Sunday, November 23, 2008

Where Are You Going? Where Have You Been?

No, I'm not channeling Joyce Carol Oates. I'm actually looking for a job. I teach English overseas so I'm perusing Dave's ESL Cafe International Job List trying to decide where I want to be next. Where have I been?

Seoul, South Korea - 2 years, 1 in the north east and 1 in the south west. The first year we lived at the foot of a mountain that had foxholes on it, the second we were down the street from the best Mexican restaurant in Asia.

The Philippines - 3 separate 1 week vacations. Dirty, slightly dangerous, but quite beautiful if you looked in the right places. The people were wonderful. I bet I could go there right now, a year and a half after my last visit, and there would be people who knew my name and would greet me warmly.

Thailand - a week and a half last Christmas. Agog. Still. Especially with the foot of snow in my backyard. I'm applying for a job there. Living in Thailand would not be a hardship even though they pay peanuts.

Concepcion, Chile - 3 months. The food was amazing, the people were wonderful, the cold was crippling. They aren't big on heating buildings and, contrary to the palm trees, it does get down to freezing.

I've traveled pretty extensively within the US too, but that just gets unwieldy to list.

So where am I going?

Well, I've applied for jobs in Dubai, Chiba Prefecture Japan, and Thailand. I was just looking wistfully at a job in China even though I promised my mother I wouldn't work there after some damn fool sent her an article about and ESL teacher who died under mysterious circumstances while I was in Korea. So far I haven't been qualified for the posts in Morocco and Turkey that have popped up. I applied for a school in Costa Rica, but never heard back. I'm not even sure my email went through. I'd love to teach in Belize, but they, inconveniently, already speak English.

So where do you want to go? Are you the type that always has a bag packed or are you more of a home body? Have any suggestions for places I should look at more closely? Do you think you know a place that more closely resembles heaven than Phuket Thailand? 'Cause I'll go check.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Symbolism? Me?

Dara blogged about whether modern literature is too shallow. I think you get what you give, but that's not my obsession right now.

In the usual pinball effect of my brain, I bounced from thought to related thought until I landed in the glorious multi-ball slot. I started dwelling on the symbolism in my own books. Right now I'm working on the third book in the Arden FD series. Yeah, Arden, my nod to Shakespeare.

Dan is a paramedic and a suddenly reforming playboy. He met Rebecca because she ducked into the station to get out of a downpour. That rainstorm changes Dan. Rain is a nice symbol for new beginnings. Rebecca is an illustrator and watercolorist who has been making fine art because it pays better, but she hates doing it. Her major piece is called "Broken Home" (it's a smashed dinner plate cemented to a board.) Now, about halfway through the story, she is cutting mats and the blade slips, slicing open the inside of her wrist. Not deep enough to do real damage, but a dead ringer for a serious suicide attempt. The art is killing her.

When I chose to have the characters meet because of a rainstorm it was because I got caught in a rainstorm one night while walking home and chose not to duck into the local station. The symbolism dawned on me about a month ago when I dusted it off to finish it. When I thought up Rebecca's major work, I figured it was funny and realistic. I only realized it was symbolic of her relationship with her parents and her fear of giving her heart to anyone yesterday. The cut was something someone I knew in college did. It was a plot device to get Rebecca into the fire station so Dan could work on her just like the rain was a plot device to get her in there in the first place. Now the snow globe she's about to make, that's totally on purpose, but I want Dan to decode it.

If you write, do you intentionally put in symbolism or do you see it later? Or do you never see it?

When you read, do you assume the author created the symbols on purpose or that they were happy accidents?

And if you're interested in the conversation about modern lit being shallow, head over to Amused Authors

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Tigger On Speed -- or at least caffeine

I have Google set up to alert me when my name and the word "One Ring" appear together. I'm egotistical that way. After Publishers Weekly eviscerated me over Three Alarm Tenant in the Amazon contest, I'm a little hesitant when I get reviews. Yes, I was told the PW was brutal to every entry. I think having to read and review over 800 books would make me cranky too. Regardless, I walked around for a couple of days like Sylvester the Cat after he's had an anvil dropped on his head -- complete with stars and tiny Tweety Birds flying around my head. When a new review shows up in the inbox, I'm reluctant to open it.

I gotta get over that. Every one has been fantastic. One Ring To Rule has been called a delight and a must read.

"…my emotions swung from crying to laughing and back again." -Manic Readers
"…a strong, sassy style with plenty of sharp humour." -Cocktail Reviews
"…a refreshing story that spells thrills the minute it starts." -Coffee Time

So I'm springing off the walls with that and I decide to send the maligned Three Alarm Tenant to my editor at Lyrical. This book is near and dear to me. Katherine is afraid to give her heart to Jack because he's a fireman and she's already lost a fiance to death on the job. I worry about my husband when he's late and he's not going to a potentially life threatening job. Once I fell in love with Jack, it was only a matter of time before I fell for his buddies and wanted to see them happily settles down with spouses and mortgages too. Book 2 is finished. I'm working on book 3. But back to the story.

I email my editor with Three Alarm Tenant. She emails back the next day and says she wants it. I wonder if I made her cry again. She cried over the ending of One Ring. Then the publisher emails me my contract and tells me she loves me. She's really excited about the story.

Spoingy, spoingy, spoingy!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Spy Candy is Coming!

When I was in the Gather First Chapters Romance contest, one other entry really caught my eye. The opening line was "Her panties were in a bunch." Believe it or not, it got better from there. I wasn't at all surprised when it went with mine to the semi-finals. I had it pegged for the winner because it was so funny and exciting. Well, it didn't win, but the author, Gina Robinson, got another book accepted with Zebra shortly after the contest ended. This one features a fantasy spy camp and a delectable hero named Torq Toricelli.

I haven't looked forward to a book coming out like this for a long time. That's a lie. I looked forward to my own book coming out, but for books that aren't written by me, this one is right at the top of the list. In fact, as soon as I'm done here, I'm headed to her website to preorder that baby.

Seriously, this is not to be missed. Check it out for yourself.
Gina Robinson

Monday, October 6, 2008

He's finally married!

My big brother got married yesterday! He's always been the marrying kind, but never met a good match. My sister met her hubby nearly 20 years ago. I have been hitched for 17 years now. Big Bro has been jealous the entire time. Several years ago he met his sweetheart, but she was married at the time so he, being the good guy that he is, didn't give her a second thought. Well, she wised up to the monster she'd married, got a divorce and after a year or so mutual friends started making a point of throwing them together as much as possible. It stuck.

Big Bro and the brand new SIL were married yesterday in a lovely outdoor ceremony with freakishly good weather for Ohio. The bees were in abundance and the minister called Big Bro Paul twice. Big Bro's name is not Paul. The best man's name was Paul. Oops. The florist forgot to deliver the throw away bouquet, so we had to invent one out of a centerpiece. The caterers screwed up and cut the top layer of the cake.

Of course this just gave my sister and I a chance to stand on the side lines and compare disasters from our own weddings. My dad got caught in her dress when he walked her up the aisle, a bee buzzed her flowered head piece in the middle of the ceremony, and she had a little too much champagne on the way to the pictures so she was standing up through the limo sunroof yelling all the way to the reception. I said 'yeah' instead of 'I do," tried to put Guitarman's ring on the wrong finger and we had a cloudburst in the middle of out open air reception.

While we weren't watching, Guitarman convinced one of my nephews to peddle cookies to the golfers on the neighboring course and my brother-in-law plotted revenge for the shaving creaming of his car 18 years ago. He bought 4 packages of sticky notes and we covered Big Bro's black Mustang in hearts, flowers and leaves. I can't wait to see the pictures.

So what's the funniest thing you've seen, intentional of accidental at a wedding?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Things that are making me happy RIGHT NOW

Am I a disgustingly upbeat person? No, be honest. Am I one of those people who makes you want to throw things at me when I start talking about the positive side of whatever disaster has befallen most recently?

So I've been struggling for self discipline lately. Doing pretty good on the food and exercise front, but not so good on the writing front. I got a rejection this week and sent it right back out - then I went and trolled message boards, played games on Pogo and found wonderful new things on You Tube. That's how I found the thing that is making me really happy RIGHT NOW.

4 out of 5 Cowboys Prefer Joe Boxer

This is why I don't get anything done. It's not my fault. There's just far too much fabulous stuff out there!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

My 4 Week Anniversary

Four weeks ago tomorrow, One Ring to Rule came out and appeared on the Lyrical Press bestseller list. I searched the list to see where the other books that came out the same day, my peers in a what, were. They weren't there. I thought, hmmm. It hung in there for 2 weeks before Lyrical released another group of titles.

Before those titles came out I was sweating. Would my little novella get shoved off the list by the new kids? Would it vanish into the annals never to be seen again? Would it ever appear on the publisher's front page again? No, seriously, I worried about all this stuff. If I had a job or kids I might think about something else, but here I am.

But it didn't fall off the list! Joy!

A couple of days ago it dropped to #10. I was shaking in my boots. Not really in my boots. My boots are across the room (they're really cool too. I got them in Seoul and - Oh, off topic.) I wrote a couple of emails and posted an article on Gather and the little novella that could climbed up to #9.

More joy!

Now I can say my novella was on the bestseller list for a month. A whole month.

I wonder if it can make two!

Monday, September 22, 2008

I Love Dr. Keller

I've been utterly addicted to Stargate SG-1 for year, but I never got into Atlantis. I tried a couple of times and it just didn't connect.

Until this season. I was doing handsprings when Samantha Carter took over Atlantis and then stunned into immobility when Jewel Staite showed up as Dr. Keller. I love Jewel Staite. She plays characters that I can identify with and Dr. Keller is no exception. She's brave enough to take on the post of Chief Medical Officer in the Pegasus Galaxy, but she draws the line at gross food. I can identify.

When Samantha Carter was ordered back to Stargate Command, I got a little nervous. Stargate is known for knocking off characters and bringing them back -- or not. I mean, geez, how many times has Daniel died? So I've been sweating when they were going to get rid of her.

This week's episode relieved my anxiety a lot. Not only was it a Dr. Keller centered episode, but it established a love triangle with her at one corner. Yay! I can't wait to watch Dr. McKay competing with Ronon Dex. Yay! And it's a love story arc. Double yay!

Monday, September 15, 2008

New Release From a Pal

Daringly DeliciousLook who's "come" to Dareville!

Daringly Delicious - Leigh Ellwood

a new Dareville short from Phaze Books

Contemporary, BBW, Romantic Comedy

Only $2 eBook download!

Also available in the BBW print collection,

More, More, More! from Phaze Books

Order the eBook * Order the print

When it comes to chocolate, Tish Richmond delivers the goods. Her home business, Tish's Riches, is booming, and a new contract with Dareville's popular grocery store allows her the opportunity to expand her reach. Happy as she should be for the exposure, Tish longs to stop her waistline from expanding further so love can reach her.

Gorgeous Vinnie comes to Dareville to work for his uncle's limousine company. One look at Tish and he's struck by the sexy, voluptuous entrepreneur. Can he convince Tish that the size of her dishes don't matter to him, and will she let him satisfy his sweet tooth?

Read an Excerpt on The Romance Studio blog!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

You Know It's a Story, Right?

When my novella came out, I sent emails to everyone I knew asking them to buy it and spread the word. Several friends stepped up and bought the story which made me very happy. Then I got an email from one asking if everything was alright between me and my husband.


The story involves a comic book artist and a comic book editor who had split up years earlier. The artist shows up at a convention to get the editor back.

My husband was a comic book artist. I went to many conventions. I was writing what I knew. But it's not autobiography. None of it is really autobiography. Parts do come from my life. Other parts come from my friends lives and yet others come from movies I've seen, dreams I've had and straight out of my own fevered brain.

I emailed the friend and told him not to worry, but I have to wonder, do people really think my life is that interesting? That exciting and stressful? God, I hope not. The pain and humiliation I put Lindsey and Kent through I wouldn't wish on anyone. At least not anyone real. My characters I'll continue to torment for my own jollies.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Upcoming Conference

Kick A$$ Characters By Authors Who Know How To Kick A$$

September 12-13 at Romance Divas


Bob Mayer

Lori Avocato

Maggie Price

Lindsay McKenna

Barry Eisler

Linnea Sinclair

Larissa Ione

Merline Lovelace

Want to know how to write authentic action, suspense, law enforcement, and military romance? Ask authors who know firsthand! Romance Divas is hosting a 2-day workshop with some of the hottest names in the genre. It will take place at the Romance Diva Forum. All are welcome. To get access to the forum you will need to register by entering the site and clicking on Forum.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

It's Good To Be Creative

So my husband locked us out of the house today.

When we went to Korea last time, we left a set of keys with a friend who managed to lose the one for the door knob. We've been very carefully not locking the knob, just the bolt.  Arriving home from lunch today however, my husband says, "oh no."

See, now when my husband says that my automatic instinct to smother my face in my hands. It's got to be genetic memory or something.

My husband says, "oh no. I think I locked us out of the house." I started working on the window on the front porch to see if I could get it open. It's latched. He announces that he's going to the neighbor's to call a locksmith. I decide to wander around the house looking for an alternative that won't cost me money. The house is nearly a 100 years old, so there's flaws in the security design. After trying a couple of windows, I settled on the dining room window. Around that time my husband came back because the neighbor wasn't home. Using a trowel that shouldn't have been sitting in the porch, I wedged open one of the dining room windows while the neighbor's dog barked at me. I kept telling him it was okay because I was breaking into my own house, but he didn't believe me. Husband climbed through the window and unlocked the front door.

Tomorrow, we're getting a new doorknob and cutting some boards to jam the dining room windows closed. Next time we get locked out, I'll have to be more creative.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Monday is coming! Monday is coming!

It's finally here and I'm a little too stunned to take it in. 

Back in July, when I first got The Email (it wasn't The Call, but close enough for me) I was so excited I could barely breathe. No kidding. I passed out a couple of times. Lucky I didn't bang my head too hard. 

Somewhere in August, when all the edits were done, the thrill started to wear off. I had new stuff to get excited about. The blindingly rapid response to another submission to Freya's Bower for one (5 minutes. It's got to be a record.) 

Then Monday, after having lunch with a friend, I got home to pencil in that we planned to meet again the following Monday and it hit me. The following Monday was Labor Day and she probably won't be free for lunch? No. I mean that too, but the following Monday is the Monday. The Monday I've been waiting all my life for.

The day my book comes out!

So I've been walking about two inches off the ground while simultaneously feeling sick for days and it's reaching a crescendo. By Monday, I should be curled into the fetal position, moaning and floating two inches off the ground.

What would I have done if I had been scheduled for December release like I was supposed to be?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

And the Rain, Rain, Rain came Down, Down, Down

The rain is killing my ability to function. For the past several weeks it's ranged between hot and sunny and cool and sunny. Note the trend. This morning when ADT woke me up to put me on hold so a service rep could sell me something, it was 55 degrees and gloomy. I wasn't informed that August was ending early. The gloomy never left. The sound track of the day has been dripping. It isn't raining hard enough to help either. The grass is the traditional brown and the light, constant rain won't change that.

What the rain is doing is setting a chill in my bones that makes me want to curl up with a good book. Or perhaps a bubble bath and a good book. Any suggestions?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Just Say No To the Refresh Button

Submitting a manuscript just shoots a whole day for me. Never fails. First there's the goofing around I have to do while I work up the nerve. Trolling forums, checking my email, trying to talk a friend into lunch. Anything to burn a little time. Then I have to read 

the submission guidelines repeatedly, 

follow them,

fix the mistakes I made because somehow, I always do,

compose the cover letter / email,

try to decide if I'm being too flippant or just flippant enough,

check to make sure I followed the guidelines again, 

and hit send.

No, that part doesn't take all day. It just feels like it does. After that I have to step away from the computer. Otherwise it's refresh, refresh, refresh. The last two things I subbed were responded to really fast so today, instead of doing something constructive, like laundry, I haunted the internet and kept checking my email. Hot Sunday afternoon be damned. Why haven't they emailed back yet.

So here it is nearly six pm and all I've written is 1k. Good for some folks, but I've been averaging 5K for the past several days and I already know what the next couple of scenes are. Sigh. After dinner, I'll buckle down and do what's good for me.

Just say no to the refresh button.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

You're Invited To a Shower!

Raise your hand if you're chilled by those words. That little card comes in the mail and all I can do is think of a reason not to go. I'm not sure how many of these I've managed to avoid. Probably not enough because I have 'sucker' tattooed on my forehead. I had the perfect excuse for this one until a few months ago. "Oh sorry, I'm going to be out of the country." When that fell through I resorted to "oh sorry, I don't have a car. I won't be able to get there." My mother offered to drive out and get me. She wasn't being helpful. She knew what I was doing and she was determined to foil me.

See, this shower is important. My brother, at 46, is getting married for the first time and he is such the marrying kind. My sister married 17 years ago and I moved in with my husband that same year. We married 6 years later. My brother has been jealous ever since.

When he started dating Sue seriously, we (the family) were very excited. She's a really nice woman and great to him. Better than he deserves. I'm looking forward to the wedding. And the marriage.

But I still hate shower games.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

An Embarrassment of Produce

My husband plays guitar. He's pretty good if I don't say so myself, but when you practice something three hours a day, you better get good at it or you're doing something seriously wrong. This guitar habit of his has landed him a bi-weekly gig at a local farmer's market. Now, at this gig, he plays for tips. Toward the end of the day, when the dealers are packing up, they leave their tips in the form of vegetables. High quality, locally grown, organic vegetables.

The first week he got a couple of zucchini, a couple of yellow squash and a head of garlic. We ate the zucchini and the squash and made a dent in the garlic. It was tasty and we were pleased.

The second week he got a small bag of potatoes, several more squash, more zucchini and a few other miscellaneous veggies. We did our best by it, but there's still a couple of potatoes, tomatoes and zucchini left.

Last week, they really liked the tunes. We walked out with four bags of vegetables and that's because we gave one bag to the friend who played the break. 

Now, with focused concentration I could probably eat all the vegetables, but the bulk of what I have is zucchini and eggplant. Good sometimes, but not everyday. This is not to say that I'm ungrateful. I'm just not that big an eater.

I am loath to throw out the food under normal circumstances and this is really good stuff. However, I'm not sure I can eat it all before it goes bad and I'm thinking the tips might continue to increase with the harvests. I will be drowning in zucchini by September. Anybody have any tips for freezing or pickling zucchini?

Friday, July 11, 2008

I Have A Cover!

I have it. It's here. And it's beautiful!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Oh What A Feeling!

This very magical Fourth of July weekend I had promised to help my husband's grandparents with their 3 day garage sale. Do I know how to have fun or what? I also committed myself to submitting a novella to Lyrical Press by opening my big mouth on Romance Divas and telling the publisher I was going to. (I didn't know she was the publisher at the time.)

The nerves set in about then. I edited the thing twice instead of once. I wrote and rewrote the cover letter and the blurb. I solicited advice on the blurb. I solicited advice on pen names. I played a lot of Pogo. I can stall with the best of them.

Since I was due at my grandparent-in-laws Thursday morning and planned to stay until Sunday evening, and since I wasn't sure about internet accessibility, I sent in my submission around 10 Wednesday night.

Then I commenced fretting about what I'd done wrong. I had less remorse about buying my house than I did about what I could have or should have done in that submission. I nearly broke out the manuscript and edited it again. Instead I forced myself away from the email trusting in the fact that I couldn't start fretting about how they were trying to let me down easy until at least Sunday evening.

I woke up Thursday morning about 7, at peace with my decision. The timing was good. It would keep me from worrying. I sat down at the computer to check my email before leaving and there it was:

"Emma Porter Re: Submission-One Ring To Rule."

I had enough time to think "gee that was fast" before I had the rest of the email open to see:

"I'd intended to wait a decent interval before replying, but I opened ONE RING to peek, and you had me at "Jedi." This story absolutely cracked me up. It's a fun, fast and satisfying read, and I'd be delighted to take it on for publication."

It took about 10 seconds for this information to sink in and turn into words I understood. Somebody liked my story. Somebody who doesn't know me. Somebody who was judging the story on the story and not on my charming personality or my funny comments or my great cover letter (because trust me, that cover letter really needed more work.)

Now I can start fretting about my bio and my contract and what I can do for a follow up.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Mark Your Calendars!

Am I hot or not? Erotic Romance VS. Erotica. Q&A with Liquid Silver Acquiring Editor, Tina Burns.

All day July 12th at Romance Divas

Tina Burns

How do you know if you’ve crossed into the Erotica zone? Get a professional’s opinion. It will take place at the Romance Diva Forum. All are welcome. To get access to the forum you will need to register. The workshop will be in the “Steamy” section of the forum which requires permission from the admin. Details are HERE.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

When Life Hands You Lemons…

Where the heck have I been these past few months? There I was posting regularly every Sunday and then nothing for 3 months. 3 Months!

The short answer to that question is Chile.

The long answer is, well, really long.

A few years ago, my husband and I entered into the career of teaching English overseas. We spent 2 stressful and fulfilling years on Korea, but had felt it was time to move on. We came across an ad for a school owned by another Ohioan in Concepcion, Chile and thought it would be a perfect fit. We don't speak Spanish, but we had a working knowledge of the language and we hadn't had that much trouble in Korea without speaking the language. Besides, we were working for another Ohioan. What kind of communication problem could we have.

While working at the school, were I was the librarian, I ran across the quote "the illusion of language is that it is complete." I wish I knew who said it because it sort of summed up the experience.

Chile was until fairly recently a dictatorship. The government has changed, but the society moves a little slower. Our school was run like a dictatorship. We could never talk to the dictator/business manager because while she spoke English, she wouldn't. We were subject to random supply shortages and whisper campaigns. I spent about a month trying to get shelves. It was the library. I had 400 boxes of donated books to short and no shelf space. And yet, I couldn't get shelves. I also "heard" that the seniors through I was insulting and rude. A teacher was fired while I was there because of this. Another teacher quit in hysterics. Then our telephone was turned off by the business manager. This was one of her regular tactics to push someone out. When you're that far away you really need to get in touch with family and since we had no internet at home due to another decision of the business manager's it was out only link.

It was a horrible thing to live through, but I learned a lot from it. Living in a dictatorship is an experience unlike anything else. It's so insidious, you don't know what's happening until you're neck deep in trouble. At least if you're not used to the system. The Chilean people are wonderful and I wouldn't hesitate to visit, and eat until I burst, but I wouldn't want to work there.

I also got a lot of work done. Not having many distractions gave me no excuses and nothing else to do. Now, I'm out and about again and I hope to have my life back again soon. Until then, wish me luck.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

New Release From a Pal

She’s got the man—and the wedding—of her dreams. If only love were part of the fantasy.

Heather Tindall is temping as a personal assistant until her dream job as an event planner comes along. Worse, her new boss has a penchant of running off new assistants before lunch. Heather’s not about to let her spotless employment record be ruined by a real estate mogul with an attitude problem, no matter how well he fills out a suit.

At first Curtis can’t believe the nerve of the woman who refuses his order to leave. Six months into their working relationship, her dedication still manages to surprise him. But her best efforts to protect his personal life can’t keep the press from seeing him as anything more than a playboy. Then it dawns on him that the perfect solution is right under his appointment book—Heather.
Swept off her kitten heels, Heather can’t help but accept the proposal of the man with whom she’s fallen in love. She hopes that in time he’ll come to feel something for her.

Curtis is determined not to feel anything, for anyone, ever. He’ll do anything Heather wants—but he’s not going to fall in love with her.

Except that will never do for a girl with a Cinderella Complex…

Read An Excerpt Online

Buy it today from My Bookstore and More

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I've been tagged

Well, I was tagged by Cynthia Hamer so I have to come up with 5 Unimportant things about me. Perhaps I should say, I need to narrow the list to 5. Either way…

1. I prefer decaf Lipton tea to Salada even though Salada is cheaper.

2. My passport photo was taken nearly 4 years ago and still looks nothing like me.

3. I'm madly in love with Dong-Kun Jang from the movie Tae Guk Gi, but I have yet to see the movie. (I will stare at any commercial I spot him in despite not understanding a word.)

4. I have a large collection of Chinese Winnie The Pooh gum ball machine toys.

5. I can write letters upside down, but not numbers.

Now I have to go find people to tag. I'll be back.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Play nicely, now.

This week there has been a thread running on the Romance Divas forum about the ethics of blogging. I guess I'm really naive, but it never occurred to me to use my blog to attack someone. Either that or I am truly a preschool teacher at heart. Everybody plays nice.

My college background was in English Lit. In those classes I was taught never to assume the author was saying something based on a text. Would you say Dickens promoted misers because he created the character Scrooge (as well as several other misers) or that Swift advocated eating babies because he wrote an essay suggesting it as a solution to the Irish potato famine? Should you claim that Author Jane Doe should give up writing and get back to the kitchen because you hated her last book? Or because you hated all her books? There are lots of authors I can't stand or whose writing gives me the willies. Do I therefore, courtesy of this blog, have the right to call down curses on their heads?

Of course not. Just because I don't like it or think it's bad doesn't make me the final answer. I can't stand Korean food. I mean really, there's dishes I wouldn't feed my dog (if I had one and if there wasn't dog in it. They still eat dogs in Korea.) There's one dish here we refer to as "wet dog stewed in old mop water" based on the smell. However, my total abhorrence means nothing to the millions of Koreans who can't eat a meal without kimchi.

So those authors I don't like, chances are they can find thousands if not millions of fans who think I'm off my rocker. And what does it get me to attack someone? It raises my blood pressure and it might hurt the feelings of someone I don't know, but could have been friends with. Why bother? There's so many fish in the sea, why not focus on what you like?

Now everybody, play nicely.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Lunar New Year

I'm currently in Korea and Lunar New Year is a big holiday. So big that they gave us 5 days off (including the weekend.) The first year I was here for Lunar New Year I asked my head teacher why all the kids were turning up with new hair cuts. She said that over Lunar New Year it's traditional to make changes. New hair cuts, moving house, new clothes. It's also traditional to finish and clean out things. (The poor garbage men.)

So over this Lunar New Year holiday I edited Three Alarm Tenant and sent it off to a friend who volunteered to critique it. I need to cut about 12,000 words out to fit into Harlequin's word limits, but that's do able. And since it's new year again, I can make resolutions again. This year, my focus will be submitting. Thanks to the workshop I did in January on business, I have a whole bunch of e-publishers I can submit to and a whole bunch more of groups I where I can find out information. Gosh, it's nice having another go at the New Year.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Building a Tough Hide!

Well, I got a really horrible review this week. Really horrible and from Publisher's Weekly no less. Once I started breathing again, I did what I usually do in the face of criticism. First, I sent messages out to the world telling everyone that I got a bad review. Advertising is advertising. At the very least I figured I would get sympathy. At best I might get some more votes. Then I picked over the review for points. A bad review can be more helpful than a good review as far as improving your craft. If you spend all your time being wounded, you'll never learn anything. While I was looking for points, I also tried to put the review in perspective. I recently read a review of a movie that I loved, but the reviewer hated. It seemed to me that the review had made up his mind about the film before he hit play. I feel the same thing happened to my entry. Publisher's Weekly accused me of having a trite plot and vanilla characters. I was wrote a category romance so, yes, the story is going to follow a predictable arc. And the characters are a little vanilla too. It's something I'm working on. Then I reaped the benefits of my first step where all my pals sent condolences and defended me, which actually helps with the perspective thing.

When I took riding lessons, I was told you need to fall off seven times before you can consider yourself a real rider. I wonder how many bad reviews you have to get before you can consider yourself a real writer.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The To Do List!

Where would I be without a to do list? Honestly, I have been beleaguered by a 100 little tasks that I needed to accomplish for weeks and not getting them done. This morning I woke up (before the neighbors' alarm and well before my own Saturday morning wakey time) with an organizational gleam in my eye. I hopped out of bed, went through the usual morning routine and sat down to make my list.

A few short hours later, and well before lunch, I had wiped out most of those tasks and felt exhilarated. And here I am posting my blog a whole day early. The real secret to the To Do list is to make sure you have actionable tasks on it. If you list things like "write a book" or "remodel the kitchen" you're never going to get anywhere. If you list things like "write 1500 words" or "stop at Lowe's to look at paint" you'll be on your way.

My entry in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel contest continues to do well. I posted a synopsis for it on Gather, for critique and for advertising. I didn't get as far as I would have hoped on the editing, but I never do. I'm also working on my webpage. That will take a really long time. HTML is not my favorite thing and I'm too ambitious for my modest programming skills. Well, one mor thing for the To Do list.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Here I Am!

Ah, such a momentous thing. The first post. The one no one read. Why is it these things are like writing query letters? I can write 10 pages of prose in a day and suffer for a week over the exact wording of something like this.

I have dreamed of being a published writer since I was a little girl, shortly after my father told me poets didn't make any money. I was 10. Now, I'm 38 teaching, preschool in Seoul, South Korea and still writing. I think I'm getting better though.

In this blog, I plan to post each Sunday (give or take) what's going on in my fabulous writing career. Currently, I'm in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest and doing pretty well. I also do a lot of reading and writing about everything that interests me so there will be some of that here too. And probably some stuff about my kids. I don't have biological children, but I am a dedicated teacher and the kids I teach form the background noise of my life.

So let's just end this one here and move on.