In the Meantime, Apples

August 27, 2014 § Leave a comment

Write
August 27, 2014

I’m going to be taking a brief hiatus from blogging in order to get some manuscript changes done to submit to an agent. Eeeep! I know what I’ll be doing over Labor Day weekend.

While munching apples. After years, the dwarf apple tree by my back door, the tree I never water and that has primarily served as a decent screen between me and my neighbor’s bedroom window and a hangout for the birds, has actually yielded a bowl of apples! I felt like a little kid picking these off the branches.

ReadWriteBliss-Apples

Talk to you some time after Labor Day!

It’s a Good Thing I Enjoy This Writing Thing So Much

August 18, 2014 § 1 Comment

Write
August 18, 2014

Last year I pitched to an agent at RWA and she told me that my word count was too high—like, “heart attack too high”—so I spent last fall and winter splitting the book into two.

That agent rejected my submission.

This year I pitched to another agent at RWA and he likes my premise but does not like the fact that it is split into two—like, “everything was great until you said it was split into two”—and he wants to see a definite ending.

I agree. My love my original ending. My original ending is the reason I wrote the book.

So now I’m back to my original version, the one that is not split in two, and that means I have to cut a hell of a lot of words.

Panic attack has happened, is happening, and will continue to happen.

I’m getting through it with a little advice from my friends and other sources.

Stephen King, from On Writing, advice from his newspaper editor:
“When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.”

On Writing

These words are keeping my head on straight and guiding me through the darkness.

Ryan Winfield, author of Jane’s Melody, when I told him my woes:
“Don’t cut just to cut, but getting the word count down will hopefully make it crisper and make for better writing.”

Ryan Winfield and me at Bookworks signing August 9, 2014.

Ryan Winfield and me at Bookworks signing August 9, 2014.

So far, so good. I’ve cut 600 words from the first three scenes and they read much better. Only thing is, 600 doesn’t sound like very many words right now. I will not despair.

Louise Bergin, fellow LERA member and author of historical romance:
“Cut, but keep what you’ve cut off to the side and use it later as extras for promotion.”

Love my LERA gang!

Love my LERA gang!

Great idea. I’ve seen other authors do this, like Cora Carmack at the end of her book Finding It. I’ll probably end up with a year’s worth of blog posts of deleted scenes and original versions.

Dia of the invaluable Hot Tub Readers:
“Whatever you do, don’t cut any of the sex scenes.”

Duly noted.

Weekend Reading: Jane’s Melody by Ryan Winfield

August 11, 2014 § Leave a comment

Read
August 11, 2014

ReadWriteBliss_BookworksSign

I’m not sure how it is that this guy didn’t pop up on my radar before now, because he writes just the kind of books I love to read.

Ryan Winfield did a book signing/panel with my LERA group this weekend at my local indie bookstore, Bookworks. After reading the synopses for Ryan Winfield’s Jane’s Melody and the recently released follow-up, Jane’s Harmony, I knew that I had to go pick up these books. And get them signed, of course.

Ryan Winfield and me at Bookworks signing August 9, 2014.

Ryan Winfield and me at Bookworks signing August 9, 2014.

I started reading Jane’s Melody this weekend and love it.

It’s set in Washington State, which is where I grew up. It makes me almost miss some things about Washington, such as the springtime flowers of daffodils and tulips and crocuses. Almost miss it. Makes me almost kind of wish we hadn’t been so poor when I was a kid so that we could have afforded a ferry ride to Bainbridge Island. Almost wish. (I did move to New Mexico for a reason: the sunshine!)

Love the cover.

Love the cover.

I’m also just so stoked that a man understands that a single, working woman doesn’t have time to change the light bulb in the garage (page 6) or pull weeds in the back yard (page 42). Okay, so maybe one or two men I’ve dated have given me crap about that.

I highly recommend this book.

Running on Empty Sounds Poetic but I Wouldn’t Recommend It

August 4, 2014 § Leave a comment

Bliss
August 4,2014

“I think we should start praying.”

Boy, is that something you don’t want to wake up to.

ReadWriteBliss-WelcomeToTexas

My eyes flew open. I’d only closed them for a second. I looked around for a burning church or a jack-knifed 18-wheeler.

“What’s going on?” I said.

“My gas light just came on,” Martha said. “And we’re twenty miles outside of Big Spring.”

Twenty miles from a gas station, in other words. I knew we should have gassed up in Lamesa when the tank was still a quarter full. But oh, no. Martha said we were all right to make it to Big Spring, because she’s driven on fumes before and it was just fine. This from the woman who gets her oil changed every three months on the dot and whose trunk was crammed full with a real full-sized spare tire instead of a donut and who carefully planned this route to San Antonio through every small town in the state to eliminate a Texas Chainsaw Massacre scenario.

Martha's well-worn handwritten directions to San Antonio.

Martha’s well-worn handwritten directions to San Antonio.

I’m all for a little adventure a la Thelma & Louise but two grown-ass women running out of gas on the way to San Antonio and the Romance Writers of America conference was not how I wanted to play this out.

It got real quiet in that car. Martha was praying and I was reciting Louise Hay’s “all is well the universe is taking care of me” mantra like I had a broken record inside my head.

When we headed over that bridge into Big Spring, flying past the reduced speed limit sign, Martha was like “F**k that. I ain’t stopping and I ain’t slowing down. Come on, Chevron station. Come to Mama!”

The Chevron sign came into view and we were like “hallelujah.” Literally. Like for real. “Hallelujah, baby” as we rolled up to the open gas pump.

ReadWriteBliss-Chevron

I’m sure people were wondering why we tumbled out of the car, laughing hysterically.

This was taken right as we pulled up to the gas pump.

This was taken right as we pulled up to the gas pump.

Martha said, “No more of that. From now on, we are never going below a quarter tank again.”

“Yeah, I think the risk-taking portion of this trip is over,” I said. After all, I had a book to pitch.

I Was a Total Fangirl

July 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

Read, Write, and Bliss
July 28, 2014

I’m back from the Romance Writers of America conference and what a fabulous time I had. A lot of great things happened at RWA14, not the least of which is . . .

I got my picture taken with Sylvia Day!!!

Did I fangirl all over the place? Yes. Did I gush about how I’ve read her Crossfire series multiple times? Yes. Did my iPhone take forever to finally flash so that you could actually see the picture? Of course.

Throughout it all, Sylvia Day was gracious, down-to-earth, and just an all-around class act.

Me and Sylvia Day at the Romance Writers of America Conference in San Antonio, 2014

Me and Sylvia Day at the Romance Writers of America Conference in San Antonio, 2014

The Road Trip is Happening

July 21, 2014 § 1 Comment

Write
July 21, 2014

What the cat does while I frantically pack.

What the cat does while I frantically pack.

For some reason, Thin Lizzy’s “Cowboy Song” is running through my head.

Oh. Probably because . . .

The road trip to San Antonio, Texas for the Romance Writers of America conference is finally happening.

My friend Martha has our route to San Antonio all planned out, right down to the four 5-minute restroom breaks. This should be an adventure. I just hope she doesn’t leave me in a cloud of dust because I take too long to piss.

I’m packing up my shorts and dresses and flip-flops, and I’m pretty much just planning on having big hair the whole time I’m there.

And although I did find some recipes for homemade coconut oil bug repellant, they look way too complicated and labor intensive for me right now, and I can’t afford to take any chances because I got eaten alive in New Orleans a couple of weeks ago, and that was with Family Off. So stinky, supposedly toxic DEET, Deep Woods bug spray it is.

Before I hit the road, I will leave you with this fun little video, courtesy of my local LERA chapter. (I’m in the “choir”.)

Texas has a romance conference.

There is a House in New Orleans . . .

July 16, 2014 § Leave a comment

Read
July 16, 2014

NOLA_house_flowers

No way was I going to New Orleans for the first time ever without reading up on it first. Especially since one of the characters in my book grew up there. I had to get the scoop. Conduct reconnaissance. Make my list.

And, yes, that is how I wound up looking for the house on Amelia Street that no longer exists.

It’s also how I dragged T to see the haunted house.

I read about it in Christopher Benfey’s Degas in New Orleans, of all things. Ironically, I never did make it to the Degas house. Next time.

Nothing beats the public library for research!

Nothing beats the public library for research!

The story goes like this: back in the 1830’s, beautiful Creole socialite Mme. Lalaurie threw hella-fun parties in this beautiful house on Royal street. The only odd thing about the place was that the door to the slaves’ apartment was secured by a huge lock, and the windows were barred with iron shutters.

One night a fire broke out in the house. Neighbors rushed over to help and asked where the slaves were. They soon found out. Upon breaking down the padlocked door to the slaves’ apartment, they entered a chamber of horrors.

Shackled men and women languished from severe abuse and neglect. The editor for a New Orleans newspaper couldn’t recount the story without shuddering at the recollection. It turned out that the fire had been started by the cook, who’d been chained to the fireplace at the time, and who had apparently felt so desperate that setting the house on fire had seemed like a viable option.

An angry mob ran Mme. Lalaurie out of town. The fire-gutted house stood in disrepair for decades. Then came the tales of blue light in the blackened windows and screams in the night, the haunting of the house by the ghosts of the slaves who had been tortured and killed there.

After reading about all this in Benfey’s book, I had to go see this house. How could I not?

We parked in the French Quarter and walked towards our destination, following the red dot on my iPhone GPS.

NOLA_Rue_Bourbon

On the way to the haunted house.

House in the French Quarter on route to the Haunted House

House in the French Quarter en route to the Haunted House

Yet another gorgeous French Quarter house.

Yet another gorgeous house in the French Quarter.

“Is there a sign? What’s this place called?” T asked.

T should have known better by now.

We paraded up and down the block in front of the three story house on the corner of Royal and Governor Nicholls, because according to my GPS we were at our destination, 1140 Royal Street. But no sign indicated that the place was the historic haunted house. The building wasn’t even marked by a number.

“This has to be it,” I said.

The skepticism rolled off T in waves.

“Now, look,” I said, shrugging off my backpack. “This place is listed in Fodor’s. I’m not making it up.”

I leaned against the gate that barricaded the front entrance, trying to read the mailboxes that were obscured from the sunlight. A couple approached.

“This has to be 1140,” the woman said.

“Are you looking for the haunted house?” I said.

“Yeah.”

Vindication!

Now certain that we were at the right house, I crossed the street to take pictures.

The once-gutted haunted house is now an apartment building.

The once-gutted haunted house is now an apartment building.

 

THe birds aren't afraid of no ghost.

The birds aren’t afraid of no ghost.

Two different horse-drawn guided tours passed by while I stood on the street corner gawking. I listened to the drivers’ spiels, hoping to catch some shivery-delicious details about the haunted house.

“Nicholas Cage bought this house several years ago, but then got in trouble with the IRS over back taxes.”

Huh. I didn’t care about Nicholas Cage. I wanted to hear about the ghosts.

The next tour guide said, “American Horror Story wasn’t allowed to film here. They ended up filming a few houses down.”

Still, nothing about the ghosts.

NOLA-horse-drawn-carriage

T and I joked that the story of the tortured slaves was too disturbing for the horse-drawn carriage circuit and was thus left out of the tour yarns.

Back home in Albuquerque, I was poking around the internet when I found a link to an article about American Horror Story: Coven, a show I have avoided watching because it looks too disturbing. Then I read that Kathy Bates’ character is based on Mme. Lalaurie—the woman who threw the fancy parties while her abused slaves suffered.

Guess I’m going to have to watch Coven now. Damn it.

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