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Archive for May, 2009

Weekend Gardener

It might not surprise some of you that I haven’t done much gardening this weekend. It feels like summer out there and in summer, you must get up early to beat the heat. I haven’t been getting up early. : ) I tried to take a picture of the blushing plums, the currently unimpressive banana plant,  and the tomato that finally has fruit but my camera is being wonky.

So here is a picture of my red wing gladiola. I love these. I’d like to have enough of them so that I can pick a bouquet and still have them in my garden. That’s my goal with almost all my flowers. This one fell prey to something and I risked my life to pick it. No really, they are planted on the far side of the pond and I have to walk on boulders to get them. One large boulder rolled and I jumped off just in time. ; ) Oddly enough I didn’t plan on planting so much red around the pond,  I was going more of purple and silver…. but there be red! : )

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Friday Funnies

This is why it always pays to check every angle in a mirror before you leave the house.

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Have a nice day. : )

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Querulous query

If any of you follow twitter you know I’ve been whining complaining quite a bit about my query for The Devil You Know.

Now a query is an important part of a writer’s arsenal and a mastering it is vital to bagging acquiring an agent.

After I finished the first draft of the novel, I wrote a query and set it aside. Now that I’m polishing, I opened and read it and wasn’t quite happy with what I saw.  I decided to do what any author would, I set out to fix it. On the internet, in books, and even on almost every blogging agent’s website, you will find hints, structures and requirements for the query. I read these as well as a few published authors’ queries. Armed with all this information, I sat down before my computer, hands on keyboard and stared at the cursor. Long story short, I’d ‘ruled’ and ‘must have’d myself into a corner. Everything I wrote was flat and the more I tried, the worse it got. I grew more and more frustrated. If I can write a hundred thousand-word book, why couldn’t I write a two hundred-word query?

So I did what I’ve never done before, I called for help. Several talented writers came to the rescue with ideas and specifics as to why my query wasn’t working. I read through the advice and still I sat in front of that bloody curser.  There was a dam in my head and the ideas were on the other side. I think I finally became acquainted with writers block. Not a momentary or even a day of pondering what to do next, but an actual infinite wall between you and the ideas you know are there.

Now granted, I’m trying to write this query in possibly one of the most emotionally difficult periods in my life, but for me, writing has always soothed, always been there for me. Now, the answer to the simple question: What is the book about? completely eluded me and the mantra, ‘you’ve only got one shot per agent’, pounded in my head. I didn’t even have the energy to hate the query; it had defeated me. What to do? What to do?

 Walk away.

And that’s what I did even though it felt like giving up.  I emotionally and mentally divorced myself from the thing. I worked on editing a few chapters for other writers, I tweeted, a lot. I even organized some of my files, watched a few movies, cleaned my house and then I came back, but not in the same frame of mind. During the time I wasn’t thinking about it, some of the comments from other writers had weakened that wall.

I don’t write plot driven novels. For me, the characters always come first. I’ll ‘overhear’ a conversation or ‘see’ a scene and from that, the novel unfolds. I do plot, but always with a character firmly in mind.

 Why then write a plot driven query? I don’t know why this is the epiphany that I needed, but it was. The second revelation was as important as the first. Stop writing the world’s best query, the query that will please every agent and have them banging at your door. Just write. Sounds simple, huh? It is and it isn’t.

 So I thought about my two MC characters, about the conflict they face and what they are working to accomplish and bam, there it was. It’s not perfect, I’ll be the first to admit, but it’s good.

Thank you, again, to everyone who helped me blow a hole in that wall. You know who you are. : )

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Jennifer McKenzie is queen of the first line. Seriously. Every one of her stories that I have ever read has immediately caught my attention. None Too Soon is no exception. I just finished the short and it left me smiling.

None-too-soon

Thomas is an angel working to help people find a second chance at love. The problem? He’s lonely. And when the big boss gives him an assignment he’d rather not take, he’s in for the suprise of his life.

I love the concept of angels specifically assigned to those who have missed their chance at a soul mate.
It’s short, it’s sweet and folks, it’s free. You can’t beat that. You’ll find it here with more of Jennifer’s books.

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Weekend Gardener

 The year before last (our first year in the house) I planted three tomatoes; I was inundated with fruit. I couldn’t keep up and several rotted on the vine. I hate that. Last year I planted two. I think I may have gotten half a dozen tomatoes and not from the plants I planted but from a wild tomato from afore mentioned rotten fruit. The two plants I’d purchased suffered from blossom drop. I decided this lack of productivity was due either to the plants themselves being poor specimens or the wildly variant weather conditions.

Last fall, I started my compost heap on the place where I’d plant the tomatoes, just in case my soil had something to do with the poor performance. I rotate my vegetables every year so they are not growing in the same spot two years in a row. This year, I only planted two tomato plants, but with high hopes of productivity. 

   

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Yes, these were the same size when I planted them. The one on the right, Beefcake, gets about 2 1/2 hours more sun than the one on the left. Oddly enough, though, the one on the left, Roma, has four tiny tomatoes. The Beefcake? Blossom drop. Not a single fruit. I’ve been keeping it pinched back but I’m wondering if its spending its energy on growth instead of fruit production. I’m thinking about cutting it way back… any suggestions?

BTW. In the background, you can see my potato plants coming up. I’m kind of excited about fresh potatoes. There is something about digging them up, washing them off and eating them…. must be my Irish ancestry because when I was writing that, it sounded odd even to me. To the right I have zucchini and peas. I love peas off the vine. Brings me right back to when I lived in western Washington. I still have a lot of lettuce and I’m letting some of it go to seed so I can have lettuce next year too. : )

We are still picking strawberries. The plants are producing more flowers so we’ll have them into June. The neighbor’s black berry vines (that I let hang over the fence for just this purpose) are giving us about 5 berries/a day which are a nice little treat. Blueberries almost ripe… those that survived Hurricane D4 anyway. Plums have a blush of color but the apricots and peaches are still green.

I’m actually looking forward to canning this year… of course, check back with me when it’s 105 outside and I have three trees to pick before the fruit rots on the tree… I might have changed my mind. : )

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Friday Funnies

A moment of levity for your Friday!

 

Suicidal twin kills sister by mistake!

 

In just two days from now, tomorrow will be yesterday.

 

A bartender is just a pharmacist with a limited inventory

 

The statement below is true. 

 The statement above is false.

 

I may be schizophrenic, but at least I have each other.

 

I am a Nobody.  Nobody is Perfect.  Therefore I am Perfect. 

 

I’m not your type. I’m not inflatable.

 

In Memorium  With all the sadness and trauma going on in the world at the moment, it  is worth reflecting on the death of a very important person, which almost  went unnoticed last week. Larry LaPrise, the man who wrote “The Hokey Pokey”, died peacefully at age 93. The most traumatic part for his family was getting him into the coffin. They put his left leg in. And then the trouble started.

 

I LOVE COOKING WITH WINE Sometimes I even put it in the food.

 

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

 

When you work here, you can name your own salary. I named mine, “Fred”.

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When I first started down the path to ‘published’ over five years ago, I dreamed of Royalty checks. I thought it would be so cool to work for a year and get royalties forever after. HAH. Yeah, I took off those glasses and learned the industry, or I should say began to learn the industry because I’m still learning. : )

This week, we finally got the sales numbers for Perfect Circle and I thought I’d share them with you.

Carlos’s book was published mass market paperback by Random House. And, like most first time authors, much of the publicity was up to us and, um, we had no idea what we were doing. We sent postcards to every Indie books store we could find– I still have about 150 post cards and no idea what to do with them if anyone has any suggestions. Carlos lives most of the time in Spain so a book tour wasn’t feasible. I did organize signings for when he was here at Christmas. A few contests, interviews and word of mouth pretty much wraps up our publicity efforts.

I say all that to let you know that I think we are the average newbie author.

Perfect Circle was released in late November 08 and the sales period ended on Dec 31st of that same year. So the numbers reflect a sales period lasting a little over a month.

Out of a run of 9120, we sold 7813.  In that time frame, 138 books were returned and 3264 were held as reserves against possible returns giving as reportable sales of 4159.

NOV- sales      7167

DEC-  sales      646 

DEC   returns<138>

———————————-

Total                 7813

Just in case you don’t know, I didn’t when I first started out, bookstores can send your books back to the publisher for credit if they don’t sell. Because of this, publishers need to hold a percentage of books sold as insurance just in case there are future returns. They will gradually reduce the amount held in reserve so we will get credit for them if the sales stick. (oh please, oh please, don’t send the books back). So think of books shipped, not sold.

 This means we’ve earned $2054.49. Hold that against a $10,000 advance and we only need to earn $7945.51 to start seeing any royalty checks. Piece of cake, right? Whew.

What surprised me the most was the amount of copies printed: 9120. Give or take a few dollars, we’d have to sell everything to make back the advance. After I thought about it awhile, it made sense for RH to do this. Why print more until you have a market for it? And of course I have no idea how Perfect Circle has sold from January to present and I won’t know until the next set of numbers arrive. (Which, judging from this go around, should be in November)

 I’m hoping that when The Prisoner comes out this October, Perfect Circle’s sales will spike.

Now I have a new goal: Second printing.

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 One_Lovely_Blog_Award

 

Or rather the reward you receive? I wasn’t expecting it, but I am more than happy to accept it. Thank you. Thank you, Ms. Jenni James, you really did make my week. If you haven’t checked out Jenni’s blog, you should. She’s a lovely and talented person. She also has more children than I do. : ) That’s rare.

So you know what this means? I get to pick out blogs to reward. This will be hard, there are so many blogs I enjoy reading, where to start? How about the one’s I click immediately when Google reader tells me there’s a new post. They are all unique and hosted by amazing women and men. (By the way, did you notice I snuck in an eleventh?)

 

1. Becky Levine is a talented writer and a genuinely nice person. She also has a book coming out on Critique groups that is going to be wonderful. Her blogs are always informative and helpful and sometimes just plain fun.

2. Crystal Posey… what can you say about Crystal? She’s so full of life, she’ll make you happy just being around her. She blogs about everything from her six beautiful kids to her writing journey. A must read.

3. Jennifer Leeland says it like it is and boy do I love it! A talent writer and an awesome human being, the Redneck Romance Writer is always fun to read.

4. Jenn Johansson is another talented writer. This is the blog that I often copy/paste into a document to read when I need it. Her posts are always helpful and full of advice for writers. Really it’s a must read. All that and she’s a beautiful person to boot. : )

5. I just started following Patti O’Shea’s  blog and I love it. She posts about her writing journey and gives advice and tips to her fellow writers. I also love the layout of her website. It’s very well done.

6. Jennifer Brown is hiliarious. You know how some people are just naturally funny? That’s Jenni. She writes YA. On her blog you’ll find interviews, great leads on more books to read, tips, and much laughter. Oh, she also has a book out: The Hate List.

7. Gwen Hayes is another writer I ‘met’ on Twitter. She has a recently released romance titled Oh Goddess, and after reading an excerpt, I can’t wait to read it. Gwen’s blog is informative and not just about writing but many things. She recently participated in a campaign to stop malaria. Gwen is a talented writer and one of those people who make the world a better place.

8. I just started reading Kari’s blog today but I liked it so much I’m sharing it with all of you. It’s worth it just for the pictures. This is a woman who can write about her day and captivate you with the telling of it.

9. Carlos doesn’t post often, but when he does… wow. He has three blogs. This is my favorite. Why? Because I’m weird that way.

10. Jason Myers  is another writer I met on Twitter. Are you beginning to understand why I love Twitter? I also love the photo that Jason picked for his blog. It sparks the imagination, well, my imagination. Jason talks about his career, his life, its ups and downs and he’s a nice guy. : )

LOL. Do you think there is something about the name containing Jen that makes for an awesome writer and a nice person? I  just noticed there are four Jen’s (Jenn, Jenni, and  two Jennifers)

Well there you have it. Enjoy! I do. Thank you again, Jenni!

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I am discovering so many new writers on Twitter that my reading list is expanding at light speed… forgive me, I’m still on a Star Trek high. IN THE MIDNIGHT HOUR is a paranormal romance and Patti O’Shea’s first book in the Light Warriors series.

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If you’ve read any of my reviews you know I’m a sucker for a kick-butt female main character. Ryne fits the bill. She is a Gineal, or a race of people who can do magic and live among us humans, and she does more rescuing than playing the damsel in distress. This is well Patti shows her talent. Her characters are so complex that not only do you identify with them, you’re rooting for them all along. Ryne’s male counter-part is a man named Deke and the chemistry between the two of them is done to perfection.  The action starts on page one and continues throughout. Her fight sequences are a thing to be enjoyed (or studied depending on your point of view) and the love scenes are spicy. (as in I wouldn’t let my thirteen year old read it, but I did pass it to my 21 year old)

Ryne has a problem, she’s been charged with defeating Anise, her former mentor. Anise has fallen prey to the call of dark magic and Ryne doesn’t know if she’s strong enough to face Anise without falling herself. Ryne finds an soul who Anise has imprisoned in a cartoon character and releases him. Once free, Deke has no memories of his life before he was entrapped but Anise wants him dead.

It’s hard to give this review without giving too much of the plot away so I will just say, IN THE MIDNIGHT HOUR is a book worth reading and I’m looking forward to IN TWILIGHT’S SHADOW, the next book in the series.

You can find out more about Patti O’Shea and her books here.

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How hot was it today?

IMGP4789When the rosebuds begin to wilt before they’ve even bloomed: It’s hot.

IMGP4787The dianthus isn’t too perky today.

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Do you remember water from the hose? I have a confession. The first picture I took of her like this she didn’t have on a shirt. I thought it was adorable so I grabbed a shirt, put it on her and said, Okay, take another drink. She looked at me kind of strange but she did it. What a sport. : )

IMGP4791Sarah and Meow, kickin’ it in the shade.

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