Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Five Year Plan

End of the year, end of a decade-time for introspection and setting new goals or getting drunk and blowing it all off. Not being a big fan of the hangover, I'll go for introspection. Two of my books, GOALS FOR A SINNER and WISH FOR A SINNER, are coming out in 2010. Between the ages of 35 and 40, I wrote two other novels. A single mother, I hoped desperately for some additional income and toiled away every weekend my ex had the children from morning until night. I set a goal for myself of getting a book publshed within five years. I did have an agent for about thirty days, after which she sent a letter saying she was no longer going to handle romance novels but wanted to concentrate on non-fiction and serious literature. I notice she is no longer in the business at all. That aside, my five year plan failed. I put my manuscripts in the closet, remarried, had another child, moved to a larger house with a big yard, and carried out some ambitious projects at work. Ten years later, I had surgery and could not lift, drive, clean, garden, cook, etc. I read a pile of books during the six week recovery, but soon grew bored. Out came the old manuscripts to be rewritten. Two more books followed, then two more (the ones that were eventually published). I haven't stopped writing since, and can't help but wonder how much farther ahead I would be if I hadn't stuck to the five year plan.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Little Fishes

I've come to think of authors as a vast school of little, silver fishes endlessly circling in a vast ocean and hoping to be landed. The publishers, those huge sharks who take most of the risks and make most of the profits, usually pass us by. Editors, toothy barracudas who intimidate the authors into writing better books, come next in the hierachy. Then, the agents-I'd say they are remoras, but most of us don't make enough to feed a remora. No, agents have always seemed more like fishermen to me. They stand on the shore pulling in many fishes, throwing all but one or two back, seeming all-powerful.
Recently, I got a message from a young agent I'd approached. I was surprised to be on her mailing list since she'd turned me down pleasantly but firmly. She hadn't changed her mind, but rather was announcing the closure of her agency. I was sorry to hear that. Sometimes I forget if the publishers aren't taking on new clients, the younger agents don't thrive either. In the RWR magazine, nearly all the first sales have gone to e-pubs and small presses in the last year or so, no profit for agents there. Lots of casualities in this economy, and it is not only tough on us small fishes either.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Staying Forever Younger

Here they are, the new publicity pictures I received as a gift from my husband. The one I usually post was taken six years ago. It's taken me five years of concerted effort to sell two of my fourteen novels. Oh my, how I have aged. So what do you think? Should I select one of these: The Traditonal, the Serious Author, or the Author Outdoors? Or should I stay forever younger?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I'm nearly out of black ink for my printer again. Might I suggest the classic gift for an author of a couple of ink cartridges and reams of good white paper? To be honest, I do nearly all my writing, editing, and submissions by computer and use the printer mostly for my drafts. You can never have too many backups of any kind. So, how about a nice titanium thumb drive or other off-computer storage device to guard against viruses and meltdowns? Doesn't have to be titanium, but I like the idea of owning something made of space ship material. A laser printer would be dandy, too, but costly and not really necessary to your success as a writer. Still, laser anything is cool: printer, hair removal, surgery if needed.
The second you sign a contract, a request will appear asking for a promotional photo. My last good picture was taken six years ago and so I sent that. Budding authors, you might want to hint for a photo sessions with your best local photographer. I did and got new pics for my birthday. Sad that I now look older, but my best feature, my smile, remains the same. Warning: this can get expensive as it is probably a good idea to purchase the copyright to the photos as well.
And the best gift you can give any published author-buy their book and tell them how much you love it.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Young Blood

Last Friday I met with a high school book club who wanted to talk to a real author. I am sure some of them were disappointed to greet a silver-haired woman who has been writing since the fifth grade and only now has her first book coming out in May, 2010. But, they listened politely even after I confessed my novel was a romance. I tried not to dwell on me as writer, but rather on the degree of perfection demanded in today's market, pitfalls to watch out for, and how to deal with rejection. I tried to be real and not yet too discouraging because these are the authors of the future. Once my talk finished, most of the group vanished into the stacks at B &N or got in line at the coffee bar, but six young women remained behind to ask more questions and tell me about their work. We covered everything from Pride and Prejudice to Ender's Game while discussing what they liked and wanted to write. I hope I gave them sound advice. I hope they will succeed far faster than I did because of it.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Glam Pics

One of my daughters suggested I needed an updated, sexier picture for my web site, Following this suggestion, my husband booked a sitting for me with a very fine local photographer as a birthday gift. The man did try his best. Sadly, I would have to be fifthy pounds lighter and thirty years younger at the least to look sexy. I believe I was sexy for about six years of my entire life from the ages of twenty-one to twenty-seven. Generally, my mother referred to me as "the one with the good personality", the kiss of death when it came to dating.
You know what? A good personality lasts far longer and gets you more places than a good figure or a pretty face. Took me a long time to realize that, so I am passing it on. Now, I need to make another decision. Should I keep the original picture with the slightly outdated hair style and be younger than I now am forever, or do I boldly post the new ones with the silver hair and double chin as soon as I can figure out how to do that? Maybe I'll ask you-which one should be on my web site?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Suspense versus Romance

My older daughter does not read romance. She prefers suspense novels, the kind with creepy stalkers and gruesome murders, the kind that give me nightmares. She finally broke down and read the first two chapters of GOALS FOR A SINNER offered on my web site,, and remarked that nothing much happened in the story. Well, the heroine is tackled by two football players, ends up in the hospital, and meets the man who had a crush on her in high school. That's quite a lot actually, but true, no bodies dropped from the ceiling. No one was stabbed, stalked or done away with in an original manner. I had to explain that romances are about relationships. Hopefully, the reader will like the characters enough to want to follow their story and see them get together in the end. My stories should make you smile or even laugh, chuckle or chortle. They are a source for good dreams. If I've done that, I've done my job.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


As a former reference librarian, I love to do research. I confess to having spent half a day searching for the origins of the chocolate sprinkles to put on ice cream. I thought I'd failed, and got diverted into the history of the lollipop. Then, lo and behold! The same man invented the sprinkles. All this time spent so I could allow a character to ask for sprinkles on his ice cream in my 1920's novel, QUEEN OF THE MARDI GRAS BALL. This was an easy detail to work into the novel. Many other marvelous tidbits had to be set aside least the book start sounding like a non-fiction account of life in the Twenties.

How much historical detail to add? What to leave out? Usually, I try to work signs of the times into the conversation. People took picnic baskets and went out to watch the levee protecting St. Bernard Parish being blown up to save New Orleans. Surely, people would have talked or written letters about this event. On the other hand, it is not necessary to describe the making of bathtub gin, no matter how fascinating, to say someone is drinking it in a scene. I wish I had a formula to offer like fifty percent fact, fifty percent fiction, but I don't. I still haven't figured this out for myself. Just yesterday, I learned how a wigwam is built, step-by-step. Will I use this? Probably not. But it is just so tempting.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Writer's Day

I'd guess every writer's day is different, whatever works for you. Having had a job every year of my life since the age of seventeen, I cannot bring myself to work in my nightgown. Each day, I get up around seven, put on light makeup and clothes decent enough to answer the door, have breakfast, answer e-mail, and run any errands pending. By lunch time, my schedule is completely clear. I sit down and write for four or five hours with the aid of a large pot of hot tea for stimulation. My goal is around 1,000 words a day which usually comes to four or five pages. Neither pantser nor plotter, I am a plodder. I do this day after day, and at the end of three months have a 90,000 word fairly clean first draft. I don't spend time doing character sketches or spread sheets. The story is inside my head. I know my beginning, middle, and end before I start, but the details bring the book to life. I finish for the day around 6:00 pm., make dinner for my husband, enjoy his company, a good book, or a favorite TV program for the evening and turn in around eleven p.m. Not too exciting, but the end result is two books a year. I just keep plodding along.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Life Happens

I finished the galleys for GOALS and sent off two other manuscripts for consideration before leaving on a long-planned two week vacation to Yellowstone in mid-August. Back from that magnificent place, I went in for my annual checkup and ended up with a breast cancer scare that consumed another week with tests, all negative, thank heaven. Then, I had to supply all the copy for my new web site and make a few dozen decisions regarding that. Four weeks gone and not a word added to my WIP.
Then, the local Sugar Cane Festival started where I volunteered as a judge escort for the art show. School tours began at the ante-bellum home where I am guide. My copier broke. More decisions to make. My left rear tire blew out on the way home from a Heart of Louisiana, RWA meeting in Baton Rouge, thankfully not on the Atchafalaya causeway. A kind diesel mechanic at a truck stop/mini-casino in Grosse Tete changed it for me, even finding me a used tire in the scrap heap because my spare had a big hole in it. Tomorrow, I can look forward to buying tires and sitting around while they rotate and replace the old ones.
Six weeks gone and no work on a WIP that had been dropping off the pen or into the computer like mad before I left on vacation. Life happens. Maybe I'll write this week.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Saints and the Sinners

My book, GOALS FOR A SINNER, revolves around an imaginary football team, the Sinners, that has replaced the Saints after they move to Salt Lake. However, it looks like the Saints might stay in New Orleans for a few more years. Their first two games of the 2009 season have been awesome. I might have to give up telling my favorite Saints/Cajun joke which goes like this:
A group of Cajuns skip confession and Mass in order to take the bus to the casino. On the way, the bus crashes and everyone aboard dies and goes straight to Hell. The Cajuns don't find the place much hotter than Louisiana, so they make themselves comfortable, setting up some bourre games and boiling water for crawfish. The Devil doesn't like seeing them so content. He turns up the heat. The Cajuns make up some tickets to sell for a gumbo dinner in order to air condition the place. This infuriates the Devil. He thinks and thinks. Ah-ha! He turns the heat down so low the place freezes over. Those Cajuns are miserable and shivering. Then, one looks at another and smiles. "You know what dis means, Boudreaux? The Saints done won the Super Bowl. Let's party!"
If the Saints keep doing so well, we might have snow again in Louisiana this year.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Why am I blogging?

After ten years of writing and five years of trying to get published, the incredible happened. I have a book coming out May 21, 2010, GOALS FOR A SINNER, the fifth of fourteen novels. I'm told authors must blog, so here goes. GOALS is a short contemporary football romance, sort of an appetizer to be consumed while waiting for the next Susan Elizabeth Phillip's novel to come out. She simply doesn't write fast enough for me, so I did two of my own out of admiration for her work, but not an imitation of it. We have very different styles. The idea for my book came to me as I watched the Panthers lose the Super Bowl back in 2004 with that darned two point conversion try. If only they had gone for the tie. A sad occasion in more than one way since my dad had just died, and being a Panthers fan, he would have loved seeing that game despite the sad ending. So, while sitting with my bereaved family eating strombolis and missing Janet's wardrobe malfunction since I went for a bathroom break during her performance, I made up another team struggling to get to the Super Bowl, the New Orleans Sinners.
The Sinners manage to win two imaginary Super Bowls, and GOALS was a finalist in two contests, Cleveland Rocks and CTRWA Connections, but when submitted to agents and editors of romance novels, the usual reply came back, "We do not do football novels and so have not read your work." Thank heaven for the open minds at The Wild Rose Press and my wonderful editor there, Cindy Davis, who loves and understands both football and romance. I hope the Panthers get another chance, too.

Monday, September 14, 2009

First Blog 9/14/09

My husband is an astronomer. He can pick out the little fuzzy balls of gobular clusters with a telescope or binoculars from among the brightest stars and reveal them to be a dense gathering of hundreds of stars. Out here in the blogosphere, I feel like one of those tiny fuzzy balls in space with a hundred unnoticed stars inside of me. At least, my husband knows I'm here. As I've said before, geeks make great husbands.