Wednesday, August 30, 2006

one short down...

two books to go!

I finished the short story yesterday, which means I did a total of 53 pages in three and a half day. That's a damn fine effort, even if I have to say so myself. And I love the story. The characters were fun to write, and hopefully, the story is a good mix action and sexiness (no love--sorry, I just can't write a complete love story in 63 pages! But I'm happy to leave readers with the possibility that a HEA is in the works :) )

So, today I'm back to writing the fifth Riley. And I have to get my butt into gear, because I'm effectively days behind my schedule now. I'm not sure if I can keep up the level of writing I achieved with the short, but it sure would be handy if I could. It'd give me more time to edit, that way. Of course, once I finished writing the 5th Riley, it's back to writing the Loch Ness book, which is now due in March. Luckily, I only have a hundred or so pages of that to write. Not sure what I'll do after I finish those two--I have several ideas for more Riley books, and there's a sequel to the Loch Ness planned (well, as much as I ever plan anything), but I also have this really cool idea about a phoenix who dreams about future events and tries to prevent them from coming true. This one is set in the same world as my Loch Ness book, and is sort of connected (I'm planning to introduce at least one of the characters in the second Loch Ness book.) So I guess that means I have no choice which to write first, even if the muse would rather play with the phoenix next.

Monday, August 28, 2006

leaping labs, promotional items and ....

writing. Of which I actually did a whole lot of this weekend. We're talking a serious 32 pages here in two and a bit days (counting Friday night)--and considering one of those days I was off having lunch with a couple of friends, that's not a bad effort. Especially when you remember that having lunch with friends always means gone all day :P . Only trouble is, those 32 pages were not on the 5th Riley, but a short story I had an idea for. I don't actually write many shorts--I tend to get all caught up in the story and the characters, and my shorts usually ends up long. I think the shortest I've ever written is a 50 000 word novelette that ImaJinn has for release sometime in the future. (Can't give you a date, because I haven't got one.) The short has the working title To Die For, and it's about a werewolf and wolf shifter who work for a Preternatural Investigations agency. It's fun, and sexy, and the hero is, well, to die for :). Not sure whether this will find a home or not, but I've had a blast writing it. I'm hoping to finish it while the 'urge' is there, then I'll get back to my galleys and writing Riley 5.

In other news, Bantam sent me some copies of their latest promotional booklet, and it looks absolutely fabulous! I actually thought I'd give a couple of signed copies away, along with some Tim Tams and other aussie goodies--like Riley's favourite chocolate--on my website, so keep an eye out for that. I also received the ARC's for FMR and Kissing Sin, and I just can't keep the silly grin off my face. I know the hardcover of FMR has been out for a while--and it still amazes me that one of my books made it into hardcover--but I'm a paperback reader from way back, and I love, love, love them. And to sit there and hold my two's an amazing feeling. The best in the world. (well, aside from giving birth to my pretty little girl...who's not so little any more!)

And finally, the fatty known as the leaping lab is much better thanks to the jab she received at the vets last week. Which more than likely means arthritis. We take her back this week, and she'll probably start a course of injections that'll help ease the pain a little more. At least she's her more fiesty self these days--though we are hoping her fence leaping days are over. As for the fluffy eating maching known as Finn, he's also on a diet, though a milder one, because he's only a kilo or so over his ideal weight. Anyone would think we were trying to kill him. He's an actor and a half, that one. When I get some decent pics of the pair of them, I'll put them up on my site :)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

formals, dog problems, new covers and line edits...

as the old saying goes, it never rains but it pours. This past week felt like that--everything came on at once.

Kasey had her formal last Saturday, so we spent Friday and Saturday running around collecting last minute items, and getting her hair and make-up done. It came as quite a shock to see her all dressed up--my little girl is growing up and becoming a lady (more so than her mother ever was, anyway. Me, I was always a tomboy ;) )

On Sunday we noticed that Ella's limp hadn't gotten any better, so she obviously hadn't just jarred her leg like we first thought. So, off to the vet to see what the problem is. We discovered she's a fatty--46 kilos, which is a whole lot of dog--and that the problem could be arthritis, or something worse. We're waiting to see if the jab she received yesterday works or not. If it does, then it's arthritis. If it doesn't, she has to have xrays and blood tests to see what's going on. Either way, the black fatty has to lose weight. (I may add here that I don't overfeed, and don't give her lots of treats. But as the vet said, labs can sniff food and put on kilos. So, she's sort of like me in that respect :D )

And of course, in the midsts of all the running around on Friday, the line edits for Dangerous Games came in. I have a week to get them done and get them back to Bantam. There goes the writing for the next couple of days! And Bantam has redone the cover art for Tempting Evil and Dangerous Games. I loved the old covers, and I love these:

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

my addiction...

As I said in an article I wrote some time ago, a famous author once said to me, "you'll never get published writing like that."

Of course, what she meant and what I heard were two different things. She meant my habit of following trends rather than writing what I loved. What I heard was, "you'll never get published. You suck. Your writing sucks."

So I ranted, I raved, I threw things (all in the privacy of my own home, of course.) And then, once I calmed down, I said, I'll show her.

Several years later, I sent Tor what I thought was an absolutely brilliant piece of work that no sensible publisher would be able to refuse. Of course, they did--the letter said something along the lines of your style of writing is not suitable for us. I can't remember the exact wording, because I believe I scrunched that letter up, jumped up and down on it several hundred times, then chucked it away. Why? Because what I read was "Your story sucks, you suck, go away and don't bother us again. And after I'd calmed down, I became determined to show them just what they'd missed out on.

Are you seeing a pattern here?

It happened again, a year or so later. A crit tore my work to shreds, telling me the heroine was trash, that she couldn't stand to read about her, that her motivations sucked, and that she would chuck the book away long before finishing. Of course, all I heard was, your heroine sucks, you suck, go away. And away I went to rant and rave in the privacy of my own home (Pete was getting rather used to these events by now). Of course, this time after the whole I'll show her vent, I actually read back what she'd said. And you know what? While I didn't agree that the heroine sucked, her motivations sure as hell did. It was a lightbulb moment for me--I finally realised that if I didn't let my emotions get in the way, I could actually gain something useful out of every comment, no matter how harsh it seemed at the time.

But through all the rants and raves and refusing to see anything but my own cherished words, there was one thing I never did. I never said I quit.

I can't.

Writing is my addiction. I can't not do it. I've been writing since I was 12, and mostly (in the beginning years) for own pleasure. I've been writing for so long I get cranky and unpleasant when I can't. Sure, I can and do go a few days without writing, but keep me away from the computer for more than that, and you'll be sorry.

Which is why I can't understand those who, on the first sign of a harsh word, say they're quitting. Ranting, raving, throwing things--all those I understand and have done. But letting one, or two, or even a dozen deadly comments turn off the writing bug? That I don't understand.

As newbies, we all tend to think every story we write is brilliant, that every word on every page is a jewel. If someone has something even remotely unpleasant to say about our babies, we react like fierce mother hens, all ready and willing to defend. And then we go home and rant and rave, or we do the opposite, and think and stew. We writers are good at such things--it's a solitary life we lead, and any sort of criticism tends to enforce the demons of doubt we all harbor.

But to give up at the first sign of a hurdle? At the first harsh word? Even at my most tender newbie moments, that never, ever occured to me. I might have wondered why I bothered trying to get published, I may have thought I was never going to get anywhere, but never once did I think about giving up writing. I can't. It's not only what I do, it's what I am. I'm a writer. I write, regardless of what people say or think.

Thing is, criticism is a fact of life, and it certainly doesn't stop even when we get published. Hell, I've had some truly trashy comments aimed at my novels from reviewers, but that's all part of the business. And honestly, there's no point in jacking up about it, because it is only one person's opinion. And agents, editors and even critiquers who might say harsh things about your work generally aren't doing so for the sheer thrill of being nasty. They're trying to help you. Trying to make you see where you might be going wrong--in their opinion.. And that is one thing all newbies need to remember. It's only an opinion. Just because it's an agent, or editor or published author making the comment doesn't mean the whole rest of the world is going to agree with them.

The other thing newbies need to remember is if you quit, your dream dies with you.

If you quit, you'll never be able to show them just what you're capable of.

the recovery phase....

why is it that after attending a conference in which you do little more than overeat, overchat, and overdrink (aka, have a damn good time!), you feel like you've been hit by a trunk and need to sleep for the next 48 hours? My eyes still feel like they're hanging out of my head, and I still feel wasted, yet I slept really well last night.


Anyway, I haven't done much writing since getting home, but I did pick up my new car. It's very pretty and drives so much nicer than my old car :D Oh, and Bantam sent me two ARC's for Kissing Sin, and they look absolutely fabbo.

Since I have got anything useful to say (see, the brain just isn't functioning at full capacity....and no snide remarks from the peanut gallery stating that it never does!), here's a couple more conference pics:

Mel and me looking glam at the Saturday night awards dinner. I think this was at the three wine stage of the evening (I got to four wines ;)

Me as a wicked witch at the cocktail party (sans the long, hooked plastic nose, which made drinking and eating extremely difficult) Pic thanks to Kate Cuthbert.

Monday, August 14, 2006

back home...

safe and sound in cold old Melbourne. Although it probably wouldn't seem so cold here today if it wasn't for the wind, which feels like it's blowing down direct from the Antartic.

The conference is over for another year, and all I can say is, what a blast! This is the first time I was actually able to fully relax at the conference--in recent years, I was more likely to have been found helping behind the scenes. Which I loved doing, but it was nice to let someone else do all that stuff, and just sit back and watch them. :) My workshop and author chat seemed to go really well, and the bookstore (run by Rosemary's Romance books) sold out of all my books. Which was most excellent! An additional feature this year was the Pink Breakfast, a fund raiser for the Breast Cancer Foundation. It was a huge success, raised plenty of money, and will now become a permanent feature of the conferences. Another most excellent thing!

But one of the best features of the conference was actually hanging out with Miriam and getting to know her a whole lot better. We chatted (Miriam, Mel and I--Robyn had to leave Friday evening, unfortuantly) long into the night--hence the baggies under my eyes you'll see in the photos I'll be posting over the coming days. It's actually amazing what similar tastes we all have when it comes to books and movies--though I have to say, my reading knowledge is somewhat lacking. Widely read I am not, as I discovered during those conversations! :)

Anyway, back to work today--and back to writing 5 pages a day.

In the meantime, here's the first pic:

Robyn and I escaping to the beach! And no, we didn't have too much to drink--not then--although it does look like it in the pic :)

Saturday, August 12, 2006

a conference report...

Arriving on the Gold Coast is like getting an ice cream on a very hot day--it feels absolutely wonderful. I mean, it's winter here and it's actually warm. Amazing stuff for a Melburian used to freezing winter winds.

Robyn, Mel and I arrived Thursday evening, and headed off to dinner with Miriam. Good food and gossip was shared, then we treated to my room for tea, chocolate and more gossip. But the funniest event of the night was Robyn waking at three in the morning and asking what that was. That being her dramatically flung out hand. I have no idea what she was dreaming, but it must have been interesting! :)

Friday was workshop day, and Miriam was doing a solo version of the American Idol workshop she and Irene do in America. It was fascinating to hear her read out the work and see where exactly the author lost her. Most people walked away from that workshop with some valuable tips, and some even walked away with requests (yay Mel and Robyn!) Of course,there was always going to be some grumbles, and some thought she was being too harsh. She wasn't. She was just being honest, and lets face it, how many times do people need to be told that you only have a few lines, if that, to hook an editor or agent before they actually believe these people mean what they say?

Last night was cocktail party night, and the theme was old hollywood. I went as the wicked witch of the west, complete with a hooked nose that got into food and made drinking an art form. Hopefully, I'll get some pics up in the next week or so, because there were some fantastic costumes.

Writing wise I've managed five pages so far, and I'm hoping to do a few more during my spare moments (if we don't decide to do another wine, chocolate and chat session! :) ).

Talk some more soon!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

more edits...

sort of. I received a bunch of proofreader queries today, and had to deal with them immediately, because Bantam want them back next week and the RWAust conference is on this weekend. So, no time like the present :). It really wasn't a whole lot of work--they were just pointing out repeats words, slight inconsistancies, stuff like that. Easy to solve, once they've actually been pointed out.

Writing wise, I got six pages done yesterday, but none today. But beside the edits, I did manage to finish my workshop for the conference, so at least that was something achieved. I'm hoping to do my 5 pages tomorrow, which means I'll roll over the one hundred page mark (101, to be precise). That's one quarter of the book almost done--woohoo!

Friday, August 04, 2006

new title...

Riley 5 has a new title. The working title was Dead Man's Revenge, but my editor and agent thought it sounded too much like the current pirates movie. Which I guess it does--I just didn't actually think about that when I wrote the beginnings of the fifth book earlier this year. The new title is Embraced by Darkness. Which was my favourite of all the suggestions I sent in, and totally suits the story line. Mind you, Dead Man's Revenge did too, but it's not quite as sexy. And while I'm here--a big thanks to Mel and Caroline for throwing suggestions into the ring and helping me come up with ideas!

On the writing front, I'm basically sticking to my schedule and chugging along. Some days I only do two or three pages, some days I do ten, so overall, it averages out to the five or six pages a day I'm aiming for. But this story has totally changed from what I'd imagined all those months ago when I first started it. Originally, I was going to base the story around a Thuggee cult. The Thuggees were an Indian cult devoted to Kali, the goddess of death and destruction, and for hundreds of years they practiced large-scale robbery and murder of travellers. But the muse has warped the original idea into something far more simple--revenge--so I guess the Thuggee story will have to wait for another day. Which is probably for the best, considering book four also deals with ancient Gods. Don't want a theme to be happening here ;)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

slow progress...

on the writing front. Though at least I can say there is some progress. Wasn't sure there would be any for a while there. I've crawled up to 62 pages completed, and already this story has taken a severe turn from what I'd imagined. At the end of Dangerous Games, I had all these marvellous ideas about what was going to happen in book five, but no, once I got into the beginning of the book, the muse decided to go her own way. So, how I'd intended the fifth book to end originally has now done a complete flip. Which is good in one way--because it means Quinn can become a major part of book 6 again (here's hoping Bantam want book 6!). Oh, and yeah, that's a slight spoiler, but one you won't understand until you read Dangerous Games! Let's just say, Quinn stuffs up bigtime :D

On the house front, we've had a couple of people through looking at the house, but no offers. Given the recent interest rate rises as well as the current cost of fuel, I'm thinking it could actually be a bad time to sell. (we do tend to do these things at the wierdest--or worst--times! When we decided to sell the farmlet and move to Roxy, it was during a downturn in the market, too.) It'll be interesting to see how many we get coming through during the open for inspection on Saturday.