Thursday, June 30, 2011

mini RWA report

overheard at the conference:
I can forgive a lot, but no dessert? That's not negotiable. I paid good money for this.

Agents are absolutely necessary--you're not going to want to try to sell your books in Russian, French etc. Let us do it for you.

I've always believed that anyone who claims to know where the market will be in a year is a liar. Now I know they are. Add to that anyone who claims to know how we'll be reading our books in two years. Except it'll be some kind of hand-held device like a iPhone. That's no lie. Really.

seen at conference:
coming in from publisher parties: Lots of fascinators. MANY OF THEM. Most with net and feathers.

Also corsets--a fair number of them (many of them at the Passionate Ink party I crashed at the very end, then paid full admission for. What can I say? I'm a crappy party crasher) Most corsets are dark colors and worn with no covering.

Lots of blue jeans and teeshirts. And I don't see as many fancy-pants decked-out types, and except for the corsets, nothing over the top. (And some of the breasts are over the top, if you know what I mean. But not really--in slutwear world view, these are fairly tasteful and subdued) Now I feel sort of guilty for coming down on the "Look PROFESSIONAL" side of the how to dress for the conference debate. I miss the fun clothes. I miss the swan hat.

I've only done one official event--the Samhain breakfast. It was good food (standard continental but better than most.) in a pleasant venue. I didn't meet anyone new, but that's my own damn fault. Wait, no, I met Jennifer the editor.

won at conference:
I did--Bonnie and I did! We won the Passionate Ink Historical first prize for Gentleman and Rogue.

There are a lot of people winning things, but I don't know who they are. The big event is tomorrow night and we're rooting for Lori to win the Golden Heart. She's Alexa Loran this year.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

why am I going to this conference again?

Dear Person to whom I Babble:

I don't know who you are yet, but some unfortunate is going to come across me after I've self medicated and she's going to say hello and that'll be it. I'm not sure what the topic will be but I will talk. A lot. Let me just say now that I'm sorry and all the opinions I expressed aren't really my own. It's the lemon sour speaking.

Seriously what will I get from this conference? Time to hang with friends, yup. And the chance to hear that editors and agents are looking for fresh new voices. No, really?

I'm supposed to make new friends (influential important friends preferably....) but that's not likely to happen. When you look like you're as desperate as the ancient mariner, people try to veer away from you. He's coming off years of crazy on the becalmed sea with a dead albatross. I don't have good excuse except I hate crowds and have forgotten how to interact with adult humans. Why am I going? I should remember the important lessons learned at Paper Back Writer's knee and stay away from these things. Why?

Okay, time's up.

My whine schedule's over. Now my calendar says I should suppress the bitter hissing crone for a few days, except after a couple of beers or lemon sours. No one forced me to sign up for this thing (Linda and Lori?) so it's time for the big girl act. First I have to go find the key to the crap car and hope it doesn't break down on the highway.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Um. Oh. Letter to the agent

Dear Agent to Whom I Promised That Manuscript,

I didn't exactly lie when I sent you those 3 chapters and synopsis. I said I had a complete manuscript and that was not a lie. But I'd kinda left off part of the truth. What I didn't tell you was that the end of the story -- okay, much of the plot -- was an unholy mess. We're talking Eugenics and Victorian breeding programs and it was It was icky. I had 80K words but I'd say maybe 40K of them ranged from questionable to dreck.

Why didn't I follow standard operating procedure? I know what to do. Even fledgling writers know how it's supposed to work. So? Why didn't I wait until I had a polished finished manuscript to send?

In part because I was pretending I'm a professional.

I blame my "business plan" (See? That's a majorly professional sounding word right there.) My BP is to get back into the NYC world. That means that every now and then, I make the effort. I don't actually believe that it'll happen--I do it just to feel like I'm keeping to a schedule that is otherwise not in my control**. I've gotten used to producing 3 chapters, a synopsis and then, after I send out the little bundle, I check it off my to-do list and forget all about it. I go back to writing what I know will sell to the non-NYC world.

So when you sent back the "sure! Let's see the rest" note, I was mildly surprised. And then when you sent the "hey, I'm really interested, where is that ms?" note, I was petrified.

I can work fast -- I usually do. But that note about your interest. Man, it scared me. External pressure? Really? I vaguely recall that, but whoa.

Okay. Now it's about a month later and I have the finished manuscript (again) Do I send this letter to you? Are you still interested? Am I a loser for not being entirely honest up front? When I see you at RWA do I confess my sins?

So what do you think, rest of the world and maybe you, too, agent. Is it standard for everyone to allow a month or two to lapse between request and submission? I'd really, really hate that if I was an agent or editor. Sure, you guys always make writers wait, but that's the way of the world. There are a gazillion of us and a few of you.

** out of control part is what happens once I'm done with my bit:

write a best-selling novel.
write novel
Best selling? Sez you. Try selling--Not, responds agent, editor, booksellers, novel-reading public


Oh, honestly. The people in this book are crying so often they need to rehydrate.

My son's southern accent might be worse than my midwestern accent. We need an expert to listen to us both and decide who's more dreadful.

Does instant coffee taste better these days or am I less discerning?

Twitter has ruined my ability to write paragraphs or think of any subject for more than a minute or two.

Hey has Charlene Teglia had that baby yet or is she on the roof taking out people with a bazooka like she threatened?

Monday, June 20, 2011

is whining ever attractive?

Probably if it's done by Tim Minchin or a good comic. Or maybe an emo indie band that makes listeners feel as if its despair is the pain of the universe and isn't just first world angst.

Most of my whining is preschool resentment of what I have to do next. I wonder what percentage of the grownup population gets that feeling that they'd rather do anything but [ blank ] at the very moment they should most be [ blanking ]?

Blank can equal "stop drinking" "exercise" "go to work" "get the hell out of bed" "drink enough water" I suppose blank can reach all the way to "stay alive."

I'm not at that whatthehell point, thank you. Have been before, will again, I'm sure, but not right now. I've just noticed in the past that one of the first things to go at the start of the whine and rinse cycles are the stories and uh oh, the pleasure is sliding away.

And the sad thing is that even though I now have pleasant stripes in my hair, I am no longer attractive enough for this sort of malcontented mood to be mildly interesting to outsiders. Now if I could carry a tune like that singer in Low, maybe I could get some mileage out of this.

Okay, almost nothing I do is interesting to outsiders, but I'd finally gotten to the point when I usually couldn't care less about that. Wait a moment!
. . . the gears are grinding. . .

All right!


I've decided I don't care now, either, again. Gotta love the human mind's ability to adapt and I think I've just adapted. Maybe I'll go try to write a story and see if I'm better yet.

Now if only I could get the pleasure from stories (mine and others), I'd be all set. Second-hand passion is better than none.

Monday, June 13, 2011

remembering Somebody to Love

I mentioned Someone To Love in a post at a blog, and just thinking about that book gave me enough PTSD symptoms. Wait a sec. I have to get up and find some chocolate.

Okay. Back again. If you look at the dedication (which I won't) it says something like thank you to Mike for that January, aka the January from Hell.

I signed the two-book contract in October and it wasn't until sometime around Christmas that year, after finishing grueling edits on the first book. (Hilary's fault for buying a partial) that I pulled out the contract to see when the book was due--as in the next book (Title To Be Decided) as in the book that I hadn't started yet as in the book I hadn't really planned out.

The due date? February first. This was my very first book contract and I was already about to blow it. I thought about trying for a later date, but Hilary said the book had been put in the schedule already and if I dropped out, well....they'd cope, but. . . . I so did NOT want to get a rep as one of those difficult authors.

I couldn't really get to work until the holidays were over; we had company part of that time. January 2, I started in.

This was back when my boys were small-ish. I guess 2003? Yeah, that's right. So I had a 12 year old, 9 year old and 5 year old. And I had to write a book in a month.

Luckily it was the month Mike didn't have to teach, so he basically became a full-time Dad. I sat in our bedroom hiding from the kids, my butt on a rocking chair, my feet propped on our bed -- and I wrote. It had to be about 88K words, so you do the math. I know I did at least 15 pages a day, usually more like 20.

Hilary got the book, pointed out it wasn't romance and sent it back to me to rewrite. So I did. (With a lot of help from people like Julie and Bronwyn...maybe I should send them some flowers right now.)

I still can't open that book. I still can't think about it. I'm off to get more chocolate.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

"Every actor writer in his heart believes everything bad that's printed about him." — Orson Welles

Monday, June 06, 2011


Oh, man, I thought this book would be good, but this heroine's over-reacting at the mo. She's major martyr because her parents were killed when she was 3. Now, 23 years later, she's got all the PTSD symptoms -- as if she'd witnessed the murder and clearly remembered the people who died. She's crying all the time and in shock and has just thrown up again after encountering the man who just got out of jail (and who might not have done it).

The thing is, the first description of her as someone who goes through life distrusting happiness and waiting for the bad stuff to happen any second -- that one makes sense. It rings true and fits her circumstances. She had no memory of the event or her parents but their deaths left a real, and believable scar. Operative word here is scar, not bleeding, pulsing wound directly related to the events. That's just not something that works for a regular adult person who was 3 when the bad crap when down.

Those first couple of chapters of Scent of Rain and Lightning were really promising. But then the story switched to melodrama and weird back story stuff -- lots of stuff in there that seemed kind of lazy (as in lots and lots of POV switches when some secrittts might be revealed etc and that "little did they know" omniscient narration, which is fine if it's used as if the author knows that tool.).

But listen, despite the whining, I'm still addicted to reading this book because the woman can tell a's just that I no longer think it's extraordinary.

Okay, update. I finished it and was initially sort of annoyed by the whodunnit part but then decided it made a lot of sense. So it's
1. very readable.
2. not a bad mystery. Which makes it 4/5 because I promised myself to be more liberal with the stars and because, like I said, readable and that counts for a whole lot these days.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

not really SBD

When is Robin Hobb going to write another Rain Haven book? I want it, now. I went looking and I think there are more coming out but I'm not sure. If her publisher didn't pick up more of the series would she self-publish? I hope she would, but with help! HELP THE BOOKS.

I just got a book from amazon that could have been fabu. It could have been a madcap Capra movie, it could have been a A Contendah. . . . but it turned out to be something less than wonderful.

That baby screamed for an editor. There were issues of all sizes and shapes, big stuff like characters who were inconsistent and repeated plot points (food in fights once per book), and way too many typos along with dumb stuff that like "six am in the morning" that an editor would catch.

I got all indignant thinking that hey, this is why we need editors in our lives.

But wait! This book is from a small press! I felt the urge to tell them they need to hire better editorial help--and I looked them up to make sure I never accidentally subbed to them or the horse they ride around on. Turns out Outskirts Press is self publishing. So now I'm going back to being indignant. That story didn't get the help it deserved.

This sort of sad condition, of potential glimpsed and lost, is going to be true more often than not now. It makes me want to go back to bed and give up. Naw it makes me want to kiss an editor and buy her a beer.

Publishers, pay those editors. They suffer to keep the reading safe and painless for the rest of us.