Sunday, April 13, 2008

One year later . . .

How naughty am I, not posting in over a year?

It's been a busy year, one that hasn't left much room for writing.

In August of 2007, I returned to the corporate work world, leaving behind my days as a stay-at-home mom indefinitely. It's been quite an adjustment, re-learning corporate speak and obscure motivational acronyms, finding my place in the office hierarchy and chewing my way up the food chain. So to speak.

I've finally settled into a comfort zone at work while prioritizing responsibilities at home. I've learned that sometimes you have to let some things slide and focus on what's important.

As most writers know, our writing is often the first sacrificial lamb tossed into the volcano to appease the prioritization Gods.

I apologize for being AWOL for a year. I'm back for the moment.

And now, a few points of business.

My short story, Welcome to Texas, is available for download at The Wild Rose Press. Here's the teaser:
After moving from Minnesota to Texas, Kacey Newton must adapt to the strangeness of The Lone Star State. To Kacey, the accents are undecipherable, the heat is unbearable, the neighbors are inconsiderate and the hunky police chief’s uniform of choice is a tank top, baggy shorts and flip-flops.

The only thing Chief Jack Boudreaux likes as much as a sexy woman is steak. Thick, juicy steak. Now if he could just find a sexy woman who actually eats steak, and not just salad, he’d be in hog heaven. It’s just a matter of time before Jack attempts to seduce Kacey with a pitcher of ice cold margaritas, some spicy, hot fajitas and his dazzling Texas charm.

The story has received a couple of very nice reviews, despite me not making much effort to promote the piece (other than to tell my family and a couple of coworkers!) I know, I know - shame on me!

Here are links to the reviews:
The Long and The Short Of It Blog posted a lovely review on March 30. Gracias!

On March 27, Welcome to Texas received a 4 heart review over at Night Owl Romance. Merci!

What am I working on now? Truthfully, I have so many irons in the fire. I need to take my rediscovered corporate prioritization skills and focus on one project at a time and see it through to completion. Currently, I'm evaluating all my works-in-progress to decide which are close to completion and which markets would be best. I have a complete novel that might be a fit for The Wild Rose Press, but it needs some serious tweaking before I submit it.

The other day I realized I've completed over a dozen quirky short stories in the past seven years that could conceivably be compiled into an anthology.

And of course, there are several novels-in-progress gathering dust.

I'm always writing, though lately it's been PowerPoint presentations, spreadsheets and clerical letters.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Contests and target audience.

I'm not a big fan of writers' contests. The main purpose for writing organizations, such as regional chapters of RWA, to hold contests is to raise funds for their chapter.

I question the qualifications of some judges, who are sometimes simply "PRO" status - that is, they've submitted their own work to an editor or agent, thus qualifying for "PRO" status through the RWA, but they aren't necessarily published or experienced.

And, going by the crazily diverse range in scores I've received, some judges don't "get" my work. Contest judging seems far too subjective for my taste. If a judge doesn't "get" what I'm trying to say, then most likely they aren't my target audience.

For example, I brought a story to my critique group a few weeks ago and the prologue included some rather disturbing imagery and some foul language. One of my critique partners asked, "Don't you think you may lose some readers here?"

I responded, "Then those people aren't my target audience."

As readers, we all have our favorite genres and types of stories. While some people may be content to stick strictly within those confines, I prefer to read a wide range of story types, often depending on my mood. Some days I want sweet, funny romance. Other days - my cranky days - I'm in the mood for some grisly murder mysteries or somber, gritty realism.

My critique partner had grown accustomed to the stories I typically bring for review - funny, sweet romance. Romantic comedy. And some quirky slice-of-life stories. So my experiment with writing a darker story took her by surprise. It took some readjusting in her thinking, but she and our other critique partner shifted gears nicely and both gave my chapter a constructive critique.

But in contests, I suspect not all judges have this capacity - to switch gears from what they are accustomed to reading in order to effectively and constructively review something a little different, something that doesn't necessarily follow the tried-and-true rules of a particular genre. (For those of you who write romance, you KNOW all about the rules of the genre!)

Usually a judge is compatible with the category she's judging; i.e., she's comfortable reading that type of story and it's ideally one of her favorites. But often, contest coordinators scramble for judges, sticking judges into categories for which they aren't particularly suited. The results? Contests scores that vary too greatly and comments that demonstrate the judge's lack of qualifications and basic understanding of that category of story.

So I'm not a big fan of contests but because I've got this manuscript that I've sent out twice and I'm trying to determine my next move. I've entered it into a contest just to see what kind of crazy results it garners. After all, contest judges are readers. Hopefully I'll get at least one judge who gets it. And maybe I'll get a better idea of what's not working in the story.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

News and what EVER.

This blog is boring, I know. But I've been faithfully spending my time writing rather than blogging. No, I'm lying. Well, kind of lying. I just didn't want to post anything and have my killer bunny picture scroll further down on the page. It's so cute. Well, I think so, anyway.

I just found out another short story of mine will be published by The Wild Rose Press. More news on that later as I get the details. I love The Wild Rose Press, and not just because I'm one of their authors. First, let me preface this by saying I've been reluctant to touch the e-Publishing market, mainly because I'm an old fashioned girl and love the feel of a good book in my hands. I'm a big fan of turning pages and find when I read things online or in a digital format, I tend to skim. A lot. I'm an awful skimmer, so I frequently miss important details.

But, in addition to my mountain of novels-in-progress I've got going, I write tons of short stories. I love short stories. I like the fact that I can sit down and write one in a few hours and with a bit of editing and tweaking, it's ready to go. I like the almost instant gratification in knowing quickly how the story will end. When writing a novel, I usually don't know how it'll end until I write the end.

I love the look of The Wild Rose Press's site and the editors I have worked with have been phenomenal. My fellow authors are great, too. I love the ease of purchasing a story, too. Instant gratification. It's all good. And I predict good things for TWRP; I know someday they will become a RWA recognized publisher.

Sometimes I want something so much, it feels like it's rightfully mine. I'd like to elaborate on that but I'll save that for another post.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Man-eating bunny.

I was in fourth grade. The first story I can recall writing was about a cute, white bunny who hopped along innocently and then went on psychopathic homicidal rampages, killing innocent humans.

I remember the Teacher's Aide, who'd been working with students on these writing projects, sitting down with me to discuss my story's plot. As I read the story aloud to her, I distinctly remember how her smile faltered, her face blanched as the horror of what I'd written unfolded before her. Though she probably discussed the mechanics of my writing at length, I only remember her asking, "Why did you write this?" My answer? Because it was fun to write. Anyone can write a dumb old story about a cute, white fluffy bunny hopping happily in a meadow of wildflowers. I wanted to write something exciting, vivid and . . . different.

Being only 9, I didn't know that Monty Python had already snatched up the white, fluffy, man-eating bunny idea in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

And so, years later I've learned there are very few original ideas remaining, only original execution and voice.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Fed-Ex delivery of someone else's dreams

In addition to Christmas deliveries from UPS and the US Postal Service, FedEx dropped off a rectangular box containing four entries into the Golden Heart contest sponsored by the Romance Writer's of America.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with The Golden Heart, it's a prestigious contest for unpublished writers of romantic fiction.

This is my first year participating as a judge. I'm excited to do my part, performing one of my responsibilities as a member of RWA.

When I opened the package and slid out the four manuscripts, they practically vibrated with the hopes and dreams of the writers who submitted them. I know I sound horribly sentimental when I feel somewhat honored to play some small part in nudging a colleague (or two or four) along on her career path. Each writer put their heart and soul into these novels, represented by a mere fifty pages and a synopsis. I know how it feels to work hard toward a writing goal, to see something through to completion. I know how unnerving it is to put that writing in someone else's hands and pin your hopes on their response.

I haven't begun to read these four entries yet. I'm still too busy reverently touching the pages knowing that each author laid hands upon them, gazed upon them one final time before tucking the entry into a mailer and sending it to RWA. We are connected not only by our shared passion for writing but by these very pages I hold.

I will do my best to honor your writing, your efforts and your passion, my dear fellow RWA members. Best of luck!

Wednesday, December 6, 2006


promo cards2
Originally uploaded by SallyAF.

My short story will be available at The Wild Rose Press this Friday, December 8. Because I'm not sure how long it will be available for purchase on their site, I'm feeling pressure to promote the story and garner some sales.

Other than blog entries, these postcards and word of mouth, I'm really at a loss about how to promote my writing.

I'm feeling a bit shy and embarrassed with the whole process. I'm a writer - it's a solitary profession. I spend hours on end with myself, creating imaginary characters and building the worlds they live in. Promoting my writing means I must step out of my comfort zone and into the business end of things. I've been absent from the business world since the year 2000 when I quit my job to stay home with my daughter. And to write.

I knew someday if my writing was ever published, I'd need to promote it. So, here I go. I'll start with postcards.

And of course this blog.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Any minute now . . .

. . . The Wild Rose Press will make A Date With Santa's Stand-In available for purchase. Here's a blurb of what it's about:

As a mall display coordinator, forty-two-year-old Mara Wentworth reluctantly goes through the motions of preparing the Santa set for the Jolly One’s annual visit. Although it’s Mara’s job to transform the mall into a dazzling winter wonderland, nudging shoppers into a festive (and free-spending) mood, she dreads her first Christmas as a divorced mother.

But when tall, wavy-haired contractor Sam Kendall arrives and buckles on his tool belt to remodel Santa’s old workshop, he drives Mara to distraction with his muscular build and constant flirting. Mara quickly chucks her “no more men” rule as she works on the Santa set with Sam. But when the mall Santa’s a no-show, Mara and Sam scramble to find a replacement, leading to a heart-warming and humorous conclusion.