Archive for April, 2008

What a Difference a Week Makes…

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

View from our front deck, Saturday, April 19th:

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Same view, Saturday, April 26th:

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Don’t worry, it was a freak snowstorm. We don’t usually get snow in the middle of April.

 

Tell Me Tuesday-Good News Galore!

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

I’ve had two excellent pieces of news this week. On Friday, I learned that one of my WIPs, SEX, P.I.s & PACKING TAPE, is a finalist in The Lories Best Proposal by Published Author contest. This necessitated a mad afternoon of printing seven copies of the proposal for the final round and zipping them to the post office, so they’d make it to the contest coordinator in time for the deadline. There are no categories in the Best Proposal contest, so the six finalists are all lumped together (there were only supposed to be five finalists, but there was a tie). Seven industry judges are participating in the final round: two editors, two agents, a bookseller, a book reviewer, and a publisher reader (for non-writers, a “publisher reader” usually freelances, reading and giving her or his opinions on the suitability of a manuscript for a particular publishing house’s needs, and then the editor decides whether she (or he) reads the manu, dependant on the reader’s report.

My other piece of great news is that yesterday I received a phone call from RWA informing me that my name had been chosen in a draw as one of two recipients for the Rita Gallagher Memorial Conference Scholarship. I entered the draw through an ad in the Romance Writers’ Report a couple of months ago. As far as I know, one recipient is a PRO member, the second (moi!) an author with a sale in the past year newly qualifying her for PAN. (Note, if you’re not an RWA member, those designations won’t make sense, and they’re too complicated to go into now, but, rest assured, they make sense to me). When I saw the ad, I thought, “What the heck,” and now am I ever glad I entered the draw—because RWA is comping my San Francisco National Conference fee! This makes the conference a lot more affordable for an author on the…ahem…low end of the pay spectrum. I’m extremely grateful. Thank you, RWA!

Because of other commitments and recovery from the Devil of all Head Colds, I didn’t get as much writing done last week as I would have liked. The cold is still lingering, but I have my energy back, and I’m looking forward to diving into the WIP this week…and next week…and the week after that.

How about everyone else? Have good news to report? Experienced a bump on the road to publication and need a boost? Share your news, good or not-so-good. What are you working on?

Six Degrees of Running with Scissors

Monday, April 28th, 2008

burroughs_scissors.jpgI read Augusten Burroughs’ RUNNING WITH SCISSORS last week. Or, should I say, I devoured it. Wickedly funny and intensely sad, this is a memoir that refuses to let you put it down. Anyone read it? Seen the movie? I’ve yet to see the movie, but now I want to. You know, so I can whine about how it fails in contrast.

I love funny writing, but the humor only carried me through the first half of the book. The “intensely sad” haunted me throughout the second half. Oh, the writing’s still funny in the second half, but the “intensely sad” lurks beneath, like a bog.

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Then I visited AB’s website. Great site, by the way. While visiting the website, I found out that Mr. Burroughs’ new memoir, which focuses on his father, WOLF AT THE TABLE, comes out, like, tomorrow. Okay, so it might not seem “woo-woo” to you that I inadvertently read RUNNING days before WOLF’s release, but it did feel “woo-woo” to me. Then, linking from his site to a New York Times article, I learned that Augusten Burroughs changed his name. The article makes it sound like he actually changed his name and didn’t just take a pen name. But maybe I read it wrong. Still recovering from the Devil of all Head Colds.

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At any rate, his birth surname is Robison. And his older brother with Asperger’s Syndrome described in RUNNING WITH SCISSORS is none other than John Elder Robison, who published his own memoir, about growing up with Asperger’s, in September 2007. It’s called LOOK ME IN THE EYE.

What’s my point, you ask? Just a bit more woo-woo. A (so far) unpublished (in novel form) writer I “know” (as in we’ve emailed each other privately every once in an indigo moon) from a Chick Lit writers listserv (that is now called Fiction That Sells, but that’s another story), named Kim Stagliano (gee, I hope someone out there can follow this sentence), just happens to be mother to three children with autism. Kim blogs about mothering kids with autism, she has an agent currently shopping a novel in which autism focuses hugely in the plot, and she contributes to The Huffington Post on the same subject. She knows and has met John Robison on several occasions. Now is there a weird sort of Six Degrees of Separation going on here? I know Kim. She knows John. John, I’m pretty sure, knows Augusten Burroughs. And Augusten Burroughs’ mother, as described in RUNNING WITH SCISSORS, reminds me a lot of Sylvia Plath (or, I should say, the Sylvia Plath I came to “know” through reading her published journals several years ago). I read Sylvia Plath’s THE BELL JAR when I was thirteen. That book belonged to Ma Mere, who recently returned from a winter in the sun, and one of the books she brought home for me to read was RUNNING WITH SCISSORS. A whole lot of co-inkidinks…a big bunch of woo-woo.

Do you have a literary woo-woo to share?

If You Like Dogs…

Friday, April 25th, 2008

You’ll love this YouTube Video. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to embed it in this post. It works when I’m writing and previewing the post, but not when I’ve updated the blog. Then all I see is a big box with an X in it. There must be some trick to adding YouTube videos to WordPress blogs that I haven’t mastered. If anybody knows how to do it, let me know!

If you have some time, check out the Britain’s Got Talent clip of Gin the Dog. Even Simon Cowell was impressed.

Update—

A Gemma of a Read…

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

spying.gifYou know how the old TBR pile goes (To Be Read for the unitiated). You buy too many books, and some of them don’t get read for months – or even years. Or at least that’s how it is with my TBR pile. In fact, the more I’m looking forward to reading a book, sometimes, I’m sorry to say, the longer it sits in my TBR pile. It’s “gelling.” If it sits there six months, the reading experience is intensified. If I read it right away, the experience is never quite the same. Strange, I know, but it’s my M.O. and I’m clearly sticking with it. Which leads me to the subject of this post: Gemma Halliday’s SPYING IN HIGH HEELS. The first of four in a series featuring L.A. shoe designer and accidental sleuth, Maddie Springer, SPYING IN HIGH HEELS was published in 2006 – the year I bought it – however, true to form, I only recently read it. Last week, in fact. And I loved it. What a fantastic debut. Here’s the cover copy:

L.A. shoe designer, Maddie Springer, lives her life by three rules: Fashion. Fashion. Fashion. But when she stumbles upon the work of a brutal killer, her life takes an unexpected turn from Manolos to murder. And things only get worse when her boyfriend disappears – along with $20 million in embezzled funds – and her every move is suddenly under scrutiny by the LAPD’s sexiest cop. With the help of her post-menopausal bridezilla of a mother, a 300 pound psychic and one seriously oversexed best friend, Maddie finds herself stepping out of her stilettos and onto the trail of a murderer. But can she catch a killer before the killer catches up to her…

Okay, I take a bit of exception to the description of the “300 pound psychic.” I swear Gemma described the woman in the book as 200 pounds. Was I seeing things? At any rate, Gemma’s not responsible for the cover copy, but she is responsible for the entertaining story within. When I read SPYING IN HIGH HEELS, I’d totally forgotten that it earned Gemma a double-finalist slot in the RITAs last year – one nod for Best First Book and another for Best Mainstream Novel with Romantic Elements. Both well deserved.

So, yep, the second in the series, KILLER IN HIGH HEELS, is going on my next Amazon wish-list. This is where I confess that I don’t usually read beyond the first in a series if the remainder of the books in that series feature the same character’s point of view. I love reading trilogies, etc., that feature secondary characters from the first book (and are written in those secondary characters’ POVs). Because then the story itself and even the characterization is “new” to me. The problem with allowing my reading material to “gel” in the TBR pile is that by the time I get to the second or third in a series written in the same POV, I often already know from accidentally listening in on Internet conversations what’s happening with the love interest. This happened to me with Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. I read ONE FOR THE MONEY and totally loved it. Bought the second in the series, expecting to love it as well. But the series was already up to Book 6 by the time I read ONE FOR THE MONEY, and I already knew that the heroine’s push-pull between two male characters was still occurring. Somehow knowing that took all the fun out of the reading for me. I’ve never been able to finish the second Stephanie Plum book, and I’ve never purchased another, I’m sorry to say.

So this is my warning, please no one breathe a word to me about the love interest and potential future love interests in the High Heels Mystery series – because I don’t want to know! I’ve discovered I need the “mystery.”

If you haven’t read SPYING IN HIGH HEELS yet, I urge you to get a copy. And, no, you can’t have mine. Support a well-deserving author and buy Gemma Halliday new. Any or all of her books. And tell her I sent you!

Chick Lit Beach Read Giveaways

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

South Jersey MOM book reviewer Keri Mikulski has selected BORROWING ALEX as one of her 2008 Chick Lit Beach Read Giveaways. Yay! Cymbals crashing, drums rolling, angels singing. I’m very pleased, as it’s not easy for small press books to get media attention. South Jersey MOM is a parenting magazine in New Jersey that distributes to doctor and dentist offices, etc., and also has an on-line version. The contest is announced in both versions of the magazine, but you have to go on-line to enter. (It’s the second giveaway on the page, so scroll down past the first one).

And…you can win a lot more than little ol’ BORROWING ALEX. Keri has chosen ten books for the Giveaways, featuring such authors as Julie Kenner and Lani Diane Rich. I’m very happy to be rubbing shoulders with those ladies. The grand prize winner receives five new books, and two runners-up will receive two or three books each. The contest is open to US residents and runs until May 31st, so there’s still plenty of time to enter.  

Tell Me Tuesday

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

I’m still not feeling up to par, but slowly getting better. Have I mentioned that my computer crashed Friday night? While I was deathly ill, but somehow managing to access my email? I was researching how to get a microwave oven to set on fire for my WIP, honest. In fact, just as I was sending off an email to my handy-dandy crimescenewriters listserv in reply to a member’s helpful response to my first email, the system crashed. I had to do a system restore with Norton GoBack, which has never failed me in the past. But it failed me Friday. Norton Ghost got into the act and bungled up the works. I had to uninstall Ghost to get my system to behave. Then, yesterday, I discovered that I could no longer access certain programs, my thumbdrive wasn’t working, I lost my calendar file and SuperNotecard file for my WIP, somehow Java decided to take a hike. Agh!! On Friday, when my system blew, My Liege was downstairs on his laptop and told me he was in the process of downloading Windows updates. So I’m blaming the crash on the Updates. I must have been downloading them at the same time.

I spent most of yesterday fixing poor little Delbert (the computer) (yes, it’s a Dell). Thank Elle Muse I back up regularly…except I hadn’t yet backed up those two important WIP files. Bad me. But at least they weren’t manuscript files (praise be to Elle!)

I still run Windows XP, which I love because my last OS was ME, which was horrible, but taught me a lot about how to fix computers because I had to reformat that baby every six months. Now I’m shopping for a laptop for Youngest Son’s high school graduation. I’ve heard horror tales about Vista, but the XP pickings are pretty slim. If anyone has laptop recommendations and any input about Vista, please tell me.

My Tuesday can’t be any worse than the last several days. In fact, I’m counting on it to be a heckuva lot better. I have my Alter Ego’s page proofs out of the way for her December ’08 release, and after I finish rebuilding the calendar and SuperNotecard file for my WIP, I’ll be back to work revising the scenes I barfed out last week before I fell ill.

Please someone tell me that they have better news to share on this Tuesday than that they’ve been sick, their computer crashed, and they lost WIP files. I need to hear some good news! I’m happy to hear bummer news and give cyber-hugs, but gimme, gimme, gimme some good news! Someone. Anyone. Please!!

And the Winner Is…

Monday, April 21st, 2008

Tina from Rhode Island won my contest for an autographed copy of BORROWING ALEX! Yay, yay, cheer, cheer! Tina, your book will go in the mail this week…as soon as I am healthy again.

Yes, folks, I have a doozy of a head cold. Kept me in bed for two days. Not usual for me. And definitely not fun. And it’s still not over! At times like this, I feel like a wimp. How do people with serious illnesses manage?

I have another contest to announce – I’m not giving away a copy of BORROWING ALEX this time, but someone else is. Well, some other “entity,” I guess. Yes, an “entity” is giving away three copies of not only BORROWING ALEX, but several other romance novels. What entity, you ask? And how can you enter? Come back on Wednesday, and I’ll tell you. Yes, I’m drawing this out. Because I’m sick, that’s why. And I can’t count on myself to be witty and charming on the blog this week, so if I make you return on Wednesday to find out about the new contest, I won’t have to worry about writing another witty and charming blog post. Because, you know, I didn’t intend to blog every weekday when I began Muse Interrupted (that’s the name of the blog – yes, I’ll explain it someday – sheesh, tough audience). Yet somehow here I am, blogging every weekday. Of course, the blog is new. I’ll run out of steam soon. Until then, you’ll have to put up with my head-coldish meanderings.

And, no, I’m not on medication! Hmph.

Oh, little note. The new contest will not feature autographed copies of BORROWING ALEX. If you absolutely, positively MUST have an autographed copy of the book (and who wouldn’t?), I have a handy-dandy mail order form on my website.

I’m a Shout-Out!

Friday, April 18th, 2008

Thanks to Google Alerts, I discovered that I’m in MediaBlvd Magazine. Well, technically romance author Jackie Kessler has an interview in MediaBlvd. An excellent interview it is, too. Go read it. Now. (I’m waiting). Oops, did I forget to say, after you finish reading it, come back here?

Did you see? Huh, huh, huh? Jackie mentioned Moi in her interview. And MediaBlvd spelled my name right! We all know how obsessed I am with the spelling of Procter. Whenever I see it spelled correctly, I am blown away and filled with such awe and gratitude that I feel compelled to give my own shout outs. Thank you, Jackie and MediaBlvd for spelling my name right. Thank you, Jackie, for mentioning my TPT: Talent, Persistence and Timing “Secret to Selling” philosophy in your interview – and for giving me credit. You’re a class act!

It’s All Fodder

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

I scalded my mouth and throat the other day testing my homemade chicken soup broth that had only been boiling, oh, 4 or 5 hours. Dimwitty. It was just one tiny spoonful, but, wowza, what an effect! I knew right away that I was in trouble, and I drank a glassful of very cold water. Then I went on to other things. So yesterday I think I’m getting a sore throat. As time passed, I realized the soreness is a result of the soup-scalding and not a virus. It’s in the exact same place as where I felt the burn when I swallowed that damn tiny spoonful. Today, the area is even more tender and was especially so upon waking. So what do I do? Get a flashlight and shine it in my mouth and investigate the effects of swallowing a spoonful of scalding chicken broth, because who knows when I’ll want to maim a character in such a way? Yeah, maybe I could work scalding-chicken-broth-down-the-throat into a torture scene of my WIP. Maybe, if I really wanted to torture the character and not just inconvenience him, I could have the villain force his mouth open and pour way more than one tiny spoonful of scalding liquid down his throat. Yeah, baby!

I’m happy to report that one tiny spoonful hasn’t damaged my throat in any major way I can tell. I mean, I don’t normally shine a flashlight into my mouth. I suspect the skin at the back of my throat is meant to be pinky rather than kinda white, but at least I didn’t give myself throat blisters. Would my character get throat blisters, though, if he swallowed more than one spoonful? Hmm. I’m not about to use myself as a guinea pig and find out. But the funny thing that strikes me about the whole episode is how willing we are as writers to use any little experience in our lives as fodder for our stories. It’s all research…it’s all fodder.

Have you ever accidentally hurt yourself and then used the “research” in one of your stories?