Archive for January, 2009

Or maybe I just suck at it.

As you might be able to tell, I’m focusing a little more on promotion for Perfect Circle. We did a big push in November, you know, sent out post cards, ARC’s, the works. But it seems like we hit a plateau and I don’t like it. The Prisoner has been returned to the copy-editor with all changes made, issues addressed and is slotted for release in September. (yeah) But I’m not ready to just let Perfect Circle go.

We’ve both been kind of busy. I just finished the first chapter of the new manuscript with all the nervous energy, hope and satisfaction that accompanies such an event. 36 to go. SO promised his new manuscript to his agent by the end of January. Ouch. In case you didn’t read that blog. He’s referring to the manuscript I started in December, edited 100 or so pages and then put down. (Hey, I was busy!) I picked it up today and edited about 30 pages. I’d forgotten what a good book it is. I’ll get it in tip top shape and then we’ll see if agent can sell it (this will NOT be the third book in his contract; that is still in the works) and then you will be able to read it (read, when it comes out, please, please read it)

Yeah, I’m not above begging, in fact it’s starting to sound like a pretty good idea. I could stand on the street corner and hold a sign that says, “Reunite a family; Please, read Perfect Circle.” No, probably not the kind of publicity we need, but what do we need?–beside a miracle?–I don’t know.

It’s a paradox, most writers I know aren’t exactly the social type. Give me a keyboard, some imaginary characters and I’m good. Really. But now I’m supposed to network? Speak with strangers? Hear that quaking? That’s me in my proverbial boots.

It’s not that Perfect Circle’s numbers are bad. I don’t actually know what they are. Won’t know until we get the numbers from Random house (soon please) But I check Amazon religiously, ok,  compulsively. We range between 200,000 and 300,000 in sales. Best was 67,000 (what a day) worst was 454,000 ( I confess, I couldn’t take it, I bought a book) But I’ve heard Amazon sales are not indicativeof how well your book is selling. And why we’re on Amazon, what is with the book with 3 stars being at 20,000 something in sales?

Anyway, SO and I are planning another promotion surge, but you know what? We don’t know what the hell we’re doing. Neither one of us are in advertising. He’s an engineer, I’m in accounting. ? ? ? So I’m reading every blog, article and book about promotion (again) and hopefully I’ll glean a few more gems. (Is that a mixed metaphor?)

Yeah, I know, branding takes time, building a career takes time, but we’re not getting any younger and he’s there and I’m here so hey, when you finish reading this, please, consider buying a book. : )

PS, I’m so damn polite–I mean you’re kind of a guest on my site and you just don’t ask your guests to buy something– that last bit was really, really hard to type.

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To Cindy from a little teeny tiny town in Washington. She won a copy of Perfect Circle for correctly answering the question about what Ken Avery did to alter his appearance… He shaved his head. Have you ever tried to wash Congo mud out of your hair? I haven’t either but my SO has and if he’s says it’s a bitch, I believe him.

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Perfect Circle interview


Here is the newest interview. Go check it out!

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Free book

Perfect Circle Giveaway.

That’s right, I’m giving away a copy of Perfect Circle by Carlos J Cortes to the first person who can correctly answer the question: How did Ken Avery alter his appearance to make his life more bearable in the Ituri rain forest?
Come on, it’s easy. The answer is in the first chapter of Perfect Circle which can be found on amazon.com or carlosjcortes.com.  Look it up, send the answer to carlos@carlosjcortes.com and if you’re the first one, the book is yours.
Come on, what are you waiting for? Times are tough. Answering one question for a free book? That’s easy.

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but the main, important story progressing scenes are all done. Just shy of 65,000 words and if I wasn’t so tired I’d be yelling YIPPEE! It’s so much easier to type than yell. : ) My mom (don’t have a nickname for her except mom) took D4 for three hours, I was going to say glorious but I don’t want you thinking that I don’t love my little munchkin, I do. 

Tomorrow I’ll do some literary spackle work and finish editing some of SO’s bits and pieces for the new book. He has an interview coming out. My goal is to learn how to put a link in the body of a post by the time it’s published.

Bit of other news. D4 and I picked two large buckets full of tangerines and oranges and spent an hour or so juicing them. 64 oz of oj is now in the process of freezing in my freezer  (I’m thinking I’ll try to save it to make orange sorbet this summer but we’ll see) We had our fill of juice and orange and the kitchen smelled divine. We also picked a wheel barrel full of grapefruit but that’s still outside. I really wish I knew someone who liked it. And my trees are still dotted with orange and yellow balls most of them so high I can’t reach them with the ladder. Sigh. I’ve wonderful tool but as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, citrus doesn’t like to be picked… the  fruit picking pole (I don’t know it’s proper name) has little tines on it like a bent fork. The idea is to catch these tines on the fruit and pull it from the tree.  It doesn’t always work with the oranges or the grapefruit. Picture this, you get a hold of a big juicy looking orange about the size of a soft ball, you pull, it doesn’t come off, you pull harder, now you’re putting your entire weight behind it and the branch is bending at almost a 90 degree angle  but the fruit still refuses to budge. So you decide to let the fruit go before the branch breaks, damaging your tree. But when you do that, it causes the tension in the branch to spring back the other way, this finally shocks the orange into letting go and so it goes flying in the opposite direction, like into your neighbor’s pool….

Yeah, we’ll call that adventures in orange picking.  Did I mention I’m tired and probably not making any sense?

One more thing, when we were out working in the yard, Mr turtle showed up. I don’t know where he’s been or what’s he’s been doing but he has complete amnesty as long as he continues eating my snails. We were going to call him Claws, but although that’s descriptive, its not a very good name. Any ideas? I’m open. Thought you might like to see one of my grapefruit trees.


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I’ve just reached the 60,000 word mark (60,085 if you’re interested)for the new manuscript and although my goal was to be done today, I’m not, nor am I going to be.  And I’m not going to  beat myself up about it. I wrote  those 60,000 words in about a month, not bad if I do say so myself considering the whirlwind that is my life. I also estimated this draft would be about 40,000 words. You see I’m only sketching the plot out. I planned to add some of the details backgrounds, etc in the next draft… obviously I was off by at least 20,000 words and my new estimate is that this rough draft will hit 65-70,000 before I break it down and start shaping it chapter by chapter, line by line. I’m calling it a good thing. My rough drafts aren’t nearly so rough as they used to be and the next draft will be that much easier.

I really don’t know how other writers work, except of course SO, who spends quite a bit of time on charts and graphs. It’s odd, I’m a chart and graph person except when I write. My eyes glaze over and my brain goes on standby when he shows me the charts he’s made to track his character’s progression and tension levels. He also has lists of every person, place and object of importance, where they first enter the manuscript and why.

When I look at these things through my glazed eyes, I mentally kick myself in an attempt to snap out of it, but quite frankly I just can’t seem to do it. I have a simple excel that is broken down into scenes and groups the scenes into chapters. I type in a summary of each scene, POV, and word count. That’s it. But it works for me because if I think, damn, what was the name of those mountains?  I can look back and see when she crossed them the first time, pull up the chapter and there they are. Again, it works for me but I wonder if it’s enough.

I know editors have comprehensivestyle sheets and copy-editors will know your book better than you do. SO has shown me their lists and oh are they comprehensive. Enough to make me think copy-editors must be saints, or crazy…. ; ) So I’m wondering, is my lax attitude about such things one of the differences between published authors and writers such as myself? but then that’s where I hit a wall head on (this does wonders to get that brain working again) If I were to make a graph, chart a course for each of my characters, list everything before I write the book, I’d never write the book. The magic would be gone. One of the things I love about writing, one of the reasons I do it, is because I want to know what happens next. I love when a small little side character asserts him or herself and becomes a very interesting side plot. This happened with Mohan in Obsession. It also happened with Nathan in this manuscript but I’m not ready to share him yet. Mohan started out as a thief who tries to steals Ilythra’s horse. I’d planned on using him for maybe one or two scenes for the sole purpose of slipping in some of Ilythra’s backstory. Well here’s a snippet:

“And you tried to rob me because?”

“From time to time I … relieve others of their excess baggage. Even things out. A service to society at large.”

“You’re a thief.”

“We all must use the talent we possess.”

Ilythra smiled. “Then take a piece of advice. Choose whom you attempt to relieve of their excess baggage more wisely.”

“I always heed the advice of a beautiful woman.”

She removed the blade from his neck. “You’re not dangerous.”

 “Why do I feel I’ve just been insulted?”

She ignored his question, reached for her scabbard and sheathed the sword. “So you’re a thief, though not a very good one. You have a name?”

“I object. I’m a very good thief.”

This is only part of a conversation that come to me so fast it was hard to write it down in time (right before I fell asleep with the computer already off, that’s why I keep a pad of paper next to my bed.) My point is Mohan and Ilythra had chemistry. The kind of chemistry that just happens or at least I haven’t got a clue as to how to make it happen and I wouldn’t know how to chart something like that. I do know my little thief turned into a major character. And now I’m pulled between the desire to share more and indulge myself a bit and fear that you will curl your lip and think, what drivel, that’s why she hasn’t been published yet, but I’m working on my confidence so here’s a little more of their banter just shortly after the first bit.

…For a moment, she’d been vulnerable. He hadn’t taken the bait. “Your name?”


“That’s not your name.”

“If I answer to it, what does it matter?”

“I think I might like you.”

He bowed. “And you? Do you have name?”

“They call me Ilythra.”

“Which is not the same as your name.”

“It is who I am.”

His teeth flashed in the glowing embers of the fire. “We’ll get along fine.”

“Good, now that’s settled, why did you try to steal my horse?”

“Why did you say I was no danger?”

In a blur, a knife whirled through the air burying itself in a tree behind and above Mohan.

“Good point.”

“Answer the question.”

“Can I ask you something?”

“You just did.”



And so it goes…. : ) I’m still tempted to explain that it needs a final edit, but I won’t except I just did…. *sigh* yeah it’s that confidence thing.. I’m still working on it.


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Because I’m still working on that deadline and because I happen to agree with everything she says, I copied this from  http://jenniferleeland.wordpress.com

An awesome site by the way. : )


 It’s a common fact, not an urban myth, that writers are “sensitive”. The dictionary has thirteen different definitions of “Sensitive”. Perfect, right?

 1. endowed with sensation; having perception through the senses. I, personally, know when I write I seem to channel my characters. It’s a little weird sometimes.

 2. readily or excessively affected by external agencies or influences. Writers are acutely aware of the opinions of readers, reviewers, agents, editors, fellow authors…you get the point.

3. having acute mental or emotional sensibility; aware of and responsive to the feelings of others. Writing a book about a character means you have to be aware of other people’s feelings. This isn’t always true for me, but it often is.

4. easily pained, annoyed, etc. You all have seen this every Monday on my “Just Sayin’” days. But I think we are easily annoyed. If you doubt me, find a writer you know and interrupt them when they’re writing.

5. pertaining to or connected with the senses or sensation. I know a bunch of words to describe nervousness. And fear. And anger. **And don’t forget how to ‘show’ not tell it** : )

6. Physiology. having a low threshold of sensation or feeling. I don’t know if this is true or not, but it sure seems like it. LOL.

7. responding to stimuli, as leaves that move when touched. If you’re not the Redneck and you “touch” me? I’ll leave. That works, right? Okay, I’m reaching here I know.

8. highly responsive to certain agents, as photographic plates, films, or paper. You should have seen us all posing at the RWA conference. HIGHLY responsive.

9. affected or likely to be affected by a specified stimulus (used in combination): price-sensitive markets. Yep. You all stop buying my books and I’m likely to be stimulated….to cry. LOL.

10. involving work, duties, or information of a highly secret or delicate nature, esp. in government: a sensitive position in the State Department. I can’t tell you or I’d have to kill you.

11. requiring tact or caution; delicate; touchy: a sensitive topic. Um, this describes every interaction I have with other authors. LOL. Okay, it’s not that bad. Well, maybe with the Redneck Poet. LOL.

12. constructed to indicate, measure, or be affected by small amounts or changes, as a balance or thermometer. Yep. We are very sensitive to changes. Don’t believe me? Just watch writers on Twitter when there’s been bad weather all over and SNOW DAYS are declared. It’s ugly I tell you.

13. Radio. easily affected by external influences, esp. by radio waves. You know, at first we’re easily affected by external influences…..and then we’re not. LOL. Okay, that was just for fun. I was just thinking tonight about how the writing life is filled with “Peaks and Valleys” as the Redneck called them. It’s been an up and down week. I’ve had excellent reviews. I’ve had several people tell me they love my stuff. I’ve been given lots of support. I’ve also had pretty tough edits, two rejections and lots of confidence smashers. Ups and downs. Peaks and Valleys. We’re sensitive, man! LOL.

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Perfect Circle

Because I have a deadline looming….


Also available at Amazon


Set in the impenetrable jungles of the African Congo, this fast-paced debut tells the tale of a world poised for ecological crisis–and the secret that could save it. From corporate profiteers to the natives who’ve been expecting them, here is a story that asks if man and nature are fated to clash–or if the right man can break the cycle.


“Exhilarating brisk science fiction thriller!”

 Harriet Klausner


“The Perfect Blending of Sci-Fi & Adventure!”

Michael Goodwin


 And my 2 cents: Perfect Circle is by far the best Science Fiction/thriller/adventure book I’ve read in quite awhile, if ever, and I did go through my Crichton/Bourne phase. After picking up the book for the fifth time, I still have difficulty putting it down and that’s saying something from someone  who cut her teeth on fantasy… but then the line between fantasy and science fiction has always been a little blurred. : ) Read it, you won’t regret it.

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A little history

Well, it was one of those days, you know where you don’t get half as much done as you’d like and I’m really hitting a difficult crossroad in the new manuscript. Namely how much to put ‘on air’. You know, do I write that scene or let it happen ‘off camera’ …. how long do I want this  book? So instead of my 2000 words, I wrote 1500, drew a rough map so I can make sure my mental orientation works on paper, visited all my favorite writing blogs for emotional support (and a few smiles), and created a TDYK playlist. Yes, my manuscript has a play list. You know for when they make it into a movie. Just kidding… really.

Probably most of you don’t know that the reason I finally broke down and wrote the first line of the first version of the then titled Ilythra was because I’d had a dream and the dream wouldn’t leave me. In fact the dream, and it’s main character, Ilythra, seemed to be growing daily, taking up more and more of my thoughts. And there was one particular song that brought everything about the dream into sharp focus and I still don’t know why(I Need You by Jars Of Clay–go figure). By the time I sat down and began writing the story out (long hand) it was an act of self protection.  I had to get it on paper and out of my mind. It didn’t quite work that way. As I was writing the first draft (100 pages long) a friend of mine introduced me to a band called  Chasing Furies. Well that did it. Joined a writers workshop and wrote those 100 pages into an entire 110,000 word manuscript. I can still pick out scenes and even chapters that were inspired by a particular song or rather the emotion in the song.  In fact, there are some songs that the  characters have so taken over,  I can’t listen to the song without being transported back into the scene. If you want to know about my antagonist, listen to Romance Me by Chasing Furies, he’s there. Yeah I know it’s kinda a love song; it’s the tone of the song, captures his essence perfectly. If you have a Myspace and are interested, it’s in the music section. : )

Oddly enough, most of the manuscript was still written in long hand probably because I wrote every chance I could wherever I could. I wrote the ending in a little notebook, sitting in the Kaiser parking lot and sobbing my little heart out. Just as I finished, D1 called to find out when I would be home and immediately thought something was terribly wrong. I had just seen the doctor. She understood when I told her I’d just finished the book. Have I said how much I love D1? Of course that wasn’t the end. I’ve since taken the 110,000 words and translated it into four books, each about 86,000 words long. Not bad for one little dream, huh? And you know what? It’s a damn good story. Once you met Arien… well, one day I hope you get to met Arien and Ewen, Ilythra, Mohan(he stole the show in the second book) and Ryliann and well, you get the idea.

This new manuscript had it’s genesis as I was jogging on a tread-mil. No joke. I was listening to Evanescence and boom, it was there. I jumped off and started writing… Vampire, go figure. I’m not sure if I could describe it, its as though my vision goes soft and I can ‘see’ something else. The scene/characters playing out behind what I can see… My that sounds wacky. My then agent wasn’t having much luck with the three publishers she tried to sell Awakening(which I think then was called Ilydearta.) to so the next time I spoke to her, I told her about my idea. She said vampire was passe. Over done, not a good idea. This was about 8 months before Twilight hit the stands. But there is no bitterness. No, really : ) She’s a nice lady, she really is and if I wrote chick lit, I’d turn to her again but I don’t, I write fantasy. Anyway, I’ve tweaked the storyline since then and I love how it’s progressing butI think what my prose was missing was a good old fashion dose of music inspired emotion and for this manuscript Evanescence seems to fit that bill; add a little Flyleaf and Paramore… I think I’m feeling more creative already. I am the kind of writer–and I honestly don’t know if I’m odd in this– that if I can’t feel it, if I don’t fall for the protag, if I don’t cry or melt or respond to the writing, I don’t expect anyone else to do any of those things either.

Well, this certainly isn’t what I expected to blog about today. Like I said, it’s been one of those days.

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It’s the sound of the last nail in Awakening’s coffin. I know, dramatic, give me a break I’m dealing with something here. As you may of guessed I heard back from wonderful agent with a not-so-wonderful rejection of the manuscript. Don’t get me wrong, it was polite, respectful, even kind… and enough to make me want to scream. *Deep breath*

Yeah, I know I’ve moved on, but its hard to admit, even to yourself–maybe especially to yourself–that your baby is somehow flawed. I can almost hear SO take a deep breath to begin his ‘it’s a damn good book’ speech. And it is, and I know it, but even if it’s a flaw in timing, it’s still a flaw and it still isn’t a fraction closer to being published than it was a year or so ago when I decided to rescue it from the drawer. Quite frankly, chocolate is in order. To hell with the diet.

On another front (there’s always another front) Today was the first day back to school. We all woke up on time, all made it to school on time and when they were safely out the door, D4 and I cleaned the house… well the living room and kitchen with quick straighten of our respective bedrooms. But for hours today, the house, at least what visitors see, was clean. Yeah! And then I told D4 to watch tv for a half an hour(the length of a Diego episode) so mommy could work and then we’d play together. 34 minutes later, I walked out to see why she hadn’t held me to my bargain. Surprise surprise, she was sleeping! Yes, at 10 am, taking a nap. She doesn’t do that often anymore and I don’t encourage it. If it’s a matter of  her sleeping for a few hours during the day and staying up until midnight, or staying up all day and going to sleep early, I’ll pick the early. But at 10,  I mean that’s early enough that it shouldn’t affect her bedtime. Right? I’ll keep you posted. Anyway, I had two uninterrupted hours to write. That hasn’t happened, well, since she stopped taking her naps. It was nice, very nice and I got a lot of work done on some difficult chapters.

Well that’s the good and bad of it. And from the sound of things, it’s bath time.

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