Tuesday, January 31, 2006

When I'm 99

As I was stuffing wet laundry in the dryer yesterday, it occurred to me that I have taken on another job that I can never quit.

Not the laundry. The day will come when I will happily quit that job – I may be 99 when it happens, but it will happen!

Not raising kids – I signed on for that knowing it was 24/7 for the rest of my life. Though I’m well aware that someday, if I do my job very well, my kids will be taking care of me [and hopefully doing my laundry.]

Not the office job. I tried to quit that and my own insecurities and my boss’s sudden ability to increase my salary, combined to keep me on the payroll. Once again, it’s possible I may be increasing my hours at the job I quit, in order to cover for another employee who may be leaving.

Of course the job I’m talking about is writing. It occurred to me that this is something I can never give up on. Good, bad or indifferent, I’m in this for the long haul. I can picture a time when perhaps my success is such that I can gleefully announce a summer-long sabbatical or schedule mandatory vacations from the creative process in order to recharge my batteries, but I can’t picture I time when I’ll announce my retirement or turn in my red pens and printer cartridges and throw in the towel. It just won’t happen until maybe I’m 99 – but since I won’t be doing laundry then, I’ll have a lot more free time to write…hmm.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

A Recommended Read

Conjured in Flames received 5 ANGELS from Fallen Angel Reviews and is listed as a Recommended Read.

5 Angels for CONJURED IN FLAMES! … a fantastic journey … Jennifer Colgan does a phenomenal job of world building with a wonderful twist near the end. – Serena, Fallen Angel Reviews

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Dealing with Doubts

Recently several of my fellow authors have been discussing the problems that plague writers at all stages of our development. Burn out, fear of rejection, writer’s block, professional jealousy, tight deadlines – all these things can make the writing life less than the idyllic career we dreamed of when we first set pen to paper.

The problems that affect me the most right now, are doubts about my plotlines and my method. I’m always worried that I’m wasting time with an idea when there could be a better one around the corner. I still constantly ask myself, ‘Would anyone want to read this?’ That can be crippling when it leads me to put a half-finished manuscript aside and start something new. In some cases I’ve gone on to complete the second manuscript, get it contracted and then returned and finished the interrupted story and had that one contracted as well. In other cases, that first manuscript is banished to a drawer for months or years never to be touched again. And of course I wonder, is there a hidden gem waiting in my own personal slush pile, or is the 40,000 word half finished story on my desk just a pile of rot?

I’m glad I’m not alone in my doubts and fears, but it’s a shame that so many talented writers, even multi-published, agented authors, struggle with these insecurities every day. It’s the down side of doing a job you love, where the dress code is pajamas, the hours are completely flexible and the earning potential ranges from a pittance to a fortune. I wonder if the quality of our writing would improve dramatically if some of the uncertainties of our craft disappeared? Maybe it’s the fear that keeps us sharp and striving for greater heights and maybe it’s the fear that leads some good writers to quit when the pressure becomes too much.

On that note, I’m going to get back to work on my WIP, despite my doubts. I’ll never know if I don’t finish the story.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The View from my Desk

This is the reason why I don’t get as much work done as I’d like to sometimes. This face, accompanied by a wet-nosed nudge under my elbow or an indignant moan when he wants a dog treat or to be let outside, makes up a good portion of my daily interruptions.

Saber is a good dog, but he’s needy. That’s a Dalmatian trait. They like lots of attention and they like to be the big baby of the household. He’s a chicken most of the time, afraid of his own shadow, but just let UPS or FedEx pull up outside and he turns into Cujo. He likes to bite packages when they’re delivered and he despises the mailman.

At least he’s too big to climb in my lap or walk across my keyboard like a cat, but he would if he could. I’ve discussed boundaries with him, and how I need my ‘Mommy time’ to get my work done, but it doesn’t seem to sink in.

I've considered the Pet Psychic and the Pet Whisperer, but I can't swing flying an expert in from acorss the country so I just have to deal with it. At least he doesn't give me funny looks when I talk to myself, like the kids do.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

More Yummy

Today I got the cover for More Than a Fantasy, my paranormal short story scheduled for release this spring from Amber Quill.

Forced into exile on a private Aegean island, Mara Zander longs for freedom. Prince Tiran of Atlantis has watched the red haired beauty from afar for weeks. When he breaks the centuries old law that forbids contact with humans, he discovers he’ll have to compete with his brother, Poseidon, to win Mara’s heart and set her free.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Inspiration for a Winter Day

Look for Wolfsbane in March from Amber Quill Press.

Here's a short unedited excerpt:

Then [Daniel] heard the beast’s panting breath, like a file rasping against dry stone. There in the deepest shadow beneath an overhang of mossy granite, [he] saw movement. The beast turned to look at him, its bile-yellow eyes aglow. A set of snow-white fangs gleamed as it drew back dark lips to howl at him in frustration.

“I know,” he said. “You can’t climb those rocks. You can’t get out of here and run free, can you?”

The beast swayed from one clawed foot to the other, gauging its enemy. A low growl rumbled in its chest.

“Come on. Let’s get this over with.” Daniel slowly uncoiled the chain from his fist. The sound it made drew the beast’s jaundiced gaze and another growl rattled deep in its throat.

“Yeah, that’s right. I’ve got your leash here. Are you going to be a good pup and let me put it on?”

The beast snarled its reply.

“That’s right, get mad. Come on…” Daniel dangled the chain, swung it in a slow circle and took one measured step forward. How close could he get before the creature lunged for him? He took another step, then one more.

Like the legendary Spring-Heeled Jack, the beast launched itself up and over the lily pond. When its feet hit the ground, claws raking against the cement pathway, Daniel struck. Double fisted, he whacked his quarry squarely in the side of its elongated jaw. Silver links bit into the flesh of its snout and it yelped like an injured dog. The sound startled Daniel, but didn’t stop him. While the creature reeled away, stunned by the blow, he flung the chain around its neck. It swiped its claws at him and one razor tip caught the nylon strap of Daniel’s backpack, tearing it. The pack dropped from one of Daniel’s shoulders and dangled against his back as he lunged forward and closed the silver circle around the beast’s throat.

“Sorry. This might hurt,” he said as he pulled the chain tight, twisting the links against each other where they fused thanks to the spell he’d borrowed from an old book he’d vowed a dozen times to throw away.

Caught in the thrall of its natural weakness, the beast staggered back. It clawed at its throat and let loose a scream of agony and betrayal that rattled Daniel’s bones.

Panting, he sank back against the nearest sycamore and pulled the damaged backpack off his shoulder. The beast turned in a circle, dazed now. As Daniel watched, it fell to its knees, whimpering.

Finally, the werewolf sank to the path that circled the pond and lay whining on the ground. One clawed hand held the chain and the other grasped at empty air. Its eyes bored into Daniel’s and finally its tongue lolled out between jagged teeth.

With a final growl, it fell asleep.

Daniel let out a long breath as he unzipped the backpack. He pulled out a black trench coat and shook it free of wrinkles.

He dropped the backpack and approached the beast. His shadow fell across the misshapen face. Just to be certain, he nudged the creature’s outstretched hand with the toe of his Nikes. Nothing happened.

With a sigh, he dropped the trench coat over the creature’s hairy body, then sank to the path and leaned his back against the low concrete wall that bordered the pond. He dropped his head into his hands and ruffled his hair, rubbed his tired eyes and stretched his aching muscles. He looked at the abomination now sleeping peacefully at his feet.

“Sorry, bro. I didn’t have time to pack underwear. You’ll have to go commando on the trip home.”

Monday, January 23, 2006


Over the last two days I’ve been rereading some old stories that I wrote years ago. My DH has been asking me to update them and maybe add to them a little bit. These were stories about characters I had grown to love and these stories fed my need to write when I had little time to devote to my craft.

It’s interesting to see how much I’ve grown as a writer in the decade or so since I wrote these stories. Apparently all I knew then was passive verbs and long winding sentences that showed off my vocabulary skills. I hadn’t learned the beauty of the short simple sentence. I loved adverbs and everything was, was, was!

It’s a fun exercise to edit these works and apply my new skills. Someday I’d still love to completely adapt them and make them publishable, but that day is a long time coming. Right now I’m content with an audience of one, but it’s definitely worthwhile to look back and see how far I’ve come.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Finally a Productive Day

Yesterday I sequestered myself in the basement and sat at a folding card table to write, while my large desk and fairly new PC in my bright, sunny home office sat empty. Downstairs, to the constant rumbling of the washer and dryer, I wrote close to 40 pages on my WIP and re-edited an old story for my husband that he’d requested to see again.

I didn’t want to stop. It was great to be on such a roll. I powered through to a major event in my story and hopefully I’ve reached the halfway point. Today I’ll work on edits. I guess maybe Stephen King was right. According to On Writing, he wrote quite a few best sellers crammed into a laundry room, or under the eaves of an attic.

The true secret I guess is the lack of interruption. Though I took several breaks, nobody bothered me downstairs and I was able to get into the Zone. Today I won’t be so lucky, too much to do up here at ground level, but at least I’ve got a major chunk of work to edit and revise.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Now I need a Book Shelf

It’s my ambition this tax season to make some home improvements starting with my office. [Yes, I said tax season. I’m counting on that rebate this year!] The first thing I want to do, in lieu of getting a door on my office, is get rid of the dog’s couch. Of course I won’t leave Saber without a place to lounge away his blissfully uncluttered afternoons, but I really need a better piece of furniture in here. This one is 13 years old and ugh.

After than, I want a new bookshelf, but I’ve decided I need a very special bookshelf. One to hold all of the print books written by my crit partners and writing buddies. We’re getting quite a collection going and they really should have their own shelf.

In addition to finding out that Fresh Blood will be sharing print with Annalee Blysse’s Never a Sunset and Marie Morin’s Eternity in an upcoming anthology called Immortal Lovers, I found out that Annalee’s Starlit Destiny will also go to print in the coming months.

So along with Conjured in Flames, Hunters, and Immortal Lovers, I need to make room for Starlit Destiny, the Relic Anthology, Michelle Perry’s Cain and Abel and her upcoming In Enemy Hands and Love: An Anthology featuring a story by Judith Fox.

That shelf is going to get full pretty fast. Amazing, isn’t it? A year ago the majority of us were unpublished and none of us had print books available. Look what a year can do. Imagine where we’ll all be a year from now.

Where were you last year? And where do you see yourself a year from now?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Back to Fiction

I finished Stephen King’s On Writing and found it both interesting and useful. Now it’s time to move on to something just for fun.

The first Relic Anthology was just released over at NCP and I can’t wait to get started on it. Check out the gorgeous cover art.

In other news, I’m kicking my WIP into high gear. I put my full-length novel aside while I worked on a few short stories, but now it’s time to get back to basics and finish a major work before I turn out any more small stuff. This is the year of my agent search and I need a full-length single title to shop around. I know some authors are finding agents based on partials and short stories, and that’s certainly an option, but I want to be ready with something full-scale. I’m still battling that demon fear of missing the boat. I constantly feel like I’m a day late and a dollar short. I should be out there already, but I’m just not ready. No more being content to sit back and wait for the right time.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Air Traffic

I took this picture about 8:00 am on Thursday morning. The sky was full of condensation trails. I don't know if it was the particular weather conditions or if there just happened to be a lot of high-flying jets in the air that morning. It looked cool, but a little spooky, too. I'd never seen so many at once before.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Doctor is In

I’ve been doing a lot of self-psychoanalysis lately-probably not a good thing. I’ve been thinking about the phenomenon of fear, specifically the fear of success that often masquerades as a fear of failure.

For a long time I thought I would never submit my work to be published because I believed that rejection, even one non-scathing, polite but unencouraging form letter type of rejection, would destroy my muse and render me incapable of producing any more work, or ever finding joy in my writing again.

Fortunately I got over that. I also realized to some extent I was not so much afraid of failing as of succeeding so well that writing would become my JOB and thus the joy would once again be sucked out of it.

I got over that to some degree too, though now that I actually make money writing I realize that there are days when it is just a JOB and a hard, lonely one at that. I still enjoy it, though.

Now, however, my analytical brain has finally hit on perhaps my real problem. I’m not so much afraid of failure anymore, or of unbridled success [in fact, bring it on!]. What I’m most afraid of is too much happiness. I’m petrified of things going exactly the way I’ve always dreamed of.

Well, you’re probably saying, isn’t she a nut?

I realize why, though. I’m afraid of things going too well, because that’s usually right before everything goes terribly, terribly bad. I’ve harbored that fear all my life, that too much happiness and enjoyment is a bad thing-it leads to everything blowing up in your face just because the universe is out to get us all.

A scene from an episode of Angel illustrates this perfectly. Leave it to Joss Whedon to understand everyone’s inner demons.

In the episode There’s No Place Like Plrtz Glrb, Angel and the gang return to L.A. after having rescued themselves from certain death in the demon dimension Pylea. The group is all together, everyone is alive and back in one piece, they’re happy and healthy and they all crowd arm in arm into Angel’s hotel/office sunny smiles all around – only to find Willow Rosenberg sitting on the couch looking like she just lost her best friend. She has come to L.A. with the devastating news that Buffy the Vampire Slayer is dead. [For the…um…second or third time…but anyway.]

That’s the moment I fear. That split second when everything is just peaches and cream, right before the whole world turns upside down and your worst fears are realized.

I guess I’m nuts. Or maybe, does anyone out there feel the same way? It’s just an irrational fear that the worst things only happen when you’re on top of the world. When you’re already down, bad things maybe seem less bad by comparison, don’t they?

Either way, that’s my problem in a nutshell. I’m afraid of letting myself be too happy because I don’t want to come home one day and find Willow on my couch ready to hit me with a big pile of bad news.

Any therapists out there, please feel free to comment.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I need a door

I’m still working my way through Stephen King’s On Writing and I’m picking up a lot of important tidbits as I go.

Two things that stuck out this morning: A writer needs a door – that closes – on their office/workspace in order to shut out the world and the distractions of life. Oh well. I don’t have a door. I want one, but that would mean building a new wall in my house in which to put said door. If I ever make enough money as a writer to afford a new wall to put my door in, I think I’ll probably just opt to move to a new house.

I realize not having a door on my home office [it’s literally in the center of the house, a pass through room between the kitchen/living room area and the bedrooms] makes it a lot harder for me to get work done. I’ve worked in this space for about seven years now, as a medical transcriptionist, business manager of my home, and a writer. It has not been easy. Not only do I not have a door, I do have a window that looks out on the street and I’m nosy, so I peak through the curtains every once in a while to eyeball someone pulling up outside, or track the progress of the mailman as he crosses my front yard on his rounds. I’m bad. But, I’ve managed to get this far so I guess I can continue for now. It’s not like I have much choice unless I evict one of the kids from their bedroom or move into the basement, which is chilly and often spidery and just too remote for me. I hope Mr. King will understand – though he’d probably LOVE my basement. I bet it might even give him an idea for a best-cellar.

The other thing Mr. King mentions in his memoir is that he writes by the seat of his pants. He doesn’t say this in so many words but the drift is there. He doesn’t plot. He comes up with ideas, snippets, sometimes half-remembered dreams that he turns into stories by sitting down and writing them and seeing where they take him. There’s no Bible of character sketches, no storyboard or stack of colored index cards detailing GMC. He just writes.

I have to say Whew! to that. I was beginning to wonder if being a pantser was going to be by downfall. My inability to plan a story step by step before I write it had me worried that I might be missing a vital skill for a novelist, but according to Stephen King, this is not so. I have the tools I need and I have a little more than basic understanding of how to use them. The only thing I still seem to lack is enough time to get everything down on paper – and a door.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

What makes it great?

Something Annalee Blysse mentioned in her blog got me thinking about what makes a great book.

She said that a book she’d read made her feel tight in the chest, on the verge of tears. I’ve been looking for words to describe that feeling I get when I’m completely caught up in the trials and tribulations of a great character. Mind you, I hate sad, depressing books, but there’s a difference between the kind of ‘tight in the chest’ tears that Annalee describes and the ‘gee, I think I’ll go step in front of a bus now’ kind of maudlin feelings some writers evoke with their tales of human misery.

That teary feeling is what makes a good book, or rather a great book, for me. Not that I don’t enjoy a light-hearted comedy or a simple, sweet love story, or even a spicy erotic tale [since I write those!] but those books where I’m in the heroine’s head, and I’m crying with her [not for her-there’s a difference] those are the books I want more of. Crying with a character means I’ve transcended the edge of the page and I’m IN the book. The heroine’s problems are my problems, I’m her to a certain extent. She touches something in me that makes me completely understand her life. Thus the writer has made her into a real person for me and that is what it’s all about, isn’t it? Crying FOR a character is different and not anywhere near fun at all. I don’t want to feel bad for a character, I want to feel AS the character.

Am I making sense?

It’s a hard concept to get into words, and even harder to apply to my writing, but I hope that someday I’ll write a book that my readers can say this about, that they feel FOR my characters and step inside them for a little while. That, to me, is the measure of a great writer.

Monday, January 09, 2006

A Pleasant Surprise

During my numerous ego boosting visits to Fictionwise, I discovered that
Renna’s Sacrifice is listed at #7 on the Amber Quill best sellers list.


And today Hunter’s Moon has climbed from #14 to #11. I suppose they update their data every day or so?

Okay, enough apple polishing for today. I’ve got to get to work on my WIPs. Procrastinating is far too easy.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Update on Ken'Ja

I just discovered that Ken’Ja will be released in February, rather than January. A slight bummer, especially since my frivolous goal this year was to have a release every month and I had January, February and March already covered.

The good news is, Ken’Ja is up on my author page at Amber Quill, the galleys are done, so it’s ready to rock and roll.

I can’t wait for it to hit the ‘virtual’ shelves along with the other stories in the Starlight Serenade Anthology. If you like hunky alien men and especially if you liked Hunter’s Moon, be sure to check out Ken’Ja along with the other sizzling stories in Vol. II.

Arena - Grace Draven
High Roller - Caitlyn Willows
Ken'Ja - Bernadette Gardner
Krecelian Mate - Shannon Leigh
Out Of Space - Brit Blaise

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Friday, January 06, 2006

It's about the language

I’m reading Stephen King’s memoir On Writing and what stands out so far is the line above – It’s all about the language. That little gem of wisdom got me thinking about how language can make or break a story, it can turn a ‘slice of life vignette’ into a richly drawn novel on the human condition [not my cup of tea, mind you, but it can be done.] Language can also turn an inspired plot into something insipid.

A book I read recently proved that point. I won’t mention names here because over all the story was wonderful, the plot was compelling, the characters ranging from tolerable to lovable, but the language tarnished what, in my opinion, would have otherwise been a true keeper.

Erotica and erotic romance are tough genres to write. I’m finding that out. Since I wrote Hunter’s Moon, basically on a dare or a whim – or maybe a whare – I’ve discovered that how a writer uses language can make a sexy story embarrassingly, eye-rollingly explicit, or can turn a very simple scene into something that sizzles.

There are numerous debates about what language is appropriate to use in erotica and erotica romance, where the line should be drawn between one and the other and between erotica, e-rom and ‘porn.’ [The porn debate is something I’ll tackle another time.]

I’d just like to weigh in and say that I feel it’s not what you say but HOW you say it that makes or breaks a story. Over the top, sexually charged language, doesn’t make a story erotic. I’m not talking about the old standbys like ‘thrusting’ and ‘rock hard,’ ‘taut,’ ‘pert’ or even ‘heaving .’ I’m talking about the stuff you get off the bathroom wall at Arby’s. [No offense to Arby’s by the way.] I also mean, to a lesser extent, the old standbys like ‘turgid’, ‘throbbing’ and ‘juices.’

Base language doesn’t equal erotic. That’s my opinion. I write my stories with that in mind. That’s not to say there isn’t a huge market for turgid throbbing juices, but my feeling is, if I stop mid-sentence while reading to roll my eyes and say, “Pul-ease!” the author has lost me. How do we draw the line between sexy and 'give me a break?' I'm not sure, but I know it when I see it. I just hope I can recognize it in my own writing.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Pen or Keyboard?

I spend a lot of time trying to decide the best way to do things. I hate to waste time [except for playing 20 or 30 rounds of Alchemy at Yahoo Games now and then] and I hate to waste effort even more.

This has led me to put a lot of thought into the fastest and most efficient way to get words on paper.

I finally figured out that the best way for me to create a first draft is to hand write it. While typing on the PC has the advantage of getting things down where they can be copied and pasted, deleted and moved, underlined and italicized at whim, I find I just work a lot faster with a pen in my hand.

On paper, the cutting and pasting has to be literal. Crossing out doubles for deleting and underling and italicizing can’t really be undone without making quite a mess. However, I can knock out ten pages in half an hour, even if I’m transcribing dialogue as my characters talk in my head.

I write a lot faster than I type and the beauty of writing by hand is that I’m not distracted by misspellings and punctuation errors.

A line like this one from one of my current WIPs:

They all wanted to be the ‘one’ that cured the b tamed beast with in and tumed him into a pupy dog.

will remain blissfully blemished until I get around to typing it up cleanly and well edited on the computer. If I had typed the line above on the PC, I would not be comfortable leaving it that way. I’d have to take time to go back and clean it up, make it look nice, before I could move on to the next line. With hand writing, I’m already two paragraphs ahead.

So I suppose I’ve finally made the decision to hand write all my first drafts. Hopefully this will help me get more words on paper, finish more manuscripts and get more stories out there and I won’t waste so much time correcting things that will probably end up being edited out anyway.

At le(a)st I hops so –hope so.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

It happened again!

I met a new co-worker today and our polite conversation, during the course of teaching her some of my responsibilities at the office, turned to my writing. It's getting a little easier for me to say, "I'm a writer," without that nagging voice in the back of my head saying, "You mean you WANT to be a writer someday."

I am a writer. A published author. It's okay to admit it. It's not a lie. It's not just a pipe dream.

So in response to my confession, my new co-worker says: [Can you guess?] "What do you write? Children's books?"


I have to laugh. I really do have to. But it kills me. Is it stamped on my forehead somewhere? [PLEASE ASK THIS PERSON IF SHE WRITES CHILDREN'S BOOKS]

I had no desire to be rude of course, to this nice lady who will be sharing my office job with me, so I said, "No. Romance." [I can't just say Erotic Romance yet, but I'm working on it. I don't want anyone's eyeballs to fall out of their heads.] Nevertheless, some part of me wanted to say, "Why do you ask? Do you only read children's books?" That would have been mean. But did I mention it kills me? Everyone, everyone, everyone thinks I must write children's books. WHY? I think I'm going to have the cover art for Renna's Sacrifice stamped on a T-shirt and start wearing that to work.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

I've Been Tagged Again - Seven Things

Annalee Blysse tagged me, so I made a list. I didn’t do all the seven things from her blog, but this is a start.

Seven Things To Do Before I Die

1. Make the New York Times Best Seller List

2. Spend a glorious vacation on a tropical island

3. Move into a new house

4. Be a guest speaker at a writer’s convention

5. See the Grand Canyon

6. See one of my novels on display at a major bookstore

7. Have a complete past life regression

Seven Things I Cannot Do

1. Sing a note – I think I’m tone deaf also

2. Write fast enough to keep ahead of my own ideas

3. Type without looking at the keyboard once in a while

4. Jump [I cannot jump. I used to be able to. I can jump off of things, but I can’t jump straight up. It’s like I forgot how.]

5. Speak another language fluently. [I know a smattering of Spanish, German and French, but not very much. I suppose if I was determined I could learn, but languages were always difficult for me.]

6. Ride a roller coaster. [They don’t make Dramamine in big enough doses for that.]

7. Ice skate. [Another one of those things I probably could learn if I really insisted on it, but I’d probably break my neck trying.]