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Saturday, April 30, 2011

That's what love is for

Twenty-three years ago today, I felt as special as the former Kate Middleton did yesterday, even though my dress was a $50 "try-on" and we had less than a hundred people in the party room of an apartment complex.  I'd worked sixty-five hours that week, eighty-five the week before and because of Chris's schedule at the TV station, we had to delay our honeymoon to St. Louis for a week.  Mom was, shall we say, over-medicated and I'd almost called the @#$%ing thing off, because Chris put off shoe shopping until the night before.  I would've killed him, but my inner voice said to wait until the life insurance was in my name and make it look like an accident.  All that aside, it was a beautiful, clear day.  My Uncle Bill and Uncle Herb were in the same room for the first time in decades.  Everybody cleaned up nice and my cousin's husband went and got more cups, because the caterer left and didn't tell us where the others were.

And I was married to my best friend.  I'm trying to put that feeling into my fiction for my heroes and heroines, because it's the stuff life is made of.  While I loved Christina Dodd's link on Facebook to Tiffany & Co.'s "build your engagement ring" site and Jo Beverley's link to her Word Wenches blog on a history of weddings, it's the little, everyday things that make a marriage. 

I screwed up my sleep schedule again, so slept until just a bit ago and Chris went off to play poker at a local pub.  I'm okay with that, because after 23 years (more, because we lived together a year before we got engaged), I don't need passionate and constant attention every minute of every day.  In fact, we try to give each other space and alone time as often as needed.  But--here's the kicker--I walked into the kitchen and Chris did some dishes for us!  I cried, honest.  I'd thought about saying "If you really loved me...," which is another game you play when you've been married a while.  (The other one, by the way, is "I'm going to die first, because....")  But, the "If you really loved me..." card is one you probably better keep for extra special occasions and acknowledge it's a game, otherwise it loses its effectiveness.  It was like he read my mind.  And I was grateful

Wait a sec.  "Hard to Say" by Dan Fogelberg just came up on my computer music program.  Particularly apropos.  And that's my second point of what I try to do in my life and my fiction:  love is the little things, day in and day out.  Seriously.  I see it in family and friends, but especially in my own life.  Love is running all over town to find the double-stick tape/favorite cheese/earrings your spouse needs/wants, staying with the grandkids on your birthday because there are three other crises going on, passing the same Valentine's Day card back and forth for the tenth year, pulling wheelchair duty for your mother-in-law without being asked, saying "please" and "thank you" though through gritted teeth, holding the other person as they cry at the end of "Field of Dreams," ordering the potato skins when you really wanted the onion petals.  Insert your special incident here. 

Now, "I Love You Always Forever" by Donna Lewis is playing.  Yeah, you're in for the long haul.  It's going to be either a shorter haul than you wanted or a horrifyingly long and painful haul, unless common courtesies are paid. 

I have to laugh--now the Beatles' "Paperback Writer" came up.  So, while traditional literature may deal with history and philosophical conundrums, I'm proud to be writing genre fiction.  It's where real life is happening.  Now, let's pause and listen to Mary-Chapin Carpenter's "Passionate Kisses." 

Friday, April 29, 2011

Follow Friday and It just keeps getting better and better...

Happy Follow Friday!  Let's take care of business, then I have some other helpful stuff I'd like to share.

The question this week is:

Who has been the most supportive of your writing?
My husband.  I started writing Seven Days and my other stories in August of 2006.  I was doing a lot of traveling for work and for Christmas (and 2007's birthday), he bought me a HP laptop.  It was a total thrill that he believed in me, because at the time, it was quite an investment.  I still use it, writing in the living room on MS Works, then Save it in Word and put it on flash drives and the new desktop in the office.  He gives me great lines for my characters, humors me when I'm "in writing mode" and says he looks forward to "being a kept man" when I make it big.  We'll talk some more about editing and writing Seven Days down below.

Your rules for Follow Friday (join the fun!)
1)      Follow this blog.
2)      Follow Elizabeth Sharp, the originator of this hop 9
3)      Follow the featured author of the week, MD Christie.
4)      Go to Sharp words and copy the image code found there and paste it in your blog. Add your name to the link at the bottom of the post while you are there.
5)      Copy and paste the rules in your blog, as well as this week’s question.
6)      Answer the question
7)      Follow, follow, follow. This is about networking, people, making connections with people in your community. So talk to us. We don't bite!
8)      If someone stops by, says hi and follows you, the polite thing to do is follow back.
9)      Comment here and introduce yourself and you just might find a new follower or two
So, the most current Jane Friedman blog link ( had a reference to the blog from Robert J. Sawyer, the science fiction writer (  I haven't read his work yet, but my husband and I were fans of ABC's "Flashforward," which was based on his novel.  Anyway, he has some lovely essays in the "On Writing" section of that link that would be helpful to any writer in any genre.  While they were written in the '90s, most everything still applies today.  BTW, I wrote him a "thank you" email and he wrote one back!

One in particular I printed out and did tonight, "Word processing Tricks."  I used the "Search" feature for words like "just" and "very" a few months ago and was horrified at how many times they showed up in my mss.  Mr. Sawyer suggests doing the search for "ly " (with the space after), to seek out some adjectives and adverbs.  He says, "If you needed an adjective or adverb to modify another word, perhaps you didn't choose the right word to begin with."  He suggests "huge" rather than "really large" and "thundering" rather than "pounding loudly." 

You may remember my dilemma of having to cut over a hundred pages, so I'm all over this.  You know what I found in just the first two sections of my mss.?  Enough single words on the following list to cut another page.  Let me repeat:  ANOTHER PAGE.  I didn't cut all of them, but there were enough that I was embarrassed. 

How many of these do you not need? 
gently (I never realized how often I used this)
probably (probably 3rd on the list, LOL)

Do I have your attention now?  Seriously, I used "immediately" and "quickly" in the same sentence!  He also suggested:  utilize (UGH!) => use, in order to => to and the fact that => that.  I still need to go back over the flipping thing to lose some more dashes and exclamation points.  *sigh* 

I've already used the Search to remove The F Bomb, which was unfortunately one of my character's favorite cuss word.  My aunt said she would love to read my work someday, but really hated when it was used.  You know, we don't want to do anything that would limit your market. 

There were other helpful hints in this one and in "Heinlein Rules."  So, I (started to use "just" dang it!) wanted to share another resource to thank you for giving me all these informative links.  Read:  Time sucks I putter around, rather than writing my own stuff.  Seriously, I'm a better writer for it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Golden Heart results

Just got the email with my Golden Heart results for my manuscript Seven Days.  Pretty much the same thing that happened last time, but with only one low score of 1.90 and the rest around 4. 

What have we learned from this?  Same thing as last time--not everyone will like your work.  You know, I'm okay with that.  I'd really like to see all the criticisms to consider if it is the readers' personal opinion or if there's something I could do to make my fiction more exciting and compelling to the wider audience.  I've already edited it down quite a bit, made it tighter with less repetition.  Of course, I wish I could have submitted the new and improved version, but I was doing good to get it into first person and edit it down from the monstrosity it was by a hundred pages. 

So, I would say I submitted a third or fourth draft.  I'm working on the next edit now and also doing a whole new story in which the characters from Seven Days are secondary.  I'm also making frantic notes for two other stories, the second in the series called Seven Months (the hero's brother falling in love with the heroine's sister) and a novel that has Will's niece as the heroine.  I've moved on, realizing it wasn't really ready for publication.  I'm not heartbroken or distraught that someone didn't like my precious and I don't take it personally.  It was a step in a process.  I'm proud I met the deadline and that most of the judges liked it pretty well. 

I worked as President and board of directors member for a local writers group over almost twelve years.  I helped organize a bunch of workshops and writers contests for them, along with monthly meeting programs and newsletters.  One year, we had the president of a local arts group ask if she was the winner of a contest, because she was so busy, she didn't really have time to show up for the awards ceremony unless she won.  The contest coordinator and I agreed--you need to attend or find out from the press release the next day.    Bitch.  We also had someone file a request for the Better Business Bureau to investigate whether our contest was "legitimate," i.e. if the prizes were awarded, if we were really non-profit, etc.  I muttered under my breath on that one too, having to fill out a five page questionnaire filled with legalese, when he/she could have just called, but I respected their concern.  There are a lot of  charlatans around. 

In other words, I certainly thank the judges for their time and consideration.  I value opinions, knowing they're especially valuable when I might learn from them.  I know the RWA National headquarters must be crazy busy, with the contest and preparations for the national convention, so I appreciate the time it took to send all the notifications.  But, it's time to move on.  Might enter a few more regional contests, to get a few more notes and opinions. 

Get back to work, Julee.  And thanks to all those who volunteer their time and effort.  Been there, done that and will definitely do it again in the future. 

Here are two pictures of my husband and I at parties for two of the science fiction conventions we ran.  The toga party was the banquet during Contact 11, with the theme of "Pledge Psi Phi."  We did pledge pins for those who pre-registered and had a heck of a lot of fun.  I chose the "Roman Holiday" toga, complete with pearls, but Chris just got one of our bed sheets.  The other is from a party to promote Contact 13, which was on a Friday the 13th that year.  The party theme was "Follow the trail of blood to Contact 13" and "Prom Night Massacre."  I was picking out the dress at Goodwill, torn between this one and a purple one and Chris pointed out, "The blood will show up better on the pink."  Thought the clerks were going to die.  He's wearing my brother's prom tux jacket, vintage 1963.  Yes, he had his fly open, because, you know.  The kids who have sex are the first to get killed. 

Here's hoping conference and contest organizers have as much fun with the hard work as we did!