Posts Tagged ‘Check-in’

April 29, 2012

Musings

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My first Desert Dreams Conference won’t be my last.

It’s over now, and I just settled into my favorite spot at the Starbucks in Camp Verde (near the outlet, naturally). The plan is to sneak in a little writing time before I crash.

Am I nuts? Why not skip the attempt to work and crash right away? How much will I really get done?

Of course I’m nuts. Aren’t all writers a little off-kilter? The thing is, even though I’m physically exhausted, my mind is racing. I have thoughts I need to get down before I forget every last one of them. Plus, I have a synopsis I need to rewrite — and fast — so I can ship requested material.

Every day of the conference was jam-packed with learning, laughter and inspiration.

Here are a few of the gems I walked away with from the weekend:

— Never talk badly about yourself. There are enough other people willing to do that for you. (Bob Mayer, Friday afternoon workshop)

All writers wrestle with self-doubt. To reach your goals, you have to slay the doubt demons. (Allison Brennan, Saturday keynote speech)

— The way you structure your writing space can help your subconscious mind — and your muse — realize it’s time to work. (Tawny Weber, Saturday workshop)

— Not every sex scene needs to be mind-blowingly perfect. In real life, first times are often awkward. (Elizabeth Hoyt, Saturday workshop)

— In both dialogue and description, word choices set the mood and will vary depending on the character doing the speaking/observing. (Laurie Schnebly Campbell, Saturday workshop)

— Don’t give away all the details about a character’s backstory at once. Curiosity about why a character is doing what he’s doing pulls the reader into the story. (Martha Alderson, Sunday workshop)

The view from the tables in front of the conference center.

There was so much fantastic information to be gleaned from the presentations that I’ll never remember it all. The conference center hotel was great, with a gorgeous courtyard and two pools. (Next time, I’ll remember to pack a bathing suit.) Late April is the perfect time to be in Phoenix, because it’s not yet hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk.

The conference couldn’t have come at a better time, either. My Golden Heart score sheets came back on Friday and one of my two entries earned not one but two 3s. Ouch.

Luckily, I had plenty of positive support from my chaptermates who were also at the conference. Even better, I was too busy to dwell on those sucky scores. Until now, that is. Maybe I’ll get lucky and crash before I start to think too much about ’em.

Desert Dreams only happens every two years, but it’s definitely worth the short drive from Flagstaff. I’m already making plans to save up for the next one … or I will be as soon as I come back from RWA Nationals in Anaheim this summer.

Long time no hear from me, eh? I might not be blogging very much these days, but I’m still writing, writing, writing my free time away.

All that hard work is starting to pay off, though. I have a completely revised/hopefully ready for submission version of “Operation Snag Mike Brad” out with two beta readers, now that my CP’s done with it.

I’m also headed to the Desert Dreams conference down in Phoenix tomorrow. It’s my first one, even though I’ve lived in northern Arizona since 1999. I’m looking forward to that experience — even if I haven’t quite finished my packing yet. I’d best get on that. I just wish it didn’t involve searching my car — in the pouring rain — for my sandals. Think I’ll move the car into the garage before I start the search.

Also on this morning’s too-exciting agenda before I head into the office for an 8+-hour day? A haircut, possibly a trip to Target for new sandals, and writing time at Starbucks. Yep. Still busy as all get-out.

I set a new deadline for myself: Finish a new, improved draft on “Diva in the Dugout” in time to submit it to Avon Impulse by May 30. Hey, if they’re looking for stories featuring ballplayers (among other things), I have the perfect story for them.

That vacation week I had to burn in May is starting to look more and more fortuitous. I’ve worked at the Daily Sun so long that I have four weeks of vacation time … and nowhere to go for all but one. So we just put me on the schedule for a random week in May.

Now I know how I’ll be spending that week of vacation!

It’s too quiet around here. What are you up to these days?

March 27, 2012

Musings

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My cell phone doesn’t get that many calls. Aside from calls from the Boyfriend, and occasional calls from the roommate, it mostly remains silent.

That’s fine 364 days of the year. But there’s one day that I want the phone to ring: Golden Heart finalist call day.

In 2011, my call came bright and early, waking me at 8 a.m. So when I woke up 0f my own volition at 8:20 this morning, I was kind of already resigned to not finaling this year.

Add this to the fact neither of my entries has managed to final in any other contests this year, and I was even more convinced it wasn’t going to happen for me in 2012.

Then I checked the RWA website and saw there were only four finalists in my category. Knowing contemporary series had to have more than 40 entries, hope ticked up a notch.

I jumped in the shower and then drove from the Boyfriend’s to Flagstaff in time for  the massage I booked to keep my mind off waiting for the phone to ring. Best idea ever. For a blissful hour, I enjoyed being pampered and didn’t think about the GH (much anyway). Really. Hardly at all.

After the massage ended and I’d paid, I glided bonelessly to my car, relishing a few more moments of not stressing out. Only then did I allow  myself to check my phone.

Imagine how shocked I was to see a missed call from “blocked.”

My hopes immediately skyrocketed. I started driving myself crazy, wondering if I could be wrong … if I would be joining the 2012 GH class after all. I tweeted my frustration at missing the call. I text-messaged my chapter president. I e-mailed my critique partner.

Then I tried to go back to my routine. Yeah, right. Like anything captured my attention besides willing the phone to ring again.

It happened as I was walking into the bank. My ringtone was sweet, sweet music. I snatched up the phone and checked the display. Yes, “Blocked” was calling again. I answered with a smile on my face and hope threatening to choke me.

“Hello?”

Silence on the other end of the line.

“Hello,” I repeated, increasingly desperate to hear those magic words.

Still nothing but silence.

An edge of anger crept into my third “hello” before I disconnected the call, disgusted with whoever decided today would be a great day to phone me from a blocked number for no reason at all.

My CP says it was probably just a telemarketer. The Boyfriend assured me he gets blocked calls all the time.

Tell me I’m not the only one who thinks telemarketers should be banned from calling between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. on March 25 (or 26 if the 25th falls on a Sunday).

Anyone know any lawmakers who can make that happen?

 

January 27, 2012

Musings, OSNB

5 comments

I’m afflicted — cursed, if you will — with being that most heinous of attributes: Nice.

Too nice.

Some people — normal people — might think nice is a good thing. And that is, indeed, the case when you’re dealing with fellow human beings. A little kindness can go a long, long way.

But when you’re an author trying to make life difficult for your hero and heroine, a nice streak as wide as the mighty Mississippi just gets in the way.

Trust me, I know. That’s my CP’s main complaint with the MS she’s reading for me right now — and it was the main point of one of the agents who gave me detailed feedback on my 2011 Golden Heart finalist.

Obviously, it’s a problem for me.

I think it boils down to this: My characters are like old friends (some of them very old, having been knocking around my head since the mid-1990s). As I wrote in a guest post on the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood last spring, they’re folks I’d enjoy meeting for coffee or dinner.

And because I like these people, the last thing I want is to see them suffer.

But suffer they must. In the words of my CP, I need to  “Make them wiggle. Make them squirm. Make them unhappy. Uncomfortable. Put roadblocks in their way. Conflict is what drives a book and keeps the reader wondering how they will ever end up together.”

I can see her point. There’s not much keeping someone reading if they know the hero and heroine are meant for each other halfway through the story, is there?

That means I have to accept that torturing my characters — as much as I hate to do it — will make the story stronger in the end.

So I’m taking off the gloves. Now I just need to figure out how to channel the meanest person I know.