Category Archives: me me me

The Demonization of “Try”

There is no try.
Go do the dishes.

I blame Yoda.

I was just having a little minipiphany (yeah, I just made that up because I have lots of these tiny epiphanies and they deserve a name).

I’m winning the war over the dishes. I was just finishing up and thinking about coming back to my laptop and my always-open chat window to Kait to tell her that I’ve really made a shift with this most-hated chore. I mean, I think I’m just about at the point where I appreciate having done them more than I dread doing them.

That’s huge for me. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t mind mess, and I can let a lot of things pile up before it bothers me. And dishes! I hate doing the dishes so much that I could dirty every dish in the house and would rather see them piled on the counters than wash them. Of course, I’m friends with enough normal people–and also crazy neat freaks like Kait– to know that a lot of you are cringing right now, just from that description. But I really hate doing the dishes.

It’s taken a long time to get to the point of appreciating an empty sink. I’ve been able to keep my sink empty before, establish good habits for weeks, and, very rarely, months at a time. But I always backslide because I always hate doing the dishes more than I like having them done.

So today I was thinking that I need to tell Kait that I feel like I’m turning a corner. It’s getting easier to do them right after dinner every night, and when they’re done, I really feel better now, and that’s new. And I thought:

It probably helps that I’ve changed my definition of “every.”

I have a feeling that the exactness thing I have with language causes me more problems than I realize.

It’s part of the all-or-nothing thinking plan I’ve bought into. “Every” means every. Each one. It doesn’t mean you get a night off when you’re really tired, have something else that has to be done, or even when you just really don’t wanna. “Every” night means that skipping a night is FAIL and fail is always an excuse to give up doing what’s hard.

In an attempt to work on the perfectionism that’s kicking my ass, I decided to redefine “every” for myself as “most of the time,” and even “more often than not” if necessary. With much better results.

If there is no try, there’s only do and fail.

I know that some people feel like other people need the Jedi Master Kick in the Pants. Maybe they do. What I know is that, over and over, I have tried to do my dishes every night, and then I failed to do them every night, and blowing them off felt hella better than actively failing all the time.

I actually think I need to tell Yoda to go piss up a rope (respectfully) and redefine “do” in my life as something a lot closer to try than the way I think about it now. ¬†

 

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Lifestyles…

Okay, so maybe I’m just a little bit jealous that two of my writer friends have moved into bigger and more beautiful houses this year. Generally I’m okay with the whole it’s a bit dilapidated, but it’s mine thing, but, yeah, we all have those days when we’d like to be a little more Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.

I reached a breaking point yesterday when my husband said he wanted to take us to the lake. It was well over 100 degrees all weekend, and, as much as I wanted to participate in a family outing and not be party pooper, there was just no way this I could tolerate the great outdoors, unsheltered, for an entire afternoon. It doesn’t take 5 minutes in the sun for me to start burning.

So I really want to thank everyone who purchased Talent Chronicles books or encouraged others to try them in May because I took my recently acquired royalties for that month and bought a lake house. Which will hereafter be referred to as The Lake House.

The Lake House, brought to you by Coleman Instant Shelter

Spending 5 hours at the lake and NOT being a whiny byotch or, like, dying? Priceless.

Swanky, yeah?You can see here that I have used my mad decorating skillz so that, practically within moments of moving in, The Lake House has already gained the “homey,” “lived-in” quality we enjoy at home.

When my husband was in the Marines we lived right on the beach in Oceanside, CA. Like, the sand was my front yard. Tiny little studio apartment–the whole thing could fit in my living room now. I…was not in a position to love it, being all alabaster and all. But anyway, we always used to get together with the neighbors in the complex and do a big fourth of July thing. And someone would always put up a sign: If you lived here, you’d be home now.

But now I have The Lake House, so I figure I can be home anywhere. Not to be outdone by all the new furniture and accessories my friends have been acquiring, I bought a new chair for my daughter.

She’s reading Super Diaper Baby. I have an “at least she’s reading” sort of feeling about this.

For our next acquisition, we are discussing the purchase of DE-luxe, multipurpose beds that can be napped on in The Lake House, or on the water. (!!) Want to see the water? Here’s the awesome view from The Lake House.

View from The Lake House

This is actually my husband, who spends very little time in The Lake House, being someone who actually likes the outside (???) on a borrowed jet ski.

You know who really likes The Lake House? Beau. It was his first time swimming. I tried to get a good picture of him, but he was kind of camera shy.

Beau is camera shy

“Paparazzi needs to leave a dog alone,” Beau thought. “And I thought life as the dog of an indie author was going to be all ease and glamour.”
I don’t know how that rumor got started, Beau.

Diet Coke wishes, Pringles dreams, friends. Cheers!

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“I am no longer surprised at you knowing only six accomplished women…”*

I’m feeling unusually productive and accomplished today. Where I live, school is usually out around the end of May. I suspect June 1st will be our last day this year. This being the last week of March, and me being the mathematical genius that I am, I have calculated that I’m wading waist deep in crap creek if I don’t do better and get more done on HEROES UNDER SIEGE damned skippy.

Yes, I did order this

The action plan which involves sitting on my couch, staring at the blank screen and waiting for brilliance to strike from above has not been working for me. Especially lately since I’ve a) stopped hiding from Twitter and occasionally start that running and end up going to check out all kinds of distracting links every time I get bored with the waiting for words to appear, and b) got Dragon Age Origins for XBox and have been busy making Alistair fall for me all over AGAIN.

Yesterday I watched Cloverfield. Yes, it did kind of suck. And it’s unfortunate that the avant-garde camera work (trying to be generous) distracts from the movie’s other flaws. Like it lacking all but the barest sort of plot. Which really bit because it had potential. What there was of a script I actually really liked. But then, I’m ridiculously fond of disaster movies.

Sidebar: Incidentally, I have this theory about Generation X. Why are we such a bunch of slackers? Well what, really, can you expect from a whole generation brought up under a constant threat of nuclear holocaust? I mean, that was a very popular topic of handwringing when I was in school, and the teachers were constantly telling us that Reagan had his finger on the button (like, all the time, and it was twitchy, because, you know, Republicans can hardly be trusted with such things) and it was a terrible thing that were all likely to be vaporized at any moment. I grew up in what was an IBM town, back in the days of IBM, and that, combined with our proximity to NYC, allegedly put us high up on some kind of target list and would surely be one of the first places to be wiped off the map. One Sunday we walked into church and there were these big maps in the parlor that showed an impact point and a radii of DOOM AND CONSEQUENCES, and let’s all go and pray for disarmament. And, us being so close to the end of the world and all, so many of our movies were full of post-apocalyptic wonder. (You all want to go watch Cherry 2000 now, don’t you?)

Okay, so I’m using the “product of my environment” argument for both my poor taste in movies and the getting nothing done habits. And now that we’re clear on how none of this is my fault, back to Cloverfield. While the plot didn’t inspire, as a disaster movie with all the running around and escaping, it gave me renewed inspiration for exercise. Because, seriously, don’t you ask yourself, “How long would I last?”

[Other questions to ask: Why would anyone wear those shoes? Why would anyone volunteer to live in NYC as it is nearly always the first place to be attacked by aliens.]

Key members of the secret Zombie Nation have been working with the media to convince you that you actually want to wear those heels. You can run but you can't-- oh, wait, you can't run.

So after doing some Googling regarding fitness for the zombie apocalypse, I decided to try Couch to 5k. Put this whole plan in place that I would get right in the shower when I got up at 5:30, do some cleaning while I was getting B ready for school, go to the track as soon as the bus left and get my laps in, then go sit at the coffee shop and get my words in. In hopes that merely putting my butt on a different surface would inspire, I guess.

But it did. I did all that stuff this morning and wrote more in one sitting than I have in quite some time. For the first time in a little while I think it might be possible for me to do All of the Things, provided all of my things are still fewer than all of Kait’s things. [Kait being freakishly efficient and aka She who does All of the Things, in case you didn’t know.]

In fact, I believe I still have a bit of time left over, and there are still Darkspawn that need some killin’.

"I hear she has dual weapon mastery." "I hear she wields a full-sized blade in each hand." "Hold me!"

*

“I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished women, I now wonder at your knowing any.” ~Miss Elizabeth Bennet

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They say that Confidence is Key

Here’s a long post that I wrote a while back and then decided not to post because, well, it’s fairly personal. But mostly because I decided that it was too me me me to be interesting–which, given the subject of the post itself, has a sort of irony to it.

I’ve thought about it twice this week. The other day, Kait posted about The Value of Random Compliments. It was lovely, and part of what I got out of reading it was that I think a lot of compliments I don’t deliver because a) social interaction, but b) I’m uncomfortable receiving compliments, so I’m nervous about inflicting them on others.

And that is very simply explained by the fact that I have a ridiculous amount of trouble believing the sincerity of compliments delivered, and it’s been hard to say Thank You for something I don’t deserve. As a young adult, I found that some people are kind of offended when you try to turn aside their compliments, however, so I had to practice accepting them with studied grace. Even though it often feels very wrong, as though in saying Thank You, I am saying, Yes, I agree, I DO look nice today. Which often feels not only like lying, but also like vanity and pride.

And that all comes back to the topic of this post I never posted.

Well, I said there were two things. The second popped up this morning when a friend, who should recognize herself, was feeling discomfort in a social situation, and I realized that the reason she wasn’t putting herself forward was because she didn’t feel she had the right. She didn’t feel important enough, worthy enough, to trouble those people with her existence.

And that’s sad, because my friend is pretty fuckawesome. And of course nothing I could type at her would sway her thinking because that feeling is too well ingrained. I get that.

So anyway, as I’m working on it, maybe she’ll work on it, and if this is you, maybe you’ll work on it too. Here’s the post…

Two months ago, Kait talked about chosing “steady” as her focal word for the year. She got the idea from fellow author, Jessica Corra. If you don’t follow Jessica, I recommend her. She’s intelligent, charming, and good company. You’ll find her on Twitter @jessicacorra and we’re finally going to get to read her AFTER YOU when Dial releases it, expected Spring 2013. But enough about Ms. Jessica, this is about the word thing.

So when Kait chose her word and explained the concept to me, I liked it. Not enough to jump on the bandwagon instantly, I guess. But I’m sort who often needs to mull things over and let the right thing come to me.

Confidence is what came to me.

Confidence is a concept so lacking in my way of life that for most of that life I’ve tended to consider it a synonym for arrogance. I’ve had this sort of love-hate thing with the confident people in my life. I admire them for the way they go out and do things. I appreciate the things they do for me that I’m not willing to do for myself. I’m jealous of what they accomplish and the ease with which they seem to be able to do things that make me panic. I’m puzzled by what right they feel they can just go and do stuff, and by what logic they assume they’re welcome when they walk into a room. I am often grateful and resentful at once.

This is not something I’m proud of. It’s what is. And I need to be clear about what is so that I can remind myself to be otherwise.

Because to just be, to not think, is to go on in the same way. Changing habits of thought and behavior requires thought, and that’s what’s appealing about the focal word thing. It’s shorthand, a reminder, a signal to remember to think rightly.

See, I get that it’s not good to go through life feeling apologetic for one’s existence. Being surprised by welcomes, by friendly overtures. It’s certainly inefficient to let it get to a point of being so fearful of approaching others that you instead hone skills of developing intermediaries to help you get through life. Not to mention panic-inducing when you’re caught out on your own without someone else to go through the door ahead of you, make the phone call to get the information for both of you, tell you exactly how they did the thing you need to do so you’ll know the exact right way to say it, the right way to act, so you won’t confuse anyone or irritate them or waste their time or inconvenience them in any way.

Shy? I don’t think that’s the right word.

Now, if you ask me, I’m doing really well these days. I have spent years facing down these things I couldn’t do. I can now walk into any store, any restaurant, whatever, by myself. I can make phone calls. Don’t like it, avoid it like the plague, but I can. And I can now usually do it without rehearsal/pacing/deep breathing beforehand. I greet strangers. I make eye contact. And unless something goes wrong, I don’t get that sensation of oh my God my throat is closing I can’t breathe and my face is red and what am I going to do when I have to speak to someone.

So yay. Bonus.

All this blah blah blah is basically to explain that Confidence has been a problem.

But part of me focusing on the word right now is trying to make that leap in understanding that confidence is not arrogance. I’m understanding that intellectually, but in my gut it’s harder. Just like I know it’s okay to walk into that room full of people, but my gut wants to turn around and run home again. I want to believe that these issues are learned behavior patterns I can shake, but sometimes it feels like part of my DNA.

I’ve talked before about how I have a tendency to filter things through my own experience and to forget to remind myself that the way I see things is merely a perspective. While I realized that the way I am is neither ideal nor normal, it didn’t follow that confidence is, like, normal. It’s normal to walk into a room and receive a welcome. It’s normal to speak and expect to be heard and acknowledged. And generally, when you do these things, people are actually not watching you at all. They’re not wondering why you’re there, or judging your appearance, or waiting for you to say something stupid.

The world is basically a hell of a lot more me-neutral than I made it out to be. In fact, if anyone was ever arrogant it this equation, it was probably me for worrying about being watched and judged in a world that was too busy to notice me.

The other thing I realized is that all those normal people are filtering the world through that perspective. And when they come across someone who so studiously avoids contact with them, what are they supposed to think?

There are some people, gifted with enough sensitivity, who will say, aw, she’s shy, I should try to include her. There are some people who are just so naturally gregarious that they can hardly help themselves. But there are a lot of people who are just going to assume that I don’t like them or that I’m a stuck up bitch, and it is hardly their fault that I didn’t give them anything else to go on.

Gene tells Joss, “The best way to seem normal is to be normal.”

The focal word thing helps remind me to be normal. To break out of my bad habits and think like normal people think. That I have as much right to be here as anyone. That it’s okay to participate because I have things of value to contribute. That I have value and it’s even okay to think that. (and OMFG why is thinking that so hard?)

I’m working on understanding Confidence as Okay To Be. And sometimes when I say it, it feels a little easier.

“Be normal,” I thought. “It’s just that easy.” ~Joss Marshall, Hush Money

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#ROW80 and Thoughts on Blogging

So life here is slowly returning to what passes for normal. Last week wasn’t terribly productive as I had a lot of catching up to do in a lot of areas and needed a lot of staring dumbly at the wall time. If you have little kids and a low tolerance for chaos, you know what I’m talking about. But things are better now and this week I found myself faced with the fact that I REALLY have to actually work.

This resulted in a lot of procrastination. But since I had decided to give myself a freakin’ break all around, I was able to allow it to be productive procrastination. I think that when I decide I have to work on JUST THIS AND NOTHING ELSE BEFORE THIS, I end up with more stress and less productivity overall.

I’ve recently been spending more time on my blog. I’m always going around in circles about what I want to do with it and getting it “right,” and like you really care. But I finally came around to some ideas of things I want to cover. I do want to talk about writing and self-publishing because most of you who visit on a regular basis are interested in those things, and often seem to appreciate those posts. Even though they aren’t things that readers are into, and even though they’re not the kind of thing that would draw a reader in or get her to subscribe to the blog, I have no doubt that sharing my experiences and opinions about what works has earned me a lot more support than I can measure. So I’m going to keep up with the posts about writing and self-publishing.

I’ve been trying to blog too frequently, I think, and I just write up a post when I think about it and hit Publish. Now I’m hoping to jump in and write up that post and hit Schedule. And keep those writerly posts for Mondays. Maybe that will keep it from being so feast or faminey around here.

I do absolutely agree with Kristen Lamb–and how can you not?–that readers don’t want to read about writer stuff, and the way to attract readers is to talk more about the kinds of things that readers like in your fiction. Well, it’s easy to get caught up in that expert knowledge trap we talked about the other day. I’ve probably mentioned before that I was caught in that for a long time with regard to the Talents. There’s that bit of wisdom, and it is wise, that says you need to read a lot in the genre you want to write in so that you understand the rules and reader expectation. So I thought that to write about superheroes, I needed to become an expert on comics. Even when I put that aside, I still felt under-qualified to blog¬† about superheroes on a regular basis.

Just like it was hard to blog about writing before had a book out there to point at and say hey, here’s how I put this into practice. Lately I’ve come to realize that my best posts aren’t the ones where I try to be an expert, they’re the ones where I really personalize what information I have to offer, wrapping it in my own perspective, and feeling less like it’s my turn to stand in front of the class for the oral report and more like we’re all sitting around getting caffeinated and I’m the one sharing for a few minutes before the really hot guy painting the storefront across the way takes off his shirt and I lose your attention.

So in the one day a week reader-oriented (hopefully) posts, I’m talking about what I love in fiction: superheroes, heroism, and/or romance. Those are the things I tend to pay attention to when I read or watch. This may lead to me feeling like I’m reviewing some stuff, which I don’t like to get into, but I’m more trying to think of it as discussing my perspective on a particular facet of the fiction in question, and if I have to include a paragraph or two to gush or whine about the overall fic in general, well, you guys are used to OT babble, so…

We’re in ROW80, and rounds of that are planned throughout the year. So I’m also looking at two more days on the blog for updates. On Sundays, I’ll be combining my update with list of recommended online reading for the week. I don’t have time to read a whole lot of blogs, but sometimes something really stands out and you just think others should read it or might enjoy it. I keep a file on my desktop to make note of those when I read them.

Wednesdays, in case you haven’t figured this out, are for me to be even more self-indulgent than usual. A free day to include in the ROW80 update whatever happens to be on my mind, or not include anything else at all. Today the bloggy stuff is on my mind, along with the fact that our bus driver just told us she’d be coming over 45 minutes earlier starting tomorrow which is going to add more time to my work day (good) and cause less sleep, more morning stress, and take some getting used to (bad). Anyway, a me me me babble day. Witness the babble.

So back to the update: This week’s productive procrastination has allowed me to try out the schedule I had tentatively set for myself, and I now have posts for my topic days scheduled through Feb 4. I’m still spending a lot of time on writing blog posts. I posted the schedule, tinkered in my sidebar a little, gave some thought to what people are looking for when they come to the site, if they can find it, what I’m trying to present and what they see, etc, and I’m pretty satisfied with what I have right now.

Goal #1 has been to spend specific amounts of time on the work. Recently I’ve been suck and fail at that, but I didn’t change my goals because it wasn’t about scoring, it was about continuing to strive for that. This week I’ve been excessive as far as time spent working on problems in the Talent Chronicles world and in Heroes ‘Til Curfew specifically.

Goal #2 has been 3 scenes in Heroes per week. I wrote the first of those three yesterday. I also finished listing everything that was supposed to happen from here forward so that I could identify all my holes and logic problems. A loose outline that allows room to move around is important. But it is amazing to me how it can seem like a solid story and then you get to that part and it’s like–well, that doesn’t really make sense. Why would he do that? Why wouldn’t she just…

Meta-humans are fascinating, but their abilities cause all sort of dilemmas.

So I’ve made copious notes and written all my WTF? questions in pink, and hopefully I’ll be able to draft some of my buds to help me kick ideas around this week because talking things through with someone else really helps me focus, and I often lack focus even though there are no shirtless painters in my neighborhood.

Today’s ROW80 Linky.

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Random Thoughts From My 20-yr High School Reunion

So here I am, back from that 20 year high school get-together thing. It wasn’t a formal reunion or anything, it was more like a small smattering of people from four different graduating classes, showing up at the same bar at the same time.

In a way, writing YA is like sentencing yourself to high school all over again. (Your crime is time and it’s 18 and life to go…) At least the way I work, I have to go back there. I have to be in that place. It’s not hard for me to embrace my inner teen. A big part of me never grew up and is stuck there. I guess I just didn’t realize how much.

Anyway, it made me think some more about what it’s like to be young. Remember how dumb that was, when just talking to a guy could start rumors, teasing, speculation, petty jealousies?

And then those same boys grow up to be men who kiss you on the cheek, just to say hello.

Isn’t that lovely?

And aren’t you glad to be a grown up.

The day after this thing, my husband and I went to visit a friend who wasn’t able to make it to the thing. And he’s sitting there asking us questions about it. Now, my husband has this excuse that he missed the last two years of high school with us because he moved away and didn’t move back until it was all over. But I…don’t have that. So we’re talking about who was at the thing, and I was like so-and-so, but I didn’t really talk to them, and so-and-so, but I never made it over to that side of the room. And the friend says, “Did you just sit in the corner all night?”

“Um, yeah, what are you, new?”

“Look who I’m talking to,” with eyeroll.

We had both spoken at once.

And, yeah, what I realized this weekend was that you can’t expect to spend your school career trying to avoid eye contact, and then the next couple decades trying to put the whole miserable experience behind you, and then expect to remember anyone or have them remember you.

So I guess what I really learned this weekend was that, while I thought I took elements of myself and really focused them into something more extreme that is Joss, well, probably myself that was was a bit more extreme than I like to remember.

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Rantus Interruptus Continuous: In which the Universe has a lesson for me

Arg, I am an idiot.

I do things I know I shouldn’t do, because I know I’m just going to frustrated and pissed off, and that’s just going to make my whiny and depressed. And I have no right to be whiny and depressed.

But then, as I was writing this post about how I wasn’t going to rant about this, the world shifted again. And people, when the Universe gives you a sign, you need to work through what it means. Which is what I’ll be doing, should you choose to continue reading this.

And now that we’ve had THE most confusing beginning to a blog post EVAR, I’m going to go back to the beginning.

Last night, in my email, a Twitter notification of a new follow by @JamiGold. So because Twitter can’t just give me everything I need in the email, I have to actually go to Twitter to read her bio and follow her back. And what’s her latest tweet?

I know, I know! I should never have clicked that. What was I thinking? I was thinking that I should not be clicking that. But I’m just going to peek.

And then it’s scroll scroll scroll through a lot of opinions that are making ZERO sense to me, and I am taking it WAAAAAY too personally. And it wasn’t a mean, nasty angry thing AT ALL. It was just…insensible.

I mean, what I kept reading, over and over, is that because the books aren’t vetted, self-published books aren’t a good risk for these readers. They acknowledge that there might be great indie reads out there, but trad-pubbed books, while not a sure thing, are a safer bet. Ok, yeah, that’s totally logical, if you’re looking at a new trad book vs. a new indie book, all things being equal and no buzz, no reviews, etc. But here we have people saying I wouldn’t buy a book by an indie unless I met them first.

So you can see how this would make me sad. I just don’t get out much.

And the problem is that when I read this stuff I take it whack-job personally. In my head, I’m whining at these people going, what the hell? Compare my sales rank, compare my cover, compare my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, check out the page of links to blog reviews I have on my website, READ a few pages to see if I’m literate. Judge my book on the things that matter in a book. And then decide if you want to sink the whole 99cents and a few more hours of your time into it.

Maybe it just comes down to this: no one likes to be dismissed. And I think that part of the way these comments touch me is because that feeling of dismissal, that what I can do (write an entertaining book) doesn’t matter because of what I am (an indie author), feels so much like the frustration of being a powerless child.

Here’s what I came to when I decided I wasn’t going to harp on this– and I’m sorry to cuss because that makes me sound angry, but I’m trying to have a personal power moment over here, so indulge me: This shit does not apply to me. Not in some way of I put the awesome IN the mutha-fuckin’ sauce! and this shit don’t apply to me, but more in the way of this is not my readership right now, and their opinions are not relevant in my world right now.

I’m not going to win these readers over by arguing with them. (Oh don’t worry, I didn’t get involved.) There are so, so many literate people in the world today, you guys. Do you know what’s been the most surprising thing to me since publishing? How many non-writing readers are out there embracing indies, supporting indies they love, and how many more just aren’t aware that we’re even out here, that there’s really a difference. If a book looks crappy, they avoid it. If it looks good, they try it. So many readers out there judging books on the book stuff. I think you’ll find, overwhelmingly, that the people who are most negative about indie books are other writers, for whatever their reasons, which are not my business.

Part 2

So yeah, all set to just let this all go and write you this quickie post about how I wasn’t going to rant about what I was going to rant about. And then the Universe stepped in.

Last night, after reading a lot of those disheartening comments I got whiny and tweeted (is there a word for a whiny tweet, like twined?)

A few friends showed up to say cheering things to me, and remind me that I had nothing to be depressed about and I did feel better. And while I was worrying about this crap that I can’t fix, I sold my 3,000th copy of Hush Money and totally missed it. I mean, how far up your ass does you head have to be before you notice you’re being an asshat?

Nevertheless, this morning, I found myself still ticked off enough to be composing a ranty post in my head. Then I got hold of myself, decided to post the Rantus Interruptus instead, and move on with my life. And then, as I was writing this post, @JamiGold shows up. And she says,

And I’m like…Really? Seriously, I was rendered kind of panicked and speechless. Which, if you’re an introvert or social phobic, you might understand. Or if you can imagine Joss’s reaction to, Well heck, Joss, everyone knows who you are. [cue garbled choking sounds]

And also a little…Really? Like, I’m doing this right, this marketing/platform stuff that I was so sure I fail at and would be the ultimate reason for my bookfail?

Oh yeah, dude, it’s totally all dramarama like this in my brain all the time. You do not want to live here.

Ok, so now my brain is totally melted. There are people on Twitter I want to attempt light banter with, but everything’s scrolling by while my mouth is doing floppy fish thing. And @JamiGold says,

(There was one in between where she said she hasn’t read mine yet due to the scary TBR pile from Hell with which we are all familiar.) Wow, Jami, condense all my effort into 140 characters of pure validation. :sucker punch:

No, this is not hyperbole. I’m very emotional. Quit rolling your eyes and embrace this special moment we’re having together, dammit.

Because this is why I decided to tell you the whole story of my stupidity in reading that comment thread. Because we don’t ignore the things the Universe tries to tell us. Especially when the Universe talks via Twitter, because then you really know it means business. Maybe. Whatever. Fine. Have we learned anything?

1. I must not read comment threads about prejudices against self-pubbed books/authors. Evar.

2. Those are not my people. You are my people. Later on, some of those people will hear about my books, be intrigued. They’re NOT the unreasonable people I thought I saw last night. That’s silly. They’re people who love books. They’ll look at my books, at the fabulous cover art, at the reviews, and they’ll judge us on the book stuff. Someday.

3. Until they do that, I’ve got a lot of other things I need to put my energy into. Like getting you guys Heroes ‘Til Curfew. And, to that end, I’m leaving you with a link while I go work on finishing the shit that I started.

The above link is mandatory for all writers, although adult language and beverage warnings do apply.

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Filed under book blogs, books, goals, insecurities, Laws of the Universe, me me me, rant, self-publishing, Signs, what not to do, writing

Heroes ‘Til Curfew: Cover Art and Latest Info on the Sequel to Hush Money

Ok, that was the longest title ever.

I’m sure that there are some of you out there who fondly remember a time when I had planned this book to be a fall release, with yet another book out before the end of the year. Let’s all get that laugh over with. Life just happened all over me this fall, and I’m still trying to recover.

Work on Heroes is back on in earnest now, in a way that makes me feel like I’ve got a bit of my mojo back. At least enough to go to Robin and say: these are some things I know happen, these are some themes in story, etc. (Incidentally, I think the fact that I discuss themes with Robin, as well as characters, events, and set-pieces, might be why she’s able to come up with things that work so well. Or it could be just because she’s awesomesauce.)

So I have a cover. Here it is:

Heroes 'Til Curfew Cover Art

Cover Art by Robin Ludwig

I’ll give you a moment.

Do you love it?

Ok, so when can we expect the rest of it? Right now I’m saying January 2011. I hope you’ll all run right out and start up some best of 2011 lists as soon as you read it. ETA Release info: Since this post gets a bunch of hits from people searching for release info, I wanted to say that Heroes ‘Til Curfew still isn’t finished (*cringe* sorry!), and I don’t have a release date right now. I’ve added a line at the top of the sidebar with it’s status for your quick reference, and recommend signing up for the newsletter. I so much want to thank everyone for your patience and support.

I know that’s a while yet, although, trust me, it doesn’t seem like so very long from my perspective. I do, however, have a beginning. Imogen Rose was kind enough to include the first scene of Heroes ‘Til Curfew at the end of her latest release, Quantum. That “sneak peek” excerpt is just under two thousand words.

One thing I’ll tell you about the new story: it does not pick up right after Hush Money. A little bit of time passes between the two stories. For those of you who may now be going–

But wait! What happened when Joss got home? What did her dad say?

Hey, no one wanted to know that more than I did. I’m currently working on a short story which will serve as a sort of epilogue to Hush Money. Right now, what I have is being told from Dylan’s perspective. And all I can say is, “Poor Dylan.” Heroes ‘Til Curfew is my number one priority, but I hope to get back to the epilogue while Heroes makes the rounds with the beta and proof readers. I think it would be lovely if I could have that out for you around Christmastime.

As of right now, I intend for that story to be a freebie, a gift to readers who enjoyed Hush Money enough to sign up for a newsletter that will alert them to new releases and events in the Talent Chronicles series. Anyone who signs up for the newsletter now will receive information on how to download the new story as soon as it becomes available. (And anyone who doesn’t want to receive emails about new releases will be free to unsubscribe at any time.)

Did you know that Hush Money has now sold over 2500 copies, here in its fourth month of release? This blows my mind. That’s thanks to a lot of people who have written reviews, tweeted, and even hand-sold copies of the book to their friends, for which I am so grateful. And that’s a lot of people who will need to know about that sequel! If you’d like to offer help or ideas, please feel free.

Meanwhile, I gotta go write the damn thing.

ETA for PS: If any of you wants to borrow this cover image for the purpose of generating interest in the series and otherwise having something to blog about, please feel free.

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Filed under books, goals, Heroes 'Til Curfew, Hush Money, love, me me me, progress update, romance, self-publishing, Talent Chronicles, writing

The Facebook 15 Authors Meme

I’ve been tagged twice for this on Facebook. Maybe after I finish up here I’ll figure out how to do it there.

You’re supposed to write a list of 15 authors who have influenced you and will always stick with you. Part of the directions: “Don’t take too long to think about it…”List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.”

Oh no, honey. Thinking is what I do!

1. Ayn Rand- There are so many reasons her work will always stick with me. Reading her fiction, and The Romantic Manifesto…well, she changed my life in some ways. The way I think, my ability to cope with some of the crazy I see around me–I don’t want to get too into that stuff. As a writer, she helped me understand the concept of Hero in a way that reading a few hundred romance novels hadn’t quite done yet. And she helped me see the usefulness in the character arcs of secondary players. Perhaps most of all, she taught me that a great novel is more than just a story. A great novel is about something, and the concept of theme is not something that should be left behind in High School English class.

2. Johanna Lindsay- I read the few dozen of her historical romances that were available when I was a teen. At that time, Harlequin was very tame and pretty much PG. Lindsay’s books were my first exposure to the rated R world of adult romance. While I think those books probably did more for my interest in costuming, sewing, and medieval housekeeping than the writing stuff–because historical = research = OMG no–I definitely got stuff from all the Lindsays. The way she could pull out and develop secondary characters to star in later books, the humorous interactions between characters who are close to each other, ideas about what makes for likable characters and what can redeem a character or what appears to be a bad or doomed relationship, an understanding that there’s a structure beneath romances and fiction in general.

3. Nora Roberts- I came to Nora kind of late in my reading. I’m not really sure why. Some things I learned from Nora: Characters don’t always have to be orphans to be likable; sometimes family or close friends really add dimension to the story and even make some of the writing a lot easier. Which leads to the next point, the hero and heroine don’t have to exist alone together, in a vacuum, for the entire story. It’s ok to try new things: straight contemporary, suspense, girlfriend stories, family sagas, paranormal, science fiction–and still have it be romance at the heart of it. I also learned a lot about series metaplot from reading her trilogies.

4. Shannon McKenna- She’s not a big name, but man, can she write some heroes. These are probably classified as erotic romantic suspense. They’re definitely romantic suspense, but there’s a lot of sex and it’s pretty hot. McKenna’s heroes are amazing in the same way as Suzanne Brockmann’s Navy Seals–only I think they’re even better. They’re these over-the-top Alpha males on the outside, with this creamy center of insecurity and desperation when it comes to the heroines. I think I’ve understood attraction to a flawed hero from my teens and the bodice-ripper novels, but McKenna showed me how to appreciate weaknesses.

5. Linda Howard- She’s great at coming up with story concepts. In a romance, you know the characters are going to be together at the end of the story. Howard makes me want to know how. She’s also great at choosing elements that eventually come together as scenes that move me. And that’s what I want from fiction: I want to be moved.

6. JR Ward- Who doesn’t love the Black Dagger Brotherhood? Her heroes have that same ultra-Alpha on the surface, but kind of messed up and in need of TLC quality that you now know I’m into. Another thing I get from Ward: be brave. She’d gotten plenty of criticism about her use of language, her names, her creative spelling, deus ex machina endings, but hey, I’ll bet the piles of money soften the blows. This is her world, she’s running it. People claim to be annoyed with this or that, but she stays true to her world and ultimately they keep reading because she’s just that good. She makes me want to be that good.

7. Kate Forsyth- Here’s an author who just made me want to create a fantastic world, and to people it with a cast of heroic characters in an epic struggle. Fantasy isn’t always easy for me to read, but this world was just so incredibly rich, the storylines so amazing, the characters so wonderful…And as to that, the villains were so well developed. Can’t say enough about these books–certainly I shouldn’t say “so” again.

8. L. Neil Smith- The Probability Broach is an amazing book. While as a writer, this was one of the books made me want to write libertarian fiction (but for girls), I think it’s always going to stick with me as the first time I was able to read about anarchy without simply dismissing it.

9. Laurell K. Hamilton-Her early work made me want to write a kick-ass heroine, and the change in her work made me really appreciate how much I loved the early voice that she lost. Part of the delight for me in the first few Anita Blake books, was the freshness of Anita’s voice, the unexpected Dr. Seuss references, that kind of thing. She was part of waking me up to the power of voice.

10. Janet Evanovitch- Stephanie Plum: not the most kick-ass girl I’ve ever met, and she showed me the power of creating a character who had some room to grow, someone readers could identify with and really root for. Evanovitch is another one for amazing voice. So much about One for the Money makes me smile just because it reminds me of home, of people I feel I’m familiar with. She made me want to sound, not like a writer, not like an amalgamation of all the books I’ve ever read, but as the me I am in my head and with my friends.

11. Anne McCaffrey- I don’t think you can spend any time in Pern without being touched by it.Not only did I fall hard for Lessa, kick-ass, underdog heroine, not only was I drawn in hard by the relationship between Lessa and F’Lar, but the storyline and the world-building were incredible. After the first books, going backward in time to see how it started, and then filling in the gaps in the history of the world–it just blew my mind.

12. Diana Gabaldon- Look, Outlander was the only one I could read, but it’s not going anywhere. Jamie, his capacity for bravery and sacrifice, but also the innocent sweetness of him, is always going to stick with me.

13. Harlequin- The retired Harlequin Gothic and later Harlequin Intrigue lines pumped out romantic adventures every month that even a babysitter could afford, and then dream on. These books replaced the YA I had been reading partly because they could ALWAYS be counted on to be about the romance. I guess this was when I really started to understand about commercial genres, and really started to get serious about penning my own romances. There was a lot to be learned from these, and a lot of it was about what not to do, but that’s no less important. I learned what I like in a story and in characters, what works for me as a reader and what doesn’t, and I found some authors and stories for my keeper shelf.

14. Debra Webb- is one author I found through Harlequin Intrigue. I loved her Colby series, about a private detective agency. In addition to being good stories, very well written, I learned a lot and started to get ideas about how I might one day structure books in a series. I learned about spinoffs, plots that carry over several books, using an epilogue for good (instead of to annoy me).

15. I know we all love books, but, to me, fiction is fiction. Often I think we should do a better job of learning the names of the writers behind the television and movies that really stick with and influence us. Obviously, Joss Whedon’s work is huge for me, but there’s no way he can do all that alone, and I feel like I should know more names in this category. A few random shows that have caught at my imagination: Buffy, La Femme Nikita, V, Battlestar Galactica (1978), Battle of the Planets (G-Force), Superfriends, Batman, Thundar the Barbarian, X-Men, Wonder Woman, He-Man, Dungeons and Dragons (animated, 1983), Days of Our Lives, Santa Barbara, Voltron, Veronica Mars, 90210, Firefly…

So…take on the meme if you want, but I’d love it you’d share your thoughts on any of the above, or if you’d like to share one or two of your own favorites, and what they’ve meant to you.

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Filed under books, characters, ideas, love, me me me, romance, story structure, writing

Status Update, Coming Attractions, Secret Identities

Let’s just get this out of the way. I don’t think Stacey Wallace Benefiel (authoress of Glimpse, Glimmer, Day of Sacrifice) ever initiates a conversation two times in a row using the same messenger. One day it’s email, then Goodreads PM, then Facebook message, then a DM on Twitter… Is Stacey a secret agent, trying to cover her tracks? Are there coded messages I’m too blonde to see? While posing as a home-renovating mother-of-two, is she really about to drop from a helicopter onto a moving train and wondering why I haven’t rushed her plea for extraction to the agent they have planted at the local Waffle House?

These are things I ponder.

Hush Money hit a new milestone yesterday: 2000 sales. The end of October/beginning of November was freaking awesome on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

This will probably not be the last time that I mention that there’s nothing like a shiny new paperback under the tree, should you wish to consider Joss and her friends to fulfill your gift-giving needs this holiday season.

Can you believe she’s starting up with that crap already, and it’s not even freakin’ Thanksgiving yet? Damn. I know!

Ok, what else. Oooh! Right. So Quantum! Who’s a fan of the Portal Chronicles, raise your hand? (If your hand is not raised, it’s because you haven’t read yet, so go, buy Portal, start getting caught up now, ’cause…) The third book, Quantum, releases on Tuesday, November 16th. The main character, Arizona, is due to drop by here and drop off some kind of message for you on Tuesday. So make sure you’ve done the homework.

Also of possible interest, she said innocently, the cover of Heroes ‘Til Curfew, the follow-up to Hush Money, will be revealed on Wednesday, Nov. 17th. It was not at all what I expected, and really took my breath away when I saw the initial concept. Robin is awesomesauce, and I hope you’ll all like it as much as I do.

Yes, the new book is coming along better, thank you for asking. Yesterday I finally pushed through a scene that was giving me all kinds of problems. When I was finished, I just wanted to sit and write more. Dammit. Self-washing dishes, where are you?? As I was driving to Girl Scouts, I was totally seeing the inside of the record store instead of the road, Joss was yelling, stuff was flying–it was all pretty distracting. Now imagine me, having this realization: Wow, I could totally have a really bad wreck right now! and grinning from ear to ear because I’m finally getting somewhere.

Watch out you Nano peeps. Don’t count me out yet!

Did you guys know I have another identity? No, I don’t use a pen name. In the dark and dangerous manuscript critiquing underworld, I am known, by those who can find me, as Pink Hammer. My supercharged weapon of choice? The Pink Hammer of Doom, of course. Now this is all totally wrecked by Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, because now even I am asking myself if the hammer is really my penis, and it pretty much makes me the laughingstock of the underworld. Thank you very much. Nevertheless, I persevere, and will be taking out these frustrations on Devil’s Eye by Kait Nolan. So if Kait seems a little jumpy this week, if you see her stocking up on adult diapers because she’s pissing herself in fear, be kind.

Haha, no, really. It’s not like that.

Is it?

Ok, I think I’ve babbled at you guys long enough for one morning. Anyone have news? I haven’t been getting out much; feel free to tell me what’s up.

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Filed under books, characters, Guests, Heroes 'Til Curfew, Hush Money, Kettle chat, me me me, NaNoWriMo, progress update, PubIt, romance, self-publishing, Talent Chronicles, writing