Christmas was a blur...it all just happened so fast this year. I was really looking forward to it this year (because I was taking this much needed week off from work).  One nice factor that made the holidays blur was the new kitten, Denali. He's a wild man, but he's very sweet and he gets cuter every day. And . . . in another fit of insanity, I rescued another kitten (this past Tuesday). :) This adorable little long-haired tortoiseshell kitten had been abandoned and I just couldn't help myself. She looks so much like Sevilli that it's scary.  She's nothing at all like Denali (thank God! :>).  She gentle and quiet. She's also sick with a respiratory infection and came that way to me. The illness got worse over the weekend, so I called today and got her some antibiotics.  Hopefully, she'll be feeling better soon. She's a tiny little thing.  I've decided to name her Trinity after Trinity in the Matrix.  And her coat has three colors, so that name especially fits.  And I have to admit that Christmas with two kittens was nice.  They were nice distractions from the recent losses in my family.

    I'd planned to get a lot of writing done this week.  Hah!  No writing done so far. I'm hoping to get some work done tonight. I've decided that I'm going to use Pacific Blue Tattoo as my first 3-month novel (otherwise, I'll never finish the damned thing). After that, I have another idea for a romantic suspense.  Then I've got a book that needs to be redrafted (Exhaling Silence) that I wrote last November and let it languish on my hard drive.  I did come up with my kitten Denali's name in that draft though. :) Maybe this dare will get me off my ass and producing real work all year long for a change?  I'm tired of allowing my inner critic to cripple my writing.  We'll see.  Here's to the end of 2004.

    On the jewelry making front, I did really well at my craft show debut. I made almost $250 and sold most of the pieces I brought. My jewelry was very well-received. That was very affirming for me.  It's something I really enjoy doing, especially when the writing isn't going so well. It's nice to create something else while my subconscious untangles a story idea.
    On the writing front, a record low rejections this year:   17 rejections and 1 sale (the short story collection). I think this was my lowest rate ever in the past 12 years. Lots of things have never gotten replies . . .  My lifetime rejections are getting very close to 600. I've been really focusing on novel submissions though, so it's not terribly surprising to have such low numbers. I so hope that 2005 will yield success.  It's been such a long, lonely road.

    For 2005, I have a couple of Spring workshops to attend and a trip to the San Juans in June. Not sure if I'll attend any conventions yet. We'll see. I think I want to focus more on manuscripts in 2005, get some new stuff out there.

    Now playing: Celtic Mystique by Howard Baer
    Now reading: Northern Lights by Nora Roberts


    My uncle passed away yesterday.  He'd been sick for months with kidney problems and congestive heart failure.  I'm glad he's out of pain, but we really miss him.  My mom's having a really hard time with his death.  When he was born, my grandmother handed him to mom (only 4 at the time), telling her he was hers.  Needless to say, they were extremely close. So, we're leaving tomorrow morning for Kentucky and the funeral. It's not quite real yet. It has that surrealness to it right now, soon to be shattered at the showing.  I think about my parents and how they've both dealt with losing their parents and siblings.  I know that my time will come too, to stand in their shoes and I just can't stand the thoughts of it. Death stinks.  And the silence is this empty box that just gets shuffled around from room to room.  No matter how many photos and memories you put inside, its never full.  But it still hurts to pick it up. We'll see you soon, Jesse Lee.

    Now playing: Impossible Dream by Patty Griffin
    Now reading: Northern Lights by Nora Roberts


    12:00 pm - Here are some photos of Denali if you're interested.

    (It's after midnight, so I'm posting this as 12/5.)  I did a bad thing today....I rescued a kitten. :) I couldn't help myself.  I saw the little guy in PetsMart and he badly needed a home.  (He's a faux Maine Coon)   I've named him Denali.  The shelters here are overflowing with kittens, so they were practically giving them away.  I went after cat food, not a kitten, but I came home with both. He's very sweet, cuddling in my hair, around my neck, and purring his little head off. Seville hates him. Of course, so does Bailey and Murphy.  Butter just kind of stared at him and walked off.

    Went out to do all the ubiquitous errands (including Christmas shopping) today which included a trip to Barnes & Noble. I picked up a copy of my favorite book (Dandelion Wine) with the Thomas Canty cover (this print hangs in my family room) as well as a book for a Spring writing course. I didn't manage to get any writing done today. Later today, I plan to propel myself through Chapter 5 of the novel and get into Chapter 6 before the night's over. I really want to finish this book before year's end and get it out to an editor who asked to see it.  Most likely, I'll send her the partial and spend the wait time on clean up. On January 1, I plan to start the romantic suspense novel I wrote a proposal for last month.  On February1, I let it set for three weeks then hit it again with multiple edit passes. That gives me a whole month to edit and polish it before sending it out.  Looking forward to the challenge.

    Have a good evening...

    Now playing: Winter Magic by Hilary Stagg
    Now reading: Northern Lights by Nora Roberts


    Thank GOD that November is over!!! I'm so glad it only had 30 days.

    In a fit of writerly housekeeping, I dusted off six short stories and mailed them out yesterday. What the heck. Most they can say is no, right?  It's a lot less painful than novel rejections, too. I've almost got my short story submissions back into double digits.  I'm hoping I can accomplish that this weekend. I should also get a proposal out for a fantasy novel that's just sitting around, too. Man, I remember the days when I was just starting out and had thirty short stories out at a time.  Sometimes I wish I could go back to those days and recapture that upward push and leave behind that wrecked car feeling.  I've been trying to lose that feeling since 2001.  Just to feel like I have some command of the writing craft would be a real confidence boost, but it's been so long since I've made a professional sale of anything.  So I thought that going back to the beginning was a good plan.

    And beginning in January, I'm embarking on a crazy dare. Write and mail a novel every three months.  I'm letting my lack of success become an excuse not to finish things. And the best cure for that is the old-fashioned deadline.  Several people I know are currently doing this.  I've never written more than two novels in a single year, so let's see if I can get off my ass and double that number. The added challenge here is to *MAIL* the book in three months.  I know I can do this and I need to do it. It's hard to fixate on failure when you know you've gotta finish something.  The only I promise I'll make is that I'm going to give this dare 100% effort.  So, if I fail, it won't be because I didn't try.  I've got two proposals for books to be written, so I'll pick one of those to write.

    Meanwhile, I have a novel to complete before the end of the year.  I'm only in Chapter 5, so I'd better pick up my pace.

    Have a good evening...

    Now playing: Enchanted Christmas by Anna Maria Mendieta
    Now reading: Northern Lights by Nora Roberts


    My cat Peanut Butter came home from the kitty hospital and he's doing better.  He's still on antibiotics and will be for a bit. And I had my second flat tire in two weeks (different tire this time).  I was really hoping I could hold off a new set of tires until February, but with another tire gone flat...not going to happen.  Tomorrow, I've gotta shell out $600+ for new tires. The doughnut tire has been used a lot lately.  And I discovered that my stupid jack is bent, so I'll need to replace that, too. It barely held up the car long enough to change the tire.  Bleh. I swear, this month has been one of the biggest financial drains I've experienced in a while.  I sure hope I don't have another month like this one any time too soon.

    Finishing up Chapter 4 of my bombshell book. Just about ready to tackle Chapter 5.  With the addition of the cop's POV in Chapter 4, this book really took an interesting/different turn.  My main goal is to maintain tension and pacing throughout the book. I didn't get any words written yesterday. We've had company since Wednesday evening, so things are hectic (fun, of course, but hectic). Still I'm hoping I get a few words written tonight.  This is the first time I've had my computer back from niece and nephew.  Have a good evening...

    Now playing: Dream Spiral by Hilary Stagg
    Now reading: Northern Lights by Nora Roberts


    I pushed myself back into the pool last night and started back to work on my Bombshell novel. Unfortunately though, it may be evolving beyond this line. I was going to tell the book solely in Kip's POV, but something seemed to be missing between the original chapter 3 and 4 that I'd intended in my synopsis/chapter summary.  I couldn't quite put my finger on it and then suddenly I found myself in Detective Bowker's head, pouring out his reaction to the crime scene that opens chapter 2 of the book.  He dumped out his past and his motivation for being a cop right there in 7 or 8 pages.  And it allowed me to give some insight about the serial killer case from the police perspective.  Now, this book has three POV characters.  Not sure if that'll kill it as a bombshell, but if it does, so be it. The book has some other weird elements about it anyway. At the moment, it's romantic suspense with fantastic elements.  Not really a thriller because it doesn't have a break-neck pace.  I guess it doesn't really matter "what it is" as long as I finish it.  My plan is to finish the book before the end of the year. I'm finally getting a loong break from work at Christmas time (first time in 8 years), so that will really help me knock out this book.  Working title is still Pacific Blue Tattoo until I get a better suggestion.

    My 14-year-old Persian, Peanut Butter is really sick and in the kitty hospital tonight.  Blood test didn't reveal much of anything, but hopefully they'll have more information tomorrow. They're giving him IV fluids tonight, so maybe he'll be feeling much better tomorrow.

    Now playing: Dream Spiral by Hilary Stagg
    Now reading: Northern Lights by Nora Roberts


    It's been a tough month. I still find myself looking around the house at the places Milo slept, expecting to see his tiny gray and white frame curled up there. Last night, I even dreamed he came home.  In other downers, the agent rejected my book (with a form -- that felt good since they'd asked for the whole book.)  I watched it slip through my fingers yet again. For a moment there, I almost thought I'd succeeded.  Plus, I now owe $600 for Milo's surgery (vet said I can make payments), had a flat tire last Saturday signaling my tires need to be replaced (another $600 since only one type of tire fits my car), and I've been sick with a head cold since I came back from Oregon (it's getting better). But I sucked it up as best I could and sent out the first 60 pages of the book to an editor.  It's ripping me up inside, but dammit, I just can't quit. I just can't give up this stupid dream I've had all my life. If they're out there in the mail, there's still a sliver of hope. On it goes . . . another turn at the wheel. 


    Now playing: Impossible Dream (Kite Song) by Patty Griffin
    Now reading: Northern Lights by Nora Roberts



    May 1, 2002 to November 3, 2004

    I found him under a wood pile. Born to feral parents, he was the runt kitten of his litter. I didn't expect to lose him at 2 1/2 years old.  He was very sick and had a huge cyst growing inside him.  It attached to several of his organs and damaged them.  We found the cyst yesterday and my vet operated on him this afternoon. He survived the surgery, but stopped breathing just over an hour later. He was the sweetest little guy and he was loved by everyone who met him.  I'm going to miss him so much.  I wasn't expecting any of this. It all happened so fast...I'm still in a state of shock and my flight leaves at 6:45 am tomorrow morning for Oregon (for a workshop). I just feel crushed. I expected to have him much longer than 2 1/2 years. We love you and miss you, Milo.

    Now playing:
    Now reading:


    Was out of town this weekend visiting uncles and aunts on my mom and my dad's sides of the family.  One of my uncles has been ill for some time and took a bad turn, so Mom, Dad, and I went down to see him.  It was nice to see family; I hadn't seen most of them for several years. It was a good but tiring trip because I did all the driving.

    Came home to some very promising snail mail. The NY agent liked my partial and has asked to see the whole book. I'm trying very hard not to get my hopes up...I want to take that next step so badly and I've been waiting so long.  I hope this is the one. So, I spent the evening printing out the book, checking pages, and getting it boxed up.  I'll take it to the post office tomorrow at lunch and it'll be on its way to New York again. This will be a real nail biter... 

    Also in the mail was a small royalty check for the 100 Wicked Little Witch Stories anthology.  I sold this story in 1995 and after 9 years, it's still paying royalties.  Gotta love that. :)

    Have a good evening...

    Now playing: Watermark by Enya
    Now reading: Killer Instinct by Cindy Dees


    Feeling pretty down tonight. My novel partial got bounced by Bantam tonight.  Sigh. These novel rejections just really cut me up when I get them.  I believe in this book so much and no one's ever going to read it.  I've written 11 novel manuscripts in the 12 years I've been submitting and hope to finish my twelfth one before the year ends. I just wish I could feel/see some evidence of forward movement, an indicator, some thin ray of light at the end of the tunnel. I have all these plans (like publishing books in the SF, F, and romance fields), but I just can't bring all of it together.  When I started this journey, I expected it to be a long haul and I expected it to be hard . . . but the word impossible never seemed part of that experience. That horrible thought hovers at the edge of my persistence like a vulture. What if I never sell a book? What if I try the rest of my life and never make that first novel sale?  That's a bitter wind. Gotta suck it up and keep trying.  Can't succeed if I stop trying.

    Taking a deep breath and putting one foot back in front of the other...

    Now playing: Fallen by Evanescence
    Now reading: Killer Instinct by Cindy Dees


    Well, I've gotten through the polish on Isabel's Tears and was ready to move onto a spelling check/last pass . . . but the sequencing of some events in the final chapters made me wonder if I hadn't jumbled things a bit. So...I may need to move a scene back a couple of chapters.  We're never satisfied with anything we write, are we? :)  I'm still thinking through the ramifications of moving this scene (kind of a minor scene really). But since my gut's telling me it should move, I'll probably bite the bullet and move it.  Thanks to Vera Nazarian for telling me that the sale of my short story collection was announced in Science Fiction Chronicle this month.  It was kinda cool to see it listed there. :)

    Looks like I'm going to display my jewelry locally in December.  I've never really presented the jewelry I make for sale, so this should be interesting.  It'll be a very small showing, but I'm looking forward to it.

    Have a good evening!


    All's quiet on the mailbox front.  In the meantime, I've been working through the last changes in Isabel's Tears (a few corrections I wanted to make after my last trip out that way).  I'm about halfway through those changes/polishing.  We had family visiting this weekend, so I didn't get to do any work on my bombshell novel. I did find some more interesting information on how to write a synopsis, so I'm going to work on that a bit tomorrow after more chapter polishing. I've got some interesting story ideas rattling around in my head right now. Hope they blossom into something promising.

    I went over to my brother's house today with my mom, my uncle, and my aunt, but after a few minutes of chatting, I slipped outside and sat by the pond where two breathtaking swans glide. They are so graceful and soothing to watch.  Both swans were at the far end of the pond, but when they saw me, they glided over. The male swan actually climbed up the bank and stood beside me for a long time and preened himself.  I've never been that close to a swan before and I was so surprised when he joined me on the bank. No, I was spellbound.  For the briefest of moments, I felt a connection with him and then he gingerly slipped back into the pond.  Swan medicine . . . a lesson that everyone/everything has inner beauty.  Celtic bards once used swan feathers in their cloaks. So, I picked up a few swan feathers (the purest white I've seen in some time) from the grass and carried them home as a reminder.  A little inspiration, a little poetry.

    Have a good evening!

    Now playing: The Best of Clannad by Clannad
    Now reading: Exception to the Rule by Doranna Durgin (wow, this one's *really* good!)


    Well, my partial to the agent is out the door, winging its way toward New York.  I'm so keeping my fingers crossed that she asks for the full manuscript.  I've been at this point so many times, but not with this book.  God, I hope she likes it.

    Didn't get any writing done tonight, but hopefully I will tomorrow, moving ahead on my Bombshell novel. This %#@^%& synopsis is just such a pain in the butt!  It's really slowing me down, but ... it's also helping me plot the chapters. So, it's not entirely a bad thing.

    I've got a writing workshop coming up in about six weeks and I'm really looking forward to it.  It's all about novel structure and the dreaded synopsis.  And it's in Oregon (woohoo!). My third trip to the Pacific Northwest this year (yesss!)  I'm arriving a day early, so I can play on the beach and look for sea glass. And stop at one of my favorite bookstores and Thai restaurants. Then I get to learn and talk about fiction with other writers! Who could ask for more?  I bought my plane ticket last week, so I'm all set to go.

    Have a good evening!

    Now playing: Fairy Night Songs by Gary Stadler and Singh Kaur
    Now reading: Body Double by Vicki Hinze


    I had the coolest experience today!  I was able to get within a foot of a juvenile hawk this morning! He was just beautiful! He was sitting on our fence, so of course there were no little birds, rabbits, or chipmunks about in the yard. It was eerily silent.  I truly think this hawk had been stunned or injured because they don't usually let people get so close to them.  I think it was a Cooper's Hawk or a Red Tail Hawk.  (his tail had horizontal stripes) I took some pictures of him and tried to call a local wildlife rescue place, but I never got through. He spent nearly four hours in our yard and then finally disappeared off the fence. Here's the best shot I got of him. Isn't he gorgeous! I sure hope he's okay. If you want to see the full size pictures, just click on the picture.

    Still working on my Bombshell novel and trying to get a partial out the door to Harlequin. I have three others to send out, too.  Tried to get to a lot of this stuff through the week, but it didn't quite work out that way.  So, I'm shooting for at least one done today. I wish the weekend were a day longer. It always goes by so fast.

    Have a good day!

    Now playing: Land of Forever by 2002
    Now reading: Body Double by Vicki Hinze


    Got home from Denver about 9:30 pm last night. It was an excellent conference! They had wonderful workshops, especially on pitching and synopsis writing among other things. And I was able to grab a second pitch slot with an editor. Both pitch sessions went very well and I got the green light from an agent and an editor to send two books (!) I thought I'd only have a chance to pitch one book, but I ended up pitching two.

    So, I'm very pleased with how things turned out. It was a very successful conference for me. :) Now, I just need to do a once over on Isabel's Tears and then I need to finish my synopsis for my bombshell novel. There seemed to be more interest in my bombshell novel, but I think the reason is it has a better pitch. Gotta get in gear and get stuff done.

    Have a good evening

    Now playing: October Project by October Project
    Now reading: between books


    I broke down and went to see a doctor on Friday. The shoulder problem turns out not to be fibromyalgia this time.  Looks like I've got a minor cervical sprain.  Rest and lots o' ibuprofen should fix this problem in a few days. My knee problem turns out to be osteoarthritis.  I've had lots of minor knee injuries, so I can't say I'm surprised. Let's just say I made every sport I played a contact sport (with the ground) and that included theatre where I did all my own stunts. ;) [Sometimes it takes years to find out how stupid you were in your teens. ;)] And the treatment for this -- yep, ibuprofen.  Still, I'm glad for the long weekend. I can avoid all the stairs at work for a few days and rest my knee.  I'm dreading the airport experience this week and I'm trying to pack lighter than I ever have before.

    And you know those pitches I've been working on? The ones I said I'd finished?  Yep, I just keep rewriting them. And I figure by October, they'll be really close.  I'm trying to finish my synopsis for the other book I want to pitch, too.  Still beating on that and hopefully I'll have something ready in the next day or so. It's a hard one to write, for some reason. Picked up another Bombshell book and hope to start that tonight. It'll be the third one I've read.  They're very quick reads.  Okay, I've stalled long enough...time to go back to the synopsis...

    Have a good evening

    Now playing: The Celts by Enya
    Now reading: Making the Perfect Pitch by Katharine Sands


    Fibromyalgia stinks! Here I've been struggling for a couple of weeks to get my stuff ready for the conference and the stupid fibro flares up on me. On Sunday night, I could barely move and couldn't type.  Same thing today. I managed to get into the chiropractor today and at least I'm able to type now (not for long, but some).  After I got home, I took another look at my pitches and decided two of the three reek!  I've now trashed the one for Isabel's Tears, redrafted it, tossed it, redrafted it again, tossed it . . . I'm now on iteration 12 and I *think* I've got it now. Gotta work on the other one, too.  It never ends . . . but at least I can fiddle with the words and keyboard now.  Not tonight though. Can't stay home two days in a row from work. G'night.

    Now playing: October Project by October Project
    Now reading: Urban Legend by Erica Orloff


    It's barely midnight, but I guess I'll mark it down as the 29th. The month's going fast.  The students came back this week, so it's been a very painful week at the university.  I always dread the first week of classes because of the ensuing chaos.  I came home angry and exhausted on Friday. After a sleepless Friday night, I really expected that I'd be dead by 8 pm tonight, but the brain keeps on pumping like a piston.  It's midnight and I'm still wired like a Christmas tree. A little mania never hurt anyone right? ;)

    I got new glasses today because I've been having problems with my distance vision. Yep, the challenges of seeing that big E. It's a good thing I know it's an E, because without my glasses it's just some blurry black stuff on white.  So, I get home and sit down at the computer -- can't get a focus. Sigh.  I can't seem to get it all in one pair of glasses.  So, I'm going to keep my old glasses for computer work.  Too bad, too. I really like my new frames, but I can't see the computer with them.

    It was cool today though.  My mom and I were in a department store (in the jewelry department no less!) and the sales associate told my mom how pretty her earrings were and asked where she got them.  I just grinned. I made them.

    Unable to leave my pitches alone, I've been fiddling with them again and managed to get one down to the magic number of 5 lines! Woo!!! Why is that important? Because the shorter the pitch, the easier it is to memorize! :)  Also tonight, in between thunderstorms, I started working on the synopsis for Pacific Blue Tattoo (my bombshell book). And I wrote my third pitch -- for this book. Dang, that was painful!! Now I know how my cats feel when they yak up a hairball.  And here I thought synopses were the original pains in the butt.  They're a cake walk compared to boiling down your books into five lines! At any rate, I've got a draft that I'm happy with. I'll let it set for a day or two then check it out again.

    I just finished reading AKA Goddess and it was really good!  I'm really looking forward to the next book in the series. Supposedly it comes out in November. If you like action and kickbutt female characters, check out this one!  Very cool!

    Guess I'll get back to the synopsis. Have a good morning . . . Wow, did *I* really say that?

    Morning is such a strange concept. It's that hazy stage of sleep (gamma waves) between caffeine and lunch. ;) [No morning people or animals were harmed in the making of these remarks.]

    Now playing: Victorialand by Cocteau Twins
    Now reading: Urban Legend by Erica Orloff


    Got a ton of stuff done this weekend and some of it even included writing. ;)  I wrote another  pitch last night, revised the first one a bit, made a bracelet (for me!), and bought my plane ticket for Denver.  Today, I added a few more lines to Chapter 2 of my Bombshell book and plunged ahead into Chapter 3. I just hope I can hold onto Kip's voice throughout the book.  It's quite the opposite of how I write, so I have to pay full attention whenever I write her words.

    I made my third batch of peach jam this week, too. Still have more peaches and now the grapes are getting ripe. Concords.  My niece and nephew love my grape jelly, so I'll need to make grape jelly this coming week. And probably another batch of peaches.

    I'm feeling challenged (in a good way) by this upcoming conference and that's cool.  I like to be challenged, so we'll see how well I do.  Just gotta own my pitches now.  I'm so looking forward about learning more writing techniques and tips. Good stuff!

    Have a good evening!

    Now playing: The Collection by Mary Black
    Now reading: A. K. A. Goddess by Evelyn Vaughn


    Well, it looks like I'm going to Denver next month!  To the Colorado Gold Conference.  And one of my best friends, Patricia Duffy Novak is coming, too! Can't wait!  Haven't seen her since last year, so I'm really looking forward to seeing her again.  And I'm gonna be pitching some books (hopefully more than one).  I've got my Bombshell book to pitch, Isabel's Tears to pitch, and my True Purple SF trilogy to pitch.  Bet you noticed I used the word pitch a lot in that sentence. :)  I've got to learn to verbally present my stuff. This kind of thing is difficult for me, but I need to improve. So what better way to do so than dive in!  I've been reading a lot about how to pitch a novel lately. I thought I'd boil down what I learned into some hopefully helpful information for anyone else about to pitch their novel. 

    Tip 0: Start with a completed manuscript. For most of us aspiring/newly published/struggling writers, we really need to pitch a finished book to editors/agents.

    Tip 1: Write five to six sentences about your book and memorize. I think this is the hardest bloody part of the whole process!  It's almost like a movie trailer for your book. You've got to hook the editor/agent then tell them what your book's about in a way that's interesting and encompassing.  Not with theatrics, but with an intriguing premise, interesting characters and what's at stake.

    How in blazes do I do that? Yeah, very good question, one I've been asking myself for a week or so.  What has been working for me is a process of refining and rewriting.  Unless you're a gifted summarist who can look at a story and boil it down to a sentence or two, here's a suggestion: the best starting place is your synopsis.  Go through the synopsis and pick out the highest level plot points.  These are story points that are absolutely essential to understanding the story. So, if you've got an 8-page synopsis, try boiling it down to 4 pages.  Then go through those 4 pages and cut it down to 2 pages.  Then 1 page, then half a page until you can count the sentences and not go crazy.

    Chances are you've probably boiled down the story until it looks like refried beans. By themselves, they're not so great, but put them in a burrito with sour cream and tomatoes and you've got something! :) Okay, so it's getting close to dinner time and I'm hungry, okay?  Anyway...what happens in the book is important, but so are the characters.  Not their names, but what they want, what drives them forward and what gets in their way.  This has to be part of your pitch because this is the why should I care part? We've got to have someone to root for, right?  That's gotta be in your pitch.  Write some sentences about your protagonist(s) and your antagonist(s). Then rewrite them. Rewrite them again. 

    So...a possible structure for this verbal pitch could be:  story setup, hook, and resolution.  Your goal is 5-6 lines (or as close as you can come) -- something you can memorize.

    Tip 2: Confidence, Control, and Enthusiasm. Know your material!  That means your novel and your pitch.  Reading straight from a card or paper doesn't allow you to make a connection with the editor or agent. Or convey as much enthusiasm about your project. So memorize your novel pitch so you can deliver it confidently with enthusiasm. If you're not enthusiastic and confident about your work, neither will an editor/agent.

    Tip 3: Bring a synopsis for your book with you to the pitch. This is IN CASE the editor/agent asks for it.  You can mention that you have one if the editor/agent is interested.

    Tip 4: Bring business cards with your contact information on it.  That way, the editor/agent will be able to contact you if there's any interest in your story.

    Okay, so you've slaved and slaved over your pitch. Now, even your cat can recite the darned thing!  You've got your professional looking business cards and professionally presented synopsis.  Now what?

    Tip 5: Be professional. Treat this whole process as a job interview.  You don't have to show up in a power suit, but do make sure you dress nicely, are courteous, and present your work professionally.

    Tip 6: The "Agenda" Okay, you've got 10 minutes with an editor or agent. How should that 10 minutes play out?  Here's a thought:

      1. Greet the editor/agent.  Ask how they're doing/how the convention is going, etc..  Break the ice a little bit to ease your nerves.  And be sincere.

      2. *Briefly* introduce yourself. So the editor has a name to put with a face.

      3. Credits and Qualifications. Mention your professional writing credits and any special qualifications pertinent to the book.  Like you've been a practicing trial lawyer for ten years (which is pertinent to writing a legal thriller).  That kind of thing. If you don't have any credits or qualifications like this, skip this item.  These are just things that enhance can your credibility.

      4. Identify Genre and Imprint. State the title of your book.  Assuming that you've carefully selected the agent or editor who handles the type of book you've written, mention the imprint that you're targeting or authors writing in the same vein as you.  This shows that you've done your research and you're familiar with your competition. "My book, Trouble in Doggyland is a legal thriller in the same vein as Scott Turow." Something like that.

      5. The Pitch.  Okay, put your heart into this pitch! Make eye contact and deliver those all-important 6 or so lines with confidence and inflection.  When you're finished, it might be a good idea to repeat the book's title. Ask if the editor/agent would like to see the book's synopsis. If yes, hand that puppy over!

      6. Have fun, but stay within your time frame! There are people waiting for their appointments, so don't be a time hog.

      7. Q & A.  The editor/agent may have questions about your book, about your credits, other projects.  Or they may not.  If they do, answer as best you can.

      8. Exit Stage Left.  Regardless of whether the editor/agent is interested, thank them for their time.  Hand them your business card, shake hands and exit stage left.  You did it!! You've pitched your first book!  [cue confetti]

    So...in a nutshell (okay, so this one's as big as a coconut), these are the things I've learned this week about pitching.  I'll have to let you know in September whether it's successful or not. But if you're like me and scared and confused by verbally pitching your stuff, maybe this info will help. And if anybody has some tips...feel free to send them.

    Have a good evening . . .

    Now playing: Dream Spiral by Hilary Stagg
    Now reading: A. K. A. Goddess by Evelyn Vaughn


    I got a lot of writing done today. I finished chapter two of my novel and I'm ready for chapter three. I'm trying to put some things I've learned into play in this book. So far, I'm pleased with it. I'll probably have a draft of chapter 3 in a few days. And I need to get the synopsis moving, too.  I have collections of notes and text files to piece together. Then there's Fragile to finish (a short story in progress.) Still looking for images for the collection cover, but I think I found *the* image tonight.  We'll see. :)

    I wish the weekend wasn't already over.  I have so much I wanted to get done, but didn't.  My peach tree is dropping peaches everywhere, so it's peach jam time.  I didn't have any lemon juice though, so I couldn't start cutting up peaches.  Tomorrow, I'll get some and start making jam.  Maybe I'll find some time during lunch to work on chapter 3 and still manage to handle the peaches before they go bad. Good stuff!

    Have a good evening . . .

    Now playing: Victorialand by Cocteau Twins
    Now reading: A. K. A. Goddess by Evelyn Vaughn


    I'm happy to report that I'm doing book stuff. :)  I'm assembling stories for the collection and heck, I even get to make cover art suggestions.  Is that too cool or what? :)  So, I've put together a concept for the cover and picked out stories. And I want to finish another new story for the collection.  My current suggestions include two unpublished stories. NONE of this is even set in pencil yet; it's just the first step in the process. Twenty stories in all, but I'm not sure if this number will shrink or grow.

    I'm also working on the Bombshell book.  I'm halfway through chapter two and I'm just starting the synopsis based on all my plotting notes.  The more I work on this book, the more excited I get about it. Working title is Pacific Blue Tattoo.  I also need to work up another novel proposal (I've actually been asked for one). This book will be short, about 40K. No title yet, but as soon as I get this Bombshell partial done, I'll start working on it.  I also need to get Fragile finished for the collection.  Wow, three projects at once!  Life is good. :)

    Have a good evening . . .

    Now playing: Two by The Calling
    Now reading: Souls in the Sea: Dolphins, Whales and Human Destiny by Scott Taylor


    July's over already. Man, the time just passes so quickly.  I don't feel like I've accomplished much of anything these past couple of weeks. I've had a lot of work stress these past couple of weeks (REALLY loathing the people I work with).  Making jewelry has been a very soothing activity, especially since I feel like I've greatly improved on the basics and finding my stride. And I love working with the sea glass! It's being creative in a different way and through that, I'm able to loosen some of this stress that's stifling my writing. Ideas trickle through when my focus is positive and off work.  I feel like I'm in one of those nesting dolls, retreating into a smaller and smaller space, my vision so narrow I can barely see. And I can't even recognize the outlines of the box, much less think outside them.  Writers are just weird, I guess. :)

    Got a 113-day rejection from Paradox today.  The story has opening troubles. Guess I should look and see if that can be fixed. Later, after I've finished my Bombshell proposal and that in progress short story. I've got a much better angle on the story's opening (how ironic ;>) and can probably move ahead with it, but I'll probably wait until I get those chapters done.

    And in good news . . . (What?!?  Good news -- here?  That's impossible!) I just sold my first short story collection (woo!!) to Prime Books. A very cool thing! The title of the book will be The Sound of Angels (after my 1997 story that made the Nebs preliminary ballot), which is totally cool!  The book will be out sometime in 2005.  I'll post more information when I have it.

    Have a good evening . . .

    Now playing: Sweet Return by Hilary Stagg
    Now reading: Souls in the Sea: Dolphins, Whales and Human Destiny by Scott Taylor


    My dad turns 75 tomorrow.  I can't believe my parents are in their 70s; how quickly the time passes.

    I think I'm having a mid-life crisis.  I feel this almost unbearable urge to start over: change my job, my hair, my life, find something more than this tedious grind, this endless circle etched in stone, carve a new groove or something.  I don't know how I'm going to do it, but I'm going to try.  God, it all goes by so fast.  And I've wasted so much time. I've been living only in the biological sense.  Maybe that's why my fiction sucks?  Maybe that's why I hate my job?  It just seems like there should be more than this icky routine.

    I haven't written anything these past few days, concentrating instead on my jewelry making.  I've got over a dozen pieces completed now:  pendants, pins, and bracelets.  I've only made one necklace so far and no earrings yet. Still perfecting how to drill the sea glass and not overheat it so it breaks.  Still need to get back to my novel chapters and the short story I've started.

    I'm teaching a class this week at work.  It'll be my first training class. I'm hoping I do well and that people learn something (and have fun doing it). My second master's is in instructional design; it'd be nice to actually do what I trained to do.  I'm pretty nervous though.  I'm not good at public speaking, so this will be a challenge for me.

    Now playing: Fallen by Evanescence
    Now reading: Souls in the Sea: Dolphins, Whales and Human Destiny by Scott Taylor


    Spent part of the day running the usual errands (blah) then stopped by Michael's Craft store for some irridescent glass paints (among other things).  I spent some time on the jewelry, making a few pendants, drilling some holes in sea glass, etc.. I've got 4 pendants ready now, but I need to create at least a dozen or so.  So far I'm pleased with what I've created.  I wish I could get the hang of drilling the holes in the glass.  I've broken 3 or 4 pieces.  I guess I'm letting the glass get too hot (then it cracks).

    I did some work on the short story, too. Tentative title is Fragile, but that may change. For now, it's fine as a working title. I need to get back to the bombshell novel, too.  I'm halfway through the first chapter . . . then I need to write the synopsis, get some feedback, revise, and mail.  It sounds so simple, doesn't it? ;)

    Now playing: "Feast of Immortals" from Land of Forever by 2002
    Now reading: Souls in the Sea: Dolphins, Whales and Human Destiny by Scott Taylor


    After being home almost a week now from Washington State, I find that I'm having problems settling back into "my life" as I know it.  Being away from phone, mail, and television is addictive. In short, I don't want to be here -- not in this job, not in this place (this rut), not in any of it.  As usual, I came home to problems at work and unfortunately, these are personality problems that just won't go away.  I feel a small sense of betrayal at some of the work events that occurred and at this point, my ability to trust my so-called "co-workers" is out the window.  Every time I'm away from the office, it's the same story. I'm tired of having to playing mind games. But leaving the serenity and connection I felt out there and returning to the continual violations of trust and emotional games . . . it's maddening. Maybe it's just me -- maybe I'm the one who's changed? I feel like such a wuss.  I can't even handle small town university politics. I can't even imagine a corporate environment or a high stakes academic environment. I just want people to play straight and fair, to do the job asked of them without arrogance, posturing, condescension, games, or entitlement. To just give a shit about something besides "what's in it for me?" I'll get off my soapbox now.  Guess I'm just tired of SSDD disorder (Same Shit Different Day).

    I've been trying to lose myself in more creative endeavors.  For the first time in all my visits to the Pacific Northwest, I found sea glass!!  My mom and I were so excited to find it.  We spent so many days hunting for sea glass -- it was so much fun!! Anyway, I brought home nearly three pounds of sea glass, including the rarest color -- lavender!! To me, this was very exciting because in one of my novels, lavender sea glass is a very important part of the plot. So to actually find pieces of lavender on these beaches was just magical!  I've decided to make jewelry out of the pieces I brought home. I bought a Dremel and some diamond drill bits and I'm making earrings and pendants out of the bits of glass.  I've only made two pendants so far, but it's so much fun. :)  In fact, I've decided to put a name to my creations and other jewelry that I make. My "company" name is Elusive Blue.

    I'm so much more creative after some time in the northwest.  I've been writing a lot, too, working on three different projects as I feel strongly about one or the other. Sigh.  I really miss the ocean.

    Here are some pictures I took in the islands.  Be warned -- they'll take a while to load.

    Now playing: "Summer of 300 Years" from Land of Forever by 2002
    Now reading: Souls in the Sea: Dolphins, Whales and Human Destiny by Scott Taylor


    I'm back after a wonderful, wonderful stay on San Juan Island (Washington State).  Had a glorious time and saw lots of J-Pod (the whales were so beautiful and soul-soothing).  So many breaches, so little time. Much more later. Came home (after more flight delays, lost luggage, etc.) to another agent rejection and lots of junk mail. Working on a new short story, something in novella-land, and the bombshell novel. Back to work tomorrow -- ick.  Holiday's over.  But for the first time, I found sea glass on the beach! Brought home over two pounds, too. :)  Good stuff! More later...

    Now playing: Crimson Collection Vol 1 & 2 by Kim Robertson and Singh Khaur
    Now reading: Souls in the Sea: Dolphins, Whales and Human Destiny by Scott Taylor