Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Loftier aspirations

Yesterday I attended a 3-year-old’s birthday party. Well, a party for two three-year-olds actually. Twins. They’re quite a hoot, these two, and I get a kick out of some of the things they say.

Yesterday’s giggle came from asking them the question, “What do you want to be for Halloween?”

The little girl’s answer was fairly typical. ‘A Tinkerbell Ballerina.’ Of course, what little girl doesn’t want to dress up as a fairy and dance around?

The little boy won the day though. His response?

“I want to be a potato.”

'What kind of potato?'

“A mashed potato.”

I can see the fun his parents will have explaining that one on people’s doorsteps. ‘What’s that on his head?’

“A pat of butter of course.”

The kid definitely marches to his own drum.

I remember when my son was little and we asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, his first response was: An apple.

I had visions of people asking me, “So, Mrs. Colgan, what does your son do for a living?”

“He’s a professional apple. In college he minored in orange but apple is his real calling. And on the weekends, he jams with a bunch of grapes.”

Sometimes I think I missed my own calling by spending three quarters of my life aspiring to be a novelist. I should have just followed my true love and become a chocolate bar.

Monday, July 26, 2010

We could use some new classics

Don't you think?

I'm sure there are hoardes of bibliophiles out there who will stock up on the rotten tomatoes to lob at my blog after this post, but here goes anyway.

When will we stop torturing kids with the 'classics' of literature and let them read some newer, and hopefully more interesting stuff?

My daughter's summer reading assignment was Catcher in the Rye, which she just slogged her way through. She confessed she hated the book, and she felt much the same way about the books she had to read last summer too. I forget those titles, but they were similar intruments of brain cell destruction. [No offense to Salinger fans, but I have yet to meet anyone who actually enjoyed Catcher.]

It really bothers me, not that these old standards have managed to endure for all these years, but that at a time when there are so many things vying for our kids' attention, schools still insist on a diet of maudlin, depressing, confusing literature. I'm not saying that none of these books have any merit, but when the majority of kids hate what they're reading, how are we going to ever hope to turn out a new generation of book lovers?

I was lucky that despite having been made to read Atlas Shrugged in high school, which I recall as eight million pages of boring after boring after boring, I still loved to read. I adored Gone with the Wind and War and Peace and Little Women. I was the kid who spent all my allowance on books. I'm also lucky that my daughter likes to read, and spends a good deal of her own allowance on books [though a lot of them are manga].But not every kid out there has a taste for reading, and why should they these days when TV, video games and iPods command the lion's share of their brain power?

I'm not suggesting we make Harry Potter and [heaven for fend, Twilight] mandatory reading, but I'm sure there are some fun and interesting books out there that teenagers and pre-teens can learn more from than how to buy Cliffs Notes.

Anyone have any suggestions?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Kebox Paradox

I'm forced to confess that I'm a babe in the woods when it comes to the produce department at the supermarket. I wander around there ooohing and aaahing at all the pretty fruits and vegetables and I have been known on many occasions to bring home some exotic plant material just because it had a funny color or funny shape or strange name.

Today was one of those days.

DS and I were shopping [I got the kid out of the house!] and we came across a huge crate of dark green bowling balls for sale. They were sitting next to a crate of odd looking objects that faintly resembled cantaloupes but with stripes. These things were solid dark green and they weighed a ton.

The sign above them said: KEBOX MELONS $3.99 each.

Okay. Not a bad price for a bowling ball. I conferred with DS who was noncomittal about trying a new and exotic fruit. He's always worried about getting a mouthful of something that doesn't taste good, so he often refrains from trying new things. Finally, being the adventurous Mom that I am, I talked him into it and we carefully lowered one of them into the cart, which immediately began to list to one side.

The thing was heavy. DS took it back out of the cart and hauled it over to the produce scale where it made the dial spin around wildly like a compass in the Bermuda Triangle. It landed on 9 pounds, which is awfully hefty for a melon. I knew this had to be good, so we lobbed it back into the cart and off we went to the checkout, both of us pushing the cart.

I got the thing home and spent some time just admiring it, imaging what jewelike flesh might appear once I cut it open. I fantasized about the exotic flavors we might discover and what interesting recipes I might find when I learned all the ins and outs of the mysterious KEBOX.

I brandished my carving knife and sliced...and found out I'd bought...
a watermelon.

Apparently whoever was in charge of writing signs at the supermarket could not separate the I and the C, thus smushing them together to form a K.

It was an Icebox melon. Sigh.

So there went my plan to conquer the new world of the exotic KEBOX. The upside is, I probably would have paid a lot more for it when I believed it was some alien fruit sensation, so $3.99 was stil a bargain.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Evolution of a submission

So yesterday I psyched myself up and prepared a query letter to send to an editor I've been wanting to contact for a while.

I did all the usual pre-sub stuff. I obsessively checked the letter, obsessively checked the spelling of the editor's name, though I've submitted to this person before and gotten it right. I re-read the query submission guidelines on the publisher's website and doube checked the e-mail address, then triple checked the e-mail address.

I checked the wording of the query again, looked for spelling errors, saved the query to my Word files making sure I changed the file name so I didn't accidentally erase something I might need in the future.

I copied and pasted all the proper text into an open e-mail, double checked the wording of the subject line, and the editor's addy one more time, made sure to update my address and phone number and double checked everything again. Obsessive much? Me? Nah.

Then I hit send.

I breathed a small sigh of relief and told myself it was all up to the universe now. Knowing I could reasonably expect a response in three or four months, I went about my business.

About 20 minutes later, I found myself opening my e-mail account. Two thoughts went through my mind, one being I was hoping for a reply from a friend I'd been e-mailing with trhoughout the day and the other thought was, "Oh, here I go, back on the obsessively checking e-mail ride."

I watched as my e-mail account pulled up new mail and deposited it in my inbox. A digest from one of my publisher groups, no biggie. And something with the very same subject line as the e-mail I'd just sent to the editor.

Oh crap. I e-mailed the query to myself.

I've done this before. It's the ultimate 'just shoot me' feeling. I mean, how dumb can I really be?

Moments before my head hit the desk, I realized the 'From' addy was the editor's, not mine. The editor had responded to the query.

In 13 minutes.

And asked for the full.

Giddy, mildy hysterical laughter ensued for a moment. Then I replied to the request, attached the full manuscript and hit send.

Now back to obsessively checking my e-mail. Rinse and repeat.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Doin' the toner dance

So yesterday I actually finished a novella!!

Got a little elbow strain from patting myself on the back. I got to the end of the first draft of the sequel to Icarus Rising [my upcoming Liquid Silver release]. Icarus Unbound is now ready for the first round of editing. Hurrah!

Of course, I needed to print it out - I like to curl up with hard copies of my manuscripts to do first round editing, this way I can physically cut and paste things. Sometimes the old fashioned way just works better.

I was six pages to the end of the printing and my toner cartridge crapped out on me.
Never fails. I haven't printed more than 1 page at a time in last six months so I guess the strain was too much for it.

I had to take the cartridge out, shake it all about, and put it back in to get two more pages. Then I had to do it all over again. And again, until I finally got the last of the pages to print. I'm ever so glad I didn't double space.

Now DH is out at the movies with the kids, and then he's going to swing by Staples and pick me up a new cartridge.

Have you ever done the toner dance?

I'd keep a spare on hand, but darn they're expensive. Maybe I'll ask for one as a Christmas present so this doesn't happen again.

Then again, if I'd had a spare, I would have just popped the old one out and replaced it, and I wouldn't have squeezed those last six pages out.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I write like...

I just came across this on one of my author loops and decided to try it out.

Apparently you put in a few paragraphs of something you've written and the analysis tells you which author you write like. I entered the first few paragraphs of my 2011 Samhain release, Uncross My Heart and here's what I got:

I write like
Dan Brown

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

I'm not sure if I should be flattered or worried. What do you think?

Who do you write like?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Excerpt from The Concubine's Tale

Coming in October from Samhain...

Khanu’s heart clenched at the spectacle that met him when he returned from the courtyard. The sight of Nayari lying limp in the arms of one of the priests nearly sent him to his knees.
“What have you done to her?” He didn’t wait for a reply but scooped her fragile body into his arms. The other priest bowed and backed up a step.

“I had to stop her from escaping. I found her scurrying through the back corridor searching for a way out through our chambers.”

“You had no right to injure her. You should have called me.” Khanu swung Nayari around and headed for her room.

“This way, warrior. We’ll take her to a room below where she won’t escape so easily.”

Khanu hesitated. He looked down at her face, so beautiful in this artificial sleep. Her shallow breathing worried him.

“What did you do to her?”

“A balm to make her sleep.”

Khanu growled. She’d be groggy and sick when she awoke. Grudgingly, he followed the priest to a dark flight of stone stairs. He squeezed his broad shoulders through a narrow door and set Nayari on a small cot in a windowless chamber lit only by a torch in a sconce on the wall.

“Bring water.” He cradled her head in the crook of his arm. “Then stay out of my sight.”

“Of course.” The priest bowed out of the room, and Khanu indulged in a curse upon the man’s family ten generations to come. Why would she try to escape? Surely the priest was mistaken. As the dutiful concubine of the magistrate, it should have been her pleasure to await the arrival of Ammonptah.

She lay in his arms, her face a portrait of innocence. He brushed her lustrous hair from her brow and pressed the back of his hand to her fevered skin. What would Ammonptah do if he found her thus?

The priest returned with a bowl of water and a cloth, and Khanu glared at him. “Post a guard at the temple gate. Enemies of Ammonptah are everywhere it seems.” Even in this room, he added silently.

Once the priest had gone, Khanu tended to Nayari. Drops of cool water squeezed from the cloth onto her head roused her slightly, and she moaned.

“You’re safe,” he said when her eyes fluttered open. She stared at him for a moment, her eyes blank. Then she surged upward, fear clouding her expression. She screamed once—a short, tortured sound that Khanu cut off by clamping a hand over her mouth. She struggled in his arms, and he hushed her, rocking her against his chest.

“No, I’m not.” Her voice trembled as she recounted what the acolyte had told her.
Khanu had heard the name Benak-Ra before. He’d seen tales of the man’s cruelty strike fear in the hearts of many seasoned warriors. A fragile creature such as Nayari would wither at his hands.

His loyalty to Ammonptah dissolved as she finished telling him about the plot to unseat Pharaoh. “I will not let them give you to the wizard.”

She settled against him finally, and her breathing returned to normal. When he looked down at her, tears spilled over her cheeks. “But Ammonptah is our master.”

“Not any longer.”

“What?” She trembled in his arms. The sensation of her supple body shuddering against his turned his thoughts to further betrayal of Ammonptah.

“We will escape.”

“How? The priests are watching.”

“They’re watching the front of the temple. They believe I’m loyal to Ammonptah and will do as I say. We will leave here in a few hours, before they rise for their morning prayers.”

Her honey-colored eyes searched his and, beneath the fear, he saw trust and admiration. She put her hands on either side of his face and brought her lips close to his. Her breath was sweet. “Tell me your name.”

“Khanu,” he whispered, so close to her mouth that the word echoed between them. “Servant of Nayari.”

She kissed him then, and a sensation that had to be borne of the gods shot through his body. Every muscle went taut, and the ache in his loins exploded into flame as her tongue slipped between his lips.


Wednesday, July 07, 2010

As promised

The awesome cover art for my upcoming Samhain re-release:

When an ancient papyrus scroll comes up for auction, gallery curator Cait Lang draws the distasteful task of notifying her boss’s favorite client, Grant Pierson. The rare art and antiquities collector’s arrogance grates on her nerves, but most of all she resents her own weakness for his athletic body and deep brown eyes.

It’s the hieroglyphic scroll that draws Grant to a private, after-hours showing at the gallery. But the lovely Cait’s narration of the erotically charged story captures his interest. Determined to hear the rest of the tale—and spend more time in Cait’s company—he convinces her to join him for dinner.

The intricate, sensual tale transports Cait and Grant’s imaginations into the past. And the depictions of sexually charged temple rituals inspire them to explore their own hidden passions—in Cait's apartment.

Even as Grant succumbs to Cait’s charms, the drive to own the scroll hums in the back of his mind. If he isn’t careful, though, he’ll not only lose the chance to hear the end of the story, he’ll lose something more precious. The missing piece of his own life—Cait.

October 2010

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

I'm baaaaaaaaack!

Did you miss me?

Did you know I was gone?

Well, never mind. In case you did know I was gone and in case you did miss me, I'm back in cyberspace and trying to hoist myself back on the writing wagon.

It's been a tedious six months with looking for a new house, finding one, getting everyone moved in and all kinds of work done fixing the place up. We're marginally settled now - my old house is still on the market and I know it will be a job selling it in this economy, but my hopes are high and my fingers are crossed.

In the mean time I thought I'd dive in to an equally challenging task and start trying to keep up my blog again and get some writing done before the summer is over.

I haven't been a total schlub. I have the re-release of my crosst-time adventure The Concubine's Tale coming from Samhain in October [stay tuned for a preview of the awesome cover art!] and I've got my first Liquid Silver release Icarus Rising {TBD}.
I'm working on the second book in the Icarus series and a couple other novellas, so I hope to heating up cyberspace once again in the 2nd half of 2010.

For 2011 I have plans to make it the year of the eBook - stay tuned for more details. Right now I'm off to see about updating my websites [I know, I've been seriously lax] and then to get some actual writing done!

More soon so visit often!