Monday, December 31, 2007

My favorite protest song

Sung by my favorite actor. It's Bertie Wooster! (or Greg House, depending) My kid, who's going through a Dylan phase, showed it to me and there was much rejoicing. He showed me a better version over at youtube but the bugger who put it up won't let us embed. What's the point of figuring out how to do youtube, eh? Okay, okay. here's a link to that one... or you can click on the less polished, embedded one below if you're lazy.

lament of a technophobe, part XXVII

My webpages are stagnant. I can't remember how to play with them and nothing's changed for months. If I mess around, it's here, on myspace or in my facebook account that I got to annoy my boys.

But I paid to have nice designs made! I like my damn pages. So I suppose they're the online equivalent of a print book. Just floating around the web, talking about events that happened years ago no reference to the present or future. Dinosaurs. Occasionally someone signs up for a Kate Rothwell newsletter and then sends back a "take me off the list" note when I send out a Summer Devon bit of news.

I really should update the prices of the socks. I wish I'd managed to load pictures of the latest couple of covers. No, I'm not actually just sitting here in the dark, don't mind me, I'll be fine.
I've had gracious offers from blog readers to actually help me.

The trouble is they won't take pay, the bassets, and there are only so many socks they're willing to take in exchange for work. And then the people who DO take pay want to take too much. I'm pickier than baby bear. I want it juuuuuust right.

I really am just complaining for fun and not profit. If some reader of the blog said, why Kate, I'd be glad to do it for $20 an hour, I'd be happy. But if you all just yawned and glazed over, and clicked over to porn, that works too.** Venting. It's a hobby.

In other dull news, I plan to make key lime pie today. Want a piece? It's the easy recipe (yay condensed milk) but still tastes pretty good.

**If you're looking for some porn (or pron, as I always type it) try After. The post-apocalyptic story in two parts is almost finished and it's intense. It's kind of like Atwood without the religion. It's got a story and a lot of boffing of all sorts: fun smut, semi-forced fantasy seduction and horrible rape, that really is rape and not titillating. Also? It has interesting characters. I think Varian's a good writer.

Friday, December 28, 2007

dumb stuff

I entered the RITAs, but I'm not sure why I bothered. I'm also not sure why, once I shelled out the dough, I didn't bother to pay better attention to things like rules and whatnot.

I thought they needed the books by mid-January. Last week I got the email saying yo, dudette, we need the stuff by 1/1. Whoops, time to use priority mail.

Fast forward two days. . . And hey, wait a sec. What's that copy on the shelf? Wait. ..hey.... that's supposed to be in the package to Texas. So then another run to the post office for express mail.

We're talking expensive, and silly expensive at that. Add on the apologetic coffees I'm buying for the RWA peeps (if one messes up and makes innocent administrative types lives harder, and they're polite [eg don't get the satisfaction of calling you names], one must buy them coffee. That is a rule of life my mother taught me.) and I could have bought something more likely to bring me joy and pleasure, like a buncha powerball tickets. Just as likely to win.

I did write "just as much chance" but that's not true. Chance has nothing to do with it. The very cover of the entry (it's the bright pink Ellora's Cave book) is enough to make most RWA members go bwewargh.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


What do Benazir Bhutto and Archduke Ferdinand have in common? Nothing beyond assassination, I hope.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

THURSDAY THIRTEEN-- Good things about Christmas

It's not Thursday yet, on the other hand, Christmas is past, so that this TT is placed just about right.

Uh huh, yeah, there are so 13 things I like about Christmas. Here's a post-game round up:

1. No proscribed meal that I can figure out. Thanksgiving = Turkey. It. Must. Be. Turkey. Easter seems to be lamb or ham, I think. We can eat whatever on Christmas. I suppose Goose is the required meal? Not going to happen until goose is 99 cents at Stop and Shop. (that's the price of our Christmas turkey).

2. The items the kids put on the tree. Many are sweet homemade ornaments they made themselves years ago. Some are random. I think I saw a Magic Card held on with a paper clip.

3. David Sedaris's 6-8 Black Men plays in the background at some point during the holidays.

4. We don't go any where. We used to for years and years--decades--but now we stay put and squabble and do jigsaw puzzles.

5. My husband, who hates jigsaw puzzles, will do one with me. He curses and talks at the pieces and does most of the puzzle. And then, because I've figured out this is the fun part, I only order pictures of places--

6. He looks up the location on the interwebs. This year the puzzle was of Clovelly England, in Devon, only the puzzle is called Cloverly, so it took him a while to locate it on Google Earth.

7. Reading 5 and 6, I realize, shit, we sound old. A highlight of a fucking jigsaw puzzle? But that's because this is the only time of year we'll take the time to do something so useless and time-consuming And this is only the second year we've done it but it's a tradition as far as I'm concerned.

8. Eggnog with alcohol to cut the sweetness. Yum.

9. The fading guilt about Christmas cards. Allllllmost gone.

10. People call around now and it's good to hear from People. Uncle Andrew even sang to our answering machine. Now that's the Christmas Spirit.

11. The end of the whole build up is graceful and not so bad any more around here. Used to be squalls and sorrow but now there might be sulking ("I didn't want this. Do I Have to Thank them?") but no tears.

12. There is an end to it. I like things with beginning middles and ends. And the demarcations are clear with this one.

13. Vacation doesn't end right away so we have time to get the whole thing out of our system. It means that I won't have to work alone when I put away the ornaments. I'll force my kids to help. I hate doing that job by myself because I get all maudlin alone with the denuded tree.

HO. HO. HO. part two

That thing about suicide rates during the holiday season? Not true. They don't go up.
When I read an article about that, my first response was "wow, people are stronger than I would have guessed."

Happy Boxing Day!

PS We had a perfectly decent Christmas around here. One attempt at Christmas carols was quashed (second verse of "Away in A Manger" proved too bizarre.) Presents were opened. Just the immediate family, which is fine. It'll all get complicated next year when college starts.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

hawt infertile love

Lyn Cash, Alexis Fleming, other writers and I have fun sometimes with coming up with stories based on a theme. It's always a good time for me when I play with other people's ideas (that's how I got Invisible Touch). Lyn threw out one about a guy who was a hot ticket--at a sperm bank. Remember the story that hit the news about a particular donor? That got her thinking and then nagging.

I signed on to play but I started thinking about one of the reasons couples use those donors: Infertility.

We experienced five years of infertility and, now, a gazillion years and three babies later, one of my most vivid memories is how one's sex life turns into a baby-making life. When people say "have fun with it!" it's worse than when people ask if you're done with your holiday shopping on December 23 and you're not.... but that's a different story.


I ended up writing a story about an infertile woman rediscovering her sexuality. Someone suggested maybe she end up pregnant and I knew that would be so very, very wrong. The heroine can't have babies and she's still a hot woman.

Too bad she had to go through a divorce and all and didn't get to rediscover sexXx with her husband, but meh, we're talking hawt infertile love fluffy smut, not women's fiction. I felt strongly enough about it as An Issue, though, I put in a link for resolve in the dedication.

I wondered how many infertile women/couples would look at a book called "Who's your Daddy" but the audience for the story isn't just them. It's smut! Yay for Summer, Lyn and Alexis smut.

The only connection my story has to Lyn's theme is that the hero's writing an article about donor 69 and the heroine and her ex-husband once tried using that donor. And the hero.

The anthology's coming out pretty soon and already has a cover.

Here's what's fun--this is one of Alexis's publishers and Total Ebound is based in England. So all my favors became favours. Somehow a story looks much more glamorous with that extra U shoved in here and there. I really like TEB so far. They let us list our publications with other publishers [!!], Claire the publisher strikes me as hard-working, professional and enthusiastic. The site is easy to navigate. I like a lot of the covers I see over there.

And there are those U's. I can't remember if the heroine's undies turned into knickers. That would be interesting for her.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


This is the time of year that brings out the need to go do something festive, partake in a special event. Some people go to the Nutcracker, or maybe a production of A Christmas Carol.

My kid wants go see this over Christmas break. To be fair, it wasn't his idea. A pal came up with the plan--one of my pals.

Pretty damn pricey performance by amateurs (none of the bodies were trained professionals at being bodies, eh?), that's how I can tell it's in the holiday tradition.

Candidate I Would Most Like to Have a Beer With: Mitt Romney

Of course, as a Mormon, he won't have that beer, which means I get both of them.

--stolen from dailykos (of course there's a whole lot more, but that was the part I liked)

Friday, December 21, 2007

how the HELL did they know??

You Are Socks!

Cozy and warm... but easily lost.
You make a good puppet.

Deck The Halls

Two years ago I wrote a bemused note about Christmas cards. Life must have changed since then because this year, I'm mostly appreciative, not befuddled, when I get mail. But one main fact remains true: that I don't seem to send out cards.

Thank you for sending them to me, though. I especially love cards with photos, and especially cards of photos that happen to include a little girl with face paint. Yay!

I am stubborn! Hear me Roar

the following is not snark:

You know the best thing about getting a letter from an earnest--and I think young--writer listing the things I do wrong in two of my stories? And I mean a point-by-point, not the big overall "it sucks" of a negative review.

The best thing: After I read the letter a second time, I grew convinced that I am doing it all the right way. It was a shot in the arm of yeah! I'm fine!

THAT is why I know I really will be fine. I can tell good crits from bad. I can recognize advice that's basically worthless (or just opinion, which isn't worthless, but might not work for me) and advice that's on target.

In this post I hereby celebrate my ability to learn from other people--and even better, my ability to ignore them. That second one's not always been true. Yay, me.

Of course I have no interest in actually getting back to work after getting my unsolicited advice letter. ("You need more stronger conflict," was actually the part I might believe) I mostly want to ....

no, she might read my blog. And really, she must. I give the impression around here that I'm on my last writerly legs. Jeez, who'd have guessed?!! Whining a lot that there's a problem does convince people there's something wrong.

Yes, she did me a big favor. Not exactly along the intended lines, but that's okay.

My first urge was to say jeebus, stop buying my books if they give you the pip to such an extent you feel you must write a laundry list.

But, naw.

Instead I'll say, Thank you for your time. Feel free to buy and read all of my books and write to me again. I mean it, too.

I'll feel free to read her letters carefully (she did put work into it) and then hit delete.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Thursday Thirteen scolding nagging whining questions

1. What is it with you authors? I give you a perfectly easy way to publicize your books and you don't send me your lists. Who's organizing your lives? Hire a publicist! And if she's any good, send me her address.

2. Who's idea was it to have ice fall out of the sky? it makes no sense, people. Rain, sure. Snow if you must. But what's with the tippity tappity of ice? Unnatural.

3. Why is it as soon as I decide I have a great system in place (one hour of writing, ten minutes activity) I undermine my system and blog hop?

4. Hey, kid, how many times do you have to play Hier Kommt Alex? Don't you think that's enough? And what kind of name is Die Toten Hosen (the Dead Trousers)?

5. Who left the chocolate cake where I could find it?

6. Who left the remote on the couch so that when the kid sat on it, the batteries ran down?

7. Even with "Heir Kommt Alex" blaring on Guitar Hero 3, why do I have a Christmas carol blaring in my head. Granted at least it isn't "Little Drummer Boy," but still is it fair?

8. How come there are only about 100 people on my "Yes! We Want To Know about Your Next Release, Summer/Kate" list? Should I do yahoo or google groups? even though everyone hates them?

9. Does this mean I should do more promo of another sort?

10. Awwwwww, Do I hafta? Reeeeeallllllly?

11. Have you signed this? Is it bad that I am doing political crap here again?

Why haven't they brought back Stewart and Colbert yet? Why don't they just pay the damn writers more? Have you watched the Onion if you jonesing for political snark?
Poll: Bullshit Is Most Important Issue For 2008 Voters

13. Why don't the people I fret about online (beth, tracy) post more often?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

if you're looking for an agent

The more I use it, the more I like query tracker. Their information is more up-to-date than most of the other trackers I've looked at (more up-to-date than the dang agent websites, that's for sure) and the system is easy to figure out.

I wish I could do things a little differently--not have it be organized by manuscript, for instance--but that's ok. Every system I don't design I'm certain I can improve. Of course, I don't design a system and that's the main flaw with that particular whine. The non-system I had been using was several pieces of paper with writing on them--and those papers are on the computer, too.

Use Excell, another writer told me. Ooo, that gave me sweaty flashbacks to the time I attempted tax-stuff with Excell. I'd rather suck all the snot out of a dog's head** than try to figure out those damned cell-thingies formulas again.

I paid the $25 and it's probably the best money I've invested in my so-called career this year. Well, except for all the research books. Those are wonderful and I might have bought them.... No, wait. I am only using them to make money, yessiree. That's why you'll find them on my tax-return.

Hey, speaking of taxes, all you wanna-be professional authors, you do know you can deduct some of the books you buy? You do now. Good.

And the memberships to RWA and the conferences . . .Don't forget to keep track of your mileage.

I'm sure someone has a wonderful list somewhere of what authors can deduct and maybe after I send out this latest partial I'll link to it.

* * *
also. speaking of necessary info, what do you suppose is the significance of a dream that features me allowing a rabid vampire bat to suck my blood? In the dream a friend (Leslie!) convinced me that it would be the right thing to do. I spent much of the rest of the dream looking for a vet who'd give me rabies shots.
** not mine. Probably a Texan phrase like spank my ass and call me a doggie. Or maybe that's from a smut book?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

PSA and Perfection

two photos.

a shocking story that should teach parents to pay attention to their kids' online activity (stolen from I'm not sure where or I'd give credit where due. Not here, that's all I know.) Click on it to read.

and then--
A Christmas present for you guys. Although I should point out we're talking sour grapes for me.
What can I say except damn you, Pam LaBud. Damn. You.

She sent this around to various pals, crowing about her good luck on her Dutch translation's cover. It IS The Perfect Cover with only one flaw: the wind seems to be blowing in the same direction. The Absolute Perfect One has the wind gusting in two directions for maximum hair ripple and gown flowage. And yet it could be argued this is even better for, lo, it does allow for his hair action, which is primo.

eve: the hair!!!! I have no words for the hair.
flo: It's Gaston from Beauty and the Beast

You have to feel sorry for the dude who's having a rotten day. Bad enough to lose his shirt during a storm, the doo he spent hours arranging and gelling is trashed, and he has to try to control some woman because she's lunging at him and grabbing at his goods. Clearly he's about tumble onto his ass. Teach him to wear those boots on the wet rocks.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

c'mon you guys

where's the tension? not even a squee of anticipation? and Linda? Where are you? I'm gonna hold my breath and just wait until someone begs me to tell.


aw heck, I have to get out of here because my husband is watching Showdown at Area 51 and I can't take much more of the dialogue ("I have a bad feeling about this").

She said she likes green. So Sam is the winner! But I don't think it's Sam Winston, is it? So the Sam in question should track down Linda Winfree and demand the goods, as in a good read. It's up to you two to figure it out. I have to flee bad teevee before the alien blasts someone else's arm off and we get a close up of the spraying stump.
We already have a winner in the Linda Winfree contest!

You all are going to have to wait for Linda to announce it. Or I will, when I get back from my local meeting where I'll be leading a workshop Writer Party Games, Dammit, Hey, Shut Up and Do These Fun Exercises also known as a kind of Christmas party. I'm giving out writerly prizes, too, like Donald Maass'ss The Career Novelist.

I'll hand out BISW (book in seven weeks) packets which were supposed to be gorgeous but are envelopes stuffed with paper. Follow through is a bitch for some people.

The meeting's in South Glastonbury if any of you want to show up for an envelope and haranguing. Somehow I imagine--a couple of weeks before Christmas, the streets near the library clogged with unplowed snow (it's on-street parking)--we won't have a lot of attendees. Heck, if I weren't the one doing this, I wouldn't go. I rarely do these days. . .

Friday, December 14, 2007


The Eppie contest must be a fairly big deal. I've gotten about 20 emails** congratulating me for finalling. Most of the emails are coming from strangers which means they're looking me up. Wow.

* * *
Look, I'm having a Linda Winfree contest
And I have to figure it what happens in it?
I'm feeling remarkably lazy about
people have until Sunday to
GUESS LINDA'S FAVORITE COLOR. (This is lifted straight from chats.) First person to guess right, wins the prize.

step one: Linda, think of a color

step two: Everyone else, post a color in this comment section or maybe at Linda's spot.

If no one guesses, then I get the book. Linda, you decide which book. I hope it's Tick's story because I haven't read that one yet. I'll hold off buying it until Sunday.

* * *
We had 11 inches of snow yesterday and I shoved kids outside to play in the winter wonderland.

At one point, my neighbor called just to say how sweet it was to watch her kids and mine run around her back yard and play, exactly like kids are supposed to on their snow days. "I think they must be making snow angels now" she said. "They're just lying around."

Later on I noticed everything boy3 had worn, right down to his socks and underwear, was soaking wet.

"Oh yeah, that must have been when I was Japan." he said. "We were reenacting wars and when we did World War II, I was Japan. I think my socks got wet when we did Hiroshima."

** I originally wrote 40 which is my actual guess. I went back and counted, and now I know I exaggerate by a factor of two. Good to know this sort of thing about oneself.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

ah, good times.

I think I'm going to hold a contest soon only because I was cleaning out the bathroom cupboard just now and found an extra box of this shiny hair stuff. I'll give it away in the contest.

Updated. Oh! I know. Maybe I'll give it to Dean in lieu of one of the other prizes which I still owe him. I've seen photos of him and know this would be particularly appropriate. ..For his wife, sxkitten.


warning: this green bit is all about how brilliant I am and not much about Linda. She's one of those people I knew would be published. I read her unpubbed work and thought any minute. So I was off by a year but...Ha! I knew it. She has a new book out. I haven't read it yet but I will. Oh, yes. I will read her books. And here's my review of another Winfree book.

Linda Winfree talks about Linda Winfree

1. I was a child bride. I’m almost 38 and will celebrate 19 years of marriage the same month. You do the math. (Oh, heavens. That’s half my life I’ve been married. That’s kinda . . . frightening.)

2. I have two Monsters. One is looking me in the eye and can outrun me since he started cross country. He’s very smart and wants to be an architect (he did not inherit the math or artistic ability he has from me). The other . . . The other is very smart and will one day take over the world. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

3. I’ve been the wife of a cop, truck driver, logistics manager and miner. All while being married to the same man.

4. My husband has only ever been married to an English teacher. My alter ego is the Evil English Overlord. Students fear me. (I wish. They love me. Okay, they do respect me – is that a form of fear?) Well, my husband actually is now married to a multi-published romance author as well. It’s done much to up his “street cred” with the boys at the mine. They think he gets lots of sex and will be a rich, kept man one day. (They are obviously delusional.) 5. I want to live at the beach. Alas, it is not going to happen soon. The Monsters are too devoted to my mom, who lives five minutes away. Grandma trumps beach, obviously.
6. I can quote The Great Gatsby. And Miller’s The Crucible. I’ve taught Gatsby so often I can pinpoint happenings and quotes in my Bruccoli version of the book when kids ask a question. Like down to the page, paragraph and almost to the line. It scares them.

7. I live on oatmeal, Special K Vanilla-Almond, and good coffee. When I’m really, really feeling indulgent, I hit the Big Dawg for French fries.

8. I spent nine years writing my most recent release, Hold On to Me. Yes, NINE years. Writing, rewriting, gutting, putting back together. Probably why it’s my favorite book.

9, My favorite character? Other writer’s – John Proctor, The Crucible. Mine – Tick Calvert from Hold On to Me, among other books. He just won’t go away. Winds up in every. Darn. Thing. I. Write.

10. My mother insists I should send my new print release What Mattered Most to Oprah. And Martha Stuart. I’ve tried to explain how many books a year Oprah (and Martha) probably receive. She won’t listen. Now she has everyone else on the bandwagon, too: my cousin Marty the millionaire, my aunt, my sisters, the ladies at the bank, her next door neighbor.

11. As an author, I have been the equivalent of “Famous in a Small Town.” My name was up on the town marquee (until I was bumped by the Ole Timers baseball game). I made both local newspapers (one article is here: in the Albany Herald). I had a book signing at the local bookstore and sold through sixty copies. I beat the former record-holder, an elderly woman from Baker County who had thirty copies sold.

12. I am highly competitive. Once I found out how many copies the old lady had sold, I was determined I’d sell at least thirty-one.

13. I have this thing for clothes. And shoes – really fashionable heels. And jewelry. I have a hard time dressing down to T-shirts and sneakers. But I have quite the impressive collection of school spirit shirts. I could wear a different spirit shirt every Friday for more than three months.

Links of interest:

Look! Sometimes the notes in my mailbox aren't rejections

Or offers to a1de me get the man-tool enlargment I deserve to satisfy my lady

* * *

Dear Summer,

On behalf of the EPIC Board and the EPPIE Committee, we are please to inform you that your e-book, The Knight's Challenge, has been selected as a finalist in the Erotic Romance Fantasy/Paranormal. Please accept our congratulations. We wish you luck in the final round of judging.

The 2008 EPPIEs will be awarded at the awards ceremony on March 8, 2008 during EPICon in Portland, Oregon.

Again our congratulations and good luck in the finals.

Carol MacLeod
2008 EPPIE Chair

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I'm gone

I'd said goodbye to my old agent a few months ago. Every now and then, I'd cruise by her spot and see my face there.

But now I'm gone from her site and I feel sad, even though I was the one who said this isn't working (well, okay, she hinted there was a problem earlier when I bombarded the poor woman with stuff). So here on the blog I can stop saying "publishing professional" and start saying "agent"----- that is if I keep talking about rejections. I'm bored with the subject to be honest.

I might be more enthusiastic now that I've discovered query tracker. What a great place, I think. I hope. Anything that helps keep track of Stuff is wonderful which is why PBW is my hero.

IF anyone asks, I'll tell you that my old agent is wonderful, personable, professional and smart and, no, I'm not lying.

It's just that some one else will be flinging the spaghetti**

** that's from the old line about publishing. The process in which the publishers fling authors (or maybe their books, since that's less gruesome?) and whichever ones stick to the wall, they keep and buy more work from 'em. The rest to the floor where they get swept up and tossed . Not my line--though I added the bit about sweeping up and throwing away. I think the process isn't that tidy.
Terry Pratchett announces at Paul Kidby's site ** that he's not dead yet (but oy, Pratchett. I'm sorry to hear the rest of this). He writes:

"I would have liked to keep this one quiet for a little while, but because of upcoming conventions and of course the need to keep my publishers informed, it seems to me unfair to withhold the news. I have been diagnosed with a very rare form of early onset Alzheimer's, which lay behind this year's phantom 'stroke'.

"We are taking it fairly philosophically down here and possibly with a mild optimism. For now work is continuing on the completion of Nation and the basic notes are already being laid down for Unseen Academicals. All other things being equal, I expect to meet most current and, as far as possible, future commitments but will discuss things with the various organisers. Frankly, I would prefer it if people kept things cheerful, because I think there's time for at least a few more books yet."

Terry Pratchett

"PS I would just like to draw attention to everyone reading the above that this should be interpreted as 'I am not dead'. I will, of course, be dead at some future point, as will everybody else. For me, this maybe further off than you think - it's too soon to tell.

"I know it's a very human thing to say 'Is there anything I can do', but in this case I would only entertain offers from very high-end experts in brain chemistry."

[oh...I guess I'll squelch the urge to send cookies or a chicken and mushroom soup casserole.]

**I found it by way of publisher's lunch

stuff, or more evidence of masochism

Unrequited Lurve. Another rejection and hey, maybe she reads my blog because she did exactly what I asked for in a rejection. She said nice things about my writing and she added, politely, too bad because my stories don't match her needs. In other words, don't waste our time. AND she wrote back fast. I have to love her even if (sob) she doesn't love me.

HEY. GoDDAMn it. The bird clock is off. Seven is the cooing mourning dove. My life is all off because it's chirruping like a chickadee. Hell and DAMNation, this is reminding me how I hate that clock and I've hated it for years and years and yet I change the battery for the chirping. I try to adjust it so that the blue jay hits 4 pm, like it's supposed to.

A while back I bought a train whistle clock intending to give that sucker to the people who gave us the bird clock. I think I gave it to a two-year-old instead. We're still waiting for the kid's parents to strike back.

Every time hideous things appear in the Sunday coupons sections, I think uh oh, I can only hope those parents don't comb the coupons, too.

Because, hoo mamma. ..

Here's how scary it can be--the figurine of Jesus playing football with adoring tots? It did not win for most jaw-droppingly tacky the week it showed up mixed in with the frozen food coupons. It lost points on the bathing suit (ie glittery goodness like genuine imitation inset crystal/24 carat gold paint/LED lights) portion of the weekly contest.

I can't remember the winner, but I bet it had something to do with the love of a particular breed of dogs, God, sports or the Blessings of Sisters/Grandchildren/Daughters.

Thomas Kinkade stuff often wins, but that's only because I have such a grudge against the man. Here's one the reasons why: Ruin my genre, will ya?
Warning, that links to MrsGiggles at her most vitriolic, so don't click unless you want a dose of loathing.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

don't try this at home.

I think it's been established that calling from work and asking what's for dinner two hours after I've served dinner and cleaned up the kitchen isn't the best idea.

But that's not the dangerous part, the part that needs to be changed. We have two people who don't like to get angry. It pisses us off to get mad.

So instead of a small snap of "I don't know what you'll eat. Cereal. Pizza. I'm done making goddamn dinner." ending it, there's more. He makes the effort to stay out of trouble which gets him mad at me about getting pissed off about the dinner thing. And I'm tee'd off at him for getting pissed off and then at me for snapping about a stupid little point. I mean, why can't I make dinner twice? What a bitch I am and what a bastard he is for making me feel like a bitch and ooooooo I'm so angry. . and.

See? It just gets too complex.

What we need in our marriage is someone who likes a good fight instead of resenting the sensation of anger. I've been reading menage a trois (just because people I like are writing them.)

We need one of those, only without the sex--unless he's really hawt, maybe.

I'm thinking someone who'll yell back with gusto and pleasure and no backing down, dammit. We need a participant in these fights, instead of an inept, fuming internalizing-pain pansy. We require a partner who'll follow me--or him--from room to room making points and even storming, instead of just waving a hand and saying "never mind." or "I'm sorry" (even though we aren't sorry. We just want to get out before things get worse. Cowards.) Someone who can yell and then smile--instead of never yell and sulk.

I guess the dog will do. She barks sometimes. That's kind of like yelling.

Monday, December 10, 2007

since I'm critiquing rejections

My absolute favorite (excepting the ones that swoon about my most excellent rioting, oooo, Kate if only we could publish this, I love it, ooooo, it's wonderful but won't fit our line. oh, Kate you genius, you!):

Years ago I got a rejection from an agent and it was printed on THE BACK OF A PAGE FROM SOMEONE'S MANUSCRIPT. Seriously. A page of some poor writer's work. I guess it was flat, looked blank and the agent just jammed it into the copier.

I emailed the agent saying ummm, scuse me, should I send this back? and never heard from her again.

critiquing one of today's rejections

Dear Today's Publishing Pro,

Thank you.

You wrote back in less than a month. Your simple "I just didn't love it enough" really is okay. Sure, I'd love feedback, but you don't owe me more than that one line. In fact, that one line reminds me that it's subjective, which can be interpreted as an encouraging sort of a no. Not the best kind of no which goes on and on about Kate, great writing style, please, let me see more. I'm only grateful you took the time to write because a lot of people don't even bother with that.

I frequently follow up rejections with "Should I send something else? Or have you seen enough of my work to know that my voice won't work for you?"

You said go ahead, send more. Hmmm. People usually do. But I hope you guys don't ask for more of my stuff just to make me feel better. Thanks, but no thanks is absolutely a acceptable answer to that question. I am going to take the time to print out more stuff, pay the postage, etc. I hope you really were intrigued and you're not just being kind.

Seriously, I'm convinced that no, I don't think you've got a style that works for me is better than me wasting my time and your desk (or floor) space with reams of paper you'll step over and avoid reading for months and maybe even years.

Um. If by some wild chance you happen across this blog....You do get that in those last couple of paragraphs I don't mean you in particular? Nope, nossiree. It's just that mood threatening to pop up again and I'm pushing it back down. Someone or something will turn the crank too far and wham! I'll let loose all over the blog.

But your letter isn't gonna be what it takes to make the clown jump up and scare the shit out the one-year-olds.**

I [heart] good publishing pros and you're one of them.


**I traumatized my first kid with a jack-in-the box. Sorry, kid.

Jeebus, no wonder I'm in trouble.

"We take our bearings, daily, from others. To be sane is, to a great extent, to be sociable." - John Updike

* * *

We're having a corn doggian moment here (corn doggian = strange, random and spooky event in what appears to be a normal world until you look a little closer. Often features animals, such as birds).

The crows have landed. Hundreds of them, flapping, strutting, cawing, feasting on squirrel road kill. No wonder they call it a murder of crows-those guys look dangerous. I think this band could take down a fair sized dog if they decided to work together. They're too smart in a chilly bird-brained way. I'd take a picture but then I'd have to have a camera, wouldn't I.

I might do SBD later. And in other news, I think facebook is more fun than myspace and dangerous, as Tanya pointed out.

I'm posting notes in my kids' friends' places and I'm sure that's as horrible and thoughtless as kissing a fifth grader right smack on the school yard. Poor kids down the street. I just hope they don't take it out on my kids. With any luck, my boys can play the sympathy card (see what I have to put up with?)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Go on, YOU try it.

Man, this game gets hard. Mike, a boy and I got up to level fifty but a lot of it was guessing. Pretty amazing. Mike does crossword puzzles (I'm talking the NY Times Sunday in pen and starting in one corner working his way across without stopping) and the boy plays Magic cards which does wonders for your vocab (especially when it comes to words relating to murder, weapons and destruction)

Saturday, December 08, 2007

ten good things about RWA

God. I am bound and determined to be flipping upbeat. Selah and anyone else stifling laughter., don't Start with me. Okay, that's a thinly disguised plea with you to Start something.

1. There are online chapters for everyone. And if there isn't one you like, you can start one.
and if people protest that yours isn't really romance or acceptable to decent people, you can raise hell as a Member.

2 And if someone disses your new chapter, you can write long letters to RWR that will get published. And even run for office.**

3. Dallas isn't as bad as everyone says, and anyway, if the meeting is there, you can always wait a year and go to the meeting in another state.

4. The costumes. Yes, I know, I was one of the people saying WTF about the costumes. But that was another day, another rant. I like watching people in funky clothes having fun--as long as no one tells me I have to dress up. Anyway, the costumes might not be Fantasy World Convention amazing, but there are some good ones, usually black and goth-y. Or so they were a few years back when I last went.

5. The Snark in the bar. Or the elevator. No one beats a romance writer for a good come back line.

6. The occasional sense of camaraderie at the oddest moments. Like the woman handing out breath mints just before agent/editor appointments.

7. You'll see lots of names you know. Many, many urges to scream Omigod, it's YOU.

8. The chapter fund raising stuff. Yes, you do want a t-shirt extolling the joy of writing romance even though once you get home you realize the double entendres that seemed hysterical in the bar after a few Fancy-ass Drinks might not work in the gym. But the blinking tiara! now that one you can wear anywhere.

8a. And the coffee mugs will be your favorites forever.

9. The really good workshops. There are plenty even for the determined to be jaded. For something really memorable, look for something unlike Pitch Your Ms! Or Story Curves on The Road of Writing The Bestseller, or Craft Your Black Moments [blah blah blah says the terminally jaded] I'm thinking something like How to Have Your Heroine Kill Using Only Her Thumbs with Demonstrations by The Instructor. But that is still me in This Mood. It really is fun to watch demos like that (I'm remembering Rob's class a few years back). The others you can buy on tape or disk or in book form or whatever.

9a. the Fresh New Voices game at the publisher spotlights. Every time a publisher says FNV you get to poke your neighbor with a pen [and the pen has a writer's tagline on it. Oh, I forgot the pens! So many pens in so many odd colors! So many strange little things--tape measures, sewing kits, lollipops, condoms, water bottles, glue sticks...all with authors and their tag lines! yay!]

10. It's fun to play the game of "Spot Nora Roberts." She's wearing sunglasses. And someone at the next table will be pointing and whispering hey, isn't that....?. And almost everyone will be polite about it. I've been to a few of those meetings and I don't think I've seen a Omigod it's YOU moment with her--outside of the long lines, of course

UPDATED**you can run for office, not your letter to the RWR****. I wrote this without a sip of coffee in my system. Aw fuck, who'm I kidding. I can manage a really goofy ambiguous antecedent with a pot of coffee in my system.

****unless it's a really, really good letter.

Friday, December 07, 2007

she's still not done being bitter?

Apparently not. Sorry

Dear Kate

I’m afraid I must decline on this project right now, but I do want to encourage you to continue submitting. Just because a project isn’t quite right for me doesn’t mean [acceptance for your work] isn’t just around the corner.

I wish you the best of luck with all your writing endeavors and in the querying and submission process. Persistence pays off, so don’t give up!

Best regards
Publishing Professional

Dear publishing pro,

You might want to consider getting two versions of form rejection letters. Next time you say no, please send the one that just says "No thanks, not for me." For some reason the one above gives me the pip.

I think it's because it's obvious you didn't read my query letter or maybe you didn't pay attention to my credentials. In total, I've had about 25 fictional short stories, novellas and novels published. Let's just figure anywhere from 2-8 rejection per project.

When we add on the rejections on bids for non-fiction projects (newsletters and whatnot), free-lance proposals rejected by magazines and newspapers that means....

Hey, you know what? Never mind. We're talking hundreds of rejections and I stopped counting years ago.


If I hadn't already figured out that bit of advice you stuck on the rejection to make me feel better, I'd have given up a while back.
maybe I'd be writing snarky letters to people who don't care and won't read them.
I'd be a snarling old
curmudgeon of a....


Never mind.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

now for something completely

Here's the latest blog addiction I've developed. Daily Coyote.

THURSDAY THIRTEEN--Members of the Organization

I'm so used to having people do my Thursday Post for me. My author bugged out, the swine. I'll just have to beg her harder next time. But all is not lost for the lazy Kate. I loved the comments people made on my last post, so I'll just pick them up and maybe add more.

Why bother repeating what's already been said, you ask. Because I love them so much even if they naturally do not reflect my local reality. .

And consider it a writing exercise.
How about you compose a murder mystery and kill someone in this bunch off and decide which of the survivors is the killer. Devoti's entry doesn't count for this exercise.. it's too easy.

Lynn Viehl
1. The Perfectionist: has written exactly three chapters of her first novel which she has presented to her crit group, rewritten, queried and pitched at cons ten thousand, four hundred and eight-seven times. Believes she is the next Danielle Steele. Will never write anything else but those three chapters.

2. The Church Lady: writes the occasional devotional for her long-suffering minister, who secretly prays she will go over to the Baptists across town, but is really there at the meetings to be the group's moral compass. Which always points to Heaven for herself and Hell for everyone else. Cannot write romance because she's still a virgin. Mostly sits and mutters "Sluts of Satan" under her breath as she glares at the young romantica writers.

3. The Elderly RT Reviewer: comes to the meeting to exchange mostly imagined dirt on the most famous members of the chapter, to complain about Lady Barrow's latest scheme to turn RT into a psychic fair, and the outrageous cost of going to National, which she would cut off a limb rather than miss, and to mourn the fact that LaVyrle (sp?), Iris or Janet are no longer writing romance. Only produces fiction when her lips move.

Sam Winston
4. The 'Precocious Child Writer', who won a writing prize in third grade and considers her/himself the next F. Scott Fitzgerald of American literature. He/she has five manuscripts in a drawer somewhere gathering dust and dreams - and they'll never see the light of day because he/she was raised by the

5. 'Precocious Child Writer's Mother', (who I met at a booksigning one day,) and instead of buying my book, held said child firmly by the arm and quizzed me on writing techniques and how her 'talented baby' could get published.

Selah March
6. Perpetual President
: Is re-elected every year as chapter Pres. because nobody else wants the job. Has Robert's Rules of Order memorized, and has been known to scold grown women for daring to speak out of turn, thereby reducing said grown women to passing notes during the meetings. Also has requirements for PAN and Pro memorized, and can recite them at the drop of a hat...and frequently does. Is obsessed with RWA charms that can be earned for various milestones -- finishing a manuscript, submitting to an agent, submitting to a publisher, getting an agent, signing a contract, etc. Keeps these charms in a pouch in her bottomless purse and gives them out like a nun handing out St. Christopher medals to good little children. The ONE year she's defeated in the chapter Pres. election, she spends that year sitting at the back at every meeting and criticizing the new Pres. for being unable to keep order and letting people DRINK COFFEE DURING THE MONTHLY PRESENTATION. ("Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together...mass hysteria.")

Lori Devoti
7. What about ugly bitter writer?
7a. Or writer who wants to shut up but can't seem to control herself? [how the hell did you know about me, Lori D.? We've never been in the same writing group. I've actually had to go apologize to people after meetings. . . oh, hell.]..

8. Perky-I-can-do-it-writer, all-I-have-to-do-is-write-a-good-book? She brings out the best in ugly bitter writer.

ugh ... I do have to write some after all?

9. The Expert. Doesn't really have a clue but weighs in on every subject and has enough information to sound like she's in the know. Often get it almost right, but does things like mix up publishing houses. "Oh, they're closing that line" she says with enough conviction that all newbies thank her. They scribble notes every time she opens her mouth.

10. About to Have A Heart Attack. Is aware that many in the group are full of shit but instead of confronting anyone, squirms and turns red whenever someone like The Expert opens her mouth.. ATHAHA frequently turns and whispers furiously to member number 11, causing everything in the group to stop and watch until she's done.

11. ATHAHA's Best Friend. Doesn't say anything, ever, at any meeting. Apparently only there to give ATHAHA someone to snark at. She might be dragged along to provide ATHAHA a ride, or maybe five dollars for a bagel when the group goes out to lunch. Chances are she and ATHAHA are crit partners or co-writers.

12. The Contest Hussy. Is still convinced that contests are the best way to get a writing contract. Pushes the local chapter to run a contest as a fund raiser but only if she can enter it at a reduced rate and she gets to contact all of the final editor judges personally. Volunteers to be a judge but always gives 3s on a 1-5 scale because if you give 2 or below, you have to explain your reasons. Is potentially also Lynn's #1. She finals in lots of contests but never gets that request for a full.

13. The Joiner and Quitter. (also known as failed president) She's just quit the other chapter that meets about fifty miles away. She joins this group because she loves the idea of being president of something and going on those exclusive Chapter President retreats. She's not into the actual writing or publishing. Not as good at rules as Selah's perpetual president. More power-hungry than rule- and group-oriented, she uses her energy trying to usurp the current leadership before she even knows chapter members' names. Naturally when she's called out, she quits in a teary huff. Within a few months, she's driving hundreds of miles to go to a new chapter. She is always initially popular at her new chapters because she knows all the dirt on all the surrounding chapters' boards and their failures.

kate's note: I didn't draw these directly from specific people. (well, okay, one I did. Heh. ) I write fiction.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I finally figured it out

why I don't go to a lot of rioter meetings. Here are various parts one can play at any given local RWA meeting:
1. Learning the craft! It's all about the writing baby! Let's talk BOOKS! PLOT! Characters!

2. Nearly there! Enthusiastic, soon-to-get-the-call person! Wants to talk about her manuscript and really, really wants to talk about the market and publishers and publicity and agents! Ready to be a PROFESSIONAL.

3. Newly published! Feels like she's figured it out and can help other people! Noisy and causing much of the fray and wants to talk about The Call! FEELS LIKE A PROFESSIONAL

4. Published! Holds court and often doesn't know what she's talking about but still willing to share knowledge! Somewhat noisy. IS A PROFESSIONAL (at least operates like one)

5. Cassandra! Sits in the corner and sez, yeah, wait a few years. Bitter old hag who's been published once then ignored OR has won about 40 contests (the golden heart a few times) and never gotten a contract. Usually silent except when someone gets too happy and she's ready with a bucket of water. Often does know what she's talking about, at least from her part of the world which is getting more and more narrow.

6. I'm Just Here for the Donut Holes! Cassandra-like, but without the bitterness. Probably sometimes operates like a professional, but usually is so tarred, tarred, tarred, she just wants the coffee and gossip.

7. Real Professional! Holds court and does know what she's talking about when it comes to being a success in her world. Friendly yet, like a queen, is above the fray. (in our group I'd say it was Sandra Marton)

I've been versions of numbers 1-6. I'm sort of stuck at six and I'm on a diet, so no donut holes. I made a conscious decision to head back to one. Cutting out pictures helps. And whining here does, too.

If only

I were good at public speaking and had better hair and loved meeting strangers and could schmooze for more than an hour at a time...I'd be an agent.

I keep reading such good books that need to be published. Immediately.

I have these books

I wrote some books I'm very fond of but they'll never get published. What do I do with these things?

One got lots of enthusiastic rejections and won prizes in unpubbed contests. If I'd just change this bit, I could get it published. But that bit would make the whole story different and no, thanks.**
Do I put it online for free? Do I toss it out? Do I ask Rob if he'll publish it? I did that with another book I like, but a few years later, I'm not sure it was ready for prime time, but maybe it never would be. And maybe it shouldn't be because some things work better in a rough state.

Also... If it's not worth working on because it won't make money, does that mean it should go in the scrap heap? Do I suck it up and toss 'em? I mean, damn, I don't want my name associated with less than perfect work, right? [joke alert. The previous sentence was supposed to be funny]

Writers==what do you do with books that might never make it but you're fond of and hate to toss? There's something glitchy about them that makes them unfit for NYC, and they are so unlike your usual voice you don't want to put them out with your usual name with epublisher. I have a couple that'll never see the light of day and thank God for that! But then there are these others . . . And damn, I have quite a few of those.
Oh well.
**It's not that I think my writing is Just Perfect, it's that sometimes rewriting seems impossible for a particular book. Easier to start over with a new mind.

Monday, December 03, 2007

unrelated to romance

You might want to buy your girl or boy goodies from somewhere other than Victoria's Secret for Christmas.

We're getting real stingy around here so I think I'll probably give my man a bag of licorice or something. Maybe two bags if he's lucky. At least I know nothing horrible happened to human or animal to make bags of licorice, except the end product itself is pretty wretched. Pleh.

yikes sbd

okay, I think I've got a pretty good handle on rejection when I listen to this song. (I like the song but the bouncy guy in the video is annoying.)

Rejected Novelist Fails Again Lyrics

They go ahead and publish any old dross
They turn their nose up at me it was literature's loss
It's amazing you can carry a sledgehammer down the street
Pass parking security without missing a beat
Such a clear blue sky and lunch break is soon
Elevators descend from all those little grey rooms
They'll be coming for me
They'll be coming for me

[more lyrics here]
I'll fill this stink hole city with a dying scream
I'll haunt the souls of every man who squashed my dream
All the suits and the ties, they're all going to hell . . .
[and still more]

Sunday, December 02, 2007

I actually clicked on those antique, barnacle encrusted posts I dredged up in that last post. (The barnacles consist of spam. Spammy barnacles! sticky and smooshy.).

Spammers have attached the standard gibberishy lists of sites, but in a variety of languages, along with a more old fashioned, out-of-the-blue piece of nonsensical commentary:

I agree with you the way you view the issue. I remember Jack London once said everything positive has a negative side; everything negative has positive side. It is also interesting to see different viewpoints & learn useful things in the discussion.
signed, Penis Enlargement.
Very few "Nice Site!" boring crap. Even my dead posts attract a better class of barnacle.

writing, writing, RIOTING FUN

I'm lying in bed, cutting out pictures from magazines. This will be the Big Party Fun Time for our local group. The Exercises I'm coming up with are pretty Standard but there's a reason they're standard. Just like Pin the Tail on the Donkey and Musical Chairs, they work. (For rioters anyway. Kids, maybe?)

Yes, indeedy, I'll be the woman who tries to get everyone at the party to play charades or cranium or who insists that we do need to get a group portrait to mark the occasion. It really is supposed to be a party, so maybe I'll dig out some prizes.

I have four lil bags of pictures:
(we are romance writers after all--I'm sticking to humancentric stories, but they can also pick m/m f/f if they want.)
location and
optional object. (potential plot device!)

I'll divide the victims participants into groups and make 'em pick a picture from each bag. Then the groups have write BACK COPY! YAY!

Kind of like my old contests (they were fun to read. I do so love writing contests, especially with short entries)
cover copy contest 1
The second contest

Here’s why this exercise is great: a lot of epublishers make you write your own blurbs
it’s the format for a lot of query letters.
All this and it’s an exercise that can help improve synopsis writing abilities: Focus! Style! (as in focusing on important points of the story while maintaining an interesting and lively writing style).

Interesting tangent: it's been a while since I've written for EC, but they used to forbid their authors to use questions in their book blurb--as in “will she at last find the man to break the spell?”

I guess that style got on their last nerve when every author did it

I think I'm going to also force people to write a couple of paragraphs of setting (from a particular character's POV naturally. The whole "the room contained a white chair, a fireplace and a bureau" thing is fine but dull. How do we feeeeeeel about the room?) Why am I making anyone do this John Gardner thing? Because I stink at setting, don't like doing this particular exercise and need someone else to push me into it.

Hey, at least I won't force anyone to do Karaoke.

This wise woman shtick is going on all month. I'm helping Flo and Terry and Sophia over at athena critiques too.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

fuck fuck fuckettty fuck

I see people have been using that phrase in the UK for years, but I first encountered it in Who Stole My Blackberry. It's especially good when heard as a book on tape and Mahtin Short** Lukes burbles the words and nonwords over and over.

I wanted a useful curse a couple of hours ago because I blew out my back by having a coughing fit and because that's got to be even dumber than the time I killed myself by bending over to pick up a lettuce leaf. fucketty fuck.

Hmmm, best method is a big build up with final burst of emphatic obscenity at the end: fuck FUCK FUCK FUCKETTY FUCK! if you're going to have a potty mouth, don't be namby pamby about it.

**NO, Martin Short is so not Martin Lukes. I blame the drugs.

contest, but first dumb stuff because

it's my blog and I'm in the mood.

The headlines today said Iconical Stuntman Evel Knievel is dead. Only I thought it said Laconical. Heh. Evel Knievel laconical? Now, maybe, but not so much before.

I have never seen an episode of Grey's Anatomy so that bloffle is right out for me, Sam. Sorry. Does Scrubs count? Because they referenced GA once. I haven't seen Desperate Housewives and I hear it'll be too late on account of a big old tornado.

The contest is fun, I loved the entries--EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM. Do you know how weird that is? Usually in contests a few make me go eww, hmmm, blah. Not this time.
Here's the down side: there isn't a lot of tension about who won.
I don't even have to go count the votes because we all know it's number two, Dean.

"So, it's been a while. Whatcha been doing?" He scuffs the pavement with a Converse All-Star.

"Nothing much." Her arms are crossed. He glances at the phone in his hands. Where is the bus? He wants the bus to come and rescue him from this. When it comes, they will get on and he will mumble 'nicetaseeya' and sit far away from her.

"Where are you going to school?" There is a textbook clasped against her breasts. "Modern Busin..." is all he can read.

"Night school," she says. Her tone closes that particular subject. In her senior year, she had been planning for pre-law.

He remembers her pale face lifted to his in the half-light of the television the last time he saw her. He remembers her whispered goodbye, the hollow ache of unresolved lust in his balls. He remembers her bare shoulders. Her naked breasts. Her white, smooth belly, so promising above the line of white cotton underwear.

"You disappeared," he said. The blood of year-old anger pulses in his face. "Said no because you were a virgin and then you just disappeared. Nobody knows where you went."

He looks up. She is wearing a short black leather jacket. Her face is mask above the textbook.

"I left for a while."


"None of your business."

"I loved you." He makes sure the past tense is emphasized, trying to dig the words into her.

"You're eighteen fucking years old. You were just horny." Her voice echoes from the plastic walls. Beyond her, over her shoulder, he sees the bus coming. But he doesn't want it now. He wants an answer.

"I loved you." He says it again, and this time he is pleading. "I just need to know why."

"You have no idea what love is." She gets to her feet and walks onto the bus. He follows. His bus pass will not come out of his pocket. He pulls at it, and then when it finally comes free he holds it out with trembling fingers to the driver, who nods permission.

He turns down the aisle. She raises her arms, lifting the book to put it on the overhead rack. There is rush of ice through his chest, choking him: across her exposed belly, white and pristine below the black leather jacket, there are red and purple radiating lines, marks as old as motherhood.

You like his writing, people, Go read more.
Dean. I haven't made your fancy ass blog button but the rest, it's YOURS, DUDE! Even though you live in Canada.