Archive for June, 2009

More Les Fleurs

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

My peony bush has finally lost all its blooms. Man, was it laden with them this year! To think that monster peony bush once hid behind a shrub banking the house. Every spring I’d wonder why the heck a white, bushy flower or two was poking up over the shrub. Then, when we put on our addition, we took out the shrub. Low and behold, El Peony Bush appeared and has been going nuts every since.

Here are two pics of the peony and one of a baby marigold. It’s in a separate garden that didn’t want to get left out.

f_white_peony

I’m Ready For My Close-Up

f_white_peony_2

Not THAT Close!

f_baby_marigolds

Baby Marigolds

Monday Musings

Monday, June 29th, 2009

As the countdown to the RWA National Conference in Washington, D.C. begins, I find myself surprisingly glad that I’m not going. Okay, maybe I’ve just talked myself into it, but after two years in a row of attending National, I’m ready for a break. Typing this, I realize I’ve never attended National three years in a row. I suppose I will some day. This year, given the cost of flying across the continent, the fact that neither I nor Penny sold a project in ’08, and because I’ve attended National in D.C. once before, I don’t think I’ll miss it. I’ll miss seeing my Looney Bin and Scrabble buddies, Tina Ferraro and Diana Duncan, attending the RITA ceremonies as nominees, however. Wouldn’t it be cool if they both won their categories?

As for myself, I’m looking forward to continuing to write instead of going crazy prepping for conference. The money I would have spent on new conference clothes can go toward the new stove instead. Last week, I began a new story for Penny, her first “short.” Wrote 3800 words on Thursday, I think it was. Aside from the year I participated in NaNaWriMo, that’s a record for me. Am revising them now before proceeding with writing new stuff. Target market requires 5000-15,000 words, so I have a lot of leeway.

Meanwhile, my cindpk ST is sitting and gathering inspiration. Depending on how Penny’s short story goes this week, I might dig into revisions on the cindypk in another week. Two at the outside. I don’t want to leave it sitting too long.

I signed up for Carbonite last week, an on-line document backup system. I really like it, it’s easy to use, but my desktop is 4.5 years old, and, alas, I fear Delbert is too slow for Carbonite. I’ll have to allow my trial to expire and return to using flashdrives.

With the weather so nice lately, for the first time in my writing life I’m really feeling the absence of a laptop. Especially now that the household budget has recovered from buying each of the kids a laptop for high school graduation. And, also, the cost of those new netbooks is rather tempting. If I sell something this year, I might indulge in a netbook or a small laptop. I prefer my ergonomic desktop keyboard, but the portability of a netbook/laptop is carroting in front of my eyes.

A heads-up, I’m blogging at Nobody Writes It Better on Wednesday, July 1st, which is Canada Day for those not in the know. I’m giving away a paperback copy of my Canadian-set novel, HEAD OVER HEELS (by the way, if you visit that link, the upgrade to Internet Explorer 8 seems to have affected some spacing issues on my Books pages. I’ll have to fix that one of these days).

I’ll post a reminder about the book give-away Wednesday. How is your week shaping up?

 

#ApplianceFail

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Grrr, I’m noticing a decided lack of performance in major appliances around the 15-year mark! Two years ago, we had to buy a new dryer. This winter it was a new washer. Now we need a new stove. The problem? We haven’t decided yet if this is our Until The End of Time house. So when we bought the dryer, we went for the cheapest unit we could find, the reasoning being that we have finished our major laundry years with one son away at university most of the time and the second heading that way in another year. Sure, it would have been nice to buy the new, fandangled washer and dryers out there, but until we know how long we’ll be in this house (and I can’t imagine we’ll decide that for another 5-10 years at the minimum), it doesn’t make sense to me to buy fancy-smanchy stuff.

So…the stove. It’ll cost so much to rebuild that we might as well buy new. Today, while shopping for computer items, I realized the store also sold appliances, so I had a gander at the stoves. I need a self-cleaning model. It’s like air conditioning. Once you’ve had it, you can’t imagine living without it. I’m completely undecided about coil elements vs. a ceramic cooktop. Well, I’m not completely undecided. I’m leaning toward coil, which is what we already have. Why?

  1. It’s cheaper.
  2. Cats tend not to walk on coils they can easily see are burning bright red.
  3. I need a white stove to match the kitchen, and every ceramic top I’ve seen so far in my extensive search (all two models of stove) have black tops, which I think would look major yuck against my counter tops.
  4. It’s cheaper.
  5. My mother has a ceramic cook top on her cottage stove, and it seems to me that they’re very finicky to clean, although the salesman assured me that boiling over (which occurs quite often in our house) doesn’t create anywhere near the mess as it does with coil elements.
  6. It’s cheaper.

I do believe it’s time for one of my infamous surveys (not so infamous, I guess, considering this is the second one I’ve conducted). Have you ever had a ceramic cooktop, and how do you think it compares to coil elements? Would you ever get one again?

Don’t talk to me about gas stovetops. I might have to clout you. My Liege and I had a propane stove when we lived together before marriage, and I totally loved it. I know I would love a gas stove. But it’s not feasible for our circa-1960 house. The cost to get the gas to the stove faaaaaaarrrrrrr outweighs my desire to play with that cute little dancing flame. As it is, you don’t want to know how the electricity gets to the stove. It’s different, I’ll give you that.

So…coil elements or ceramic cooktop? Which would you recommend?

P.S. In case the title of this post escapes you, it’s a little nod to Twitter.

New Publisher: Quartet Press

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Kassia Kroszer of Booksquare + a handful of her compadres are opening Quartet Press in the fall. Visit their website to find out more, and here’s a great interview with Kassia on Ciar Cullen’s blog.

Twitch Fest!

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

Agents Kim Lionetti and Jessica Faust of BookEnds are holding a pitch contest on Twitter (thus the Twitch). (Yeah, at first I thought they were talking about the runner-up from So You Think You Can Dance last year, too). You have to follow them on Twitter to participate (here’s Kim’s page, and here’s Jessica’s). The cool thing is you can pitch your manuscript to both Kim and Jessica at different times this week. But you have to watch their tweets to monitor when each is taking Twitches. They’re tag-teaming, you see.

If you can compress your book into 140 characters, this is a great opportunity. The winner at the end of the week gets a critique of a partial.

Details are on the BookEnds blog.

Les Fleurs

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

I’m finding it really hard to get used to My Liege taking nearly every Monday off work. It shortens my week!

I’m brainstorming a new story for Penny. Pretty much have a title, maybe a setting, and maybe some character names. Oh, and a theme. Or plot. Whatever you choose to call it. Let’s just say it has something to do with the number 3.

Seeing as my mind is otherwise occupied, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some of my flower pics. These are from my mother’s garden, taken 3 (there’s that number again) or so weeks ago. Enjoy!

Dying Tulips

“Dying Tulips”

Don’t you love the feathery edges? (They were feathery before the tulips began their descent into oblivion).

Tiger, Tiger

“Tiger, Tiger”

That bud thing looks like it’s pushing the tiger.  If I were the tiger, I’d snap its head off. This is why I’m not a flower. Too violent.

Bee-Have

“Bee-Have!”

I believe this is called an Onion Flower. All I care is that it’s purple and spiky, and that my monster zoom lens allowed me to capture the bee.

Nod to Dads

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

fathers_day

My Liege is golfing with our sons today, and I’m visiting my dad in a few. To all the wonderful fathers out there, have a great day!

Shopping Impaired

Friday, June 19th, 2009

A writing buddy and I were talking the other day, and I discovered a wonderful thing about her—she’s as shopping-impaired as I am. I’ve known her for years, and yet I didn’t know this. We feel like oddities in a world of shopaholics. While other woman can’t wait to go to the mall, she and I postpone shopping trips until we absolutely can’t stand wearing the same clothes for, um, sometimes 6 years.

Usually, the only time I do any major clothes shopping is right before a conference. Once I start the shopping, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy it. It’s just finding the motivation to hit the stores that’s so damn hard.

What hit this home to me is that I’ve been meaning to go clothes-shopping since around, oh, January. I was running out of jeans. Well, eventually, the weather caught up to me, and now it doesn’t matter. I don’t need jeans. I need shorts and skorts. The zippers on two skorts I bought for a trip to NYC with My Liege before the last NYC RWA conference finally gave out! What? Those skorts were only 6 years old! They still fit. They were in great shape. WTF? Then, two days later, the sash tie on a favorite pair of shorts split apart as I was tying it. Now I’m down 3 pairs of shorts/skorts. I must go shopping.

My birthday is in January, and my parents winter down south, so I usually get money that the Little Pisser is very good about hiding from me until my birthday. When I opened the card this year, I knew exactly what I wanted to buy with my birthday money—a new purse. I’m addicted to Derek Alexander purses. They’re excellent quality, easily last for two years, and help keep me organized. So I finally bought my new purse, um, at the end of May, 4.5 months past my birthday. I’m still meaning to put leftover birthday money from my in-laws toward a new camera bag. Yeah, that might happen sometime in the next two centuries. Unless I break down and order one on-line. On-line shopping, I could get into.

As a kid, my older sister and a good friend and I used to go shopping sometimes on Saturdays. It was a great expedition. For them. They’d try on dozens of clothes while I sat in a chair reading comics or begging them To. Please. Stop.

So, I thought I’d do a survey. Are my friend and I the odd women out? Do you love to shop, or do you dread it? Do you dread it until you get there, and then you go crazy (this does happen to me from time to time)? Or do you just dread it period?

 

I’m Alive!

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

You wouldn’t know it from my lack of participation around here.

I’m still in Between Projects Mode. My massive To-Do list exploded when I suddenly discovered myself taking on far more of the Nobody Writes It Better blog launch than I’d expected. It couldn’t be helped. One of those life circumstances that happens along, and the majority of the work shouldn’t fall to one person (I’m not talking about me here), anyway. I was happy to lend a hand to get the blog up and running. I still have a task to accomplish there—getting the Gallery page packed with more than placeholder images. But I also need to continue tackling The Office so I can move from Between Projects Mode to Brainstorming New Projects Mode. So that’s what I’m paper_mountaindoing. Digging my office out from under several years’ worth of manuscripts. Which mainly means storing them somewhere else. I’m one of those packrats who likes to keep ALL the evidence of agents and editors to whom I’ve submitted a particular project as well as at least one copy of every draft I’ve printed out. Until I sell a project, those files remain in my office. However, I just found a ton of files for BORROWING ALEX, which was published two years ago. Time for the files to move! I also found a bunch of files for Penny’s next release, this coming December. I’ve done everything for that release aside from getting to see the cover and promotion, so, yep, I can pack her files away, too.

I’ve discovered great little binders I put together the last time I did one of these The Office checks. They’re full of notes from Kiss of Death classes I’ve taken. I’d forgotten where they were, because they were on top of a plastic pseudo-file cabinet (which held pieces of BORROWING ALEX, among other things), underneath two cat blankets. Yes, The Evil Entity has been sleeping on mystery/suspense notes. Explains her personality.

The notes don’t do me much good if I don’t know where they are, so I’m trying—note that, trying—to reorganize the office with a tad of a semblance of order.

What’s up in your writing world?

Welcome Margay Leah Justice

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

David Takes on Goliath: Or How the Small Presses Are Taking on the Big Guysjustice_pic

For many aspiring authors, the dream of publication leads to one destination: Goliath’s front door, otherwise known as the BIG publishing house. We’re all familiar with the names of the titans of the industry: Penguin, Pocket Books, Random House, and St. Martin’s Press. The common perception is that if you can rise from the slush to be published by one of these companies, then you are all but assured of success. But are you? Is this truly the only way to become a success in highly competitive industry?

Before you answer that question, let’s take a look at a different model, the David to the Goliath, the much maligned and misunderstood small press. Quick, what is the first thing you think of when you see the words “small press”? Poor quality? Bad writing? Do you immediately think, “Well, they weren’t good enough to publish anywhere else, so they had to settle for a justice_nora_soulsmall press?” If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you are wrong. Small press does not equal bad writing, just as self-publishing does not equal bad writing. Small press equals a different mode of publishing. One that is becoming increasingly popular in the wake of the shake-ups coming out of the halls of the titans.

Listen up, writers, that sound you hear coming out of New York is David taking on Goliath—and winning. How is this possible? Because the small presses have an advantage that the big ones don’t—adaptability. While the bigger houses are crumbling under the same business models they have employed for decades, small presses are adapting to the new mode of communication. How? By offering readers another way to get their information, from traditional books that can be printed on demand to electronic books that can be downloaded to computers, e-readers—even cell phones.

Small presses have learned how to harness the power of the Internet. While the big houses are scrambling to get on board by offering digitized versions of their backlist, small presses are already offering digitized versions of their frontlist. And in this age of high-tech toys and instant communication where word of mouth is measured by the speed of a text message, that option could mean the difference between success and failure. People like to have a choice. Small presses offer that choice, not only in the form of the book you want to read, be it print or electronic, but in the content, as well. Small presses don’t publish according to trends and what is selling big now. Small presses publish quality works that might be a little too quirky, controversial, or genre-defying for other publishing houses.

This was one of the reasons I decided to publish with a small press. When my book couldn’t find a home with Goliath, but captured the interest of David, I chose to publish with David. And although the leg-work involved in garnering buzz for my book has been time-consuming and sometimes arduous, that decision has paid off for me. I had more control over the look of my cover than I would have had at a bigger house and my book was available for sale on Amazon.com much sooner than if a bigger house published me. In today’s digital age, that availability is paramount. It is my belief that this will be a key factor in the continuing battle between David and Goliath. Availability. Courtesy of the Internet, we are accustomed to having something delivered to us with the speed of DSL. So success might come down to a simple question of: How long are we willing to wait for a new book from a big house when a small press can offer one in a third of the time? What do you think? Are we, as readers and writers, still restricted by the old stigmas regarding smaller presses? Or are the small presses the way of the future?

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Please leave a comment or question for Margay to enter to win a copy of NORA’S SOUL. To read the back cover copy of NORA’S SOUL, please see yesterday’s post. To learn about Margay, please visit her website.