Archive for September, 2009

It’s Hump Day…All Week

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

It’s Wednesday already? What happened?

I’m having one of those weeks where I have so much to accomplish that it feels nothing’s getting done when in fact I’m motoring along just fine. Still in the most intensive part of my single title revisions—the first three chapters. I love the revisions, but they really affect the structure of the partial. A lot of work to do.

I’m also very busy planning a major vacation for My Liege and I. I hope to book the plane tickets tomorrow. Meanwhile, his printer went on the fritz last night, one final kick at Mercury Retrograde, I suppose. Tried everything I could think of, but couldn’t get it to work again. Tonight I’m uninstalling and then reinstalling it. If that doesn’t work, he gets a new printer.

How’s your week shaking out?

Memories of Kate

Monday, September 28th, 2009

I had a post already published this morning, but just deleted it after hearing the very sad news that Kensington editor Kate Duffy has passed away. Kate played a major role in my first sale to Red Sage as Penny, because I’d initially targeted my first Secrets novella to her. As can so often happen in publishing, my manuscript went awry, shall we say. It had been over a year and I had not heard on the status. I was at an RWA conference—I can’t remember which one anymore—and just happened to mention my missing manuscript to another writer who knew what Kate looked like (I didn’t). Turned out Kate was walking our way!

The writer pretty much sidelined Kate, introduced us, and I asked about my manuscript. Kate replied quite frankly that if I hadn’t heard by now then the manuscript had likely been rejected. Later, she told me that the look on my face made her feel so guilty (this from the woman many considered intimidating). Because I asked, “But wouldn’t I have received a rejection letter?”

“Tell you what,” she said. (And, yes, I’m paraphrasing, I didn’t tape record our conversation). “I have somewhere to go after conference, but give me about three weeks and then contact me. I’ll let you know what I find out about your manuscript.”

Three weeks later, I was at home wondering when would be a good time to phone or email her when she phoned me. She couldn’t find the manu anywhere, it must have gotten lost, and could I email her another copy? I did, and she read and rejected it within 24 hours. By another phone call. But she didn’t just reject it, she told me why she was rejecting it. And she asked to see more ideas. In fact, she asked me to write up three ideas for her, and she’d choose which she wanted me to develop into a novella for submission to Brava. I did that. Meanwhile, I took her comments on the rejected novella, revised it, and sold it to Red Sage Secrets. Without Kate’s comments during that phone call, would I have sold that novella? I’ll never know.

Back to the three ideas. Kate called me back another month later saying she loved two of the three ideas, and she wanted me to write the full novella of one and then begin the second while she was considering the first. I wrote the full novella and submitted it. Time went by. A lot of time went by. A lot and a lot and a lot of time went by. 🙂

Eventually, we reconnected, but she rejected the full novella. Again, full of remorse about doing so. Very apologetic (I’d never experienced an editor apologizing to me for a rejection, and phoning me to make that rejection). So much time had passed, as can happen in publishing, between her approving the idea and looking at the full, that the idea no longer excited her enough to make a sale. But she asked to see another novella, a partial this time.

I did write that third partial novella for Kate. Time went by. A lot of time went by. A lot and a lot and a lot and a lot of time went by. Eventually, we reconnected, and she still loved the idea but wanted me to turn facets of the story upside down. So I did. Resubmitted. Time went by. A lot of time went by. Then I learned that she was ill, and I decided not to bug her.

Meanwhile, I revised the second full novella to suit Secrets, submitted it and sold it. It’s releasing in Secrets Volume 28 this December.

Kate made me laugh. She was very self-deprecating, and she had a dry wit that I identify with. That she took the time to phone me when she could have just sent me form snail-mail rejections said a lot about her character. And still does.

Goodbye, Kate. I’ll miss you. Even though I didn’t get a chance to truly work with you, I appreciate all the help you gave me. Now and always.

The Great Photo Album Update

Friday, September 25th, 2009

I’m blogging at Nobody Writes it Better today about the dreaded Great Photo Album Update and my love of photography. Please join me and share your thoughts and experiences.

National Punctuation Day

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Woo-hoo, it’s National Punctuation Day! Okay, it’s celebrated in the States, but I’m confiscating it. Ever needed a quick introduction to the semi-colon? How about the hyphen? (I especially like the bit about compound modifiers. I’ve always called them “adjectival phrases,” but what do I know?). You can even download a recipe for Punctuation Meat Loaf. Oh, joy.

My life will never be the same.

And We’re Off!

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Enough planning the revisions for my single title. I’ve finally dug into them, and I’m loving the results.

Five pages down, 315 to go!

Kate’s New Cover!

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

My buddy, my friend, my life-long pal, Kate St. James, finally received her cover for Secrets 28: SENSUAL CRAVINGS. Releasing in late December, SENSUAL CRAVINGS contains Kate’s erotic romantic comedy novella, Kiss Me at Midnight

Way to go, Kate!

Secrets-28

Laura Bradford Agent Interview

Monday, September 21st, 2009

Found where? On my website, 0f course! Recently, Laura Bradford of Bradford Literary Agency, answered several questions for me. Quite thoroughly, too, I might add. It’s a fantastic interview. Check it out.

Older agent interviews (Kevan Lyon, Elaine Spencer) can now be found in Archives.

Stop the Madness!

Friday, September 18th, 2009

I am obsessed with research. Well, I’m not obsessed in the sense that I love to research. No, I’m obsessed in the sense that once I’ve started researching, I can’t stop.

It’s a disease, I swear.

A few weeks ago, a Canadian writer friend and I brainstormed revisions for the single title I finished this summer. We came up with a fantastic way to deepen the heroine’s GMC. I passed the brainwave by another Canadian writer. She gave it glowing reviews.

This week I began researching. My first step was to post questions to a couple of writers’ listservs. I’m very glad I did, because the American members alerted me to a whole host of issues I hadn’t considered. On the other hand, their replies sent me back to the Land of Research. A land that, all too often in my case, develops into a bog. I experience a great deal of difficulty digging my way out. There’s just so damn much to learn! And if there’s one thing my mind loves, it’s information. Even the useless bits.

My characters in this story are American. I am not. And the revisions to my heroine’s GMC involve the American medical/health insurance system. Every time I think I’ve hit upon a way to make the brainwave work, I smash into another roadblock. Now, I do believe the revisions can work. They will work. If I would put half the energy into reading the articles I’ve printed off the Internet as I have into scrounging for them, I’m sure I would come across the perfect solution. But every time I read another article, I feel a compelling need to hit the Internet again. Just in case, you know, I missed something the first trillion times.

All I can say is, it’s a good thing I don’t write historicals.

Are you a research hound? Do you have binders filled with articles you’ll probably never use? Do you feel the need to read 30 news stories when 3 or 5 will probably do? How do you stop the madness?

Who Says Cats Hate Water?

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Saw this video on Facebook the other day. Didn’t take much digging to find it again on YouTube. And here I thought The Evil Entity was weird. She’ll run into the bathroom and sit on the edge of the tub until I come in and run the water—and scoop it over her. I start with her head and then under her chin. At that point, she puts her paws on the tap, and I water-pet her belly, back and even sometimes her tail. When she’s had enough, she runs off and has a cat-bath. The lazy feline. I’m doing half the work!

This cat, Snookers, takes the cake. Watch all the way to the end. It gets funnier and funnier.

Welcome Guest Blogger Annette McCleave

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

Male Bonding in Romancemccleave_pic

First off, thanks so much for having me as a guest on Muse Interrupted, Cindy. It’s such a thrill to be celebrating my debut novel and sharing my excitement with the blogworld.

One of my favorite parts of romance novels are those little glimpses you sometimes get of the hero is spending some one-on-one time with other guys. Most of the time, I’m like everyone else, desperate to read the next part when the hero and heroine are engaged in clever repartee—I’ve been known to skip over secondary romances in a book just to get back to the main couple. But those moments the hero spends with other men are ones I rarely skip.

Why?

I think it’s because I feel like I’m getting the insider view—a brief peek at what really makes the men in the story tick. The hero is usually relaxed in these scenes, just being himself and not trying to win the day. Although I love my heroes to be larger than life, I like to see them handling the smaller slices of life, too.

mccleave_drawnThere’s usually some humor in those scenes, too, and I enjoy a few lighter moments—especially if the overall story is dark. An example? Okay, I’m going to steal from TV and not a book, just because I know it’ll resonate with most of you: Scenes involving Angel and Spike in the series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The push and pull between those two very determined male vampires is both fun and funny to watch, even when there are lives at stake. (Sorry, couldn’t resist the pun).

When it comes to my own writing, I find myself including some of that same interaction, in part to round out my characters, and in part for the sheer pleasure of it.

Here are a few moments between my hero, Lachlan MacGregor, and his friend Brian:

Lachlan wiped his practice sword with an oiled cloth and leaned it up against the stone fireplace. “This would be much easier had you begun training when you were a lad.”

“Yeah, well, I was too busy skateboarding and blowing my eardrums out with Pearl Jam, so that wasn’t an option.”

“Your combat skills need a lot of work.”

Brian deposited his sword and shield on the floor. Looking more like a walking sportswear advertisement than an immortal warrior, he used his arm to wipe the faint sheen off his brow and gave Lachlan a rueful smile. “All those years of corporate backstabbing and deep-sixing the competition don’t count, huh?”

“No.”

“But I’m young and I’m agile. You told me that when we started. And last week, you said I’d come a long way in five weeks. So why the long face?”

“Because you know just enough to get yourself killed.”

“Hey,” the former stockbroker protested, “I thought you said I had good instincts?”

“You need more than good instincts. You need skill.” Lachlan rubbed his shirt front to halt the trickles running down his chest. “And you need more bloody endurance. You should be training every spare minute.”

“No way. Unlike you, MacGregor, I have a life.”

“Read the cards, Webster. Things have changed.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know. A year ago, the chances of being ambushed were one in fifty and now it’s more like fifty-fifty. But I’m already doing my bit. I work out with you three times a week. That’s more than most Gatherers can say.”

“Three hours a week is not enough.”

“Why not? I’m learning from the best.” Brian smiled. “Word on the Gatherer grapevine is that you once single-handedly took down a pair of martial demons.”

“Don’t believe everything you hear.”

“Oh, come on. You were ambushed by elite soldier henchies from the inner rings of hell and lived to tell the tale. I know it’s true, admit it. With you as my coach, there’s no question I’ll eventually own some demon ass.”

Shaking his head at the young man’s bravado, Lachlan strode into the kitchen.

I’m offering up a copy of DRAWN INTO DARKNESS to one lucky person today—all you need to do is comment. Do you have a favorite book or series that in your opinion does ‘the guy thing’ really well? Tell me about it.

 P.S. This is also a stop on my “Cross into Darkness” blog tour, so feel free to visit my website at www.annettemccleave.com for a chance to win the tour grand prize. If you’ve been following the tour from the beginning, here’s the clue….

Muse Interrupted clue: First word of the two-word answer is the Scottish term for valley.

Thanks for joining me today—I’ve really enjoyed my visit. Good luck in the draw!

***

To read the back cover copy of DRAWN INTO DARKNESS and Annette’s bio, please visit yesterday’s post. To learn more about Annette, please visit her website.