Archive for July, 2008

See You in San Francisco!

Monday, July 28th, 2008

If you’re going, that is. My first flight is at 6 a.m. tomorrow and I need to get up at 4 a.m. to make the drive, so wish me luck getting to sleep early tonight.

I’m still busy doing last minute packing, getting the family prepped for my absence, etc., etc. When I return, my first priority will be contacting Microsoft to fix the dag-nabbed problem I’ve been having with my automatic updates ever since they introduced SP3 for Windows XP. Note I don’t have SP3, I have SP2, but ever since SP3 came along, I can no longer install updates for SP2 and neither will SP3 install. I’ve heard they’ve had some problems with SP3 and Dell, and, yes, I have a Dell, but I had NO problems installing the updates prior to the advent of SP3.

Most annoying.

I’m usually brain dead when I return from the conference, so spending a day on the phone is as good a task to assign as any. And, you know, I have been trying to fix the problem through support emails, but my support email person suddenly disappeared and has not answered any of my emails since she asked me to send her specific files.

Not impressed.

Of course, when I call for telephone support, I’m given a different number to call for Canada and when I call it, of course the Canadian office isn’t open on weekends, which is when I’d way rather deal with computer problems. During the weekdays, I want to be writing. Alas, I must give up a day. And it’s August 4th.

All this is to say that I might disappear for longer than the time I’m away at conference.

Cheerio!

Pitch Crazy

Saturday, July 26th, 2008

My Liege has been on holiday all this past week—that puts a crimp in conference preparations, I tell you. My latest obsession is Improving My Pitches. I have a number of pitches, partly because I write under two names and partly because I don’t want to forget about the other stories rambling around in my brain/currently on submission. Next Thursday I have a meeting with an editor who has a requested revision of my pen name’s erotic romance single title manuscript. I also have meetings with two agents (one during the official appointments, another arranged outside of the officials), and, you never know, while I’d rather talk about anything other than my pitches and just get to know them, they might want to hear about the book. I also have an official editor appointment, during which I will pitch my WIP. This is an editor who read another full for me late last summer/early fall and invited me to submit future works. So I’d like to come across halfway coherent to her.

Agh, I don’t like pitching. You’d think I’d be an old hat at it by now. I don’t mind writing the pitches, but, honestly, I’d rather type them up in an email and zip them off and see what happens. Why? Because. It doesn’t matter how much I prepare my pitches, how well I memorize them, I feel like an absolute moron sitting there summarizing my story like a back cover blurb. Or whatever method is your choice of poison. I feel like I’m reading off an invisible teleprompter. Both the ed or agent and I know I’m not “talking about my book,” I’m trying my best not to pass out while sounding witty and insightful. The obvious solution is not to memorize the pitch, but read it off cards. That’s the approach I usually take, but I still feel like a moron giving the pitch.

So why take an appointment? I don’t have to. There’s no requirement. I could just type up the blurb and mail it in a query letter. But for me the whole point of editor/agent appointments, especially agent appointments, is to see what I think of the editor/agent. Is this a person I’d want to work with? That question isn’t as important with editors, because you can sell to an editor who then leaves the house and you’re assigned to another. I’ve had this happen 3 times now with my pen name. I’ve sold three novellas to three different editors all for the same house. That’s actually great experience, if nerve-wracking, because you must learn how to work with different editors who all have slightly different approaches. There’s less turn-over with agents. Yes, you might sign with an agent who later leaves the agency, but usually you have the choice to move with them or stay at the original agency with a different agent. Or…you leave of your own accord and begin the Great Agent Search anew.

I don’t know if there’s a solution for Pitch Craziness. If anyone has advice, bring it on. Not that it will help. I don’t like pitching, and that’s that. Is there anyone who does?

Saying No

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

Some of you might remember that a few weeks ago I received an offer from an epublisher to re-issue my romantic comedy short story, Deceiving Derek. After an interesting discussion and much thought, I decided not to accept the offer. I let the acquiring editor know late last week, and she was very gracious about keeping the door open for future submissions.

The publisher in question has a good reputation, but, in the simplest terms, the timing wasn’t right. For me. Yes, Deceiving Derek is “only” a short story, and, yes, it’s been published before, so this would have been a re-issue and why not just get the story out there again? Because. It’s not enough to just put the story out there again, how and when it goes out has to work for me. Unfortunately, because of other opportunities that may or may not pan out, the “work for me” and the “timing not right” issues outweighed the thrill of the contract offer. Because it’s always a thrill when an editor and house wants to publish your work, but, in this case, the thrill alone wasn’t enough.

How about you? Having you ever said no to a contract? Am I insane?

Can You Top Me?

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

A few weeks ago I told Avery Beck that her 92 words per minute intimidated me too much to try beating her on this Internet typing speed test. Well, guess what? I did the test this morning, and I’m 3 words faster per minute than Avery! Nah-nah-a-boo-boo! Apparently, I type 598 characters per minute. I typed 95 correct words and 14 wrong words. What I don’t know is if the program eliminates the wrong words from the total words per minute of your determined speed. Is it just a coincidence that I typed 95 correct words and have a typing speed of 95 words per minute?

What I do know: No way could I type 95 words per minute for very long. The keyboard sounded like a rabid woodpecker. And, oh, if the entire graphic isn’t showing below, I have no idea why. On my end, the “95 words” is cut in half…almost as if the program doesn’t believe me. Sob.

So, who’s up to the challenge? Can you top me?

95 words

To Mug or Not to Mug

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

I spent all of Sunday designing business cards for conference. I had to design three cards, because I write under two names. How does she arrive at that math, you ask? I needed:

  1. One card showing my pen name only, which I can tuck into copies of the book Penny is signing at the Literacy Autographing. I put the covers of Penny’s first two releases on this card. Okay, so the second release doesn’t come out until the end of the year, but the title, cover, yada, are there to hopefully garner reader interest (note the adverb).
  2. Another card showing my real name only. This card is to exchange with other writers, which, to be honest, I don’t do a heckuva lot, because it’s the Internet Age after all and I can Google with the best of them. But if someone asks for your card, you don’t want to be caught card-less, so I put the cover for Borrowing Alex on this card to guilt my writing friends new and old into buying a copy if they haven’t already.
  3. The last card shows both my pen name and my real name. This is the card I’ll use for my editor and agent appointments, if the e/a’s want them (I always ask, because, frankly, a lot of editors and agents toss out the cards as soon as they get back to their rooms—what, you thought they had ginormous Rolodexes and backs of steel?). However, as per #2, if the editor or agent WANTS to see your card, you’d better have one.

This is where the mugging comes in. Last year on the ’07 Golden Heart Finalists loop, there was discussion as to whether or not it’s adviseable to put your headshot on your business card. I thought, what a great idea—an easy way to help the ed/agent remember to put a name to a face (that is, if they keep the cards, which they in all likelihood won’t, but let’s continue to pretend they will/do/might). However, then I started asking around on other loops, and the general consensus seemed to be that it’s tacky. Like you’re advertising yourself as a real estate agent or something. Well. I left my mugshot off my card, but when I got to National and saw biz cards with mugshots, I didn’t find them tacky at all. I liked them. And I found them useful for putting faces to names when I developed my conference pictures.

So, this year I’m being tacky or clever (pick your poison). My photo didn’t go on the cards I’ll hand out to readers and other writers, but it dang sure went on the card for editors and agents. If that makes me tacky, I can live with it. God knows I’ve been called worse (like weird).

My Cat Gave Birth…

Monday, July 21st, 2008

All over my conference clothes. Eek!

Actually, she didn’t. She can’t give birth, because she’s not pregnant. She can’t get pregnant, because she’s fixed. But here I am, doing last minute conference preparation and shopping, a task that quite frankly bores me out of my mind. I am so not a shopper. I know it goes against the Estrogen Pledge, but there you have it. However, I can’t show up at the RWA National Conference next week naked, so shop and prepare I must.

So I’m going through old conference clothes searching vainly for Stuff That Fits, and it makes perfect sense to pile all the Good To Go conference clothes on my bedroom floor beside my nightstand—a constant reminder that it’s not enough to prepare the stuff for conference, I must also pack it. Except, the cat normally sleeps under the side table near the nightstand, and she leaves quite a mess of hair on her blankets, too. Wonder if she decides to start sleeping on my Pile? Wonder if she coughs up a hairball on my Pile? Wonder if she decides it’s a litter box? What if, if she were pregnant, she decided it would be a marvy-lous spot to give birth?

This is why a writer should never be kept from her WIPs. I don’t know about you, but one day without writing whilst doing something braindead like organizing packing lists is enough to send my muse around the bend.

Agh, I still have business cards to create, pitches to perfect. Why did I leave everything until the last week? Why did I ever think I would thrive on the last minute panic?

Do you love prepping for conferences? Or, like me, does it drive you around the bend?

Nice Review for BORROWING ALEX

Friday, July 18th, 2008

Received a new review for Borrowing Alex the other day. Joyfully Reviewed says:

I really enjoyed Borrowing Alex, it was smart and funny without being overdone. The characters do some pretty funny things in the name of love. I am definitely looking forward to reading the next book I find by Cindy Procter-King.

Pretty nifty, huh? Click here to read the full review. Note, the slimeball character referred to in the review is named Royce, not Roy. Royce, in my mind, is the high society equivalent of Roy, so in the end, it’s all the same. He’s a turd.

(I apologize in advance to all the real Roys and Royces out there. The naming of my characters has nothing to do with you, but, rather, has everything to do with how my brain “sees” certain combinations of letters and decides whether those combinations = hero or jerk material for fictional purposes only. My dad’s cousin is a Roy, and he’s very nice!)

New Industry Blog

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

Novelists, Inc. has started a new blog. As a member of NINC, I’m posting the new blog to my blogroll.

I haven’t yet decided if I’ll participate in the NINC blog. For one thing, I have this blog to maintain, and, for another, the 2007 Golden Heart finalists are in the planning stages of developing a group blog, and I’m not only a scheduler but have signed up for the management team. Yes, I’m crazy. Right now we’re batting around design ideas. If that’s not enough blogging around, a few months ago I was approached about doing a group author blog with 5 or 6 other authors. I’m not sure if this blog is still in the works, as the driving force behind its inception became very, very, very, very, very, very (did I mention very?) busy and blog development discussion understandably stopped. But if that multi-author blog does come to life, I’ll be writing a post there every week. So while I’ll read the NINC blog whenever I have a spare moment, for now I think I’ll hold off on joining the participating hordes of authors and industry professionals.

Drop by the NINC blog and tell me what you think.

Evil Entity Update

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

Some of you will remember my struggle with the Evil Entity using my kitchen-door garden for her catbox. I am happy to report that after several weeks of experimentation, she is no longer going in the garden! How did I accomplish this monumental feat? Well, first I tried putting black pepper in the garden. She dug it up. Then I followed a friend’s advice and covered the soil areas with cut-up rose thorns. She booted them out. FINALLY, after planting marigolds and lobelia, I covered every square inch of soil I could find with bits of bark and sticks and a sprinkler and a digging implement and two old peony cages:

No more cat crap!

Success! Granted, I also had to resort to putting a litter box in the carport. Last week, fairly confident that I had her carport-litter-box-trained, I removed the rigamarole from the garden. Whereupon she began using it as a litter box again! Argh. Is my garden destined to look so, um, cluttered for the rest of the summer?

I am sad to report that my marigolds either hate the Evil Entity’s “leftovers” or the record-breaking temperatures from the end of June fried them, because, as of this past weekend, ONLY ONE BLOOM REMAINED from six or seven plants. Sob. So I pulled them out and planted geraniums and some other little pink flower whose name I can’t recall at the moment. The lobelia, however, are going strong (everything is in the baby stage in the pic above, so you can’t really see the lobelia blooming—just take my word for it, because My Liege is out of town and he took the camera).

What does the Evil Entity think of all of this?

“Kiss My Paw, Submissive Human.”

Allie McBeagle’s reaction:

Pure exhaustion!

Did anyone else lose flowers to scorching temperatures this summer? Or must I admit that I have a brown thumb?

By the way, see that maple in the background of the picture of the Evil Entity? It’s now minus two massive branches, courtesy of a recent freak windstorm that also took out three fence boards and smashed the lantern at the end of the driveway.

Egad. Nostradamus said I’d have days like this…

Three Books and a Movie

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

First up, Middlesex. If you haven’t read this book yet and you love literary fiction, what are you waiting for? What an exemplary read! This is another book The Queen of Sheba brought home from her winter in Mexico. She thought it would suit my tastes, so she passed her copy to me. I devoured Middlesex, and I ain’t giving back the book! It’s nothing like Middlemarch, which I was forced to read for the Lit degree, so don’t let the similar titles fool you. Jeffrey Eugenides won the Pulitzer Prize for Middlesex in 2002, and the story hooked me from the beginning, so it’s easy to see why.

Middlesex is the story of a child mistakenly labeled a girl at birth who grows into a teenage boy. It bounces between the present, where the adult Cal struggles with revealing his biological truths, so to speak, to his would-be female lover, and the past, depicting the family history in Greece and then America and following Cal as Calliope through her tumultuous adolescence. Honestly, compelling stuff. It’s going on my keeper shelf.

Numero deux (I don’t know how to make the accent over the E in the first word so just trust me when I say I’m typing French and not Italian or Spanish), Natural Born Charmer, by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. After two commenters in my I Need Me More S.E.P. blog raved about Ms. Phillips’ latest offering, I couldn’t help myself. I had to zip out and buy it, and I consumed it a couple of weeks ago. Natural Born Charmer does not disappoint. The story features Dean Robillard, who was a secondary character in Match Me if You Can, and Dean is a member of the Chicago Stars football team that figures in a great number of Phillips romances. But Natural Born Charmer isn’t set in the world of football. It’s set, for the most part, in Tennessee. It’s pure characterization, great story, and wonderful romance. The secondary plot between rocker Mad Jack Patriot and Dean’s mother April is very enjoyable, too.

Third up, Their Secret Child, by Mary J. Forbes. I interviewed Mary a few weeks ago for my website, but didn’t get a chance to read her latest offering from Silhouette Special Edition until last week. Mary and I are former critique partners and friends (well, we’re still friends and quite good ones at that), so some might say I am naturally inclined to love her work. However, Their Secret Child has hit #10 on the Waldenbooks Series Romance Bestsellers list, so clearly I’m in good company.

I have to say, I think this is my favorite of all Mary’s books. She develops the secret baby hook perfectly, and, in my opinion, there is not one wasted word. SSEs have shortened in word length in the past year or so, which can be challenging for some authors accustomed to writing books 5000 – 10,000 words longer than what the line now publishes. Mary J. Forbes rises to the challenge, delivering an emotionally satisfying romance. Hurrah!

The movie? I heartily recommend Hancock starring Will Smith and Charlize Theron. My Liege and I went to see it recently. Now, it’s very difficult for me not to enjoy a Will Smith movie, and it’s not just because one of my old high school friends once shared a scene with him in another film (honest! tres cool, huh?) (drat, don’t know how to put the accent over the E in tres, either). Hancock is the story of a super hero who doesn’t give a crap…and why he should. I won’t say anything else, because the fun of this movie is learning the why behind the first part of my description and the how of the second. Or something like that. Really, after my clever logline, you expect me to continue to deliver? I have my limits!!

There’s only one thing I didn’t like about Hancock, but I’m putting it in white font because it’s a spoiler. Highlight the following paragraph if you want to read the spoiler. And, don’t forget, I am WARNING YOU that I’m including a spoiler:

Okay, Charlize Theron is supposedly a super-hero character like Will Smith’s character. They have skin of steel. Needles bend when they try to get injections, etc., etc. The only time one of them could get injected or, let’s say, get their ears pierced, would be when they’ve gotten close to one another and therefore begin losing their super powers. However, whenever they get close to one another and start losing their powers, that’s when the bad guys of the world try to kill Hancock. So, what I want to know is, why, why, WHY show the Charlize Theron character wearing big, huge, dangly pierced earrings in a scene where her skin WOULD be tough as steel to pierce because she and Hancock’s character are separated. I can not fathom that Charlize’s character would have chosen one of the episodes where she and Hancock are fighting for their lives against bad guys (ie. when they get too close together) to take a break and go off and get her ears pierced. These types of inconsistencies really bother me in movies. Don’t get me started on Pretty Woman.

Spoiler Rant done!

Any books or movies you wanna recommend?