Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Thrill of a New Book

Currently reading - Kitty Goes to War by Carrie Vaughn

Today's post is late beccause I was up until nearly two in the morning working on a new project.

I love that feeling of anticipation when I start writing a new book. It's almost like picking up a new volume from your favorite author from the bookstore.

And in a way I am discovering something new and shiny because even if I outline the crap out of it and have written the proposal, a lot of times the characters take a left turn and lead me into something totally unexpected and cool.

*grin* I can't wait to see how this story unfolds.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

When Does An Author Go Too Far?

Currently reading Blood Price by Tanya Huff

In between my regular reading and writing this weekend, I read The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. Stephenie Meyer's publishing company posted her latest Twilight book online. It's still available until midnight EST on July 5.

I'll give Stephenie credit. She did with this novella what she planned to do with her aborted novel, Midnight Sun--give her readers a different POV on critical events of the Twilight Saga. And I'll give Little, Brown & Company credit for priming the Twilight pump right before the movie release of Eclipse. From a business standpoint, I say major kudos for their marketing savvy and knowing their audience.

From the story standpoint? I'm not sure how I feel.

Bree comes off as far more sympathetic than Bella. She didn't have the luxury in choosing to become a vampire. And the poor girl quickly learns that life with the newborns is just as dangerous as her human life as a runaway. I kind of wished that Stephenie had fleshed out the human Bree a little more.

On the other hand, I don't think events in the novella mesh with the events in Breaking Dawn very well. Lack of continuity in books and movies is one of my pet peeves. (In fact, it's one of DH's too, which is why I trust him as one of my beta readers.)

Don't get me wrong. This is not a slam on writers who do series. As a writer, I fully understand how hard it is, and I applaud anyone who even attempts to write a series.

But as a reader, I feel, well, maybe insulted is the best word. Like the writer or publisher thinks I'm too stupid to notice these things. I'm not talking about carving out reasonable exceptions when the writer has laid the appropriate groundwork in order to give a neat spin to their story. But there's a very popular NYT bestselling author who left me cold after the third book. To me, why waste the money if the rules change in midstream? C'mon! Would you take Master Splinter appearing to train Luke Skywalker after Ben Kenobi dies seriously?

This is not to say things can't be handled well if someone wants to be revisionary. Take J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboot or Sherrilyn Kenyon's Chronicles of Nick for example. As a consumer, I just want a fucking good reason for turning the rules of the fictional world upside down.

Honestly, when one of my series sees the light of the publishing world, I fully expect to be skewered by my readers if I do something insanely stupid. And I'm sure DH will do his damnedest to make sure I don't fall off the stupid cliff.

Okay, I'll get off my soapbox now. Anybody else have some thought on the Bree Tanner novella?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

3 Questions and a Contest

Please welcome Harlequin author Cindi Myers! Not only is Cindi a prolific writer and a contributor to the Brenda Novak Auction for diabetes research, she also runs Cindi Myers Market News, a blog devoted to the latest writing market tidbits. Talk about a gal who gives back to the community!

Hi, Cindi! Tell us more about your latest release from Harlequin Superromance, HER MOUNTAIN MAN.”

HER MOUNTAIN MAN is the story of a news reporter in Manhattan, Sierra Winston, who is sent to the tiny mountain town of Ouray, Colorado, to interview famous mountain climber Paul Tisdale. But Paul isn’t just any good-looking mountain guy – he’s the man who found and retrieved the body of another famous mountain climber – Sierra’s father, Frank Winston, who died on Mount McKinley ten years before, when Sierra was a little girl. Sierra hopes Paul can help her understand why her father chose climbing dangerous mountains over staying home with his family. But she doesn’t count on falling in love with the man who is following in her father’s footsteps. As for Paul, Frank Winston was his hero. After almost dying as a young man, Paul loves how alive climbing mountains makes him feel. He’s not sure he could give it up for anyone – not even the woman he loves.

In addition to sweet romances like HER MOUNTAIN MAN, you also write sexy Blazes (P.S. AT HER PLEASURE is on my keeper shelf, Dear Readers!). How do you balance the different styles of writing?

I really like the variety! It’s never boring if you’re always writing something different. The Blazes are pure fun, while the Supers tend to be more angsty – and my Americans were more comedies. I really like to mix it up to keep things fresh

You give a lot of great advice on your website. (Thank you, thank you!) But what’s the one thing you wish someone had told you when you first started your writing journey?

Good question! I think the hardest lesson to learn is that there are things in this business you can’t control. For instance, with Harlequin, the writer has no say on the cover and sometimes not even the title. Rather than tie yourself up in knots over stuff you can’t control, it’s better to learn to accept that the only thing you can really control is writing the best story you’re capable of writing and letting go of the rest.

Thanks for dropping by, Cindi! Remember, folks, her latest book, HER MOUTNAIN MAN is on store shelves now. Her next release, THINGS I WANT TO SAY from Harlequin will be out in August.


The fabulous prizes for this contest are a signed poster of the cover of AT HER PLEASURE (signed by Cindi, not me) and a copy of Cindi’s latest, HER MOUNTAIN MAN.

Per usual, all you have to do to enter is leave a comment, but not just any comment. I want to know what’s your favorite romantic spot. And please, PLEASE, if you're posting anonymously or have your Blogger contact turned off, E-MAIL ME if you're the winner. Otherwise I can't deliver your prizes!

Post your comment before 11AM CDT on July 1st. I’ll pick a name from Capt. Rex’s helmet and post it at noon.

USUAL LEGAL MUMBO-JUMBO: The contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada. If you really need to know why, my cousin Nolan, a former U.S. postal carrier, can explain it to you over a six-pack.

Things That Make You Go Hmmm. . .

Does anyone remember the Fourth Command-ment? Think a certain Someone may be a little peeved the Solid Rock Church outside of Cincinnati forgot?

Ironically, I'm going to miss Touchdown Jesus. The Bengals need all the help they can get.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Currently reading - Blood Price by Tanya Huff

IRONICALLY, after the chocolate and whine and cheese-a-thon I wrote for yesterday's post, my Gumption returned (probably sniffing around for those dark chcolate truffles). Instead of devouring the chocolate, Gumption and I sat down after mowing the yard and hammered out the final edits on AVT yesterday. Last night, after one last read-thru, I sent the ms to my crit partners and DH. It'll be interesting to hear what they say.

And no, I'm not being sarcastic. This is my first rural fanasty, and it's set where I grew up (Ohio Amish country), so I'm very curious about people's reactions. But I can't worry, and it's off to the next ms. Right?

IN the meantime, I've got to figure out a new policy for when someone doesn't claim their prize in one of my contests. I've always had a response from the winner within a couple of hours of posting the name. Any suggestions?

AND speaking of contests, this week's contest will start SUNDAY, JUNE 27th, at 8:00PM due to the upcoming holiday weekend. My guest will be the sensational Harlequin author, Cindi Myers. Stop by, read Cindi's wonderful advice and win some cool prizes!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Why Not Me?

Currently reading - Blood Price by Tanya Huff

Lee? Oh, Lee? You won my contest. I want you to get your prizes. I can't get your prizes to you if you don't e-mail me, sweetie.

I haven't said much about my writing lately because, well, . . .

It's pretty fucking depressing, that's why. Oh, I'm getting requests for fulls, but then. . .

It's like you're having sex with (insert your Ultimate Fantasy Person here), and all the sudden he/she climbs out of bed right as you're about to climax and says, "Sorry, you're not doing it for me." *groan*

And to top it off, several friends and acquaintances are getting their worlds rocked by their UFPs lately.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm happy for my friends and acquaintances. I know a lot of them have worked their asses off to get their UFP in bed.

But my green-eyed monster keeps trying to crawl from under the rock where she hides, and I have to beat her back with my laptop. There's a reason Envy is one of the seven deadly sins. She's not crawling out to eat my alleged enemies. She's planning to chew on me.

And it won't be pretty.

Does anyone have suggestions for dealing with their green-eyed monsters? (Besides chocolate.)

Thursday, June 24, 2010


And the winner of the Virna DePaul/Tawny Weber book package is. . .


Lee, please send your snail mail address to soharden (at) swbell (period) net. I'll forward your info to Virna for the book prizes, and I'll send you a little something extra too.

A special thank you to Virna for allowing me to interview her! CHOSEN BY BLOOD is on my to-buy list for April of 2011. I hope its on yours too, Dear Readers.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by, and I hope you'll come back and visit. There's more free stuff to be given away this summer!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

CONTEST!! And An Interview Too!

Lee, you've won my contest! Please contact me ASAP at soharden (at) swbell (period) net. Thanks!

One of the great things about the Brenda Novak auction is meeting other book lovers and writers.

Virna DePaul is a fellow law school survivor and paranormal author with a fabulous new series coming out April of 2011 with Berkley.

Hi, Virna! Tell us more about your special ops team that gives new meaning to “special.”

Hi, Suzan! Thanks so much for having me as a guest on your blog and, of course, for supporting the Brenda Novak Online Auction for diabetes research.

My debut novel is CHOSEN BY BLOOD and comes out by Berkley in 2011. It’s the first book in a series that follows a unique special ops team. Its leader is Knox Deveraux, a dharmire (half vampire/half human), and the leader of the Vamp clan located in Portland, Oregon.

Although Vamps are Immortals, Knox’s clan is slowly wasting away thanks to an engineered vaccine developed almost a decade earlier by the FBI. The equivalent of chemical warfare, the FBI created and provided the Vamp vaccine to all Humans, contaminating their blood so it fails to provide the nourishment Vamps need. The FBI used the Vamp vaccine at the beginning of the Second Civil War, when Humans fought Otherkin (Vampires, Weres, Shapeshifters, Felines, Wraiths etc). Although the War has been over for several years, Humans and Otherkin are struggling to live in peace, and the plight of the Vamps has reached crisis proportions. The clan’s only true hope is to recover the Vamp vaccine antidote, which had recently been created by a group of U.S. scientists, then traitorously sold to a hostile foreign government.

The FBI decides to form the first elite special ops team made up of Humans and Otherkin.
FBI Director Kyle Mahone offers positions to the best of the best:

Dharmire Knox will lead the team and coordinate the missions;

the one called Wraith will assist Knox in obtaining intelligence, tracking down sources and targets, and selecting the right ammunition and explosives for each job;

Dex Hunt, a Werebeast, who is an expert marksman and “Karakai” fighter, will serve as the team’s sniper and field agent;

Caleb O’Flare, a Human psychic trained in medicine and chemical warfare, will be in charge of medical relief and chemical strategy; and

Mage Lucy Talbot, who has the power of telekinesis and has been trained in the art of enchantment, will serve as the team’s communications officer.

Lastly, although Mahone offers a spot to Human Felicia Locke, Felicia initially turns him down; the last thing she needs is to work with Knox, the dharmire she’s been in love with for over ten years. Of course, she later changes her mind and joins the team.

The Team’s first assignment is to locate the Vamp antidote.

When you got The Call, did you handle it with the aplomb of a former prosecutor or did you squeal with delight?

Total aplomb. LOL. Not. First, I was in shock. Weeks before, I’d gotten news that an editor who loved the story and wanted to buy it had been thwarted by the company’s marketing department (too many debut authors being launched). Second, I thought my agent was calling about a different proposal I’d just turned into her. When she told me we had an offer, I squealed and hugged my husband. We literally jumped up and down with joy. He’s supported me through all the ups and downs, and I was so happy he was home that day to celebrate.

You also teach craft at Savvy Authors. And you teamed up with Blaze Author Tawny Weber to create LOVE WRITING, which is out this month. Tell us more about your non-fiction work and where LOVE WRITING is available.

Love Writing is a craft book I’m self-publishing with Tawny. It’s a comprehensive tool that covers everything from craft to the realities of the industry to staying motivated. The full title is actually Love Writing: How To Write And Get Your Romance Novel Published (Without Losing Your Perspective, Passion or Sanity).

In the three years it took me to sell, I often wished I’d been better prepared for (or at least warned about) the difficulties that I would face. In addition, when I took an online class from Lori Wilde a couple of years ago, I was surprised that even after all the conference and workshops I’d taken, there were still some major craft concepts I didn’t know about. I saw a way to synthesize the most critical concepts into one streamlined method. I asked Tawny to collaborate with me and we both agreed we wanted to share what we’d learned from so many other talented people over the years.

The book is divided into four parts. Part I discusses the top ten things a romance writer can do to write a good book. Part II deconstructs a published romantic suspense book, You Only Love Twice, by Lori Wilde. It focuses on how Wilde took advantage of the principles highlighted in Part I. In Part III, we discuss the realities of pursuing publication. Finally, Part IV provides tips and worksheets to make the writing process easier. It also touches on miscellaneous information, defines terms, and lists additional resources to explore.

We’re going to be selling the book at National in Orlando, Florida, but you can also buy an e-version (PDF format) for $9.99 on our website We’ll be selling the hard copies on the website as soon as we receive them.

What’s the one most important piece of advice you’d tell aspiring writers?

Even when things seem bleakest, don’t give up. If you keep moving forward and generating new work, your effort will pay off. It might not happen when you want, but that’s not in your control. Whether you quit is. Don’t quit.

Thanks for dropping by! Remember, folks, Virna’s new book, CHOSEN BY BLOOD will be on store shelves April of 2011. For more information about Virna and her new series, check out her website. Also, check Virna and Tawny’s website for more writing tips.

Thanks so much for having me, Suzan! I wish you and all your readers much joy and success. Feel free to contact me at with any questions.


Like I said, I won a boatload of books during the Brenda Novak Auction including two Blaze books (paper version) from Virna’s writing partner Tawny Weber. The winner will receive these two Blazes, plus Virna’s throwing in an e-copy of LOVE WRITING: HOW TO WRITE AND GET YOUR ROMANCE NOVEL PUBLISHED (WITHOUT LOSING YOUR PERSPECTIVE, PASSION OR SANITY).

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment before 11AM CDT on Thursday, June 24. I’ll pick a name from Capt. Rex’s helmet and post it at noon.

USUAL LEGAL MUMBO-JUMBO: The contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada. The decision on who to blame on for the state of the current U.S. postal regulations I’ll leave to you guys.

BP Coffee Spill

Currently reading - Watch and Learn by Stephanie Bond

My co-worker Carol called the other morning, laughing so hard she could barely talk. She said to watch this video.

Um, I think it'd be a lot funnier if we weren't living on the Gulf Coast and hurricane season hadn't officially started three weeks ago. What do y'all think?

Monday, June 21, 2010

It's Midsummer!

Happy Litha, everyone! Gather your friends and loved ones close and tell them how much they mean to you. Despite the holiday, I must work tonight, so it'll be a quiet celebration once I'm home.

Blessed Be!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

To all the fathers, stepdads, godfathers, and father stand-ins, I'm sorry you don't get the recognition you deserve. So raise a glass and toast yourselves!

In the meantime, GK and I are taking DH to his favorite restaurant (The Cheesecaske Factory) and a movie (The A-Team).

Have a great day, everyone!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dating Tips By Ken

Damn, I canNOT wait to see Toy Story 3.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Business Plan Part 11 - Manners

Currently reading - Watch and Learn by Stephanie Bond

You'd think I wouldn't have to say this, but part of any profession is minding your manners. I admit I've screwed up a couple of times. (You don't have to post the actual count in comments, Christie!) I can only hope those I offended never remember my name.

With the Romance Writers of America coming up next month, a little review won't hurt. The following are tips and wisdom imparted by my chapter mates:

1) Don't ever take your manuscript to a conference and shove into an editor or agent's hands. Or under the bathroom stall door.

2) Do have an "elevator" pitch ready; i.e. a two-sentence blurb about your manuscript. Ideally, if an agent or editor asks you what you write, you'll be prepared. Believe it or not, the laid back approach does work better. I was chatting with a woman while standing in line for dinner. It turned out she was the managing editor for the line I planned to target once I got my wip polished, and she told me to send it to her.

3) Don't trash the conference, the organizers, the speakers, other authors, etc. Publishing is a very, VERY small community. What you say will get back to people who matter, not to mention it makes you look like a sour, nasty person. Who wants to work with a person like that?

4) Do thank people for their time. A little note goes a long way to brighten the day of the folks who put on these conferences, and frankly, they don't get enough kudos.

5) Don't overdue scented products, i.e. perfumes, sprays, lotions, etc. Those of us with allergies will thank you.

6) Do keep your appearance clean, neat and professional. This means business casual attire. No Daisy Dukes, belly shirts, etc. Promotional costumes are a whole different matter.

7) Don't think you have to attend every single event. You'll fry your brain, not to mention a tired conventioneer is a grumpy conventioneer. This was my big mistake at my first writer's convention.

8) Get plenty of rest, plenty of water and plenty of food. It's amazing how the little things affect your etiquette.

Now get out there and have fun!

Thursday, June 17, 2010


The winner of SHUT UP AND KISS ME and WILD, WICKED AND WANTON is . . .


Michele, e-mail me at soharden (at) swbell (period) net with your snail mail address, and I'll get your prizes out to you.

For everyone else, thanks for stopping by and joining in the fun!

Remember, I'll have more contests this summer so drop by early and often!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Currently reading - See below!

Told ya! Yes, that's right. I'm giving away free books. Lots and lots of free books! And some other goodies too over the next several weeks. Hee, hee, hee.

Those of you who read my post a week ago last Saturday may remember my lament over winning a boatload of books from the Brenda Novak auction for diabetes research. Well, the folks sending me stuff are a lot more organized than I am, and packages are pouring in at Casa la Harden. Unfortunately I don't have all my author interviews lined up yet.

So, here's what I'll do instead. I'm giving away a brand-spanking-new copy of Christie Craig's Shut Up and Kiss Me.

And as a bonus, the winner will get a hot-off-the-presses copy of Wild, Wicked and Wanton: 101 Ways to Love like You're in a Romance Novel by Christie Craig and Faye Hughes, another member of our crazy critique group. Seriously, folks, this book doesn't hit the stores until Friday.

So what do you have to do to enter this fabulous contest? Simple! Leave a comment, but NOT just any ole' comment.

Tell me what's the craziest thing you've done in the name of love. (And keep it clean, folks. This is only an R-rated website.)

Per my usual contest rules, if you post anonymously, please put your name in the body of the e-mail so I can identify you. Comments will close at 11 AM CDT on Thursday, June 17th. I'll bribe GK into drawing a name from a Star Wars character's helmet and post the winner at noon.

LEGAL STUFF: Contest is only open to residents of the U.S. and Canada thanks to idiot terrorists, both domestic and foreign, who screwed up everything for the rest of us.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Currently reading - Watch and Learn by Stephanie Bond

A couple of days ago, someone I hugely admire and respect lamented a genre road not taken in her career. It wasn't so much the lament that bothered me so much as her response when I asked her why not try that road now.

To paraphrase, it was because she didn't have the time and she didn't want to do the research.

I was floored. This is the same excuse she hears regularly at book signings from members of the public. The same folks who would say to her, "Well, if I had the time, I'd write a book too."

I know part of my disappointment is the realization that one of my idols is human, and I fully claim this shortcoming.

But the other part is seeing a wonderful, adaptive writer, who's celebrated extreme highs and suffered devestating lows but always come out with her head high, give her talents such short shrift.

If there's anything any of you take from this post, please let it be this:

1) Don't underestimate yourself.

2) Don't go through life regretting the road not taken.

3) If you're a writer, write in the genre you love FIRST!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

If You Know an Engineer. . .

then this video will make perfect sense to you.

Friday, June 11, 2010

I Can't Handle the Wait!

Currently reading - Watch and Learn by Stephanie Bond

Sorry about not posting yesterday. My car had to go to the car doctor for uncontrolled bleeding. So trying to juggle that, GK's class at the science museum, and day job stuff, I totally forgot. I wish I could say that was the only thing I forgot.

Say, what's that herb that's supposed to help with memory?

But the big news today is finally, FINALLY! The Guild Season 4 will premiere on MSN, Xbox Live and Zune on July 13th!

(Yes, my geek is totally on right now.)

And for a little hit before the main event--

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Business Plan Part 10 - Marketing

Currently reading - Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Whethr or not writers want to admit this, marketing and promotion are falling more and more on the author's shoulders. Unless you're Stephen King. So, Stephen, please ignore the following post.

Everyone wants the secret, that one thing you can do that will launch your book into the stratosphere. I hate to tell you, but it's like the magic query. It doesn't exist

The following are my marketing suggestions based on what I've observed over the last six years:

Be Polite and Professional

A smile and good, old-fashioned common courtesy go a long way in making your career. This includes both industry professionals such editors and fellow writers as well as your readers. The former are more likely to help you if you're just plain nice. The latter will recommend your books if you make a good impression. By the same token, a diva attitude is the fastest way to kill a career.

Word of Mouth

The most effective promotion I've seen is word of mouth. Think The Bridges of Madison County. Think The Da Vinci Code. Think Twilight. How did you first find out about any of these books?

Back when I worked in a bookstore, a regular customer and I were lamenting the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He said as a Buffy fan I needed to try out this new lady, Sherrilyn Kenyon. I loved her book! Seriously, I handsold the hell out of Kenyon's Dark-Hunter series for my remaining year and a half at the store.


If you can't work in a bookstore, the next best thing is guest blogging and tweeting. Just don't over-hype yourself. By that, I mean talking about your book, and only your book, 24/7. Add a little value. Maybe a conversation about someone else's terrific book you've read lately. A movie you've seen. A new game you've played. Take a look at your interests and strike up a conversation with someone.

Public Speaking

Yoda and Obi-Wan (aka Colleen Thompson and Christie Craig) swear by this method for getting their names out to the book-buying public. If you're a people person, then this route may be for you. If you're like me (I used to puke before every court hearing), then find another route that's easier on the stomach.

Bookmarks, Postcards and Flyers

When was the last time you bought a book based on one of these? What makes you think John and Jane Public will be any different?


This is a toughie to admit because frankly, I love decent swag at conferences. Sometimes this may work. Sometimes not. Mints, lip balm, and pens have all come in handy, but I can't honestly say I bought a book because of them except once. Years ago, one gal passed out a variety of teas. She got me hooked on Irish Breakfast tea, but not her Regency romances.


If you can afford them, great. I love wearing author logo shirts. But are they really cost effective? I'd have to say no. Unless you're Wil Wheaton.

If I'm wearing a Star Trek, comic book or Wicked t-shirt, I can guarantee a comment or conversation with a fellow geek. My beloved Christie Craig t-shirt, not so much.


Yeah, wouldn't we all like hordes of adoring fans? Again, if you're Sherrilyn or Stephen or Neil, no problem. The rest of us? Well, mystery author Parnell Hall sings it more eloquently than me.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Crazy, Crazy Weekends

Currently reading - Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Sorry about not posting yesterday, folks. I had to play catch-up on household duties.

So much for my marvelous three-day weekend to clean out my office! Actually, I made some pretty good progress. I can see the top of my desk again! And the floor! And in a few days, I might actually be able to fit my leather desk chair back into the office. If I can get it away from DH.

Which brings me to the second half of the weekend.

I think DH distracted me on purpose so I won't retrieve the said chair. DH (which now stands for Darth Husband) and his apprentice, Darth Kid, seduced me with the one thing besides chocolate they know I can't resist.


Okay, it was a friend who gave me free passes to a special preview of Despicable Me for future access to my personal book library. To this day, she curses me for fostering her addiction to paranormal romances.

Folks, when Despicable Me comes out next month, take your kids. They'll love it! The movie was a little sappy and predictible at the end, but the producers keep a nice balance between the main plot and subplots. Nor do they overdo the Despicable Minions. As DH said, it was better than we expected. Plus you'll never look at one of those snap-and-shake lights the same way ever again. Trust me.

When we got home, I got a little sorting and tossing done before I made pizza. Then it was DVDs of Hancock and Ocean's 11.

Sunday, we hit the local theater again for Prince of Persia. The plot needed work, but DAMN! Emo indie boy Jake Gyllenhaal has turned into some serious eye candy. So worth the emission price for the eye candy, ladies!

Wait! I meant 'admission.' I swear!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Business Plan Part 9 - Protecting Your Creativity

Currently reading - Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon

"Where do you get your ideas?" is the most common question I hear folks ask writers. While I like Neil Gaiman's answer ("The clearance aisle at Wal-Mart."), I don't think people would truly understand if I tried to explain my method. And even if I could explain, how would they take it?

As I've said, I'm in the process of cleaning out my office. Today, I started going through a box of old books and magazines, mainly stuff from when I was eleven or twelve. Stories from Lovecraft, Asimov and Bradbury. Homer's The Odyssey. Horror comics and superhero comcis. Articles about favorite movie and TV stars. Movie stubs from Star Wars and Superman. Then I toss in the idiosyncracies of the people I see in real life. All of that congeals and melds in the subconscious until something relatively new emerges.

But in today's litigious society, you can't be totally honest. Otherwise, someone claims you stole their idea or worse, claims you're defaming them.

So protect your creativity. Keep your mouth shut except for a few trusted friends. Both you and your pocketbook will be better off.

Honestly, your Honor, my heroine's mother is not based on my mother. My mother wouldn't be caught dead carrying a live dog in her purse.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Past and Other Secrets

Currently reading - Old crap I had the temerity to write thinking it was great

Seriously. I've been cleaning out the room that's supposed to be my office, trying to make it usuable again. When I was practicing law from home after GK was born, I had set up my desk and equipment in the loft.

A few years later, several things happened at the same time. I was hired by a law firm, DH got permission to work from home, and GK outgrew his toddler bed. So we played musical rooms. GK moved into the guest bedroom, DH got the loft office, and I set up shop in what was the nursery.

(Can I say, "Thank Djehuti, I decorated GK's room in an Egyptian theme?" I wanted something different than the ususal bears and bunnies. The lady I hired, Mona, took my inital design and ran with it. She made the walls look like a museum piece, not a kid's bedroom.)

Unfortunately, my "office" also ended up becoming the junk room. No, we don't have a junk drawer. We have a junk room. Including the dozen or so boxes I never unpacked when DH and I moved to Texas FOURTEEN FREAKIN' YEARS AGO.

Enough was enough. This was my weekend off, and I wanted my office back. So far, two bags of trash are waiting for the garbage truck on Monday. And that's just what I've thrown out yesterday. I've got two more days.

But while I was working on the second box of crap, I found them. Yes, my first attempts at writing. Bad poetry, angsty journal entries and incredibly poor attempts at novels. Egads!

DH asked to look at them. Yeah, right. I frankly do not need the mocking. I'm doing quite enough myself. (Not that DH would mock me, but this is up there with that sex ed. film the public schools show the fifth graders in embarrassment level.)

But I've come a hell of a long way. I've got fulls sitting on the desks of agents and editors. I'll make it eventually and redeem that poor, misguided teenager.

Now, for the secrets. . .

For my regular readers who actually check in on Saturdays, I'll let you in on something. Something good. Remember Brenda Novak's auction for diabetes research? I've never won anything on that auction.

Until this year.

61 books.

That's right. Here I am trying to clean out extraneous stuff from my house, and I've got 61 autographed books on their way.

What I'm going to do is set up Reading Wednesdays. That means every Wednesday I'll hold a drawing for U.S. and Canadian commenters for special prizes. The prize may be one book. Or it may be a special theme package! It all depends on the mood I'm in.

The fun will start Wednesday, June 16th. Put it on your calendars!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Friday Funnies

This is just too cute! And Patrick has wa-a-a-ay too much time on his hands.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Lightning Sucks

Quick message to say blog posting will be down for a few hours. Last night's string of storms fried our home wireless router. This is what I get for waiting to compose the frickin' post until the next morning.

Gotta love B&N's free wi-fi. LOL Now to go next door to the electronics store and get the router.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Business Plan Part 8 - Necessary Non-Book Writing

Currently reading - Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon

You've written and edited the world's Great American Novel. All you have to do is submit your opus to an agent and editor, rake in the bucks, and you're done, right?

In today's publishing world, the answer is no.

There's one self-defeating behavior I see over and over again in newbies. It starts with "I can't write a query" and continues with "synopsis, back cover blurb, or two-sentence pitch."

Here's the deal--you know your novel, your baby, your product better than anyone. You're the best person to sell, ur, describe your book to a potential consumer. And that's what an agent or editor is--a potential consumer.

Yes, writing a query or a synopsis takes a different skill set than writing a novel. But they are skills that can be learned! Just like you learned to write and edit your novel.

Martina over at Adventures in Children's Publishing wrote far more eloquently about the necessity of learning how to write a terrific query letter. I suggest you check her out.

The last thing I would add is that all writing skills can be learned. Over the years, I've written technical manuals and software project proposals, legal motions and client letters. I've had to learn how to do all these things, just like I've learned how to write queries and back cover blurbs. Don't kill your dreams by refusing to expand your horizons.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Business Plan Part 7 - Tracking Business Expenses

Currently reading - Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Part of turning writing into a career is treating it like a business. That means tracking expenses and income.

Expenses include supplies and equipment (like notepads and laptops), dues to writing organzations, subscriptions to professional magazines, conventions, conferences, postage, etc. Keep your receipts for everything! Don't forget to keep track of mileage to and from meetings and conferences too.

Do I really have to define income? *grin* At a certain point though, you may want to set up a separate business account to make tracking easier.

There's lots of relatively inexpensive accounting software out there. For expenses and income, I have used Quickbooks or Quicken. But, heck, you can use a shoebox as long as your records are clear and accurate. For mileage, I use an Excel spreadsheet.

One thing you'll want to keep track of is your submissions to agents and editors. My accountant, Ed, called one day about three years ago. He was worried the IRS would audit me, that the Feds would look at my writing as a hobby.

Until I produce my spreadsheet listing every pitch session and query letter, the date, the agent/editor I pitched/queried, and the particular manuscript I pitched/queried.

Now that I have income from my magazine column, Ed doesn't worry quite so much.

One caveat--I'm not necessarily recommending everyone run out and hire a CPA. DH and I have a situation that necessitates some professional guidance. But it doesn't hurt to have a consultation with an accountant to make sure your dotting those 'i's and crossing those 't's.

Any one else have some suggestion?