Friday, April 29, 2005

Pardon me while I SOB

I just got off the phone with RWA National. I've been waiting to hear if I got one of the scholarships and I hadn't heard anything. I'd asked Alicia Rasley if she knew, and she did know someone that had received notification on it already. Great.

When we sent in my essay thingy, Shari tried to fax it and could never get it to go through, then B faxed it from work and said it did go through. I asked if he got a confirmation number on it and he looked at me, in response, like I'd grown a second head out of my neck. I took that to mean that not only did he NOT get a confirmation number, but that he had no idea what a confirmation number WAS. So whether or not it was ever received at all has danced in the back of my brain for months now.

I have most of the airfare and hotel expense covered in all the afghans I'm crocheting, but I was heavily relying on one of the scholarships (KOD had one too, but I found out long ago that I didn't get that one.) Out of two possibilities, I didn't get any. Now I'm wondering if Fate, the bytch that she is, is trying to tell me something. Of course, anything that allows an ounce of self-doubt in will wiggle right in to make me 2nd guess any talent I may possibly have. This is a huge wiggler.

I'm still crocheting on the ones I have orders for, but this means I need like...what? About 10 more orders! Which is fine, but dang, I can't imagine where else to ask about people that may want to give homemade afghans for Christmas presents. I think I've tapped all my resources on that one.

I was considered the corner here outside my house (my house is on a corner lot) and becoming like the Middle-Class Neighborhood Hooker to raise money. I had someone think that was the title of one of my books. I guess it could be. I'm betting more than not, people would pay to keep me OFF the corner so they don't have to behold these thighs in fishnets. Still, the possibility is tempting, no matter what the "customer" motivation may be.

I've already gotten gowns, and pins, and workshops, looking at classes and agents. To think I won't get there at all makes me want to puke. Hell the idea of crocheting another freakin' afghan makes me want to puke, but I'd happily do it if I knew I'd get to Nationals. And damn it, I need to get away, writing conference or not. Four kids + B can suck any intelligence right out of ya. Trust me on that one.

So there ya go. First I dealt with Guilt this morning, and now I'm tossed Dismay. Suddenly, the Guilt looks really good in comparison.



There's a term we'd never thought of a few years ago. I mean, heck, just a year ago I'd have said "a what"? Blog. It even sounds funny.

So now I'm dealing with blog guilt. I have SO many people who I really absolutely love their blogs and love to read them. But they're soooooooo addictive! I get to reading, and reading, and reading, and then replying and replying and replying. I could spend hours doing nothing but that.

That means I rarely go to the blogs I love. I just got off of writeminded and had to reply to two different entries. I mean, these are my sisters in writing, so we understand so much, especially when they post about writing while being a mother. Right up my alley there, and the guilt of it all that comes with kid time vs. writing time. So when I do get to others' blogs, I feel guilty for not checking in with them more often. How screwed up is that?

If you noticed, I have not written on the blog much lately. I have sooooooo much going on right now. April just sucks. That's all there is to it. This year isn't as bad as other years, because Easter landed in March. But Wed my youngest daughter turned 5 and today, my middle daughter is 11. Tonight is the sleepover for the gazillion girls coming to the 11 yr old's party, and then tomorrow, 24 4-5 yr olds will be attacking the city park for the 5 yr old's party (her first ever that wasn't completely all family!) The house is a wreck and I'm sitting here doing what?


I have craft stuff that HAS to be mailed by Monday. I still have quite a bit to go on it first. The parties, the cleaning for the parties, the laundry that never EVER EVER ends with six in the family. To top it all off, the 3.5 yr old little man is sick. He was up from 2-4 with B (thankfully) yakkin' his little toddler brains out. At 4, B came to bed and I got up for my turn. I just crawled into bed with him and we both slept on. He's still sick, curled up on the recliner with his Spiderman pillow and an afghan. Poor little dude.

And I'm starting to get craft books in. So far, I've gotten The Writer's Journey, by Vogler and Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King. Then Shari (HI SHARI!) got me First Draft in 30 Days. More are on the way. I did start King's On Writing at long last, and that man just simply slays me. My dream as a writer is to meet him one day. Hey SK: Stay away from vans that drive on sidewalks, okay? Give me time to write enough (and get published) so I'm worthy of meeting you!!!

So I have all these craft books but no time to read them. I have like 30 books on my TBR and I have to study my line!! And Mary Buckham's online synopsis class is starting on Sunday. No time! No time! I'm like the freaky-ass White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, runnin' around like an idiot with so much to do, I can't get anything done, but...yanno...runnin' around like an idiot.

I guess the most guilt comes from when I know I'm wasting time. When I check my email five thousand more times rather than getting up and changing the laundry or emptying the dishwasher. The times when I sit here in a daze and simply stare at the screen. Lately, it's more times than I really want to admit, to myself much less to you guys. But remember now, I'm a closet-masochist, so I admit it anyway. As much as I deny it, I obviously like inflicting mental anguish on myself, since I do it SO freakin' much.

So there ya go. Here's the guilt I deal with on a constant basis. On personal news: Nothin' new. I ignore moments when the closets are hung from the dresser (I still think "wtf" when I think of that) and the times when my writing is put down as a hobby. As far as my schedule goes, it's good in theory, but I haven't been able to stick with it. Maybe with more practice. I DID get a lot done on my synopsis, and Gina once again brutally whacked it apart for me. I love when she does that. I haven't gotten around to checking to see what all she did, but I'm confident...yes, that's what I said: CONFIDENT! that by the time Nationals hit, I'll be ready to pitch at least one, if not two books.

Ah crap, the idea makes me need to hurl.

I'm off to change out laundry and spend 30 minutes looking at one of the craft books. I'm bound and determined to be a writer, laundry or not.


Wednesday, April 27, 2005

A brain teaser

You have 8 articles of clothing hung on hangers, then hung on the bedroom doorknob. Of the 8, 6 are his workclothes, 2 are her shirts. You (being the he) put your workshirts in the closet. Where do you put her two shirts?

~pause time while you think~

Did you answer "In the closet, too"?
Or..maybe, "I didn't know where they went so I hooked them on the top part of the dresser"?

If you answered the second one, you're a waste of oxygen and should immediately be eliminated for the good of the world, and before you reproduce. Oh wait. Too late. He's already reproduced. Let's hope that IDIOTIC gene is recessive in the children.

Am I making this up? Absolutely not.

This is one of the three things that have occurred just in the last thirty minutes.

I cannot WAIT for freakin' Reno.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Rah! Revisions suck dead donkey

in a really, really bad way. I'm really not that into pain, which is hard to believe, considering how much of my life has been spent in it. Oh well.

So, I'm looking at THOE (The Haunting of Elizabeth, also known as Hidden Within and a bunch of other titles). I posted this problem on my local group to get feedback, but only one person offered her opinion. I'll include it here as I type. Right now, as readers (and some writers) I'd like YOUR opinion on the following.

On the Merritt judge pages, I got a 10 (perfect) in dialogue from one judge, and a *5* from the other. The one that gave me the five said: "You do dialogue very well where you have it. I think four pages of no dialogue is bad." Yeah, well, bite me.

So, you're in DEEP POV (point of view) in this character's head. It's not scenery. It's action. So I don't get that at all, and why that shoved me to 50% of the available score, no clue. She needs to go suck raw eggs that were left out from last in 2004.

Whatcha think? Four pages with no one flappin' their gums too much? If you think so, please let me know WHY.

Point of View
Secondly, another person (not from the Merritt) has told me that they disliked that this character (of whom we're in this deep POV) is shot at the end of the scene. Now, this scene was originally written to kill off an agent that told me I should never write another word with the dream of being published one day. (No, I'm not kidding.) But as I wrote it, it ended up a great scene. The reason we're in a POV that's going to die is because of this: The greater the impact the better for the reader. If the character is clueless, then the reader is as well. When the character faces something, the reader does at the same time. I wanted the clueless character to lead.

Now, the one person that replied on the emails addressed this problem. She thinks I should switch to the hero's POV (he's who kills this character). That we can draw out his love of country over self (he had an affair with the chick he's killing, but she's a spy for bad guys now.) He remembers their times together, the smell of her hair, and times like this are when his job just sucks. Then he shoots her. The writer giving me this advice said "You could get a real tear jerker out of this."

Yes, possibly. If there are potentials for tears to be jerked, I can usually find them, no matter what the topic is. So, do I switch? Do I take away the element of surprise and put it in the hero's POV? After the chick is shot, it does switch to hero's POV and things are discussed, and that's the intro to him, his job, and his next assignment, which is going after the heroine to kill her. What I MAY do is start it in the chick's POV and then switch it over sooner to his, so I can have him watching her, and remembering stuff.

I dunno. Comments? Questions? Opinions? Toss it out here.

On a personal front, here's a bit of an update:

Tomorrow is another rheumo appt. I'm going to discuss with him the need for assistance on the weight issues. If he still refuses, I'll tell him I'll be getting help from the Internet and ordering my meds I need from Canada. Can't wait to hear his reaction to THAT. I'm going to lose the weight, with or without his help. Hopefully I can urge him that it'd be better to reluctantly help me than leave me alone to help myself.

The parental units will be arriving on Wednesday. Wednesday is Syd Vicious's birthday, she'll be five. Then Friday is my middle daughter's birthday and she will be 11. So they'll come down on Wednesday then leave Friday afternoon. Carly's having her birthday party Friday night, a sleepover (gack!) and then Sat will have Syd's at the city park. Mom and Dad, the chickens that they are, decided to leave before the sleepover. I wonder if I can hitch a ride with them.

When they're visiting, I rarely get online. I think my mother still thinks that the Internet was created by Satan. But we all know it was created by Al Gore. Oh, wait....

Nevermind. Mom's theory makes sense now.

On a pleasurable note: FINALLY reading Stephen King's ON WRITING. I have literally laughed out loud I don't know how many times. I like that it's so personal of him, plus informative to me as a writer, one writer to another, like he's speaking to ME. Hmm...started with dialogue, ended with King. Life is good.


Craft, Cold & Cranky

One would think that to write a story, all they need is an idea and a computer, and yanno, a printer and stuff. Basic understanding of the English language would help, assuming you're writing it in English. So you have this idea, but guess what?

You know nothing!!!

So I'm in the process of collecting books on the craft of writing. I have now Stephen King's ON WRITING (I love that man) which I haven't read yet (currently reading Julie Kenner's Undercover Lovers (have I mentioned how much she rocks?) and so King will be next. I've been asking around to those that I admire in the writing world what they would recommend as craft books to invest in.

With everything else (see my post called "DEFINITIONS AND NICE TIDY BOXES) no one agrees on the "Must haves" on the craft of writing. Which is fine, since none of us write the same anyway. So I listen and compile lists based on who I see mentioned the most. Ane recommended STORY by McKee. I'd never heard of it, and supposedly it's hard to find (I have my eye on it right now and just waiting for the auction to end). Jennifer Crusie recommended it to Ane, and then Ane passed that knowledge to me. As Fate would have it, Julie Kenner referred to his work this last weekend, so that adds another creditials in the McKee camp.

I'm also getting The Pen Commandments and Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, as well as Writer's Journey and Writing the Breakout Novel. I figure I'm a fast learner, and these are the titles that show up again and again as suggestions. I'd like to find one on archetypes to add as well. If you have any suggestions, post away.

Now, personal update (I know you're dying to know this crap, huh?) I went cold turkey cutting out my meds this last week. Oh. My. God. I've had a migraine for two days now. Needless to say, I started them up again today. I return to my rheumo on Tuesday, and I'm going to heavily suggest (no pun intended...well, okay maybe a LITTLE BIT intended) that he aid me in the need for weight loss. In other words, write a 'script out, baby. This sucks. I hate it, and it's incredibly counter-productive on my joint issue! (DUH!) I wish I was eligible for bypass, but I'm about 40 lbs too light for that. Figures, eh?

On a more personal than that kind of personal, here's an interesting tidbit of gossip that happened between me and B this weekend. I was up early on Saturday to go to Austin for the synopsis class, right? Well, B says "You know, we're almost even now."

I said: "What are you talking about?"

Now, here's the backstory: Every summer since we moved back to Texas, I take the four heathens to my parents the first part of summer for a weeklong Vacation Bible School at their church. Thus, B is alone for a week. No kids. Then, the last two years, he's gone to NY alone for Thanksgiving. Last year was a week, then this time (2004) was for 10 days. AND, last year when I was at Nationals, he had another week (the kids weren't here, they were with my parents.) I always tell him he owes ME personal time with no kids, no him, no nuttin'. And now, because of my little weekends (like to San Antonio for 1.5 days) and the once a month Tuesday night for my Austin meetings, and for Saturdays like yesterday, those count toward it. Whatever. WRONG. PLUS, you're just gonna love this. He says: Well, during the summer when you are all gone I still have to work.

I said: This is work, B. This is a class for what's esstentially my JOB.

"No it isn't."

Now I'm glaring, and mind you, I'm literally walking out the door to leave. I said, "Then when I sell a book, you won't get to touch a penny of the money, since it's not work and solely a hobby of MINE."

B: "You mean IF you get published."

~pausing a moment for that to sink in a bit for ya~

Can you even stand it? I was just...floored. I wanted to find a bat and bash in his skull. I wanted a pillowcase filled with broken doorknobs to beat the living hell out of him. Instead, I just walked out and went to my class.

Here's the problem: Men make a comment and the moment is over. He's not going to think about that little conversation again, not until I DO sell a book and remind him. Women, however, remember EVERYTHING, and I will never, EVER forget his lack of support in my "hobby" NOR his belief that I have not an ounce of talent that allowed him to let those vile, f-ed up words to spew from his mouth.

I will remind him. Daily.
And as I go on vacation, and leave him behind. After all, I'm owed some days still.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Synopsis According to Kenner & Comedy Crisis

Well, I don't have to say it, we all already know it, but dang does Julie Kenner ROCK! I just got back a bit ago from the workshop she gave to our ARWA group...for free at that! Let me tell ya, I'd pay for her advice. I'm not kidding when I say that everything she does is just golden.

Between what I learned from her, and what I got from Lisa Gardner, I have a lot of confidence now that not only can I get THOE's synopsis in order and do the first three chapter re-writes, BUT that I can get a proposal package for one of the romantic comedies in shape as well. In fact, I'm almost itchin' to get started on it. The keyword there: Almost.

I'm draggin' butt today. Stayed up wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy too late yakkin' on the phone to the JAPpist of JAPS, my darlin' buddy eliana. She and I hadn't talked much lately and had TONS of stuff to catch up on. Stayed on the phone with her until 1am, then got to get up at 6am to get ready for Kenner Classes! Living 1.5 hours from the rest of them sure sucks dead donkey sometimes. (sigh) But it was well worth it, as you can tell from my above excitement. (Okay, I'm so freakin' tired, I typed that as "excitedness" at first and though: Uhh...THAT doesn't sound right.) In the wise mono-syllabic wisdom of the above mentioned eliana: Oy.

Chris and I flapped our gums with Nic and I ran by her my idea of the newest book that I finished the completed chapter of the other day. Shari (other CP!) and Chris weren't too hyped about it, but Nic thought it was a RIOT. Maybe I should put the premise on here and see what the feedback is. Chris is concerned that it'll only really strike a cord with RWA Romance Writers, but I think any work that's well done will convey the tone (and in this case..humor) regardless of one's familiarity of the topic. I mean, I've never been in a beauty pagent but I totally loved the original Ms. Congeniality. See what I mean? Hmm. We'll see.

The ever fabulous Olga just sent an email about someone wanting a screenplay for a romantic comedy, and the super-sweet chicka with the way cool accent actually thought of me! How nice is that?! Problem is, of the 5 romantic comedies I have floating around out there, none are complete! I guess it's time for me to stop talking about the books and actually CREATE the books! (JBM aka CF ~control freak~ would like that, with the blasted timesheets and crap. Ugh.) There are only five weeks left of school, and I have no idea whether to be scared shytless of having ALL FOUR KIDS home all the time, or if I should be hyped up. With Shandie, the eldest, home to help out with the heathenistic toddlers, that would provide me opportunity to get some really good, strong hours of writing in during the day. (JBM the CF would like that!) It does cause this little tickle of anticipation to spread through me...oh wait., that's the heroine on the verge of explosive orgasmic bliss, not me. My bad.

Until next time, my freaky darlings.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

A B C what's missing?! D!!!

Remember our buddy "D" that was posting and tormenting me in the knowledge that I knew them originally online, then in real life, said that the initial of the "D" was significant, and loved the idea that their lack of knowledging who he/she/it really was made me bugshyt?

Well, I made a guess several posts back. And since then, there's been no sign of D! What's up D? Is that or isn't that you?

Did you really think I wouldn't eventually find out? Please...I always figure it out. Now post so I know how your world is, dang it, or better yet, drop an email from HERE to *I* get it in my box, instead of it going to B's.


Hand Cramp & A New Love Affair

I've been a synopsis FOOL today. Total working hours: five. Impressed? Of course you are.

And so far, I'm just working on the SHORT synopsis. I've read and read and now I'm applying it, and already Gina the Brutal has called my rough copy "fantastic". Thank God I'm a faster learner.

I went from typing to this chair to moving into the living room to hand write my stuff out. I made a typed list that covers everyone's strengths and weaknesses, all plot points, all turning points (not the same) of the main issues in the book, skipping everything that wasn't absolutely vital. Now I'm handwriting out the result. I hope to have it no more than 2 pages max. Then I'll worry about the long one. Ugh. Wish me luck. After I type it out tomorrow (maybe tonight) I'll know if I still babbled on too much and have to take the mental cleaver to it again and whack off huge oozing chunks of it.

And while I'm working, all last night and all day today, I've been immersed in my newest love: Savage Garden, the blue CD (not sure of the name). I've had the first one, the orange one, for years, but just got the blue one, and I love it. (As I'm typing this, my four year old ~she'll be five next week! EEKS!~ just came and asked where the orange Savage Garden CD was.LOL! We're junkies!) I get lost in their voices, in the words that speak right to my heart. Sometimes I stop writing and simply listen, closing my eyes and escaping into another world where all stress is gone, where only love and passion exist, where memories caress me like a long distance lover. And I smile.

Then someone screams in the house, breaking my fantasy into a billion sharp shards of glass that are instantly zapped from my view, and reality is glaring back at me. So is that freakin' synopsis.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Finding Liz

So I'm studying and studying...and studying. Freakin' synopsis. And yet by Sunday, I will have one (at least) that's GOLDEN. I just know it.

Don't argue! I will!

No, that's not a whine you hear! Brat!

So, I'm reading everything under the freakin' sun. Stuff I printed off from AskAnAuthor (or one of my many other email loops...but I think that's the one) and I'm reading Lisa Gardner (pardon while I bow to my personal shrine of her) and her incredibly IN DEPTH overviews of synopses as well as the examples she provides. After two hours, I'm just now ending with the short synopsis. She hasn't gotten to the long one, and already, I'm exhausted.


Then I took the print out of my one and only synop of THOE (The Haunting of Elizabeth - hate the title but changed it, but since it finaled in The Merritt, I feel like I have to keep it ~sigh~). So on these print-outs, Gina the Brutal whacked the crap out of it with an insight I would have never seen. I'm just too close to the story, but worse, I'm too close to Liz.

And in being Liz, I'm focusing on her weaknesses instead of her strengths, and why? Because that's what we do. Liz is me, and goes through so much of the real life stuff I went through with the dead (yay!) ex, that I can't stop sometimes to step back and praise her and her strengths. As women, we tend to downplay our strong suits and emphasize our weaknesses. I did with this Liz, why? Because she's me. And Gina SO nailed it. She said "Liz just seems to float along in the story. She never makes decisions (she does, just not in the synop). Life and chaos are thrust on her and she cowers with fear."

Yes, she does. Why? Because she's the scared part of Brenda that lived through parts of this story. Now Elle, Liz's best friend, is a lot like me, but the other side of me, the stronger side, the sassy side. Liz has been beaten down. Brenda was beaten down. But Brenda has to learn to disassociate herself from Liz and in doing so, make Liz do what Brenda should have done. Confused yet? Good, buy the book.

When Liz is faced with Jake's return, I imagine what I'd do if it was Jon (dead..yay!..ex). If it was his ghost (which Liz thinks) what would I do? If it's him returning, having faked his death (as Jon often told me in GREAT detail how to do, therefore letting me know he not only had the knowledge but detailed experience in it) what would I do? And I become that chick that Jon had beaten down.

I attended the SARA Conference, of course, for The Merritt. And there, as I've mentioned, Sharon Sala was one of the speakers (she rocks, btw). She was talking about her ex, and how she was slowly beaten down. And there I was, with mental AMENS. People have a hard time understanding how "someone like me" was with "someone like Jon", or how he controlled me to the extent he did. I'm too domineering. I'm too outgoing and vocal. And yes, I am. So how was I mentally and emotionally controlled by him? If you've read her or met Sharon Sala, the same thing could be questioned in regard to her as well. She's witty and funny and I just love her. But it happens. Slowly, over time, at first with the veil of love hiding the wicked manipulation of it, and then, after years, it's just outwardly done, but by then, you're so used to it, you don't really even notice.

And as the years past, I got my spine back more and more, and of course, that's also went I slapped myself awake, realizing what he'd made of me, and worse yet, what I'd ALLOWED him to make me. That sucks. But it was the dark moment. That's when it crashed. And that's when I rose out of the ashes and rebuilt who I was, just like Sharon Sala did.

And so when I think of Jake in the book, I see Jon, and when I'm in deep POV of Liz, every bit of those insecurities come flying back from MY experiences and my fears are realized again. And it's coming across too well in the book, and even in the short synopsis. But do I WANT Liz to be who I was under his spell? Well, maybe. I mean, if I was suddenly experiencing Jon's ghost and then the very real possibility of Jon's existance when his death brought such a VAST sense of relief, then yeah, I'd be freaked out like Liz is. But then we have to step back and think, "I'm being given a chance to relive all the mistakes. Do I let him emotionally and mentally screw me over again, or do I make a stand this time, determined to fight back with every ounce of who I am?!"

I'd fight back. And so will Liz.

So yes, the rewrites are going to be wicked, as I've known they would be. But now, reading all that I have tonight and stepping back and looking closely at Liz, I realize what an injustice I'm doing to her. She has the chance to fight back, and damn it, this time she will win without sacrificing the very essence of who she is: Elizabeth Cooper.

NOT Brenda Fontenot.

Ow - Physical and Mental Anguish Attacks.

So my stomach is sore. I did 1 mile walking Sunday night followed by 10 minutes of stomach Pilates. Then last night, I did another mile walking then the 10 minutes of Pilates on my stomach and then 10 MORE minutes of Pilates on my butt.

I hurt.

So, I know you're all DYING to know how the writing schedule is coming along. I didn't write yesterday...I had a bit of a headache. So today, let's see. Hmm.

~looks to her left~

~looks to her right~

~leans in closer to you and whispers~


Shhhhhhhhh.............Don't tell anyone, okay? It's our secret. BUT, I have to say that I did start the researching of the ever dreaded synopsis. By the time I study this stuff, I'll be givng classes at Nationals. And, I think that any type of study on my craft would be considered WORKING on it, right? Right.

Of course!

Besides, CF (control freak) is way busy and won't know anyway. All's grand in the World of Brenda.

I don't have many thoughts to share with you today. And considering I didn't post yesterday, I guess my life is getting beyond dull. But, with my mind on writing, and what to pitch for Nationals, I think I want to pitch Liz and Alex AND one of the new comedies. But the idea of having proposals for both is a little daunting.

It's kind of like when the house is sooooooo gawdawful messy, yanno, like Walmart just blew chunks in it, and you stare and stare and you wonder WHERE the hell to start and it's so tiring just to LOOK at it all that you end up doing nothing. Well, that's kinda like my writing right now. There's just SO much to do, I end up doing nothing at all.

I have reading to do to know my line. I have craft books to study, and that's horribly important because that can save me bucketloads of time later on. If I read them NOW, I won't make the mistakes that will be addressed in the books. Right? Of course.

So, that has me reading craft books as well as reading my line. That's a LOT of reading!!! On top of that, I have the deadline for The Molly breathing hot and heavy on my neck, and that's just downright ewwy because "Molly" makes me think of a girl and I SO WAY do not swing that was anyway.

I've lost my mind.

Speaking of contests, the always fabulous Gina mentioned a contest I hadn't heard of, called Always the Bride (I think that's it). You can only enter if you've finaled in a contest, which I have! (No, still not ONE WORD on getting me another certificate! Grr.) According to the webpage, last year's entries (not winners, but ENTRIES), 80% were requested by editors/agents. That rocks. And it should be that way. I mean, we've already gone at least one round with the contests as it is. Surely we've learned from that, applied it and re-polished that same freakin' first chapter. I swear, I've worked more on that chapter of THOE than anything else in my entire LIFE! It's really interesting to see where that chapter started, (crap) and where it's landed (not crap) and the growth of me, as a writer, and my application of learning as I went along. Chris (CP) says I'm a fast learner. I have Lisa Gardner's synposis workshop all printed out to study. I have Gina's critique of my crappy synopsis ready to whack apart and apply her suggestions, and this Saturday, the ever wonderful Julie Kenner is giving a synopsis workshop for the chickas of ARWA. How cool is that?! I'm sooooooooo gonna tap her brain! Or rub her foot or SOMETHING. Everything Julie touches lately is gold, I swear.

Austin, overall, is just brimming with news. There are the new sales for Julie, and Emily McKay ( got another award, and Samantha Saxon ( ...crap, I don't think I have that listed on the left yet! EEEKS! Doing that as soon as I'm done here!) got swooped up by DoubleDay. How cool is that?! They so rock. I'm so jealous. I love to be a part of them and share their news with them. It's really, really neat.

Back to my writing...~sigh~

Apparently I also like mental anguish, because I'm still thinking of contests.

Shari (other CP) is excited about my continuing on with THOE. She has a thing for Alex, I think, and he is nice to look at, so I can't really blame her there. I haven't actively worked on THOE in months now, so maybe it's time to revisit him and Liz, drag them out of bed, hose 'em off and make them come OUT of heat long enough for me to rearrange their lives yet again.

I do have a new opening for THOE that I wish I'd thought of before submitting it to The Daphne. But, at least I can get it in shape for Always the Bride. I may not enter The Molly, actually, if I'm going to target the first one. I don't know yet. I do know I need to get this crap going and stop making excuses.

Tonight I did open up Word and THOE and stared at it and pondered the changes I'm making to Chapter 1 so that the action is immediate and interactive. But that's all I did. It's still opened, but I'm here instead of there.

Yes, it's like the Walmart Spewing/House Issue. But instead, it's like Brenda's Brain Chunks/THOE Suffers. I dunno. I do know I'm tired.

And, totally and completely out of character, I will end my post tonight with a positive thing. I have lost 5 lbs. ~Woot!~

Monday, April 18, 2005

If Mondays Were Tuesdays

do you think people would still hate them? I mean, it's not really the fact that's Monday, per se, but the fact that it's the day after the weekend, right? So if we had Mondays off (or, if YOU had, since I don't work), but then went back to work and school on Tuesday, would people say, "I hate Tuesdays."

Of course they would.

Anyway, I had a typical Monday, I suppose. Nothing really is going on, though. I like to write daily in the blog, but I hate to bore you all with meaningless posts. My last three were a bit...hmm..."darker", I guess. Not the humorous things that I normally write about.

So, those keeping up, I did make me a writing schedule. I sent it to JBM last night, and then today, he said, "That's the bare minimum."

Ugh. It's still more than I normally write, so I'd think that would be a good thing that I plan to write daily. But, I didn't write today. I suck. Yesterday, however, I wrote for 2.5 hours, finishing a full chapter of a brand new piece of work. Unforunately, neither of my CPs (critique partners) were overly excited about the work. It's chick-thrill, and I think the overall concept is a riot. Chris thinks it's too limited. Although all romance writers would know exactly what I'm referring to, a regular reader would not.

But, if you step back and look at the great Sandra Brown's ENVY (alltime fav of mine), hers is about writers and editors. AND, I had finished my first novel before I read it, but still had no idea what she was talking about when she mentioned "slush pile" in the novel. Did it change how great the novel was? No. Now, of course, I know all too well what a slush pile is. Does it sound nasty? It should. It's a nasty place to be in an editor's office.

So scrap my newest piece of work, yanno, the one I worked on last night so I wouldn't have to open up THOE and face Liz and Alex, guilt flooding over me like a mother that has abandoned her children. And because I'm such a freakin' glutton for punishment, my plan is to have the first three chapters of THOE (The Haunting of Elizabeth) AND my romantic comedy (named Mr. Fix It at the moment, not to STAY named that, though) in shape enough to pitch BOTH at Nationals.

What? Is that a collective groan I hear from the masses?

Oh wait, no, that's my wailing groan of dispair and self-inflicted torture.

Tonight, hopefully, I'll start pulling apart Lisa Gardner's synopsis workshop that I printed out and seeing how it applies to my own work. That should count, because we have to KNOW OUR CRAFT! And, I have to have a tight, kick-ass proposal, of which a synopsis is included.

On a new front, Shandie picked up a YA at the store and is going to read it to study her line!!! How exciting is that? I really hope she follows through on it. Of course, if she's following her mother's footsteps, she'll talk a good game but not actually get any decent writing done.

I shall update tomorrow on how my writing tonight goes.

And, for those that think my grammar sucks for a writer, I don't care. I'm usually drugged when I write, and I write fast. Sorry, don't feel like proofing the blog. Deal. ~razz~

Saturday, April 16, 2005

The Broken One

The label is fitting, but as with any label, it sucks anyway, fitting or not.

Yes, I'm broken. I'm damaged. I am 35 and I have the body of a 70 year old, minus the wrinkles. (Thankfully, wrinkles have stayed at bay.)

One moment, please. I need to find a good solid piece of wood to knock on.

I have mentioned, already, that I have fibromyalsia with bursitis complication. One of the horribly sucky things about fibro is the path to diagnosis. First they rules out all the arthritis issues: Osteo, rhuemotoid, etc. They have to rule out Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Blood work and x-rays and poking and proding, and not the good kind of poking and proding you'll find in my books.

And the bursitis, I think, was the worse. I fall to the ground, my hips literally giving out on me, screaming in pain, attempting to be moved by the EMTs. I have to endure the broken-glass-shards in my hips to show them my limited range of motion. I have to endure the x-rays, pleading for something to take the neverending pain away. And the result? A shot in the hip (paralyzes the muscle) and a set of crutches. And the first time I heard the word that will forever be used in defining me: Bursitis. Thanks SO much.

I'm to the point now in where I keep a cane or one of my crutches in the van (yanno, the one with the handicap plates) because my fear is that I'll collapse at Walmart, writhing around on the tiled floor, having mortified faces looking down at me. So when I'm walking around and feel that little "give" that signals hell is about to descend, I know the cane is out there, waiting. I do not want to be defined as handicapped, although I'm beginning to realize just how handicapped I really am. Denial is my friend.

So, since having been officially diagnosed, I've realized I will never return to the workforce, as my condition is apparently going to continue in its deterioration. My medical cocktail makes me even more exhausted, and I can't take it if I plan to drive more than an hour because I fear I'll fall asleep at the wheel. On those days, once I get to wherever I'm going, I'm pretty much a couch for rest of the day.

Now why am I writing about this today? For those that know me, I have a four (almost five) year old that I lovingly refer to as Syd Vicious. She finally saw a child development specialist today. While talking about HER, the doctor asks me, "What anti-depressant do you take?"

And I stared. Totally caught off guard with the question. I finally managed to squeak out, "How did you know I take one?"

"You're broken, aren't you? What do you have?"

WTF? How could he KNOW this?! I'd never met him, never spoken to his office, and since it wasn't a medical visit, there was no history to fill out on Sydney. Fighting back tears that my pain is obviously so freakin' transparent, I say, "Fibro, with bursitis complications." He nodded, like that was his guess before I said anything.

Apparently I have more than the classic symptoms for fibro. That's the one that the antidepressants are for. And he, a specialist, could see it. He asked who my psychiatrist was. I said I didn't have one. He said I needed one, and asked me how long I'd been living with chronic pain.

Whoa. Back up. We're here for SYDNEY, not to shrink Brenda!!! Freaked me out, but maybe there's something in me that caused Syd to be the way she is. Maybe it really does fall squarely on my own shoulders. So I answer him. "Since I was 13. It started with TMJ and has progressed since that point."

"That's a lot of years to deal with chronic pain."

Blinking back tears, I nod. "Yes, it is."

So he hands me a paper, and on it is written down a psychiatrist he recommended. Great.

Syd, he believes, is not a victim of Asperger's, which was my uneducated guess. Apparently, she is a victim of genetics. She has her father's "Social Anxiety Disorder", extreme "Seperation Anxiety", shyness to an extreme, and possible bi-polar disease. Now where did she get THAT from.

Take a wild guess. ~eye twitch~

I do not feel like I suffer from bi-polar disease. I was diagnosed as having that when I was 18 (please refer to the incident with Dr. Dickson in the Romeo and Juliet post). BUT, I didn't get really mucked up until they SAID I was bi-polar and put me on Prozac and freakin' LITHIUM. THAT is when I kinda went mental. I told this specialist that, and he laughed. He said that was common, that when someone who is bi-polar gets medicated, the symptoms get worse.

Well HELLO?! That doesn't give on much incentive to BE medicated for it then, does it?! Duh.

I still do not think I'm bi-polar. I think years and years of chronic pain have just made me a So, I come home and tell my ever supportive ~sarcasm inserted here~ husband (B) the details of the conversation, and that Syd will most likely, at the ripe old age of 5 (she turns five in two weeks) be put on Zoloft. Ugh.

And if you read this blog (God bless you're bored little heart) then you know that lately I've been walking through mud. I can't function well, I can't scrape up any energy at all! To counter that, I've cut back on my medications, all of which list "tiredness, sleepiness" as a side-effect. But THAT, in turn, makes the bursitis wickedly bad. I cannot win for nuttin'.

So I'm talking to B, trying to explain all of this to him, and I say what guilt I live with. While he's out mowing, I just want to crash on the couch. He said, "You've always been like that, even before the medicine."

Yes, I know! I don't need him to tell me. I've ALWAYS been this way. My dad and I used to get in fights, because I'd come home and sleep. My father is finally starting to understand the depth of my condition, and actually apologized to me (first time EVER over ANYTHING) and said, "I just didn't know."

Well, no one did. In 1983, we barely had info on TMJ, and my mother still had to fight the insurance to say it was NOT cosmetic. Fibro, I don't think, remotely existed. So how were we to KNOW? We didn't. Brenda was just "lazy". Heard it all the time.

And I guess that gets me, finally, to the heart of this post. I am broken. When I attempted part-time work at Walmart three years ago, they literally called me "Brenda, yanno, that broken one", because I couldn't help zone and bend over and put things away. After a 4 hour shift, I could barely walk at all. That's when I realized I couldn't do even part-time. I am broken.

And I'm telling all of this to B, who I still don't think quite understands it, or refuses to understand it. Yes, my house is a mess. I cannot...CAN.NOT. bend over repeatedly to pick up after toddlers. I cannot haul laundry back and forth. I cannot stand for long periods any longer to cook big meals. Do I WANT to be this way? Of course not. Do I LIKE to tell my toddlers to be careful climbing on Mom, because they HURT me. I don't like telling my babies that they cause me pain, but at the same time, they need to be aware of how they move on me, or I cry out in pain. AND IT SUCKS.

So B says, "I guess I'm used to living with pain." I'm sure (at least, I hope) he did not mean that in a way to attempt to downplay what I was telling him, how I was trying to get him to understand how fibro and bursitis play together. Like I DO NOT know what it's like?! He hasn't lived with it for LITERALLY 23 years. I HAVE. Does he think I want to watch my life and the lives of my babies float by while I'm laid up on the couch?

It's like being labelled again, but instead of from my parents, it's from my husband. I think he thinks, like they once did, that I'm simply lazy. And that's where the guilt comes flooding in. Yes, it IS easier for me to sit here at the computer for two hours than it is for me to mop the kitchen (I can't even do that at all anymore.) Yes, I can type all freakin' day, but after two loads of laundry (with six in the house, there's a constant flow of laundry), I'm done for the day. I got Cooper's room picked up and drawers and closet straighted out and organized, and that was it. No other cleaning, no cooking. It took all I had in me to do that little bit. And worse yet, I was PROUD of what I'd done.

I think he thinks I sit here all the time because I want to be online. I do want to be online, but there are other things I'd like to do, too. But I CAN'T. It's not a lack of desire, it's a lack of ability.

And would anyone understand? Is it just him? No, it used to be my dad. Would another guy have such problems with it? Would they understand that my jaw is broken, my hips are broken, there are things I just cannot physically do that I did when we met. Will I forever live with guilt over what I can't do? Will I always feel inadequte like this? It's a progressive disease, and I can absolutely tell a difference between now and just two years ago.

So B says, if you're still in pain, if you're still exhausted, stop talking the meds. Yes, I'm still exhausted, but some days are better than others. Yes, I'm still in pain, but not a blinding pain like it was. I don't need his constant reminders of how messed up I am. Have I failed him? Probably. Would I fail another man? Probably. After all, who would want to be STUCK with me when there are non-broken ones out there.

So yes, it's a label. And I wish with all of my being that it didn't fit me so damn well.

I've just started on my journey. 23 years of pain, yes, but just now working on the causes of the condition and the techniques used to deal with it. And already, I find that I travel this road absolutely and 100% alone. I do not believe he understands it, but worse than that, I don't believe he has any desire to.

Good thing I enjoy my own company.

Is love enough? I don't think so. I need compassion and empathy, an ounce of understanding. I need someone to say my pain is real and is justified, and my dazed state of medication is understandable. I need someone that will shelter me, even if it's just from myself, and whispers in my ear, "Lay down and rest, I'll make it all okay, baby."

Friday, April 15, 2005

What Happens When Words Fail

to come to a writer's fingertips?

There's a sense of panic, of course. I mean, this is what I DO, after all. It's not that the words aren't there. It's just that the words are suddenly, so incredibly...insignificant. I cannot do them justice. I cannot, for once, capture the moment, and it leaves me staring at a screen, attempting to convey these thoughts that are running amok in my head.

No, it's not the drugs talking this time. And no, I'm not exceedingly tired. And believe it or not, I'm not even rambling.

I have a dear, DEAR friend named Dyniece. I originally met her on mIRC several years ago. She was married to this incredible jerk. She deserved so much better. Although she was in Oklahoma at the time, I was in Maryland. She left the Jerk (YAY!) and moved back to Canada (Not a yay.) Dyniece is deaf.

She used to hear as a child, but then a high fever and a wicked disease stripped her of that sense that we all take for granted. For 25 years, she has lived in silence. I can't begin to imagine what it had to be like for her as a child. I have a 10 year old daughter, and I try to think of what would happen, how could Carly feel, if she got really sick and suddenly, she can see my mouth moving but there are no words making it to her ears. Turning on her radio and hearing nothing. Checking the television and being greeted by silence. I wonder how Carly would deal with it, but more would *I* deal with it as her mother. My heart would break a billion times over, I'm sure. So you learn to sign and you learn to read lips, but that never-ending silence. I can't wrap my brain around that idea. My life is chaos, screaming kids and loud tvs and CDs and radios and blaring music in the van. There is NEVER silence here. What is it to walk around with nothing, just...nothing...being heard?

Because Dy went deaf as a child, rather than being born deaf, she was one of the few adults eligible for a Cocklear Implant. Very few adults are eligible because it's like taking one of us and setting us down in the middle of China without a clue. Those born deaf don't know what a hard C sound is. They don't know a cough from a word. It's like totally relearning a language, and just like with a 2nd language, it's best learned young. Dy wore a hearing aid for years, and apparently it stimulated just enough to keep things active in there.

Two months ago, she had the surgery for the implant. Tuesday, she had the implant turned on. This morning, my husband woke me up as usual. (I am wicked bad to wake up.) He said: Brenda, Neecy (that's what I call her) posted.

Well, now I'm awake. We've been all waiting anxiously to see how it went. I wanted to be there SO MUCH to see her face. And of course, we all had that secret fear: What would we do, what would we say, if it didn't work at all?

He said: She has a post called "There is no sunshine today". And like that, I was out of bed, my heart broken as I raced to the computer, saying "Noooooo, no no no" over and over again. He said: "She hears everything."

And I stopped and I stared and I cried. And I read her post and I'm crying still.

Neecy heard. She heard her mother gasp. In just a few days, she's hearing more than most hear after five years of getting the implant. Can you imagine? I can't. I simply...can't. They tested and tested. She can hear words clearly. She can hear the radio, the words over a telephone. (Those are the hardest for implant patients because the frequencies are different.) She went outside and heard birds. Those gawdawful things that annoy the piss out of me every morning right outside my window while I'm sleeping. She found the joy in that. I think, "What if I couldn't hear those birds?" Well, of course, I can't even comprehend the idea because I've always heard. She found the beauty of it where I had lost it. She picked up a bag of chips and giggled at the crinkling sound of the package.

Can you IMAGINE?! A bag of chips. An insignificant bag of CHIPS made my dear friend's face light up. I have to record Cooper (my 3 yr old) during a case of those deep baby giggles. I want her to hear that. It's my personal favorite sound in all the world, and I want her to know what it's like.

I want her to own a CD and build a collection. I want her to know what songs sound like again. She was in the doctor's office and they played "I'll Fly Away" and "Amazing Grace" and she said she cried like a baby. The last time I heard "I'll Fly Away" was at my grandmother's funeral. And here are the tears again, but the sorrow has been replaced with a joy that has no edges, a joy so all encompassing for my friend that I cannot honor her experience with my talent. I cannot get ahold of this idea strongly enough to make this post worthy of what it is.

It's a tribute to Dyniece. longer defined as one of the deaf. Neecy who can hear. Neecy who gets giggles over a bag of chips and Neecy who reminded me that there is joy in the chirps of the birds. That traffic and honking and shouting are a JOY and should be cherished.

She says she has a hard time with accents. Guess what? I don't care. This Texas voice is going to call her, and I'm going to be crying and telling her how much I love her, Texas accent not withstanding. She can hear, CAN HEAR, how I say nekkid instead of naked. She can hear my kids hollaring in the background. She can hear me say "Thank you, Neecy, for sharing this incredible moment in your life with me." For once she won't have to read my words, she will hear them. And I pray I do not fail at that moment. I hope I can convey to her what I'm feeling, and not just blubber like a baby in her ear. But I know her well, and I know that if I do end up snottin' and sobbin' at her, she will laugh, simply happy to hear me cry.

For there is no tale of greater woe

then the story of Juliet and her Romeo.

Just finished watching the remake of Romeo and Juliet, the one with Claire Danes and Leonardo DeCaprio in it (did I just totally butcher his last name?!)

I remember Dr. Dickon, his faux British accent and his use of the word "schedule" pronounced "said-jul". ~eye twitch~ And I remember our discussions, in great depth, regarding a story vs. a tragedy. Dr. Dickson wasn't always Dr. Dickson. He was just Mr. Dickson. My brother, being (at the time) gifted, and three years older than me, had Mr. Dickson first. He taught the gifted English course at Bell High School. 11th Grade. So in 11th grade, here comes Brett's little sister. To meet the ever intimidating Mr. Dickson.

For those that don't know me quite that well (yet) and for those that know nothing of my brother, we are extreme opposites. Of course, we're both adopted, so we share no genes at all. And yet throughout our childhood, I competed against him. I don't know why. My parents...err..OUR parents, never compared us. And really, you couldn't. I was vivacious and outgoing, charming people as a small child. Brett was quiet and reserved. I was a leader, and he, a follower. I demanded attention. He preferred not to have any at all. Our dad has always said, "If you put Brenda in a room with 20 strangers, she'll come out knowing something about every single person. If you put Brett in a room with the same 20 strangers, they'll never know he was there."


So why did I compete with him in every aspect of our lives? I have no idea. But I did. Sports and grades. He played baseball. I played softball. We both played basketball. He had football, I had volleyball. And oh, how my body is now paying for the intense damage I did to it all those years. But it wasn't only on sports. It was with the grades, as well. Brett was in honors, so I was, too. And therefore, we had a lot of the same teachers.

Which brings me back to Mr. Dickson. Mr. Dickson taught 11th grade gifted English. I had him in 11th grade, following in my big brother's footsteps. Mr. Dickson tormented me like no other before him. My teachers, especially male, were pretty much wrapped around my fingers. I mean, how many 14 year olds are built like they're 25. Not their fault (no, nothing nasty ever happened, but I know I got special treatment. Poor Coach Massie...a smile would make him give me damn near anything I asked for.) But Mr. Dickson, although not immuned to my charm, was tougher than most. And condescending as hell. *I* am condescending, but I still have to bow to the Master: Mr. Dickson.

And then, as my luck has always been (not good, btw), the end of my 11th grade year brought an announcement: The 12th grade honors teacher for English was retiring. Mr. Dickson was taking her place. Yes, that's right. I ended up having him for two freakin' years. ~big, tired, dramatic sigh here~

And he drove me insane. Literally. And over the course of the summer, between grades eleven and twelve, he finished his doctorate in English. As we began our senior year, we got reintroduced to him, this time, as Dr. Dickson.

To say he drove me crazy is not an exaggeration, though I know I'm prone to that little character flaw at times. (What do you EXPECT?! I'm a W R I T E R!) Not only me, but a couple of my friends as well. As I stood in the school's office, screaming at the top of my lungs with "I am going to kill you!" at him, I knew he'd pushed me one time too hard.

And I think that's when he realized it, too. The look on his face wasn't fear, wasn't disappointment. It was sadness. Like...I he had failed. Or perhaps I'd failed him. I'm not sure. Perhaps he thought I was stronger than I was. I put on a good show. I do. Confidence radiates, sexuality oozes, blah blah blah. Yeah yeah, been told all that a billion times. Those are the walls. Not many get past the walls. And nothing, not even the tallest of walls, erases the memory of his face at that moment.

Now, you have to take a step back and remember that we didn't have things like school shootings back then (this was 1988), so the threat was considered an empty one, unlike what would happen if I were to say it today as a student. No one really thought I was going to kill him, or that I even really WANTED to. It was pure rage, uncontrolled fury, lashing out at him.

My GPA had been steadily dropping. My school, grades 10-12, had over 3,000 students. My graduating class, on the day of graduation (this doesn't include drop-outs, moves, and all that jazz) was 667. That's a lot of kids. And I was falling out of the top 10% with a steady and sure passing of each report card. And he was on my ass about it. And then he found me screaming in the office.

There are parts here that I'll skip because they're very dark, and I don't think anyone truly wants to know what happened. But Dr. Dickson, with his faux British accent, was the one to call our names as we crossed the podium on graduation day. In the Tarrant County Convention Center, downtown Ft. Worth, his voice boomed through the dome, echoing my name, ringing it in my ears.

And as I approached him, he smiled. A real smile. Not a condescending smile. I had redeemed myself.

I had on my honors robes and my honors ropes around my neck. I'd done it. I'd saved myself in the last stretch of the race. I had my grades up and I was graduating with honors and in the top 10% of a huge graduating class. And at home, on the kitchen table, was a letter offering a partial scholarship to a private university, and a book with my name and my picture in it: Who's Who Among American High School Students. To be in that book, a student has to be recommended by a teacher. To this day I don't know who the recommendation came from, but I have my ideas.

After that day, I never saw him again. Not even that day, but that MOMENT. The ceremony was over, school was out. The convention center was flooded, to say the least, with the family members of the 667 students. That was the last time I saw Dr. Dickson.

I hear he's a counselor at the school now. And when (not if) I get published, he's one of the first people I will send a copy off to. I think he knew, even then, that I'd write. Heck, one of my best friends from high school, who also shared in the woes that was Dr. Dickson's class, came to my parents house the other day. I'd not seen her in ..I don't know...9 years. I mention the word "agent" in passing, and she said: "You did it, didn't you? You finally wrote a book." And I grinned. Yes, it's almost expected from those that knew me so well back then.

So here we are, finishing a tragedy tonight on DVD. I cannot think of any of the plays of The Great One without thinking of Dr. Dickson. Standing in his class and reciting Hamlet. Reading Romeo & Juliet and seriously DISCUSSING it and the greatness that it is.

So here's to you, Dr. Dickson. May you continue to drive your students insane and praying they're all worthy of your redemption.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Cop a Squat

How revolting does that sound?! I LOVE it. So I was on mirc last night trying to find someone (D, I'm looking at YOU!) and this person, don't know if it's a guy or a girl, but with the name of Heaven, I'm bettin' on girl, said to some loser: Cop a squat and stay awhile.

I about choked on my Diet Coke. You have to love something that sounds just incredibly nasty but is honestly not a nasty thing. There's just something about that, yanno? So I snagged it. I told her/him/it that I'd use it in my book and she/he/it could see it one day when I got published.

It is NOT a lie! One day I will be. I just don't know *when*. I didn't share that little tidbit. It is NOT lying by omission. I couldn't give an exact date, because I don't HAVE one.

So, last night, my hips were hurting SO much. Finally, after 4 muscle relaxers and three Darvocets, I was able to sleep.

And sleep.

And sleep.

Took some of the kids to school this morning (the eldest stayed home - she slept like crap last night due to stress - want to find out, go read her blog, and while you're there, read her stuff because she's brillliant and I'm a bit worried she'll be pubbed before me!) Then I came home and crashed on the couch.

So much for that writing schedule, huh?

So let's think about this. When would Brenda write?

I wake up and check my email. I'm now on 41 loops. It's a lot of email. Yesterday, I devoted about an hour to work on KOD, but that's just once a month, so I don't think I can really count that in making me busy, huh? I own a message board, so I go and check that out, post a bit. Maybe an hour's worth? I think the one thing that really breaks into my time is B coming home for lunch. He gets here at 11:30 and leaves at 12:10. But something about it breaks my day in half.

Am I just making excuses?

I think I'll write at night, but by the time Syd Vicious gets down and I can sneak out of her room, it's already 9:30. And I'm still crocheting the afghans I sold to get my butt to Nationals. So okay...weekends. B and Shan are home to help with the toddlers to keep me from being interrupted. BUT, my computer is right here in the living room. So I'm distracted anyway. And, I'm usually doing some type of housework. And I KNOW I shouldn't type this out (looks warily at JBM) but I don't even get up until 11ish on the weekends anyway.

Oh I'm realllllllllllllllly good with excuses.

So okay. I can devote an hour or so in the morning to email and boards. That gives me three hours until B comes home for lunch. At that time, I could re-check the emails because there will be 34503487 new ones. But I can't ignore Cooper for three hours and have him stare at the tv the entire time. Right? Right. So, I'll do an hour of plotting in the mornings (plotting is new to me) and then after lunch, I'll do either more plotting or some type of writing, like a scene for the book. I'm so used to "writing in order" that writing scenes out of order will be new for me.

Once I do sit down and once I do write, the words and scenes come quickly to me. I'm lucky with that. But what happens is I become engrossed with the story. I'll look up, and it's like 2am. I think that's what I'm trying to avoid this time. Last time, I only worked on weekends, then as the book really started to develop, I was writing almost all the time, and the kids and B were really understanding about it. But I can't do that all the time or they'll end up resenting what I do.

Maybe I should just wait and see what JBM comes up with. It's like with Liz in my book. I'm too close to her to see her for who she is. I see me there too often, and I don't have this unbiased opinion on what she SHOULD do because I carry the baggage of what's already been done. Maybe with fresh eyes, a fresh perspective, I can take whatever JBM comes up with and tweak it to perfection.

Yes, that sounds like a good idea!!! And it keeps me from having to worry about it until Monday. Man, I'm good.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


Man, that's just painful to TYPE! I've been doing a bit of research ("a bit" being the key there) and I think I may be too harsh (who? ME?!?) on this agent thing.

Okay, so I won't write off anyone that charges me basic fees AFTER a sale, of course. No upfront fees or it's a high-heel to the nads, baby. AND, I decided I don't really care WHAT someone does in their free time. I mean, I crochet afghans and ponchos (to earn money for Nationals) and THAT takes away frommy writing, so why can't an agent be an agent during the workday, and a writer at night? I guess I'd only have a concern if they wrote the same genre as I do. (I mean, why push my book if they have their own, yanno?)

So there ya go. My list is open once again. I do have some I'd never consider, but for other reasons. And why this agent issue is bugging me so badly right now, don't ask, cuz I don't know.

I'm in a great deal of pain tonight. Tried to go a day without my usual medical cocktail, and now I know I officially CANNOT do that. ~sigh~

I'm off to watch FATAL ATTRACTION and crochet. I'm almost done with another blanket. If anyone's interested, let me know and I'll post pics of my work.

~Dream sweet when you get there~

Shall I Rant or Shall I Rave?

Or shall I do neither.

For those that read that I post here daily, and noticed I haven't in a couple of days (again!), my apologies. I've been...dead. My brain won't function and I feel like I could collapse at any moment. I'm trudging through life at the moment, forcing one foot in front of the other.

And yet at the same time, I'm missing my blog and oh how I LOVE the comments that flitter into my email. Every single one makes me grin like a teenage boy about to get some.

Whoa. There's a nasty thought. Especially since I have a teenage DAUGHTER! ~glower~

So we had our Austin monthly meeting. First, I have to whine that two of my all time favs, Emily McKay and Julie Kenner, were not there. (To see who the heck they are and why I love them so, check them out on the left in the list of my fav. authors. Bet you end up lovin' 'em too.) And then you'd know why I was bummed! BUT, Samantha Saxon and Robyn DeHart (Yes, that is her real name, actually) gave a fabulous meeting on getting:

~dramatic pause inserted here for effect~


Man, talk about having a crapload of questions. Which is real riot, since I have nothing out there to get the call ABOUT, but that's beside the point. They gave insight to things I'd have never thought about. And made me realize two things:

1) I want my damn .com. Period. Even if I have to buy the nimrod out. (Note to self: Talk to attorney tomorrow about the legalities of sitting on a site name that's going unused.)

2) I'm aiming for St. Martin's Press Publishing House, and I didn't even know it until last night.

Okay, I lied. They made me realize THREE things:

3) I'm freaked out about this agent stuff. I mean, I really liked the one at the SARA conference. I like her personality and she's got moxie, it seems. But damn, don't be chargin' me for freakin' copies. I think that's petty. And yeah, okay, it may be petty of ME to think it's petty, but that's how I feel.

Thankfully, Deidre Knight is on Charlotte's RWC list this week and is taking questions. So I asked her if she charges for that type of stuff, like if it's a standard in the business or not. I also asked her about romantic comedy, because that really seems to be where I'll find myself. I may read suspense, and I may write suspense, but I think I'll find my "home" in the romantic comedy category. And that idea makes me smile.

Okay, off track. Back to the agent issue. So, as I said, Deidre Knight is on the RWC lists, and I really, REALLY like her personality. But, she's writing now as well as being an agent, and I find that I have a real problem with it. She said it's fairly common, because agents have a love for the written word themselves or they wouldn't be in the business they're in. And maybe that's true. I don't know. But I do know how hard it is to find the time to write, and I can only fathom how hard it must be to be an agent and the phone calls and the meetings and the whiny, insecure emails from their authors (okay, so if they don't get emails from ME, personally, then the ones they get may not be whiny and insecure, but that's how I think of emails because that's what I imagine myself writing. If you're an agent reading this, ignore that line. I'm really a super confident and secure person. Really. I am. Promise. Actually, in all honesty, if you want to know what I'm like in real person, read this with a bit of a Texas accent and you have it. I'm EXACTLY the same in real life. A lot of people from online are different, they find they're bolder online, or some crap like that, but This. Is. Me.)

God bless it, I can't stay on topic today to save my LIFE! So, all that crap up there to say this: I want to get a feel for agents before I really put my list together. I have this odd little personality of mine that I know will clash with people. I don't want to bother to query those I know I won't like in the end. Soooooooo, things like listening to the agent at San Antonio, and reading the emails from Deidre Knight are really cool. But how do I do that, get that same "feel", from rest of them out there? Makes my brain hurt trying to figure it out.

So then the obvious answer comes to this: Agent appts at Nationals.

Pardon me while I hurl from the nerves at the mere THOUGHT.

No, really, it's not that bad. I've changed my mentality since last year, and last year was SO new to me that I went to my two interviews totally clueless. This year, I know what I want, and I'll know it when I see it. Last year I interviewed with Kim Lionetti and Mary Sue Seymour. Both were super sweet. I don't think either would be a good match with me, though. So I listen, and I read, and read some more, and I make a new list of those I hope to see at Nationals (Deidre, this is aimed your way! And Fogelman, too!) BUT, I cannot waste their time at Nationals in an appointment just to see if I LIKE someone or not. Therefore, I have to have something to pitch.

Okay, another hurling moment. Ugh.

So, that leaves me where? Needing a FREAKIN BOOK TO PITCH, that's where! I have the one I finaled in the Merritt with (No, there's STILL no word on my damn certificate!) but, that book needs soooooooo many revisions. Yeah, I guess I could do them now, but I want to pitch comedy.

So now what? Put together a proposal. Which means a synopsis (please refer to my rant on the basic requirements for a synopsis) and the first three chapters. I have, currently, four new WIP from where I had these little ideas for romantic comedies and they do write quickly and well from my brain to my fingertips and onto the computer screen. (Hard to believe I can even write a book at all if you're reading my rambling thoughts on this blog, huh? But I can!) So, I need to pick one, and from that, shoot for a completed project by mid-July. Do I think I can do it? Not one doubt. Do I think I WILL do it? I'm not sure.

For those that follow, whether by will or by force of reading on here, my medical condition is moving in a new direction. I was just on the phone with an attorney, as my case for disability was denied. ~mock shocked face~ So there's more stress right there as we start the appeal process. Grr.

Let me end my blog entry today with this, which takes us back to the monthly meeting last night. Robyn DeHart said the following, and it made such an impact on me that I wrote it down. She said she heard it from Stephanie Bond, but regardless of who originally had the idea, it's a good comment that speaks volumes:

GOOD writing is not accidental.

I have a dear, dear friend who is up my butt right now about my writing. And having talked about needing the proposal for the appts in Reno, it shines a spotlight on that saying right there. It's not accidental. It's not about "maybes" or "what ifs". It's about me sitting my lily-white down and WRITING. My ideas and my thoughts do not one once of good if they are not nurtured and tended to. I am so, SO bad about putting off writing (as most writers can assertain to...because man! That floor needs to be mopped NOW. Look at that dust! Anyone got laundry? Anything else I can use to distract me from the act of sitting down and doing what needs to be done?!?!?) This friend, who shall remain nameless, is telling me I have got to create a schedule and WRITE. Make the time. I know this. I do. I just don't DO it. But he believes in my writing so much that he's the person that pushed me on the Merritt. Told me to overnight it (I ran out of ink and couldn't send it priority mail and thought I was out of the running) and said that if I did not follow through on it, he'd not speak to me anymore (That was a bluff. I think. Hmm.) So I did do it, with his nagging, and look what happened. I finaled in my first contest on my first manuscript. (He's a better friend than I am, because I'd have said "Told ya so!" He didn't.) So when he tells me he's going to create a schedule for my writing if I don't do it myself, I have no doubt that he will. My first instinct is to grumble and push back, but my second instinct is to say "Holy crap, he really does believe in my talent."

So yes, there's the talent. Now there has to be the action. So here's my action:

I hereby decree that I will have one of my romantic comedies in shape enough to pitch it to agents at Nationals.

There. You are all witnesses.

Now if only I could get Gina to stop asking about my synopsis progress! ~wink~
Love ya, girlie butt!

Thanks to you who write to me. I appreciate it, truly, more than you could imagine. And if you read this entire thing, you're either bored to TEARS and there's nothing else to do, or you like mental anguish. Huh. We have something in common it seems.

Monday, April 11, 2005

So it's not the best of pics...(sigh)

Here we are!!! Thanks to the fabulous and horribly talented writer, Emily McKay, I now have a picture of Chris and me at the Merritt taken after the award ceremony. There's evidence that I did get my grubby little hands on it at SOME point, even if I never do get to touch it again.

Pardon me, I have to take a moment and look longingly at my frame I was going to put it in.

Okay, better now.

Anyway, here we are. I look wicked bad. If you wonder why I'm so f-in' red, I have Rosecea. (Nice, huh, along with all of my other medical problems!) And there's the hair whacked off, and the 26 stupid pounds showing up. Ugh. Anyway, enjoy. I'll probably take this down VERY soon, as the picture depresses me in a million different ways.

Image hosted by

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Olga & My Blog Picture.

I think this will be my last blog post for the day. As you know (if you read ahead) I've been without my blog for a few days, and I guess I'm doing a little catch-up.

Anyway, this weekend I met Olga, who has posted here on the blog. She's super sweet, and I was so busy yakking away I totally ran out of time and didn't get to talk to her as much as I'd have liked to. (I owe ya a drink sometime, Olga! Sorry!) Anyway, I don't look like my blog picture anymore. I whacked off like 10". And of course, there's that entire weight issue. She said she hardly recognized me! Ugh...I have GOT to lose weight!!!!

Anyway, I'll try my damnest to get an updated picture of me on the blog. I realized there are people that I'd love to meet up with at Nationals and they won't have a clue who I am because I don't look like the picture they've seen! So look for that to come in the next week or so. (I hate having my picture taken, so I promise to TRY not to procrastinate on this!)

Keyword: Try.

Misc. Sunday Ramblings

How's that for a scary title? My posts that are targetting a definite subject usually ramble horribly and here I am going into a thread from the beginning with "rambling" on my mind. If you must run, run now, otherwise you're caught, stuck staring in horror and awe, like looking at roadkill on a Texas highway.

Consider yourself properly warned. If you chose not to heed the warning, you have no one but yourself to blame!!

So okay, it's Sunday. For those that read my blog daily (and thank you for the emails! They make me grin hugely!) I bet you're wondering just where the heck I've been for the last several days. Well, let me tell ya! For like Thursday and Friday of last week, I attempted to post as usual, but the stupid blog program wouldn't let me get to my dashboard!!! (Where I go to make my posts and crap.) I was a wreck!!! Blog Withdrawal is NOT pleasant to witness, let me tell ya! Finally, a kind soul on one of the loops told me how to fix the problem, and lo and behold, it worked. So I typed out this super long post, hit PUBLISH and found myself staring at the ever-dreaded "Page cannot be displayed" STUPID white screen. Why can't they make that page like...flaming red? I mean, they just burnt yer ass, so the color should be more appropriate to the action, I'd think.

Sooooooo, having it eat my long post, I flipped it the bird and stalked away. This is my first attempt since then, and thanks to the loops, I now know to save my draft before hitting PUBLISH. (I'm starting to believe the word PUBLISH has been improperly translated, and the real meaning is "to go away forever!")

So let's see. Friday afternoon I left here to go into Austin to meet my CP (HEYYYYYYYY CHRIS! ~waving~) to stay at her house Friday night and then leave from there to go to San Antonio way too freakin' early on Saturday morning. Since I'd never been to her home, we decided to meet at Gatti's where our monthly meetings are held. Sounds brilliant, doesn't it? So I get there at 7pm, and I go in, order and go to the room where our meeting is held, which on regular nights shows cartoons. Why I did this? I can only blame habit, and my thinking she's look in there first since that's where we usually are. Instead, I got my intelligence sucked out, ever so painfully, because some nimrod made an entire MOVIE of the cartoon "Kim Possible". I blame the bad drugs the creator's mother obviously took while pregnant.

Well, an hour passes. I go to my van to use the phone to see if she left a message at home. She hadn't. I sit there, wondering how long to wait before I try to decide what to do. I happen to look into my rearview mirror at the time and see this chick with long dark hair get out of her car, parked behind me, obviously.

It was Chris. She was waiting for me outside, since around 7pm. We are dorks. Finally together again, we go inside and gossip and eat (yeah, so I ate again, alright?! I was pretending it was Chinese, and since it'd been an hour since I'd eatten, I was hungry again already! Deal!) Finally around 9ish, we head to her house.

We go to sleep around 1am. We get up at the godawful hour of 5:30 (that should be illegal, fyi.) Hit the road at 6:45 and get to San Antonio at 8:15. All is well in the world. We sign in, get our tags in which both ours read "Merritt Finalist" (Woot!) and a folder stuffed FULL of promo stuff from other authors, and a program (or two) in which we are listed on finalists. (Another woot!)

So the day was great, mostly. Paige Wheeler spoke and if you all read me daily, you know I have agent issues to begin with. But she was good, and I liked her personality. The one thing I did NOT like that she said was that she bills back for copies, phone calls, basic working expenses. Uh. Hello?! McFly!!! WE have our OWN expenses, like printer ink, and paper, and phone calls, and that damn SASE! It's called a business. Write it off with all the damn lunches, okay? Okay. So a mental little line goes through her name on my mental list. Well, okay, I'm not really one that uses straight lines. My cross-outs are more like jagged scribbles to totally remove any trace of what was originally written. That, unfortunately, can give a major migraine if one is to make that their mental cross-off style, so therefore, we must use the mental straight line.

We heard Sharon Sala speak. Holy crap. I teared up like 5 times. She's great. I'd never read her before, but I came home with a signed copy of her newest release. Watch for it on my "What I'm Reading Now Link" to your right. And watch for the review on my other blog of book reviews. I cannot wait to dig into it, having met her. She is an inspiration personified. The only bad thing was what I was attempting to chew while listening to her. Why must we pay $55 to go to a conference that's going to feed us SALAD as a main meal?! I kid you not: lettuce, cut up chicken, and five croutons, with some kind of hard, grated cheese. That was IT. AND, they didn't leave the dressing on the table! They walked around, drizzled some on, and left. Nice. I wanted to stab the waiter with my salad fork, but didn't. I was too busy cuttin' up Chris' chicken for her (with no steak knife, at THAT!) Poor Chris...her knuckle was broken at school, and she has it all wrapped up. 100 miles from my kids and I'm still on Mom Duty. But for Chris, it was worth it, especially to see her jaw drop as she realized she won the Merritt.

Then it was time. The time. For the awards. For the placements. Talk about a nasty time. Done with this horrible salad in which my jaw is still throbbing (I have extreme TMJ) from attempting to chew what they liberally label as CHICKEN, my stomach feeling like wet cement invaded it instead of bad cuisine, and waiting for my name. And then they didn't even go in order of categories, so we were kind of waiting and getting more and more nervous. Finally, it was time for the Romantic Suspense winners. I got third. I was thrilled. Chris, my fabulously talented CP, won 1st!!!! I was sooooooo happy for her. (And she and I have a secret agenda, since we didn't place in another contest...neither of us did, but the one that placed with us at Merritt DID place in the other contest, leaving us behind, but Chris smoked her butt anyway! HA! Just teasing, btw.) Then it was picture time and our Austin chapter did so well! I'll post the pictures soon, promise.

So then we heard from an editor at Harlequin. Both the editor and with Paige Wheeler, I asked specific questions on comedy vs. chick lit. On Crusie vs. Evanovich. Neither gave specific answers, which points back to my thread on "definitions" on the blog. And when the editor said to send her a proposal in our meeting, I asked what length of synopsis she preferred.

~blank look inserted here~

She couldn't answer. Everything she DID answer was with "Whatever works for the characterization". Ugh. So guess what? How about I send you NOTHING. 1) She does Supers. 2) She couldn't provide answers to specific questions!!! Bah.

So I leave for the above editor appointment at 4, because the appt was for 4:10 and they said come ten minutes early, and I do understand basic math. Now, I sat in the SAME SPOT the entire conference. Same. Spot. I go at 4 right when Chris is coming out of meeting with Paige (whom she really liked) and she decided to wait up there for me. I'm done at 4:18. We go to the main conference room to gather up our stuff to leave, and lo and behold (that's the phrase of the day, can you tell?) my folder is gone. Guess what I'd slid into my folder? MY FIRST EVER CERTIFICATE. My FIRST validation that my writing was GOOD! Some flaming twit took it!!!!!

We search. We ask. Then they say "We can print you a new one." Nice. I realize that they're printed. I'm not stupid.

No, I'm not.

But still. I don't want to hear about how easy it is to print a new one. That makes it sound so...insignificant or something. Uncool. And I had wanted to rush out to Walmart today and pick up a frame. Walmart frame? See? I'm really easy to please. Simple. Cheap, even. But I want my damn certificate back!!!

So there ya go. You're all caught up. Wish you'd heeded the warning, don't ya?

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Butt-pucker moment! (That's copyrighted, btw)

So I'm on one of the 38 loops I'm on (No, I'm not kidding.) and reading about this weekend's conference (see post below if you don't know what I'm talking about) when it's mentioned that there's an editor with open appointments still.

And, being the incredibly assinine masochist that I am, I signed up for a slot to talk to one of the Harlequin editors. Oy.

This editor covers Superromances and American Romances, I believe. I don't write those. I write Single Title (which is as far removed as you can get from Harlequin, right?) LOL BUT, I have no problems revising my RS ST (romantic suspense single title) into an Intrique. Not only that, but I have considered targetting Harlequin's new HQN line, which IS single title (I realize this is really confusing if you're not a romance writer, sorry.) AND, the way Harlequin is set up, one editor can "acquire" for a line she does not represent. Make sense? So, this Superromance/American Romance editor could acquire my work to hand over to the Intrique/Intimate Moments/HQN editors.

Having finaled at the Merritt in the top three Romantic Suspense category, I thought I may as well give it a shot. If nothing else, it'll prepare me for any agent appointments at Nationals. I had two last year, and I was a WRECK! Which is really funny, because *I* am interviewing agents. Often, writers are a wreck thinking an agent is HIRING THEM. Wrong. The writer is hiring the agent. Without the writers, there ARE NO agents.

Whenever you get upset over agents, remember THAT little tidbit. Wish me double luck now:
1) That I score well (although I'm happy with 3rd place)
2) Something positive comes from the editor meeting.

Ya never know!

Like a Virgin

So this weekend I'll be in San Antonio, Texas. For those that do not know, I live in Central Texas. Smack-dab in the middle of the largest state (Alaska doesn't count cuz it's not attached. It's a law.) I'm 2.5 hours south of Dallas/Ft. Worth (where I was born and spent the first 24 years of my life) and I'm 1.5 hours north of Austin. You will see I said the distance in time rather than miles. That's a Texas thang, I'm told. I think it's because we're the biggest state. We have issues. We have attitudes. Texans have a mentality that's not seen elsewhere. (Actually, this IS sorta true. We did a test in my psychology class at UTA that showed people born in Texas will answer the "Where were you born?" question with a sense of pride and gusto not seen from other states. I mean, there's just something about TEXAS! vs. VERMONT! See what I mean?) So in our pride and attitude, we set ourselves apart with distance. It's measured in time, not miles. There are, of course, always exceptions. Some other states may do it too, or some Texans may do the miles thing instead. But the other states are just copying us, and the Texans that measure distance by miles are obviously not NATIVE TEXAN.

See? Attitude. I don't lie.

Crap, where was I? Oh right. I'm going to San Antonio. Now, my "local" RWA ( is Austin. I drive 1.5 hours each way on the 2nd Tuesday of every month ('cept December) to spend a couple of hours with others like-minded. (Frightening thought there, eh?) We are ARWA (Austin RWA. See how that works. Amazing.) Well, being a mother of four, a stay at home wife and the disability checks not coming in yet (can SS BE any slower? I think not.) money is tight, to say the least. Which is why Nationals is such a thing for me this year. Last year was Dallas. No hotel expense (stayed with my parents and they watched the kids, so no daycare concerns either) PLUS it was an easy drive that I make often anyway (to see my family.)

Then there's San Antonio. Three hours away, it's still an overall easy and quick trip, right? I went to SARA (San Antonio Romance Writers) conference in ...October, I think it was. Alicia Rasley was the speaker, and holy crap. If you get a chance to meet her, snag it up! She's fabulous. So, here we have two groups of writers that are a reasonable distance from my home, right? Right.

So what do they do? DALLAS RWA has a conference the 1st week of April. SAN ANTONIO has one the 2nd weekend in April. WTH? Couldn't these close ones space it out a bit? I didn't feel like I could be gone two weekends in a row, nor did I have the money for gas with that many miles going back and forth, so I had to pick one. I picked San Antonio.

Oh look! We're finally to the heart of this post. I do NOT ramble. I entered my first ever writing contest: The Merritt. I entered my first ever manuscript, The Haunting of Elizabeth. Now, as you can imagine, the title of my first manuscript (and only completed one..kinda completed..the revisions I need are HUGE and daunting, so I put them off.) has changed since then. But because I finaled in The Merritt, I chose to keep that title for the other contests I've since entered so that the name is consistant. Very few things in my life are consistant, btw. So there ya go. I picked the SARA conference this weekend over the DARA conference last weekend because I'll find out on Saturday where I placed in the top three in the romantic suspense category.

I love the term "romantic suspense". It's a lot of sex, and someone's gonna die. I think they should market it that way, personally. Don't you? Isn't that a BRILLIANT marketing idea?! I know, I know. "Brenda, stick to the novels, not the marketing." Fine. I see how you are.

So this weekend is a lot of "firsts". First novel to final in with my first manuscript. It's like the first rejection letter, or the first request for a partial or full. It's one of those "first" moments in a writer's life. I don't plan on winning. In fact, my critique partner, Chris Keach, finaled in the SAME category as I did. And she's written a TON more than I have. I've only been doing this stuff for 10 months now. However, even if I stay in 3rd, I'll be happy. Because I finaled. And that means I've moved one more step closer to going from unpublished to published. It's like being adopted (I know, because I am). It's going from "In search of.." to "Found!" (THAT, btw, is a fabulous feeling. One day I'll post the story of finding my birth mother.) My name will still be announced. Tons of my fellow Austin writers will be there, and I think we had like...5-6 people final in SARA's contest. From what I understand, Austin does well in SARA's contests. And of course, I want to be there to cheer on my friend and CP, Chris.

Right now we're waiting to hear back on the Wisconsin Fab Five. I entered, but don't know if I placed or not. Same with Chris. We know some are hearing back already, but we haven't, so I guess they haven't started on the RS calls yet. I hope that's it anyway. I wish so much to go to the Wisconsin Conference where they announce the winners, because one of my favs, Alicia Rasley, will be speaking. That and one of my bestest of the best friends lives there. Alas, I'm bound and determined to get to Nationals, so I can't blow money to go to Wisconsin.

Plus, they have cheese curds.

That's frightening. I don't even know what the hell a cheese curd IS, but doesn't it sound REVOLTING?! AND, Shari (my Wisc. friend) says they SQUEEK on your teeth as you chew them. Holy MOTHER! Why would someone purposely eat that?! They are so way NOT Texan. Have some cow instead, like normal people.

There's our full circle of the day. I got back to where I started, talking about Texas and Texans. So Saturday morning, cross some body parts and send a "good luck, Bren" vibe out into the karma world for me, k? Thanks! You're the BEST!


Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Oh yeah, baby!

Well, as I've stated on the blog before, my meds just recently made me gain about 26 lbs. Yes, that's right. Twenty. Six. Not 30. Not 25.


And just in the last three months, at that.

Pardon me while I take a moment to grumble.

Okay, thanks, I'm better now.

To recap: I have fibro with bursitis complications. I take a medical cocktail daily of muscle relaxers, pain killers, and sedatives. Hard to be motivated when you live in a fog.

Two years ago, a friend sent me a Leslie Sansome Walking Away the Pounds VHS tape. Tonight, that booger got shoved into the VCR! That's right! I did two miles in 30 minutes! I'm sweatin' like a pig and omg, do my hips HURT, but dang it, they hurt all the time anyway. At least THIS pain is for a result!! AND I'm downing water like a gutter. I never drink water. Never. Yeah, really. Never. ONLY and ALWAYS Diet Coke (Just for the taste of it..goes well with chocolate frosted donuts.) So I'm hurting, and I'm sweating, and pardon me, but I'm so FREAKING PROUD OF MYSELF for finally DOING it, I want to scream it to the world.

Since the world couldn't hear me if I screamed (part of the neighborhood maybe, but not the world), I decided to declare my pride here! Tonight, I rock!


Definitions, Labels & Nice Tidy Boxes

NONE of that applies in the writing world. Period. If it does, please prove me othewise.

First you have your book. No one will tell you how many chapters. No one will tell you how many scenes. And that's okay. That's not what bugs me. What bugs me is that no one can seem to give me a CLEAR CUT definition on things:

Chick lit: 1st person or not? 1st and 3rd? Only 3rd? Present or past tense?
Contemporary: What exactly is the difference between short contemporary and CATEGORY? Or are they the same thing? I don't think I've ever seen a short single title. I understand long contemporary. That could fit into category or single title.
Mystery/Thrill/Suspense: Why the hell do we need three words that say the same thing. Pick one and use it exclusively.
Blaze vs. Temptation vs. Desire: Well, they're all category. And Temptation is being weeded out of the States. So what exactly is the difference between Blaze and Desire? Same word count, and same type of "situations". I have yet to find a clear and defined definition that separates one of these from the other.
Misc Issues: Single Title vs Womans Fiction vs "With Romantic Elements". WTH? Wouldn't SINGLE TITLE cover it all?

And how, exactly, am I supposed to have a flippin' clue about MY work when the professionals that have been in the industry for YEARS can't even agree. It's quite frustrating. And in a bad way. Not frustrating in that really cool sexual tension kind of way.

Then, let's say I'm magically finishing a new piece of work. Some say print it in Times New Roman. Some say Courier. Some say word count is from the Word Processing count. Some say it's per word per line per page.

Shall I even start on the next phase?
Query Letters: One page, two page? I followed the query in a class from Nationals and sent it to one of the agents I have on my A-list via email. AFTER sending it, I showed it to a published author whom I adore. She told me that what I sent wasn't remotely a proper query letter. Great. Then WHY was that twit allowed to teach it that way at Nationals AND provide an example for us to use?!
Synopses: First of all, who the heck came up with this word? Have you tried to say the plural form outloud? It's not easy. They should be stoned, and not in a good way. Then, how long should it be? Some agents/editors want 10 pages, some want 1. Some want a varied length in between. BUT, they ALL want to "hear my voice" and tell them the plot twists and the flaws and strengths of the main characters and blah blah blah. Okay, I can do that: In 10 pages. Originally I had a three page synopsis. Why? I don't know. I guess I read somewhere that three pages was the desired length. Another multi-published writer from my local chapter said: Ohhhhhhhhh no, for that lenght of book, pull it out to 10 pages. (My paraphrase.)

So I did. Then I had to whack it down to five for one contest. Then to seven for another. Why can't anyone say "THIS ___ is the perfect length of a synopsis."? You can tell me what font to type in, but you can't come to a basic agreement on the length and detail of a query letter or synopsis? I don't GET that.

Then there's the agents. I just LOVE this part. We are HOUNDED, beaten into our very flesh, that we should ALWAYS know who we are addressing. Research and know the editor/agents name, address, correct title. Plain white paper. No scents (hard when you're a smoker, btw.) We spend money on our printer cartridge ($28), printer paper ($4), special folder to present it in ($3), water-proof mailer ($3), then postage, anywhere from $3.85 to $17 (Yes, I had one like that for a contest.) So we have their name, their addresses, the right font, the right query, the right synopsis, the right title of their position. We have it all perfectly put together and have not only sweated blood from wicked amount of anxiety, but also used up a crapload of time AND money. Right? Right. If you're a writer out there reading this, you're nodding your head in agreement? Right. Yes, I see the nodding again. THEN, after all of that, we STILL have to pay the little bitty $0.37 on a SASE! This KILLS me. We can fork out tons of money (not making any as a writer yet, yanno!) but they need OUR 37 cents when THEY are the ones actively being paid in the field. That's a RIOT. But we do it. The industry as a whole may not agree on pages or chapters, or fonts or queries, or synopsis or pitches or anything else, but they ALL agree on that little SASE. So fine. We do it. We've wandered through all the above things, all without definitions, get it together and send it off with our hearts bleeding and our brains exhausted.

And we wait.

And eat.

And our reward? A GENERIC rejection letter that doesn't even have my NAME on it. All of the proper etiquette of business what we make sure is PERFECTED is totally ignored by the real professionals. And it's OKAY because no one calls them out on it. Now, don't get me wrong. I've had rejection letters that were personalized and very kind. In fact, I've never had a 'nasty' rejection letter. (I haven't even had a rejection in 7 months, but this was bugging me today, so I spewed my venom. Deal.) The double-standard of it is appalling. And I consider the photo-copied-so-many-times-I-can-no-longer-see-your-signature-rejection letters, as well as the little postcards, or even my personal fav, where they crossed out "writer" and scrawled out "Brenda", to be the epitome' of unprofessionalism. If I'd sent my stuff to you at one time, and that's what I got in return, you can bet your lily-white you'll never see a piece of my work again. Agents like that lack the BASIC professionalism that I want from an agent. No, not want. EXPECT.

I guess I just contradicted myself. I said I wanted little boxes and definitions in the beginning of this. I've changed my mind, at least a little bit. I want my future agent to be so OUT of the box that I can be proud to say they represent me, knowing they don't consider the new writers out there to be scum on the bottom of their Ferragamos.