Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I Give Thanks For...

Being born in the USA
The love of my family
Having the freedom of religion
Having a roof over our heads, clothing on our backs, and food on the table
Healthy, well-adjusted kids
Having the freedom to stay home and raise my children
My creative brain, even when it wakes me up at 3am, demanding my attention
My healthy body, even though it lets me down once or twice a year
My friends, both old and new, and those I've never met in person
Vehicles which get us from Point A to Point B

Thanksgiving Day has always meant a family gathering of some kind, even though one of my favorites involved a motel stay and all the pool time we wanted. Another one was spent in front of the TV, watching cable television for the first time.

It's just not Thanksgiving without turkey, ham, potatoes, hot rolls, green beans, corn, and acres of desserts. Okay; maybe not acres, but plenty of pie, cake, brownie, and whipped cream. I'm not a pumpkin pie eater, but I will take a few spoonfuls of Cool Whip in a bowl!

Over the years, we've added our own touches: My MIL's noodles. Mom's shrimp coctail. My bacon-tomato cups. Daughter's brownies.

This year, we're having a pitch-in. Five families, or should I say households, are converging together to provide a feast. We're hosting and providing the turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, rolls, and appetizers. Household #2 is bringing the pies. Household #3, the stuffing and lemon cookies. HH#4, the green bean casserole and sweet potatoes. HH#5, the noodles. A sixth household has been invited, and told to bring whatever they wish. And every year, the 'strays' arrive, teenagers who know they will find laughter, friendship, and food at our house.

The door is open; come on over and enjoy our feast! I guarrantee you'll leave with a full stomach and as many leftovers as you can carry.

Friday, November 20, 2009

More Dreams

My dreams have been active lately.

Monday morning, I'd dreamed of being in a huge, relaxing tub of water while catching up with my hero. Suddenly he joined me, and as the water slowly drained, made my body and soul sing with joy, love, and contentment of being with him again.

And then I woke up.

Tuesday night, I dreamed his office had an open house, and as I searched for his cubicle, the crowd thickened. I finally made my way to the parking lot and climbed in what I thought was his blue truck. As I'm backing out of the parking space, I happen to glance at the contents of a folder in the pocket of the door. It's not his; I hit the brakes and get out. (Weird...the man doesn't even drive a blue truck anymore; I changed it to a red SUV!)

Once again, I woke up.

And he's refusing to talk to me this week.

Maybe he's getting tired of having to take a back seat to all the family stuff which has been going on? Maybe he's frustrated by being drowned out by the news, SyFy Channel, and not-enough- hours-in-the-day issue? Or is it the fact that, once again, I have a goal and the family is doing everything in their power to sabatage it?

The only year that I've won NaNo (so far!) has been when I've had complete privacy. Next year, maybe I need to check into a hotel and hibernate for a month!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Time Management, Holiday Style

After the crazy month of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), I take a break. From Dec 1st to Jan 2nd, the only writing I do is posting my blog, writing my annual Christmas Newsletter, and signing Christmas cards.

If the muse demands otherwise, then...yikes! When do I fit it all in?

It depends on how loud the muse is yelling in my ear. Sometimes I can get away with writing down the basics of the proposed storyline; I did this with Model Behavior. Other times if the need to write is too overwhelming, I'll simply have to take the time to get it out of my head, either typing it into a word document or in longhand.

But typically, I'm doing three things during the month of December: Baking cookies, shopping for Christmas presents, or on the weekends, partying with friends or family. The month of December is one big party at our house: My oldest son arrived on Dec 8th; I showed up on Dec 19th; we not only celebrate Christmas at home, but there are two more family parties where gifts are exchanged. And on New Year's Day, there is also a feast to be served up, and my SIL's birthday.

I have been known to be found curled up in a quiet corner during the 'down' time at family gatherings, writing in a notebook. Sometimes the muse just won't be ignored, even on Christmas. I've also been known to write in the car. It's whatever works for you. So far, I've been blessed not to have a deadline at this time of the year, other than the obvious ones.

But when that day arrives, I hope I'll be able to manage my time well, and maybe delegate the baking or wrapping to other family members!

"Author Working: Do Not Disturb".

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My Drug of Choice: Writing!

She sits at her computer, fingers flying over the keyboard. Words flow from her brain to her fingertips, magically appearing onscreen in the form of paragraphs, dialogue, and sketchy description.

She gets up to stretch and to cool her parched throat with a cool drink, and maybe a chocolate chip cookie or two. More words are swirling in her brain, encouraging her to write them down.

She sits.

An hour passes; maybe more.

And suddenly, it's over. She's written 'The End'. But is it really? She stands up and stretches; even getting another snack. And reads over what she's written.

Oh my God...can it be? She loves it, feeling happy yet sad. Another 'perfect' story, one she's sure will bring joy and happiness to future readers. Time for a glass of wine and celebrate! Or even kick the kids out of the house in order to release some pent-up energy with her beloved and maybe even try out one of the bedroom scenes, to see if she got the details right. She insists on dinner out; this is a celebration. Culmination of the first phase of the journey.

Phase #2 is the email received several weeks later. "Here's your contract". Again, this is no time to cook. The family must take the ecstatic author-to-be out for dinner, and wine must be bought. Another celebration behind closed and locked doors, and she falls asleep, dreaming of adoring fans and checks arriving in the mail.

Phase #3 is after edits are completed. Yes, this stage has meant some teeth gnashing and threats made to family and friends who dare interrupt the 'think tank'; after all, only an editor can dare tell her 'this phrase could be worded better' or 'this ending sucks. I know you can do better than this!' Time for another fix...she sits down, shuts out LIFE and pulls from her brain a better word or phrase, and even gets snarky as she tries to finish her already 'perfect' ending. And suddenly, it comes to her! Hurrah! Finally done! More wine and chocolate is needed.

Phase #4: She receives her galley. Oh, it looks so pretty! The cover...the title...her name is on this book, which is about to be released soon! She spreads the word to friends and fans. Oh, she can't wait, and basks in the anticipation.

Phase #5: Release Day arrives. The phone rings off the hook; her inbox is loaded with congratulations. A party is planned; the family takes her out to dinner; more wine and chocolate are consumed. Her beloved wraps her in his arms and whispers, "I knew you could do it; I'm proud of you." She snuggles close, and dreams of being on Letterman.

Phase #6 is the interviews, the signings, and chats which follow, as people realize how wonderfully written the book is, and clamour for more. After a few weeks, the applause dies down and LIFE returns to normal again.

Phase #7 arrives in many forms: The first royalty check; the request for the next submission; fan mail.

Withdrawl symptoms can vary: Irritability; staring at empty monitor screen for hours; a clean house; taking long walks in hopes of jump-starting the creative process; depression and self-doubt.

But rest assured: Once the muse returns and the author is again pounding the keys in order to write as fast as the words can flow, the rollar coaster ride of life with an author will begin again.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Book Borrowing or Piracy?

I'm torn on this issue.

I see my fellow authors up in arms over the sites who have pirated their books, and the unscupulous readers who have bought them, robbing authors of needed sales money. Don't get me wrong; I'm definitely on their side when it comes to these thieves! After all, my alter-ego lost sales when one person bought a copy of her book and passed it around to her friends. However, one person DID go back and buy both copies.


She wanted to read it again.

I've been lucky to not have been pirated. Should I be insulted or grateful? Insulted, that no self-respecting e-book pirate thinks my work is worthy to be hijacked, or grateful I'm still a relative unknown in the business, and therefore left alone? Ah the dilemma...

Seriously, all kidding aside, here's the issue that has me on the fence. I just read on the Three Wicked Writers blog that the new B&N Nook e-reader allows books to be shared for two weeks. It treats the file just like an actual print book; once it's 'loaned out', the owner cannot read it. And like a library book, after the 14 days are up, the file disappears from the loanee's computer/iPod/e-reader. That's a wonderful idea!

I've borrowed many books from the library and other friends. If I liked the book, I went out and bought my own copy, plus the author went on my 'radar' whenever I entered a bookstore or heard news about them. Case in point: I never would have begun reading Danielle Steele, Jackie Collins, Lavryle Spencer, Cathering Coulter, Nora Roberts, Marion Keys, or even WEB Griffin, had someone not loaned me the first book.

Maybe it's just me; I'm a book-hog. Yes, I'll loan you any book I own, but I'd better get it back. I had to do something drastic back in the early 90's and sold an entire box of books to a used bookstore, simply so we could put food in the house. I'm still replacing those books. The spouse is never happy whenever I bring home books, because since the move, I no longer have the space to store them. They go into a box to be put in storage until we move again. HOWEVER...the books received from fellow authors get placed in my Festival Tote, the one which goes everywhere with me when I'm 'on tour', and they go on display. No, they are NOT for sale, but if anyone expresses interest, I offer to write down the author's name, website, or publisher on the back of my business card for them.

I'm also a music-hog. I have tapes labelled 'Off Radio' and the year recorded. I used to tape the American Top 100 every New Year's Day (this stopped when I married and we had to go out of town. No access to a radio station which carried it!), and have a wealth of music from 1980-1990. Some of the tapes are too fragile to be played; others are completely broken. But I also kept a chart! Am looking forward to the day when I get an iPod/MP3 and can get all my music in one place again! Same with my LP's, 45's, and the tapes and CD's I did buy.

My point to all this rambling is this: Just because music and books were available for FREE didn't mean I stopped buying them. Yes, there are some idiots out there who will never buy another book ('because I can get it here for free!'), but there are also those of us who will borrow books until we can afford to buy our own copy. Will the libraries start stocking e-books? They currently stock audio ones. Can the e-books be very far behind?

So in this case, there is no black-and-white answer. What's the difference between loaning a print book to a friend and sharing a file with someone who's never heard of the e-book concept? Will you introduce someone to a new author or will you get a nasty email from a publisher/author, accusing you of piracy? I don't know the answer; nor do I know if it will ever be resolved.