Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Other To-Do List

I'm not here to get into the argument about e-books and e-book publishing. What I'm here to say is that I love my Kindle.

Love it, love it, love it.

I'm one of those whacked out ladies you'll see in the dentist's office with a book in one hand and another one tucked between my side and the uncomfortable arm of the waiting room chair. This is because - yes - I will finish a 400 page book in a little more than three hours. (For example: I started Ghost Story, a 500 page book, at around 9am and was done with it slightly after 2:30. And it only took that long because I had to take my daughter to an Ear, Nose and Throat appointment, AND I got lost in downtown Norfolk. I hate Norfolk.) And if I'm less than 100 pages from the end of a book, it's a good idea for me to have the sequel right there with me. It keeps me from biting the dentist in a fit of word-boredom.

And I don't like carrying a purse. Which is odd, since I own like six of the damn things. Half of them aren't large enough to carry a book around with me anyway. So I'm usually juggling a stack of books.

Enter the kindle.

60 books at the touch of my finger.

Holy crap. Really? This is the best invention since mp3s. You mean I can store all my songs, all twenty THOUSAND of them on a box no bigger than a dinner plate? Sign me right the fuck up!

I mean, look at my bookshelf! I don't know if you can see it well, but those are stacked two deep and piled in every possible space. I have five bookshelves worth of books just like that. (I know, a lot of people have more... but honestly, I have to dust those bad boys, so these are just the books that I truly believe I'll read again. Mostly.)

Now I can carry that around with me? Wow!

That being said, it's also opened a different problem.

I don't have to dust the books on my kindle shelf.

Which means I'm buying more books. I buy them randomly from recommendations from friends, I buy books that look interesting in the side columns of other writers' blogs. I buy books that my facebook friends are shilling. I buy books from writers whose work I hang upon, and I buy books when they're on sale for 99cents.


Aside from the fact that I had to put myself on a book-buying budget again (believe you me, not having to dust and store the fuckers has led me to buy more books than I have touched in a bookstore in quite some time...) I now have a "stack" in my "to be read" pile.

In no particular order, this is what I have yet to read:

Ghost Story, Jim Butcher (bought, started and finished yesterday)
Line in the Ice, Craig (finished today)
No Regret, Shannon K. Butcher
Soulless, Gail Carriger
Lord of Scoundrels, Loretta Chase
The Sweetest Kiss, D.I. King. (actually, I've read about half of these, just haven't quite polished it off yet... an anthology)
Well Favored Gentleman, Christina Dodd
Season of the Harvest, Michael R. Hicks
Anathema, Megg Jenson
The Iron King, Julie Kagawa
Dangerous Curves, Kristina Wright

Books already pre-ordered on my Kindle
Blood Hunt, Shannon K. Butcher
Heart of Steel, Meljean Brook
Storm's Heart, Thea Harrison
Son of Neptune, Rick Riordan

Monday, July 25, 2011

Out Out Damned WIP

So, I finished my WIP, now titled Shadow of Kenfig, the other day, got it out to my betas, got back some excellent suggestions, edited it and mailed it off.


Sorry about that. There's just something about putting myself out there; characters I love, story-lines that I crafted, that just makes me physically sick. I've already been stalking my email box for the last several weeks waiting for hear about another story...

I've got a couple of things on my plate; the question is, of course, which do I work on?

I have the succubi short story, the military short story, my fantasy-romance novel to redraft, my historical romance novel, and a possible sequel to Shadow. (Those characters really will just Not Shut Up.)

I also have a book to read and review. Several novels are going to be published in the next two weeks that I've been waiting for; Jim Butcher's Ghost Story, Shannon Butcher's Blood Hunt, and Thea Harrison's Storms Heart are all coming out in the next WEEK. (Oh yay, stuff to read. Don't expect to hear from me for a while until I come up for air.)

I have a MS (is is a MS, for a manuscript, or an MS, since I say "Em Ess" instead of Manuscript when I read MS.) to look over for a friend.

Oh, and Cowboys and Aliens is coming out on Friday. (Yes, yes, yes yes yes yes oh yes! pardon me, movie-gasm!)

Looking at this list, I still sound pretty busy.... but my calendar looks a little empty and nothing's particularly pressing.

How... odd.

Picture This!

So, I did this the other day, and Andrew came up with the following web-page and story. He's very excited about it, which is always fun to see.

Before my daughter was born, I used to live quite a bit closer to my good friend, Liz. Trust me on this, no matter how few or many miles you put between you and someone else, adding a bridge-tunnel into the mix divides the number of times you see that person by at least 2, if not 3. (Which is my way of saying living in southside instead of on the peninsula means I don't see anyone who lives north of Newport News without there being a rather lot of effort involved.)

(I went up to have lunch with a girlfriend of mine up there on Friday. For a 56 mile drive - each way - I was in traffic for 90 minutes on the way up and 2 hours, 14 minutes on the way home. FOR an hour and ten minutes worth of chat!)

Anyway, that's all beside the point; which was this: There's something enormously fun about watching a writer be inspired/get an idea/have an epiphany.

I miss those moments. I used to see Liz get them all the time.

Now... well, who remembers to go look in the mirror when they're jumping around like a crazy woman going "THIS THIS THIS!!"

So, my point - long, rambly, under-caffeinated as it is - is this: Go Andrew!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

If I had to pick

Well, I probably couldn't. I've read a lot of truly awesome books this year.

That being said, Thea Harrison's Dragon Bound is definitely in the top ten. (Along with Shannon K. Butcher's Sentinel series, Meljean Brooks' Iron Duke... this list could go on and on, and perhaps the next time I'm hard up for blogging material, I'll talk about some of my favorite books and authors in more detail.)

So... given that Thea is awesome (she really is! She even frequently answers my tweets!) and Dragon Bound is awesome, you want this book. You need this book! You must have this book! (ok, ok, I must have this book!) you should wander around the book-tour and get it!

Given that I already HAVE a copy of Dragon Bound, if I win (the contest gives out both books!) then I will be so kind as to give away my extra copy to one of MY blog readers who comments HERE that they went THERE. (is that confusing? I think that might be confusing. ANYWAY, getting ahead of myself.)

Go. Go go go go go.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Flash Fiction, A picture's worth 1000 words.

I saw this on Twitter and decided it sounded like fun...

Then she rolled over and said, "Sorry about the knife, darling." That was three days ago, I haven't slept much since. The couch is comfortable enough, you know. It has dark fabric, the better to hide stains. I wonder about those stains. Is there really something I should know? She hasn't said anything. I can hear her, in the kitchen. Chopping vegetables? Dear lord, I hope they're vegetables. I've been wearing the same clothes; somehow I feel too vulnerable to take my clothes off, even just long enough to change. The dark blue sweatshirt matches the bags under my eyes.

My Three Favorite Words

DONE DONE DONE! (said with all appropriate amounts of drama... in fact, usually I sing them)

Finished off my WIP yesterday. Skating in just under the maximum word-count at 8,987 words (for a 5,000 - 10,000 word short story... honestly, 10k words doesn't seem "short" to me, that's 20 pages, but I guess it doesn't really fall into novella lengths either.)

I've said it before, I'll say it again; I get my best work done at the laundromat. How weird is that?

Well, it does have some things going for it - there's no wifi there unless I want to cross the street and work over at the Burger King. Without the web and email to distract me, I can get a lot more accomplished. (I've thought about trying to set up some sort of timer on the wireless in the house... push a button and the wifi comes down for an hour? Eh.... because you know, I don't want to set up some sort of from 10am - 3pm, no internet... what if I'm taking the day off and want to play Warcraft?)

There's something soothing about the sound of so many washers and dryers running, unless someone's load gets unbalanced, in which case it reminds me greatly of some upstairs neighbors I used to have. For them, I was so tempted to blare music with a good, steady backbeat, just because I felt sorry for them and their complete lack of rhythm.

And mostly no one bothers me anymore. I can get in a good solid 25 minutes, get up, stretch, switch the loads from washer to dryer and get in another good, solid 30 minutes. You might think I wouldn't get much done in less than an hour, but solid work seems to flow out of the laundromat. It's either work or watch daytime TV, and frankly, I'd rather spork myself to death than watch Wheel of Fortune, or any of the Judge Judy sorts of things that they have running in there.

Yesterday while I was there, I ran into a woman with some absolutely lovely tattoo work. So, after I bundled up my wash and got it into the car, I stopped to talk with her. Turns out she's a romance reader, so I left her my card. If she ends up here - Hi Courtney! - that's cool. I wish I'd thought to take pictures, her breastbone work was particularly amazing. That's the other thing about the laundromat... her dryer had broken down, so she's not a regular... I meet some fascinating people there. (sometimes less than fascinating... the skinhead guy who didn't want to take "no, I won't date you" for an answer comes to mind)

So... now I'm done with Shadow of Kenfig. I sent it out to my betas yesterday and already got one back.


edit Shadow of Kenfig, (Aug 1)
submit Shadow of Kenfig (Aug 10)
2,500 - 4,500 word short story, A is for Absinthe, Steampunk Romance (Sep 15)
edit Marked Man, Cha 1 - 10 (Sept 30)
1,500 - 3,000 word short story, Ripped, about succubi (Oct 1)
2,500 - 4,500 word short story, P.B.E.M., Duty & Desire (Oct 15)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sex is Hard

I have a little routine before, during, and after I write.


First thing I do is organize my desk. I just can't seem to write if there are too many shiny things on my desk, and since my desk is the Flat Surface of the house right next to the front door (yes, I know, poor planning on my part, but my apartment is tiny, and three people live in it, so I'm doing the best I can), it is the repository for any number of shiny objects. I take all my jewelry back to my bedroom; bead necklaces, mismatched earrings, my squid ring; then any books that I'm not currently reading, move my keys out of reach (because yes, I will fiddle).

And then I open up my WIP and jot the current number of words down on a post-it note. Can I just mention I would die without post-it notes? They are essential to my life.

And then I work.


Sometimes work is opening my email and spluttering out some half-assed "entertain me" note to a friend. I'll play a few games of Bejeweled Blitz. Check my dragons in another stupid Facebook game. In between, I'll write a few sentences, and if I'm lucky, I'll get sucked in and before I know it, I'm an hour later, with a few pages written. And I go about my day. (Cleaning, being mom, wife, cook, errand-runner, and all those mundane things that if I don't do, no one does.)

Other days... not so much. Like yesterday.

I've finally got my protagonists up to having sex. I write erotica and romantica, so the sex is often the payout for whatever terrible things I've had happen to the characters along the way... the end goal, so to speak.

So I open my WIP, re-read the last few pages to make sure I know where I am... and... wrote an email. And wrote another one. Got a sentence in. Cleaned the living room. Wrote a sentence. Watched some videos on YouPorn (hey, it's research... really. I promise.) Dicked around on Facebook. Wrote two or three sentences and some dialogue. Reminded myself that not everyone talks as much during sex as I do and took some of it back out.

I had my WIP open from 10am until 4:30.

And wrote about six hundred words.


And I'm not even to the orgasm.

Good lord.

Sometimes my job is hard.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Winner Winner

I have a winner for my blog/publicity contest, Rodney Johnson will be receiving:

A blank notebook, pen, and keychain featuring the cover for Steamlust, a copy of Dreamlover, the previous collection edited by Kristina Wright, and a half pound of coffee from Bean There cafe.

Thanks for everyone who entered!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Thanking Buddha

Social networking is interesting, isn't it?

One of the things I love about social networks is the ability to meet people that I might not normally talk to; for instance, I'm not a fan of green things (plants, you know) but one of my favorite blogs is written by a man who reviews people's lawns and gardens. I don't know half of what he talks about, but his style, my friend, is what's important. He's brilliantly funny.

I don't always, however, remember how I met someone.

Talking with my lovely editor - who is just lovely, have I said that? I had the hardest time not touching her hair while we were talking - recently, we were discussing how we had met.

I didn't even know this story, so it was pretty fun.

We frequent the same coffee shop, the Bean There. Last year, it was located just up the street from me. Then it moved. Tragedy! Have I mentioned I loathe downtown Norfolk? Well, I do. (It's slightly less loathsome now that I know my way around better.) But while they were in the process of moving, I was sans coffee for three months.

Do not get between a writer and her coffee.

Amy, the owner, and I had these drug-trade meetings in parking lots. I would hand her an envelope containing cash or a check, and she would hand me a cloth bag containing a pound or two of her custom blended and roasted coffee beans.

Apparently at some point I commented on this exchange on the Bean There's facebook page.

Kristina, my editor, was looking on the page to see when the shop would be re-opening and saw the comment. She clicked on my link.

Kristina is/was doing some "connecting" through her Buddhism enlightenment - forgive me if I get this wrong, I don't really know much about Buddhism - and was entertained to learn that we were born very close together. Her birthday is exactly a week after mine, although she's almost exactly five years older than I am. Further prodding on my Facebook page and she discovered that my husband and her husband have EXACTLY the same birthday.

She decided to write me an email to see if I would mind taking a Facebook friends request from a perfect stranger.

I didn't mind. I like meeting new people.

A few weeks later, she put a call out for a place to do a book reading/signing. I suggested the Bean There. It was a raging success!

Kismet Happens.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cloud 58

[As a reminder, there's only two more days to sign up for the promotional contest! Either Follow this blog --> use the little button on the right there, I don't write so much here that your RSS feed will be overwhelmed! OR sign up to fan my Facebook page or Tweet about the contest (@tisfan so i can see it! OR write a brief blog post directing people to this site... and tell me about it in the comments. Winners will get some cute promotional materials, coffee, and a copy of Dreamlover.]

Right, moving along.

I had a great coffee-chat with my editor yesterday. She was astonished to learn that Golden Moment is my first publication. Apparently my copy was so clean that there were a couple of comma changes and ONE word that she wasn't entirely thrilled with, but decided not to bother me with those minor edits. So, on the plus, it means I do a fairly good job of self-policing, and that my beta readers and editor-suggesters are awesome. I'd thank them publicly, but one of them would rather NOT be thanked (I understand this person's privacy concerns) and I don't want to give the other one over-credit. But, thanks y'all. You know who you are!

I got the scoop on an upcoming CFS (Call for Submission)... so I'll have to do some thinking about that.

She was also exceptionally pushy about my submitting my novel; Marked Man has been sitting in the trunk for a while. So, I'll schedule in edits for that, and start trying to move it.

We talked about books we've read, other writers we admire, our first pieces of erotic fiction (mine was Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, by Anne Rice) and kids. There's something incredibly bonding about discussing kids with another woman that I rarely get to experience. Most of my women friends either don't have children, or, in the case of my best lady friend, I already had a fairly close bond with before we spawned.

It's one thing; much as I love my beta readers, to have friends rave about your work. Not that I don't think they'd tell me something was crap if it was - in fact, one of my readers didn't actually like Golden Moments all that much. But I always wonder... how much praise comes from a fondness for the person behind the keyboard? It's something totally different to have a relative stranger, one who is herself an award-winning writer, give praise.

Apparently I was so high on life yesterday that my husband wouldn't let me drive home (I went to pick him up from work... him and three ENORMOUS zucchinis that he got from his co-worker... seriously, these are some scary gourds!) for fear that I'd run us right into a telephone pole.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Other People's Contest's

My friend, Liz, is hosting a lovely book contest for her new release...

So go check it out if you want to win some fun prizes from one of the best writers I personally know (and that actually means something these days, since I've met rather a good number of writers!)

Saturday, July 9, 2011


The scene, early morning.

Eight o'clock classes hadn't yet started, and those students unfortunate enough to have them were just starting to crawl out of bed and get their daily routines started.

The Marketplace was sparsely populated at this time of day. Mostly a few stragglers came in, grabbed their caffeinated beverage of choice, and headed off to class. A few, for whom breakfast was a critical part of their day, stayed, lingering over toast and eggs.

A girl with long, straight hair and clear, grey eyes, sits in the center of the room. She is by herself, her tray neglected. A book is propped upright, leaning precariously against a paper bowl half full of milk-soggy cereal. She is quite obviously not in the mood for company, nor noticing the lack.

Didn't matter.

The other girl arrived in the cafeteria. She had badly dyed black hair and wore an almost obnoxious shade of cranberry red lipstick that didn't suit her. Her tray was dotted with her choice repast - bagel and annoying small envelop of cream-cheese, large Mountain Dew, and plate full of strawberries - was bored. And wanted company more than she wanted to appear polite. Instead of looking aside and seating herself at another table, eating breakfast alone for the third time that week, the seventh week in a row - astonishing how constant her lack of breakfast conversation was - she sat next to the reader.

"Is this seat taken?" she asked. It wouldn't have mattered much if the answer was yes. She sat with the intent of taking it over by hostile force if necessary. "Love that book," she continued, jerking her chin at the paperback. "I read it twice last year." That was true enough. What went unsaid is that she'd read it five times the year before that. And probably a dozen times altogether. She read a lot. And re-read a lot. First because she had a limited allowance and if she'd purchased new books every time her bedside table was bare, she'd never have money for other things, like food and clothes. Secondly, the books seemed somehow like old friends. Reading again was like having a conversation with a someone she hadn't seen in a few months. Or, at least, she assumed so. She'd never really had a friend.

The reader sighed and closed the book. "Good morning."

And that's how I met Liz, who would become my best friend.

In case you don't know, I'm the one who had no qualms annoying someone else who was reading. I have always loved to read; I still read avidly. But I found that particular morning something else about myself; I also love to talk.

So today, I'd like to talk about this: My best friend's second novella has been released today. I'm so pleased for her I could squeal.

(Her first novella, Of One Mind, is also available, as well as the companion short story that was written for charity... )

Now, her stuff's not for everyone, but if you like exceptional love stories and you don't much care about the gender of the two people in love, these books are truly wonderful. (Personally I like Safe Harbor better...)

Friday, July 8, 2011


Couple weeks ago, I got a $50 pack of stuff from Vistaprint for $10. As far as I can tell, this doesn't actually mean anything. Vistaprint's apparent money-making scheme is to charge a zillion dollars for shipping and handling, so they can charge almost nothing for pieces of paper. I'm ok with this; I chose the cheapest shipping option and while I didn't actually expect to get my stuff until the end of the month, I got it yesterday.

(If you're interested in printing your own business cards, or whathave you, there's a recommendation at the bottom of this page. You sign up, I get more stuff, you get more stuff. We kiss, we schmooze, we go home happy.)

And this is it. Lovely, yes?

There's a mousepad, a notebook (lined), some pens, and some keychains. (There are also some postcards on the way, they haven't arrived just yet.)

So... contest: This blog hasn't gotten much traffic, so I'm going to try to raise my readers a bit. For everyone who signs up for the blog ---> click the link over there on the sidebar, you get 1 entry. For every Twitter I get directing people at this contest, 1 entry. (RT @tisfan So I can track your tweets) Ditto Facebook. You can sign up for my new Fan page, too.

The package will include the notebook, a pen, a key chain, and some other assorted goodies: A copy of Kristina Wright's most recently released anthology (Dream Lover), a half-pound of my favorite coffee from my favorite coffee shop, and some odds and ends. I haven't put it all together yet, but this will be a fun little box of goodies, and honestly, wouldn't you LIKE something in your mailbox that's not a bill?

And thanks!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Work Time Goals

There are a couple of problems with this whole "stay at home mom" thing. And I'm not even talking about my two-weeks-after-school-ends "Mom, I'm bored" problem. (Although, in all honesty, if she doesn't SHUT UP soon, I'm going to have to mangle her.)

The first one is, I'm used to doing things on my own time. This is not usually a problem, and my schedule is flexible enough to allow certain amounts of screwing around. (Before people call me lazy, keep in mind that I KNOW what you all do in your corporate offices, and I'd say at least 75% of the people I know who have a "real job" screw around more than I do. Facebook games, anyone?)

However! (You knew there had to be a but coming, right?) Having my own schedule doesn't always lead to my getting everything done! How this can be, I'm not entirely certain. It does often seem that my life is like some mysteriously crazy game of whack a mole. Every time I think I've got it covered, something else sticks up a furry little head. I made the mistaken assumption that once the child-thing was out of the house several hours a day, I'd have "plenty of time" to do everything. So why does it seem like I can't get anything done?

Back when she was a wee-one and sat in a rocking swing most of the day, I wrote an entire novel in less than nine months.

That was six years ago.

And then she started walking and talking. And so I've done very little work since then.

Part of it is the housing situation... We have one "family room" that's supposed to be a dining room/living room combination, but instead is a living room/computer room (we don't have a dining room table; we eat at our computer desks.... and anyone who'd like to argue with me that "family dinner" is more important than my sanity... I have a sledgehammer with your name on it.) We have two tiny bedrooms - and the master bedroom is so small that my dresser is actually in our daughter's room because there's no room for it elsewhere.

And unlike me, when I was my daughter's age, she plays OUT HERE. (When I was seven, I spent most of my time hiding in my own bedroom. My mother didn't ALLOW toys in the living room. Or anywhere else in the house, except my room. If I wasn't in my bedroom, I had to be watching television. Which I wasn't allowed to do past 4:30pm anyway.)

And of course, after he gets home from work, the husband is in here. All the time. There's NO WHERE to go in this house. The bedrooms are tiny and stuffed full of furniture. Not to mention the lighting in my bedroom at least is terrible. I don't even read books back there most of the time.

It's just not the most productive environment. I feel like there's always someone on top of my head.

I've tried doing the coffee-shop thing a few times, but my favorite coffee shop is about ten miles away, and I just can't see forcing myself to have Starbucks in order to get some alone time. Aside from that, I always seem to have a sign on my head that says "Oh, please, bother me." I can't seem to go anywhere that someone doesn't decide to sit down and start talking to me. Wearing headphones and reading a book doesn't stop them. I've even had one batty old lady jerk the headphone OUT OF MY EAR.

(Although I have finally seemed to have snarled at enough people that the patrons of the laundromat don't bother me anymore. And oddly enough, I get a lot of work done when I'm there. But who wants to go do the laundry 2-3 times a week?)

But honestly, these are all just excuses...

I haven't been writing as much as I'd like BECAUSE no one is forcing me to do it. When I started writing Marked Man (or, started re-writing it, because originally, in 2004, I'd written it as my NaNoWriMo project and then I'd had complete hard-drive failure in January and lost the entire thing with no backup copies...) I had reader anticipation. My friend/muse/researcher/editor had been particularly interested in this story and I wrote to satisfy her expectations.

I've been writing well on deadlines, for these short stories, written to spec. I've even really enjoyed working on them, and generally feeling quite happy with my progress.

But I did some math yesterday. (Why yes, while I complain about my child's math geekery, I'm guilty of it myself.) I'm writing 1 short story every other month. And while I am getting paid for one of them (and obviously, I hope to get paid for the others as well!) that's really not very productive in the long run. $50 - $100 every 2 months is not what you'd call "real money." Heck, it's barely a dinner out! And not quite that if I plan to do any drinking.


I need to write more. I need to re-discipline myself to writing several times a week, and doing more than 200 words in a session.

Since I have a couple of projects: two short stories for spec, and a series of urban supernatural romances (a 4-novel set... and I've already done some headwork for them... I think they'll be fun) I want to get back into writing as an actual job.

When I wrote Marked Man (six years ago? Really? jeeeeeeez) my writing goal was 2,000 words per week. That was four sessions per week of 500 words a session. Or, one page, four times a week. Four pages in a week. That's NOT much. I certainly know many people who are significantly more prolific than that.

But I don't think it'll do me any good to compare myself to other people.

I'm going to do what works for me.

For July, my goal is to write at least 2,000 words per week. I can work on Shifting Steam (due August 10), or work on Ripped (due Oct 1) or work on True Sight (the first of the four urban supernatural romances... ) I'd also like to edit Marked Man, so I'm also going to make revisions a goal. I'd like to revise 2 chapters per month, at least. (it's a 29 chapter novel... which might take a while to revise with a goal like that, but since I can't seem to find an actual editor to do more than 8 chapters of suggestions before they crap out on me, I have to do a LOT MORE WORK to get it into shape... I know why people pay editors, but honestly, right now, I can't afford it!)

I've already worked out a rough timeline of when I want Shifting Steam done; so it should go out to my beta readers by July 27th. That's a 5-10k story, of which I've already done ~2,000, so on the goal of 2k per week, I will finish that handily on schedule with a bit of work on one of my other stories. 2 Chapters revised on Marked Man. And perhaps an outline drawn up of True Sight.

It's going to be a busy month!