Monthly Archives: September 2008

Zen and the Art of Self-Promo

I wrote last week about the local writers’ group I belong to. Yesterday I stopped by a little bookstore to pass on some fliers I’d made to the leader of our sordid little group, and fell in love.

Let me set the scene here – this little bookstore is in an old house, with lots of little closets and nooks and crannies to get lost in. It’s wall-to-wall books, on any subject that you’d like to read about. I could live there. This lady, Kelly, does live there. Well, technically in the apartment attached to the back, but still.

So she introduces me to the owner, and I freeze solid. This is where I should be telling her about my book, I say to myself. It’s not like she has a huge clinetele, and she’s just one bookstore owner, yet I feel like I should be out there saying, “Look at me!” whenever a book buyer walks past.

And yet I can’t. There’s something about telling people about the book that makes me feel arrogant. Truth be told, I wasn’t going to tell anyone in the writers’ group I was published, but then Kelly asked straight out if I’d sold. Shoot. Should have lied. Because the second I told her I had a book coming out, I felt like an idiot. No, I have no idea why. Low self esteem? Be my guess.

I don’t want people to think I’m tooting my own horn, either. And yet I need to learn how to get out that and shout, “Look at me!” whenever a book buyer walks by. That’s part of my job now. I’ve got to learn to promote myself and not fear the arrogance factor – be aware of it, but not fear it. I need to learn to get out there and sell my book, which means, in a way, selling me.

Ah heck. At least I have a few months to get used to the idea.

By the way, the boys and I are stopping by the bookstore today on the way home. We need some Junie B. Jones books like you gotta see to believe. And the older one, having read every Harry Potter book over the summer, along with the Lemony Snickets, needs a new series to get into. I’ll keep you updated as to what that will be.

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My Father the Hero

While everyone and their dog is out there blogging about politics, I’ve been keeping my head down and my nose clean. You see, I think I’m the last living Republican fiction writer, though I’m quick to point out I’m a moderate. I’m also quick to point out that this election for me will be the lesser of two evils. Again. And I’m not sure which evil scares me less, the one who has celebrated ties with an unapologetic, violent 60s radical, or the one whose health plan will make my family and millions of others completely uninsurable.

Screwed no matter what we do folks. Welcome to America.

But that is all I will say on the subject. Today is about something much more important – the folks who fought and died so we could have the right to choose between psycho and psycho-er. Veterans.

My dad was a career Air Force man. I came along late, so only got in on one move with the Air Force – from Sacramento, CA to Cheyenne, WY, where Dad retired and started working as a civilian employee. But Dad went into the Army Air Core straight out of high school (the first time – he later went on to college and back into what had become the US AIr Force), and was shipped over to post-WWII East Germany, where he went in and got the POWs out.

Dad still has Russian shrapnel in his… well, he was running away from an internment camp with a guy under his arm. You know where that bullet hit.

So this week, he an a bunch of his cronies got the opportunity to be a part of what is called an Honor Flight. Thanks to private donations, a bunch of WWII vets were able to go to Washington D.C. to see the WWII memorial. They met a general fresh back from Iraq (Mom and I still don’t know which one, but suspect it’s Patraeus), and pretty much sit around and get a proper thank you for what they did. Obviously most of these guys aren’t too young – Dad was the infant of the group at 77 – and the turn-around time of out Tuesday, back Wednesday was a bit much for anyone, let alone a 90-year-old, but Daddy had a good time. Last night when Mom called to let me know he’s gotten home okay, he was chattering away in the background excited as all get out.

They asked him if he wanted to go again in April –  he declined. This trip has worn him out enough for one year.

Dad doesn’t talk in a lot of detail about his time in Germany in the late 40s and early 50s – he was just a kid, and as far as I know, saw a lot of things that have left him raw all these years later. But I do know it was a tough time for the entire world. And we keep finiding ourselves at the same point in history, just with a different cast of characters. I don’t know what my point is, really – I’m not sure I’m entitled to have one, since I’ve never been invested in a war the way my dad was. All I know is he was there, he saw the choas, and he never regretted going and doing his part. Maybe that should tell us all something.

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I’m No Poet and I Sure Know It

I live in the middle of nowhere, so any RWA writing groups are hours and hours away. The closest is in  Minneapolis. Yeah, eight hour drive one way for a two hour meeting? Not worth it. But I still like interacting with other writers face to face, so I joined a local writers’ group a few years back when it was at the library. It disbanded due to lack of interest, but has recently come back together.

So last week I fed the kids some TV dinners and went to a local coffee shop to meet up with my fellow writers. I recognized a couple from the old group, and there were some new members. Mostly college kids, and every darned one of them a poet.

I might as well admit it now: I don’t “get” poetry. To me poetry rhymes and has rhythm. So what’s with this free-form stuff? Isn’t it just pretnentious prose? I have no idea. If it doesn’t start with There once was a man from Natucket.., it’s pretty much beyond me. And yet the prompt for next meeting is to write a poem. Big shocker there. I told them I’d pass, but instead bring the first scene from my next book. They were good with the scene, but still want me to write a poem. They hounded me until we all left, and I kept telling them any poetry from me would be so painful as to be compared with a Vogon’s. (If you don’t get that reference, go read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – fun book.) Seriously, they could use my stuff down in Guantanamo Bay. But they kept at me. So I caved. Here it is, Cate’s poetry:

There once was a lady named Cate

Who really could not operate

The rhythms and rhymes, so most of the time

Her poems were just not that great

They can’t say I didn’t warn them.

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The Diamond in the Rough

So I believe I have established that I’ve read Let’s DIsh until my eyes are bleeding. Seriously, I can’t even begin to estimate how many times I’ve read this book. Basically I can quote the whole thing verbatim. That might come in handy if I ever need to do a reading; of course, with my Swiss cheese brain, I’ll have forgotten it all by then.

But there is still one portion of the book, especially, that makes me crack up every time I read it. I’ve read that section as much as any other, but whatever roll I was on the day I wrote it, it’s great stuff. Hopefully not just to me. Honestly, I think those couple of chapters sold the book. And it’s also going to be the part of the book that makes some people uncomfortable (and that’s all the hint you get).

So it’s with pleasure that I get to start my work today, since I just came into this golden hour of the book. But at the end of the day, I still like my characters. I may be sick to death of reading and re-reading this book looking for flaws, but I don’t get tired of spending time with Maggie, Kevin, Armand and Lyla. Not to mention Jack and Bob. And before I know it, you all will get to spend time with them, too. That’s just amazing to me. In the end, I just hope you all love them as much as I do.

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Screaming into a Deadline

I have taken most of this week off, though for good reason. My mother-in-law passed away this week, and I spent two days doing the whole family thing for her. When I first started writing again (well, came out of the closet about it anyway) she was terribly excited about it. She couldn’t wait to see the family name on the cover of a book. I didn’t have the heart to tell her I was writing under my maiden name.  Unfortunately, by the time I sold the book, she was deep in the throes of Alzheimer’s and had no idea what was going on. She didn’t live long enough to hold my book in her hands, though I hope she can see my name on the cover from where she is.

So this weekend and into next week, I need to focus. My first deadline is next Saturday. I originally had a month, which wasn’t too tight of a timeline. My problem, though, was just that. Timelines. The book’s timeline got all monkeyed up in revision and now I am down to re-reading it one last time, start to finish, to make sure it all makes sense. Problem is I’ve read it so many times at this point I think it stinks on ice and the editor who bought it must surely be smoking crack.

The exciting news, however, is I just completed the questionnaire from my publisher regarding my cover art. With that, the art department will get to work on my cover and perhaps one day I’ll even be able to have something to post on the old website. I can’t even imagine what that will feel like.

So by this time next week I am hoping to post that Let’s Dish’s first revision is a done deal and that the email is off to my editor. Then I get to go back to Another Time Around and try to sell that one, too. Gotta keep my mother-in-law on her toes keeping up with me from the Great Beyond.

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I’ll take drinking alone for 1,000, Alex!

What. A. Week!

So glad it’s Friday, you can’t even imagine. This week the evil day job lived up to its name. I normally like my job  – quite a lot, actually. But over the years I’ve gotten more responsibilities. Too bad it didn’t come with extra hours in the day. Then I have this whole second job thing, that takes a lot of time and so far has paid nothing. And I don’t expect a huge pay rise anytime soon. Add to it some family stuff stirring, and I’ve had it.

So the boys and I settled in to watch National Treasure 2 tonight. Good flick, but I still want to know what the hell is on page 47. Seriously! And now that my little munchkins are tucked into bed, I’ve started on orange juice with diet 7-Up and rum. Why OJ with diet 7 and rum? Because that’s what I have in the house. Thing is, the kids are in bed, the husband’s at work, and here I sit boozing. I am sooo classy.

So I’m drinking alone and drunk blogging. Hmmm… this could be a sign of a problem. Next thing you know I’ll be drunk editing. That could be interesting.

So why is having a drink alone and getting tipsy a problem? Because I am having A drink. One. And I’m getting tipsy. As my mother always said, I’m a terrible drinker. I’m just no good at it. Five seconds after I take my first sip of beer, I’m feeling it. So it’s a rare occasion that I drink anything stronger than just OJ and diet 7 Up. Adding the rum makes me stupid fast. Is this blog entry not proof of that?

Soooo… what next? Drunk writing? People have tried it. And made millions. Hold on a minute…

I think I need more rum. And MS Word.

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