Friday, August 27, 2010

Five days and counting...

It's amazing that when I look at how fast my kids are growing up, time seems to be flying by. Yet when I have a new book about to come out, the days start slowing down.

I am looking forward to September, yet I'm also dreading it's arrival. My book comes out in five days (I think), but within days of its release, my oldest daughter heads across the country to go back to school. Two days after she leaves, the rest of my kids start their school year. And I'm not ready yet!

Okay, I'll admit that I'm ready to get back onto a routine and I am looking forward to having some quiet in the house, especially since I'm anxious to get Obsession rewritten. On the other hand, I have really enjoyed having all of my kids home and I would love to have more time to spend with them (preferably at the beach NOT getting sunburned.)

I also know that starting tomorrow my life starts getting pretty crazy. I have a local author book signing at Porter Library (in Stafford, Virginia) and then I'll have a series of signings throughout September and October, including heading out to both Utah and Arizona this fall. I love doing book signings and getting the chance to meet new people, but I have a feeling that by the time I start swim season in November, I'm going to miss the lazy days of summer.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Back to the keyboard

Earlier this summer I finshed writing a new novel called Obsession. I wrote it rather quickly, in only about five weeks, and then managed to go through several edits within a couple of weeks. Realizing that I had made it the best that I could by myself (and with the help of my sister-in-law, Rebecca, who helps me edit), I submitted it to my publisher, Covenant Communications. And I waited. Nervously.

I admit, I'm always a bit nervous when I submit a novel, but this one really had me worried. Something wasn't sitting quite right with it, but no matter how hard Rebecca and I tried, neither of us could put our finger on what needed to happen to make it better. So after several weeks of waiting, impatiently waiting, I received an email from my editor yesterday. It wasn't the ideal, "Yes, we love the book. Here are a few minor changes we need to make." Instead it was more of a "the book has promise but it needs to be rewritten." In other words, try again.

As much as I would have loved to get the ideal answer to my submission, I kind of figured I would be getting the second response. The good news is that along with the request for a rewrite, I also received a list of suggestions and some detailed evaluator comments.

Since I've been writing, I've discovered that there are two types of writers. The first are the authors who look at the comments and suggestions and get very frustrated, even insistent that the evaluators just didn't get what they were trying to do. I'm the other type of writer, the one who wants the feedback, even looks forward to it. I know the evaluators and the people at my publishing house are trying to make me better. They understand what I'm trying to do. They see the possibilities and the potential, and they're pushing me to fulfill them. And I want to explore those possibilities and fulfill that potential.

I also understand that my publisher and I are in complete agreement in one respect. Neither of us wants to see a book with my name on the front cover and have people disappointed by what's inside. So now it's back to the keyboard. I've brainstormed with my editor (who I love, by the way) and we've come up with a plan to make the major fixes. Now I just hope that my characters will embrace the changes and help me get their story right this time.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The calendar lies!

It's official. My calendar is definitely lying to me. I've been helping plan my high school reunion. My 25 year high school reunion. If my logic is still sound, this means that by teenage standards I'm...OLD. But I'm not old. I don't feel old.

I've been trying to figure this phenomenon out for a while now. How can I be old enough to have a daughter in college and another heading there next year? How is it possible that I've been coaching high school swimming for fifteen years? Or that the young women I used to work with at church are now married with kids of their own or career women with a couple of years of experience behind them?

I can only think of one explanation. My calendar is faulty. And it's not just mine that's messed up. Every time I talk to someone who is around my age (and no, the dinosaurs were NOT roaming the earth during my childhood), I find the same sentiment. We don't feel any older, so how is it that everyone else is growing up so fast?

Perhaps it's because time is relative. And perhaps we really are only as old as we feel. I'm looking forward to seeing my old classmates, many of whom I haven't seen in 25 years, but I have little doubt that when I do, the years will melt away. My high school days will once again seem like yesterday, and those 25 years will become yet another example of the phenomenon of the unexplained passage of time.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Conquering my website

I admit it. My website and I haven't been getting along for a while. Okay, for a LONG while. The program I use was designed for people like me, those who are totally clueless and have zero interest in learning about html codes. So when I upgraded the program like I was told to do, all of the images stopped working. Thoroughly annoyed, I did what any good procrastinator would do: I ignored it.

Now, I have to admit that I'm REALLY bad at procrastinating. When I don't take care of problems right away, those problems just stay on my list of things to do and never seem to go away. (Which explains why my desk has been under a mountain of paper since April even though cleaning it has been on my "To Do" list since then.) Anyway, last night I realized that with a new book coming out, I really needed to get the latest information on my website. I also realized that my home page still listed Lockdown as my newest release even though Crossfire has been out since January.

I had tried to work on my website several times over the past few weeks, but with the kids home for the summer, I have struggled to find the time to deal with the problems that didn't want to go away. Then I realized that my password had somehow gotten reset so that put me back another few days. Last night I finally sat down, fully assuming that I would once again fail to fix the problem, and it all started working. Yeah! So now my new releases are no longer on my coming soon page, my upcoming booksignings are accurately listed under events, and the images are all where they're supposed to be.

I love it when I can cross something off of my To Do list! Now if I could just find that list under all of this paper on my desk....

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sand and sunburn

On the spur of the moment, I took off for the beach with my four kids. My oldest daughter didn't have to work all weekend, and my youngest has been dying to go to the beach all summer. I'm not even sure how the six-year-old remembers so much about the beach since he hasn't been to one since we went to the Dominican Republic three years ago. Anyway, last Thursday I spent a couple of hours searching for hotel rooms that would accommodate all five of us. (My husband is still overwhelmed with work because of the oil spill in the gulf so he wasn't able to join us.)

After throwing a few things into some suitcases, we left early Friday morning for Virginia Beach which is about a three hour drive from here when you don't have to deal with the typical weekend beach traffic. I was thrilled that we made it all the way there without any significant traffic. We left around eight and by noon we were on the beach after already checking into our hotel and eating lunch.

My kids had a blast that first day. My son is normally shy, but he hit that water and was grinning ear to ear, playing and laughing without any inhibitions. My younger daughters made a couple of new friends to hang out with and my oldest happily tanned on the beach. Unfortunately, our sunscreen wasn't as waterproof as we thought and everyone but my oldest (who is already tan) ended up sunburned.

Everyone had different ways of dealing with it, but needless to say we all became good friends with solarcaine. My youngest two kids and I all put on T-shirts over our clothes to protect our tender shoulders and still went out and enjoyed the rest of our weekend on the beach. My seventeen-year-old decided she was in too much pain and instead chose to spend some time with her rollerblades on the boardwalk.

After an $8 purchase on our first evening, my younger two also had a new adventure to conquer: body boarding (although I always called it "boogie boarding.") I was really surprised at how well my youngest did at it considering he can't swim. His fear of the water seemed to melt away over the past few days and I'm curious to see if that will translate to a new comfort level at the local swimming pool. My youngest daughter also loved the new adventure and I was thrilled that she and her younger brother were so good about sharing their new toy.

So other than some sunburned shoulders and legs, we had a nice getaway. If only all of the sand had stayed on the beach.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Tomatoes and manuscripts

Last weekend I took my two oldest kids to Baltimore. They had an event they wanted to attend and I had the brilliant idea that I would hang out at the hotel and write. For those of you who are wondering, so far Janessa and Garrett have been talking the loudest so by the end of the weekend I actually had 25 pages written on a sequel to Royal Target.

When I took a break for lunch, I checked my email to find a couple of unexpected items of business. First, the release date for my next novel, Smokescreen, may be moved up to January 2011 rather than the spring. This news definitely changes my timeline for my upcoming projects. Instead of trying to get a new novel finished in the next six weeks, I now have to take a quick break to edit Smokescreen again. Thankfully, my editor is fabulous and has already sent me the fixes that need to be resolved and they are pretty minor.

The second bit of news was that I have been invited to be a presenter at The Book Academy, a writers conference at Utah Valley University on September 30th. I am really excited about it. I was already planning on coming out to Utah to participate in a book signing or two for conference weekend so the timing worked out perfectly.

Anyway, back to Baltimore. Despite my excitement that I would be attending Book Academy and that I might be able to wrap up a project early, I got back to work and even took an hour or two off to take my girls to dinner at The Cheesecake Factory in the inner harbor...on National Cheesecake Day. (The Reese's cheesecake was fabulous!) When I returned to the hotel, I had the chance to talk to my husband. After talking for a couple of minutes, he told me, "I have a bone to pick with you."

Of course, I instantly wondered what I had done that I shouldn't have...or hadn't done that I should have. Then he continued, "Or rather tomatoes to pick...." He had gone out to check on my garden for me, a modest 10' by 10' backyard garden, and picked 32 tomatoes. Now, in my defense, I only planted six tomato plants, and I just picked some the day before (8-10 of them), but these tomato plants are producing like crazy. I'm giving tomatoes (and cucumbers) to my friends, my family, my neighbors. I even took a couple of dozen to church on Sunday to share the wealth.

So now I get to balance my energy between editing a book, trying to keep up with my overachieving garden, and creating a new novel. I wonder which project will win my attention today.