authors and books I want to read, and rearrange my keeper shelf by author in order of publication and finally but not least, find the best spot on my desk for pictures of my kids.

What are your favorite ways to procrastinate?