Friday, June 29, 2007

TGIF - I guess

It doesn't really matter what day of the week it is. Nothing else happens until the room makeover is finished. On Trading Spaces, they do this in a weekend. They have a lot of help. So here's the progress: The carpet is coming up tomorrow. Roberto the Tile Guy will be here Monday morning. All painting must be finished when he gets here. This will be a busy weekend.

No, I haven't put any words on paper this week. That doesn't mean I'm not writing. I'm still creating things in my mind as I work. And may I just say right now, every muscle in my body hurts. Every one of them.

Here's this week's Google search terms that led people to this blog:

"smoked a pipe" - I can't begin to guess what someone hoped to find with that phrase. Something about Santa Claus, maybe???

"Carnell the bird" - I don't know. I can't find anything about a bird named Carnell. Maybe it's a kid's book? Who knows?

"Stephen Stills, Plant High" - See! I told you he went to high school here! This was probably some kid who goes to Plant whose mom told him or her that Mr. Stills went to the same school, and the kid doesn't believe it, so Google was invoked.

"smelliest bird" - Again? I still don't get this one.

That's the wrap up for this week. Next week - photos of the new room!!

What I'm reading - Cross My Heart by Carly Phillips

What I"m listening to - the radio

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Quick Question...

How do you get paint out of your hair?

That's it for today. For obvious reasons.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Paint it, paint it, paint it, paint it Black

Black as night...

No, despite my deep and abiding love for the Rolling Stones, I am not painting the walls of my office black. I'm going instead with Snow White's Song. For no reason that I can understand, that's the name of the deep rose color I've chosen for my office walls. You would expect anything invoking Miss Snow's name to be....well....white, yes?

And let's think about her song. There are quite a few great tunes in the film that have become classics. But if we're talking about Snow White's Song, that can only be "Some Day My Prince Will Come."

I hope when he gets here, he's carrying a paint brush.

Short post today. I'm off to Home Depot.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

My Tribute to Roger

When I was in my early twenties, I worked for my dad’s food distribution company. One of our truck drivers was Roger. He was extremely shy with a sweet face and quiet voice. And a fabulous sense of humor.

Roger was the first person I knew who owned his own computer. And he talked with people via the “bulletin board” long before the Internet became a household word. In those days, your connection was dependent on your telephone service. Roger had exorbitant phone bills because he met a woman on the bulletin board who lived in San Francisco. This was the first I’d heard of computer dating. The first just about anyone had heard of it.

In the seventies, my dad wanted to computerize our operation for speed and efficiency. Problem was, the industry was too new. The software we needed didn’t exist. So he and Roger spent some long hours discussing the situation. Dad designed what we needed, and Roger wrote the programs. When we shut down the company in 2005, we were still running Roger’s programs for many of the systems. And Roger was second only to my sister’s husband in longevity with the company. Over twenty-five years.

In the eighties, when I was writing romance novels the first time around, I was talking to Roger about it one day. He said, “Why don’t you write one about a computer guy?” I had never sat down at a computer at that point in my life, but it seemed logical enough. We talked about it for a while, and the story that became my first published work was born.

The hero of Bittersweet Betrayal, Zachary Spencer, was a bit of a Steve Jobs kind of guy. He’d built the first popular home computer and become wealthy as owner of his company. The book is set in Boston. Roger was from Boston. Zachary had green eyes. Roger had green eyes. Zachary smoked a pipe. Roger smoked a pipe. Roger chose Zachary’s birthday - Flag Day - and Zachary’s car - a Jaguar.

Much later when I became president of my family’s business, Roger was one of my favorites there. He was one of the few people left who remembered my dad. He was always good for a funny story when things were overwhelming me. He could be so exasperating! I’d describe to him in detail what I needed a particular computer program to do. He’d shake his head and say, “That’s not possible.” Thirty or so minutes later, he’d put a print out on my desk and say, “Is this what you meant?”

There are so many things I could write about that it would take pages and pages. Like the time he taped a fish to the bottom of Ron’s desk. The night he bowled a perfect game. The day a bee flew into his truck and he almost had an accident. The near miss when his truck caught fire and he barely got out in time. The way he would sneak to the snack machine and get a Twinkie, hoping no one would see him. The story about his mother having tea with Mrs. Calvin Coolidge.

The world lost a kind and gentle soul on Monday when Roger Edwards passed from this life. I hope he’s in a place where there is no pain, where music of the ‘40s plays all the time, and where everyone appreciates a good practical joke.

I've searched my files, and the only photo I can find of him is from Halloween. He was dressed as the Bride of Frankenstein. He's lovely in a pale peach gown. I can't bring myself to post that one today, although I'm quite sure he would think it hysterically funny. I'll save that for another time.

Rest in peace, my Roger.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Where Is Eldon When You Need Him?

Remember the guy on Murphy Brown who was painting and remodeling her home? I need that guy. Or someone like him, since I don't think Eldon ever actually finished the job. I don't know. I quit watching the show after they jumped the shark with Murphy's motherhood.

Anyway, I'm painting. When I was married, my contribution to the painting of the house was to take the kids and get out of the way. Post-divorce, my involvement has been picking the color and writing the check. Until now...

The Boy's "suite" which I'm turning into my office consists of a bedroom, a small foyer and a tiny bath. I decided to paint the bath first because it's smaller and the light isn't that good. If I mess it up really badly, no one will be able to see.

But first, I had to patch the drywall. The Boy is big. Over six feet. And, well, he's a Boy. And his friends were boys. Roughhousing ensued. There are holes in the walls. Some are the exact same size as a Nintendo controller. Some have a right angle at the exact height of an amp. Or an amp on wheels.

I didn't have a clue how to do this, but behold the wonders of the Internet. There are quite a few sites who not only told me how to patch it, they also showed me in a cute little video. Eureka! I can do this. Armed with a tub of Patch N Paint, a putty knife and a Jimmy Buffett CD on the player, I proceeded. It is amazingly like frosting a cake. I think I did a pretty good job. In fact, I'm quite proud of myself.

So on to the painting. I chose a sunshine yellow for the bathroom. I picked that color for its cheerfulness and also because the tile in that room has some goldish flecks in it. I was quite surprised how easy it was to roll the paint on the big blank walls.

Working my way around the fixtures was quite another story. I have learned the value of painter's tape. But there was nothing I could do short of standing on my head to work around the toilet. But I got it done.

Next I'm going to start on the trim. But I just got back from the manicurist. I may wait a while.

Have a great day!

Friday, June 22, 2007

No Excuses!

Having frittered away much of the morning already, I thought this would be an opportune time to write about Discipline. That old adage about the teacher being the student, you know. So here we go.

When you work in the comfort of your own home, sometimes in the comfort of your bathrobe, it is really easy to slack off and produce NOTHING on any given day. That's why writers are constantly faced with the dreaded D word - Discipline. There are plenty of different ways to deal with this. Probably as many as there are writers.

Some subscribe to the "Pages" approach. You must produce five pages a day. Or ten. Or whatever number best fits your writing style and your time schedule. I once heard a published author speaking about a friend of hers who had been writing the same book for many years. The friend called and told the writer she'd written an entire paragraph that day. A paragraph! That's not anything to get excited about. To which the woman replied, "But it's a really good paragraph!"

I'm trying to imagine a universe in which one good paragraph trumps ten average pages of output. No, I think not.

Hemingway used the "Words" measure. He had to write 700 words before he could go down to the bar on Duval Street. I've adopted that goal and call it "doing my Hemingway" when I make the 700 mark. But I challenge myself to keep going. I really want to write over a thousand a day, but after 700, I'm on the downhill slope. I don't, however, get to go drinking at Sloppy Joe's afterward.

That's probably a good thing.

But whatever method you choose, the important thing is that you choose something and stick to it. A long time ago, I heard Nora Roberts speaking at an RWA conference on this very subject. (No, I didn't invoke her name to encourage google hits, but if it happens...) She said it aggravated her when people told her, "I'm going to write a book some day when I have time." As if time were the only thing it takes to write a book.

Nora's advice for teaching yourself discipline was borrowed from that well known athletic ad campaign.


Sorry, that's the truth. There is no magic answer. The only way to get any writing done is to plant your butt in the chair, place your hands on the keyboard, AND JUST DO IT.

So now I'm off to Do it. Just.

What I'm reading - Play It Again by Stephen Humphrey Bogart

What I'm listening to - Elliott Yamin

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

And now some things useful

Because I can't tell you to use the Internet instead of the library without pointing you toward some useful sites, here's a brief collection of some of the places I frequent from time to time.
I'm using it for the Lotus story. If you aren't sure what a sailing term means and want to get it right, this is the place.
My favorite online thesaurus. They do a really good job. You can download it and have it pop up mid-sentence when you really need it. Take a look. It's free.
Gaelic terms and expressions. There's a section on curses and a warning about using them with care.
Ah, the urban dictionary. For those grittier, in your face stories. It's fun just to look around.
A free jukebox if you want to listen to music from a particular year.
My favorite site for researching character names. There is also a multitude of baby name sites, but I like this one best.
A fun place for people who love words.

And finally, for when I hear thunder outside,
Remember the good old days when we just looked out the window?

Have a great day!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Just the Facts, Ma'am

Am I the only person who can only vaguely remember life before Google? How did people write books before this amazing tool? I'm surprised the writing community hasn't increased its output tenfold. And maybe they have. I don't read industry stats. However, if I wanted to, I'm sure Google could take me there in 1.3297 seconds.

When I first started writing, children, approximately twenty years ago, we used to go to these large quiet buildings called libraries. Inside a library one would find rows and rows of very tall shelves literally bursting at the seams with books. Kind of like the Amazon warehouse probably looks, only with just one copy of each title.

Finding the book you needed was a huge challenge. First stop would be the card catalogue. Which is nothing at all like the one that comes regularly from Land's End or LL Bean. No, this "catalogue" was a large wooden cabinet with teeny tiny drawers. Inside the elfin drawers were cards onto which some elderly lady had painstakingly typed information about each book in the building.

Included in that info was a mysterious number, an assignment from the Dewey Decimal System, that was supposed to enable you to locate the book. I don't know who Dewey is. I suspect he's not the nephew of Donald Duck.

So armed with this magical number, you then proceeded to the high shelves on which the books were allegedly arranged in numerical order. According to Mr. Dewey. Probably a sound idea in theory, but in practice...well, as soon as a library outgrew its inventory, you could kiss that number system goodbye.

The backup plan was to ask the librarian to point you toward the section you needed. They were always quite willing to put down the afghans they were knitting and do so. Finally, after all this, you came to the exact shelf where your book should be sitting, only to discover someone had checked it out approximately three minutes before you realized you needed it.

Barnes & Noble had a much better idea. They hang large signs from the ceiling proclaiming, "Business" or "Travel." Makes it much easier. You just look up toward the sky until you see a category that sounds like it might fit.

Please forgive me if I poke too much fun at the expense of libraries. I truly do love them. They are important to a thinking society and a comfort to people who love words. I am, however, infinitely glad they've changed. And being a person who likes to write in my research books, I have pretty much forsaken them (because they frown on that in the library system) for purchasing my own. If I don't find what I need with my good friend Google.

But I do take them large boxes full of paperbacks from time to time because the sales in their little store benefit the library system. Which makes the second-hand book thing more palatable to a writer depending on book sales for an income. If I can't have the royalty, let's give it to some worthy public venue instead.

Visit your local library. They probably miss you.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

What a Long Strange Trip...

If you live long enough, everything comes full circle. It's been about two months since The Boy and his girlfriend moved out of my house and into their own place. This was a much-anticipated event for many reasons, even though it had its own degree of angst with it.

For one thing, they are in their early twenties. That's plenty old enough to be out on your own. They are smart, responsible young adults, not afraid of hard work, but also not afraid of hard leisure. It's up to them to learn that balance, however. And it's much better for all of us if they don't live with me.

I will admit to shedding some tears. This Boy has always lived with me. It's unsettling to wake up in the morning and not know that he got home all right last night (or early this morning). But I'm glad they were able to make this huge step.

And I really want to make the room into an office.

So, yesterday they came over to get the rest of their stuff (because I put a comment on his MySpace page threatening to sell it). I borrowed my sister's SUV (because...well...look at my car, would ya) to help get stuff to the place. And I was treated to the grand tour.

Here's where the flashback comes in. It's a charming garage apartment. Hard wood floors, interesting windows, a balcony that makes you feel like you're in a tree house. In other words, it looks like every crash pad my friends and I had in the Sixties. Complete with the homemade window treatments made from India cotton. And the designs painted on the wall. And the Vonnegut on the book case. Yes, that's my Boy, all right. Too much like his mother for his own good.

Oh, he wouldn't believe that. But it's true.

I admire these young people. And I envy them. Every opportunity imaginable lies before them right now. I hope they choose wisely.

Have a great day!


Monday, June 18, 2007

I'm Driving in My Car...

Quick show of hands - How many thought of Bruce Springsteen when you read that title? How many thought of Elmer Fudd? Although, technically, for Mr. Fudd, it should have been "I'm Dwiving in my car," yes? Anyway, all sorts of things wander into my mind when I'm driving. I suspect this is a fairly common occurrence among writers.

I spent a mostly quiet weekend working on "A Lotus-Covered Door." The editor who has that project really liked it but asked me to make a few changes near the beginning. I had been letting that request simmer while I did a few other things, but Saturday and Sunday were fairly productive. It was fun to get back to Singapore in my head and rummage around in the relationship between Robb and Lila.

While I mostly liked what I had written, there was just some little indescribable thing missing. Some little spark that didn't quite ignite. I wasn't sure what it was, but I knew the revision wasn't quite finished.

So here I go speeding down Dale Mabry Highway on the way to the airport to pick up my Prince, Crosby Stills and Nash (Stephen Stills went to high school here - Love the one you're with!!!) blasting from the CD player. "I have been around the world, searching for that woman, girl." You know the rest. It's been the anthem for this short story. When - SHAZBOT! - the little thing I needed exploded before me like fireworks on the Fourth of July - only in my mind, not really in the sky. Or even in the street.

As soon as I parked the car and ran inside, I sat down and scribbled this stuff into the little notebook I've learned to carry around with me. Untold gems of great writing have been forever lost for want of a notebook, a grocery receipt, a used tissue on which to write the ideas before they're lost. Trust me, carrying a notebook is much easier.

So now in the light of day, armed with a fresh pot of coffee, and CSN&Y on the CD player, we'll see whether this snippet actually solves my problem. Or creates another.

Additionally, I'd like to go on record as saying I believe I saw David Crosby on the beach near Indian Rocks every morning for a week when I was staying there with my son and my mom several years ago. This man who looked like him walked by every day. He always smiled or nodded. I tried not to stare. I do know that he has lived in this area. I think it was really him.

Have a great day!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

End of the Week Roundup

It's time once again for that fun-filled feature I like to call - What Were They Thinking?! It's the game I play from time to time where we examine the various things people typed into the google search bar that returned unto them this blog.

First up, we have "meaning of Carnell." That's not so surprising. Googling Carnell or Delia Carnell provides very little offerings that are not me. There's Carnell Williams the running back for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers - GO BUCS! - but he's more well known as Cadillac. Although these days, it's more like Kia, isn't it, Bucs fans?

Next is "smelliest bird." Now do you suppose that person means the bird with the most horrific odor, or the bird with the most advanced olfactory system? Either way, why would you care? Does it matter that this hit came from Australia? And how did I get involved in this one? Yes, Bird is in the title here, but smelliest? Come on!

"romance author marin thomas" No mystery there. Last week I was reading her book, Nelson in Command, and mentioned it here. Fun read, by the way. Very sexy hero. But this leads me to wonder...if I should from time to time mention some popular authors - Nora Roberts, for example, or Stephen King - would I get a lot more hits? If I put in one of my favorite (Lawrence Block) authors, might he find me when he's googling himself? What? I'm the only one who googles myself? I don't believe that!

And here's my favorite from this collection - "pineapple blonde" Now, I right away thought of the line in Grease, "you look like a beautiful blonde pineapple." But does the phrase have any other meaning? Not that I can tell.

Thanks for going through yet another week with me. I'm off to do the errands.

What I'm listening to - The Pretenders, Greatest Hits

What I'm reading - Spellstruck by Jaclyn Reding

Have a great day!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Cover Me! I'm Going In!!!

I have only one child, The Boy, and I truly adore him. But let's face it. Men are pigs. We all know this. They know it. And they don't care. In fact many of them are proud of their slovenly ways and will even on occasion expend more energy to be messy than it takes to be clean. I think it hearkens back to our caveman existence and the ritualistic "marking the territory."

So having procrastinated a good six weeks, I have run out of excuses. I am going into the bedroom he recently vacated to clean it out so that it can - after fumigation - become my office. This is a frightening task. I tried to rent a federal decontamination suit - you know, like the bad guys wore when they carted off ET - but couldn't seem to find that listing in the yellow pages.

That The Boy would be musical was a given. His father is a fine guitarist. I am a classically trained pianist. No one was surprised when he picked up a guitar and found the melody to "Stairway to Heaven" by the age of ten. What did surprise me, however, was his love of the written word. Oh, not to read it. The Boy has never been much for the escape of reading. No, he likes to write.

Well, again, let's look at the parents. At the age of seventeen, his father wrote one of the most achingly poignant poems I have ever read about the tragic death of his best friend. And I have been known to put a few words together myself. So we should have expected it.

What he didn't get, unfortunately, is my Virgoesque attention to detail. My OCD genes, if you will. No, this Boy has left a mine field of possibly brilliant writing scattered about the detritus of water bottles, broken guitar strings, wadded up boxer shorts (I don't want to know!), and fast food containers.

It would be so easy to go in with a garden rake and corral all of the debris into a garbage bag with one fell swoop. But being a writer myself, I can't do that. So with the love that only a mother possesses, I'll be picking up each little scrap of paper and placing it neatly in a box until I can at least see the carpet again.

More than he deserves, for sure. But not to worry. I'm going to sell his Joe Montana autographed football and his original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figures on Ebay. He'll never know it.

(Oh, right. Like he reads my blog!)

Have a great day!

PS - If there's no entry tomorrow, call 911 and send them to my house.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

High School Musical - The Plot!

I'll confess right up front that I'm a huge fan (okay, addict) of all things Disney. It goes all the way back to when I was a tiny tot sitting on the floor in front of the television watching The Mickey Mouse Club. (The real one. Not the one with Britney!)

So if I have a television on in the evenings, and there's absolutely nothing on any station featuring Mark Harmon, then I'm watching Disney Channel. This is because once a long time ago I fell asleep watching an old rerun of M*A*S*H only to be startled awake by screaming people. At some point, the Jerry Springer show had come on. I'm safe with Disney Channel. No one will be raped or murdered. No one will cheat on his or her spouse. No one abuses the children. It's pleasant, cute, upbeat. All the time.

So in this vast sea of disneyfied popstars/regular girls, Cosby show alums with "visions," boys from the future, twins in the hotel, there is always something going on to do with High School Musical. It's an entertaining vehicle for several Disney Channel stars vaguely reminiscent of Grease, but with no Rizzo. The music is fun, the dance moves are energetic, and it packs a valuable lesson for the target audience: To thine own self be true. (I watched Hamlet last weekend.) Or in the vernacular of my generation, do your own thing.

I doubt that even the Disney execs - usually with their fingers on the pulses of the tween world - expected this much frenzy. They've turned it into a roving attraction at WDW, the cast toured the country live, it's even an ice show now! And DC has already started hyping HSM2, due out in August.

So last night, I made my Prince watch it with me. I've seen it roughly twenty times (not all of them on purpose); he'd only seen the show at the park. The interesting thing is how they took this plot, and replicated it again and again. First Corbin Blue starred in Jump In, a movie in which a young boxer helps out a girl from the 'hood in her Double Dutch competition to the dismay of his father. Gee, that sounds a lot like what happens in HSM when Troy, the basketball star, auditions for the school play, upsetting his father. This week they're debuting Ice Princess. The clip in the previews I find notable is when the young girl is arguing with her mother about continuing her ice skating competition, and the young girl says, "No, it's your dream."

Here we go again.

If you've got a winner, go with it. The folks at Disney aren't Dopey. Well, one of them is, but you know what I mean.

So we've got one more summer event on the countdown now. Besides the next Harry Potter movie and the final Harry Potter book, we've got HSM2 on the way. What a great time to be a kid! Even for those of us who are not!

Have a great day!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Vacation, Sort of

Now that I have the Heiress in the mail, it's time to tackle that list of things I kept putting off until I had the Heiress in the mail. No getting out of it this time. I really have to do at least some of the things on that list. Here are some of my choices:

Clean the spare bedroom. This goes along with paint the spare bedroom, tile the spare bedroom, get computer access in the spare bedroom. The spare bedroom is going to be my new office. There are some who say I should expect my son to come back home at some point. I figure if his bedroom is an office, he won't have a place to come. Maybe he'll find some other place to stow his seven guitars. It's not that I don't love him. I adore this kid, my only child. I just think our relationship is better off if he sleeps under a different roof.

Get Health Insurance. Yeah, this is a big one. There are a few organizations for writers that offer insurance programs, but they cost about a zillion dollars a month and only cover scurvy or beri beri. I'm coming to the end of an eighteen-month COBRA situation from my brief stint at an upscale department store. (Don't ask. I thought it would be fun. I was wrong.) The fact that I had a kidney stone in 1997 is a hindrance in the insurance-shopping game. So this could take a couple of days.

Empty the Storage Unit. Another big one. But it's not free, so why do my sister and I keep procrastinating on getting rid of this stuff? We're meeting a professional document shredder at the unit tomorrow. Details to follow.

Learn How to Sell Stuff on Ebay. Goes right along with emptying the storage unit, as you might guess. But hey - somebody is going to want this stuff, right? Besides, we want to try our hand at selling some of our football tickets. That is, if anybody at all wants to go to a Bucs game this year. Can't be as bad as last year, can it?

So now I'm off to the grocery store. I know. It's not on the list. But it is something I need to do. Have a great day!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

To Infinity and Beyond!

Okay, maybe not to Infinity, but the Heiress synopsis is definitely going in the mail today. I can't do anything else to this synopsis to make it one tiny bit better. In fact, I would probably only make it worse if I tinkered with it now, so Off It Goes!

In all the time I've been writing, I've always said that if you're not waiting to hear from an editor, then life is barely worth living. You have no reason to rush out to the mailbox when you hear the truck go by. The telephone can ring unanswered. That little ding-dong that says you've got mail is probably an ad for a drug you don't need. What's the point?

Ah, but when you have a project with an editor - that's magic. There are more possibilities than you can imagine. It's kind of like daydreaming about what you'd do with your lottery winnings. You can waste a great deal of time thinking of all the different ways to spend money. But if you didn't buy a ticket, that game is no fun at all. Same with having a project in submission at some publishing house. Things can happen when an editor holds your work in his or her hands.

I try to keep something "out there" at all times. Right now, there is nothing. I was waiting to hear about the Lotus-Covered Door short story, and I did. The editor who has that project wants me to do a little bit of work to it. I can, and I will. Soon as I get my breath back. But once I heard from her, there was nothing to look forward to.

Now, today, by dropping one large brown envelope in a mail slot, I give myself hope.

I'm off to the Post Office. Have a great day!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Just Another Manic Monday

The Bangles. Remember them? Walk like an E-gip-shin. Anyway, here we are on Monday morning, and yes indeed, I did finish the dreaded synopsis. I figured out the reason I hate it so much. I already know what happens. One of the things that keeps me sitting in the chair, fingers to the keyboard all day long, is not knowing what's going to happen. Once I know, I don't care as much. It's kind of like a leap of faith for me each time I start a new book. Will I get to the end? If so, how?

I'm really, really good with beginnings. I can think of the most incredible situations from which two people can spring and fall in love with each other. It's what happens next that gives me trouble. It's that blasted conflict! I'd much rather write the happy parts. I know there are people who hate the happy parts and prefer writing the conflict. I don't know how to become one of those.

So, anyway, the synopsis. Yes, it's finished, and it will be in the mail tomorrow at the latest. I promise. Because I've got a long list of things needing to be done that I've been pushing away from the desktop saying, "After I get the query off."

But first, I have to polish it up a little bit. I let it sit over the weekend, and now I'll take a different look at it, perhaps finding all the stupid things I didn't mean to put in, or plugging the holes I dug in choosing the narrative points.

And the longer I write this blog entry, the bigger the procrastination bus that I'm driving around in this morning. So off we go.

Have a great day!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Synopsis Syndrome

It's the dreaded disease visited upon writers of every genre. The Synopsis Syndrome! The symptoms include a tendency to stare into space for long patches of time, an uncontrollable urge to pull out one's hair, and a feeling that you have just written the smelliest bunch of drivel ever to be produced by the human mind. There is no cure for it. The only thing you can do is just tough it out.

It's just part of the job. If you want to send your novel off to a shiny New York publisher, you first have to query...and with that query you must send the dreaded SYNOPSIS. My feeling on it is kind of like this - I just wrote the whole freakin' book! Now you want me to write an equally riveting, compelling, addictive summary of the entire thing?? Why don't you just read the book?!

That isn't the way it works in publishing. I consider it a trial-by-word-count of sorts. They're testing me to see whether I'm worthy. If I jump through all the proper hoops, they'll consider me appropriately humbled such that giving me a six-figure book deal won't spoil me. Okay, I'm kidding about the six figures. I know my genre doesn't pay that. It's my metaphorical carrot that keeps me writing the danged synopsis, even though I hate it. If I don't do A, they won't do B.

My personal deadline for completing this torture is today. So here I go. See you next week.

What I'm reading - Nelson in Command by Marin Thomas

What I'm listening to - Mozart:Opera Highlights.

Have a great day!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Diamond Sparkles

There is a saying in the business world - Nothing happens till somebody sells something. The corollary for writers is - Nothing happens till somebody reads something.

Your mother, your boyfriend, your siblings, your best friend - these people are all obligated to read your work and LOVE IT. No matter how much we assure them we want their HONEST opinion of our work, we really only want it if it's good.

So it's always exciting when a complete stranger reads your work. Even better if they like it. TOUGHER THAN DIAMONDS received Four Angels from Fallen Angel Reviews this week. Here's the link to the entire review by Marlene:

"Tougher Than Diamonds is the perfect summertime read," she says. I love that quote because I've always wanted to write the book women were reading by the pool or under the umbrella in some exotic location.

"I was instantly drawn into the plot, which is tightly woven and very interesting." I love this one too because plotting is something over which I AGONIZE! It's very difficult to be sure your plot makes sense. You know what you mean in your head. Did the readers get it? Apparently this time at least one reader did.

But here's the payoff: "Overall, Tougher Than Diamonds by Delia Carnell is a great book. This reader enjoyed it and will be looking to read more from this author. "

Ah, it's that old vaudeville expression - always leave your audience wanting more. If you've touched somebody in such a way that they want more, you know you've done your job well.

And so, I'm off to finish something more to give Marlene and the rest of the world.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Remote Broadcast

I am not at home today. I'm spending the day in the apartment of my Prince. There's a very good reason for this. The air conditioner in his car went out. May I remind you that this is Florida? I didn't demand that he get it fixed, but I told him I'd see him in October. Late October. Maybe early November.

Anyway, I offered to pick him up at the car place and take him to work. Then I'll spend the day here and go back for him at the end of the day. Why don't I go home in between? Good question. Although we live in the same municipality, he lives in a suburb on the south side of it. I live in a suburb on the north side. The sprawling city lies between us. Gasoline is over three dollars a gallon for the T-Bird. You do the math.

It's been about two and a half years since I got out and went to an office every morning. Traffic is different. Let me rephrase that. Traffic is horrific!! I thought if I left my house at six-thirty, I'd be ahead of the crowd. HA! To get ahead of the crowd, I would've had to leave my house in 1987.

Well, I'm here now and I got him to the lab on time, despite my worries about all those cars and wherever the heck they came from. Now I have an entire lovely day stretched out before me with absolutely no distractions. Oh, yes, I'm on the Internet right now. But his computer is old. It's slow. His connection is better than dial-up, but not much better. I can't be seduced by any of the online games I like to play - VMK Rocks! - and I don't know how to get to my email. So, I'm pretty much doing a Paris Hilton here today.

Oh, except I can leave whenever I want to.

And I don't have to wear an orange jumpsuit.

So, it's a return to the dining room table for me. If you've read TOUGHER THAN DIAMONDS - and if you haven't, why not? - this is the same table that's mentioned in the dedication. I wrote a lot of that book on this table. It resided in Maryland at the time, and there was a Starbucks I could walk to, but it's okay. I still love the table. And if I get bored here, I can look out the third-story window to the shimmering metals of the automobile graveyard just next door.

In fact, I was looking out just a few minutes ago. There's a man on a forklift, weaving his way between the crushed corpses of someone's yesterday dream car. I was wondering...what if he pried open the trunk of one of those cars and found a human corpse? How did it get there? Who was the person? How long could it stay in the junkyard before someone found it?

Oh, wait. I forgot. I write romance.

Back to work.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Blast from the Past - Children's Literature

It's funny what you remember about your youth. The impending release of the Nancy Drew movie had me thinking about books I read when I was a child. Certainly Nancy Drew was among them. I didn't know what a roadster was, but I knew I wanted one. Not that much different from a T-Bird, is it?

I do hope the new movie is good. I suspect it won't be just by virtue of the fact that this is an updated version. For me, a large part of the charm of those books is the age. But I intend to go into the theater with an open mind. I didn't expect to like Daniel Craig as Bond, either, but turned out I loved him. So, we'll see.

Another much-loved book from my past is THE LION'S PAW by Robb White. Try to find that one, will you? It can't be had for less than a few hundred bucks. Turns out, this book has become a collector's item. For someone who grew up and still lives in Florida, I understand the appeal. I wish the publisher would put that one out again. It would do quite well. I don't want to collect it. I just want to read the story!

My sailor in "A Lotus-Covered Door" is named Robb as homage to Mr. White. (Still waiting to see whether that short story makes publication. Should hear something soon.)

Finally, there was my quest for Patricia. For many years, I've been trying to find a book that I read when I was about ten. I knew the girl's name was Patricia and that Patricia was in the title. She lived on a military base with her father. The mother was absent. At one point, she went missing and was feared abducted. Everything turns out all right in the end. I remember absolutely loving this book as a child and wished I could read it again.

I heard about a place on Live Journal where people post books they are missing and other people help find them. I posted there, and to my surprise I had the answer in just a couple of hours! It's PATRICIA'S SECRET by Ruth Daggett Leinhauser, originally published by Scholastic in 1956.

You know Amazon had a copy for me. Of course, they did! I ordered it from their network of independent booksellers. The book arrived yesterday, and I devoured it immediately. It's every bit as entertaining now as it was (Gulp!) almost fifty years ago. I had real tears in the end.

Isn't the Internet an amazing thing? How did we find lost books before we had this web?

Have a wonderful day!

Friday, June 1, 2007

What's a Meme?

Is it anything like the Screaming Memies? How about the Blue Meanies? No, a meme (not sure whether you pronounce it me-me or Meem) is a blogging and/or Internet device that you pick up from someone else's blog and use on your own instead of coming up with something clever and creative by yourself.

I would not be surprised to find them in use primarily on Fridays when people are running out of steam, ideas and ambition. I've seen a few that are clever, but for the most part they ask the blogger questions to which I do not care about the answers. For example, I saw one that asked, "What do you use to clean your face?" Come on. Why would anyone care about that? I use whatever looks interesting and smells good when I'm browsing the health and beauty aisle of my favorite drug or discount store. Today it's Hydrate and Cleanse by L'Oreal.

See? You just went into a catatonic stupor out of boredom, didn't you?

A lot of the meme choices ask you to list the music you're listening to right now. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Others ask what you're reading. The Walrus Was Paul by R. Gary Patterson.

Ah, a pattern begins to emerge. Yes, this is a book that addresses the great Beatles mystery hoax/hidden story as to whether Paul McCartney actually died in 1966 and was replaced by an impostor who may or may not be Billy Shears. I heard about the clues when I was in college. I actually disengaged my turntable so I could rotate it backwards on "Revolution 9" and hear, "Turn me on, dead man." I'm here to tell you it's true. You really can hear that phrase.

I'm about halfway through the book. Most of this stuff I already knew. Some of it's new. Some of it gives one pause; some of it's ridiculous. It does give me a lot of grand plot ideas, but if you've seen Eddie and the Cruisers, you're way ahead of me.

It appears at this point that Mr. Patterson is not going to take a stand as to whether he believes the rumors to be true. But I'll take my stand. Yes. Paul is dead. If you don't believe me, just consider this: Could the same person who wrote "Yesterday" be responsible for "Say, Say, Say?"

Hey, that reminds me of my favorite Beatles trivia question. When did Paul McCartney write Silly Love Songs? 1966 to the present.

Who would ever have guessed that Ringo would be the last Beatle standing?

I'm just saying.

Have a great day!