Monday, June 27, 2011

Second-Guessing Game

In the writer's world, a rejection is probably the toughest thing to process and internalize. One of my book submissions was recently rejected. As in most cases, I really don't have any concrete idea why. The vast majority of rejections are done via a polite uninformative form letter for one simple reason--time.

When a publisher/editor rejects a book, regardless of the reason, they have determined that book will not be part of their future. Why spend any more time on something that will show no monetary return? It isn't their responsibility to help the author further their career.

That creates a quandary for the writer. Initially, there's the urge to write back, offering to fix whatever needs to be changed. We have so little true confidence we immediately assume there must be something wrong with our writing. Perhaps it was a lousy book...Maybe our writing sucks.

But wait! There are other reasons for a book to be rejected, my inner voice cautions.

Oh, yeah? the sucky writer part of me jeers. Name one.

Well. I flounder to a halt, madly searching my brain for one legitimate reason. I know! The book might be too long.

So? If that was the case, wouldn't they say 'revise and resubmit'? taunts the sucky writer.

Maybe. Maybe not. Or maybe the book didn't fit exactly in one of the genres they sell.

Sucky writer snorts. Riiiiight.

Well, they might have too many Celtic Time Travel Survival Suspense Romances on their roster.

Sucky writer makes a rude noise.

All right. Maybe there was too much sex.

At that sucky writer rolls on the floor laughing.

Not enough sex?

Maybe that scene where they get it on in the rain? sucky writer challenges slyly.

That wasn't that hot, I object.

Get a beta reader, sucky writer dares.

Yeah. Get a beta reader, I agree.

In the meantime, I'll get back on my writing horse and start another book.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Body Internal

Over the last few months, the house hunk and I have had occasion to spend quite a few hours submitting to medical tests. Strange tests with weird names. Some require drinking nasty tasting goop. Some require purging. Or the injection of dyes.

It's amazing how much information such tests can yield. Whereas in days gone by exploratory surgery might be required, now doctors and technicians peer through technological windows to see the inner workings of our bodies.

Surgeries are scheduled, or not, based on the results. Though the tests are expensive (and boy, how expensive!), they aren't nearly as expensive--or dangerous--as surgery and anesthesia.

For all our modern tests, knowledge of the body internal is not new. The ancient Sumerians had doctors. While we might rely on modern chemical compounds and computer technology now, many of the conditions we suffer were known and diagnosed in ancient times.

What does that say about modern man? Something, some part of how we choose to live hasn't changed in two or three thousand years. If allowed the choice, we still drink too much, eat too much of the wrong foods, and live a couch potato life. We stay up too late at night. Have sex with the wrong partners. Live with high stress.

In our modern lives we've traded old stresses for new stresses, and old wars for new wars, but not much else has changed. Over the years, there have been utopian experiments, groups who tried new life styles, yet there've been no notable successes.

I suspect it all boils down to being human. We're imperfect, warlike, and indolent when possible. Oh, I know there are Type A personalities who can't seem to relax. And we have our share of humans who strive for peace. But when the chips are down...when the thin veneer of civilization is stripped away, we revert to the basic model.

Survival comes first.


Monday, June 20, 2011


Friendships forged in the midst of adversity are bound together with iron chains. If it's a true life and death survival situation, then those chains may even be titanium. 

Classic romance stories revolving around such situations are perennial favorites--especially those stories that isolate the h/h from all assistance, thus necessitating their dependence on each other.

One of my favorite books in this genre is a book written back in the late 70's or early 80's by Marlys Milhiser...Willing Hostage. It's a story of mistaken identity and survival in the wilderness while pursued by several different groups of bad guys. Ah, yes. And the h/h have a cat. Named Goodyear. At least once a year I read Willing Hostage.

Another fairly recent favorite is Ice by Linda Howard. It's the tale of a couple trapped by a ferocious ice storm in a house with two psycho meth addicts. Talk about some scary stuff!

Whatever the danger, the act of working together to survive creates a bond that can't be broken. When the survivors also have sexual attraction between them, that bond is even stronger. 

I call such stories survivor stories. What about you? Do you like survivor stories? And if so, what are some of your favorites?


Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Rush

When I was a young woman, there used to be a phenomenon in college sororities known as the rush. Basically, each fall a sorority would look for new members, wine and dine 'em and try to make membership in their sorority more attractive than any other sorority. Once the decision was made, the rush was over. At that point the new sorority sister found herself at the bottom of the totem pole, so to speak.

I have observed quite a few publishers employing the same tactics. Especially in the current economic climate, authors are carefully studying the cards they hold, trying to decide which ones to hold--and which to fold. It's a dicey proposition.

The publishers are well aware of the situation. Too many authors have lost by placing all their eggs in one or two baskets. Many of them are branching out, trying things they would never have considered a couple years ago. Partly that is due to changes in technology. More of it it due to the combination of dwindling royalty checks and a complex combination of factors at various publishing houses.

Faced with the wholesale stampede of authors, the houses are also trying new things, but perhaps the most insidious is the rush. At some publishing houses, it's a long-term practice, but many of the smaller ones are picking up on the idea. Here's how it works:

1) Your book is fabulous. Even if you have to slog through six set of edits, your editor soldiers on, working to get your book in some sort of shape to publish.

2) Your book's cover is spectacular. If there's one star cover artist at your publisher, she/he will be the one who does your cover.

3) Your opinion is in demand. It doesn't matter that you don't know diddly about the publishing world. Really. Everyone wants to know what you think. When you speak, everyone listens...

4) They can't wait for your next book. It doesn't matter how fast you're pounding them out. Or how lacking in plot and characterization. And if the story is eighty-five percent sex, so much the better. They're happy to do minimal editing and slap that baby up there on the release page. More!

5) When the first bad reviews come in you're history. Nah, I'm not talking about a four out of five, though I know authors who absolutely fall apart when they don't receive a five out of five. I'm talking about the reviewers who give you a one or two out of five and specifically wonder (in writing) where the heck the editor was for this piece of drivel. And what could the publisher be thinking when they published this terrible book? Oooops.

6) The rush is over. Suddenly you can't get the attention of anyone at the publishing house. They don't return your e-mails. They might forget to send your royalty checks. Or the checks might be short. Or they might start demanding a revise and resubmit on every single book you submit. Submissions might take months instead of weeks before you receive an answer. In effect, you're no longer the flavor of the month.

I've watched this rush cycle happen at more than one house. If you observe carefully, you will be able to pick out exactly which authors are at the top of the cycle. And if you watch long enough, you'll know which ones were the stars the last time around.

There's nothing wrong with taking advantage of the rush--as long as you're aware of the realities and are prepared when they spit you out on the other end. I know some authors who've been devastated because they didn't understand what was happening. But if you are awake and ready when you're whirled into the rush--well, why not use it to your advantage?

Just be ready to jump when you shoot out the other side.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Derailed again...

Much has been written about the writer's life. There are articles on writer's block. And posts about balancing home and writing. If you need to know about royalties, contracts, editing, or just about any old thing, there's something out there.

But...there aren't very many discussions about the derailed thought syndrome. Maybe I'm the only one that suffers from this debilitating condition. It's terrible. I'll be typing along at my usual speed demon fifteen words a minute when bamm! The thought is gone.

Sometimes it's only a word. Other times it's a complete sentence or even a stretch of dialogue. Oh, woe is me!

It's bad enough when the derailment is...sigh. Time for a commercial while I find my thought.

Ah...there it is. Bad enough when I derail on my own. When the house hunk causes it, though, that is worse. You know--the odd little visits the family makes just when you're in the middle of the most difficult paragraph you've worked on all day? And they want to know something incredibly important like, "Whatcha doin'?"

And your train of thought shoots off the tracks, down the embankment into the woods. :-(

I find that I lose words now. Yep. I'll be typing along, happy as a frog in a pond, and suddenly the next word is just gone. Nothing I do seems to work. Eventually, I put big question marks in BOLD and RED in my document and move on.

The next time I read through, what do you know? The darned word pops up just like it hasn't been hiding in the first place. *&^#^*!

The worst is when you know the word is right there, hanging out at the edge of your brain and it refuses, absolutely refuses to coming out of hiding. I once waited for two weeks before the darned word showed up. Abstract words are the most difficult because you can't explain them clearly enough for your critique partners to guess what you're going for.

How about you? Do you get derailed? And if so, what do you do about it?


Tuesday, June 14, 2011


A fellow author commented, "I'm starting to feel like always a bridesmaid..." It set me thinking as I too feel like a wall flower. Tough to sit on the sidelines when everyone else is dancing, it seems.

Or are they?

It's so difficult to know if the others are really dancing or if they're shadowboxing, hoping no one else realizes how inadequate they feel. Where is the truth and reality?

For myself, I've decided the first truth is my definition of success. When will I be a success? What is my goal? Five years ago, my goal was to be published.


Is that it? I have twenty books published. By anyone's definition, that is a fine thing as it proves I'm not just a one hit wonder.


I'm multi-published with more than one publisher to my credit. That, too, is a defining point of success. More than one publisher has found my work worthy.


But what about the royalty aspect. Sigh. There's the rub, isn't it? In the fast shifting world of publishing and the tanking economy, the monetary measures of success are moving so swiftly it's hard to tell where the success levels truly are. Can I live on my royalties? A resounding NO. Do I have sales every month? Well...yes. Some, though small. So how will I choose to define success?

Perhaps this is the most difficult thing to decide. How do we define monetary success? For everyone, it will be different. For some, selling two books a month is a major triumph. For others, selling less than two hundred books a month is an unmitigated disaster. So this one is decided by the individual author.

What no one mentions in the first flush of success is that sales are directly related to a continual string of new releases--timed just right. Too close together and your fans can't afford you. Too far apart and you get lost in the life shuffle. If you're a slow writer or if your publisher's timing is off so your books are released too far apart, it directly affects your sales.

Life interferes sometimes. Maybe it interferes more than that. If no writing is done, no book is published, no royalty check arrives. Perhaps more than in any other occupation, income is directly dependent on constant new production.

My first fourteen months I wrote eleven books. The next year I wrote five. There was a significant difference in my royalty checks. This year I have finished one book. Life is pushing back with a mighty shove.

But I've decided something about my career. I am a success. Whatever I may do in the future will not change that. I can check off multi-published author on my bucket list!

Now, where did I put that darned list...surely there's something else I need to check off.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Hot Feet

Hot. Hot. Hot. We've had record setting high temps this last week. And when you're discussing the weather, there's inevitably a bit of one-upsmanship going on. It's hotter here than there. Or colder. Or rainier.

So just let me say I'm sure it's sunnier, hotter, colder, rainier, cloudier someplace than it is here. I'm pretty sure of that. Someone is having a windier time of it. Someone has a hurricane. Or hail. Or snow. Because that's the nature of weather. It moves around a lot.

For those folks who enjoy a steady temperature with little in seasonal change, there are places they can live. Others enjoy a bit more weather drama and there are certainly places for them, too.

Our bodies adapt to the norm for our location and as long as our weather is within that normal range, we do just fine. And then there are the not-so-fine times--the sudden punches of heat or cold or too much of a good thing like rain or snow. Then we start talking about how it's hot or cold. And the heat or frigid temps often have nothing to do with the thermometer.

I am living with some internal temperature peaks and valleys. One minute I'll be hot, hot, hot. Hair's soaking wet. And twenty minutes later I'll be freezing. The house hunk will look at me in total puzzlement because the room thermometer temperature is the same. And when I assure him it's just me...well, I'm not sure he believes me.

The funny thing is--I'm pretty much past that whole hot flash thing so this is something new. It's no doubt related to my meds or something going on in my getting-older body. Something weird.

Like my hot feet. Everyone I talk to in my age group complains about their cold feet. Not mine. Hot, hot, hot.

Or maybe, I'm just one hot mama...


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Keep smiling...

When I was a kid, we were not encouraged to frown, sulk, pout, cry, whine...well you get the drift. I'm not against that general philosophy. I believe crying is important--for the serious stuff. But for the most part, I'm pretty much a pull-up-your-big-girl-panties and get on with life type.

But there are days...

As an adult, we have fewer people to whine and pout around. Most of us have our own share of life's difficulties to deal with. And frankly, we take so much time feeling sorry for ourselves that there's really not time to feel sorry for someone else...unless the disaster is soooo huge it draws us out of our little closet of despair.

The thing is if you're used to keeping a stiff upper lip, after a while, that lip sort of atrophies and then one day--boom! The lip droops and you just can't get it stay up there where it belongs! This has been of great concern to me. My lip is starting to droop here and I sure don't want to walk around with an upside down smile on my face.

After some contemplation on the problem I've come up with the perfect solution. Once a month we should have a pity party day. Since it's my solution, I get to pick the day. I think the fifteenth is a good day...

On the fifteenth of the month we can all come together and list our grievances, the bad stuff we're dealing with, the terrible stuff that's bugging us... whatever is dragging us down. And then when we're done, we can go back to business as usual. You know--that keep smiling stuff that we do the rest of the time. Right?

So hang in there. The fifteenth is right around the corner.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I'm so tired of the great underwear debate. What I choose to wear under my street clothes is nobody's business but mine. Nope, not even the house hunk has a say in what I wear.

That's something that's always puzzled me. Why the heck would I wear something no one sees but me that was uncomfortable? Evidently, there are a lot of women who agree with me. See the article HERE about the 2010 Undie awards. The granny panty won.

Women (and even some men) are passionate about their underwear choices. While I understand the idea of undies designed for seduction, I confess I've never worn specific underwear for that purpose. In my experience, if you want to seduce your man, you'll have more success if you just take the underwear off. Men are pretty simple biological beings. Naked women = their full attention.

Having said that, I have to say I do not understand the phenomenon of going commando--for men or women. As any adult male or female knows...our bodies are designed to prepare us for the sexual activities later in the evening. An  entire industry of panty liners and sprays is supported by our desire to deal with this biological preparation. Why on earth would you go naked, then?

I know, I know. Personal choice. With the emphasis on choice. I understand the fantasy behind it. You're all dressed up to go someplace special. You whisper in the hunk's ear just before you arrive. "No panties." And he's supposed to go crazy with desire.

Sigh. Mine would just look at me and ask why the heck I would do something stupid like that. See paragraph three. In his opinion, underwear is something you take off to get to the main event.

I suspect the underwear manufacturers have cleverly used the idea of sex to enhance their sales. Unfortunately, the conclusion we can draw from the products they offer is this--no one over a size sixteen or a 36B has sex. If you're on the zaftig side, you're stuck with incredibly ugly underwear. Also uncomfortable underwear. Ugly, uncomfortable white or beige underwear.

Please tell me...what is the average size of women in the USA? Us fluffy types are the majority. Yes we are. So why can't we find comfortable underwear?

Maybe we should all go commando. Now that would not be a pretty sight, would it? And we'll get protest t-shirts...Oh my, can't you see it?


Monday, June 6, 2011

Monday, Monday

I haven't decided why Monday has such a bad rap. Personally, I think Tuesday is much worse. On Monday, you're still a little rested from the weekend. By Tuesday, you're tired and you know you have the entire rest of the week to face. Ugh.

In our household we seem to have everything scheduled on Tuesday. Laundry. Doctor Appointments. Car work. Grocery shopping. Why?

Mostly, it's because we say, "We don't want to be out in the hustle and bustle on Monday because everyone else will be out. We'll wait until Tuesday." Bad choice.

Maybe we should wait until Wednesday...


Thursday, June 2, 2011

I Know...

Things I know...

Always carry tissues with you when using a public restroom. There's nothing worse that running out of toilet tissue.

Don't drink coffee after noon. It gives you heartburn, restless legs syndrome, and keeps you awake.

Never try to change another person's mind. It makes them cranky and they will dig in their heels, clinging to their own opinion.

When they do change their mind, don't say "I told you so."

When the heat index is above a hundred, the air quality is orange, and the pollen count is high, if you have asthma, you should stay inside. Unless of course, you don't need to breathe.

No one ever melted from going out in the rain, but you can get very wet and cold.

Some people should not have kids, cats, dogs, guinea pigs or rabbits. Maybe they shouldn't even have snakes or lizards. Pet rocks were made especially with these people in mind.

Turning on Facebook first thing in the morning is a guarantee that no work will be accomplished until noon.

Ditto twitter.

The most beautiful places on Earth are the least accessible to humans. That's why they're the most beautiful places on Earth.

There is a direct correlation between distance from home and the stupidity of a tourist. However, with the internet, the tourist should understand that distance is non-existent.

Never leave home looking less than picture perfect--especially if you are going to Wal-Mart.

You can never have too many beads, balls of yarn, sticky notes, pens, or pads of paper. Extra scissors, rulers, and markers are optional.

Never leave home without a book...or two. Taking a digital reader is even better.

Never leave home without paper, pens, tissues, your asthma inhaler, your brush, spare string, Swiss Army knife and duct tape. I can guarantee you'll need it if you forget it.